Support those Who Support You!


As the 2019 CrossFit Open comes to a close, we wanted to thank all of those outside places which helped to make this Open even more grand.  These local businesses supported you through the Open with sponsoring the events, either as a whole or on a individual night.  I would hope that you would in turn support them.

Our Main Sponsors for all Five Weeks were

Atlantic Locksmiths

Performance Physical Therapy

Grey Sail Brewing

Weekly Sponsors

Week 1: Kettlebell Kitchen

Week 2: Condessa

Week 3: Wise Guys Deli

Week 4: Chipotle Lincoln

Week 5: Gotta Q BBQ

 

Striving To Be The Best!


The past six months we have worked behind the scenes to improve the quality of our product for you so that you can have the best possible experience, and gain the most amount of benefit of your training with us. This started in September when we announced our partnership with The Level Method. Since then, with striving to continue to give you the best possible product we made changes to our programming to increase the amount of actual coaching you would get in classes. Since these changes, the results have been incredible. We have seen people reach and surpass previous PRs, and the results of peoples performances in the Open has been incredible. You are stronger, fitter and better than yesterday

Judah has been programming CrossFit for over 8 years, and while it was effective, he felt that he was getting stale and there needed to be a change, the program for the gym needed innovation. So we started looking around for different partnerships for programming. After much research and looking closely at what was out there, very much like the process with the Level Method, we kept coming back to one person and their program in particular. That was the program designed by former CrossFit Games Winner, Jason Khalipa, and the NCFit Collective.

About 8 weeks ago, we started an experiment. We started implementing the NCFit Collective programming, with tweaks in it to work and coincide with the Level Method and our philosophy. The classes have had more structure and coaching, and we have watched your progress, and it has been impressive. You have increased strength as well as fitness capacity. We are excited that we decided to partner with the NCFIT Collective to further enhance your experience! We look forward to offering a variety of proven inclusive and scalable programs for you, our members, and further empower our awesome coaching team! We are also now part of a collective of gyms where if you travel, you may be able to drop in at a gym whose programming is aligned with ours.

This program also allows us to better offer you supplemental programming to follow that would be accessory work for your individual goals. The results of recent have been spectacular and we expect to continue to see progress in all areas of your fitness, and many improvements in your Level Method levels come the next round of testing in May. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us directly at info@noriskcrossfit.com or talk to James, Tyler or Judah directly.

I’m Bringing Unsexy Back!


This years Crossfit open started off awesome. 19.1 didn’t require too much skill just a motor and will to keep moving. 19.2 was what it was, my core was just blasted and squat cleans in high reps proved to be a weakness for me. Then 19.3 came along, I was stoked because I thought Strict HSPU’s .However it proved one thing to me, I had gotten caught up in the “sexy” part of crossfit.

Outside of classes I do four to five days of auxiliary work. All of it is geared to my levels in the Level Method MAP (Yes, I follow because I believe in the methodology). In September, leading up to when we tested upper body push, I was working strict handstand push-ups two to three times a week. The day of testing I knocked out my twelve strict handstand push-ups like it was nothing.

So I moved on and focused on high volume kipping HSPU’s. Since September, I have only done one day of strict handstand push ups and it was a day that I had trained all year for: the Friday night of the Crossfit Open.

This blog is for all of you who are in the same boat I am in.There is a reason that we preach strict movements over kipping, and gymnastic seminars. We need to constantly be building by improving our foundation. Because for me, a storm, by the name of the Crossfit Open, came along and tore down my house, all because I got caught up in the “sexy” part of Crossfit. This means a change for me. It means getting back to the basics and rebuilding my foundation. I can not wait to do it with the awesome community of NORISK by my side.

So as you all continue your journey of fitness do not forget about those unsexy things which will actually make you better. Those strict, not so beautiful movements, using light weight to drill home technique, those things you do behind the scenes to make everything else better. There is more to the level method than just leveling up. Once you have completed a level, that completed level should become a weapon in your arsenal, not something to throw away. Let’s continue to keep crushing all of our goals, work at what we are not great at and deal with adversity with a humble and motivated attitude. Even if you feel like you have hit that wall, lost a skill or feel like you do not have the ability to achieve it, I promise you we can help you achieve it. As our founding father George Washington once said “ Perseverance and Spirit have done wonders in all ages.” Keeping pushing and keep a good attitude and there is nothing that can stop you!

Food for Thought


Are you putting yourself, your health and nutrition and well being first and foremost? If not why?
We come up with many excuses not to put ourselves first. Work, family, life, etc. But why is that?

On an airplane, we are told to put oxygen masks on ourselves before we put them on our dependents. Why? Because if the caretaker passes out, they are no good to the ones they care about.

In life, we rush our kids from place to place, work 80 hours a week, and neglect ourselves. But what happens as a result of this. What happens if you “pass out”? You are no good to any of the people who depend on you. If you get sick, you cannot work, and your work suffers, even worse, if you get chronically sick, your income will suffer and you no longer can provide. If the above happens, who cares for your family? What is the quality of your life going to be?

There is no question the number of diseases and illnesses that good nutrition and exercise will help prevent. If you had a way to prevent yourself from losing income, losing a job, or a way to prevent your kids growing up without a parent, wouldn’t you jump on that?

Be a little selfish. Put yourself and your needs first. Make time for you so that your health and well being come first. As a result, all the other things which you think will be affected in the short term will be healthier in the long term.

Squat vs Deadlift


Squat versus Deadlift

Which lower body movement is “King of the Lifts”?

The squat and deadlift are the two staple movements of a lower body training program. The squat and hip hinge are also two fundamental human movement patterns and are important for normal daily function. They also require a large percentage of muscle recruitment making them essential for developing muscle mass as well as increasing neurological capacity and hormonal output.

The squat and deadlift are also both elegantly simple in theory yet technically complex in application which can make them intimidating for new lifters. The human body is capable of moving tremendous loads with these movements and to stay safe you must master the basics. After all, strength training should always be performed with the proper coaching, equipment, and environment to keep you safe as an athlete.

When it comes to strength training many athletes tend to prefer one lift over the other. There are many reasons for this. Comfort. Body type. Skill level. To name a few. Some people may have stayed away from performing either the squat or the deadlift from a negative past experience or injury.

Let’s take a look at:

 

  • Who should be training squats and/or deadlifts,
  • The benefits and muscle groups worked, and…
  • The Volume and Intensity you should be using.

 

General Population versus Athletes

If you are a recreational athlete or utilizing strength training to stay healthy and fit then it is essential that you learn the basics of squatting and deadlifting. After all the ability to squat and hinge are components of everyday life. The human body is an adaptation machine and responds to the demands that are placed upon it. When we spend a lot of time sitting in chairs instead of moving We begin to lose these human movement standards. Don’t worry, the gym is the perfect place to bring them back. When you first learn these lifts make sure to work with an experienced coach who can give you the visual, audible, and tactile cues to perform these lifts.

Athletes also need to hinge and squat to develop explosive power, muscle stiffness, and joint stability for their sport. They may prioritize either the squat, deadlift, or a derivative like the trap bar deadlift based on the demands of the sport on their muscles. Working with a strength coach on sport specific training will be key to choosing the right lifting program for you.

Benefits and Muscle Groups Worked

The ability to perform a basic body weight squat should be the first goal of a training program. The squat requires mobility of the ankles, knees, hips, and spine as well as the motor recruitment patterns to properly extend at the knee hip and ankle simultaneously. The primary muscles worked are the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. Depending on the squat variation being used as well as the depth and other variables you can increase or decrease specific muscle activation. Low bar back squats and box squats achieve greater posterior chain activation. Front squats and overhead squats require a more upright torso and are quad dominant.

The deadlift is the most effective exercise for working the posterior chain. The posterior chain is essential for developing strength and power as an athlete. Powerful hamstrings and glutes will make you run faster, jump higher, and lift more weight. The muscles of the back also benefit from deadlifting due to the powerful isometric contraction required to maintain a neutral spine during heavy pulls. The rear delts, lats, and erector spinae all will grow as a result of deadlifting.

Volume versus Intensity

As a general rule of thumb strength training programs should have an inverse relationship between volume and intensity. Since squats and deadlifts are both total body lifts that require intense focus and neural activation it is important to vary loading patterns, volume, and intensity.

Deadlifts tend to be great for intensity but can be problematic in large volume. One fix for this is to train the hinge movement pattern with other implements that remove the need for heavy loading. Kettlebell Swings, Romanian Deadlifts, and Glute Bridges all train this movement pattern and are great.

Squats on the other hand seem to respond better to higher training volume. With that said you can still grind yourself down with too much high intensity work in the rack. Sticking to Prilepin’s chart for percentages is a great way to stay on top of loading parameters to ensure progress without burning out!

There you have it. A breakdown of the squat and deadlift as well as the reasons you should train them. If you’re looking for help learning these movements and building a movement practice to change your body or get stronger we have a team of coaches who can help you reach your goals.

A Funny Thing Happened…Part 2


No Risk CrossFit - CrossFit Gym in Smithfield RI

 

I do not like talking about myself in regards to fitness, especially since on the CrossFit spectrum, I am currently in 48,691 in the open.  The Open to me is more about community than individual accomplishment.

For the past two months, I have focused on mobility and flexibility.  If I look at the Level Method Map, the only chance I have at being ranked black in a category is flexibility, and for some reason or another, I made it a goal of mine to do a split on each side by June. ( I aspire to be the guy in the picture, and if I reach my goal, be prepared for a similar picture of me, but also be prepared, I will look nothing like that, partly because I would never buy white pants.)  This has been my focus. This has led to many uncomfortable minutes in uncomfortable positions, but slowly I hope to get there, as its not going to happen fast.

My workouts have been class workouts and most if not all have been scaled.  This has worked for my body, my recovery, and most of all my movements. I am much more movement focused now, striving to make each rep the best I can from a movement pattern point of view.  This does not always happen, but it is something I am cognizant of. Moving well is more important than moving a lot of weight. So lifting heavy in the past 3-4 months has been non-existent.

But a funny thing happened.  By not lifting heavy weight, by focusing on mobility, and technique, I was able to move through and finish the scaled version of the 19.2 Open workout.  I cannot tell you the last time I squat cleaned anything over 115 lbs. It may have been before I ruptured my tricep over three years ago. My clean was always one of my weaker lifts partly because I lacked mobility, however, there I was at the end of the workout, fatigued beyond belief, lifting 185.  By not lifting heavy, and focusing on the things which drive everything, technique and mobility, I was able to lift heavier than I have in quite some time.

Taking weight off the bar, and taking a focus on mobility and technique is not sexy.  It is not post worthy for social media. It feels like you are taking backward steps, but in reality, it is taking your forward.  Adding load to dysfunction does not make you stronger. It may short term, and the growth curve is a small slope, but you max out your potential a lot sooner.  Focusing on the key components, the pieces which make up the foundation of the goal you strive for is the starting point. If your goal is Olympic Lifting, mobility and technique are the things which need to be dialed in and perfected before adding high loads.  Go for a PR every now and again, however, the focus should be on technique and mobility, not how much you can lift. This goes for any movement and any lift. There are underlying qualities for everything which need to be perfected and if not they will not go away, and will limit your potential.

If you have a health or performance goal you want to achieve, and need help fine tuning the important pieces which drive performance of that goal, reach out to us.  We would love to help you overcome and fine tune your movement so you can reach the goals you have laid out for yourself. But beware, it may not be sexy.

 

Everything You Need To Know About Salt In Your Diet


 

Long touted as “the bad guy” when it comes to heart health and blood pressure, salt is starting to fight back with a different story. There is more to salt than the seasoning and preservative uses we tend to associate with it. There is absolutely a place for salt in your diet. Oh and guess what else, not all salt is created equal….

To truly optimize your health you need to prioritize your salt intake, consume the right types of salt, and understand the relationship it has with potassium. When it comes to nutrition that can optimize your health and performance electrolytes are just one key to success. Adopting sound nutritional strategies will transform the way you feel but also the way you think and your mood.

The problem that arises with salt is has less to do with salt and actually stems from processed foods. These foods are bad for two main reasons.

One, they are almost entirely void of potassium which throws off the ratio of salt to potassium in the body.

Two, they contain 99% sodium chloride and anti-caking agents that often contain heavy metals that can do serious damage to your nervous system. Salt containing heavy metals actually lead to dehydration. They are toxic in the body so the body pulls water out of the cells to protect itself.

“At the end of the day, you can’t compete with Mother Nature. If you’ve got a great tomato, just a pinch of sea salt is all you need.” -Zac Posen

The solution to the problem is to eat the right types of salt. Himalayan salts, sea salts, and other high quality salt products contain lower levels of sodium chloride and instead have higher amounts of beneficial trace minerals. They are also unrefined which eliminates the risk of heavy metals.

It may be a tough mental block for you to overcome when it comes to adding salt to your diet. Feel free to use a healthy variety of salt liberally since evidence has shown no link between sea salt intake above dietary guidelines and adverse medical conditions.

Salt can improve athletic performance and energy levels through its hydrating effects. There are also tons of varieties that will absolutely revolutionize the taste of your food. The cells in our body maintain hydration through a sodium potassium pump. The body likes to maintain specific levels of each mineral in order to keep homeostasis. Along with salt make sure you consume foods high in sodium like potatoes and bananas, especially if you are training hard or sweating a lot.

Go find a high quality salt and sea for yourself.

If you have questions about nutrition for your sport, you want to have more energy, or make a positive choice for your body then we would love to talk about your goals and share some resources that can help!

 

A funny thing happened


About two months ago, we shifted the mindset regarding programming.  We decreased the amount of what we were going to do in the class, so that we could increase the amount of and quality of coaching we do in class.  Previously, we had every minute filled, and it was a rush to get from one thing to the next, and while we coached, our coaching wasn’t as optimal as we wanted it to be.  How can we coach you as optimally as possible, if we are herding you around like a group of cats.

So things changed a little bit.  We focused more on coaching, and more on movement. There was more coaching while you were warming up, more on coaching the intent of the workouts, more cues on trying to get you to move properly.  We eased back on focused strength work or at least the way that strength work looked to you. We used focused warm ups to get you better prepared for the workouts you were going to perform. We made the warm ups more varied, and they did a tremendous job of warming you up, some even felt like a mini-workout.   

Movement is important and I am a big conveyor of this.  Sometimes, we need to take two steps back to progress forward.  Moving heavy weights with flawed movement patterns does not make you stronger long term, the gains may be there at first, but long term it makes you injured.  Taking a step back, easing up the load, and focusing on efficiency and proper movement, will make you stronger, long term, and keep you healthy.

So what happened as a gym, as a result of not focusing on strength.  We got stronger. Many of you leveled up on all of their objective strength as well as relative strength numbers.  There were improvements in all 15 categories on the level method test, including the 20 min row. By stepping back from daily strength work, and focusing on movement, and intent to the days activities, the gym as a whole increased in all 10 general physical skills that CrossFit uses to define fitness.  It is this fitness which helps us live longer, healthier, high quality lives.

Open workout 19.1 this past weekend was a doozy, but not something we were not prepared or trained for.  It was an aerobic power workout. We knew this before 3-2-1 go. We knew how it would feel. We had an idea of how to attack the workout from the months of practice previously looking at workout intent in each of the daily classes. It still sucked, it hurt, as aerobic power is know to do, but we were prepared.

There are areas where each of us can get better at if we look at the 10 general physical skills, and the 15 categories on the MAP.  The individual areas that are lacking may need more attention by you if you are looking to improve a specific area. That is where focused supplemental work comes in. Regardless if this is strength related, skill,  technique or mobility related,these things can all be worked on. We are working on having an area in the front room, programming for you, as well as individualized coaching, for this supplemental work to be done. We want you to target your weakness, and improve every chain on the link so there is no weak one.  We want you to be the best versions of yourself, and help you make today better than yesterday.

My Mobility Hack


The Winter Melt challenge had ten minutes a day of mobility/stretching, and for the first time in my life, I stretched daily.  Two and a half years ago, I started doing yoga one day a week, to help my mobility and while it helped, there is only so much progress one can make without focusing on a weakness.  For me, making the time to stretch, was something I always made an excuse for. I didn’t view it as important enough to carve out the time needed to make headway. The challenge gave me enough incentive to start dedicating some time each day to this.  I got in a routine of waking, meditating and stretching on most days, and on the days I couldn’t follow this routine, I made sure I would stretch/mobilize during the day.

As a result, 5 weeks later, my body feels more mobile, less achy and more able to find positions in yoga that I previously couldn’t.  I feel like I can drop into a position without having to give it thought and if I would be able to “stick the landing”. Also as a result, it gave me a focused fitness goal, to achieve a split on each side by June.  

I am still busy, and am unable to spend hours on end stretching, or even more than ten minutes on most days.  I also am not a believer in hacks, as there is no easy way to attain a goal, without dedication and practice, especially with mobility, if one is immobile.  But I also think there is some biggest bangs for the bucks which you can do and make considerable progress with dedicated progress to each.

Here is the most basic routine I would do, which gave me the most progress in shortest amount of time.  This is my mobility “hack”

2 min each side Pigeon Stretch or Standing Pigeon

1 Min each side Lizard Stretch

1 Min each side Hurdler stretch focusing on keeping solid posture in T-spine and bending at the hip

2 min Child’s Pose with hands/arms on a ball or table or other implement to allow collarbone to drop

Ten Minutes a day.  That’s all it takes.  It’s not that you don’t have time, you do, its about refocusing priorities.  Make mobility a priority, especially if you are over 35. Your 10+ year down the road self will thank you for it!

Be Humble or Be Humbled


Humility, the characteristic of being Humble, is the true key to measure one’s success. One of the things CrossFit, whether looking at it as a sport, or as just a workout regimen, is rather humbling. In order to be successful, once again whether in the sport or using CrossFit for health and well being, one needs to approach things with a growth mindset, and there is a need to step back and look at the overall process. Acquiring new skills and accomplishments is something which should be celebrated especially if the process to get there was any bit of a struggle. What made the accomplishment the accomplishment it was, was the actual struggle, the work that needed to be done, and the willingness to learn from failure, not give up, and keep moving forward, all attributes of a growth mindset.

One of the key flaws with CrossFit in my opinion, having been involved with it as a sport and as a fitness regimen, was that there was no tangible way to measure success. PRs were had, new skills were accomplished, but where do you go from there? Where were your deficits? Were you a balanced athlete? A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and this was true in regards to CrossFit, an athlete was only as good as their weakest characteristic of fitness. But what tangible and quantitative way could this be assessed, addressed and ultimately progressed? How could one have a tangible way to focus training on the areas of deficit, if there was no inclination the magnitude of the weakness in regards to overall fitness.

Along comes the Level Method. This simple but complex tool gives our athletes a way to assess every characteristic of fitness, address each attribute on the map as there is a quantitative achievement which must be obtained in order to progress to a new level. It also gives an athlete areas to focus on. Let’s use a higher level athlete, with obvious deficiencies from their levels, as an example how the MAP gives us information to get better, and improve, granted one has a growth mindset.


This is a Blue III Athlete. It is obvious that this athlete has a great engine, and the engine transcends the three different energy systems. They have good anaerobic and aerobic systems. They also are very strong for their bodyweight, they have great relative strength, however, there are still deficits, which is why they are only Blue III regardless of their other tremendous scores. Outside of running, where they achieved the highest level, there is improvement to be made in every single level, and the areas of objective strength are the weak link in the chain.

So if you were this athlete, how would you structure your training to get improvements in the areas you are weak in. This is where working with a coach to develop a supplemental plan around the gyms programming for you to focus on deficiencies is key. An example of how a coach would approach this, using this athlete is as follows.

Looking at the scores, Front Squat and Weightlifting are the biggest limiting factors. Doing more metcons will not make this athlete better. Strength and skill work in the olympic lifts will. While the core endurance is strong, both Front Squat and Weightlifting are not core endurance activities, so shorter and heavier core strengthening exercises would be first and paramount to achieving the overall goal. Along with this Snatch and Clean and Jerk Technique work would also be prescribed. Dedicated targeting of these two areas for a month or so, would strengthen core strength and olympic technique. After this month of dedicated work, extra work once a weak on Front Squats may be warranted, or the additional core strength may have been enough to strengthen the Front Squat number alone. Heavier snatch work may also be warranted but it would be dependent on the progression of the snatch technique work done. There is no sense adding weight to dysfunctional form, until the dysfunction is removed with efficient movement patterning. But the driving factor here is a growth mindset. Being humble and recognizing that in order to take 3 steps forward, sometimes you have to take two steps back. A fixed mindset will likely see their results as something wrong with the MAP instead of looking at the MAP as something which can definitely make them better.

While this example is of a Blue III athlete, the same approach can be applied to any level, up to black in all 15 categories. Once you are at that level, you are a higher level fitness competitor and you may want to consider making exercising a profession, and hire a individual coach focused on athletes at that level. Until that point, there are always areas to improve, and ways to target any deficiency. If you want help leveling up, in any category, please let us know and we can set up times for you to get focused and individualized work with one of the coaches.