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CrossFit Blackfriars London Blog
CrossFit Blackfriars London Blog
CrossFit Blackfriars
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So what is CrossFit Endurance and how does this link to running?

Coach and Founder of CrossFit Endurance, Brian McKenzie, explains the pledge of CrossFit Endurance: Be UnScared. If you are not getting the results you want or if you don't perform, feel or look the way you want, allow us to provide the solution through our programming and community. CrossFit Endurance has been created by experienced athletes and coaches. We will provide only the best in proven methods. Long slow duration results in athletes being less powerful, less lean and more prone to injury, low energy and abbreviated sport longevity. We will make you faster. We will make you leaner. We will increase your power We follow the CrossFit model while adding precise training protocols for endurance. We will make you lift heavy. We will make your lungs burn. But we will make you happy!

Eat clean (lots of veggies, little fruit and starch, lean meats, essential fats, nuts, no grain, no dairy, no bread, no sugar, no GMO, no refined or processed foods), train like a freak and make every meter and every rep mean something. We don't have time to waste time; we do have time to accelerate ability. We welcome you to explore our website, experience our programming, ask questions and attend one of our detailed seminars around the world. We encourage you to stop thinking and start doing. We have revolutionized endurance training.

So why does this help with Running? How can Box Jumps, Pull Ups, Burpees, Push Ups, Olympic Lifting, Muscle Ups, Gymnastics, Sit Ups and Kettlebells help with your endurance? The argument for many years now has been that long slow running makes long slow runners. A conditioned athlete will be a stronger athlete and a stronger athlete will hold their form during fatigue. My belief is that conditioning programs such as CrossFit Endurance (if done correctly) will help prevent injury and in turn create better results from your training in the long term.

How? I have come across lots of runners over the years who run themselves into the ground. The mindset is more running, more results. Unfortunately the neglect they give their overall conditioning often leads to poor biomechanics or weak areas of the body (some areas more dominant than others), which, in turn, leads to injury. When I was training at Loughborough University under the watchful eye of George Gandy, during the winter months there was an emphasis on circuit training and performing powerful lifts in the gym. Although often quite funny to see a group of lean runners tackle the squat rack, the principles were spot on and very much in line with the idea of CrossFit. To see an example of the George Gandy method for conditioning click here.

Seb Coe the multiple Olympic medallist in 800m and 1500m came through the Loughborough University system and was one of the first middle distance athletes to put a focus on strength and conditioning rather than mileage. Coe was an explosive athlete and without high mileage and an all round approach to his running and conditioning ran some of the quickest times in history. But it is not just middle distance runners that benefit. I remember seeing Paula Radcliffe in the gym on several occasions in the build up to smashing the Womens World Record in the Marathon. In conclusion I believe a mixed approach to training is much better for an endurance athlete than just miles and miles of slow running. Make sure you keep the training varied, keeping the body guessing. Make sure there is intensity in the training in the form of circuits, fartlek running, interval training and recovery runs. Oh and check out CrossFit Endurance, it is here to stay and could well help you move onto the next level.

Run Well, Rich

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Scaling a WOD

Hey coach, how do I scale this WOD?

Let's talk about scaling and how to use it to reach your goals.

As you can see from the blog I did a few weeks ago scaling can be used to make the same WOD very different depending on what your individual goal is.

I won't go over those details again but what I want to talk about is weight choices and what to do in a WOD where there is skill that you are still trying to master.

Choosing the weight to lift is very much down to your goal. I discussed how to adjust the weight to focus on strength or conditioning in the previous blog but here I want to discuss the first goal for the majority of us - looking DAMN GOOD!

Let's be honest, for the majority of us our first goal is to get a very lean physique and to look DAMN GOOD. So now that we've admitted the 'beautiful' truth the next question is how do I get there ASAP!?!

Thankfully it's now universally accepted that the best way to improve your physique is through explosive training and lifting heavy weights which would explain why CrossFit is so popular, because that's exactly what we do!

This doesn't mean that lifting heavy weights should be confined to strength training, in fact you can scale your WODs to meet this goal too.

Let me explain.

If the WOD has a recommended (rx'd) weight which is heavier than you have lifted before people often find it hard to figure out what weight to use but this shouldn't be the case. The answer is simple , lift 90-95% of your 1 rep max. As long as you have good technique (if you don't you will obviously lift less) this will result in you doing a lot less reps but getting a hell of a lot stronger and therefore one step closer to your goal.

This will mean that you have to take big breaks in between lifts because you are lifting very heavy weights so you're not going to get the best score of the day, in fact, you probably won't get the WOD finished inside the time cap - but who cares? The point is you're one step closer to your goal and you just did more reps with 90-95% of your 1 rep max than you thought was possible - enjoy the confidence this will give you, it's well deserved.

Over time this scale will eventually allow you to do WODs as rx'd. At that point I would recommend doing the workouts at the rx'd weight (because it was put at that weight with a specific goal/focus in mind) unless your coach tells to you to scale them differently due to a current goal/focus (or injury).

So now that I know how to chose a weight what do I do if a skill I currently can't do comes up?

Be it double unders, handstands, muscle ups or pistols etc there's always some skill we are chasing so lets look at how we can get there ASAP.

For this I'm going to use double unders as an example as it tends to be the first skill most of us try to master in CrossFit. Again the answer is simple.

Every time double unders comes up in a WOD you simply get to that point and then spend the rest of the WOD practising double unders. To use an example, if the WOD is a 7 minute AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) of 10 thrusters and 30 double unders you would do your 10 thrusters in the first round and then spend the rest of the time practising double unders, if you get the 30 done you move on but if you don't you've just spent a lot of well needed time practising that skill.

The above is how I do it in my own training because its the fastest way to master a skill. Is it frustrating to spend what seems like forever missing rep after rep? yes, of course, but if you keep reminding yourself of why you are doing this (i.e. to master a skill) then you'll be happy to keep working.

I do, however, find when I'm coaching that a lot of athletes don't have the patience for this therefore another method I use is when it comes to the skill I get the athlete to spend the next 2-3 minutes practising that skill before moving on. Whilst using this method won't get you the skill as fast it will allow you to move on with the WOD which can help avoid you getting too frustrated (or even bored!)if things aren't going to plan.


The take aways. For choosing weights if you haven't lifted the rx'd weight before - use 90-95% of your 1 rep max, take plenty of rest and get stronger. To help develop a skill either spend the rest of a WOD practising it (or use the next 2-3 minutes of the WOD), be patient and before you know it, it'll be like second nature to you.

As always, and most importantly, remember to enjoy your fitness!

Stay Classy CrossFitters!
Fergus and the Team
CrossFit Blackfriars

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Open gym in CrossFit - 'the Good, the Bad and the Ugly'

Open gyms are a fantastic resource and a chance to really hone your skills!


Open gym slots let athletes do their own thing so if an athlete is looking catch up on a WOD or to bring on certain skills this can only be a good thing right? 


Unfortunately not...

Sometimes it feels like athletes have been asking for more open gym slots since the beginning of time.

It's usually the same conversation, someone joins a CrossFit box, starts to see results, picks up some skills, then goes onto the internet for 5 minutes and decides that if they are going to continue to improve they must now start doing X,Y & Z or they will immediately start to regress and loose all of their gains - you know the ones that they got from going to classes...

As much as the above is 'tongue in cheek' you'd be surprised as to how often that conversation actually happens! 


So what's the 'Good, the bad and the Ugly' of open gym use?


The Good

Be it catching up on a WOD or doing some extra skill practice/strength/mobility work these athletes have a plan in mind and are here to work. 

A lot of the time their extra work has been decided upon with their coach and whilst they are social they don't let it get in the way of getting their work done (or get in someone else's way).


The Bad

These are usually athletes that know that what they should be doing but let themselves get caught up with ugly traits on a regular basis.

They also tend to play to their strengths so if they are good at gymnastics they'll usually be seen doing gymnastics instead of addressing a weakness. 


The Ugly 

These athletes will turn up to do stuff. There is usually little to no plan outside of 'I need to do more'. These athletes tend to be the type who value quantity of training over quality and are quite often the ones who regularly shorten their range of motion just to get through a rep or a WOD. They also like to talk about 'what they did at the other gym' or 'what they used to lift' and will spend more time talking/posturing and trying to coach (incorrectly) than actually training (hence the need for more sessions). 


Now that I'm determined to be 'The Good' how should I use open gym?

For me the simplest way to use open gym is to catch up on a class you missed during the week - trust that your coaches have a plan in mind that will improve you if you commit to it. 

If you've managed to get to all classes but also want to get to open gym this is a great chance to work on a skill/improve technique or mobility, so treat it that way and train like you should - i.e. always strive for perfect movement and FULL range of motion.


Another great way of using open gym is to meet with friends, pick a WOD and throw down! Whilst this may seem like it's completely random, it's a great way of exposing weaknesses (as different people will want different movements in a WOD) so you could be forced to do something you need to practice. Furthermore it's great to forget scores on the board every so often and just do a tough WOD with friends - enjoy your fitness!

The take away. Open gyms are a fantastic resource and a chance to really hone your skills if you use them correctly, so next time you go to an open gym have a plan, stick to it and enjoy your fitness!

Stay Classy CrossFitters 

Fergus and the Team
CrossFit Blackfriars London

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Quality over quantity

Like most of us who started CrossFit 'back in the day', I used to simply click on CrossFit.com every morning, thought 'oh God', then went to the gym and did the WOD, no matter what.

However don't we all want that magic pill (i.e. perfect programming) and are restlessly searching for the “best”?

Most of us do.


So over the years I followed various programmes including high volume programmes (2-3 hours a day and 5-7 days a week) because like most people I often signed up to the 'more is more' philosophy.

As time has moved on and my life has become busier, I have an ever dwindling amount of time to train (oh woe is me) which has actually been a blessing in disguise for my own training because it has made me more focused on getting as much as possible out of my time so when I do train I'm chomping at the bit.


Unfortunately though, I frequently see members making the same mistakes that I did  by going for the 'more is more' attitude whilst their intensity drops session by session to a point where by the end of the week most of them are basically just phoning it in.

This 'more is more' style of training in CrossFit started to gain popularity around 2009 when Mikko Salo won the CrossFit Games. Mikko became famous for his volume and would start his day with a 5k row/run or running or rowing intervals, then train again during the day and again in the evening. The current champs (Sam Briggs & Rich Froning) are also famous for being big volume junkies. Whilst we hear a lot about the volume (number of hours a day) that a lot of the top dawgs do, what doesn't get enough publicity is the sheer amount of recovery they also do, more on that later.

This brings me nicely to the title of my little ramble, 'quality over quantity'.

Intensity is the key, not volume.

Actually that's worth saying again.

Intensity is key!

You will get a lot more from shorter periods of high intensity training than from longer periods of low intensity training - that's not an opinion, that's a proven fact (isn't that what attracted us all to CrossFit in the first place??).

When we talk about the volume that the top athletes do we need to remember that they hit every part of their training with high intensity.

Unfortunately what most coaches see day in, day out, is people doing different classes back to back at either low intensity 'because they've a lot to get through that night' or go all out in one and then cruise through the other. Neither approach will serve you well and I don't think that it's a coincidence that these are the people that tend to regularly have niggling injuries.

In my opinion the best approach is to get in, train as hard as you can (at your own individual level), get out and go recover. Rinse and repeat.

Of course the obvious rebuttal to this is that people have skills that they want to work on so that's why they go to more classes. Good point. Why not make one of your training days a skill day where you go to an open gym and attack those skills then and not when you're pre-exhausted from a class, so that you can give them the attention that they deserve.

If you still think that you can give more, then first look to your recovery (are you getting 8+ hours sleep a night?) and nutrition/hydration before looking to add volume.

If after making sure that you're waking up naturally every day and your nutrition and hydration is excellent, you still believe that you can give more – it’s time to look at those flexibility issues that are holding back your range of motion and/or technique so why not add in extra mobility work? Improving how the body moves and working will not only put you on the fast track to more efficient movement (and PB's) but make your day to day life more comfortable and enjoyable.

If after all of that you have more in the tank, then and only then should you look to add extra volume to your training.

In order I'd suggest;
- Train 3/4 days a week for one hour. Remember that this will be your only chance to train that day so keep intensity high (you can chat afterwards).
- Add extra social exercise once per week (game of football, golf, hill walking, swimming, walking dogs etc. etc.) - enjoy your fitness!
- Make sure that you are getting sleep, 8-10 hours a night (you need to be waking up naturally and feeling refreshed).
- Improve nutrition & hydration.
- Improve flexibility.
- Increase training up to 5/6 days a week for one hour.
- If you're doing all of the above, now you can add more volume/extra hours of training into a given day.

Remember, intensity is key when you train so get in, train hard, get results and then go enjoy life and your fitness wherever it takes you.

Stay Classy CrossFitters,
Fergus


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Write it down...

Have you seen the post on the Games site called I Only Got 306 Fewer Reps Than Talayna? It's a really nice reminder that, in the grand scheme of things, no one judges us as harshly as we judge ourselves. 

CrossFit is about finding your personal limits and pushing to be a little bit better each day. But you can't have a PR/PB without knowing your old score - the one your younger self delivered.

If you don't record your workout scores, times, weights, the only comparison point you have are the people around you. But they don't have your bone structure, your body composition, your emotional baggage, etc. and all of those things can influence what you can do in a given day. And you don't have their genetics or experience on a semi- professional jump rope squad. 

You will be better at some things than you are at others, but the only person you need to be worried about beating is the you that did this workout a few weeks ago. And if you haven't done it yet, give it all you've got - don't go easy on future-you. Do your best. Write it down. Smash it later. Repeat.

Then high five everyone, including the EASY button, whenever you hit a personal best.


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You should be obsessed with squats.

When I clicked on Freakonomics Podcast titled, “What is the ‘Best’ Exercise?” I thought it was going to be about Crossfit... until I heard them factoring in price. I finished listening even though the episode was probably aimed at people who, if not for hearing the podcast, would just let their muscles atrophy.

They did talk about one thing that caught my attention – and that’s the 'single best movement' for health and longevity: the squat. From Gretchen Reynolds (of the NYT Well Blog):

“The squat will use the biggest muscles in your body, those in your upper legs, your back, your core…the muscles you need to do things like get up off of a chair… as you age, one of the best indicators of whether you will be independent well into your twilight years is if you can get up out of a chair.”

(I think “chair” is code for “toilet.”)

Four years ago in NYC, my first Crossfit experience involved Tabata Squats… and then spending the next 4 days pulling myself up a pole to get off the subway seats.  The soreness from squats can make us look like we work at the Ministry of Silly Walks, but strength training now will only help us as we age. So let's all squat heavy and temporarily look ridiculous.

 

Greg Glassman on Squats

 

Why are Squats so Important?

 

Why Front Squats Matter

Why Can’t I Squat Below Parallel?


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CrossFit Blackfriars

CrossFit Blackfriars Launch Day - With Faces of Disco from Britains Got Talent

We are honoured that famous faces from the CrossFit community; Rich Froning, Jason Khalipa, Coach Glassman, Annie Thorisdottir, Sam Briggs, Mikko Salo, Dave Castro, Chris Spealler, Lucas Parker and Dan Bailey surprised us at CrossFit Blackfriars by making an appearance on our opening day! Only at the CrossFit games do you get all these guys in the same room... Looks like Rich and Dan have lost a bit of weight ;-) But they can dance! www.crossfitblackfriars.com

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Are you Rocking the Rock Tape CrossFitters?

You only had to visit the recent fantastic CrossFit event at Londons Copper Box; The Battle of London to see just how many people are rocking the Rock Tape!

The number of people wearing the product is forever increasing;  before I discussed that a number of Physiotherapists now swear by tape if a patient is suffering with traumatised tissue or muscle, but do people really know what benefit it is providing when their physio applies it and have they ever considered buying it themselves for the additional benefits. I know many of my university friends have the tape applied at the physio but do not understand the reason for its application apart from perhaps support. Essentially Rock Tape does act to support the muscle, relieving sore muscles and pain from injury without restricting movement. Regular strapping, supports and taping significantly decrease the range of motion possible but Rock Tape is designed to have the same stretch as human skin.

The guys at Rock Tape reiterate this but provided me with their considerable knowledge of other benefits of their product. The tape stretches up to 180% of its original length but happily recovers back to its original length. This provides it with the properties to provide numerous benefits.

By applying the tape with no stretch but on stretched tissue the skin wrinkles, this can reduce swelling by lifting skin and decompressing the tissue so fluid and waste can travel away and blood can travel to the area with more ease to provide oxygen. This significantly aids the recovery of tissue. As pressure is reduced on the tissue the layers of tissue slide with more ease increasing flexibility and range of movement. At the same time there is less pressure placed on the nerve endings so any pain generated by movement is reduced or eliminated. The tape can also increase an individual’s proprioception which further decreases pain.

In all the Rock Tape aids to speed up recovery, whether you have or haven’t got an injury.

Many Physio’s are trained in the application of Rock Tape or other forms of tape for injury prevention but Rock Tape not only train individuals for this purpose but also train up practitioners and individual athletes for the application of Power Taping. Visit Rock Tape’s website if you wish to find a professional or speak to you local physio. If you wish to attend a course again visit the Rock Tape website.The more the tape is stretched when applied the more support it provided to strained or torn tissue. With this the elastic recoil increases to the taped area so tissue recovery and stability are enhanced so can assist in power and coordination during activities. This is often referred to as PowerTaping.

However, the guys at Rock Tape provide you with the opportunity to apply the tape yourself without attending a course, with application guidelines for numerous injuries in each pack of tape and detailed videos on their website do not hesitate to try out the tape yourselves. It will save you a lot of money by reducing repeated trips to the physio to get it reapplied. Tape tends to last 7-10 days depending on where it is applied; you can swim, shower and run in it, no problem! The guys at Rock Tape applied some to my leg and it definitely lasted 7 days, and after that I was comfortable reapplying the tape myself. If I have a niggle now I quite happily apply the tape myself using the videos that you can find on their website. However, do remember that if that niggle is causing considerable discomfort a visit to a physio is recommended.

Rock Tape, as a company, also produces Rock Sauce. Rock sauce is the only pain reliever designed to work with Rock Tape. It is a heat based lotion which can be applied on top of rock tape to reduce pain or to warm up pre-workout.

Rock Tape produce numerous colours, such as blue and pink, and designs, including cow print and GB colours. They also produce custom made tape for particular customers such as for Loughborough University. If you are interested please visit the Rock Tape Website

www.rocktape.net                @rocktapeuk                       Facebook: Rock Tape UK


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Getting into CrossFit in Central London with CrossFit Blackfriars

Getting into CrossFit in Central London, UK is now a little easier with our gym located in the heart of the city.  Just a short walk from the city over Blackfriars bridge you will find us (CrossFit Blackfriars) off of Weber Street.  We are 7 minutes walk to London Waterloo, 5 Minutes to Southwark Station and 7 minutes to Borough/London Bridge.

CrossFit is the fastest growing fitness practise in the world and founder Greg Glassman describes it in 100 words:

 

Eat meat and vegtables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar.  Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat.  Practice and train all major lifts:  Deadlift, clean, squat, presses, C&J and snatch.  Similarly master the basics of gymnastics:  Pull ups, dips, rope climb, push-ups, sit-ups,presses to handstand, pirouettes, flips, splits, and holds.  Bike, run, swim, row, ect, hard and fast.  Five to Six days per week mix these elements in as many combinations and patterns as creativity will allow.  Routine is the enemy.  Keep workouts short and intense.  Regularly learn and play new sports.

 

For more information please visit www.crossfit.com 

We look forward to meeting all of you London CrossFit enthusiasts at CrossFit Blackfriars soon!


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New to CrossFit? Try our Access Course!

CrossFit is for everyone! 

Whether you're training to get better at your sport, for general fitness or to look good CrossFit has become the way to do it for millions of people around the world and this fantastic community is growing fast!

At CrossFit Blackfriars we have developed a comprehensive Access Course to introduce a number of the exercises and techniques that we use on a daily basis in a relaxed and fun environment.

Like our daily classes, numbers are capped on the Access Course to ensure that everyone gets plenty of individual coaching so that you feel confident and well prepared to join in the classes after the course.

The course consists of three sessions which are held over three weekends.

Each session is approximately three hours long and has a structured programme that includes short and scaled conditioning sessions (or metcons as they are often referred to in CrossFit). The programme starts with the basic movements used in CrossFit and progresses towards the more technical movements of kettlebells, basic gymnastics and Olympic weightlifting elements.

On our Access Course we tailor everything to your individual needs so that you progress at your own pace. As your skills increase we will continue to scale appropriately and increase the level of intensity to match.

Whether you are new to CrossFit or just want to brush up on your skills, this course will give you a solid base of understanding the correct mechanics so that you can perform the movements safely and efficiently.

The course (approx. 9 hours) costs £150.  However we are offering a special introductory offer of £50 so get booking fast!

For availability and dates, please get in touch.


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Pricing
We are offering competitive prices that allow for flexibility and saving depending on your needs. 


Peak Costs
Peak membership allows access to all classes. 
 
                   
Sessions Per week                    
 
   
 Membership Type
 
 2x*
 3x**
 Unlimited***
 
 
 
1 month  contract
£110
£155
£220
     
3 months contract
£100
£140
£200
 
   
             

Off-Peak Costs
Off-peak membership allows access to classes at 6am, 12.30pm, 4.30pm & 8.30pm Monday to Friday, classes from 1pm on Saturday and all Sunday classes.  
 
 
Sessions Per week                    
     
Membership Type 
 
 2x*
 3x**
 Unlimited***
 
   
1 month contract
£80 
£110 
£145 
     
3 months contract
£75
£100 
£130 
     


This is how to get started:
1. Go to our MindBody page and create yourself a profile HERE 
2. Choose a membership option to start with - you can always change it later!
3. Send us an email to the hello@crossfitblackfriars.com address to let us know you are ready to get started and we will help you set up your chosen membership.
4. You are ready to book your first class - either via your online profile or by using the MindBody Connect App which you can download for free to your smartphone.

If you have any questions, please email us: hello@crossfitblackfriars.com

We look forward to seeing you soon!


Personal training & drop ins

To orgainse personal training at CrossFit Blackfriars - please email hello@crossfitblackfriars.com to book a session.

We also offer a drop in rate to visiting CrossFitters of £20 per session. Please email us at hello@crossfitblackfriars.com if you would like to visit.




* 2 classes a week equates to 9 classes which can be used at any point during each month.
** 3 classes a week equates to 13 classes which can be used at any point during each month.
*** Unlimited equates to one class per day.


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