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     The Official eNewsletter of TODAY! Fitness

vol. 2012 issue 10



What's the Deal with CrossFit?

Here's another topic that I get a lot of questions on... CrossFit.  Personally, I like the way that people embrace the "next best thing".  Hey, anything that gets people excited about working out... obsessed even... has got my vote.  Still, there are some things that I like and don't like about the TRUE CrossFit methodology and how it is implemented.

Cross training is not a new thing.  Varying your training modality and doing different types of exercises is something that athletes have done for ages.  Circuit training has been around forever too.  Lifting odd objects... doing olympic lifts... kettlebells... medicine balls... not new stuff.  CrossFit has provided a formalized culture around it that has got people interested again... and that is a good thing.

My main concern about CrossFit is, like anything else, how thorough an instructor is teaching it.  Olympic bar snatches and related lifts that entail quite a bit of form and instruction that can often take a significant amount of time to learn.  If the time is not put in to establish the proper form, the risk of serious injury is drastically increased.

I'm also not a big fan of short, intense workouts.  While a 15-20 minute CrossFit circuit can certainly challenge your muscles and cardiorespiratory system... it's still only 15-20 minutes.  That is certainly better than nothing.  However, I may be somewhat old fashion, but I prefer a solid 45 minutes to an hour for my standard workout duration.  An extended calorie burn period will burn more calories, providing the intensity is there.

Here are some pieces from an interesting article that I found on WebMD regarding a review of CrossFit...

By Michael Esco, PhD, HFS, CSCS*D - WebMD

Preparing the body “not only for the known, but also the unknown” is the mantra for CrossFit, one of the fastest growing strength and conditioning programs today. It is not a traditional, specialized training program like doing isolated weight lifting for a certain muscle or aerobics.

“Our specialty is not specializing," says CrossFit founder and former gymnast Greg Glassman.  It's also a very tough workout -- not one to take lightly, especially if you're not active right now.

Here's what you should know before you get started.

What is CrossFit?
CrossFit combines strength training, explosive plyometrics, speed training, Olympic- and power-style weight lifting, kettle bells, body weight exercises, gymnastics, and endurance exercise.  By doing this, CrossFit targets what it calls the major components of physical fitness: cardiorespiratory fitness, stamina, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, power, speed, agility, balance, coordination, and accuracy.

Training the CrossFit way requires you to work out 3 to 5 days per week. The workouts are highly intense and short, taking about 5 to 15 minutes to complete.  CrossFit workouts typically combine explosive exercises done in a circuit format: One exercise follows right after the next, with very little rest in between.

The main CrossFit exercises involve the whole body and include pushing, pulling, running, rowing, and squatting.  There are hundreds of CrossFit exercises.

The CrossFit WOD
CrossFit posts a Workout of the Day (WOD) on its web site. Some of the WOD are specially named after women or military heroes. The WOD changes each day and there are a lot of them. And they can be quite demanding.

  • The Barbara involves five circuits of 20 pull-ups, 30 push-ups, 40 sit-ups, and 50 body weight-only squats performed in order, while only resting at the end of each circuit for a 3-minute period.
  • The Angie - 100 pull-ups, 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, 100 bodyweight-only squats to be accumulated (not performed in a row, unless you are fit enough) during the entire workout.
  • The Murph - a timed 1-mile run, followed by 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 body weight squats, finished off by another 1-mile run.
  • The Jackie - 1,000 meter row, 50 thrusters with a selected weight, and 30 pull-ups: preferably performed without any rest between each exercise.

The CrossFit program can be performed in two ways: on your own or at a CrossFit affiliate.  Going at it on your own requires a base level of good physical fitness, as well as knowing how to safely perform each movement. The WOD can be done at almost any fitness facility or at home, if you have certain pieces of exercise equipment. Details on how to set-up a CrossFit “Garage Gym” can be found on the CrossFit web site, which also has an extensive video library that shows the proper technique for all of the exercises.

If you are not comfortable doing CrossFit by yourself or you want extra motivation from performing the workouts in a group setting, then you can join a CrossFit affiliate; there are about 2,500 locations worldwide.  CrossFit affiliates are not your typical health and fitness clubs. You will not see the endless supply of cardio equipment or resistance machines, and members don't perform their own personal routines.  Instead, it’s a warehouse-like facility where the exercise equipment consists of a bunch of bumper-plated Olympic weights, plyometric boxes, medicine balls, dumbbells, and kettlebells. Pull-up bars, climbing ropes, gymnastics rings hang from the ceiling. The only cardio equipment you’ll see are rowing machines. If you want to run, hit the road of the surrounding area. The workouts are completed in a group setting. Everyone does the same WOD and it’s probably a different daily workout than what's on the web site.

Each affiliate has a one-month initiation course, which newcomers must complete to learn proper training technique for all of the major exercises performed in CrossFit’s program.  For a few days after a CrossFit workout, you may experience a certain degree of muscle soreness. If that happens, you might need to rest a day or two before the next WOD so that your muscles are fully recovered.

CrossFit: Advantages
CrossFit workouts are highly intense and do not take a long time to complete. You can get a great workout in a short period of time.  Athletes and ex-athletes will enjoy the challenges of each WOD, as they are similar to sports conditioning.  There are a large number of WOD routines and they are always changing. This adds to the excitement of each CrossFit workout and decreases the risk of becoming bored.

The WOD can be done at home, without a lot of expensive equipment. The exercises can be very tough. However, there are a number of videos and written descriptions on the web site that can help you modify each movement according to your current level of fitness.  You do not have to be a member of an affiliate to view the free CrossFit web site. However, subscribing to the online CrossFit Journal costs $25 a year.

Bodybuilders and powerlifters will not get the results they need for their specific competitive purposes by just performing CrossFit. But these types of athletes may benefit from training this way for brief periods during their off-season, for the sake of variety.  Marathoners, triathletes, cyclists, and long-distance swimmers should dedicate most of their training time on their sport's specific needs. However, CrossFit may be a good way endurance athletes can train with weights and not interfere with their main objectives, due to the short amount of time needed to complete each WOD.

CrossFit: Concerns
The possibility of injury is an increased risk with participation in anyhigh-intense fitness regimen like CrossFit, especially if you are new to Olympic-style weight lifting and plyometric workouts, or have a previous injury. Not only are the exercises themselves risky, but performing them under a fatigued state, such as during an intense circuit, increases the risk of injury even further.

If you are interested in CrossFit but are new to weight lifting or exercise in general, you should visit a CrossFit affiliate to receive the necessary personalized attention before attempting a WOD on your own.  If you take that route, however, be aware that the CrossFit coach may not have an appropriate educational background in sports conditioning. Strength and conditioning specialists spend years learning proper technique of explosive exercises and some have degrees in exercise science, biomechanics, or kinesiology.

Make sure you ask about credentials and references for any coach or personal trainer who is responsible for teaching you proper lifting technique. Be sure to let them know if any exercise makes you feel uncomfortable or causes pain.  It's best to have a sufficient strength base before starting a high-intensity, power-based training plan. If you are not strong enough to perform a certain exercise by itself, let the coach know so he/she can modify the regimen accordingly.

CrossFit is mostly suited for healthy people who enjoy vigorous exercise. People with injuries, health conditions, or other special needs should follow the specific guidelines for physical activity recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine.

CrossFit claims that the system is “empirically driven and clinically tested” which insinuates that the methods are scientifically supported. A review of the current scientific literature, however, shows no published studies about CrossFit in top-rated peer-reviewed strength and conditioning or exercise physiology research journals.

CrossFit: Bottom Line
Like most other exercise routines, CrossFit has advantages and concerns. The workouts are fast-paced, challenging, and constantly varied.  If you are healthy and can endure grueling workouts, then give it a try. You will probably enjoy it, just like most “Crossfitters.”

If you are out of shape or just beginning an exercise program, be sure to join a CrossFit affiliate to receive the appropriate personalized attention. Check with your health care provider before starting any new fitness program, especially if you are not active now.  The CrossFit website is



USA Bodyweight Exercise of the Month!

Suspended Chest Fly


Chest flys are great for building those outer chest muscles, especially when targeted towards the end of a chest workout when you're already pumped up.  Doing chest flys at this point helps to stretch the muscle facia, allowing more room for growth.  Like many other suspended exercises, this version allows you to safely adjust your resistance based upon the amount of incline of your body position.  You'll also feel a nice shoulder stretch while performing your reps.


Target:  chest and core (pectoralis major, rectus abdominus, erector spinae)

Description:  Start by grabbing the handles fairly high on the suspension straps/USA in a pushup position.  Beginning with a fairly steep incline until you can get the feel for how much resistance you can handle.  Keeping your elbows locked, spread your arms out to the side as far as you can control, pause for the stretch, then pull them back to the starting position before repeating.

There's an App for That

We have a guest editor this month!  This fitness app review was sent to me by Jose Martinez from Monterrey, Mexico.  After reading his write-up, I downloaded the app myself and agree that it is put together well and provides some good guidelines and instructions for home workouts with minimal equipment.  Certainly worth checking out this FREE app if you are looking for ideas and routines to start your transformation!

Below is the review that Jose has provided...

Most of us need two things to take the decision on undergoing a complete change on our mental and physical toughness: Motivation and some Guidance.  This month’s app provides a little of both worlds, but most importantly, you have no excuse for not working out since little or almost no equipment is needed.

The Nike Training Club app is a good way to have a quick and focused session at home.  It’s your own personal trainer, anytime, anywhere. You can get lean, toned and strong with more than 85 custom-built workouts and you can pick and choose from the workouts which are already downloaded on your smartphone, there is no need for an internet connection to use them.

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:dspawn:Desktop:TF_Notes:Sept:workouts.jpg

“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over”.  The best part is the detailed instructions for each of the exercise in which they have step by step images or you can choose to see each video for the exercise.  Form and positioning is important for each repetition you make, the videos are an excellent way to have a visual instruction on each workout so you do it right every time.

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:dspawn:Desktop:TF_Notes:Sept:instructions.jpg

The trend we are seeing today on most of the applications and fitness gadgets are the social aspect to share and the “gamification” of your accomplishments.  By sharing and bragging about your progress, it allows you to keep you on track and motivated to achieve your goals.  The Nike Training Club will provide rewards according to the goals and workouts you complete along your way to fitness.

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:dspawn:Desktop:TF_Notes:Sept:rewards.jpg

There’s one caveat we need to mention; the application is intended for the Ladies who would like to be fit and strong.  Nevertheless, speaking for myself, I have seen those ladies lifting and pushing further than I can!  So give these workouts a try and you will see that it’s no walk in the park.

I hope you find today’s pick interesting but above all, that it will help you accomplish and get you towards your fitness goals.

Full details on what the application bring are:

  • Full-body workouts for 30 or 45 minutes.

  • Targeted and professional athlete workouts for 15 minutes.

  • Set a favorite workout as your Quick-Start.

  • 130 multi-dimensional, multi-directional drills build on the fundamentals of strength, cardio, interval and core training.

  • Exclusive rewards including workouts from Rihanna’s personal trainer, professional athletes, celebrities, yoga instructors and more.

  • Simple functionality optimizes every workout. Select your goal and fitness level, then choose from a list of workouts that meet your criteria.

  • Set your workout to albums and playlists from your own music library.

  • Audio guidance keeps you on track and motivated while working out.

  • Access step-by-step instructions and video demonstrations for every drill at any time.

  • Track details of your workout history and training progress.

  • Share your workout and reward status on Facebook and Twitter.

Find this app on iTunes:

It's Go Time!

(sniff sniff)  That's all she wrote for the summer.  The weather's getting cooler again, it's getting darker earlier, and the leaves are falling from the trees.  No more outside workouts I guess...  WHAT?!?  You thought I was serious?  Come on People... haven't you heard of Under Armour?  Don't get me wrong... I'm not out there in the rain and lightening... and I stash my bike for the winter... but I try to mix things up and keep things interesting whenever possible.  Of course, if the elements are really not cooperating, I have plenty of backup options in my basement, whether it be weights, or my DVD friends Shawn T and Tony Horton.  Find something (or some things) that work for you and make a plan that you will keep up with throughout the winter.  Getting ready for next summer's beach/pool season should start TODAY!

Last weekend I just completed my grand finale of summer training with a 75 mile MS bike ride on Saturday with my buddies Andy, John, and Bill... followed by the Delaware Mud Run on Sunday with Jim, Barb, Katherine, Rob, Kyle, Carol, Mat, Dave, Jason, Wayne, and Jenna... The Mud Warrior team is really growing!  Great motivation and great fun when you have a team to participate with... Start planning for next season now to give you something to train for!  If you don't know where to start, or what to do... shoot me an email and we'll set a goal for ya for next year J

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Exceed Your Potential!

Pete Mazzeo, CPT



youtube of the month --> Amazing Abs Workout
Another great ab workout from Zuzana at | Personal Training | News | Tips & Tools | Fitness Stuff




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