Crossfit Hillsdale Blogposts

Building Shoulder Strength

August 19, 2018

If you do CrossFit, Martial Arts, or both – you need strong shoulders. Maybe you are blessed with naturally stable and strong shoulders – good for you! For the rest of us, there are countless ways of building strength. In the video above, I outline a program suitable for beginners to strength work.

First important point – start light, add weight gradually, and always err on the side of caution. This stuff is supposed to make you stronger, not hurt you.

Second important point – have someone who knows what they are doing coach you through all these movements and periodically check back in with them, so they can see how your form has progressed.

I recommend two main lifts – the shoulder press and the bench press. You could do one of these lifts, or both of these lifts. If you’ve got 25 minutes to spare once a week in the gym, do one of them. If you’ve got 25 minutes to spare twice a week in the gym, do both of them.   If you do have the time to do both of them, you should, never the less, only start with one of them for the first few weeks. These lifts should be done before any conditioning work (like a CrossFit workout or a martial arts class).

The basic protocol for both main lifts is to once a week do five sets of five reps. Your first set should be the lightest set, and each subsequent set should be heavier than the last. There is zero rush. Make your first week easy. Go light. Add small weights each time. The last set shouldn’t be hard. Always take a two to three minute break between sets.

I also recommend four auxiliary lifts. These are, as the name suggests, optional. If you find yourself with 15 minutes in the gym once a week, do one. If you have more time, do more of them – ideally you’d do these movements all on different days so that you aren’t overtaxing your shoulders. These lifts should be, ideally, the last thing you do in the gym – after your skill work, after your main lifts, after any martial arts practice.

The auxiliary movements are: the cuban press, the bottom up Kb press, the strict pull-up, and the bent over row. If you are just starting or only have time for one lift, talk to a coach about your particular shoulder issues and see which one (or maybe they pick an entirely different movement) they think is best for you to start with. Gradually add in the other movements if you have the time and if everything feels good.

The basic protocol for the lifts is four sets of five/five (meaning five on each side of the body). For the pull-ups, do four sets of at least five reps (use a band or do negatives if you can’t do at least five strict pull-ups in a row). Take a two to three minute break between sets.

Write your numbers down so that you know what weights to do the next week. Be consistent and do the lifts every week. It is better to do fewer lifts and be more consistent than to spread yourself too thin and be inconsistent. In addition to writing your numbers down, try and write yourself a note about each lift – how did the movement feel? What questions do you have about the movement?

There may be some initial discomfort as your body adapts to the movements but if you take things slow, it should be pretty minimal. If you’ve never done these movements consistently, expect awesome things to happen – and definitely ask lots of questions.

Benchmarks Done Right

November 14, 2017

I get as amped up as the next CrossFitter when it comes to doing benchmarks. I look up my old time. I have to go pee ten seconds before the workout. I check the room to see who is going to be my closest competitor.

I also, given the wisdom of experience, remind myself to not let my form turn into garbage. If I am uncertain about the weights, I do a few reps BEFORE the workout and see if I can handle it. If I don’t know the movements well, I take a few minutes before the workout and watch someone more skilled than me do them.

What I’m trying to get at here is that these are both valid modes. Yes, be competitive. Yes, be careful. You can do both. They need not be in conflict. I tend to err more on the side of caution but I know I have learned a ton from people who err more on the side of throwing caution into a hurricane.

Bring the competition. Bring the conscientious.

Intro to CrossFit Series

October 14, 2017

Are you interested in learning CrossFit but intimidated by the idea of being a beginner in a regular CrossFit class? If so, you should try out our upcoming intro to CrossFit series. We are running a limited class size (maximum 10 people) class on Tuesdays and Thursdays in November and December from 9AM-10AM.

Students will be introduced to:

Basic bodyweight movements: The squat, sit up, push up and pull up.
Basic barbell movements: The deadlift, back squat, shoulder press and power clean.
Basic motions: jump rope, wall ball and KB swing.
Mobility and stretching: how to warmup, increase range of motion, and reduce everyday pains.

All the workouts and movements are scaleable, meaning if you have injuries or limitations, the coaches will find a movement that works for you.

There will be no classes on November 23rd or on December 26th or 28th.

Cost of the class is $100 for November (8 classes) or $140 for November and December (14 classes). Click here for more details.

How Much Weight Should You Put on the Bar?

August 23, 2017

Some of you have, no doubt, been to gyms where they post the “prescribed” weight for a workout on the whiteboard. Others of you maybe remember long ago when I used to post weights alongside the workout. This leads us to three great questions: Why did I stop posting weights? Why do other gyms post weights? If there is no weight listed, how much should you do?
I stopped posting weights because some people would do the posted weights with atrocious form. Others would do the posted weights with passable form but take forever to finish, essentially getting a strength workout when I intended to give them a conditioning workout. And finally, a few folks would do the posted weights and it was too easy. The takeaway for me was: people need to find a weight that they can do with decent form, that allows them to get a conditioning workout, and that delivers a decent challenge for them.
Other gyms post weights because… no two CrossFit gyms need to be the same. One gym’s awesome culture is another gym’s nightmare culture.
As a general rule, if there are 21 or less reps of something in a workout, you should pick a weight that you can do unbroken (at least for the first round, if there is more than one round). This is a rule with MANY exceptions but it is a pretty good starting place. If you’re not sure what weight you should use, try asking the coach what the INTENT of the workout is. Is the intent to test your strength? Then go heavy. Is the intent to push your technique? Then pick a weight that you can maintain good technique with. Ask questions and discover the purpose behind the workout which will hopefully lead you to an appropriate weight.
As a final note, if you are not very competent with the movement, the weight you should use is A DIFFERENT MOVEMENT. Don’t do motions you don’t have at least a moderate technical grasp on during the conditioning section – you’ll just burn in crummy technique. Do something else. Ask your coach for a substitute movement.

Specifics

January 18, 2017

Functional movements.  Yes.  Most of the time in CrossFit we do big movements like the clean and the burpee – movements that translate to real life motions.  That’s good.  Let’s keep doing that.

But sometimes it is valuable to break things down into simplier movements.  Sometimes it is valuable to target an area.  The reason could be to prevent an injury or to shore up a weakness.  It’s okay.  If you’ve got crappy elbows try doing some bicep curls.  You can do those and still be a CrossFitter… they aren’t against the law.

The video shows a couple accessory movements – the one legged KB deadlift and the Cuban press.  Try them.  If they help you, great.  If they don’t, no worries.