Top 3 Reasons To Train With Kettlebells


If you could only buy one piece of equipment to accomplish all of your training what would you buy? Treadmills and cycles are great for cardio but definitely won’t get you stronger. A barbell is great but where do you have room to keep it and let alone use it? Total gym style machines always feel so awkward, the cables never work and they seem to be built for someone elses body. So what exactly can use to transform your body, build strength, burn fat, and improve your cardio?

Enter the kettlebell.

Kettlebells are a great and diverse tool that you should implement into your training. Kettlebell swings train the total body and can be a low impact way to build muscle.They can be used to improve performance as well as make you look and feel strong and capable. Of course a tool is only useful as long as you know how to use it. Consider learning the basics with a certified coach who can show you the ropes. 

Today let’s dive into the top 3 reasons to train with kettlebells so you can see if they are a good fit for your fitness regimen. 

  • Carry Over To Sport and Life
  • Add Variety To Your Training
  • Quick And Effective Way To Train

1. Carry Over To Sport and Life

Kettlebell swings have tremendous carry over to your sport and lifestyle activities. They teach you how to hinge at the hip, one of the most important movement patterns for health and optimal function. A strong and healthy lower back as well as a tight core will be developed rapidly when you train kettlebell swings with good form. You will also develop an iron grip. Grip is one of the best indicators of a healthy human and Harvard has found strong correlation between grip strength and cardiovascular health. 

Swings will also improve your performance with the olympic lifts and power lifts and any other hip dominant movement like jumping. Kettlebell swings teach the dynamic hip extension that is the foundation of a powerful lifter and athlete. When you become strong and proficient with swings you can continue adding load becoming stronger and more explosive in the process.

2. Add Variety To Your Training

You can train Kettlebell swings more often than many other strength movements. Performing swings 2-3 times per week can really improve your strength and endurance and shake up your typical workout routine. By adjusting the weights , the number of sets, repetitions, and how long you rest you can get totally different responses from your kettlebell workout. 

A typical Monday workout could focus on strength and power. You would use fewer reps and a heavy weight taking 2-3 minutes between sets to fully recover. 

Wednesdays workout could be focused on building cardio. Use a light kettlebell and swing it for a long time. Pick a number like 20, 50, or even 100 reps and see how quickly you can get there. Or set a timer for 5:00 and see how many swings you can get in that amount of time. 

On Friday you could train kettlebell swings in a high intensity interval workout. Use light to moderate weights and focus on explosive efforts followed by bouts of recovery.

3. Quick And Effective Way To Train

Learning swings comes easier for some and harder for others. They are also easier to learn than the olympic lifts and far less technical. Swings are a great alternative for individuals who are focused on fitness for their health and young athletes. They also require less time to prepare the body for in terms of warming up the joints, muscles, and nervous system. They can be a fast and fun way to fit in a workout if you don’t have much time.

The kettlebell swings is such an effective tool because it trains both the eccentric (lengthening of the muscle) and concentric (shortening of the muscle) in a dynamic fashion. The snatch and clean both require a focus on a strong concentric contraction as the weight is lifted, Swings offer a different stimulus that may better suit athletes in sports like basketball or soccer or folks whose goal is not to lift maximal weight overhead. 

Kettlebell swings are a fun and effective way to train. Just like most exercises, it’s best to learn from a certified coach so you know you are performing them properly. If you are interested in getting in shape and training in a fun new environment come in for a free consult and we can show where you how training can be fun and get you results!

Michelle Sanchez


Have you met Michelle?

 

  • How long have you been a member of Nela Athletics?

2 years

  • What’s your favorite CrossFit/Ignite achievement?

Slowly getting over my fear of lifting heavy. I just got my PR of 88 lbs for my clean. I was so surprised since I couldn’t do 73 lbs during the open this year!

  • How do you think you have benefited most from Nela Athletics?

Finding my balance. I feel as a teacher and now coordinator, my days can get really busy and often sleep and good eating habits are the first to start going. Having a gym close by- that I look forward to going to, helps me to keep those things in order. I feel I have been doing a much better job with getting my sleep and eating healthy so I get to see more of my results

  • How has your life changed from when your first started to now. Can be physically, mentally, emotionally.

This past year was tough with bell palsy, a death of a student, and home/family issues. Mentally, NELA has been my saving grace- I can come in a just focus on myself for an hour. I can be around people who are supportive and not stress about life. The workouts and coaches like Paul and D.Lee have really helped me when I’ve been down, get me into a more positive mindset when I really needed it.

  • What are your hobbies or activities you do enjoy outside of CrossFit?

I love to paint! I also love to play soccer. I play in a co-ed league on Sundays with my brother and some friends- super fun!

  • What is one thing people don’t know about you?

I was a synchronized swimmer for 10 years and coached it for 2

  • If you could pick three famous people to be a part of your entourage, who would you pick?

Gina Rodriguez, Jessie J and JLO

20. Unpacking My Fit


Coach Day Ortega (and her daughter/sidekick Dejah) stop by the podcast to talk about her own “path to wellness,” and her new program to help keep others on the right track, even when things on the fitness journey can get a little weird. Oh yeah, Wes is missing this episode. 🙁

Check out this episode!

Jesse Doe


Have you met Jesse

  • How long have you been a member of Nela Athletics?

About four years now.

  • What’s your favorite CrossFit/Ignite achievement?

Finally finishing a CrossFit Open!

  • How do you think you have benefited most from Nela Athletics?

I lift things properly now, and pay more attention to what I eat.

  • What are your hobbies or activities you do enjoy outside of CrossFit?

Hobby board gaming and occasionally playing my Jazzmaster

  • What is one thing people don’t know about you?

I’m a pretty good oil painter!

  • If you could pick three famous people to be a part of your entourage, who would you pick?

Werner Herzog, Cormac McCarthy, and Neil Young

Harry Shin


Have you met Harry

  • How long have you been a member of Nela Athletics?

3 years

  • What’s your favorite CrossFit/Ignite achievement?

Completing the Pull-Up Challenge last February, and reaching a PR of 19 unbroken pull ups.

  • How do you think you have benefited most from Nela Athletics?

Accountability with my fitness and diet through community.

  • What are your hobbies or activities you do enjoy outside of CrossFit?

Watching and playing sports, watching movies, experimental cooking, trying out new restaurants.

  • What is one thing people don’t know about you?

I ran the beaches of South Korea naked… as a toddler.

  • If you could pick three famous people to be a part of your entourage, who would you pick?

Dwayne Johnson, Dule Hill, and Roy Choi

5 Superfoods To Boost Your Training


As an athlete, businessman or super mom you are always looking for a competitive edge. When it comes to your diet you should employ the same strategy. Superfoods are foods that have more benefit than the energy they provide from carbs, fat, and protein. Superfoods contain vitamins, minerals, and other key phytonutrients that support your training make these foods even more worth your while to eat. By incorporating these foods in your diet you are giving yourself an advantage in your training and recovery.

1.Reduce Soreness and Improve Healing with Tart Cherry

 

Tart Cherry extracts, powders, and juices have proven to be beneficial for athletes.

Studies have found numerous benefits including reduced muscle soreness after training,

Tart cherries are also naturally rich in melatonin, the hormone that helps regulate the sleep/wake cycle in our body. Consuming tart cherry extract in the evening after a training session should promote sleep and recovery.

Studies have shown benefit with doses of 16oz (480mL). Use that as a starting point and see if you can enjoy the benefits of tart cherry!

2. Metabolize Estrogen with Broccoli

High estrogen levels is not ideal whether you are a male or female athlete. Estrogen can promotes the gain of fat mass. Broccoli contains a substance called 3,3′-Diindolylmethane (DIM) that is capable of metabolizing free estrogen. Consume broccoli at any of your main meals. Just make sure to cook it properly to optimize digestion and absorption.

3. Recover Post Workout with Kiwi and Pineapple

Kiwi and pineapple are two great choices for a post workout carbohydrate. These fruits are high glycemic and will quickly replenish muscle glycogen and hydrate the body after training. They also contain high levels of antioxidants that help eliminate the waste generated from exercise. Pineapples contain enzymes that can aid digestion and compounds that benefit eye health. Both of these benefits very important to consider if you are training hard. Shoot for 1-2 cups of these superfood fruits immediately after exercise.

4. Control Cravings and Boost Your Health with Cinnamon

Cinnamon contains a powerful compound called cinnamaldehyde which follows into a class of antioxidants called polyphenols. Cinnamaldehyde has been shown to effect ghrelin secretion and gastric emptying of the stomach making it a great tool to support healthy weight maintenance. Cinnamon may improve insulin sensitivity, helping the body store more carbohydrates as glycogen, and preventing a sharp rise in blood sugar. It is also a powerful antioxidant that may help eradicate bacteria, viruses, and possibly even cancerous cells in the body. Cinnamon goes great on so many foods and is an easy way to incorporate its valuable benefits into your diet.

5. Gain Lean Muscle with Brazil Nuts

Brazil nuts are a superfood and can truly be a meal in themselves. They contain healthy fats, essential vitamins and minerals, fiber, and are a complete protein containing all 9 essential amino acids. Brazil nuts are high in the antioxidant and mineral selenium. Selenium has been found to improve levels of luteinizing hormone, which is required for testosterone production. Consume 2-3 of these nuts daily to get the required dose of selenium and all the other benefits of this supernut.

There you have it, 5 amazing superfoods for athletes. If you want to learn more about eating to improve your health and performance we would be more than happy to help!

 

Debunking 3 Big Stretching Myths


Stretching is one of the most misunderstood practices in the realm of fitness and sports performance. A long standing staple in many training sessions, it is commonly performed incorrectly, performed at the wrong time, or avoided for the wrong reason.

By the end of this article you should be able to see the benefits of stretching and how to place it into your routine. Let’s take a closer look at what stretching is, when to do it, and debunk 3 of the most common myths about stretching.

    • Myth #1 Stretching makes you weak.
    • Myth #2 Stretching should not be performed before exercise or sport.
    • Myth #3 Stretching increases risk of injury.

Myth #1 Stretching makes you weak.

Stretching is sometimes avoided entirely. Especially by athletes who are concerned with losing strength or experiencing a decrease in performance. Holding long static stretches before executing a high intensity lift or movement may have an impact on the stretch shortening cycle of the muscle.

Most folks however, are not going hold a long passive hamstring stretch and immediately pop up into a heavy set of back squats or deadlifts. Proper stretching of the muscle requires breathing, relaxation, and a parasympathetic state to be performed correctly. Odds are that what most folks consider stretching is more like jamming their connective tissues, ligaments, and joints into aggressive end range of motion and uncomfortably holding them there until the pain is overwhelming. The positions are wrong. The intensity is too high. The body doesn’t relax. Stretching is not achieved.

Performing proper stretching has actually been shown to IMPROVE strength as the muscle is able to contract properly and generate force through a greater range of motion. But when and how should it be done? Let’s move on to myth #2.

Myth #2 Stretching should not be performed before exercise or sport.

Stretching before exercise or sport can actually increase performance. The key is knowing how long to stretch. A meta-analyses of studies around stretching and the ability to generate strength or power in subsequent effort found some pretty clear data.

Holding stretches for less than 30 seconds had no negative effect on the ability to jump, sprint, or produce force in resistance training movements. Holding stretches for 30 seconds or longer lead to decreases in the ability to produce force with longer stretch times leading to more significant decrease.

Key Takeaway: Perform dynamic stretching and short duration static stretching before exercise or sport. Take the muscles through a progressively increasing range of motion to improve circulation and prepare the body for performance.

Myth #3 Stretching increases risk of injury

Based on the first two myths being debunked you probably know where this one is heading… The idea that stretching increases risk of injury is tied in with the lack of knowledge around proper timing and execution of stretching protocols. In fact in today’s society where we spend more time sitting, in poor positions, with our shoulders hunched and necks cranked forward as we peer at our cellphones and computer screens.

We’ve already established a dynamic stretching and short duration (< :30 seconds) static stretching routine can help prepare the body for performance, but there is a huge benefit to longer duration static stretching post workout and during active recovery sessions. By addressing some commonly tight muscles like the pectoralis or psoas we are able to correct our bodies posture and alignment. Stretching these two muscles helps provide stability to the hip and shoulder joints and can significantly decrease injury risk.

So now that we’ve debunked some of the common myths around stretching you should feel confident about incorporating stretching into your training. If you need help with stretching, mobility, or any other training needs consider connecting with one of our trainers to find a plan that works for you.

5 Common Mistakes in Low Carb Diets


High fat or low carb diets are a popular choice when it comes to styles of eating. Electing to eat more fat and minimize carbohydrate intake can be a great choice if you are trying to promote lean body mass, increase insulin sensitivity, and easily maintain health.
It is important that you consult with your doctor before beginning any new approach to your nutrition. Eating a diet higher in fat, with moderate protein, and lower in carbohydrate is beneficial for most people but may not be right choice for you under certain conditions. Healthy individuals however should consider the benefits of this eating approach. By avoiding these 5 Common Mistakes in your Low Carb Diets you will set yourself up for success.

 

Eating the same foods over and over.
Insufficient Carbohydrate Intake.
Missing Out on Key Vitamins and Minerals
You aren’t able to hydrate properly.
You don’t fuel before or replenish after a workout.

 

1. Eating the same foods over and over.
Lack of diversity is one of the most mistakes that can occur in many diets. With low carb diets this usually is a result of a limited range of choices for fats and a relatively small amount of carbohydrate consumption that limits the amount of foods you eat in that macronutrient.

For fats it is important that you include fats from a wide range of products including nuts, seeds, plants, meat, and fish. You should especially focus on including high quality polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats that will give your body a healthy dose of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids.

For carbohydrates you should focus on getting most of your intake from vegetables, low glycemic fruits and starches, and unrefined whole grain foods. This will help you meet nutrient requirements and the fiber will help prevent spikes in blood sugar that can lead to cravings and fat storage.

2. Insufficient Carbohydrate Intake.
Another common mistake in low carb diets is actually going too low carb. Consuming healthy amounts of vegetables and low glycemic fruits will provide you the energy needed to get through your day. Unless you are trying to enter ketosis your body is running on glucose to fuel the brain. Unless you are practiced at fasting or burning fat as a fuel source you may experience swings in mood and energy levels by simply chopping carbs out of your diet. Most low carb diets still recommend 10-20% of intake from carbs. That means 200-400 calories throughout the day and leaves room for healthy foods like broccoli, carrots, and blueberries!

3. Missing Out on Key Vitamins and Minerals
When carbs are restricted it can be difficult to consume adequate levels of certain nutrients. One study looked at the Atkins diet, a popular low carb diet and found it delivered 100% of the RDI for only 15 out of 27 essential micronutrients. Incorporating a wide range of healthy carb choices will ensure you eat a broad spectrum of vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial phytonutrients. Low carbohydrate intake may not be the best long term plan without proper supervision and supplementation of certain micronutrients.

4. You aren’t able to hydrate properly.
Each gram of carbohydrate in the body can hold 2-3 grams of water. When we stop consuming carbohydrates it can be difficult for the body to maintain adequate hydration levels. Consuming salt, potassium, and other trace minerals becomes even more important when you choose low carb. Focus on high quality sea salt that will help replenish stores after sweating.

5. You don’t fuel before or replenish after a workout.
The final pitfall of a low carb/high fat diet is improper fueling before and after exercise. During bouts of intense activity the body demands more fuel to sustain intensity and output. Many folks who don’t consume carbs before a workout tend to feel weaker and sluggish during exercise. They then try to fuel their performance with caffeine and stimulants which further deplete them and place additional strain on the central nervous system. Consuming carbs before a workout will help boost performance and allow the body to train longer and harder.

After exercise the body needs to refuel glycogen stores. Any carbs consumed after a workout are going to be shuttle into muscle cells and stored as glycogen for energy later. By refueling your body during this time you set the tone for your next workout.

Have you made one or more of these mistakes in your nutrition? No worries. Information is key and working with a coach who has the right information is the best way to get the results you want!

Strength training for injury prevention


“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” -Benjamin Franklin

 

Life is unpredictable and sometimes in our sports, exercise, and daily life we come out of these unpredictable situations a little bit worse for the wear…

Some folks try to prevent these situations from happening through avoidance, but if you want to have a high quality of life I highly recommend you adopt a strength training program as your physical insurance program. This is certainly a much more proactive approach to mitigating physical injury than hoping for the best.

“If you train hard, you’ll not only be hard, you’ll be hard to beat.” -Herschel Walker

 

Or if you are an athlete like Robert Griffin III, you may want to consider the risk factors of your sport. Robert, aka RG3, came into the NFL and was an instant phenom and fan favorite for his dazzling display of athleticism that was so uncommon in quarterbacks. His jukes, spins, and leaps were no match for the demands professional football places on an athlete and RG3 has spent most of what was once a promising career watching from the sideline, injured.

You see, despite his athleticism, RG3 has not trained in a way that reinforced a fundamental movement pattern. As we look at the series of pictures highlighting the windup before an explosive jump, We see a valgus knee fault where his knees cave in creating a very compromised position for the joints of his lower extremities. Even though not all injuries are preventable, by focusing more on proper technique and exercises that stabilized the knee joint rather than increasing strength and speed RG3 may have avoided some major injuries in his career.

 

“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.” -Beverly Sills

 

So what should a workout look like?

Exercise should replicate natural human movement patterns. The ones we encounter on a day to day basis. Squat, lunge, hinge, push, pull, rotate and walk. Most exercises fall into at least one and sometimes several of these movement patterns. By addressing all of them in our training we not only improve our functional strength but also prepare our bodies for anything life could throw at them.

 

In one study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine there was an 88% overall reduction in ACL injury rate in an intervention group of soccer players who participated in an injury prevention program. The right knowledge and a little consistency can go a long way when it comes down to keeping your body healthy.

 

Is your current training program addressing mobility, recovery, full range of motion, and then total body strength?

If you have suffered from injuries in the past or have concerns with your mobility it is important to address those with your trainer or coach. They will be able to help you by assessing the area of concern and designing a program to help you improve function with goals and checkpoints along the way. It is not always fun, easy, or sexy to do but giving attention to our problem areas will be easier to do the sooner you start.

 

“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ”Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.” -Muhammad Ali

 

Don’t be the dad who throws out his back building sand castles at the beach. Talk to one of our coaches and we’ll help you tackle your challenge areas today!

 

Danny Richter


Have you met Danny?

 

  • How long have you been a member of Nela Athletics?

4 1/2 years

  • What’s your favorite CrossFit/Ignite achievement?

Physically, probably pull-ups. I worked on them daily for months.

  • How do you think you have benefited most from Nela Athletics?

The fitness gains have been tremendous – I can do things now that I couldn’t in high school. But it has to be the people. I’ve also been able to formulate for myself what I call the “Three Rules of Crossfit.” To wit: 1.) have fun with your friends; 2.) Do your absolute best; and 3.) try not to sh*t yourself. Also, hassle the coaches whenever possible.

  • How has your life changed from when your first started to now. Can be physically, mentally, emotionally.

Physically, I dropped a ton of weight (almost but not quite literally) – mentally, I think I’ve gotten a lot tougher. Shortly after I started, coach MJ came up to me after a brutal workout and said, “you give up too easily.” I was pissed but I thought about it and realized he was right. My mental game is much stronger now. But again, it has to be the people. It’s like an extended family.

  • What are your hobbies or activities you do enjoy outside of CrossFit?

Well. I don’t want to brag.

  • What is one thing people don’t know about you?

I make all my own furniture. My six year old thinks I have, and I quote, “an annoying sense of humor.”

  • If you could pick three famous people to be a part of your entourage, who would you pick?

My entourage? So you mean my posse? Assuming that if I pick a dead person, they come back to life (otherwise, I would go for live people for practical reasons) – I would say: Robin Williams and Genghis Kahn (I think the two of them would engage in hilarious banter) and Barack Obama. I think Williams, Khan, and Obama would make a great team. Diverse and inspirational. We would definitely get shit done.