Grand Opening!

 

See you Feb 23, 2013!

See you Feb 2, 2013!

When:

  • February 2, 2013
  • 10:00-12:00-Open house, interactive movement demonstrations
  • 12:00: First official WOD, aka Workout Of the Day (participation is by invite only)

Where:

Copperhead CrossFit
2109 E. McDowell Rd.
Phoenix, Az 85013
Map

Why:

To celebrate the opening of Phoenix’s new CrossFit affiliate!  Come meet our coaches and check out our facility.  We’ll have plenty to do and plenty to see including movement demos, a paleo booth and our first official workout!

Also, this is the last chance to take advantage of our Pre-Sale promo price of $99 per month for unlimited classes (will be, $129).  If you sign up by the end of the day, you’ll lock in that price for as long as you’re a member.  If you pass it up, you won’t get the chance again.

We’re opening the gym from 10am until noon.  After that, you’re welcome to stay and cheer on our members as they go through Copperhead CrossFit’s first official WOD.

No need to RSVP, just come down and hang out.  We’ll see you there!

Hand care

Three things are inevitable in the life of a CrossFitter:

  1. Death
  2. Taxes
  3. Calluses

Due to the huge amount of work we do, sometimes our calluses tear.  A quick Google search of “crossfit hand tears” will yield thousands of pictures like the one below.  Contrary to popular belief, hand tears are not a badge of honor.  They are the result improper maintenance and lead to 1-3 weeks off of any type of training involving your hands.  They are not worth the picture that you’ll probably end up posting on Facebok (we’ve all done it).

CrossFit, you're doing it wrong.

“Look what I did at CrossFit today!”

In an attempt to save you the trouble, I’ll use this article to outline the steps you should take to maintain your calluses, prevent tears, and care for your hands after you’ve torn them to shreds.

Before we get started let me make one thing clear,  you may will develop calluses.  You’ll be putting your hands through a lot and, as a defense measure, you’ll sprout a few.  You should embrace these fleshy bumps because they signify all of the hard work you’ve put in.  Every pull up, every kettlebell swing, every snatch has earned you the right to wear your calluses with pride.  Your calluses are proof that you are making yourself more awesome.

Having said that, let’s get started with the whole prevention bit.

MAINTENANCE (before)

  • Moisturize: Use lotion, any lotion, to keep your hands nice and soft.  Dry hands will crack, rip, tear, and keep you out of the gym for weeks at a time.  Buy some lotion and use it often.  If you really want to get serious, use “corn huskers” lotion.  That stuff is the real deal.
  • Shave/sand/grind:  When it comes to keeping a callus maintained, the three easiest options are shave, sand or grind.  Pick one and do it regularly.  This is the most important preventative step outside of the gym.
    1. Shave: Get a callus shaver and use it frequently.  This is my preferred method because it’s easy to use and I don’t have to take a motorized sander to my hand.
      This is a life saver.

      This is a life saver.

    2. Sand: Grab a pumice stone and scrub away.  I recommend doing this while taking a hot shower.
    3. Grind: Pick up a Dremel (or other rotary sander) and go to town.  I’ve never done this (and never will due to a natural aversion to using power tools on my flesh) but plenty of people swear by it.
    4. Bite *(BONUS)*:  It’s easy, it’s paleo and we come equipped with the necessary tools.  Despite those truths, it’s gross so I can’t recommend it as an official option.

PREVENTION (during)

  • Grip: Wrap the fingers, rather than the palm, around the bar.  The friction across your palms is what causes nasty tears.  The only drawback is that this grip requires more strength in the hands, forearms and especially the fingers.  You may struggle at first , but it’ll pay dividends later.
    Is it just me, or does my left thumb look freakish large in that top-left picture?

    Is it just me, or does my left thumb look freakish large in that top-left picture?

  • No, just no. If you're caught doing this the penalty is 50 burpees.

    No, just no. If you’re caught doing this the penalty is 50 burpees.

    Chalk: Take it easy on the chalk!  I cannot overstate this.  Just so we’re all clear, chalk increases friction.  Increased friction = increased chances of you getting a tear.  Use small amounts of chalk and only use on areas where there will be contact with the bar (no need to chalk your whole body).  Also, wipe your sweat off before you chalk up.  This avoids the nasty sweat-chalk icing that never cleans up (your coaches/the cleaning crew will thank you).

  • Gloves:  As Mark Rippetoe once said, “If you insist on wearing gloves, make sure they match your purse.”  This statement, while hilarious, requires some clarification.  My opinion, and the opinion of most barbell affectionatios, is that gloves should not be worn during barbell work (deadlifts, cleans, snatches, etc).  However, I do respect the use gloves during movements like pull ups (especially the kipping variety).  The difference between the two is that a barbell will rotate with your hands and a pull up bar will not.

Times to avoid gloves: Barbell cleans/snatches/deadlifts/any other (barbell) pulling movement.
Times to think about using gloves: When a callus tear is developing or healing.
Times to use gloves (if you must): High rep pull ups/toes-to-bar/kettlebell swing/snatches/cleans.

Basically, gloves may protect your hands and they will reduce your connection with the bar.  If you really want to wear gloves, my recommendation is a pair of Mechanix-type gloves (mainly because they look more badass than the other types).

Definitely some of the coolest gloves I've seen.

Definitely some of the coolest gloves I’ve seen.

  • Stop: If you tear your hands mid-WOD, stop!  Do not gut through the rest of the WOD slinging your DNA everywhere.  Go rinse your hands water gently, then wipe down anything you may have bled on.  After the bleeding is under control, go run 4x400m repeats as punishment for not following the previous steps.

WOUND CARE (after)

  • Trim: If you’ve only opened up a blister don’t go tearing at it, just leave the skin alone.  On the other hand, if it looks like you stuck you palms on a belt sander, you’re going to want to trim away any flapping bits.  Be careful that you don’t cut away any healthy skin, just use some small scissors (I really shouldn’t have to specify, but make sure they’re sterile) to snip the mangled stuff away.
  • Clean: Keep your hands clean.  Frequently (and gently) wash them with soap and warm water.  Let them breathe with minimal, if any, bandaging.  If they become infected, you’re in trouble.
  • Wait: Be patient and wait until your hands are COMPLETELY healed before you get back to crushing WODs.  Work on squats, sprints and situps until you’re good to go.  A few extra days waiting will only cost you a few days.  Starting a few days early could open your hands right back up.

Most of you will probably heed this advice AFTER you’ve already torn your hands, but oh well.  Some people learn when the see the light, others when they feel the heat.

In closing, remember that calluses are like our inappropriate friends.  They are good to have around most of the time, but they’ll make a big mess if not kept in check.

*UPDATE 3/7/14*
The first time around I left out gymnastics-style grips as I had no personal experience with them.  I still have never used them myself however, I know a number of people who swear by them.  They’re not magic (I’ve seen hand tears while people use them correctly) but they can help out quite a bit.  SO… check them out.

gymnastic grips

Click the picture to see Rogue’s selection. No, I’m not getting money from them… dammit.

Forget the Scale.

 

bathroom_scale

I know, it’s a radical idea.
You want me to stop using a scale to assess my fitness level?
In a word, yes.

Last night, I was sitting at home watching the latest episode of the Biggest Loser before bed.  I spent 2 hours and 45 minutes of my life watching Dolvette and his denture-like pearly whites, Bob Harper go full-CrossFit (complete with knee socks) and Jillian Michaels scream at the contestants like they were red-headed step children.  After all of the training, crying and other drama, it was time for the weigh-in.

Everybody's favorite actors/trainers.

Everybody’s favorite actors/trainers.

Ridiculous theatrics aside (the lights, the music, the bi-polar weight readout jumping all over the place), I have a serious issue with the whole idea of the weigh-in determining the winners and losers of the show.  First of all, they are completely neglecting the relevance body composition (the percentages of fat, bone and muscle in human bodies).  Secondly, they are encouraging viewers to base their success and failure solely by the number on the scale.

The simplest way to understand body composition is, lean tissue versus fatty tissue.  Body comp is a more accurate way to assess a “healthy” body than the weight or BMI (Body Mass Index, don’t even get me started on this).  See the table below for recommended body fat percentages.

Body-Fat-Chart

Unfortunately, testing body composition is either cheap OR good.  Calipers (cheap) rely on a skilled and experienced user, accurately calibrated calipers and a host of other  factors.  The two “gold standard” body comp testing procedures are hydrostatic (dunk tank) and DEXA (Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry) but they have their own set of drawbacks, namely the price.

Sit back and say, "absorptiometry ."

Sit back and say, “absorptiometry .”

I propose a different method to monitor your own body fat.  It’s can be done solo, it’s easily repeatable and best of all, it’s highly scientific.  It’s called PCATHYCF (Pay Close Attention To How Your Clothes Fit).  You see, as you lose fat you’ll start to take up less space in the world.  In the beginning, your jeans will start fitting slightly looser.  You may assume your dryer did something to them because up until this point, they fit fine.  However, depending on the level of work you put in, the change will soon be undeniable.

The scale can be very deceptive.

The scale can be very deceptive.

Notice above, the size difference between the two samples.  Place them on a scale, one at a time, and “5” would show up for both.  However, the muscle takes up much less space.  This is basically my entire argument for ignoring the scale, in picture form.

Let’s say, for the last 4 weeks you’ve been busting your ass at Copperhead CrossFit 3-5 times per week.  You’ve been eating mostly “paleo” foods and you’ve made sure to get enough rest.  Let’s say that you lost that five pound blob of fat and you gained that five pound slab of muscle.

  • If you only looked at the scale, you would be severely disappointed, as it would show no change in weight.  Your hopes and dreams of making it to the CrossFit Games would be crushed and you would retire to the couch with a few gallons of ice cream to drown your sorrows.
    Don't let slow progress get you down.

    Don’t let slow progress get you down.

  • On the other hand, if you’re following PCATHYCF, the size difference between the fat lost and muscle gained would be clearly evident.  You’d continue down your path to wellness and live happily ever after.

At the end of last night’s “Biggest Loser”, one of the hardest working guys was given the boot because he lost 0 pounds during his second week on the show.  I understand that they have a show to run, but it’s unacceptable to tell someone that they “lost” solely because the scale said so.  I sincerely hope that that fella continues down the road to wellness and doesn’t let that BS weigh-in define him.

Moral of the story: At Copperhead CrossFit, we relentlessly chase increased performance.  Whether it’s a few pounds added to a Snatch PR (personal record), or a minute off of your Fran time, we strive to get better in the gym.  If you are constantly increasing your performance, you are constantly moving from sickness to fitness.  If you are moving away from sickness and moving toward fitness, your body will reflect it.

As Mark Twight (no, not Mark Twain) once said, “Appearance is the consequence of fitness.”

If you’re still not conviced, take a look at this article from Nerd Fitness about Staci (pictured below) and her power-lifting journey.

girl from nerd fitness-for scale article

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