Mequon CrossFit Mortalis

3 Reasons Why You Should Become an AM Exerciser!

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Written by Danni Krumins

When your alarm goes off at 5:00am it is really easy and tempting to hit snooze and roll back over for that extra hour of sleep.

For most of us, we choose the time we workout based around everything else that we schedule into our day, but getting out of bed and exercising first thing in the morning can actually be good for your health and the rest of the day. Perhaps these 3 great reasons will help motivate you to wake up a little earlier and hit the gym rather than save it for later in the day.

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1. Less Likely to Miss a Workout

Yes, getting yourself out of bed and moving in the morning can be difficult sometimes, but if you can get into a habit of waking up at the same time everyday and preparing things for the day the night before you will actually be less likely to skip out on your workout than at the end of the day. Later in day there are more distractions that could come up: bad day at work, fatigue, or a last minute invite to go out with some friends. If you have already completed your workout for the day you will be free to handle whatever might come up that day without feeling bad about a missed workout.

2. Boost Mood

It is true that exercise of a certain intensity an duration releases endorphins, resulting in pain relief, and feelings of euphoria or well-being (1), but nothing feels better then finishing a good workout! So why not get your workout done in the morning and carry that good mood and sense of accomplishment with you for the rest of the day.

3. Increase Focus

After your morning workout you are going to have the rest of the day to get through, whether you are off to work, school, or whatever else you might have planned, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to increase your focus for those tasks? A morning workout can do just that! Exercise will leave your body and brain energized and alert, allowing you to be more focused on your next activity!

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Read what Lexie, one of our 6:00am class regulars, has to say about getting her workout done the morning:

“When I first started CrossFit, I thought no way am I going to be able to get up and workout at 6:00am. Once I started going, I realized it wasn’t that bad. It is a great way to start my day. Yes, it may be hard to get out of bed sometimes, but I motivate myself by knowing that once I’m at the gym I feel great! I feel so accomplished afterwards which makes my days that much better. I start my day with more energy and positivity when I work out in the morning. Also, one of the best things is you get your workout done with – it’s nice to be able to go to work and know you already have your workout in for the day. I would recommend it to anyone who can fit it into their schedule!” –Lexie L.

Check out our class schedule and we will see you in for your next morning workout!

Reference:

  1. Goldfarb, A. H., & Jamurtas, A. Z. (1997). B-Endorphin response to exercise. Sports Medicine, 24(1)

How Kettlebells Saved My Athletic Career

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Written by Anthony Moro

I’ve been writing a lot lately about different life hacks for dealing with multiple sclerosis. From my 10 Top Foods I Eat to Beat MS and Inflammation to Exercise and MS: How to get started. This week I’m going to take that a step further and explain to you the importance of me learning how to use and implement kettlebells into my training so that I could get back into competitive sports after being diagnosed with MS.

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Every great athlete has a comeback story – mine just happens to be unknown by just about everyone and involves kettlebells. After getting back into reasonable shape from a few Concept 2 rowing programs I created, I desperately wanted to get back onto the football field at Concordia University Wisconsin with all of my college buddies. A huge part of football strength and conditioning is being able to produce power from the hips, usually in the form of Olympic weightlifting or plyometrics.

At the time, I had 2 hurdles I needed to find a way around. Balance and grip strength were two things I hadn’t fully remastered yet, but I didn’t feel like being a slave to my symptoms. I spent a fair amount of time roaming the internet and trying out new things in the gym to see what I could do to develop more power from the hips. I had used kettlebells in the past, I even brought one with me to Afghanistan, but never as the main focus for a program. I read a book by Pavel Tsatsouline called Enter the Kettlebell which was all about proper form and implementation of this Russian training tool. I began his workout known as “The Right of Passage” which lead up to me participating in my first kettlebell certification seminar: the Russian Kettlebell Challenge (RKC).

After I passed and really started training with kettlebells, in particular the swing and the snatch, I was beginning to regain power and explosion in my hips and feeling like an athlete again.

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The reason I decided on kettlebells is simple: the basic movement of the swing and the snatch heavily mirrors that of an Olympic clean or snatch. There is an eccentric phase, a pull phase, and an explosion phase – all while using lighter weights than you would ordinarily place on a bar. This was beneficial for me because although kettlebells do require a massive amount of grip strength, from my perspective, it was still less than I needed to complete a proper Olympic clean or snatch. If you can refer back to an article written by Coach Ben, Try This!: Box Jumps, you will notice that the position for the kettlebell swing and the box jump are very similar. Because of my balance issue at the time, I did not have to worry about leaving the ground during a basic Russian kettlebell swing.

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After about 6 months of training primarily with kettlebells, I was able to slowly start incorporating Olympic weightlifting back into my workout routine and was just in time to start fall camp for my senior football season at CUW!

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Scroll down to the comments and tell me about your biggest comeback, doesn’t matter if it has to do with sports or not, I want to hear about it!

Water: How to Get In Your 8+ Glasses Per Day

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Written by Lisa Wishmann

You’ve heard it before and you’re about to read it again… You need to get in at least 8 glasses of water per day, and some sources say up to 12 or more!

Why do you need this much water? Your body is made up of approximately 60-percent water, your brain 70-percent water, and being properly hydrated means your body can easily transfer nutrients, regulate your body temperate and water aids in the digestion process as well.

Factors such as age, weight, level of perspiration (if you sweat more, drink more!), activity type and intensity, as well as weather can affect how much water you should be drinking each day. However, overall a good baseline is 8 glasses per day, or 64 ounces, and then if you are sweating or doing any sort of activity, increase your intake!

My top three choices for drinking more water and getting in enough ounces per day are below!

1. Choose a bottle that will help you keep track!

A large, durable water bottle, such as a Nalgene, will hold a lot of water so you’re not constantly have to refill it, and is labeled with volume measurements. A standard Nalgene is 32 ounces, so if you drink 2 full bottles you are at your minimum for the day. I strive for 3 up to 4 full Nalgene bottles per day.

You can also purchase a bottle like the one below, here, that will have times printed on the bottle to help you consume regularly throughout the day instead of forgetting about drinking your water, and then trying to do it all at once at the end of the day and water logging yourself!

Image sourced from: goo.gl/RrcJir
Image sourced from: goo.gl/RrcJir

2. Use a water bottle with a fruit infuser to mix it up!

Personally, I love plain, filtered water from the tap. No extra flavor is required for me to enjoy it. However, I know plenty of people that would disagree with me. Instead of buying water with flavor additives (chemicals), you can purchase a water bottle with a built in infuser! The bottle below can be purchased here.

Lemon, lime, cucumber, and mixed berries are all great choices to use in the infuser and add great natural flavor to your water!

Image sourced from: goo.gl/Wv2EKh
Image sourced from: goo.gl/Wv2EKh

3. Download an app to track your intake!

There are various apps you can download for free to help track you water intake, but the one I have on my phone is Waterlogged. They provide a visual to see how much you’ve consumed and how much you have to go of your goal. You can also select and save different sized containers you use to easily track consumption!

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Whatever method you decide, try to be environmentally conscious and stay away from bottled water. You can filter water at home by the use of an attachment for your faucet or a pitcher that comes with a built-in filter.

To put it in perspective, 1 liter of bottled water takes 3 liters of water to produce and the cost is outrageous – bottled water costs approximately 1,000 times more compared to its tap water counterpart. Depending on the type of bottled water you purchase, one gallon of water can cost more than a gallon of gasoline!

A final thing to remember? If your thirsty, your body is already dehydrated and you should try and stay ahead of the feeling of thirst by drinking enough throughout the day!

Get a New Pull-up PR!

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Written by Ben Kempen

One of the most common and easiest wasy to measure strength is the pull-up test. Most people when asked to do a pull-up test are met with a rude awakening – they either can’t do one or cannot do many.

So, what are some exercises that can be done to help improve the number of pull-ups you can do in a row? Start simple with the dead hang! The dead hang is mainly going to help work on grip strength allowing you to stay on the bar. The more improved your grip strength becomes, the easier it will become to do pull-ups, because you won’t spend as much energy just trying to hold onto the bar.

The next exercise that will help you achieve pull-ups is the flex hang. This exercise helps to develop strength through isometric training. It helps develop strength at the top portion of the pull, which due to angles of the muscles and bones is normally a weak point of the exercise.

Going to the following step introduces negatives into your routine. Negatives use eccentric strength training to increase strength. When doing eccentric movements people are close to 25% stronger in a 1 rep max exercise. The two main reasons are that eccentric training has as smaller metabolic cost, and it requires a smaller neural drive to achieve the same control than that of a concentric contraction.

The final step when working towards pull-ups is to do some form of band assisted pull-ups. Doing banded pull-ups will allow the individual to string together multiple pull-ups and help them work their way towards sets of unassisted pull-ups. While you are adding theses exercises into your routine don’t forget to do TRX rows, or Aussie pull-ups to continue to build strength so you can complete pull ups unassisted sooner!

Dead Hang

  • Hang from bar body fully extended
  • Contract core
  • Squeeze the bar tightly with hands

Flex Hang

  • Start at top of pull-up
  • Hold top position with elbows flexed
  • Core tight
  • Chin above bar
  • Lower slowly when losing strength

Negatives

  • Start at top of pull-up
  • Lower body in a slow, controlled manner
  • Reset at top of pull-up
  • Repeat 2-5 times

Banded Pull-up

  • Secure band to bar
  • Place foot or knee in band
  • Do pull-ups, focusing on full extension and getting your chin over the bar

5 Quotes to Motivate You to do Your Best

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Written by Danni Krumins

Whether it’s a quote, or something a coach or a friend tells you, sometimes the right words at the right time are what you need to motivate you to keep going, or to work a little bit harder.

Here are five of my favorite motivational quotes that have resonated with me during certain situations in the past:

“Your body can stand almost anything its your mind you have to convince.” – Author Unknown

Everything happens in your mind first. Mental blocks are one of the most frustrating things I have dealt with – standing there before a tumbling pass wanting to go, but something in the back of your mind is telling you not to. Whether its getting up out of bed in the morning, getting through a tough workout, or throwing a brand new tumbling skill for the first time, you will always have to push your mind before your body. Trust yourself and trust your training everything else will follow.

Your body can stand almost anything.Its your mind you have to convince.

“Each of us has a fire in our hearts for something, it’s our goal in life to find it and keep it lit.” – Mary Lou Retton

Find what makes you happy, what you are passionate about, and don’t let it go. I can never see my life without gymnastics or tumbling in some form. I am so thankful for where the sport I started 8 years ago has taken me, and for all the experiences and people I have met. This is a reminder to take every opportunity you can to learn and to do what you are passionate about, and to share that passion with others.

Each of us has a fire in our hearts for something

“Work like there is someone working 24 hours a day to take it all away from you.” – Mark Cuban

It’s hard sometimes to get up day after day and put 110% into everything you do. I always try to do my very best at every opportunity I am given. If I don’t, there is someone else that will, someone else that will step up and take my spot. Don’t take anything for granted. What you want is earned not given.

Work like there is someone working 24 hours a day to take it all away from you.

“Everything you’re going through and everything you’ve gone through will be worth the struggles and frustrations.” – Rhonda Rousey

When you experience a setback or a difficult challenge in your life it is tough to keep going. I have sometimes questioned why I am doing something, or why should I keep going, and that maybe I should just stop. But every challenge, struggle, and frustration is making you a stronger person for the future. When you have those moments of accomplishment, of pure joy and happiness, you will be proud of yourself and that feeling will be worth it!

Everything you're going through, and everything...

“Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Ford

Your mind is a powerful thing, and attitude is everything. If I go into a workout, go for a lift, or a new tumbling pass thinking that I can’t do it for even just a second, then I probably won’t. To be successful you have to commit 100% mentally and physically. There is no room for doubt.

Whether you think you can or you can't, your right

Do you have favorite quote that motivates you? Share it with us!

Spasticity? Not Today! Find Out How I Beat this Common MS Symptom

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Written by Anthony Moro

I feel it every morning I wake up – tightness and a lack of mobility from the previous day’s activities. How do I get going at 5 am so that I can be limber enough to coach a CrossFit class at 6 am? Follow these simple guidelines and give my morning stretching routine a try, who knows – maybe it will work for you too!

Anthony Stretch

As soon as I wake up I take a shower, and while in the warm water I do two quick stretches: a third world stretch while I’m washing my hair and a 20-30 second seated hamstring stretch as I rinse out the shampoo. These stretches are great for the low back, hamstrings, adductors, and calf muscles – all the places I feel the most spasticity every morning! Pro tip: make sure you have something to hold onto so you don’t slip on your shampoo!

After getting ready and walking downstairs to put my shoes on I do another really quick stretching routing for the total body. Keep in mind this has been my morning stretching routine for about 7 years now and at first, I could barely accomplish the full range of motion with any of the positions! These stretches take your shower stretch just a bit farther and really get your hip flexors, quads, low back, glutes, hamstring, calves, and soleus muscles and shoulder complex ready for your day, or to coach a 6 am CrossFit class if you’re me! Pro tip: Like in the video, use a ball, or some other object to help you keep your balance like the sofa or a wall. If this hurts your knee, place a folded up towel under it! Remember to do this on both sides!

Pattern:

  1. Lunging hip flexor stretch
  2. Lunging quad stretch
  3. Instep stretch
  4. Kneeling hamstring stretch
  5. Downward Dog shoulder stretch
  6. Seal Pose Abdominal stretch

Do you have a morning ritual or stretching routine that works for you? Tell me about it in the comments!

3 Reasons Nutrition is Important Beyond Aesthetics

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Written by Lisa Wishmann

Many people I come into contact with have some sort of aesthetic goal they would like to achieve. These goals range from building more muscular shoulders, getting rid of ‘flabby’ arms, building a six pack, or getting firm, lean legs. The right combination of exercise and nutrition is extremely important in any of these situations. However, what about someone who does not have a specific aesthetic goal, or does have one but it is not high on his or her priority list? Does that mean nutrition is not important and exercise should take priority over food? Absolutely not! A good nutrition plan is so, so important for anyone, not just those with an aesthetic goal. Read on for 3 reasons why you should dial in on your nutrition!

1. Your Body’s Health

I’m sure you’ve heard it before – you only get one body during your lifetime, so treat it kindly and take care of it. If you eat like garbage, your health will also turn to garbage. A healthy, well-rounded diet will keep your insides in tip-top shape and help prevent an array of disease and disorders. The risk of atherosclerosis, cardiac disease, hypertension, stroke, cancers, diabetes and metabolic syndrome can be decreased with healthy eating!

This is especially important for people who have health issues that run in their family. I can personally attest to this and this topic hits home for me as heart disease runs rampant in both my father’s and mother’s families, and I lost my mom last year, which presumably could have been prevented if she practiced healthy habits.

So, please take it from me, take care of your body now before it’s too late in the future.

2. You’ll Sleep Better

Take time to exercise each day and focus on fueling your body with good food and you are nearly guaranteed to get a better night’s rest. If you fill up on bread, pasta, and cookies before bed, you’re going to wreak havoc on your gut and digestive system while you try and sleep, not to mention falling asleep may be hard in the first place if you have an insulin spike due to the ingestion of all of the processed and refined foods.

And, speaking of cookies…

3. You’ll Perform Better in the Gym

Everyone, regardless of fitness and nutrition knowledge can understand this: If you eat a box of cookies at night, you will struggle at your workout the next morning compared to if you ate a healthy dinner. Cookies, pizza, a pint of ice cream, a greasy burger and fries… its all the same, and none of it will allow you to exercise at your best potential.

This is important for people who have a specific PR in mind they would like to work towards, as well as the person who is coming into the gym for general health and fitness. Don’t believe me? Do a little experiment… one night for dinner have grilled chicken, with my Roasted Brussels & Bacon recipe, and a small salad and make note of how you feel during your workout the next morning. The next day have some pizza, ice cream, and a sleeve of Oreos and let me know how the following workout goes!

Proper nutrition is important for many reasons, but these big 3 are a good place to start, beyond fat loss.