Friday 150123


Dead Lift

50% x5, 60% x5, 70% x5, 80% x5



Compare to: Tuesday 140218

From The Boston Globe

Sitting at work is bad, but is standing actually better?

HubSpot employees work at their standing desks in Cambridge.


HubSpot employees work at their standing desks in Cambridge.


If too much sitting is the modern health equivalent of smoking and more people are spending longer hours sitting in front of their office computers, are standing desks the solution to rising rates of diabetes, heart disease, and obesity? Or does simply replacing sitting all day with standing all day miss the mark?

The makers of standing desks — which cost a few hundred to several thousand dollars — have sold many consumers and companies on the notion that their products will reverse “sitting disease” and the health ills caused by spending an average of nine of our 14 waking hours in an office chair or on the couch.

More than a dozen studies conducted over the past decade suggest that too much sitting leads to more disability as we age, doubles the risk of diabetes and heart disease, and could even shorten our lifespan. For example, Harvard researchers found in a February study involving more than 92,000 women that the more time participants spent sitting at work, driving, or watching TV, the greater their risk of dying from heart disease, cancer, or strokes.

Such news may have contributed to a 50 percent rise in the sales of standing desks over the past year as more companies invest in them for their employees.

HubSpot, an inbound marketing software company in Cambridge, purchased sit/stand desks that raise and lower with the push of a button for all 650 employees this year after staffers started asking for them.

But occupational health specialists worry that office workers may have gotten the wrong message that standing in one place, rather than sitting at their desk, will help them shed extra pounds, improve their hearts, or stave off other negative effects of too much sitting.

“Standing all day isn’t the answer,” said Alan Hedge, a design and ergonomics professor at Cornell University. “That’s where we were 100 years ago, and we needed to develop chairs to prevent curvature of the spine, backaches, and varicose veins.”

While standing still burns a few more calories as our hearts work harder to circulate blood upward, it also puts more strain on our veins, backs, and joints, especially if we’re overweight.

“Studies haven’t yet determined how much standing helps healthwise,” said Dr. I-Min Lee, an associate epidemiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital who has studied the risks of sedentary behavior. In population studies, researchers haven’t been able to determine whether the health benefits of reduced sitting time stem from moving around more or from standing still. And results on whether exercise reduces the health risks of sitting are conflicting.

A May study of nearly 17,000 Canadian adults found that those who reported the most time standing had a 33 percent lower risk of dying from any cause over 12 years compared to those who stood the least. But those who exercised at least two hours each week — even if they sat the rest of the time — enjoyed the same life-extending benefits as those who stood the most. The Harvard researchers, on the other hand, found in their study that regular exercise didn’t erase the increased death risk associated with prolonged sitting.

In terms of calorie burn and physical exertion, standing in one place is equivalent to 1.3 MET (a physiological measure expressing the energy cost of physical activities) compared to 1 MET for sitting. Walking at a 3 mile-per-hour pace is a 3.3 MET activity, while jogging is a 7 MET, which means it burns 7 times the energy than the body at rest.

Luke Leafgren and his portable computer stand invention at Harvard.


Luke Leafgren and his portable computer stand invention at Harvard.

“The calorie burn difference between standing and sitting is so small, it probably won’t make much difference in terms of weight loss,” Lee said.

But some obesity experts argue that standing at a workstation encourages us to move around more and, hence, burn significantly more calories.

In a June study, 28 office workers who were given a sit/stand desk for a month reduced their time spent in a sedentary position by 38 minutes a day compared to when they used a traditional desk. They also reported a mood boost, increased energy, and reduced fatigue.

“I think it’s correct to say we’re in the middle of a ‘stand up movement,’ but the emphasis needs to be on movement,” said the study author Dr. James Levine, director of the Mayo Clinic/Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative. “I don’t want people to think that they should stand up like still soldiers. That is not a good idea.”

Kerem Shuval, a senior research specialist at the American Cancer Society who uses a standing desk, agrees. “I find when I stand, I’m more likely to walk out of my office to talk to a colleague than call or e-mail.”

Animal studies suggest that levels of a fat-burning enzyme called lipoprotein lipase rise not from standing but when muscles get activated by moving around. “That’s why non-exercise activity is so important throughout the day,” Shuval said. Keeping the body in a fat-burning metabolic mode also helps improve cholesterol, blood sugar, and high blood pressure.

For this reason, Levine decided to write his new book “Get Up: Why Your Chair is Killing You and What You Can Do About It’’ and two novels while strolling at 1.2 miles per hour on a treadmill desk he invented several years ago.

Levine’s ability to do this without suffering an ankle sprain or pulled muscle, however, may not be typical. Many people may find it too difficult to write computer code or edit copy while walking on a moving conveyer belt.

“Sure, you’ll burn more calories, but it will likely slow down your typing and increase the errors you’ll make,” Hedge said. “A treadmill desk is fine for making phone calls, reading, or dictating e-mails, but I don’t recommend one for keyboard work.”

Luke Leafgren, a Harvard resident dean and Arabic language instructor, occasionally uses a treadmill desk while composing e-mails, but not for his dissertation. “It took so much mental energy to write that I couldn’t get distracted by the physical exertion.”

Leafgren recently invented a portable computer stand, called StandStand, that fits flatly into his backpack and which he uses to prop his laptop on a library desk or dining hall table. (StandStand will be sold online for $70 next year.)

Higher priced sit/stand desks that can be easily adjusted or using a standing desk with a high-rise chair makes the most sense to provide comfort and prevent back and joint problems. Alison Elworthy, vice president of operations at HubSpot who is seven months pregnant, adjusts her desk height from sitting to standing a few times an hour throughout the day. “Staying in one position for a long period of time isn’t comfortable,” she said.

Hedge said changing positions regularly is a good idea for all office workers.

What’s best for your muscle and joints and your mind’s productivity? Sit for no more than 20 minutes at a time, Hedge recommended, and stand in one position for no more than 8 minutes. You should also take a two-minute moving break at least twice an hour to stretch or walk around.

Wednesday 141112


2 person team “Jack”

From The New York Times

Exercising but Gaining Weight








credit Chase Jarvis

Exercise has innumerable health benefits, but losing weight may not be among them. A provocative new study shows that a substantial number of people who take up an exercise regimen wind up heavier afterward than they were at the start, with the weight gain due mostly to extra fat, not muscle.

But the study also finds, for the first time, that one simple strategy may improve people’s odds of actually dropping pounds with exercise.

As we all know, the fundamentals of weight loss should be simple. Burn more calories on any given day than you consume and, over time, you will lose weight. Theoretically, we can achieve that desirable condition by reducing the number of calories that we take in through dieting or by increasing the number of calories that we incinerate through exercise.

But in reality, most people do not achieve or sustain weight loss, no matter what method they try.

Exercise is particularly problematic in this regard. A recent review of studies related to exercise and weight control found that in most of the studies, people lost barely a third as many pounds as would have been expected, given how many calories they were burning during workouts. Many studies also report enormous variations in how people’s waistlines respond to the same exercise program, with some people dropping pounds and others gaining fat.

Scientists have had little understanding, however, of why exercise helps some people but not others to shed pounds or whether there might be early indications of how people will respond to an exercise routine.

So for the new study, which was published last month in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, scientists at Arizona State University in Phoenix recruited 81 healthy but sedentary adult women. All of the women were overweight, based on their body mass index, but some were significantly heavier than others. None had exercised regularly in the past year.

The women were told that they would be joining a fitness study and would exercise in order to improve their aerobic endurance. The scientists asked the women not to change their eating habits in any way.

Each of the volunteers visited the physiology lab at the start of the study and the scientists determined their weight, B.M.I., percentage of body fat, current endurance level, and others measures of health and fitness.

Then each woman began a supervised exercise program designed to be vigorous but manageable by most people, said Glenn Gaesser, a professor of nutrition and health promotion at Arizona State and senior author of the study. The women walked on treadmills at the laboratory three times per week for 30 minutes at a pace that represented about 80 percent of their maximum endurance.

They continued the program for 12 weeks, with the scientists repeating the original fitness and other tests every month during that time.

At the end of 12 weeks, the women were all significantly more aerobically fit than they had been at the start. But many were fatter. Almost 70 percent of the women had added at least some fat mass during the program, and several had gained as much as 10 pounds, most of which was from fat, not added muscle.

A few of the women, though, had lost that much fat or more, and quite a few had remained at the same weight as at the start of the regimen.

At this point, the researchers returned to the data from the first day of the study, to determine whether any obvious differences existed between the women who subsequently gained or lost weight. “Some past studies of dieting had indicated that women who weigh more at the beginning” of a weight-loss program “tend to lose more weight during the program,” Dr. Gaesser said.

But the researchers found no correlation in this case between a woman’s weight at the start and end of the study. In fact, the scientists found no connection between any of the original parameters of health and fitness and the women’s responses to the exercise program.

But looking deeper into their data, they discovered one interesting indicator: Those women who were losing weight after four weeks of exercise tended to continue to lose weight, while the others did not.

“What that means in practical terms is that someone who wants to lose weight with exercise” should step on the bathroom scale after a month, Dr. Gaesser said. If at that point your weight remains stubbornly unchanged or has increased, “look closely at your diet and other activities,” he said.

While this study didn’t track the women’s eating and movement habits away from the lab, it is likely that those who gained weight began eating more and moving less when they weren’t on the treadmills, “probably without meaning to,” Dr. Gaesser said.

Of course, the study was fairly short-term. It also did not involve men, although some past studies indicate that men, like women, frequently add fat mass after starting to exercise.

Still, the results, while sobering in some respects, also provide encouragement. By deploying a bathroom scale and discipline, along with exercise, you may well lose weight, Dr. Gaesser said.

Even more important, the women in the study were much fitter after four months of exercise, and Dr. Gaesser said “fitness matters far more for health than how much you weigh.

Thursday 140612


Clean – Heavy Single



10-115 M / 75 Flbs Push Press (Scaled M -95 / scaled F-55)
10-Box Jumps 24/20
10-KB Swings (M-53 lbs/F-35 lbs)

Compare to: Tuesday 140218

From The Huffington Post

Are All Calories Created Equal?

The No. 1 rule for weight loss is that the body needs to burn more calories than it consumes. So, if the formula for losing weight is so simple, why do so many diets fail? As it turns out, current research shows that while the quantity of calories plays a large role in the science of metabolism, the quality of the calories also matters for whether or not a dieter loses weight. While critics and consumers debate the causes of the obesity epidemic, one thing is for certain: Experts agree that since the body uses calories from different nutrients in different ways, the key to successful weight loss is paying attention to more than just the numbers on a box.

The Science of Calories & Everyday Eating

In the most basic terms, all calories are created equal. A calorie is simply a unit for measuring energy. But the way in which the body uses those calories is what accounts for different weight loss results. The origin of a calorie determines how the body digests and stores that energy. For example, the body uses calories from protein to help maintain and repair muscles, organs and tissues. Carbohydrates are a major energy source for the body, while fats both help protect organs and help with the absorption of important vitamins. All three nutrients are essential, but the body metabolizes them very differently.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!

Retrofit weight loss advisory board member Dr. James Hill, Ph.D. compares the efficiency of calories to engine fuel, noting that there is no “magic formula” for weight loss.

“The human body is a complex system, and carbohydrates and fat do not always have the same effect on different Read more Thursday 140612

Tuesday 140218


Big Bad Jack”

20:00 AMRAP of:

10-135 lbs Push Press (or 65% of your 1RM if less than 135 lbs
10-Box Jumps 24/20
10-KB Swings (M-73 lbs/F-44 lbs)

Compare to: Tuesday 130611

From The Atlantic

Can Your Family Make You Obese?

New research reveals parents’ impact on childhood weight, even in rich families.

We often talk about obesity as a public health crisis, but rarely about how totally, utterly baffling it is as a disease. Obese people face discrimination at almost every turn, and yet the American obesity rate is now over 27 percent, and rising. It’s an extremely expensive condition—the severely obese spend more than twice as much on medical care—but it’s also most prevalent among low-income people.

So, why does it keep spreading?

It’s a sensitive issue, but the more we learn about how obesity works—and doesn’t—the better we can help those affected by it.

Recently there’s been some surprising new research on obesity’s origins. One new finding debunks the idea that grocery stores are a panacea for “food deserts” and their attendant health problems. A new study in Health Affairsfound that after a new grocery store came to a Philadelphia food desert, only about a quarter of residents began using it as their primary food-shopping source, and those who did use it didn’t lose weight or eat more produce.

And it turns out obesity might start even earlier than previously thought: Another study found that overweight five-year-olds were four times more likely to be obese by the age of 14 than children who started kindergarten at a normal weight. So much for promoting high-school gym class; some kids are already riding toward diabetes on their training wheels.

To make matters worse, a recent meta-analysis published in Pediatrics found that two-thirds of parents underestimate the BMIs of their children, especially when their children are overweight or obese.

“They’re in denial,” the study’s lead author, Alyssa Lundahl, told the New York Times.

2004 study in the Journal of Pediatrics found that the biggest factor that predicted overweight in children was if the parents were also overweight. But it turns out that even very subtle shifts in family structure are correlated with higher rates of obesity in children, regardless of the parent’s own health status.

The problem? None of these family studies point to a clear cause or solution. Past research has suggested that single-parent households increase the likelihood of obesity in children—but mainly just in girls. And children are more at risk of obesity in single-mom households, but more so if the mother is not well-educated.

To untangle some of these trends, a March study published in the Journal of Applied Research on Children looked at a sample of 10,400 children, their BMIs, and the structure of their households. The results were basically a web of contradictions. They’re enough to make any health-conscious parent wary of getting a divorce, remarrying … or really doing anything other than residing in a nuclear, sitcom-family formation:

  • Children raised by two co-habitating biological parents had the highest rates of obesity, at 31 percent.
  • But if those parents were married, the children had one of the lowest obesity risks, at 17 percent.
  • Children residing with an adult relative had a high (29 percent) likelihood of becoming obese.
  • But if that adult was their single father, they had a very low risk—just 15 percent.
  • And strangely, the children of single mothers and those of co-habitating (not married) step-parents had similarly high rates of obesity, at 23 percent.
Journal of Applied Research on Children

The authors Read more Tuesday 140218

Wednesday 130904



Can Crossfit Improve Running?

A few years ago, I was counting my running success in increments of tenths of a mile. I wasn’t a beginning runner. Worse, I was an injured runner. I had run several races, trail races and a half-marathon trail race before I found myself hobbling to a doctor and meeting my physical therapist for the first time. Nine months later, I finally ran a total of three miles without pain. My doctor advised me to dial down my goals and find joy in simply running 30 minutes. I had serious bio-mechanical issues that seemed to halt any progress.

As of today, I have finished many half-marathons and trail half-marathons, climbed mountains and ran a marathon, and I’m currently training for another marathon and various obstacle races. What made this possible? Crossfit.

Before you click away, hear me out. I’m not going to try to sell everyone on Crossfit because it doesn’t work for everyone. I am going to share why it works for me. In the three years I’ve been combining running with Crossfit, I have not had one injury. My previous injury was a severe case of ITBS, or illiotibial band syndrome, which led to hip problems. I went from crying tears of relief over three miles to more tears crossing a finish line at 26.2 miles. So what is so magical about Crossfit?

1. Crossfit is serious cross-training. Crossfit is based around improving 10 basic physical skills: cardiovascular and respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance and accuracy. Participants work to improve these skills through weight-lifting, gymnastics and metabolic conditioning. Good trainers spend a great deal of time each week making sure the workouts for the next week are balanced in all of these things. Looking through that list of 10 skills, which ones do not improve running?

2. Crossfit incorporates functional flexibility. The age-old question: Should I stretch before or after running? That has nothing to do with Crossfit’s flexibility training, which is actually mobility training. The iron-rod backbone of all Crossfit is functional fitness, and that includes skill work designed to improve range of motion for functional behaviors. In my own experience, this has been crucial to my running success. Oh, and to answer the question, I do not advise static stretching before a run. Stretching ligaments, tendons and muscles before loading them with repetitive weight-bearing impact movement is not a good idea. Dynamic stretching is a better option. Again, this is just my personal experience.

3. Crossfit demands mental stamina. This is what allowed me to finish a marathon without hitting a huge wall. Yes, most Crossfit workouts are less than 30 minutes. Include 3 to 4 Crossfit workouts a week, and the mental discipline has nowhere to go but up. All runners know that mental stamina can be the difference between a DNF and a triumphant finish.

[Read: Are You Tough Enough to Complete a Tough Mudder?]

4. Crossfit is built-in HIIT (High-Intensity-Interval-Training). Crossfit includes a lot of met-con. Metabolic conditioning has a direct influence on running economy. Think of it as built in intervals of speed work. Only with Crossfit, there are other skill movements to do between the running intervals, and those movements are building endurance and power. Sprints are common in Crossfit, and sprinting is what builds strength in hamstrings. Even slow distance runners (such as myself) need sprinting workouts.

5. Crossfit builds endurance. To race long, most people believe you have to run long. In order to run long, you have to have serious endurance. This is why you can’t judge a runner by body type. A person who weighs 30 pounds more than another might cross the finish line faster simply due to endurance. If that person is carrying more muscle, the combination of endurance and power can guarantee a great finish.

What, specifically, has Crossfit done for me? When my illiotibial band injury surfaced, it took 9 months to get it to track properly again. My doctor and physical therapist told me I would always need to work on this leg and incorporate strength training. I fiddled around with some hand held weights at home but was still occasionally sidelined with IT band pain. I finally took advantage of Crossfit classes through my gym. After six weeks, I noticed that I had not felt IT band twinges in a few weeks. My running economy improved. My confidence improved. After three years, the only time I have felt any IT band pulling is when I skip a week or more of Crossfit. A couple of classes of heavy lifting and sprinting sends the IT band tracking properly again.

There are many stories out there like mine. Runners who battle constant injuries are finding success in Crossfit because of the emphasis on so many basic functional fitness skills. In these cases, Crossfit has greatly improved running fitness and running success.

Hungry for more? Write to with your questions, concerns and feedback.

Katrina Plyler is a full-time teacher and part-time runner, blogger and amateur photographer. She is a regular contributor to the Cooking Light Blogger’s Connection and has been featured in Fitness magazine. Her food photography is regularly accepted in and galleries. For more information on the daily adventures of teaching, running and cooking, check out her blog, Katrina Runs for Food.

Thursday 130808


From Outside Magazine


CrossFit champ Samantha Briggs believes in resting as hard as you train and ditching the set exercise schedule. She shares her favorite training tips.

Sam Briggs, Europe Regional, Event 6
Sam Briggs competing in Europe Photo: Photo courtesy of CrossFit, Inc.

Samantha Briggs’ Vital Stats

Age: 31
Height: 5’6″
Weight: 132 pounds
Hometown: Manchester, England

After three days of grueling physical tests at the 2013 CrossFit Games in Carson, California, at the end of July, Samantha Briggs stood atop the podium as women’s champion. For the 31-year-old from Manchester, England, that crowning achievement capped a long hard journey back to the upper echelons of competitive CrossFit.

No stranger to success, Briggs played elite soccer in England in her younger days and competed in the World Duathlon Championships as an age group member of Team Great Britain. A firefighter by trade, she started Crossfit in 2009 and quickly made her mark in competition, placing 19th at the 2010 Games and fourth in 2011. However, her seemingly inevitable rise to the top was derailed when she was forced out of the 2012 edition of the games with a painful knee injury that turned out to be a broken patella.

A year of rehab, rebuilding and refocusing toward 2013 followed. Making the most of her time, Briggs trained smarter and kept herself busy as the co-owner of a new Crossfit box, TRAIN Manchester/Crossfit Black Five, where she continues to work out and coach other athletes.

On the eve of the Crossfit Games, Briggs was happy just to be back, but she wasn’t in California just to coast—she was there to win. Here she shares some of what she’s learned along the way to becoming the “Fittest Woman on Earth.”

Work Your Weaknesses
The knee injury ruled a lot of exercises out but I found a good gymnastics coach and chose to use this time to work on my weaknesses. Long sessions were also spent with a functional movement therapist ensuring when I was able to squat and lift again my mechanics were more efficient. There were definite positives to come out of taking time off due to injury. The rehab and attention to technique that was employed, newly improved gymnastics and more efficient movements resulted in me being a more rounded athlete.

Go by Feel
I will still do more training than Read more Thursday 130808

Tuesday 130611



Complete AMRAP (As Many Rounds As Possible) in 20 minutes of:
115 pound Push press, 10 reps
10 KB Swings, 1.5 pood
10 Box jumps, 24 inch box

Compare to: Wednesday 100929 or Saturday 110101 or  Monday 111205

From The Box


For every CrossFitter killing it workout after workout, posting legit numbers and seeing his strength, mobility and endurance flourish, there’s the guy cutting corners or going overboard with his training, risking injury (and perhaps his reputation) in the process. Mistakes and faux pas are prevalent in every training discipline, and CrossFit is no exception. Here, two experienced athletes and trainers share their biggest pet peeves to keep you from being “that guy” (or girl).

Mistake #1: Kipping Without a Base of Strength

All you need to do is look at the “for time” direction on “Fran” to realize why kipping pull-ups are more popular among CrossFitters than strict, dead-hang pull-ups. “CrossFit rewards efficiency, so you don’t have to look at the two movements [kipping and strict pull-ups] long to realize that kipping is faster and more efficient,” says Logan Gelbrich, a CrossFit Games competitor and Level 1 trainer at CrossFit Los Angeles who also holds certifications in CrossFit Olympic Weightlifting and Coaches Prep.

“Folks who don’t have the strength to accomplish strict pull-ups or muscle-ups will often bypass the process of growing strength in the strict fashion and will learn kipping, and with that comes increased potential for injury,” he says. Most notably are  wear-and-tear injuries to the shoulder joint, like rotator-cuff and labrum tears.

Fix it: Gelbrich’s stance is that you should be able to do at least five strict pull-ups before doing kipping pull-ups or muscle-ups as part of a workout. “It’s not that you necessarily have to do dead-hang pull-ups for two weeks,” he says. “If you have the strength to do them, it’s irrelevant. You can absolutely kip and kip safely.”

Mistake #2: Cherry-Picking WODs

Consistency is key to success on any training program, and selecting only certain CrossFit workouts while bypassing others, buffet-style, is the polar opposite of being consistent. “A lot of beginners to CrossFit are really focused on what the Workout of the Day is, and they realize that they’re better at some movements than others,” says Dusty Hyland, owner of DogTown CrossFit in Culver City, Calif. “So they conveniently find ways not to make it to the gym when the WOD calls for things they’re really inefficient at or lack coordination in. A great example would be jumping rope. A lot of people will skip a workout if there’re double-unders in it, especially if they’re brand new to CrossFit.”

Fix it: To establish consistency and minimize cherry-picking among his gym members, Hyland introduces beginners to only two to three workouts a week, consisting of a wide range of movements and skills that need to be improved on in addition to areas of strength. “If we get a consistent training module in,” Hyland says, “then we can increase the frequency to four or five days a week. But if you’re only going to CrossFit one day a week, you’re just punishing your body, so you need to stick to the program. If you can’t, you’re never going to reach your goals.”

Mistake #3: Half-Assing Your Workouts

Cherry-picking WODs shows a lack of commitment Read more Tuesday 130611