July Newsletter

Metropolis Newsletter
July 2017

New faces in the house!

You may have noticed we have some new members at the Trop! Now is a great chance to make some new friends, and check some items off your NYC bucket list.

My challenge to you: find one of the newbies, and exchange cell phone numbers. Get lunch, do a partner workout in Open Gym, or go for a jog in the park. Allow the gym to broaden your friendly circle, and your friendly circle will keep you committed to making progress at the gym!

Now moving on to some sports psychology talk…

from CrossFitAnchlair.com

Positive Mental Attitude

We all tend to agree that mentality is a major determinant of success in the gym. Unfortunately, conditioning one’s attitude is not nearly as straightforward as conditioning one’s lungs or legs, even though it may be more necessary.

It is easy to point out who around us is uncommonly driven. Often, it’s those of us who put up the fastest times, or the heaviest weights, or move exceptionally well. It’s not because they want it the most today, it’s because their results are built on years of consistent effort.

Consistent effort does not always come easy. As Ben Bergeron said in a recent podcast, “It’s really easy to have a growth mindset when it’s a brick paved road, sunshine and rainbows, and unicorns are living in your backyard. That’s easy. It’s when you tear your ACL, and when push comes to shove… Now can you do this? Or you don’t make the Games. Now can you do this?”

If you really want that muscle-up, or to lose those last 10 pounds of fat, or PR that heavy lift, you WANT to cultivate a positive attitude every day, because you’ll NEED that attitude when the going gets tough — when you get discouraged or injured, or when you struggle to balance your fitness and the rest of your life.

On the U.S. Air Force 7-Point Survival Checklist, item number one is “Positive Mental Attitude”. In his book, Deep Survival, Laurence Gonzalez tells the stories of dozens of individuals lost at sea, captured in war, stranded while hiking, or otherwise put into extreme survival situations. He makes the point again and again that while luck and training are important factors, attitude is at least as useful in those crisis moments.

Lauren Elder is one such example. She, her boyfriend, and two others flew up over the Sierra Nevada mountain range and crashed at 12,360ft, far from the nearest town. Thankfully, Lauren survived, but was stranded with a broken arm. “I got angry. It came simmering up from inside. I thought: That’s not going to happen to me. Anger displaced inertia,” she recalled.

No matter what it is that threatens to stall your training, or your diet, or your career ambitions, overcoming inertia is much harder with the wrong attitude. Instead, if you notice yourself (or someone else) saying, “this sucks” or “I can’t”, try to stop yourself. Change the narrative. Either get angry, like Lauren did, or shift your focus to what you can control. Maybe your current assignment has you at the office until 9:00 every night. If you can’t change that, then maybe it’s time to work on a morning fitness routine. Or maybe this is your chance to start biking to work for a little extra fitness.

Those of you who follow the CrossFit Games will know Brent Fikowski. For three years in a row Brent came just shy of qualifying for the Games. He finally made it in 2016 and placed 4th, a massive turnaround. When he was interviewed and asked what made the difference in his performance, his reply was a surprising one: “I injured my leg.”

Brent described how he refused to let that injury distract him from his goal of getting to the Games. In fact, it made him more focused. All of a sudden he had an obstacle to overcome, and he knew he needed to work for it. Upper body strength had always been a weakness of his, so he attacked his pull-ups, handstand push-ups, handstand walks, muscle-ups and so on. Not despite his injury but because of it, he turned a weakness into a strength and became a better athlete, far surpassing his original goal.

Cultivate an attitude like Brent’s. You’re already surrounded with people who can help motivate you, so lean on them when you need to, and motivate them when their attitude is suspect. CrossFit is a many-sided discipline. Educate yourself about all of the elements of our sport, so that you can adapt and push forward no matter what your constraints.

Traveling? Get familiar with dumbbell movements and use that hotel gym, or study some basic sprinting/endurance programming and find your track.

Lower body injury? Address your gymnastics. Come back to full capacity with new strength and new skills under your belt.

Upper body injury? Get those big lifts up. Learn some of the more popular strength templates and increase your volume. Improve your run game too.

It all starts with a positive mental attitude.

Upcoming Events

July 4th – Independence Day, the gym will only be open from 10am to 12pm, Open Gym. There will be a programmed WOD, but you can do it anywhere.

Wednesday, July 19th – Squat Mobility and Movement Seminar with DPT Grayson Wickham, 6:30pm.

July 22nd, Team Throwdown – A classic work capacity test will separate the show-ponies from the workhorses.

This Month’s Focus: Barbell Cycling

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If you’ve been paying attention, 2017 is the year of the dumbbell. Prior to 2017, many competitive CrossFit athletes understandably prioritized barbell workout to the almost complete exclusion of dumbbell work. This year changed that, with CrossFit HQ telling us in no unclear terms, “you must be proficient with dumbbells.” So what does this mean for our training philosophy?

Very little. Barbells are still the easiest way to tailor loads precisely to our abilities, and to move weight (do work) efficiently. Many smart CrossFit coaches will program dumbbell movements with slightly more frequency, but the barbell is here to stay. In fact, maybe 2018 will be the year of the barbell. Or maybe it’ll be the year of the 5k row. Who knows?

This month, we’re whipping that bar around regularly. You should be confident with high volume, heavy weight, and high skill. Want to run with this theme on your own time? Here are a few proficiency tests, beyond “Grace” and “Isabel”.

  1. Squatting “Isabel” – (You’ll probably have to scale this.)
  2. “Gwen”
  3. Death by 95/65lb Thrusters

Good luck!

Great reads from the web

5 Ways to Get a Better Finish in the Snatch – from Catalyst Athletics

Follow the Steps: Don’t be too Eager to Progress – CF Invictus’s thoughts on whether you should do strict pull-ups before kipping pull-ups

My thoughts: I disagree with the blanket advice, “always learn the strict movement before the kipping.” Should little kids be able to do strict pull-ups before they’re allowed on the monkey bars? Do gymnasts learn strict giants before swinging giants? But the titular advice is spot on. Be patient. Don’t set your sights on a muscle-up before you’ve got rock solid chest to bar pull-ups.

“It is recommended by Invictus that men be able to perform six unbroken strict pull-ups and for women, three unbroken strict pull-ups, before they attempt kipping. Want to make the jump from kipping to butterfly pull-ups or chest-to-bar? Shoot for 15-20 perfect, unbroken kipping-pull-ups first. Eyeing those bar and ring muscle-ups? Make those 15-20 pull-ups chest-to-bar and then a strict muscle-up!”

I’ll add two more progressions.

Handstand push-up: 10-15 perfect pike push-ups with feet level with shoulders, and a 1 minute handstand.

Ring dip: 15-20 perfect push-ups.

Be patient, and keep hammering the basics.

Happy Training!

-Matt