A Question of Strength? Part2

Posted 14th July 2015 by Josh Schouten

Squat4LifeIn the A Question of Strength? Part1 we talked about the importance of knowing your level of strength before starting the next phase of the CrossFit Hackney programme.  Following the correct programming will deliver maximise the progress you can achieve with the least amount of training time.

Here is a breakdown of what to expect at each level: (more…)

A Question of Strength? Part1

Posted 13th July 2015 by Josh Schouten

GodSquatsIt’s never enough to just show up and work hard and expect the results to just happen. This is like blindly throwing money at the stock market and expecting to make a big return just because you made an investment.

To be successful takes an intelligent approach, and just like you need to invest your money wisely if you want it to grow, you need to invest your time wisely if you really want your strength and conditioning to improve.

Using a “one-size-fits-all” workout that some random person throws up online is never the most efficient way to train either (and often times, it’s dangerous).  Your program should be specific to your goals, where you are within your level of strength, your body’s limitations or injury history, etc.

We all want to be “elite” or at least “advanced” CrossFitters, so it makes sense to skip over the beginners programs and go straight to what the pros are doing, right? At first glance it may seem logical that if you copy strong people you’ll ultimately become just as strong yourself but even the slightest bit of reflection will reveal this hypothesis is flawed.

The truth is that we DO need to mimic strong people but you need to look at the whole picture rather than the end results.  Many of these strong people have spent years building strength in the gym or skills in their sports. Many of us only see the current way these athlete train, and not where they have come from. There are no shortcuts when it comes to building strength and all of us need to recognise where in the journey we currently sit. (more…)

CFH Training Plan 13/07/2015 – 19/07/2015

Posted 12th July 2015 by Josh Schouten

Week 16 of 16 Juggernaut


This week all I’m going to say is good luck and enjoy it.  Many of you have worked your butts off over the last 16weeks to improve your strength in the Squat, Deadlift, Bench and Overhead Press.  For those who have recorded the journey it will be rewarding to look back at the original 1RM’s you entered into the spread sheet in week 1/16.  Many of you have added 10% or more to your lifts in 16weeks and this is an amazing result, so congratulations.

This week is going to be a mix of some very different training styles.  There will be 5 days this week that will allow you 25minutes to establish a new 1RM on either the Back Squat, Front Squat, Overhead Press, Bench Press or Deadlift.  Make sure you take your time with the lifts and aim to do a minimum of 8-10sets as you work towards a 1RM.  Strength training and performing max lifts is all about the central nervous system (CNS) and switching on as many muscle fibres as possible to pick up the iron.  Its worth noting the CNS takes longer to warm-up than the muscular system, so its important to work up to a max effort attempt and not simply throw weight on the bar as see what happens.  The rest between sets in also important and as the weight reaches 85%+ the CNS will need 3minutes to recover between attempts. 

Patients in the key this week! No only with the strength movement, but also with some of the energy system training we have planned.  Energy systems are a tricky thing and to train them correctly you need to learn rest and allow the targeted energy system to recover.  On Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday you will have 12minutes, 5minutes and 4minutes rest between your working efforts.  Use this time to recover for the workouts and  possible spend some time working on mobility.  I for one am keen to see how these workout and if we can start to include some more energy system training in the regular CrossFit classes.  

Be patient this week and enjoy the change of speed.  Next week we will start the new cycle.  Stay tuned to the blog this week, as I will be posting more detailed information about our next 16-week phase at CrossFit Hackney.



DailyBurn: Will a Post-Workout Beer Affect Muscle Growth? – Beer lovers, rest easy. Though more research is needed, there is currently no evidence to suggest a post-workout beer or two can cause long-term harm. If a tall one is your go-to treat after a hard workout, you don’t need to worry about your testosterone levels or protein synthesis rates. Just make sure your one-beer reward doesn’t turn into a five-beer habit.

GMB: How to do the perfect cartwheel, Technique and Programming – The cartwheel may not be the sexiest skill out there, but you’d be shocked by how much you can benefit by learning to do one well and with grace.

Though often overlooked for flips and other tricks, the cartwheel is a foundational move that can tell you a lot about what you need to work on in your athleticism and general movement ability. It tests upper body strength, lower body flexibility, and overall body coordinated action.

Robertson Training: Simplifying Your Squat and Deadlift – Next time you’re in the gym, set your spine, feel your whole foot, and think about pushing when you squat and deadlift.

Eat to Perform: Don’t Earn Your Food in the Gym – Back to earning/not earning your food, though. The road to an invincible mindset that can lead you to success in nutrition and exercise and so many areas of your life? That road starts in your mind, as well as your body. You need to get your head and your butt in gear. Clear thinking plus movement is the road, and you need to get on that road.

Functional Fit Mag: Top 10 ways to get Skinny Fat – Skinny-fat is loosely defined as those people that may look good with clothes on, but not so much without them.  With enough denim and elastic clothing it’s possible to pack loose subcutaneous fat in the right spots, but when the support goes, gravity shows the true reality.  Being under muscled is probably just as much of growing trend as obesity.  When you combine the two, you might get someone that has a BMI that is in the normal range but still suffers from the same ill health effects.

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London Box Battles – Round 2, 2015 – Movement Standards

Posted 6th July 2015 by Josh Schouten

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WOD1 Part A –

 Clean Complex:

1 Deadlift

+1 Hang Clean (power clean or squat clean, as long as the bar starts from above the knee in the hang clean)

+1 Front Squat


All 4 repetitions must be unbroken; athletes are not allowed to drop the bar between repetitions.

The movement standards are:


CFH Training Plan 06/07/2015 – 12/07/2015

Posted 5th July 2015 by Josh Schouten

Week 15 of 16 Juggernaut


A Healthy Bank Account – 

We should manage our health status the same way as we manage our “bank account”, something from which we make deposits and withdrawals.  Like a bank account, our “Health Balance” is a product of credits minus debits. If we make more frequent (or larger) deposits than withdrawals, we accumulate “Health Wealth”.  And, hopefully not to take this analogy too far, that Wealth pays dividends down the road.  Conversely, if we overextend our resources (withdrawing more than you’re depositing), you’ll find yourself in the red – “Health Debt”.  Think about over drafting your bank account – we can continue spending for a while, but at some point, we simply can’t spend any more, well because there’s nothing left in the bank. Are you with me so far?  Now here’s where we start talking about over spending your energy, under eating, and as a result under performing.

Your diet, sleep, training and general recovery habits are all a part of “Health Wealth” (the balance of health credits and debits).

Nutrition is the BIGGEST potential health credit. Eating adequate calories from nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory foods on a daily basis will deposit credits into your health balance.  But your nutrition factor can also be a negative integer, a debit. In other words, eating unhealthy foodstuffs, drinking alcohol, skipping meals, overeating calories can actually cost you – think obesity and chronic disease.

Exercise is a physical stress placed on our bodies and should be seen as a “Health Investment.” The intensity, frequency and volume of exercise are the factors that determine the total investment of “Health Credits.” Just like all investments there are always risks that you could lose all of your investment.  With your “Training Investment” how much you get in returns is dependent on the recovery factors.

You’ve just trained the house down and invested your hard earned “Health Credit.”   Your recovery factors (return on your investment) include sleep (8+ hours per night), nutrition, yoga, massage and relaxation. Failing to recover fully from your training session guarantees your investments will fail.  Not only have you failed to top up the “Heath Credits” you have also lost your “Training Investment” and your overall “Health Balance” is left in the red.

If the total number of “Health Credits” you invest each week in training out weigh the total number of “Health Credits” you save – by eating well, resting and recovering – your weekly “Health Investments” are more than your “Health Credits.”  Your poor body has not choice but to switch itself into starvation mode.

Let’s be honest, most of us train for aesthetics. We all want to look and feel better about ourselves.  How many of us train and eat for “Health Balance?”  Unfortunately, due to popular media, many of us have very little idea on how to achieve a “Health Balance”.  The media tells us that if we eat fewer calories and do more exercise we will lose weight? Society actually buys into this hogwash and the fear of getting fat leads us to overtraining and under eating.

“I’m on a diet and I’m cutting calories”  “Heath Debt”

“I skip breakfast/lunch/snacks because I’m trying to lose weight”  “Heath Debt”

“I train 7 days a week, and/or 2 times a day”  “Heath Debt”

“I do aerobic training, running and/or spin classes”  “Health Debt”

If it was as simple as cutting calories and doing endless hours of training, why do we have a global obesity problem? Do you think our current population trains less than our grandparents did? Every year our society continues to grow fatter and sicker because the answer to the problem is not that simple. The “Health Debt” created by these incorrect protocols is killing us, but the fear factor of eating what people incorrectly consider too much and training too little is driving us over the cliff. Many of us don’t manage the balance of our health account very well!

Overtraining and a decreased calorie intake is creating a MASSIVE  “Health Debt” that causes our body to switch off its metabolism and other non essential functions.  Our body goes into a state of starvation because it does not have the resources it needs to run optimally.  When your body goes into this state of starvation, all it wants to do is lower its lean muscle mass, because lean muscle is metabolic and your body does not have the nutrients to support it.  A starving body prefers to store body fat.  Fat is not metabolic, so it can store as much body fat as it likes, we don’t need calories to store body fat. Why would your body want to have a fast metabolism if your not feeding it? Why would your body want to build or maintain lean muscle mass it you’re performing endless hours of training without the “Health Credits” to support the “Training Investment.”   Have you ever seen a lean and healthy looking marathon running?  Endurance athletes typically train the house down and have terrible health, lower bone density, zero lean muscle mass, unhealthy digestive systems due to elevated stress (aerobic training increases cortisol levels), enlarged left heart ventricles due to the stress of high volume aerobic training, and a body composition that educated fitness experts would call skinny fat.  Does any of this sound healthy?

It’s about a healthy balance and eating enough food and getting enough rest to support your individual “Heath Account.”   Some of us eat more credits than we spend and we have a fat health account, others spend and invest more than they can afford and they end up with a fat account in the red.  Its time to balance the books and make sure you are living a lifestyle that is balanced.

I get a sore head listening to people talk about how much they think they need to train and how little they think they need to eat.  All of these statements are creating one big “Health Debt” that can only lead to obesity and chronic disease. As long as our global population continues to think like this I know one thing, the health and fitness industry be a profitable industry to work in.




Breaking Muslce: The Right Way To Lose Fat: What To Eat? – Let’s set the record straight from the outset: the goal of any weight loss, pound-shedding, “trimming,” or whatever-you-label-it program is body FAT loss, not necessarily scale-weight loss. So, bubble-wrap your weight scale and put it in the basement or attic and focus on your body composition: the fat to muscle ratio.

GMB: Get Better Sleep – Ample and quality sleep is one of the most important, and sadly neglected, elements of a sound mind and body. We can spend so much time and energy on our physical fitness, nutrition, and socio-emotional aspects of our lives and completely bypass one of the pillars of health.

We often fall into the trap of foregoing sleep in an effort to “get more done.”

Don’t nullify the hard work and effort you put towards your workouts and diet with poor sleep habits. Getting a good restful night’s sleep is just as important as nutrition and exercise for optimal health.

Catalyst Athletics: Overhead Stability in the Snatch – When an athlete has difficulty supporting the bar overhead in the snatch, it’s natural to immediately assume there is insufficient strength and to address the problem with strength work. While this may often be the problem, or at least one part of it, there are other elements to consider that may be preventing the athlete from properly using what may be adequate strength. In some cases, these problems can be corrected very quickly and save everyone a lot of headaches.

Dr Mouton: Toxic Breakfast – Dr Kellogg you have managed to make millions of people believe that to benefit from a decent breakfast they should buy, not a natural product, but instead one that has been processed and packaged in a factory.

Mind Body Green: Want To Lose Weight: Don’t Focus On Exercise  – You can’t out-exercise a bad diet.

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