Workout of the Day:
Handstand Push-Ups or Handstand Holds
Perform three sets of max rep handstand push-ups (if you’ve got more than 3) or three sets of max time handstand holds
and then,
Four rounds of:
30 seconds of max rep push-ups
30 seconds of push-up position plank hold
followed immediately by four rounds of:
30 seconds of max rep squats
30 seconds of below-parallel squat hold

Is our super mobile Nichole properly braced?
Is our super mobile Nichole properly braced?

The Fundamentals – Bracing
Written by Mike Hom

If you had the pleasure of being part of our On-Ramp process, you will know how important the concept of bracing is to us coaches. In fact, if you have not attended an On-Ramp session, I highly encourage you to do so in order to practice some of the fundamentals that you might be taking for granted. If anything, sit in on an On-Ramp session to get a better understanding of what bracing is and why it is important.

This rather simple concept is easily forgotten by many people but holds some astonishing long-term repercussions. Let’s quickly discuss why bracing is important in a nice, simple flowchart:
Bracing Flow Chart on CrossFit Invictus Blog

So how do you do it?

To begin, imagine your entire torso and butt in 360 degrees. You want that entire column of your body to be just that: a strong, immovable column that does not bend, does not shift, does nothing but keep your spine neutral and wedded to your hips. This happy marriage is often overlooked in the chase for extreme lumbar extension. While we initially want people who have problems with lumbar flexion to learn how to obtain a lumbar curve, we also want them to think about their entire body, and in particular their spine and hips, as one happily married piece.

In order to make this happen, do the following:

  • Pull your shoulder blades down and back to stand as tall and proud as possible.
  • Inhale and pretend like someone is about to deliver a life-threatening punch to your gut and you need to brace yourself for this. What you will do is contract your abs, obliques and a whole slew of muscles that make up your 360 degree torso as hard as possible. You are doing this because you are trying to protect your internal organs and your spine from any irreparable damage caused by this potential trauma. (To tighten your brace, exhale and squeeze even harder, maintain that tension and inhale again.)
  • You should still be standing tall and proud – locking down your midline stabilizers should not cause your posture to change.
  • Squeeze your glutes (your butt) as hard as possible. This helps to keep your spine and hips wedded together.
  • Push your knees out to the sides and “spread the ground” by trying to kick your heels away from you as if you were trying to tear a piece of paper under your feet.

By this time, you should notice your whole body is about as tight as it can possibly get and you should feel like you’re working hard just to do this. This is the most extreme, dare I say ideal, bracing you can do. Aim to go through these steps in order to provide yourself minimum risk and maximum return while training. But beware, mastering the breathing takes some practice – so PRACTICE! Do it while you are warming up, going through basic movements, etc….

Just to provide yourself some individual feedback, try to do one air squat as you normally would. Now perform one air squat with the bracing process described above. You should feel more “integrated,” as if your entire body’s individual body parts are truly working in concert with each other.

Hopefully, everybody who reads this blog will learn to move their body with proper bracing and allow me to take the quotation marks off the word “integrated” in the future.

As always, big thanks to K-Star of San Francisco CrosSFit for the inspiration and knowledge to use the aforementioned verbiage!

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Gimpy, just read the blog on bracing. Thanks. Excellent way to break it down.



I can attest that Wayne has the bracing technique down—he still has enough breath control to yell “STFU” in the middle of any workout!


Great post Mike! I had the opportunity to take photos at the K-Star cert, and also tried to learn a few things as well. This technique for bracing was a light bulb moment! I think that some studly athletes do this technique naturally, and thus it is not discussed often, but it’s priceless. Since the cert I have made it a part of every lift and movement – the results have been outstanding! I feel much more comfortable picking up weight in all the oly lifts, that gives me some spare brain cycles to think about proper technique and not… Read more »

FAQ - Workout of the Day (WOD)

What does WOD mean in CrossFit?

WOD stands for Workout of the Day. Most CrossFit gyms post one workout each day for their members and online followers to complete. Invictus currently offers THREE free programmed WODs each day (shown above)... and even more personalized and online supplemental programs through Invictus Athlete.

Which program is right for me? Can I move between them?

One thing that sets Invictus apart from other CrossFit gyms and online training programs is that we recognize everyone has different fitness goals, abilities and needs. Be sure to pick which programming is right for you so you can get a great workout that meets your needs.

What does 30X0 mean? (How to read the WOD)

Another thing you might notice that’s different about our programming is that we use ‘tempo training’ - almost always in the Fitness programming and in various cycles for the Performance and Competition programs. Those extra numbers (ex: @30X0) might seem confusing at first glance but you’ll totally get how it works and why we like to use it after reading this. Trust us, you’ll soon witness the many benefits firsthand. Learn more about tempo training.

I need help with some standard movements and warm-up ideas!

Whether you’re new to CrossFit or have lots of experience with the WOD, our coaches will help you get the most out of every workout. It doesn’t matter if you struggle with a particular movement or if your goals are pushing you toward the higher skilled and more elusive movements, our professional coaches support everyone with advice and feedback.

They have worked with all athlete levels and know what it takes to get people moving to the best of their abilities. Whether it’s burpees, double-unders, muscle-ups, or tips for the Assault Bike - we’ve got a coach who can help you.

Don’t worry, we’ve got your warm-ups covered, too. Our coaches are constantly learning from other modalities and love to use what they learn in innovative warm-ups focused on both preparing for the workout at hand and maintaining the body for a pain free life. Check out this full body routine to keep your joints functioning and free of inflammation. We also post warm-up suggestions in the Workout of the Day for each of the programs that are tailored to that day’s movements.

Workout on your own and don’t have much time for your warm-up? Here’s a couple of quick and simple ones for your shoulders, squat day, deadlifts, and everyone’s problem area, the thoracic spine.

What if I can’t lift the weight or do the movement as prescribed?

Scaling is part of the beauty of CrossFit because it enables workouts and programming to be tailored to anyone’s ability. When it comes to weight, you can and should ALWAYS scale the weight down if it is unsafe for you to lift it, or if it changes the intended stimulus of the workout.

Here are some rules of thumb for scaling weight in metcons (lifting for time). For gymnastics movements, there are some simple scaling solutions as well. If you are unsure, reach out to your Invictus coach! We are here to make sure you get the safest and best workout possible - proper scaling allows for that.

How many days per week should I train? / How many rest days should I take?

At Invictus, we offer programming 6 days a week, Monday-Saturday and we realize not everyone’s schedule - or training needs - are the same and therefore, you must use your best judgement and listen to your body when it comes to deciding how often to take a rest day.

If you have been doing CrossFit for a while now, you recognize that our program excels due to the high intensity component. With that being said, one thing you have to keep in mind is that you can’t sustain that high intensity every single day; otherwise your body ends up breaking down.

You can learn more about how often someone should take a rest day in this article.

What does EMOM stand for?

EMOM stands for Every Minute on the Minute. When you see that come up in a workout, you have up to one minute to complete the exercise required. Normally what’s prescribed won’t take the entire minute so you also have whatever is left of the time to rest until the next minute starts and you do the next set of prescribed work. And so on.

What does AMRAP mean?

AMRAP means “As Many Rounds (and Reps) as Possible” in a certain time period. For example, the workout might say...

AMRAP in 10 minutes of:

30 Double-Unders
20 Pull-Ups
10 Thrusters

So you would keep going through the cycle of those three exercises until the 10 minutes is up. Your score is the number of complete rounds plus any extra reps you did. So if you did four complete rounds plus 15 Double-Unders in the fifth round, your score would be 4+15.

What does OTM mean?

OTM stands for “On the Minute” and is the same thing as an EMOM. When you see that come up in a workout, you have up to one minute to complete the exercise required. Normally what’s prescribed won’t take the entire minute so you also have whatever is left of the time to rest until the next minute starts and you do the next set of prescribed work. And so on.

What does NFT mean?

NFT stands for “Not for Time” and means that you shouldn’t rush or try to go fast, but instead, focus on technique, skill, form or whatever you are working on for that movement.

How heavy should my first set be?

You might also be wondering where to start your first set if, for example, the workout of the day calls for 5 sets of Deadlift x 5 reps. Is the first set a warm-up or is that the first working set? Here’s our recommendation for how to properly build to your starting weight and what we consider warm-up sets and working sets.

How can I figure out my 1RM?

We frequently use percentage references in prescribing the number of reps to perform, so it’s essential that you have a good idea on most of your maxes.

Let’s say it’s been awhile since you have attempted a 1RM; maybe you had an injury a few months ago, or maybe you just somehow keep missing the 1-RM test days, or maybe you just forgot to write it down in your log book. If you have a multiple-rep max, you’re in luck. There’s actually a simple equation you can use to calculate an estimated 1RM based on the max number of reps you can do at a given weight.