Why you need to drink more water

Whether it’s wooder or water – you need more of it this time of year. Here’s why.

First of all we’re more water than anything else as water makes up about 60% of our body (babies are close to 75%!). Even those rock solid bones we have, over 20% water in them.

In your body, water works as a transporter in and out of your cells, it makes chemical reactions possible, lubricates joints and regulates our temperature when we sweat – so yea, it’s important.

What’s really remarkable is how little we need to lose through sweat and dehydration to start having a negative impact on our body.

A 1% loss of body water reduces aerobic endurance.

A 3% loss leads to reduced muscle endurance.

A 5% loss causes heat exhaustion, cramping and reduced mental capacity.

Now, yes – you can drink too much water as well and that has a host of issues associated with it, but generally – we find that folks are far more likely to be dehydrated. So how much should you be drinking?

If you’re a class-taking fitness person. Half a liter-to a full liter (16-32 ounces) over the hour of class is a good goal (bring a water bottle to class!). Then another half to full liter post workout. Try to add a half liter with meals. All told, hitting a daily total in ounces that equals the number of pounds you weigh is a good general goal for active people (you may need more).

A great way to start tracking is to get a water bottle like a Nalgene with markers on it, so you know what you’re actually drinking. Don’t refill it until it’s empty so you know how much you’re taking in. Also, starting your day drinking a full one before you drink coffee is a great start.

Electrolytes can help as well, especially this time of year, we like Nuun tablets as an affordable option that don’t also come with lots of additives and garbage in them. Remember, you’re basically a plant, drink some water! 

Is scaling hurting your progress?

“_______ training is great, you can scale it to any ability”. Ever said or heard that? We used to, maybe you do too. However, when isn’t that right?

Let’s start by defining a few things, “progression” and “regression” (otherwise known as scaling). Progression is building capacity over time in a measurable way. Regression is reducing a given movement into simpler parts. In general physical preparedness group programs, a given workout will be written for a class to do. Let’s also say that the given workout on a certain day is a movement that causes you pain to perform. Easy, just scale it, right? Maybe..

If you’re experiencing chronic pain (continual long-term discomfort) with a certain movement, consistently scaling that movement likely doesn’t address the cause of your pain. Think of scaling like the recommendations on over the counter medicine. Usually, there’s language like if the issue you’re experiencing extends longer than a week with the over the counter meds, it’s time to see a professional. Scaling around painful movements works the same way and for the same duration. If you’ve been scaling around pain for more than a week – let’s chat. We’re here to help and it doesn’t mean skipping or not taking group classes. You can do both with programming and progressions for you.

Progressions and programming gets to the root of your body’s needs, rather than reducing the group plan. How do you know when specific progression is what you need? That’s what we’re here for! We start with a movement assessment and screen along with some strength balance testing. From that point, we can not only adjust your movements for classes, but more importantly get you on programming that gets to the root cause and progresses your ability in a balanced and structured way.

Next time you find yourself grabbing the same band or considering skipping the workout that bugs your shoulder – chat with us! Let’s make a plan so you can stop scaling and start building towards pain-free training. Subvert acceptable, become exceptional – that’s how we do it. 

An Ode to the Rotisserie Chicken

You’ve seen them, the bag chickens. You might also say “not for me.. I don’t eat chicken in a bag”. But then you also might house a pint of ice cream later on. You know what could have helped avoid that? The supermarket Rotisserie Chicken.
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One of the complicated things about nutrition is that we make it complicated. Let me explain. Often, there are easy and simple solutions – say, prepared even, right in front of us. In a bag. With handles. But instead.. We plan to make that six-course recipe we saw on the gram. Well, next stop and it’s 7:34pm and you’re having a real pickle of a time finding the motivation to make that balsamic reduction from the instagram recipe. In comes the siren song of the ice cream dinner from the freezer..
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We’ve done it, no shame. However, it doesn’t have to happen if we use some basics. The rotisserie chicken is cooked and ready to go. Depending on your needs – it’s a few servings of protein right there. Different cuts of the bird to mix it up even! Seriously, you don’t get that with a single piece of fish. It’s also an affordable option.
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Cut it up and toss into some salads for added protein. Eat a drumstick like you’re at the Ren Fair – there’s lots of options. All thanks to the often unfairly maligned Rotisserie chicken. Now – like any prepared food, freshness does matter in this case, so try to get one earlier in the day so you don’t get one that looks it spent the day at the shore. However, next time you’re stumped on meal planning or know you need an easy protein source (or 3), thank the unsung supermarket hero – the bag chicken and tell Ben and Jerry they have the night off.

60% is greater than 90%

Here’s some fuzzy math for you.

In training, percentages are often used as tools to indicate how hard a movement should be and therefore define its repeatability. If you want to snatch 100 pounds, we wouldn’t just put 100 on the bar and have you yank on it a million times, we’d first have you master technique and timing at lower weights and then increase with capability.

However, here’s the trick.. We forget this is and lower percentages seem lame. Telling your friends you worked on repeatable reps at a low weight doesn’t get nearly the acclaim or likes on the gram as a new personal record (i.e. 100%+). Yet, this is exactly how we get better and build personal records. Ironically though, it’s also where things are most likely to go wrong.

In warming up, we often won’t pay as close attention to those reps. 

“Sure, my back could have been tighter” and “yes – that bar got away a bit” – but the rep got there. “I’ll clean it up on the next (heavier) rep”. Ever been there? We have, absolutely. Injuries are a part of using your body. However, these reps, the seemingly easier practice reps can be disproportionately problematic or set up false expectations.

This is why most car accidents happen close to home. We’re assuming our internal auto-pilot is better than it really is in familiar environments. Turns out, we’re often wrong and simple tasks trip us up more than ones where we are required to fully focus. 

Let’s also be clear that percentages can be perceived effort as well. This is why we often program “a heavy set of ____”, then take a number based on that lift today for use in conditioning. 60% or 90% can be perceived effort, not just a number linked to a totally different environment months ago. If a functional movement is defined as offering the greatest repeatable expression of work capacity, than learning how to make 60% special is the absolute best way to also set up successful 90-100% in the future.

Next time you’re tempted to race up the heavy weight ladder, take a minute and give 60% some more love, your next shot at 90% will thank you.

What does AMRAP mean?

We’ve all been there… Warmed up, preparing to start the workout, our arms-heavy-knees-weak-mom’s spaghetti moment. Coach starts the clock and it’s ON.

75 seconds later, we realize we’ve made a terrible mistake. Now what? The stages of workout grief; the denial, the bargaining, finally the acceptance… as we stare at a barbell with a heart-rate of 300. But what if there is a better way?

When we program workouts, the goal is to have you increase your work capacity – an unsexy way of saying “move things quicker than you could move those things last time”. To do that, conditioning workouts are time and task based.

“Time” means you have a time limiter on the work being done, the every minute on the minute format is a popular iteration of this idea. In that case, every 60s, you’re moving to another movement regardless of what you’ve done.

“Task” means you have a task to complete, but the time in which that is accomplished may vary from person to person. In these cases, we likely vary the load being used to keep athletes finishing in the same general time.

Improving work capacity requires repeatability and consistency. You don’t get more efficient by doing one rep, you gain efficiency by doing lots of reps. This is the case because your muscles require volume and time to build stamina, cardio endurance, strength and flexibility while your brain requires practice to learn coordination, balance, agility and accuracy and therefore gain efficiency. Repeatability gives you increased speed and power – otherwise knows as – you guessed it, more work capacity. If you blow up after 75s, we haven’t accomplished any of those things.

And now here’s where the beloved “AMRAP” – As Many Rounds (or Reps) As Possible comes in. For any workout longer than a few minutes (let’s say 3-4), you need a plan for pacing. Otherwise, you’re not training – you’re practicing blowing up – and that is the absolute least efficient way to get better at anything.

As many rounds as possible, really means as much work as possible. That   requires a plan and pacing so that your 15 min workout is actually useful, not leaving you crawling, crying and hoping that taking your shirt off will be the answer (we’ve tried, it doesn’t..). Next time, you see an AMRAP format workout – break it down into time intervals that you can repeat. This keeps the workout useful and you’ll actually get fitter.

Oh, and you’ll hang on to mom’s spaghetti. Marshall would be proud.

What should I eat?

Eat with your hands! (Sorry, mom).

We get the question often of how to estimate the right quantities of macronutrients (protein, fat and carbs) to have with a meal. Here’s an easy way to get a gauge and start building a better plate (and when dining out!).

1-2 palm sized portions of protein (thickness and overall size).

1-2 cupped hands portions of starchy carbs

1-2 closed fists of veggies and fruits

1-2 thumbs of fats (including liquids like dressings)

Note: don’t actually pack all your rice into your hand at the table like a maniac, this is a gauge to look at relative to your body size. Ok- moving on.

The 1-2 measurement is relative to size of the human. Larger humans generally need more food. Also, if you need to prioritize one source (like protein) – you can make adjustments this way. 

Next, make the combinations of those things as colorful as possible (tan is not a color when it comes to food, sorry, nor is the red in ketchup – bummer). Combine that plan in 3-4 meals/day along with 3/4 to 1:1 of your bodyweight in ounces of water per day and you’ve got a solid foundation.

Also note: at no point did this specify; vegan, carnivore, zone, intermittent fasting, keto, organic, free-range or whatever else. Just the basics.

Typically, only after an athlete (remember, yes – you are an athlete), is hitting these goals do we talk about supplemental shakes as whole food sources are ideal.

Start there, then listen to your body so you can learn how to fuel it 🔥

How heavy should I lift?

Feeling is always the goal, but when we lose or lack the ability to feel, numbers become a tool to relate to the world. When you begin training, you lack direct feeling because your sensory system is overloaded.

At the start, everything is new – you have to remember where the bar is in the gym, much less your start position for a lift. This makes the situation temporarily overwhelming and this is why we help prescribe weight, time and volume. This creates the ability for you to start to feel.

As your “athlete age” (the time spent doing a task) increases, you develop feeling, when a position can’t be held any longer, or a time interval can’t be met without accommodation. In a general physical prep program like our GPX classes – the goal is ultimately feel. The weight on the bar, the number of reps, the cadence of the workout – matches your intensity. This is where life-long fitness happens.

We want our athletes to be co-conspirators when we ask “what’s your plan today?”. You shouldn’t be robot always dependent on percentages, you should develop a feel for your body and then that tells you how heavy to make a given movement or moment. Maybe you slept 4 hours last night. Maybe you had a second glass of wine. How does that impact feeling? Then you aren’t dependent on a watch, band or phone – but you actually develop a connection with your body, rather than a purely transactional relationship.

Numbers provide concrete feedback, but they don’t tell the story of your whole self. This is the difference between a 3 rep max and a heavy set of 3 reps. One is dependent on previous experience related to an abstraction (3 rep max), one is dependent on your feeling (heavy set of 3). Both are valuable in the right context, feeling tells you which one. It’s why we ask you how you feel, not just what is on the bar.

Superior learning means reduction, not complexity. Learning when the 3 rep max is relevant and when a heavy 3 is the right move. 

Autonomy, not dependency. OPEX Founder and Fitness OG – James Fitzgerald once asked, “when did fitness become the business of creating dependent relationships?” 

Subvert robotic fitness, reclaim your body.

Is you shoulder the cause of your shoulder pain?

Why start with assessment?

Prior to a new athlete picking up any equipment, we always start with assessment. Why? Because otherwise, we might as well be Coaching with the lights off.

Often, folks come to us with a history of movements that don’t feel great.

“My knees hurt when I squat”

“I can’t press overhead on that side”

“I hate burpees” (full disclosure – there isn’t much we can do there).

Equally as often, when we then assess the full body – we find compensation taking place from areas not included in that inventory. A limited ankle can trigger a low back. A limited shoulder can irritate a knee. It’s all connected.

When we train, we use a principle of transferability using full body movements. Let’s explain. When you squat using a non-fixed weight like a barbell or dumbbell, you not only work your legs, but also your core, upper back, feet as well as improve balance and coordination. This is why assessment is so important. We need the whole picture because training with us isn’t isolated to one part of the body – we want to help you put all the pieces together for maximum full body fitness.

From there, we make a plan for you to improve those positions and as you learn new skills, because you’re an individual – not a group. That’s how you’ll build confidence and competence with our staff.

Oh and just maybe, you’ll even appreciate burpees. Message us to schedule a no-cost consult and assessment to learn more.

Smell good in the gym!

Being sweaty can mean being smelly, but it doesn’t have to be that way! So what can you do about it? 

Let’s talk body odor:

🧼Wear deodorant. That crystal you rub in your pits? Yea, unfortunately it doesn’t do shit. There are great natural ones that do work and avoid aluminum as an ingredient if you can!

💧Hydrate. With water, not booze. Booze comes out in the gym and we can all smell it. Cocktails are cool at 8pm, not again at 8am. 

🦠If your musk is particularly pungent and nothing works, see a doctor because there are RX deodorants for that particular thing. It is common and we still think you’re swell. Our bodies are hosts for tons of healthy bacteria, but there’s a stinky interaction between your sweat and your bacteria which can be fixed. (Google: Bromhidrosis.)

👕 Your gym clothes:

🧼Unfortunately, fabrics do retain body odor over time (especially synthetics). If they don’t smell fresh to you after a wash, do a load of gym clothes with a cup of white vinegar in the wash water. That usually works.

🧼Buy the fancy gym-clothes cleaner if you want (but vinegar works). This means knee sleeves too, if they develop their own personality, it’s time for a wash.

Perfume and cologne:

🧴PLEASE not in the gym. Regardless of what Johnny Depp said in the ad, it’s nothing but a soup of toxins, a headache trigger for many and a hormone disruptor for all (for real). Try to keep it out of the gym, where people are breathing extra hard. Yes, this includes that body spray that you may LOVE (I want to use this opportunity to personally apologize to everyone I went to middle school with re: my abuse of Axe body spray).

If you have questions around this issue, please ask a Coach – we’re here to help and keep a squeaky clean environment for all. Being smelly doesn’t make you a bad person, it just means we need a new plan. We also deliberately use unscented floor cleaner as well for specifically this reason.

We all have our own special smell and that’s part of our biology, but with a bit of care we can keep the gym fresh as a daisy so we can all focus on fitness and coaching. Thanks, you wonderful stinky beasts!

Also, thank you @rocketcommunityfitness for the bromhidrosis knowledge drop and content.

3 keys to long-term health

“What’s the perfect workout?”

We’re in this for the long-game, which is why we use principles to drive the training you do with us. Our goal is also to achieve the maximum result from the simplest application. So, what is the perfect way to train?

Start with the muscle we can’t see in the mirror, but without which nothing else matters. That squishy thing in your big ol’ noggin, your brain.

There are three basics to brain health and ultimately your longevity. Time and again, cognitive decline can be attributed to these three factors.

Vascular health. The more blood your body can effectively and efficiently pump, the better everything works. You’re a plant and blood is your water (BUT PLEASE DRINK MORE WATER TOO).

Metabolic health. Reducing simple sugars decreases insulin resistance, leading to longer term function. Not keto, not vegan, not carnivore. Just reduce simple sugars.

Learn new things, meet new people. We need stimulating environments that challenge us to engage with people and learn new skills.

Within those three are there a million different things you could do? Absolutely. The challenge is to look at your life and see if in any of those three are you falling short? Your brain will thank you.