Quick note about this blog…I am writing about things that are important to me and to your success. Sometimes I may come off as offensive or rude…sorry, I just want you to be better! Also, i just write. I’m a neuroscience major who owns a gym. I will never proof read what I write nor will I check it for grammatical errors so bare with my written mistakes please!
Friday March 1st, 2013 (I promised another post today, but I’ll have to delay until tomrrow, sorry everyone!)
Membership info and an unexpected rant on nutrition and at parents (I still love you guys!)
Two things regarding memberships today everyone. First of all, I have removed all possibility of purchasing memberships, either monthly or 3/6 month paid in full from the online system. I did this solely because I had way too many people messing up their memberships and ending up with double or even triple memberships that renewed every month. With that said, the following only applies to those of you in 8x and 12x per month memberships.
If you have a membership and use up the set number of classes, you are NOT out of luck! All you need to do is call/text/email me and I will sell you a day at the rate that your membership dictates. The problem I have removed is people finishing up their set classes and purchasing a new membership which would then result in both memberships renewing the next month. EVERYBODY’S membership renews every single month automatically unless you are one of the few athletes that has purchased a 3 or 6 month paid in full membership.
Also, the agreement that you must click on to “resolve” your membership has absolutely zero to do with payment. You will be charged whether you resolve a contract or not. I say this only because I get emails every month about contract resolution. If you and I have agreed on something, it will be done exactly as we agreed. If you EMAILED me about a change in contract, it will be taken care of. This, based on the font I just used, means that you should not call, text or stop me in the gym to change contracts. My reasoning behind this is so that I have written statements of membership changes and also so that I actually get the change done (it’s way to easy for me to forget that someone texted me while I’m in the middle of coaching).
If you have any questions regarding anything with your memberships PLEASE email me and let me know. I feel I’ve gotten everyone in the right place right now but inevitably problems arise.
The second biggie about your memberships. ARE YOU USING IT?!?!?!?! I’ve noticed (almost exclusively with our 8x/month, but also some 12x/month and almost never with unlimited athletes) that you are not using your memberships. What gives? I try my hardest to get everyone in the gym, but you need to hold yourself a bit accountable as well. You shouldn’t need to be invited to the gym every time to work out (which has been the case with a few of you) I ask you this….Why are you a member if you barely come? All of you joined for a reason. All of you have a goal. All of you want to make a change for the better. I urge you to look at what it is you want to accomplish. Think long and hard about it. Get hungry for it. Then…get your ass in the gym and let me help you!! If you are only coming in once to twice a week, news flash…you won’t progress. If you come twice a week regularly, you’ll progress, although slowly (which you already know as I’ve informed you). There is a ton of research showing that coming in once per week is just enough to maintain status quo in your body, this means that to actually move forward you MUST do more. I’ve done the math…to come in 3 times per week takes 1.8% of your time in a whole calendar week. Think about that for a second, if you can’t spare 1.8% of you time to increase your health, perhaps its time to take a look at your schedule. Often times people will schedule their workouts into their day and treat it as a part of their work, as if their employment requires it. This way they hold themselves more accountable to coming. Screw being sore as an excuse to not come. If you’re sore, come in anyhow. Lastly, check that your diet and sleep are in line with what you want for your health. If you have a baby at home, you’re probably not sleeping much. That means that you better be damn sure that you’re eating well or your health will go to absolute crap (and I’m pretty sure you want to be around for your baby for quite a while)
Last piece. I just mentioned eating and children and even though its off subject I want to touch on it. I hear all the time that its too hard to eat well because you have children. I gotta ask…what crap are you feeding your kid? If its not healthy for you, and in line with your nutritional wellness, why would you feed it to the most important people in your life. I hear a lot of you say its hard to not eat the cookies you have in the house due to your kids. STOP FEEDING THEM COOKIES! Your children will benefit from healthy eating just as you will, AND teaching a child to eat right while young will lead them down a path of awesome choices in the future! I’m not going to get into it at all, but this stuff may also be part of the cause for the nation wide epidemic of “childhood obesity”!
What to take from all of this?! You’ve been informed about memberships…now start using them (I actually REALLY WANT to help you achieve your goal, which is ONLY possible if you actually come in). If you think you don’t have time, sit down, talk with your spouse if necessary and hash out a plan so that you can achieve your fitness goals.
And for a lot of you I’ll leave you with this…having Children is NOT a reason why you can’t workout and get fit…Having Children is THE reason that you SHOULD be fit!
December 28th, 2012
How to avoid injury and improve performance
Hey all! This post has been a long time coming and was originally aimed at getting out a few weeks back. For many of you, this post has nothing to do with you; in that I mean that you’re already doing the right things to stave off injury and improve your performance and therefore fitness. Now, as I delve into the rant below, know that when I say not get injured, that’s to a point. In any physical endeavor there is a chance for injury. CrossFitter’s, football players, baseball players, cyclists, runners, golfers and more get injured, it just comes with the territory that there is a chance of injury. If that scares you, deal with it. People get injured sitting on their couch all the time too (bed sores, blood clots, morbid obesity, diabetes, ect.)!
In my time as a trainer I’ve noticed two types of people who get injured more than any other. Let’s get into the first, well….first. Are you tight? Do you have mobility issues? Are you actually doing mobility to fix it? I try every day to give people mobility assistance to get their body moving the way it was designed to. Most commonly here I’m talking about shoulders, but we also see a LOT of tight hips in the gym however hips are vastly easier to fix. Now, a lot of you have been doing mobility in the gym, but are you doing it outside the gym too? If you spend 8+ hours a day, 5 days a week sitting at a desk with your hands on a keyboard but then only spend 10 minutes twice a week working mobility, there is a MASSIVE imbalance there. You need to be doing things every day to ensure that you can move right. This is a modern problem, something we can’t yet see in the older generation. Work days in the last 30 years have ballooned, the 40 hour work week as now a page in the history books and as such we have to change our daily habits. My grandfather has great movement, but he spent his life NOT sitting behind a desk all the time and working on a farm during the weekends. Now we sit all day at work, get home and sit frickin more!
That was a long rant going nowhere, let me get back on track. If you have not been doing your mobility every day, GET ON IT!! Now, if you have been doing it but you aren’t seeing improvement, it’s time to change things up! I try to help all you guys, but I’m not a physical therapist or a specialist in anything other than physical training. Go to mobilitywod.com and search your issue. There are literally hundreds of videos there from a much more qualified mobility guru than I. Now I’m not just saying that, actually type that into your browser bar and GOOOOO there. You’d be amazed how much it will help.
Type II…no, not diabetes, the second type of commonly injured athlete. This one is counter intuitive. I’ve found that those who come into the gym 2 or less times per week end up injured far more often and far more severely than athletes that come more often. I can’t explain this phenomenon; however I do have a hypothesis. First, those that come in more often are exposed to more coaching, resulting in better, safer and more efficient movement patterns that decrease the likelihood of injury drastically. Secondly, those that come in more often are simply stronger, meaning that their joints are more supported and less likely to be injured.
That’s it, that’s my spiel on how to decrease the likelihood of getting injured. As I had mentioned, many of you don’t fall into either category, but a large group of you do…please please please take note!
Now, onto how to increase your performance. This one is really quite simple. Almost daily I get people asking me how to get better at this or that. Generally speaking, these athletes are animals and want to know how to get better at a particular move or strength…that’s a quick discussion (I’m not going to into all that here because I don’t have time to write down how to get better at all the different things I get asked about!) I’ve had a lot of people come up to me though that tell me that they just aren’t getting results or they aren’t making any new improvements. 99% of the time that this is brought to me I ask the athlete “well, how many times are you coming in per week” and the answer is <=2 times per week. I try to be nice and explain things, but frickin duh guys! If you are only working out twice per week your gains are going to be incredibly slow. That is simply science, it’s how the world works and I can’t change it. Your muscles need far more frequent exposure than twice a week to improve. Literally every single time that I’ve had an athlete step up from twice a week to three or more times per week I see drastic improvements in their capacity, both in times and weights lifted. This is somewhere in the area of 15-30% improvements in a matter of 2-3 months. Think about that…taking 30% off your Fran time is a huge amount! Doing 30% more rounds in “Cindy” is a huge amount! Deadlifting 30% more is a huge amount. Now, 30% is on the high range of this, but generally we are at least looking at a 10% gain, which is still a big deal.
Now, why is this? CrossFit is constantly varied. One day I may aim more at a specific region of the body or energy pathway. If you come twice a week, your most likely going to hit days that focus on different things. This means that you are only exposed to a particular aim ONCE per week. If you wanted to get good at running, would you only run once per week?
Now, this discussion with athletes only happens about 40% of the time. More commonly, the athletes that come twice per week simply quit. They never come forward looking for help. I get an email one day about them quitting and I have to dig for answers and then in the last hour explain to them that they are making a mistake and should have come to talk to me. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don’t fall into this group. It breaks my heart when someone just gives up on CrossFit. I am here to help all of you achieve your goals and it kills me when someone just wants to give up. Now, on the other side of that coin, CrossFit isn’t for everyone. You have to have a certain tolerance and love of pain, you have to WANT to get in shape and be in the best shape of your life and moreover, you need to make the time to focus on your health. Yes, being fit is good for your health and will add years to your life and improve quality of life as the years tick by.
That’s it for now guys, I’ve ranted. This is an incredibly important subject to me because I HATE to see athletes get injured for things that could have easily been avoided and I HATE to see people give up or barely try. Push yourself, improve yourself and make 2013 the year of the new and improved you!
Monday September 3rd, 2012
Help! I’ve Plateaued and I Can’t Get Up!
Hey guys and gals, today’s topic is incredibly important to me. I received an email today and have talked with people in the gym and consequently felt the need to lay out what I think about hitting a plateau and how to go about getting around it.
**Disclaimer** Some of you may feel targeted by today’s post. I’m in no way trying to single anyone out, so names will not be used. The topics covered today have been brought to my attention by a MINIMUM of 5 separate athletes for each subject, so you’re not alone!
Hold up a second Coach, you said CrossFit is supposed to make it so we never plateau!!! That is true, in CrossFit, we shouldn’t be hitting plateau’s, yet a lot of us seemingly hit these times when we do! First of all, we need to look at the effort that an athlete expels when they are in the gym. In my last post about programming, we touched on how different energy pathways are effected and how break times and intensity levels correspond with those workouts. Are you trying just as hard in Fran as you are in Murph? I dearly hope not! Long workouts like “murph” require us to slow the pace, take a few breaks if necessary and ultimately simply grind through it at a pain threshold that we can maintain indefinitely and then empty the tank in the end when the light at the end of the tunnel draws near. But Fran, oh Fran, we need to approach this little girl differently. Instead of “dealing” like we would in Murph, Fran needs to be approached like a bat out of hell. Is your intensity “bat out of hell”-ish, or is it “am I almost done”-ish? If we approach each workout with the same work rate and same break ratios, then all we are doing is long and short versions of essentially the same workout day in and day out.
Let’s look at this a different way…You’ve been coming in M, W and F for a long time now. You saw great gains! You’ve started eating right, 99% perfect with 1 cheat meal a week. Guess what, you’re a rockstar! If you plateau here, we need to look at what your goals are and change some shit up! After a while, even if we are changing the workout every day, the body WILL adapt to its new workloads. Try adding a little bit more weight if you’ve been scaling. Even a little change here can help. Try coming in 4-5 times for a week or two, that’ll jump start your engines! I generally recommend to all athletes that they come in 4-6 days a week, if you’re in the 2-3 range, its not quite so surprising that you’re plateauing. Have you not taken time off in a long time (6+ months)…maybe its time to program a rest week for yourself to let your body un-WTF itself and then come back and re-attack!
Depending on your particular goal, perhaps we need to change up your training protocols. For instance, if you want to gain weight and you just aren’t, I’ll probably tell you to add a strength day or two and eat more! If you’re simply looking for performance gain, maybe we need to up your days or add in a day with a rowing WOD so that we don’t overtax the body with too many reps, but still get in the conditioning we need. Trying to lose weight, dial in that diet, zone up and crank the intensity in the WOD’s!
Plain and simple, a lot of what I’m talking about can be summed up in this simple graph!
You can see here, that as the amount of effort you put forth increases, as does your level of badass-ness (now this is a technical term, I don’t expect everyone to understand!) Does this mean comfort zone violations, probably does!!
Onto my last subject for the day…getting your goals accomplished by training in your home gym. Several of you have decided to buy equipment to train at home. That is phenomenal! Did you ever think you’d be putting a bunch of bumpers and crap in your garage 3 years ago?! Your dedication is awe inspiring. But this comes with some concern that I’ve been hesitant to voice, but I feel I must. Training at home is great…miss a WOD, hit it up at home on your own time, sweet. Working on skills that REQUIRE coaching because you straight up suck at them (Olympic lifts, fine tuning technicalities of muscle ups ect) probably best to be done in the gym in front of a coach who can not only point out faults to you that you’re almost definitely missing, but we can also ensure safety. If we’re working snatches and trying to stop ourselves from pulling early, but we’re NOT focusing on where the knees are or that the back is super bent, we have some priority issues. Working on that ever elusive muscle up skill? Lets work on that everyday!! (sarcasm) I like your enthusiasm, but you might be overtraining.
I’ve heard of overuse injuries or safety infraction injuries MULTIPLE times from athletes training at home. Overused and pissed elbows, back tweaks, knee pain, hip pain, shoulder pain, tension headache neck pain…the list goes on. Skills, just like WOD’s NEED to be programmed. Example…I personally suck at snatch (hold your snicker’s). Partially out of fear from my shitty shoulders I’ve avoided them for way too long, but have recently really hit up getting them nailed down. How often do I work on it? I could 7 days a week, I own a gym literally 2 minutes from my house, its not like its out of my way! Well, first, I need someone to look at me to tell me what I’m doing wrong. I’ve used athletes, coaches and video to get this accomplished. I only work snatch technique 1 or 2 days a week. Why? Because to much to fast will piss my shoulders off again AND I don’t want to build a bad habit of a technical error that I’m not focusing on becoming to comfortable and consequently a permanent part of my form.
Now, do I want you to come in more often to work form and skills instead of doing it at home because I’m greedy and want your money? Seems logical. Plain and simple, Hell no!! The extra few bucks I would stand to make, not to mention open gym is frickin free, wouldn’t do my any good. The only reason I ask this from athletes is almost painfully obvious…I care about you guys. You’ve all heard me scream at you if you bend your back during a deadlift or rip the bar off the ground in a clean. Safety and efficiency is always at the forefront of my concern.
I’ve devoted a great deal of my time to the ART of programming. There is a lot of science involved, but programming effectively truly is an art. So, if you are wondering what things you should be doing at home in harmony with what your doing here….ask me! If you are plateauing in your workouts and need a good swift kick in the arse…tell me! I desperately want to make you better and get you to your goals!
I apologize if any of this seemed scatter brained, I have a lot of thoughts on this issue and feel really strongly about the safety stuff!
Thursday August 30th, 2012
New programming and a response to your questions!
Ok guys and gals, sorry for my delay in getting this out, as a lot of you were aware the last few weeks have been quite hectic!
Let’s start off with WHY the programming has changed. I realized in my last certification that there were holes in the way I did my programming that are leaving everyone with gaps in their fitness levels. I tended to program 15-20 minute workouts all the time with a long chipper on Saturday’s every week. First of all, that usually means a TON of reps. Overloading everyone with high rep schemes nearly everyday is a recipe for injury, one that I wasn’t really looking at. You’ll notice now that we have a lot of workouts ranging from 8-15 minutes, more heavy days with lower reps and even some days where we only have 1 exercise to complete, making the WOD even shorter.
I’m not going to get into the exercise physiology of it all, but here’s the short version for those of you who want to know. We have multiple energy pathways in the body that peak during certain durations of workouts. By cheating how many shorter workouts we get, I was leaving that energy pathway unchallenged. As CrossFitters, we can’t let that happen. The mid length workouts of 8-12/15 minutes tend to challenge all 3 energy pathways the best (as there is some overlap in when the peak as correlated to time). Every few days we throw in a super short fast WOD to stimulate our “phosphogen” pathway which is left slightly less challenged in a mid length WOD. Also, every few days, about every 10, we’ll do a long chipper to stimulate almost exclusively our oxidative (aerobic) pathway. With that said, I don’t know anyone who can say that a 10 minute workout doesn’t stimulate their aerobic capacities. Lastly on this, there has been a lot of research showing that aerobic capacities are increased to the same level during anaerobic conditioning as in aerobic conditioning.
Now, let’s talk rest time. In a short workout (~5 min) focused on stimulating the phosphogen pathway, breaks need to be kept short, 3-5 seconds. We should be in an anaerobic state nearly the entire time. At the end of the WOD, our bodies are tingling and we should be incredibly uncomfortable. If you aren’t, you probably didn’t work hard enough. AMRAP after all does stand for “as many rounds as possible”. If I meant for it to be “as many rounds as COMFORTABLE” I would program that, but we’re here to push our comfort zones!
During a mid-length WOD (~8-15 minutes) we should be keeping breaks short as well, though since we can’t keep up the same work capacity as a 5 minute workout, we’ll probably start seeing breaks range in the 10-15 second range. Again, if they are longer than that, we start getting away from the energy pathway goal for the workout and move back to purely an aerobic pathway. That’s not the point! If we stimulate only aerobic and leave anaerobic alone all the time, we leave a HUGE gap in our fitness, and trust me, the next time you’re being chased by a lion, you’ll want to have an awesome anaerobic capacity!
During a long chipper (~20+ min) we will start seeing breaks a bit longer, sometimes 15-30 seconds. This doesn’t mean that we want to get comfortable, but sometimes in a longer workout we need that break so that we don’t stay hypoxic (lack of blood oxygen levels) for too long or we would vomit.
OK, so there is a bit of a breakdown on what is expected in workouts based on their varying length…lets get to some of your comments and questions now. You guys all had great feedback! Some of you loved the new changes, some had a lot of great questions and some others thought I was a bit out of my gourd! I’m going to approach this simply by posting a question with an answer below it…I think I will encompass everyone’s concerns this way.
Why do we sometimes do a workout that looks really similar to one we just did the week before?
CrossFit is constantly varied, this means the moves used, time durations, loads, times of day, weather, food intake prior to WOD ect. change constantly. Sometimes, as part of that variance, we repeat something within a short window. How is that varied, well…we never do that, so it’s being varied to once in a while stay the same.
Where and when should I scale in a workout?
A lot of people commented on this one! First of all, if the prescribed weight is just too damn heavy…scale, there is the obvious one! Let’s talk skill though…if we are doing a short or medium length WOD where we need those anaerobic elements you may need to scale a skill or gymnastic move. If you can only do 1 or 2 pull ups at a time and need to come off the bar to rest, we are now moving into an aerobic recovery zone, NOT the goal of the WOD. Double unders are the biggie here…everyone wants them, some have them, some kind of do, some just plain don’t! The WOD is NOT the time to be practicing a skill. Practice should be done before the WOD by showing up early to work on it, or during open gym. Should you focus on technique in a WOD, absolutely! But the difference between focusing on technique and practicing a skill is immense. Focus on technique requires you to think, which can easily be done at all times regardless of how hard you are working. Practicing a skill is a learned neuromechanical issue, this can only be done over time, and focusing all you want won’t necessarily get you anywhere during the WOD.
I miss my Saturday chipper WOD.
Plain and simple, we were devoting too much effort on those long bone crushing workouts. They lead to overuse when done too often. Like I said above, you will get the same aerobic benefit of those long WOD’s by pushing yourself to the limit each time in a short WOD…don’t believe me, do some research…it’s all out there (and yes, you’ll find research against my claim, but there is research for and against everything!)
I like to stick with my double unders during the WOD so I can practice the skill.
Why did we change things?
That’s an easy one. I wasn’t providing the best training possible to provide you guys with optimum results. My primary concern will always be the fitness of my members. As soon as I find a way to better serve you, I do it. Sometimes you guys notice the change, sometimes you don’t, but I am constantly evolving as a coach and as will my programming until I reach as close to perfection as is humanly possible. I don’t program anything because I want to do it or to be mean, but I program workouts based on fulfilling things we need to work on or gaps in our fitness. I literally track what moves we have done week to week so that over the course of a month or so we have done some of everything. I try to ensure we have hit all lengths of workouts, used varying amounts of loads, incorporated gymnastics movements, cardio only exercises and workouts focused on completing a given rep scheme or workouts that have time constraints (AMRAP)
How will everyone benefit?
When done under high intensity, these workouts will benefit everyone, no matter what you’re goal. I hear about people who want to be better on long runs or on their bikes. Great! Make sure you come in for short WOD’s too or when you hit a hill you’ll be slowed down by your anaerobic capacity. Also, come in for heavy days, we need to strengthen your posterior chain to keep your body balanced! If you’re looking to compete, guess what?…the programming got harder, your goal should be to RX every single workout with in the time constraints. That should be everyone’s goal…leading me to the next comment….
I used to Rx a lot more workouts, what is my goal now?
I think we can all agree that there is a BIG difference between doing Fran Rx in 3 minutes and doing Fran Rx in 15 minutes. Some of us were getting stronger and had the capacity to lift Rx weights, but it had to be done incredibly slowly, shifting us away from our energy pathway paradigms. If you’re ONLY goal has become lowering times, I’m doing you a disservice. Why not have 2 goals? Getting to Rx weights AND times. This is where you all started, and what did I see? I saw tenacity. You wanted that damn Rx behind your name on the board. Then you started to see it. What did I see then? Not all of you, but some, became complacent. You came in and went through the motions. Some of you became stubborn. No matter what was happening you were going to Rx that WOD, even if it took 40 minutes. That’s ridiculous! We need to focus on our energy pathways first, those are the ones that will make us strong, powerful and cardiovascularly fit!
With the changes, will all the standards be upheld between all the coaches?
This was an incredible comment. My answer to that is yes and no. My goal will be to maintain that all coaches are always doing the same thing throughout the day. But, as you all should be well aware, we all coach differently. I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I’m still learning. All of our coaches, while very experienced and very capable, are still learning too! With these new changes, one of the first things I did was to call a staff meeting to get everyone on the same page so that classes all maintain the highest of standards. I will continue to work on myself and with my coaches to not only improve myself, but improve together as a group to ensure that there is an amount of homogeneity between classes and to ensure that you are getting the highest quality coaching during your time with us. With that said, if you think there is an issue, bring it up to me. I know I would want to know, and I’m sure my coaches would be happy to know any way of improving the way we coach. Feedback is priceless.
So there it is guys, a long winded drawn out and hopefully all inclusive response to all of your comments. Hopefully by this point all of you have grown a bit more comfortable with the changes that you’re seeing. I’ve seen a lot of people simply fall in and act like there never even was a change! With all of this said, I promise, my only goal, first and foremost, will always be to provide you with the absolute best programming and coaching possible. Thank you all so much for your feedback and for kicking ass in the gym on a regular basis!
Wednesday May 23rd, 2012
Rep Skimming and why its so lame!
We’ve all heard about this before, probably even suspected a fellow athlete of it. It happens in CrossFit boxes around the world…and its lame. Rep skimming – intentionally skipping reps for the soul purpose of having a faster time simply as an ego boost. Let me start by saying this…no one in the gym, and I mean NO ONE gives a shit if your time is crazy fast or stupid slow as long as your in the gym busting your ass each day and leaving everything you have on the floor. So, what’s the point of skimming your reps? Honestly, I don’t know, never done it. It probably comes from someone not wanting to be embarrassed by a slow time put up on the board, but like I already said, no one cares, you will not be judged.
Here’s an example of “no one cares”. We have an athlete in the gym that has been crushing WOD’s. For the purpose of this example, lets call the person “Pat”. Pat has been killing it, working all of us over in a LOT of workouts and giving 100% in the process. But Pat has a chink in the armor…handstand push ups! I could throw up a WOD with a massive amount of HSPU’s in a WOD and Pat’s time will be waaay slower than you would expect, but Pat didn’t skim reps. Why? Because Pat cares more about the level of fitness achieved than the number that’s on the board. The number on the board to Pat simply lets Pat know that this is something to work on and in time, it will get better, with lots of work put in! Pat, I apologize if you know who you are from this, but thanks for being cool and playing along!
So here’s what really gets me. You guys come in and pay a good dollar to increase your fitness level above where its ever been before. If you are skimming reps, your now paying a serious dollar to get a moderate fitness level AND live a lie. You’re only cheating yourself by skimming reps, well, your kinda ticking me off in the process because I hate a liar. You know who you are if your skimming reps and I most likely do too! I won’t call you out and I’ll probably continue to just let it go, but know this, your ONLY CHEATING YOURSELF. Lets turn a page, take the hit in your times or even your max weights and put in a serious concerted effort to get better!
Here’s the last reason skimming sucks big time…we record all these results. Lets say you decide to start walking it straight and doing this right, now all of your results are skewed and you will end up with a lot lower times and possibly lower weights. That’s going to kill your motivation as now all your seeing is all of your results going down. I’d much rather see you put up an absolutely terrible time today, and then a better time in the future. That usually results with a big ‘ole grin on your face as you start to actually see your results in a quantitative way. That’s why I do what I do, I live for your enthusiasm about improvement! The long and short of it, start coming in and killing it, be honest to yourself, give 100% and you will see the change! For the rest of you who have been doing it right all along, you’re all my heroes, so keep it up!!!
Sunday May 20th, 2012
Scaling: The easy way out?
“Holy shit this workout looks hard!! It’s got really heavy weight 315 lb [220 lb] deadlifts, I can’t lift that much, I’ll have to scale! I think my max is 275 lbs [190 lb], what weight should I use?”
Has this thought gone through your mind? Maybe not just on a heavy weight, but on a high rep gymnastic move or a technical move? Holy crap, coach posted 100 pull ups and I can only do 10 without bands, I’ll have to use that big fat green band so I can do a set of 30! NOOOOOO!!!
Scaling in CrossFit is an every day occurrence, and it should be. We have athletes in every class that span such a large difference in ability levels. Some are super strong and can pick up tons of weight, but can’t pick up themselves! Some are awesome at gymnastic movements but lack the capacity to pick up heavy weights. Some people aren’t strong period, while others do every single workout RX, no matter how difficult it is. Scaling is no biggie and its a necessity of CrossFit, otherwise almost no one would be able to participate. The issue with scaling however is that we need to understand why we scale and how much we should scale by for any given workout.
Scaling is simply a means to help you accomplish a move to help you get stronger so that you can build your way up to doing a workout as prescribed. Prescription is the goal! Lets take 2 examples, 1 of a heavy weight and another of a gymnastic move and talk about scaling. Hopefully this can shed some light on what to do for some of you, but, above all, if you have a question about how much you should scale…ASK THE COACH!!! We are here to help you down the path to fitness and if you over scale, you’re cheating yourself.
Example 1: Lets say I program into a workout 5 rounds of a bunch of stuff that includes 3 reps of a deadlift at 315 for men and 220 for women. Well…thats frickin heavy! Even our strongest guys that deadlift over 400 or even 500 lbs are still going to pick up 315 and say, “yeah, that is heavy. I can do it, but its pretty heavy” Also, we have a lot of women that are in this same boat. We have several women who deadlift well over or near 250 lbs…thats heavy!!
Now on the other side of that coin, these numbers are well above some of your max’s…no biggie, here comes scaling to the rescue. Any person with a head on their shoulders should be able to deduce by looking at the workout that if I program in sets of 3 at a heavy weight….wait for it….it was probably meant to be heavy!!! Heavy is a relative thing though. Programming heavy movements is a way of stimulating neuromuscular recruitment patterns that will help us get stronger. Now lets say that your max (and we’ll just use men as an example here) is 275 lbs. Well, you’re probably looking at doing these deadlifts around 240-250 then. Lining up getting ready for the workout at 135 or even 185 is just going to be too light, reason being, you are looking at moving only 49-67% of your max and in order to get the proper physiological response, you should probably be closer to the 85-90% region which would then put you at 233-247 lbs. Does this make sense? Women, you can just as easily apply these numbers to your max’s as well.
I programmed 3 rounds of stuff which includes 15 handstand push ups. Some of you are gonna kill this, no problem. Some of you do a great job at scaling as well, you may only be able to do 5 hspu’s at a time as prescribed, but you stick to your guns and get it done…awesome!! Sometimes, however, I’ll see someone throw 3 ab mats under their head and crank out all 3 sets unbroken, no problem…that was way to frickin easy!!! If you can’t do a gymnastic movement as prescribed, you should set yourself up to a scaling level that will allow you to do 10 reps IN YOUR FIRST SET. You are going to fatigue, I promise that, but no matter if you drop to sets of 2-3 reps, don’t increase the scaling! There is an exception to that rule. Lets say I put in 100 pull ups and you use 1 black 30 lb band to do 10 reps on your first set, but after 70 reps, you can’t even do 1 rep! Now we can add some extra help in. If you experience absolute shut down and can’t even do 1 rep we can increase the scaling of assistance or sometimes decrease the number of reps that you’ll do. Are we clear here??
Guys and Gals, these are just two small examples, there are soooo many ways of scaling in the gym that it would take me writing a book to address them all. Everyone is built differently and comes with different strengths and weaknesses. For example, I’ve always been able to do pull ups, handstand push ups and ring dips with no issue, so getting a muscle up came quickly. Flip side of that coin…my squats have always been incredibly weak compared to my other movements and its something that I deal with all the time. Heavy squat workouts are my goat and my fear, but if I need to scale you better be damn sure I’ll be doing it as little as possible so that I can complete the workout but come out the other end a hell of a lot stronger!
Long and short of it people, don’t be afraid of large weights. Don’t be afraid of the occasional high rep number. Over scaling keeps you weak. Scaling is not a crutch but a helping hand. Keep your minds calm, think about your scaling, ask the coach and then crush the workout…I promise, things will get easier the stronger you get!
Thursday May 17th, 2012
Test out day: What’s the point?
So every six weeks here at Trailhead we run a series of exercises that we claim is “test out day”. Whats the point of that? Why is it important that as many athletes as possible participate? Are you supposed to enjoy it?
I run test out days for two reasons. First, its a great way for you, the athlete, to see if you are improving your fitness levels through tests of absolute strength, relative strength and endurance/stamina capacity. The second reason is actually far more important! I use the data I collect on gains or losses in each component of test day across all athletes tested to tweak programming to increase its effectiveness thus increase the fitness level of all athletes at Trailhead CrossFit.
It is of epic importance that as many people as is possible participate in test days to ensure the largest sample size possible thus fine tuning the tweaks made to programming. Do you not participate in test day? Do you purposely not schedule a workout on that day? Do you purposely cancel simply because you don’t want to participate? If this is the case, your data is not contributing to how I program. Therefore, if you purposely aren’t coming to test out day, the last thing I want to hear is how your not attaining your fitness goals. Test out day is your chance to display your fitness level in a quantitative standardized form and its far harder for me to help you reach your fitness goals without data as to how your fitness is progressing.
Are you supposed to enjoy this? In my opinion, as far as test out days is concerned, it doesn’t really matter. Working out is at its most basic level a way of making you healthier and thus test out day is a means of testing your health. As such, test out day could be simply correlated to a blood test. For example: you go to a doctor and have blood work done only to find out you have high cholesterol. The doctor will give you advice that you should eat healthy, exercise and perhaps may put you on medication to keep it in check. That’s not the end of it though! You better be damn sure that doctor is going to retest your cholesterol level in the future to see if progress is being made. Do you like being stuck by a needle and have your blood sucked out of you? No, probably not, but it doesn’t matter because you are concerned about your health. I see fitness test out day as a similar procedure. A means of testing your fitness to ensure that we are making forward progress!
So here’s the long and short of it guys and gals. in 6 weeks we are doing test outs again. Let’s get everyone in the gym and moving so that our fitness experience can be as good as possible! If you don’t come it may only be holding you back!
Tuesday May 8th, 2012
Form standards and why we do them
Hey you Trailhead Fiends! This is the first of many posts to come where I will take some time to express ideas, explain things that are happening at the gym and at times, simply vent frustrations about the world of fitness!
Today I want to tackle the idea of form standards. Within the last several weeks you may have noticed a crackdown in range of motion standards and form standards and may have asked yourself “why is he being so mean?” Form standards are being thrown your way for several reasons.
1) We have a lot of athletes in the gym that wish to compete! Because of that we will be using game rule standards in all of our workouts so that when competition time comes they are used to doing the movements correctly and the competition WOD simply becomes another day in the gym.
2) Rigid movements standards are harder! Harder (physically) movements will help increase your fitness level and thus help you reach your fitness goals, whatever they may be! This also will mean that you will be “no rep’d” a heck of a lot more. That means you will be doing more reps in a given workout than was prescribed and thus you will once again increase your fitness level by increasing workload. Now don’t freak out, your only going to be no rep’d on a few reps, so we aren’t looking at a crazy number of extra reps. Lastly on this point, obviously if you are incapable of completing a move with the given standards you will be scaled to an easier movement pattern where you can get through the WOD competitively with proper movements standards for the move or scaled move that you are doing.
3) The nature of the movements themselves, when completed in full range of motion, will help increase your flexibility and help a LOT of you get out of the habit of being so damn tight all the time! Wouldn’t it be great to get flexible hips by moving the right way in a WOD rather than throwing a lacrosse ball in your butt cheek and going to pain town?
In conclusion guys and gals, embrace the new standards! They are here to not only increase your fitness level but also to help you get through workouts with proper form and technique and therefore stay healthy and injury free!