Grinding it out

31 Aug

Tonight the class was introduced to the matron of Crossfit, that horrible lady named “Fran” which is 21-15-9 thrusters & pull ups.  More on her later.

To warmup we performed a modified version of the “official” Crossfit warmup which is:

3 rounds of 10-15 reps of
Samson Stretch, Overhead Squat with pvc, Sit-up, Back-extension, ,Pull-up, Dip

We subbed hip extension for back extension and push ups for pull ups. Sit ups we did as a group with arms & legs interlocked, one from my rugby days. This is a lesson in teamwork as the tighter you pull together the easier the sit ups are!

Everyone including me had a good sweat going from the warmup. Time to go over the main move for Fran which is the thruster. To refresh, the thruster is basically a front squat into a push press. It is no doubt one of the best moves for all over conditioning.

The key cues for the class were to keep the bar on the rack as long as possible, and ‘show me your ears!’ during the press phase.

The gang took on Fran with a mixture of excitement & trepidation… ok mostly trepidation. It was a great exercise in pacing, strategy, determination & pure guts. Also a classic case of seeing a WOD on the board thinking ‘there’s no way I can do that!’, then you chip away, and chip away some more and you get the job done.

Ashleigh, Veronika, Eric, Hannah & Steve fantastic effort, you did yourselves proud!


31 Aug

We began with my current obsession ( no not the incorporation of archery in WODs, thats next month!), no, its the re introduction of the back bridge. the exercise mostl likely to humble most people. Whats not to like. No one was quite sure if the bridge was as bad as the flexibility practise that went with it

stretch until blood weeps from the joints

The strength component for the month is the handstand push up. Everyone is going to get  an improvement, whether, its just getting up there, or banging out 20

I have to say, top marks to Joy and Natasha for dealing with some basic fears and getting upside down. Joy hung there for 30 seconds, inspirationally counted out by Naim. Chris (W) was fabulous in supporting ( physically and emotionally) Natasha’s early hand stand attempts. Further down the Wall, Kate, the girl  once voted “Miss most unlikely ever to attempt a handstand” was patiently popping them out,  and offering some great support to Cindy, whose shoulder flexibility, still remains her major barrier. Stick with it!!

When the wod was announced, there was a bit of a  controversy .  I produced stevens “slamming sausages”, known as “Shrago Slammers” which are obviously, very different from  “Shrago Sanders” the  10kg sandbags used in last weeks 350m run. Some people suggested that, anything, filled with sand, and carried on a run was equally horrid, while others, backed up the management and pointed out that a sausage, was clearly a nicer thing to take for a stroll around the park than a tatty sandbag. Although, they did  look like  a pile of  big dogs pooh.

Shrago slammers, dog poo, or black pudding

Dog Poo images to one side, there wasn’t the “how to hold it” debate  .Most opted for a round the neck approach, except visitor Monica ( pictured above) who opted for the over the arm approach


Anyway,  we ended up doing 20 overhead squats, 20 box jumps and a 350m  sausage haul. Amrap 20 minutes. Cameron, Ed and Pat produced predicably impressive performances humping the required 40kg. Equally impressive was the attention that Dave and Darryl paid to their overhead squats: some great improvement in form Guys, Well done.

When we retest Nancy, Im expecting some great performances!



Learn how to row: Skill session

31 Aug

A fantastic one hour introduction to rowing technique session led by Sam Batten ( a very good rower with lots of rowing credentials).

Sitting astride on of the Crossfit London fleet  of concept 2’s, you will be taught how to row properly, and well. Rowing will be making a regular appearance at Crossfit London, so its essential to brush up  or learn theses skills as soon as possible.

This class will be repeated at regular intervals, at different times so don’t fret if you cannot make this particular one.

It’s loaded up on the class screen so you can use your existing membership package to get a place.

Crossfit London Running Seminar

31 Aug

I’m delighted to announce the 1st of our skill sessions for our members and, (in this case ) outside visitors.

We hope to hold a monthly running seminar where you can learn and/or refresh your POSE running technique, learn valuable injury prevention/treatment ideas and meet other open and willing to share runners. Hopefully this will help us learn and compare Crossfit endurance scheduling techniques with other  established regimes. The important thing is to finding out what really work for you,  not just listening to the spin that magazines and websites (including ours) put on protocols.

People have been running for thousands of years and the libraries have accumulated a lot of information. all of which needs to be respectfully assessed and factored, either in or out. Equally, well-meaning journalists have been peddling the schedules of the elite to novice beginners . Its time to create the support network you need to get you running well.

We will also focus on running specific drills and exercises that, allegedly, are “guaranteed” to boost your running performance through the roof.  We have a clutch of sport scientists and students  on our team anxious to share the research, evaluate performance and point out that correlation does not imply causation and  that  the plural of anecdote is not data.

We also have former Marines, over 50’s, sub 3 hour marathon runners, former sub-50 second 400m runners.

We start this 1st session with a special guest speaker the ultra runner (and occasional Crossfitter)  Emily Gelder (look up her  Profile here) who will share some of her training, recovery and food ideas ( and answer most questions)

The event is from 2 till 4 on Saturday 1st October at 9 Malcolm Place E2 0EU. Bethnal green station is 2 minutes away. Don’t bring a car. Run, tube, bus or cycle.

You can book this as a normal class so the most it costs is £12 (less if you have a regular membership) So click the Getting Started button

This will be part lecture, part discussion, part practical. Come prepared to learn and share.

WOD August 30th: Well. That was interesting.

30 Aug

Today was the first class with a new strength cycle of front squat, so after nice and easy hip prep to get into position, we started working on 3RM front squat.

Warm up – Warm up – 3 – 3 – 3 – 3

3RM done, we moved on to some double under practice to prep for the WOD


4 Rounds

10 KB Swings

15 Toes to Bar

20 Double Unders

Everyone’s first reaction to this: “Dude. That’s it? Really? This weekend was so much worse then this.”

To a man (or woman) everyone looked at today’s WOD and thought it was a walk in the park. Heck, I did to. I expected to get it done in 8 minutes. Sub 10 at least. Eleven minutes later I finished and was absolutely wrecked. I think the toes to bar are what did me in. I pushed as hard as I could and right at round 3 I had to pull back or I wasn’t going to survive. Nearly everyone had a great start, getting the first round done in under a minute, but slowed to a crawl by round 4.

It was unexpectedly difficult for such a short WOD.

Very nice job to everyone, brilliant performance tonight.

Arbitrary Awards:

“Dreams Fulfilled” To everyone who hit a first today. We got new 3RM front squats. We got 1RM front squats. We got a bunch of first time double unders. We got WOD’s done at higher then normal weight. We got heavy American Kettlebell swings. Tonight was tough, but there were a lot of smiling faces when we were done.

“Rx’D for who?” To Kat: Kat had to do the workout Rx’D for men (24KG Kettlebell) and finished in 11:03, spectacular. Gentlemen, consider the gauntlet thrown.

“Big Boy Weight” To Edd: We ran out of 24KG Kettlebell’s in the last class. So Edd decided that instead of using a 20KG (like normal people would) he would use a 32KG. American swing every time no less.

“Unwilling hero” To Naim: Poor Naim. The 5:30 class (myself included) built up how amazing he was going to do considering how mechanically advantaged he is. He did not disappoint, finishing well before the 10 minute mark.

“Coolest name” To Drago: Dude. The guy’s name is Drago. That’s an “n” away from breathing fire. Cooler name then that? I think not.


WOD August 28th: Big scary crossfitters indeed.

28 Aug
Today started off working on the snatch grip. Specifically, on the Snatch grip deadlift and snatch grip high pulls. We haven’t touched on the details of the Snatch grip, but I figured today would be as good a day as any other to introduce the hook grip.
When dealing with heavy weight, one of the main limiting factors is grip, and the hook grip allows for more tension to be placed on the bar, which allows for a better transfer of force in technique.
It also stings a bit when you aren’t used to it. Hence, today’s title.
I know it hurts, but you guys are all big and tough. So deep breath get it over with.After working the high pulls at light weight we moved on to a snatch grip deadlift.
Warm up- Warm up- 2-2-2-2The idea wasn’t to hit a max, it was to work on the cleanest technique to prep for any Snatch work that might come up.

Then enter the WOD

“Scorpion bowl”
7 rounds
7 thrusters
7 burpeesThe weight was 40-45 for guys, 30-35 for women as Rx’d was a little on the higher side. (Not recommended)
Again from Crossfit New England, and AGAIN, something that I thought looked easy on paper. How bad could 7 rounds of a couplet be?
Quite, as it turns out. I forgot quite how bad heavy thrusters feel. Burpee’s are still not fun. Combining the press of the thruster and then the press and huge movement pattern of the burpee is really taxing.
This isn’t a fun workout, but you are happy once you’re done with it.
Very nice job to everyone and I’ll see you all Tuesday.

WOD 25th August The Houston Shuffle

28 Aug

This Post is not accompanied with photos as although I had my camera I didn’t have the SD Card and as we found out taking photos on the dodgy camera on my phone was very difficult near on impossible!!

I am going to keep this short and sweet.

This WOD was inspired by a conversation with Brian and his experience with Villiage Crossfit in Houston.
He spent a week or so with them and suggested I take a look at their site, so I did.

They have some mean looking photos and some mean looking WOD’s to match.

As I wasn’t sure which workouts Brian had done I decided to do a bit of a shuffle. A Houston Shuffle to be precise.

I took a WOD which I thought looked fun, and shuffled a few moves and gave it a London feel. Perfecto a Houston inspired WOD for my Crossfit London junkies.

It went like this

AMRAP 8 minutes
10 Jumping Squats (practise that hip extension people!)
10 Kettlebell Swings
10 Snatches (5 each side)

-400m Run interlude -the next and part wasn’t started till the last runner was back, so the quicker you were the more rest you got. How about that for an incentive!

AMRAP 8 minutes
10 Box jumps
10 Push ups

-1 min finale of Burpee Pull ups.

I have to mention the awesome push jerk practise which kicked off the session. Socorro got an awesome PB of 40Kg well done!

WOD August 27: Ignore the color.

27 Aug

Welcome back to weekends with Phil. I’m your host, Phil.

It seems 90% of the population is off on vacation for the long weekend. Beginner crossfitters, the people who run the london underground…

But not the select few sadistic individuals, who just can’t seem to stay away from lifting heavy stuff.

Issues. We has them. 😀

The skill portion of today was narrow grip overhead squats. After the look of shock and horror over the last time we did these, I couldn’t help but use them again.

After suffering through we moved on to the workout:

“Purple Drank”

4 rounds

6 Deadlifts

12 Ring dips

40 Double Unders

The Rx’d weight on the deadlifts was a tad high (read: monstrous) so we scaled to 75% of our 1RM. I’m a big fan of workouts that have heavy deadlifts and either ring dips or double unders, but this is the first that has all of them. Alone, none of these exercises is particularly horrible, but combining them kicks your ass mightly. The heavy deadlifts tire you out and the heavily skill based ring dips and double unders mean you don’t get enough recovery. Which means that your next round of deadlifts are going to be much harder.

And that’s round 1.

Tons of fun. As always.

See you all Sunday!

Has your weight loss stalled? Could be your environment.

27 Aug

Unfortunately for those of us trying to lose that little bit extra, our environment isn’t always conducive to weight loss. We live with an illusion of control when it comes to our eating habits, because we have no idea how subtle environmental cues change how we behave.

Here are some elements that play a role in our eating habits:

Perceived Value

Changing the name of a dessert from “Chocolate cake” to “Belgian Black Forest Cake” increased its sale by 27 percent.

Swapping out the label on a cheap, $2 bottle of Cabernet and replacing it with a fake one from California made people rate the wine, the restaurant, and the food served as better than when it was replaced with a fake label from North Dakota.

Presenting a brownie on a very nice piece of china instead of a paper napkin makes you rate it as better tasting, and triples how much you’re willing to pay for it.

But these are all presentation gimmicks. These things might influence you a bit but as long as you pay attention to your feelings of satiety, you’ll be fine. Right?



What happens if your plate never empties? Do you rely on an external cue (how much soup is left in the bowl) or do you rely on an internal cue (how full you feel) to dictate how much you eat?

Subjects who ate soup out of a bowl that refilled without their knowledge ate 73 percent more soup when compared to the control group who ate out of regular bowls. This even applies to plate size. If your plate is bigger, you’ll eat more than if your plate is smaller.

Inevitably, when faced with psychology research of some type or another, the common refrain is, “Whatever, that wouldn’t work on me now that I know about it.”

Sorry, still wrong.

Knowing about the cue doesn’t change its impact.

Students who went through a 90 minute lecture explaining that a larger bowl would make them eat more, then having a study group laying out steps to avoid it, STILL ate 53 percent more when presented with the larger bowl 6 weeks later.

“Healthy” foods aren’t immune to external cues either.

Think that eating “low-fat” or “low-calorie” is a safer option?

When presented with food labeled as either of the above, people ate them in larger quantities because they consistently underestimate the amount of calories per serving when compared to a regular option.

When subjects think they’re eating a “healthier” option, it has a halo effect on the rest of the meal. Side orders of chips or extra toppings are perceived to be of better quality and a better choice then they would be normally.

The impact of exercise

Interestingly enough, when it comes to the influence of exercise on the amount we eat, the results are mixed. When subjects were primed to think about exercise, they ate less than people who weren’t primed, even though they didn’t do any.

Conversely, when two groups were taken out for a walk and one group was told it was for exercise and the other was told it was just scenic, the exercise group ended up eating more dessert at dinner afterwards.

Why it matters

It’s important to recognize that our choices are more heavily influenced by external cues then we think. However, that isn’t a reason to assume that we don’t have control over our habits.

The “trick” to changing our behavior isn’t just to uncover external cues. Even if we do, we’ll still fall victim to them.

The solution is to leverage external cues to our benefit.

Applying it

Set portion size before eating. Breakfast is 4 eggs. Post training is the previously prepared tupperware. Dinner is 2 steak packs and a sweet potato. Establish portion sizes and stick to them.

Facilitate good choices. Keep healthy food options in plain view and you’ll be more likely to choose those. Don’t stock up on items that are easy to gorge on and bad for you, like cookies and ice cream.

Think about your Fran Time: Remember that what you eat is going to affect your performance. Food is fuel, the better the fuel, the better the results.

Presentation is everything: If all else fails, use smaller dishware. Subjects always overeat when food is presented in larger plates and bowls.

Far from sight.. Accessibility plays a huge role in our eating habits. Having a bowl of candy within arm’s reach will make you more likely to eat from it. Putting it 6 feet away is enough to reduce intake. Applied at home, people will eat more from a serving dish left on the table within easy reach then from the same dish left a few feet away.

Make it easier to lose weight, by making it harder to be prompted by external cues. Forget trying to do it via willpower alone, leverage your environment.



How external cues make us overeat. Interview with Brian Wansink Here

Whats in a sandbag…

24 Aug

if girls are made of sugar and spice and all things nice, and boys are made of slugs and snails and puppy dog tails, what are sandbags made of? Well, unsurprisingly, sand, mainly. But , also a dose of “escalating inconvenience” otherwise known as something that gets heavier  as you go, combined with increasing awkwardness.

Sort of Like marriage.

I  had ridiculed steven when he stayed at home and made 8 10kg sandbags so we could do the weird exercises  that featured in the numerous e-books we reviewed entitled, among others  ” sandbags and awesome abs”  “sandbags make you a better lawyer” fitness pamphlets.

There is no end to charlatanism in the Fitness industry.

I thought the idea of cleaning and pressing bags to be a bit silly. That said all my objections have finally gone. Simply give the sandbag to all levels of runners, include it in a WOD and stand back and survey the pain.

We had a  pleasing half  hour  of overhead squats  where katarina and Kate put the boys to shame by humping 45kg and 40kg respectively., usefully setting  a standard for the evening. “See if you are as tough as a 49 year old woman”.

Naim continues to amaze everyone by sticking more than his body weight over his head, as did Craig ( I  think… is 60kg your body weight Craig??).

Denny and Yuri did some great coaching and helped  their lifting partners onto even  better form! Go Team,

The workout was simplicity itself

run 350m with a 10kg sandbag slithering off your shoulders as if it  had a life of its own, do 10  x 40 kg sumo-deadlift high pulls, followed by 2 sets of a squat clean, followed by  4 front squats ( sort of  8 front squats and cleans). Amrap 20 minutes.

It was simply nasty, with Ed getting an outstanding 5 and  bit rounds, closely followed by a  Trevor, Cameron, Chris, Simon and  Pat, although everyone had lost count by the end of it. The run, that many looked forward to as a rest, had become a mini hell all  of its own: a hell for those who are bad at running, because they are bad at running: a hell for good runners as they are good at running… without 10kg sandbags. Going “oi, mate, carry this” screws most people hard fought for running mechanics into the ground.

But we discovered a secret. The secret of carrying a sandbag on a run, is…. there’s no secret, all methods suck, but, Mike began developing the ” Mike twist” Want to know more??? Well you  should have been there.

Well done all! With a special high five to Denny For struggling through with  30kg ,and  a nice  welcome to David on his 1s Wednesday  night.

Worse to come next week

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