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)
Had a bit of an extreme weekend from every single angle. But, I'm pushing to be on a positive kick so I'll go ahead and stick with all the positive, because there's plenty of it. A little last minute, but I learned late Thursday night that there was a training camp going down at Outlaw for a handful of the stud Games Qualifiers. I just had to be in on that one so I shifted some of my plans and was ready to throw down with the crew! The plan for this camp was to get the "real exercisers" of the group some solid work on potential weaknesses (read: muscle ups to ring handstand push ups, weighted jumping squats, bench press in a metcon, strongman work, overhead pistols and on and on). Myself and a few other Outlaws were there for the ride and it was a pleasure as always to work alongside such an awesome group of fitness freaks.
Let's just go ahead and say it like this, the workouts were hard, duh. They were strange, which made me happy because I like non-conventional exercise. And even though I decided to take the final day off (I brought them all Courage Bars, so that was a hit!) I had some good confidence boosting by being able to hang with Brandon Phillips and Jason Hoggan for the most part (um, Oly lifting was just an embarrassment). So yeah, that was cool.
The rest of my weekend was spent trying to do things that make me happy. I grabbed lunch with my boy Ori in Old Town, browsed through the Life Is Good store for a while before deciding on a frisbee and heading over to a little park and throwing that around for an hour in the 98 degree weather. I then went and took a nap by the pool (see above picture) before grabbing dinner with my dad and catching up with him to talk about my future and the direction I want to move in. The process of re-learning how to see the good in all things is a very gratifying one, and if you go ahead and try it, you will instantly see how much life can change for the better.
Tomorrow I have a crap-ton of athletes coming in to train, I'll get a good workout in, and I have a world-record powerlifting friend of mine coming in to go over some technique drills to add some weight to my lifts! AND, he'll do some Poloquin testing on me to see how to better use food to control all the inner workings of my body! I cannot wait to do all that work.
Here's to the pontential of a good week.
Never Stop, GET FIT.
So, last Friday was my 30th birthday, and it was a damn good one. There wasn't really a plan to do anything leading up to the big day, probably a little frolic through the woods and then out to grab a boat-load of meat to consume! But, one of my long-time clients and good friends asked if her and her husband could put together a party for me. I hesitatingly accepted her offer (I just feel guilty when someone does stuff for me, something myself and all of us should learn to get over if you have that problem!) and she went about organizing what would turn out to be one of the most wonderful gifts I've ever received. There were some 50+ people who rolled through this wonderful house, great food, plenty to drink, and the coolest cake I have ever seen in my life! It was great to hang out with so many of my friends and I must make one quick point to a new group of friends I am excited to have, the Outlaws! Only having met the crew from Outlaw CrossFit a few months ago really, I feel like I have connected with an awesome group of people. And I'm proud to rep the team this coming weekend!
This is my natural transition to my next topic, The CrossFit Games Regionals! Tomorrow marks the first of three days of competition and I'll be headed to the PG County Athletic Complex with Team Outlaw to battle for a spot at this years CrossFit Games! I am feeling so confident in our chances of making the top three teams to win a spot to the Games. Rudy (our coach and owner at CrossFit Outlaw) has done a damn good job of programming so that all of us are more than prepared. And as the first time ever competing as part of a team, I am looking forward to the group dynamic and added energy of each event!
It's been a crazy couple weeks for sure. Training has been really focused, birthday was awesome, Lindsey surprised me with a GoPro camera which is AWESOME and all you guys will get to check out my experiences this weekend from the view of this bad ass camera! And the next couple months look to be just as exciting. I have a trip down to South Carolina to celebrate my host-sister's (from my host family when I played baseball in FLA) graduation/birthday. I have a long trip out to CA to hang with the old crew, workout and do a little training camp at CrossFit San Mateo (and probably go surfing and eat the best BBQ in the world!). I have Courage Bars to attend to and am planning some huge things for them this summer. And I expect to see a record breaking number of athletes come though the nations largest gym, The Garage (all of 200 square feet) through the summer months!
I also promise (as I have done many times before) to write a little more regularly on this thing! I definitely go through phases with being motivated to write. As many of you know, writing doesn't really come naturally to me (as you can tell with all the grammatical errors on this site, something I plan to change, in fact, read note on this below!) so I struggle here and there with the idea of just sitting and writing anything. Either way, I am scheduling out a time on a regular basis to write, and edit video over the summer. Should be one filed with plenty of good info and ideas!
As for grammatical errors, if you find one of my idiotic misspellings, or a major error in my writing (overuse of commas, run-on sentences and the like do NOT count!), let me know and I will do something "entertaining" as self-punishment for writing like a loser! Sound good?
Finally, I'll be posting all sorts of updates from Regionals on Facebook and Twitter (@jcourage), so make sure to follow along!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
The past week was a pretty good one all around. I cleaned up my diet as Regionals are getting closer and the immediate effects were wonderfully rewarding. I trained hard, feeling pretty good all around. And, Lindsey and I went out to Catoctin for some hiking and camping. As we move on to another week here, I am feeling excited for the revved-up week Rudy at Outlaw has planned for us, and am looking forward to all the athletes that are coming in to train! Lots of good things all around it seems. So, let me share some of the highlights.
Last weeks training was nothing to write home about; it was a de-load week of sorts, so nothing too intense except for a threshold training day. My body officially loves this style of workout for some reason, and this one was no different. It was 5 rounds of 250 meter row, 10 squat clean to thrusters with 95# and 15 burpees, with 3 minutes rest between rounds. And it was all done with a 20# vest. I felt like crap through it, wanting to quite after the 2nd, 3rd and 4th rounds. But I just kept on trucking and that night, when I posted my results, I found that I had the 2nd best time posted. Blew my mind. I think that I actually react much better to all out gassers then I originally thought, and it has shifting the way i think about my approach to most workouts. I need to stop getting so caught up in gaming each and every little thing, and just go all out. I react better to that perspective for the most part (exceptions would be for workouts with muscle ups, handstand push ups and things like that.
I took Saturday off, even though it was a great collection of workouts, I had the opportunity to head out to the woods, and to be totally honest, I would say that most of the time being out in nature is going to win out over pretty much anything. With the big three-oh coming up in a couple weeks, Lindsey hooked up a trip to the Catoctin mountains. The idea of what they had out there was about as perfect as I could imagine: hike about 3 miles into the woods and find a ice little pre-built lean-to. Set up camp, hang out, and have some fun in the woods! In the end, the location was a bit of a let down, just nothing at all to do any where near the site. We hiked about 2 hours, then drove another 15 minutes the next day to get to some awesome hiking, bouldering, waterfall-ing and lake-chilling-next-to-ing that made the whole trip more than worth the time! I think the camping location would have been way better had there been a decent sized group with us, but with absolutely nothing around there at all, it led to some restlessness for sure. It inspired me to build something like that for people on a ridge with a view, or on some water somewhere. No that would be damn cool. Anyway, on our way home we stopped for dinner in Frederick, MD; absolutely lovely city if you've never been.
So, this week coming up is supposed to be a crazy intense one for all us in the mid-Atlantic region. Next week is a taper week, and then it's only one week after that until our regional competition, pretty exciting all around. While I'm pumped up for the week of training, i already got off to a shaky start by using today (Tuesday) as my rest day. i ended up spending all day moving equipment from my temporary gym space (officially closing at the end of this month) to The Garage. It took some serious planning, but I was somehow able to cram almost double the equipment in the garage while opening space up. This summer is going to be absolutely EPIC with all the athletes coming into this place. My goal is to have the smallest location that has 65 members or more (and I am certain I'll have upwards to 100 athletes come through the 200 square foot space by the end of the summer!). While the mornings and afternoons are quickly being filled, I have begun taking classes out at outlaw CrossFit as well. With the success of Rudy and Laura's The Outlaw Way, they have been looking for some support at their gym, and I am super stoked to be able to help them out. It also allows be to be able to train with the group there on a more regular basis, and I am feeling the positive effects of training with others on an almost daily basis.
Well, there's an update for you all, no PR's, no crazy, insane news, just a boring ol' update show. I have a few topics that I am itching to write about, so I expect to get to at least two of them by the end of the week. Oh, and Regional workouts are announced tomorrow!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
_ For my thirst Outlaw Training Camp, I flew on down to Naples, Florida to join an incredibly inspiring group of about 40 athletes at Real Fitness for one of the most epic weekends of my life. PR's were flying all over the place, burpees were accumulated in ridiculous numbers, pools were taken over by too many meatheads, we all were witness to what it looks like to have 400# hoisted from the ground onto someones shoulders (it's effing insane by the way!), and we got to experience the sheer joy of spending tons of time with a massive group of like-minded crazies! Here's my summery of the weekend.
Flew into Ft. Myers a bit last minute but was lucky enough to get picked up by the great Corey Perry, and he drove us directly to Real Fitness, one of snazziest CrossFit gyms I have ever been to. It was clean, well organized, had every piece of equipment one could ever want, and the best pull up rig known to man (individually adjustable bars, so perfect for the burpee fest that ensued on Saturday morning). We all introduced ourselves, then got going with a few hours of Oly lifting. On a personal note (which I will make for each workout), I felt really strong, but just didn't have the technique where it should have been, letting the bar get too far away from me on both lifts and missing PR's by a long shot. It was really fun to be around everyone though, and seeing some impressive lifts all around. big Bill grabbed 400# and got it to his shoulders, but just couldn't stand with it. That was one of the most insane things I have ever seen directly in front of me. 400# is a TON of weight! Oh, and the first large serving of Courage Bars vanished faster than anything I have ever seen! Hell yes!
Here's where I can give my first and biggest shout out: Joey Sandoval, co-owner of Real Fitness was gracious enough to put me up for the weekend, and while I made another huge batch of Courage Bars, he cooked up an incredible feast of steak, Brussels sprouts and shrimp. Good man right there, thanks brother!
Saturday morning brought in the CrossFit Games Open WOD 12.1: 7 minute AMRAP of burpees to a target touch. We spent about 30 minutes going over every possible strategy and angle of the workout before breaking out into 4 heats and attacking the workout. There were some pretty impressive numbers coming out all around, some in the mid-130's, and all I wanted was to get around 120. I started off at a good pace but then slowed down pretty quickly. The strange thing is, from that slow-down point, i never changed my pace faster or slower from there on out. For a while I thought it was the perfect pace, but when the 90 seconds left mark hit, I knew I was behind. I tried with everything i had to pick it up, but I couldn't go any faster. I finished with a measly 112 and was pretty pissed off with that score. I think if i had gamed it faster out of the start, really blew it open and picked up 10-15 extra reps in the first 2 minutes, I still would have been able to keep a decent pace throughout (that’s what I do well, just grind things out) and finish much better. I went back and forth so many times about doing it again that I almost drove myself crazy. But in the end, I opted to just let it rest and make up ground on the next 4 weeks of events!
After we all recovered a little, we hit our second workout: 5 rounds for time of:
10 GHD sit ups
20 KB snatch 24kg (10 each arm)
40 double unders
I was feeling sick to my stomach for some reason, so I was happy to be in the first heat. And my thoughts on this one, just find a hard pace and don't stop at all. I did everything unbroken except for stopping on 39 double unders on my second round b y accident. The KB snatch is where I made up a lot of my time, transitioning without ever putting it down. I finished in 8:34, enough for the best time for the dudes (that made me pretty happy seeing how there were so many extremely high level athletes there!).
After that it was off to the pool to work on some basic swim technique and drills with some Olympic swimmers, then hit up a swim workout: 15 minute AMRAP of:
50 meter swim
20 meter broad jump
20 pistol squats
Holy cow this one was brutal in the strangest of ways. It wasn't overly fatiguing, it wasn't muscularly fatiguing, just annoyingly hard enough to be really hard! 20 pistols is a LOT! I was in the last round as well, which meant a good deal of doing nothing. But, we were in Florida, it was 80+ degrees, it was a collection of super down to earth people, and we were outside, working out! What a perfect combo. When it was my turn to go, I just picked a pace and stuck with it all the way through. The HSPU's ended up being the limiting factor for me, and adding to the difficulty was that we were doing them in the grass against a fence (but I was able to annoy Rudy Nielson because I have actually done this a few times thanks to my extensive outdoor training protocol!). By my last round I was doing singles. Perhaps it was the failed attempts of diving in the pool with goggles on, or the fact that I was singing a song over and over in my head to stay on a rhythm with my pistols, but I thought I got 3 rounds plus half a swim, my judge said I got 4 plus half the swim! Sweet! Very happy with that, especially with swimming and HSPU's involved!
Saturday night saw a fun evening of eating, drinking, hanging out, telling stories. Oh, and BP and Bill being absolutely hysterical!
Sunday was two more workouts along with the ever-so-famous squat clinic that basically blows your mind on what the hell the squat is, even if you’ve heard it before…twice.
Workout 1: 7 minutes to establish a 5RM front squat, from the ground. IO pulled 275# and struggled through the front squats. The pulled 285# off the floor with ease and got 4 squats before the bar slipped out of my fingers on the fifth rep! We all got to witness THE Elisabeth Akinwale pull 220#!! Then Bill went for the 400# again, catching it but not standing. It was awesome!
Final workout: 3 rounds for time of:
400 meter run
5 bar muscle ups
30 foot handstand walk
12 wall balls (11 foot target)
This one was awesome; the perfect combo of muscular and cardiovascular endurance, with high-level skill. There was a cutoff time of 12 minutes and I was able to finish it in 11:43. The handstand walks got me pretty bad, but everything else went smoothly and quickly, even the muscle ups which I got totally unbroken! Unfortunately I had to rush out before the final two heats could even go to catch my flight. I would have loved to stay and mingle with everyone, as I have never been around so many people I liked that much in a damn long time. The whole weekend reminded me of of my old baseball travel days where we would just spend all day together doing the thing we loved and talking about it. I’m sure anyone who isn’t really into fitness would find us all pretty annoying, but as Talayna, Akinwale and I said on the way to the airport: working out, eating and sleeping with people who want to do only that as well is the greatest thing in the world. If only we could all just do that!
Yet again, the Outlaws proved to be some of the most inspiring, motivated and fun people I have ever met. I cannot wait to get together with them all again. And as the Outlaw community grows, it can only get more exciting when we all meet up to throwdown and geek out!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
__ This past weekends Training Camp was a pretty big change from the beatdown we received a couple weeks ago. But what we lacked in expended energy, we gained in exceptional instruction and mental preparation for competition. It was a little smaller group but as one might assume with the Outlaws, we all freaking had an absolute pleasure meeting each other and shooting the breeze all weekend. Before I get into this, my o ne regret for the whole weekend was not going out with everyone Saturday night. Seems as though some of the strangest yet, hilarious altercations occur during those outings. Anyway, on to the fun!
Friday night – Oly night was pretty successful for almost everyone, with something like 8 PR’s. I am sad to report I wasn’t able to pull more than 195 on the snatch, and yet again, missed 265 on the jerk. The best part (or worst part) was finding out that the thing holding me back from competing with Donny Shankle (no chance in a million years by the way) is my stupid right elbow. Thanks to baseball, I have some pretty serious issues with the shoulders and the right arm in general, so, I got that working against me. Time to get some accessory work done!
Saturday brought one workout at Outlaw, then 2 more over at CrossFit Woodbridge, which was awesome!
#1 – 8 minute AMRAP of:
7 OH squats 135/95
14 toes to bar
21 KB swings 2/1.5 pood
Holy grip killer! I was able to blast through the first round, breaking up the T2B in two sets to save the grip. Then the Kb swings, which were strict as hell standards, I got in two sets as well (with 1 miss I think). Basically after that, T2B and KB swings became a challenge of focusing on keeping you fingers tight. Got something like 2 rounds and 33 total reps (almost though the third round). The whole group battled through in 3 heats and we had a blast.
Over at CrossFit Woodbridge (no offense Rudy, but their gym is WAY easier to hang out in for an extended period, but I know you know that!) we hit up workout #3 from last years Games.
#2 – 5-1 ladder of:
Shoulder to overhead 145, 165, 185, 205, 225/95, 105, 125, 145, 165
Was a little nervous going into this one seeing how I am hoisting 220# up a rope 15 times. But, after going through a fun handstand walking tutorial, then a rope-climbing tutorial, we were all ready to see how this one would go. It was tiring as hell, but I was able to finish in 8:26, a time I would like to shave at least a minute off of, but after the grip killer earlier, was pretty happy with. Another good talk on being prepared for everything and we were all ready for the final workout.
#3 – 1000-750-500 meter row with 20 box jumps and 10 HSPU’s each round
This one was a pretty interesting one. I paced the row (perhaps just a hair too much), got all the box jumps unbroken (except for one slip up) and almost all the HSPU’s faster than ever before. I was going into the final 10 HSPU’s probably about 20 seconds slower then THE Jay Rhodes, but then I hit my wall at 7 reps. It took me about 1:30 to get those final reps, and it pissed me off. But, that was kind of the point of this weekend, work on problems!
The final day brought in incredible talk on nutrition with David “Chef” Wallace. This dude knows his shit! If you can hang, I recommend getting in touch with him because he’ll blow your mind. Then make you strong and ripped (if that’s your goal of course). Our final workout of the weekend was another sneaky one.
#4 – 10 muscle ups buy in, then:
4 rounds of:
40 double unders
10 pistol squats
Rest 1 minute, then:
5 minute to establish a 2RM weighted pull up
Using the higher ring set up made it a little tougher on me, but I burned through the DU’s and pistols unbroken and then hit the pull ups a little over eager. Got only 70# (again, with the 220# body, made it a little tougher); would have loved to get 85 plus, but oh well. We hit a squat clinic after that and called it a weekend!
Yet again, an absolutely wonderful weekend where we learned a ton, had a blast and became a crap-ton better at exercising.
Looking forward to a couple weeks when we can do it all again in Florida!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
_ Couple things before I get started: Outlaw Training Camp is not a weekend filled with “how to rope a convenience store and get away with it”, or, “lets all learn to ride horses and hijack moving trains to steel a couple hundred in gold”. Nope, Outlaw Training Camp is where the folks who have been following elite exerciser programming genius Rudy Nielson’s program can gather for a weekend and torture themselves with barbells and kettlebells. The second camp he hosted took place at his home gym, Outlaw CrossFit, and I was super stoked to able to join the other 18 or so exercises specialists and throwdown and learn. That is exactly what we did: we learned a shit-ton, and threw down like there was no tomorrow. Also, I didn't take any pictures or video, so, to anyone who was part of this past weekend, please send anything you might have my way and I can post them up!
The weekend began Friday night. We all gathered in the grungy gym and got a couple hours of snatch and clean and jerk practice in. Being around so many beasts, and having not only Rudy, but so many other experienced and knowledgeable eyes on all of us was the perfect setting for a few PRs. I was able to snatch a very clean 205 (5# PR), then a pretty messy 215# (Rudy’s words: “I’m happy I didn’t get that on camera, that was ugly!”). I met everyone, chatted it up, joked around and just about got insanely pumped to see how the rest of the weekend would unfold.
Saturday had us meeting up to get things rolling around 9am. We chatted about the Outlaw Way, and different approaches to CrossFitting, then hit the first workout:
8 min. AMRAP of:
8 push jerks 155#
8 ring dips
8 KB snatches each arm
Immediately following, do a 2 min. AMRAP of Double Unders
The idea was to get as close to a competition setting as possible. We judged each other and stayed as strict as we possibly could. Being around this group lit that fire that I’ve been trying to become closer friends with recently and I was feeling really good. I got 4 rounds, plus 16 total reps on the first part, then got 140 double unders (I tried to move slowly and not mess up at all. In hindsight I should have just done what I always do and go all out with those). This was enough for the top score of the day and we were all ready for more!
Workout two was:
10 rounds of “Cindy” (5 pull ups, 10 hand release push ups, 15 air squats), then 8 min. to establish a 1RM deadlifts, then 5 rounds of “Cindy”. This was a double workout where we were scored on our overall Cindy time (our overall time, minus the 8 minutes of deadlifting) and out deadlift number.
I am not historically good with body-weight stuff, seeing how I am a snugly 220# of rippling chest hair. So, I focused on the Cindy portion and chose to conserve my energy on the deads. In the end, I was able to get 10:31 on Cindy (the 3rd best time!) and a measly 475# on the deadlift (that is 65# off my PR from only a couple months ago…).
We then went through a squat clinic that led to some really good reminders on the proper way to squat. I am really excited to put my new cues to practice in the coming weeks, and I have very high expectations for my gains! That all came after lunch, and then we warmed up our aching bodies for the final workout of the day:
Ok, so, this workout is Rudy’s “greatest test of a beast CrossFitter”, and annoyingly enough, one that I have always been certain would destroy me. Not only that, but with the barbell work the night before, and the insanely shoulder dominant workouts leading up to this, we were all wondering if anyone would even finish the damn thing! My goal going into this was to get 9 muscle ups. That’s all I cared about. But, when I began, I popped right up so easily I was able to get all 9 in just barely over a minute (that is damn good for me by the way). I then proceeded to bang out the 9 snatches in two sets (after missing the first two reps) and was back on the rings. I stayed at this easy pace throughout and was able to finish it in 8:40 (I think), good enough for 2nd (I think only 4 people finished this out of the whole group!). I was so fired up to have been able to “blast” through that one. At this point I have a ton of thanks to give my “judge” for the weekend, Erik, he was awesome support on each and every workout (oh, and if you want to pass out laughing, and are ok with some pretty harsh language and opinions, check out his awesome blog at Beastmodaldomains.com).
Rolling into day three found us meeting up at T.C. Williams High School (remember the Titans…?) in the morning. To put it lightly, our bodies were crushed! So we were all REALLY looking forward to what Rudy had thought up for us today.
3 rounds of:
1 width field burpee broad jump
1 width field buddy carry
400 meter run
This was straight tiring! Luckily I had a damn good runner to chance in Tony Mayo and just tried to stick with him the whole time. He got the best score of the day, and I rolled in about 70 meters behind at 9:50. After about an hour of goofing off, holding a punting contest (eat your heart out fellow 2XU ambassador Steve Weatherford!), and just joking around, we headed back to Outlaw to finish the weekend off:
For time do:
10 cleans 225#
40 wall ball
10 front squats 185#
40 toes to bar
10 thrusters 155#
40 KB swings 70#
400 meter plate pinch carry
Good times on this one. After hearing Rudy preach to us about how we had to be strong. And how we had to be SO efficient like Brandon Phillips is with every god damn thing he does…. I was determined to tear the head off this workout with everything I had. I got the cleans one at a time, but without stepping away from the bar at all. Got the wall balls unbroken (because I bounced out of the bottom and was generally just bad ass, so there!), got the front squats unbroken, then hit a freaking brick wall on toes to bar. I battled through, then got the thrusters in two sets and the KB swings in 4 sets of 10 (these were INSANELY strict standards, so I stayed as deliberate as possible). I was out the door just over 11 minutes, and about 30 seconds in front ofGames competitor Elisabeth Akinwale. We played a fun game of leap-frog for about 300 meters before she just took off to finish. We ended up being the only two to complete to whole thing, and she got a minute on me (I finished in like 19:10 or something like that).
We finished up the weekend with a GREAT deadlift clinic, then brunch.
All I can say is that yes, Rudy knows his shit. Yes, training with other people (other beast people to be precise) helps more than anything in the world. And yes, making fun of the ridiculousness that CrossFit truly is, is one of the most enjoyable things to do in the world! To sum up the weekend in a sentence: (said while at the football field)
“Most people come here to play football. We actually DID something.” (if you don't get this joke, your not an obsessive CrossFitter who trolls the internet every second that you not "wod-ing". And )
You better believe the sport of fitness has arrived! Ha, hell yes!
This was an awesome weekend all around. I am taking this week off for total recovery. I cannot wait until the next training camp! Thanks Outlaws!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
_ Over the weekend I had the pleasure of attending an awesomely run and incredibly competitive CrossFit competition; the Charlottesville Superfit Games 2012. This was the third annual event and their first one was my first ever CrossFit competition. While I didn’t have the best of experiences then, it was actually my first meeting with now coach Rudy, and I am more than proud to have represented my Outlaws well!
Late Friday night Lindsey and I drove through the brutal snow to get down to Charlottesville, VA. After a good dinner and some solid sleep, we got to the Boys and Girls club bright and early to get all registered and prepared. There were 80+ men, 50+ women, a full masters division and Open division (not prescribed weight basically). Oh, and another couple hundred spectators making this a massive event for sure! The energy was solid, and the feel in the air was that this was legitimately going to be the most epic event in the mid Atlantic region before Regionals hits us. Soon enough the workouts began (I will do a quick recap of each event, then a little more detail o my own personal thoughts at the end):
Workout #1 – 1 minute AMRAP at each station with 15 seconds rest between of: power cleans 135#, ring pull ups, ground to overhead 155#, muscle ups.
The last minute surprise was that the rings were basically ropes with some nylon lining around them. This made grip brutal for an already grip-dominant workout. Also, it made muscle ups for me personally, almost impossible. So, my strategy was to conserve energy for the ground to overheads, go all out with them and then just do whatever with my attempts at muscle ups. I got 25 power cleans, 12 pulls ups (they were uneven for all of us and it was next to impossible to string more than a few together), 10 ground to overheads and, obviously, 0 muscle ups. I was a little peeved at the measly 10 ground to overheads because I feel like I just dogged it on them. In the end, I finished in 10th overall on this one. Time to turn things on!
_Workout #2 – 9 minute AMRAP of: 15 wall balls, 3 widths court sprint, 5 burpee box jumps, 3 width court sprints.
This is my style of workout, and the strategy was just find a good, tough pace and stick to it all the way through. This is exactly what I did. All reps were unbroken and I coasted the runs, using them as recovery. My internal goal was to pick it up with 3 minutes to go, but I only really took off on my last round. I finished 7 rounds of reps and felt like I had a good bit of gas left in the tank. This was enough for a tie at 2nd, but I knew I could have pushed harder. Still happy with that, but I wanted more!
Workout #3 – 5 minute AMRAP of: 12 thruster, 12 hang power cleans at 95#.
Balls to the wall! Rudy texted not to put the bar down at all. I decided to put it down after each full round and just go. Honestly, I never tired enough to really dump the bar, it was the grip that kept failing on the cleans during the last couple rounds that forced me to dump two or three times. Either way, I went all out on this one and got 5 full rounds plus 12 thrusters and 2 cleans. Got 1st on that one by a good amount. At the end of day one, I was sitting in 2nd place by only 2 points! I went home, got an ice bath and covered myself head to toe in 2XU recovery gear for the entire night. Hit up a massive dinner with a group and got to bed at 9:30!
_Workout #4 – 4 minute AMRAP of: 7 power snatches, 4 lateral over bar burpees.
I literally didn’t realize I was doing this workout until about halfway through the 2nd round. I was so not ready to go. I just went all out though and was able to finish 4 rounds plus 7+1. This tied me for 2nd and I was completely crushed. I was now in 2nd by 3 points and needed to destroy the final workout to get the W.
Workout #5 - 12 minute AMRAP w/ a buy in of: 800 meter weighted run (20# vest), 40 KB swings 70#, 20 handstand push ups. Then with the remainder of the time do AMRAP: 7 front squats 165#, 30 double unders.
I needed to win my heat and hope the guy in first come in 3rd or worse for this one. The run I paced, and I knew right off it was the best choice I made. The guys in front were racing each other and I could tell that they wasted way too much energy. Got the swings unbroken and was feeling good going into my arch nemesis: the HSPU. I focused on one at a time, and awesomely enough I was able to string 5 together on my best set! I finished with 5 singles, knowing only one other competitor was upstairs already doing the AMRAP. I got up there with just over 4 minutes and just flipped into high gear. Everything was unbroken and I paced my transitions, blowing by the guy up there on the first round! I finished with 4 full rounds, plus 1 rep. I ended up 6th on that event, but it was more than what I needed and I pretty much secured the victory right there (baring some extremely extreme situation). While it wasn’t the best score, I felt so good with my ability to get so many reps in such a little time. I have that gear, so clearly, I just need to figure out how to get to it on a regular basis.
_All in all this was a very well-run event The guys and girls from CrossFit Charlottesville did an awesome job, the judging was some of the best I have seen overall inn a CrossFit event, and the competitors were tough as hell. Crazy props to everyone for putting on such a great event, you better believe I’ll be there next year. The only serous hiccup I was witness to was that my good friend Steve Opiyo got shafted an entire round on workout 3 (also missed a few reps on his first workout as well!). If they had gotten this score right, he would have been in the final workout. Even though he signed his name on his score (in a post-workout haze mind you), I feel as though having myself and a couple others who watched him the entire time vouch for him should have been enough for them to realize their mistake and switch it up. Steve did WAY better than his final score had him at. Besides that, it was incredibly impressive at how well the whole thing went!
From a personal standpoint, I am very, very happy with how this all turned out. My weaknesses are still there, clearly, but they are getting much better. My front squats and power snatches were messy and inefficient, but my body never broke down one bit. Becoming more proficient with those lifts, and working on the body-weight stuff is what will get me so, so, so much better. And one more thing: HIGH GEAR. I came into this competition with some crazy blood lust. I have never attempted the approach of going in to crush the competition, but I wanted to see what would happen if I took that approach. I wasn’t able to tap into it on a whim, but when I did, well, I really did. I feel as though if I can harness that energy I’ll be able to do some pretty cool things with CrossFit. It’s not something I want to do the rest of my life, I just have way too much fun to be so aggressive all the time. But, I dedicated this year to seeing just how far I could go. It’s pretty crazy what the human body and mind can do with focused dedication! I finished with a score of 27. Second place had 48, 3rd had 50, 4th had 51, 5th had 52. I feel freaking good about that!
_One big shout out: OUTLAWS! Win Everything baby! Seriously people, Rudy Nielson is a good programmer. 'Nuff said. Having my fellow Outlaws there for support was huge! And, one of the coolest things was Corry Perry coming from 12th place after day one and finishing in 2nd! Absolutely bad ass! So, thanks to Corey, Tony Thomas, Steve and Courtney for tearing it up and being such awesome support. And the best support I had all along was Lindsey. She gets into this stuff man, it’s so awesome. Watching the videos of the workouts and hearing yelling, “come on, Josh, let’s go!” is hands down one of the coolest things to me on the face of this planet!
_The Open is coming!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
This past weekend I headed on up to Glen Burnie, MD to take part in the 4th annual Mid-Atlantic Hopper Challenge. Two days of workouts that nobody, not even the organizers knew what they would be! I was super excited to be a part of this one as last year I missed out going there with all my friends because Lindsey and I were freshly moved out West. I wanted to be a part of it so much that I actually followed them along on Facebook throughout the weekend, doing the workouts along with everyone, just Lindsey and me alone at my gym out West. Check out the fun HERE. After day 1 last year, I was actually standing in 1st place!
Anyway, this year was different: I was here! And, I was about 3 months into my much more serious training program thanks to Rudy Nielson at Outlaw CrossFit. So, on to the fun! The first workout was drawn out of the hopper on Friday night and it was a doozy:
7 min. AMRAP of:
7 hang squat snatch 95#
7 full squat cleans 95#
75 ft. walking OH lunge 45#
I was in a middle heat somewhere and I watched as the heats of guys and girls just tore it up! Some serious competitors were there such as Games vets Christy Phillips, Gretchen Kittelberger, Jeff Tincher (and I’m sure a few more…), so I began to get my game face on! Headed in to my heat it looked like the score to beat was Jeff Tincher from CrossFit Fairfax with 4 full rounds, 7 snatches and 1 clean. So, I just got after it. I was feeling pretty smooth with everything, just super winded! Got through 4 rounds with some good time, then came back in ready to go. Up to this point I had done everything completely unbroken. I got 6 snatches, then, being too eager to get to my cleans I lost my grip on the 7th snatch and it slipped out of my hand! I recovered quickly and got the rep, but had to dumb the bar before hitting the cleans. With about 5 seconds left I attacked the bar and got 2 reps in. Enough to get 1st for the event my 1 rep!
Workout two was pulled: 3 min. AMRAP of: atlas stone ground to shoulder at 145#. Sweet! Now I haven’t done tons of stone work, but I’d like to think that spending the amount of time in the wilderness throwing around strange things would have me good and prepared for this sort of thing. After a good 20 minutes of brainstorming ways to lift the thing, I resorted to the age old “just pick the damn thing up as fast as I can until they tell me to stop” mentality. I saw some guy pull it off the ground 27 times, so I set my sights high at 30. I was feeling pretty strong, but heard the announcer yell 1 minute down as I hoisted up my 10th rep. At two minutes down I was at 19. I had to turn it on! That’s when I found the animal in me (something I plan on writing about later this week, and something I actually have a very difficult time harnessing) and just took off! In the last minute I was able to pull out 9 more reps finishing with 28 reps. Again, 1st pace overall by 1 rep!
The final workout of the day was announced as 21-15-9 deadifts with 225# and box jumps at 20”. I got super excited about this one! Heavy deads and box jumps are generally my sort of thing! My goal was sub-2:30 and as I started I felt like I’d have a good shot at that time. I banged out the first 21 deads with relative ease and then just FLEW through the jumps! But then those second deadlifts really got me. I got them unbroken but they were slow. Again, got the box jumps super fast and then went all out for the final deadlifts. I got 5 unbroken before dumping the bar, then 2, then 1 and finally 1. Blasted through he jumps for a final time of 2:47, enough for a 3rd place finish overall. With that finish, I was headed into day 2 in 1st by an 11 –point margin!
Spent a few too many hours making Courage Bars and food before hitting the sack for some wonderful slumber! On the way up to day 2 I read about the 4th workout: 3 minute AMRAP of strict pull ups. Well, I was actually super excited about this as well. From my experience, I have always thought I was really good at pull ups. Well, turns out I was a bit off in my knowledge of myself. I wanted to get 35+. I followed the strategy I workout with Rudy to get 15, 15 and then all out at the end, but after a perfect 45 second rest, I got about 5 before all of a sudden I had literally NO ability to get myself even close to a pull up! I was able to get 8 on that second round (with 3 failed attempts). Now I was a bit worried. After another good long rest I just gave it everything I had. My grip was completely fine to just hang there and try to get whatever recovery I could, but time ran out and I only had 27 reps. I still don’t know exactly, but I think that got me 19th overall! Holy shi..
All right, so, that was a bit of a bummer. But to be totally honest, it never really hit me until way after the competition was over. Again that fire I am searching for was just far enough away that I just kept on enjoying the whole event and relaxing before the final event.
For time do:
7 hang power snatches 135#
25 pull ups
20 back squats 135# (from the ground)
25 hand-release push ups
15 squat cleans 135#
25 GHD sit ups
10/20/30 meter prowler suicide w/ 90# taken from your bar
Holy hips and quads Batman! Well, I was ready to go. I had no idea where I stood, but I figured I’d just go all out and see what happened. I found out I was actually in 2nd place (this actually threw me off quite a bit, I was so far in first that I was shocked at how bad that 4th workout was!). Either way, I started this last one off with everything I had. I got everything unbroken except for one break on the squat cleans. I peeled off the plates and was first out to the prowler. I got the 10 meters out and back before Jeff Tincher inched past. At that point, with the knowledge that I know had two guys in front of me, I put every single ounce of energy into the damn prowler and just went. And guess what: it wasn’t enough to overtake them. I keeled over at the end in 3rd place. I have no clue what my final time was. I couldn’t recover at all! I even tried to just sit up after what seemed like 5 minutes and I couldn’t get myself to do that! I was done. I gave that everything!!
So, with a 1st, 1st, 3rd, 19th (ugh) and 3rd, I ended up with a second place finish overall. Pretty cool!
I have to give a huge shout out and thank you to everyone at CrossFit BWI for putting on such an awesome event. It was a weekend with incredible energy, fun workouts, and great people. This sort of thing was exactly what I like about CrossFit! All the volunteers and judges, thank you guys so damn much! To all the athletes: I met so many awesome new people, and reconnected with so many awesome old friends it made me so happy! I LOVE hanging around with like-minded people and I cannot talk more highly of a well-planned fitness event and how positive it is.
And of course, thanks such to Rudy and everyone at Outlaw CrossFit. Even though I met most of them for the first time this weekend, and all my workouts are pretty much alone in my garage, I felt so confident headed onto the event, and even more confident with where I will be going from here in the hands of my coach! And of course, the passion all the athletes have at Outlaw is otherworldly; it’s incredibly motivating to be apart of that family!
All in all a great time, I am sore, but was back at it today, gearing up for Sectionals; only 3 months away! I know exactly what I have to do!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
Well, I am officially two weeks into my pretty insane training program and am feeling very confident with it all. I have stuck with it all very well (except for a couple missed jiu-jitsu sessions) and I am feeling very strong. The only glitch in the system is trying to figure out the whole fueling process for the amount of work I am doing. The latest note in my workout/nutrition journal says that I am feeling a strong disconnect between my training and my fueling and I need to figure that all out somehow. Also, I am still struggling with the overwhelming desire to have a large handful of chocolate covered almonds every day. Couple that feeling with Lindsey and my move to an apartment complex literally attached to the new Whole Food in Friendship Heights and it's a perfect potential storm of quick visits for "just a taste". I'll have to get all that under control. Who wants to go on an all-out fitness/nutrition challenge with me?! Accountability is our friend...!
As for training, I am feeling AWESOME! Rudy's programming is fun, well-planned, and very, very challenging. My body feels abused, but not over trained and I am liking it a lot. I need to figure out the nutritional timing a bit though as I know if I keep up the pattern I am following I will begin to feel over-trained. This will be the perfect setting for Catalyst Athletics owner Greg Everett's wonderful quote: "there's no such thing as over training, only under fueling". I know that as a competitive CrossFitter, I need to be pushing my limits intelligently in the gym (and in the woods as it would be for me!). But, if I don't fuel perfectly for the insane amounts of demand I am putting on my physical and mental body, I am destined to crash! So, gotta get those things working in sync, stat!
That aside, I thought I'd share with you a few of the fun things I've done over the past week, as well as a little insight into what my week actually looks like. First off, I weight train on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. I go to Ashtanga Yoga on Tuesday and Thursday, I hit the pool for 30-45 minutes of what I call "pool play" every Thursday (I get about 500 meters in over that time, but spend most of it just goofing off in the water, doing flips, messing around with different strokes and just using it as active recovery, fun, and recognition of how to function under water). I do a 3-4 mile run generally twice a week, on no particular day, I just throw it in when I'm feeling ready to run. And becuase of how my body reacts to running, I view it as an active recovery method as well. Then, I off-and-on head to 1.5-2 hours of jiu-jitsu practice on Monday and Wednesday nights. It's a pretty good workload all around, but I feel really strong with it all so far!
As for the actual weight training I am doing, well, this is where it's been getting really fun! You can check out exactly what I'm doing if you head to The Workout page on this website, I write out the workout under my gyms workout, then I also fill in my results. I've been doing a ton of Olympic work, with some rally intense strength work mixed in as well. One of the biggest jumps i saw was doing max effort back squats with 325#. Two weeks ago I got 8 reps, last week I banged out 12 with energy to spare! The MetCons have been pretty crazy for sure. Very well-planned for the work that is prescribed each day, and it has never failed, i have been crushed cardiovascularly each and every time So far I think doing 3 rounds of 20 pull ups, 20 30" box jumps and 20 burpees all with a 20# weight vest was the most exhausting. And this past Saturday I had one that crushed my central nervous system like nothing I have ever experienced. I literally blacked out 3 times while trying to do 25 snatches at 155#. And this was the last portion of an already insane MetCon that included 25 thursters at 155#, 50 chest to bar pull ups, 75 KB swings at 53#, 100 feet of handstand walking, 75 jumping lunges and 50 pull ups! Goodness! I would never ask that of my athletes as i am sure it would kill most people. But, as a competitor, I understand the need to be over-challenged every now and again. Sometimes it's all about testing your mental fortitude!.
Needless to say, training has been going pretty well all around, and this week looks to be just as fun! Now if only this gym space I've been trying to get can get rolling, things will become a whole lot better! I hope everyone else is having success with training!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
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