Another Revelation: Getting Two Birds Stoned At Once

You still working that 8-hour desk job? C'mon man, quit already. Seriously, go out like George Costanza. Your job is lame anyways. And someone probably keeps eating your sandwich out of the break room fridge.

Okay fine, if I can't make you quit, then maybe we can make your time at work more useful. As I've previously discussed here and here, that desk chair you're sitting in isn't doing your posture, performance, or health any favors. How do we combat this? Well, like Eric Cressey said, "Make a point of getting up and moving around as often as you can. The best posture is the one that is constantly changing." But here we encounter another problem: people get so ensconced in their work that they lose track of the time, lack the desire to move, or they're just plain too busy trying to look busy (I know that game). My solution? Drink water. A lot of it.

Let's face it, you're not drinking enough water. You know it and so do I. Maybe a few of you are, but generally speaking, most people live in a state of constant dehydration. Roughly 75% of Americans are dehydrated at any one time. The benefits of hydration are so often overlooked. Drinking sufficient amounts of water can enhance mental clarity, help alleviate joint pain, improve digestion and immune function, etc (more here and everywhere else on Google). Couple dehydration with poor posture and impaired mobility and we've got an individual poised to stagnate.

So how about we get two birds stoned at once? (You know what I mean)

By drinking a lot of water throughout the day, we'll have to constantly use the bathroom, which will force us to get up out of our stupid chairs, move around, stretch, and relieve our posture... and our bladders.

"Improving posture and hydrating at the same time? Surely, this must be some kind of sorcery!" I wish it were because then people could call me Jafar. It's a cheap trick, but it works - I've had to use the bathroom twice while writing this post. So get to it, people!!

Mobile, Hydrated, & Classy


Hardcore? Hardly.

The other night I was out with some friends, obviously doing everything I could to be the center of attention. At one point, I met a young lady who does CrossFit at another gym in northern Virginia. I'll refrain from naming said gym because it will add nothing to the points I'm going to make.

We began discussing the differences between our gyms and why, although living closer to Balance, she chose this other affiliate. Her reasoning: "I just think our gym is a little more hardcore than yours." Now, let me clarify: she said this in the nicest, most non-malicious way possible, but it still irked me a bit.

Look, right off the bat, I'm not going to try turning this into a dick measuring contest (I have a habit of losing those), nor will I attempt to explain why CrossFit Balance is THE MOST HARDCORE GYM ON THE PLANET because it's not. Neither are they. This isn't a discussion about who's "better" because, in the end, we're all alright. My issue here really stems from the term "hardcore" and all the connotations that come with it.

Oftentimes, I wonder if people are more interested in being perceived as badass rather than actually being badass. Of course, this all depends on how you even define "badassness" or "hardcore." And while I'm sure the definition differs for everyone, in terms of CrossFit, here are some quick guidelines:

1) Tearing your hands to the point of hamburger meat is not hardcore
2) Puking is not hardcore
3) Holding a plank for 40 minutes is not hardcore
4) Rounding your lumbar spine on a deadlift PR attempt is not hardcore (it's also not a PR)
5) Sumo deadlift high pulls are not hardcore

Your shoulders fucking hate this position.

6) Avoiding foam rolling is not hardcore
7) Being shirtless is not hardcore (doesn't mean I still won't do it)
8) Doing 45+ minute metcons everyday is not hardcore

I feel most people will agree this is all common sense. I'd like to elaborate on my last point, however; because there's confusion out there. For some reason, people assume that if a workout doesn't leave them half-dead on the floor gasping for air, it wasn't a "good" workout. Before I go any further, read this article from Whole9Life.

Did you read it? No? Well, here it is again: Beware The Lure of the Sexy Metcon. Don't worry, I'll continue after you finish it.

Done? Good. Those ridiculously long and complex workouts, we call those "Any Asshole" workouts. Because any asshole can design a workout that will make you tired. An expression I heard once: A trainer makes you tired, a coach makes you better.

And sure, we throw a couple of those in once in a while, but they by no means define our programming at CrossFit Balance. You don't always have to be lying in a pile of your own sweat to feel a sense of accomplishment. Our goal is to simultaneously build your strength and improve your metcon capacity, while refining your nutrition habits and developing your skills. Some might not see us as "hardcore" but they're usually the ones wearing board shorts, eye-black, and carrying a sandbag while shirtless for a charity 5k fun run...

Trying Too Hard To Be Hardcore.

If we absolutely had to label something fitness-related as hardcore, then Mikhail Koklyaev is decidedly so...

In the long run, it's really not important if people perceive you as hardcore. Just be consistent, be kind, be humble, and work your ass off. Everything else will fall into place after that.


The Sumo Deadlift

As many of you experienced last week, the sumo deadlift feels significantly different than the conventional deadlift. While many of the same muscles are being used, proper execution really allows us to use our glutes and hamstrings more effectively. As I've said before, weak glutes are a common affliction across the board, especially for those of us working lame-ass desk jobs.

Keys To Appropriate Set-up & Lift:
1) Feet wide. Width will obviously vary from person to person, but it should be enough to comfortably pull with our arms inside our knees.
2) Toes pointed slightly out. Again, weight on our heels.
3) Obviously, just like picking anything off the ground, keep your lower back in extension. Similarly, remeber to keep your keep your scapula retracted i.e. pinching a pencil between your shoulder blades. And to expand on this even further, think about actually pulling your lats down and back. If all of this is done properly, your entire back should be locked as one solid, straight piece.
4) Arms hanging straight down at shoulder width.
5) Head looking forward. Unlike the conventional deadlift, our torso will be in a more erect position, so we will not be in a position to hyper-extend at the cervical spine. How nerdy did that sentence just sound?
7) Be sure to keep your midline or "core" tight - this means abs, back, and obliques working in unison.
6) Once all of the above it taken care of, your breath is absolutely vital to a successful lift (this is true with all heavy lifting). This isn't just about taking a big breath in; it's about trying to fill your entire abdomen with as much air as possible.

7) When set, raise your hips until you feel tension in your hamstrings. This is important.
8) Begin by driving your feet into the ground and away from your center, utilizing that hamstring tension to begin elevating the barbell.
9) Once the bar passes above the knee, squeeze your glutes and drive your hips through to complete the lift.
10) Basically, do what Jen does...

Note her excellent glute strength and hip drive

Lastly, a big thanks to Bobby Goodfellow for his input on this post. He's strong and has a pretty epic beard, so I value his opinion. Check him out as he soon resumes his grip training at Cinderblock Hands.