Considerations for Masters Athletes

Considerations for Masters Athletes

A few weeks ago, I read an article about exercising into the 40s and 50s (and beyond), and felt it was hyper-conservative in its recommendations. I mean, just because I may be older doesn’t mean I am preparing myself to check into an assisted living center. Besides, some of the best athletes at CrossFit BNI are over 40, and we are looking for the safest and best ways to get stronger and faster.

So I figured I would address some of the topics I find most important for those of us fortunate enough to have witnessed the 1970’s first-hand.

Before I get into the meat of this discussion, however, I am going to assume that IF you are over 40 and in a fitness program, that you are in tune with the state of your overall health. There is truth to the adage that “with age comes wisdom”, and attempting to sprint a mile after a triple bypass operation kind of goes against this.

I would also like to highlight that there is a HUGE difference in how hard you should push yourself if you have been physically active, versus if you have been mostly sedentary and are just starting a fitness program. This doesn’t mean that those new to exercise programs need to stick to swim aerobics at the YMCA. They just need to follow the same rules anyone new to fitness follows:
- Rest when you feel lethargic or fatigued.
- Set realistic goals, and work towards them.
- Eat to fuel your exercise.
- Don’t attempt to lift a house until you can do so in good form.
- Stop when you feel pain (know the difference between pain and muscle soreness).

The most important factor of working out at an advanced age, is understanding that your body takes more time to heal. This goes for allowing your muscles to recover after hard workouts as well as allowing injuries to properly heal before you get back to the grind. This is the crappiest thing about getting older, and it definitely takes a while to adjust to the slower recovery requirement. Our brains want to go-go-go; but the body may or may not follow. Testosterone levels also drop as we get older (in both men and women); and affect our drive and ability to build and maintain muscle.

I feel the standard three-days-on / one-day-off routine of CrossFit is a valid routine for those who are used to pushing themselves hard. The older you get, however, perhaps a less frequent schedule is more appropriate for what your body can handle. I fluctuate between a three-days-on / one-day-off schedule and a two-days-on / one-day-off schedule depending on how sore or fatigued I feel. I also periodically take two days off in a row when I really feel sluggish. If you know how to listen to your body (cliché, I know…), you can develop a schedule that suits your capabilities.

Another factor affecting us old-timers is mobility. Tendonitis and stiffness are a fact of life as you get older, which requires extra attention towards maintaining effective ranges of motion. It is imperative that you sustain sufficient mobility to perform every movement through a full range of motion. This will prevent injuries and keep repetitive motion tendonitis at bay.

Along the mobility lines, many masters athletes are limited in their ability to do high-skill exercises such as pistols and handstand push-ups. The movements require the athlete to have strength through a full range of motion, and many times tendonitis and muscle aches make working through that range of motion fairly difficult – especially on a recurring basis. I recommend spending at least five to ten minutes every day you go to the gym working on your particular mobility issues – whether or not you feel you need it that day.
Every. Single. Day.

On the positive side, masters athletes have just as much capacity to continue to lift heavy. Strength fades much slower than endurance and speed. You may not be able to match your best mile time year after year; but you will likely be able to add pounds to your PRs into your 60s – as long as you work hard at it. Just remember that the best accompaniment to stronger lifts is mobility and recovery.

So, as a bottom line…

Continue to push yourself as hard as you feel you can. Lift heavy, run fast, and challenge your PRs every time you go to the gym. Take rest days and work in a mobility program to ensure you stay fresh and flexible. Eat to fuel your workouts and replace lost nutrients. Don’t let your past performances rule your present expectations. If you get hurt, take the time to heal completely.

And pass your wisdom on to younger athletes, so they may learn from your experiences.

Mobility class free to BNI members

Mobility class at CrossFit BNI – free to members from Brandon, Valrico, Riverview, and throughout the Tampa Bay Area

Mobility ClassIf you are looking for a way to perform better during your workouts, recover quicker after an intense WOD, or feel better and more refreshed on a daily basis, the CrossFit BNI Mobility Class is what you have been looking for.

Taught by Damion Jones, our Trainer and a licensed Physical Therapist, this 1-hour class is held every Thursday night at 7 p.m. Damion will cover some guided stretches, and mobilizing techniques to help keep an active body, free of strains, pains, range of motion limitations, tightness, and soreness.

This class is free for our BNI memebers and can be tremendously helpful at addressing a number of common problems. See Mike, Beth, or Damion if you have any questions. Registration is required and space is limited, so don’t wait!

Competition Preparation

Competition Preparation Tips & Insights for Any CrossFitter

Competition PreparationMany people are already in the summer competition groove, so it is worth a quick discussion of how to prepare for a competition – physically, mentally, and nutritionally. This blog will discuss these areas, and also give recommendations for how often to compete, and how to recover from a competition.

Most competitions are two days long, with about three workouts each day. Charity competitions and small-box battles are one day, and some of the bigger events are three days (usually with only a workout or strength test on the first day). Regardless of how long your competition is, these are some common important things to consider.

1)     Packing for the competition:  Many competitions announce all the workouts well in advance, so you can know what equipment to bring in advance. The element of surprise does exist, however; so make sure you bring those things you might bring for any potential surprise workout or unannounced tie-breaker. Here is a list of the things I always keep in a plastic tub, and would definitely take with me to a competition:

  • Enough workout clothes (complete set) so I can change into a fresh set of duds for each and every workout if I sweat way too much, or have a clothing or bowel malfunction.
  • Lifting shoes, running shoes, AND Nanos
  • Wrist compression wraps, gymnastic straps, and hand tape
  • Rope-climbing socks / leg protection
  • Arm sleeves (protection for rings or atlas stones)
  • Jump rope
  • Baby wipes, tape, Nu-Skin, Ibuprofen, aspirin, Bandaids…
  • Foam roller, lacrosse ball, and Voodoo Floss
  • Suntan lotion and bug spray
  • Folding chair / pop-up tent / beach towel
  • Cooler full of ice, beverages, and food (and bottle opener)
  • Wrist and head sweat bands
  • Jacket and sweat pants
  • Toilet paper

2)     Eating before the competition: Try not to stray too much from what you normally eat if you have a sensitive digestive system. You do not want to be in the bathroom more than you need to be on competition day. You DO, however, need to eat to prepare yourself for a full day or two of competing – versus only one workout a day.

  • The day prior to the competition, eat and hydrate as you normally do for the breakfast and lunch meals.  For the evening meal, however, stay away from junky/fast food. Eat a higher carbohydrate meal with plenty of protein and good fats that will help you get started for the next day. Lean meats, solid colorful fruits and veggies, and nuts and seeds are good options – Paleo or Zone works well here. If you get gassy from anything (milk, lentils, etc.), it is best to avoid it unless you want your judge to walk away from you mid-workout. Drink a big glass of water a couple of hours before bed.
  • Wake up and eat a small meal with plenty of easy-to-digest proteins, fats, and simple carbs about two or three hours before your first competition. Eggs, fruits, apple fritters, or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches all fit the bill – along with a tall glass of water. Make sure you don’t eat anything that will make you have to go to the bathroom in the middle of your first workout. Coffee is both good and bad in this area. Because most competitions have multiple workouts, avoid the urge to fast, or to drink bullet-proof coffee alone as a breakfast. That will not provide enough fuel going into the second workout.

3)     Sleep well the night before competition days.  Try not to obsess about the workouts, and how you might possibly fare the next day. There is nothing you can possibly do the night before a competition by worrying about it – other than wreck it by not sleeping well.

4)     Get to the competition AT LEAST an hour prior to the first workout / athletes’ meeting / registration. This will allow you to set your area up, get everything you need organized, walk around and check the place out, and scout out where the bathroom are. Make sure you set up somewhere you can see or hear what is going on with the competition so you don’t miss your workout heats.

5)     Eating during the competition: Think small and easily digestible when eating throughout the day(s) of competition. Lean meats, peanut butter sandwiches, fruits, nuts, and vegetables are all good choices. Try to graze throughout the day instead of eating a big meal. Eat something immediately after completing each workout, and drink water throughout the day. Modestly sized protein drinks are a good choice too. Just try not to eat too much, as you do not want to feel bloated for the next workout.

6)     Rest between workouts. Sit down and casually snack on some food and water. Resist the urge to wander around and shop at the vendor tents unless you have a couple of hours or more between each workout. Use whatever mobility tools you brought to massage aching muscles. Use ice from your cooler both to cool down and to ice any swelling or aches. Elevate your feet or lie down if you can.

7)     After a day of competing, eat like a champion! Your body has been working hard all day, and you have been grazing to this point. Replenish your macronutrient stores with a high-carb dinner. Pasta, rice, unprocessed meats, vegetables, and fruits are all good choices; but chances are, almost anything in balance will fit the bill. Just try not to over-indulge on food or alcohol. Many times, people use the day after a competition to socialize over dinner. Most big-chain (non-fast-food) restaurant meals are proportioned for what you need (meat, potatoes, butter, vegetable, beverage…).

Naturally, there are many factors involved in fine-tuning your competition experience. Duration of each workout, length of time waiting between each workout, weather conditions, intensity required in the workout, amount of weight on the bar, and your emotional state during the competition all play into your meal and rest planning.

The best advice anyone has ever given me, was telling me not to worry too much about the other athletes, or the weather conditions, or the type of music they are playing. Everyone is competing in the same environment; and the victor will always be the one who has trained the hardest despite any environmental factor. Be prepared the best you can be, and do the best you can do, and let the pieces fall where they may.

Coming in September: Lift More Oly 2-Day Event at CrossFit BNI

Lift More Oly 2-Day EventAt CrossFit BNI, we are committed to seeing our athletes meet each and every goal they have set for themselves. Whether we’re programming WODs, coaching a skill or movement, or providing a much-needed bit of motivation as the AMRAP clock winds down, our greatest joy comes when we see our athletes break through and accomplish something they might not have previously thought possible.

With that in mind, we are bringing the Lift More Oly 2-Day Olympic Lifting Event to CrossFit BNI. This event - and the coaches who put it on – travels the globe seeking to provide the very best in Olympic lifting instruction. Don’t miss out on this truly unique experience. This seminar covers:

  • Weightlifting theories and practice
  • Progressions practicing bar path and key positions to produce maximum force
  • Cues to build kinesthetic awareness
  • Proper technique for more efficient movement
  • Drills to improve strength and reinforce technique
  • Demonstration of movements for repetition
  • Mental exercises for attempting maximal lift
  • Exercises and drills that are most effective for mastery
  • Nutrition for optimal performance
  • Why Olympic Weightlifting is the most mentally challenging sport

For more information or to register for this event, check out the Eventbrite link below.

Register for the 2-Day event HERE

CrossFit BNI Trainer: Mick Paugh

Mick Paugh

My name is Mick and I am recently retired from the U.S. Army after 22 years of service. During my service to our great country I found my passion for fitness. I really started getting into weightlifting back in 1999 while overseas and stayed with it until 2012 when a buddy talked me into trying Crossfit. I made a visit to Crossfit BNI with him and the workout left me lying on the ground gasping for air… I told myself this is what I have been missing my whole life and I have never looked back since. I love that the workouts are constantly varied, functional fitness, done at high intensity but, more importantly, the community is what keeps me coming back. You will meet some of the most intense, insane and caring people.

You couldn’t surround yourself with a better group of people to push you every day. Because of my passion with fitness and Crossfit, I decided to take the plunge and get my Crossfit Level 1 certificate so I can help others achieve their goals. After receiving my Level 1 cert in Dec 2013 I decided to take it one step further and get certified as a Personal Trainer.

In March of 2014 I received my Certified Fitness Trainer certificate through International Sport Science Association. This is just the beginning of this crazy ride as I plan to continue my learning through new certs, CEU’s, other coaches and most important… the Athletes!

Levels of CrossFit & Fitness Awareness

Levels of CrossFit & Fitness Awareness

Levels of CrossFit

By Jim Broun, CrossFit BNI Trainer

Over a few decades of doings various things – both professionally and recreationally – I have learned that there are several levels of awareness related to understanding and getting better at your craft.  It seems as though every six years or so as a snobby know-it-all analyst, I would have an awakening and realize that many things I thought I knew about being an analyst were completely different than I perceived.  It wasn’t as if what I was doing was wrong.  I had always been very good as an analyst. I just became aware of the WHY and HOW at a level I hadn’t previously understood, and that changed how I approached being an analyst.

And THAT allowed me to get better as an analyst.

Having been in the CrossFit realm since its inception, I have also noticed the same advancement of my understanding over time; and this has allowed me to progress as an athlete – beyond what I previously thought was possible.

When most people walk into CrossFit for the first time, they see a challenging exercise routine, and imagine the workout is simply an alternative to the LA Fitness drudgery: Back and biceps… Chest and triceps… Leg day… You know the routine.  Some people use the phrase “shock your body” to explain how they perceive that CrossFit will help them lose a few pounds. Some people just needed a financial or social commitment to something that would force them to get into shape. 

This is where most people start their fitness journey – at level one. 

At this level, we have heard a lot of the fitness do’s and don’ts: Diet and exercise are a team. High intensity exercise burns fat. Muscles grow when we force them to work harder than they are accustomed to working.  In this phase, however, we don’t completely know if we want to commit fully to the hype.  Body builders are meatheads, CrossFitters are cultists, and people who have six pack abs are genetic freaks on steroids. You just want to lose a few pounds, or to (giggle) TONE your muscles. This certainly can’t be too strenuous.  So you start your CrossFit journey, and learn how to squat (hopefully).

After a month or so of drinking the CrossFit Kool Ade, you notice that your fitness level has improved by a thousand percent.  You might not be able to do all the movements; but you WANT to someday. You also may not have lost a lot of weight; but you notice that your clothes fit a little looser.  Deep inside you know it is working, so you make a commitment to stick around a while longer. One thing that gets to you is that you seem to always finish last, and are using the pink bar for everything. Man, if you could only get that pull-up thing figured out, you would be kicking some serious ass! 

This is when you hit the second level of awareness. 

You can squat and swing a kettlebell fairly well; but there seems to be a coach within arms length during every workout, and that coach is always correcting your form (nag, nag, nag…).  Chances are, you think you have the super-easy deadlift down pat; but don’t feel comfortable lifting more than 90 pounds for more than a rep or two, and your back feels like you need to take a day off afterwards. You keep hearing coaches say things like “knees out” and “shoulders back”; but those queues don’t really resonate with you yet, and when you DO follow the queues it is uncomfortable.  Chances are, you will ignore these queues until you get injured from not following them; or will only follow them because you see someone else doing it, and lifting a ton more than you can.

People get stuck at level two for a long time.  Self-doubt reigns supreme.  Then people who are newer at CrossFit than you are suddenly doing handstands and muscle-ups, and are leaving you in the fitness dust. You start reading Muscle & Fitness, and soliciting your friends for information on how to get better at everything.  You still, however, half-heartedly approach inch bugs, and are still grabbing the pink bar for cleans and push presses.

Then, one day that light bulb turns on, and that babble that the coach has been spewing at you is suddenly in English! Hips back! Knees out!!! Suddenly your deadlift weight goes to 200 pounds, and your back doesn’t hurt at all after the workout.  All of that silly “form” nonsense suddenly becomes clear – at least for a few movements. 

You are officially at the third level of awareness. 

At this level you make New Year’s resolutions by the hundreds. Every movement has a benchmark that you need to meet. Pull-ups, handstands, a 7-minute Fran time, pistols… You don’t know how, but by the end of the year you will be at the CrossFit Games.

Level three doesn’t last that long, because as soon as you miss 99% of your new resolutions, you become a bit more of a realist in what it takes to get to the next level of your personal fitness.  This is also a phase when PRs mean everything, and the work to get those PRs seems to get ignored.  You may hit a few personal bests in some lifts; but overall your strength and gains are about average for your body type and musculature.

At some point, the realization hits that in order to get better you have to put in hard work. Getting a pull-up is hard when you can’t even hang your body weight by your hands for more than a couple seconds. Handstand push-ups are hard when your push press PR is 45 pounds. 

Level four hits when you finally concede and follow the programming and skill work recommendations.  Form AND function start becoming one.  As people go through this phase, however, they go though it with intent. They have accepted that they need to listen to their body, and discover where and how they can make gains by recording their efforts and the subsequent results.  For people with less then three years in their personal fitness journey, this is a long phase. There is so much to learn about ourselves.

From this point forward, each individual will continue to go through periodic enlightenment.  This enlightenment continues as long as that individual continues to push himself or herself physically. Suddenly, aspects of intensity, pace, nutrition, supplementation, and rest become important. Some people will culminate at this level of awareness, as it takes more time and energy to focus this much on fitness.  

There is a Progression Chart on the wall that uses the terms “beginner”, “intermediate”, “advanced”, and :fire breather”…  That chart approximates the phases or levels of progress – which usually includes both physical capability and level of fitness awareness.  If you are a new CrossFitter, or have never thought about how you are going to progress as a CrossFitter, it’s important to realize that your transformation from desk jockey/soccer mom is much more than just thoughtlessly grinding through a randomized fitness program.  Learn the form.  Get good at the form and the required mobility.  Learn how a 10-minute METCON WOD affects your body versus a 5×5 back squat at 80% of your one rep max. 

Realize that even Veruca didn’t get the golden egg the minute she wanted it.

CrossFit BNI Trainer Mike Caldwell

Mike Caldwell

CrossFit Level 1 and 2 Certified Trainer
CrossFit Endurance Certified Trainer
CrossFit Olympic Weightlifting Certified Trainer
CrossFit Mobility Certified Trainer
CrossFit Football Certified Trainer
CrossFit Kettlebell Instructor
CrossFit Gymnastics Certified Trainer
CrossFit Powerlifting Certified Trainer

USAW Olympic Certified Instructor

ISSA Certified Trainer #190342

My name is Michael Caldwell and I was born in Bogotá, Colombia in South America. Before first grade, I moved with my family to Lake Placid, Florida where I lived until going away to college. My degree is in Communications, but my passion is for Fitness and Health.

All throughout my childhood, I was overweight. It is not easy for a kid to go through high school being chubby. But I had friends that eventually motivated me to go to the gym with them and exercise. They made it fun for me, and it really did change my life. I went to college 50 lbs lighter and with a whole new outlook on life. I worked as a chef for years in my twenties and that started me down the road to healthy eating. Temporary diets were not for me. I began to realize that in order to keep the weight off, I had to change my way of eating, thinking, and acting. I took supplements to keep me healthy, and I learned over the years how important it is to eat right all the time.

It was also during this time that I was a Weight Loss Consultant and I had the idea to start my own company. With the support of my wife, I opened Body Nutrition in February 2007. I am a certified personal trainer through ISSA and CrossFit Level 1 Certified and my goal is to motivate you to have similar results that I had.


CrossFit BNI Trainer: Beth Caldwell

Beth Caldwell
CrossFit Level 1 Certified
CrossFit Kids Certified
CrossFit Mobility Certified Trainer
CrossFit Gymnastics Certified Trainer
CrossFit Powerlifting Certified Trainer
CrossFit Endurance Certified Trainer
IFA Certified Trainer # 224450

My name is Beth Caldwell, and my life was spent in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I moved to Florida in 2003 and I met Mike in Tampa where we both worked. It is my passion to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and motivate others to do the same.

I played every sport they allowed me to in school. Throughout college, I was always the person who would wake up early in the mornings just to go jogging and if you couldn’t find me at home, I was most likely in the gym. When I moved to sunny Florida, I began to help my friends do workouts in the gym and that motivated me to get my certification from IFA to be a personal trainer. I love to see people get that look of satisfaction on their faces after accomplishing a good workout. I realized that getting my certification from CrossFit would only enhance my ability to motivate others safely and effectively to reach new potentials.

Because I recently had my 2nd baby, I understand the challenges that women have to go through in order to maintain their weight. Nothing is impossible when it comes to health. By maintaining an active lifestyle throughout my entire pregnancy, I was able to hit my goal of being size 2 just months after the birth of my 2nd son. I keep healthy by taking supplements and vitamins and eating healthy meals every day.


CrossFit BNI Trainer Damion Jones

Meet BNI Trainer Damion Jones, MSPT, BS, K1/K2 Certified

CrossFit BNI Trainer Damion JonesDamion is a PT with 10+ years of clinical experience in a variety of settings ranging from acute care in hospitals, subacute care in skilled nursing faculties, outpatient rehab, and home health care. He received his Bachelors Degree in Biological Science from Florida State University in 2000 and then earned a Masters Degree in Physical Therapy from Florida A&M University in 2002.

In addition to clinical patient care experience, Damion also ran a rehab department as a Director of Rehab at Bayshore Pointe Nursing and Rehab in south Tampa for 3 years before embarking on his current practice as a contract PT for Supplemental Rehab for the past 4+ years. As a PT, Damion applies the principles of kinesiology (the study of the body in motion) as part of treating a variety of clients each day.

In CrossFit, it is necessary for our joints and muscles to be mobile enough to allow our bodies to move fluidly through various motions and movements in order to be efficient in our workouts. The purpose of this class will be to teach individuals how to safely mobilize joints, increase muscle flexibility, and properly warm-up muscles and tissues to prepare for intense activity as a supplement for the programmed warm-ups and WODs at CrossFit BNI.

CrossFit BNI Trainer: Jim Broun

Jim Broun

CrossFit BNI Trainer Jim Broun
• CrossFit Level 1 Certified Trainer
• CrossFit Level 2 Certified Trainer
• CrossFit Powerlifting Trainer
• CrossFit Mobility Trainer
• CrossFit Olympic Lifting Trainer
• USAW Weightlifting Sports Performance Coach

I started CrossFit in mid-2001 while I was in the Army stationed in Arizona. CrossFit was still new and unfamiliar enough to not completely drag me away from the Joe Wieder bodybuilding workout routine that is still popular to this day. By 2004, when I was stationed in Japan, CrossFit had become the preferred physical training method in my military unit; and it completely changed the way I thought about fitness and strength training.

In 2006, I retired from the Army, and built my first CrossFit garage gym. I continued CrossFit on my own until 2011, when I joined CrossFit BNI. Although I thought I was in great shape before then, my fitness level went through the roof after joining. There was no substitute for having a coach correct my form and the adrenaline rush of the group environment. My Fran time dropped from 9 minutes to 6 minutes, and my CrossFit Total went from below 600 to over 800.

I also live by the rule that diet and exercise are simultaneous endeavors. Having been in a high-stress, high-travel job for so long, my diet had always been horrible. I lived in the drive-through, and drank only sugary beverages instead of water. I was not fat; but I was “doughy.” In order to maximize my CrossFit program, I started experimenting with the Zone, Atkins, Paleo, and Carb BackLoading diets, and began reading some of the key publications on fitness and nutrition. The difference it made was astounding!

Now in my late 40’s, I am able to combine the years of fitness experience and knowledge obtained through formal training to offer a safe and balanced approach to helping people get the most from their fitness program.

For those who would like to learn more about health and fitness, I recommend the following light reading:
• Starting Strength (Rippetoe)
• The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding (Schwarzenegger)
• Body by Science (McGuff)
• Mastering the Zone (Sears)
• The Paleo Diet for Athletes (Cordain)
• Good Calories, Bad Calories / Why we Get Fat (Taubes)
• Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution (Atkins)
• The Omnivore’s Dilemma (Pollan)