17 January 2011


This isn’t the name of the workout of the day, but it is the topic on the mat, waiting to be grappled with.

20 Wall Balls 20/14

20 KB Swings 1.5 pood/1 pood

20 Box Jumps 24″

20 KB SDHP   1.5pood/1pood

three rounds for time, with a minute rest in between rounds

I found myself laughing at the end of this workout, after the dizziness subsided and I regained a normal breathing pattern…I was laughing because at the start if the workout I thought to myself, “oh this is gonna be EASY!” Why would I EVER think that?

Well as the workout progressed  and I realized it was kicking my butt and I need to start kicking back I found myself trying to focus on my breathing and nothing else. This is new for me and I almost lost count a few times, but it really helped. I also realized that not only can breath help you get through a workout it can make your workout better. But breathing is something to practice outside of the WOD as well, otherwise losing count will indeed happen.

Practicing breathing? But we breathe without thinking, it’s natural, what does learning to control your breath mean, look like feel like? How do we practice breathing and why should we? Here is an  excerpt from a recent article from the CrossFit Journal.

If the core-to-extremity principle is one of the main components of effective movement, then breathing and focus are the ultimate tools of implementation. Think about this the next time you lift something: our power starts with our core, our center, and one way to tighten our core is to breathe into it. If we start to let our breath out before we finish lifting, we weaken our core and thus our chance of injury increases or we miss the lift.
This practice of focusing on the breath, as opposed to getting caught up in your thoughts, is extremely powerful when applied to situations that require intense physical exertion. Of course, the self-talk we all know about can be helpful to get us through tough times and motivate us to do our best, but even getting caught up in positive thoughts while working out can drain us of our energy and perhaps cause us to lose focus on the task at hand. This energy is so precious in these moments. We cannot afford to waste an ounce of it. With every positive thought, there always lies its opposite. So rather than risk getting caught up in the inner battle, or even having to tame the negative thoughts, why not just use your breath as a point of focus?
Physically, we need body awareness in order to be good athletes. If you do not know how to loosen your hips or engage your lats, you will likely have problems with the kipping pull-up. Mind you, body awareness happens on a very deep subconscious level. We are often not telling ourselves to do something while in the movement. But we have learned how to move through our training along the way. That’s another cool thing about the breath: it pierces through our conscious level, into the subconscious, allowing us to go deeper into our bodies, sometimes without us really even knowing it.

Interesting, no? here’s a basic how to of breathing practice,

Sit up tall, with a straight spine. As you draw in a deep inhalation, pay close attention to the direction your spine moves. Then when you exhale, pay attention to how your spine moves now. On the inhalation, your spine automati- cally goes into extension.  The breath pulls your spine into extension: the lower back arches slightly and the chest lifts towards the ceiling. The same goes for spinal flexion on the exhalation. As soon as you exhale, the spine rounds slightly and the chest draws inward.
As you focus on your breathing during this exercise, notice how little room there is to think. For a brief moment, your mind goes quiet and you get a small reprieve from all the chatter. It is rather pleasant, no? From here, for the next few minutes, allow yourself to sink into your breath.

You will notice when practicing this breathing exercise how much your thoughts try and control the situation, thoughts will try to bully you into not thinking about breathing. It is the same in our workouts. Our thoughts, our minds try to tell us we need to stop, to only do a set of 10 or 5, the inner battle of one more not enough keep going quit. If we take the time to practice breathing outside of the gym like we practice mobility WOD’s or any movement we are trying to grasp, then we will indeed see improvement in our ability to finish faster better stronger…..healthier!

This is such great and useful information. I have asthma and I am constantly struggling with the idea of “catching my breath”. I think that sometimes I use it as an excuse to not keep pushing or to rest a little longer than is necessary. The idea of being able to control my breath and/ or use it to my benefit to get out of my head is extremely appealing and empowering. I look forward to putting this exercise into action.

Comment by Heather Mckearnan — January 18, 2011 @ 7:58 am

Thanks again for the drop in yesterday – picked a great day to visit! The breathing thing is very critical, especially at a high altitude location such as yours. Keeping yourself at the edge of failure but not passing it and having an excessive recovery time is a long lesson, and a hard one. Not listening to your body when it is screaming at you to STOP!!! takes some time, but it will pay off when you really need to do hard work and get something done.

Train hard and have fun, and hopefully see you the next time through. And kick ass at the Throwdown!

Comment by Eric Walden — January 19, 2011 @ 7:36 pm

Mobility WOD