Mequon CrossFit Mortalis

3 Methods for Climbing a Rope

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Written by Coach Tony

1. Beginner

Pro: Most contact with the rope for stability

Con: Slowest technique

rope hold 1

2. Intermediate

Pro: Quickest to lock in

Con: Lack of hip range of motion for longer pulls

rope hold 2

3. Advanced

Pros: Fastest method, does not limit hip range of motion, and enables longer pulls

Cons: More difficult to lock in and you may lose track of where the rope is

rope hold 3

Exercising with Multiple Sclerosis

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Written by Coach Tony

I had been a multi-sport athlete my entire life and a Recon Marine for 8 years before my life changed abruptly. On Friday, February 8, 2013 I woke up with blurry vision and over the course of the next two days I went completely blind in my left eye. I went into the ER Sunday morning and after about 12 hours and multiple doctors being confused, an MRI confirmed that I had multiple sclerosis and most likely was already winning the battle with MS for about 5 years.

Over the next 6 weeks I went from being on the track and field team in college to completely de-conditioned. I couldn’t work out for longer than about 20-30 seconds and would need to rest for the remainder of the day because of how worn out I had gotten from such a little bit of exercise.

I would try to run, and I would fall – my balance was terrible. I would try to do other exercise, but would overheat and feel like I had the flu. My joints ached all the time and I knew I had to find a solution to this nightmare I was in.

Below are the first three steps I took towards getting back into the best shape of my life and being able to run an Ironman 70.3 this weekend in Michigan:

Doing a HSPU the day after I was diagnosed with MS at Froedtert Hospital.

1. Concept 2 Rower

As I said above, my balance and vision were the first two things affected by MS. I was on the track & field team at Concordia University Wisconsin during my diagnosis and wanted to keep up with my teammates. Pretty much every workout in track targets the heart and lungs, so I needed to find a way to do that, but also minimize my chances of falling and looking stupid. I created a 10-week progressive C2 rowing program for myself. For those of you that don’t know, the Concept-2 rower is the gold standard for indoor rowing ergometers (rowing machines). Collegiate and Olympic crew teams regularly use them during their dry land training and there is almost no way you can fall from a seated position!

I’m not going to lie, this sucked at first! During the 10 weeks, I gained back my work capacity, I could exercise harder and longer, and I was very confident I wouldn’t fall off of a machine that my feet were strapped into! Just about every CrossFit gym in the world is equipped with C2 Rowers and many other fitness clubs as well. I highly recommend you reach out to me for a custom rowing program so that you can experience the same results I was able to! If grip strength happens to be one of your symptoms, no worries! You can get some wrist wraps (meant for weightlifting) and use them on the handle.

2. Assault Air Bike

After completing my first few rowing programs, I finally felt ready to experiment with other fitness modalities. I wanted to try biking, and I was physically able at that point, but the harder I worked out the warmer I got, and the warmer I got the more symptoms I experienced. My solution to this problem wasn’t as obvious as rowing.

I first tried wearing cooling vests, which were bulky, uncomfortable, and didn’t look cool! Then, I tried intervals, but still felt like I was overheating and wasn’t able to do as long of sessions as I had planned. I already knew what Assault Bikes were, but I felt like they were out-dated and something my parents would have used in grade school gym class.

When I finally tried out my first Assault Bike workout I was shocked! It was hard as hell, but I was able to finish my planned workout because there was a steady gust of wind from the large fan at the front of the bike that provides resistance. The assault bike is also a total body workout and is becoming more and more popular in CrossFit gyms.

If you’ve never experienced one before, stop by Moro Performance – we have 10!

3. Swimming

Around the same time that I was searching for the Assault Bike, I also wanted to get back into the pool. Swimming has always been a passion of mine – I was an Amphibious Reconnaissance Marine for 8 years and got very good at it while I was in the military, but when I got diagnosed I took about 2 years off.

When I started swimming again at the Walter Schroeder Aquatic Center in Brown Deer, WI, I fell back in love with it! Not only could I stay cool in the water, it was also great on days when my joints were painful from random MS symptoms. Instead of taking the day off, I could swim laps and feel great doing it!

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Because of determination and a no-quit attitude, I was able to overcome a disease that many view as a death sentence – especially athletes! In case you didn’t notice, all three of these options have 2 things in common: they are all total body workouts, and they all focus on improving your aerobic capacity.

People battling MS are also battling an often not talked about symptom: delayed phosphocreatine re-synthesis. All this means for you is that your short term energy stores run out faster, and you recover slower than in people not fighting MS.

The benefits of building up your aerobic work capacity means more energy for longer duration lower intensity activities! If you have some other creative ways that you kick-started your battle with MS, tell me about them in the comments!

Summertime Salsa

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Written by Coach Lisa

Summer is the perfect time to take advantage of all of the fresh produce we have available in the midwest! I love a good salsa, and while the traditional tomato, onion and cilantro varieties are great, I was looking for something fresh and new.

Presenting my current favorite: Summer Corn Salsa

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Lisa’s Summertime Salsa

You Will Need

2 ears corn, roasted with the kernels removed
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
4 roma tomatoes, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 avocado, chopped
1/2 red onion, diced
1 jalapeño, diced (more if you want more heat!)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped
salt
pepper
lime juice

Method

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. If you are not serving or eating this right away, I recommend leaving the avocado out so it does not brown – add in avocado right before you enjoy! Season to taste with salt, pepper and lime juice.

This recipe is super simple, and healthy! With the exception of the corn, no cooking is required.

Ways I suggest you enjoy this: On healthy chips, as a dip for veggies, on a taco salad, or on top of your eggs in the morning. Options are unlimited!

Let me know how you like it!

Pistol Squat Progressions

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Video by Coach Danni

The pistol squat is hard to master. If you are struggling to perfect it, try one of these progressions from Danni!

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Eat Your Brussels, and Enjoy Them Too!

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Written by Coach Lisa

I’m sure most of you are still not eating enough vegetables throughout your day and are in need of recipes that will want to make you eat them!

Any time I bring up Brussels sprouts as an option, most people wrinkle their nose at the suggestion. What I’ve found is if there is a vegetable someone doesn’t like, it is most likely because he or she has not had it prepared in such a way to bring out the best flavor.

Example: someone’s mother boiled brussels sprouts when they were a child and was served mushy, flavorless sprouts – it doesn’t have to be this way! Try my recipe below and see if you will end up loving them as much as Anthony and I do!

Pan Seared Brussels and Bacon

You Will Need

1 pkg brussels sprouts (see image below)
1/3 package thick cut bacon
pepper
garlic powder
1 tbsp olive oil*

Method

Take a skillet, (cast iron preferred), and begin to preheat it over medium-low heat.
Cut the hard ends off of the brussels sprouts – don’t skip this step!
Slice eat sprout in half (or quarter them if they are large). Set aside.
Stack strips of bacon and slice lengthwise first, then chop into 1/2 inch pieces.
Add your bacon to your skillet and increase heat to medium.
Let bacon cook and when a minority have begun to turn golden brown, add your brussels sprouts to the pan.
Stir to incorporate and coat the sprouts in the bacon fat.
*If there is not enough bacon fat in the skillet to coat all brussels, add in the tablespoon of olive oil and mix to coat.
Season with pepper and a bit of garlic powder.
Cook your mixture for approximately 5 minutes, until sprouts turn bright green.
Increase skillet temperature to medium-high heat and begin to sear the brussels sprouts. Cook for an additional 5-7 minutes.
Your dish is done when brussels sprouts are tender, but slightly charred and bacon is crisp!

Other Cooking Suggestions

This dish is really simple and super delicious with just bacon and brussels sprouts, but there are other ingredients I recommend to change it up a bit.

Mushrooms: Choose hearty mushrooms such as button or portabella (or shiitake if you’re looking for an anti-inflammatory effect!), and roughly chop them. Add these to your skillet at the same time as the brussels sprouts.

Apples: Want to give your dish a healthy, sweet twist? Chop up 1-2 Granny Smith apples, leaving the skin on for added nutrients. Add the apples to you skillet about halfway through the cooking process.

Give this dish a try and change your opinion of brussels sprouts! Let me know how you like it!

3 Books That Inspired My Fitness Career (So Far)

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Written by Coach Anthony

Enter the Kettlebell, Pavel Tsatsouline

In 2013, I was forced to leave the Marine Corps against my wishes. I had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and found myself getting very out of shape. I was used to being surrounded by some of the fittest men in the world, Recon Marines. Now that I wasn’t in their company anymore, I had no one to compete with on a daily basis and my MS symptoms started to increase. As I described in my article How Kettlebells Saved My Athletic Career it became very difficult for me to see and walk around without falling, and exercise of any kind was impossible. After about 6 months of this, I met up with my old Recon team at a wedding in New York. One of my teammates, Mike, told me something I will never forget: “Moro, Stop being a p***y”! He was right – I had to do something to get back in shape and be seen as an asset again instead of a liability to everyone around me.

I began an 8-week rowing program to increase my aerobic capacity. It worked great! For me though, it wasn’t enough. My goal was to play football in college again. My grip strength wasn’t strong enough for Olympic weightlifting and that was a big component of being a college-level football player. I scoured the internet and found a guy named Pavel. He’s the Soviet special forces guy who brought kettlebells to America in the late 90’s. His book Enter The Kettlebell dives into the history of kettlebell training in the Soviet Union, in particular their military, which is one of the reasons I became drawn to learning everything I could about this kind of training. He compares and contrasts Russian and American lifestyles and training techniques. This book will tell you everything you need to begin training with this old school Soviet secret weapon and explain the most basic exercises needed to prepare a well-rounded fitness program and its benefits.

I began his workout in the back of the book he that refers to as the “Rite of Passage”. For the next 12 weeks, I trained only with kettlebells and saw some awesome results. I even signed up for the Russian Kettlebell Challenge certification based on the content of the book. This was a 4-day seminar in Minneapolis, packed full of thousands of reps in each exercise to achieve perfection with unmatched coaching from their very professional staff! I left that certification as an RKC level-1 coach and with a new approach to coaching and programming. The Recon Man inside me was finally back!

Anthony RKC

Convict Conditioning, Paul “Coach” Wade

When my football career finally came to an end, I realized I was very strong with a bar on my back or in my hands, but there were some fitness benchmarks I was nowhere near accomplishing. Pistol squats, single arm pull-ups, and free-standing handstand pushups were all very appealing to me, although I couldn’t complete them. The author of Convict Conditioning, Paul Wade, would soon help me figure out why. Nobody really knows for sure who Coach Wade is, but in his book, he talks about spending a majority of his adult life in prison. In fact, he spent time in some of America’s toughest prisons. One of the only ways to keep in shape and pass the time was to master bodyweight exercises. “Coach”, as he was known to the other inmates, gives the history of being strong and how we have lost touch with the basics, mastering our own bodyweight.

This is the best example of progressing and regressing exercises I have been exposed to. He compares your body to a lever and describes ways to lengthen, or if needed, shorten to accomplish various skills. This lined up precisely with college biomechanics courses I have taken. He made it very easy to understand and put into application. Towards the end of the book, Coach uses a chapter for each of his 6 “master exercises” paired with a 10-step program to achieve these with practice.

Similar to the kettlebell seminar, I enrolled in the Progressive Calisthenics Certification, which was based off the content of Paul Wade’s book. Again I passed the course and now had another trick up my sleeve to become a better, more well-rounded coach. The principles taught in this book, and then perfected in the PCC seminar carry over to most other forms of training and help to make the distinction between a starting point and mastering a new skill.

PCC

The Westside Barbell Book of Methods, Louie Simmons

Here is an example of a book that can be considered “The Bible” in the powerlifting world, maybe even the entire strength and conditioning community! Known for being the “strongest gym in the world”, Westside Barbell is invite-only and owned by a guy named Louie Simmons. While in the Army in 1966, Louie began his powerlifting career and has spent every minute since then reading, experimenting, and perfecting the sport of powerlifting. Louie draws his inspiration from the original Westside Barbell in Culver City, California and the old Soviet Dynamo Sports Club.

The Westside Barbell Book of Methods challenges most of what is taught in college these days and is a compilation of over 50 years of proven techniques. Westside Barbell is the birth place of the “conjugate method” of training, derived mainly from Soviet techniques with some Bulgarian and Chinese influence. The conjugate system used at Westside Barbell is unique from those though, taking only the most proven pieces from each and expanding on them.

This is a book I can’t seem to ever truly finish reading. I constantly find myself flipping back through the pages as a resource in my constant quest for perfection. Every time I re-read a section, my understanding of Lou’s methods is more clear. For me, The Westside Book of Methods is my “phone book” I know the number I need is in there, I just have to flip through and find it!

Headstands 101

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Written by Coach Danni

Skills in gymnastics are all about body awareness and control. This is why it is important to use progressions when you are learning new skills – it takes time to develop the strength and ability to be able to properly perform advanced gymnastics movements.

The headstand is one of those important progressions that teaches you body control, balance, and how to shift your weight while upside down.

Check out this video for instructions and tips to achieve a perfect headstand:

Mastering the headstand leads to many more gymnastics skills used in CrossFit, like handstands, handstand push-ups, and handstand walking.

We want to see you get upside down! Share a picture of you working on your headstand in or out of the gym and tag @moroperformance on instagram or facebook!