Commitment Issues? Commit To A Fitness Challenge

Reviewing The Top Fitness Challenge Apps

Exercise and dating are probably two of the hardest things that we have to commit to in modern times. It seems like these days everyone is always starting some new relationship just like they are starting some new fitness program, and never ends up texting back or following through on making a date.

When it comes to fitness, everyone always asks us how to get in shape. When we suggest one of our challenges or programs they are ecstatic and jump into it head first. All too often, we check in and get the classic “I’ve just been so busy.”

Aziz Ansari probably said it best when he was talking about the modern dating, and it applies directly to fitness.

“Nobody wants to commit to shit because they are afraid that something better is coming along” — Aziz, Modern Romance

We want you to be able to commit to a fitness program and actually see results, and the best thing you can do for that is find a fitness challenge. Challenging yourself to complete the whole 30 days, while seeing the progression happen day after day can be one of the most motivating ways to actually accomplish your fitness goals.

We want to help you find that fitness challenge to commit to, so we reviewed a few of the top fitness challenge apps in the App Store and Play Store. No more swiping left on fitness.

30 Day Fitness Challenge, Workout at Home (Android)

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What’s the number one excuse for you to not workout?

“Oh I can’t make it to the gym today, I’m too busy”

Well with this app you won’t have to. They provide you with a number of great fitness challenges designed specifically for you to be able to do quickly (the first workout only took me 5 minutes) and at home with limited equipment. There are multiple levels of difficulty so when you finish one challenge, you can up the ante and hit a harder workout. Or instead you can do work multiple different body parts depending on what your fitness goals are.

A downside to this app is the number and placement of ads. I accidentally clicked the ad at the bottom of the screen instead of the “Start” button, which was annoying, but even more so was the full page ad that showed up after I finished the workout. It took me a few seconds to figure out how to exit out of the ad.

This is a very good app with solid content and exercises, as well as good organization. The ads are annoying, but since the app is free you can look past it.

30 Day Fitness Challenge Log (iOS)

 

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This app leads the way for visibility because it showed up on pretty much every search for fitness challenges that I made (paid ad and regular search result). Once I downloaded it, I figured out why.

Before you begin using the app they ask you to sign up and pay $3.99 a week (with a 1 week free trial). For the sake of this article I decided to sign up and pay the cost to see how the workouts were and what I got for the money I was spending.

The app provides the same amount of workouts that you would find with any other fitness challenge, but the user interface is slightly more intuitive. It also comes with a movement catalog that is easily searchable. After I did the first workout I was happy with everything they provided.

Afterwards, when I went to go cancel my subscription it took me two google searches and about 10 minutes to figure it out. Guess that’s how they make all their revenue (people forgetting or unable to cancel subscriptions).

If paying up front for a program will keep you motivated then this might be the app for you, but otherwise I would advise you to avoid it.

Seven — 7 Minute Workout (iOS)

 

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After the last app, I went on a search in the App Store for a good iOS app that provided a great experience for a fitness challenge. What I found was “Seven — 7 Minute Workout”.

Signing up was easy, and I was provided with a workout right away. After completing that workout, which was well put together, I went to the home screen and found some cool features they provide that will keep you motivated. Completing workouts helps you earn points in the app that unlock other challenges and workouts, while also earning you badges and accomplishments. Imaginary internet points are sometimes the best way to motivate yourself to get in shape.

I even found myself doing a second workout right away just to see what would happen. Overall I would recommend this app.

38Plank (iOS / Android)

 

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Where all of the other fitness challenge apps focus on providing you with exercises and challenges that you can do alone, 38Plank provides a refreshing new way to keep you motivated by making the challenge into a Group Challenge. Everyone knows the best way to keep yourself honest while exercising is to have some social accountability, and the easiest way to do that is by challenging your friends to complete the workouts with you.

38Plank does offer limited options for challenges (selecting from a squat, plank, and push-up challenge) but the app makes up for it by making the process of completing the challenge social and fun. To set up, you need to invite at least 2 friends, and then you compete against them by earning points based on your consistency. While doing my first challenge, the most fun part was seeing pictures of my friends working out which, in turn, helped keep me motivated to do my daily workout. To me this is better than an app just sending a push notification reminder.

If you are looking for a way to motivate yourself, either for general health or for a new year’s resolution, this is a great way to get moving. The interface is very well designed and there are tons of additional features that allow you to explore workouts outside of the fitness challenges.

10 Reasons Why You Should Incorporate Resistance Bands Into Your Training ASAP

I don't know if it's just me, but it seems as though resistance bands have become the new booty building trend of 2017. It really hit me when I was doing banded walks and my guy friend said that I "looked like all of the Instagram girls doing their butt workouts." I was slightly offended, but I had to laugh because there was some truth to his statement. I was using the band to target my glutes, but my utility and love for resistance bands goes way back.

In fact, they actually have meaningful place in my heart because they always remind me of the good ole' volleyball days. So, after my friends comment, I felt like I has a responsibility to write a post about the multiple benefits resistance bands bring to the table.  

To start off, let's talk about the two main types of resistance training, free-weights and elastic resistance. Free-weight training is the use of weights that aren't connected to an apparatus (i.e. dumbells, barbells, and kettlebells). Elastic resistance training is the use of rubber tubes or bands, where the elasticity or "stretchiness" of the band determines the difficulty of the exercise. These two forms of exercise share very similar properties, but we will focus on the main advantages of elastic resistance training.

1. They are just as effective as free weights

If you measured the effectiveness of these forms of resistance by looks alone, you would probably laugh at someone who told you that resistance bands are just effective as free weights.

However, despite their flimsy appearance and their association with "girly exercises", multiple studies have shown that elastic resistance training produces a similar increase in muscle activity and force as free-weight training. (1) In some cases, elastic resistance can actually be more effective. (If you try doing a bicep curl with a band instead of a dumbell, you might be shocked at how much harder it can be.)

2. They are inexpensive

I considered making this numero uno on the list because who doesn't like a good deal? It is also the reason why I have a variety of resistance band workouts in my workout program, The Working Girl's to Fit.  

3. They are light and portable

If you travel a lot, bands are a must! 

4. They are used for rehab

I still remember the first time I sprained my ankle. I jumped up, hit the ball, got a kill, and then landed directly on another girl's foot (she had illegally come too far under the net). I felt okay at first, but then it swelled up to it was the size of a grapefruit. Since that day, I have sprained my ankle at least five times and band exercises have helped me recover by strengthening the muscles that support my ankle. 

5. They can help prevent injuries 

Shoulder, knee, and ankle injuries are all common in volleyball. When I played at UCSB we used bands for mobility drills during our warm-ups and for strength training in the weight room to target the muscles that help stabilize our joints. 

6. They work your muscles through the entire range of motion

One main difference between free-weights and elastic resistance is that free-weights rely on gravity to provide resistance. Because of this, you only experience resistance at a certain part of the movement. If you think of a bicep curl, there is little to no resistance at the very bottom or very top of the movement. With resistance bands, your muscles are under continuous tension throughout the range of motion. This also means that there's no real cheating with elastic resistance training.

7. They can increase explosiveness, speed, and agility 

Funny enough, lateral band walks (that have now become so popular) were one of the exercises I did the most when playing volleyball. As a libero, I needed to be able to change directions or dive towards a ball at any second. Band walks were the perfect exercise because they directly targeted the muscles I needed to develop to become more explosive on a lateral plane. Using resistance while running or jumping will also increase your speed and vertical.

9. They have less of a risk for Injury

If you've ever dropped a heavy weight on yourself, you will definitely relate to this one. 

8. They can be used by any age group or level of experience

Because the risk of injury is lower with resistance bands, they are ideal for any age group. Also, along with providing resistance, they can also assist you with some exercises such as pull-ups.

10. They are more useful for building strength for everyday tasks

Resistance bands do not require gravity, so they are able to provide resistance vertical and horizontal planes. Elastic training, therefore, can play a bigger role in functional training by being able to mimic more realistic everyday activities. 

All in all, I highly recommend using bands and free-weights, and even both of them in conjunction. The fastest way to get results and break through plateaus is to mix it up :) If you are looking for more band exercises, check out my program, The Working Girl's Guide on the 38Plank app!

 

References:

References 1. Stoppani, Jim Elastic Resistance Vs. Free Weights (2) Aniansson, A. P., et al. Effect of a training programme for pensioners on condition and muscular strength. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics 3:229-241, 1984. 2. Boyer, B. T. A comparison of the effects of three strength training programs on women. Journal of Applied Sport Science Research 4(3):88-94, 1990. 3. Ebben, W. P. and Jensen, R.L. Electromyographic and kinetic analysis of traditional, chain, and elastic band squats. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 16(4):547-550, 2002. 4. Fornataro, S, et al. Investigation to determine differences in strength gains using Thera-Band at fast and slow training speeds. Physical Therapy 74(5):S53, 1994.. 5. Heinecke, M., et al. Comparison of Strength Gains in Variable Resistance Bench Press and Isotonic Bench Press. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: 18(4): e361, 2004. 6. Hughes, C. and Page, P. Scientific Basis of Elastic Resistance. In The Scientific and Clinical Application of Elastic Resistance (Page, P. and Ellenbecker, T. S. eds) Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL: 3-14, 2003. 7. Matheson, J. W., et al. Electromyographic activity and applied load during seated quadriceps exercises. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 33(10):1713-1725, 2001. 8. Mikesky, A. E., et al. Efficacy of a home-based training program for older adults using elastic tubing. European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology 69(4):316-320, 1994. 9. Page, P. A. Posterior Rotator Cuff Strengthening Using Theraband(R) in a Functional Diagonal Pattern in Collegiate Baseball Pitchers. Journal of Athletic Training 28(4):346-354, 1993. 10. Schulthies, S. S., et al. An Electromyographic Investigation of 4 Elastic-Tubing Closed Kinetic Chain Exercises After Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction. Journal of Athletic Training 33(4):328-335, 1998. 11. Stoppani, J. Encyclopedia of Muscle & Strength. Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL. 2005. 12. Treiber, F. A., et al. Effects of Theraband and lightweight dumbbell training on shoulder rotation torque and serve performance in college tennis players. American Journal of Sports Medicine 26(4):510-515, 1998. 13. Wallace, B. J., et al. Effects of elastic bands on force and power characteristics during the back squat exercise. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 20 (2): 268–272, 2006.

 

Want A Promotion? Exercise Daily

Want A Promotion? Exercise Daily

When you think of the benefits of exercise, disease prevention, heart health, and, if we are being honest, a hotter body are most likely top of mind. But there are benefits of exercise that go beyond physical health. The increasing interest in the effects of regular exercise has led to multiple studies with strong evidence pointing towards another very important benefit of exercise: increased brainpower.

Specifically, these studies have shown that regular exercise can:

5 reasons why you need hill sprints in your life

5 reasons why you need hill sprints in your life

We can all agree that the middle child is the golden child!

So, if you had to compare hill sprints to any sibling, they would be the middle child. Hill sprints are the perfect exercise. They are the ultimate blend of cardio and strength training, are super efficient for fat burning, and will make you faster, stronger, leaner, and overall sexier.

If you're not convinced yet, check out some of the benefits on hill sprints below:

HIIT vs. Running: How to get the most bang for your buck

HIIT vs. Running: How to get the most bang for your buck

If you follow different fitness trends, you have most likely heard the terms HIIT and SIT. High-Intensity Interval Training and Sprint Interval Training are performed by alternating short periods of intense anaerobic exercise with less-intense recovery periods. 

Although High-Intensity Interval Training has been around for quite awhile, the popularity of the 7-minute workout, classes like Barry’s Bootcamp, and programs like p90x have launched HIIT into the spotlight.

Data Fit - Heart Rate Analysis of Crossfit

Data Fit - Heart Rate Analysis of Crossfit

One of my workout friends at the gym recently bought a Polar h7 chest strap heart rate monitor. We did a workout while he collected data about how his heart was working and we geeked out about it for quite a while afterwards. While we were wondering what statistics we could calculate, or how we could generate a linear regression from the data, I had the thought that I could make some really interesting data visualizations of this. So I bought a heart rate monitor for myself, started monitoring my workouts and low and behold, I got some very cool data. Then I took this data and drew some conclusions about CrossFit classes and my performance.

How to Lose Weight pt. 4 - Last Quick Tips

How to Lose Weight pt. 4 - Last Quick Tips

If you read the first three articles of this series, you should have a pretty solid foundation for a successful weight loss journey. But before you dive in head first, I wanted to leave you with some actionable tips you can use day to day.

1. Mindset - No one can decide to live a healthier life or lose weight for you, it's a decision you will have to make yourself and stay dedicated to. Like I've said, this process will not be easy, so when you want to give up, remember why you started this in the first place. 

How to Lose Weight pt. 1 - Goal Setting

If you are reading this, you've likely tried to lose weight at one point or another. Whether it's losing 100 lbs or that last pesky layer of body fat, it takes hard work and planning to hit your weight loss goals.

A couple of months ago I was starting to get frustrated. I've been teeter tottering around the same weight for awhile and although I felt like I was eating healthier and working out more, I wasn't seeing the results I was looking for. I was sick of this and realized that I needed to mix it up. I knew that documenting my progress would keep me accountable and give me the opportunity to help you reach your goal as well.

The scale has never been an accurate measurement for me. I can physically see drastic changes in my body with maybe a 1/2 lb change on the scale, so I had my body fat tested to get a more accurate baseline. It just so happened that there was a bodyspec truck across the street from my gym so I decided to give it a go. After basically getting my body xerox copied I got my test results back and was pretty shocked. It was way higher than expected and out of the "athlete zone," which put a fire under my ass.

My goal as of Oct. 1st was to lose 1% body fat per month for a total of 3% by the new year, which seemed reasonable and would put me in the athlete zone. After 3 months I now weigh .4 lbs more (confirmed my scale theory) but I am down 3.3% body fat and up 5lbs in lean mass. In essence, I lost 5lbs of fat and replaced it with 5lbs of muscle. 

Before I get into the first step to a successful weight loss journey, I want to be very transparent. Everyone's body reacts uniquely to different diets and exercise routines, so I cannot provide you with step by step directions on how to lose weight through these articles. What these series will do is arm you with the tactics and tools I used so that you can apply them to your own weight loss journey. 

 

START WITH YOUR END VISION AND REVERSE ENGINEER YOUR GOAL 

It sounds technical, but the high-level concept of reverse engineering is to break something down in order to understand how to rebuild it. A lot of weight loss goals fail because people go into them with the goal to lose more weight, but there is no plan in place on how to do that. With reverse engineering, you start with “I am going to lose more weight” and then break it down into bite size benchmarks that are more manageable to tackle. 

    For example, a very simple thought process could look something like this:

          “How do people successfully lose weight?”

                   People lose weight by exercising and eating healthier.

           "What do they do to exercise and eat healthier?"

                   They workout at least 3x/week and eat more protein and vegetables.

           Ok, so my goal is to go to my favorite class, follow the 38Plank 6-week challenge, or even just walk 3x/week. I also want to eat at least a fistful of protein and two fistfuls of veggies for lunch and dinner.

When goals are too broad, it is easy to get overwhelmed and give up, but if you have smaller goals you can work towards every day, you will feel like you are actually getting closer to accomplishing your ultimate goal. 

A good way to start reverse engineering is to make Smart Goals…

 

MAKE SMART GOALS

Setting SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-based) goals is one of the most effective first steps to reverse engineer your goal.

    Specific- If your goal is too general, it is easier to fall behind. If we go back to the “I am going to lose more weight” goal, being more specific would be "In 3 months I am going to lose X amount of body fat by working out 3x/week and eating X amount of protein and X amount of veggies with each meal"

    Measurable - As you can see in the example above, your goals become more specific when you add quantitative metrics. Determining X lbs, X% body fat, X times per day or week, and in X amount of time, all keep you accountable because you either hit that number or you don't.

    Achievable - Setting goals can be exciting, but we have to make sure we are being honest with ourselves. If you can't currently run a mile and your goal is to compete in an iron man in a month, it is not likely that you will be able to accomplish that goal. But, if you set a goal to run a 5k in 1 month, you can eventually work your way up through half marathons, marathons, etc. 

    Realistic-  Even if your goal is achievable, you still have to take time, budget, and prior commitments into consideration. I've talked to a lot of moms using the 6-week challenge, and they love the at home workouts because it is almost impossible for them to go to the gym every day. If you're a 20 something paying rent in a big city, you most likely won't have the budget to go to Soul Cycle or Barry's Boot Camp 5x/week either. Mix in free workouts from online resources or a fitness app with your classes to get your goal amount of exercise without breaking the bank. 

   Time-based- Not having a set time frame makes it really easy to keep pushing your goals back until eventually you forget or give up. How many times have you said that you will start doing X, Y, or Z next week? I say it too often, which is the reason I started writing this article. Set a time limit to your goal so you know how fast you need to go and how hard you are going to have to work to get there.

Take some time to really think and set your goals and come back Wednesday for Pt. 2 of the how to lose weight series.

Data Fit - Crossfit Open 17.2 Analysis

The second workout of the Crossfit open is officially over, and it was brutal...if you could see my palms right now, you would get an idea of the extent. Although the entire workout was tough, the real star of the 17.2 show was the muscle up. Looking at the analytics and the drops in numbers, it becomes apparent that the bar muscle up was a make it or break it point for the majority of athletes. 

THE WORKOUT

If you're unfamiliar with the 17.2 workout we have listed it below: 

17.2 - Beware the Muscle-Ups
12 Minute AMRAP
2 Rounds of
50ft Walking Lunges (50/35)
16 Toes To Bar (T2B)
8 Dumbbell Power Cleans (50/35)
Followed By 2 Rounds of
50ft Walking Lunges
16 Bar Muscle Ups (BMU)
8 Dumbbell Power Cleans

This workout was crafted so that if you had Toes to Bar, you could do it RX (as prescribed) and then spend the rest of the time working on getting your first muscle up. The open has a certain amount of magic to it where people find the energy and motivation to do things that they have never done before and this year was no exception. We will show this later in the analysis. 

PARTICIPATION

Our first analysis will be a comparison between completion numbers from 17.1 and 17.2. These can be seen in the table below.

Gender Type 17.1 17.2 % Diff
Male RX 180915 130105 32.6%
Scaled 34250
Female RX 138019 71768 63.1%
Scaled 56873

If you look at the table, you can see a significant drop off in the number of workouts completed RX (as prescribed). The numbers above start to tell the story of the effect muscle ups had on the completion rate of 17.2. 

Looking at this you can see a substantial number of people scaled this workout compared to 17.1. This makes sense, particularly given the difficulty of gymnastics involved. If you don't even have a chest to bar or are struggling with pull-ups, then it could make sense to scale it and get a better all around workout. 

OVERALL DISTRIBUTION, PERCENTILES & THE REAL ASSASIN

If you're reading this article because you want to see where you stacked up against the competition, looking at the percentiles will give you a good idea. 

The graph below represents the overall distribution of scores in this workout for the RX division. Because the distribution is so heavily concentrated around the 78 rep range, we will look at a smaller range of results to understand the data better.

Number of Results (Y) vs. Total Number of Reps (X)

Number of Results (Y) vs. Total Number of Reps (X)

The biggest spike above represents the point at which muscle ups enter the workout. Around twenty-five thousand men and women did not make it past the BMU's. The other rather large bump is where the second round of BMU's come into play. The significance of percentiles and getting at least two BMU's can be observed in the table below.

Percentile Men Women
10% 78 55
20% 78 78
30% 79 78
40% 83 78
50% 89 78
60% 104 78
70% 114 80
80% 120 88
90% 136 114
95% 155 123

If you weren't convinced that the muscle ups were the real killer, the numbers above are very telling. When we first analyzed this data, we were wondering why so many seventy-eights showed up, but after further inspection, we realized that this was the exact number of reps it takes to get to your first muscle up. If you're a woman and can do two muscle ups, you jump from the twentieth percentile to the seventieth percentile. If you're a man who finished the first round of BMU's, you jump to around the fifty-sixtieth percentile.

The table below shows just how deadly those BMU's are. The one BMU stat is pretty cool though because it could represent the magic of competition. It is possible that over five thousand people completed their first muscle up this weekend.

Gender Bar Muscle Up Number %
Male No BMU 37521 29%
1 BMU 4027 3%
Female No BMU 47813 67%
1 BMU 1816 3%

REGIONAL ANALYSIS

In the spirit of competition, we thought it would be fun to break some of the stats down on a region to region basis. Since the muscle ups were the defining factor in the competition, we decided to break out each region and put the percentage of male and female athletes who were able to complete one or more muscle ups on the map.

For those of you who might not be able to see the results above, we have some more data in the tables below.   

Female Results

Region Results Rx Scaled 95% 50%
Africa 3091 1675 1416 115 78
Asia 2592 1368 1224 92 78
Australia 8950 5549 3401 122 78
Canada East 5346 3046 2300 123 78
Canada West 3079 1770 1309 117 78
Central East 8091 4569 3522 123 78
Europe 18360 10839 7521 123 78
Latin America 9324 4058 5266 120 78
Mid Atlantic 9182 5212 3970 128 78
North Central 9747 5230 4517 126 78
North East 11461 6095 5366 122 78
NorCal 4105 2393 1712 121 78
North West 5276 2970 2306 122 78
South Central 9808 5186 4622 122 78
South East 8866 4912 3954 126 78
SoCal 4779 2875 1904 125 78
South West 6584 4021 2563 126 78

Male Results

Region Results Rx Scaled 95% 50%
Africa 5145 3961 1184 152 88
Asia 5060 3889 1171 139 85
Australia 10175 8553 1622 157 89
Canada East 5744 4680 1064 160 89
Canada West 3022 2460 562 149 87
Central East 9144 7347 1797 159 89
Europe 32103 25482 6621 158 90
Latin America 15906 11387 4519 144 92
Mid Atlantic 10257 8090 2167 157 88
North Central 11095 8763 2332 161 91
North East 12389 9570 2819 157 88
NorCal 4652 3752 900 162 90
North West 5166 4158 1008 158 89
South Central 10735 8513 2222 159 89
South East 10724 8660 2064 157 90
SoCal 6061 5016 1045 162 90
South West 6977 5824 1153 159 90

It's interesting to look at the ninety-fifth percentile (95%) and see how that number stacks up on a per region basis. Many people like to argue that the regions are proportioned poorly, but we can see that in general region size was not a good predictive factor in who had the hardest region (as based on the 95%, not the top 20 performances). Top performing regions for the men were Northern (162) and Southern California (162), while top performers for the women were the Mid-Atlantic (128), with three other regions coming in second.

Lastly, if you enjoyed this article and are looking to perform better in next year's regionals, make sure to download our FREE app on iOS or Android.

Data Fit - Comparing Heart Rates

Seven rowers, seven barbells, and seven athletes all neatly aligned. Each athlete getting situated, waiting to beat the clock. The competition was fierce and the time to beat was ten minutes. Looking down the row I could see my competition. Everyone pausing to slow down their heart rate in anticipation of the impending amount of work to be completed!

If someone was to write a dramatic interpretation of our workouts it would probably sound something like the above paragraph. We had just finished the bulk of our hour-long crossfit class and were getting ready for, what seemed like, a fun but challenging workout. A friend of mine, Daniel Garo, was in the heat with me and was wearing a heart rate monitor as well! This was the perfect setup to analyze the performance of two substantially different athletes completing the same workout with similar times.
By analyzing both of our workouts, we were able to differentiate our backgrounds, abilities, and performance to look at what really makes a difference in a workout. All measurements that are hard to identify when looking at individual performance.

WOD - Sundown Crossfit
4 Rounds for time
15 Calorie Row
10 Front Squats (135/95lbs)
8 Chest to Bar Pull Ups
6 Shoulder to Overhead

In order to properly analyze our individual performances, I tracked some statistics that helped determine each of our strengths and weaknesses. To incorporate crossfit style workouts, I used 16.1 and Fran as benchmarks because they are similar to the WOD that we did, while different in terms of time domains (4 min vs 20 min) I also had Daniel and Myself rate our abilities on a scale of 1-10 in 5 crossfit applicable categories: Gymnastics, Weightlifting, Mobility, Cardio, and Stamina (*Note, Daniel is always blue and Andrew is always Orange for the rest of this analysis)

Comparison of PR's

Comparison of PR's

Skill Comparison

Skill Comparison

After looking at the numbers, it is clear that Daniel and I have very different strengths and weaknesses. Daniel is much stronger than me, boasting a 12.5% and 28% advantage in the OHS and front squat respectively. His cardio is pretty decent as well (6/10.) This is a significant advantage on Fran because the time domain is low and thrusters can break a weaker athlete. My strengths, on the other hand, were endurance and running (I replaced the rowing section of the workout with running because we didn't have rowing prs.) If you look at 16.1, you can see that both of our advantages even out at certain time domains. Although, mine looks worse because the workout is supposed to be ten minutes and I completed it in twenty minutes, limiting my ability to get a second wind.

But we have looked at the basics enough, lets see what happened during the whole class. I compiled both Daniel and myself's heart rate monitor data and aligned the two so that the times were matching.

Heart Rate Over Full Class

Heart Rate Over Full Class

I compiled the data from both of our heart monitors and aligned them to match the times. It was a tight match, but in the end Daniel held on longer and was able to take the workout by 30+ Seconds. Daniel finished in 9:32 and I finished in 10:06 Now that we have all of this great data, let’s see if we can figure out how Daniel beat me. The first thing we should look at is our efficiency during the workout. To calculate efficiency, I used total heart beats and workout duration as variables.

(Beats / Minute) * Total Minutes = Total Heart Beats
Daniels Total Heart Beats | t=2121 to t=2733 = 1452 Heart Beats
Andrews Total Heart Beats | t=2121 to t=2767 = 1210 Heart Beats
(1452 - 1210) / 1452 = 16.66% More Efficient (242 Beats Less)

Looking at the calculations, you can see that I (Andrew) was more efficient, so why did Daniel win? One possibility could be that he paced his workout better.

To mathematically determine whether someone paced a workout better is a bit complicated. First, we should look at what an “optimal” pace would be. Although this “optimal” pace would be different for every athlete, the “smoothness” of the heart rate curve should show us if the athlete was working at a constant pace. To derive this I determined the logarithmic regression line (line of best fit) for the WOD so that the line was as close as possible to the athlete’s data. Then I used a statistical analysis variable called S, the Standard Error of regression. This variable tells me how far away each data point is from the curve. Basically,(or “In other words,” the closer each of us is to the perfect line, the lower the S value.

Heart Rate vs. Perfect Pace Line

Heart Rate vs. Perfect Pace Line

danielheartrate.jpg

If you look at the two graphs, it is apparent that my line was significantly closer to the “perfect fit” line, but let’s do the calculation for the sake of Science.

The formula for standard error of estimates is given below

Working this out for each athlete
S_Andrew = 3.26
S_Daniel = 6.86

After doing this calculation, we find that I had a "better" (more smooth) pace throughout the workout. But I was more efficient (by 16.6%) and held a better pace (more than double S value), so what made Daniel win? Looking at his heart rate, he entered a red line zone three times and was able to recover each time. This could be due to holding a movement (most likely front squats) longer than I did.

Collecting more data points on when we finished different sections of the workout could help us understand muscular endurance factors involved (lactate threshhold and VO2 Max comparisons). But, maybe he just wanted it more. The main takeaway is that if you want it more there is always a way to win.

My personal takeaway is that is to stop whining during the workout because there is someone out there going harder than me.

If you enjoyed this article and are looking to perform better in next year's regionals, make sure to download our FREE app on iOS or Android.

Data Fit - Crossfit Open 17.1 Result Analysis

We are heading into 17.2 and I know the first thing you want to know after you complete your workout is where you've placed amongst the competition. The leaderboard is an addictive source of live data that you can examine and explore. You can even find out facts like where you've placed compared to people with your name...I placed fourth among other Andrews in my region in 17.1. Whether or not you are competing, it is always fun to see how you are performing relative to the other athletes. So I thought it would be cool to show some of the data I was able to pull from the 17.1 workout!

Side note: If you find the Crossfit leaderboard crashing this weekend we've also created an open source leaderboard that should provide more stability. You can also search for results by affiliate!
 

2017 Crossfit Open Leaderboard

 

The 17.1 workout was fairly simple so a lot of people were able to complete it RX (as prescribed). Although the workout was simple, it definitely favored Big Engines.

We analyzed over 350k results over the entire CrossFit leaderboard to bring you the most accurate results. These are the numbers of results, compared with last year.

 

Gender Year Total Results RX % Growth
Male 2016 159386
2017 211254 180915 13.5%
Female 2016 120117
2017 157989 138019 14.9%

If you look at the numbers, it is pretty cool to see the dramatic increase in results posted. I am excited to see if the results posted from 17.2 hold up to the increase in athletes competing shown above. I say this because there could be some factors that came into play in the numbers above. For example, 16.1 was much more challenging skill wise (chest to bars) but 17.1 wss much more challenging mentally. I think the muscle ups in 17.2 will give us a good perspective. 

If you're interested in comparing your results to the rest of the field I included some interesting percentiles below. For the rest of the analysis, every rep below 225 (the total in the workout) was counted as +1s to your time.

Percentile   Male Time (Seconds)     Female Time (Seconds)  
10% 1267 1270
20% 1248 1248
30% 1232 1229
40% 1216 1213
50% 1207 1204
60% 1178 1163
70% 1121 1106
80% 1049 1039
90% 953 955
95% 882 890
99% 765 785

The first number that really stands out to me was that more than fifty percent of the competitors did not finish under the time cap. If you beat the time cap, congratulations you are in the top 50 percent of athletes. But if you didn't beat the time cap, don't be too hard on yourself. The time cap was hard to beat and it doesn't mean you aren't fit.

Although the percentiles are cool to look at, the graph below tells an even more interesting story! The gap in numbers between men and women were so close that I just combined the data into one graph.

Number of Results (Y - Axis) vs. Time (seconds). Men are Blue, Women are Red

Number of Results (Y - Axis) vs. Time (seconds). Men are Blue, Women are Red

We will improve this analysis as the workouts continue, and include data from 17.2 and onwards.

Remember to check out our app 38Plank if you want to create, share, and compete with your friends. If you like the CrossFit open, you should see what other workouts people have created. Just search on the #crossfit.

-- Andrew Cole

 

If you enjoyed this article and are looking to perform better in next year's regionals, make sure to download our FREE app on iOS or Android.

Data Fit - Crossfit Open 17.3 Analysis

The results are in and week three of the Crossfit Open has come to an end. Although Dave lost me for a bit in the 17.3 intro, the workout ended up being pretty straightforward. We also finally got to break out the barbell and throw some weight around...which was a very welcome changeup after all of the dumbell work.

The movements of choice in this ladder were Snatches and Chest to Bars. Both of these are fairly simple, but they were definitely not set up to play nice.  

If the workout description seemed like advanced math, we've tried to simplify it for you below:

17.3 : Earn Your Strength
8 Minutes to finish the first 6 rounds. Every 3 rounds after that you gain an additional 4 minutes of time to work.
3 Rounds of
6 Chest to Bars
6 Full Snatches (95/65)
3 rounds of:
7 Chest to Bars
5 Full Snatches (135/95)
3 rounds of:
8 Chest to Bars
4 Full Snatches (185/135)
3 rounds of:
9 Chest to Bars
3 Full Snatches (225/155)
3 rounds of:
10 Chest to Bars
2 Full Snatches (245/175)
3 rounds of:
11 Chest to Bars
1 Full Snatches (265/185)

That is quite the list, but it can be distilled down to a very simple concept; every three rounds you take away 1 snatch, move the weight up, and add one chest to bar. The workout was a real measure of strength, but it also required an adequate amount of fitness to complete the chest to bars.

Worldwide Rankings

Below you can see total number of reps and the drop-off between each round.

Men's data is red, Womens in blue

Men's data is red, Womens in blue

We can correlate these breaking points of where you had to hit one snatch at a certain weight into percentile rankings. In each of the blocks, we indicate what percentage of people were able to get one rep at a specific weight, or failed to achieve that number.

Percentage Flow of Mens Results

Percentage Flow of Mens Results

Flow diagram of women's weight cutoffs

Flow diagram of women's weight cutoffs

For those of us on our fancy mobile devices who may not be able to read the diagram above, here are the same numbers in table format.

Weight (Reps) Men Womens
95/65 (43-) 25% 40%
135/95 (43+) 26% 41%
185/135 (80+) 78% 89%
225/155 (117+) 95% 97%
245/175 (154+) 99% 99%
265/185 (191+) 99% 99%
Finished ~207 ~62

It is evident here that if you were able to reach and get one rep at 185/135, that automatically categorizes you as a strong lifter in this workout, particularly for the women.

Regional Analysis

In our last analysis, Crossfit Open 17.2 Analysis, we looked at a region by region comparison of how people did on the bar muscle ups. Since 17.3 is focused on strength, we thought it would be fun to see which region is the strongest (Do you even lift, Socal?). Last time we looked at the top 5% to compare region strength, but in this article we will take an absolute number. The table below shows the number of people able to get 1 rep in the 4th round (225/155) as a cutoff for strength. This is denoted in the table as 154+ and how many lifters total got to that number.

Mens Regional Data
Region Size RX 43+ (%) 154+
Africa 4934 3615 66.33% 27
Asia 5016 3731 65.77% 20
Australia 9673 7773 70.49% 68
Canada East 5607 4337 76.48% 65
Canada West 2931 2255 74.28% 24
Central East 8876 6767 78.29% 95
Europe 30908 23328 66.32% 162
Latin America 15611 10993 72.77% 64
Mid Atlantic 9892 7543 78.84% 90
North Central 10990 8360 81.04% 121
North East 11784 8854 75.34% 103
Northern Cali 4487 3566 77.17% 60
North West 5009 3908 77.71% 49
South Central 10293 7956 80.62% 101
South East 10430 8219 80.92% 104
Southern Cali 5850 4734 79.11% 82
South West 6844 5568 76.94% 62
Women's Regional Data
Region Size RX 43+ (%) 154+
Africa 2868 1172 45.82% 6
Asia 2459 894 45.75% 0
Australia 8298 3934 52.49% 18
Canada East 5050 2229 62.00% 22
Canada West 2928 1322 62.41% 6
Central East 7489 3160 64.68% 35
Europe 17123 7429 50.84% 34
Latin America 8963 3161 53.84% 12
Mid Atlantic 8606 3881 63.72% 30
North Central 9282 3899 65.73% 30
North East 10549 4346 60.49% 36
Northern Cali 3900 1925 63.53% 19
North West 4915 2287 63.75% 18
South Central 9085 3839 62.99% 28
South East 8339 3720 65.54% 35
Southern Cali 4472 2272 64.52% 24
South West 6163 3029 61.04% 23

 

Takeaways

Overall, the community of Crossfit is impressively strong. For over 50% of the RX community being able to get to the (135/95 lbs) round shows an incredible amount of improvement in the fitness of the community. In the 2009 Crossfit Games, a 225lb snatch could place you second in the men's division (shout out to Jason Kalipha), but now 5% of athletes are hitting 225 lbs in a workout. This is an unbelievable gain in such a short period of time.

In the above regional analysis, we looked at the percentage of competitors who hit a snatch in the second round. We included that number because we felt it was evident of the coaching quality involved in each region. A good coach can get a lifter to 135/95 and it is evident that in the U.S. regions the percentage of people who were able to accomplish that is significantly higher than the other regions. This could also be due to the training age of the region, as the snatch is a movement that takes a significant amount of time to master.

I would like to say from personal experience that I saw so many people either blow away their PR's or get soooo close to hitting it. I expect to see a ton of new records after everyone has time to rest and recover.

Lastly, if you enjoyed this article and are looking to perform better in next year's regionals, make sure to download our FREE app on iOS or Android.

*Data accuracy +/- 0.5%

Data Fit - Crossfit Open 17.4 Analysis: How Much Did the Community Improve?

17.4 is.... 16.4

Every year during the open one of the workouts is a repeat of a workout from a past open. This gives everyone in the chance to measure their performance not by how they stack up in the community, but by how they have improved themselves. Personally, I think this is a healthier form of competition, as it lets you step back and reflect on your year of training to answer the question:

Did I improve my fitness since last year?

In our first three 38Plank Crossfit Open Articles, we included some fun data points, graphs, maps, and diagrams analyzing competition and performance between regions and the community at large. Although these are all really fun to look at, we decided to focus more on individual improvement and highlight how far the Crossfit community has come in the last year as a whole.  At 38Plank, we believe that you are your biggest competition...it is the main inspiration for our app after all! Don't get us wrong, we love some healthy competition, but fitness should ultimately be about challenging yourself and working to get better every day. 

So, in order to honor this belief, we decided to also include some fun interviews with a diverse group of athletes. We hope that their stories also help inspire and motivate you in your training :)

Improving Fitness

For the first part of our analysis, we wanted to see whether or not the Crossfit community improved as a whole since last year. To keep it short, we KILLED IT! 

"The average improvement of the entire CrossFit community who did RX in both 2016 and 2017 was 9.3 reps, or roughly 5.7%"

This number is from 90k+ results of people from different fitness backgrounds, cultures, and geographic locations, making a strong case that if you are looking for a new workout program that will improve your strength and overall fitness, Crossfit could be just the one for you! This is also probably the largest ever study of a fitness program or methodology ever conducted.

Let's break the community numbers down by male / female and also separated by region to see who had the biggest improvements.

Note: RX16 & RX17 means the number of people who posted an RX score in both 2016 and 2017.

Men's Regional Data
Region Reps Gained Percent Gain RX16 && RX17 Scaled to RX
Africa 13.18 8.04% 1501 150
Asia 13.31 8.39% 1272 161
Australia 8.20 4.81% 3754 241
Canada Eat 8.94 5.13% 2277 155
Canada West 8.40 4.93% 1231 88
Central East 7.77 4.53% 3740 243
Europe 11.36 6.80% 8967 795
Latin America 14.59 9.20% 3846 510
Mid Atlantic 7.52 4.36% 4087 254
North Central 7.58 4.37% 4407 307
North East 7.37 4.32% 5026 361
Northern Cali 6.61 3.85% 1960 91
North West 6.58 3.80% 2121 142
South Central 6.78 3.96% 4261 239
South East 6.92 3.99% 4176 227
Southern Cali 6.73 3.92% 2554 136
South West 6.98 4.09% 1925 155
Womens Regional Data
Region Reps Gained Percent Gain RX16 && RX17 Scaled to RX
Africa 14.98 9.88% 611 163
Asia 21.31 15.41% 471 134
Australia 9.98 6.26% 2465 462
Canada Eat 10.22 6.24% 1427 278
Canada West 9.23 5.67% 848 171
Central East 9.09 5.63% 2251 408
Europe 13.60 8.58% 3616 843
Latin America 16.38 11.05% 1328 466
Mid Atlantic 8.99 5.59% 2591 497
North Central 9.73 6.00% 2486 509
North East 8.88 5.51% 3014 655
Northern Cali 7.91 4.90% 1268 208
North West 8.14 4.95% 1457 259
South Central 9.56 6.09% 2508 471
South East 9.22 5.74% 2308 388
Southern Cali 10.20 6.32% 1500 254
South West 8.99 5.67% 1925 298

Looks like Latin America, Asia, and Africa are improving at a rapid pace. It's great to see the normally underrepresnted regions improving fast and likely catching up to everyone else.

All Reps are not Equal

We see that the entire community improved by ~9 reps, but what type of movements were they? 9 handstand pushups and 9 wall balls are not created equal, so we need to figure out what percentage of both men and women made it to each round to be able to base our information.

First lets look at the overall scores in the community.

Red is Men, Blue is Women

Red is Men, Blue is Women

 

As you can see a large group of the population was cut off at some point during the handstand pushups. Using this information we can better understand our results from before. On average, a large proportion of those extra 9 reps were from the handstand pushups. Looking at the table below, we see the breakdown percentages of the community. 

Percentile Male Reps Female Reps
10% 123 110
20% 149 135
30% 165 151
40% 166 164
50% 171 165
60% 176 166
70% 181 172
80% 189 179
90% 201 191
95% 215 204
99% 254 245

We see that 72% of the men, and 42% of the women who did the workout RX were able to get one Handstand pushup. That means a majority of those 9 rep improvements were done on this portion. 

Scaled to RX

For most of our analysis, we have focused on the RX community, as that provides us with the most consistent source of data. That may make the data science easier but Since the addition of the scaled category in 2015, many people have been going scaled, increasing the number of people who can compete in the open. In this workout, many people scaled for one of two reasons, either the deadlift was too heavy, or they are not able to get a handstand pushup. But anyone who improved their fitness since last year may have shored up these gaps and moved from scaled to rx, which in its own right shows an improvement in not only fitness, but confidence. The question we can ask ourselves then is, "How many people went from RX to Scaled" and use that as an number to show community improvement. 

The number of people who went from scaled in 2016 to RX in 2017 was 10,719

Thats a massive number. Deadlifting 225/155lbs x55 is no easy feat, and for an athlete to improve enough in one year to go from not being able or confident enough to tackle this, to going RX in 2017 shows an incredible amount of improvement.

Individual Stories

Looking into the data of the Crossfit Open is incredibly fun (at least for me) and insightful. It helps us as athletes put our scores into perspective and evaluate ourselves on a larger scale. But when you dig down into it the data does not tell the whole story, and doesn't answer the most important question that anyone can ask, "Why are we doing this?".

To find the answer to that all encompassing question, we interviewed crossfitters that improved and asked them questions about how and why the worked through out the year to improve. These stories are incredible testaments to the power of dedication, hardwork, and motivation. I am so happy that the athletes let us share their deeply personal stories why. 

Prepping for the Crossfit Regionals - Interview with Ryan Fischer

The open is officially over and now we are all waiting in anticipation for the regionals. But, the regionals aren't until May, so in the meantime, we wanted to get a sneak peek into the routines and mindsets of some of the athletes who are preparing for regionals. Whether you have plans to make it to regionals next year or are just curious to get to know these athletes, these interviews are pretty fun to read!

Here is our interview with Ryan Fischer:

1) Now that the open is over, how do you feel about your performance and how will it set you up for regionals?

Honestly I'm happy with my performance. At 30 years old and with a bunch of injuries including a left knee that has literally zero Cartledge or meniscus, I don't train very much. So to end regionals in sixth place overall in California, with training low that is an equivalent to a regular member... Can't be much happier. I wasn't even planning on competing, to be honest.

2) Do you follow a nutrition plan? If so what is it and what is the basic principle involved?

I basically follow a meat and vegetable diet with simple carbohydrates after workouts. I cheat here and there but it's a lot less than most people do. 

3) What programming do you follow and how will it be changing for regionals?

I literally do my class workouts with just a little bit of additional strength training here and there. I work out between an hour and an hour and a half a day. Four days a week.

4) What new movement do you think they will add to regionals this year?

They never add anything new. Always the basic movements. However, if they did change their ways I would guess a D-Ball. 

5) What originally drew you into Crossfit?

I trained for the Olympics for five years and got kind of burned out on the fact that I had to wait five years again to try compete in the big show... and the repetitive training of just the same thing over and over again... crossfit has a lot of variety and I really like that about The sport. 

6) Do you have any advice for an aspiring regionals athlete? Someone who wants to make the jump from Crossfit training to competition. 

Just to be careful for over training. I think a lot of people think that they have to do this ridiculous load of training when in reality intensity is the most important factor. As a gym owner I see this all the time and it drives me crazy. Especially when it comes to strength... why aren't you strong? Because you never give your body time to rest... that's why. It's a scientific fact. 

7) You have been competing as a regionals athlete since 2012, what would you say is the biggest difference (besides the competitiveness) between then and this year? How has the sport evolved and how have you evolved with it? 

I think the biggest factor is just the weights mainly... I don't see any big differences in the scales or the difficulties of the workouts. The athletes and the RX weights are just considerably heavier and stronger. For example… A 225 snatch would have been jaw-dropping when I started, but now that is a weight that we do for reps in a workout. A 400 pound deadlift was crazy back then too and now it's a few of these guys max power clean. I'd like to think those huge numbers don't matter that much and that the real athletes will come by the end of the weekend… However, now everyone is starting to get good at both. Lifting really heavy weights and producing some really strong aerobic capacity. It will be cool to see this sport in another five years

Prepping for the Crossfit Regionals - Interview with Carol-Ann Reason-Thibault

The open is officially over and now we are all waiting in anticipation for the regionals. But, the regionals aren't until May, so in the meantime, we wanted to get a sneak peek into the routines and mindsets of some of the athletes who are preparing for regionals. Whether you have plans to make it to regionals next year or are just curious to get to know these athletes, these interviews are pretty fun to read!
Carol-Ann:

1) Now that the open is over, how do you feel about your performance and how will it set you up for regionals and the games? 

I'm really with my overall placement in the open. I wasn't expecting to reach the 6th place worldwide for the third year in a row but I'm happy it happens. My goal was to be good in my region. I didn't stop training for regionals during the open but for now this is the main focus. 

2) Do you follow a nutrition plan? If so what is it and what is the basic principle involved?

I'm following a meal plan to help me reach my goal in training and to be sure my body recover well. I'm starting a new program this week with ProEnergy. 

3) What programming do you follow and how will it be changing for regionals?

I made some change recently and I'm now following Michele Letendre programming since a couple month mais I also have a coach who programs and help me with my weightlifting and strength (Yannick Hainneault). I also incorporate some workout that I enjoy with my friends. 

4) What new movement do you think they will add to regionals this year?

I'm guessing for the pegboard and ski erg. 

5) What originally drew you into Crossfit?

I was boxing and needed a break after a tough loss so my sister who was already into crossfit ask me to train with her. I can't thank her enough now... I was addicted after the first time. 

6) Do you have any advice for an aspiring regionals athlete? Someone who wants to make the jump from Crossfit training to competition. 

Make sure you love what you do. Make sure t is really a passion because you have to spend so Much time around training nutrition recovery. Also make sure you have a great group support with you and never stop working on what you don't want to train, because it's probably what you need to. 

7) What is something you like to do outside the gym that people might not know about you?

I love to spend time with my dog  ,  my family and friends. I love to go out for brunch during the weekend. 

 

How to Get the Most Famous Butt on the Internet

How to Get the Most Famous Butt on the Internet

I find inspiration for my workouts from my Pinterest boards all of the time, so I thought it would be fun to find some of the most popular workouts and share them with you guys! One of the best aspects of Pinterest workouts is that most of them can be done from the convenience of your own home or apartment.