Yep. So is walking down the street if you think about it in a certain way, and sitting at your kitchen table for that matter. There has been a lot of talk on my social media feeds (thanks to me being “internet friends” with a lot of fitness people) about the potential health risks of high intensity exercise, or what we know as CrossFit. So, I thought I’d offer my take on all this jabber.
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)
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 was excited about the invite I received from Ty, the founder of Destino Retreats to help coach at their Cabo trip. But now, after having experienced the entire thing, I can honestly say: that was one of the coolest experiences of my entire life. Let me share.
The idea is a fully CrossFit-afied retreat to an awesome location. You get true Paleo meals, two workouts per day, special outings, and everything finishes with an awesome throwdown with the locals at a CrossFit gym. That’s the concept of this company that I am so honored to coach for. Now, let me get into the details of this trip. Perhaps inspire you to come join us on the next one in November?!
We rolled into Cabo and it was right to a 40 minute, yet interestingly scenic dive from the airport to the water. It’s always fun to soak in how a place I’ve never been feels. The main thing that I noticed was the incredibly defined peaks in the mountains. I absolutely love mountains and when you can see the peaks, like the way kids would draw them in grade school, it’s so damn awesome!
The resort, The Bahia Hotel, was straight up perfect for what we were doing. It was simple, yet perfectly beach-like and comfortable. The pool was gorgeous, and the rooms were exactly what one needed after a long day of working out. OK, OK, I’ll run through the formalities before getting to the real juicy stuff. To top of the comfort of the resort, we were a short walk to the beach where there was a view of the southern-most point of the Baja Peninsula, it was beautiful. And then a short walk in the other direction and bam, downtown Cabo.
The fun started with a flush-out workout on that beach-with-a-view. The crew moseyed on down and we warmed up along the hot sand before hitting working though a collection of balancing pistols, rope hurdles, squat jumps, suicide sprints, burpees at the edge of the water and some buoy hurdles to cool off! After toweling off we had out first dinner at Bar Esquina, a well-known restaurant in town. So, um, let me tell you a little about the food on this trip. The Bahia supplied an entirely Paleo menu for us, one for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There were multiple options, check out the pics.
I seriously can not say enough about the food, it was incredible!! It was top of the line in quality, cooked perfectly, portions were generous, and the choices were exciting and filled with flavor! And to top it off, they had a cafe of sorts with fresh juices and smoothies that, uh, in all honesty I actually looked forward to consuming each day. And while I'm not much of a drinker (seems like something I caught a little flack for while being in the blazing heat of Mexico) their drink menu was impressive. We actually had a margarita night where the pool-side bar tender showed us how they made their fresh fruit margaritas. They were really good.
We gathered pool-side for a sports medicine session after breakfast on the second day. Ty and I went over a lot of great mobility and seemed like the athletes really soaked up a ton of good info. Then it was off to the CrossFit 10 Los Cabos for the first gym session. This place was great. Welcoming coaches and athletes, generous guest policy (and some pretty beast guests were there by the way), and one of the most excited and eager group of members I have seen in my 80+ gyms visited over the years. It was small, but incredibly well=maintained, clean, and filled with just the right amount of equipment.
Our first session had the athletes working on pull up progressions, snatches and an awesome workout with rowing, pull ups and power snatches. Everyone gave it their all.
The second full day had us traveling to a beach a bit past the gym. Here we were able to get some tough and scenic hill sprints as a warm up. We then followed that up with a doosy of workout of four rounds of about 30 meters of partner resisted band sprints, and then a 100 m swim. This turned out to be a damn hard one that i was lucky enough to join in on because the only dude in the group needed a partner. While the swim kicked all our butts, check out the video for one of the more entertaining parts of the trip!
After lunch it was back to CrossFit 10 Los Cabos for handstand progressions, clean and jerk work, and an awesome workout of front squats, handstand push ups, power clean and presses and double unders. Again, tons of awesome work coming form everyone. Then it was back to the resort to hang by the pool for a while before dinner.
I'll write about the second half of the trip tomorrow. Now you all can hang tight with all this incredible suspense I'm leaving you with!!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
Those three stupid numbers are the score I got for my three attempts for the final workout of the CrossFit Games Open. The goal was 90 in 4 minutes, so that I would have another 4 minutes to accumulate reps and move myself into a "guaranteed" spot at the Regionals event. As of the time of me writing this, there is still a incredibly thin chance I get a sort of “invite” to this event in May, but I’m not even thinking about that. What I’m thinking about is the intense pain I feel after failing by 1 rep.
It reminds me of last year when I missed the individual Regionals event by 1 point. Granted, I was signed up to go with a team, but it still stung.
I could write a pretty lengthy book filled with all my failures, from small to big. From little “meaningless” ones like burning a meal I’m cooking for myself, to large ones like failing two classes my first semester Freshman year and needing to take summer courses to keep eligible for baseball.
But I don’t want to list all those, it’s too depressing to think about right now as I feel like a pretty big failure this exact moment. Right now I’m thinking about how tough it is to be so good at so many things, without ever being excellent at any of them. My best friend shot me a text after asking how this workout went and he reminded me that I was born a remarkable athlete. One who could play professional baseball, run 12 marathons, perform at a high level in triathlon and jiu-jitsu, and one who has clearly proven himself at the Sport Of Fitness. I’m “better” than 99% of the people out there he says.
But what hurts for guys like me is that I’m just one step, no, a half step or less away from being one of the best. Being that .01% out there that is just flat out amazing at shit, there are not that many people who have that, but they are there, and we all know them. It may sound pretentious of me, or arrogant or something, but the pain of being good enough to perform with the best, but always finish behind them is almost too great sometimes. There are so many times, times like today, when I just wish I wasn’t good at stuff. There wouldn’t be that hope in me at all times that I have a chance. There wouldn’t be that drive to be the best, because there would be flat out no chance of me being there. But instead I am faced every single day with so much evidence that I can perform with the best of the best (well, maybe not WITH them, but a half step behind them) and my brain and body goes into focus mode. I work so hard. I train, I study, I analyze every bit of my life to figure out what I could do to gain that ½ step. I work, and then work some more. And when it comes down to it, I’m still a half step behind. Is it that I don’t work hard enough? Is it that I’m not doing the right things? I really doubt it.
As a coach I would tell my athletes to focus on all the little achievements. Celebrate the fact that you are determined to get better and that the fact that you would work so hard is the real success. And writing that now, I realize that that is exactly what I have to do. I gave that workout everything I possibly could and my celebration should be in the fact that I worked so hard for the reps I got. It should not be that I failed in achieving my goals. Every single person has limits: physical, emotional psychological, and so on. I am obviously the type of person that tries to test those limits on myself on a pretty regular basis.
Interestingly enough, I have been ignorant in stating I’ve never found my limits (I’ve written that many times). I’ve always thought that there’d be some sort of explosion of awareness in my mind or something when that breaking point actually hit, but that’s not how it works. How it works is, I fail. When I can’t go any further, I fail. I have found my limits over and over, and over again, my entire life. And yet I choose to keep pushing them. I guess my little “catch phrase” I write after every post actually does mean a lot to me. Maybe it’s just a constant reminder to myself as to what my life is all about.
Never Stop. GET FIT.
Talking with a couple people late last night I realized something damn cool about this final workout: it literally defines what I love so much about CrossFit. It is not necessarily the most in-shape person who will score well on this one. Very fit people will also need to know themselves and how they function on these specific movements perfectly. It includes a portion of experience. My training partner is an absolute beast and will be going to Regionals along with me. But I fear he will struggle more with this workout than any of the others because he has never done Fran and has no clue what to expect from doing something like that. Fran is the go-to workout for CrossFit because of its simplicity coupled by its absolute degree of difficulty. Not only is it brutal for those who know how to do it, but it's always tough because you think it should be easy, and it's not. And then to top it off, this Open Workout is slightly harder than Fran, and throws that mind-f**k of added time into the mix. I am shocked that Jason Khalipa got nowhere near that third time addition, AND I have never seen Rich Froning look that beat up while exercising. This one is BRUTAL!
So with the fact that I have no clue how everyone reading this is, I will explain how I plan to approach this workout, and I'll touch on a couple different things you should be thinking about going into it. First off, for those athletes gunning for the 3rd time installment, figuring out timing of thrusters and pull ups probably won;t help you all that much. Pacing this on based off of time will work for such a small collection of people, and I'm sure those people know their times. If you try to pace out 90 perfect reps in 4 minutes you'll hit a wall no matter what and end up screwing yourself up through the 8 minutes. I honestly think the best way to go about this workout is getting your 90 reps (again, for people gunning for the 12 minutes workout) while performing just under your red-line. Then go about doing everything in your power to get another 90 resp in before the 8 minute mark hits. If you are gifted/lucky enough to make it into the 3rd round, it honestly doesn't matter at that point. Take a minute rest and just accumulate some reps. You'll be in such a small percentile of athletes, you'll be pretty set. My point is, any score above 180 is going to be an incredibly high score.
That is obviously pretty vague, but I think it's a good base of approach. Get your first 90 in without blacking out, then go for broke at a pace YOU can handle and hope to the dear Lord above that you get another 90 in before time expires.
I will be going about it like so: If my butterfly C2B's are working, I'll plan to hit two rounds unbroken. I'll then plan to hit the 3rd round of 15's with unbroken thrusters and then break the C2Bs up either 8/7 or 6/5/4. While I feel good with the C2Bs, I know that they take SO much out of you. It's worth breaking them up earlier with the knowledge that it's always better to do slightly larger chucks of them rather than going to singles and doubles when you get really crushed. After getting the initial 90, it'll be about putting the BB down before hitting a wall so that I can conserve enough energy to get my larger chunks of C2Bs. At that point, all that matters is getting to 180, so it'll be a conservative sprint from there on out. Knowing myself, I can always get 4-6 of each of these movements as long as I'm still standing, so I will plan on making sure I stay at a pace where I can do that. I will probably do 8/8 or 5/5/5 on the thrusters, and 6/5/4 or 5/5/5 on the C2Bs for as long as I can. When I hit a wall with that, I'll just get freaking reps however humanly possible until I am either done (read: dead), or I get the "joy" of getting to go for another 4 minutes. And again, for anyone lucky enough to get to that 3rd round, good work, just get a whatever you can. It's going to be a VERY small collection of people.
For those of you who hope to get into the second round. Get to it with just enough energy to spare, then just get reps in. You know your workout will be over no matter what at 8 minutes so view it as an 8 minute AMRAP. But don;t go too slow at the start. Hit that sub-red-line pace to make sure you get the initial 90, then accumulate reps until you're done.
For those of you who know you won't make it past 4. Sweet, this is a pretty "easy" workout for you. Get as many reps as you possibly can in 4 minutes. Go!
I recognize that this post is the least insightful of all my "notes" posts, but that is because the strategy here is going to be ever so slightly different for each and every person. Go to GymnasticsWOD and get your efficiency notes form Carl Paoli/ The get your mobility prep from MobilityWod and Kelly Starett. After that, break down your Fran, and then your ability to handle a slightly tougher Fran, and be honest and realistic. I know for me, getting 180 reps is possible, but will take some serious star-aligning for it to happen. So I need to set a pace (that i know how to do through experience CrossFitting, and having done Fran 5 times) to give myself the best opportunity to get 180 resp in 8 minutes. If I plan to have any energy after that, I didn't approach this workout correctly.
I recommend weightlifting shoes. They obviously help on the thrusters, and for me, they actually assist my butterfly kip because of the weight distribution to my feet.
Put something on your hands. Wear gloves, or those hand protector things, or tape, something. And shave down those callouses ASAP. If there was a workout out there that would rip your hands up, this is it. And I really have no interest in seeing all the pictures on Facebook with people showing off how "cool" and "bad ass" (read: stupid, and really freaking stupid) they are because they were stupid and ripped their hands.
Warm up by mobilizing your hips and shoulders, AND stabilizing your shoulders. This workout is the equivalent of throwing a 12 inning game with weighted baseballs with both hands (that would be a bad thing by the way, for all you non-baseball minds out there. The point is, this workout is going to destroy your shoulders. make sure they are mobile AND the muscles are active and prepared for hundreds of floppy, gross, dynamic, tendon-ripping reps.
Leave it all on the floor. This is the last workout of The Open! You've come this far, you may as well go all out. For people like me and my training partner, it;s all about gaining a few more extra spots up the leaderboard to assure our spot at Regioanls. For others, it's the a chance to see what you're made of on a diabolical workout. But remember, if you have no chance competing in Regionals, be sure to pay attention to your hands and shoulders throughout. There is no point hurting yourself, or causing a week or more of no training just to get a few more reps.
No matter what happens, we can all rejoice in the fact that the open is over after this!!
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.
What a weekend! It's taken me a little bit to wrap my head around everything, but through it all I have to say it was an damn awesome three days. I'll get to the details in a second, but I'll throw out the highlights right now! Oh, and I'll also post up a string of pics and links after this post as well do you all can get a taste of the enormity of what CrossFit has become. So, on to the highlights!
I met CrossFit founder Gerg Glassman. I spent time catching up with friends and CrossFit greats such as Christy Phillips, Gretchen Kittleberger, Jen Jones, Ben Smith and so many others. I connected with an absolutely AWESOME group of bad asses: The Outlaws (Reebok head honcho and ex-NFL stud Don Hasselbeck told me we were like the Raiders of CrossFit, now that is pretty damn cool). We proved that we are right there, all of us on the team, right there with the to competitors in the world. We could taste it all weekend. Man, writing about it now is getting my heart rate up again, so I'll get to the details now.
We showed up Friday morning to the massive venue next to FedEx field where the Redskins play. Checked in, found ourselves a spot in the "Athletes Village" (where all the athletes hung out, ate food, recovered and so on), and pretty quickly had our four teammates getting warmed up for workout 1. My teammates were: Laura Nielsen (Coach Rudy's wife and one time Games competitor), Courtney Modecki, Lindsey Adkins, Tyler Degenhardt, and Tony Mayo (our two backups were Colleen Sullivan and Thomas Hansen). The first workout was a ton of heavy deadlift with handstand push ups and Tony, Tyler, Courtney and Lindsey were up for that one. They did very well, running about as smoothly as we hoped and gave us a 6th place finish to start off the weekend. The next workout called for myself, Tony, Courtney and Laura, and was all about the order we went in. It involved a 1000 meter row, 25 pistol squats and 15 hang cleans with a crazy heavy weight. I started off with a fast row, then it was all about just getting through the rest of the exercises without causing any sort of bottle-necking (the second I got off the row, the next person jumped in and began their row, then they could move on to the pistols only if I was already done with them). We went exactly as planned and while we would have liked to finish in the top 3 on this one, we ended up with a respectable 8th place. We were in 6th place overall after day one.
Got some good food and sleep and we were back bright and early for another day of beatdowns! Tyler and Laura took on the 3rd workout, dumbbell snatches and sprints, and they gave us a 7th place finish, bringing us down to 4th place, and only 8 points out of a qualifying spot to the Games (the top 3 teams would go). A couple hours later we were warming up for the 4th workout and the final workout of the day: 75 squats, 50 pull ups, 25 shoulder to overheads (then same reps with front squats, then overhead squats. Oh, and that is just the girls. Then the guys would go do the same thing. It was a lot of reps to say the least!). Myself, Tyler, Courtney and Lindsey took on this one, and again, we were hoping for a top finish with our abilities. We went pretty damn smooth all though this one and only had 1 or 2 slip ups. But those were enough to push us down to a 6th pace finish, still damn good though. We moved back to 5th place, but we had advanced 2 points closer to a qualifying spot. So, we had the Games in our reach going in to the final day and final 2 workouts.
I had an awesome dinner with Lindsey, my brother and his girlfriend, then hit the sac to rest up for our big push. I can't lie, the energy in the arena that final day was freaking insane. You could feel the tension of the team battle going on for 3rd, and you could feel that same tension going on with the individual competition as well. It was crazy exciting! The snatch ladder to start the day would prove to be one of the most exciting events to watch. Team Outlaw again had a respectable 6th place finish (with Tony Mayo hitting a huge PR to help bring our score up) but it was some other teams that just put on a clinic. Some girl from CrossFit Wilmington hit the 185# snatch and is the only girl in any Regional to even come close to that weight, let alone hit it. It was so inspiring to watch. And of course, watching a little dude like Ben Smith drop under 265# like it's a PVC pipe just puts so much into perspective.
Anyway, we had a good bit if ground to make up in our final workout, and me, Tony, Courtney and Laura were fired up to get the job done. The workout was just a mess of exercises, muscle ups. barbell holds, wall balls, chin over bar holds, buddy carries along with a heavy dumbbell, partner box jumps, man it was crazy. Tony and I had a plan, and it was to to kick ass. Well, it didn't really turn out to go that way once we got to the wall ball and chin over bar holds. I suck at holding that position, and Tony was just spent at that point. We wasted so much time and energy trying to finish off all 60 wall balls that once we got back to the final SINGLE muscle up at the end of the workout, we both failed about 6 times before finally getting them with some crazy contortionist-like moves. We finally finished off and made way for the ladies, who just flat out took over. They cruised through the workout, finishing about 12 seconds before the cut-off and giving us a 7th place finish for the workout. Man! While we were just about the most consistent team in terms of placement, we needed to be consistent about one spot better each workout to have made it to the Games. In the end, there was a 3-way tie at 2nd place leaving us about 8 points behind those three teams. So close!!!
In the end, the teams who went clearly deserved to be there. It was an awesome experience to be there, and even better to be right there in the running for the top spot. I am so incredibly honored to have had such an awesome team and support crew to train with and workout with for this entire crazy journey and I would not have given all that up for anything. I generally feel like I tend to be a loner when it comes to training and competing, but I must admit, I am so very proud to call myself an Outlaw. And I know, for all my followers out there, I'm sure it looks strange to see me decked out in gear that doesn't have my name on it! Ha, it felt weird. But in all seriousness, I have nothing but thanks and pride in being one of the original 15 or so Outlaw Way exercisers, and while I wish I could have helped get the Team represent all us at the Games, I know we did an incredible job, and I could not be happier with the weekend. It was so cool to look up after that final workout and have a crowd of Outlaws cheering, offering high fives and hugs right there. it felt like I was part of a massive, bad ass family. And to make things that bunch great, Lindsey and my bro were there with their support. God what a great weekend!
And now, it's time to get back in the gym and keep getting better. Oh, and to cheer on the rest of the Outlaws already headed to the Games, and the ones who have yet to compete! No matter what happens out there with this new and insanely fast-growing sport, it is dam cool, and I am happy to be right in the thick of it.
Never Stop, GET FIT.
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