Embrace your Midline

Welcome back to the CrossFit Equator Blog! Yes we have been vacuum for a few months (or years!), we are sorry, but we are also happy to be back and to have you reading back again here. I will continue to write for this blog with the hope to educate and inspire you to live a sustainable healthy and fit lifestyle. 

Today we are talking about the Midline, or the "core" or the "abs" which are the more popular terms.

According to Kelly Starrett on an original CrossFit Journal article:

 "The midline is the entire spine, and its stability is dependent not just on the core, but also on all the prime movers of the body, including the hip, glutes, and hamstrings. Excessive tightness in any of the prime movers will affect the core muscles, often resulting in low back pain." Dec 26, 2008

If you have done CrossFit before or some sort of functional exercise, I am sure you have heard your coach say this: 

"Stomach tight", or "Lock your core" or "Hold your breath under your belly

Yes? If you have heard your coach say something like this in the middle of a functional movement, then one thumbs up to your coach and one thumbs up to you for choosing the right coach. 

These "verbal cues" that was shouted to you in the middle of a movement was to have you stabilize and brace your midline for these purposes: 

  • Safety - Protect your lower back (lumbar curve) 
  •  Technique - Stable midline allows you to lift more weights safely
  • Balance - Stable and tight midline balances the load between both left and right side of your muscles

One of the hardest thing about midline stabilization is ... you don't know if you're doing it right!  

Even if you are doing the movement with mirrors all around you, it is very difficult to see whether you are engaging your midline properly. It requires a coach with experience in providing verbal or tactile cues for you to realize what it feels like to engage your midline. But there are exercises that can help you feel it. Here's a few:

  • Good mornings
  • Deadlift
  • Squats (along with its variations, Back Squats, Front Squats, Overhead Squats) 
  • Hollow Hold / Hollow Rock

Tomorrow, we are going to work on your midline stabilization through the "Deadlift".  

The Deadlift is a weightlifting exercise where you lift an object (ball, barbell, kettlebell or dumbbell) from the ground to your waist. Many use it to engage and strengthen the posterior chain (hamstrings and gluteus) but in truth, the movement cannot be done properly without proper engagement of the midline. 

Let me say this ... It is unsafe and ineffective to perform a deadlift (heavy or not) if you are not engaging your midline. 

And here's another thing ... a rounded back (or a semi-flat back) is NOT an acceptable way to perform and learn the deadlift.  

An engaged midline is where your bring your stomach muscles (or core or abs) into the back muscles. Literally it is a sensation where you lock your back to your front in the mid-section. Sticking your butt back and bringing your chest up to prevent a rounded back, is a hyper-extension of your back, and is an improper way to perform the deadlift.

Watch this video below and ask your coaches tomorrow to help you engage your midline

When you try this tomorrow, you will realize that it is not easy. And some of you may realize that you have been doing it wrong. But guess what? You are lucky to find out now, not later when you have back problems. You can still fix it! So let's focus on it. 

Remember that Mastery requires time that involves consistent practice in the fundamentals. Do not get distracted with lifting heavy or skipping your progression to movements you are not ready for. Be patient, take your time and enjoy the process of learning. 

Yours Truly, 

Brian Pandji

Positive Self-Talk

In CrossFit WODs, because of its intensity, we are often put into a series of movements, in high/low reps with or without weight but definitely under a lot of pressure, mostly under the pressure of time or max reps. 

A lot of things may happen in the middle of this intense workout. Usually these are the common things:

  • you sweat profusely
  • your heart is pumping out of your chest
  • you are losing your breath
  • your muscles (one or all) are fatigued
  • you want to quit ...

Look through that list again and point out the one that is created by your mind ... the last one! You guessed it right ... the last one ... I want to quit!! 

Now what if I told you that NONE of the things listed above is REAL. The only thing that is real is what is in your mind. Your mind does not like to be under stress, so it tells you that you are in pain and you have to quit. And then it starts giving you mighty excuses like, "Why are you doing this to yourself?", or "When is this going to end?" and "Maybe I should just quit right now..."

I'm sure you have heard this in your head before.

Now what if I told you that you can change your mind. Or your mindset. And by changing your mindset, you will NOT feel the pain and suffering on your body. 

That must be amazing. 

How do do you do it? Positive self-talk.

 

At CrossFit Equator, we have a "Mindset" or a "Context" attached to every single workout. The context are "Practice", "Competition" and "Mental Toughness". Today we are working on your "Competition" mindset.

Which means, you gotta push and you gotta work on your positive self-talk so you can push harder, move faster, rest less and progress. Don't be afraid, but be courageous. Be Brave. Be Unstoppable. When you are doing those snatches, or the rows/runs, tell yourself, "I Got This!" and "I Can Do this!" and remind yourself that anything is possible.

See you in class!

How "Power Cleans" Can Help Your Everyday Activity

The Power Clean. According to Mark Rippetoe, the father of Weightlifting and Powerlifting programs, The Power Clean is one of the most important Olympic Lift that can improve power and speed (for athletes of any sports). Of course, at CrossFit, we do a little more than Power Cleans, but this statement is probably the truest for the rest of us who goes to school, works at an office, runs a business or homemaker. 

Pay attention to the video shown below by Julie Foucher, an Elite CrossFit Games athlete, CrossFit Seminar Staff member, who is also a medical student. 

She is demonstrating the Power Clean using a barbell. A weightlifting equipment that CrossFitters are all used to, but can sometimes be considered as "scary" or "manly" and even "dangerous" for mis-informed people. But pay attention to the movement itself and ignore the barbell. The movement is actually something that we do a lot which is ... lifting an object from the ground to the shoulder. That is really all that you are doing with the Power Clean.

Technically, you are doing a Power Clean when you are:

  • putting your backpack on your shoulder
  • picking up your child 
  • putting your luggage in your trunk 
  • picking up a box 
  • and so on ... (you get my point =))

The movement starts with the object on the ground, you picking it up like a deadlift, engaging your legs (instead of your back), "jerking" it up with your hips (not your arms) and then standing up with the object on your shoulders.

By doing the Power Clean, you can pick objects up safely and easily while at the same time working on getting stronger, better looking legs and arms. Not a bad deal.

In today's class, you will be working on your Power Clean. And we will use various pieces of equipments (dumbbell, kettlebell or medicine ball) if you are unfamiliar with the barbell.

When performing the movement, your focus will be:

  1. Starting position - setup with your arms straight, hips back, chest up
  2. Use your hips - jump up and then use your arms. Do not pull with your arms
  3. Catch on the shoulder - as the weight moves up because of your explosive jump, catch it on your shoulders. I say "on the shoulder" because one of the common mistakes is catching it on your top chest / right below clavicle. This happens a lot because some are afraid of the bar. Don't be afraid, pick it up, jerk it off your hips and then catch it on your shoulders.
  4. Keep your chest up! Just like any CrossFit movement, chest up is always the best position. As you bring the weight up, lead with your chest, not with your butt.

Last but not least ... Listen to your coach's cues, move well, be safe and be brave. 

See you in class!

This week is going to be AMAZING!

Why? Because we have completed the CrossFit Games Open and it is now time to get back to our weekly training. And .... every week is AMAZING! 

If you have been following our athletes or athletes throughout the world #InTheOpen, you have seen a lot of accomplishments. Congratulations to everyone! I hope you have proven to yourself that you can do more than you think! If you did not get a chance to participate, not to worry, there is always next year. 

In the next week, there are a few things to watch for, here's just a few:

  • We have a new Strength Focus: Front Box Squats. If you have been with us for a while, you probably know that we have done this movement before. And it is very effective in improving your Front Squats. The cycle remains to be 6-8 weeks to ensure movement retention and a slow steady progress for everyone at the box. If you are an experienced member, and are looking to improve your skills/lifts in a faster pace, please reach out to any of our coaches to enroll to the Personalized Training and Nutrition program.
  • It's Benchmark Week! Yes, Helen on Saturday was not enough. In the following weeks, there are about 3 workouts that we have done in the past. Which means .... If you are new and are doing these workouts for the first time, then it is your chance to create your own benchmark. If you have done the workout before, then it is  your time to PR! 
  • The Redline Challenge is coming up! Our 5th Year Anniversary competition, the Equator Redline Challenge is coming up in the next two weeks. Registration actually will be closing tomorrow! So if you haven't registered yet, today and tomorrow is your last day. Commit by clicking that Register button, but most importantly participate in this event because it is a celebration of the CrossFit Indonesia community. 
  • Who doesn't like FREE stuff? We are running an Instagram Giveaway until the end of next week with Reebok Indonesia. All you have to do is take a picture in front of the CrossFit Equator x Reebok CrossFit logo, post it on your instagram page (tag 2 friends) and your submission to the giveaway is complete! We will review for the best photo next week and the 1st place will get Reebok CrossFit Nano 5.0, 2nd place will get Reebok CrossFit Tshirt and shorts + water bottle and 3rd place will get a Backpack + water bottle. 

So much stuff, so much events, so little time!! 

We will be posting daily information about the workout along with tips on movements, on this blog every day. The idea is so that you may come in to the box equipped with the right mindset, knowledge and information. 

So be sure to check often and drop us a comment. 

Thanks and have a good Sunday!

We are turning 5!

To celebrate the 5 Years Anniversary of CrossFit Equator, the 1st CrossFit affiliate in Indonesia, we would like to invite you to an Open Competition, the EQUATOR REDLINE CrossFit Challenge!

Everyone is invited! We will have a workout for the first timers, beginners, seasonal athletes and experienced athletes. Our goal is to get together, workout and to celebrate your accomplishments.

 
More details coming soon here and in our Facebook and Instagram page@crossfitequator