W.O.D.

No Pain

No Pain

Strength- Overhead Squat: 3,3,3,3,3

WOD- As many rounds as possible in 10 minutes of:

Power clean and jerk @ Bodyweight x 3

Burpees x 2 

15′ Rope climb x 1

Wodivore Blog Nov 8, 2012]

Wodivores, I understand the importance of your training but I would like to emphasize the importance of being safe. please be cautious on your route here. the roads are very bad. Take the preventive measures needed to ensure you arrive here safely. Good luck and I will meet you on the battlefield. Get some!

For Sarah

For Sarah

Strenth/Skill

Muscle Up Progression

Get 15 Muscle Ups. Strict!

WOD

AMRAP 8 min

4 Deadlifts 345/225

5 Toes To bar

 

WODIVORE BLOG Nov 7, 2012

Mental Control

 

Often the difference between winning and losing depends on your mental control. Getting and keeping your head together can be much easier if you use some of the tools of sports psychology: 1) Develop self-confidence; 2) use mental imagery, and; 3) control doubt and negative thoughts. These techniques help you develop and master mental control. Sports psychology is a large field requiring many years of study. In climbing, especially climbing competitions, routes are designed at the peak of a climber’s ability. This information is not all-inclusive and is intended to provide a general overview of gaining mental control to improve your performance and spark your further personal study.

Develop Self-confidence to Enhance Mental Control.

A climber’s self-confidence is probably the greatest asset in developing your mental control over your body’s reaction to stress. Self-confidence doesn’t happen by simply deciding to be confident – it takes a deliberate and planned effort. Self-confidence is not a matter of “fooling” yourself into believing something false. Just the opposite – it is based on accurately knowing yourself. Self-confidence allows you to take appropriate risks and climb at the top of your ability.

The most effective way to build self-confidence is by setting performance-based goals. Set attainable and measurable performance goals and make sure you achieve them. Then set new goals and achieve them. Through this process you learn your own abilities. By knowing your own capabilities you avoid surprise failure and develop confidence in yourself. Believing in yourself helps you develop mental control.

Your goals to attain mental control should be measured in terms of performance, not achievement. An example of an achievement goal is: “win the competition”. This is not a good performance based goal. Examples of performance based goals are: “Increase pull-ups by 1 per week”; or, “increase endurance training by 1 minute per session”; or “increase dead-hang time by 10 seconds per week”, etc. There are many aspects to achieving mental control to improve your lifting performance. Develop as many performance based goals as you can manage. Design your goals to be achievable within about a week or two weeks time. This will give you a sense of accomplishment, confidence, and help you develop a keen sense of your own abilities.

Mental Imagery (described below) is also useful for building self-confidence and control. This is useful if your lack of self-confidence or other “mind game” factors are interfering with your ability to achieve a goal. However, a note of caution. It is possible to use imagery to improperly build a level of over-confidence. Using imagery without rationally considering your actual abilities can lead to over-confidence and unexpected failure, which will cause a loss of confidence. Over-confidence is just as bad as a lack of confidence – maybe worse. Over confidence does not lead to mental control, it is a misreading of your own ability. If you are over-confident you will not give the climb 100% effort and may lead you to attempt something that you are not capable of doing. It can lead to an unexpected failure, which can destroy your self-confidence.

Self-confidence should come from a realistic understanding of your abilities based on incrementally achieving performance-based goals.

Mental Control using Imagery and Positive Thinking.

Using imagery, you imagine smooth controlled lifting, proper rests, shaking, clipping, breathing, good technique, etc… all the way to the top. Imagery can and should be used during previews, before a difficult move, at night in bed, waiting in a line at the store, on a bus or passenger in a car (but not as driver). Think and imagine yourself lifting and moving like a crossfitter you admire – or visualize yourself making a particular move. Visualize the feeling, momentum, and balance. Visualize only correct lifting technique and form. Gain mental control of yourself and the lift by focusing and creating positive mental imagery.

Visualizing reinforces lifting movement in your mind – so use it to reinforce good movement. Visualizing is training for your mind. Do do not dwell on bad moves. Analyze what went wrong then visualize the correct movement from the beginning of the sequence through the end of the section. Imagine the feeling of the bar, your momentum, your breathing, where you chalk up – be as vivid with your imagery as you can. It is a skill that needs to be developed just like physical skill.

Imagery can also be used to help you relax and lower your stress level. This can be helpful in competitions or in many other situations in lifting. Imagine a peaceful, relaxing, happy or fun place. Make it as vivid as possible by visualizing every detail, the warm sun, feeling of joy, smells… every detail that goes with your “happy place”. Use this imagery technique to reduce stress and maintain mental control.

Imagery can be used to push your limits, for specific moves, for general technique, to break through a mental block, to reduce stress, or to build up your self-confidence. Be aware that imagery can be used to an unhealthy extreme. Use imagery and positive thinking within realistic boundaries to push yourself to new heights and break through barriers. This is an effective tool when used correctly.

Mental Control over Doubt and Negative Thoughts.

In the same way positive imagery “teaches” your mind through a visualized reinforcement, negative thoughts also teach your mind – the wrong thing. Get control of your mental thoughts. Make a conscious point not to allow negative thoughts to dominate. Answer negative thoughts with positive thoughts.

Sometimes negative thoughts are difficult to get out of your head. I may help to physically speak the positive out loud several times. If you are in a crowd or around other people do it sub-vocally. It is a stronger reinforcement when spoken. Respond to negative thoughts with positive thoughts based on clear and rational assessments of your known ability.

Become aware of your thoughts. Normally thoughts will come and go and you will hardly notice. Watch for feelings of inadequacy, criticism, feelings of stress, worry. Awareness is the first step to gaining more mental control. As you become more aware of your thoughts you can learn to control them.

But how do you not think of something? If someone says “do not think of a red balloon”, you immediately visualize a red balloon whether you want to or not. Not thinking of something is more difficult than thinking about something. When you get a thought that is counter productive, make a conscious effort to visualize it’s opposite. Speak the opposite if possible, or at least speak it sub-vocally. For example: “red balloon”: now think of a green balloon and say “green balloon” out loud. It is now green. Use this technique to conquer doubt, negative thoughts and reinforce your good technique, confidence, and positive self-image. You are what you think, so think what you want yourself to be.

Summary of Mental Control.

These are simple tools you can use to help break through mental barriers, maintain mental control under stressful situations and build new self-confidence. It may well take you to a new level of climbing. Top athletes, coaches and trainers in every sport agree the proper application of sports psychology provides a significant boost in performance level. Self-confidence will help you climb at your best. Using mental imagery and controlling doubt will help you press through mental barriers. Developing these simple techniques are as important as your physical training.

Warriors, Come out and play!

Warriors, Come out and play!

Strength-

Snatch High Pull 5-4-3-2-3-4-5

WOD-

20 Burpee Box Jumps

30 Sumo Deadlift High Pull 105/75

40 Push  105/75

50 Chest to Bar Pullups

 

Wodivore Blog Nov 6 2012

Main Muscle: Hamstrings

 

 

  1. With a barbell on the floor close to the shins, take a wide snatch grip. Lower your hips with the weight focused on the heels, back straight, head facing forward, chest up, with your shoulders just in front of the bar. This will be your starting position.
  2. Begin the first pull by driving through the heels, extending your knees. Your back angle should stay the same, and your arms should remain straight. Move the weight with control as you continue to above the knees.
  3. Next comes the second pull, the main source of acceleration for the pull. As the bar approaches the mid-thigh position, begin extending through the hips. In a jumping motion, accelerate by extending the hips, knees, and ankles, using speed to move the bar upward.
  4. There should be no need to actively pull through the arms to accelerate the weight; at the end of the second pull, the body should be fully extended, leaning slightly back. Full extension should be violent and abrupt, and ensure that you do not prolong the extension for longer than necessary.

Snatch Pull 

Click to enlarge

Snatch Pull 

Click to enlarge

Snatch Pull

 

 

“Mmmhmmm”

WOD

Run 200m

40 Back Squats 135/95

Run 400m

30 Front Squats 135/95

Run 800m

20 Back squats 135/95

Run 1200

10 Front Squats 135/95

Run 1600m

 

Wodivore Blog November 5, 2012

The Pose Method of Running – An Introduction

Photo Nicholas Romanov founder of the Pose Method of Running.

 

 I stumbled upon a link to PoseTech.com, which promised a way to reduce running injuries through an extremely efficient technique. Dr. Nicholas Romanov, creator of the Pose method, asked why people were taught how to play basketball and football, throw shotput, and play other sports, but were never taught how to run. He believes there is a proper technique that can be used to run.

The existing technique of landing on the heel and then pushing off into a wide stride is just as inefficient as a new runner going out there and doing what feels natural. Over 50 percent of runners get injured every year, and a third of those are knee joint injuries. Even with the “advances” in the shoe industry, the injury rates have remained consistent over the past 25 years. Obviously, “just running” is not working for many people.

The Pose method looks at running as a technical skill of movement, and believes it should be taught like one with its own theory, rules, practice exercises, and more. Aerobic conditioning can only take you so far: an efficient movement is necessary to achieve maximal speed and distance. Pose breaks running down into three simple parts: the running pose, the fall, and the pull. Pose –> Fall –> Pull. Even simpler, all you have to do to run is to change support from one leg to the other by pulling the support foot from the ground. It sounds quite simple, but it takes a lot of practice to retrain your muscle memory to learn the movement, and to unlearn old habits.

The four forces acting up on the body in movement are gravity, muscle elasticity, ground reaction, and muscle contractions. These forces drive the body forward when they are unbalanced. The runner must create a constant state of unbalance to allow the gravity force to drive the body forward. Running comes down to the level of skill of the runner to interact with gravity throughout the gait cycle, and use the gravity to move forward. To break balance and fall forward, the weight of the body must be on the ball of the foot (BOF) exactly like in barefoot running. Landing on the toes or the heel is not as efficient as a BOF landing, and this may be one of the biggest adjustments for runners practicing the Pose method.

While it may be difficult to master, running in the Pose technique is quite simple. Your main goal, besides Pose–>Fall–>Pull, is to get your own body out of its way, and let gravity do all the work. Here are a list of errors that occur from either trying too hard or from incorrect form. And remember, pain is the body’s reminder that you’re doing something wrong, so don’t ignore what your feet and joints are telling you.

Running Errors

  • Landing with the heel first – land on the ball of your foot (BOF)
  • Heel strike with a straight leg – recipe for hurt knee and joints
  • Landing ahead of the body, aka overstriding – keep your general center of mass (GCM) in line with your BOF
  • Using quad muscles instead of the hamstrings (push off), and pulling the swing thigh and knee forward and up – pull the leg up with your hamstrings
  • Landing on the toes with the body behind landing/foot – land on your BOF in line with your GCM
  • Landing with stiff ankles/leg – relax the ankles and let them absorb the impact
  • “Active landing” – don’t place your foot on the ground, let it fall naturally with gravity
  • Overall muscle tension – remember to stay loose, not rigid, even in your neck, back, and shoulders
  • Active push/toe off, straightening the leg to propel the body forward – there is no need to push off and strain the calf muscle, just fall forward and let gravity do the work
  • Holding the rear leg behind after leaving the support – allow the foot to drop back to the ground
  • Leaning the trunk sideways or forward – lean from the ankles, not your waist, unless you want lower back pain
  • Keeping the shoulders up and stiff – just relax!
  • Arms pumping – keep elbows relaxed and back, with the thumbs alongside your ribs

There are many drills and exercises in the “Pose Method of Running” book that will help you retrain your mind to learn the proper movements. The most simple one you can do is to stand in the Pose position. Click the image to see full annotated version of the Pose running position (Source: Pose Method of Running</em /> by Dr. Nicholas Romanov)First, stand in a springy, S-shaped pose with bent knees and heels slightly off the ground. Then, using your hamstring, pull one foot off the ground, ankle in line with the knee, maintaining balance. This is the Pose position, the position you should always strive to be in when running. Now, from the ankle and hips, lean forward, breaking the delicate balance. Allow your raised foot to fall down with gravity’s help, landing on the ball of the foot, while simultaneously pulling your other foot off the ground with your hamstring. The loss of balance and gravity’s assistance moved you forward, with very little muscle interference. You’ve just taken your first step in running in the Pose method! Congrats!

All information was taken from the “Pose Method of Running” book or a clinic manual, both written by Dr. Nicholas Romanov. I highly recommend checking out the book and the articles and discussions on Posetech.com for more information. I also highly suggest attending a clinic with a certified coach to ensure you’re properly running using the Pose method.

 

Double Trouble

Double Trouble

Team Wod-

As a team you will complete as many thrusters as you can in 15 min. Guys weight is 95# ladies use 65#. When your partners bar touches the ground you both do 5 burpees. Enjoy!

Individual-

Max thrusters in 10 min 95#65# Every time you drop the bar do 5 burpees. 

Wodivore Blog Nov 3, 2012

The Unique Value Of Olympic Lifts For Athletes (Excerpted from Appendix 3 – Training on the Snatch and Clean and Jerk: A Key to Athletic Excellence)

The truly remarkable abilities of Olympic style weightlifters are certainly due in part to genetic qualities of these athletes and to their outstanding physical condition. However, they are also due in no small measure to the kind of training that weightlifters do: performing the snatch and the clean and jerk (C&J).

Almost any form of resistance training can improve an athlete’s strength, but the snatch and C&J are unique in their ability to develop strength and explosive power at the same time. And the benefits of practicing the Olympic lifts are hardly limited to developing strength and power. Here is a partial list of other added benefits:

1. The mere practice of the Olympic lifts teaches an athlete how to explode (to activate a maximum number of muscle units rapidly and simultaneously). Part of the extraordinary abilities of the Olympic lifters arises out of their having learned how to effectively activate more of their muscle fibers more rapidly than others who are not so trained (in addition to having developed stronger muscles).

2. The practice of proper technique in the Olympic lifts teaches an athlete to apply force with his or her muscle groups in the proper sequences (i.e., from the center of the body to its extremities). This is a valuable technical lesson which can be of benefit to any athlete who needs to impart force to another person or object (a necessity in virtually every sport).

3. In mastering the Olympic lifts, the athlete learns how to accelerate objects under varying degrees of resistance. This is because the body experiences differing degrees of perceived resistance as it attempts to move a bar with maximum speed through a full range of motion. These kinds of changes in resistance are much more likely to resemble those encountered in athletic events than similar exercises performed on an isokinetic machine (which has a fixed level of resistance or speed of resistance throughout the range of motion).

4. The athlete learns to receive force from another moving body effectively and becomes conditioned to accept such forces.

5. The athlete learns to move effectively from an eccentric contraction to a concentric one (through the stretch-shortening cycle, the cycle that is activated and trained through exercises that are often referred to as plyometrics).

6. The actual movements performed while executing the Olympic lifts are among the most common and fundamental in sports. Therefore, training the specific muscle groups in motor patterns that resemble those used in an athlete’s events is often a byproduct of practicing the snatch and C&J.

7. Practicing the Olympic lifts trains an athlete’s explosive capabilities, and the lifts themselves measure the effectiveness of the athlete in generating explosive power to a greater degree than most other exercises they can practice.

8. Finally, the Olympic lifts are simply fun to do. I have yet to meet an athlete who has mastered them who does not enjoy doing the Olympic lifts. While making workouts enjoyable may not be the primary objective of a strength coach, it is not an unimportant consideration in workout planning. Athletes who enjoy what they are doing are likely to practice more consistently and to be more highly motivated than athletes who do not enjoy their workouts as much.

Other than the abilities of Olympic style weightlifters, is there any proof that practicing the Olympic lifts actually helps athletes? There is an enormous number of examples of athletes who have benefited dramatically from practicing the Olympic lifts. Presenting these cases would require a very large book. I will provide just three examples to make the point. I have chosen those particular examples because they come from athletes who participate in sports which would not normally be expected to benefit very much from ordinary weight training.

Steve Bedrosian recently retired at the age of thirty-nine after a very successful career as a professional baseball pitcher, most recently as relief pitcher for the Atlanta Braves. His career had very nearly ended five years earlier. When he was thirty-four, Steve lost some of the feeling in two of the fingers of his pitching hand. As a result he had lost the ability to pitch effectively and was forced to take a year off in an effort to rehabilitate his hand. Many baseball experts felt that after this kind of setback his career was over. It was at this point that he met Ben Green, athletic director at the White Oak Athletic Center in Newnan, Georgia (Ben’s accomplishments as a weightlifter and coach were discussed earlier in this book). Ben put Bedrosian on a program of Olympic lift training during his year off . After six months of such training, Bedrosian added eight miles per hour to his fast ball and was able to dunk a basketball (something he had often tried but had never in his life been able to do). Steve made a triumphant return to the mound during the 1993 season.

A second example is professional golfer Cindy Schreyer. She was introduced to the Olympic lifts by Ben Green in 1993. After approximately eight months of training, Cindy increased her drive by a full forty yards, a staggering improvement for a person already highly skilled at golf. Cindy won her first PGA tournament shortly after this dramatic improvement in her drive occurred..

Derrick Adkins was a sophomore at Georgia Tech when he began to work with Lynne Stoessel-Ross, then the school’s strength coach. Lynne has been a national champion and a national record holder in weightlifting and has represented the United States in the Women’s World Weightlifting Championships. She has a strong academic background in physical education, having earned a Masters degree in that field. She currently works as and educator and strength and conditioning coach in Lubbock, Texas. Derek had already reached the international level as a 400 meter hurdler when he began training with Lynne in 1990, having won the Atlantic Coast Conference championships and placed sixth at the World University Games. His best time was 49.53 seconds. In less than a year of training on the Olympic lifts, he shaved nearly a second off his already outstanding time (reducing it to 48.6 seconds). An injury sustained during an unfortunate running accident hampered his training for more than a year after that. However, after recovering from his injury and resuming training on the Olympic lifts, he reduced his time by another .9 seconds and went on to win the U.S. Nationals and the Goodwill Games. More recently Derek won the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.

Needless to say, if a baseball player, a golfer and a hurdler have benefited so much from practicing the Olympic lifts, football players and other athletes who participate in sports in which power is acknowledged to play a more critical role can enjoy and have enjoyed even more direct benefits.

In order to enjoy the myriad benefits that arise from training on the Olympic lifts, there is a significant price that every athlete must pay. He or she must commit to learning the requisite skills. Most weight training exercises can be learned in one session, and the athlete’s technique can be refined to the point where the athlete can train with little supervision (with regard to technique) in a few practice sessions. In contrast, mastering the Olympic lifts requires a deeper understanding of the mechanics of the movements (which are somewhat complex). Moreover, considerable practice under supervised conditions must take place before competency is attained. People who say that the Olympic lifts are dangerous are very wrong in most of their arguments, but they are correct in one very important sense. The Olympic lifts can be dangerous if an athlete does not learn how to perform them properly. An athlete who is not willing to learn proper technique is better off not practicing the Olympic lifts at all.

 

 

 

 

Terror

Terror

Strength- Hand Stand Pushup or Handstand walk progression

3 sets of 5 reps, wall walks, shoulder touches, handstand pushups

WOD-

10 min Amrap

4 OH Squats 95/65#

6 HSPU

8 Burpees

 

Wodivore Blog November 2, 2012

Building Posterior Chain Strength

DSC_0199a

So what exactly is the posterior chain? Its only one of the most important sets of muscles you have and run right up the back of your body including the lower back, the glutes, the hamstrings, and also the calves. Unfortunately the Posterior Chain is all to often neglected, why? Simply because none of them are mirror muscles. This is not only a shame but it can lead to various aches and pains plus a poor posture. Once you start strengthening the Posterior Chain you can expect:

  • Faster Running Times
  • Lower Back Pain Banished
  • Improved Posture
  • Easier to Stand for long periods

I first came across the posterior chain a few years back when getting into crossfit as a lot of their workouts are based around strengthening the rear set of muscles as they correlate directly with improved athletic performance. So lets have a look at some of the best Posterior Chain Movements.

KettleBell Swings

KettleBell swings are awesome they not only work the front muscles like shoulders, chest and biceps but give your lower back, hamstrings and hips a really good workout.

*Dec 03 - 00:05*Desk email

Lance Armstrong was using KettleBell swings as preparation for his recent 3rd place in the Tour De France and it seemed to do him pretty well, improving his rear body strength and endurance. When doing KettleBell swings I would suggest going lighter with good form for about 20-30 reps per set this is the best way to train the lower back as they can be a delicate set of muscles when first trained so take it easy, nail the form and don’t strain.

Deadlifts

The grand daddy of exercises and probably the most effective thing you can do at the gym. They are not only the best muscle building exercise but are superb for strengthening the hamstrings and lower back plus improving posture by enforcing your rear delts and traps.

 

As with all exercises start light and nail the form. A few sets of 8-12 rep deadlifts and you will have a superb workout and really feel the soreness the next day. Its a shame that deadlifts are often neglected in the gym these days when they should be a cornerstone of weightlifting.

Glute Ham Raises

These are by no means an easy exercise and can be subbed for simple lower back extensions if you can’t so them yet. If you can though they are amazing at building your hamstrings, hips and lower back.

 

Again do these in fairly high reps with a light or no added weight due to your posterior chain being fairly delicate to start this will avoid any injury.

No Equipment No Problem

If you don’t have any equipment not to worry training your posterior chain can still be done easily and effectively. Check out some of these…..

  • Sprinting – This is the best natural one as it trains not only the whole body but focuses on the hamstrings and hips to propel you.
  • Swings With Anything – Basically pick something heavy instead of a Kettlebell this maybe a Log on a run or a bottle of water, just use it in place of the kettlebell.
  • Body Weight Good Mornings – As Featured Here…. Just do them with your hands clenched behind your back and keep reps high

Strengthening the Posterior Chain will not only make you feel better it will improve your performance in any sports you may participate in thanks to its role in supporting muscles. Whatever you do stay away from too much running on treadmills as they disengage and weaken the posterior chain as they allow your hanstrings, thighs and buttocks to relax while running which is very unnatural.

 

 

True Grit

For Time

4 Rds

400m run

25 KB Swings 53/35#

15 Goblet Squats 53/35#

10 Burpees

 

Happy Halloween!

 

Hurricane WOD

Hurricane WOD

12 Min Amrap

3 Air squats, 3 burpees, 6 air squats, 6 burpees, 9 and 9 so on and so on for 12 min. How far can you get. Post scores to the comment section.

“Marbles”

WOD-

5RFT

300m Run

20 Wall Balls 20/14#

15 HR Pushups

10 Box Jumps 24/20″

 

Wodivore Blog Oct 25th 2012

Kipping Pullups

They’re Faster

  • You can do more work in a shorter amount of time if you do kipping pull-ups. The explosive motion involved in their execution makes them faster to perform, and the momentum of one pull-up brings you right into the next. Dead hang pull-ups take a long time because you’re only using your arms and you have to lift yourself from a locked-arm, hanging position.

You Use More Muscles

  • When doing any kind of work in the real world, rarely do we use any one muscle or muscle group in isolation. Kipping pull-ups utilize the shoulders, the biceps, the core and the back, so you get a better-rounded workout than you would with the dead hang variety, which isolate the bicep muscles and the back.

You Work Harder and Burn More Calories

  • You are working harder and with more intensity with kipping pull-ups than with dead hang pull-ups. When doing a dead hang pull-up, many people tend to rest between repetitions in order to give their muscles a few seconds to recover. There are fewer opportunities to rest with kipping pull-ups, because you are constantly moving.

    Video Courtesy of CrossFit HQ


 

 

Wednesday

Wednesday

Strength- 

Strict Pull up 5×5

WOD-

5RFT

9 Push Press 115/75#

12 OH Lunges 115/75#

15 Pullups

 

Wodivore Blog Oct 24, 2012

 

CrossFitters often revel in the fact that our workouts have bloodied our hands. “We’re such badasses! We’re SO hardcore!” But let’s call a spade a spade: IT IS NOT “COOL” TO HAVE CHUNKS OF OUR SKIN RIPPED FROM OUR HANDS.

Flayed skin is not a badge of bad-assery. It does not mean that you are tougher or better at working out. And it most definitely does not mean that CrossFit, lifting and/or gymnastics should be avoided because of the possibility that the skin on your hands might get torn.

All it means is that:

  • You’re a soft-handed newbie who hasn’t yet had the chance to build up thicker skin on your fingers and palms to protect them from tearing, or 
  • You’re not giving your hands the T.L.C. they need to keep from getting shredded. 

Torn skin is painful and annoying, and may put you out of commission for a spell. And THAT is unequivocally un-hardcore.

My first encounter with shredded hands occurred shortly after starting CrossFit, back when the roughest activity my hands saw was an occasional difficult-to-open jar of spaghetti sauce. And my latest (and greatest) rip was during yesterday’s Mary WOD, after neglecting proper hand care for weeks. Over the past year, I’ve experienced minor tears and major ones. In this post, I’m going to discuss what I could (and should) have done to prevent bloody hand, and what treatment options are available to those of us unfortunate enough to gash open our hands doing high-rep pull-ups, kettlebell snatches and the like.

Hand Grooming 

Those who are new to gymnastics, weightlifting or CrossFit in general often start with soft, callus-free hands. Ideally, to reduce the likelihood of hand tears, beginners should try to gradually build up calluses (through — what else? — handling bars) to the point where the skin on their palms and fingers are tough and thick — but smooth. Once some skin-thickening is achieved, the goal is to keep any calluses filed down. The goal is have a consistent, smooth palm surface, without noticeable ridges or fluctuating thicknesses of skin. A raised, rough callus will eventually blister and tear away from the surrounding skin, ripping open your hands and making a bloody mess. A general rule of thumb: If you can pinch a raised edge of the callus, it needs to be filed down. Constant vigilance and regular hand care is key to preventing tears.

You can use a number of different tools to keep your calluses in check, including:

  • A nail file; 
  • A callus/corn shaver;
  • Cuticle scissors; 
  • A pumice stone; 
  • A dull razor blade; 
  • Sandpaper; 
  • A butter knife; or
  • A Dremel tool(!)

 

Obviously, don’t be an idiot. Use these tools with care.

As one CrossFit Journal article put it:

Ideally, your entire palm surface should be one thick callus with no bumps or ridges in any one particular area. In order to do this, groom your hands always after a hot shower or bath (this allows the calluses to swell up). While the calluses are still “swollen,” I take a double-edged razor and very carefully shave the dead callus bumps down a little at a time until the bumps are about even with the thickness of the rest of the hand. With my younger students, I simply ask them to get a callus stone (you can buy one at any drug store), and gently sand the callus down even with the rest of the skin. Remember, whenever you groom or shave your calluses, don’t overdo it, since you don’t want to go too deep into your skin. Always leave enough thick skin so to facilitate your workout the following day. The goal is to maintain an even and consistent thickness of hard skin throughout the entire palm.

Also: Lube up your hands. Chalk and frequent washing will suck the moisture right out your skin, and dry, cracked hands do not feel awesome. So listen to the Silence of the Lambs guy: Lotion is important for skin care. (And remember to put the lotion in the basket.) Use Bag Balm or Udder Cream (it’s not just for irritated cows anymore!)  or whatever suits your fancy.

This, by the way, is what a well-groomed pair of CrossFitting hands is supposed to look like:

 

My hands don’t look like this. Being the idiot that I am, I’ve never been very consistent about filing down my calluses, and lately, I developed a few big ones with rough edges. I didn’t do anything about ‘em, and as a result, I tore ‘em wide open yesterday. Not fun.

Grip & Technique 

A lot of CrossFitters rip open their hands doing high-rep bar movements: kipping pull-ups, clean-and-jerks, snatches. But there are ways to tweak your technique to reduce the chances of a nasty tear.

First, use the right grip.

When working with a barbell, some folks are inclined to grip the bar across the middle of their palms. This, unfortunately, squishes the fleshy pad below the base of your fingers against the bar, causing discomfort, added friction, blisters, and worse. A better way to go is to grip the barbell across the base of your fingers — where the metacarpals meet the proximal phalanges. Check out Mark Rippetoe’s explanation of how to grip a bar properly:

 

As for doing kipping pull-ups while training (versus competing), CrossFitter Pär Larsson has this to say about getting a proper grip:

When doing pull-ups, keep your metacarpals in line with your proximal phalanges; i.e., your hand bones and the first bones in your fingers. This sucks because it’s harder to do pull-ups with your center of gravity an inch lower, and it takes more finger/ forearm strength. The first week or two or five, you might have to go back to using a band sometimes, or doing jumping pull-ups on a box, or using an easier band. I understand this might hurt your pride, your ego and your self-esteem like it did mine, but as long as I get the workout I need I see no need to care much if I beat my friends in an everyday training environment… Plus, I don’t have to worry about caring for ripped and bleeding hands. 

As Larsson points out, “[t]his “training grip” eliminates tons of friction on the top inside of your palm muscles and skin, which is what causes the ubiquitous blisters there.” Friction is further reduced if you keep your core tight during kipping pull-ups, keeping your movement compact.

For example, in this GymnasticsWOD video (which Tim posted on theCrossFit Palo Alto Facebook page yesterday), Carl Paoli doesn’t engage in the exaggerated lateral swing that many of us are used to doing. Notice the efficiency of movement; his legs aren’t kicking violently out front. He doesn’t flop around. By keeping the kipping motion short and focused, there’s less of the skin-on-bar rubbing that might lead to shredded hands.

Lesson: Huge kips lead to torn hands.

Treatment

At a barbecue yesterday, I got to talking with Trish about her recent experiment with different ways of treating shredded hands. She’d ripped up her skin in a number of places during Memorial Day Murph, and decided to treat each tear slightly differently:

  • With Rip No. 1, she used scissors to cut away the flap of skin. 
  • With Rip No. 2, she tore the skin flap off by tugging on it away from the point at which the skin was still attached. 
  • And with Rip No. 3, she just left the flap in place. 

All three spots were slathered with antibacterial ointment and bandaged. According to Trish, Rip No. 3 healed fastest. “It was like having a natural Band-Aid in place,” she said. Interestingly, Rip No. 1 — the one subjected to the scissors — was slowest to heal.

I’m now conducting a similar experiment. On my right hand, I’ve used scissors to snip off the flap of skin that tore away from my hand; on my left, I’ve left the skin in place. Of course, I washed both hands carefully (OUCH), Neosporin-ed the heck out of them, and kept ‘em bandaged and dry. I’ll report back on the results in a few days.

But regardless, I know this much: It’s important to clean the wound and keep it well-covered with antibacterial ointment to prevent infection. No one wants a staph infection or necrotizing fasciitis.

I’m using Neosporin, but there are, of course, lots of other remedies that people swear by, including:

Am I missing any others?

Gloves, Grips & Tape 

I know what you’re thinking: It’s a pain in the ass to keep your hands from ripping, and treating them sounds less than fun, too — so why not just slap on a pair of gloves?

The folks over at CrossFit Impulse point to two compelling reasons to train without gloves:

  • “[U]nless you wear gloves throughout your daily life, at some point you will have to rely on the pure, unadulterated gripping power of your bare-skinned hands to perform work,” so “develop[] that capability into your own hands as much as possible.”
  • “[A]nything between your hands and the object you are gripping reduces your proprioception — your ability to know where the object is in space relative to your body.” 

Not everyone agrees with this assessment, of course. Some athletes fiercely defend the use of gloves, arguing that the prevention of injury trumps the benefits of going glove-free. And Reebok has developed CrossFit gloves (available in the CrossFit HQ store) that numerous athletes wore during Games. But then again, they were in competition — and did as many as TEN workouts (many with high-rep bar movements) over the course of a single weekend. Their hands were trashed. So before you rush out to plunk down forty bucks for a pair of fancy new gloves to bring to your gym, ask yourself whether they’re warranted. If your hands aren’t wrecked, you probably don’t need gloves.

Similarly, grips and tape aren’t normally needed in CrossFit. If you’re a gymnast, grips will certainly allow you to train harder and longer, but if you’re just cranking out a quick metcon, you’re unlikely to need to ‘em on a regular basis.

However, when your hands are already torn or if you know the day’s WOD is likely to destroy your skin, pulling out the athletic tape may be just the thing to keep you from a world of hurt. Plus, a few strips of tape are unlikely to be as heavily (and unnecessarily) padded as a big pair of mittens.

Right now, my hands are ripped up, and I can’t easily grip anything without covering the places where my skin has been torn away. So tomorrow morning, I’m going to grab a roll of athletic tape and cover the spots that need protection. I’ll also make a handy-dandy tape-grip for additional protection. If you love origami and want to get all fancy, check out these step-by-step instructions for making a super-slick grip out of athletic tape.

And if you just want to quickly throw on a makeshift tape grip before your WOD starts, you can always do this instead:

  • Grab a roll of athletic tape (the 1.5-inch tape works great). 
  • Tear off a strip that’s a few inches longer than your hand. 
  • Split the strip lengthwise down the middle until you’re halfway down. 
  • Stick the unsplit half of the tape on your palm (over the rip), with the split ends wrapping around either side of the finger above the rip. 
  • Use additional tape as needed to secure the ends of the tape around your wrist and around your finger. 
  • Go kick some butt.

Okay — that’s all I got. If you have other tips and tricks, throw ’em in the comments section — given the current state of my hands, I’m certainly motivated to try them out.