I’m convinced that time is just going to just keep moving faster for the rest of my life. HOW is March already over?! While a large portion of my energy was focused around the CrossFit Open, and helping athletes prepare for it more effectively, it still felt like 31 days went by in a flash. But, we’ve got some recapping to do, so let’s get to it!

March 2018

Fitness- The 2018 CrossFit Games Open is OVER! We did it! After five long weeks of competing, personally redoing every workout once (and doing better each time), I ended up in 278th place in the South West Region out of 9,236 men. That places me in the top 96th percentile in the region, for those of you keeping track at home. Oh, none of you are keeping track? Ok, cool. Another fun stat, is that I finished as the 99th fittest male in Colorado! Top 100, baby! Check out my rankings, by year, since the Open started. I wish they’d show how many people were in each category for scale. This is fun.

OpenRankings2018

Last month I felt I had a lot of success with snatching. That’s weird because I don’t remember snatching much at all this month. The Open ruled my training mentality, and that’s fine because I knew that would happen going in. Now, it’s time to get back on track and set some goals!

My “First Ever” class this month was YET ANOTHER another Yoga class with Em. January was just a regular yoga class. February was partner yoga. This month, it was my first time doing yoga with approximately one million other people! I’ve always seen pictures of yoga mats laid out, side by side, as far as the eye can see. I didn’t understand how that could be soothing, or comfortable… and now that I’ve taken a class in that setting, I still don’t! There was a cool “Deep House Yoga” practice that took place inside a night club that I had been to many times… which is inside of what used to be an old church. Yes, weird on so many levels, I agree. But, I’m three months into 2018, and have done yoga three times. Go, me!

House- The garage is done! Check out this beauty. I’m actually really proud of this project. Now, to organize! We also bought a new tent for summer camping adventures (correct, there will likely never be any winter camping chosen by this household!) and set it up to “waterproof” it before our first big weekend trip in a few months! It’s awesome.

Tent.jpg

Other- My “baby” brother turned 18 years old in the middle of the month, and my dad randomly messaged me in a Saturday asking if I wanted to meet up with them the following weekend in Tuscon. We had a blast! I also got to try an old Stupid Human Trick during the few hours of down time I had with my bro. Here’s my pool jump!

What’s going on with all of you? I’d love to hear some of your accomplishments in March, or goals for April!

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The first installment (Life After The Open (Part 1)) in a series of posts I started last week began by explaining how each year immediately following the CrossFit Games Open, thousands of athletes around the globe find themselves with a renewed sense of motivation to improve their performance in this crazy “sport” of ours. I aimed to suggest a few ways to channel that inspiration into productive skill development. In the second post of the series (Life After The Open (Part 2), I encouraged everyone to take moment to reflect on their own Open. Not just reflect, but identify three positive things that could be learned from their personal experience this year. These could be specific accomplishments to celebrate like a first pull-up or linked double-unders, or weaknesses that were exposed, allowing athletes a full year’s time to improve them before next spring.

Today, I’m going to provide a few of my favorite resources that you can use as you work to actually develop your personalized training plan for the next year! This page is designed to provide inspiration, instruction, or that one cue to help that movement *click* for one of your athletes!

ResourceLibrary

I’ll break down my recommendations into a few categories: CrossFit/General Fitness, Barbell Movements, Gymnastics, and Treatment/Recovery/Other

  • CrossFit/General Fitness
    • The CrossFit Journal– This is CrossFit.com’s main information library. While it costs $50 per year to subscribe and get full access, if you’re a CrossFit/Movement/Performance nerd or newbie, there are hundreds of thousands of hours of amazing content on this website. Articles, Videos, How-To’s, and so much more. If you don’t want to pay, there is still a lot of free information. Check it out, please!
    • The CrossFit Invictus Blog– C.J. Martin has been in the CrossFit game for a long time, and is one of the most highly-regarded coaches in the sport. Look through their blog for a lot of great advice on how to be a better athlete!
  • Barbell Movements
    • Catalyst Athletics Exercise Library– Our sport has a lot of different movements for athletes to learn. It can be really hard to hear “High Hang Squat Snatch into Snatch Balance into Overhead Squat” and have no idea what that means. Not only does this robust library include videos of each movement, it even features lots of ab, core, and accessory movements. It’s one of the best sites out there in my opinion.
  • Gymnastics
    • CrossFit Gymnastics– The official site for CrossFit’s gymnastics training courses with so many videos included on how to learn progressions for so many movements; from pistols to muscle ups to handstand push-ups.
    • GymnasticsWOD.com– Anyone who has done CrossFit for more than a few years knows (and is probably partly in love with) Carl Paoli. In my opinion, the amount of content he’s got on this website rivals that of the Catalyst Athletic team. Check it out!
    • Power Monkey Fitness– Probably my favorite resource for instructional videos on how to move one’s body safely and effectively. Please look through this archive of free videos when you have some time!
  • Treatment/Recovery/Other
    • MobilityWOD.com– Kelly Starrett is the “Godfather” of proper movement in the CrossFit world, and beyond. Although also requires a paid subscription these days, the website claims to be “the world’s most comprehensive database of guided movement, mechanics, mobility instruction.” So yeah, maybe don’t buy every version of every Nano or Metcon that comes out, and invest the $100/year in a basically never-ending library of corrective movement self-help and education! While it may not have nearly as much content, the free stuff on the MobilityWOD Instagram page is also awesome!
    • ROMWOD.com– ROMWOD is the first-ever “CrossFit-specific” company that recorded full-length mobility and recovery “workouts” that viewers could follow from the comfort of their home or gym. Yes, it also requires a subscription, but everyone I know who has paid swears by the videos.
    • Here are a few other Instagram profiles I follow that produce great content: Squat University (squat mobility/positioning),  CarterGood (nutrition), Joe Therapy (muscle release and stretching videos)

I could sit here for hours and link to every resource I’ve ever found, but this is a great start to help athletes of all ability levels move better and take better care of their bodies. Now that you you’ve got these resources at your fingertips, go put them to use! 

Feel free to share some of your favorite sites/profiles. Let’s help each other. Happy learning, friends!

WE DID IT!!! We survived the 2018 CrossFit Games Open!!!

As someone who has done every single Open, no matter how much the workouts change, one aspect of the event remains consistent year after year. There are always first-timers, athlete’s doing it “just for fun,” those looking to compete against their friends, and individuals sincerely hoping to make it to the next level of competition. Regardless of which group you identify with, when coach yells out, “3, 2, 1, GO!” every single person in the gym gives each workout their all. It’s so much fun to watch, and even more fun to coach!

In a post last week, I talked about intelligent ways of planning out how to structure your next year of training. (If you haven’t already, I really think you should check it out!) A lot of athletes have put in countless hours of blood, sweat, and tears into preparing for a five week competition. Between sleepless nights, sore muscles, and redoing workouts, our bodies are tired! If your Open season is over, I’m here to encourage you to give yourself time to relax. It can be tempting to jump onto a new programming or add in a ton of accessory work, but your body needs a break!

Today, I think it’s important to take a step back and breathe.

I often talk about the impact proper nutrition and adequate sleep can have on your performance, your brain needs some time to recover, too! In every other sport, there’s a clear “Off-Season;” a block of time where athletes are almost forced to take a break. In CrossFit, we don’t really have that. Since “going to the gym” is such an integrated part of our lives, a lot of athletes refuse to acknowledge the fact that resting for a few days, or even weeks, might make you better! The whole “No Rest Days” philosophy is something I’ve written about in the past, and will certainly write about in the future, but not today.

Today, I want to ask you to pause, take a few minutes, and reflect.

Really think about what has happened over the last five weeks of your “fitness” life.

And only allow yourself to think in positive terms.

Reflection

 

What did YOU get out of the Open?

Did you finish any workout faster than expected? Were you able to complete a movement for the first time? Did you go “Rx’d” on your first Open WOD? I know several people who are simply happy with how positive they kept their mindset, and how well they kept their nerves under control. The happy things are easy to identify!

Now, it can be easy to look back and only think of the negative aspect of things. But not today! Were you frustrated about anything? Did you not hit the weight you were hoping to on your heavy clean attempt? Did the handstand push-up rule impact your results in workout 18.4? Were your double-unders a disaster for 18.3? Fine. Now, shift your mindset and let’s rephrase how we look at those scenarios.

  • Disappointed in weight for clean
    • “Over the next year, I will work on challenging myself to hit heavier weights when I’m tired.”
  • Handstand range of motion
    • “By devoting time to slowing down and ensuring I’m in complete control of my lockouts, it will make me much more effective at that movement.”
  • Inconsistent double-unders
    • “A few days per week after my workout, I’ll spend some time practicing my doubles. That way I’ll be used to jumping when I’m tired, and when Castro programs that workout again next year, I’ll be fine!”

Today, I want you to think about THREE THINGS you learned from the Open that are POSITIVE. They can be things you’re legitimately proud of, or areas for improvement that you’ve been lucky enough to identify for yourself!

Take a few minutes and really think about your three things. Then, share them in the comments of this post. Let’s help congratulate and encourage one another to celebrate these positive moments!

Only positive thoughts.

Here are my three:

  • This year, I reestablished a healthier personal relationship with CrossFit.
    • I’ve been doing CrossFit for almost a decade. In that time I have gone from working out in a Bally’s (globo gym) after work, to training nearly three hours per day to try and qualify for Regionals (never did, by the way!), to simply viewing CrossFit as a fun way of working out.
    • I workout by myself over 90% of that time, and while that can be really hard for me, I’m starting to appreciate those moments more. That’s where I get to recharge. It’s my hour to push myself. And it’s a block of time where I can make myself better through this crazy workout program. I’m back to liking CrossFit again.
  • I may have conquered one of my GOATS!
    • In CrossFit we call skills or movements that we aren’t good at, or just don’t like, our goats. Thrusters have always been a goat of mine. I’m not great at squatting OR pressing, so when you put them together, I’m double-excited to work out! With the final workout of this year’s Open, though, a workout presented itself that I had already done four times in the past! Instead of letting it ruin my week, I simply made a plan of how to break up reps, stuck to that plan, and survived! Yep… I did a movement I didn’t like, lived to tell the tale, and realized that maybe I’m not as bad at it as I used to be! Just imagine if I trained to get even better at it one day?! I probably won’t, ya know… because it’s thrusters… but just imagine if I did!
  • The Open has sparked a renewed interest in my blog!
    • I put my heart and soul into trying to provide valuable content for people who decide to visit my blog. My “Open Strategy” videos started way back in 2012, and although it’s a (self-imposed) stressful time of the year for me, it’s so rewarding to see messages from those who feel better prepared to attack those five workouts each year. My goal is to keep giving people a reason to come back here week after week! Whether it’s how to approach a workout, general fitness advice, something cool I’ve come across, or just some insight into this crazy brain of mine, I hope you like what you find here!

So…. what are your three? I’d love for you to share them with me!

Here’s last week’s recap and my goals for the upcoming week.

Last week:

  • Fitness
    • Week four of the 2018 CrossFit Games Open is over.
    • For workout 18.4, I retested and got nine more reps. I’m usually scared of handstand push-ups, but surprisingly did a really good job breaking them up in Diane. Here’s a video of my first attempt. I am happy with the way this workout went, and even happier to have improved so much on literally two hours of sleep the night before.
    • This week for 18.5, I predicted what the workout would be exactly. Since I’ve been doing CrossFit since before there was an “Open,” I’ve done this workout four times. My PR was 115 going into this Friday. I really don’t like thrusters, and chest-to-bar pull-ups are a movement I don’t practice very often. Bottom line, even though this workout is “only” seven minutes long, it hurts a LOT. I’m not sure if I’ll attempt it again tomorrow, but if I do, it’ll be just to try to pay a quick little visit to the pain cave. I “paced” my 118 a little bit too much on Friday. Here’s attempt number one.
  • Health
    • Food prep has been effective lately, so it’s great to always have an easy meal prepared in the fridge. This week, I’m hoping to introduce a few more vegetables into my preparations.

This week:

  • Need. More. Sleep. Recording my “CrossFit Games Open” videos has meant that Thursday nights, I’d typically get less than 4 hours of sleep. Now that the Open is over, I’m hoping to at least pick up a few hours then! I also put a hold on my Tuesday morning swim lessons, so I won’t even need to set an alarm on Tuesday morning for a few weeks. Hoping I can notice a difference in energy and performance with these two changes!
  • It’s going to be a cold end of the week, so my goal is to complete my taxes by next Sunday. That’s the one chore that has been looming over me, so it’ll feel nice to take that off of the “to-do” list.
  • I bought a table for the basement where I set up my DJ gear. It feels so silly to share that I’m getting into that as a hobby, but I’m really excited to get to start playing with music soon! First, taxes. Then, playtime!

Alright, your turn. What’s going on with all of you?

The pic of the week comes from Sleep Cycle app I use (when I remember) to track my sleep. Last week I didn’t have to set an alarm on Tuesday morning, so I slept for eight whole hours Monday night! That’s a big deal for me!

The final workout of the 2018 CrossFit Games Open is finally here! Annnddddd… it’s a workout that has already been featured twice before in other years. Workout 18.5 is the same as workouts 11.6 and 12.5. As someone who has participated in every single year of this wonderful event, I’ve done this particular WOD four times already!

It’s an ascending ladder of Thrusters (100lbs for men and 65lbs for women) and Chest-to-Bar Pull-Ups, with a 7 minute time cap.

18-5

 

Thursters

This is a weight that I would consider “CrossFit Medium” for most athletes. Sets of 10-15+ should be possible for a lot of people when they’re fresh, however I do not suggest doing that many in a row. As is the case with all workouts like this that increase in volume as fatigue also increases, the strategy is to pace appropriately right out of the starting gate.

There are very few athletes that I would suggest going past the round of 6 or 9 unbroken. Instead, intentionally break reps every 3 to 6 reps, take short rests, and continue on your way. If you watch Rich Froning when he’d do thrusters in a workout, a lot of people commented how he was moving too slow after the workout started. He’d drive up, pause at the top of the lockout for a split second to take a quick breath, then repeat. Nearly 100% of those same people were wrong when he maintained a comfortable pace from start to finish.

Completing the round of 9 reps in under a minute means nothing for how someone completes this workout. Instead, hold a slower and steady pace for five-and-a-half to six minutes, then turning it on at the end. If you’re crushed after minute 3… you’re going to have a bad time.

Control your breathing. Control your lockout. Don’t crash at the bottom of your reps. Make sure the bar doesn’t bounce all over the place when you drop it. The name of the game here is to be steady and consistent. This is not a sprint.

Chest-to-Bar Pull-Ups

My advice for these is very similar to that of the thrusters. Having the physical ability to do large sets when you’re fresh doesn’t mean you should do that here. I’m going to suggest most people complete sets of 3-5 reps at a time from start to finish, with short rest between attempts.

Finding a lower bar which allows for a quick reset of the grip can also lead to conserving energy over the course of seven minutes. Before starting the workout and running out of gas, experiment with timing a few larger sets of pull-ups with longer rests, and comparing them with shorter sets with shorter rest; even if that means quick singles.

Please don’t rip your hands on this workout! Jumping up to a high bar for every set of pull-ups will not only keep your heart rate higher, it will also lead to more fatigue of your grip and shoulders. Breathe. Pace. Take more breaks than you want!

 

Scaled Version

The thruster weight is lighter and the movement is “easier” for the pull-ups. Please be aware that while this may sound great, it’s even more reason for you to slow down and control your heart rate. I would call this a 75% effort workout to most of my athletes. Find a pace where you can keep it moving, but not red line. If you pace this appropriately, you’ll get really far. If not, you’ll be staring at a bar that isn’t even heavy for you, unable to pick it up because of how tired you are. Pace. Breathe. Keep moving.

Throwback Thursday

Since I’ve been in the Open since year number one, I came across a few throwbacks that I wanted to share with all of you. First, here is a video of my first attempt at 11.6. Please note my technique (especially on rep #3 of the first set of thrusters) and my unbelievably smooth and consistent technique through the entire seven minutes. My advice is to watch this video… and do your best to mimic NONE of it. So funny!! We were just kids, then!

Then, I came across one of my first ever CF Open Games Strategy videos. Why am I not wearing a shirt, you ask? It’s because I had just finished the workout and just got home. What better time to record a strategy video, and then pack for a flight that left in six hours taking you out of town for the weekend. Just another throwback gem from the Smashby Training blog! You’re welcome.

It’s the FINAL WEEK of the 2018 Open! Good luck, have fun, I believe in you!

There are two predictable behavior patterns that CrossFit athletes show every year. The first is the feeling of sheer panic people get in anticipation of the CrossFit Games Open… which usually starts 2-4 weeks before the competition begins. (Oh no, I still don’t have muscle-ups! Better try to learn them in a week, even though I’ve had a year to practice!) The second thing we can expect is a verbal commitment to improve weaknesses that are identified during the Open over the next year. (Next year I WILL have stronger handstand push-ups!) Many athletes end up falling short of their goals, however. They’ll pick something, work on it for a few weeks, get bored, and then stop.

While anyone can watch athletes on Instagram and follow their accessory work, promise to “add in a few reps of pull-ups after every workout” to get stronger, or run five miles per week to not hate cardio as much, there are more effective ways to ensure steady progress.

Over the years, I’ve created individualized programming for dozens of athletes ranging from mobility progressions, to race training blocks for the Concept2 Rower, to “functional bodybuilding” style work that simply increases raw strength. By having someone you trust provide you with an effective training plan, give you the regular feedback necessary to make adjustments in technique, and help keep you accountable week after week, you’ll be positioning yourself in a place where success is much more likely!

Another thing I’ve discussed on this blog (here, for example) is acknowledging that we can only really focus on improving a few things at a time. If your goals for the next year are to get stronger, faster, bigger, leaner, more gymnasty, more flexible, sleep more, become more mentally tough, improve your lung capacity, clean up your diet, collect more neon-colored workout gear, run a faster mile, and grow a killer beard… maybe you should take a step back and prioritize a few of those things to start. (I’ve written about that here, too.) A good coach can help you do that! This fitness thing really is a marathon, not a sprint.

AfterTheOpen2

Pick one or two things off of that list at a time to improve, get a plan that works for you, and dedicate yourself to it. After some time, move on and attack the next thing. Rinse. Repeat. But whatever you do, don’t say you’re going to get better at something, spend zero time improving it, and then get mad when Dave Castro programs it next year in the Open. You had an entire year to get better!

How can you put yourself in a place to not let a full year pass without improving on those movements and skills?

ACCOUNTABILITY. That’s how.

Let me know if you’d like to chat about how I might be able to help you! While many gyms have great programming and coaching, in order to accomplish goals that apply to you, specifically, it often takes a more personalized approach. Prioritizing goals, then creating a program (complete with effective periodization, structured training cycles, etc) can be a challenge, but they’re really fun to develop.  Let’s get better together!

I saw this really funny post on the UnitedLifters Instagram page yesterday, and it made me think a little bit.

WorkoutTiming

All my life I’ve claimed to *not* be a “Morning Person.” Yet, I chose swimming as my main sport through high school and college (filled with 5:30am practice times) and I have been a morning class coach at CrossFit gyms for the last 6+ years! I know, it doesn’t make sense to me, either. Before I coached CrossFit full-time, I had another job during the day, coached in the evenings after work, and then I’d often work out after the last class at night.

That means that in my 9+ years of CrossFit, I’ve worked out at five in the morning and at nine at night, based on my schedule at the time. I think it’s such an important experiment to conduct for yourself to see what times work best for you and your lifestyle. While it’s easy to say, “I’ll never set an alarm before 5am because only vampires and crazy people are awake at that hour,” I’ve seen people whose lives completely change when their workout is done for the day before the sun even comes up. As you might assume, anyone who is willing to get up that early is probably pretty determined! That also means the “family” of people who train at that hour really look out for one another. I must say, the Rooster Crew is an awesome group of people! And since you’re done for the day at school or at work, when you leave you can do whatever you want. You won’t need to worry about getting home after 6, 7, or 8pm and still needing to find time and motivation to cook and eat dinner, clean, and then relax. I dunno, that sounds pretty sweet to me!

That said, I’ve also seen other people who come in to the gym that early looking like they rolled straight out of bed and into their car, showed up to class still half-asleep, and left class still looking that way! While there are perks to being in and out early, it’s certainly not for everyone! One benefit of going to class in the evenings, is that they’re typically busier and bustling with energy. After a long day at work, people want to unwind, and the athletes here often form strong friendships of their own. “Work, Gym, Sleep, Repeat” becomes the routine for thousands of people in adulthood, and there are fewer places that can have fun, be social, and help you stay in shape than a good CrossFit box.

We can’t forget that other class; the Nooners! This group typically come from all walks of life! They’re stay-at-home parents, students with a late start for classes, folks who work from home, night shifters, firefighters or those in the medical field who work for multiple days straight and have multiple days off in a row, people on vacation. You can find anyone at a noon class!

I want to challenge you to attend a class at your gym that’s at a different time than your usual. If that thought just made you so uncomfortable to step outside of your comfort zone of the coaches you know and athletes you’re friends with, then we’re onto something! Isn’t it crazy to think you’ve probably never even seen a person that’s been doing CrossFit for the same amount of time as you, at the same gym, just because you go to different classes? Your new best friend or ideal training partner could be right under your nose and you’d never know! If nothing else, it would help make the community of your gym a little bit smaller with a few more people getting to know one another. If you do give it a shot, let me know how it goes.

WorkoutTiming2

Here’s last week’s recap and my goals for the upcoming week.

Last week:

  • Fitness
    • Week three of the 2018 CrossFit Games Open is over.
    • For workout 18.3, I retested and only got a single rep more when I completed a double-under at literally the last second! I was pretty bummed, as I was so much farther ahead of my time, but simply collapsed on the second set of overhead squats. My core was shaking, shoulders couldn’t hold up the bar, and I even missed a snatch attempt to finish up my last few reps. The silver lining in this is that I obviously pushed myself to the point of failure in the last few seconds of the workout. That’s a sign that I’m toying with that red line and doing it right. I feel like I should have been able to complete the next set of double-unders, so that’s what I’ll shoot for when they repeat this workout next year. Here’s a video of my first attempt.
    • This week for 18.4, I finally got a barbell movement that I love… the deadlift! However, it was paired with a movement I do NOT love… the handstand push-up. The GOOD NEWS for me, is that there was a new standard introduced for the HSPU, which meant that the playing field was leveled for a lot of athletes. As I coach to all of my classes, most people (yeah, most) don’t actually reach full ROM on their reps based on what a rep “should” look like to me. So, by requiring feet to go above the line, lots of athletes were forced to slow down and do them properly. My first attempt was alright, but when I got to the handstand walks, my mid-line and shoulder were fried! Probably would have been a good idea to practice handstand walking before the workout, haha. I am happy with my score, but if I feel recovered enough my Monday afternoon, I’ll likely give it another go. Here’s attempt number one.
  • Last Saturday, my dad reached out to see if I was free this coming weekend. When I said yes, we were able to find me a flight to go out and hang out with him and my brother in Tuscon, Arizona! We had an amazing time, watched a lot of baseball, and even got to play catch and hit some balls together. While I didn’t get a lot of sleep, it felt so good to spend time with them!
  • Stupid Human Trick of the Week goes to my first attempt at a “Pool Jump” in years. It took four or five tries, but the one I decided to record ended up being the best one! Check it out!

This week:

  • I’ve got a long night of travelling back home to Colorado ahead of me, so I’m not quite sure if I’ll feel up to retesting 18.4 tomorrow, but we’ll see.
  • Once I’m home, I need to make sleep a higher priority for me. Using my “Sleep Cycle” app, I’m going to actually TRACK how many hours I get, and it needs to be better than last week. I’ve never slept “enough” in my adult life, but these last few weeks have been abnormally bad for me. I tell every athlete I coach that nutrition and rest are MORE important for your body than the time you spend in the gym. If I can set more of an example of getting more rest, I think it will help athletes trust me even more. I’m going to try to lead by example a bit more here.

Alright, your turn. What’s going on with all of you?

The pic of the week comes from my trip to Tuscon, getting a chance to play catch with my baby bro. He’s going to college and will play baseball there next year. The kid is so good, and since I live so far away from him, I don’t get to hang with him that often. Getting in some Long Toss this morning with him felt great! So proud of him!

LongToss

Happy Saturday, everyone! I’m hanging with some family in Tuscon, Arizona, and as I sit by the pool I’m going to hop on my soap box for a minute. Since workout 18.4 of the CrossFit Games Open was released this week, I’ve seen more freak outs than I did when the 16th seed UMBC upset #1 UVA in the March Madness tournament last night!

The commentary I’m referring to, specifically, is the reaction to Dave Castro programming such heavy deadlifts in an Open workout. I’ve read that it’s “not inclusive,” that it’s too much volume at those weights, and there are a lot of claims that it’s simply irresponsible programming. I’ll hop on the “Dave Castro Sucks” bandwagon just as fast as the next person, mostly because it’s fun to do. But what I think people seem to forget is that the CrossFit Games Open is the first step to trying to identify the fittest humans on Earth. Not in your gym, not in your state… on the planet. To suggest that the Open workouts should be all inclusive is absurd to me.

First, let’s go back a little bit and talk about what the “sport” of CrossFit has done for fitness. It introduced a training program, allowed anyone to practice it at their own ability levels, and then showed the world what the best of the best are capable of doing. When I watch the Super Bowl on TV, I can cheer and yell and scream all I want, but know that I’ve never put on a pair of football pads in my life. When I watch the CrossFit Games, I know that I’ve done almost every single movement those athletes are doing, just with a lot less weight, and a lot slower. That ability to identify with, and relate, to these “superheros” is pretty cool. In order to identify who the fittest people are, the tests of fitness need to be effective enough to separate the cream from the rest of the crop. If Castro programmed 135lb deadlifts, that wouldn’t be a test of who has the most capacity, and we all know it.

Now, picture a random workout programmed at your box. If it calls for 225lb squat cleans for men, most of us would look at that and think, “Ok, that’s too heavy for me. I’m just going to scale the weight down.” I don’t understand why it’s so hard for people to approach Open workouts the same way. CrossFit even provides scaled versions of every workout for the over 440,000 people registered. I don’t think it’s irresponsible to say, “Here are the workouts we wrote to identify the fittest humans on the planet. And for those of you who aren’t able to do those yet, here is a modified version that we hope you can do.”

If that same athlete who always tries to go Rx’d on workouts (when you know they shouldn’t) tries to on this workout, I feel it’s our job as coaches to stop them just like we would any other day. Yes, there is a worldwide leaderboard associated with this competition, but if I get hurt rounding my back during 18.4, or if it happens on a random Tuesday in November, I’m still going to be a hurt athlete. In my opinion, there are so few people who should ever intentionally put themselves in a position to get hurt in the gym. If the weight for the Rx is too heavy for you, work until you can’t anymore, take your tiebreak time, and get ready for next week. If you can’t do it Rx’d at all, complete the scaled version and keep yourself moving. It’d still be a 7+ minute workout for most athletes! If you’re bummed, embarrassed, or frustrated that you don’t have the strength or skill to do something yet, turn that energy around! Instead of being down on yourself, make a commitment to improve those skills so that you’ll have them next year!

I’m a coach, and what I love most is helping people make that shift in their mindset. Saying “I can’t do” something to me is completely justifiable… as long as you end that sentence with “yet.” Find people out there who can teach you the fundamental movements, prescribe appropriate progressions, and monitor your progress along the way. It’s amazing what 20 minutes of focused skill work per day, a few days per week, can help you accomplish in a matter of months!

To me, programming 315lb. deadlifts in a workout is not irresponsible. What’s irresponsible is trying them if you’re too tired to lift the bar properly, or attempting to pick it up if you’re simply not strong enough to do so safely. Know when it makes sense to just take your tie break time and walk away on your own terms.

Alright, it’s time to go get in the pool. Take care of yourselves out there. Remember, it’s only competitive exercising, please try not to get hurt. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Some people prefer heavy barbells in workouts and others prefer more gymnastics style movements. Workout 18.4 has BOTH of those things!

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Men’s Rx Workout

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Women’s Rx Workout

The workout begins with the CrossFit Benchmark “Diane,” which is 21-15-9 of deadlifts (225/155) and handstand push-ups. Then, it gets turned up to “11” and the deadlifts go to 315/205, while the handstand push-ups turn into handstand walks (50 feet each round).

The main thing to note, is that since there is a tie break after EACH set of deadlifts, athletes should have a clue about where they hope to end, and base the entire workout on getting there as quickly and safely as possible.

Deadlifts

A 225lb. deadlift isn’t that heavy for a lot of male athletes, and a 155lb deadlift isn’t that heavy for a lot of women, but Diane isn’t the primary focus of this workout. Going unbroken because “you can” is not a good idea. Please be sure to keep your chest up and pace yourself during these reps. The handstand push-ups will take a lot longer than usual for most people, so utilizing an alternating grip and trying to relax your arms as much as you can while keeping the bar close will save your shoulders a bit.

I’d recommend most athletes break up the deadlifts into at least 3 sets with short rests for the first half of the workout. If and when you make it to the second half, it’ll need to be a judgement call for how to go about the heavier deads. If you can safely brace and go through quick singles, that might make more sense than trying to hang on for larger sets, but needing to take longer rests.

Handstand Push-Ups

Souls are going to get crushed here today. Assuming judging is done properly, thousands of athletes are going to no-repped for not hitting the movement standards. I recommend having someone video a few of your reps before the workout starts. Play around with staying locked out on the wall and flexing and extending your ankles, seeing how that places your feet in relation to the line, and making sure you know what a “good rep” feels like. Once you get tired, it’s going to be a lot more challenging to get all the way up and over. It’ll almost be a “scap push-up” at the top of the rep for most athletes.

When considering pacing, the only thing athletes should be thinking about is not to burn out. For “regular” Diane, people will often get through the round of 21 in only a few sets, struggle through the round of 15, and then completely crash and burn on that final round of 9 reps. Take that feeling and multiply it by 100 for the feeling most people will likely have here. Small sets, listen to your judge to minimize no-reps, and don’t get frustrated! It’s better to take long rests between good attempts, than to keep getting no-repped over and over again.

Handstand Walks

If you make it to this part of the workout, congrats! That’s going to be a huge accomplishment for this workout. Shoulders will likely be pretty tired, so as long as the main focus is keeping your arms straight, locked out, and strong, athletes with handstand walks should at least be able to make the 5ft increments without too much difficulty. I don’t think it’s necessary to do all 25ft in a row if the likelihood of falling is high. Walk a bit, drop if you need to, shake out those arms, and get back up.

Scaled Version

The weight is lighter (135/95 for the first part, and 185/135 for the second) and the movements are less advanced. But that does not mean the workout is easy! Hand-release push-ups are the second movement in the first half, and bear crawls were introduced in the Open for the second part.

The name of the game for the Scaled version is to just keep moving! On the set of 21 deadlifts, quick sets of 7 should work for a lot of athletes. Remember, just because you can go unbroken on the set of 21, doesn’t mean you should. The weight gets quite a bit heavier for the second time through and you don’t want to blow up your lower back!

The short rest on the ground for hand-release push-ups should allow athletes to keep moving a little faster through those reps. Since the bear crawls will be less stress on the shoulders for the second half of the workout, I would recommend pushing a little bit faster than you might want to on the hand-release reps.

While only a few athletes will likely finish the Rx’d version of this workout, there will be a lot more who make it through the Scaled version. That means instead of viewing this as a “get as far as you can” workout, you should approach it with a “what’s the best way to pace this entire workout” mentality. Smaller sets, short rest, will be the way to control heart rate and relieve your lower back from being under tension for too long.

Just remember that this is supposed to be fun! Put a smile on your face, keep your core tight and chest up, and get after it. Only one more week to go!

Good luck, have fun, I believe in you!