Time Under Tension

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Crossfit is a victim of its own success: Its existence simultaneously credits and discredits itself as an exercise methodology.  On the forefront of its success is its ability to bring variance, movement efficiency, and a broad scope of knowledge to masses of novice athletes.  Further, it fosters a community of people whose common goal is becoming better versions of themselves.   
CrossFit is absolutely golden to the promise of your health.  Unfortunately, even the most flawless of gems can render an imperfection when mishandled.
The issue with CrossFit is not in the science; rather, it is in the eye of the beholder.  I recently went to the CrossFit games which hosted the top 1% of the athletes in the sport.  It was attended by the other 99%, many of whom cannot distinguish between themselves and the participants.  There is nothing wrong with fantasizing; however, when one starts lying to him or herself, the outcomes are detrimental. 
The CrossFit Games and your CrossFit class may share similar movements, but they do not share the same principles.  Your goal each day in class is NOT to win the workout at all cost.  When the need to win becomes paramount, you will often “miscount” reps and move inefficiently. 
Make your new goal to be to spend maximum time under tension: You want to optimize the amount of time you are doing work.  It is in this time of physical strain that your body will evolve and work harder to adapt.  In this zone of work, you are burning fat and building muscle. 
So, move quickly, precisely, and efficiently in your workouts; wherein, you make each rep your very best.  The idea of shorting reps and movements is counter-intuitive:  You want to work harder and longer in order to look and feel better. 
The person finishing last in the workout and doing every rep perfectly is the real winner!   

1 More Session Can Make a Difference

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This is by no means a call to over-train or sell more unlimited memberships. It is merely a thought about what the difference one session would make to your training.
If you are currently training 3 days per week, you are getting 3 hours per week of training x 52 weeks, thus a total of 156 hours of training per year.  To stay that consistent is definitely an accomplishment in itself, but what if we added 1 more day (1 hour per week of training)?
4 sessions per week x 52 weeks = 208 hours.  Consider what an extra 56 hours of training would mean over time for your improvements: fat loss, mobility, rehab, and endurance or any other goal would be that much more attainable.
This could be any form of training: CrossFit, Yoga, Bodybuilding, or marital arts. Any extra time would make all the difference in the world over time.
Think about making this change and watch how the improvements happen. It will take patience and dedication, but the results will come.
-Coach Angelo

Why Lifting Heavy Makes You Skinny

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I sort of hate myself for writing this title, but I figured it’d get more people to read it and then we can FINALLY debunk the theory that lifting heavy makes you “bulky”.   I know this is a discussion that has gone on for some time now, but I want to cover it here, on a personal level.   As a female, and I know that most males feel the same, we want to have that “toned, shaped, fit” look, but not build a ton of muscle.  Right?  Well here’s the hard part.  That’s impossible, because being toned and shaped means you have muscle.  You must build muscle to have this look.   So all of those magazines out there that state you should do lots of reps at lighter weights to “tone your muscles” without making them bigger is a myth.  If you do not use enough weight to challenge your muscles, they will not grow.  If they don’t grow, they won’t look any better than they currently do, EVEN if you lose weight.  This means if you continue to lift the same weight for months and months, your muscles will most likely look the same.  If you are doing a heavy triple, you should not be using the same weight as when you do 8-10 reps on a set.  CHALLENGE your muscles.  They will thank you.   The claims that state certain exercises and forms of strength training make “long and lean” muscles vs. other ones result in “big and bulky” muscles are actually pretty bogus (drugs make muscles big and bulky, not weight lifting).  Whether you do pilates, yoga, or weight-training, your muscles will come out the same.  The difference is that weight-training grows your muscles much faster than most other methods (aka quicker results!).   So the bottom line is don’t fear lifting heavy, embrace it!  Listen to your body, push yourself, and the results will come.  Take it from an ex-big girl.  Over the past 5 years of CrossFIt, the more weight I lift and the stronger I get, the smaller and leaner I become.  I can’t quite seem to think this is a coincidence (and there’s research to back me up too!).   -Coach Becca

The Convenient Truth

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Often times we try to find convenience in a world of struggle.  We never really want to hear the truth because, let’s face it, the truth hurts sometimes.  Every day it becomes easier to make yet another excuse.  “Well, I don’t drink that much,” “There are people way worse than me!” 
Eventually we believe our own falsehoods; we become that thing we detest the most.  Exercise will not solve your problems; however, it will certainly give you the clarity to realize them.
Those of you that know me, know that I do not like to present myself publically, but some things need to be said.  For instance, I see miracles every day of my life.  Those of you who come into the gym every day and try, try, and try again to be better than you were the day before…. that is a testament to the human spirit.  It is pure strength.  CrossFit is an exercise methodology; wherein, you are asked to step outside of your normal realm of comfort.  Is it a cult? 
Well, I suppose that depends on your definition of a cult.  In its most convenient connotative meaning it is a group of like-minded individuals who believe in a concept.  If our concept is to live longer and feel better than I will worship that shrine and polish that golden calf until my last day. 
There is no contrary to the need to appreciate every second of every day.  Life is a temporary privilege that consistently being expended; we are meant to work and improve upon ourselves daily.  Evolution is not a preliminary concept that highlighted under Darwinism, it is perpetual; it is innate.   Keep working hard; ultimately, it is what we were made for! 
-Coach Dave

5 Things Every Member Should be Doing Every Class

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This article is by no means a set of demands nor are these rules you must abide by to be accepted or loved at O’Hare CrossFit.  These are merely some suggestions to give yourself and the entire community the best experience possible.
  1. Stay Until the last person finishes the workout: We know life has things on sometimes, but no one is busy every day. The support of a fellow member cheering you on during a hard workout can be the difference between you finishing stronger than you could of. Please try to be that person
  2. Talking to another member while the coach is talking. For some of you older members, performance or fitness group, we realize that we program two groups and some movements do not necessarily pertain to you that day, but we are all always learning, and we would never want to be the reason someone doesn’t know what they should be doing.  We want everyone to execute to the best of his or her ability. This goes for the group that finishes a class and is hanging out while the coach is briefing the next class (inside voices please)
  3. Be on Time. We get it, life happens sometimes, working late, trains, family etc. But, please try to be on time. This has the potential to throw off an entire class flow, especially if it is a bigger group. Please respect your time, the coaches time, and the athletes as well.
  4. Give your best.  This is the one hour out of your day that failing is accepted, applauded, and admired. Lay it all out there. 
  5. Leave your negativity at home. We all have bad days, we hate burpees, running long distances, or heavy thrusters, but please realize the power of your words. Not only for the athletes in your class but for your own mental health. 
The culture & community is defined by the athletes, how we interact with each other, the coaches, and how classes get done. Add to the greater good and see how much benefit you will reap for yourself as well.
-Angelo

Do you suffer from “Mom Guilt”?

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There is something I struggle with daily. It causes a lot of self- doubt and insecurity. I have mom guilt; and after all these years it has not gone away. I strongly believe that a person must be selfish sometimes and set aside time for themselves to make their health and fitness a priority so they can better serve their family and children. After all It sets a good example and there is a plethora of mental and emotional health benefits to working out.   But what good does it do if you are struggling with the feeling that you are not being the best mom you can be? What if your kids resent the time you spend away? What if people think you’re a negligent mother?  What about all the little moments you miss out on? The overwhelming feeling that your kids must be top priority always can be quite daunting and can be made worse because of cultural and societal expectations.  I still deal with this even though my daughters are teens!   The truth is that those feelings might never go away but you have to remember why you started working out and watching your nutrition to begin with.  I can guarantee being healthy for your children and family is at the top of your priorities.  When you feel the mom guilt know that it is as much for them as it is for you. Being a healthy mom is being a good mom and years from now when you’re still able to enjoy quality time with your much older kids you’ll know that it was worth it.   -Coach Susie

Top 5 Supplements to Consider Taking

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Before I get into vitamins, minerals, and other supplements, let me preface with the fact that supplements should be just that - SUPPLEMENTS!  They should not replace your diet, they cannot fix a broken diet, and they should simply be a beneficial addition.  Although, even with a great, well-balanced diet, there can still be some glaring holes that vitamins and supplements can help with.   So here are my top 5 supplements that I would recommend to most people out there that are weight training and don’t eat organ meats on a regular basis J  
  1. Vitamin D -
For those of us that live in this great city of Chicago, we don’t always experience ‘sunny’ winters.  This means we probably get an inadequate amount of sun, and unfortunately our seafood isn’t the “freshest”.   Seafood and sunshine are two of the only ways to get Vitamin D and it’s an important one!  It helps us absorb calcium, promotes bone growth, and protects against multiple diseases.   Brand: NatureMade Vitamin D3 (eat it with fats) Dosage: 2,000-5,000 IU/day depending on how much seafood you eat!  
  1. Magnesium -
Needed by enzymes in our body for ATP (energy) production.  It helps support your immune system, and it can help you sleep at night!   Brand: LifeExtension Magnesium Dosage 300-500 mg/day  
  1. Vitamin A -
Vitamin A is only found in organ meats, which most of the population don’t eat on a daily basis.  Which means most of us are probably deficient in it and it is an important catalyst for a lot of biochemical processes in the body.  It helps your immune system, reproductivity health, and many other major organs.   Brand: Nature’s Way Vitamin A Dosage: 3,000 - 10,000 IU/day  
  1. Zinc -
Zinc is found in every tissue of the body and is important for cell division, preventing cancer, and maintaining proper hormone levels.   Brand: Garden of Life Raw Zinc Dosage: 15-30mg/day
  1. Whey Protein -
If you are weight training and are consistently breaking down muscle tissue, you need help repairing it.  Whey protein is quickly absorbed, it contains all of the essential amino acids (which are the building blocks of our muscles), and it is easily digestible.  Which is great to take post-workout to bump up that protein intake!   Brand: Driven Nutrition Dosage: 1-2 scoops (post-workout is best for recovery!)       So if you are looking to take your health and body to the next level, consider these.  Even though we work hard, sometimes it’s nice to have a little ‘help’.      

Intensity: Your Limiting Factor

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People have so many types of fitness goals:
Fat loss
Weight loss
Body Composition Changes
Strength Gains (Including Gymnastics) 
Endurance Gains
Anaerobic Threshold 
Now that we have listed out the ideal results we can dive further into the reasons for not achieving them. 
In order to achieve results you need intensity.  
Here is the definition as it pertains to physics - magnitude, as of energy or a force per unit of area, volume,time, etc.
So how is this the reason you are are not getting results? 
You may currently be working with intensity less than 1-2 times per week. I am not saying you should have high intensity workouts every session; however, pushing yourself more often will yield greater results.  Not every session requires maximum intensity; however, not every session requires you to workout within your comfort zone.  You must push out of this zone and get acclimated to the discomfort.  
By NO means do I think you should be at full intensity every session, for that would be a recipe for burnout and injury.  however, choosing two sessions out the week say to allow yourself to have a bit more intensity whether that be loading or speed will help you get your results faster.
If you training is merely a check in the box or a check-in on Facebook, you are in for futile journey. Be present and constantly strive to push your limit at the appropriate time.

Coach Angelo’s 2017 In House Competition Recap

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The 2017 OCF In-House Competition was an amazing weekend.  This past weekend marked the 5th  In-House Competition that we have had.  Each year, I can honestly say they get better and better, and 2017 surely set a new standard for next year.
First, I would like to thank Rocio and Susie for running the entire weekend so smoothly; they kept everyone on time and organized.  They did everything from judging  and scoring to laying out equipment; the weekend could not have taken place without them. Thank you both so much for making this special for us.
To the athletes, I hope you left this weekend with two things running through your minds: I had a great time and grew closer to like minded people, and I allowed competition to push me to further levels of discomfort.  Your potential is limitless and for some moments this weekend I hope you were able to taste that.
A special congratulations to all the podium finishers.  Your hard work before the competition day has proven to be the preparation you needed to excel this past weekend. Keep it up!
Thank you all for such an amazing weekend.  I am still trying to recall all of the special moments that happened. I am so grateful for you all.

What to Eat Post-Workout

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So, imagine this: we are in a high-volume, high-intensity week of the cycle and you just finished a grueling workout that had a lot of reps and a lot of weight.  Is the first thought what should I eat to help myself recover?  Well, it should be…   After a workout, our body is depleted of its energy (glycogen aka calories) and our muscles have little micro-tears in them that need repairing!  Guess what helps us repair and recover our body…?  That’s right, CALORIES!  But the right type of calories is going to be more beneficial than just any old combination that you can find.   Your muscles like both proteins and carbohydrates after a workout, so how much of these should we give our body?!   Depending on your weight and your goals: 15-35g of Protein 30-100g of Carbohydrates   Keep fats minimal because fats tend to slow down absorption of carbohydrates and protein to your body aka they slow the process of recovery.  So those beloved Perfect Foods Bars post workout?  Not the best idea…save them for another time in the day.   What types of foods can this be?! Protein Sources - Whey Protein Chicken Breast Low-Fat or Non-Fat Greek Yogurt Fish/Seafood   Carbohydrate Sources - Oats Sweet potatoes or White potatoes White Rice Whole grain bread or bagels Fruits like bananas or apples   Alright, so now when should we be eating this?!   I’m not asking you to bring your plate and fork onto the workout floor and chow down immediately after you finish, BUT the sooner the better.   Within 20 minutes - Try to get something easy to digest and simple in.  This could be your protein shake and a banana or some overnight oats!   Within 2 hours - This is when we’d want to get our next MEAL in.  Stick to again, lean proteins like the ones listed above, and a healthy starch.  Keep fats for the meals away from your workout.   Now you’re equipped to recover in the best way possible!  Fuel your body and it will repay you!   -Coach Becca