Posts Tagged ‘crossfit’

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


CrossFit Bath are hosting a CrossFit Kettlebell Cert with none other than Jeff Martone on the 6th & 7th June.

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


Eating Paleo is a great place to start, but getting further into things you might want to start looking into what foods you should be eating at what time of year.

Seasonal eating is a great thing to try and get you head around and is something that our Paleolithic ancestors would have to have done without a choice.

There are several key benefits to seasonal eating, the main ones being:

  • Variety – its easy to fall into the same patterns of eating and get bored.  This forces you to learn to cook new things.
  • Natural rotation diet – eating the same thing day-in, day-out can lead to food intolerances.  Eating seasonally ensures you mix things up to avoid this.
  • Macronutrient ratios naturally syncronised – we’re designed to put on fat for winter and lean out for spring/summer.  Seasonal eating means that your insulin levels and body composition is always within safe limits as the dense carbs that cause insulin issues are only available for a few short months.
  • Fresher foods – if its in-season, your local farmers can supply it so you can get super-fresh produce (check out your local farmer’s market).

Here’s a great calendar of seasonal foods for you to use as a reference point.  This was originally from 

Take a look at the patterns of when fruits are around, when green leafy veg are dominant and when root vegetables come into play – fascinating stuff.

Now, I’m not saying that you can only eat the stuff on the list below, because there are obviously some omissions.  As a guide however to the kinds of stuff you should be basing your diet on, its a good start.

It’s also  a good guide to what you can expect to find at your local farmers market each season.



& vegetables
& meat


cauliflower, celeriac, forced rhubarb (forced to do what?), leeks,
parsnips, turnip, shallots, squash
lobster, scallops


cauliflower, celeriac, chard, chicory, forced rhubarb, kohlrabi, leeks,
parsnips, spinach, swede, turnip
halibut, guinea fowl, lobster


cabbage, cauliflower, leeks, mint, mooli, parsley, broccoli, radishes,
rhubarb, sorrel
(fresh ones!), lobster


cabbage, cauliflower, morel mushrooms, wild garlic, radishes, rhubarb,
carrots, kale, watercress, spinach, rosemary flowers
lamb, cockles


cabbage, cauliflower, gooseberries, parsley, mint, broad beans, rhubarb,
new carrots, samphire, asparagus
bass, lemon sole, sardines, duck, sea trout


cherries, elderflowers, lettuce, strawberries, peppers, asparagus,
redcurrants, peas, rhubarb, gooseberries, tayberries, tomatoes, courgettes,
broad beans
lamb, crab, salmon, grey mullet


gooseberries, strawberries, spinach, tomatoes, watercress, loganberries,
sage, cauliflower, aubergine, fennel, asparagus, cabbage, celery,
cherries, lettuce, mangetout, nectarines, new potatoes, oyster mushrooms,
peas, peaches, radish, raspberries, rhubarb, tomatoes, French beans
pilchards, clams, pike, pigeon


gooseberries, lettuce, loganberries, raspberries, strawberries, cauliflower,
aubergines, nectarines, peaches, peppers, courgettes, rhubarb, sweetcorn,
greengages, basil, peas, pears, apples, French beans, tomatoes
hare, skate, john dory (that’s a fish)


aubergines, blackberries, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, cucumber,
damsons, elderberries, figs, French beans, grapes, kale, lettuce,
melons mushrooms, nectarines, onions, peppers, parsnips, peas, peaches,
pears, potatoes, pumpkin, raspberries, rhubarb, spinach, sweetcorn,
venison, oysters, sea bass, grouse, mussels, partridge, wood pigeon,
brown trout


aubergines, beetroot, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, courgettes, grapes,
lettuce, marrow, mushrooms, parsnips, potatoes, squash, tomatoes, 
fowl, partridge, mussels, grouse, oysters


pumpkin, swede, cauliflower, potatoes, parsnips, pears, leeks, quinces,
chestnuts, cranberries, beetroot


cabbage, red cabbage, cauliflower, celeriac, pumpkin, beetroot, turnips,
parsnips, sprouts, pears, swede
duck, goose, sea bass, turkey

Things are pretty relaxed here and we’re always up for a bit of experimentation.

Here’s a clip of Chris messing about on the pull up bars and the rings.

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.

When I started CrossFit, I was a poor student and I lived in a house with a bunch of other people and my girlfriend (now my fiance). As me and my girlfriend shared one room, but rented two, I claimed the smaller room as my gym (it was either that or use it as a second wardrobe for her – needless to say I put my foot down on this one!).

I forked out for an Olympic barbell and a doorway chinning bar and that was all the equipment I bought to do CrossFit with for 3 years.

How did I survive without Med-balls, Kettlebells, Rowing Machines or Rings?

  1. I worked my ass off to find exercise substitutions
  2. I was happy as long as I preserved the “spirit” of the Rx’d workout
  3. I made what equipment I could or got ingenious

How The Martial Arts Belts Come Into all This…

I did Ju Jutsu at Uni and I made some good progress up the belt ranks.

This left me with some spare belts to play with and seeing as I had a lot of spare time on my hands and very little equipment…

…as they say – necessity is the mother of invention and I found 3 cool uses for my old belts.

Number 1 – The Weighted Belt

Weighted pullups are one of my favorite exercises, but I couldn’t afford a proper weight belt to hang plates from, so I used one of my old belts…

You simply thread the belt through the hole in the weight plate, pass the two ends round your back and tie at the front. Simple.

To date, this has held up to 60kg and has seemed pretty solid. Do be careful though…

Number 2 – Cheap Rings for Dips and Muscle Ups

Simply tie two belts into loops over your pull-up bar.

Alternatively you can tie a loop at the bottom of the belt to form your “ring” and then tie the belt around your pull-up bar to get the desired length/height.

Then hang from ’em and do your Muscle-ups or use them for dips.  They actually work really well and I used these for years before came about.

Number 3 – Assisted 1-Arm Pull-ups

Working up to a full 1-Arm Pull-up is a great goal, but the progression can be hard.  A great way to build up the strength in the pulling arm is hang your belt over the pull-up bar and to hold on to the belt with your other hand.  The arm you’re training pulls on the bar as usual and the other arm pulls on the belt.

The further down the belt you hold, the more stress is placed on the pulling arm.  If you’re doing 5 sets of three pulls on each arm, then simply mark the height of the grip that allows you to just complete your reps and the next time you train, hold a little further down.  If you keep this up, then soon enough the belt will provide very little assistance and you’ll practically be able to do the 1-Arm Pull-up without any assistance.


Fitness is not about what equipment you have, its about how much effort you put in.  No matter what the exercises, you can always find a good substitute and the above is an example of how even a simple belt can be used to increase your training options.

Try them out and let me know how you get on.