To Train or Not to Train on an Empty Stomach? That is the question...

There will always be some debate in the fitness community regarding training on an empty stomach. This mainly affects anyone who needs to get to the gym early in the morning. I completely understand that eating a full breakfast before a 6am workout can be difficult, if not impossible. Even if you prepare food ahead of time you will have to allow ample time for digestion as well as getting to the gym for your training session. Training on an empty stomach or not can also affect someone taking the evening classes as well. A lot of people are lucky enough to have set break times at work while others don’t, so getting a lunch break might be your only opportunity to eat a meal. This may lead to you being in a partially fasted state which can negatively impact your ability to perform your best in the gym.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that individuals who skipped breakfast had diminished insulin sensitivity as well as increased LDL cholesterol [1]. Insulin sensitivity is important for proper nutrient uptake and long-term health as severely impaired insulin sensitivity can result in insulin resistance which is a risk factor for coronary artery disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. High LDL cholesterol, or “bad” cholesterol, is a risk factor for arteriosclerosis, hypertension, stroke, as well as other cardiovascular health issues.

Athletic performance and body composition can be greatly improved with proper pre/post-workout nutrition. In a study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, researchers found that individuals who absorbed a protein shake before and after strength training experienced greater results in lean body mass and increased strength [2]. One group consumed protein only before their training sessions and the other group consumed an equivalent amount of only carbohydrates, the protein only group had significantly higher resting energy expenditures 24 hours after their training session. Research also suggests that pre-workout protein intake can be even more effective for recovery than a post-workout protein shake alone. Put simply, having a proper pre-workout meal can help increase your strength, improve recovery, as well as boost the amount of calories you burn at rest for up to a day after training which can help lower body fat and improve your body composition.

Here are some options to consider regarding this topic. If you’re struggling to eat before your workout sessions or short on time, I recommend grabbing a pre-workout protein shake 15 to 30 minutes prior to your workout. If you prefer training in a fasted state, you should be consuming some quality protein as soon as possible after your workout in order to improve recovery. Keep in mind, pre-workout supplementation can be vary  between people so I recommend experimenting to see what works best for you. With a good nutritional plan, you’ll recover faster, get stronger, and be leaner.

Don’t forget to attend the info session on Saturday, June 17th from 11am – 1pm to learn more about Endzone’s Transformation Challenge. This is a program designed for anyone looking to lose 20lbs or gain a few pounds of muscle. The program is 10 weeks long and includes individual nutrition coaching, bi-weekly check-ins, and more. The program is limited to 15 spots. Please attend the info session to sign-up and learn more.


1. Hamid R Farshchi, Moira A Taylor and Ian A Macdonald. Deleterious effects of omitting breakfast on insulin sensitivity and fasting lipid profiles in healthy lean women.  Am J Clin Nutr . 2005.
2. Cribb, Paul J., Hayes, Alan. Effects of Supplement Timing and Resistance Exercise on Skeletal Muscle Hypertrophy. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2006.


Andrew Malek-Zadeh
Tips for a Better Night's Sleep

--From Coach Drew

“It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it.” John Steinbeck

Sleep…we all need more of it, but how do we get it?

According to the National Sleep Foundation (,

"If you’ve ever noticed that you tend to feel energized and drowsy around the same times every day, you have your circadian rhythm to thank. What is it, exactly? Your circadian rhythm is basically a 24-hour internal clock that is running in the background of your brain and cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals. It's also known as your sleep/wake cycle.

For most adults, the biggest dip in energy happens in the middle of the night (somewhere between 2:00am and 4:00am, when they're usually fast asleep) and just after lunchtime (around 1:00pm to 3:00pm, when they tend to crave a post-lunch nap). Those times can be different if you’re naturally a night owl or a morning person. You also won’t feel the dips and rises of your circadian rhythm as strongly if you’re all caught up on sleep. It’s when you’re sleep-deprived that you’ll notice bigger swings of sleepiness and alertness."

I truly value my sleep because I’ve learned that it has a direct effect on my performance as a coach and as an athlete. I want everyone to understand why sleep is important so I’ve put together some tips on how to improve your sleep.

I.         Practice Good Habits

Avoid caffeine in the afternoon. Caffeine can potentially raise the stress hormone cortisol and can affect your ability to sleep later that night. This can vary for individuals, but it may be worth testing out for a week and see if it has improved your sleep quality.

Its Bedtime! This is one way to take advantage of our natural circadian rhythm. Now this only works if we can keep this up through the week as well as the weekends. Throwing off your sleep 2 days in a row and then playing catch up all week is no way to increase quality. Studies have shown that people who struggle with sleep tend to improve when they have a set bedtime between 9:30 to 11:00 p.m. There is a new feature on the iPhone that works great for this concept called “Bedtime”. You can manually set your wake/sleep cycle, and keep track of how consistent you are.

Sleep in cool temperatures. Our body temperature peaks as the sun sets to keep us warm through the night. This also sets off the release of two hormones - leptin (which suppresses hunger) and melatonin (which reduces brain function).

II.        Light At The Right Time

Natural Light. We all need some good ‘ol fashion outside time (roughly 30-60 minutes a day), preferably in the morning after waking up. This has a huge impact on our internal “master clock” and can provide an anchor for the day.

Black Out. When it’s time for bed there needs to be complete darkness. You can invest in some black-out curtains which are great for keeping light out. You also need to be aware of devices that give off light. Your body can sense light through its eyelids even when they are closed. This can be disruptive for the deep quality sleep we want.

Blue Light Not So Special. There are tons of studies and research that show going to bed directly after watching TV, doing computer work, or scrolling through social media on our phones has a huge negative impact on our quality of sleep. Why? Because they mainly decrease the production of melatonin.

III.     Exercise

Peak times. Studies have shown that training between the hours of 3 to 6 p.m. have the best performance results due to our body temperature elevating and protein synthesis peaking. Early morning workouts are great for our body’s circadian rhythm, but can have a negative effect on performance with our body temperature being lower and coordination reduced.  

Get up & move! If you have a desk job, even if you regularly workout, chances are you still are pretty sedentary. A couple of ideas to ensure you are staying active while at work, would be to invest in a standing desk. If you don’t have access to a standing desk a good alternative is to take a knee while working at your desk and rotate legs every so often. You can also set a timer to remind you to get up and move around.

Sleep is such an important part of staying healthy as well as integral to your training. It is difficult to be at your peak performance for anything when you haven’t had enough sleep. So remember when it comes to sleep, make it a priority!

Andrew Malek-Zadeh
What To Do After The Open: Things to Handle During the Off-Season

--From Coach Drew

As we close out the 2017 CrossFit Open, many of us are wondering, "What’s next for me?" Well, let me start off by saying after 5 weeks of Open workouts, it’s time to reset both physically and mentally before we start training hard again. This is a perfect opportunity to reflect on your achievements over the 2017 season and set some goals and aspirations for the 2017-2018 season.


3 things to consider:


1.     Take Time Off

2.     Plan

a.     Review and Evaluate

b.    Assess Weaknesses

3.     What Options Do I Have?

Take Time Off

This is the hardest one for people to embrace, but quite frankly - it’s the most important. I fully encourage you to step away from the gym and disconnect. Do more things outside the gym to help with your reset. For all the Type A personalities, there are plenty of active choices like hiking, bike riding, or swimming. This is also a great opportunity to get some extra sleep, over eat (if you’ve been on a strict diet) and invest in some body work/massages. Regardless if the Open was a focus or just for fun, the training leading up was tough. If you participated in Friday Night Lights, then undoubtedly you gave 110% which takes its toll on the body. So a little rest can go a long way for your overall health.


Now that Open has officially ended, you have 5 weeks of data to review and evaluate; the good and the bad. The Open does a really good job of testing many aspects of fitness hence why it can feel so long. Your final standing/position never tells your whole story so I wouldn’t get too caught up in that, but look at each week/workout individually and assess. Some of us found out we need to become more proficient at gymnastics while others found they need to get stronger or more flexible. Whatever proved to be a challenge for you as an individual needs to be understood before it can be addressed. This opens your door to start planning what’s next for you on your fitness journey.

What Options Do I Have?

Your plan moving forward should revolve around your review and assessment. This typically leads to new goals or focus points for the year ahead with an opportunity to explore different options. Talking to your coaches for help can be a great place to start to see how we can help. Individual programs have always proven to provide great results, but that’s not always an option. Finding friends with similar needs and starting small group training can be more attainable while still being highly effective. For others it may be a lot simpler, maybe getting more sleep or tightening up your nutrition can be the difference . Whatever your focus ends up being, it’s something you need to be fully committed to in order to receive the benefits of your effort.

Andrew Malek-Zadeh
Top 3 Reasons to Start a Workout Journal

--From Coach Drew

You walk into the gym on a heavy squat day ready to move mountains. You’ve got your belt, knee sleeves, and a blender bottle full of your favorite pre-workout with enough caffeine in your veins to hit Fran on repeat.

You partner up with a buddy and go through your warm up sets. Nervous system is ready, body is warm, and it’s time to lift!

You tell your partner to load 315# for a set of 5 reps.

Your partner questions back with “Have we done that for 5 before?”

You say , “Isn’t this what we worked up to last week?"

Your partner says, “I’m pretty sure we tried and failed on the 3rd rep.”

Now you’re second guessing yourself and your confidence is diminishing. The chances of success on this set have significantly dropped all because you’re shooting from the hip on loading weights. Starting a workout log can help you avoid scenarios like this one, among many others. Here are my top 3 reasons why you should start a workout log today.

1.    Accurate Data

Having a workout log can provide you with an accurate record of what you’ve accomplished. It will always be your best reference for data. Even the athlete with the self-proclaimed best memory will make some mistakes in remembering details of every workout. Sure, you might remember your big, fat PR’s, but do you remember your best 1000 Meter Row? The log has your back on that one. Also a log should be more than just a number. Noting how you felt each day and giving yourself details around the day’s task can be very insightful. As much as I would love every day to be a PR Day - that’s unrealistic. So if you’re having an “off day” or things “feel heavy” there could be other factors involved and a number doesn’t tell the whole story. Be sure to write notes and reflect on all things that went into that training session - such as sleep, nutrition and  it’s important to note where you are in your regular training schedule. Example: Is it your 3rd training day in a row?

2.    Motivation

Looking back at past workouts or lifts and seeing improvement can be extremely motivating. You can look back a month or a year to see that you’re able to lift at higher percentages while shaving minutes off benchmark workouts. This is also a very rewarding aspect of training. In life, we don’t have many things that give us objective feedback the way training does. Every workout and/or lifting session is full of data about your personal journey through fitness. What’s more empowering than starting out not-so good at something and seeing progress with some sweat and hard work? Nothing.

3.    Goal Setting

Your log can also have a focus on the future. You should dedicate some space to setting specific goals you want to achieve. As humans when we have a goal, we are typically more motivated. If your goal is just to come in the gym to stay in shape, great. Keep on doing what you are doing. If you are someone who wants their first muscle-up, you may want to come in early or stay late to get some extra practice. Writing these goals down and seeing them is the first step in accomplishing this goal. When we simply state we want a muscle-up in casual conversation with friends, it rarely leads to the work needed in order to succeed.

I’ve logged every workout dating back to January 2013 and it’s been a huge teaching tool for myself. The notes I write are the most valuable to me. It gives me a clear vision of what happened that day and is a great reference when I look back at comparing old lifts or workouts. It takes me no more than 5 minutes a day to complete my log. I personally use a spreadsheet on Google Drive but you can keep it old school and invest in a $2 notebook if that works for you.

Weightlifting legend Tommy Kono said it best 40 years ago: "The palest of ink is better than the clearest of memories."

Andrew Malek-Zadeh
"Why Should I Sign-Up for the CrossFit Open?"

 --From Coach Drew

I can’t answer that for you, but I can tell you why I sign up and hopefully that will give you some inspiration.

I started CrossFit in January of 2011 and had no clue what the CrossFit Open was. I did know that I loved showing up to class everyday for a workout that challenged me. Doing a workout with a group of people who were all going through the same “pain” was a new and fun way for me to workout. Everyday brought a new task; some I liked and some I absolutely hated. No matter the result, the feeling was always the same. I left with a feeling of accomplishment.

Competitive sports have always been a huge part of my life. So when I found out that there was a platform to compete in CrossFit, I was all in. Unfortunately, my first Open experience was cut short after just one week. The gym I was a member of needed to move locations and wouldn’t be open for business for a month. I had to wait until the following year to participate. With a little over a year under my belt, my excitement grew in anticipation. I started to make some really good friends at the gym. Being surrounded by those people made the idea of competing in the Open a lot more exciting.

My first Open experience was awesome! We all completed the workouts on Sunday mornings together and went out to eat afterwards. Each year the group has grown, the location changed and just like that, I’m approaching my 6th CrossFit Open.

For me, no Open experience was better than last year for a few reasons. It was the first Open I was able to perform out of CrossFit Endzone with our amazing community. This was something I really looked forward to in the years before opening my own business. This year was also the start of our annual "Friday Night Lights.” People from Endzone and other boxes came to perform the workouts together every Friday night in a big group. We had a great turnout every Friday and the energy was indescribable. We had quite a few PR’s during Friday Night Lights, including a handful of people who got their first Bar Muscle-Up. As a coach, one of the best and most rewarding parts of my job is seeing an athlete accomplish something they never have or never thought was possible. 

As we approach the 2017 CrossFit Open, I hope to continue to create more amazing memories with each and every one of you. Remember, we are having a CrossFit Open informational this Saturday at 11am and we will also be laying out the details for our Intramural Open. 

Andrew Malek-Zadeh
Rowing Tips

The 4 Basic Positions of Rowing:

  1. Catch
  2. Drive
  3. Release
  4. Recovery

This is our start position. We are looking for our arms to be extended with our hands relaxed on the handle (not a death grip). Our knees need to be under our arms (not bowed out to the side), with our heels down to provide us a strong connection to the machine. Lastly, our shoulders need to be protracted so our hips can be behind our shoulders. You should feel like a tight compressed spring.
PUSH DON’T PULL. This is where we generate most of the power output. We NEED to push through our legs. Once the knee is about to extend, this is when we have the hip swing. The opening of the hips is a continuation of the momentum that was originally created through the legs. Now, as the hip swings open, that’s when you snap the arms and immediately push them away. Which takes us to the...
This is nothing more than a transition that comes after the drive and takes you into the recovery process.
This is a mirror image of the drive, BUT in reverse order. The goal is to set yourself back into the perfect catch position. The arms are already in the process of extending which is step 1. As the arms fully extend, we want to close the hips which will load our posterior chain. This is the time to start bending the knees and glide back to the catch position, nice and relaxed. The last part is a big one as we see many athletes bend the knees first which is very inefficient.

Andrew Malek-Zadeh
"Postures of Defeat"

From Coach Drew with information from "The Invictus Mindset: An Athlete's Guide to Mental Toughness"; By C.J. Martin, Calvin Sun, and Heidi Fearson.

For the last 4 years I have been coached by CJ Martin, the owner of CrossFit Invictus. He is responsible for coaching numerous high level athletes from all over the world and running a very successful gym which has 3 locations and a large community which he calls the “Sea of Green.” One thing he expects from his athletes, no matter the skill level, is full effort. It is one of their mantras.

During my first visit to Invictus to train with some of their athletes, right away I noticed that CJ, the coaches, and even fellow athletes wouldn’t let anyone rest during a workout in a bad position. They call these positions “Postures of Defeat” and this is something that has resonated with me to this day. 

“Postures of Defeat” are common positions we see athletes revert to: bent over, hands on their knees, or staring at the ground during a competitive event or training session. This is also a position you see many people assume at the end of a night from being over-served or maybe a child ready to be disciplined by a belt slap. Ultimately, this is a sign of submission and weakness.

If you are guilty of this position (and we all are), then we know this is not our best look. We do not assume this position with a lot of positive self-talk, it’s quite the contrary. These postures are the side kick of negative self-talk and they come in many forms, but they all have one thing in common - they involve the body closing in on itself. It is a nonverbal sign of feeling weak and something we use to protect ourselves.

3 things that we can do as a community to help fight these Postures of Defeat: 

  1. Keep your peers honest. Don’t be afraid to give a quick “Chest up!” during a workout to encourage a fellow athlete. More importantly, standing up tall allows for much better oxygen intake! For the purpose of our training sessions or competitive events, I want every athlete to get as much oxygen as possible. Standing up tall will open our chest cavity for full expansion of the lungs and can increase oxygen intake up to 30 percent.
  2. Embrace resting with your chest up and eyes open. This can be very important for 2 reasons: as a coach there are multiple ways to cue an athlete and one way is nonverbal. In a loud setting, if I can get your attention and show you something to help change a bad movement pattern, you can only see this if you have your chest up and eyes open. Another reason is the power of our community. When you’re in a bad head space and ready to assume a closed off state, you are unable to feel the energy of your peers cheering and encouraging you to finish strong.
  3. “Shins on the Bar”. This can be a literal cue, but also can be applied off the bar. If you are doing a workout that requires moving a barbell, then yes, I want you standing right on top of the bar, collecting your breath and ready for your next rep. Now if you staring at 30 pull-ups or 30 toes-to-bar, I want you directly under the bar and ready to jump up for your next set. You should never walk away from your equipment or apparatus where you will be performing work to advance forward.
Andrew Malek-Zadeh
Tips on Getting Better at Toes-to-Bar

4 Limiting Factors for Toes-to-Bar.

1. Weak lower abdominal muscles

2. Weak shoulder girdle and/or lats

3. Thoracic Mobility

4. Tight Hamstrings

Accessory work is always a great place to start when working on mastering a skill. Strengthening your mid-line is an easy one to prioritize and see results quickly. Here are a few exercises to help:

  1. Chinese Planks
  2. Weighted Planks
  3. Planks with a Weighted Dip Belt
  4. Hollow Rock to Superman on the Floor
  5. V-Ups
  6. L-Sits
  7. Strict Toes-to-Bar or Strict Hanging Knee Raises at a tempo

You can try and add a few of these options 2-3 times a week.

Try this: 3 sets not for time:

  • Chinese plank x 45-60 seconds
  • Rest 60-90 seconds
  • V-ups x 10-12
  • Rest 60-90 seconds
  • Hollow Rock to Superman x 20
  • Rest 2 minutes

Ask any of the coaches for more information or if you have questions.

Andrew Malek-Zadeh