Myths about CrossFit competitions and why YOU – yes, you! – should compete! By Vern

If you’ve been doing CrossFit for any length of time, you’ve seen and heard about competitions. There are The Games, of course – but on any given weekend (especially in the summer!) you can find a competition hosted by a local CrossFit box. (Related: CrossFit Sabertooth is hosting the SaberSpook Throwdown on October 27!) Here are some common misconceptions about CrossFit competitions, and a few reasons why you should take the plunge and sign up.

Myth 1: I’m too fat/skinny/weak!

Nah, bro. Like CrossFit itself, CrossFit competitions are for everyone! Sure, there are minimum movement standards, and some competitions are more difficult than others (for example, the scaled division in Granite Games is not the same as the scaled division in SaberSpook). But that doesn’t mean you have to be jacked before you can compete. It means you need to find a competition with movement standards that reflect your overall abilities. There are more than twenty CrossFit gyms in the Minneapolis/St. Paul immediate metro area, with a competition to suit every fitness level.

Myth 2: I have to be competitive!

Nope. Busted again. Even at the highest levels, CrossFit competitions are some of the friendliest events you can find. Athletes cheer each other on, whether in direct competition or not. The whole box erupted in cheers when this athlete got her first muscle-up during a competition at Sabertooth!

Myth 3: I have to be able to do [insert movement here]!

Okay, so this one is a half-true, half-false kinda situation. You don’t want to sign up for a division where you know you can’t reach any of the movement standards, because you are setting yourself up for injury. But if you reframe your definition of winning, you don’t have to be able to do everything.

Example: Our members Corndog and Kayla recently competed at the Calypso Cup at CrossFit Calypso. They registered for the division that would challenge them, knowing that they could reach all of the milestones except one – toes-to-bar. To them, “winning” meant competing and trying as hard as they could. “Winning” did not mean finishing in first place.

Corndog and Kayla worked relentlessly to get toes-to-bar before the competition, and just couldn’t do it. They finished last in the workout that had that movement. And you know what? The world didn’t end. In fact, they did well enough in the other events that they would have placed if they’d had the toes-to-bar movement.

Growth only happens at the edge of comfort.

By reframing their definition of winning, Corndog and Kayla challenged themselves physically, emotionally, and mentally. Growth only happens at the edge of comfort, and they are both stronger for pushing themselves past that edge.

Also, on the practical side: for many partner competitions, only one of you needs to be able to do any given movement – you can split it up as the standards allow.

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Example: this guy is Vern’s partner for SaberSpook and he’s doing ALLLL the pull-ups.

Truth: it’s a fun weekend filled with camaraderie, personal bests, challenges, and growth.

One of our members, Tricia, recently took the plunge and signed up for SaberSpook at the end of the month. Now, Tricia has been battling a demon ever since she started CrossFit, and that demon is named Box Jump.

We all have our fears that threaten to cripple us (personally, I can’t handle holding a handstand!). Tricia is physically more than capable of doing a high box jump, but has struggled to get beyond the fear that comes when we stand in front of the box and imagine ourselves clearing it.

Tricia found out that SaberSpook has an event with box jumps, took a deep breath, and got to work.

In the last week, she has gone from not being able to comfortably do a single box jump, to easily hitting 16″ jumps and consistently making the required 20″ jump.

We have a saying here at Sabertooth – #exerciseyourdemons. By signing up for SaberSpook and committing to compete, Tricia has finally started to master her fear.

Similarly, our member Maddie signed up for a Strongman competition last summer. Maddie is strong and powerful, but didn’t know whether she could hack it at a competition. She faced her fears head-on and got a personal best of 20 reps of 245-lb deadlifts.

What are you waiting for?

Life lesson: you will never feel fully ready to take any scary plunge. Whether it is buying a house, getting a dog, or signing up for a CrossFit competition, you will always have lingering anxiety. Face that anxiety down, find a competition, and sign up today. Remember, growth only happens at the edge of comfort – don’t hamper yours!

As always, if you’re brand-new to CrossFit (or an expert athlete), you are welcome at CrossFit Sabertooth! Head to https://linktr.ee/crossfitsabertooth to learn more!

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Get HOT! – by Vern

When is the last time you put any real thought into the most important part of your workout – the warm-up?!

If you’re like most people, you probably don’t think about it too much. You coast half-heartedly on the assault bike for a few minutes, maybe do some casual rowing, stretch while chatting with friends, and call it good.

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It’s okay to go with the warm-up flow in CrossFit classes, where our coaches – especially coach Matt! – incorporate intense warm-ups in every WOD. When you come to open gym, though, it’s important to create a warm-up that is specific to your workout. A good warm-up will have several components.

First, you need to…wait for it…get warm! Get on the bike, get on the rower, get on the ski erg and get that heart rate up. A good way to ease your body into the warm-up is to use intervals. Do at least three minutes of cardio, breaking up each minute: thirty seconds easy, fifteen seconds medium-intensity, and fifteen seconds of sprinting.

Once your body is warm and you’re breathing heavy, it’s time to warm up your muscles. Dynamic stretching is a great way to do this! Lunge and twist, spider-man walk, bear crawl, broad jumps – anything that combines muscle engagement with muscle mobility.

After dynamic stretches, take your warm-up a step farther and do movements that specifically activate what you’re working on. Let’s take squats as an example. If you jump straight into a squat workout without a proper warm-up, your hamstrings and quads will likely take on most the work because your glutes haven’t been activated. Try this next time you squat heavy, as part of your dynamic stretching:

  • Ten bridge holds (3 seconds each)
  • Ten single-leg bridges, each leg
  • Ten fire hydrants, straight back
  • Ten fire hydrants, to the side
  • 100-foot monster walk
  • Ten jumping squats

By doing a glute-specific warm-up, you’ve activated your glutes and are allowing them to help your quads and hamstrings to lift that heavy weight.

tl;dr: Get HOT before every workout! Now it’s your turn – what are your favorite exercise-specific warm-ups?

Experienced CrossFitter? Brand-spankin’-new to CrossFit? Elite athlete? Couch potato? No matter what, you’re welcome at CrossFit Sabertooth! Click here to set up your own free, personalized intro session. 

 

Something is Better than Nothing, Part II

Hey Saberfriends,

Last March, our former coach wrote a blog post called Something Is Better Than Nothing. In the post, Chris talked about his and his wife Lianna’s difficulties in keeping up their fitness routines after becoming parents.

You should read that post. It’s pretty awesome and has great tips for working out when you literally only have five minutes at a time because you’re prioritizing other parts of your life, like shelter, water, and keeping a tiny human alive.

I want to take the idea a step further today. What if you’re going to the gym regularly, but aren’t seeing the results you want? There are two things that might help you when you’re facing the discouragement of a plateau: one practical, and one philosophical.

Practical: review goals and invest in personal training.

Did you know that we offer personalized training and programming at CrossFit Sabertooth? Each coach has their own strengths, and would love to help you meet your goals within that area – whether it’s powerlifting, gymnastics, olympic lifting, nutrition, endurance, or all of the above.

If you’re new to CrossFit, your first step is to head to http://www.crossfitsabertooth.com/free-intro to set up your own free, personalized intro session. (Reminder: CrossFit is for everybody and every body, and you don’t have to be fit to start!)

If you’re a current member, chat with a coach to set up a free goal review session. You’ll sit down in a private meeting with a CrossFit Sabertooth coach to discuss your current goals and set up a concrete plan on how to achieve those goals. (This is super helpful, by the way. It helped me change my goal from “be an Olympic figure skater despite being an overweight 33-year-old who has never worn a pair of figure skates in her life” to “hit an 80-lb squat snatch by the end of the year.”)

Then you can work with a coach on personalized programming. We have a variety of options to fit every goal and budget! You can ask a coach to simply program one workout per week for you, or you can get workouts for every day and meet one-on-one for extra guidance.

Here’s my own shameless plug: I’ve been working on Olympic lifting with Coach Tim for four months, and though my PR hasn’t increased, we have started the transformation in my form that will allow me to lift much more in the future. Check out this before-and-after:

Being stuck at the same weight brings me to the second part of your plateau transformation.

Philosophical: live this mantra: something is better than nothing.

Here’s the thing: there is a strong link between your mental fitness and your physical fitness. When you are discouraged, depressed, anxious, and stressed, your body can release too much cortisol, and this can cause myriad problems. It can weaken your immune system and cause you to be exhausted, bloated, irrationally hungry. You can have trouble regulating your temperature, and easily gain weight. All of these things hamper your goals!

Try this. Try shifting your mindset away from “I MUST hit that goal” and toward “It would be cool if I did, but something is better than nothing.”

This doesn’t mean you’re giving up! It means that you reframe your definition of success and redirect negative ruminations. “My *%*$&*% bench press is the same as it was six weeks ago!” becomes “Wow, my bench press is the same as it was six weeks ago – imagine how much less I’d be able to lift if I hadn’t been working on it for six weeks!

This isn’t easy, and you might feel like a saccharine-sweet Pollyanna the first few times you try it. But if you keep working on reframing your negative thoughts and redirecting your ruminations, you can literally halt the overproduction of cortisol in its tracks.

NOTE: If you struggle with a persistent mental illness – particularly depression and anxiety, which affect nearly 20% of the U.S. population – you won’t be able to simply talk your way out of cortisol overproduction and serotonin reuptake. Your first step is to meet with your doctor and a therapist. There is no shame in obtaining treatment for an illness, especially if that illness is invisible to others! 

Between working with a coach and trainer and reframing your negative thoughts, you CAN get back on track with your goals. If you’re new to CrossFit Sabertooth, set up your own free intro session HERE. If you’re a current member, schedule a goal review session HERE. If you are happy with your programming, but want advice on getting in a better headspace, feel free to reach out to to a coach or a gym regular! I have personally struggled with discouragement, depression, anxiety, cortisol overproduction, disordered eating, and debilitating injuries, so you are more than welcome to contact me if you’d like to chat about how personal training and the something is better than nothing mentality have transformed my own life.

Keep on keeping on, Sabertoothers!

– Social Media Dudette Vern

Sunday Showdown: athletes speak!

Every month at CrossFit Sabertooth we have an awesome event: the Sabertooth Sunday Showdown! Athletes volunteer to compete against each other, and spectators donate $5 to watch and cheer. 100% of the proceeds go to an athlete-picked nonprofit, and Sabertooth matches the first $100 raised!

On September 30, 2018, athletes Mariah and Maddie will compete against Kayla and Courtney AKA Corndog, and the proceeds will benefit Minnesota Endo Warriors. This organization helps raise awareness and provide advocacy to women living with endometriosis. This Showdown is personal for these athletes – two of the four have been diagnosed with endometriosis, and a third has a mother with the disease.

We asked the athletes to give us a sound bite about why they decided to compete in this particular showdown!

Kayla

“When Sabertooth first started Sunday Showdowns, I thought the concept was awesome but also really intimidating. We’ve had some amazing, super fit athletes compete and I didn’t think that I could measure up to what they had done! Thanks to the encouragement of my gym friends (3 of whom I’ll be competing with at the Showdown!), and a lot of consistency in training, I’m feeling more confident in my abilities and want to show that EVERYONE can do CrossFit!

As someone who has been diagnosed with endometriosis, I’m so excited that the showdown will benefit MN Endo Warriors and that we’ll be able to bring more awareness to the disease and show that you can still live a healthy, active, strong life! Endometriosis has kept my body from being able to do a lot of things, one of them being conceive a child. But when I do crossfit, I get to celebrate and enjoy what my body CAN do, instead of what it can’t. So let’s do some burpees! (Just kidding. Really. Let’s not do burpees.)”

Mariah

“I’m doing the showdown for Endotrometriosis because my  mom had it.  I am who I am because of her.  I’m doing a showdown because I can!”

Maddie

The CrossFit community and especially the people at CrossFit Sabertooth have really given so much to me. I wanted to do the showdown so I could pass the goodness on, as well as to truly test how far I’ve come, especially fighting and recovering from nagging injuries all year.”

Corndog

I wanted to do a showdown after going to the first one this spring, but I did not ever really feel like anyone would want someone like me on their team. Kayla and I did the Memorial Day Murph together, and quickly found out how much we liked working out together. I got excited about potentially partnering up and after a week of inspiration at the Crossfit Games, we decided it was time to put ourselves out there.

We are blessed to workout with and compete against Mariah and Maddie who are willing to compete for Endometriosis Awareness, a disease which affects both Kayla and I both inside and outside the gym. Endo is a disease that makes me feel like “I can’t…” over and over again, but I am excited to compete because I can, and I am tired of letting it stop me becoming who I want to be. My uterus may be raging, but I am ready to throw down. Let’s do this.”

I WANNA GO! What are the details?

See below!

Jump-start your day by saluting the sun!

We’ve all heard the benefits of having a morning routine. In a perfect world, you will wake up at the crack of dawn and have four hours to work out, make coffee, bullet journal, read the news, meditate, shower, clean the car, scrub the toilet, bleach the grout, vacuum the ceiling, read a book, write poetry…

But if you’re anything like me, your morning routine consists of hitting “snooze” as many times as possible before showing up to work like, “dress code? what dress code?”

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Actual footage of the author. (Credit to Universal Pictures.)

If you’re looking for a happy medium between Morning Superhero and E.T. in drag, try adding a Sun Salutation to your morning routine!

The Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar) is one of the most well-known yoga sequences, and is a fantastic way to stretch sleepy muscles, open up your chest, work your core, and get healing blood flowing throughout your entire body. Moving with intention in the early morning will help you set a great foundation for the rest of the day, whether you start your day with CrossFit or intravenous coffee (or both, we don’t judge).

The best part? The sequence is fully scaleable to your ability level, and a single Sun Salutation can take as little as one minute (if you are more ambitious, you can practice a yoga mala of 108 Sun Salutations!).

Beyond the ability to scale, there are myriad similarities between CrossFit and yoga. Both are a practice, a journey, built on community engagement. Both require balance, strength, and mobility. Both are moving meditations (if you don’t think CrossFit requires meditation, try doing a marathon row!) and require both focus AND a clear mind. Yoga and CrossFit are perfect complements, and the Sun Salutation is a perfect beginning sequence.

For added benefit, match breath to movement for each of these poses, and practice Ujjayi Pranayama: the Breath of Victory. To do this, pretend that you are fogging up a mirror in front of your mouth, but then close your mouth. Keep that same breath pattern, breathing slowly in and out through your nose, with a constricted throat.

STEPS:

(1) Start in Extended Child’s Pose (Utthita Balasana). Touch your big toes together, extend your arms in front of you, touch your forehead to the ground, and sink your butt toward your heels. Sit here for several deep breaths.

(2) On an inhale, come forward into tabletop pose. Your shoulders should be directly over your wrists, and your hips over your knees, with a neutral spine. Stay here for a few breaths.

(3) On an inhale, open up your chest into Cow Pose (Bitilasana). Fill up your stomach, lungs, and throat with breath, while stretching your front line.

(4) Exhale into Cat Pose (Marjaryasana). Arc your back, engage your abs, and force all of the air out of your body. Repeat Cat and Cow as many times as you like.

(5) Inhale to a neutral spine. Exhale into Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana). The key here is NOT to force your heels to the ground! Instead, your goal is to have a straight and strong back in a triangle position (not an arc!). Pedal your feet to loosen up your ankles, and don’t worry if you can’t straighten your legs.

(6) Look forward on an inhale, and exhale into Forward Fold (Uttanasana). Keep your legs bent if necessary – the key here is to feel a gentle stretch through your hamstrings and lower back.

(6) Inhale, and slowly rise to Mountain Pose (Tadasana). Keep your feet together or just slightly apart, push all four corners of your feet into the ground, and flex your legs, abs, and chest to make your body straight and strong. Keep your shoulders lowered away from your ears, and raise your arms above your head with your pinkies turned in.

(7) Exhale into Forward Fold (Uttanasana).

(8) Take a deep inhale into Standing Half Forward Bend (Ardha Uttanasana).  For this pose, your back should be straight and strong, like you’re at the bottom of a Romanian Deadlift. You can place your hands on your thighs or below your knees for added leverage to keep your back straight.

(9) Exhale with control through Chaturanga Dandasana. Place your hands on the ground and step back into a plank pose. Lean slightly forward so your shoulders are directly over your wrists, pin your externally-rotated elbows to your sides, and lower into a half-pushup. This is considered the most physically challenging part of the Sun Salutation, and if it is too difficult, feel free to drop to your knees or skip the Chaturanga entirely and move directly from plank pose into Downward Facing Dog, skipping the next step.

(10) Inhale into Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana). Flip your feet over so the tops of your feet press into the ground, and press upward. Unless you have large legs, the only points of contact with the ground should be the top of your feet and the palms of your hands.

(11) Exhale into Downward Facing Dog.

Congratulations, you’ve just completed a Sun Salutation! When you become familiar with this sequences, feel free to add to it as you want – side stretches, back stretches, and core stretches.

If you’re skeptical of the benefits of a Sun Salutation, I challenge you to try five of them every single morning for the next two weeks. You will notice an immediate difference in how your body feels as you go about your morning, and with regular practice, you will also notice a difference in your mental state.

Happy Salutations!

(Bonus picture: Duck the Dog helping with lighting tests!)

Member Story: Patty

It’s time to resume our member stories! For this month, we’re featuring Patty H. Enjoy her story, and if you’re ready to take the jump into CrossFit yourself, we’d love to have you at CrossFit Sabertooth! head to http://www.crossfitsabertooth.com/free-intro to set up your own private intro session. – Ed.

I once was a softball player.

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…Until a few years ago, when I had to quit playing softball due to an Achilles tendon injury that just wouldn’t resolve. I had always liked exercising, especially while being part of a team. I soon learned that working around an injury is no fun. Having to run at 60%, slowing down your team in any way, and not being able to give it your all just sucks. I finally realized that I actually liked lifting heavy weights and started doing that, but would still occasionally fall of the wagon because I missed the camaraderie of a team and felt misplaced in a gym filled with strangers.

It was about that time that I watched one of the CrossFit documentaries and thought, “this looks awesome and totally bad ass. I will sign up for that if I ever get fit enough”. If only I knew then what I know now: that you don’t have to be fit to start CrossFit! It took me at least a year, a move to Minnesota, and the luck to stumble upon the Sabertooth website, which literally said, “If you can get in the door, you can do CrossFit”.

I watched one of the CrossFit documentaries and thought, “this looks awesome and totally bad ass. I will sign up for that if I ever get fit enough”. If only I knew then what I know now: that you don’t have to be fit to start CrossFit!

After deliberating for about a month, I finally managed to drag myself out there. I was nervous for what was going to happen and what people were going to think. They’d surely think I wouldn’t belong in a CrossFit gym… And then it turns out, people were extremely friendly and supportive. No judgement. People were cheering me on before they had even met me, while I was working through the Foundations course. I immediately knew that CrossFit and Sabertooth was what I was looking for all along! I never looked back and went all in.

In CrossFit, I have finally found a sport that allows me to work on all aspects of fitness without ever having to give it less than a 100%. I still cannot run or jump, but I won’t let my injury hold me back: I can row and do step ups at the same intensity! I get to lift heavy, finally learned the Olympic lifts (a longtime wish), and the programming helps me not to chicken out of more challenging workouts (hello, burpees and planks).

Crossfit is simple and raw. Work hard and it pays off. We’re not here to look pretty. You’ll get to drop your bar from overhead, cover the floor in chalk, sweat on everything and grunt and yell to grind out that last rep. You get to feel good about your achievements all the time.

In CrossFit, I have finally found a sport that allows me to work on all aspects of fitness without ever having to give it less than a 100%. I still cannot run or jump, but I won’t let my injury hold me back: I can row and do step ups at the same intensity!

There are big and small wins almost every week. Some highlights in only 4 months of CrossFit: adding 75 lbs to my back squat while having better form than ever, breaking my 1000m row PR by a minute, kicking myself into a handstand after 10 years of not even daring to try, joining the women’s weightlifting club, and winning a medal with the Sabertooth dragon boat team. All this makes it so easy to continue to show up at the gym 5 times a week: not because I feel like I have to make myself do it, but because I really love doing it! I have many goals to pursue, both achievable in the near future and things that will require months to years of work. I can only look forward to getting closer to them with every workout that I do.

The best thing is that I get to work on all those goals with other people that all share the same passion to be pretty awesome at life. We’re technically not an organized team, but it sure feels that way! There are always fellow members and great coaches to celebrate the highs with and share the lows with. Everyone is there to cheer each other on, helping to push ourselves even more. I feel sad that I have to leave all of this behind when I move back to Europe. I can only hope that I will find another great CrossFit gym there, because I have set my mind on training to become Wonder woman.

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Ed. note: As you read, Patty is leaving us next month to go back to Europe. We will miss her and are so grateful that we were able to give her a CrossFit foundation. You’re already Wonder Woman in our eyes, Patty! 

Are you a Sabertooth member? We want to feature you – yes, YOU! – on our blog! Send Vern a message or grab her at the next WOD for more details. 

Have you hit your edge? Keep going.

You’re bent over, trying to catch your breath, watching your sweat drip to the floor. Your legs are burning, your lungs are burning, and you don’t know how you can possibly finish the workout. Are you at your limit?

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David Goggins says no. This former Navy SEAL believes that when we hit our limit, we are only performing at 40% of our true capacity. We actually have one more pullup and one more thruster and one more pushup in us, and it’s our mind, not our body, that’s shutting down.

Think about a time that you’ve been suddenly distracted from your pain during a WOD. Maybe that handsome dude walked in early, maybe your coach cheered you on, maybe it’s just a blast of fresh air from the fan. No matter what the stimulus is, we have all experienced that sudden burst of energy giving our legs just a little more life, even when we thought we were d-o-n-e done.

How can we channel that capacity in a safe and healthy way?

The answer lies in edgework. This concept, the work of sociologist Stephen Lyng, means working to your edge – for the sheer joy of finding the edge. It means pushing yourself farther than you could yesterday. It means finding your own personal wall, and going just one step further. It means shifting your mindset, from avoiding discomfort and seeking pleasure to actually finding pleasure in the discomfort itself.

This makes sense for workouts when you’re literally breaking down muscle fibers in order to build them back up. But what about the unsexy “real life”? Good news! This idea of expanding your limits translates to every single part of your existence.

When you decide to treat your life as a challenge, to dance with your edge at every moment, even mundane work meetings take on new life. Can you use the meeting time (which, let’s be honest, could have been conducted over email in ten seconds) to learn to embrace patience? Can you be content in a traffic jam even when you’re late for a WOD?

Spoiler alert: the answer is yes. One of the most practical ways to incorporate edgework into your life is to develop a mantra. A mantra is something that you can repeat to yourself. It’s short. Rhythmic. Hypnotizing. It means something to YOU. Something you can repeat to yourself during a tough workout with every pull of the rower, and a phrase you can silently* say during that inefficient meeting. You’re limited only by your imagination.

We’re going to examine the idea of edgework and how it relates to CrossFit in different contexts – meditation, exercise, even wilderness survival – in the coming months, so stay tuned for more. In the meantime, leave us a message here or on social media about how you have pushed your edge!

* Or out loud, but we don’t recommend that, especially if it’s “I hate my boss and I will get a new one someday.”


If you’re new to CrossFit, welcome! If you can get in the door, you can do CrossFit – no exceptions. Click this link to sign up for your own free, private intro session at CrossFit Sabertooth. We’re here to help, not judge, and we’d love to help you meet your goals.

Social Media Maven Vern