All posts by Dan Thomas

Rugby & CrossFit: Further Reading

Here’s a Q&A with Coach Conor on some of the finer details from Sunday’s Post!

When you said “Wings are smaller” how small are we talking?
When I say smaller, an international prop might weigh in at 20 stone (280 pounds, 127kg) or more, and some wings at 17 stone (235 pounds, 106kg) or more. George North is the modern wing: very big, and very quick. A trend that started with Jonah Lomu in the mid 90s.

On the verge of professionalism, when players were “normal” sizes, Lomu was 18 stone and ran the 100m in 10 seconds. Since then coaches, exercise scientists, and genetic laboratories have been churning out huge lumps of meat with exceptional physical capacity. The game became a race towards bigger players and overwhelming the opposition with power. And yet, there’s still space for the normal-sized person: players of exceptional skill, speed, or simple, bloody-minded resilience. Shane Williams was world player of the year in 2008, has 91 international caps, was 5’7” and weighed 176lbs (79kg).

Can you explain a bit more about what you mean by “Rugby players are the CrossFitters to American Football’s powerlifters”?
So, why can’t players be as heavily specialised as their American counterparts? In the latter, play typically lasts less than 30 seconds at a time, with special teams taking to the field for different parts of the game. Players have one job to do, and rarely find themselves in unfamiliar roles. In rugby, play may last up to 3 minutes at a time and players have to be able to adapt to a range of different scenarios, often within the same phase of play. Substitutions are limited (in the amateur era, there weren’t any tactical subs, now there are some). In Super Rugby (the southern hemisphere’s highest level club competition), players will run an average of 70m a minute (about half of those runs at maximum speed) and be involved in upwards of 30 collision events (tackles).

To replicate a top level backrow’s season, do an 80-minute workout of heavy sled push every 5 minutes, sprint 70m every 2 minutes, and get hit by a car (no joke, the forces are similar), every Saturday.

Here are two different approaches to long phases of play in the game.

One is a Super Rugby game from a few years ago, lots of running, lots of changes of
possession: Click here to watch!

And, Ireland from this year’s 6 Nations championship. This is at the end of the game, and they go through 40 phases to score a drop-goal and win the match. Click here to watch Ireland’s Match!

To hold possession for that long is borderline impossible, and it’s difficult to communicate how tiring this is. Looking at these examples purely as physical endeavour, the former features constant high-speed sprints, with long distances covered in each run. The latter is more intermittent high power activity, with short bursts of strength and power work and short recovery periods. You may note that the physical requirements of each example define which players are more likely to be involved. Numbers 1 to 8 have the ball more in the 6 Nations video, 9 to 15 have it in the Super Rugby clip.


Oly Lifting Program for the Week

Wednesday

A) Snatch Pull+ Snatch
6 x 1+1+1@75-80%
B) Back squats
4x 2@ 80-85%
C) Push press + Split jerk
5 x 1+1 @ 77.5-82.5%

Assistance work
Incline weighted Ys
3 x 8
or
Weighted pull ups
4 x 5

Sunday

A) Clean pull + Clean
6 x 1+1@75-80%
B) Back squats
3 x 3@80-85%
C) Jerk dip + Split jerk
5 x 1+2 @77.5-82.5%

Assistance work
RDLs
3 x 8
or
Weighted chin ups
4 x 5

Rugby & CrossFit: A Coaching Crossover Story – Coach Conor

For about 30 years, I have played rugby. It’s a sport for thugs played by ridiculous lumps of meat pretending to be gentlemen. It’s essentially decriminalised assault. Aging, and a desire to retain what function is left in my limbs, spine, fingers, and vital organs, has meant a gradual transition to coaching the game and doing some CrossFit. So, five years ago I started coaching Blackheath Women’s Rugby Club and joined Thames. You may have met some of my team, loitering around the box on a Sunday.

In those 30 playing years, I have worn a few different club colours, with people who went on to play at the highest levels; those who had been there and done it; serious amateurs; dilettantes; show-boaters; workhorses; farmers; accountants; the indolent; and Americans. In the amateur era, before the mid-90s, international players would put down their pint, stub out a cigarette and take to the field. Now, 20 years into professional rugby, there’s a lot more science, and the game has radically changed. Players are now larger, faster, stronger, and spending more time in the gym.

The transition from playing a field sport to CrossFit has been interesting. The fitness requirements are similar, there’s lots of high-intensity interval work. Players need endurance, strength, speed, agility, and balance. At least, they do if they want to be competitive. CrossFit workouts feel similar to pre-season rugby training sessions, but with less running.

Of course, there are some fairly significant differences. In CrossFit, there’s greater emphasis on relative strength, gymnastics, and mobility. In competitive fitness it’s usually an advantage to be average height, and not particularly heavy. Field sports are inherently chaotic, with layers of structure, while CrossFit workouts, competitive or otherwise tend to be fairly predictable, and with limited scope for using alternative methods to complete them. This is not a weakness, it’s a necessary part of training. Structure and predictability provide the framework for incremental improvement.

A good rugby player will also be something of an all-rounder, but depending on the position they play, they will seek to weight their physical capacity appropriately. Props (short stubby fellows, of scrummaging proud, of visage ugly) will squat very heavy, be heavy, and are ideally quick over short distances. Back rows are moderately quick, are very good at repeating high-intensity effort, and have remarkable balance and strength in a hinge position, and in some cases, weirdly long arms. Wings are usually exceptionally fast, smaller than the props and back-rows, good at repeating sprints over longer distances, and very agile.

Players need a variety of athletic skills to cope with the fluidity of the game, their roles can change as the game progresses, so can’t become specialists. Rugby players are the CrossFitters to American Football’s powerlifters.


Week 6 – June 25th to June 30th

Monday

A) Back Squat
3 @ 70%
3 @ 80%
3+ @ 90%
AMRAP @ 70%

B) 10-1
Squat Clean 60/40kg
HSPU

Tuesday

A) Deadlift
3 @ 70%
3 @ 80%
3+ @ 90%
AMRAP @ 70%

B) Sprint Efforts
12 x 100m row sprints,
**1 min Rest interval

Wednesday – Gymnastics Day

A) Muscle Ups
Some devoted time towards skills, progressions, and getting you better at it!

B) 4 Rounds of
21/18 Calorie Row
2 Bar Muscle Ups
4 Chest to bar
6 Toes to bar
21/18 Calorie AD
2 Strict Ring Muscle Ups
4 Strict Ring Dips
6 Toes to rings
40 DU
**Rest 2 Mins

Thursday

A) Overhead Squat
3 @ 70%
3 @ 80%
3+ @ 90%
AMRAP @ 70%

B) 20 Minute AMRAP
200m Farmers Carry (Challenging weight!)
40 DU
30 Hollow Rocks
20 Pull Ups
10 Burpees

Friday

A) Shoulder Press
3 @ 70%
3 @ 80%
3+ @ 90%
AMRAP @ 70%

Superset with: 3 x 40m single arm OH KB carry (each), AHAP, rest as required

B) 30 Thrusters 40/30kg
30 Toes to Bar
20 Thrusters
20 T2B
10 Thrusters
10 T2B

Saturday

A) Power Clean
12 Minutes to build to a heavy 3 for the day

B) 21-15-9
Calorie AD/Row
200m Run

**Straight into:
15-12-9
Calorie AD/Row (Swap from last round)
400m Run

**Straight into:
12-9-6
Burpee To target
800m Run

Events!

Please remember crew that this weekend there is a seminar on at the box so there wont be any classes on Saturday or Sunday.

Run, Swim, Run @ Hyde Park Lido – 23rd June, 10:00am

Time for some outdoor fitness!

Come and join us in the summer sunshine for a taste of the CrossFit Games event “run, swim, run” (1.5 mile run, 800m swim, 1.5 mile run). All you need to bring is your usual training gear, your swimming costume, a towel and £1 coin for the lockers.

For those who are wanting to come swimming tomorrow here is the meeting place:


Closest tube station is Knightsbridge and Coach James will be meeting you at the Lido Cafe at 10:15am.

Don’t worry if your swimming is not up to scratch, the lido has a shallow lane so you can plant your feet on the floor whenever you need!


Competition Time – Strength in Depth!

The first qualifier submission date is near! For those of you that are still on the fence you still have five days left to join in on the fun and take on qualifier WoD 1!

We can have as many people as possible competing and getting scores for the qualifiers.

Key info:
1. Qualifier 1- Individual event: is announced 1 June and submission cut off is 27 June.
2. Qualifier 2- Pairs: announced 5 July, have till 5 Aug to submit
3. Qualifier 3- Teams of 4: Announced 9 Aug and have till 9 Sep
4. Final if we get in :-): 3rd and 4th of November in Bath.

We have until the submission cut off for the first qualifier to get you registered as a part of the team if you’re interested, and there’s no real pressure as to whether you go on to the finals until we get that far. If you’re interested in signing up or need to submit your qualifier WoD 1 score, just shoot Misty an Email at Misty@crossfitthames.com. More details about Strength in Depth can be found HERE!


What events would you like to see? Email james@crossfitthames.com with any ideas you have!

Recovery – Further Listening!

Following on up from this Sunday’s blog on recovery, here’s a really fun and interesting Podcast Episode of the Mind Muscle Project on Sleep and Recovery! In this episode the guys interview Allison Brager – a CrossFit Games Athlete, Neuroscientist, and now US Military Researcher that has recently been doing some work on how to optimise sleep for soldiers that are managing the stress of being in a combat zone.

You can find more from the Mind Muscle Project on Stitcher, Itunes and at their main website HERE.


Oly Lifting

Wednesday

A) Clean pull + Clean
6 x 1+1@75-80%
B) Back squats
3 x 3@77.5-82.5%
C) Jerk dip + Split jerk
5 x 1+2 @72.5-77.5%

Assistance work
Bent over reverse grip barbell rows
3 x 8
or
Weighted chin ups
3 x 6

Sunday

A) Snatch + Hang snatch + Snatch balance
6 x 1+1+1@70-75%
B) Back squats
3 x 3@ 77.5-82.5%
C) Push press + Split jerk
5 x 1+1 @ 75-80%

Assistance work
Reverse flys
3 x 8
or
Weighted pull ups
3 x 6

Events and Updates!

OLY Update from Coach Alan

So, following on from the two stream approach of the previous cycle which enabled many of you to focus your energy on either the oly bias or the squat bias, this block we’ll be focussing a lot more on the split jerk and overhead presses which it seems a lot of you still struggle with technically and strength wise, so these will be a staple in both sessions. Squats will always be in both sessions alongside the main lift as a mainstay. With regards to the accessory work I’m going to give people two options. I’m going to include a pull up stream for those that haven’t yet acquired that movement or want to focus on it. There will also be the more mainstream accessory work that you’re familiar with and again that will change depending on the individual needs. This block will last for 6 weeks, so 3 weeks building, 1 week deload, 2 weeks peaking and then testing.

I would just like add that for some of you, the class times don’t always fit in with you
finishing work e.g. Class starts at 5.30 and you finish at 6 but don’t want to wait around for next class at 7.00. Because Oly is 90 mins long, even if you start 30 mins late, you still have ample time to at least get some lifting in, therefore I’m completely ok with you joining in. Consistency is king when it comes to getting results, so I’d rather you come and train than go home and miss a session.


Competition Time – Strength in Depth!

We are about a week and a half away from the first submission of our scores for this qualifier! If you’re thinking of attempting this one again, make sure you make the most of the time you have left to get it done – and hopefully rope in another few people to do it with you!

Remember guys we have until the submission cut off for the first qualifier to get you registered as a part of the team if you’re interested, and there’s no real pressure as to whether you go on to the finals until we get that far.

Key info:
1. Qualifier 1- Individual event: is announced 1 June and submission cut off is 27 June.
2. Qualifier 2- Pairs: announced 5 July, have till 5 Aug to submit
3. Qualifier 3- Teams of 4: Announced 9 Aug and have till 9 Sep
4. Final if we get in :-): 3rd and 4th of November in Bath.

If you’re interested in signing up or need to submit your qualifier WoD 1 score, just shoot Misty an Email at Misty@crossfitthames.com. More details about Strength in Depth can be found HERE!


Yoga this Saturday!

Weekly yoga practice to complement your training, designed to improve flexibility and boost recovery. Suitable for all levels, complete beginners welcome. This Saturday will continue with last week’s theme of practising standing postures and exercises to improve ankle mobility. Poor mobility leads to compensation, and you’ll learn more about how this may manifest in your lifting, running and rowing. You will be practising a number of exercises to loosen up those tight joints – simple things you can add to your own stretching routine before or after a workout.

For further info about yoga at Thames, click here.


Affiliate Solutions Seminar – Saturday 23rd June – Sunday 24th June

Please remember crew that this weekend in June there is a seminar on at the box so there wont be any classes on Saturday or Sunday. We’re currently in the process of planning an event for Sunday, so watch this space for more info to come!


Run, Swim, Run @ Hyde Park Lido – 23rd June, 10:00am

Time for some outdoor fitness!

Come and join us in the summer sunshine for a taste of the CrossFit Games event “run, swim, run” (1.5 mile run, 800m swim, 1.5 mile run). All you need to bring is your usual training gear, your swimming costume, a towel and £1 coin for the lockers.

Don’t worry if your swimming is not up to scratch, the lido has a shallow lane so you can plant your feet on the floor whenever you need!


What events would you like to see? Email james@crossfitthames.com with any ideas you have!

Backbends and Deadlifts – Further Reading

Source: Women’s Health and Fitness

Following on from Sunday’s blog, let’s take a closer look at how adding backbends to your mobility regime will benefit your training, whether it be gymnastics or lifting.
The different parts of the spine possess different ranges of motion (ROM), depending on their
anatomy, namely the shape of the vertebrae and the joints that connect them.
The lower back (lumbar spine) does a good job bending forward and backwards, but doesn’t do so
well at rotating.

The upper back (thoracic spine) has greater mobility in terms of rotation (and effectively that’s what we are moving when practising twists in yoga). For many of us, the opposite is the case though – stiff upper back, mobile lower back (the curve of the lower back might either be too pronounced, or flattened) plus tight shoulders. A sedentary lifestyle is the main culprit, poor posture maintained over extended periods of time, such as hunching over a desk, shoulders rounded, or even just sitting in general are extremely detrimental to spinal mobility and disc health. Movement restrictions can also result from (strength) training however, making it even more important to keep on top of your stretching, to help keep those muscles supple and maintain length as they grow.

A strong overhead position requires thoracic extension – in other words, bending from the upper
back, as opposed to overarching the lower spine, as this compresses and causes strain to the lumbar.The locust pose is a mild backbend and makes for a good primer for more advanced variations, such as the bridge or the wheel, which stretch the entire anterior chain as well as the hip flexors. The wheel is also a great way to stretch out the lats.

For more info on the subject, check out this article by Tony Gentilcore – Mastering the Backbend for Greater Strength


Oly club

Wednesday

A) Snatch + Hang snatch+ Snatch balance
6 x 1+1+1@70-75%
B) Back squats
4 x 3@ 75-80%
C) Jerk dip + Split jerk
4 x 1+2

Assistance work
Reverse flys
3 x 8
or
Weighted pull ups
3 x 5

Sunday

A) Clean + High hang clean
6 x 1+1@70-75%
B) Back squats
3 x 3@75-80%
C) Jerk dip + Split jerk
5 x 1+1 @70-75%

Assistance work
Bent over barbell rows
3 x 8
or
Weighted chin ups
3 x 5

Backbends and Deadlifts: How the Locust Pose Connects your Lifts – Yoga Instructor Christine

You’ll likely know the locust pose (salabhasana) as ‘superman’ as part of your warm-up, arch to hollow for example. Did you know that this pose is also a brilliant way to build strength in the back with a view to preparing the body for the deadlift, one of the fundamental lifts of CrossFit? At first glance, the pose looks quite simple, but don’t be fooled – correct alignment and muscular engagement is key, and this takes practice. Locust pose opens the chest, shoulders and neck while also working the abs and promoting mobility in the lumbar spine, the lower back.

Source: Healthlogus.com

Now, back to the deadlift – in this lift, the spine has to extend under load, and to achieve this, the spinal erectors and the quadratus lumborum (among others) have to get to work. To perform this movement safely, the curve of the lumbar spine needs to be maintained. This action of lifting the upper back without creating strain in the lower back is intense, and a common reason for injury resulting from deadlifts if performed incorrectly.

Practising the locust pose will help lengthen and strengthen the muscles involved in this movement and also improve your awareness of targeted muscular engagement in these areas. Throughout the cycle of our yoga class programming, we explore different variations of the locust pose including some that will also help promote overhead mobility – something most of us struggle with!

**Yoga at Thames is suitable for all levels – complete beginners are welcome! This class is also open to non-members – there are no pre-requisites for attendance, bring a friend! Visitors are welcome to drop in at a charge of £10, simply select the Yoga Visitor pass on Pike13.**

Week 4: Deload Week on the weights

We have a bit of a delaod on the weights this week but the WODs will be staying true to fashion so buckle up 🙂 If however you are feeling crushed with the increase in intensity of recent weeks then please please please – take it easy or slightly slower through your WODs this week. It will be better for you in the long run!

Monday

A) Front Squat or Overhead Squat
3 x 5 @ 65% (50% Front Squat)
Superset with:
3 x ME pull ups,
2 min rest

B) 12 min. AMRAP
20 Power Cleans 50/35kg
20 T2B

Tuesday

A) Push Press
3 x 5 @ 65%
Superset with:
Ring Dips, 3 x AMRAP @ 30X1 Tempo,
2 min rest

B) 5 sets, each in a 3 min window:
100m Sprint
12 Front Squats 70/50kg
AMRAP HSPU
*Score = total HSPU

Wednesday

35 min. AMRAP
20/18 cal row
25 Ab Mat Sit Ups
20/18 cal AB
25 Ab Mat Sit Ups
400m Run
25 Ab Mat Sit Ups

Thursday

A) Back Squat
3 x 3 @ 65%
Superset with:
Sumo Good Mornings 3 x 8

B) 20 min. EMOM
6 KB Snatch (each) 24/16kg
8 Box Jumps 24/20

Friday

A) Deadlift
3 x 5 @ 65%
3 x 15 KB Teapots (each side)

B) For time:
1k Row
50 thruster 20/15kg
750m row
40 thrusters
500m row
30 thrusters
250m row
20 thrusters

Saturday

A) 10 Minute window:
100 Wall Balls 9/6kg
100 Double Unders
Max HSPU
*Your score is HSPU so Scale accordingly to get make sure you get there or to your selected scale !

7 Minutes Rest

B) 10 Minute Window
50 Box Jumps 24/20″”
30 Hang Snactch @40/30kg
Max Rep Burpees over the bar

*Score is Burpees over the bar ! 🙂

Events!

Competition Time – Strength in Depth!

By now most of you will have either forcibly or willingly entered yourself into these qualifiers and taken on the first workout in Thursday’s Classsic CrossFit classs. For those of you that are still on the fence you still have time to join in on the fun and take on qualifier WoD 1!

We can have as many people as possible competing and getting scores for the qualifiers.

Key info:
1. Qualifier 1- Individual event: is announced 1 June and submission cut off is 27 June.
2. Qualifier 2- Pairs: announced 5 July, have till 5 Aug to submit
3. Qualifier 3- Teams of 4: Announced 9 Aug and have till 9 Sep
4. Final if we get in :-): 3rd and 4th of November in Bath.

We have until the submission cut off for the first qualifier to get you registered as a part of the team if you’re interested, and there’s no real pressure as to whether you go on to the finals until we get that far. If you’re interested in signing up or need to submit your qualifier WoD 1 score, just shoot Misty an Email at Misty@crossfitthames.com. More details about Strength in Depth can be found HERE!

Yoga this Saturday!

Weekly yoga practice to complement your training, designed to improve flexibility and boost recovery. Suitable for all levels, complete beginners welcome.

Over the next 2 weeks, we’ll be focussing on lunges, standing postures and ankle mobility. A solid foundation is essential not only for your squats and Oly lifts – tightness or imbalances in the ankles for instance will have an impact on your knees, and therefore on the hips, the lower back…you see where this is going! Your feet are what connects you to the ground, which in return means that whatever goes on at that level, will dictate the alignment of other body parts, and therefore standing movement patterns. Poor mobility leads to compensation, and you’ll learn more about how this may manifest in your lifting, running and rowing. We will be practising a number of exercises to loosen up those tight joints – simple things you can add to your own stretching routine before or after a workout.

For further info about yoga at Thames, click here.

Affiliate Solutions Seminar – Saturday 23rd June – Sunday 24th June

Please remember crew that this weekend in June there is a seminar on at the box so there wont be any classes on Saturday or Sunday. We’re currently in the process of planning an event for Sunday, so watch this space for more info to come!

Run, Swim, Run @ Hyde Park Lido – 23rd June, 10:00am

Time for some outdoor fitness!

Come and join us in the summer sunshine for a taste of the CrossFit Games event “run, swim, run” (1.5 mile run, 800m swim, 1.5 mile run). All you need to bring is your usual training gear, your swimming costume, a towel and £1 coin for the lockers.

Don’t worry if your swimming is not up to scratch, the lido has a shallow lane so you can plant your feet on the floor whenever you need!


What events would you like to see? Email james@crossfitthames.com with any ideas you have!

Events!

Competition Time – Strength in Depth!

For anyone that missed the post on our Facebook group, we have been putting together a team for this years’ Strength in Depth competition!

For the qualifiers guys we can have as maaaaannnny people as possible competing and getting scores.

Key info:
1. Qualifier 1- Individual event: is announced 1 June and submission cut off is 27 June.
2. Qualifier 2- Pairs: announced 5 July, have till 5 Aug to submit
3. Qualifier 3- Teams of 4: Announced 9 Aug and have till 9 Sep
4. Final if we get in :-): 3rd and 4th of November in Bath.

We have until the submission cut off for the first qualifier to get you registered as a part of the team if you’re interested, and there’s no real pressure as to whether you go on to the finals until we get that far. If you’re interested in signing up just shoot Misty an Email at Misty@crossfitthames.com or follow the current thread on the Facebook group. More details about Strength in Depth can be found HERE!

Yoga this Saturday!

Weekly yoga practice to complement your training, designed to improve flexibility and boost recovery. Suitable for all levels, complete beginners welcome.

Every 4 weeks, yoga at Thames includes a form of guided relaxation. This Saturday
Christine will take you through a practice of yoga nidra, also known as ‘yogic sleep’. Yoga nidra can be described as the state of consciousness that lies between wakefulness and sleeping. The practice usually begins with a body scan and specific breathing in order to trigger the body’s relaxation response, which is key for optimum recovery. Yoga nidra also includes imagery and/or visualisation to tap into the feeling state of the mind. As you drop more and more deeply into a state of ‘lucid sleeping’, your brainwaves begin to change. Brain activity and thought frequency slow down, giving both the body and the mind an opportunity to recharge – a perfect opportunity to finish your training week and set you up for the week ahead!

For further info about yoga at Thames, click here.

Affiliate Solutions Seminar – Saturday 23rd June – Sunday 24th June

Please remember crew that this weekend in June there is a seminar on at the box so there wont be any classes on Saturday or Sunday. We’re currently in the process of planning an event for Sunday, so watch this space for more info to come!

Run, Swim, Run @ Hyde Park Lido – 23rd June, 10:00am

Time for some outdoor fitness!

Come and join us in the summer sunshine for a taste of the CrossFit Games event “run, swim, run” (1.5 mile run, 800m swim, 1.5 mile run). All you need to bring is your usual training gear, your swimming costume, a towel and £1 coin for the lockers.

Don’t worry if your swimming is not up to scratch, the lido has a shallow lane so you can plant your feet on the floor whenever you need!


What events would you like to see? Email james@crossfitthames.com with any ideas you have!

Oly Program for the Week and Bonus Content!

Here is a Ted Talk by Roger Frampton on how sitting down slowly “destroys” you. This is some general food for thought crew, but if you missed Sunday’s blog post about how to undo and mitigate some of the damage sitting can do to you, make sure you check it out HERE!

Stabilising Week

Wednesday

A) Snatch
Build to a heavy single for the day
then drop to 80% of above and perform
3 x 2
B) Back squats
4 x 2 @80-90%
C) Chin ups (weighted)
3 x 5
Superset with
Reverse grip bent over barbell row
3 x 5@RPE 8-9″

Sunday

A)Clean and Jerk
Build to heavy single for day
Drop to 80% of above and perform
3 x 2
B)RDLs
4 x 8@RPE 8
C)Reverse Flys
4 x 8 @ RPE 8″