A couple weeks ago I drove down to one of the most incredible places within an hour of my house, Castle Rock. This place reminds me of some of the rockiest areas of Great Falls, MD, except it’s up in the mountains (great views) and the rocks and trees to climb range from the pretty easy and basic (kids and people in flip flops climb them) to really damn hard (I got stuck in one spot for about 10 minutes trying to figure out how to get down or up, and serious rock climbers come out to train here).
I love getting outside and exploring. Sometimes I just wander around and find things to climb while I totally relax by connecting to nature. Other times I search for whatever adventures I can get in to. For me, challenging myself is what it's all about. Not only because it's fun, but because I think its important. So, I had three separate scenarios where I got myself pretty nervous, and that is what I want to get into here.
There is this massive redwood that fell against a huge rock-face and it seriously looked like it was deliberately put there to climb. You can start right at the base and sort of spiderman crawl up the tree about 50 yards while using those awesome branches for support. Most of the way up this thing you realize that you are a good 20-40 feet above the ground until you reach the “safety” of the rocks being about 5-10 feet under you near the top. Now I’ve done enough climbing around the woods to not really get too concerned for my well-being on something like this. But it had been a long enough time for me to feel that heightened sense of excitement as I climbed. My heart raced, and my senses got super focused. My breathing quickened and I made myself pause in the middle of the tree to appreciate the feeling. I hadn’t felt that way in a while
This is the one I mentioned in the opening paragraph. It was this sort of crack between two large rocks and I decided it would be a fun challenge to shimmy up between the two of them to the top. The best way I am able to do this is to press my back against one rock while pushing my feet against the other one and slowly leveraging myself upwards. Well, this rock decided to be weirdly angles making that strategy not possible. So, I just found my way up. This worked really well until the halfway point. Here I found myself sort of stuck in a game-of-twister style position, wedged between two rocks about 30 feet above the ground. Yes, it took me a solid 10 minutes of slight body weight shifts and risky hold changes to finally get myself through the top and to safety. That got me pretty scared for a few minutes, along with extremely dirty, sweaty, and scraped up pretty good too
This is the one that got me thinking about fear and how important it is for us humans to experience it. I climbed up an absolutely awesome tree. This huge one about 50 yards off the trail with two massive branches stretching out into the silent forest. One was about 15 feet high, the other about 20 feet. To get up to the first branch I had to do a bit of a trust jump going from a knob near the base of the tree to what I hoped to be a decent hand-hold on one side of the lower branch. Lucky for me it was a solid hold, and then I used what little muscle up skill I have to maneuver my way up onto the branch (again, even dirtier, sweatier, and more scraped up). But the reward was a huge natural mezzanine of sorts that I could actually lay down and spread out, listening to the forest and really connecting with nature. The tree was covered in moss too, so it felt like a super comfy natural bed. I hung out there for a while, it was really, really nice.
But eventually I had to get down. And getting down the way I came up was risky enough that it was out of the question. So, my only option at that point was to jump off the 15 foot branch into a very sloped and branch-and-rock-filled earth below. No problem, I tossed my bag down first (it proceeded to roll over itself about three times showing me just how sloped the ground was there), then stood up and got ready to jump. I froze. Damn. I was so scared!
What if I tripped and fell? What if I landed wrong? What if I got hurt, or worse, what if I crashed to the ground and got empaled by a huge branch?!
This fear very quickly gave way to sheer excitement. I immediately remembered why I love being out in nature so much. And why I insist on climbing things, and jumping off things, and exploring, and getting lost. I crave this fear. I know tons of people out there can relate. Climbers, adventurers, explorers, race car drivers, divers, motorcyclists, surfers, the list can go on and on. The fear we feel in these situations makes us feel alive. It gives us purpose. It trains us to understand our emotions and learn how to control ourselves in extreme situations. Putting yourself at risk, getting so far out of your comfort zone you genuinely don’t know what to do for a period of time, those times are when you learn the most about yourself. Those times are when you become a better version of you because you HAVE to. When you walk to a ledge and the only way down is to jump, you learn to trust yourself, to trust nature, and have faith. Faith is one of the greatest things we can have. It is how we overcome fears. It might be faith in God, or something spiritual. it might be faith in yourself, or just in an idea that things will work out. Allowing yourself to disconnect from all those fears you have learned to have is such a unique and incredible skill. You must believe in the fact that whatever happens in the moments after your leave your feet, you are ready for it, good or bad.
Yes, this is a metaphor for life. It doesn’t have to be jumping from a tree, it could be starting a new job, trying out a gym that uses barbells and atlas stones, traveling to a new country, telling someone you love them, anything that takes you out of your little world of comfort. Sure, you can always measure your risk levels and assess that joining a gym is a little less risky than climbing Mount Everest, but you see my point. For some people, unfortunately, stepping out of the house in the morning is as much a scary situation as it is for others to climb a 100’ foot cliff. It’s all relative. And my message holds true to anyone and everyone out there: these fears are good, and NECESSARY for you to grow and improve as a human being. Embrace them for all their scariness and appreciate every single thing in your life that you’ve had to take a risk to achieve. Those things are so worth it! Most of the greatest achievements come from great risks. So damn it, JUMP!
Back in that tree. I actually laughed out laud. It felt so good to fear in nature. It was a rush of excitement and I missed it so much. I looked around the woods, felt the cool California dusk wave over me and heard the birds chirping as the sun went down. The trees rustled, the giant rocks loomed all around me, and there was not a single sound of another human being, car, or plane, It was perfect. I took a deep breath and jumped.
Never Stop, GET FIT.
The air at Courage Performance in San Mateo has been a tad thicker than normal over the past months. Yes, more humid than normal, but not due to the weather. The reason is that there has been some buzzing rumors about possibly moving locations, and the reasons around it. Well, here's what's going on.
We are officially moving locations to a new 5,000+ square foot facility right near Hillsdale Mall in San Mateo!
When you enter in to the new Courage Performance you will be greeted by the front front desk where you can check in and register for our various different classes. Behind the desk you’ll find our offices and a study hall room for our student athletes. There will be an assessment room as well for body fat measuring, range of motion/movement assessments, and general health and fitness consultations.
From there you can enter the main facility. The first thing you notice is the USA Weightlifting sanctioned Courage Barbell Club area. There will be four weightlifting platforms, competition plates and bars, squat racks, and lifting blocks.
Beyond that lies a massive open warehouse space, split down the middle; half athletic turf, half rubber flooring. On the turf side are two large batting cages. There are L-screens, backstop nets, plenty of tees, indoor pitching mounds, and buckets of baseballs. We will be able to slide the nets back so we can utilize the entire space for our programs including kids classes, general fitness classes, athletic strength and conditioning classes, and so much more. On the rubber-floored side there is a pull-up rig, racks of bars, stacks of plates, dumbbells, kettlebells, plyo boxes, ropes, rings, sleds, hammers, tires, medballs, crash mats, and all the other fun toys we have always used at Courage Performance (and a good deal more!).
We will be having a weekend-long Grand Opening with food, workouts, tons of local business we are connecting with, and of course, all of you! There will be tons of new class times and programs offered. There will be massive sales and package deals for people looking to get in before we open those big doors and start with classes. All will be posted on our website in the coming weeks.
I cannot even begin to express my excitement as Courage Performance takes its next big step. The growth of this gym in the last 8 months has been overwhelming, and the support from the ever-growing community has been humbling. As of now we have about 80 regular athletes/members coming into the gym on a weekly basis. We have young kids, high school and college athletes, every day 9-5ers, and advanced athletes looking to compete at higher levels; all of them working under the same roof towards the goal of getting better. Each and every one of them has helped to expand and toughen this brand that I have worked so hard grow. The positive support has been awesome!
And with this move I expect so much more. Our baseball program will expand under the eye of our Director of Baseball Operations, Josh Wilkie. Our backend business support is coming from the great mind of our General Manager, Cullen McAlpine. And we are in the process of interviewing in 1-3 more coaches who fit the Courage Performance model of excellence to help with the expected growth.
The best part about all this is that we now have an absolutely perfect platform to continue to grow Courage Performance. I started this company 10 years ago with the goal of helping and inspiring as many people as I possibly could to embrace a healthy lifestyle. The goal was never to water down my standards to bring in more memberships, or jack prices up to limit who could be a member. I want Courage Performance to be accessible to anyone and everyone who is serious about being healthy and happy. There is no barrier of entry to get fit. There are no limits to what people can do. Courage Performance promotes this ideal, and will ALWAYS stay true to this, no matter what.
Thank you everyone,
Never Stop, GET FIT.
Owner and Head Coach of Courage Performance LLC
In the past couple weeks the institution of CrossFit has had a decent amount of press in comparison to the past many years. A good bit of it has been relatively critical and as entertaining as it has been for me, CrossFit HQ lights up the social media with all sorts of backhanded, argumentative remarks about the articles.
One of the articles was all about something called rhabdo (Rhabdomyolysis) which is a severely serious reaction to incredibly rapid muscle tissue breakdown. This causes all sorts of damaging toxins to release into the bloodstream and leads to some pretty messed up symptoms.
So, CrossFit teaches about rhabdo in their level 1 seminar, and even makes a joke of the condition by having created a CrossFit mascot named “Pukie”. Anyway, some people don’t understand it, others think it’s funny, some think it’s horrible, and some (like me) just choose to ignore it because CrossFit HQ has always tended to push the envelope with political correctness as they grow (maybe they think it’s cool, maybe they think it will attract attention, maybe they’re just a bunch of weirdo’s, who knows, but they’ve ALWAYS done it).
Anyway, I’ve had a handful of people reach out to me about this article and my thoughts, so I thought I’d write a little something about it.
I will give credit to CrossFit HQ on the fact that they actually raise awareness of it at their level 1 seminar. They are one of the only fitness companies that actually teach all about some of the potential issues that training in their style could lead to. Everyone who has gone to a level 1 seminar will have received a base-level understanding of rhabdo and how to prevent it. In fact, I have had some 5 trainer/coach (not CrossFit obviously) friends of mine admit to not knowing anything about rhabdo, so, credit to CrossFit there for sure.
So, because of the attention CrossFit brings upon itself, it’s easy to assume that training CrossFit will inevitably lead to getting rhabdo. It’s simply not true. Any athlete can get rhabdo, check out HERE, and HERE, and HERE. While intense exercise may increase the risk of more negative issues, it should never be a reason to avoid being intense. Sort of a simple statement that everyone has heard a million times, but: CrossFit does not cause rhabdo, coaches/trainers who push their athletes/clients too hard cause things like rhabdo.
CrossFit claims that since all their coaches have been supplied some info on what rhabdo is, they are actually better informed on how to prevent it than most other coaches. While the statement itself is true, to assume that all their coaches actually practice good coaching methods is a pretty broad and, well, dead-wrong assumption. I have met a TON of CrossFit coaches who have no idea what rhabdo is (and also have no idea how to protect their clients, program properly, or teach proper technique to most movements). To assume the thousands of coaches you put through a 2-day seminar actually care enough to remember and put to practice everything you threw at them is pretty ridiculous. And when you make a public joke of the condition by making your mascot a vomiting, rhadbo-inflicted clown, you’re not helping your cause all that much. So it should not be that surprising that people have a few negative, critical thoughts about the company. It appears as though CrossFit harnesses some sort of pride in the fact that their program has been known to potentially really break people down. A lot of people who actually understand health and fitness know that it is not CrossFit in and of itself that hurts people, but irresponsible coaches that do, as mentioned before. There are bad coaches in CrossFit, just as there are bad coaches with many other backgrounds and certifications.
But if CrossFit really has an issue with people criticizing them, perhaps they’d take a few seconds to change their very confrontational approach. Or, they should continue being confrontational (they claim to not intentionally be controversial, but libertarian), and stop acting all confused and annoyed when people question and criticize them.
Or, all of us people need to realize that this is just what they do. The people who run CrossFit have ALWAYS been pretty abrasive. And now that social media is so popular, and the concept of “trolls” has become a “cool” thing for bored people who think it’s fun to stir up conflict; CrossFit has jumped headfirst into it. And it has brought them TONS of attention. And they don’t care if it’s good or bad. They will fight incredibly established companies and people on twitter, they will talk down to established figures in their own community, they will “play dumb” to conflicts they start, and you can watch the comments and attention roll in.
In my opinion, this is a bit unfortunate and seems to be a little counterintuitive of CrossFit. The concepts that CrossFit originally promoted (and that Greg Glassman talks about when speaking publically) have been some of the most influential in the world for promoting health and fitness. Thousands of new, small gyms, eager to help people live better lives and support each other have popped up around the world thanks to CrossFit. It’s a beautiful thing. Many of the best CrossFit gyms that I have been to (the ones with the best coaches, intelligent programming, understanding of true community and support) generally choose to just ignore the actions of CrossFit HQ and continue to do good, staying out of trouble and controversy.
I suggest that if annoying arguments are something that cause you stress and anxiety, just don’t follow CrossFit on Facebook and twitter, and avoid reading the comments on the articles that pop up about it. They have said over and over again that they could care less if you follow them or not (I’m sure this has led to thousands of more followers as another CrossFit HQ employee has stated). If you like to get all worked up and pissed about stuff, read away! They will not disappoint. I personally find it entertaining here and there.
One of CrossFit HQ’s now-well-known employees made a pretty clear statement about CrossFits approach to what they choose to talk about: “Fuck PR”
My personal thoughts?
I personally love CrossFit as a sport. I train for it, compete in it, appreciate the athletes and what they can do, and how entertaining it is.
I coach all my athletes and clients in athletic performance, not CrossFit. Do you know the difference?
I love that CrossFit has helped create so much more attention to health and fitness. We’ve seen pretty dramatic growth in Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, gymnastics, track, nutrition and general fitness education thanks to CrossFit. That. Is. Awesome!
I’ve made friends and been able to grow my business into two gyms and a pretty successful blog/brand with direct and indirect influences from CrossFit.
I can’t stand the way CrossFit HQ chooses to act. It used get me so worked up that I would get angry (and even now I will sometimes rant on my dislike for them, or allow one of their instigating posts to get me started on a post myself, or even engage them here and there). Now I just avoid their posts if I am feeling like I don’t need more annoying things in my life.
Nothing you or I say will make them change the way they act. So either read their craziness and engage in whatever way you will, or just stop paying attention. But if you want to get worked up, and pissed off, and question why they choose to act like they do; well, you are just wasting your time and energy. Maybe constantly defending themselves and arguing will get old to them, and they will change (I have actually seen a slight shift in wording in that they actually ask for opinions rather than just randomly post stuff with the implication that they endorse it. Also they have been on a kick recently talking more and more about how scaling and modifying workouts are so important to beginners; and understanding proper movement patterns and technique are more important than times. So who knows).
Either way, CrossFit is here to stay, no matter how they choose to act, and no matter how you feel about it and the people that run it. Take what you will from it and try to ignore the crap if it really bothers you. There are plenty of incredible ways to get into health and fitness, choose the one that helps you the most and you’ll probably have a better life. Easy as that!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
PS - If you want to see what I'm talking about with the Facebook and twitter craziness, just spend 5 minutes on either of the those things on the CrossFit page and you'll see. I don't have the patience to link to them (plus, there are WAY too many and I can't choose the best ones)
This past weekend I had an absolute blast. I was lucky enough to join a good sized group out at a lake a couple hours away in Napa. We went wake surfing (where you ride the wave behind a boat on a board that's a bit of a cross between a wake board and a surf board), cliff jumping and basically had an all around blast all day out on the lake.
I am very much looking forward to getting back out there on a regular basis to find some even higher cliffs and to get some more practice on the wake board. But for this post I wanted to talk a little about an injury sustained from my first attempt on the board. As I was failing miserably at getting my feet set on the board, I was jolted when the boat accelerated forward without me being set firmly. My arm was the only thing that took all the force and I instantaneously felt some pretty sharp pain in my left shoulder. My excitement of the day allowed me to ignore the pain and I continued to play around on the board and jump off the cliffs a few times. But by that night my shoulder hurt so badly that I couldn't raise it up more than a few inches. Not going to lie, I was pretty damn scared.
The push up is probably one of the most classic and commonly performed exercises known to man. You’ll see it performed practically everywhere you go around the world as an easy strength builder, mixed in for conditioning, a test of strength between people, and on and on and on. And to be honest, I have very rarely seen someone “drop down and give me 20” with really efficient form.
How does utilizing proper mechanics of a push up really help? Well, right off the bat it allows you to utilize the proper muscles to perform the exercise. This allows you to perform the push up stronger and better; and, generally, more of them. That is usually the selling point that works with most people: do them this way and you’ll do more! But additionally, you have so many more benefits when doing the wonderful push up properly. Reduced risk of injury is the main one, better core stability, increased joint mobility in the shoulder, elbows and wrists, and, you’ll be able to do more!
1. Use Your Pecs
This is pretty easily understood but usually not actually practiced. If you do 100 push ups as quickly as you can and wake up the next day with sore shoulders and triceps, but your chest is still soft and unused, well, you did something wrong. Here’s how I get people to feel how to get their chest (pectorals, pecs) engaged the entire time: extend your harm out in front of your body and flex your chest. Grab the chest muscle with your other hand to make sure it is constantly engaged. Now go through different ranges of motion, replicating a push up. You’ll notice very quickly that if you elbow gets too far from your side, your chest softens up. Also (leads to step 2):
2. Keep Your Shoulders Set
Almost all the issues I see with peoples push ups derives from a lack of stable shoulders. Without getting too technical, your shoulders should barely move throughout the range of motion. And don’t overcompensate my drawing your shoulder blades back and together like crazy, that actually stretches the pecs out and limits their ability to function properly during the push. You want your shoulders stabilized in in a neutral position; not shrugged, not back, not forward.
3. Perpendicular forearms
This is a cue that is rarely used and helps so, so much. Allowing your forearms to stay perpendicular to the floor throughout the entire range of motion of the push up allows all the muscles the ability to work exactly how they should. If you give your body that chance to function properly, it’s easier to form good habits and get stronger (and perform more reps!). Again, this point alone could use a pretty lengthy article, but suffice it to say you are putting yourself in a much stronger position with perpendicular forearms. It’ll be easier to set your shoulders, and thus, easier to use your chest.
4. Practice Negatives
Ask anyone who has done a really long push up-themed workout if they’re abs felt a little sore after and most of them with answer yes. The core stability of a push up is easily the second most common aspect to be lacking after proper shoulder stability. And performing negatives, while building up adequate strength in the chest, shoulders, and arms, also allows for extended core stability in this specific movement. The push up negative is such a universally effective exercise that I will program it for athletes at any level, not just those with weaker core muscles or those looking to increase their push up ability. Work different time domains, work an explosive push after a 5-second negative once you’ve advanced a bit.
5. Grease The Gears
For everyone I’ve coached that was training for some military (or similar style) test, the best advice I could give them for increasing their push ups number was doing them all the time. We would go through shoulder and forearm positioning, work on how to keep the chest engaged throughout the entire range of motion, assess their core strength and endurance, then: do reps. I would start with a 4-5x per week, 100 reps total for two weeks. Then increase the reps performed each week after that. 2x per week they would do the reps as fast as possible and with as few breaks as possible. 2x per week they would spread the total throughout the day. And if there was a 5th day, it would be up to them how they performed it. The goal was to just always be doing proper push ups. I did this exact thing and went from totaling 26 reps, to 86 reps in one sitting in 45 days. It was pretty cool.
The main thing to be sure of is to assess the positioning of your shoulders and arms. If you are not using your chest for the entire movement, and allowing all the muscles of your shoulders and back to stabilize (and NOT act as movers) then you are on the right path. Just trying to “meathead” your way to more push ups is a sure way to eventually destroy your shoulders. I’ve seen it happen many, many times.
Never Stop, GET FIT.
Last week was a pretty good week. Team Courage hit our max lifts after the rest of gym had all just done that themselves and there were some pretty damn big numbers.
To finish off the week, myself, Mike, and Ryan (and a a decent collection of other training partners and friends) hit up the Lalanne Summer Throwdown, a ridiculously massive one-day competition out at Treasure Island in the city. With over 200 total competitors, this was the largest event I've ever been to, and one that saw 100 competitors in my division alone! It was a well-run event, not many hiccups that I could see, pretty good workouts all around, and some pretty damn good athletes (I think there were something around 5+ Regionals competitors there. I ended up finishing 8th overall and to be honest, I am happy with that given where my training has been over the past few months. I felt like I was about one gear off from where I normally would be competing, and that led me to just moving a hair slower than what I would expect from myself. But again, I was happy with the event and how I performed. Here are some cool pics from the day.
While it was a fun day, I actually had an interesting experience in that it was the first ever fitness competition I've been a part of where I lost interest in competing. I've had the experience before where I felt burnt out, but then when the announcer yells GO, I just find the switch and attack it with everything I have. This time around I was able to get that switch on the final announced workout, but going into the very final one (I was lucky enough to be in the top 8 who make it there) I just had nothing left to give. It was a strange new feeling for me to be at a competitive event and really just not care at all. At the time, there wasn't the desire to "dig deep" and find that edge. I had given what I wanted to that day and felt like there I didn't want to give anything else. Strangely enough, I stopped that final workout one rep shy of completely ripping my hand open, and I am beyond happy about that. I allowed myself to walk away from the day, get some good food and sleep, and hit the gym hard on Monday for our new cycle of heavy programming without having to modify everything because of a busted hand. Either way, it was a learning experience.
So, about said new cycle of programming! The past few months have been wildly successful and I had programmed out the next three months when one of my Team members approached me with the dreaded Smolov Squat program. I had read about this one a while back, and even considered using it in my program but ultimately wanted to try out my own strength program after going through the Hatch Squat cycle. But, upon some further review, and looking at what I had programmed, I decided to sit the Team down and find a way to incorporate this crazy intense program into our next 13 weeks.
Here's how I'm writing it out for us. First off, only a few of us are following it because my requirement is that anyone on the program must do it with others around. It's an incredibly intense program that calls for 4 days per week of high load and high volume squatting. So. Yeah. It's scary. I insisted on having a support crew around for each and every session for all of us on it.
Four out of our 6 days of training per week will be double training days. Our 6am Smolov squat sessions will also include focused gymnastics work and stretching. The afternoon session will be dedicated to weightlifting (snatch and clean and jerk work), accessory work, and conditioning sessions. And that's the extent of the the detail I'll share with all of you! I'm extremely excited for this program and I'm hoping some huge gains over the 13 weeks we're on it. As I mentioned to the Team, we are going to be entering into a lot of very dark places during this experience. But, it will be very eye-opening, very honest, and self-revealing time. I am very excited. On that note, if anyone is looking to get some pretty damn good programming (if I do say so myself...), let me know and join Team Courage! Just shoot me an email or call and we can get something going. The Team is looking to expand!
Anyways, I'm sitting here typing away, feeling like i got run over and all I can think about is the heavy squatting I have to do tomorrow morning. To be honest, the biggest thing I need to focus on over the next few months is eating, sleeping, and stretching. And this is perfect! The process of learning how to eat enough food to properly fuel myself without eating a bunch of crap is a huge challenge in and of itself. Sleeping is another thing I tend to have a hard time with timing out. For me, the best thing to do is plan to get around 6 hours per night, then focus in on getting a30-90 minute nap at some point each day as well. And lastly, I do tend to breeze over the stretching work, so planning out stretching and mobilization each day will help me so much, and I know I need it a lot.
I'll make sure to post regular updates on how this program goes. My research led me to realize there is not all that much anecdotal feedback on the Smolov program, so i plan to talk through it all and finish it all up with a big write-up on all my thoughts about it.
Never Stop, GET FIT.
This is the second and final post about the incredible vacation with Destino Retreats to Cabo, Mexico. I am excited and honored to be a coach for this awesome company and am eagerly awaiting the next trip to Cabo coming up November 14th-18th, go sign up now before all the spots run out!!
On to what was unanimously the best day, Saturday had us waking up and wolfing down yet another spectacular, Paleo breakfast at Bar Esquina at the Hotel Bahia before heading down to the beach and meeting up with Cabo SUP. Yep, we had a full morning of stand up paddleboarding and beach workouts down at Lovers Beach at the very tip of the Baja Peninsula! Our two guides ran through the basics and we hit the water like a bunch of excited children learning a new playground game. This. Was. Awesome! For most it was a true first-time experience, then we had Lindsey who at this point is a pretty damn experienced SUP-er and showed off some burpees on her board and even tried a few pistol squats! We paddled for about 45ish minutes to the beautiful beach where Ty and I ran everyone through a fun workout that included some rock throwing and handstand push ups along the rock-faces lining the beach. We goofed off for a bit around the beach before jumping back into the water and paddleboarding to the massive stone arches that separate the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of California. Then it was a tiresome and wave-filled trip back to home base!
We gobbled up a quick snack and it was off to CrossFit 10 Los Cabos for some more instruction and CrossFitting (by the way, I messed up the order of the training days a little. Today's gym visit was the handstand progressions and clean and jerks. Either way, you get the idea that we had a couple distinctly different workouts each day!)! All the athletes were feeling good and worked after such an active day that it was a pleasant treat post-lunch for most of them to get into the spa for messages and whatnot. Ty and I chilled by the pool and just relaxed. It was so much fun to watch each person stroll happily out to the pool from their recovery time, grab a drink and just completely relax. It was a pretty chill afternoon from there on out. And to make the end of the day even better, we had a private margarita happy hour at the pool The bartenders taught us how to make fresh fruit margaritas and I must admit, they were fabulous.
The fourth day we woke up to some pretty severe wind and rain. But it could not have been more perfectly timed: it was Throwdown day! We drove on over to the gym where we met an excited collection of local athletes for a fun, 4-hour, 4-workout throwdown. We had 12 teams of 2 athletes, one Destino athletes paired up with a CrossFit 10 athlete, and the fun began!
Hands down the best meals and most chill afternoon followed. We had a family style feast waiting for us upon our triumphant return from the gym and we all headed to our rooms and pool for some well deserved relaxation, reading, and napping. There was talk about headed out to town to see what it had to offer once the sun began to go down, but after all the fun we'd all been having it seemed that a tasty dinner and sleep was what everyone wanted most. The energy at dinner was priceless. Everyone talked about all the fun they'd been having, the new friends they all made at the throwdown, and all the new stuff they learned in the short but action-packed few days we'd all shared.
Monday came just a little too fast but there was still yet another tasty Paleo breakfast and a chill trip to the gym. Most of the athletes hit a flush-out run and row, while Ty and I decided to get a little barbell work in. I was damn stoked to stroll up to the bar with my normal shoes, no raps or anything and bang out an easy 225# snatch. Something about the crazy warm weather that just let my joints move smoothly. Either way, that made me in even better spirits than I already was!
After that final workout it was back to the hotel, a wonderful final lunch, and then most of us packed up to check out and bid Cabo farewell.
On the flight back to San Francisco Ty and I talked about the trip and shared our thoughts. And I must admit, this was one of the coolest trips I have ever been on. I described it like this: in the 5 days in Cabo I actually lived the exact life I would love to live for the rest of my life. I slept in a comfy bed, ate incredibly healthy food, I worked out multiple times per day (both inside and outside), got to go on a couple adventures, and I got to coach excited and eager athletes. And all of this was in an exotic location. I can not stress enough how wonderful it feels to be able to hang around a group of awesome people, eat perfectly prepared food, and workout all the time. And if this is something you are interested in, any Destino Retreat trip would be so perfect for you. We also had a pretty successful blogger, Tina from Carrots N Cake along for the trip, and she has a collection of great posts from as well. Her final post talks about the worth of the trip and I really suggest you all go check that out if you are interested in something like this in the near future.
I am counting down the days until November when I can come back to Cabo with a new group of people to share in all of this excitement again. It was incredible.
Never Stop, GET FIT.
I'll start this post with a review of my first ever weightlifting event. Turns out it was a historic event with something like 209 competitors in total, and myself and my training partner were "lucky" enough to be in the absolute last heat! The California State Games are run similar to the Olympics in that there are Summer and Winter Games. Each season begins in a slew of events covering a good collection of sports, and from what I could find, there seems to be a pretty good history of some highly successful athletes who have come through to compete. Unfortunately they take pl;ace in San Diego and started in early July so I wasn't able to attend the opening ceremonies and all the awesome crazy that apparently happened. I got to show up late Saturday night, hang out until late Sunday afternoon and then trek out to a pretty damn secluded CrossFit gym that was hosting the weightlifting event over the course of three days.
I'll make two comments on the organization of the whole thing before going into my experience. First, the thing was run damn smoothly. I think they were maybe off by one or two minutes here and there and that is incredibly impressive given the amount of people they had coming through. Not sure how they pulled it off, but it's really cool they did and I respect the hell out of the organizers for running such a tight ship. The unfortunate aspect of the whole event was that it took us almost 40 minutes to find the place. There was no instruction anywhere explaining where the crazy hidden gym was actually located and there were no signs posted anywhere showing anyone the way. We drove all over the place and finally found our way to an office park, behind another office park, here the gym was wedged in. The warm up area was cramped and muggy, the weigh-in room was in a hoarders-type room with old medical equipment stacked to the ceiling, and the platform was under a tent, outside in the tiny behind-the-offices parking lot. At first we were completely thrown off by the seemingly makeshift set up of everything. The location of the entire place was so out in the middle of nowhere that I think we were more frustrated than anything. But once we settled into the whole thing, we mostly forgot about how sketchy everything was and just enjoyed ourselves.
So, on to the experience. I was feeling good and prepared, not nervous or anything, just excited to experience something new! I chose to open with 95kg (209lbs), a weight I was sure I could hit and all I wanted to do was make sure I got at least one successful lift! They announced when I was on deck, I strolled out to the awkward waiting area behind a tent on a sidewalk where there were a few chairs and pulled up the top of my singlet. When they announced it was my turn, I chalked up my hands, approached the bar, took and breath and ripped it over my head. It honestly felt like it was 20 pounds, just flew up in a power snatch. It almost knocked me over! I dropped the bar, nodded to the judges and walked back off the platform to announce my next attempt to the announcer. I'd go for 100kg (220lbs). It went exactly the same as the first lift, but this time I over-tensed up and the forward pull of the bar sent me running to the front of the platform. I was able to catch my balance with locked out arms just as my toe reached the front of the wood and the head judge was ready to dive out of the way to save his own life! Two whites, one red, good lift (there are three judges who award you wither a red or white "light"; you need two or all three whites for a good lift)! I initially asked for 103, but then said what the hell, I'll go for 105kg (231 and would be a PR). Just missed it! Oh well, I was happy with 100.
After that I was able to chill for a bit before warming up the clean and jerk. Still feeling good! I hit my opening lift of 130kg (286lbs) and again, it felt like an empty bar. It almost knocked me over it felt so light, and I actually felt like I was trying to stop the bar from flying straight up o the jerk. I was happy with that feeling. I announced my second attempt at 135 (297 and a potential PR clean AND jerk). Caught it a little forward but it was smooth all around. I was stoked for that lift. Next was my choice of going for 140, or playing it safe and going for a somewhat reasonable 138. Went back and forth a little and chose to go for 138 (303.6). Hit it!! Made 5 out of 6 lifts and got a 238 total. Very happy (and I beat Mike by 3 kilos!!!!). What an awesome experience all around, and I am really looking forward to doing more and more of these coming up.
OK, after the fun was over and I got back, I was back to training today. Felt crazy slow under the bar for the weightlifting complexes I have programmed for this next phase, but the tough part was the new phase of powerlifts we have coming up; sick! Working quickly up to our heaviest triple, then down and back up with doubles, then down and back up on singles, LOTS of lifting heavy weights!! Additionally I am adding some CrossFit style workouts back to the program and while today's was fun (power snatches, rope climbs, muscle ups and HSPU's) it felt like I hadn't done a tough workout like that in years. It'll be interesting incorporating these back into the program on a regular basis now, especially since I really want to get my weightlifting total form 238 to 260 as soon as I can!
The program I'm on now is filled with lots of heavy weightlifting, serious squatting at constantly heavy weights, heavy pressing and heavy deadlifting. Very carefully programmed accessory work and now, some regular accessory-based metcons. I've been feeling so good with everything, I can't wait to see how far this gets me over the course of the next couple months.
Rock on, that's all I got for now!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
It's been a while since I've written about my own programming and how it's going, so I thought I'd share. It's been going well. I've steered away from the classic CrossFit plan and more towards a straight up strength and weightlifting focus, it's been fun to say the least! While I do enjoy getting my butt kicked in the gym with a brutal metcon here and there, I do very much enjoy the day to day demands of a very serious strength training program. I am watching my numbers creep up slowly but surely, and when I keep my food in check, my mood, energy, and weight all keep getting better and better.
The best part about the program as of late is that i have a group of people to workout with. Team Courage has been a slowly building project at the gym and as of now we have five really serious members, and another 3 who are a tad less involved. The energy around this group looking through the programming and hitting the gym hard has been one of the best aspects of my training I've ever had. Couple that with the feeling of pride I have every day when I walk into y own gym with the big orange wall and my logo on it, I just feel good about where everything is going.
So, the program itself is using three major sources as its motivation: the strength program I wrote two years ago that saw 100% success rate in all athletes who've gone through the whole thing, a very, very base level conceptual feel for the Bulgarian Method of training, and some aspects to how a few of the Catalyst Athletics weightlifting programs have been designed. I can comfortably say that this program is about 98% mine (most/all good programs use tons of research and ideas taken from other programs already in existence) and to be honest, I have an idea of what will come out of it at the end, but I am really curious to see just how big some of our gains will be.
We are pulling heavy weights from the blocks each day (working 80% and up on all sets) and then our strength work is seeing about 8+ programed sets each day. It's pretty brutal having to work up to 100+% of your 5RM or 3RM and then head back down to 85% and work back up again. The combination of load and volume is something that has taken a little to adapt to. But, I feel like I'm adapting pretty well and I am feeling stronger each day. My drill work with the Olympic lifts is now consistently only 10-15# below my best ever lift. While this is depressing that my 1RM sucks, it's promising that I am getting more efficient and consistent at heavy loads. Here's what a typical week looks like:
Monday: snatch, squat, snatch strength accessory
Tuesday: snatch, clean and jerk (light, drill)
Wednesday: clean and jerk, bench, front squat, c+j accessory
Thursday: snatch, deadlift, strength accessory
Saturday: snatch, clean and jerk, squat
It's been intense, but real fun. I am hoping to get to my first ever Weightlifting meet this coming weekend, but it's way down in San Diego and I am not sure I can get there. We'll see. Either way, it'd be SO much fun to actually compete at this stuff. I am setting up goals slowly but surely.
My food has gotten under control and I am down to around 235# consistently. I think that I'd feel my best around 225-230 and I'll probably be there next week and will plan to stay there for the next few training cycles. I have a lot going on, and all going in the right direction, so that's cool in my head.
Have a good deal of business and personal stuff going on that could be a lot better, and I will be filling everyone in on the details about all that pretty soon. TONS of growth for the company coming up but I want to keep some of it under wraps until things are 100% confirmed. I will also fill people in with some of the crummy stuff that has led to all this good stuff as well. Should be an exciting few months for sure. I do like writing about my workouts and programs, so I'll be sure to make a point to continue doing that as the summer progresses.
Never Stop, GET FIT.
Among other specialties, I am a Olympic Weightlifting coach and love spending way too many hours researching all the wonderful ins and outs of the those two beautiful lifts: the snatch and clean and jerk. But for all the middle school, high school, college, and professional athletes that come through Courage Performance, my focus is not to complicate their program with the highly technical full lifts, but to increase their raw power output utilizing the power snatch and power clean. This post is dedicated to all them, and all YOU who wouldn't mind getting that power clean PR up!
Get Discounts Below!