News / Barbell

Why CrossFit Workouts Are Like Motherhood

CrossFit is a loaded word in the world of fitness. People either obsessively love it or completely hate it. I sat through many conversations with fellow gym-goers who thoroughly enjoy giving me an earful about all the reasons why they don't like or do CrossFit.
Here's my stance... I love CrossFit and it's OK if you don't.
You're never going to catch me going to Zumba or Yoga, but that doesn't mean that I look down on you if you do. Those things just aren't my cup of tea... and that's OK. I'm not going to corner you and belittle you for enjoying those style or workouts and going to those classes. I'm just happy you have found something that keeps you moving and keeps you in a healthy lifestyle. GO YOU!
Now, back to CrossFit...
When I was pregnant and during my early maternity leave, I lost  A LOT of muscle, which is something that has never happened to me before in my life. I had always been in shape due to being an athlete or being a fitness instructor, and it was tough to accept my postpartum body that was weak, jiggly, and not stong at all. But the option of being weak with a new little baby to take care of was not an option, so after my doctor cleared me at 6 weeks to return back to exercise, I had to focus on gaining back my muscle, not only to lose the pregnancy weight, but to get stronger to be the best Mom I could be. 
Pre-Baby, my workouts were fairly random. I lifted and did CrossFit workouts, but never had any structure to my workout plan. But, again, I was much more fit and in shape back then. It didn't take much to maintain what I had had my entire life. Working out after pregnancy was much different and deserved a little more thought and diligence. 
In order to focus on putting muscle back on, I created a plan with two upper and two lower body days. Sets varied between 3-5 and reps anywhere from 6-12. Now, you're probably thinking, that isn't CrossFit. Yes. I know this. At this time, I had to be more conscious about my form, proper technique, and making sure that I was using the right amount of weight. I needed to build a foundation of muscle for myself. I continued this until I was 6 months postpartum. During this time, I was also learning how to be a new mother. Every day is different with a baby... you honestly never know what your day will bring until you wake up and get going. This is why I only dedicated myself to working out 4 days a week (and on those days I only lifted, no cardio!). If I got in more than 4 days, great, if I only got in 4 days, then that was great too. My focus was on being a new mom to my new little man. 
After 6 months, I felt like I hit a groove. I was getting stronger and shedding the pregnancy weight, Little man was getting into more of a routine and a little bit sturdier himself, and I was feeling a lot more confident overall in most aspects of my life. This is when I decided to bring CrossFit back into my training schedule. 
I decided to add a day to my training schedule, so rather than dedicating myself to 4 days a week, I was going to get in 5. I kept my 2-2 upper and lower body training split for the first part of the week and put my CrossFit workout on the last day. In this CrossFit workout, I throw in a little bit of everything... snatches, cleans, dumbbells, tires, kettlebells, handstands, etc. These are absolutely my favorite workouts of the week and seem to be a reflection of my everyday life. My traditional weightlifting sessions are very routine and methodical, yet my CrossFit workouts are random and constantly challenging, very much like being a mother. Each day I wake up is something different... no two days are ever the same. Some days it's a struggle to push through until the end, but there's no other option. The day must be finished. CrossFit workouts teach you just that. Sometimes when you look at the workout, the only thing you can do is cry and laugh a little on the inside, but you know you're going to do the workout and you're going to get it done. There is no other option. These workouts teach perseverance and that getting through the workout is more rewarding that not doing it at all. There are so many days as a mother that you just don't know how you will get through, but you do it anyways, because your family is worth it. Worth all the blood, sweat and tears. When I walk in for my CrossFit workout on the last training day of my week, I'm tired, I'm sore, and I'm ready for a break. Similar to how I am typically feeling at the end of my week as a mother! I try to use this workout to reflect on all aspects of my week, including how truly blessed I am. I'm healthy, my son is healthy, and we have so many things to be thankful for in our lives. No matter how exhausted or how defeated I may feel at times, I know I am strong and I will find a way to get through things. There is a lot to be thankful in life, and a tough workout or a tough day of parenting is small potatoes in the grand scheme of things. 
Persevere. 
Check out Alyssa at Barbells Burpees Bacon & Facebook & Instagram
Read more →

#tinywin

Hi there Snatchers and Runners! I’m Hilary, one of the Two Babes and a Barbell (the one who did not just give birth to adorable twin boys). Special thanks to Meri and Christy for reaching out to me and sending two of their sweet shirts my way (Gym Unicorn and Wine and Weights, if you were wondering) and giving me the opportunity of sharing some musings with you all over here.

So the title of this post is #tinywin. Let’s have a virtual hands up for all the readers out there who have been CrossFitting (or doing whatever form of exercise it is you love) for a year or more. I’m guessing this is a decent number of you, and you’ve heard all the hype, drank the Kool-Aid, yada yada yada.

You’ve also probably heard that whole thing about how PRs will be raining down that first year (if this is you, it’s soooo awesome – enjoy it!), but at some point, things will slow down, you might feel like you’re stagnating, and you’re stuck in a PR desert (I almost typed PR dessert – which would be amazing. PRs should always be celebrated, and dessert is always a great idea….anyways, I digress….).

I’ve been CrossFitting for almost 2 years, and I am definitely familiar with this cycle. If you add injury to the mix, things can get even more complicated/frustrating (read about my journey with a back injury earlier this year here and here).

This summer, I didn’t PR almost anything. But that doesn’t mean the summer was a waste. I spent a ton of time on mobility and form, and this is where #tinywin comes in. Even before I was injured, I started to realize that I’ve reached a point in my CrossFit career where strength (or lack thereof) is often not the main thing holding me back. That is simultaneously cool (it’s really awesome to look back and see how strong I’ve gotten over 2 years) and extremely frustrating. Meaning my lifts could go up, I could master (or at least be competent at) movements I struggle with, simply by making tweaks to form or changing bad habits/movement patterns (but let’s be honest – that’s not simple AT ALL).

To me, #tinywin is when I can see hard work paying off. It doesn’t mean a huge PR, but rather that hours (literally) of mobility have paid off, I’m moving better than I was before, or positioning has improved. And, in the long term, I know that sets me up for PRs in the future.

What #tinywins have I seen lately? SO glad you asked….

1. Squats! Since being injured, my coach has really been driving home squat form. Namely, not folding over on back squats when the weight gets heavy (again – my legs are totally strong enough, it’s that darn form thing), but also just sitting back in my heels all the way in an air squat. I’ve done a crap ton of squat mobility and worked lighter squats with emphasis on form all summer long. So when my coach sees me do a heavy single and says “I’m so happy!” - #tinywin

2. Elbows! I always drop my elbows in my jerk (and front squat too). A great font rack position is a struggle for me, and something I’ve really been trying to drill into my head the past few months. I know I sound like a broken record, but I’ve got a ton of shoulder strength, but doing a jerk with elbows down in front is just that much harder. So yesterday I was doing some clean and jerks and asked my coach how my elbows were. He said my elbows looked SO much better and that’s probably why my jerk looked so great. #tinywin

3. Snatch! Don’t we all struggle with this one? The snatch is so technical, I feel like any improvement is huge. I love power snatching, but really struggle with getting under the bar quickly and dropping in a squat snatch. So, when twice in one week, 2 separate coaches complimented me on the bottom position of my squat snatch “Have you always had such great ankle mobility?” and “Your bottom position is looking so much better.”) – you get the idea. #tinywin (x2).

4. Pull-ups! My nemesis/age-old struggle. I’ve not been working on kipping pull-ups at all over the summer because of my back. And the strict pull-ups I’ve been doing have been with more assistance to drill home perfect form/lat engagement. So last weekend, there was a WOD with pull-ups. As per usual, I got my band set up. Then our coach challenged me to try without a band. I was skeptical and sort of annoyed, but agreed to at least try. It was only 3 pull-ups per round, and somehow, I kipped 3 for the first round. I honestly expected not to be able to do pull-ups each round, but somehow got 4 complete rounds in! My first ever RX pull-up WOD. #tinywin doesn’t seem like quite enough for this one. ;)

Anyways, my point is, just because you’re more of a seasoned CrossFitter and PRs might not be as plentiful anymore, there are still victories to be had. And I would argue that a #tinywin might be more helpful and serve you more in the long term than a PR anyway. You just have to shift your perspective a bit and realize that you’re still awesome, and success comes in many forms.

If you like what you read here, feel free to visit our site, and follow along on Facebook and Instagram too. And if you have any #tinywins, reach out and share them with us!

Read more →