Rest Day

A full house of Squatters

Injury, Insight.

By Noah Abbott

It was the best of spines, it was the worst of spines...

I first hurt my back in college, back when I knew even less than I do today, which is quite an accomplishment. To wit, I hurt it doing Smith Machine squats, in which the barbell is anchored to rails, and the bar follows that set trajectory. The bar followed the agreed upon path, my intervertebral discs didn’t, and my first back injury was in the books. I hurt it a few more times in college, and my recovery was always the same: drink some beers, chill out for a few weeks, and ease back into it. That was generally my recovery plan for everything in college- bad grades, breakups- a six pack and relaxation usually set things right. Then, while in the academy for my old job, I hurt my back doing a box jump (!!!) during a long and grueling conditioning workout. Previously I had always been able to hobble home, with varying degrees of retained dignity, but this time I was immediately immobilized. I knew something was likely very messed up, and it was. Significant herniation of a disc resulted in impingement of my sciatic nerve, radiating pain down my leg, causing my foot to go numb or go to sleep, and generally feeling like a tooth with a cavity- rotten and disintegrating from the inside out. It took me nearly a year to recover, but also began my journey into Crossfit. It had been five years of no major setbacks or injuries, when two weeks ago, while squatting, I hurt it again. While not quite to the magnitude of “the really bad time,” it felt pretty severe. Almost immediately, and for a few days after, I was totally locked up and “crooked”- significantly, almost comically misaligned. I was in a good deal of pain, couldn’t move around much, and began to prepare for the worst.

Today, 2 weeks later, I was back under a bar, squatting. It’s been an interesting two weeks. While this story will touch a bit upon how I got better, it will focus more on what I learned. An injury will always be a bit of a mindfuck, but, having been around the block a few times, this time was a much more introspective, balanced, and positive experience. In sharing a bit of what I learned, I hope I can make someone else’s experience a bit more measured and constructive.

Pro Tips From the Oft-Injured
First, keep moving. During my last injury, I often felt like I was in a glass cage, urged by doctors and other “experts” to not do anything lest I make the injury worse. This time, just a few days out, urged along by some well meaning peer pressure, I was doing 3 rounds of a slow, controlled Cindy. The next day I did 4 rounds, a little faster. Then 5. Each day I realized the best I felt was right after I had moved around, so I resolved to move every day. Second, have a plan. One of the hardest things about injury for a Crossfitter isn’t the pain, but the feeling that your training has been derailed, that the hard work you’ve put in has been wasted, and that by the time you come back everyone you measure yourself against will be that much stronger and faster. Further, you feel unhooked from the careful programming and progress towards a goal that you’ve become used to. Finding a good rehabilitation protocol, assistance exercises that don’t bother the injured area, or movement subs is critical. This time around I used Diesel Strength and Conditioning’s Back Rehab Protocol, and it was great. I was able to feel progress towards a goal, a sense of agency, and a measure of control over my injury that you can’t attain if you just rest or just show up for rehab and blindly go through the paces.

Last, use your “extended rest day” as a time to learn something. Read about exercise, movement, nutrition, or really just anything. I found Crossfit while I was rehabbing my last injury, spending hours upon hours reading the Crossfit Journal and the links from mainsite while my buddies were in the gym. I resolved to myself that when my back had healed I would seek out the closest Crossfit gym and join. When I did, while I had never attempted most of the movements I had read about them, watched videos, and gained a working knowledge and vocabulary past my level of personal hands on experience. Over these last weeks I’ve been looking more into Olympic weightlifting, bracing technique, and natural and gymnastic movement a la Ido Portal. Use your forced break as a period for greater learning and insight, then use that increased knowledge to jump start and fuel your development in the gym when you return.

Three Great Things an Injury Forces You To Do:

#1 Re-engage With Movement
When we first start Crossfitting, lifting, or simply moving in an engaged and informed manner, every movement feels like a loosely held together amalgamation of a hundred or so different moving pieces. Little things, like setting your back, finding your balance, or maintaining tension require intense concentration and commitment. Slowly, over time, we grow comfortable, and before long that comfortability can turn into complacence. We take for granted that we will be in good positions, balanced, and tight, simply because we’ve done it before. Post injury there is a sense of hypersensitivity, as each small change in positioning can aggravate or ameliorate your injury. Generally, the keys to good movement and injury prevention that apply when we are healthy apply in a similar fashion when we are injured. While it certainly sucks that it took an injury to get there, this can be a useful reset and opportunity to “see with fresh eyes.”

#2 Gain perspective
Being forced to take some time to rest, recover, and rebuild helps you realize just how lucky you are, and allows you to reorder what is truly important to you as an athlete and human being. You learn not to take any of the fun stuff we do at the gym for granted. There are plenty of people out there who will never be able to do these things, or who had that ability taken from them. Without getting too saccharine, keep them in mind as you return from your injury, and thank your lucky stars for every burpee you have the privilege of doing. Further, consider what it is that you do this “stuff” for. It’s easy to lose perspective while chasing a PR in a lift or trying to shave time of your Fran. Injury often follows on the heels of such a mindset. Remember that you are training to have a healthier and more fulfilling life, and adjust your training accordingly.

#3 Get Hungry
Use your forced rest period like a fast. Think about everything you want to accomplish, how much you enjoy training, how you miss the camaraderie, the sense of accomplishment, and the fun of training, and come back ready to do great things. Treat your recovery like training, attack it with tenacity, and become a stronger and more well rounded version of yourself. Stoke that feeling of “I can’t wait til I’m back” and use it like fuel when you’re cleared to return.

Get Back In
Wrapping up, don’t let an injury become an excuse to sit on the shelf, mope, and think about how long the road is ahead of you. Start planning your road back, stay active mentally, and let that momentum carry you.

One of the main differences in the recovery from my most recent injury versus the older ones is that today I know a whole lot more about fitness, physiology, and rehab protocols. In college, to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, I didn’t even know what I didn’t know (unknown unknowns!) We don’t expect all of you to spend your time reading anatomy textbooks, so if you are unclear about what you should be doing ask. The coaching staff is happy to help you better understand your injury, identify movements and activities that alleviate/exacerbate it, and help you plan your way back. Of course, we coaches are neither doctors nor do we have x-ray vision, so if your injury is significant, make sure you consult a (real) doctor and get an x-ray, MRI, etc.

In short, get your ass back in the gym. We miss you.

What have your experiences about a return from injury been?
CrossFitters Shouldn’t Do Isabel (And Other Blasphemies) Breaking Muscle
The First WOD in Outer Space!! Astronaut Mike Hopkins is using the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device aboard the International Space Station to perform "Angie"


WOD 2.6.13


9-7-5 reps for time of:
Squat Clean and Jerk, 185/125


3-6-9-12-15 reps for time of:
Power Clean 135/95
Front Squat
C2B Pull-Up

There is a 12 minute cap on these workouts.

Post time and Rx to comments.

Burpee Madness!

New Leveled Standardized Warm-Ups

This cycle we're introducing some new standardized warm-ups which include two levels.  The performance version is appropriate for folks who can clear the entire Fitness version as Rx'd and are ready for more advanced warm-ups. The performance version includes a Snatch development barbell complex and some tempo work.  Post questions to comments.

Warm-Up 1
3 Rounds NFT of:

10 Overhead Squats, 45/33
10 Ring Rows
:30 Supine Plank

Behind the neck Snatch grip Push Press 45/33
3 Overhead Squats 45/33
3 Muscle Snatches  45/33
3 Tall Snatches 45/33
5-10 Chest To Bar Pull-Ups or Toes To Bars (strict or kipping)

Warm-Up 2
3 Rounds NFT of:

8e Reverse Lunges
8 Push-ups (2-1-x-2 tempo)
8 Strict Pull-ups or Chin-ups

4-6 Tempo Ring Dips (2-1-1-1)
8e Pistol or Reverse Lunges
12 Tempo Hollow Holds to V-ups (2-1-2-1)

Inside the Affiliate 

Ever wonder about the origins of and rationale behind our Athlete of the Month series? Wonder no more! There's a brief new post over on ITA that shares a bit more about this beloved tradition. Check it out. Share it with your gym friends, and especially if you've been an AOTM, consider sharing it on social media!

CFSBK Snow Shoe Adventure

Take advantage of our record snowfall this Winter with a CFSBK snowshoe hike at Bear Mountain with local outfitter Gear to Go. Full day guided outing on Saturday, March 1st includes all equipment and roundtrip transportation from the gym. See the event page for more info and how to sign-up!

Happy birthday, KMo!!!
This Elephant can PAINT ITSELF
Russia Applauds America's Efforts To Exclude Gay Athletes From Professional Sports


Low Bar Back Squat

Performance: 5/3/1 "5 Week"
65%x5, 75%x5, 85x5+

Never done a 5/3/1 progression before? Click here for the details

Fitness: 2x10
Linear Progression

Start light with adding weight each week in mind, around 80% of your best 3x5 from last cycle.

Post loads to comments.
LBBSQ e1/6

For Time:
30 Wall Ball Shots, 20/10, 14/9
30 Double Unders
20 Wall Ball Shots
40 Double Unders
10 Wall Ball Shots
50 Double Unders

There is a 10 Minute cap on this workout

Post time and Rx to comments.

60 of these today!

  • Check out the CFSBK Flickr (scroll down a little) to check out what's been left in the Lost and Found. Shirts, shoes, gloves, jackets.. everything must go!  Each week we transfer the L&F contents to a bag for another week or so before donating them to CHIPS. Please ask the Front Desk staff for assistance on claiming your lost goods.

  • LFPBC, Scale Weight, and Impatience

    By Chris Fox

    I wanted to share an email I received from one of the LFPBC participants, as I’m pretty sure a few of you may be in a similar boat. (Note - The name is removed, and the person has given permission to use the exchange in this here)

    “Week one of this challenge I was down 6lbs, week 2, down 2 lbs, week 3 up 1lb, on Weds I was back down 1lb. In 4 weeks I'm down 8lbs total - I've stayed entirely clean and strict; no sugar, dairy, gluten or alcohol. I've tacked rowing work onto the end of gym sessions to try to build some endurance and stamina - but my weight is hovering around XXX lbs. Your "thriving not surviving" comment resonated. I could just not eat for 3-4 days and that might reduce the lbs - but that doesn't seem like a particularly rigorous or sustainable approach.

    Any tips or hints or am I just heavy boned! (My waist has gone down nearly 2 inches - but weight hasn't followed)

    Thanks for your time,


        I won’t post the entire exchange but here are a few of my thoughts on this type of situation

    • This is amazing progress! Averaging a loss of 2 lbs a week is pretty fantastic, in my opinion. If this person continued in this fashion they would net a loss of over 50 lbs in a year. 50 lbs!

    • The path of weight loss and body recomposition is never nice and linear. Similarly to the gains you make in the squat, some weeks you move ahead by leaps and some weeks you feel like the warm ups are crushing you.

    • Adding in extra “cardio” can be helpful, but it can also be harmful. If you add extra stress to an already calorie depleted metabolism your body will do it’s best to conserve energy and you may have a harder time burning fat. A more helpful approach might be to add in some low stress extra activity on off days from the gym. Something like an easy long walk, or a quick tabata burpee workout can keep your metabolism up without much stress.

    • This last part is based on a previous exchange with the above individual, but be sure to keep your protein intake consistent. Aim for no less than .8 grams per lb of lean body mass, ideally from real foods. Upward of 2 grams is common, however, your body cannot process huge amounts at a time. In other words, a huge prime rib, although satisfying on many levels, may not be fully absorbed by your body. This depends on how large a frame you have, your activity level, what else you have with the meal, and some other factors. Mark’s Daily Apple has a good write up about it here, and Precision Nutrition has another here. All of the research seems to suggest that spreading out your protein intake among multiple meals is the best way to go. Start with 20-30 grams at breakfast and go from there.

    • Lastly, pay attention to markers other than a scale when measuring progress. Weighing yourself regularly can be a great way to monitor success in either losing fat, gaining muscle, or in maintaining. For some people it can make them neurotic. I’ve personally noticed weight fluctuations of 5 lbs from one day top the next. This is due to factors like carb/salt binges, resultant fluid retention, and simple volume of food consumed. Weight may go up or down a few pounds every week or so but over the long haul other markers like photos, girth measurements, and the fit of your clothing can provide great feedback as well.

    CFSBK Community Potluck and LFPB Awards Ceremony on 2/22

    Don't forget that we'll be hosting a second Gym potluck on Saturday, February 22nd where we'll be announcing the winners of the challenge as well as talk about how to transition out of the challenge.  This event is open to the entire community, even folks who didn't do the challenge.  We'll also have our Farmers from Herondale and Sol Flower farm there to introducce themselves and answer any questions about the CSAs we host.  If you'd like to come, please RSVP in the event page!


    Rest Day

    David's POV video at the 2013 North East Regionals

    CFSBK at the North East Regionals

    The CrossFit Games Regionals dates and venues were just announced and the NE Regionals at Reebok Headquarters in Canton, MA will be May 30-June 1.  Even though spectator tickets do not go on sale until April, because hotels rooms in the area are booked solid well before, we've gone ahead and reserved a room block (at a special $139/night rate) for CFSBKers who want to watch the action.  These rooms are held for us only until February 7, so even if you are not sure if you can go but are the slightest bit interested in this 2-night field trip, we suggest you go ahead and CLICK HERE to reserve a room by this February 7 deadline.  Each reservation made through this link does not require a deposit and there is no penalty to cancel as long as it is cancelled by 2p at least one day prior to check-in on May 30.  Cruise Director Mare L. will then coordinate with anybody who has expressed interest in going for room shares and transportation to/from Canton AND, most importantly, make sure we have a SBK home in Tent City and our coolers are filled!  Questions?  Contact Mare at mare(at)
    Klokov as a kid
    This 130lb 13 year old can Snatch 246lbs and Clean and Jerk 300lbs
    Sugar: The Bitter Truth


    WOD 2.2.14

    In 10 Minutes perform:
    15 Shoulder to Overhead 115/75
    30 Burpee
    15 Toes to Bar
    30 Shoulder to Overhead
    15 Burpee
    15 Toes to Bar

    AMRAP Shoulder to Overhead for the remainder of time.
    Score is total reps completed.

    As many rounds as possible in 10 minutes of:
    20 Deadlift 95/65
    10 Push Press 95/65
    10 Burpee

    Post rounds/reps completed and Rx to comments.

    Bench Press warm-ups

    Inside the Affiliate

    There's a new post over on Inside the Affiliate, about how and why we label dumbbells and racks. Check it out!

    A Weightlifting Shoe Guide

    By Noah Abbott

    The Quest for Pedi-formance

    Now that you’ve been at the gym for a few months, you may have noticed two things.  One, the “coat room” seems to be waging a losing battle against an encroaching armada of shoes, and boasts the fetid bouquet to prove it.  Second, for certain workouts, there is an agreed upon time when a bunch of the class defects, runs hither and yon, and comes back sporting footwear that look like a marriage between a bowling shoe and those “make you taller!” heel lifts that short men are supposed to slip in their dress shoes.

    These are weightlifting shoes kiddo, specifically designed to improve positioning, control, and thus, performance, in most barbell lifts.  Weightlifting shoes (notice me NOT using the term “oly’s,” which is something that Tony Hawk does) provide a number of benefits.  First, due to their elevated heel (usually .75” to 1.25”) they decrease the demands on an athlete’s ankle dorsiflexion.  Some of us, especially people who spend lots of time pounding their feet into the ground (distance runners) lack this ability, and a pair of weightlifting shoes can help them squat to depth, as if by black magick!  Second, they are hard and non-compressible, traditionally having been made of wood (SUPER PALEO) but nowadays often made of super hard plastic of some sort.  This lends stability and control when moving weight about.  In short, weightlifting shoes will make your life easier.  They are one of the best bang-for-buck investments you can make for your gym life.

    Choices abound when choosing a weightlifting shoe, so I’ve endeavoured to break them into some easy to understand categories based upon price and quality.  I’ll even add some little “hacks” to get the best prices on them.  Enjoy!

    Cadillac Division

    The Contenders: Nike Romaleo II, Adidas Adipower Weightlifting, Reebok Crossfit Lifter Plus

    The Scoop: The field is dominated by two titans at the upper echelon of both price and quality.  The Nike Romaleo II and Adidas Adipower Weightlifting are worn by competitive weightlifters worldwide, from local comps to the Olympics.  They are both incredibly high quality, feel rock solid under weight, and are among the better looking shoes out there.  The big differences are that the Adipowers run a little narrow (sorry fatfeet folks) and only come in REDREDRED (roughly the color of the Corvette that Clifford the Big Red Dog would drive if he was real and imaginary dogs could drive.)  The Romaleos have a more diverse color lineup and have a forefoot strap, which may or may not do anything.  The Reeboks are fairly new, and while I would normally be a little skeptical, superstars of the sport from David Osorio to Dmitry Klokov swear by them (although I think Klokov might just be epically trolling by wearing them.)  They also come in lots of colorz.

    Dollaz: Both the Nike and Adidas cost roughly $200, the Reebok $175  Pretty expensive.  My pro tip is to watch (I just outed myself as a former middle school G), a sportswear site that frequently runs 15-30% discount codes, and then pull the trigger, saving yourself $20-60.

    Honda Accord Division

    The Contenders: Rogue/Pendlay Do-Win, Ristos

    The Scoop: These are all solid, tested, affordable shoes.  Do-Wins are made in China and licensed/sold by Rogue and Pendlay.  They do everything you want them to do, and don’t break the bank.  Rogue uses black or red suede (because black and red are the Official Colors of Fitness.)  I’d advise against the red ones, which have a ½” heel, which is on the low side. Pendlay used to use weird colored patent leather that harkened back to 80’s prom pumps, but in their new 2013 models opts for mostly white with black, red, or purple (bonus unicorn power) highlights.  Ristos are made by a small company, and have had some QC issues in the past, which have apparently cleared up as they changed manufacturing facilities.  They come in lots of colorz and are a solid option with bonus indie street cred (bonus smug points!)

    Dollaz: Ristos vary widely, and they seem to go on sale based on quantity at hand, but generally run around $150.  Pendlay Do-Wins are 130, Rogues are $120.

    Toyota Prius Division

    The Contenders: Reebok Crossfit Lifter, Inov8 Fastlift 335, Adidas Powerlift

    The Scoop: Both of these “hybrid” shoes are meant to bridge the gap between pure barbell training and Crossfit general physical preparedness.  They are meant to be shoes that will let you hit some overhead squats and transition to double unders or box jumps without discomfort.  They are more flexible, especially in the forefoot, and lighter, than classic weightlifting shoes.  I love my Reeboks for workouts with light-medium barbell work combined with box jumps, double unders, and especially wall balls (good positioning makes them suck WAY less) and oddly burpees (helps you land with flat, secure foot placement on the way up.)  They show their limitations when max effort squatting or Olympic lifting at near maxes, where stiffness and weight in your shoe is a big plus.  They both come in a bunch of colors, the Inov8s particularly hewing the British company’s “Dance Club MDMA binge” coloring model.  The Adidas Powerlifts are damned cheap, solid, and you can get them in NYC Taxi yellow!  

    Dollaz:$150 for the Reeboks and Inov8s, $90 for Adidas.  Adidas and Reeboks are on Eastbay.

    Final Thoughts

    Weightlifting shoes should fit tight- you aren’t going to be running in them, and want as much “feel” as you can get.  Sizing is usually weird, so my suggestion, especially if the shop has a good return policy (or you’re balling out of control) is to order 2 or 3 pair (your normal size and one up/down), see which fits best, and send the rest back.  

    Lastly, if you buy a pair and eventually upgrade, find a fellow gym member (preferably with shitty dorsiflexion!) and gift them your old shoes (provided your feet aren’t super gross.)  I think that adds a nice legacy component to this silly endeavor.

    So concludes another episode of Noah overanalyzing something and writing 1,000 words when 300 would suffice. I’m off to the cemetery to roll Strunk and White around in their graves a bit.  Ta ta!

    Every Kilo Counts



    Take 15 Minutes to work up to a a heavy single. You'll be using this number to base some % work off of for the upcoming cycle.

    Post loads to comments.

    8 Minute, NFRs of:
    2 Wall Walks
    Accumulate a :20 L-Sit on the Parallettes

    8 Minutes NFRs of:
    1:00 weighted Plank
    25 H2H Kettlebell Swings

    While these are NFRs, don't drag your feet on the transitions.

    From the Vault: Herschel gets ready for "Fran"

    Training Template

    Here is the general training template for the upcoming Cycle. Monday and Thursdays lifts will vary between direct barbell training and being incorporated into mixed modal workouts.  Enjoy!

    • Monday: Push Press
    • Tuesday: Rest Day
    • Wednesday: Low Bar Back Squats
    • Thursday: Clean and Jerks
    • Friday: Rest Day
    • Saturday: Open Style WOD
    • Sunday: Deadlifts

    Drawing Lines Between Risks Dan Gardner
    The Abmat is Awesome, Here's Why Breaking Muscle


    WOD 2.1.14

    5 Rounds for max reps of:
    1:00 Wall Balls
    1:00 Burpees to Bumper plate
    1:00 Rest

    Post total reps completed to comments.
    Note how many "No reps" (if any) you got on Wall Ball

    Barbell Warm-Ups

    • Happy shooting to everyone getting some professional pictures by Bekka P done today!

    UFC at CFSBK

    When world-renowned Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighter B.J. Penn went to CrossFit founder Greg Glassman looking for a workout that would mimic the trials of a bout in the Octagon,  Glassman devised a devastating test that ultimately became known as "Fight Gone Bad".  Many of you have fought through Fight Gone Bad so we're thinking of putting UFC's Fight Night live bouts on the CFSBK big screen on Saturday afternoon March 8.  Are you interested in pulling up a mat and grabbing a beer to watch?  Email mare(at)CrossFitSouthBrooklyn so we can guage interest. This would be a free event that would start directly after the 1pm Group class.

    Rich Froning does "Isabel" at 225lbs in 6:09
    Screw your standing desk, how about Squatting?