A Learning Curve With Sandbag Training

Hot crossfit chicks sandbag training unstable load training
Sandbag Training in CrossFit

I’ve recently gotten into training with sandbags, and there’s definitely a learning curve involved in terms of manipulating unstable loads.

This was my workout today:

  • Sandbag Deadlifts
  • Sandbag Cleans
  • Sandbag Thrusters
  • OH Sandbag sit-ups

I finally figured out how to do the thrusters unbroken as well as the overhead sandbag sit-ups, but it took me about a dozen reps each.

Benefits of Unstable Load Training

  • Real world application. You don’t lift evenly distributed weights in real life, such as your coach. Unstable load training forces you to use many different muscles to accomplish this real-world task.
  • Increases grip strength. In the traditional gym, very little grip strength is trained to lift weights. To pick up a sandbag, you build hand and forearm strength naturally.
  • Training different muscle groups. You stand differently, hold the weight differently, shift differently, and have to stabilize when using a sandbag. You can’t help but use more muscles than normal.
  • Builds stability. You have to control the weight in order to move the weight. This gives you practice in balance as well.
  • Challenging and fun. Sandbag training to me is pure joy. Manipulating an uncooperative weight is challenging and fun because of the challenge. You’ll beat yourself up and who doesn’t enjoy that?
  • Builds all around strength. From strong shoulders, legs and backs, sandbags will build your strength like few other things.
  • Cheap and portable. Sand, due to its abundance found around the world, is cheap — especially when compared to a barbell set. It’s also portable, which comes in handy when traveling.

You should try sandbag training if you haven’t. You’ll be surprised at how hard it is and how fun!

Why are There So Many Gyms?

It seems like everywhere you turn, there’s a new gym being built. They seem to be almost as ubiquitous as banks. But why? And is there really that many people exercising?

According to the IHRSA (International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association), the $30 billion health and fitness industry in the U.S. has been growing by at least three to four percent annually for the last ten years and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. If anything, it’s accelerating. Currently about 20 percent of American adults have a fitness club membership, a number which could double in the next ten years.

WHAT IS FUELING THE GROWTH IN THE FITNESS INDUSTRY?

crossfit girls at a crossfit competition doing dumbbell front squats
Dumbbell Front Squat in CrossFit
  • The cost of healthcare. As the cost of healthcare continues to rise, people (and employers) are realizing the value of a healthy lifestyle. Many employers and insurers now cover the costs of a health club membership or studio classes.
  • The growth in organic foods. Gone are the days when McDonald’s was the go-to for dinner. As more people care about what they put into their bodies in terms of food, there is a trickle down effect in terms of what else they can do to be healthy.
  • Fitbits. Who would have thought that the idea of tracking your step, your heart rate while working out, and the number of calories burned while exercising would fuel a growth in exercise? It has. Having your Fitbit, Apple Watch, Garmin, and even many of the smartphones at your fingertips has raised awareness of your health and gotten more people to realize health is important in their lives.
  • Streaming exercises. Many people don’t exercise because it’s just one more thing to add to their already busy lives. Getting to the gym can take valuable time. Hence, the growth in the idea of attending a class at home at your convenience has taken root and, surprisingly, had not caused a dip in gym memberships. Research has shown most of these people do maintain a gym membership, but also utilize streaming as well.
  • Two segments of the fitness industry have been responsible for the majority of its recent growth in members and number of facilities: Boutique fitness studios and “high-value, low-price” (HVLP) health clubs. Inexpensive gyms with great equipment has exploded as gym owners utilize the fact that 150 people who can pay $30 is more revenue that 30 who can pay $130 dollars. Plus, by stripping out the amenities (like towels) provided by traditional gyms, HVLPs save money, which they pass on to their clients. Less impactful, but still important, are boutique studios, which have also been growing very quickly all over the country. These studios are usually small and specialized. Spinning, high-intensity interval training classes, circuit training, barre, and Pilates are examples. They are also generally on the higher end price-wise, ranging from $20 – $50 a class, or $150 – $200 month. Selling points for these are the central locations (since they can fit almost anywhere), the specialization, and the camaraderie fostered by the smaller, more quaint environment. For the time being, consumers certainly don’t seem to mind the prices, but time will tell – especially if the economy changes.
  • Outdoor obstacle races. The Tough Mudder and The Spartan events usually draw huge crowds, mainly from the sense of teamwork and personal accomplishment that comes with completing one — not to mention they are a blast. These races have been growing in popularity for many years and with the races now broken down by skill level, the appeal of them has only grown. But what makes these one-off events have such a major impact on the fitness industry’s growth? You have to train for them —hard – and many times people do it in a health club.

According to Forbes Magazine, “all these factors have combined to create a fitness industry that is growing faster than it ever has before. The current U.S. health and fitness facility count is approximately 32,000, though there are likely thousands of boutique studios that remain uncounted. Look for that number to go way up – and potentially double – in the next decade or two.”

I Wish the Nights Would Last Forever

Colorado Mountains at night by CrossFitMomm
Colorado Mountains

I wish the nights would last forever —

The solace of the silence

Reach further into my soul.

The emptiness around me

Those asleep tucked in tight.

Me — the only one knowing

What happens in the night:

The rabbits nibble

The owls hoot

The raccoons forage

The trees shimmer.

Beautiful in their existence

And I but one to notice.

And that is the magic of the nights.

How to Row in CrossFit

hot crossFit chicks rowing in CrossFit
Rowing in CrossFit

I’ve always been a horrible rower in CrossFit. Until today when I was doing a modified version of Fight Gone Bad.

After 3 years, I think I’ve finally figured out how to row.

How to Row in CrossFit

  • Row with your legs. 60 percent legs. 20 percent core. 20 percent arms.
  • When you’re at the catch position (handle is near the front of the rower), you wait until you feel it stop. Then you pull.
  • You pull straight to your breastbone. There is no dip in the movement.
  • Lean back slightly in order to make sure the chain of the rower is at its max.
  • Pull the rower to your body with force. Finish with a strong pull.

I hope these tips will help you become a better rower in your next WOD.

CrossFit: Deadlifts and DT

CrossFit hotties doing Push Jerks at CrossFit competition
CrossFit Push Jerks

DT is a hero Workout by CrossFit that honors soldiers who have given their lives for this great nation. DT is also known as one of the hardest CrossFit workouts since it involves heavy weights.

CROSSFIT DT HERO WOD:

5 Rounds for time:

  • 12 deadlifts
  • 9 hang power cleans
  • 6 push jerks

Weight is 155 lb for guys and 105 for the ladies.

I PR’ed this workout (hit a personal record) by 2 minutes — only the 2nd time I’ve been strong enough to do 105 lbs. It was good, but it probably could have been better. I will add this one to my list of tests to do periodically. I like DT because it does challenge me as heavy weights is not my strong suit.

I also got some nice bruises when the hang power cleans got a bit too heavy!

I also did deadlifts for my strength since DT has deadlifts in them. It was a good combination to start off the week!

Benefits of an Exercise Class

There are many benefits to an exercise class, especially if you’re someone who wouldn’t exercise normally. Below is the top reasons to join an exercise class today.

TOP REASONS TO JOIN AN EXERCISE CLASS

  • Accountability. This one is huge. If you commit to a class, you are more likely to attend. If you attend a gym or a workout facility that charges you if you miss a class, this percentage jumps dramatically. This is an even better way to make sure you exercise. These are usually specialty places like HIIT gyms, kickboxing, or cycle classes where they reserve equipment for you and don’t let others in.
  • Extra push. You do work harder when there are others around you to “compete” against, even if you aren’t necessarily competing. We can thank our inner drive most of us have to beat others, which is also the reason humans are where we are technologically. The drive to be the best and be the first has resulted in major innovations over time.
  • Workout with a friend. Working out with a friend also contributes to
    Crossfit Running in a 5k race
    Running a 5k

    accountability as well. However, the primary reason to attend an exercise class with a friend is it’s fun. It makes the hour long class go by a lot faster when you can chit-chat in-between moves or during transition times.

  • Mindless. It’s nice to show up to the gym and not have to think about what to do, especially if you’ve been at work all day, thinking. Furthermore, an exercise class provides this much needed structure, so your time is maximized — important when so many of us lead very busy lives.
  • Learn about exercise. Exercise class instructors will teach you about exercise. They will show you proper form for moves, give you new moves you didn’t know existed and/or ideas to add to your own workout routine, and extra tips like nutrition and supplement advice.
  • Routine. Attending the same classes every week is an easy way to develop a routine. You are more likely to stick to exercising in a routine than just going it your own, hoping for the best.
  • Variety. We all know how mind-numbingly boring running on a treadmill can be. However, you run on a treadmill in a class setting with the instructor telling you what to do and pushing you, and this mind-numbing has suddenly turned into a butt-whipping that you crave.

There are many benefits to attending exercise classes as well as working out alone. Try both and see what works for you. What really matters is staying active and  healthy. How you stay active and healthy is up to you.

A Killer HIIT Workout

I just did a HIIT (high-intensity, interval training) workout for 90 minutes today at Orange Theory Fitness and got my butt kicked. I ran almost 5 miles at different intensities, and then had to row and do dumbbell moves afterwards. By 1 hour and 20 minutes, I was done. I was barely moving. I’m pretty sore now already.

WHAT’S A HIIT WORKOUT?

HIIT workouts are high-intensity interval training workouts designed to increase the

Crossfit chicks preparing to weightlift in CrossFit
Preparing to Weightlift in CrossFit

body’s need for oxygen and create an oxygen shortage, causing your body to ask for more oxygen during recovery. This afterburn effect is referred to as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) and is the reason why intense exercise will help burn more fat and calories than regular aerobic and steady-state workouts.

Over time, high-intensity workouts can increase your VO2 max, or your body’s ability to use oxygen for energy. This translates to better endurance, which leads to more energy and the ability to sustain more work for a longer period of time.

Working different aerobic systems improves endurance while building stronger fast-twitch muscle fibers, which can help deliver that final kick needed to finish strong. Working out at 70 percent to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate will deliver the greatest EPOC effect.

However, recovery is important. We only get stronger when we recover, and it can take 24 to 48 hours to fully recover from a high intensity interval training workout.

WHY YOU SHOULD TRY HIIT WORKOUTS

  • Increase your metabolism to burn more calories faster and longer
  • Increase your VO2 max to increase endurance
  • Force yourself outside your comfort zone to do things you otherwise wouldn’t
  • Increase performance across all sports

I can tell you right now I would never have done this on my own. The advantages to working out in a class setting is you do do things you otherwise wouldn’t. It was fun. I got an amazing workout. I burned 741 calories. And I feel great! I can’t wait until my next class!