Maximizing Your Amplify Experience

Part 6: “The Juggling Act” – Maintaining Life Balance

Preparation tips were in Part 1 and Part 2 of this series. Strength work suggestions were in Part 3, MetCon advice was found in Part 4, and Accessory Lift ideas were in Part 5.

Here’s our final installment of the six-part summer blog series: life balance.

Life balance refers to health in the whole sense, which not only includes physical fitness, but also social, mental, and emotional well-being. Wellness is an overall state of well-being, so to be well means to maintain healthful activities throughout the aging process.

Obviously, this doesn’t mean any human being is perfectly healthy. And in many ways, we shouldn’t necessarily aim to be perfect either. Like a juggling act, our life journey includes ups and downs in health habits during the process of living. It’s the balance that helps us remain healthy and happy throughout the years.

Let’s look at some quick tips to keep juggling the many aspects of life.

BEGINNERS:
The great part of CrossFit and any group fitness community is that oftentimes other dimensions of life are acquired along with the physical benefits. Emotions are regulated. Stress relief is noted. Friendships can develop. A second family adopts us to nurture us through personal ups and downs. There are lots of priorities hovering in our air and aura; here are some ideas to keep a focused eye on.

1.) See the Big Picture
Always remember strength and conditioning takes time. Remain patient while celebrating small victories. What next? Visualize desired accomplishments by revisiting fitness goals as needed. Just as important: also include in your vision life’s social time, time spent learning or creating, and mental health breaks.

2.) Map Your Week
After visualizing the next few months, create a plan to attack each week that surrounds your fitness routine. Map your time so an hour at Amplify is a part of a lifestyle, not a break from it nor an excuse for it. Write things down. When a plan is put into a calendar format, you are more likely to follow it through. This will also help you catch any potential setbacks before your vision falls to the floor.

3.) Pay it Forward
You are no longer a beginner! Through six weeks of this blog series and your work in the gym, you have gained insight that can benefit others. Reach out to newcomers with tips you found for success. The true newbies will look up to you as someone who successfully navigated the beginning months and juggled work and family demands with a new fitness routine. Socialize. Share. Help make our community the great place it continues to be.

VETERANS:
Assuming you’ve had success experiencing results in your extended time with Amplify, you deserve a round of applause. Yes, you… for your constant juggling act. Your ability to balance priorities is impressive to outsiders, but you know the work you’ve put in. Even if it looks effortless, continue to sweat through your self-management, since 1) it’s paying off, and 2) ups and downs will continue to balance with your life routine.

1.) Stay Committed
One hour at Amplify is a mere 4% of your day. Therefore, it gets increasingly easier to skip your fitness time as you get in the thick of life’s demands. It’s like taking your eye off the prize, just for a second, simply because things are going well. The fix? Find that place where habit becomes routine, and routine becomes a lifestyle. You’ve come this far; don’t drop the ball now.

2.) Allow for Leniency
Even with a committed action plan, a few days may fall by the wayside here or there. To use an analogy, you don’t scrap the entire car because a headlight went out. So don’t get rid of an entire routine because you made one mistake. While juggling priorities in life, sometimes we lose sight of one and just need a chance to pick it up again. Solve the issue, get back in rhythm, and smile through small errors.

3.) Spread the Love
As Amplify has grown, we owe it all to the members. You are the reason we exist. And you are the reason word gets around. Like what we do? Often, all it takes to spread healthy vibes is a personal invite. Word of mouth is our greatest asset, so please, continue to stay involved in Amplify outings, in-house events, fundraiser efforts– and don’t forget social media shout-outs for all you’ve gained in your fitness journey. Progress is continual motivation.

RECOMMENDED READING:
Balance
Physical, mental, and social well-being are ever-present as essential pieces to a happy and fulfilled existence.

Setbacks
It is not the setbacks themselves that define us, it is how we face each obstacle that proves our worth.

Time
How can we stop time? Or at least, how can we prolong the onset of the aging process?

 

This is the final part of a six-part series entitled Maximizing Your Amplify Experience. Check the Words of the Week links and backtrack for more!

– Scott, 8.25.2017

Maximizing Your Amplify Experience

Part 5: “Add-Ons” – Supplemental Training & Accessory Movements

Preparation tips were in Part 1 and Part 2 of this series. Strength work suggestions were in Part 3, and MetCon advice was found in Part 4.

What’s left? Additional work to sharpen your skills, round out your mobility, and achieve the best fitness possible. The checks and balances of strength and conditioning.

As with most of the fitness concepts we’ve analyzed in this series, there isn’t just one way to approach supplemental work. Since human bodies are all different, each individual will benefit from a specific method to their own mobility, strength, conditioning, and accessory movements. There are a quite a few ways to obtain fitness, so therefore, there are several things to consider for additional weekly work.

In other words, if we are looking to create a sum of x (lifelong fitness), we can add up entities a, b, and c (strength, conditioning, and accessory activities) in a multitude of ways (program differentiation) to achieve our desired equation (weekly workouts).

Let’s find a formula to consider for additions to your workout regimen.

BEGINNERS:
First and foremost, your biggest efforts need to remain with the priorities. Hit your major lifts and skilled movements each week, attack a variety of metabolic conditioning, and then sprinkle in your supplemental work.

1.) Core to Extremity
The functional piece of CrossFit includes range of motion through multi-joint movements, where primary movers in the hips and shoulders create a force that flows to the arms and legs. You can see this in exercises like Wall Ball Shots, Push Jerks, Snatches, or Kipping Pull-ups. Let these be first in your fitness equation. After that, put any accessory movements at the end of your workout, or on off-days from strenuous exercise. At least to start.

Start simple with extra reps of Push-ups, Bench/Box Dips, or Hanging Knee Raises.

2.) Weakness Work
Any strict movement, particularly those you struggle with, can be an accessory throughout the week. Cap off a shorter workouts with more strength.

Try Strict DB Shoulder Press (seated or standing), Strict Pull-ups (which may be band assisted in the early days), or strict, eccentric negatives in Handstand Holds.

3.) Mobility Work
Mobility efforts never end, do they? However, do not force additional work when lines of action are sloppy. Get your movement algorithm straight and be rational: form first, intensity second.

Handstands, Kipping, and even Air Squat therapy might help for technique and range of motion.

VETERANS:
Experienced athletes tend to get in routines, and often those routines cut any supplemental work for the sake of time (and effort). But what about using those 5 or 10 minutes that you can grab here and there on either end of your workout hour? Want to maintain fitness with age? Need to push through a training plateau? Stop skimming numbers off the top of your personal fitness.

1.) Pay Attention
It’s a little rare to do accessory work beforehand, but it might be an option as a quick “primer” for the day. Better yet, notice we throw in accessory lifts during class from time to time with supersets of strength movements. These are a little more traditional than supplemental in nature, but deserve the focus just as much as the partner lift (Bench Press, Front Squats, or gymnastics moves). Try to hit all reps with sound technique and ROM just like any other movement.

Maintain efforts in Barbell and Dumbbell Rows (Bent Over Row, One Arm DB Row, etc.), Bulgarian Split Squats, or Floor Press.

2.) Decrease Wear and Tear
Instead of hitting a double MetCon or adding an additional barbell lift after a full hour of work, it might be beneficial to use accessory lifts instead to maintain volume of training while taking a little stress off the CNS. This could be particularly true as an athlete ages for recovery reasons.

Consider GHD Sit-ups, Back Extensions, Ring Dips, or Bicep Curls.

3.) Cardio, Anyone?
Directly opposite of the point above, some athletes actually do need that extra conditioning work. It can sometimes be an overlooked tenet of fitness once CrossFit has entered the scene. And let’s make one final plug to simply be active in life. Use your fitness to play sports and try new physical activities. You have a body; it has function outside of a typical gym sequence, and a value greater than the sum of its parts. Put it to use.

Think about extra sessions of sustained Running, Rowing, or Biking, at an aerobic heart rate.

RECOMMENDED READING:
Body Types
We come in all shapes and sizes. Check out body types and a little about the endocrine system as it relates to fitness.

Weakness
Embrace your strengths, and attack your weaknesses. See some recommendations on how to rid yourself of those chinks in your armour.

Midline Stabilization
“So what do you do for abs?” A question common for CrossFit gyms, as if the only measure of fitness is 6-pack abs. So what do we do?

 

This is part five of a six-part series entitled Maximizing Your Amplify Experience. Stay tuned for the final piece.

– Scott, 8.11.2017

Maximizing Your Amplify Experience

Part 4: “Hold Fast” – The Right Conditions for Conditioning

Preparation tips were in Part 1 and Part 2 of this series. Strength work suggestions were in Part 3.

And now for the tough stuff. Strength and skill work are difficult, of course, but the lung-burning effects of metabolic conditioning is simultaneously the exciting dread and the gritty appeal of CrossFit. A lot of times, it’s what draws athletes in– and likewise, what keeps people away.

The high tides and rough waters of a MetCon can make or break us, so it’s important to note: just because we will be moving with intensity doesn’t mean we will abandon safety and efficiency. The same rules for strength work apply during a MetCon. Move correctly, move confidently, and reap the rewards of fitness. Namely, cardiovascular endurance, speed, stamina, coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy.

Here are some strategies to get the most from conditioning work. Anchors aweigh!

BEGINNERS:
It’s easy to lose sight of the horizon at the call of 3-2-1-GO! The ultimate vision? Lifelong fitness through safe, strenuous, effective exercise. Keep the following items in mind to hold your head above water as you maximize your MetCons.

1.) Be Smooth
Move well and move with purpose. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast. Work with efficiency to make gains and prevent injury. Stay organized in set-up to keep from drowning in poor movement patterns. (Think exercises like Wall Ball Shots, Deadlifts, or Kipping Pull-ups.)

2.) Be Responsive
Keep an ear open to coaching cues. Just because it’s go-time doesn’t mean we leave you alone. In fact, many movement issues are best seen when intensity is thrown into the mix. Your coach is your proverbial life jacket. Listen close. Don’t ignore persistent reminders on body positioning and range of motion.

3.) Be Patient
We’ve said it before: fitness takes time. Cardiovascular endurance in particular is a journey that deserves persistence and patience. Jump ship too early and you’ll be back ashore at square one. Follow the programming and trust in the time domains, whether long or shorter in session. In other words, let the workouts work.

VETERANS:
Humility can benefit even the most experienced athlete. Be willing to do some self-reflection– how can you improve your conditioning? Is it consistency… method… execution? To keep from treading water in your fitness journey, maintain the following approach to MetCons.

1.) Be Prepared
Just like strength work, strategize to get the most from your conditioning. Look at the rep scheme, check out the time domain, and know how you metabolically respond to certain movements. This will help you move fast and take breaks where needed. Repeating a MetCon? Any notes from last time can give you a leg-up on the retest. (Think benchmarks like Cindy, Murph, or– oh no– Fran.)

2.) Be Flexible
Although strategy is nice and all, in reality that often gets tossed overboard during the storm of a rough workout. Be willing to reel yourself in, especially if you find yourself frustrated, and adjust your sails to keep moving. Also consider forcing yourself out of your comfort zone every once in a while. For instance, if you know you tend to fatigue in longer, higher volume workouts, go out fast from time to time and embrace the discomfort of lactic threshold training. This purposeful variance, even with strategy, can propel your conditioning forward.

3.) Be a Role Model
Uphold the standards. Demonstrate full range of motion and honest, hard work. Instead of cleaning up early, remember you have a crew to cheer on. Give encouragement after you finish– you were once in those new shoes and benefitted from a community that decided to pursue fitness in a group environment. Helping others will help yourself to keep pushing with the positive current. And thanks for being our captains in this venture.

RECOMMENDED READING:
MetCons
Learn about the lure of the MetCon and the dangers of addiction.

Variance
Variety is the spice of life. But is it the key to fitness?

Scaling
Increase work capacity more efficiently by correctly scaling. Check out how.

 

This is part four of a six-part series entitled Maximizing Your Amplify Experience. Stay tuned for more.

– Scott, 7.28.2017

Maximizing Your Amplify Experience

Part 3: “Going Strong” – The Smart Approach to Strength Work

We got you started with preparation tips from Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, so now it’s go time.

Let’s look at how to approach any barbell lift (or even gymnastics skill focus).

First, understand there are quite a few styles of strength programs out there, with various macro- and micro-cycles to their name. Many have worth in any given fitness regimen, depending on desired goals and as long as the athlete is dedicated in following the progression.

In the CrossFit world, we want to build strength and skill while maintaining cardiorespiratory conditioning, so we put to use a generalized preparation program. Ultimately, let the coaches balance consistency and variance while you put in the work.

You’ve got your eyes on the prize, which is of course gains in muscular strength and endurance, so here are a few pointers that should allow you to ring that bell as you test your strength.

BEGINNERS:
Hurry, hurry, hurry! Step right up! Test your strength!
Make sure to simultaneously develop range of motion as you develop strength. Take the muscles through proper ROM so that each joint gains stability at beginning and end range. Connective tissues like tendons and ligaments need to become resilient while the muscle fibers grow in number and size, so it should all go without saying: strength takes time. You’re in this for lifelong fitness. Keep that in mind.

1.) Mechanics
Watch videos, pay attention to demos, and listen to cues. Be vocal with questions for clarification. Coaches will focus on the basics of the movement, then a few specific points during the exercise, then back to the large movement pattern. (Globally, then locally, then globally again.) Keep the form early for gains in the long run.

Mechanics Example: heels down, knees out, chest up during Back Squats.

2.) Consistency
Find and focus on the cues that seem to help– without overthinking the lift or skill. Move with solid mechanics every time, not just once in a while.

Consistency Example: stay smooth through the shoulder joints on kipping Pull-ups or Toes to Bar. Work strict pulls with sound form, then kip through the midline, not just legs, so multiple reps are clean.

3.) Intensity
If, and only if, a barbell lift or gymnastics skill is consistent in mechanics should we look to increase intensity. Be willing to reel yourself in during heavy 1rep tests or during a MetCon if your movement pattern is ever lost.

Intensity Example: are elbows dropping and lower back losing stability on high rep Cleans? Quite possibly an ego check is in order. No shame here; there’s no crowd of onlookers egging you on to swing the heavy mallet. Either slow down, drop the weight, or both.

VETERANS:
Big gun, coming through! No Rube here. Roll up the sleeves and give ‘er a whirl!
Don’t neglect the above. Check form first, then ramp up and attack the rep sequence of the day. And have fun! This is a great time to socialize between lifts. Give some kudos to the new kids on the block– they look to you for social cues. Plus, seeing others move, efficiently or not, can help with your own body awareness.

1.) Keep the Rep Scheme
Sometimes, the programmed sequence doesn’t seem like enough. Do not unnecessarily max out on a lift. Let the progression work for you. The No pain, no gain philosophy is short-sighted. Be smarter than that, and reap the benefits when it’s time. Likewise, try to hold on during the tough days. Those are on purpose, so only give in to keep safe or prevent from overtraining.

Strength Example: Snatch work calls for 5 sets of 3 at 65%, touch-and-go. You feel good and increase the weight, but have to drop in between reps. You missed the concept of barbell cycling here, and the purposeful lighter load to achieve the desired stimulus. Can’t complete more Snatch reps in a different part of the workout or on a different day that week? You missed the target completely. No prize for you.

2.) Know Your Body
Are you the type that needs a solid warm-up on the barbell before getting into the working sets of the day? Or do you tend to fatigue early and need to make bigger jumps in weight? We understand our tendencies better with experience, so let’s use that knowledge to get the most out of the strength session.

Strength Example: Deadlift options. 1) extended warm-up at #135/95 for 5 reps, then 5 more at #185/125, then 5 more at #225/155. Or, 2) quicker jumps with 5 reps at #135/95, 3 at #225/155, heavier singles up from there.

3.) Be Ready to Fail
How can you know what’s possible if you don’t test your physical threshold? Failure means we’ve tested the upper limits of our capabilities. The overload principle causes breakdown of the muscle by placing it under load, and the body rebuilds to resist future stress. We just want to safely find that failing point, and correctly do so periodically in programming, so we can approach our threshold again– whether it be in power lifts, Olympic lifts, or gymnastics movements like pull-ups and handstand push-ups. So, embrace the failure in order to succeed. Then ring that PR bell loud and clear and claim your oversized stuffed animal. Don’t worry– you’re strong enough to carry it.

Strength/Skill Examples: Strict Pull-ups to failure. Testing a 1rep Front Squat. Working on extra dips and transitions on the rings to finally achieve a Muscle-up.

RECOMMENDED READING:
Giving Up
Information on how to correctly fail by dumping a barbell.

Dedication
Hard work is never easy. Work, build gains, and work again. Check tips on how.

Movements
Click each link for pics, video, and other details.

 

This is part three of a six-part series entitled Maximizing Your Amplify Experience. Stay tuned for more.

– Scott, 7.14.2017

Maximizing Your Amplify Experience

Part 2: “You Are Here” – Upon Arriving at Amplify

You made it. You prepared with tips from Part 1 of this series, you’re off the couch, and you finally have pants on. Plus, there’s that unique mix of dread and excitement setting in for another Amplify workout.

Wait, you arrived more than a minute before class starts, right?

As coaches, we’ll get you warmed up– but keep in mind it’s a generalized warm-up before any specific workout preparation for the hour. This usually involves large muscle group movements followed by some quick drills, but you can get moving even before that. Yes, you’re in the gym, but now the work begins. If showing up is half the battle, there’s still more distance to cover.

Let’s map out some items for you to do in the minutes before class.

BEGINNERS:
To gain your whereabouts you need a zenith, since it’s easy to lose your bearings once inside the Amplify doors. Generally, there is a lot going on; often times several classes are occurring, the music is bumping, and of course there’s that whole sweating and grunting and dropping weights thing. So, let’s get you pointed in the right direction.

1.) Timeliness
Early on, we know you look to the coaches to tell you pretty much everything to do. But, surprise! You actually know your body better than anyone. Yes, even those of you with awful, *ahem*, developing body awareness. So, do you need more than 5-10 minutes preparation? Get here earlier, and follow #2 and #3.

2.) Blood Flow
Foam roll with a purpose. Rolling out increases circulation, breaks down soft tissue adhesion, and provides myofascial release. If you haven’t been shown how yet, grab a coach! A good start is to hit back and lats, quads and hammies, and calves/achilles. You can also warm up with simple PVC pipe movements or our crossover symmetry bands. Those are the elastic bands over in the corner, hanging from the wall. We have diagram details of exercises to do as movement prep there. We even have mobility posters on the wall. Still feeling lost? Don’t be stubborn– ask for directions!

3.) Socialize
Connect with our community. You won’t be disappointed. Drop any stress of the day and build your social health while developing your physical well-being. Not a social butterfly? No problem. Buddy up with just one or two other newbies you recognize. There is power in numbers, after all, and sharing accountability with another newcomer can set a grid of consistency on your fitness journey.

VETERANS:
As experienced athletes, your internal GPS is now preset– you have specific places you like to go upon arriving at Amplify. Your meridian, if you will. This is fine. Here are some reminders in case you’ve found yourself zoning out or losing sight of your surroundings.

1.) Know the Workout
Some check the WOD the night before, others like to find out upon arrival. Both for mental reasons; we get it. Either way, by the time your class starts you’ll benefit from knowing what movements are coming your way. It will help with warm-up and also any gear you may need (shoes, jumprope, wrist wraps, etc). Come with any questions to help clarify the expectations for you and other members.

2.) Movement Prep
Are you guilty of camping out on a foam roller? Don’t just sit and take in the scenery– get yourself moving so you’re not cold or stiff heading into the first portion of class. This might also be a good time to get extra weakness work in. Mobility/PVC drills? Kipping? Handstands? Even an easy barbell lift to activate the CNS might be worth your while. It’s your gym. Put it to use.

3.) Be a Leader
Give encouragement to the previous class as they finish their workout. Introduce yourself to any members you haven’t met. Build our community. Remember being a newcomer? Help guide our Intros or Elements participants. Develop comfort within our doors; everyone benefits. It isn’t just the coaching staff who open Amplify as a second home. You are here. Help make the most of it!

RECOMMENDED READING:
Warm-ups
Workout preparation and awaking the CNS. What works?

Range of Motion
Need work on mobility? Cutting your ROM in a workout? Check out these tips and videos.

Attitude
Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t– you might be wrong? Check out how.

 

This is part two of a six-part series entitled Maximizing Your Amplify Experience. Stay tuned for more.

– Scott, 6.30.2017

Maximizing Your Amplify Experience

Part 1: “Cleared for Arrival” – Before Entering Amplify

Prior to setting foot in the gym, some items need to be in place to ensure success with any fitness program. For us at Amplify, we pride ourselves in understanding that the development of the whole person is the ultimate goal; we always want to consider the entire spectrum of health and wellness: a balance of physical, mental, emotional, and social well-being.

This means we should first acknowledge time outside of the gym in order to help facilitate personal progress in your fitness journey and in life.

To start, here are some “to-do’s” before coming to class.

BEGINNERS:
First off, welcome! You’ve taken control of your fitness journey, and in looking for a safe and reliable place to land, you decided on us.

Some newbies come to us with absolutely no fitness background. Others are athletes looking for the next step in life or have been in and out of other programs before settling on Amplify. No matter what, no matter how intimidating it may feel, and no matter how much turbulence life has had before now, we are here to make that transition as smooth as possible. We’re glad you landed on Amplify.

1.) See the big picture.
Strength and conditioning takes time. Fitness is both a journey and a destination, although in this analogy we never really “get there,” we just arrive at layovers– short-term benchmarks where we refuel and reenergize to keep working our way towards the next goal. Keep in mind, it doesn’t all have to happen in one workout. Set a one month goal. Set a summer goal. If you want, set lots, aim high. But see them through. How? Write them down. Tell other people. Amplify coaches are here to help, so ask questions!

2.) Plan ahead.
We already set the daily workout, so that’s easy. But by planning your set days each week, checking the workout and any related videos ahead of time, and coming in with a plan of action, this not only shows true commitment but it’s also mentally easier once you set foot in the gym. And no extra baggage! Work around your career and social calendar, just for an hour. Allow yourself that. Let the only weight on your shoulders be that of the barbell, and the only stress be that of the MetCon.

3.) Hold yourself accountable.
While it’s okay to miss workout days, it’s not okay for it to become a habit. You didn’t register as an Amp member to stay home. We host nutrition challenges, so become involved! Use Wodify or a personal journal as a workout log to see your progress. Need more help? Find a copilot. Connect with a buddy in the same class hour as you and create weekly check-ins.

VETERANS:
Thanks for continuing to fly the friendly skies with Amplify. You are the heart and soul here, so your preparation is not to be neglected. Even after months or years at the gym, we could all use refocus and reminders.

1.) Don’t become complacent.
No recycled air here. If you haven’t felt stagnant, good on you. However, if you think your fitness journey is now an overcrowded flight circling the runway, then we need to find new motivation. How? See #2 and #3.

2.) Revisit goals.
It is just as important to examine your own goals as it is for a beginner. Life changes, and so should your outlook on approaching your fitness regimen with fun and fury. You know how exciting it is to have small victories or PR after years of hard work, but also remember to smile at life’s setbacks. That’s just headwind, after all, so set a new standard and attack. Change your altitude to improve your attitude.

3.) Maintain priorities.
Family and friends matter. Put those life essentials on level with your personal health. Along with social health development should be your physical well-being, and vice versa. After all, you can’t be there for loved ones if you literally can’t be there because of a lack of wellness. There’s always a big picture involved; invest in yourself in order to invest in others. Adjust for heavy winds, and keep navigating.

RECOMMENDED READING:
Goal Setting
Simple tips on how to plan your summer workouts and reap the benefits come fall.

The Fitness Equation
Things can look so simple on paper: fuel, work, rest, repeat. So where do we go wrong? Check out the basic recipe for success in physical fitness.

Cherry Picking
Why shy away from the very workouts you need? See recommendations on how to avoid laziness.

 

This is part one of a six-part series entitled Maximizing Your Amplify Experience. Stay tuned for more.

– Scott, 6.16.2017

2017 CrossFit Open: The Seven Year Itch

2017 CrossFit Open: The Seven Year Itch

Seven years have passed since CrossFit Amplify opened its doors to the public. We celebrate our anniversary the first week of April each year.

This is also the seventh CrossFit Open. Year one of the Open occurred at Amp’s one-year celebration.

I remember marking our first year as a success and vividly recall the first anniversary day, just as I remember each and every CrossFit Open workout since then. From 11.1 to 17.5, Mike and I have welcomed the worldwide competition as a test of fitness. But we also use this chance to watch our members come together and celebrate each other. It is more than just five torturous weeks of physical tests and mental challenges. It is a reminder to us of the community that exists within the Amplify abode.

Amplify had another 100+ members register for the 2017 CrossFit Open. That makes four years in a row at that number, which is always a mark of pride to see among the 300+ participating gyms in the 11-state North Central Region.

100 athletes got the itch to complete the Open workouts and see how they rank on the worldwide leaderboard. That’s now seven years of witnessing this competitive itch, which has helped Amplify members push their mental and physical limits to do things they never thought possible. Each season we have Amp athletes complete a skilled movement for the first time or PR a lift during an Open workout. This is something you won’t see in the digits on a computer screen. A submitted score will never show the emotional struggle or the small accomplishments or the uproar of a spontaneous cheering section at our gym’s Friday Night Lights.

I write this every year: Mike, myself, and all of CrossFit Amplify could have only accomplished this with the immense help and involvement of many past contributors, our fellow trainers, and of course the AmpFam itself.

Community
Veteran members can attest that our Amplify community remains steady as an entity of acceptance in and outside of our facility. It’s a second family.

We have seen lots of changes in our community in seven years– we’ve witnessed career moves, relationship changes, marriages, babies… even loss and heartbreak. Through it all, our gym stands as a place to come together in support. The Amp community rallies behind each other with energy and passion– not just to complete the Open workout or the daily WOD, but to bond in something larger than physical fitness.

We struggle, we laugh, we scream… we even cry together. If that’s not the definition of family, then what is?

Results
The Amplify team finished 60th in the North Central Region. Another good showing among very strong gyms in the midwest.

This year’s Central Regional Events will be held in Nashville and combines the North Central and the Central East in a “super regional” for the weekend. It will be live-streamed from May 26-28.

Also, in a change of venue, the CrossFit Games is held in Madison this year from August 1-6. The best athletes and teams at Regionals will compete at the Games, the world’s premier test to find the “Fittest on Earth.”

Resiliency
The best part about CrossFit and the Open is that it exposes our weaknesses, our goats, to work on.

But at the same time, use this opportunity to look back on what has been achieved. Life is a whirlwind, but we continue to make our health a priority. We all have a life outside of the gym, and we need to be okay with the ups and downs of setbacks and progress.

Stay consistent. You and CrossFit have been through a lot, whether you just started with Amplify or you’ve been with us so long you can remember a place without turf. Our fitness journey is always a work in progress.

The only seven year itch here is the one to continue. Deflect adversity and stay resilient. Scratch that itch to constantly push to become better than yesterday.

Congratulations
So we put closure on another Open and welcome in the start of year eight as CrossFit Amplify.

Congrats to those of you who took on the 2017 Open, and we welcome those who will join in the carnage of 2018.

Cheers to five weeks, to seven years, and a future of fitness, family, and fun.

– Scott, 4.1.17

2016 CrossFit Open: Another Year Already?

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2016 CrossFit Open: Another Year Already?

Well, that was quick.

Yet another CrossFit Open comes to a close after five torturous weeks of physical tests and mental challenges. Once again, thrusters and more thrusters combined with burpees and more burpees to end the Open, helping everyone realize how humbling this thing called CrossFit can be. As if we needed the reminder?

Amplify had nearly 100 members register for the 2016 CrossFit Open to test their fitness through the five workouts of worldwide competition. That makes three years in a row at this number, which is always a mark of pride to see among the 300+ participating gyms in the 11-state North Central Region.

With the end of the 2016 Open, CrossFit Amplify also celebrates its 6-year anniversary.

I write this every year: Mike, myself, and all of CrossFit Amplify could have only accomplished this with the immense help and involvement of many past contributors, our fellow trainers, and of course the AmpFam itself.

Community.
Veteran members can attest that our Amplify community continues to remain steady as an entity of acceptance in and outside of our facility. It’s a second family.

Quite a few of you have been with us for years now, celebrating each CrossFit birthday/anniversary of your own. That dedication and love and support for what we do is immeasurable. And the friendships gained cannot be seen in our Wodify results.

This community is perhaps best witnessed during Friday nights of the CrossFit Open; the feel of our second home has a palpable sense of community as everyone rallies behind each other with energy and passion– not just to complete the workout of the week, but to bond in something larger than physical fitness.

We struggle, we laugh, we scream… we even cry together. If that’s not the definition of family, then what is?

We also had success midway through this year’s Open as we came together for 16.3 to fundraise and support Nate and Jackie Adams. When a cause comes up, the AmpFam is ready and willing to contribute.

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Read Nate’s story. Help contribute.

The workouts themselves?
Maybe you’ll agree, these seemed like some of the best programmed Open workouts to date. Some tough skills were thrown our way, and our lungs and mental will were certainly put to the test. 

The results?
Well, if you are anything like me, you were less than impressed with yourself after these 5 weeks. That’s always the best part of CrossFit and the Open, though, isn’t it? If you’ve been with us through a few of these already, you know it’s true– the Open exposes our weaknesses, our goats, to work on.

But at the same time, we should all be proud. Life is a whirlwind, but we continue to make our health a priority. We are a juggling, high-wire balancing act, with life’s events in midair above our hands. We all have many, many things going on, and we need to be okay with the ups and downs of setbacks and progress.

Whether you just started with Amplify or you’ve been with us so long you can remember a place without turf, our fitness journey is always a work in progress. Use this as a time to look back on what has been achieved. With constant push to become better than yesterday, don’t forget to look in the mirror each day at how awesome you already are. 
Support.
Each season we have Amp athletes complete a skilled movement for the first time or PR a lift during an Open workout. This is something you won’t see in the digits on a computer screen. A submitted score will never show the emotional struggle or the small accomplishments or the uproar of a spontaneous cheering section at our gym’s Friday Night Lights.

And this support isn’t really something that can be coached.

#AmpFam

The Future.
As far as regional qualification goes, Amplify has been fortunate enough to have representation for four years in a row now with individual female qualifier, and resident badass, Kristin Miller. Kristin had her best Open yet, finishing 5th in the North Central Open this year as the top woman in Illinois. We all watched her cement that spot during 16.5 and put closure on another impressive five weeks.

The Amplify team finished 33rd in the North Central Region. Another good showing among very strong gyms in the midwest.

This year’s Central Regional Events will be held in Columbus and combines the North Central and the Central East in a “super regional” for the weekend. It will be live-streamed if you can’t make it there to cheer on Kristin from May 27-29.

Kristin en route to her 4th Regional bid.

In the end, we have the 33rd fittest team in the region, the 172nd fittest team in the world, and by far more importantly, six years of growth, memories, and community.

So we put closure on another Open and welcome in the start of year seven as CrossFit Amplify.

Congrats to those of you who took on the 2016 Open, and welcome to those who will join in the carnage of 2017. Can we please wish for something different than 16.5/14.5?

Cheers to five weeks, to six years, and a future of fitness, family, and fun.

– Scott, 4.1.16

Amplify’s CrossFit Open Leaderboard

Words of the Week

ramboDedication

In a time where the world seems to have one giant attention deficit issue, loyalty is hard to come by.

After any setbacks, any wane in motivation, any results not experienced quickly enough, we see people jump ship. Abandon their fitness routine, sometimes after just a few short months, and try the next big thing. A perennial search for the new what-next in exercise and nutrition, looking for that quick fix like the cheap thrill of an action movie. Lots of excitement, absolutely no substance.

Spoiler alert: hard work is never easy. The path of least resistance, on the other hand, is.

Not just that, it’s also the bounce around that can affect progress with personal fitness. Switching from one style of programming to another, then back again, never settling in to give the body a chance to adapt and benefit.

Even within CrossFit, consistency is key. Variance will get results, but consistency is the glue that can make those results optimal.

Work, benefit, build gains, and work again. Slow and steady, bit by bit. Like a good movie unveiling its plotline, the molding of you takes time.

Thumbs-And-Ammo-Pulp-Fiction

What’s the difference between dedication and stupidity?
It’s been another summer of hard work. Another summer of blood, toil, tears, and sweat. We put in some dedicated time at the gym, seeing major fitness benefits through the hot summer days. Being persistent isn’t stupid, as long as a negative impact doesn’t arise. It’s definitely a fine line, however, between being determined and being stubborn.

Let’s clarify, then. Determination is not just a degree of stubbornness, it showcases tenacity, purposeful fixation, and the will to fight adversity.

Devotion to a program is often the best effort you can give to fitness. One day does not make or break the man. One day does not make or break the woman. It’s a series of great things in life that leave the lasting effect. A lifetime of devoted physical movement and nutrition outside the gym matter as well, even with lazy days and cheat meals, or sneaking treats and dietary lapses… you know, the stuff that keeps us human.

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Where does dedication fit into the process of progress?
Many of us are in a constant fight with ourselves, yet it could be we’re in search of something we may not realize we’ve already obtained. Maybe we have our sights set on a great body. Maybe instead of aesthetics it’s a PR on a barbell lift or an addition of a certain gymnastics skill. But remember to take compliments and realize if people notice your progress enough to make a comment then that’s direct feedback you’re on the right track.

Stay dedicated. Celebrate the little victories and inspire the future you.

With all the push forward, with all the drive to become better than yesterday, we sometimes forget to look in the mirror to realize how awesome we already are.

Yes, our fitness journey is ever-present, and as a writer I constantly push readers towards the next piece of life… what will you do this year? Where are you going? What will you be? But it’s also huge for our self-esteem and our overall wellness if we realize that once dedicated, we’ve actually started to do exactly what we set out to do. This doesn’t mean we should become complacent. It just means the process is well underway.

And if it isn’t? Okay, well, start today. Set a goal, dedicate yourself to a program, and move ahead with a plan of action.

Thumbs-And-Ammo-Big-Lebowski t9 A Christmas Story (1983)

Is there a sure-fire way to remain dedicated to physical fitness?
The short answer? No.

Through the ups and downs of motivation, determination, and commitment, anyone’s dedication can falter. In particular times of stress or busy personal schedules, our workout routines are affected; we can lose focus or time or energy. It is often easier to go into binge fits with comfort food or beverage indulgences or veg outs on the couch instead of creating time for exercise and healthful meals.

There are some tips, however, to both staying committed and knowing when to change loyalty, if needed. Here are the takeaways I leave to you at the end of each summer.

Recommendations:

  • Be patient.
    Progress can come in waves, like a fury of new turns in the storyline of life. Delays in start times; skips in the film. Use these as reminders that nothing comes without hard work. Stick with it.
  • Be persistent.
    Consistency pays off in the long run. Quality time spent pursuing your fitness goals will allow your body a chance to see results and your mind to benefit from the experience. This is a potent combination, and strikes a confidence in oneself that only fuels more progress.  Feed the fire.
  • Know when to quit.
    Here’s the plot twist. If a lifting session or some post-workout skill work aren’t going well, then a new PR or your first muscle-up probably won’t happen on your 50th attempt. Remember, being persistent is one thing, being stupid is another. Too many issues with the program? Dedicated time spent still didn’t produce rewards? It is indeed time to cut your losses and find a new focus. Live to work another day.

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So, that brings the Words of the Week articles to a close for another summer. As always, I wish everyone the best in becoming better than yesterday in all that you do. Stay at it, remain dedicated, and good things will come… even if it’s little by little.

If life is a movie, I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Thanks for taking the time to read, this summer and always.

– Scott, 8.18.2015

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Words of the Week

Muscle-Up-BiathlonMuscle-ups

Another milestone worth highlighting, the muscle-up is a particularly challenging movement for those in the CrossFit world who lack any previous gymnastics background.

It’s easy to explain why people like them, though; once witnessed, why athletes who first step into a CrossFit gym set their sights on accomplishing a muscle-up.

Plain and simple, the muscle-up looks cool.

Muscle-ups are like that middle school crush– attractive and popular and seemingly unattainable. And a lot like that fleeting feeling of teenage turbulence, if ever attained, muscle-ups can confusingly become more work than ever believed. It’s because we’re always wanting more, always striving to be better. One muscle-up is never enough, we want to string multiples together… and efficiently.

Keep these off the hot girl/hot guy pedestal, however, because a muscle-up is just like any other difficult movement in the gym. And there are plenty of those in the fitness sea.

So let’s jump in head first to battle this beast from the depths of gymnastics lore and bring the muscle-up progression to light.

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What prerequisite strength exists for a muscle-up?
Similar to our previous focus on pull-ups, let’s clear up some prerequisites for strength and skill before looking at specific drills in the developmental progression of a muscle-up.

Naturally, we’ve come to realize the online hate of the gymnastics kip often utilized in CrossFit. “Cheating,” it gets called. What’s interesting is that we rarely see the sport of gymnastics get bashed for using momentum in competitive programs or in the Olympics every four years.

There’s a reason for this: gymnasts, both men and women, have a baseline of muscle strength that allows them to safely use body momentum in their movements and routines.

Pull-ups
Compared to a kip, strict pull-ups are a safer movement for a beginner. A strict pull-up helps develop muscle strength in the latissimus dorsi, the biceps, and to some extent the rhomboids and trees major in the back. These are similar pulling muscles involved in both the bar and ring muscle-up, so therefore it makes sense that a prerequisite for any muscle-up training is exactly that: a pull-up, both strict and kipping.
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The movement of the gymnastic kip can be taught on the pull-up bar simultaneously as the strict movement to help embed the concept through routine, yet this involves some quality coaching. While upper body strength is acquired, so is the idea of generating momentum. Proponents of kipping cite the athleticism it requires and develops; coordination is necessary for hip recruitment in order to use swinging momentum correctly. The kip fosters a body awareness akin to other muti-joint movements we see in Olympic weightlifting or sport-specific actions like throwing or jumping.

Kipping practice can be done before or after a workout, although afterwards would generally mean a person works while fatigued. This is not immediately unsafe, but overtrain while already muscle fatigued and that’s a recipe for potential disaster.

Just remember that kipping without at least some basis of strength is not productive.

Ring Dips
If a CrossFit athlete has a kipping pull-up, the next requirement for the muscle-up is a ring dip. While box dips and stationary bar dips are all well and good, the rings obviously throw a snag into things because of the multiple planes of movement that the gymnastics rings allow. This stabilization is what we are seeking; that shaky movement will eventually tighten up.

Strength development tends to take time for the dips, plus, these are stereotypically quite difficult for women because of the necessary upper body control.

Shoulder Mobility
The transition from the pull-up to the dip portion of a muscle-up requires stable but mobile shoulder sockets. Because the ring dip out of the muscle-up is initiated in a deeper starting position than usual, new athletes whose pull is not as experienced and therefore not as high up on the rings tend to struggle to turn their pull over for the transition.

Check mobility videos to maintain a healthy and prepared shoulder. It is an absolute necessity in the grind of a muscle-up; a stable shoulder is needed to turn through the very strength-intensive transition.

The Ring Muscle Up

What progressions will help acquire a full muscle-up?
Getting the most from your work in the gym means being smart about what scaling options you have and how to correctly move up a progression to the real thing. This holds true with the muscle-up, both of the ring and bar variety.

Below are some options for strength and skill development:

Ring Rows: A great start for the absolute newbie.  The more horizontal the body, the harder the ring row, but also be careful to try and emulate a more upright pull-up motion to work the lat muscles correctly.

  • Do keep the core tight and complete the full range of motion for best results.
  • Don’t think these are for wussies. Ring rows can be brutal, even for the experienced.

Hollow Body Position: Underrated, at least on the pull-up bar, and usable not just as an exercise in itself. As a good counter balance, the hollow position builds core stability while keeping posture, on the bar in particular. This transfers to many other aspects in gymnastics and CrossFit.

  • Do practice hollow rocks on flat ground and apply it to your starting position at the bottom of the muscle-up. A tight midline aids the stretch reflex during the loading phase of a kip as well.
  • Don’t get frustrated. Hollow positioning is not easy. (Unless you grew up a gymnast… lucky.)

Gymnastics Kip: A kip can be small or big in terms of the swing, and therefore can be used to eke out just one additional rep on a set of muscle-ups until failure or during a first muscle-up attempt with a humongous “load-up.” Hips are essential, whether on rings or on the bar.

Working on stringing more consecutive bar muscle-ups?  Remember to push away at the top to use a bigger “chest through” load-up swing in the later rep numbers as you near your max. On the rings, work neutral grip and allow the body to swing with hands pushed forward/out slightly to help a full kipping motion for success.

  • Do generate power from the hips to get them up and turned over.
  • Don’t worry if you get a muscle-up, or multiples, and then “lose” them for a day or more.  They come and go quite often. Stay at it.

pull up kip hollow

Transition Work: A few options exist in working the transition of the muscle-up. A common one involves dropping the rings down to ring dip level or below, and allowing the feet to assist in getting from a ring row position to the bottom of the ring dip. See a video here for quick tips.

  • Do work over time on using less legs will develop strength in the turnover. This is definitely different than a free-swinging kip to transition, however, so use this in conjunction with the next drill.
  • Don’t stay put in this drill from the ground. Full hollow body extension on the rings or the bar is quite a bit different and where you want to go with your progression.

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Assisted Muscle-ups: A coach or partner can be a huge help in assisting that last portion of the pull to get on top of the rings/bar in the transition. This is great when the kip looks good and the ring dip out of the muscle-up can be obtained but it’s that pesky transition that is holding everything back.

  • Do keep the rings in tight to pull them along the chest to directly under the armpits. Shoot the chest through and look at the toes, if that helps.
  • Don’t pull to the bar or the rings, pull up and over.

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Multiple Reps: Once one muscle-up has been achieved, obviously efficiency with multiple reps is the next goal. Kipping out of the bottom of the dip can happen with the legs behind a bit to continue to use momentum. A typical knees to chest kip for the dip can be utilized for those a bit slower and at the starting level of linking muscle-ups together.

  • Do work on maintaining a tight midline and great hollow position to maximize hip drive for consecutive reps. At the very top, lean back and fall into the next forward swing.
  • Don’t get anxious. Be patient for the right time to pull on consecutive reps.

Strict Muscle-ups: In need of a whole other challenge? Dead hang muscle-ups are strictly for those ready. Pun intended. Use a false grip to help the wrist on top of the rings and get a big pull before working to crank the elbows back and chest on top of the hands.

See videos here and here for great visuals on the body positions needed to complete this huge piece of muscle-up extra credit.

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Now you’ll really impress the popular kids.

Get a video so you can see yourself move, ask for coaching cues, and then celebrate your success with the public. This is one feat that deserves bragging about. No fish tales, however– be honest, be persistent, and good luck!

– Scott, 8.11.2015

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