5 Ways You’re Wasting Your Time in the Gym

Charles is here on a weekly basis to help you cut through the B.S. and get some real perspective regarding health and training. Please post feedback or questions to Charles directly in the comments below this article.
Trigger Warning: I’m feeling cranky today. Below are my five favorite wastes of time in the gym. Mistaking pain for progress is the common cognitive error behind all five of these unfortunate exercise choices.
If you currently use any of these questionable moves, don’t close the page. Instead, let me know why I’m wrong in the comments section below. Hey, you might change my mind, but I doubt it.

1. Planks

If your primary goal is improved strength or body composition, almost anything else you do in the gym, including the remaining four exercises on this list, would better serve you than planks. The main problem with planks is that they are a static exercise. The absence of movement means you’ll experience dismal payoff for getting stronger, leaner, or more muscular. Basically, you’ll just get better at doing planks.
TRY THIS INSTEAD: TO TRAIN YOUR ABS AND IMPROVE YOUR CORE STABILITY, FOCUS ON EXERCISES LIKE STIR THE POT, PALLOF PRESSES, ONE-ARM FARMER’S CARRIES, AND TOES TO BAR. THESE DRILLS ARE MORE DYNAMIC AND HAVE GREATER CARRYOVER INTO REAL LIFE.

2. Anything Done on a BOSU or Other Unstable Surface

Training on unstable surfaces may be hard, but that doesn’t mean it’s productive. 
To develop significant muscular tension for building muscle and strength, you must push (or pull) from a stable platform. The more stable your working surface, the more weight you can lift, which equals more muscular tension and better results. You will develop more leg strength from heavy back squats than you would squatting while standing on a stability ball, which is incredibly dangerous while under load.
TRY THIS INSTEAD: FORGET THE CIRCUS-TRICK EXERCISES AND STICK TO THE CLASSICS.THE MOST MUSCULAR MEN AND WOMEN THROUGHOUT HISTORY ACHIEVED THEIR STRENGTH THROUGH THE TRIED-AND-TRUE STANDARDS: PRESSES, ROWS, DIPS, PULL UPS, SQUATS, AND DEADLIFTS.

3. Flipping Tires

Unless you’re a strongman competitor, stop flipping tires. Flipping tires might feel badass, but most people inevitably pick the wrong size tire. They either pick one that is too light to force any significant adaptation, or one that is too heavy and beyond their ability. If you flip an appropriately-weighted tire with skill, you’ll get a reasonable conditioning effect, but it’s not a great move to build muscle or strength.
TRY THIS INSTEAD: PUSHING SLEDS ARE SAFE AND EFFECTIVE CONDITIONING TOOLS. LIFTING WEIGHTS IS KING FOR BUILDING STRENGTH AND MASS, BUT IF YOU WANT ANAEROBIC CONDITIONING THAT WON’T BEAT YOU UP, CHOOSE A SLED OVER A TIRE EVERY TIME.

4. Box Jumps

Box jumps are fun, and if that’s all you’re looking to get out of them, don’t let me spoil the party. But box jumps are only useful as a power test, not an exercise. And they are a less effective way to test power than standing long jumps. Box jumps inevitably evolve into a test of hip mobility rather than jumping power.
TRY THIS INSTEAD: A BETTER WAY TO BOX JUMP IS TO PURPOSEFULLY LIMIT THE DEPTH OF YOUR LANDING SQUAT TO NO MORE THAN A 90-DEGREE ANGLE. STRIVE TO LAND SOFTLY AND QUIETLY, AND OF COURSE, DON’T MISS. THE SKIN ON YOUR SHINS WILL THANK YOU.

5. Ropes

I’m not against rope drills in general. John Brookfield’s Battling Ropes certification course was one of the most grueling things I’ve ever done, and I came out of that weekend with a healthy respect for the ropes.
However, whenever you see anyone using the ropes, they never use remotely enough intensity to make the exercise productive. Slamming the ropes with half-ass intensity could be a decent warm up, but why settle for decent when you could be doing something that’s actually useful?
TRY THIS INSTEAD: UNLESS YOU’RE GOING TO ATTACK THE ROPES WITH MAXIMUM INTENSITY FOR ONE-MINUTE ROUNDS, SKIP THEM ALTOGETHER. THERE ARE MANY BETTER OPTIONS FOR CONDITIONING LIKE SLED DRAGS, HEAVY SWINGS, ROWING, AND BARBELL CIRCUITS.

Are All These Exercises Really That Bad?

I can think of even worse exercises, but I’m giving you enough credit to assume you’re not doing them. If you do any or all of these drills on occasion for a change of pace, that’s totally fine. But if any of these moves are staples in your training, I’d urge you to reconsider.

This Week’s Training:

Volume: 96,988lb (Last Week: 96,892lb)
Significant Lifts:
  • High bar squat: 225lbx8
  • Bench press: 205lbx8
  • 4″ block pull: 405lbx7
This week, I managed to exceed my recent bests on my key lifts and stayed injury-free throughout the process. One issue I ran into was pectoral cramps during deadlifts. That makes no sense at all, except that I’ve been benching heavy on Wednesdays, and then pulling heavy the following day. This is the second week that I had to stop my pulls due to cramping, so I’ve decided to place my light upper body day with my heavy day.
Aside from that, I’ve tightened up my nutrition quite a bit after several weeks of sloppy macros. I tend to overeat carbs and fats, and undereat protein. However, for the past two weeks, I’ve been hitting 1g/lb bodyweight protein, and have been keeping fats at about 75g/day. I already notice a difference in my physique, and my food cravings have dissipated quite a bit. If you’re trying to lose unwanted body fat and struggle with food cravings, up your protein and watch what happens.

In Pursuit of the Elusive Double Unders

In pursuit of the Double UndersI have to preface this whole thing by stating that I am in no way an expert with double unders. Rather, I am just someone who has struggled, continues to struggle some days, and can share some of the useful things I have learned along my journey. I am the type that all the stars need to be aligned for my double unders to be consistent. And by stars I mean the right jump rope (not just the type but the length and thickness of the cable too), the right shoes, the right jumping surface, and the right music. Okay, maybe not the music, but when double unders aren’t your forte, it is important to be as mentally ready to tackle them as possible.

The Rope – Thickness

how to do double under, crossfit double unders, double under tips. Let’s start with the first thing; you can’t do double unders without a rope, so it seems like the perfect starting point, choosing a rope. There are many makers/suppliers of ropes. When I started everyone had a speed rope with the thinnest cable possible, because they were fast! So I joined the bandwagon and that’s what I started with. Failure after failure, this is when I realized that just because the cable is thin and will move really fast, it does not make it the best rope choice for every person.

At this point I found Rx Jump Ropes, which I still use to this day. The Rx Jump Rope comes in a variety of different cable thicknesses. At the time, as I picked them up, I quickly realized I needed some weight on my rope, and so a thicker cable helped a lot on my double under quest. Finding the right cable for you is important, and in my experience there isn’t an exact science to it, you just have to give it a go and feel them out.

The Rope – Length

But likely the most crucial aspect when picking a jump rope is to size it properly. Rx Jump ropes have created a fairly extensive guideline of how to size your jump rope, which I highly recommend. It is particularly important to not just size your rope statically – the static size is what “should” suit you in an ideal world. We are humans, nothing is ideal, and as close to perfect as we may get, our mechanics will always have flaws. Use the guidelines as just that, guidelines, but ultimately try the rope length out to see what suits your style of jumping.

My Lesson Learned

how to do double under, crossfit double unders, double under tipsI learned the hard way how important the right size of rope is for double unders. In a recent competition double unders made an appearance in the last workout. It was the fifth workout of the event and, among a few other things, there were two rounds of 100 double unders – something I had done countless times. I had all my stars: the right shoes, the right rope, the right surface, the right crowd, and the right amount of adrenaline leading after four workouts with big names like Kris Clever, Camille Leblanc-Bazinet, and Andrea Ager.

But there was a caveat; my main star was taken away, my rope! We were provided ropes that we had to use. While most competitors sized perfectly for their new ropes, my perfect size seemed to be right in between the ropes available to me. So I walked onto the competition floor with two jump ropes: one slightly longer, and one slightly shorter than the size I needed. The end result? Not so good. I struggled through both sets of double unders, switching between ropes, hoping magically one would have grown or shortened. If I had not learned the lesson that the size of the rope was paramount, I surely did after that experience.

Tips for Successful Double Unders

Now you have a rope, one that is the right thickness and the right size, it’s time to practice those double unders. Here are a few things that helped me improve my double unders:

1. A split rope. I found this in a corner in the gym, and always thought it was a useless rope someone had damaged and they cut it in half for something cool. Wrong! This actually helped me a lot. A few years back I broke my wrists, so my wrist motion wasn’t, and still isn’t the most ideal. With the split rope I was able to practice the rope turning, the wrist action, all the good stuff, without having to worry about the rope clearing my feet every time. This was a great way to strengthen my wrists while performing a movement pretty much the same as an actual double under. You always hear doing singles won’t help you get doubles, so why not scale and do double like movement with a split rope? In my opinion one of the best scaled movements for a double under.

2. Jumping pull-ups. If you’re thinking “what?!” just know I reacted the exact same way when I asked my coach for help with double unders and he told me to go do some jumping pull-ups. I thought he had gone mad. I ate all my words (or thoughts, because I never actually voiced them). Doing a set of jumping pull-ups before double unders helped me get used to a higher rhythmic jumping that usually is ideal for double unders. I remember the day this workout was prescribed to me, my unbroken double unders went up by 300% (Okay, okay, from 10 to 30 at that point. Not as impressive as when expressed as a percentage. Why do statistics make everything sound so much sexier?). This worked not only for me, but a couple of other people I worked out with that day. I have since used it when I coach, and although I am not exactly sure what my n is, the overwhelming majority had drastic improvements on their unbroken double unders.

3. Use a tempo trainer. Yes I am definitely a swimmer geek. I found an alternative use for my tempo trainer. The tempo trainer is something we use inside our caps or on the goggle straps to help us keep a specific stroke rate when swimming. It is the metronome of swimming, you could say. You set it for your desired setting, and it will create an audible noise (beep) at exact time intervals. How has this helped me? I found myself either rushing my jumping or not jumping quickly enough and failing on my double under. The tempo trainer set a nice constant pace that was comfortable and allowed me to practice at a cadence that favored my style of jumping. The setting will vary from person to person, but if you are hot-blooded like me and get impatient and frustrated quickly, the tempo trainer will keep you at bay and jumping when you should.

4. Find your style of jumping. I often hear coaches advising to jump with straight knees, not to jump with a dolphin kick, etc. In my experience you really have to find what suits you. And this might even change depending on the situation. I have recently changed my style of jumping to having a slight bend in my knee when I jump. This feels much more comfortable on my shins and I can jump for longer periods of time. The one thing I sometimes see and advise against is hard landings. I find that foot take off should be heel to toe and the landing toe to heal with all the athletes I have worked with. When I look around in competitions I see all possible styles of jumping. Most, if not all, work, but it works for that athlete. Don’t be afraid of trying different things if what you are doing isn’t working. Maybe you will find something that suits you better.

In the end, there is really no magic recipe to getting double unders. I will say it again, I am no expert, I can’t do thousands of double unders unbroken. I am just a mere mortal, one of you, who fails, gets frustrated, gets back up, and tries it again. These are just some of the things that helped me get better at this elusive skill.

Halloween Bash

Come join for our 1st annual Crossfit ATI Halloween Bash!
Dress in your best costume and hang out with your fellow ATI family. Friends and family are welcomed.
-Prizes for best costume

-Fights, sports, and more on big screens

-Awesome music (promise, lol 😉

-AMRAP games and more THIS WILL BE POTLUCK STYLE PARTY, PLEASE BRING YOUR FAVORITE DRINK, DISH OR SNACK TO SHARE. *ALL WHO COME MUST DRINK RESPONSIBLY

SUMMER SOLSTICE

Summer Solstice
Throwdown

Saturday June 22, 2013
CrossFit ATI is hosting its first annual Summer Solstice Throwdown on Saturday June 22, 2013. The throwdown will be a partner competition with teams of one male and one female. Kick off Danville’s first summer competition with your local CrossFit community!

This is an RX competition only. There will be no scaled/novice/or Master’s divisions.

You can register your teams through WODrocket. Please only register three teams per affiliate, so we will have enough space for other local boxes to compete. The event will be limited to 20 teams, so please register ASAP! Please also provide one judge from your box if you plan on competing. All WOD’s will be released the day of the competition, but athletes will know what the movements are ahead of time.

If you have any questions, please contact Ivan Alarcon, CrossFit ATI owner or Ali Letsch, CrossFit ATI’s event coordinator.

Athlete check-in will be from 8:00-8:30am with the first WOD beginning at 9:00am