Fight Gone bad

I recently set a client and amended version of this workout ( we were in a commercial gym so no chance of a wall ball, and I hadn’t taught him push press and sumo deadlift so i switched a few moves around. Never the less here is some of the science, theory behind the Crossfit workout “Fight Gone bad”

The ability of Fight Gone Bad to predict performance in a 500m Shield Run by Male Crossfitters and members of the Metropolitan Polices Territorial Support Group.

By Andrew Stemler ( taken form a submission to The University of East London: scored at 75%)

This paper seeks to ascertain whether the fitness test, and by implication the training methods, proposed by the controversial Crossfit movement (Cooperman, 2005) called Fight Gone Bad (FGB) could be deployed by 1st responders (police, military paramedics, aid workers etc) as a predictor of performance in a high intensity occupational task, a shield run,

A Shield Run is a 500 meter run for time in full Metropolitan Police Riot Gear, including Riot shield armour and helmet: a total load of approximately 11 kilos. It is one of the qualifying tests to enter The Metropolitan Polices Territorial Support Group (Metropolitan Police, 2009) The ability of FGB to predict performance in the shield run will be correlated with the results of two (field) fitness tests, Vertical Height Jump (Sayers, 1999) and the Rockport V02 max tests (Kilne,1987) which are accepted measures of power and aerobic capacity.( Sinett & Berg, 2001)

Military forces throughout the world debate the need for training regimes that focus on high intensity exercise, power production and weight manipulation. Testers struggle to deliver fair but occupationally relevant physical tests (Vanderburgh, 2000). According to Greg Glassman (2002), the founder of the internet Crossfit movement, the general preparation of everyone, but especially 1st responders, should consist of varied but functional movements trained at high intensity. In the context of this system, functional tends to mean compound exercises such as squats, deadlifts and presses. These should be combined with basic gymnastics (dips/pull ups, bodyweight exercises) and short bouts of running and rowing

. The aim of Crossfit has been stated to be to substitute work capacity as the fitness gold standard in favour of correlates such as V02 max, lactate threshold and heart rate. To date no formal study has been undertaken on any of the CrossFit suggestions.

The Crossfit proposed test called Fight Gone Bad (FGB)(Glassman, 2005) consists of 3 rounds of five exercise stations with 1 minute rest between rounds. Each subject spends one minute at each station then moves immediately to the next exercise, which are Wall-ball: a 10kg pound ball medicine ball thrown at a 10 ft target after a deep squat, Sumo Deadlift high-pull: 34kg , Box Jump: 20″ box Push-press: 34kg: Row. Scoring is by counting repetitions, except for the row which is scored in calories. The repetitions achieved on each station are recorded. The results are added for a score.

The fitness training of Military and 1st responders, especially in Basic Training regimes, has been dominated by the long slow distance aerobic model. Santtila (2008) noted that the low intensity of Basic Training only raised the fitness level of the unfit whilst Dyrstad (2006) also found little improvement in V02 max of trainees and detraining in initially fit candidates due to the lack of high intensity aerobic training. However, Sekulic, et al., (2006) argues that the (US) Army Physical fitness test is both excessively demanding and time consuming.

Increasingly research is suggesting that high intensity training can be as, if not more, effective than classical aerobic training (Babraj,et al.,2009). Similarly, the issue of the fitness of first responders in dealing with fatigue is being increasingly considered (Rhyan, 2006). Rhyan (2006), argues for the inclusion of high intensity training in preparing for a fire fighter ability test (PAT) but insists that adequate rest periods are incorporated within training (the average work/rest set being 1:2 occasionally 1:1.)

According to Crossfit, real life crisis rarely offer structured rest periods or consistent repetitions (Glassman, 2002): However, fitness skills are rarely trained in a fatigued environment. Perhaps this is due to the enduring belief that aerobic exercise is superior to anaerobic exercise and that anaerobic exercise, and lactate tolerance training, is harmful to deploy (Christensen, 1962). Folland, et al., (2002) for example indicates that the discomfort of fatiguing, or ischemic training is not critical for strength gain, yet 1st responders often need to apply force in an environment of fatigue.

These old views are being increasingly challenged. Babraj, et al., (2009) established that short duration high intensity training improved the insulin response in sedentary males, countering the idea that only higher calibre athletes tolerate intensive exercise better (Fry, et al.,1994). Babraj, et al., (2009) also suggests that the training volume to intensity relationship is far from agreed. Ross & Leveritt (2001) observed the metabolic adaptations to high intensity/anaerobic exercise increase the activity of enzymes, increase the amount of substrate stored and the ability to combat, and tolerate the accumulation of metabolites associated with, fatigue. Sharpe, et al., (1986) noted that buffer capacity increased with highly intense sprint training, but no such buffer was development by (aerobic) endurance training.

t seems quite possible to have a good VO2 max, developed by the accepted aerobic prescription, but be unable to cope with load or intensity (McGill, 2006).

It could be anticipated that a good FGB score would indicate a good aerobic capacity. Minetti, et al., (2006) attributed the enhanced metabolic power of Himalayan porters to practising balancing loads above the hip. Legg (1992) suggested the relative oxygen cost of back packing was 4% lower than shoulder load carriage, indicating that the higher the load the more metabolically effective it is. However it is equally possible that a good FGB score, could simply mean that the participants leg muscles shorten more slowly as reducing velocity could allow a muscle to produce more force which would counterbalance possible energy expenditure due to increased muscle fibre recruitment (Minetti, et al., 2006, Legg, 1992) Also possible is the external load actively stretching the muscles during the unloading phase (McGowan, et al., 2006). It could be possible to move load without a high VO2 max by a simple change in kinematics involving better co ordination, agility, motivation and ability to deal with fatigue. This could render the use of VO2 max useless in predicting success at complex body weighted moves This puts in doubt the calls to improve the fitness of military recruits by (merely) increasing aerobic training and fitness as promoted by Blacker, et al., (2008) and Gardner (2002). On the other hand the introduction of Strength training must not be allowed to disintegrate into Bench Pressing competitions (Kraemer, 2004)

The need to move operational equipment is a fundamental 1st responder requirement. Vanderburgh (2000) observes the need to lift weight to 152cm (height of a standard military 2 ton truck). Crowder, et al., (2007) discuses various military opinions as to the amount of weight that can be carried into combat which range from 21-69.5kg . Most service people now use personal body armour. It would seem advisable to test the ability of candidates to manipulate weight. The use of absolute weight also establishes occupational relevance (Vanderburgh, 2000) At the same time, test need to be fair. Vanderburgh (2000) stated that heavier candidates are discriminated against in run tests. Vanderburgh (2000) evaluated a backpack run test (BRT), concluding that carrying 20kg eliminated the weight bias of tests, although the possible range was between 20kg to 50kg.. The FGB weight of 34 kilos seems fairly in the middle of this range. The attempt to produce a candidate leveling calculation was continued by Crowder, et al., in 2007. However the study by Bishop, et al., (2008) established that overall fitness, motor fitness, technique and motivation were the influential factors in completing an indoor obstacle test, rather than body weight levels. However, within military populations most body weights tended to be between 77-85kg with SD of 2.5 (Bishop, et al,. 2008).

FGB, according to Vanderburghs (2000) BRT analysis, eliminates any potential body weight penalty, assesses a component of occupational fitness, (carrying a universal load) and could produce a superior test of aerobic power. The exercises in FGB focus on rapid, force generating, hip extension. These are seen as essential power generating moves for athletic performance (Baechle & Earle, 2008) .The use of vertical height jump test, plyometric and Olympic weightlifting drills are frequently deployed in sports training (Chu, 1996). Whilst the power calculation of f x d/t leaves little room for misunderstanding, in sports training terms, it is normally viewed as a single explosion (Garhammer, 1993) Those athletes, for example, who are encouraged to take up the Olympic lifts normally, focus on low Repetition and high weight (in pursuit of thats sports objectives) rather than multiple repetitions as suggested by Garhammer (1993). Hedrick (2008) emphasizes the link between weightlifters and vertical jump performance as single maximal efforts.

Uniquely among fitness tests, FGB requires the repeated hip extension under fatiguing conditions which, arguably, is more occupationally relevant than the best of three maximal jumps. Ultimately testing in the forces must discriminate between those who can or cannot manoeuvre themselves and equipment in challenging situations (Bishop, et al., 2008). Whilst Heywood (1991) and Vanderburgh (2000) suggest the fundamental requirements of standard tests is to collect information to establish baselines and identify strengths and weaknesses. However, their assertions that tests must extract one recognised fitness component at a time, has done much to retard training and testing in the military. Tests that isolate components are effectively useless and misdirecting (McGill, 2006) A fast run time could, for example, be the results of a high V02max, running economy, a high lactate threshold, fibre type and training (Jones, 1998).

Vanderburgh (2000) notes that few tests measure components of work related fitness. Occupational fitness requires ability to be able to generate an absolute level of force, frequently repeatedly. FGB, is scored on each activity, and each round unlike an obstacle course (Knapik, 1989), providing trainers with sufficient information to baseline, diagnose problems and construct future training programmes.

Safety in training is a consistent concern . Gardner (2002) identifies the major cause of exercise related deaths in the US military to be related to atherosclerotic coronary artery disease, and the failure of screening procedures to exclude those suffering from ACAD. The increasing age of the participants was also flagged . Gardner (2002) suggests that vigorous exercise tests need to be conducted where immediate advanced life support measures are available. But Babraj (2009) shows high intensity can be used with medical populations.

FGB test is physically compact an essential aspect for ship board crew (Sekulic, et al., 2006) and 5 people can be tested every 18 minutes. Initially this seems easier to stage than, say the Indoor Obstacle Course test (DPE 2009) using, as it does, standard equipment that should be found in all athletic gyms.Perhaps the major objection is the complexity of the exercises: but , it is the mastery of these movements that identify effective real life performers

What should the content of 1st responder fitness training be. Rhyan (2006) quickly turns to exercises that replicate the test he expects his participants to take (sledge drags, sandbag hauls), but this relies on advance knowledge. Real life rarely issues an agenda. FGB afford the opportunity of assessing the impact of normal exercise on a functional activity.

To what extent, if at all should, the training of 1st responders be based on sporting protocols, that normally seek to equip people to succeed based on genetic superiority (Smith, 2003) Sporting events are scheduled in advance, where in the run up to competition; load, food and training intensities can be planned and manipulated according to the principles of periodisation (Bompa 1999) Soldiers, police and fire fighters, paramedic and crisis workers do not share this environment and frequently have to deal with unplanned events

The Hypothesis for this experiment is that a FGB score will have a positive correlation with performance in a 500m shield run and be a better indicator of performance than the the Vo2max test and a vertical jump test. The nature of the information collected will mean that relationships can be sought between body weight, height, vertical jump and V02 max and FGB

Experimental procedure

This study will use 15 volunteer members of the metropolitan polices Territorial Support Group (TSG) as they have high levels of fitness and motivation ( met police 2009 ) and 15 currently training Crossfitters. The subjects will be male subjects to avoid gender based variability in results (Bishop, et al., 2008) and over 21. Testing will take place at a TSG training facility. The volunteers will supply written consent and be health screened, bearing in mind the recommendations of Gardner (2002) Weight and height measurements will be recorded, along with date of birth Over a period of one month, as determined by facility and volunteer availability, the subjects will take part in the following tests:

1) The Rockport Walk Test, using the experimental procedure detailed by Kilne et al., (1987) The subject will be supplied with a standard commercial heart rate monitor sold for home use.

2) The Sergeant Vertical Jump Test, from the squat jump as discussed by Sayers et al, (1999)

3) The volunteers will undergo a standardized tutorial, with a physical practise about FGB at least one week prior to undertaking FGB. They will then undergo FGB under the supervision of a Crossfit level 2 trainer.

4) The participants will be briefed as to the shield run. They will then carry out the shield run using standard body armour, and shield under the supervision of TSG testers There will be a 1st aider in attendance with access to water. The data collected will be entered in an SPSS programme. Statistical analysis will be carried out on SPSS. Correlations will be sought between the results, using Pearson or Spearmans Rho depending on the nature of the datas distribution (Field 2005). As the experiment allows for two groups the data will also be analysed in terms of those with prior shield run experience and those without, by way of an independent t-test.

Appendix A rockport walk test

vo2 max = 132.853-(0.0769 x weight) -(0.3877 x age) + ( 6.315 x gender) -( 3.2649 x time) – 0.1565 x HR beat PM gender, 1 = male, 0 = female) 1 mile = 1609meters

speed walking, not breaking into jog. Time noted in 10th of minutes ( ie 6.30 = 6.5

REFERENCES

Babraj J, Vollaard N, Keast C, Guppy F, Cottrel Timmons J l (2009)Extremely short duration high intensity training substantially improves insulin action in sedentary males BMC Endocrine Disorders http:// http://www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6823/9/3

Baechle T, Earle R.(2008) Essentials of strength training and conditioning and 3rd edition human kinetics Champaign Il

Berg.(2003) Endurance training and performance in runners. sports med 2003 33(1) 59-73

Bishop p, Crowder T, Fieltz L Lindsay R, Woods (2008) A. Impact of body weight on performance of a weight-supported motor fitness test in mem. Military Medicine Nov http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3912/ (accessed on line 06/05/2009)

Blacker s, Wilkinson D, Bilzon J, Rayson M (2008) Risk factors for training injuries among British Army Recruits. Military Medicine Mar 2008 http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3912/ (accessed on line 11/5/09)

Bompa Tudor (1999). Periodization Training For Sports. Human kinetics.ch Champaign Il USA

Chiu, l, Fry A, Schilling, EJ Johnson, Weiss L (2004) neuromuscular fatique and potentiation following two successive high intensity resistance exercise sessions. Euro j applied physiol 2004 92 385- 392

Christensen, E. H. (1962).Ultra short training not lactate tolerance training is the best form of work for high effort training. Ergonomics, 5, 7-13.(abstract accessed)

Chu Donald Explosive Power and Strength.(1996) Human kinetics Champaign IL

Cooperman S (2005).The New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/22/fashion/thursdaystyles/22Fitness.html?_r=1

Crowder, Beekley M, Sturtevant R. Johnson C. Lumpkin A.(2007) Metabolic effects of soldier performance on a stimulated graded road march while wearing two functionally equivalent military ensembles. Military medicine jun http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3912/ (accessed on line 06/05/2009) DPE (2009) http://www.usma.edu/dpe/courses/gymnastics/ioct.pdf accessed 5 May 2009

Dyrstad S, Solltvedt R, Halle J.(2006) Physical fitness and physical training during Norweigian military servic military medicine 171 736-41 http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3912/ (accessed on line 06/05/2009)

Fry AC, Kraemer WJ, Stone MH, Warren BJ, Fleck SJ, Kearney JT, Gordon SE.(1994) Endocrine responses to overreaching before and after 1 year of weightlifting. Can J Appl Physiol. 1994 Dec;19(4):400-10

A(2005) Discovering Statistics using SPSS. 2nd edition Sage London EC1Y Gardner John,(2002)Non traumatic exercise-related deaths in the us military 1996-1999 military Medicine. Dec. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3912/ (accessed on line 06/05/2009)

Garhammer (1993) A review of power output studies of Olympic and Powerlifting: methodology, performance prediction and evaluation tests Journal of strength and conditioning research 7(2) 76-89

Glassman, Greg (2002) What is fitness The Crossfit Journal issue 2 page 1 Oct 2002

Glassman Greg (2005) Oral address introducing Fight Gone bad at Crossfit Certification June 2005. Santa Cruz, USA

Hedrick Allen.(2008) Weightlifting movements do the benefits outweigh the risks?. Strength and conditioning journal vol 30, no 6 26-34 Heywood V (1991) Advanced Fitness Prescription Third Edition Human kinetics Champaign

Hoffman cooper, Wendell and Kang.(2004) Traditional Powerlifting training programs in football players J strength and conditioning 18 129- 135 Jones J (1998) Afive year physiological case study of an Olympic runner. British Journal Of Sports Medicine 32:39-43. accessed on line bjsm.bmj.com 10 october 2008

Folland JP , Irish CS Roberts JC Tarr JE Jones DA (2002) fatigue is not a necessary stimulus for strength gains during resistance training Br J Sports Med 36: 370-374

Knapik J (1989) The Physical Fitness test (APFT) a review of the literature Military Medicine 154 326-9 2009 http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3912/ (accessed on line 06/05/2009)

Kilne, G(1987)., et al.: Estimation of VO2 max from a one mile track walk, gender, age and body weight. Med Sci. Sports Exerc., 19:253, 1987

Kreamer W, Vescovi J 2004 effects of Concurrent resistance and aerobic training on load bearing performance and the Army physical fitness test. Military Medicine http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3912/ accessed on line 06/05/2009

Legg S J (1992) The metabolic cost of backpack and shoulder load carriage Ergonomics Vol 35 Sept 1992 page 1063-1068 accessed on line 06/05/2009 http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3912/ accessed on line 06/05/2009

McGill Stuart (2006) Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance. Backfitpro Waterloo Canada.

Mcgowan c. Duarte h Main J, Biewener A.(2006) The effects of load carrying on metabolic cost and hind limb muscle dynamics in guinea fowl Journal of applied physiology PDF accessed on line 20 4 09. Metropolitan Police 2009 http://www.met.police.uk/co/territorial_support.htm accessed 5th April 2009

Mkenna M Heigenhauser G McKelvie R, JD MacDougall Jones NL (1997) Sprint training during Intense exercise in men. Journal of Physiology 501.3 687-702

Minetti AE , Formenti F Ardigo L (2006) Himalayan porters specialization:metabolic power, economy efficiency and skill. Published on line at http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1635507 Proceedings of the Royal Biological Sciences Nov 7 273(1602) 27691-2797 (accessed 15 04 09)

Ross and Leveritt.(2001) long term metabolic and skeletal muscle adaptations to short term sprinting Sports medicine 31 1063-1082 Rhyan S (2006) Improving fatigue resistance for a fire fighter physical ability test. national strength and conditioning association volume 28 4, 60-67

Santtila , matti, keijo, hakkinen, karavirta heikki kyrolainen (2008) Changes in cardiovascular performance during an 8 week military basic training period combined with added endurance or strength training military medicine dec http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3912/ (accessed on line 06/05/2009)

Sayers sp, Harackiewicz, Harman ,Frykman Rosenstein (1999) cross validation of three power jump power equations. Medicine and science in sports and exercise April 31 4 572-7

Sharp R Costill D Fink W (1986) effects of eight weeks of bicycle ergometer sprint training on human muscle buffer capacity International journal of sports med 1986 7 13-7

Sinett & Berg (2001) the relationships between field tests of anaerobic power and 10km run performance. J of strength and Cond Res 2001 15 405-12

Sekulic D, Males Boris, Miletic D (2006) Navy Recruits:fitness measuring Validation and norming . Military Medicine Aug http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3912/ accessed on line 06/05/2009

Smith, D (2003)A framework for understanding the training process leading to elite performance. Sports Med (15) 1103-1126

Vanderburgh (2000) backpack run test: a model for a fair and occupationally relevant military fitness test military medicine may 2000. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3912/ (accessed on line 06/05/2009)

 

 

 

Crossfit Metro suggest the following scaled divisions

 

    1. Class A: Standard Men = 75 lb PP and High Pull, 20lb Wall Ball and 20in Box
    2. Class B: Modified Men/Standard Women = 55 lb PP and High Pull, 14lb Wall Ball and 20in Box
    3. Class C: Intermediate = 35 lb PP and High Pull, 8lb Wall Ball and 20in Box (step ups are okay)
    4. Class D: Beginner/Kids = 15lb PP and High Pull, 4lb Wall Ball (can be lowered 2in from standard height) and 10in Box

“Thats ‘Elf and safety that is”.

You do have to feel for the health and safety executive. Whenever a petty manager makes a stupid decision  they often try and blame it on “health and safety” .

The HSE have a myth busting committee that evaluates various statements and offers clarification on what is, and isn’t health and safety.

Enjoy

Complainant told they could not use gym whilst lifting weights without wearing trainers

Issue

The complainant was told they could not use the gym whilst lifting weights without wearing trainers, even though it is accepted knowledge that they cause instability and thus lead to more injuries than lifting “barefoot”.

Panel decision

There is no health and safety regulation requiring shoes to be worn or not whilst using free weights. It would be better if the gym management simply explained the real reasons for its shoe policy, whether it is for hygiene or other reasons.

– A gym refuses to blend protein drinks unless mixture brought from themselves

Issue

Sign in a gym says “We do not make up protein shakes under any circumstances in our blender unless you have brought the protein from us for health and safety reasons. However you can purchase a shaker from us to blend your shake for only £4.99!”

Panel decision

The panel can conceive of a number of good reasons why the sports centre may have a policy in place which declines to mix protein shakes using ingredients provided by customers, but these are not health and safety related. It could simply be a commercial decision to promote their own products or it may be because they are concerned about any possible liability if they do not know the composition of the ingredients they are being asked to mix. The sports centre has now taken down the sign and it is hoped that they will provide customers with a proper explanation for their current policy.

 

 Free weights not allowed in gyms

Issue

Many gyms, especially commercial, only have resistance machines instead of free weights. Health and safety is always the explanation for this as it is said that free weights are unsafe.

Panel decision

There are no Health and safety regulations which would prevent someone lifting free weights in a gym. The gym has a right to set its own policy on the provision and use of fixed weights, which may be linked to levels of supervision and the need to ensure people know how to use the equipment properly. However, it should state its reasons clearly.
This is a clear case of “health and safety” being used as an easy catch all excuse rather than explaining the reasons for their policy.

 

Gym manager queried customer’s complaint on gym users topping up personal water bottles from cooler

Issue

A customer made a complaint about other gym users filling up personal water bottles from a water cooler instead of using the disposable cone cups provided. The customer stated that this was against health and safety regulations as germs could be spread this way.

Panel opinion

Well done to the gym manager for raising this and bringing it to our attention. It is important for gym users to keep hydrated and there are no health and safety reasons why they cannot do so using their own bottles rather than the paper cups provided. Other establishments which do ban gym users from using their own bottles are likely to have other motives for doing so – but it is not a health and safety issue.

 

A gym reduced it’s 24/7 opening hours, closing overnight for health and safety reasons

Issue

A gym reduced it’s 24/7 opening hours, closing overnight for health and safety reasons.

Panel opinion

Whilst there may be some additional health and safety considerations in operating the gym 24/7, they are all easily manageable as thousands of businesses demonstrate in providing round the clock opening. This facility chose to trump all of the other reasons behind their decision to curtail their opening hours with the health and safety card when they should have had the courage to reveal their full hand.

HR Manager for an office based company refuses to buy weights for a gym

Issue

A HR Manager for an office based company refuses to buy weights for a gym with the excuse that it is health and safety that is preventing her from buying them.

Panel opinion

Health and safety at work legislation does not prohibit the provision or use of weights in a workplace gym. The company may have other reasons not to provide them but they should explain the real reason to employees, rather than use ‘health and safety’ as an excuse. Management should clarify the position and find a solution. It is particularly sad that provision of facilities which should improve the health and well-being of staff is being marred on “elf n safety” grounds.

 

Local gym notice states “hairdryers can only be used for drying hair on the head”

Issue

The enquirer read a notice in their local gym stating that for “health and safety reasons members are requested only use the hair dryers for hair on the head”.

Panel decision

There is no occupational health and safety legislation regarding the use of hairdryers to dry hair on body-parts other than the head. This is clearly an easy excuse to deter people from using hair dryers inappropriately in a public place and the health club should give the real reason for their decision rather than hiding behind the &health and safety” catch all.

 

You need to tumble if you want to be a stunt performer

There are many requirements to becoming a member of the British Stunt Register. You can check them out here 
Its clear that for some, tumbling is an essential component: they really need  to learn how to handstand to forward rolls, back roll to handstand, cartwheel, round off
front tuck, back handspring, front hand spring.
The chances are, if you are an adult learner, that fear of going backwards will be a major stumbling block in your future career. At Crossfit london in Bethnal green, we have been running and adult gymnastics programme since 2008 . We have been teaching adult beginners how to do these skills for years.
Im privileged to be part of the tumbling teaching team, even though Im not one of the best ever tumblers.  Im now 58 so some of my demos are a bit wobbly, and at my age, I do like a bit of a comforting spot.
In short I know all about fear and what it does  to your form if you want to jump up in the air go backwards and land on your hands. I leave it to my younger colleagues to optimise your technique and string things together. For me, I know how great it it to nail that 1st handspring, that tuck, that flag. I got those, not when i was 6 or 8 or 16: i got those skills when I was in my 50’s
to be honest, may flag is still work in progress
here is my 1st ever unspotted  back handspring

We have spent our long teaching history building up drill to build your skills. We work almost exclusively with frightened adults !

If you want to check out my lessons in Bethnal Green E2 you can  look at our class schedule and book here.

At the moment, my classes are on Friday evening and Sunday afternoon at Crossfit London  If you want a better gymnast to lead your classes,  look for Matthias ( wed) and Tugs (sunday) . You should really check out our fantastic gymnastic strength classes: handstands, levers, muscle up, planches, the flag.

Loads of stuff for you to learn.

Rest periods

I keep on meaning to create a post with this timing  information in:

These are estimates of how long a set of reps takes, followed by the ideal rest periods between sets.

The chances are that 1-5 reps  takes  0-20 seconds , with 1-2 reps needing 300 to 240 seconds rest  and 3-5 reps needing 240-180 seconds to recover

If you are doing 6-8 reps, the chances are it takes 20-40 seconds and you need rest of 180-120 seconds between sets.

If you are doing 9-12 reps the chances are it takes 40-70 seconds and you need to leave 120-90 seconds

If you do 13-20+ reps, chances are it takes 50-120 seconds and your rest period could be 90-10 seconds.

Rest periods can really support or screw your training

Push ups

There isn’t a decent  home or gym routine that doesn’t have push ups in. Many strong men of old insisted on them daily, getting clients to progress from floor pushups to between chairs to get that extra range of motion.

In my “Andrew Stemler  Fit  at Home” regime,  I say, Do them everyday . Make them a daily habit.

Unblock your nose

As I discuss here, and here, breathing has become a “thing”.

However some have problem breathing through their nose: here is the useful procedure from the Buteyko system

According to the argument  reduced  CO2 levels causes an increase in mucus secretion and constriction of the airways. and helps block it up.

The following, so it is claimed  is a simple exercise which could  unblock the nose (in as little as five minutes.)

The technique  increases   the   carbon dioxide levels in the blood, which  so its claimed, will open the nasal passages.

✦   Sit upright on a straight-backed  chair.

✦   Calm your breathing.  Take a small breath (two seconds)  in  through  your  nose,  if possible,  and  a small breath out (three seconds). If you are unable to take a  breath  in  through   your  nose,  take  a  tiny  breath  in through the corner of your mouth.

✦   Pinch your nose and hold your breath. Keep your mouth closed.

✦   Gently nod  your head  or sway your body until  you feel that you cannot hold your breath any longer. (Hold your nose until you feel a relatively strong need for air.)

✦   When  you need  to breathe  in, let go of your nose  and breathe  gently through  it, in and  out, with your mouth closed. Avoid taking a deep breath  when you breathe  in, and calm your breathing  as soon as possible by focusing on relaxation. Repeat to yourself ‘relax and breathe less’.

✦   Continue   to  do  this   exercise  until   you  can  breathe through  your nose  fully. If your nose  does not  become totally unblocked,  wait about  one  minute  and  perform this  exercise again.  Initially you may need  to do this  a number    of   times   before   your   nose   is  completely unblocked.

the basic aim is to improve your co2 tolerance.  even during a hevy cold you should breat through your, presumably, snotty nose

Holding breath   traps  additional   carbon   dioxide which has been produced from the physical activity involved in moving the muscles. It is quite common  for the nose to become blocked again shortly after doing this exercise. This is because  the underlying  breathing  has not been  changed and the body has not become  accustomed  to the increased carbon  dioxide  level. However,  after  some  time,  and with regular practice of breathing  exercises, the body will adapt to a higher  level of carbon  dioxide and  the nose  will remain unblocked.

Give it a try

The learning and practice of  Olympic Weightlifting from a Psychological point of view

 

This paper describes the learning and practice of the snatch, from the sport of Olympic style weightlifting where a barbell is pulled from the floor to overhead and caught in a deep squat. Many of the skill and learning issues are the same for the other Olympic lift the clean where the bar is caught on the shoulders), so illustrations will be used from both activities. It is described as a discrete, gross motor skill and a combined throw and catch. The learning curve is initially positively accelerated then becomes stepped, and pyramidal at advanced levels. Demonstration and extensive cueing are used in the early stages of learning as is segmentation and light weights. Feedback focuses on knowledge of performance. The strength element of the move influences the selection of practice type. The whole spectrum of imagery and self talk moves from technical to motivational.

Chiu and Schilling (2005) observe that Olympic weightlifting is associated with improvements in motor control, noticeably improved activation of muscle groups and motor units, and activation of more fast twitch fibers, hence the skills are also taught to many athletes as part of their strength, conditioning and power  programmes and are  not pursed as a sport  in their own right.

The Olympic Lifts are   a sole participant, self paced skill, performed in a static environmental context.  The move is initiated by the performer, which  according to Gentile (Schmidt  & Weisberg, 2000) makes this  a closed motor skill. It is an object manipulation action function involving the change of position of a barbell  (Magill 2007), requiring correct management  and the adjustment of body position to counteract the in-balance created by the object and conforms to  skill definitions suggested by both Knapp (cited in Guthrie 1953) and Magill (2007): a learned ability, maximum certainty, minimum of time and energy with predetermined results and, according to   Schmidt & Weisberg (2000) produced as a function of practice.

The snatch is   a ground based  multi joint weightlifting exercise, the athlete  exert large  multiple muscle group force whiles standing on his own feet thus developing balance and  coordination: the speed   develops the nervous system (Garhammer, 1985) requires a triple extension at the ankle knee and hip, a  jumping athletic movement, demands the athlete recruits muscles in  a synchronized pattern, develops explosive power:  requiring a high degree of kinesthesis or proprioception (Magill, 2007) The larger muscles are mainly used, making this a  gross motor skill,  requiring both gross motor  and psychomotor ability (Magill, 2007)

According to Charniga (2001) the lifts involve a combination of lifting and catching which, using Gentiles (Magill, 2007) taxonomy   is a mixture of 2B, a throw, combined with 4B, a catch.   4B is higher up the skill table (Magill, 2007) suggesting the catch element of the move to be more problematic than the throw aspect. Hence Newton (1984) recommends that athletes should learn the receiving position 1st,, then the 2nd pull.

Lears (1989) observes  the sport  to be  a changing apparatus:  the aim is to lift more each time, and thus  creates  different velocities  and changing weights resulting, in  intertrial variability  (Gentiles, cited in Magill, 2007) .  When demonstrated as a sport, the lifts are performed as single attempts, making this a discreet skill (Magill, 2007).

When the move is evaluated as a learning or performance curve, the early cognitive stages represent a positively accelerated progression.  However, the skill ultimately reflects dynamic strength (Zatsiorsky,  2006)  with practice stepped , pyramidal and periodized as  higher gains  are sought and progress becomes slower (Rippetoe and Kilgore, 2005, Bompa, 1999)  reflecting the associative and autonomous stages of Fitts and Posners model (Magill, 2007)

Learning stages reflect much of the literature with the need for an overt cognitive  Stage ( Fitts and Posner 1967, cited in Magill, 2007 ) where very clear progressions and skill break downs are deployed. Crossfit London (2005) indicates some 32 separate stages or progressive practices. For absolute novices, its best to use a wooden pole or polyvinyl chloride pipe (Hori and stone, 2005).

According to Hedrick (2004) most  strength and conditioning coaches avoid teaching the lifts  because of the technical demands but he   suggests he has taught thousands of (US air force academy) athletes to clean with good  technique which  is essential (Chiu & Schilling 2005, Hori and Stone, 2005) as is   attention to detail (Lear, 1989)

Many teaching practices simplify the skill, thus addressing  the degrees of freedom issue (Magill,  2007) but also reflect the fact that part of the skill can be used to develop power generation.  Hori and stone (2005) recommend practices that begin from the hang or from boxes, to simplify learning and  take  advantage of the  high velocity and acceleration output.

Hedricks (2004)   suggests 12 steps: Education, modelling, foot position, hand position, grip, start position, jump shrug, low pull, high pull, clean adjusting foot position and squat clean.  Garhammer (1984) sees three distinct phases the 1st pull, the second pull (including the transitioning double knee bend) and receiving the bar.

Some teachers focus on the Double knee bend teaching  and practicing it  segmentally; research suggests this does  not need to be  specifically taught or practiced. (Gentry, 1999)  Some believe this to be an overt coached move, others that it is a natural move that some do or don’t have (Jones 1991, Walsh 1989) Never the less, Johnson (1982) details segmental exercises.

In order to assist learning in the cognitive stages, BWLA ( the British weight lifting association)  rely  on a set teaching  sequence with demonstration at its heart (Lear 1989) . According to Magill (2007) demonstration works best when the skill to be acquired is about  mastering unfamiliar patterns of movement hence there is a widespread use  of observational learning (Bandura, 1986), modelling, and demonstration (Magill, 1998, Cumming et al., 2005).

Adeyanjou (2005), Heyes and Foster (2002), Hebert and Landin (1994), all suggest that repeatedly watching live or video taped performances can result in enhanced skill acquisition. Magill (2007) shows beginners, observing other beginners, will perform at a higher level.  There is an emphasise on verbal cues, (Landin, 1994) which are used extensively in coaching the lifts (Crossfit London 2005), and are often combined with demonstrations (Cissik, 1998)

As with many skills and sport, feedback is essential to assist learning and the development of the snatch.  In the early stages there is sufficient task intrinsic feedback (Magill, 2007) as the lift is either achieved or failed. However, it is possible to successfully lift weights badly; so much coaching focuses on feeding back knowledge of performance, rather than knowledge of results.  Learning is about force control and applying the right amount of control (Magill, 2007). The teaching aim is to over  overcomes the  end state comfort control issue, were trainees use incorrect form as it feels easier, but drill  correct mechanics.(Cohen & Rosenbaum 2004, cited in Magill)

However, feedback tends to mirror all spectrums of coaching available: Kono (2001) suggest that many early stage athletes receive poor quality coaching.

Like many challenging skills the problem is in the transition from one phase to another, throw to catch, which relies on a strong stimulus response bond created by practice (Magill, 2007).

The sport has a large foundation in deliberate practice. Much of the repetition levels are low i.e. one to five repetitions of amounts reflecting 90+% of the lifters one rep max. According to Ericsson (Magill, 2007) this is not intrinsically motivating, requires high levels of attention and does not leads to immediate social or financial rewards

Much practice focuses on retaining skill at escalating levels of maximal muscular contraction (Lear, 1989).

Many psychological studies are on continuous skills rather than discrete skills (Lee and Genovese, 1988). The snatch is about maximal lifts and practice tends to be grouped at the minimal repetition/ maximal strength end of the training spectrum, there being no strength  benefit to training with lesser weight ratios, with higher ones not physically possible (Zatsiorsky, 1995)  conforming to Ericssons  ( Magill, 2007)  view  that training  quality is vital and needs to be appropriately difficult.  However at the elite end training sessions are  variable as athletes would be unable to tolerate a maximum lift regime.(Rippetoe, 2005).

Both schmidts  Schema theory and   Gentiles learning stage model (Magill, 2007), suggest  variability to be the key to successful future performance. Standard variability practice  is not conducted against a maximum effort  back ground, but well within the  students capability (Shea et al., 1990). This  is clearly distinguished from an attempt to lift the heaviest weight possible. It is note worthy that some athletes win competitions by lifting a weight they had not achieved in practice, lending possible support to both of the conflicting theories of motor programme learning as advocated by Schmidt versus dynamic theory pattern as advocated by Kelso (Magill, 2007).

The study of lifting practices can be deceptive as many athletes use the lifts as a power training system, and not as a competitive event in its own right,  and  focus on weights in the 70% of 1 RM (Garhammer, 1985).

Practice can be subdivided into structural units: training sessions, training day and various periodized cycles (Bompa,1999), where the aim is to keep athletes fresh and vary the training intensity (Zatsiorsky, 1995 ) Elite practice tends to be shorter, multiple session and distributed, rather than massed, practice to allow for rest as fatigue negatively influences learning (Magill, 2007).

As the skill is  high in complexity  there is  substantial use of Whole Part Whole practices, but with variation at various stages of learning. Some exercise regimes will take the novice back to basic muscle strength and set isolating exercises (tricep extension, and hamstring curls).  This is not without controversy, as some coaches see no value in breaking exercises down to individual muscle level as they offer no specificity of practice (Magill, 2007).  Some advanced coaches even object to the inclusion of the back squat as having little transfer to the speed  of the snatch (Charniga, 2001)

At an elite level, the tendency, in the absence of rehabilitation, is to focus on compound movement   (Lear, 1989) or meaningful chunks as the associative and autonomous stages are reached (Magill, 2007)

Various experiments have concluded that the correct imagery can enhance strength (Chaiwanichsiri et al., 2006 &  Ranganathan  et al.,2003).  Silbernagel et al (2007) ascertained that many weight trainees use the whole spectrum of imagery, both cognitive specific and motivational. Munroe-Chandler (2004) identifies that weight trainee’s use imagery in the following order: appearance, technique and energy, but grouped body builders in the same category as athletic lifters and studies the subject as “exercise addiction”. These experiments were single joint isolation exercises and may not apply to athletic moves. Zatsiorsky (1995) notes that Olympic lifts do not primarily provoke hypertrophic growth: making it an unsuitable mechanism to discharge body dismorphia.   Kono (2001) states that positive thinking clues and technical phrases are used by Olympic level lifters, suggesting technique and success (in lifting) imagery and self talk is the focus of the weightlifting athlete.

Rushall (1984) indicates that athletes use self talk to cover all aspects of training, both specific and motivational. Milller (2006) notes the use of cues and self talk raises from technical to motivational as higher skill levels are reached.

This paper ascertained that the snatch is a discrete, gross motor skill and a combined throw and catch. The learning curve is positively accelerated for beginners, and then becomes stepped and pyramidal at advanced levels.  The practice of the sport is influenced by its unique strength nature, but never the less follows traditional learning patterns of using demonstration, cueing, segmentation, imagery and self talk.

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