Posts Tagged ‘CrossFit Open’

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.

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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!

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

Last week:

  • Fitness
    • The 2018 CrossFit Games Open is under way, so that means the next few weeks of training won’t be too productive. Unless my soul gets absolutely crushed, I’ll likely redo most of the workouts. It’s not because I think I’m going to Regionals, but because it’s always fun for me to see if I can beat my first score.
    • For workout 18.1, I retested and got 22 more reps the second time, so that was fun.
    • This week, I paced the first part of 18.2 too much, and got buried under the clean. I’m fairly confident I can go faster on 18.2, but literally don’t think my legs are strong enough to stand up with any more weight. Let’s just hope I don’t go faster on the first, and then crash and burn on the clean. I know quite a few people who had that happen!
  • Drywall in the garage is done! It only took 6 hours on Sunday, but we did it!

This week:

  • I plan to record my strategy video for the third workout of the 2018 CrossFit Games Open. People are still responding well to them, so yay!
  • This coming weekend, it would be great to start mounting the pegboard in the garage.

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

The pic of the week comes from a little walk we took on Saturday. It may just look like a sunset over mall parking lot, but it’s more than that. In this moment, Em and I were having an incredible conversation about work, family, and life. The older I get, the more I cherish moments like these. I hope you all had a great weekend, too!

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Week number one of the 2018 CrossFit Games Open is all but done, and excitement fills the air! Yet, thousands of people all over the world have already started to lose their minds. This happens EVERY year and it gets funnier and funnier to me each time. Here are three of the people you’ll run into over the next month as the competition continues to unfold!

Person Number One: The “Casual” Athlete

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“I don’t really care about the Open this year. I’m just going to do it for fun!”

Yet for some reason, immediately after completing the workout, they’ll obsess over the scores of people they know, comment that someone else got away with no-reps, and how this other person clearly lied to get that high of a score.

You know, sometimes people are just better. They may work harder, could be more naturally talented, and the movements selected may have just been more in their wheelhouse. Also… are there people who cheat and lie when submitting their Open scores? YES, of course! But what is you stressing out going to do about it? Nothing.

Person Number Two: The Failed “Non-Repeater”

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“This year, it’s all one-and-dones for me. No retests!”

This person also downplays how important the Open is to them, and does their first attempt either Thursday night right after the workout is released, or on Friday at some point to “get it out of the way.” They then go home and drive themselves crazy over that one time they set down the barbell when they shouldn’t have.

On Saturday or Sunday morning when they go to Open Gym to cheer on their friends, they decide they’ll just give this one workout another go. After a few more hours of leaderboarding that night, they head into the gym on Monday frustrated that they’ve dropped 1,500 more spots in the last 24 hours. Well…. maybe if they retested ONE MORE TIME at 4:50pm, they could squeak out a few more reps. This pattern repeats itself every week throughout the entire Open.

Person Number Three: The “Target”

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“I can’t believe they redid the workout just to beat my score.”

First of all, that might true. Especially in competitive gyms or regions where people throw down against one another week in and week out. And there’s nothing wrong with that. The Open is LITERALLY a competition! But most of the time, it’s not just about you. Sure, you may be a blip on the radar of someone who decides to retest, but there are probably a lot of other people they’re trying to take down, too! Don’t be upset that your buddy beat your score by 3 reps, be flattered that you pushed them enough to want to go again.

A few years ago, I used to train CrossFit two to three hours per day, five to six days per week. The sport was my life, and my primary goal was to try and qualify for Regionals. Unfortunately, I never accomplished that goal. These days, I work out three to five hours per week depending on availability in my work schedule. Whereas in the past, my motivation for retesting was to try and improve my ranking, these days it’s just fun to see if I can beat myself. I love the challenge of deconstructing my performance, and making up a more effective strategy to try and improve.

Today, I walked into the gym and didn’t want to do the workout that was programmed. After deciding that I thought I could beat my 18.1 score from my first attempt, I decided to retest. That’s all there was to it, and I was fine with my decision. I have stressed out approximately zero minutes about my ranking and simply wanted to give it another go. I would support almost any athlete who made the same decision, assuming their body felt up to the challenge. Just don’t do it if your hands are destroyed, your lower back is blown up, and if you’re motivated by anyone else. You’ll drive yourself crazy!

While I am all about people becoming competitive during this time of year, I never want your self-worth to be determined by your ranking in a random workout. If the Open makes you feel like Jessie Spano while spending two hours straight refreshing the leaderboard, take a deep breath, set your phone on the table, and go for a walk. Don’t pretend to be excited for this annual event, but secretly be a basket case. Just smile, do your best, and have fun. You are so much more than your Open ranking. I promise.

Happy 2018 CrossFit Games Open, everyone! It’s finally here!

The first workout (18.1) was released tonight, and for the SEVENTH year in a row, I’ve recorded my strategy video with my advice for the best way to attack it. First, let’s review the workout:

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To watch my strategy video, click below. Otherwise, I’ll summarize this workout in a few sentences below. Enjoy!

Toes To Bar

There are some people who can do 8 Toes To Bars unbroken all day long. Most athletes, however, cannot. If you know that 8 reps in a row isn’t sustainable for 8-12 rounds, I would recommend breaking them up from the start. Depending on the athlete, that could mean doing sets as 5 reps, short rest, 3 reps… or athletes who do quick singles or doubles. Knowing your own limitations will be key for this, and not relying on adrenaline of the first few rounds pushing you to come out swinging and then crash and burn.

Hang Clean and Jerks

Your motto during this movement should be “No Missed Reps!” Stand all the way up and pause before your first rep. Make sure the dumbbell touches your shoulder after the clean. Control the lockout overhead before lowering the weight from the jerk. There are so many chances to cut a rep short during this movement. Remind yourself that 20 minutes is a long time, and pace your effort and speed accordingly. Push Press may work great for 5 rounds, but if your arms are wrecked after that, are you confident enough with your technique to switch to confident Push Jerks? I hope so! If you’re strong enough, I think hanging onto the dumbbells for all 10 reps should be a goal throughout the entire workout, even if it means pausing with the dumbbell at your shoulders or at the hang for a few seconds.

Rowing

This movement will feel REALLY EASY the first few rounds, and you’ll be tempted to pull at a much higher power output than normal. Resist the urge! My advice here is to be powerful and efficient with your strokes (longer and stronger versus short and fast) in order to conserve energy and keep your heart rate down. Most men will likely average out somewhere in the 1050-1250 calories per hour range, while most women in the 850-1050 range. Remember, you’ll spend half of your time on the rower each round! If you’re gassed by round 4 from sprinting too hard, you’ll probably have a bad time for the second half of the workout. I’d rather you start slower and build as you go, versus crashing and burning.

At the end of the day, I think this is a really good first workout for the 2018 Open. It is really inclusive, and allows for a wide array of pacing strategies based on where our individual strengths may fall. Let me know what you think of this video, and I’d love to hear how it goes for you!

If there’s one thing CrossFitters love, it’s buying new gear. Twelve pairs of shoes? Of course. Wrist wraps in every color of the rainbow? Yep. Headbands to match the Stance socks you choose for the day? Uh huh. That cute t-shirt with the clever saying that makes you laugh every time you read it? Well, I mean… it IS true that “Burpees hate you too”, so….

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With the 2018 CrossFit Games Open quickly approaching, it gives athletes the PERFECT excuse, rather opportunity, to step up their fresh and deck out their WOD gear! I’m pretty sure the Nano 412’s are gonna be released soon, and if you want to make your Toes to Bar a little easier, I think you know which kicks to pick up!

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All jokes aside though, if you’re planning on upgrading any of your gear before the Open, the time is now. Finding a jump rope that you like can be a process. There’s nothing worse than showing up on Game Day still not knowing if you really like the rope in your hands. If you buy new shoes, it can take a few days or weeks to break them in. Are you going to experiment with working out with a belt on for the first time, or finally pick up a pair of those gymnastics wraps? Practice with them over the next few weeks first, so that by the Open you’ll know what you do or don’t like.

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Photo cred: WireCutter.com

When it comes to fashion, anytime is a good time to rock that new shirt or sports bra. But when it comes to function, I highly encourage you to take your time and accumulate gear that you really like, and helps you perform at your best! Quality over quantity. When it’s all said and done, if you start now, your squad will be looking like these two for workout 18.1! Happy Shopping!

One of the strangest phenomenons I’ve noticed about the CrossFit Games Open, is that the trend of wanting to “redo” workouts to improve one’s score exists with both beginners and CrossFit Games athletes alike. Today’s post is on the motivation behind the do-overs. WHY do people choose to put themselves through the same torture they just experienced, with only a few days (if that) between attempts?

***Before we dive in, let the record show I am 100% one of those people who typically retests!***

In my experience, athletes will typically retest the Open workouts for one of a few reasons:

  1. “On the Bubble”– These people find themselves right on the cusp of those who might qualify for Regionals. (Or at least they think they’re on the bubble…) It’s so crazy to think that over 5 the course of workouts ONE SINGLE REP could be the difference between making it, or not making it, to the next phase in this worldwide competition.
  2. Beat Friends– Here’s something that you might find hard to believe: CrossFitters are typically very competitive people! That means if you go head-to-head with your friend and they beat you by a few reps, you only have one option: Redo the workout, beat THEIR score by a few reps, and defend your family’s honor! Am I Right? Obviously.
  3. Type-A / Perfectionists– These folks “shouldn’t have set down the bar” with only 5 reps to go. They “could have rowed” just a little faster. That chalk break “wasn’t really necessary” at the end. We know, we know. We all feel that way. Just because you could have squeezed out a few more reps during round 4, though, doesn’t mean you need to do the workout again.
  4. Leader-boarders– A lot of times, these people don’t even know why they do workouts over! They’re not going to qualify for Regionals. They casually work out a few times per week to stay in shape and hang out with their friends. The Open is just a fun few weeks out of the year, then it’s back to normal. Yet for some reason, going from 2,528th in the Region to 2,194th in the Region on workout 3 makes them feel a lot better about themselves. Improving a mostly (completely?) irrelevant ranking usually isn’t worth putting your body through doing 200 deadlifts at 225lbs in 48 hours! Be smart. Train safe. Recover adequately. Repeat. As one of my friends used to say: Don’t Let Ego Be Your Amigo.

If you’re one (or more) of the people above,  I’m not here to judge you! I have done nearly every single Open workout (since the Open was a thing) more than once. Nearly every single one! From the list above, I’m a ‘Reason #3’ person.

For MOST of us, though, please remember: Your score on an Open workout doesn’t really matter!

I’m serious. That’s not meant to hurt your feelings. In fact, it’s meant to encourage you to NOT hurt yourself! CrossFit is hard. The Open workouts typically make us push even harder. That means that doubling or tripling down on the stress you’re putting your body through will take more out of you than if you just did them once. Decide if it’s really worth it to give it another go.

After all that, if you still decide to retest workouts each week, more power to you. The only thing I want you consider is: Why?

If the risk (of being too fatigued, getting hurt during your attempt, the frustration if you don’t do better) outweighs the reward (a few higher spots in your ranking and a higher score?), maybe sit it out. To truly perform at your best during the Open, it takes months of training and preparation. Retesting because your body just knows where the pain hits doesn’t necessarily mean you’re any more fit, either. These workouts were designed to be one-and-done. When it’s Game Day, you typically don’t get a second shot anyways!

Finally, let’s address the elephant in the room about “Reason #2” people. I know you love competing with “so-and-so” at the gym. Maybe they know it, and you push each other every day. Maybe you’ve never even met them, but you always see their times and scores on the whiteboard. And just maybe, they’re your “Gym Nemisis”… the person you HAVE to beat or it ruins your day. Our competitiveness in this fitness thing can quickly turn into something negative. Instead of wasting energy being mad that someone beat you, criticizing them and making up “excuses” as to why they beat you, maybe this is the year you can just be excited for everyone! Positive and encouraging energy in a gym is so contagious! Unfortunately, so are those people who sit in the corner scowling because someone beat their score. You know, at the end of the day, they might just actually be better at exercise racing than you are in those particular workouts. Guess what? It’s ok. Don’t lose sleep, or friends, over a stupid competition!

All that said, I’ll still likely redo some of them. So, there’s that.

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It’s a new year, which means one thing: The 2018 CrossFit Games Open is coming!

It also means that Thirty-six people you know are “definitely going to make the CrossFit Games, bro!” Am I right? Of those thirty-six, at least four of them are going to start training this week, too.

Look, I’ve been doing CrossFit for nearly a DECADE (that’s a long time), and I’ve been a full-time CrossFit coach for over half of it. I get the opportunity to see the program help people improve their quality of life nearly every single day. So yes, you can call me a believer.

I’ve also been around the “Sport” of CrossFit for so long, that I’ve seen it grow from a BBQ with a few dozen friends at the Castro Ranch in Aromas to an internationally televised event with a prize purse of over two million dollars. That means I remember when the best athlete at your gym might have been the best athlete in the state, and when a 225 pound clean and jerk in a competition for a guy would leave spectators in awe! Now, there are hundreds (if not thousands?) of athletes worldwide who devote their lives to working out full-time. Some of them are former or current Olympians, some are internationally ranked in multiple disciplines, and many of them are on steroids and other performance enhancements. (That’s not speculation, it’s a proven fact.) What does that mean? Well, unfortunately it means that most (so…. 99.9999999%) of your friends and training partners who have full-time desk jobs, spouses, kids, and pets to take care of, and any kind of a social life are unlikely to make it to the next level. Sorry.

NOW, no part of that last paragraph is designed to insult or bash anyone, or dim the fire inside of those who devote months out of the year to constantly improving. In fact, over the last year, I’ve had the privilege of coaching multiple athletes who have actually competed at the CrossFit Games for multiple years! It’s incredible to watch the motivation, dedication, and performance output of these athletes and their training partners! Day in and day out I’m amazed at what they do. So it CAN be done, no doubt.

What this post does aims to do, is serve as a friendly reminder to nearly everybody else who is getting ready for the Open. For about 6 weeks each year, over a quarter of a million people sign up for, and compete in, this worldwide competition. I’ve seen PR Clean and Jerks, first-ever double-unders and muscle-ups, and countless other INCREDIBLE moments during the weeks we set aside to push that extra mile! In fact, it gives me goosebumps to recall some of those victories. What I’ve also seen, though, are people who become devastated when the results of a single workout don’t match where their expectations were set. I’ve seen people who trained hard for nine or more months look back on an entire year with regret for their overall ranking not being where they had hoped it would be when all was said and done. Worst of all, I’ve seen people push through injury and forget how important it is to let their bodies recover because it was more important to be able to write #NoRestDays at the end of their Instagram posts, and mean it.

At the end of the day, CrossFit is an activity that most people do to improve their health and hopefully have some fun along the way. When it becomes much more than that for some, this fun little fitness program can instead become the source of so much stress and anxiety. Can you see how that sounds a little silly?

My Call To Action for each of you is to try to keep it in all perspective.

Work hard. Find good coaching and fun training partners. Recover, eat well, and breathe. Repeat.

The 2018 Open is almost here. And if you play your cards right, it’s going to be a blast.

If you ever get caught up in things you can’t control, find yourself more unhappy than happy when thinking about this CrossFit thing, or are debating whether or not to do that workout for the 7th time in 4 days, remember what Will Ferrell’s tattoo said in the movie “The Internship” and relax. This is supposed to be FUN, after all!

As some of you know, I started this blog a years ago, and have given my thoughts on a lot of topics in that time. When the video below from four years ago popped up in my feed today, I took a few minutes to watch it.

First of all, yes, I’ve always been a huge nerd and watching this video made me laugh. Second, aside from the gym where I work, not much has changed in regards to my feelings on the integrity of athletes who compete in this event. So, instead of writing a huge post on it, I’ll be brief, and then just share my thoughts from 2012 with you guys once again.

My friends and I always joke with each other about how one’s ranking or placement in “The Open” really has no impact on any aspect of practically anyone’s lives (unless you make it to the next level.. then, you’re a better exercise racer than other people… congrats). So, to be 682nd in the Region, and to do so by cheating even though your squats weren’t low enough, or you didn’t lock out your arms, is honestly just kind of sad.

Most people, nearly all in fact, who compete in The Open do so honestly and fairly. Most of us simply enjoy the spirit of competition and the excitement of being pushed out of your comfort zone for a few weeks. Most of us think it’s fun. However, as the next five weeks come and go, and you start seeing names you’ve never heard of before, and scores from people you DO know that jusssst don’t seem right…. my advice is simple:

Don’t worry about it. Smile. Have fun. And enjoy the competition and sense of community that this event brings to the CrossFit world.

Good luck. Have fun. I believe in you guys!