Tag Archives: CrossFit Masters

What CrossFit Masters Athletes wish CrossFit Trainers knew.

Crossfit masters athletes are a growing part of crossfit communities, crossfit boxes and client bases.  Many Masters Athletes have felt ignored or that our unique experiences, injuries and needs are misunderstood by crossfit trainers who have had little knowledge about working with our age group.  Accordingly many are seeking community, support and advice from their peers on Crossfit Masters webpages and facebook groups.  The Crossfit Masters group CFMasters now has over 7,000 members from around the world.  Other groups,that support primarily Crossfit Masters women or masters within a specific age class are also popping up.  Many group members have questions that are masters specific:

  • How long does it take masters to recover from _______ (add type of injury here)?
  • How are other masters dealing with insomnia, or muscle soreness, or flexibility problems?
  • Do masters athletes have specific nutritional needs?
  • What can I do to get faster, stronger, leaner etc.?
  • How are hormonal shifts impacting my performance?

Masters crossfit athletes, masters athletes in general and the need for more research

crossfit masters athlete John Mariotti
Crossfit Masters Athlete John Mariotti trains for the crossfit games

The explosion of interest in participation in Masters Sports and Athletics is quite recent.  The pace of research to address masters athletes needs is just warming up.  Or possibly still parked in the driveway.  Most of the research available to us has focused on health and functionality among the elderly.  While it is useful to look at these studies, studies about us masters would be greatly appreciated.  (Will be writing more on what we have so far soon.  Take a look at our archives for now.)

For Crossfit Trainers working with Masters Athletes: what you should know

Masters Crossfit Woman Training
Crossfit Masters Woman Angie Bender Competes in the 2014 Masters Crossfit Open
  • We want to be treated like athletes, but there are somethings that make us different than other athletes.
  • Understand that we will modify as we physically need to; we are not slackers. We are seasoned enough to distinguish muscle pain from joint distress and will protect ourselves from injury — Leanne Cantrell of CrossFit Mandeville
  • That our joints don’t work the way they used to. Find ways to help us get under the bar more efficiently, to get our elbows up into position, to engage our shoulders — addition from CFMasters athlete
  • “the first thing that came to my mind wasn’t on the list. Specifically that we need substantially more warm up, warm down, and stretching time. Oh, and aligned with some of the other thought already written – that coaches should ask us about our physical state, fitness and health history, any injuries we might have and our goals.”
  • Understand that our eyes are changing and that we don’t have the depth perception we used to.  This makes box jumps harder.  Its also harder for us to shift between near and far vision.  That also makes it harder for us to do box jumps and slows us down.
  • Vision issues can also make it harder for us to be as agile.
  • Many masters men will be concerned about testosterone.  Testosterone can be boosted by working out in a supportive (and co-ed) environment.   Crossfit is perfect for that.  As far as we know working out in a gung-ho co-ed group doesn’t increase cancer risk.
  • We are more likely to rupture a tendon or kill our shins and shoulders.  Have an emergency plan for first aid and for serious injuries.
  • ” New masters athletes appreciate mentoring by experienced masters athletes. Coaches can ask the experienced ones for this support.”
  • “Masters athletes may need to vary our level of intensity, weights or volume from WOD to WOD due to joint stress or other flare ups, I so appreciate when our coaches work on technique instead of going for better times or heavier weights that day.”
  • “That we have learned to finish what we start. Sometimes you just have to let us go to a corner and finish the WOD. We may not be the fastest. But we are persistent.” CFMaster
  • Cheer us on too.  We appreciate it.
Experienced as Hell Tank Masters Athletes Protein
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Here are a few articles that are specific to masters athletes.  We’ll be summarizing these soon.  Keep in touch.

Sillanpää E, Häkkinen A, Laaksonen DE, Karavirta L, Kraemer WJ, & Häkkinen K (2010). Serum basal hormone concentrations, nutrition and physical fitness during strength and/or endurance training in 39-64-year-old women. International journal of sports medicine, 31 (2), 110-7 PMID: 20222003

 

Sallinen J, Pakarinen A, Fogelholm M, Alen M, Volek JS, Kraemer WJ, & Häkkinen K (2007). Dietary intake, serum hormones, muscle mass and strength during strength training in 49 – 73-year-old men. International journal of sports medicine, 28 (12), 1070-6 PMID: 17497592 Another article of interest is: Position Statement (2010). Selected Issues for the Master Athlete and the Team Physician Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 42 (4), 820-833 DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181d19a0b

Masters CrossFit Athlete John Mariotti Trains for the CrossFit Games 2014

John Mariotti (age 57) stands at the top of this year’s Masters CrossFit Open Competition. John’s path to Crossfit began with a meniscus tear that brought his ultramarathon-career to a sudden stop. He turned his focus to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, but was frustrated by his younger, stronger, faster competitors. John bought a book by Pavel Tsatsouline, the famed Russian Kettlebell Master and author of The Russian Kettlebell Challenge: Xtreme Fitness for Hard Living Comrades and started training on his own. He discovered CrossFit in 2009, using it to gain an edge in Jiu-Jitsu, but he quickly fell in love with CrossFit as a sport in itself.

John has been a life-long athlete. In addition to Jui-jitsu and ultra marathons, John has been involved in TaeKwon-Do (6th degree black belt) Grappling, sprint triathlons, swimming , football, wrestling, track, water polo and snowboarding. Years of training and competition have taken their toll. It’s tough being a masters athlete. “My shoulder is tweaky, my knee has some tendinitis . . . but I’ve suffered nothing that has forced me to stop training. Some things caused a bit of a slow down or modification but not much. I’m pretty lucky that way.”

John’s strategy for avoiding injury includes lots of mobility training and massage. He goes for Assisted Release Therapy weekly, does thorough warm-ups before WODs, sleeps well, takes fish oil. “Besides that,” he says “I try not to do anything too stupid.”

Training for the games.

John placed 31st in his division in the 2013 CrossFit Open. John was extremely fit, but he knew he would need to fine tune his game in order to make it into the top 20. He looked for a coach, and was taken on by CJ Martin of CrossFit Invictus.   CJ worked with John to improve his technique for all the elements that had appeared in the CrossFit games. John has found the time spent with CJ to be extremely helpful. “CJ is a master coach in this area. He seems to know just how hard to push and when to back off a bit. He also keeps my mobilization and diet and sleep in mind as well.”

Today, John feels as good as he has felt all year. That’s a good feeling coming into competition. This has been a hard and busy year for John. He has moved from California to Dallas, TX to open a CrossFit box of his own: CrossFit Odyssey. In spite of the pressures of opening a business and adjusting to a new environment John has continued to meet challenges head-on. He competed in the TX state weightlifting championships in January and took first place in his age and weight division.

Diet for a Masters CrossFit Athlete

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John trains on a diet of “real food.” “Food is a joy for me and I never feel deprived eating the way I do.” He eats mostly paleo with lots of animal protein, fats and vegetables. He includes a lot of carbohydrates (potatoes are a huge favorite) as well. He does not eat grains with the exception of rice and avoids dairy and sugar.   He is an infrequent drinker.   John cooks for the week on Sundays. He has been following this diet for years, but has only recently increased his carbohydrate consumption. The carbs have been helping him deal with his high volume of training.

Advice for Masters Athletes in Training and Competition

When asked what advice he could off fellow masters athletes John responded :“It is easy for us get over-trained, especially if we just follow the same programming the younger guys do. Recovery is slower and PRs and gains are further between. Most of us still have that fire and try to keep up with the younger guys and that can be costly. Our minds and spirits are willing but the flesh doesn’t cooperate quite the way it did in years gone by. That being said…I can do things now that I could not do in the past…muscle ups, handstand pushups and double unders come to mind. I can lift more weight than I could 5 years ago. I move as quick as I did years ago and I have a much better “engine” than just a few months ago. My resting heartbeat is 43, which is as low as it has ever been. We can all get better…stronger, more skilled, and have better technique as long as we train smart as well as hard.”

John can be found at CrossFit Odyssey in Dallas, TX.

Masters Athletes Testosterone. Masters Athletes keep it high.

Masters Athletes Testosterone

WODMasters  Masters CrossFit Athlete with way more Masters Athletes testosterone
A WODMasters with way more testosterone than is good for him. Shops at WODMasters online Store.

Testosterone makes men . . . men. Testosterone, of course, is a hormone.   Testosterone is important for normal sexual function. But testosterone’s role in other aspects of men’s health and well-being is sometimes overlooked. Testosterone maintains muscle and bone.  It drives production of red blood cells.  It directs the distribution of body fat giving men a masculine physique.  Or at least not a feminine physique. Testosterone keeps minds sharp and energy levels high.   Testosterone levels fall with aging.  Testosterone starts to decline when a man reaches the age of about 30. From age 30 on, men can expect a 1% drop in testosterone every year.   Few enjoy the process.   Aging is frankly scary.  And its something none of us of ever imagined would actually happen to . . . us.

What is Normal Testosterone?

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Testosterone levels in men can vary quite a bit.  “Normal” levels are levels that allow a man function normally.   Men whose testosterone levels fell between 300 and 1000 ng/dl (nanogams per deciliter) are considered to be within the normal range.  On average older men have lower testosterone than younger men.   But there are many factors besides age that can lower testosterone.  Lack of sleep, stress, getting dumped, problems at work, even something as simple as losing an athletic competition can cause testosterone to fall.  Some people believe that men should take testosterone supplements to offset natural declines.  And many men report feeling stronger, sexier and more energetic when they take them.  There are a few problems with supplementing with testosterone, including some serious health risks.  There is an alternative.  Before running to the doctor or giving up you can become a Masters Athletes.  If you are already a Masters Athlete . . . keep it up.

Masters Athletes Testosterone.

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Stiff, Inflexible, Invincible WODMasters shirt for the Masters CrossFit Athlete. And for other people who may also be stiff and inflexible.

Masters Athletes do not share many of the changes in body composition, function, hormone profiles or metabolism that their sedentary peers experience.  At least not to the same degree.  This is according to a recent study of a small group (20) of Masters Athletes compared to a small group (28) of sedentary peers.  Masters were found to have:

  • Greater VO2 Max
  • Greater peak power output
  • Higher salivary testosterone
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Lower percent body fat

There was no difference between Masters Athletes and Sedentary Peers in

  • Cortisol
  • Fat Free Mass
  • Total Body mass
Masters Athletes testosterone is higher
Being a masters athlete preserves testosterone. Note lack of baldness and rugged masculine appearance. Ignore the slack jaw and dull eyes. This guy is smarter than he looks. This Masters Athlete wears WODMasters Stuff.

Here is an interesting question that wasn’t apparent reading the paper.  If Masters athletes have less body fat and the same amount of Fat Free Mass as sedentary peers what is the source of the Masters Athletes mass?  Probably not blood volume, since blood pressure is lower.  Body hair perhaps?  From less balding?  If anyone would like to go over the paper and let me know what I’ve missed it would be greatly appreciated.

 

Hayes LD, Grace FM, Sculthorpe N, Herbert P, Kilduff LP, & Baker JS (2013). Does chronic exercise attenuate age-related physiological decline in males? Research in sports medicine (Print), 21 (4), 343-54 PMID: 24067120

NorCal CrossFit Masters Competition 2014 for CrossFit Athletes 40 and up.

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Strong Woman Shirt with All-Seeing Kettlebell. Awesome Power and exceptional femininity

NorCal CrossFit is gearing up for the 2014 NorCal CrossFit Masters Competition and Expo. Registration will open between November 15 and December 1, 2013.  This news comes from Alison Belger of TJs Gym CrossFit in California.   Alison is author of the book CrossFit and the Power of Community.  You can get that one on Amazon.  Alison reports that registration will open some time between November 15 and December 1, 2013.   They will be offering priority registration for CrossFit Masters athletes who competed in the 2013 NorCal Masters Competition.  The competition will be held at the Craneway Pavillion in Richmond, CA.   Richmond, CA is in the San Francisco area.  The Craneway Pavillion itself is an awesome venue.  Here it is, in most of its own words:

The Craneway Pavilion is a re-purposed 45,000 sq ft sustainably designed event, concert and production facility centrally located in one of the planet’s most iconic destinations.  The Craneway Pavillion is as state-of-the-art as it is historic.  The facility is an award-winning, architecturally significant Ford Assembly Plant building dating back to 1931, with an adjoining 20,000 square-foot open-air patio, seamlessly blending indoor and outdoor spaces. Additional conference space with break out rooms are available.  It is set on 25 waterfront acres, Craneway Pavilion delivers an awe-inspiring panorama of the Bay, the San Francisco skyline and the surrounding environs.

CrossFit Masters await a CrossFit Masters Competition
CrossFit Masters await a CrossFit Masters Competition

Suffer and sweat with other Crossfit Masters

Last year’s competition had separate division for athletes 40-44, 45 to 49, 50 – 54, 55-59 and a special class for 60 and over.  Hopefully this year will see some more classes for those over 60.  You really can’t celebrate older athletes enough.  Bring your families and friends.  There is plenty to do in the San Francisco area.  Its well worth the trip.  If you have college bound teens consider checking out some of California’s excellent Universities.  Stanford University is just a short hop from San Francisco.  I hear there are some other colleges around there too . . .

More details for the CrossFit Masters NorCal Competition to follow:

Last year’s event had three paleo-friendly food trucks parked outside. The Craneway also has healthy food for sale.  I think bringing your own food is frowned upon.  Parking is free and plentiful.  Doors opened last year at 7:00 am and closed between 5:00pm and 6:00 pm.  Keep an eye out for future announcements.

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Birth of Spring Shirt for Crossfit Women

 

 

The Spartan Race and Masters Athletes: Win a Free $100 Entry to a Spartan Race!

Reebok is offering WODMasters a free Registration for The Spartan Race.

The Spartan Race is designed to challenge, but it is still a fun time.  If you like to run, climb, jump, leap over flames and get dirty this is the event for you.  We have never done a giveaway  before so please go easy on us.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you already like WODMasters you are already registered to win.

CrossFit Masters Spartan Race Free Giveaway
“Enter to win or your head goes in the toilet.” Tough. Masters Tough.

The free registration is worth $100.    Enter by December 15, 2013.

Lets get stoked with an inspirational speech from Grandpa Simpson:

“We can’t bust heads like we used to, but we have our ways. One trick is to tell them stories that don’t go anywhere. Like the time I took the ferry to Shelbyville. I needed a new heel for my shoe so I decided to go to Morganville, which is what they called Shelbyville in those days. So I tied an onion to my belt, which was the style at the time. Now to take the ferry cost a nickel, and in those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on them. Give me five bees for a quarter you’d say. Now where were we, oh ya. The important thing was that I had an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time. They didn’t have white onions because of the war. The only thing you could get was those big yellow ones.”

Now that we’re stoked here is an inspirational video from The Reebok Spartan people. A little different, but the spirit is the same:

CrossFit Masters Nutrition: Lutein Supplements Improve Night Vision even in people who do not have Macular Degeneration.

CrossFit Masters Nutrition and Vision. Our vision changes with age.  Much of that change may be due to exposure to ultra-violet light (uv-radiation).  Ultra-violet light is the same range of light that causes sunburns.  Eyes are naturally protected from ultra-violet light by anti-oxidants.

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There are three anti-oxidants that protect the eye.  These are lutein, zeaxanthin, and meso-zeaxanthin.    Lutein accumulates in the retina.  These macular pigments are powerful anti-oxidants.   As we get a bit older (wiser, smarter, cooler) these macular pigments tend to change.  And not for the better.  They get depleted and vision gets worse.    There are a number of things that can cause Lutein levels to drop off:

  • Diet low in Lutein
  • Smoking
  • Oxidative Stress from many different sources such as air pollution, arsenic and other bad stuff.
  • Maybe age

Fortunately, there are things we can do to protect our vision.

  • Don’t engage in nasty habits
  • Eat well to protect your vision and keep your vision strong over time.

CrossFit Masters Nutrition:  The Eyes Have It.

Most of us will notice vision changes in our forties and fifties.  Its not just a need for reading glasses.   Eyeball pigments (macular pigments) are needed for more than reading.  The loss of pigment makes us lose some of our capacity for clear, central color vision.   We may have a harder time with glare and with contrast.  These things can make depth perception and driving a problem.

Researchers been investigating the role of lutein supplements as a means to counter these changes in vision.  While we may not notice vision changes until we are in middle age changes and damage may occur decades before.  If Lutein is depleted it cannot protect your eyes from day to day stress.  This may cause damage to accumulate over time.   People who spend a lot of time outdoors seem to lose macular pigments like Lutein.  Loss of macular pigments is associated with increased risk of macular degeneration.  Macular degeneration is a leading cause of blindness.

CrossFit Masters Nutrition: The study in brief.

The new study (Yao and Yuan 2013) looked at healthy, relatively young people.  Ages ranged from 25 to 47.   This study is especially interesting because the subjects did not have macular degeneration or other vision problems.  Subjects were given a thorough eye exam and given Lutein supplements for a year.  There were significant improvements in sharpness of vision, contrast sensitivity and sensitivity to glare.  Nice to know that improving your diet and help your driving and night basketball skills.  More studies are needed to see if increasing other macular pigments will also improve vision.  Lutein must be obtained from the diet.  The same is true for zeaxanthin.  Its possible that increasing intake of zeaxanthin would also improve vision.  Or that taking both would produce better results.  More studies will tell.

CrossFit Masters Nutrition: Supplements or Real Food?

You can get Lutein supplements if you want to go that route, but the best choice is probably to get lutein from real food.  Lutein is a carotenoid.  Like Vitamin A.  There are about 600 different carotinoids identified so far.  Most vegetables will contain many different carotenoids.  Some of these are also important for health.  Good sources of Lutein include:

    • Kale and other leafy greens
    • Peas
    • Egg Yolks
    • Carrots (Lutein in cooked carrots is more accessible)
    • Other Yellow vegetables

If you are following the Paleo diet and eating lots of vegetables you are probably doing well in this department.  If you are a vegetarian and eating lots of different vegetables you are probably doing well too.

Yao Y, Qiu GH, Wu XW, Cai ZY, Xu S, Liang XQ.  Lutein supplementation improves visual performance in Chinese drivers: 1-year randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.  Nutrition.  29 (7-8): 958-964.

Loughman J, Akkali MC, Beatty S, Scanlon G, Davison PA, O’Dwyer V, Cantwell T, Major P, Stack J, & Nolan JM (2010). The relationship between macular pigment and visual performance. Vision research, 50 (13), 1249-56 PMID: 20394766

 

Feeney J, Finucane C, Savva GM, Cronin H, Beatty S, Nolan JM, & Kenny RA (2013). Low macular pigment optical density is associated with lower cognitive performance in a large, population-based sample of older adults. Neurobiology of aging, 34 (11), 2449-56 PMID: 23769396

Putting a positive view on physical challenges ramps up natural opiods.

CrossFit and mental toughness. Its a cultural thing. If you do CrossFit you are supposed to be stronger than the pain you are feeling. Sometimes this gets a little nutty. You should stop or slow down if you are going to hurt yourself. You should go lighter on weights sometimes. For some of us, that some times may be all the time. It is dangerous to sacrifice form for heroics. That can be hard to keep in mind when pushing yourself is fun. And rewarding.  And you are addicted.

Fitness and getting the right attitude..

New research indicates that a positive mental attitude towards pain can make you feel awesome.  Or at least awesomer than you would feel with a negative attitude.  The paper, “Pain as a reward: Changing the meaning of pain from negative to positive co-activates opioid and cannabinoid systems” was published this month.  You can see the reference at the bottom of this post.  Two groups of people were either told “this is going to hurt.”  Or: this will make your muscles stronger.  The people who thought the pain would make them stronger were able to endure more pain.  That may surprise few readers.  Here is what is surprising and very interesting:The ability to tolerate pain could be blocked by blocking the chemicals that produce the runner’s high.

Its more than attitude: implications for CrossFit Athletes.

The research mentioned above is especially interesting because the researchers were able to turn off the increased ability to withstand pain by blocking the opiods and cannabinoids.   Part of the “runner’s high” is caused by natural opiods and cannabinoids that are produced in the brain.  These can be addictive.  And lead to people getting addicted to their workouts.  Maybe it is attitude that makes some people love working out.  And makes other people feel that working out just sucks.  Being able to train harder will make you better at CrossFit WOD s.  And knowing that you will get better at your workouts will make you better able to handle them.  Just don’t try it with an opiod blocker.

 

Benedetti F, Thoen W, Blanchard C, Vighetti S, & Arduino C (2013). Pain as a reward: Changing the meaning of pain from negative to positive co-activates opioid and cannabinoid systems. Pain, 154 (3), 361-7 PMID: 23265686