Month: August 2016

Movie Review: “Citizen Soldier”

Point-of-view combat footage offers a dramatic look at the National Guard in Afghanistan.

“It’s jammed again. I hate this thing!”

The same words are likely spoken hourly near printers and copiers in offices all around the world.

In this case, the words were uttered by an American soldier struggling with an Mk 19 grenade launcher mounted to a combat vehicle in Afghanistan.

“Oh, fuck me!” a soldier yells as rocket-propelled grenades explode nearby and rounds whiz past.

The soldiers in the vehicle are waiting for another element to arrive on foot, and they’re sitting ducks with a number of attackers hidden in an adjacent cornfield that can’t conceal regular muzzle flashes.

The scene is truly intense and characteristic of the tension-filled “Citizen Soldier,” which is presented mainly through footage collected by combat photographers and helmet-mounted GoPro cameras. For just over 100 minutes, viewers are essentially given the point of view of a soldier in the Oklahoma Army National Guards 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, which was deployed to Afghanistan in 2011.

The film’s opening explains that most of these soldiers train about 40 days a year and have full-time jobs but serve their country nonetheless as part of a rich tradition dating back to 1636 in the pre-United States colonies. Because National Guard units are under the dual control of state and federal governments, deployment overseas is common in times of war.

CFJ_Citizen_Warkentin.jpg “Citizen Soldier” is available Aug. 30 at Walmart and on Amazon, iTunes and video on demand.

The film succeeds on the strength of gripping footage, and the stories are well told as video and audio clips are cut together to create a narrative, such as when radio intercepts reveal the enemy is arming while the Americans are approaching through very rugged terrain that leaves them open to ambush.

In another incident, soldiers frantically search for an enemy by peering into dark dwellings, leaving the viewer waiting with bated breath for a sudden flash and a fight.

The film’s challenge is that it’s hard to balance all the dramatic footage with character development that would truly bring home the citizen-soldier aspect. That’s not to say you don’t get to know some of these soldiers to a degree. Tender or light moments in Afghanistan or interviews filmed back in the U.S. offer perspective and fill in some back story, but the wealth and quality of the combat footage is totally immersive and overwhelming. For the majority of the film, war is dramatically laid bare, with the courage, leadership, bravado, fear, panic and confusion of its participants on full display.

CFJ_Citizen_Warkentin-2.jpg The mountainous terrain of Afghanistan makes ambushes a part of life for soldiers.

It’s borderline impossible to remember a combatant is a motorcycle-riding corrections officer when you can hear and see bullets sending chips of rock into the air while he’s completely exposed to enemies concealed above and around him. The intensity of the engagements is such that you perceive these men only as soldiers: Unstable helmet-cam footage puts you right next to them as they sprint for cover amid staccato bursts of gunfire.

The bookends that remind us the soldiers are also citizens are very necessary because our connections to the men come almost entirely from experiencing their emotions as they take part in a firefight or navigate roads on which any bump might be an IED that will flip the vehicle. I imagine the soldiers themselves feel that same detachment from civilian life when they’re under fire in a foreign land.

Overall, the tension and drama throughout are more than worth the price of admission. “Citizen Soldier” presents a gritty look at the war in Afghanistan and the people who set aside their full-time jobs to fight it.

About the Author: Mike Warkentin is the managing editor of the CrossFit Journal and the founder of CrossFit 204.

Photo credits (in order): Strong Eagle Media, Capt. Kevin Hrodey (U.S. Army)


Switching Goals: CrossFitter to Weightlifter (and Vice Versa) – Episode 224

Every now and then you just want to try something different for a chance to get outside of your comfort zone, challenge yourself in a new way, and learn new things about yourself.

It’s how we all grow and become better athletes and versions of ourselves. 

For the longest time, McG and I had been deeply rooted in our own sports. For years, McG had been training and competing at the highest levels of fitness while at the same time I was training and competing in Olympic Weightlifting. 

But recently, we both figured it was time to try something different and challenge ourselves in new ways. So after years of only doing CrossFit, McG began training for Olympic Weightlifting and I decided to shift my focus from Weightlifting to CrossFit. 

After talking to McG this week, I think we’ll both agree that making the switch great learning experience for us both. Learning we’ll now share with you. 

In this week’s episode, we’ll share our experiences and the lessons we learned switching to each other’s sport. From our stories, you’ll learn:

  • why McG and I decided to make the switch
  • how we transitioned our training to align with our new goals
  • what it was like competing for the first time in a new sport
  • and finally how we’ll train for the future

This is a great episode for if you’re looking to jump into your first Olympic Weightlifting or CrossFit competition or thinking about training for something completely different than what you’ve been doing.

Hopefully after listening to our stories you’ll get a better idea how to approach switching up your goals, get outside your comfort zone and have fun doing it. 



For more:

All of our shows and content wouldn’t be possible without the support from the athletes in our online, goal-specific training programs, Flight Weightlifting, Muscle Gain Challenge, Shrugged Strength Challenge, Barbell Bikini and Barbell Shredded.

Help support the show and get the training and coaching you need in our online programs.

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The post Switching Goals: CrossFitter to Weightlifter (and Vice Versa) – Episode 224 appeared first on Barbell Shrugged.

The Will to Walk

It’s July in Kelowna, British Columbia.

Ordinarily, athletes at Bodyshop CrossFit in West Kelowna would be working out diligently. Today, they’re visibly distracted.

The 2016 Reebok CrossFit Games are playing live on a big-screen TV in the weightlifting area of the gym, so the athletes take uncharacteristically long breaks between sets of squats to catch a heat of Squat Clean Pyramid.

One man in the corner of the gym isn’t paying any attention to the Games. He goes out of his way to avoid turning his head toward the screen.

“It’s too painful to watch,” explains 24-year-old Cole Bernier.

The athlete who finished 21st at the 2015 West Regional is at the gym today to stretch his hip flexors, to practice standing— with assistance—and to rebuild core strength and stability that deteriorated rapidly after a construction accident left him a paraplegic in September 2015.

Bernier hopes working his core and putting his body through the motion of standing up will help him if the day ever comes that he can walk again.

Increase Your Deadlift The Proper Way

Increase your deadlift capacity and optimize your strength conditioning goals with just your body and the barbell. Lifting safely is your guarantee that no harm or injury could come to you.

Increase your deadlift by using proper techniques

Since you are involved with weights for the deadlifts, making sure that you have the right process and techniques is crucial.

Mainly because the logic is simple. Go heavy and you increase your risk for injury, so make sure that you do it right.

Otherwise, if you do it incorrectly you won’t get the desired results you need and you’ll be wasting your time and effort when you end up bust.

The good old deadlifts

Nothing beats the good old deadlifts when it comes to strength conditioning and muscle toning goals. Below are some tips and point to ponder before making your trip to the gym and starting off with lifting weights without knowing the basics.

Avoid dead squats

This may be good for the quads, but squats do lend much of a support for deadlifts. Make sure you engage in other forms of exercises that can help you get the maximum effects for strength conditioning.

The hip hinge

Engaging the hips while doing your deadlifts is one of the best ways to go about it. Imagine the sheer forced and pressure from the hip muscles to perform your deadlifts.

Setting up for the deadlift is crucial, as it is key to making sure that you are positioned in a way that you target the right muscle groups.

The key here is consistency. This should be all throughout the routine so that you get to enjoy the strength and capacity of your hip muscles to help out with your back muscles and spine.

Shoes off

Reason being is that shoes add an extra length of height by an inch or two and this could bear significant impacts on your weight lifting. An extended height can cause the weight to travel farther and your strength held a little longer which may not be good.

Going barefoot just gives you enough height to work on your deadlifts and not an inch longer or shorter.

Do more singles

Performing for higher reps don’t seem to jive well with the deadlift concept. Make sure you do not go beyond the 5 repetitions goal. This would allow you to develop your technique and at the same time you get to maximize the effects of your deadlifts for your gains.

Engage your glutes

Do this before the lift, so that the pressure applied for the muscles gat to spread evenly throughout the muscle network. Avoid doing it after you have committed the lift.

Tighten up

Take the time to prepare for your deadlifts. Do not go in haste or perform in a hurried pace. Make sure that you run a tight ship with your body, that way you are well prepared for your lift.

Master your grip

This is a vital consideration when you do your deadlifts. Practice grip strength and endurance. You need to make sure that grip strength is powerful enough to sustain and control the bar when you lift.

Poor grip strength could let the bar slip and you can get dangerously injured.

Make sure that you follow the steps above to make the most out of your deadlifts.

To also ensure safety from accidental slips, make sure you always secure your grips all throughout your workout sessions. Get a grip-enhancing solution like Liquid Grip. It is a naturally-formulated rub-on lotion that quickly dries up to provide your hands the gripping power it needs.

Its non-greasy formula acts like chalk and rosin, but without the mess of chalk dust or powdered grains that could cause blisters on your hands.

It also works as an anti- perspirant to prevent from slipping and washes off easily with water.

The post Increase Your Deadlift The Proper Way appeared first on – Best Liquid Chalk Online!

Supplements and Snake Oil

A wall of nutritional supplements can be incredibly seductive.

The little jars with multisyllabic, unpronounceable technical names that often combine letters and numbers: CoQ10, L-carnitine L-tartrate, methylsulfonylmethane. The pictures of molecules and all the trappings of science. The cartoon-sized tubs of protein powder and the aggressive packaging. The tanned, rippling, bulging models. The delicious pictures of guilt-free “healthy” cookies and candy bars. The promise of massive gains.

The nutritional-supplement industry—which includes vitamins, minerals and supplements—produced US$32 billion in revenue in 2012. According to the Nutritional Business Journal, that figure is expected to double by 2021.

Everyone wants an edge, something a little extra. If you train hard, sleep well and eat right, why shouldn’t you also take supplements?

The problem is many of the claims made about supplements are not supported by science, and we don’t yet understand how our bodies interact with all the nutrients in whole foods.

“We don’t know probably 80 percent of some of the nutrients—and not just nutrients but flavonoids and phytochemicals—that exist in whole foods that add to health benefits,” said Karen Freeman, a registered dietitian, nutritionist and sports-nutrition expert who is a volunteer clinical instructor at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.

And if you rely on supplements, Freeman said, “the 80 percent that we don’t know you’re missing out on.”

Chronic Disease: “We Have the Answer”

CrossFit Founder and CEO Greg Glassman visits a Level 1 Certificate Course at CrossFit Silicon Valley to talk about how CrossFit is at the forefront of a revolutionary fight against the leading cause of death in the United States.

Chronic disease—including obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer—accounts for 70 percent of the deaths in the United States every year, Glassman explains.

“Medicine has no answer,” he says. “You do.”

The answer is CrossFit, which provides people with non-medical health care that works: Regular training and good nutrition allow people to avoid chronic disease and live longer, fuller lives.

By defining fitness as “work capacity measured across broad time and modal domains,” CrossFit offers people a way to see quantifiable results, and by emphasizing that fitness and nutrition are inextricable, CrossFit leads people to make behavior changes that transform their bodies and minds.

“What you’re learning here this weekend is how to get a pass on chronic disease for yourself, your mates, your kids, your friends, your family,” Glassman explains.

Video by CrossFit Inc.

43min 41sec

Additional reading: “Fitness, Luck and Health” by CrossFit Inc. (adapted from lectures by Greg Glassman), published Aug. 16, 2016.

Gymnastics: What Do You Want to Do With Your Body?

The CrossFit Gymnastics Trainer Course sets athletes up for a lifetime of strength and movement.

“I’ve got a 70-year-old man who took our course eight years ago who’s almost got a full iron cross,” said Jeff Tucker, subject-matter expert of CrossFit Gymnastics. “He’s 70-plus years old now, and he’s still working his iron cross.”

And just as the septuagenarian has strived for almost a decade to perform an iron cross, Tucker and his team have worked to improve the 16-hour CrossFit Gymnastics Trainer Course over the last nine years.

Tucker explained that the course has grown organically since its creation in 2007. The two-day seminar constantly but quietly evolved as Tucker and his staff evaluated ways to improve, and significant adjustments have been made over the last year in response to post-seminar feedback from attendees.

The course has always focused on basic strength and how to coach, spot and scale gymnastics movements performed on the floor, parallettes, rings or bars. That hasn’t changed, but Tucker recently reviewed the flow of the entire weekend and looked for ways to make adjustments based on self-assessment and community feedback from surveys of the course. Currently, he and his team are reworking the syllabus for future courses.

For instance, the planche is one element that is now demonstrated but not instructed in great detail, allowing the CrossFit Gymnastics trainers to spend more time on other movements requestedby the community in the past year.

“Rather than spending a lot of time on what frankly is an advanced movement, we’re going to kind of use it as a piece to show where all of our course can go. … We’ve decided to put more information into handstand development, handstand walking, handstands on elevated platforms like parallettes,” Tucker said.

The seminar will also place greater emphasis on pistols/one-legged squats, rope climbs and additional kipping progressions, including progressions for butterfly chest-to-bar pull-ups.

While many people immediately skip ahead to the end of the progression and want to bang out large sets of butterfly pull-ups, the key is where the progression starts. You lay the tracks very carefully before racing a train across them at speed.

“Any movement we do in gymnastics, it’s always going to be rooted by the basics—how do we coach the basics, how do we cue the basics, how do we develop the basics?” Tucker said. “Furthermore, it’s about strength and form development before speed.”

CFJ_Gymnastics2016_Warkentin_1.jpg Kipping progressions are a part of the CrossFit Gymnastics Trainer Course, but the focus is always on strength and form before speed.

Recall the novice’s curse, as detailed in “Virtuosity” by CrossFit Founder and CEO Greg Glassman, a former gymnast. Far too often, athletes try to snatch before they can perform a good overhead squat, and the gymnastics world is no different: How many people who are trying to walk on their hands can hold a solid handstand for 30 seconds?

With that in mind, the CrossFit Gymnastics Seminar is designed to give athletes the solid foundation they need for long-term success.

“Before you even lift a barbell, what do you have to do?” Tucker asked. “You have to know how to address the bar before you put weight on it, before you lift that bar and drop your ass under it and stand up with it. There’s so many nuances.”

In gymnastics, it starts with little things such as how to grip a bar properly, how to engage the right muscles, how to achieve the correct positions, how to build strength for strict movements and how to add momentum. For athletes who have a good foundation including the required strength, Tucker and his staff will find ways to ramp things up and build more strength in body-weight skills.

CFJ_Gymnastics2016_Warkentin_3.jpg At the CrossFit Gymnastics Trainer Course, attendees learn how to develop strength and body control as athletes, and they also learn how to instruct and spot when coaching.

For example, an athlete who can’t perform a pull-up will be taught exactly how to work toward a first rep, while an athlete who can do 50 pull-ups will work on strict reps in a hollow-body position. If that’s too easy, he or she can work on pull-ups in an L-sit. And so on. Difficulty can always be increased by tweaking the movement’s load or leverage requirements, making athletes stronger over time.

“The movement is the same for the beginner and it’s the same for the individual that’s been competing. The difference is going to be how we load it or the length of time spent in an isometric hold, along with repetition of any skill,” Tucker explained.

CFJ_Gymnastics2016_Warkentin_2.jpg Learning how to activate the correct muscles is a basic step many athletes bypass, but it is fundamental to success in gymnastics.

Overall, the weekend is designed to lay or reinforce the groundwork and point athletes in the right direction for constant improvement. And in gymnastics, the wealth of movements and the near-endless variations ensure athletes can spend a lifetime getting stronger and learning to control their bodies with skill.

“This is their beginning journey. You don’t come in a weekend and—boom!—you’re a gymnast or gymnastics trainer,” Tucker said. “This is your beginning journey towards body-weight training and body-weight movement, and there’s always going to be something more to learn and improve on.”

He added: “Throughout the weekend, my hope is that by the end of the close on Sunday that everybody has a better understanding of how to do the basics, how to spot the basics, how to cue the basics, and how we ramp that up.”

For an older athlete who took the course in 2008 in Australia, ramping things up meant spending more than 2,900 days working on an iron cross.

What gymnastics skills could you learn over the next eight years?

About the Author: Mike Warkentin is the managing editor of the CrossFit Journal and the founder of CrossFit 204.

Photos: Alicia Anthony/CrossFit Journal

Metabolic Flexibility, Insulin Sensitivity, Macros and Ketosis w/ Dr. Mike Nelson – Episode 223

Got a real treat for you today.

This week sit down with Dr. Mike T. Nelson to discuss nutrition and specifically how to eat to look and perform your best using a principle called metabolic flexibility.

If you don’t have a clue what that is, don’t worry. In this episode, Dr. Mike explains in great detail:

  • what is metabolic flexibility and how to use this principle to improve your performance and body composition
  • how to know and test if you’re metabolically flexible
  • how to eat and train to become metabolically flexible
  • how to make adjustments in training and nutrition to ensure you’re metabolically flexible and looking and performing at your best

We’ll also discuss a little bit about insulin resistance/sensitivity and how that affects your body and performance and the ketogenic diet.

Let me just say I’m really excited for you to listen to this one because it’s literally a TREASURE of awesome information because Dr. Mike is SUPER smart, super cool and seriously know’s his shit about nutrition.

After going back and listening, I realized this episode so full of specific prescriptions and walk throughs, that you can literally use this episode to craft your own nutrition program to improve your body composition and athletic performance (Dr Mike’s also offering to help you figure all that out here too).

So when you listen to this episode, I want you to do just that and get out a pen and paper to take some notes. Then go back pick out the simpler concepts and prescriptions. Apply your efforts there first before adding in the more complex ones and you’ll be off to a great start towards getting into looking and performing better.

Anyways enough talk. Just fire it up right now and start learning.




For more:

Dr. Mike wants to help you use metabolic flexibility to improve your body and training. If you enjoyed listening, show him some love and sign up for his nutrition and metabolic flexibility e-class and coaching. You’ll learn exactly how to eat and adjust your training to look and perform at your best. And I’m sure he’d appreciate the hell out of you supporting him.

Learn more about Dr. Mike’s course and coaching here


The post Metabolic Flexibility, Insulin Sensitivity, Macros and Ketosis w/ Dr. Mike Nelson – Episode 223 appeared first on Barbell Shrugged.

Affiliate Roundup, Part 11: “Programming for GPP”

It takes more than just a Level 1 Certificate to run a successful CrossFit affiliate. In this series, learn about the various ways affiliate owners and trainers evolve and plan as they work to lead the fitness industry.

In Part 11, the conversation continues as CrossFit Inc.’s Tyson Oldroyd talks about the importance of building a program around general physical preparedness (GPP) with Pat Burke of MBS CrossFit, CrossFit Verve founders Matt and Cherie Chan, Nicole Christensen of CrossFit Roots, and David Tittle of CrossFit Low Oxygen.

The Chans say their first impression of an affiliate comes from its programming.

“When we go to do drop-ins, that’s how Matt and I pick the gym we’re going to drop into—looking at the programming they’ve done the last week,” Cherie says. “And that gives you a really good idea as to how well they understand the intent of a GPP program with CrossFit.”

In a time when a lot of clients want to do what CrossFit Games athletes are doing, complicated and multi-part programs have become abundant, the group agrees. Mimicking Games training in your everyday programming puts an affiliate at risk of overtrained athletes and insufficient coaching, Matt says.

“(When the programming is multi-part), and there’s a complicated movement in one or two or even none of the parts, how much coaching can actually be happening when the workouts themselves are going to take 45 minutes?” he asks.

Video by Mike Koslap.

5min 37sec

Additional reading: “Programming: In-House or Outsource?” by Emily Beers, published June 1, 2016.

Leanda Keahi-Bevans: “Treat People Well”

Leanda Keahi-Bevans thought she was invincible until a traumatic experience left her battling PTSD and depression. She needed something to turn her life around and make her value herself again. That’s when she discovered the CrossFit community in Tucson, Arizona.

Keahi-Bevans says she had “zero self-confidence and valued really nothing” in the wake of kidnapping and sexual assault.

“It wasn’t just the mental part,” she explains. “My body wasn’t right, so I didn’t look right. I didn’t feel right.”

She recalls thinking, “OK, now I’m going to accept it. I’m going to acquiesce to the fact that I’m old. I’m going to be unhealthy … this is who I am. I’m going to pretend to be happy about it.”

But she wasn’t happy. The happiness didn’t come until she decided to change and started doing CrossFit. She says she started feeling better after just two weeks, and soon after, “Life just started coming together.”

Friends she made in the gym cared about her, and she started caring about herself as well.

When it comes to being happy and healthy, she says, “There’s no secret. Treat people well. They treat you well. We all care about each other, and now the world’s a better place.”

Video by Mike Koslap.

7min 24sec

Additional reading: “Enemy Unseen” by Chris Cooper published May 28, 2015.