05 Oct 2015
by Evan Yoak
Good Monday to all you CrossFitters out there. I wanted to take the start of this week to introduce a new aspect of training at PTY – everyone’s favorite, homework. Now, before you get all hot and bothered and complain, “Homework?! I already work out 5 days a week! Isn’t that enough?” to which the response is, “Eh, sort of” – hear me out. You see, for general health purposes insofar as keeping your heart safe and your waistline trim, one hour a day for five days is certainly enough; the point isn’t to do lots of extra physical labor just because. If, however, you want to move well, then no, you can’t just go to the gym for an hour, work til you puke your guts out, and then forget you have a body to take care of the other 23 hours in the day. We as modern humans simply spend far too much time in horrible postures that cause us to get tight and have dysfunctional movements. For example, if you spend 8 hours sitting at your desk (probably at a computer hunched over), another hour sitting in your car driving to and from work (gotta love that tranque), another hour sitting watching TV (also probably hunched over), and another 2 hours sitting and consuming your meals, you’ve worked up to sitting over half your life. Allow me to let you in on a secret: the human body is not designed to sit, and certainly not for half of its time on this planet. Standing, lying, crouching, kneeling, squatting, sitting in lotus or Indian style, etc., are all natural postures for the human body. Any time you deviate from a natural. good posture, your body tightens up to compensate.
There are a lot of remedies for this problem (e.g., standing desk, squatting when you talk on the phone, being continually cognizant of your posture), some more practicable than others, but at the end of the day, as human athletes, you’re going to have to put in some maintenance work if you want to optimize your movements and not end up looking like the hunchback of Notre Dame when you’re 40. Thus, homework. Obviously we mobilize during our classes, but again, not to beat the point to a pulp, but if you have a desk job, stretching for a few minutes is not going to compensate for all the hours and hours of horrible postures with which you’ve abused your body. So what I propose is to give all you PTYers weekly homework, both mobilizations and exercises, in order to be better prepared to come in to the gym and kill it. We’re talking maybe 10 or 15 minutes a day, most of which you’ll be able to do at home. We’ll follow some sort of theme (e.g., hip flexors, internal rotators, glute activation) for several weeks, and then mix it up. So, without further ado:
A) 100 Reverse Lunges (body weight) for quality, 2x/week
B) Roll each calf for two minutes, 3x/week
Let me ‘splain. I was inspired to proffer up the first bit of homework after witnessing many people Farmer’s Carry big heavy weights this morning, and then promptly grab a lower weight with which to lunge. CrossFitters are notorious for being weak unilaterally – anyone remember 2013 Regionals, with the 90 ft. of Walking Lunges at 160 lbs.? And people were like, wow, Froning did it unbroken! And then everyone realized that that was sort of pathetic that it was a big deal to do it UB, since lots of guys should have been strong enough to do it UB. Anyway, your glutes should be strong! I could write a 3000 word article about why the glutes are so vital, but no one wants to read that. So instead, just do the damn lunges so I don’t write that article and make everyone read it as homework. Keep in mind as well that, in spite of what some strength coaches will tell you, your glutes will not get sufficiently strong just from squatting and deadlifting (clearly, look at the Regional athletes in 2013). As for the lunges themselves, we want good, controlled lunges, fairly slow, making sure to squeeze the glute as you come up off the floor and again at the top; drive through the heel and keep your torso upright at all times. This is for quality, not for time. Obviously make sure to keep the knee back so that the shin remains nearly vertical with the ground (the angle will be slightly more acute than 90 degrees). If you don’t feel your glutes the next day after having done this, you probably did something wrong.
The second part is just what it sounds like. Either with a roller, lacrosse ball, or barbell, spend two minutes on each calf working out the kinks; partner style with the bar is the most fun. Everyone suffered horribly this morning rolling their calves, which tells me everyone has really tight calves; I mean, do you really want to do 5000 double unders and run 50 kilometers in a year and never stretch or massage your calves? Yikes. This is going to impede your ability to squat low, to burpee efficiently, to avoid shin splits running, to box jump well, to avoid knee pain, and on and on. The calves are the first muscle in the kinetic chain for any lower body movement, after all. One other bit to keep in mind is that there are really two major muscles in the calves, the gastrocnemius (the big meaty part) and the soleus (the part below the big meaty part). I would roll it all, but pay particular to the soleus, and where the soleus connects to the gastrocnemius. That will give you the most bang for your buck for squatting movements.
So that’s it for this week. Add this in apart from the normal training and mobility work you do and let us know in the comments how you feel in a week.