Lauren Fisher and Ben Smith: The 4 Cornerstones of A Good Life

Top tips from two CrossFit Games® veterans and Puori.

At Puori, they believe that health is an ever-evolving journey centered around making quality decisions within the four cornerstones of a good life; a healthy diet, physical activity, balance, and recovery. Get these right, in the correct proportions, and you will maximise your health, performance as an athlete, mobility and longevity.

Two top athletes that adhere with these principles, and work in partnership with Puori, are Ben Smith and and Lauren Fisher. 

Ben Smith has competed at the CrossFit Games® every year since 2009, finishing on the podium four times. He took first place in 2015, second in 2016, and third in 2011 and 2013. He is without doubt one of the most consistent athletes in the sport of fitness, and an expert in high performance and longevity.

Lauren Fisher won the 2014 USA Weightlifting Junior National Championship in the 63-kg class with a 70-kg. snatch and a 102-kg clean and jerk, for a total of 177 kilos. She has competed at The CrossFit Games® six times.

1. PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

Check out these different aspects of fitness that will improve you holistically.

Cardiovascular/Respiratory Endurance: Sustained bouts of effort over longer distances through movements such as running, swimming or biking. Strengthens your aerobic capacity, heart and lungs.

Stamina: Developing the ability to perform gymnastic and barbell, dumbbell and kettlebell movements efficiently for high number of repetitions. Teaches mental toughness and good form under fatigue.

Strength: The ability to move external weights and bodyweight through various different ranges of motion. Barbell, dumbbell and kettlebell movements, strict gymnastics and bodyweight exercises are all great ways to develop this aspect of fitness. Strength is absolutely necessary for healthy functionality of the human body.

Within this category it is also worth placing particular attention on core strength. It will help to prevent injury, protect your spine, improve posture and stabilse lifts and movement in general. Try this workout from Lauren Fisher to enhance yours.

Lauren Fisher Core Strength Workout

“Besides all the upper body work I do every day, I add in abs every session as a finisher. I feel like it’s paying off!”

5 sets not for time of:

  • 20 V-Ups
  • 15 Tuck Crunches
  • 20 Second Hollow Hold
  • 20 Second Arch Hold

Flexibility: Warm ups should be utilised to prep and prime the body to be able to attain the correct range of motion.

Power: incorporating plyometrics into training alongside Olympic lifting is a great key to develop explosive power.

Tip from Ben Smith: The Three Rep Rule for a One Rep Max

“If I’m testing a max in snatch or clean and jerk, I will limit myself to 3 attempts before lowering the weight or calling it. Sometimes I’m stubborn but not always. It’s tough to know when to call it because you feel like you’re right there, but my general rule of thumb is 3 attempts. Then go back to the drawing board to increase speed, technique, and power output and try again! It takes time to build strength”

Speed: As well as sprint sessions for running/rowing/swimming etc, EMOMs and interval training are great ways to improve speed.

Tip from Ben Smith: Improving Speed

In weightlifting, use snatch high pulls to improve muscle memory and transition speed.

“I love this accessory movement because it helps build muscle memory through your positions. I like doing these like “panda pulls” where you also work on not only getting vertical speed on the bar, but transitioning to pulling UNDER the barbell as well. If you can be athletic enough to do this movement it can really help your timing and pull!”

Coordination: Coordination is essential to master a new skill. The more complex the movement, the more coordination is needed.

Tip from Ben Smith: Developing Skills

“Each month we select one particular movement (skill/lift/workout, etc.) that as a group we will test and then work on improving over the course of that month.  At the end of the month we will re-test and record progress! We will incorporate specific work on this movement/focus during our krypton programming multiple times per week to try and progress in areas that will help improve this specific movement of the month.  This should help us not only in knowledge and depth in that specific area we are trying to develop, but also help us set some goals and help us really see some short term progress.

Remember, everyone’s starting point will be somewhere different and we will have multiple scaling options for every movement like we usually do and different ways we can measure progress over the course of the month!  This is just a way we can all work together to learn more and improve as a group!

We will have a dry erase board chart in the gym where we would like you to write your name and your starting point for each month, as well as a realistic goal you are looking to achieve by the end of the month! At the end of the month we will test this movement again and record our progress!”

Ben Smith is a Puori Wholesaler and CrossFit Krypton has stocked their products for many years. If you want to become a wholesaler yourself then please get in touch with Ladislav at l.valent@puori.com

Agility: Agility is the ability to move in a quick and graceful manner. The more proficient we become at the fundamental movements, the more effortless and agile they seem.

Tip from Ben Smith: Drills to Improve Movement

Use touch and go reps and the hang position to improve movement and timing

“Touch and go reps and work from the hang positions really help me build/stay in good positions (on the descent) as well as spend some good time under tension. Touch and go should look the same on the way down and on the way up. Great way to work power speed, balance, timing. Go as heavy as your technique will allow.”

Balance: Single leg movements and the main lifts help to develop a strong core and stabilisers which in turn help us to balance. Gymnastic skills and unilateral movements are an excellent way to improve balance.

When you train, think about incorporating these different elements of fitness and it will help you to improve holistically.

2. HEALTHY DIET

Ann Wigmore: “The food that you put into your body is either the most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.”

Protein

Protein is essential for the repair of cells that have been damaged during intense training. The repair of these cells makes our muscles bigger and stronger. Most of us could benefit from increasing our intake of lean protein. Serious athletes should consult a qualified dietitian to ensure they consume adequate protein within their diet.

Lauren Fisher: “The product I use the most is the Vanilla Whey Protein. I simply love the taste. It reminds me of drinking a milkshake.”

Puori PW1 was rated the best protein on the market by The Clean Label Project®, a nonprofit focused on health and transparency in supplements and consumer product labeling. They use unbiased science and data-based decisions to show consumers the exact ingredients across a wide range of supplements.

Upgrade your nutrition

Carbohydrates

When we train at high intensity we rapidly deplete glycogen stored in the muscle. This is the fuel we need to perform. Consume quality carbohydrate as soon as possible after training. During the post workout period we make better use of carbohydrate as our muscles want to replace glycogen. Glucose is absorbed easier during this period, preventing it being stored as fat. The amount needed depends largely on duration and intensity of the training.

Vitamins and Minerals

These are essential for the proper functioning of our cells and muscles. It is vital that we eat a balanced healthy diet with healthy fats and supplement with a good clean products (link to Puori). This ensures that the greater needs of repairing cells are met, allowing them to restore themselves fully.

Lauren Fisher: “Supplements like protein are the easiest and fastest way to help your muscles recover. And then at night, I always make sure to take my Puori fish oil, magnesium, and vitamin D. Even though I live in San Diego, I’m still deficient in vitamin D. Actually, a lot of people are and they don’t realize it, which is why it’s so important to add supplements into your daily routine.”

Optimise your vitamin and mineral intake with Puori

Hydration

This is extremely important. When we sweat we lose water. Water is the main constituent of blood; when hydration is poor we have a reduced blood volume. Blood volume is a key factor in determining aerobic capacity and performance.

Maintaining good hydration ensures our cardiovascular system is functioning at maximum capacity. As our body is made mostly of water, good hydration will also contribute to the repair and growth of cells.

3. RECOVERY

When we train we apply stress to the body. The body reacts in such a way as to meet the demands of the stress and prevent damage.

In the post training period, the body will try to reverse the impact of stress induced by training. In an effort to cope better with future training the body will attempt reset the level of homeostasis higher than before. This adaptation is what improves our ability to perform during competition. It makes us fitter and stronger.

In order to get the most benefit, we want the body to recover fully from one workout before we train again. The quicker we recover, the more we can get out of our training and the more progress we make.

There are processes that occur during training which lead to a reduction in function of the muscles. We can promote certain mechanisms through recovery techniques which allow us to get back to a fresh, ready to train state. Magnesium is an excellent supplement for enhancing your recovery.

Puori Magnesium is from bioavailable forms mixed with zinc, vitamin B6 and malic acid for optimal effect.

Understanding recovery mechanisms and techniques is vital. The knowledge will allow you to construct your own recovery strategy to suit your needs. Every athlete is different in terms of what works, so it is important to understand why to do certain things. This allows you to make an effective strategy that enables you as an individual to get the most from your training.

Metabolite Clearance

When we exercise we produce metabolic by-products. Lactate is the most common. When by-products accumulate they significantly impact the contractile function on the muscle tissue, dramatically decreasing performance. When we stop exercising these metabolites can sometimes remain in the muscle. It is important that we try and flush them out fully. There are many methods that can be used effectively.

Active recovery: Light intensity exercise helps us to promote blood flow and clear metabolites through several mechanisms. Gentle warm down exercise after a session can be very beneficial in achieving this.

Contrast showers/Ice baths: Our blood vessels constrict in the cold and dilate in the heat. Alternating between hot and cold acts as a pump flushing blood through the muscles, promoting clearance. Ice baths have the added benefit of hydrostatic pressure. External pressure of water added to the cold, forces blood and metabolites out of the extremities.

Tissue Quality

During strenuous exercise we create chemical shifts in the muscle cells. These shifts are normal but can interrupt contractile function. When muscle fibres contract, sometimes they do not relax fully and we get cramping.

Cramp may not always occur but over time the muscle tissue loses quality. This can eventually cause tightness and pain. In order to prevent this we must use stretching and myofascial release techniques to break up the fibres and trigger points that form. We must also perform mobility exercises to maintain good movement in our joints and prevent muscles from becoming tight and restrictive. There are several options to use.

Foam rolling: Probably the most popular. This is a cheap and accessible way to smash out any knots in the muscle and maintain good tissue quality. It should be performed on a regular basis.

Massage: A good massage can often be more effective at hitting awkward spots. While expensive, a good physiotherapist or massage therapist can make a big difference.

Stretching and Mobility exercises: These should be performed on a daily basis. When we hold certain positions for long periods of time our muscles become tight and can become an injury risk. By constantly maintaining good tissue length and joint mobility we ensure good functional movement.

4. BALANCE

Often underrated or ignored, balance underpins all of the above points. It is exceptionally when it comes to optimising your health, nutrition and wellbeing.

If you are especially busy, schedule down time and relaxation in the same way that you would your training or work day. Remember that each of these cornerstones of fitness are equally important. If you train hard and effectively, yet you eat badly and don’t recover properly, then you aren’t a smart athlete.

Ben Smith on Balance

“My personality is one of an unbalanced nature so balance is something I am always working on.  If I had it my way, I would spend too much energy or attention on one thing I am specifically working on or interested in.  Balance is an art.  I try to split my balance between training, spending quality time with my wife/family/friends, and reading/learning something new.”   

Lauren Fisher on Balance

“I think the easiest way for me to have balance is to remember to have a life outside of training. I love hanging out with my family and enjoying downtime with my boyfriend. We enjoy going to the movies, and every weekend, we like to eat a lot more loosely with our macros, so we enjoy eating out and getting our sugar cravings out by cheating on some sort of dessert. As soon as Monday hits, we get back on track.”

Get Enough Sleep

In extreme cases of sleep deprivation, even one night of impaired sleep increases cortisol which causes dis-regulated blood sugar and increased inflammation. Since all of your hormones work in unison, that dysregulated blood sugar and increased inflammation is linked to reductions in testosterone and growth hormone in addition to thyroid health. Gherlin and leptin, hunger hormones, will be off and thereby increasing fat storage, hunger levels and your ability or inability to use fuel properly.

This is all a result of circadian rhythm disruption that occurs from sleep deprivation.

The first step in your nightly performance routine involves getting into some form of relaxation. This includes quieter, calmer conversation with anyone in the house, shutting off the computer and other electronics, limiting busy work (laundry, cooking, etc) and being still.

Optimise your performance now