Upcoming events – Spring/summer 2016

Here are a list of a few events through the summer, mark your calendars!

May 13th – 15th
CrossFit South Regional

Dallas, Tx

Sat, May 21st
Iron Athlete Open Weightlifting Meet
Women: Weigh-in 9-10/Lift 11
Men: Weight-in 12-1/Lift 2
East Valley CrossFit

Monday, May 30th at 9am
Memorial Day Murph
Copperhead CrossFit

Sat, June 4th (9am – 3pm)
Desert Warrior Competition Series
CrossFit Forbidden

July 19th-24th
CrossFit Games

Carson, CA

Sat, August 20th
Summer Slam Day 1 – Super Total Barbell Event
by The Unbroken Series

Sun, August 21st
Summer Slam Day 2 – Team CrossFit Event
by The Unbroken Series

Your first pull up

 

Pull ups are hard and getting your first one is a big accomplishment.  It’s easy to get stuck in the rut of using the same amount of bands day in and day out without seeing much improvement.  There are plenty of ways to skin this cat but below you’ll find a few tactics that I’ve found to be particularly effective.

Chin over the bar holds

Just like it sounds, get your chin above the bar and hold it.  Be warned, this position gets tough in a hurry.  It’s not uncommon for folks to start shaking violently after only a few seconds.

When setting a goal on these, 20 consecutive seconds would be a minimum but 60 seconds would show some serious mastery.

You can practice sub maximal sets (e.g. 3-5 sets of 10-20 seconds) or get to a set time in as few sets as possible (e.g. accumulate 90 seconds with your chin above the bar in as few sets as possible).

To make this movement easier, use bands or support yourself with your feet on the floor or on a box.  To make it more difficult, hold for longer periods, add weight, or use only one hand at a time.

Negatives

These are also called “slow eccentrics” and they’ve been around for a long time.  Bodybulders use this technique to kick start muscle growth but negatives are also effective at building raw strength.

To perform a negative pull up, start at the top of the movement (chin above the bar) and control yourself all the way down until your arms are completely straight.  Sounds simple enough but these are potent.  Negatives can leave you smashed if you’re not careful.

Stick with low volume on these until you know how your body will tolerate them.  Two to three sets of three to five reps should be plenty.  See how your biceps and lats are feeling in the following day or two.

Reverse row sit back

This is a new exercise (for me) that I discovered through GMB’s Rings 1 program.  Taken directly from their article on getting your first pull up,

I developed this exercise as a way to work on the neglected angles of motion in between a row and a pull-up.  It’s a deceptively hard exercise that’ll get your back muscles working in a way you’ve probably never experienced before!

This is best done using a set of rings.

This is far from an exhaustive list.  There are plenty of other exercises that will get you on the path to your first pull up.  The ones mentioned here were chosen because they are not as common as ring rows or banded pull ups and, they tend not to show up in regular gym programming.

Putting it all together

Here’s a sample program including the exercises mentioned above.

Day 1:
Try a pull up, 3-5 minutes
Reverse row sit back, 3 sets of 6-8 reps
Chin over the bar hold, accumulate 60 seconds in as few sets as possible (use assistance as needed)

Day 2:
Try a pull up, 3-5 minutes
Assisted pull up, 3 sets of 8-10 reps (use bands or feet on the floor)

Day 3:
Try a pull up, 3-5 minutes
5 second chin over the bar hold + slow negative, 10-15 reps, rest as needed

After a quick look you’ll probably notice a few things…

First, each day starts with some attempts at getting a pull up.  We want to make sure that you’re not forgetting the reason for all this extra work.  Plus, week by week you’ll probably see small improvements and that should help keep you motivated.

Second, this probably doesn’t look particularly difficult.  Please know that more isn’t always better.  It’s very easy to develop overuse injuries by doing too much focused work too quickly.  You might be surprised how much your shoulders and/or elbows will protest after asking just a little bit more effort from them.  This sample program was intended to be put into practice before or after your usual training for the day.  That being the case, we want to make sure that we don’t do too much too quickly.

Summing it up

Getting your first pull-up really isn’t rocket science.  There are an infinite number of movements, rep schemes, and programs that can lead you over the bar.  Whatever you choose to do, remember that it will take time and diligence.  Attach yourself to the work and not the result to avoid burnout.  Listen to your body and you’ll be ditching the bands before you know it.

Member spotlight – Kuzi M

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If you ever need to pick Kuzi out of a crowded gym you only need to look for three things: a backward hat, football gloves, and the color red.  His gear choices have been as consistent as his work ethic ever since Copperhead opened up back in 2013.  Whether he’s welcoming new members, getting his game face on before a workout, or cheering on the last person to finish the WOD, we’re very happy to have Kuzi as one of the founding members of Copperhead.


Where are you from, Originally?
I was born in Zimbabwe, Africa.

In regards to the last question: If not Phoenix, what brought you here?
My mother is from Abilene Texas and my father is from Zimbabwe. They met in college here in the U.S and then my mom moved to Zimbabwe. I lived in Zimbabwe until I was 17. My mom had always planned on me attending university in the States so we moved here a year early so I could assimilate. It wasn’t Phoenix, we moved to Tucson…but after college I moved to Phoenix following a stint in Austin, so I could be closer to my college buddies.

What’s something that most people don’t know about you?
Tennis is my strongest sport. I’ve played since I was 3 years old and competed from about 6 years old until I was 20.

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Kuzi back in March, 2013.

How long have you been at Copperhead?
Since day 1…I think that means just over 3 years (editors note: three years and two months at the time of publishing).

What was your motivation for starting?
I’d tried CrossFit before at some random free Saturday things at other gyms, but I really got into it as a way to spend time with a girl I liked. She was going to CrossFit 3 times a week at a gym 45 minutes from my house. I would go too and pretend I was just going for the CrossFit, but the truth was I passed like 6 gyms on the way there..but it was a way to get to know her without coming across like I only had one agenda. It ended up working out and I’ve been dating Silv for nearly 4 years…..the surprise is that I wound up falling for CrossFit too. I’d seen Mitch at another gym I was at and when he told me he was part of a new gym that was opening, I decided I’d follow him over.

What fitness-related accomplishment are you most proud of?
When I was 16 I played on a rugby team for my school. My school was very big on rugby.  It was referred to as U16-A, and that division across the country was considered to be the better young kids, pre 1st team (18 year olds).  I played right wing and did pretty well, but it’s a fitness related accomplishment because I’ve never been in better conditioning than I was on that team. The semester before the season was spent conditioning with our coach, and how you did in conditioning was directly related to making the team.  It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. All the normal hill sprints etc..but also just the mental toughness drills..running and diving into grass full of thorns to get used to pain so that normal field tackles and falls wouldn’t hurt…5 mile runs carry logs with a partner..etc…almost like a boot camp that lasted a semester. I remember pretending to be sick to miss school school some days just so I could not have to go to practice that afternoon. It was intense. However, when the season came I remember consciously noticing when the other teams were getting tired and thinking to myself I felt like we were cheating because a normal game to us was much easier than practice.

Now when I think back on that time, I remember it as one of the experiences that really exposed me to the relationship between the mind and body and the fact that if you really want to do something, you can.  Which is why I think I like CrossFit so much, half of the time I’m doing it I’m fighting my mind from telling me to stop and just lay down.

Do you have any advice for new members?
Try to be perfect in building your foundation, and ignore your ego. I didn’t do this, and wish I had. Weight, time and reps really shouldn’t matter when you’re just starting out. It should all be about technique, the better technique you have the easier everything comes. The truth is ones ego can push them to want to do well right away, or at least not stick out in the class…but that doesn’t matter. It’s a way better idea to take an extra 3 months dialing in your squat and basic techniques because I promise you’ll make up for that extra time once you feel solid in your technique and you let yourself start building in weight and going faster. It’s easy to be strong and throw weight around awkwardly, it’s way harder to move perfectly.

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Why should I do the Open? 2016 edition

It’s that time of year again, Open season.  For those of you unfamiliar with the Open check out this video.

In an effort to encourage participation, we’ve posted articles each year talking about why we do this (here, here, and here) and 2016 will be no different.  So without further adieu, here are a few answers to the question,

Why should I do the Open?

The firsts

Whether it be a muscle-up or pull-up,  toes-to-bar or double unders.  Countless people have hit their first whatever movement during the Open.  When the workouts are announced, we’ve seen numerous people say “I don’t have ___ yet.”  Many of these same folks then proceed to knock out multiple reps. There’s something about the atmosphere that brings the best out of us and it’s damn near impossible to replicate anywhere else.

The accountability

Signing up for the Open is a commitment.  You’re name will be up on the Games website.  Your scores will be available for anyone who cares to see.  If you don’t do a workout, you’ll post a big fat goose-egg.

Knowing that you have these workouts looming on the horizon will help you to get your ass in gear.  If you’re looking for motivation, here it is.

The community

CrossFit is known for it’s tight knit community and nothing brings us together like competition.  The anxiety beforehand and the euphoria afterward are heightened, especially  during the Open.  This bit of adversity really goes along way to create strong bonds between teammates.

 

In the end, signing up for the CrossFit Open isn’t really a big deal, but it feels like a big deal.  The added pressure of taking yourself out of your comfort zone will help you improve in leaps and bounds. You’ll probably wonder “why did I do this?” during the workouts, but you’ll definitely say “I’m glad I did it” when you’ve finished.

Whether you want to make it to the Games or you just want to get in better shape, the CrossFit Open is for you.  Sign up here.

Member spotlight – Melissa Hoffman

melissa snatch deadlift

On any given weekday evening you can find Melissa laughing through the hardest workouts and lifting some seriously heavy weight.  Since joining, she’s been the picture of consistency and her progress is a testament to that.  Her journey is inspirational and we’re very glad to have her at Copperhead.


 

Where are you from, Originally?  If Phoenix, what kept you here?
I’m a born and raised Phoenician.  The weather! Sure it’s insanely hot in the summer and you can burn your hands on the steering wheel if you’re not careful, BUT at least we don’t have hurricanes, huge earthquakes, or tornadoes. Running the A/C while Christmas shopping is weird, yes, but I will take it over shoveling snow for hours.

What’s something that most people don’t know about you?
I like to travel and more specifically I like to travel to see concerts. My favorite band is Taking Back Sunday and I have been all over the US to see them. It is fun to explore all of these cities and meet other people that like the band because then we find other things we have in common. I now have friends in many states thanks to that band.

How long have you been at Copperhead?
I have been at Copperhead for 9 months!!

What was your motivation for starting?
I have been struggling with my weight since high school. I had become used to being the big girl. I had tried diets and exercises before only to fall off the wagon within weeks. The drive thru was my best friend. This past Spring I was actually traveling to shows and realized I wasn’t fitting in the jeans I packed. The photos I took with the friends I was melissa with bandmaking showed me at the biggest I had ever been. Adam Lazzara, the lead singer of Taking Back Sunday had been doing CrossFit himself with incredible results so I figured it worked for him maybe it would work for me. After discussing with him and talking to Mark O’Connell, the drummer, I realized I needed to do it. After telling them I knew I was on the hook. My family and friends didn’t bat an eye when I would give up on another diet, but I knew that with these guys I would make a fool of myself if I didn’t follow through. Their words of encouragement and their results inspired and motivated me in the beginning, they have continued to be supportive since then, and I’ve kept them updated on my progress. As time has gone on I have motivated myself through the results I have seen in the progress photos I’ve taken. Now I am focused on getting more results.

melissa progressWhat fitness-related accomplishment are you most proud of?
I am happy that I can look down now and see my feet. When I started my squat involved sitting on a bench because that was all I could do and I had never lifted weights. I can now back squat 165 lbs. and deadlift 255lbs, I have done one handstand and discovered I am pretty good at rowing. Any time I can do a WOD at RX I celebrate because it wasn’t too long ago that I would finish a majority of the WOD’s last or had to “Fisher Price” the workout so that I can even participate. It was hard and yes there were some tears especially when I would finish another WOD last, but this is the longest I have ever stayed in a routine without quitting and I see no end in sight.

 

Do you have any advice for new members?
The beginning will be hard. You will be convinced you’re dying at times. In fact, that is all I would say for the first couple of months. “I’m dying” was my catch phrase. But the truth is you’re not dying, you’re starting to live a better life. Copperhead has great coaches that will teach you what you need to know to do the best and be successful at working out. They, as well as fellow CrossFitters at Copperhead, are among the most supportive and encouraging people I have ever met. They ooze positivity. Getting in shape will be a long hard road, but you can do it. You’re not alone. Don’t stop.

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