Posts Tagged ‘In the Open’

Thrusters and Chest-to-Bar Pull-Ups for 19.5. A lot of us knew they were going to show up, but I don’t know anyone who predicted a workout this brutal! It’s more reps than Double-Fran, and is more challenging because of the chest-to-bars. Ouch!

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My three main pieces of advice for this one are as follow:

  1. Planned Sets. This applies more to the Thrusters than the Pull-Ups. One way to do this (if you are proficient with the Thruster weight), could be to break down your Thrusters into three sets each round. Meaning, for the round of 33, complete three sets of 11 reps. Or, if you’re like me and don’t like needing to repeat the same number of reps more than once, go 13/11/9. Then, for the set of 27 reps, go 11/9/7, and so on.
  2. Control. Controlling your hear rate will be critical, especially with the Thrusters. Coming out of the gate too hot will lead to a ton of standing around by the time you’re halfway through this workout. On pull-ups, know yourself and your abilities before this workout begins. Completing a couple of huge sets at the beginning will lead to most people frying their grip early on. This is going to be a longer workout. Be smart, conserve your energy, and complete steady sets from the start. It’ll be much better to save a little energy for the end of the workout than to crushed for the last two rounds!
  3. Double Fran Plus! The workout Fran is 21-15-9 Thrusters and Pull-Ups. This is more than double that volume. And with Chest-to-Bars! I say that again because I think you need to remember that from the very beginning of this workout! Break up your sets often and early, just minimize your rest between them. Keep yourself moving.

If you watch my video for the week, as always, please let me know what you think and if it helped you at all.

This is the final week of the 2019 CrossFit Games Open! Let me know how it goes for you!

A lot of people I know predicted that workout 19.4 would include some sort of Snatch variation and one kind of Muscle-Up. Well, those friends were correct!

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My three main pieces of advice for this one are as follow:

  1. Which version are you? In my mind, there are two versions of this workout for “Rx” athletes. The first is for athletes who are able to complete the first 3-round workout without too much difficulty, but who will then likely be unable to complete a single Bar Muscle-Up. My advice to those athletes is to view this workout as an ABSOLUTE SPRINT! Get through those three rounds of 10 Snatches and 12 Bar-Facing Burpees as fast as you possibly can! The tie break time after that final Burpee of the third round (Rep 66) will separate THOUSANDS of athletes around the world. Get to that tie break as fast as possible! For the other group of athletes who plan to make it to, and through several of the Bar Muscle-Ups, I think this workout needs to be paced a little bit more. Making it through the first three-rounds and being destroyed will likely leave very little in the tank to get through the Bar Muscle-Ups as efficiently as you’d like. Leave some juice in the tank, and break up the Muscle-Ups earlier than you might want to. Something tells me that shoulders and triceps are going to be more fatigued than people expect.
  2. Breathe. For athletes looking to get into the second three-rounder, it will be very easy to get a little bit too excited when this workout starts and make it an absolute sprint. A lot of athletes can sprint one, and maybe even two rounds of Snatches and Burpees, but if that third round takes it out of you, even a three minute rest won’t allow you to finish strong in the second portion. Keep your heart rate down, your breath slow and controlled, and put yourself in a position where you can *finish* this workout stronger than you start it.
  3. Relax. Same advice as last week. You can’t control other athletes who get credit for “garbage reps” by their judges, so don’t even worry about it! Stand up all the way on your Snatches, face your bar and take off with both feet on your Burpees, and follow protocol on the Muscle-Ups. I received several messages last week from people telling me how frustrating it was to watch judges count Handstand Push-Ups that didn’t meet the standard, but my response to that remains the same; “It’s just a silly competition, and none of it really matters.” Stay in your lane, have fun with your friends, and only worry about controlling what you can control. Remember, this is supposed to be fun!

If you spend the time to watch my video for the week, as always, please let me know what you think, and if it helped you at all.

Only one week of the 2019 CrossFit Games Open remains after this week. Have some fun out there, everyone!

There are going to be a lot of tired shoulders after 19.3 is said and done. Here’s the workout!

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My three main pieces of advice for this one are as follow:

  1. Get your shoulders warm. The bulk of this workout involves making sure your shoulders can move, or stabilize, weight appropriately. Prime your body with that in mind.
  2. Know Your Role. Some athletes know that Strict Handstand Push-Ups may not be in the cards for them today. That’s fine! The workout has a “Tie Break” to be logged at the end of the final Box Step-Up and another after the final Strict HSPU. If the goal is to get through the Lunges and Step-Ups… do that as quickly as possible!
    Second, on the HSPU, there will be thousands of athletes who come out of the gates with too large of sets. Please recognize that for most athletes, 50 reps is a really high amount… especially when tired. Smaller sets and shorter rest without “no-reps” will make for faster work than standing around and missing reps at the end because of fatigue.
  3. Relax. Gyms all over this great world of ours will allow athletes to get away with garbage reps… it’s just human nature. One athlete feels bad no-repping their friend, so full range of motion isn’t enforced. It’ll be ok. Have conversations with your coaches, classmates, and competitors beforehand, and then just move on with your day. The goal is that everyone does every rep correctly, but that simply doesn’t always happen. Just control what you do. That’s all you should focus on anyways!

***I PROMISE I TRY TO KEEP MY VIDEOS SHORT!***

If you spend the time to watch this, as always, please let me know what you think, and if it helped you at all.

Good luck out there, friends!

This week we’ve got (what is essentially) our first “repeat” workout from a previous year’s Open. Workout 19.2 is structured basically the same as workout 16.2, the only difference is that instead of potentially being stopped at minute four, all athletes get the chance to work for at least 8 minutes. I love that!

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My strategy video for this week’s workout is longer than last week’s, but I felt it was necessary to drill in a few key points on how I think people should strategize this one!

  1. Tie Break: In this workout, your judge will write the time after you complete each set of 50 double-unders. More than other workouts, I’m encouraging athletes to charge a little bit faster through what will likely be their final set of jump rope in order to hopefully move ahead of other athletes on the leaderboard. If you tie with someone else, the person who finished their final set of doubles first will be considered the winner!
  2. Barbell Loading: This week, you *are* allowed to have other people switch out your barbell weights. If there are extra bodies around to help do that, use their help! The last thing I feel like doing when I’m tired is bending over to load or unload my bar. Use any help you have, or load up multiple barbells if possible. Conserve as much of your energy as possible!
  3. Singles on Cleans: I know that for a lot of athletes the first weight (and maybe even the second) are quite manageable and the tendency will be to want to “touch-and-go” reps. Please resist that urge. For athletes who plan to make it to the third or fourth round of this workout, rounds one and two are just your warm-up. If you jack up your heart rate too fast early on, you will likely not be able to recover when the weight actually gets heavy. Find some hard rubber (or competition) bumper plates, keep that bar close, and stick with quick singles for this entire piece.

I hope you found this information useful, and that the video gave some more advice to how I think you should attack this thing. Now get out there and have some fun!

If you watch the video below, I’d love to know what you think in the comments!

Does workout 19.1 favor tall athletes?

Sure.

Do you know who it favors more than tall people, though?

Fit people.

It’s only workout one of five. There are still four more to go!

To people who consider themselves “short”… build that tiny little bridge for our tiny little legs, and get over it. You’ll be “graced” with Thrusters (a traditionally non-tall-person friendly movement) before you know it.

(Then you’ll probably complain that Thrusters were programmed, too! No? That’s just me that’ll complain? Ok, cool.)

Tall people… enjoy your 15 minutes of CF Games Open movement selection glory! I bet Burpees and Air Squats will be here soon! (Short people, rejoice!)

Now, get back out there and have some fun!

The 2019 CrossFit Games Open is here, and workout 19.1 was released a few hours ago!

The workout is fairly straightforward, too. It’s a 15 Minute AMRAP or 19 Wall Ball Shots and 19 Calories on the Rower.

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In my strategy video for this one I tried to keep it simple, and my three main pieces of advice are as follows:

  1. PACE – Keep your heart rate low and your breath as controlled as possible. Your bodies are going to want to “Fight or Flight” fast if you come sprinting out of the gates.
  2. Transitions – There will be a lot of up and down in this workout. For the Wall Balls, keep the ball as close to the wall as you can when you finish each set, and try your best not to let it drop to the ground if you need a break mid set. On the Rower, keep that wheel spinning at an even pace, and make the transition from sitting down on the machine to getting back up is as smooth as possible.
  3. Movement Efficiency – It doesn’t matter how fast or slow you’re moving, if you’re wasting a ton of energy as you do it. Finding subtle ways to row or “throw” a bit more productively could lead to conserving enough energy to give a solid push for the last few minutes. When it comes to these movements, less wasted effort equals more reps!

If you watch the video below, I’d love to know what you think in the comment!

 

The first week of the 2019 CrossFit Games Open is under way, and I’m excited for another year of fun with all of you!

-Tom

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.

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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!

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!