This is a difficult question to answer in a short post but the important thing to understand is that how sick you feel, how exhausted you are, and how sore you are the following day are not indicators of the effectiveness of the session. We design all of our sessions to maximize the training stimulus while minimizing the likelihood for injury. We want to train hard but also train smart. Some forms of training may seem easier while you’re doing them but actually take much longer to recover from. Other forms of training may seem exhausting while you’re doing them but take much less time to recover from. And some forms of training are simply inappropriate to be done to exhaustion…similar to trying to eat soup with a fork. Basically, the perception of fatigue or going through a vomit or soreness inducing workout is not the best indicator of the efficacy of the session.
When we’re working on speed, power or maximal strength (rather than aerobic or anaerobic conditioning or muscular endurance) you need to take sufficient rest to ensure that the body can continue to operate at the level necessary to best train those qualities. To train those qualities you need to be relatively fresh. You can not be overly fatigued and expect to train speed, power or maximal strength well. To train these them, one needs to be able to recruit muscle fibers maximally and efficiently. When someone is overly fatigued this is not possible. So while there’s certainly a time and place for fast-paced, minimal-rest workouts or portions of workouts, that would be inappropriate if the goal of that workout or portion of the workout was to train maximal strength, power or speed.
Many gyms, especially those that practice CrossFit, perform kettlebell swings so that the swing ends with the arms completely overhead. We do not. We prefer to teach what is known as a Russian kettlebell swing. The high swing is characterized by an end point where the kettlebell is completely overhead at the top of the swing and the knee and hip opened completely. This is referred to as an American kettlebell swing within the fitness community. It’s motions is longer and smoother. In contrast, we teach what is known as a Russian kettlebell swing. This is characterized by a high point right with the kettlebell directly in front of the eyes. The movement is shorter, faster and more compact.We feel very strongly that this kettlebell swing variation is superior to its American counterpart. It’s not only the original and most widely practiced version of the swing around the world, it’s also safer and a better training method than the American version. While the American version of the kettlebell swing moves the kettlebell through a greater range of motion, it places the highly unstable shoulder joint in a compromised position at the top of the swing. The shoulder joint is the most unstable joint in the human body and bearing a load overhead in a close grip position is not orthopedically sound. Furthermore, despite claims that the greater range of motion associated with an American swing increases work (Work = Force x Distance) and therefore power (Power = (Force x Distance) / Time)), we are certain this is simply not the case in actual application. Although the range of motion in an American swing is greater than its Russian counterpart, this also requires the athlete to make a compromise in either Force or Time that easily negates any increase in range of motion. If the swing is brought totally overhead, the athlete must use a lighter kettlebell (which will likely lead to decreased Force output) to ensure they can move the kettlebell all the way to the overhead position. This somewhat obvious point is actually even greater than one might think because once the arms and kettlebell are moved beyond parallel with the ground the athlete is at a distinct mechanical disadvantage (read up on lever systems for details if you’re not a biomechanist or engineer). In fact, the kettlebell slows substantially once it passes the chest on the upswing due to this mechanical disadvantage. Basically, if you have enough hip power to get the kettlebell all the way to the American standard position overhead then you should be using more weight (or actively forcing the kettlebell down to increase the effective load of the kettlebell). The other consequence is that the time to complete the swing is significantly longer which reduces the power output. So while the American swing is the de facto technique for CrossFit competitions, we do not feel it is the best variation to be used in training outside of training specifically for CrossFit competitions.
No. Our workouts and exercises scale to any level.
We squat deep regularly. In fact, one of our beliefs is to emphasize range of motion before load. This means that if you’re unable to perform a movement through its entire range of motion that we don’t want to see you go up in weight until you can. Strength training is one of the best ways to enhance joint mobility and flexibility….but only if you are moving through the largest range of motion possible. For this reason, we squat deep to ensure you attain or maintain the range of motion that we’re supposed to have in the ankles, knees, and hips…the same range of motion that we’re all born with that allows babies to easily sit down in to a deep squat. Additionally, squatting through the entire range of motion is the only way to maximally develop the glutes (your butt). The glutes are most active only during the deepest range of motion. And because glute strength is so important in posture, running, lifting things up, etc., it’s important that we perform the movement to develop the glutes to the greatest extent possible.
At Athletic Lab it wouldn’t be unusual to see a workout that involves some form of squatting (overhead, back, front, loaded, bodyweight, etc) every day of the week. Squatting is a foundational movement that provides a high ‘bang-for-your-buck’ in terms of training stimuli. Because you’re incorporating the majority of muscles in your body to perform a squat it is a great exercise for training economy…no need to do leg extensions for the quads, leg curls for the hamstrings, and hit the “Thigh Master” for the adductors when the squat hits all those muscles at one time in a much more functional manner. Because the squat hits so many muscles at the same time it kicks your metabolism in to overdrive really quickly.
The squat also has a lot of carry over to other exercises. In fact, Russian sport scientists found that when technique in the Olympic lifts is proficient, the limiting factor is often one’s back squat max (an efficient power clean:squat ratio should be 1:1.3). The same thing has been found for the deadlift by the elite powerlifters of the famous, West Side Barbell powerlifting club. Finally, the squat is functional. It’s something we all need to be able to do well or we risk losing our ability to accomplish many simple tasks. Standing up, sitting down, picking things up, carrying heavy objects, and a host of other activities are all related to our hip and leg strength and mobility. Once we lose either the strength, range of motion, or both to perform a full deep squat we are on the road to a lower quality of life where we’re unable to do many seemingly simple actions.
The squat is a great movement because, if performed with appropriate technique over a complete range of motion, it can boost strength, metabolism, mobility, and increase a person’s performance in other exercises as well as in life.
This is a common misconception. Without pharmaceutical intervention, women don’t have the hormonal capacity to put on muscle mass like a man. With our training sessions you will lose body fat and build lean muscle mass, but you won’t look like a body-builder…we promise.
This depends on your goals. In most cases, for athletes competing or practicing for their sport, 2-3 times per week is ideal. 3 times per week will typically yield better performance gains as long as it can be fit in to the training schedule. At 2 times per week, performance gains will still be made however if attendance drops to 1 time per week then the best one can hope for is maintenance of prior training adaptations.
The same holds true for our Performance Fitness class. Most clients attend 3 times per week however those with special performance goals will often attend up to 5 times per week. As with most things fitness related, the effect is dose-dependent. The greater your frequency and commitment the greater your rewards will be.
One of the most common questions we receive via email or phone is what to expect from our CrossFit class. People are wondering whether it’s appropriate for an out-of-shape individual. Or someone with an injury. Or for non-athletes. The answer is that it’s perfect for all of the above. In our CrossFit classes, the goal is to train the everyday person, former-athletes, non-athletes and ‘weekend warrior’ types to have fitness and functional capacity levels ordinarily reserved only for highly trained athletes. The class incorporates principles of Gymnastics, Powerlifting, Olympic Weightlifting, Martial Arts, Military, and sport training in to one hybrid training protocol to allow the member to achieve higher levels of fitness than they ever have. All activities, exercises and loads are scaled so that everyone will be able to truly challenge themselves but workout safely regardless of the fitness level they enter the program with. Instruction on technique, rhythm, and method of execution is given throughout the session to ensure safety and quality of movement.
After only 2 weeks you’ll notice significant improvements in your fitness, body composition, and functional capacity. If you’re using the class as a means of training for another sport you’ll start to see performance gains right away as well. The class will challenge you physically and mentally but once you’ve had a taste you’ll keep coming back for more.
In most cases, the answer is a resounding “yes.” One of the things we do best is develop training plans that fit for every circumstance and this includes cases of injury. Research and years of anecdotal evidence suggests that recovery and return to fitness will be significantly faster if you train safely and appropriately while recovering from the injury.
We are not a health club. We are a training facility with hands on coaching from world class coaches. The level of instruction and the individual attention means that we cannot compete with high-volume, low-quality training experiences that offer low prices. With that said though, Athletic Lab provides real results that are a true value for the price of the class.
No. While it certainly helps, most people that join our Performance Fitness program do not enter with a high level of fitness. We limit the size of all our classes to ensure optimal coach-to-client ratios. This allows us to scale every workout to the fitness levels of each client.
We understand that members sometimes leave early. That’s why our early termination policy is as fair and transparent as possible. All that we ask is that members pay for the difference between the discounted monthly rate they have received as a result of their longer commitment and the rate of the next longest commitment term they have completed times the total number of months the member was with us. For example, if a member initially signed up for a 12 month contract at a rate of $150 / month but only stayed 7 months they would pay the difference between the rate they were paying ($150 / month) and the next longest term (6 month rate of $160 / month for a differential of $10 / month) for a total of 7 months ($70).