Archive for the ‘Articles – Fitness’ Category


I saw the above picture over at Coach Rut’s blog and it made me smile 🙂

The number of people who think that exercise will solve all their problems is astounding.  Sadly, they are mistaken.

Exercise is just one piece of the puzzle – if you treat your body like shit the rest of the time then your health will not get any better!

Eat properly, stop polluting your body, get enough sleep and de-stress – these are just some of the things that make up a healthy lifestyle.

You need to be doing the right stuff outside the gym to maximise your gains and this is why we offer a holistic service to keep you on track.  If you don’t already train with us and you think you need some help, drop us a line.  If you do already train at CFW and you think there are some areas you need to focus on, then ask for some support.


Recovery Energy

Posted: May 11, 2009 in Articles - Fitness
Tags: , ,

Photo by claudiogennari

I’m big on recovery.

I give my recovery the same priority as my workouts.


Because my recovery ability sucks. Really sucks.

I can literally take myself from feeling amazing to the land of overtraining in the space of a few days and knock myself out of action for a week if I’m not careful.

Despite this I have had some pretty good results with my strength and conditioning reaching a 2.5xBW Deadlift and getting within spitting distance of a bodyweight Overhead Press and 2xBW Squat.  The only reason for this is a sound recovery plan.

In a previous post I talked about the basics of recovery but I wanted to throw out a more conceptual way to think of this stuff.

Yin and Yang… Crossfit WestCo Style

Plymouth Daylight Hours

Plymouth Daylight Hours

 Sleep is your friend.

And it’s a friend I’m willing to bet you don’t see enough of.

Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar and Survival is one of the most influential books in my nutritional and lifestyle philosophy.  The gist is that we are designed to live in sync with nature and her seasonal shifts. 

Seasonal Sync

Think about it.  In nature the season would dictate what food was available (see the Seasonal Food Calendar blog entry).  The season would also dictate how much daylight there was, how much sleep we got and hence our activity levels. 

Summer would mean lots of light for finding a mate (so that the child would be born in spring and hence miss the winter hardship) and lots of carbs for putting on fat ready for winter.  Winter would spell a lack of carbs and less daylight.  Less daylight and colder temperatures would mean less carbs, more sleep and leaning out ready for spring/summer again.

Where We’re Going Wrong

What happens today is that Carbs are available all year round in devasatingly refined forms, light bulbs mean that WE control daylight and our sleep patterns completely out of kilter with the season.

This is not good. 

As far as our bodies are concerned it’s permanent summer!!  Long days of light mean we crave Carbs – is it any wonder?! Our bodies are trying to fatten us up for winter!

If you look at the chart above, the blue line is the changing number of hours of daylight throughout the year.

There’s a pretty dramatic shift from 8 hours mid-Winter to 16+ hours mid-Summer.

The Solution (More Than Just Sky+)

The upshot of this is that from mid-September to mid-April, you should be getting ATLEAST 9-10 hours sleep per night and eating a low-carb diet.  As summer rolls around, stay up late and increase carbs.

9-10 hours sounds like a lot, but in reality it’s going to be at 10pm and getting up at 7am – not that unreasonable. 

If you’re worried about missing stuff on TV, get SKY+.  If you’re just channel surfing, then go to bed – or read a book (late night reading will make you sleepy, trust me)

Oh yeah, and that should be in a PITCH BLACK room with any blinking, flashing clocks or lights covered.  This will ensure your body releases the right hormones to optimise recovery and health.

Sooner or later, we’ll discuss a little more how to optimise sleep itself, but for now, go black out your windows and get some shut-eye.

🙂 ChrisCFW


So you spend an hour of most of your days at the gym.

You sweat, groan and summon herculean efforts on a regular basis in the pursuit of getting strong, fit and healthy.

What about the other 23 hours?

The Other 23 Hours?

Whether you like it or not, your success in the gym is dependant on what you do outside of it.  It’s annoying but true.

I can’t remember where I saw it now, but someone whose opinion I respect said that in order to be successful, you need to be a 24hour athlete.

That means taking care of the following:

  1. Nutrition
  2. Sleep
  3. Hydration
  4. Stress
  5. Supplementation


Hard training demands that you pay attention to your nutrition. You need adequate protein, fat and enough carbs to support your efforts without screwing up your insulin.

Whatever you do, try to go Paleo as much as possible.  Eat meat, veg, nuts, seeds, little starch, no sugar.

If you’re trying to drop weight, go low carb – less than 100g per day.

If you’re trying to get stronger and put on some muscle, you need to get in at least 1gram of protein per 1pound of lean bodymass.  Try to keep your carbs around the 150g per day mark and eat your good fats.

Consider keeping track of everything at


Get your 8 hours. 9+ is optimal.

Cat nap when you can.

Make sure your room is pitch black – no flashing lights on your bedside table!


Aim for 3 litres of water per day when you’re training, but be happy if you get 2 litres in.


Don’t do it.  Enough sleep makes the world seem a better place, but just trying to be positive and getting some perspective helps.

Try to get in some quality “you” time each day – even if that’s just reading a book for 20mins before bed.


Take Fish Oil – do a search of this blog for doseage recommendations.

Take digestive enzymes with all meals.

Take Probiotics.

Try ZMA before bed to help with sleep and solve any Zinc and Magnesium deficiency issues.

Wrapping Up

That covers pretty much everything.  Pay attention to your body and if it’s telling you to back off, just do it or you’ll only end up setting yourself up for overtraining.

Be a 24 hour athlete and that hour in the gym suddenly becomes worth a whole lot more.

Gymnasts have wicked core strength.  All you need to do to appreciate this is to try out some of the stuff in the tutorial video below.

Basic gymnastics yields some really great results even before you reach any level of real skill, so don’t be afraid to try this stuff – it’ll make you a better athlete even if you suck at it!

The guy in the video is using parallettes to raise himself off the floor – these have some great advantages when learning the moves as they give you some room for less than perfect leg height.

Plans for building your own parallettes can be found on and various websites, but placing your hands on a couple of bricks or similar strudy raised surfaces works just as well.

We’re big fans of gymnastics here and parallette work is something that we’re going to be making some more time for in our future classes. Class details are on the right-hand side or see 


Nice Squat Form Example

Posted: January 9, 2009 in Articles - Fitness

The most important thing you’ll learn when you come to us is how to squat properly.

In develping solid squat form, the Overhead Squat is a great tool as it demands strict form and as such is invaluable in improving basic squat mechanics.

Here’s a video of Nicole from CrossFit HQ doing full range of motion Overhead Squats.

Note how the torso remains upright, her weight stays on her heels, and once the thigh approaches parallel, the knees pass over the toes to allow Nicole to maintain her balance and keep the torso vertical as her thigh drops below the parallel plane and she reaches full depth.  These are the same qualities you should be trying to emulate in your bodyweight squats, front squats and high-bar back squats.

photo by Kjunstorm

The thing I love most about CrossFit is that it gets you thinking outside the box.

For example, don’t limit yourself to working out in the gym.  If you understand the principles of CrossFit, you can workout anywhere, with anything.

Coach once said that the main site WODs were just an example of CrossFit and this is a message I’ve taken to heart at CrossFIt Westcountry.

Yesterday was the first day off from work I’ve taken in a little while and I figured it was best to get away from anything that might tempt me into any form of work – so I headed for the beach for a surf.

The morning was good – nice swell and an offshore breeze to keep the waves clean.   The paddle outback was easy enough and the waves were perfect for getting back into the flow and chilling out in the water.

The afternoon however was a mess – just continuous white water and closed out waves.

I could have called it a day then, but as I figured my paddling endurance could use some work, decided an impromptu WOD was in order.

I spent the next 20minutes doing interval work in the water.

I let the waves dictate my rest periods by letting one wave pass by Eskimo Rolling and then paddling like fury until the next wave where I’d Roll again, let it pass and then rest to wait for the next wave where I’d Roll and paddle again.

Doing a workout like this is actually pretty knackering especially when each wave is pulling you back and you’re doing the best you can just to hold position in the water.

This was actually a really cool workout and left me feeling that the afternoon wasn’t a waste of time being in the water.

Be creative in your workouts – its worth it.