9 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About CrossFit

So you hardly gave CrossFit a thought before dismissing it as a workout for fanatics looking to torture themselves.

Turns out, there’s more to the hot-button trend than burpees and Pukie the Clown. For the unfamiliar, here are a few of the more surprising facts about everyone’s favorite workout to hate.

1. This is the man who founded CrossFit.

His name is Greg Glassman. He’s a former gymnast and personal trainer who has described himself as a “rabid libertarian”.

2. And he no longer practices.
“Glassman is no longer living the life himself,” Inc. magazine reported in 2013, “but he inspires fierce loyalty in some of the world’s fittest people.”

3. The very first CrossFit workouts were for the sheriff’s department in Santa Cruz.

Consumers take part in a workout at Potsdamer Platz in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images for Reebok)
The department got wind of Glassman’s exercise mentality and called him up to train officers. Today, he told ReasonTV, there are over 6,000 affiliate gyms (called “boxes” in CrossFit lingo).4. There’s still a strong law enforcement/military connection.
Police academies, tactical operations teams and military special operations teams all use CrossFit as their “principal strength and conditioning program,” according to CrossFit.com, the site Glassman started in 2001 to share his workouts of the day (WODs) with a wider audience.5. The workouts are named after women because they “wreak havoc.”

Whitney Horner lifts weights during a CrossFit class at CrossFitSeven in Fort Worth, Texas. (Ron Jenkins/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT via Getty Images)
Glassman’s alleged explanation for this naming scheme is quoted on many devoted websites:

“I thought that anything that left you flat on your back, looking up at the sky, asking, ‘What just happened to me?’ deserved a female’s name. Workouts are just like storms, they wreak havoc on towns.”

Take Fran, for example: She’s 21 reps of 95-pound barbell thrusters, followed by 21 pull-ups, then 15 thrusters, 15 pull-ups, nine thrusters and nine pull-ups, all as fast as you can.

6. Other workouts are named to commemorate fallen soldiers.
The Hero Workouts, on the other hand, are all named after naval officers, army sergeants, SEALs and other soldiers killed in combat, like Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy.

Murphy was 29 when he was killed in Afghanistan in 2005, according to CrossFit.com. One of his favorite CrossFit workouts was renamed “Murph” in his honor. The workout consists of a one-mile run, followed by 100 pull-ups, 200 pushups, 300 squats and topped off with a final mile run.

7. Not just anyone can open his or her own box.
crossfit gym

Maureen Becker and Dan Dougherty, both of Natick, jump high as they do burpees during a warm-up in a class at Crossfit New England. (Photo by Joanne Rathe/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
That garage gym on the corner calling itself a CrossFit box likely offers more than meets the eye: Affiliation requires an application process (with an essay) and a yearly fee, plus instructors complete training courses.8. CrossFit has a philanthropic side.
Beside chances to give back hosted by individual boxes like the anuual Memorial Day Murph and Barbells For Boobs, CrossFit’s official “fundraising arm” CrossFit for Hope funnels 100 percent of donations to fighting childhood cancer, providing education in Kenya and other charitable ventures.9. The majority of CrossFitters are women.
crossfit women

Out of the 10 million self-described CrossFitters, about 60 percent are female, according to the American Council on Exercise.


8 Professional Tips That Will Help You Get (And Stay) Motivated

Getting fitter really isn’t complicated: we all know what to do, or can Google it. The hard part is actually doing it. More often than not, the muscle that fails first is the one between our ears; sooner or later our motivation atrophies, and so does the rest of us.

Stop bicep-curling unthinkingly and flex your cortex instead. FashionBeans has picked the well-developed brains of some top sports psychologists, authors and trainers for some mental tricks that will help your resolve stay as strong as your new physique. A healthy mind in a healthy body, as the Roman poet Juvenal said (except, you know, in Latin).

And yes, we know the brain is not technically a muscle.

1. Put Up The Goalposts

Targets are a lot easier to hit when you know where they are.

“You need to set a clear, measurable goal,” says Jeremy Snape, former international cricketer turned psychologist and founder of high-performance consultancy Sporting Edge, which coaches businessmen and the England rugby team alike. “‘Getting fitter’ isn’t good enough: it needs to be an amount of weight lost, or a time or distance in exercise terms.”

Vague, indefinable goals might seem less daunting than, say, doing a marathon. But with no plan of how to get there – because you don’t know where you’re going – or way of measuring your progress, you’ll just end up losing motivation in the long run.

Set clear and actionable goals

2. Break Them Down Again

How do you eat an elephant? By dividing it into bite-sized chunks.

“Imagine a pyramid with your major goal at the top,” says Snape. “Below that peak are your smaller ‘process’ goals. So if the intent is to ‘get fitter’ then you need measurables which show that, such as a set weight, body fat, strength or flexibility: components that deliver the goal.”

Then underneath those components are their basic building blocks. “For example, to lose body fat, you might need to limit sugar or calorie intake, eat before 6.30pm at night or go to the gym three times a week in the morning before work,” says Snape.

This widest part of the pyramid provides you with achievable daily goals – and, crucially, reassurance that you are working towards your loftiest aim, which will help you stay on track: “You can’t hit your target on day one but you can tick off all the behaviours.”

Rome wasn’t built in that timeframe, and it’s a safe bet that the pyramids weren’t either.

Start with small daily goals that lead to overall goals

3. Prepare To Fail

Now that you’re on the wagon, you need to stay there even when it gets wobbly. “Think about when you are going to be most vulnerable to falling off your plan, then build in contingencies,” says Snape.

For most of us, that’s when we’re hungry. “Take healthy snacks to the office to avoid stress eating and drink water before a meal to ensure you don’t overeat,” suggests Snape. “Visual reminders can help, such as putting a sticker on the fridge, or on the laptop that you use to order takeaways, to nudge you towards healthier choices.”

Another big willpower crunch point is when we’re tired: “Get your gym gear out the night before so that you don’t have the hassle of finding it in the morning, when you’re looking for an excuse not to go.”

Take healthy snacks to work to eat when you're hungry

4. Add Friends – Online If Necessary

Not only will the shame of letting somebody else down make you more likely to stick with your programme, they can also make you exercise harder – especially if they’re fitter than you. One study by Kansas State University found that a training partner can increase the length and intensity of sessions by up to 200 per cent. (Studies have also shown that being around attractive people works.)

“The social aspect can be a strong motivational technique,” confirms Becs Gentry, a group trainer at swish health club Equinox, who also leads free Nike+ Run Club meets at the mighty swoosh’s London stores.

They don’t have to be real people either. Fitness apps like Nike+ Run Club let you compare workouts with friends and randoms to harness that social – or competitive – element even when you can’t sync diaries. Another study found that subjects who published their weight loss results on Twitter lost more than those who kept it to themselves.

Or just tell people about your goal. Either way, the point is to be accountable to someone other than yourself.

Joining a club or training with a friend will increase motivation levels

5. Pen Workouts Into Your Diary

This might sound a bit anally retentive. But when things get hectic, exercise is the thing that gives. You tell yourself that you can go to the gym anytime. So you end up never going.

Again, apps like Nike+ Run Club will facilitate this, and even let you add notes. “It’s great for tracking your progress and maintaining motivation,” says Gentry. “For example, if you went out for your run but you were not feeling great, slept badly or had a really busy day, you can input that.”

However you do it, scheduling your workouts makes them a non-negotiable in your mind, like going to the dentist. Then when people try to fill your diary with other stuff that conflicts, you simply reply that you can’t do that time. You don’t have to tell them why, if exercise doesn’t seem like an important enough reason. After all, it’s only your health.

Put workouts in your diary and make them non-negotiable

6. Be Full Of Beans

Part of the reason we find it so hard to motivate ourselves to exercise is that our primitive ‘lizard’ brains are programmed to avoid exerting effort unless absolutely necessary. When we didn’t know where the next meal was coming from, it didn’t make sense from a survival perspective to burn through all our scarce resources.

Where most sports psychology focuses on increasing motivation, Professor Samuele Marcora, director of research at Kent University’s School of Sport and Exercise Science, is investigating ways to decrease the effort involved. “One way is to consume caffeine beforehand,” he says. “It literally reduces the amount of brain activity required to exercise, so it feels easier.”

Marcora’s other tried-and-tested strategies include listening to music, which you probably already do, and positive self-talk (e.g. “Feeling good” or “Push through this”), which you probably don’t but maybe should.

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

Music, coffee and positive self-talk will all make training feel easier

7. Suck It Up

Another way to make exercise feel easier is, paradoxically, by focusing on how hard it is. Or in other words, ’embracing the suck’.

“Reframe the discomfort of the workout as the very purpose of it rather than a negative that you merely put up with,” says Matt Fitzgerald, author of How Bad Do You Want It: Mastering The Psychology Of Mind Over Muscle. “Consciously accepting that it is going to be tough and challenging yourself to conquer it makes the workout an end in itself rather than just a means, and also makes the discomfort more bearable.

Research has shown that ‘embracing the suck’ reduces perceived effort and increases performance.”

Embrace the suck

8. Change Your Mind

Ultimately, it’s not just your body that you need to transform.

“Maintaining this new lifestyle will only be possible if you change your perception of who you are,” says Snape. “If you view your regime as a test to get through until that beach holiday or run, you may slide back after. If however you start to view yourself as a healthy, active person, then these behaviours will become your norm and be reinforced by how you feel and look. This is your real goal.”

Stick with a routine and it will soon become habit


7 Nutrition Myths You Should Ignore

Nutrition has, thankfully, evolved beyond the thinking we can subsist on potatoes alone, with most men now taking an increasing interest in what they put in their bodies. But as terms like ‘triglycerides’ and ‘electrolytes’ get bandied about more frequently, it’s easy to get blinded by the BroScience.

In a world of fake news, nutrition is a money-spinning marketing game awash with ambassador celebrities that spout just as many mistruths as they do motivational memes. So, we’ve broken down the biggest myths in the game to keep your foodie facts straight.

Brown Bread Isn’t Healthier

Man cannot live by bread alone. Well, not since the 1960s anyway, when wheat was genetically altered and mass produced.

According to the Society for Minerals and Trace Elements, this newfangled Franken-wheat is less nutritious than the real stuff. Not only does it contain smaller amounts of magnesium, zinc and iron – three essentials for a healthy diet – but it can actually increase your cholesterol levels.

What if you switched to wholewheat? Carb lovers, close your eyes – that’s no better for you either. Despite the marketing spiel, the grains are still ground into a very fine flour so pose all the same drawbacks as refined (white) wheat, and scientists have found absolutely no difference in the GI levels of brown and white bread.

If you really want to make a change and can’t bear to give up the good stuff, go for wholegrain. It won’t save your life, but it has a lower GI level and using the full grain adds a whole host of vitamins, nutrients and phytochemicals that almost makes your toast healthy.

Wholewheat Bread

Eating Little And Often Won’t Burn More Calories

East Asian diets, in which people typically eat a greater number of smaller meals throughout the day, are thought to burn more calories thanks to a stimulated metabolism. It’s simply not true.

A study in the US Journal of Nutrition found that eating two to three meals a day burns just as many calories as a little and often diet. Instead, it’s more likely that the content of traditional East Asian food is what aids weight management – lots of vegetables, unrefined carbs and natural ingredients.

There’s More To Obesity Than Poor Nutrition And Fitness

Like most illnesses, obesity is a complex issue that often involves psychological, hormonal and biological factors.

It isn’t always a simple case of moral failure; overweight people can be wrestling with emotional problems, health issues and a genuine addiction to junk food that aren’t immediately obvious on the surface.

Studies by the Harvard School of Public Health suggest that overeating can trigger similar reactions in the brain to narcotics-based addictions – the sign of deeper emotional stress that a jog won’t solve.

Coffee Isn’t All Bad

A morning cup of joe from the hipster coffee joint near the office might dent your bank balance, but it’s not all bad news.

The Journal of Nutrition has shown that coffee contributes more antioxidants to the Western diet than fruit and vegetables combined, and coffee drinkers are statistically less depressed, less diabetic and may even live longer. Drink up.


All Calories Aren’t Equal

Counting calories may clinch a Weight Watchers certificate, but it’s the type of calories you consume that actually counts.

Different foods have different metabolic effects and therefore simply reducing calorie intake can be ineffective. If you’re looking to cut some kcals, don’t ditch the protein – foodstuffs that are predominantly protein-based can make you less hungry and increase your metabolic rate, which means more calories burned on a smaller amount of food.

Low-Fat Foods Are Healthier

There’s a reason why bad foods taste oh-so-good, and that’s fat. When brands reduce or remove fat content, the marketing would have you believe that the calories are removed, too. The reality is much different.

Since removing fat can leech flavour, manufacturers attempt to add in some taste with excess artificial sugars. This can prove more harmful than the natural fats they originally replaced, which in turn can result in poor nutrition and weight gain.

Red Meat Raises The Risks Of Heart Disease

Thanks to numerous examples of compelling research on both sides, red meat and heart disease is still very much a nutritional grey area.

While a recent study in the Nature Journal linked the compound that gut bacteria creates when digesting red meat to cholesterol-clogged arteries, others suggest there’s little relation between unprocessed red meat and heart disease. The jury’s still out.

Red Meat


10 Everyday Habits Of Ripped Men

As you look on enviously at the physiques of fitness models on Instagram, the temptation can be to throw in the towel on your body ambitions, resigning yourself to never looking that lean. It’s their job to be in that type of nick, right? Well, you’re right. Kind of.

What these body types are more indicative of is that there is no quick fix and a low body fat percentage is a matter of consistency. The best way to do this, according to the powers that be of the fitness industry, is through habit forming – incorporating subtle lifestyle tweaks into everyday routine.

A short-lived resolution list and gym membership gathering dust are not the answer. Instead, try adding these daily habits of ripped men into your regimen to see your waistline shrink and muscles grow. Best start making friends with your tailor because you’ll soon be in need of some serious alterations.

They Never Fail To Prepare

Because, as the old saying goes, they’d then be preparing to fail. “Mapping out your sessions and meal prepping for the week are the most effective first steps to success,” reveals Third Space personal trainer, Leo Savage.

Book in a fitness class that costs cool hard cash to avoid any urge to drop out. If you’re not a morning person, score more sleep by soaking oats overnight for a pre-prepared carb-loaded breakfast. A little prior thought goes a long way.

(Related: 13 Fitness Hacks For Better Results In 2017)

Meal Prep

They Never Skip Breakfast

Whether it’s the aforementioned overnight oats or smoked salmon and eggs on rye bread, making a proper breakfast every day is essential. That cereal bar on the train doesn’t cut it.

Researchers at the University of Bath revealed that opting for an extra 10-minutes in bed eats into your weight loss potential. Instead, a morning bowlful kick-starts your metabolism to the sum of an extra 442 calories burned every day.

(Related: 7 Things Keeping You Fat)

Add a black coffee (put down the latte, please) and further investigation found you’ll burn calories 11 per cent quicker, too. A useful safety net when you’re booked in for a client lunch that doesn’t exactly fit the rest of your nutrition plan.

Always eat breakfast

They Set An Alarm

And not just so they don’t sleep through a morning session. Interestingly, a recent study in the Journal of Health Psychology found a trigger cue (be that a ringing phone before every workout or a calendar reminder to signal your next protein shake) associates an action with a sound, forming an internal prompt.

This conditions your brain to crave a workout every time you hear it. It’s nerdy science, but it works.


They Never Take A Rest Day

For those of you with even a passing knowledge of exercise plans this may seem sacrilegious, but listen up: “This does not mean daily strenuous exercise,” explains founder of the Brotherhood Training Club, Kemo Marriott. “However, it does mean that some form of activity is completed everyday – you need to move daily in order to maintain a habit of exercise.”

This not only increases your total calorie expenditure but promotes the hormonal releases that can help you recover from major sessions. So, in addition to your boxing HIIT class and deadlift session, add in some low intensity hot yoga and a long slow swim to your week. No one said a habit has to be boring.

(Related: Why Every Man Should Do Yoga)


They Prioritise Protein

Protein may be best associated with the lumpy shakes chugged by tattoo sleeve-toting gym bros, but this macronutrient is also incredibly important for fat loss: “It has a high Thermic Effect,” says Marriott. “About 25-30 per cent of its energy is utilised in its metabolisation.”

(Related: A Beginners Guide To Protein Shakes)

For the bamboozled amongst you, this basically means that you burn more calories digesting this food than others, helping you to lose weight. Protein is more filling, making diets more manageable, and it also reduces the amount of muscle you lose while restricting your calories. Stock up.


They Set And Reset Goals

“The guys you want to emulate in the gym always have a clear goal,” says Savage. “They don’t just exercise for the sake of it, but train for a purpose.”

Looking good on holiday shouldn’t be one. Make it objective, quantifiable and achievable. Things like ‘do 10 pull-ups’ or ‘tighten my belt by one notch’ are more effective, and more positive.

Make sure you update the way you plan to achieve these goals, too. The same bench press session every Monday for two months will result in plateaued progress.

Making Goals

They Use Teamwork

“We subconsciously mimic the behaviours of those we spend a lot of time with,” says Marriott. “It’s called the ‘Chameleon Effect’.” It’s also the reason why there’s safety in numbers when following a fitness plan.

Surround yourself with the friends who support your healthy habits, and save seeing those most likely to prop up the bar for Friday.

Set up a group chat on your phone where you can share meal pictures for recipe inspiration, or join a sports team where squad training can drag your enthusiasm levels out of the doldrums.

(Related: 8 Professional Tips That Will Help You Get (And Stay) Motivated)


They Lift Heavy

Bicep curls may pump you up in the short term, but heavy, compound lifts like deadlifts, squats and bench presses are the preserve of the ripped elite: “It’s been proven over and again that lifting heavier recruits more muscle fibres,” explains Savage.

More muscle fibres not only repair larger, meaning you’ll pack on size and mass, but you’ll also burn more calories post-workout. So reach for the barbell and start setting PBs.


They Down Pints

But not the ones you were hoping for, sadly. Increasing water intake is an effective way to feel full, helping you to eat less. Moreover, it can boost your metabolism.

The nutritionist-approved way to stay hydrated on a training programme is by working out your fluid losses: “Weigh yourself before a session and afterwards towel dry before weighing again,” says Jo Travers, author of The Low-Fad Diet. “Figure out how much weight you have lost and replace it with double in water weight.”

For example, if you’re 75kg before, 74.5kg after and drank 500ml during your workout, the overall loss is 1kg and you should replace with two litres of water.


They Get Enough Rest

“Poor sleep has been shown to increase the hormone ghrelin [which stimulates hunger] and decrease the amount of leptin [low levels signal a need to eat more],” explains Marriott.

With all the willpower in the world, walking the supermarket aisles with primal hunter in the pit of your stomach is bound to undo your hard work, with at least one pack of Doritos or frozen pizza going through the till.

In fact, American research found that weight gain increases by up to 30 per cent if your shut eye drops from a restful seven hours to below five. Log off work emails and tech an hour before bed, this will shield you from the blue light emitted by your phone, allowing your body to ease into sleep mode. Lights out and good night.

(Related: 4 Tricks For Better Sleep)



A Soldier’s Guide To Getting (And Staying) Motivated In The Gym

Motivation is the hardest part of any serious exercise regime. It’s easy to muster up affection for abs when you’re psyched up and raring to go, but hauling ass to the gym on those days you just can’t be bothered is what separates the bodybuilders from the builder’s bums.

Soldiers, however, have no choice – something James Atkinson, a former member of the 9 Parachute Squadron and now a bodybuilder and author, knows all too well. After his career in the armed forces, the former paratrooper began applying regimental learnings to his gym regime.

To celebrate the release of his new book, Fitness & Exercise Motivation, we asked Atkinson to share his tips for giving dwindling drive the boot camp treatment.

1. Get A Solid Goal And A Reason To Match

“Most people want to lose a few pounds or pack on some lean muscle, but you should make your goal more specific. For example, if weight loss is your aim, decide exactly how much. Having a figure in mind will massively help with motivation and staying on track.

“It’s rarely as simple a case of ‘I need to lose weight because I’m overweight’, so dig deep and find the real reasons. Write them down, use photographs, sketches or anything physical to remind you. Then, should motivation dwindle, you can use these to keep you on-track.”

Set Goals

2. Ensure The Long Term Plan Is Sustainable

“The early stages are always highly fuelled with motivation, but it can lose its potency. It’s all too common to let the early motivation take charge and rush into the first training method that presents itself.

“From the outset, make sure any fitness plan is at least six weeks long, becomes more challenging over time, and isn’t too difficult in the first few weeks – don’t let overexertion sap your motivation in the early stages.”

3. Create Some Undeniable Accountability

“Nothing gets a person more motivated than accountability. If you make your goals common knowledge, there’ll be motivation from all angles.

“Let friends and family chart your progress with an email blast. If you don’t hit your goals, there’s room to feel like you’re letting the network down – and that’s the point. You’ll stay motivated, and a byproduct is the support you’ll receive when things get tough.”


4. Don’t Discount Motivational Quotes

“[Motivational quotes are] not to be underestimated and can provide a powerful tool. Find some fitness or success quotes, or even pictures you find inspirational. Print them out and pin them up around your life – especially in places that tempt weakness, like the fridge, the TV or your work desk.”

5. Create A Playlist Or Audio Motivational Material

“Motivation during a workout is just as important. A good playlist is a short-term, quick-fix approach compared to the long game of motivational quotes.

“I’ve found motivational soundbites to be effective on cardio sessions to pass the time, and learning while training has appeal. Everyone is different, so find what works for you.”


Glute Bridges on the Balance Pad

Lie on your back on a mat or on the floor with your heels on a balance pad. Your arms should be relaxed at your sides. To make this exercise more difficult, keep your arms off the floor.

Exhale and push into your heels, lifting your buttocks off of the floor. Your neck and shoulders should remain relaxed. Slowly lower your buttocks down to the floor, keeping your buttocks and core engaged at all times.

Repeat 8-12 times, rest, then repeat the exercise if desired.
Source: Exercises

Knee Extensions

Stand up straight with an exercise band under one foot. Ensure that you have a good grip on the exercise band and that you have a good amount on tension on the exercise band.

Inhale and lift the foot slowly, resisting against the band, until your hip and knee are at approximately 90 degrees.

Exhale and push your foot back down until it touches the floor. Enure that you maintain good posture throughout the exercise.

Repeat 10-12 times, the switch legs.
Source: Exercises

Chin to Chest Stretch

Sit upright on a ball or chair with your feet shoulder width apart. Arms are relaxed with your hands resting on your thighs. Tuck your chin gently toward your chest.

Turn your head slightly to the left until you feel a slight stretch. Hold for 10-15 seconds.

Repeat to the right side, holding for 10-15 seconds.

Repeat at least twice to each side.
Source: Exercises