Luis Ramirez


Have You Met Luis?

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

I have been part for NELA Athletics for about 2 years now.

  • What’s your favorite CrossFit/Ignite achievement?

I can finally do my T2B consistently and bar muscle ups. YASS!

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

Aside from the muscle gainz, I’ve also gained a lot of great friendships.

  • How has your life changed from when your first started to now?

NELA taught me to challenge myself daily and as a result I’ve become more courageous and confident.

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

Watching reality TV.

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

My birthday is on Christmas Day.

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

The 2006 Holy Trinity: Paris, Lindsay and Britney. LOL

Handstand Challenge


December is the time of year where fitness gets pushed to the back burner. Let’s not make this the case this year. For the month of December you will be challenge to hold a handstand.

This is something that is quick and easy to do. If you’re at work, at home or even at the air port. Each day you will have to hold a handstand and as the days go on the longer the handstand holds!

How To: Handstand Hold

Some benefits of the Handstand:

Strengthening Your Upper Body

Not only does a handstand force you to engage your core, but of course it also forces you to use your upper body to stay upright, especially your arms and shoulders.

Relieves Stress

Handstand is known as a cooling posture, meaning that it helps you to draw your attention inwards. This posture is extremely helpful if you are having anxiety, stress, fear or otherwise worrisome thoughts.

Improves Blood Flow To The Eyes

When you flip over, you will be sending extra oxygen and nutrient rich blood to the head, and that means more will be getting to your eyes. This can help to prevent macular degeneration and other eye issues.

Improves Digestion

When you allow the effects of gravity to be reversed on your digestive organs, you will help to move stuck material, release trapped gases, as well as improve blood flow to the all important digestive organs — increasing nutrient absorption and delivery to your cells.

Decreases Fluid Build-Up In The Legs, Ankles, And Feet

Edema in the legs is no fun, and it can happen if you tend to spend long hours on your feet. Reversing the effects of gravity on your bodily fluids will help to flush out built up water in the legs, relieving the uncomfortable feeling of edema.

Develops Strength In The Core Muscles

Handstand is a major core workout. You will rely on your core strength to hold your legs up and keep your balance throughout the pose. Having a strong core makes you more durable and less prone to injury.

Rich Martinez


Have You Met Rich?

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

I would say 6 years off and on like a normal procrastinator.

  • What’s your favorite CrossFit/Ignite achievement?

Getting healthy again. I was overweight/out of shape and did not notice really until I started CrossFit.

  • What are three benefits that you have experienced through working out?

Being able to get focused. Learning to be more disciplined and feeling good overall.

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

You definitely see a difference physically but the mental part is what matters the most. Not only do you learn how to be disciplined in the gym but you use the same tools in your everyday life.

  • Have you had any physical changes that you noticed? 

It has to be the amount of weight I dropped while getting stronger. The before and after pictures are kinda crazy. I went from 240lbs to 175lbs. It took a couple of 2-a-days to get there but it was satisfying seeing the changes. .

  • What is your favorite part of the NELA Athletics experience?

The grind. If you don’t show up, you don’t get results. Motivation can only last so long… you have to stick to it mentally.

  • What are some hobbies or activites you are into besides CrossFit

Going to sporting events or hitting some bars to watch games… yeah, that might have had a part to my weight gain ha!

  • The zombie apocalypse is coming, who are three people you want on your team?

Superman, Batman & Thanos.

  • If you could be in any movie, what would it be and what character would you play?

Currently, any John Wick movies as John Wick.

How To Optimize Your Warmup And Cooldown Routines


Warmups and cooldowns are an essential part of training and should be given as much thought and effort as the workout itself. In fact if you’re short on time you are better off going through a proper warmup, mobilization, and stretching session than to try to get a quick workout in while skipping those other components. Let’s take a look at why these components of training and see why each one is so important and how you can optimize it.

  • Warmup
  • Mobilization
  • Cooldown
  • Stretching
Photo by Dana

Warmup
Your warmup prepares your body and mind for that day’s training. Not every day is the same and your warmup is specific to that. When planning and executing the warmup you need to consider which energy system your body will be utilizing. A max rep back squat requires very different preparation than a conditioning session with double-unders and wall balls. The warmup helps to elevate heart rate, stimulate the nervous system, and optimize the function of the tissues and motor patterns you will be training that day. This will reduce your injury risk and optimize your ability to perform. 
If you are someone who enjoys chatting during the warmup or never quite breaks a sweat then I want to challenge you to dial it up a notch. Give your warmup 100% of your effort next class and see what I mean. If you are giving your best effort in the general and specific warm-up drills you will notice a huge difference in your ability to recruit and activate muscles. This will allow you to move with better form. The efficiency of moving with better form allows to lift more weight and improve your fitness. Isn’t that why we’re all here in the first place… 🙂

Mobilization
Human movement patterns can be broken down into a few broad and overarching groups like squat, lunge, hinge, push, pull, rotate and walk. When you mobilize before a workout you are addressing 
Sometimes you will accomplish mobilization through a dynamic warm-up. Taking your joints through an increasing range of motion in order to prepare them for the rigors of the workout. Sometimes you will slow down and target specific tissues through foam rolling, flossing, or distraction techniques with a band. 
Let’s say the day’s workout is to build up to a heavy single deadlift. The first step is to consider what movement patterns will be involved. In this case, the deadlift involves a hinge as the primary movement pattern. You want to make sure that your back, hips, glutes, and hamstrings are well oiled and firing before you start touching a barbell. 

Cooldown
The cooldown can and should involve more than making sweat angels on the floor. The goal is to ensure continuous blood flow to remove the toxins and metabolites that have built up during your training session. By continuing to move after a workout you are actually improving your recovery and setting the tone for your next training session. Hopping on a bike or rower for 10:00 minutes and moving at an easy conversational pace can be a total game-changer in the way you feel the next day. This habit can be hard to do at first. Instead of laying on the floor until you crush your protein shake and head out the door you will develop mental toughness by challenging your body to keep moving. There are huge dividends to this and you will notice improvements in your recovery each day and reduced soreness.

Stretching
After your cooldown incorporating stretching and additional mobilization techniques into your routine is essential to optimize recovery and performance in your next workout. When you perform an exercise your body is in “fight or flight” mode. There is a huge shift that occurs during your stretching and rolling session where your body switches back into a parasympathetic or “rest and digest” state. Stretching muscles has been shown to temporarily improved range of motion and will help you when you go to tie your shoes the next morning. By focusing on breathing and moving your tight and sore muscles you are helping to establish homeostasis and you will feel much better for the rest of the day. This is a great practice to repeat again later in the day before bed, especially if you are someone who has trouble shutting off at night and unwinding.
Today we looked at why it is so important to optimize the warmup, mobilization, cooldown, and stretching. We all love to go hard in the workout, but by focusing on improving in these areas is really how you will start to see results!

What’s Keeping You From Achieving Your Goals?


If you currently want something in your life that you don’t have then there is a 100% chance that you are human. How you define yourself is by the action you take towards bringing those into your life. Some people make declarations about how they are finally going to make the big change
Generally, if you have a goal you haven’t achieved yet you fall into one of these three camps. 

Photo by Dana
  • You don’t know what to do and you don’t know how to do it.
  • You don’t think you deserve it.
  • You haven’t put in the work.

So what’s really keeping you from achieving your goals? Let’s find out…

1. You don’t know what to do and you don’t know how to do it.
This is generally the first challenge you encounter when you have a new goal. Luckily it is also the easiest barrier to address when it comes to making positive changes in your life. Whether you seek to earn more money, improve your health, or find your soulmate there are websites, coaches, books, podcasts, and more resources than you know what to do with. Success leaves clues and in the information age we live in you have access to the tools and resources you need to get started on the path to your goal.

“When action is our priority, vanity falls away.”  – Ryan Holiday

Let’s say your goal is to lose 10 pounds and keep it off. Like forever keep it off. Many adults find themselves at a weight they don’t feel comfortable and confident at. The problem is that if you have only ever gained weight since you were a kid and never seen the scale go (and stay) in the opposite direction then you are a total novice. Being a professional weight gainer is easy for you, you’ve done it your whole life. If you want to lose weight then you have to start fresh. It’s time to throw out what you think is true about nutrition and exercise because all of the information you have is through the lens of a person who has only ever gained weight. Let go of ego. Let go of pride. If you want to make the change then you have to start with fresh eyes.

2. You don’t think you deserve it.
This could be thought of as self-sabotage. Maybe since you were a child you have been conditioned to think a certain way. Many of the long-standing beliefs humans hold are instilled by parents, environments, or traumatic experiences. Long ago the brain accepted as fact that “this is the way it is”. If you have a long-held belief that is clashing with one of your current goals then your first order of business is to remove that roadblock. No amount of will power or strategy can overcome a fixed mindset. You are an adult and you are responsible for your own life. You have the power to change any condition that you don’t want. 

“How have I been complicit in creating the conditions I say I don’t want?” -Jerry Colonna

Executive coach and author Jerry Colonna asks a powerful question to himself and his clients. “How have I been complicit in creating the conditions I say I don’t want?” Ask yourself this question in the context of your current goal. If you are struggling to lose weight, what are the things that you have been “okay with” lately? If it’s the food in the fridge that you snack on, skipping your workout, or surrounding yourself with people who have unhealthy habits then that is entirely on YOU to change. That starts by demanding more of yourself. You have to consider yourself worthy of the goal you claim to want. When you are mentally ready to be the person who achieves this goal you will be able to receive it.

3. You haven’t put in the work.
This can be the most frustrating camp to fall into when it comes to not achieving your goals. You may be doing everything right. You hired the coach, you have a strategy, and you’re executing on it every day. So why haven’t you accomplished your goal yet?! 

“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” -Vince Lombardi

Whether growing a business or growing your biceps it can be tough when the results haven’t shown up yet. So what should you do?
KEEP GOING! 
Constantly ask yourself: What else could I be doing? Continually revisit camps one and two in this post. Are there any additional resources or tools that could be getting you to your goals faster? Could you work with someone who has proven results in the exact area you are trying to grow? Are there any roadblocks you are creating for yourself? Is there an area where your behavior is inconsistent with the outcome that you seek?
Frustration or anger can itself be a powerful tool. If you are fed up with your lack of progress then you should use that as fuel for your fire. If you have the bandwidth to be upset about your situation then you most likely have the bandwidth to work harder (or smarter😉). If you still don’t know why the results won’t come then you should consider working with a mentor or coach who can help you get there. A great coach will help you set up a framework for success. They will help you develop a SMART goal that aligns with your mission and current state. Understanding the time frame and order of steps necessary to achieve a goal can dramatically improve your mindset and the way you tackle each day. You can break your goal down into manageable chunks and as you check them off you will build momentum towards your big goal. The best coaches will be clear and neutral in their feedback about what it takes to get to you to your goal. 

You want to surround yourself with people who will be supportive and honest your path to success. Avoid the detractors. That includes anyone who tells you they support you, but that you can’t achieve what you want and to “get real”. This life is yours to choose and you can’t waste time with the people that will only hold you back. 

24. A Life Wes Ordinary


We wrap up our deep dives into the show hosts by burrowing deep into Wes Mendelson, a guy who normally offers a kind smile but doesn’t share much. Turns out, still waters run deep! Plus, some news about the future of the show. Check it out!

Check out this episode!

No Kip November


What is No Kip November?

For the month of November you will be challenge to go through your workouts without kipping! That means strict pull ups, muscle ups, ring dips, handstand push ups, toes to bar, and any other movement that you could kip too.

Yes your WOD times most likely will be slower than usual, but one month of building up the correct muscle groups will make it all worth it!

WORK CAPACITY

We define fitness in CrossFit as your demonstrated work capacity over broad time and modal domains. Work equals the force required to move an object or your body multiplied by the distance it travels divided by the time it takes to complete the movement. So if you can decrease the amount of time it takes you do pull-ups, handstand push-ups or muscle-ups then your demonstrated work capacity has gone up.

Increased work capacity is great but not at the expense of strength. Nor is increasing strength at the cost of work capacity. What’s awesome about gymnastics movements is the better you get at the strict movement the easier the dynamic (kipping) versions will be.

GYMNASTIC STRENGTH

 Common things said by athletes “I have a love/hate relationship with strict gymnastics movements. I see the benefit in them but they are so hard to do and that gets a little frustrating.” For example: “I think I can manage about 7-10 strict pull-ups (really probably 3 or 4 if I maintain a hollow body position while doing them), but I can knock out between 25 and 30 kipping pull-ups.” “This is because I’ve spend much more time working on my kipping and have pretty good technique. I use my entire body to do the work and am pretty efficient.”

Imagine how many kipping pull-ups you be able to do if you could do 20 strict pull-ups. Developing strict gymnastic strength is so important to your overall fitness. It develops body awareness and control as well as being very impressive to watch.

MUSCULAR HYPERTROPHY AND STRENGTH

Building muscle and foundational strength is key for any level of fitness and sport. While both pull-up movements are similar (kipping vs strict), strict pull-ups will work to develop the concentric, isometric, and eccentric muscle actions through the range of motion trained. Kipping pull-ups have a tendency to decrease the amount of strength and force production needed to complete the movement because of the kip motion propelling the body upwards (via hip extension).

LAST REP

With that said, athletes and coaches who are looking for increased body mechanics, awareness, muscular and grip endurance, and specific gymnastics or competitive fitness skills; the kipping pull-up is a necessity for overall development of an athlete.

I know there is a culture of kipping being the cool thing to do. But what if we changed that and developed a culture of strength and strict movements and just used kipping in specific circumstances? Like the your local competition or even the CrossFit Open. We’d be stronger, have better body control and kipping would be even easier.

Throw Up Heavy Weight, Not Your Breakfast


Pukie the clown can attest.

When it comes to training with intensity, we have to walk a fine line between achieving the desired stimulus and overdoing it. One consequence of pushing yourself too hard in a workout can be nausea and potentially even vomiting. 

This is never a fun way to end a training session, or worse, to halt your training session only having to finish the workout once you’ve recovered. (Mouthwash anyone?!)

But vomiting during or after a workout is something that can be addressed and avoided almost all together. There are certain factors that correlate with this unwanted reversal of digestion and if you plan properly you can finish the workout in style with minty fresh breath! 

To start let’s take a look at what is happening in the body leading up to a catastrophic workout induced vomiting. Often times you are performing an exercise that elevates lactate levels, something like intervals of sprints or sprint style wods with tools like the air bike or rower that are alternated with brief bouts of rest. You go all out on each short set and then have a brief recovery period. Sometimes it only takes one hard set. 

During high intensity exercise your body flips the switch from parasympathetic to sympathetic systems. The need to perform is prioritized over the need to repair, recover, and digest. Blood is shunted away from the organs associated with digestion. The brain has redirected it to the muscles in the arms and legs to aid performance by providing oxygen and carrying away metabolic waste.

When we warm up we should aim to bring our bodies gradually and progressively to the capacity needed to perform the workout. This is one of the key ways to avoid the dreaded exercise induced emesis. If you jump too quickly into the workout, the body can perform the movement, but homeostasis is seriously disrupted and it attempts to restore it as quickly as possible. Having elevated acid levels in the blood is dangerous to the body and it decides that all other functions need to stop until pH is back within a normal range. That means digestion gets knocked out of the queue and we all know what that means….

“When you push yourself beyond limits, you discover inner reserves, which you never thought existed earlier.” ― M. Arora

One way to reduce this unpleasant effect is by building your lactate threshold. Strategically performing workouts that take you to the brink of your threshold before resting and letting your body clear the buildup and return to normal. Your body will recognize the need to perform this process and adapt to become more efficient at it. The more you train this system the less likely you are to be majorly disrupted by threshold work and you will also notice improved work capacity.

You can also plan your nutrient intake to prevent the nausea and indigestion that can result in vomiting. Before your workout eating a small snack of about 20 grams of easily digestible protein and 40-60 grams of carbohydrate with the avoidance of fat and giving yourself about an hour to digest can be beneficial. You optimize energy levels for training, but don’t consume so much food that your body is still digesting come training time. Avoid foods high in fat as well as foods that irritate the GI tract such as dairy, spicy foods, and caffeine. 

If a 500 meter row still makes you yak, don’t sweat it. Make sure you properly rehydrate and don’t take yourself past that threshold too often. Explain what happened to your coach and they will be able to monitor your performance and provide suggestions to help you properly warm up, eat, and monitor pace to prevent this from happening. 

Isometric training 101


Have you ever failed a rep in the same position over and over again? Like why won’t my body just work for me here?!

Getting stuck in a lift is no fun. Especially when it’s the limiting factor from you hitting a PR in the lift. There are many potential reasons for missing a lift, but if your technique is pretty dialed in then it is most likely a strength issue in that particular range of motion. 

Luckily there are many training techniques to eliminate specific weaknesses like this and one of the best ways is by incorporating isometric protocols into your training. 

Isometric, as the name implies means “relating to or denoting muscular action in which tension is developed without contraction of the muscle.” Boom. Science.

That means you train the muscle without moving it. If you have a weakness. It means holding the muscle in an isometric contraction at (or around) the range of motion you want to improve.

Seem pretty simple right? It is!

You can use isometrics in the middle of your movement as well. You can incorporate a pause during the eccentric (lowering) of the weight, at the end range of motion to eliminate the stretch reflex, or during the concentric (raising) to increase muscle fiber recruitment.

“Act the way you’d like to be and soon you’ll be the way you’d like to act.”

Bob Dylan

From there you can apply all different kinds of techniques depending on if your goal is to improve strength, hypertrophy, or activation. 

Isometrics can really help you build maximal strength. Target the position that you want to improve, your “sticking point”. Perform a ten second isometric hold at this position with a moderate to heavy load. The goal is to stay locked in this position to increase motor unit recruitment and stimulate muscle fiber growth. The body adapts to the stressors placed on it. By stressing a weak point the body goes to work to make it stronger.

You could apply this to a sticking point on your squat or bench press. It could be performing a deficit deadlift and hover the bar at ground level to develop pulling strength from the floor.

If you are trying to build muscle isometrics can work for you. That includes the booty muscles too ladies! (and guys?)  When performing a lift you want to pick rep scheme that you know that you can hit while perform an isometric contraction at the top of each rep. This works great for movements like chinups, dips, or glute bridges. Perform a 3-5 second contraction at the top of each rep where you contract your muscles as hard as you can before lowering down for the next rep.

Let’s say you have weak glutes or have difficulty activating them for a lift. Increasing time under tension with longer duration isometric holds is one of the best ways to improve recruitment. A good example of this would be a single leg glute bridge isometric hold. Hold the lockout position at the top of the hold for :30-60 seconds focusing on maintaining full hip extension. You will find your backside burning and shaking real fast! This can be a great warmup protocol for movements that you have trouble getting warm for.

Now that you have learned a little bit about isometric training think about how or where you could apply them to address an area you’ve been wanting to improve!