Kill The Cardio Marathons People!

When it comes to hitting the gym for the average Joe (I am one of them too) it is not a matter of bulking up or training for a marathon but just staying active and fit enough to do regular stuff like go hiking, play hockey, chase your kids, climb stairs, move furniture and feel comfortable in your own body.  When the average Joe hits the gym hard and pushes more weight with bad technique than he/she should or puts himself/herself through ridiculous cardio marathons they are unnecessarily beating up their body, prone to get injured and will likely quit before reaching their goals.  It’s great to be motivated but the key is channeling that energy and focus into smart training with purpose.

If your goal is to lose weight, tone up, get stronger, faster etc…strength training is the best way to get there.  When you incorporate this type of training the fat falls off and you get stronger in the process.  Who doesn’t want to be stronger?

BUT…it’s not just the workout that gets you to your goal of weight loss or strength.  DIET is a huge part of your routine.  If you have bad eating habits, no matter how hard you work at the gym you will not lose the desired weight or gain the muscle you seek.  It is impossible to outwork bad eating habits.  Step one to better health is learning good eating habits.  Stick to meat, fish, veggies, some fruit, nuts and seeds and cut out grains (bread, pasta, rice), sugar and dairy.  If you can’t cut them all out at once pick one a see how you feel one you no longer have it in your system.  My wife cut out just dairy and her asthma pump now collects dust.  Coincidence…I think not!

Now that you’re eating better it’s time to train smart.  When you do strength training your body builds muscle and burns fat.  Can you throw in some cardio….absolutely!  Just in the right amounts.  Crossfit has done an amazing job with its programming to find the right balance between both.  When I started training with Tyler my goal was to lose weight, and I did, but along the way I got stronger.  I woke up one morning and realized my man boobs were now actual pecs, my arms had definition and my shoulder were getting bigger and stronger while my gut was disappearing and my legs were rock solid.  HOLY SH*T!  This is awesome!  Now my goals were all different.  I wanted to get stronger and leaner and I now realized that running on the treadmill for 30 minutes, followed by 50 situps, 100 jumping jacks, 50 burpees and, what the hell, let’s ride the recumbent bike for 45 minutes to “cool down” before I go wasn’t working which is what I tried before getting a real trainer.  Back in the cardio marathon days I thought I had to almost kill myself to get results. A successful workout was when I was lying in a pool of my own sweat and puke.  It’s horsesh*t.  The body reacts poorly to that type of training.  I was sore, felt like hoo-ha a lot and NEVER looked forward to going to the gym.

At Crossfit there is a focus on strength training and most of the WODs (workout of the day) is centred around building that strength.  The lifts are all functional movements teaching our muscles to work together….no bicep curls and calf raise machines.  The workouts end with what we call a cashout which is a short but intense workout that includes the cardio/strength training the body can do.  They are anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes, no more.  If you finish one and you are not gassed, you didn’t try hard enough.

In our latest Paleo Challenge the workout saw competitors do just over or under 200 reps in 4 different exercises (pushup, squat, pullup, situp) in 16 minutes!  Good hard intense work, not a 45 minute marathon.

The difference between both is the 16 minute version builds strength and burns fat, the 45 minute all out marathons burn fat and burn muscle.

Do you see results from 45 minute marathons, sure you do, people lose weight and build endurance…but are they getting stronger? 

As my buddy Troy blogged about in his latest post at Coaching Troy…STRENGTH IS KING!  All else comes along with it.

So after reading this, reflect on your eating habits, how you workout at the gym and how you feel at the end of the week.  If you are a cardio nut I challenge you to try to do a bit more strength work with a short, 15 minute or less, balls out cashout with your cardio elements and see how you feel.  You’ll never go back to those cardio marathons.

The other formula that makes Crossfit a winner is the WOD.  When you show up to the gym you WILL workout out and not ride a bike or bicep curl and leave.  The workouts are designed to make the average joe to the athletic achieve that elite fitness we all desire.  They are scaled to your fitness level and you workout in a group which is very motivating.  Plus there is ALWAYS a trainer there to make sure you are doing things right and warms everyone up together to avoid injury and increase the enjoyment of going to the gym.

Sure, you can say I drink the Kool-Aid but the sooner you do too the better you will feel.

Be Great!



I Cut Out Diet Pop Now It’s Your Turn

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to cut my diet pop intake down by 90%.  So far since January 1, 2010 I have had 2 bottles (500ml) of Coke Zero which was my go to bevy when I was hungry.  Like I do most of the time, I researched diet pop information to help motivate me to not touch the stuff as much.  What I am finding the most is that in many tests done with lab rats and with humans.  Most results are the same where the rodents and humans who ate the same foods but drank aspartame or sucralose gained weight..what, it’s Diet Coke for Pete’s sake!

The studies right now are inconclusive as to how much is harmful to the body if any or how it relates to weight gain.  I am not a scientists so I will let them continue their study.  Here is what I do know.  I was stuck at the same place weight wise for a looooooooong time.  I was also drinking loooooooots of Coke Zero when I felt hungry but didn’t want to eat before bed.  My Paleo diet was spot on but weight loss was slow and sometime wasn’t happening. 

Enter January 2011 and the elimination/drastic reduction of my diet pop intake.  Number one is the way I feel which can be described as great!  Number two is that the cravings that usually happen when I go 100% are not really existent.  Aside from the morning my dear wife decided to bake fresh Pillsbury cinnamon rolls I can’t say I have craved fast food, or a chocolate bar or even my kryptonite blue whale candies.  I killed the cinnamon roll smell with good old bacon frying odour and was back to “in control” mode.  The fam ate cinnamon rolls while I had bacon, eggs and some leftover sausage.  I feel and look leaner that I did at the start of the new year (11 days in Daytona were not good to my waistline) but more important than feeling and looking leaner those cravings are gone.  The little devil on my shoulder saying “it’s just one piece of cake, go for it” is duct taped to the can of Diet Pepsi in the back of my fridge in the garage collecting dust and I want to keep him there.  I use cake as an example because I celebrate two family members birthdays in January (Brother-in-law and 2 year old nephew) and did not have cake at either of their parties and I am alive to tell you about it…WOW!  I once heard it’s ok to eat your birthday cake but don’t eat everyone else’s.

Let’s switch gears and go with what I do know happens in the body when I or you drink diet pop.  Once you start to drink it the tongue detects sweetness and tells the brain “SUGAR IS COMING”, then the brain tells the stomach and liver which prepare themselves for sugar…..IT NEVER COMES, thus creating a signal to your brain which is an urge to eat.  Our body is an amazing machine but when we trick it, it can backfire on us.  The urge to eat created is usually for something sweet since the sugar that was promised never came.

Does this mean I will NEVER touch the stuff again…NO.  Every now and then I will likely have some as a cheat or to enjoy a cocktail or two when out with friends.

Tyler posted a great post from Mark’s Daily Apple on FB today so I encourage you to read it since he is more sciencey than I am.  You should also subscribe to his update if you are eating or trying to eat like a hunter gatherer.

I have cut out pop 95%…can or will you do the same?

Be Great!


Technique First Always

As we begin the newest installment of Cornwall Crossfit Foundation it is a good time to talk technique.  Technique is the cornerstone to any athlete who hits the gym whether it be as a professional or as an amateur.   One thing about technique that is undisputable is that if you do it right your chances of getting hurt are slim to none. 

Along with technique you also have to exercise patience and check your ego.  We all have a tendency to look at what others are lifting around us and think “if he/she can do it so can I or better”.  This logic is flawed period!  Just because I am bigger than someone doesn’t always lead to me lifting heavier.  We need to pay attention to technique because when we get it right, that’s when you start to put good loads on the bar.  Here is an example…Split Snatch.  Put me (270lbs) beside someone like Kyle (175ish) and one would think the big dude can throw up more than the smaller guy…WRONG!  I consider myself pretty strong BUT when it comes to technique I’m not sure there are many better at mastering it than Kyle.  With his sound technical abilities he far outshines me on this move.  I know how to split snatch and until I get down to near perfection my load numbers will stay low to allow more practice in the technique department.  For the record I am not suggesting for a second Kyle is not strong, far from it, but he has gotten himself to those levels with good training balanced between technique and strength.

The danger comes when one is strong enough to lift something with bad technique.  Sometimes the injury is not instant but over time can creep up if the wrong movement keeps being used.

Whether you’re talking power lifting, olympic lifting, the elites in both these disciplines have a perfect mix of strength and technical abilities.

So the next time you go for a PR in any of the lifts, make sure the technique is sound and do it right to keep yourself safe.  It sucks to have to wait sometimes if a move challenges you on the technical side when you know you can lift more, but your body with thank you for doing the movement correctly before trying a max load.

Have I been guilty of this, of course, we all have.  But the sooner we learn, the better lifters we will be.  How is your technique?

On a side note, my buddy Troy Vaillancourt is now blogging.  Troy is an intense customer at the gym and is also Level 1 certified in Crossfit.  His new blog sees him sharing his experiences good and bad, much like here, with a bit of knowledge and advice sprinkled in.  Also a great motivator…give it a read… . You’ll also find a link to it on my blogroll.

Be great and be Safe!


Let The Foundation Begin!

This is not just another Monday for a group of local individuals.  It’s the day some of them take a giant leap towards better health and fitness and for others it is the first step to getting to that next level.

The Cornwall Crossfit Foundation program begins this evening and based on the messages and emails I have received from the participants everyone is ready to go and then some!  I always look forward to this program since people coming through the door on night 1 are always different people after night 12.  For some of them it is fear of the unknown over the next 4 weeks and a slight lack of confidence in their own physical abilities.  By night 12 (graduation day) they walk in head held high ready to tackle and crush the baseline WOD (workout of the Day) that greeted them on night one.

The first group that came through Foundation had a female who couldn’t squat very deep and knew she was tight in that area, but come week four she was doing full squats and getting her hip below her knee.  Progress and results in 4 weeks! 

During the second session there was another female who was frustrated she could not do prescribed pushups (or as she called them “man” pushups).  Again by week four she could bang off 5 in a row not just one!  Progress and results in 4 weeks!

Cornwall Crossfit and the Foundation program are results oriented.  Everyone who comes in and fully commits to both the WODs and the Paleo diet see results.  Some lose weight, some lose inches, some get stronger, some get faster, some all of the above and everyone feels better PERIOD.  The Foundation members get a journal on night one to fill in and track their progress.  General Crossfit members are encouraged to also keep a journal in order to see where they are progressing.  Results come in many forms and by keeping a journal of your food and workouts you can track it quite easily.

To me the biggest sell at Cornwall Crossfit or any other affiliates is the fact that when you are there you perform the WOD and are tested and pushed each and every time you walk in the door and there is ALWAYS a trainer present to help you with technique and motivation.  Most other “GLOBO” style gyms offer oodles of equipment that frankly serve little purpose in the grand scheme of overall fitness.  When was the last time you saw a professional athlete or olympian using machines?  They don’t (or at least use very few) they focus on the functional movements like the squat, clean, press, deadlift, snatch, box jumps, pullups…etc.  You can tell folks you went to the gym(GLOBO) five time this week but what you don’t say is 3 of those days you read magazines on the recumbent bike or the elliptical.  When you hit any CF 5 days a week, it is a solid 5 days of good solid intense work.  There is also a great community there and not just a bumch of individuals walking around looking in mirrors.  We just held a Paleo Challenge on Saturday and the energy in the gym was amazing!  Someone once described it to me like this.  If you’ve ever played on a sports team it’s like practice.  You’re with the same people most of the time working towards a common goal.  You celebrate their victories as much as your own and help motivate each other.  Crossfit doesn’t have members but more like teammates.  To truly experience it you have to be there so come on down.

So, as 11 individuals begin their quest for better health and fitness today…where are you at with yours?

Be Great!


Vitamin D3 – Get it In You!

Alright as promised I want to start educating people here a bit…that being said I always encourage you to do your own research, I am not a doctor.

Vitamin D is an essential vitamin, meaning our bodies cannot produce it on its own and the main source for it is direct sunlight contact on the skin, something that can be challenging in this part of the world.  Getting sun on your arms and face is not enough.  You need exposure on the lighter parts of your body.  We’ve been told too much sun is bad for you but not enough sun is even worse in my opinion.  Some foods contain vitamin D but in small amounts.

Do the math folks…during the spring and summer you don’t get sick too often do you?  Then in the fall and winter the sun shows up less and less and we are bundled up so even when it is sunny we’re not exactly taking it in are we?  That;s when you get sick or heaven forbid the flu!

Most people are Vitamin D deficient at this time of year for that very reason…almost zero exposure to the sun.  You gonna start taking some yet?  No let’s talk some more…

Since I started taking Vitamin D3 two years ago (2,000 to 5,000IUs daily) I cannot recall getting so much as a common cold, let alone the flu.  I live in a home where my wife is a teacher and my two kids go to school (aka germ central).  They come home with stuff all the time whether it be a cough or sneezing, sore throat…I get none of it.  My wife had strep throat before the holidays and I still kissed her on the lips and got NOTHING.  These are my examples and I know there are many out there who do the same and can share similar stories.  The more I read and research on Vitamin D or D3 the more I will always be taking it.  I take vitamin D3 since it stays in your system longer and with more effect.

Here are some quick benefits of Vitamin D:

  • Maintains calcium balance and can help reduce the risk of or maybe even prevent osteoperosis since it contributes to bone growth and density
  • While no conclusive studies show it outright prevents cancer there are a myriad of studies that show Vitamin D greatly reduces the risk of cancer.
  • Boosts your immune system
  • Helps regulate blood pressure
  • Decreases the risk of memory loss…again many studies out there show a decrease in alzheimers and dementia with adequate intake of Vitamin D
  • What do chronic health issues like diabetes, obesity, cancer, osteoporosis, autoimmune conditions, and suppressed immunity all have in common?  Studies show they are all directly associated with vitamin D deficiency!

This post should have you asking many questions and the internet has a bevvy of answers for you so if I got your attention get researching and see what benefits await you when you begin to take this supplement to compliment a healthy lifestyle.



Foundation Program and Education

Off the top, just a heads up there are 2 spots left for the Cornwall Crossfit Foundation program which starts next Monday (January 24th, 2011).  People who go through this program learn the principles of Crossfit, the basics of the Paleo diet, technique in olympic lifts and all core crossfit movements.  This program focuses on proper execution and not loading the bar to see how much you can do.  Technique first and heavy weight later.  On Day 1 we weight and measure you and do the same on Day 12.  Day 1 sees the baseline WOD and Day 12 the same.  Every session ends with a short but challenging workout to get the heart pumping.  Cornwall Crossfit is a results oriented gym and we strive to ensure you can track and see you progress every step of the way whether it be weight loss, inch loss or increased strength, speed, mobility or flexibility.  Everyone who commits sees results bar none!  Sign up today

While I will still be blogging about my journey I will now turn to some education as well.  I will talk about the importance of Vitamin D (especially on this part of the globe) and fish oil, probiotic and the foods we eat as well as the exercised we do.  I will also be asking folks to guest blog here.  It’s always nice to hear from a different perspective.

Just a quick hit today but more as the week progresses.

We did a photo shoot with Jason McNamara from Framed Photography ( this past weekend and the shots look great.  If you haven’t seen this dude’s work check it out ASAP!  I will share more as they come in.



Foundation Program – 3 Spots Left