by Gabriel “gaberock” Avilla, CF L-2
At CrossFit Hampton Roads, we aim to optimize each hour you spend with us to make progress toward your fitness goals. Whether that would be losing weight, getting stronger, or moving faster, we strive to create the “best hour of your day” with top-notch coaching and a supportive environment. However, we realize that you have 23 other hours of your day that may not directly involve us. To ensure those hours remained aligned with your fitness goals, here are three tips to maintain your fitness outside of the walls of CrossFit Hampton Roads:
Meal Preparation – Time well spent
Like the old Benjamin Franklin quote goes: “If you fail to plan, plan to fail.” This saying goes hand in hand with the foundation of CrossFit’s Theoretical Hierarchy of Development: Nutrition.
According to this theory, “Nutrition is the foundation of the pyramid. The quality and constituent elements of an athlete’s diet influence metabolism and therefore the molecular foundations of muscle, bone, and the nervous system. For this reason, any training system that does not consider and duly correct an athlete’s diet will be suboptimal. Long-term training depends upon a solid base of nutritional support.” Putting it simply, if you don’t have a strong nutrition game for the other 23 hours of the day, your fitness will only go so far. This article will only touch the surface level of how important nutrition is; chat with any of your friendly neighborhood CFHR coaches and we can help you with your meal preparation strategy. Whether you cook your meals yourselves or outsource the work, be sure to deliberately think about your nutrition and don’t leave it up to chance. If you do, you will more than likely visit the “land of poor decisions” and take in nutrition that is not aligned with your goals. Want to know what to eat? It’s simple:
Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat.
If you follow those words above, you’ll be at a significant advantage. If you eat foods that have an expiration date, even better. Everyone has their individual tastes, but I guarantee you can figure out a plan that works for you. I also spend time on my weekends preparing my lunches and snacks for the week because I don’t want to leave those lunch hours to chance. I also try to eat a family dinner every evening for both the nutritional and spiritual energy it brings me. You probably already know what you should be eating. Now, we need to dial in habits with discipline to support those thoughts to set you up for success. The time you spend on your nutrition game will be well worth it!
Mobility – Sneak some fitness into your downtime
Ted Lasso. Anything Star Wars. The Boys Season 3 on Amazon Prime (you have to say it like that, per my son), or your favorite YouTuber (did you know I have a podcast called Constant Elevation?). If you’re like me, you look forward to your downtime at the end of the day to unwind and enjoy some entertainment. Who doesn’t?! Here’s a thought: why not work on some mobility while you catch up on what Grogu is going to try and eat this week? As much as we try to pack in the most fitness within the hour that you spend with us, the cool down (an extended version of the same) is something we all need more of. The cool down, or mobility work in general, can and should consist of mobility work that attacks our weaknesses and hones our strengths. Why work on mobility? Here are three reasons:
Quality movement will make exercises more efficient – you will waste less energy
Better mobility will reduce the risk of injury – you will stay fit over the course of a year.
Effective mobility routines will enhance recovery times – you will be able to train your weaknesses consistently.
Our busy lives often cut this important work out of schedules, but we need to be disciplined and include this work into our daily routines. But instead of trying to find time for this important work, I recommend converging the work with the time you are already spending. Recharging is important, everyone can agree to that. However, I would argue that you can optimize your recharging time to double down on your fitness goals. To meet those needs, I recommend GOWOD.
GOWOD is a leading mobile app that allows you to test and improve your mobility and flexibility, in a totally innovative way. Specially adapted for the practice of CrossFit, GOWOD can be tailored to each athlete’s need and allows you to test your mobility and establish a general mobility score, zone by zone. This allows suggested mobilization protocols and WOD warm-ups and cool-downs that are adapted and spot-on for YOU. Once signed up (ask a CFHR coach for a discount code!), the initial mobility test only takes 10 – 15 minutes to complete and all you need is a floor and a bank card or similar-sized card, to take measurements in two of the tests. You can retest each month to track your progress. The test measures flexibility AND mobility. Results are given as an overall score, as well as 5 specific scores: Shoulder, Overhead, Hips, Posterior Chain, and Ankles. The weakness which will most benefit from improvement is automatically set up in your profile. The app’s algorithm then considers not only the score but also the benefits that can be brought to the areas most commonly injured while practicing CrossFit. Use GOWOD to supplement your individual fitness goals when you want to binge a season of Stranger Things or Sopranos (arguably the greatest show on HBO, and also don’t argue with me on that). If the WODs you experience with us at CFHR are the main entree, consider mobility a version of awesome leftovers you consume at home to extend the benefits of the sweet sensation of your training.
Sleep – Properly prepare for this valuable recovery window
You may have heard that we spend on average a third of our lifetime asleep. I believe that math averages out correctly over time, but for that phase of life when you are a working adult or leader of a family unit that is raising children against multiple/competing schedules, you wish you could have a third of your day (8 hours) carved out to sleep. Life happens, but I would argue with modern technologies there are too many temptations that eat away at those 8 hours being 8 quality hours. Computer screens, endless media, and poor caloric choices can create a dangerous cocktail that will sabotage the hard work you put in during the hours you are awake. To combat these modern temptations, I recommend developing a sleep routine that will become the process you look forward to as the first step towards a good night’s sleep (which is a good night of recovery!).
Here are three simple tips to 5-time CrossFit Champion Mat Fraser uses to set up the “best sleep conditions possible”:
Start with a strict ban on all smartphones and television the time running up to bed. 90 minutes prior to your planned bedtime (yes, you need to pick a specific time), ensure your blue-light emitting electronics have been turned off. This simple action will trigger your mind and body to think that it is time to wind down. I highly recommend reading a book. Yes, a physical book made out of paper and cardboard (a comic book meets this intent, just saying). As you start to read, your body will naturally wind down because your eyes are not being artificially stimulated by light. You’ll find your body relaxing immediately as your eyes roll over simple text. Pro-tip: if you’re reading a Batman or X-men comic as I do, read until the story arc has been completed. I get it, you NEED to know how the day was saved. A non-active mind can quickly transition to a recovery state of sleep.
Wake up to natural light. It would be ideal for our busy lives to be based on the rise and setting of the sun, similar to what our ancient ancestors used. No more extending the day with artificial light. Instead, be efficient with the natural daylight and then go to bed. However, life demands may not support that notion. To mirror the effect, find a sunrise alarm clock solution that will mimic the sensation at your designated time. This will also support the tip not to have your phone beside your nightstand (or whatever it is you use to store crap beside your bed). Assuming you don’t have family or professional responsibilities that require it to be accessible 24 hours a day, reduce the temptation by placing your phone in a charging station away from your place of sleep and recovery.
Sleep cool. When the winter time hits, it can become tough to have the willpower to get out of bed because you are so…damn…cozy. The reason is that the temperature around is probably cool enough to create a warmth pocket you don’t want to get out of. Wouldn’t it be nice to replicate the feeling year-round? That feeling can be achieved by sleeping in a cool temperature. Whether through centralized air conditioning methods or a ceiling fan for directed air, seek to create a condition at 68 degrees or less to create the “cool cocoon” for your body to recover within. If you sleep with a partner (two-legged or four-legged), you may have to negotiate individual solutions. Hence, everyone is comfortable, so figure it out so everyone involved can create the optimal conditions for recovery.