Selenium Deficiency

What is Selenium Deficiency?

Selenium is a trace mineral needed by the body in small amounts for good health. It is incorporated into proteins to make selenoproteins, which are important antioxidant enzymes. The antioxidant properties of selenoproteins help prevent cellular damage from free radicals that can cause the development of chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Other selenoproteins help regulate thyroid function and play a role in the immune system.

Selenium deficiency, although rare, occurs when the body does not have enough selenium.

Cause of Selenium Deficiency

Plant foods are the major dietary sources of selenium in most countries throughout the world. The content of selenium in food depends on the selenium content of the soil where the plants are grown. Selenium also can be found in some meats and seafood. Animals that eat grains or plants that were grown in selenium-rich soil have higher levels of selenium in their muscles. Bread and some nuts are also common sources of dietary selenium. In general, people in the U.S. have an adequate intake of selenium. Soils in some parts of the world, such as China and Russia, have very low amounts of selenium. Selenium deficiency is often reported in those regions because most food in those areas is grown and eaten locally.

Symptoms of Selenium Deficiency

Selenium deficiency can lead to Keshan disease. The main symptom of Keshan disease is myocardial necrosis, leading to weakening of the heart. Selenium deficiency also contributes to Kashin-Beck disease. Kashin-Beck disease results in atrophy, degeneration, and necrosis of cartilage tissue in the joints. The body also becomes more susceptible to illness caused by other nutritional, biochemical, or infectious diseases.

A selenium deficiency can cause symptoms of hypothyroidism, including extreme fatigue, mental slowing, goiter, mental retardation, and miscarriages.

Diagnosis of Selenium Deficiency

Diagnosis is generally made clinically. High levels of thyroid stimulating hormone are often an indication of selenium and/or iodine deficiency.

Implications of Selenium Deficiency

Selenium deficiency may contribute to the development of a form of heart disease, hypothyroidism, and a weakened immune system. There is evidence that selenium deficiency does not usually cause illness by itself. Rather, it can make the body more susceptible to illnesses caused by other nutritional, biochemical, or infectious processes. Additionally, selenium deficiency may worsen the effects of iodine deficiency.

Three specific diseases have been associated with selenium deficiency: Keshan Disease, which results in an enlarged heart and poor heart function in selenium-deficient children; Kashin-Beck Disease, which results in osteoarthritis in children; and Myxedematous Endemic Cretinism, which results in mental retardation in infants born to mothers deficient in both selenium and iodine.

Treatment of Selenium Deficiency

The incidence of Keshan disease is closely associated with very low dietary intakes of selenium and poor selenium nutritional status. Selenium supplementation protects people from developing Keshan disease but cannot reverse heart muscle damage once it occurs. There is little evidence that improving selenium nutritional status prevents Kashin-Beck disease.

Food Sources of Selenium

  • Brazil nuts
  • Canned Tuna
  • Beef
  • Spaghetti w/ meat sauce
  • Cod
  • Turkey
  • Beef chuck roast
  • Chicken breast
  • Enriched pasta
  • Egg
  • Cottage cheese
  • Oatmeal
  • White or brown rice

Chromium Deficient?



What is chromium and what are some chromium benefits?

Chromium is a metallic element that humans require in very small amounts. It is an essential part of metabolic processes that regulate blood sugar, and helps insulin transport glucose into cells, where it can be used for energy. Chromium also appears to be involved in the metabolism of carbohydrate, fat, and protein. Two forms are commonly available as supplements: glucose-tolerance factor (GTF) chromium and chromium picolinate.

Why is chromium necessary?

Chromium enhances the actions of insulin and is necessary for maintaining normal metabolism and storage of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Inadequate intake of chromium has been linked to the development of glucose intolerance, a condition seen in type 2 diabetes. Chromium can also help raise HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels, and may play a role in preventing heart disease.

What are the signs of a chromium deficiency?

An estimated 25-50% of the U.S. population is mildly deficient in chromium, a greater incidence of deficiency than is found in almost any other developed country. The industrialization of the American food supply chain, reflected in very low soil levels of chromium and the loss of chromium from refined foods, especially sugar and flours, probably contributes to this. Dietary chromium has a low absorption rate, which becomes even lower with age, so the elderly are especially at risk. Life threatening clinical deficiency may be rare, but deficiency is common.

Because adequate dietary chromium helps to maintain insulin sensitivity, chromium deficiency can contribute to the development of diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Even mild deficiencies of chromium can produce problems in blood sugar metabolism, and contribute to other symptoms such as anxiety or fatigue. Altered cholesterol metabolism, accelerated atherosclerosis, decreased growth in young people and delayed healing time after injuries or surgery can result from chromium deficiency.

How much, and what kind of chromium, does an adult need?

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends:

  • males 19-50, 35 mcg per day
  • men over 50, 30 mcg per day
  • females 19-50, 25 mcg per day
  • females over 50, 20 mcg per day
  • pregnant females over 19, 30 mcg per day
  • lactating females over 18, 45 mcg per day

Dr. Weil recommends 200 mcg a day as part of a multi-vitamin multi-mineral, and recommends 1000 mcg of GTF chromium a day for those with type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome.

How much chromium does a child need?

According to the NIH:

  • infants 0-6 months, .2 mcg per day
  • babies 7-12 months, 5.5 mcg per day
  • children 1-3 years, 11 mcg per day
  • children 4-8 years, 15 mcg per day
  • young males 9-13, 25 mcg per day
  • young females 9-13, 21 mcg per day
  • teen males 14-18, 35 mcg per day
  • teen females 14-18, 25 mcg per day

How do you get enough chromium from foods?

Raw broccoli in a bowl on rustic background

Brewer’s yeast, broccoli, grape juice, meat and whole-grain products are all excellent sources. Some fruits, vegetables, and spices provide chromium. Romaine lettuce, raw onions and ripe tomatoes are all good sources.

Are there any risks associated with too much chromium?

Researchers have not found any toxic effects that result from taking high doses of chromium.

Are there any other special considerations?

Diabetics taking chromium should do so only under physician’s supervision, as should anyone using prescribed medications for blood sugar control.
The following medications can alter stomach acidity and may reduce chromium absorption or increase excretion of chromium:

  • Antacids
  • Corticosteroids
  • H2 blockers
  • Proton-pump inhibitors

The following, when taken with chromium, may be metabolized more slowly or quickly, or may change the absorption rate of chromium:

  • Vitamin C
  • Niacin
  • Beta-blockers (such as atenolol or propanolol)
  • Corticosteroids
  • Insulin
  • Nicotinic acid
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS)
  • Prostaglandin inhibitors (such as ibuprofen, indomethacin, naproxen, piroxicam, and aspirin)

You Aren’t a Special Mobility Flower!

Why your stupid super ninja distracted banded stuff is extra dumb?

There’s more garbage posted on this sub about ‘mobility’ than basically anything else, since it’s relevant to almost everyone. There’s a load of mis(leading)information out there, so instead of having individual arguments with every well-intentioned comment I see about how you need to sit on a lacrosse ball for pleasure, I’m gonna try to outline why a lot of the common techniques used in mobility routines aren’t doing much for you.

Static Stretching: The science says it doesn’t effect real tissue change in terms of actually lengthening ‘tight’ muscles. Might have some impact on injury risk but not definitive. Can reduce acute contractile force for a short period of time, but this effect is mitigated by further dynamic warmups. In simple terms, though, static stretching does temper the pain response to stretch, allowing the CNS to ‘relax’. Can be useful for those who have never demanded much of the tissue in terms of pushing end-RoM, but this quickly diminishes in value as this effect is highly adaptable and people tend to push their static stretching far beyond the flexion required of the joint during the goal movement anyway.

Foam Rolling/Self-Myofascial Release (SMR): Does not actually reduce soreness or aid in recovery. Does not “release” a tissue, whatever that actually means, and does not cause actual structural change on a cellular level. Can reduce perception of soreness as well as provide temporary localized relief of painful sensation if used properly. Rolling your whole leg back and forth over a foam cylinder isn’t doing shit. Locate the exact spot that is uncomfortable and apply still pressure for 20-30s. Research says this should provide some short-term relief.

Voodoo Floss: There’s even less research on flossing than most other methods and it is far from definitive. One prominent study flossed the ankles of a bunch of college-age athletes and measured ankle flexion in jumping patterns and found some slight increases in some participants on the ankle that had been flossed, but much like foam rolling, it wasn’t statistically significant and did not last very long.

Placebo Effect: A word on this. It’s honestly the most powerful performance aid out there. Many of these modalities are not concretely backed by science, but you may feel a legitimate effect on performance regardless. That’s okay, keep doing what you’re doing, because you’re getting the result you want. If it’s stupid, but it works, it’s not stupid. Just be cognizant of that.

So what does actually “work”?

An extremely broad question, but as concisely as possible, dynamic, loaded patterning with as much specificity relevant to your goal as possible. It’s really not all that dissimilar from regular training principles.

For example, if you need to snatch today, and your hips are your special shit joint that never want to play ball, the sooner you can get into a warmup that progressively challenges hip flexion under load, the better.

An actual ‘warmup’ wherein you increase your core temperature without gassing yourself has numerous obvious benefits, so it’s probably a good idea to spend 5 minutes on the elliptical or rower.

After that, if you can jump right to empty bar work, that’s honestly best. But most people get a bar and do their first overhead squat, and it feels like the holocaust, so they freak out and go jump on a foam roller or wrap themselves up in a band, instead of giving their bodies a chance to acclimate to the demands of the movement.

That said, a simple but purpose-driven progression to get you into the position you need that day (snatch or clean bottom position, hip specific) could be;

Band-assisted, tempo quadruped hip flexion
Supine 90-90 breathing leg extension with load held overhead (PVC pipe, youth bar, change plate etc)
Heels-elevated (+shoes) counterbalance squat to breathing pause
Goblet squat to breathing pause
Empty bar overhead squat
In this progression, we’re going from more assistance, lower perceived threat patterning to less assistance, more demanding patterning. As mobility improves over time, steps can be taken out as they become redundant. If experiencing acute pain like an anterior hip pinch, ~30 seconds on the lacrosse ball between rounds would probably be a good idea.

Unless you’re team-china-junior-worlds-training-hall-5’6-master-race, that first overhead squat is probably always gonna feel like garbage. Instead of spending 45 minutes static stretching, then rolling your whole body, then gyrating with a band like you’re in cirque du soleil, by which time the stuff you did at the start has probably worn off anyway, just embrace the shit feeling, be patient, work into the position slowly and under mild load as tolerable. A 15-second eccentric overhead squat with the empty bar, with breathing pauses in the places you feel yourself losing position or stability, will do more for your performance than any kinky BDSM implement you could ever buy.

Sources: Most of this is based on curriculum from ClinicalAthlete, Quinn Henoch’s recently released Weightlifting Movement Assement & Optimization, Juggernaut Training Systems, Greg Nuckols & StrongerByScience, etc

Common Sense Scaling

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a coach, athlete, or simply someone who thinks this whole “functional fitness” thing is fun…

If you like making massive improvements, then today’s message is important.

On the other hand, if you like complacency and stagnation then please stop reading here and hit “unsubscribe”… 😉

Anyway, here’s the scenario…

Meet Dave and Sally:

Sally is on the left, Dave on the right.

They both really want to learn double unders.

Here’s a picture of Dave the last time he tried a WOD with double unders:

Actual picture of Dave.

Dave and Sally both show up at the same time, about 6 minutes late for the 5:30pm class atCrossFit McAwesomesauce.

As the coach issues their burpee penalties, he starts to talk about the programming for the day:

“Mmmkayy class. Today we have what some have called ‘a spicy little metcon’. 5 rounds for time of 20 thrusters, 30 kettlebell swings, and 40 double unders. The weight for Rx is 95/65 on the thrusters, and 53/35 on the swings – American, not Russian. Because I said so.”

As Dave finished up his final penalty burpee, he kicks himself for forgetting to check the programming this morning “I should have taken a rest day. Double unders again? Cool, I love whipping myself…” he said under his breath.

Sally had a different attitude, though. She thought to herself “Today will be different.”Sally had a plan.

Their coach went on to explain a few details about the workout. “Remember, if you can’t do double unders yet, just substitute singles unders 3-to-1. So that means each round you’ll do 120 single unders instead of 40 doubles, mmmmkay? Everyone, grab your ropes so we can practice double unders for the next couple minutes” he said said as he took a swig from his $4 ‘healthy recovery soda’, eyes fixated on his Instagram feed.

“How does he expect us to learn double unders in a couple minutes?!” Dave mumbled to Sally.

“I’ve been practicing at home!” Sally said as she triumphantly knocked out a set of 5 unbroken reps.

“Awesome girl! How many can you usually do at a time?”

“Usually four or five, but the most I’ve ever done was eight! What about you, Dave?”

“I’m about the same – my best set was nine unbroken. Happened like three months ago and I’ve been in a rut ever since.” Dave said as he fumbled with his rope…
“So…what the heck are you going to do about all these reps today? 120 singles unders is a lot.”

“Oh, I’m not doing singles today” Sally grinned.

Dave was confused.

 “Uhh, do you want this to take two or three hours?  It would take me FOR-EVER to get through five rounds of 40 double unders. Are you nuts?!”

“Actually, I’m not going to Rx this workout either. I’m scaling reps, not ROM.” Sally explained.

“Reps not ROM? What the heck are you talking about?” Dave said as he put on his knee sleeves, wrist wraps, belt, headband, extra long bacon socks, and olympic lifting shoes.

“I realize that if I ever want to get better at double unders I must force myself to actually do double unders. Singles unders aren’t going to help me too much anymore, but neither would spending 2 hours on this WOD.” She continued, “So what I’m doing is cutting my reps, but keeping the original movement intact. Instead of 120 single unders, I’m going to do 20 double unders per round. This will make sure that I get lots of practice – even if I don’t get to call it ‘Rx’.”

Before Dave had a chance to respond… the coach screamed “10 seconds!” – just enough time for him to snap another selfie.


And they were off…

 Dave’s final score: 15:04 scaled, 3:1 singles
Sally’s final score: 18:03 scaled, 1/2 double unders

So, who “won” this workout?
What lessons can we learn?
How can you apply this to muscle ups, HSPU, pistols, heavy snatches, handstand walks?

Think about it for a second…

Until next time…

“Ain’t no elevator to success, I had to take the stairs.
How you think I made it here?
Climbing, climbing.
How you think you’ll make it here?
Grindin’, grindin’.
I chase after what I want and I don’t stop to take a breath.
You can’t run up on me yet.
You need to take baby baby baby baby baby steps…”

– KYLE in “Doubt It”

Why box jumps?

Start the box jump by quickly getting into a quarter squat while hinging at the hips to engage the hamstrings and glutes. Then, forcefully extend your hips, swing your arms, and push your feet though the floor to propel yourself onto the box. When landing, think of absorbing the force instead of “sticking” the landing.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Work smarter, not harder. No doubt you’ve been told this throughout your life.

We’re going to cover the one thing you can do to go faster on the rowing machine while spending less energy doing it.

Win meet win.


Whether you agree or disagree with the above quote as a euphemism for your work life. It’s a homerun when it comes to rowing.

That because the Concept2 rowing machine is built to be unbeatable. You can’t beat it into submission. Just take a look at some of the world’s strongest men trying to beat the machine…


Brian Shaw may have set a world record in 100m, but he still didn’t break the machine.

Basically, the harder you work. The harder the machine works against you.

That means unless you’re this guy

or this guy

You should be finding the most effective way to get the machine to work for you, instead of against you.

The Tool

The rowing stroke is broken into four distinct parts. The catch, the drive, the release, and the recovery. For a reminder on how each of these should look, check out this video here.

What we care about for your purposes today, is the recovery.

Guess why it’s called the recovery? (Hint: It’s not a trick question).

Because during the recovery, it’s your time to “recover” from the work you did during the drive.

All we’re saying is during the recovery YOU CAN’T DO ANY WORK TO THE MACHINE. It literally won’t let you.

But, a lot of people spend their energy pulling themselves back to the catch, only to re-invest energy into the drive again. It builds an endless loop of constant action and always being under tension.

Tension during recovery = slower times.

The Solution

Think of using the recovery for its purpose…Recovering.


Using a simple drill we call the counting drill.

You’ll take 7 seconds per stroke. You only get one second to complete the drive, while the other 6 seconds HAVE to go to the recovery. It’s best if a friend or coach does the counting for you.

The real reason this drill works, though? It’s all in the forced relaxation.

Until you’ve felt what relaxation feels like. It’s going to be near impossible for you to implement it into your rowing. So by doing this drill, we leave you no choice but to slow down.

Now, you’re going to need an actual clock in front of you to stay true to 8 seconds. None of this 8 seconds counted quickly so you pull it off in 4 seconds shenanigans ok?

Take the counting drill and run it for 5 minutes. It may be a challenge to do for the first minute as you adjust to that slow recovery but you’ll settle in.

The Aftermath

Doing this drill takes approximately zero extra energy. It only asks that you slow down enough to think about your stroke and give yourself the benefit.

HOW does it make you faster? Because the machine likes tension. When you slow down the recovery, you give the flywheel more time to slow down.

When the flywheel slows down and you slow down, you have more tension on the flywheel for the handle and chain to grab onto.

When you have more tension on the handle, you have a greater resistance to push against.

When you have something to push against, you can unleash your power of destruction on the machine.

Power of destruction = Going faster, without doing anything extra except relaxing.

Win meet Win.


It’s a truly free way to improve your power and speed.

So remember, relax through the recovery and crush it on the drive.

Just give us a little shout out as you fly to a new PR.