My running example of what a crappy coach is has always been a baseball coach who would yell at his players to "hit each other in the chest" with each of their throws. The players were young, like 12-14 years old, and while all of them understood the concept of what he was talking about, none of them could figure out how to do it. They would throw, and maybe one of every 6 would hit the chest. The rest would be high, off the ground, wide right, and so on. And the coach would just continue to yell: hit him in the chest!". Finally, in frustration, one of the kids said "I understand, coach, I'm trying, I just don't know how!" The coaches response: " you need to aim for the chest and throw it there". Ugh...
I've experienced and seen this form of under-coaching for years. In fact, I would say it's one of the most common things you'll find in a coach. Unfortunately, it's not good coaching. Constantly telling people WHAT to do without explaining HOW doesn't do anything for about 98%+ of the population. And that small population who it does work for either had really good coaching before, or they just "get it".
I'm so sick and tired of listening to coaches in the gym tell people to "flatten your back", "don't pull early", "just drop under the bar more", "get deeper" and on and on. If you literally JUST explained the mechanics of getting deep on a squat, and allowed the person adequate time to show they have an understanding for how to actually perform the squat properly, then your cue of "get deeper" works fine. But of you just tell people to do it, one of two things will happen the vast majority of the time: they might get deeper, but put themselves at a risk because they are pushing themselves in to something they don't know how to do. Or, they simply won't get deeper. That does not make them bad athletes. It makes the coach a bad coach.
For all coaches out there, I think a huge thing to remember is that most of the people that come into most gyms are not as "into" fitness as you are. This means that when they leave the gym, they don't spend the next 24 hours obsessing over movements and researching clean and jerk videos. So, when they come in a few days later and you tell them to grab the bar and get onto a front rack position, event if they've done it 100 times before, you may have to give them a little more detail than that.
And the best way to have your athletes become more knowledgeable in the movements you are trying to teach them? Explain WHY and HOW every, single, time. If each and every athlete is constantly hearing why they need to PULL under the bar on a clean and/or snatch, and they also have a deep understand as to HOW to go about doing that, they will feel a closer connection to the lift and remember it more and more going forward. If you went into some detail once or twice, then just give general cues, I'm pretty sure you're going to have a gym full of people who don't really know what the hell they are doing. Honestly, this goes for teaching just about anything physical. If I just stood on a basketball court yelling at a group of athletes to "make shots", I'm not doing much to help them. It's more complex than that; and all athletes/clients need those extra details so they can find consistency in their practice. You will always progress in a forward trajectory if you truly understand the whys and hows of training. And as a coach, I have found the best response come from athletes when you take the time and effort to explain these details to them in a way they can understand.
Never Stop, GET FIT.
There’s been a lot of talk going around the CrossFit community lately about standards. This isn’t a new topic mind you. Ever since CrossFit became something on the world’s radar, the people within the community have been subject to a LOT of scrutiny given their “new” rules of exercise. At first, I was a huge supporter of some of these new concepts as I thought it was a great way just to get more and more people involved in fitness, working out, and trying new things. But now, I am having a harder and harder time understanding why the hell CrossFit HQ seems so adamant on throwing years of rules and standards in the toilette.
CrossFit took the commonly understood definition of Fitness and changed it to something that made more sense. Fitness according to Websters Dictionary just doesn’t seem to cut it. Glassman created the idea of CrossFit, and I think he was dead on. He also was at the right place at the right time, and just like so many other creations/inventions was the lucky dude who got all the credit for this incredible new concept. I respect him for that.
Next, CrossFit became very controversial because they not only shoved their idea of fitness in your face and claimed that you are clearly NOT fit if you don’t do CrossFit (this is what I believe led to a majority view that CrossFit is a cult), they also started to slowly mess around with other common standards and concepts as well. Throwing away years of standards held true by Olympic lifting and other forms of exercises, CrossFit chose to ignore those standards in the name of their mantra: increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains. Still OK in my eyes; except for one thing.
If you decide to modify a snatch (a clearly defined movement with strict standards), you should pay respect to the lift and the sport by simply changing the name. If I decided to steal a combination of movements from football and baseball because I feel like it’d work better for me, yes, I can be a pretentious jerk and steal the name they spent years building their sport around and change the standards for it, or, I could respect the sport and come up with my own name. In fact, many respected people in the CrossFit community do this, like Kelly Starret who calls press-outs and dropping to the knee on Olympic lift attempts “snatch-like movements” or “clean-like movements”.
Many, many different things inspired this post, but recently there was a video posted on the Facebook of a CrossFit Games athlete PR-ing his “snatch-like movement”, falling to both knees. He himself comments that while he was happy with getting it, he knows he needs to get it on his feet. CrossFit HQ posted the video with praise and lo and behold came the flood of comments pleading for CrossFit to just cut it out already. As of 80 comments in, the only added comment from HQ was a snide “well he’s a CrossFit Games athlete and none of you guys are”, really, guys? So, I will start hitting foul ball “home runs” and posting all over Facebook how awesome I am. And if anyone comments that I’m wrong and that I did not actually hit a home run, my defense will be that I played a higher level of baseball than all of them so they should just shut up?!?! Come on, have a little respect! Same thing happened when my friend and old training partner Neal Maddox lifted an impressive 294# over his head on a snatch attempt. He immediately dropped the bar and prepared to actually get the lift (because he knew it did not count, the event had honest standards). HQ posted that Maddox hit a sick PR, then argued and insulted people who questioned the lift.
All this is SO unfortunate as CrossFit grew into something that I personally hoped would be a great thing for the world. A community that supported a higher standard of health and fitness, and one that anyone and everyone could be a part of. I turned a blind eye to the elitism that came from the top for as long as I could with the hope that the good community growing would overpower it, but I’m just not sure now. Many gyms that started off as “CrossFit so and so”, are either changing their name to drop the CrossFit, or de-affiliating all together. The social media is overwhelmingly filled with VERY unsupportive comments on what CrossFit is becoming. CrossFit began as an “open source system” (as defined by Greg Glassman himself) and now it seems that the openness of the system is crying out at the ridiculousness of the leadership. Will they listen to their community? Will they respect other communities, or will they keep causing conflict because “they can”? As one HQ staffer said on Facebook when questioned about their abrasive actions: “f**k PR”. Classy.
I know it sounds like I’m bashing CrossFit a little here, but I’m doing so because I personally would love to see a change. I compete as a CrossFitter, train a lot of CrossFitters, and am still very supportive of the community, and I hate that it SEEMS like HQ thinks they are just better than everything else. I remember watching a video that HQ posted of a really popular CrossFit Games athlete at an official Olympic Weightlifting competition. They titled it as the athlete achieving a big lift. At the meet, the judges scored the lift a failed attempt as the athlete pressed out the bar (not meeting the commonly understood standards for the lift). Interestingly enough, the athlete actually got annoyed at the judges and you can see the athlete “yelling” at them asking what was wrong with the lift (while trying to hide behind some nervous laughter). I was so disgusted that not only HQ would post this with praise, but, that such a popular icon in the CrossFit community would treat an official Olympic lifting meet with such misunderstanding and disrespect.
Obviously CrossFit has no reason to listen to me (I know there’s at least a few people at HQ who read my blog, and after this post I’ll probably move higher up on their “watch-list”) but I feel like I should be vocal about my thoughts. As with anything in this world, the more people who actually stand up for what they believe in, the more change occurs. I don’t want to sit around and just flat out rip on CrossFit, I’ll leave that to this guy, and this guy, and this guy, and this guy. What I’ll do here is offer my thoughts with the hope that either the community will overcome and drown out the elitism at the top. Or, that leadership will realize that with growth inevitably comes change, and they need to stop being so abrasive if they want the world to take them seriously. If you’re a jerk, it’s hard for people to view you as good.
Here’s hoping for positive change!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
I’ve dealt with this sort of situation so many times in my life I can’t keep track. Most common in my life when dealing with failure has been when I played baseball. Now it’s CrossFit. For the life of me there are times I seriously question why I keep on doing something that I just don’t seem to progress at the same pace as the people around me. I work hard; lose sleep over programming and understanding the best ways to approach things. I constantly critique myself and analyze different things that I should or should not be focusing on. And yet I somehow surround myself with people who rapidly progress like they just found some magic pill and I do not. In fact, given what I understand to be “my potential” I have could probably make an argument that I have regressed on many points.
I have taken steps back, talked with others, taken all sorts of styles of rest days and weekends, and weeks. I have changed my food around and been patient with the changes to see the effects. I have changed up the programming based on hours of research and focused in on each rep and minor movement. I have broken down my body’s ability to move and where it struggles. I have made realizations about what I need to focus on in terms of mobilizing and strengthening and tweaked my program accordingly.
I have seen my “comfortable” lifts (meaning a weight I can just go ahead and get at any moment) go up by about 20+ pounds. I have gotten better at the mechanics of running, and I have trained my body to be able to handle a higher pace of intensity under heavier and heavier loads. I DO recognize that there are aspects of my training and “fitness life: that have gotten better. But my annoyance comes on days like today when I go to snatch 215# and canNOT do it. I know my potential, and I factor in my right hip that has the tendency to disengage under extreme flexion and heavier loads. 215# should be a weight I can touch and go for reps. I can power snatch it. I have snatched it before. I’ve snatched it without Olympic shoes and wrist support or belt. I’ve studied the central nervous system and have done everything in my power to design a program around building and priming BOTH the muscular and central nervous systems.
I know of many, many people who have hit, or are being hit now by big roadblocks, and it becomes so clear, SO quickly what is wrong and how it could be fixed. So either I am blind to the problem because I am the one taking the lead in trying to figure out what’s going on. Or, there is something very mysterious about me that I have completely missed. I mean it took me a couple years to figure out why my metabolism was so naturally low. I hit moments where I just figured I have some sort of major immune issue, or was a new case of hypoglycemic where literally NONE of the systems would show. Perhaps I should just shut the hell up and lift!
My brain works in a manner where all I want to do is figure this stuff out. Just to paint picture, I was snatching with my training partner today. He’s on my program. He came in feeling rusty, having done the crazy 150 wall ball workout yesterday, having never really snatched until maybe 5 months ago, and PR’d with a 235# snatch. I fail at 215 about 6 times before putting on 220, failing 3 times and then getting it (all my misses were last second misses on the final portion of the catch). 225 and 230 were about the same. My discouragement was overwhelming. Besides breaking everything in the gym all I could think to do was sit down at the computer and write this. I am in my Olympic shoes, knee bands on, venting away. You can’t excel at a sport without getting progressively better. I hit this same wall playing baseball too. I worked SO hard; hours and hours on end to be the best I could be. Then I hit a wall, and no matter how hard and/or intelligently I worked, I could not seem to get past that final plateau. I made it to pro ball but could not advance past that lowest level of the highly competitive. Similarly, I can be a highly competitive CrossFitter, but not at the highest level.
I won’t give up, I’ll just feel down for a little. I’ve gone through this way too many times to ever give up at anything. I feel like I’ve failed more than most people (I’ve been told by a surprisingly large amount of people that I am the “unluckiest” person they know), yet I keep going. I generally know why, but today I don’t; I’ll keep going though.
I think tonight, or tomorrow when I am feeling the page turn and get that little wave of inspiration I’ll write a little something about what it is that keeps me going.
Never Stop, GET FIT.
Right off the bat, for all my followers who are not obsessive CrossFitters, this post is all
OK, time for my initial thoughts on 13.3. Interestingly enough, I predicted this workout would be tossed at us next week, either way, most of us should have a basic idea what to do. For those following my program, you all should feel VERY prepared for this! Last year the group I was with went full-blown Rain Man on figuring this workout out, and I honestly threw the plan out the window and went with my own, and it worked VERY well for me. I think there are a few ways to approach this one:
Before I get into it, remember the main difference between this year and last: there is a tie-breaker in line this year. This means there is actually a benefit to hitting the end of each stage of the workout a little quicker. My notes will touch on that.
No, to potentially only a couple muscle ups:
Try to get through the wall balls and double unders as fast as you can. This will do two things: give a better tie-breaker score, and allow you plenty of time to gather yourself and go for those muscle ups attempts to see what happens! How do you get through the first two as quickly as possible? I'll talk about that below. But a basic way is to literally just go balls to the wall. Go all out and sprint it.
Great muscle ups but crap wall balls:
Pace your wall balls. One of my guys went tonight and after a set of 25 did mostly sets of 10, and sometimes 5. He even stepped away from the ball and was taking about 5 seconds or so each rest. He finished the wall balls in 7:10 and was able to bang out 17 muscle ups with 1 miss and about 10 of them as singles. So again, if you can rock out the rings, and know that you get gassed on the ball, allow yourself plenty of time. Pace out to allow for 3-3.5 minutes left on the clock for your muscle ups.
Great at wall ball but rough ring work:
This is me. I will be going all out on the wall ball. Last year I did 75/25/25/15/10. This year I will be doing something very similar depending on how I feel in the middle of it. I know that the more time I give myself on the rings the better. And I'm cool with blowing it out on the wall ball because I trust that I'll have enough energy to get 1-2 muscle ups at a decent pace in the end. Last year I hit the rings with around 4 minutes to go. This year I want to get there with 4:30-4:45 left so I can really get my goal. The 150 won't kill me, so that's cool with me. Also, the double unders are an after-thought really. If you are good at them, get through them. I hope to get them unbroken (last year I did 60/30). If you suck at them, well, that's a whole different story, good luck to you! Just don't get flustered and stay relaxed! The worst you can do is get all pissed and tense, that won;t help at all.
Points to remember:
Know yourself: This is the MOST important thing to be able to do for a workout like this. If you are crappy with the wall balls and try to bang out 100 unbroken, you're an idiot. Know what you are capable of doing and plan the workout around that. Take some time to analyze which of the movements you'll perform the best and worst, then design your game-plan around YOU.
Warm up: Get a good 15-20 minutes of low-impact dynamic movements. Get some squatting with light jumping, and try to avoid too much loading of the arms. This workout will inevitably smoke your shoulders if you're getting into the double digits on the MU's, so get them warmed up, engaged a little, then let them be. I would suggest some light KB swinging as a great warm up (Russian style, not that crazy overhead crap).
Wall ball rest: there are 3 ways to rest in my opinion: drop the ball and don;'t move your feet, drop the ball and shake your legs out, rest while holding the ball. I tested some lower reps with each of these methods and there wasn't all that significant of a time difference if you focus on using your breath as a timer for rest. I suggest 1-3 good, large breaths, then back on the ball. If you drop it, try to pick it up already in a squat rather than stand completely with it then squat and throw.
Double unders: As I mentioned before, just stay relaxed. That is it. If you start messing up, take a few seconds, take some deep breaths, then ease back into them. The more frustrated you get with these, the more tense you become and the harder they will be (not to mention that you'll fatigue WAY faster if you are all sorts of tense).
Muscle ups: If you are awesome at these and have complete confidence in your abilities, string some together. If you are good, but not great at them, simply stick with singles. You will be much, much, much faster if you drop off the rings, take a breath, and get the heck back on than if you fail a rep, or have to take an extra kip. And my final bit of advice here: put some padding on the floor under your rings of you can and if you plan to drop, drop from the top. No need to waist energy on controlling yourself down off them.
Extra: I think wearing Oly shoes for the wall balls will help a ton. If you wear the Reebok ones, or the Do Wins, you'll be fine on double unders and such. If not, perhaps wearing another style shoe would be smart. I personally think that if you have a crash mat of sorts under your rings, just take your shoes off after the double unders. If you are bad ass enough to get to the wall ball, the shoes won't matter and you can just bang out reps like a mad man in the remaining minutes.
I hope all this makes sense. I just sat down and let my fingers go crazy with trying to get down all the thoughts in my head. I will post up some more insights after I get it done tomorrow.
Good luck everyone!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
It seems that CrossFit as a sport has grown a tad since last year. No need for the exact numbers, but there were something like 70k people who signed up for The Open last year; and this year: 130k. Yep, that's a few more. And for those of my readers who don't know what the heck I'm talking about; the CrossFit Games looks something like this:
Around this time of the year, CrossFit HQ announces The Open, a 5 week, 5 workout world-wide event that anyone at all can sign up for. You don't need to have any experience if you don't want; all you need is $20 and either a registered CrossFit affiliate to perform the workouts in, or a video camera and internet connection. When the workout is announced on Wednesday evening, you have until Sunday night to do the workout and submit your score. Simple as that. If you end up scoring in the top 48 in the region you registered in (there are 17 regions) you get invited to Regionals. This next phase takes place around May and is a 3-day event filled with tons of crazy workouts. The top 3 athletes from each region get the invite to The CrossFit Games. The "Games" take place over a week in July and is the main CrossFit competition put on by CrossFit HQ. It;s gotten pretty damn big over only a few short years, coming form a ranch in Northern California about 4 years ago, to an ESPN 2 broadcast, multimillion-person-viewed event in a massive stadium in Southern California. No matter your thoughts on all the different aspect of CrossFit, it's pretty impressive.
So, with that info, we can talk about the first workout. It being Monday night, the first workout submission deadline came and went last night. The workout was:
17 minutes to get as far as you can of:
40 burpee target touches (touch a target 6" above your reach)
30 snatches 75#
30 burpee target touch
30 snatches 135#
20 burpee target touch
30 snatches 165#
10 burpee target touch
I hit the workout with a group of training partners in my gym last Thursday. And with the over-analyzed days following, I decided that my score was good enough to not mes up my training going forward while attempting to do it again. I stuck with the score of getting 17 snatches at 165 (a score of 167 total reps performed on the 17 minutes) and I am officially sitting in 75th place in the NorCal region. From experience, I'm not all that worried about my chances of climbing up that leaderboard and making it into that top 48. I just have to trust my training, keep my head down, and work by ass off. So, that;s what I'll do. It;s fun have something something to work towards, and people to compete against.
I'm sure plenty of you all know that my thoughts towards the way CrossFit is run and the way all the "HQ" staff act is about as stupid as people can get, but that does not take away from what CrossFit as a community, and as a sport has become. I will always give respect where respect is due (like the fact that I can easily say Barry Bonds was the greatest hitter to ever play baseball, but as a person, he was/is an embarrassment to the human race) and Greg Glassman deserves a LOT of respect for what he has created. I think it's so cool to be part of a generation who gets to witness the creation of a sport. I think it's really, really, really cool that there is a world-wide push towards getting people healthier and fitter. And no matter what crazy things these HQ people choose to be a part of, I really like that it is publicly clear that people want to be healthier.
As for the sport. I love that there is a new way for people who enjoy competition to really get their taste of it. It's friendly (except for a few morons out there...), supportive, intense, and a true competitive sport. There's incredible athleticism and skill, there's strategy, there's prep and recovery, it's pretty cool if you are into all that. And I am very in to it. Not totally sure how long I'll be stay in to it, but I love the training and growth of it all. I know that after my Games season ends (hopefully not for a while) I'll probably go through a phase of searching for something else to train seriously for, and then who knows, I'll get back to the competitive CrossFit stuff, or I'll move to something else that excites me. For example, as of today I am officially on a select mens baseball team based out of San Francisco, hell yes!!! Interestingly enough, I think being on this team is going to be something hat helps me not stress out too much about the CrossFit stuff. I've always needed a little something to distract me from my obsessive analysis of things. And it turns out I kind of like baseball.
Man do I have a lot to write about.
Never Stop, GET FIT.
On Sunday my girl and I went down to a spot we found a bit south of Half Moon Bay. Before getting into my rant, I want to take a moment to explain one of the many reasons I love where I live. This place is just a tiny turn-off on Route 1, one that I'm sure gets driven past every single day by thousands of cars without even an idea of its existence. You park in the dirt and wander down a hidden path amongst the bushes. You journey down, down some more, and down a little more until you hit a clearing and are welcomed with an awe-inspiring view of the ocean. You're still about 100 yards or more above the beach, on a pretty damn sheer cliff, but you have to stop to soak it all in. To your right is about a half mile of abandoned beach with massive cliffs in the distance with waves crashing off the rocks. To the left, well, the same. Then you look around the clearing and you notice a rope to you right, and another to your left, both leading down and around a worn and loose-textured trail. You really need those ropes to get down or else you'd just stumble and slip your way to the bottom (I experienced about 50 feet of that on this particular adventure). But when you get to the bottom, man; you have officially entered into another world. I'll leave you to your imaginations here; the place is almost perfect.
Rant time. The only thing making it not one of the most perfect places in my life is that fact that it was trashed. Along the cliffs edge in whatever type of growth that is there, there is just every sort of trash. Rappers, bottles, cans, paper, and so on. Then, strewn along the beach was even more. Some of it clearly drift-stuff come in from high tide, but clearly plenty of it left there by visitors to the beach. At one moment there I honestly felt like crying, another I was filled with anger. I was reminded of that awesome Calvin and Hobbes comic:
How can people be so disrespectful? How can people come out to use nature, in all its glory, and then leave the remains of their enjoyment lying around to ruin its beauty? This world sits here, powerful, spacious, and welcoming, and who the hell are these people who think they are special enough to do whatever they want with it. I guess they think it's not their house, once they leave they'll never have to see the heap of crap they left in the sand, so why would they care? Perhaps they think that if trash is washed out to see, or blown away in the wind, it just vanishes from existence? Well, whatever they think, they are freaking stupid. There is absolutely no reason I could even consider thinking that would give any person the right to trash any area that is not their own screwed up house. You don't eat your Pringles in the woods and then throw your empty container into the bushes, you don't smoke a cigarette while driving and then throw it out the window into the grass, you don;t walk into someone elses' house, or gym, or store and not put away what you took out to use. You do not spill something and then walk away. If you don't have any idea what it means to be a respectful person, you don't deserve anything in this world.
Calvin had it in his mind that us humans are clearly the stupidest beings in the Universe. There are tons of really interesting and thought-provoking movies, shoes, and books that touch on our complete misunderstanding and respect for nature and others as our inevitable downfall. And what's funny about all this is it just comes down to having a little respect. It's really not that hard. So what type of person are you?
Never Stop, GET FIT.
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