Strict Push Ups
April’s challenge is to do a number of strict push ups that is 4 times the date (4 strict push ups on April 1st, 8 strict push ups on April 2nd, 12 on the 3rd, etc.)
Before doing your push ups, check your positioning by doing the following:
Stand with your back to a wall, heels may be touching the wall or an inch away. Keeping your knees straight, squeeze your glutes and your abs so that your lower back flattens against the wall. Pull your head and shoulders back and tuck your chin, so that the back of your head and your shoulder blades press into the wall with the back of your neck getting as close to the wall as you can get it. This is your plank position! Now keep that position and turn to face the wall, toes touching the wall or an inch away. Lean into the wall. Notice that with the knees straight and the glutes and abs squeezed, the knees and hips do not make contact with the wall. With the head pulled back, the nose should not hit the wall either. Whatever part of you is touching the wall should be your point of contact at the bottom of the push up, and whatever is not touching the wall should also not touch the ground at the bottom of the push up.
A tight plank position should be held the entire time with the feet together. Hands can be positioned in a range of widths as long as the elbows can be kept swept back at least 45 degrees when the forearms are stacked over the wrists. Do not allow the elbows to flair out wide or the shoulders to shrug up toward the ears. Glutes and abs should be tightly engaged: lumbar should be flat, no break at the hips. Also, the chin should be tucked with the head pulled back (no turtles!).
If a tight position can not be held, modify the movement by putting your hands on a step, box, bench, chair, table, or countertop. Modify sufficiently so that you can keep a tight plank position. Your upper abs should contact the object you are putting your hands on at the bottom of the push up.
Mobility March Challenge!
CrossFit isn’t just about getting stronger and faster, increasing dynamic range of motion and improving posture and alignment are just as important (maybe more important). Our March challenge consist of 8 minutes of stretching each day (4 different sets throughout the month).
Days 1 – 8
2:00 kneeling wrist stretch: keep arms straight and hand flat, rock back and forth, change hand positions to get all four directions, plus try planting the backs of the hands on the ground with the fingers pointing towards your feet
1:00 ea side wall pigeon: keep butt close to the wall for a better stretch, try pushing the knee away for a different angle on the stretch
1:00 down dog: stretch shoulders open by pushing chest toward your knees, and push heels down toward the floor
1:00 up dog: push tops of feet into the ground, keep shoulders pulled back and down away from your ears
2:00 tall squat stretch: keep chest as upright as possible, keep the knees squeezed outward
2:00 kneeling shoulder extension: arms touching your ears, actively push the arms straight, try palms facing down and palms facing each other, keep abs tight
2:00 straddle stretch: legs straight and turn knees out
1:00 ea side supine twisty stretch: try knee bent and leg straight
2:00 gargoyle squat stretch; actively push knees out with your elbows
2:00 seated shoulder flexion: alternate between hands facing away and hands turned toward you
1:00 ea side couch stretch: spend some time leaning forward and pushing hips toward the opposite heel, then get tall and lean back (butt toward heel)
1:00 ea side bend “C” stretch: adjust hand height so that you get a stretch in the lat and down the whole side of your body (down to the hip bone)
2:00 narrow squat stretch: hang onto something if needed, stretch the ankles, push the knees outward
1:00 ea side bully band stretch: don’t go too hard
1:00 ea side downward dog calf/achilles stretch: actively push heel back and down
2:00 barrel stretch: stretch with the roller in a couple different places (anywhere you’ve got ribs), anchor hands with weights if needed, focus is on getting more extension in the spine (even though the shoulders will get a stretch too)
2:00 deep squat stretch: let the back round, just get down deep, keep knees out, shift side to side or make little circles
Core strength is important all year long, but February is our month for focusing on core strengthening. This can be done at home with zero equipment, so you should be able to get it done whether or not it is a “gym day” for you (aka no excuses ;)).
Each day in February, your goal is to do 2 times as many Pilates “double leg lower & lifts” as the date, and 2 times as many arch ups as the date (i.e. Feb 1st = 2 double leg lower lifts and 2 arch ups, Feb 2nd = 4 double leg lower lifts and 4 arch ups, … and so on).
Pilates Double Leg Lower and Lift
Lay yourself down (face up) on a mat, carpet, or other firm but cushiony surface. Place your hands behind your head, but rather than interlacing your fingers, stack one hand on top of the other. Each rep starts in a high and tight ab crunch position (shoulder blades off the ground) with both legs pointed straight up, squeezed together and with the toes pointed. Lower both legs part of the way to the floor and then lift them back to vertical. Only lower the legs until the tailbone touches the ground (yes, that means that you should begin with such a strong crunch that the tailbone starts off the ground!!!). For most people, this will be a range of motion that is less than 45 degrees. Hold the strong crunch position the whole time, even while lowering the legs. Movement in both directions should be slow and controlled, so that the upper body does not rock back and forth, and the crunch can be held tightly.
Sometimes referred to as a “Superman,” we want you to perform this movement like the gymnast that you are: straight arms and legs, with toes pointed and feet squeezed together.
Lie on your stomach and arch as much of your body off the ground as possible, only your abs should be in contact with the ground when you are at the top. Freeze the top “arch” position for just a half a second before returning to the ground. You can do these fast if you want, but control the movement in both directions: no “floppsies.” Double check that your elbows are actually straight, and that your legs are actually together! As with a hollow up, you should not just be lifting but also reaching (fingertips reach forward and toes reach backward).
January is National Pull-Up Month! …Okay, not really. I couldn’t get it approved by Congress, but here at CF Cielo, we are challenging you to work on your pull ups! Each day in January, your goal is to do 4 times as many pull ups as the date, (i.e. Jan 1st = 4 pull ups, Jan 2nd = 8 pull ups… and so on). Make sure that each rep starts with straight arms and ends with the chin higher than the bar. Modify the pull ups and break them up so that they can be done without thrashing and jerking and flailing about. If the movement is not smooth and controlled (in both directions!), use an easier modification or do fewer reps in a row. You just have to accumulate the total number of pull ups throughout the day. That’s it. Happy pull-up-ing!
Partial squat jump mod: Using a box or a chair so that you can hang from a bar and have your feet grounded with legs in a partial squat, then use a little bit of a jump to get your chin higher than the bar.
Full squat mod: Stand on something high enough that you can be on your tip-toes with your chin higher than the bar, and support your body weight with your feet the whole way up and the whole way down.