Foam rollers are commonplace and well-used today in most CrossFit facilities; they’re now more often seen and used in other workout gyms, as well. I see traditional foam rollers, often worn and no longer straight, in the stretching areas of commercial gyms these days. At least some type of roller is around these places, and hopefully people are using and appreciating them.
A big step up in effectiveness is the knobby Rumble Roller, written about last month. For most people, moving to the Rumble Roller and learning how to slowly and effectively utilize it, will be all the roller work they ever need. I’m months in using this beast, not as regularly as I should, but often, and believe me, the Rumble Roller produces a hell of a lot of pain. Useful pain, in my opinion, and knowing I’m helping my body operate properly keeps me on track. Think of your time on a Rumble Roller as important mobility and workout preparation.
Before I viewed the SMR Tips DVD by Jeff Alexander, I thought I had a pretty fair understanding of just how to effectively use rollers and balls. After all, as a CrossFitter I’ve been rolling a lacrosse ball around my shoulder and upper back, on the floor and against a well, like many of us. My bases were covered, I assumed. Wrong. There is so much more.
Alexander provides running commentary relating to technique, positioning, muscle groups, tightness patterns and operation of the body. Until I utilized his breathing techniques I had little understanding of how important that would prove to be using rollers and balls (my coaches are all laughing at this point!). Stability comes into play constantly.
Treating tight hips, for example, means three different muscle groups are worked on, using three techniques and specific positioning, to accomplish a pain-free, properly moving and engaging set of hips. My hips working better improves my entire life, not just my Olympic lifting or squatting or wall balls.
I find myself impressed with Alexander’s ability to communicate technique, while at the same time weaving explanations of which specific muscles are being tapped into. Knowing specifically what body-part I’m working on, and why, and how all this works together to enhance healing and operation, is the true bottom line for me. My curiosity demands knowing why breathing patterns and relaxing at certain times, makes such a difference. I need to know to better heal and maintain my own fitness and mobility, and better pass this knowledge along to others.
I discovered first-hand how interesting these new Rumble Roller Beastie Balls, stands and Beastie Hook were late one recent evening. Friends were over, CrossFit people of course, and after a bit of wine consumption, the topic of new products I may have on hand came up. As it does. Out came the recently delivered Beastie Hook, Beastie Bar, and several Beastie Balls, and the fun began (no photos were taken, to protect the innocent!). Watching competitive athletes quickly get the hang of these aggressive tools, notably the Beastie Hook, made clear to me how longed-for these products are in CrossFit gyms. I know at least one set was ordered an hour later. The shame is that more athletes don’t know Rumble Roller has this new line, but I’m doing my best to tell my world.
Here’s what you should do: if you haven’t yet bought the tried-and-true Rumble Roller, get that taken care of pronto. In my opinion, if you’ve been involved in CrossFit for a year and were some type of athlete before that, buy the black extra-firm model. But get one of them into your hands and onto your floor. Carry it to the gym. Keep your eyes on it, or at least know people are going to want to borrow it and roll on it.
The new Beastie line is amazing, in my limited experience. I carry one Beastie Ball at all times in my gym bag. So far I’ve not used the stand too much; I believe beginning tomorrow I’ll do so, in the living room, while watching football! The Beastie Hook works best with a lightweight t-shirt on, sitting upright on a stool or chair (I suppose standing would be excellent, too, of course). As someone with old shoulders, rotator cuff tears in my history, and generally tight body-parts (CrossFit and Olympic lifting have done so much for enhancing my movement and mobility, but I still have a long ways to go), I consider Rumble Roller and Beastie Balls essential to my fitness.
While enjoying the latest "behind the scenes" footage from the most recent Barbell Shrugged video podcast, I was surprised to see Jason Khalipa geeking out about the new fancy treadmill he just installed in his home garage gym! Is this the next trend in CrossFit? Nobody jumps on trends like CrossFit athletes...
Calloused hands, ripped and torn palms, perpetually sore hands - these are seemingly facts-of-life for CrossFit athletes. But watch the elite athletes during Regionals and the Games, and you’ll see gloves and grips coming into play often. Why tear up your hands if you don’t need to?
Most of you will have tried athletic tape on multiple occasions, wrapped all over your hands. It’s inefficient, rolls and moves and bunches up... in other words, using tape mostly sucks! Sometimes incorrectly wrapped tape hurts the hands more than unprotected skin.
FringSport is prepared to rescue your hands, while maintaining performance. Their One Fit Wonder Gymnastic Grips are the simplest, most effective solution to the problem of using your hands through multiple reps and sets of pullups, toes-to-bar or any other gymnastic move involving the bar.
They’re lightweight, weigh very little, easily slide onto my fingers, and have proven to be effective. For myself, weighing in the 190-195 range, they don’t slide or bunch up, and have proven to be worthwhile, easily earning a place in my King Kong bag. I’ve used other brands in the past, and find the FringeSport to be my favorites.
I lent my grips to a fellow CrossFit athlete, Tim Gehring, who used ‘em hard for a few weeks. Tim said, “The FringeSport OFW Gymnastic Grips saved my hands during Murph. I came off the bar with no torn callouses. They are also helping my transition to butterfly pullups. I get a better grip, enabling me to stay on the bar longer. I'd recommend them to anyone wanting to improve their pullups.”
This is the experience of a hard athlete in the box. Gehring used these grips with intensity and they not only held up, they improved performance. It was all I could do to get them back from him!
These babies only cost $19. Think about how much you’ve already spent on shoes and knee socks and Starbucks. Go to www.fringesport.com and set your hands up for success and better health!
Yesterday I tangled with the Lift Up Luke workout, and watched a bunch of people in the wave before me come off the pull-up bars with torn palms. Even sets of ten were tearing them up. I don't know if it was the combination of cleans and pull-ups, the sheer number, or inexperience, but I've ripped my hands up enough times not to want to do so again. Some people were wrapping their hands witht tape, but that's an imperfect move, in my mind.
So I grabbed my FringeSport Grips, and whipped through the first set of pullups. I'd yanked the finger ends off for the cleans, but found it slow to get them back on while running to the overhead bar. Deciding on the fly to perform the cleans and double-unders with the grips on, I had a moment of doubt, but the FringeSport grips performed wonderfully.
Of course they wouldn't interfere with double-unders; it was the power cleans I was cautious about. No issues, no problems, no worries. Today they are entirely intact, no tears or rips or abrasions.
Hmmmm, I wonder if the FringeSports grips would make prowler pushing easier!
Rich Froning is riding the rocket ship of fame as high as the young sport of CrossFit will take him. Convincingly winning his third consecutive CrossFit Games in July, overcoming an impressive challenge by Jason Khalipa, Froning is firmly at the top of the competitive CrossFit pyramid. If there’s a champion’s crown, he’s wearing it.
In the months leading up to the 2013 Games, Froning made time in his legendary workout schedule to work with writer David Thomas on First: What It Takes To Win, an autobiography of sorts. I found Froning’s book to be more interesting than I anticipated, insightful, and inspirational, perhaps in ways not intended.
Released by Tyndale House, a well-known Christian publishing firm, First is peppered with reminders that Rich’s strong religious beliefs are never far from his consideration. On some level Froning considers his prowess at CrossFit, his inexhaustible work capacity and considerable mental toughness to be part of a larger effort to shine a light on the power of his belief in God.
I’ve been around Froning a few times at CrossFit events over the last four years, have watched him behind-the-scenes for long stretches, interviewed him at length, and never been hit in the face with his Christian beliefs at all. In fact, he doesn’t even talk about his faith unless asked, in my experience. Of course, every time he takes his shirt off in public he’s sharing it.
First: What It Takes to Win is most interesting to me as it displays the honesty Froning has about his life and CrossFit career. I’m convinced that on some level Rich doesn’t understand how magical his efforts can appear on the competition stage. When he talks in the book about his early workouts, his struggles with competitions, readers who are CrossFitters (most of the audience) know all too well that on his bad days three years ago Rich Froning was in a league of his own. Even then.
Froning is well known for not taking many days off from training, and for legendary (and likely inflated) numbers of workouts daily. Jokes made the rounds during the Regionals this year that Rich was probably getting in some extra workouts, just to keep sharp! This while most of his competitors looked like they’d been dragged behind trucks when the events ended each day. In First Rich says, “When I don’t workout my body feels worthless.” He follows up talking about how he only takes one full day off after the Games, then moves right back into training. Much less volume, and more fun. For a while after the pressure of the CrossFit Games, Froning want to enjoy himself in his workouts and with his training partners.
I feel these are important points often ignored by the rest of the CrossFit world. Have fun. Enjoy your sessions and those you train with. Diversify your efforts. Living in the upper Midwest as I do, any workouts outdoors taking advantage of our relatively brief yet beautiful summers is a plus. Who cares about your Fran time if you can get in a good kettlebell workout in the sunshine? Do it while you can! Froning seems to feel the same way, and talks often about swimming in ponds, hiking, shooting guns, and generally goofing off outdoors whenever possible.
Rich Froning at the Arnold Classic, 2012. Photo: John Koenig
Since First: What It Takes to Win was published, Rich Froning won the 2013 CrossFit Games in dominating fashion. Coming from behind in a steady, crushing-the-will-of-those-temporarily-ahead-of-him manner, winning each of the last day’s events outright, Froning is clearly master of the CrossFit universe.
First is a good read, interesting mostly for those geeked by all things CrossFit. I don’t believe Froning’s words will make you a more skilled CrossFit athlete, nor did he intend such a thing. If you listen closely and allow his experiences and attitude and mindset to wash over you, then your time in the gym will indeed be better spent and prove fruitful.