Posts Tagged ‘Smashby Speaks’

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Practice makes perfect? No, practice makes progress!

Too often, athletes approach their training in search of the moment when they’ll be “strong enough” or “fast enough.” Unless you’re training to compete in a specific event, consider viewing fitness as your own unique method for physical self-expression.

Adding 50 lbs to your back squat, shaving two minutes off of your 5K run time, or increasing your flexibility enough to touch your toes for the first time are all great goals. But if you only view “success” as the day you achieve that goal, you’ll miss out on all of the smaller, incremental gains you make along the way.

Instead of striving for perfection in your health and fitness endeavors, strive for improvement. The phrase “practice makes perfect” sets too many people up for failure. “Practice makes progress,” on the other hand, is a philosophy that encourages and acknowledges improvement in any capacity.

As with many things in life, fitness should be viewed as a marathon, not a sprint. Let me know if you need help setting goals for yourself. Finding something that excites you, and then creating a road map on how to get there is a really fun process.

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Did the 2018 CrossFit Games get you fired up and ready to improve more by next year’s Open?

Do you have an intelligent plan in place to get there? You should.

You don’t need a personalized coach to help you create that plan, but if you do it yourself, I suggest at least running over your plan with someone else that you know and trust. Let me know if I can help you in any way.

Train safe, train smart, and have fun out there!

An athlete asked for my advice to help them plan their “return to sport” after some time out of the gym. Whether your training stops due to injury, illness, surgery, or just vacation, it can be really unsafe to push too hard after you’ve been out for several weeks or more.

My advice for most athletes in this context is fairly simple and consistent, regardless of the circumstances: “Build back slower than you think you should.”

A lot of us are Type-A, chargers, achievers, and go-getters. Lifting lighter weight, scaling back reps or rounds in a workout, and taking more rest days can feel like torture. But at the end of the day, I think the big picture needs to be taken into account. If you “Rx” a workout before your body is ready, the recovery time can be extended exponentially, and old injury could be aggravated or made even worse, or new imbalances could be introduced due to overcompensating. Give yourself time to recover fully. Reestablish healthier and safer movement patterns. See and feel how your body reacts to training at 50% for a few days, then 55%, then 60%, and so on. In many cases, slowing down more than you want can lead to a strengthening of movement that actually will help you come back even stronger than before.

As always, I’ve got a lot more to say on the subject, but I tried to keep the video to around four minutes. If anyone would like to continue this conversation, leave a comment and let’s keep it going.

Have a great Memorial Day Weekend, friends!

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!

It’s time for me to go ‘Uncle Rico” on you for a minute…

It was the final event of a two day CrossFit Competition. I was basically in a tie going into the final event. My friends who were there lined the “competition floor,” which in this case happened to be a pool deck, prepping to cheer me on. The head judge yelled, “3, 2, 1, GO!” and we were off.

When I work out, as much as I’ve tried, I typically don’t enjoy myself. I haven’t mastered the Annie Thorisdottir yet, where I can smile throughout the suffering. So often times mid workout, it probably looks like I’m crying. (Spoiler Alert: I probably am!) Even worse, I don’t love being the center of attention (believe it or not), so when a bunch of people are standing around watching my suffering, I’m even less comfortable! I think it’s because I wish I could be faster FOR THEM, and get frustrated with myself. Ridiculous, I know!

So the workout starts and I’m neck and neck with the other guy. Halfway through the event, we’re still going rep for rep! At this point, “THE SUCK” starts to hit. My muscles scream and all I want to do is slow down. Those friends who are cheering me on are right next to me. One of them in particular started to scream the things that most CrossFit fans yell… “Dig Deep!” and “Pick It Up” and “3, 2, 1, GO!” to keep me moving along. The other people around were just saying things like…. “You got this, Tom. C’mon.” After hearing, “YOU HAVE TO GO NOW! GOOO!” for the last time, I couldn’t take it anymore.

Mid workout I turned to that person, gave them a death stare, and stared back down at the ground trying to regain my composure enough to keep going. Seconds later, I heard other friends in that group chuckle to each other and say, “Did you see that LOOK?! Oh man, he is NOT happy!” Typing that story makes me laugh pretty hard. Why? Because I was so ungrateful and selfish that I WASN’T appreciating friends trying everything in their power to encourage and support me. I was exercise racing and was so caught up in my own brain, that I couldn’t have just been flattered and honored that so many of my close friends chose to be there in my corner.

Why tell that story? Well, it’s because the 2018 is coming!!

That means that in a few short weeks, thousands of people worldwide are going to care a little bit more about CrossFit. They’re going to register for the CrossFit Games Open, and once (or twice?) per week, they’re going to throw down in their garage or at their box with a few dozen of their friends. The music will seem just a bit louder, the cheers will be a little bit more passionate, and the pain cave will be a little bit deeper. It’s just how it goes.

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Photo Cred: carrotsncake.com

But yesterday, while I was finishing a workout alone, some friends in the gym were cheering me on. I couldn’t get myself to push anymore, but the “Pick up the bar, Tom” I was hearing was starting to upset me again. “I can’t pick it up!” I’d say to myself. The “C” word that I always yell at my athletes for saying to me. Can’t. “You CAN, don’t tell yourself you can’t!” Afterwards, one of my friends walked up to me and said, “I just realized, I don’t know the type of encouragement you like.” What an awesome question to ask!

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Photo Cred- DenverPost.com (also, hi friends!)

As the Open approaches, have that conversation with your friends, training partners, and classmates. Some people want and NEED the crowd in their faces SCREAMING AT THEM to Pick Up the Bar! Some people just want positive and encouraging support from their friends. Others want to be left alone. By talking about that with your crew, you help ensure that when the clock starts counting, you’re in a position to be as supportive as possible to those you care about. At the end of the day, that’s what I always strive to do. In every aspect of fitness, what works for one person might not work for another. Even though it’s “just a workout,” it can have a much more profound impact on someone else than you might realize. Don’t lose a friend because you yelled at them when they had 5 Wall Balls to go…. or because you didn’t, when you were just trying to help!

The Open is almost here, friends. Start getting excited!

p.s.- Once I regained feeling in my body and got oxygen back in my brain after that event I talked about above, I apologized for being a jerk to the friend that cheered me on, and thanked them for being there for me!

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!

If you know me, you know that I love beer. I also kind of like fitness. Many years ago, some genius came up with the idea to combine these two areas of interest for so many: Running and Beer!

This lead to the invention of one of the most important sporting events of all-time: THE BEER MILE!!! The Beer Mile website features the OFFICIAL RULES for the race, but let me explain it to you in the simplest of terms:

Drink a beer. Run 400m. Repeat 3 more times. Celebrate. (For a total of 4 beers, and a mile of running)

Corey Bellemore is a freak, and broke the World Record for this event yet again last year with a time of 4:33.6!! He drank FOUR beers and ran an entire mile in the time that is faster than most humans can fathom ever running a mile by itself. Bravo, sir, and thank you for inspiring others to step up their game!!

I’ve run this event a few times, and in the interest of striving to be “Better Than Yesterday,” I will aim to improve my Personal Best in 2018 yet again. (My current PR is 7:16, for those keeping track at home)

For those of you who read that the World Record is 4:33.6 and said, “That’s impossible,” check out the video below. Insane! Corey, if you want to come out to Colorado and train with me for a few days, we’ve got a spare bedroom in the house. Let me know!

“Hey, maybe knock that down 10 lbs and focus on staying tight at the bottom of your clean.”

“You could go Rx, or you could go a little lighter and finish in the suggested time domain.”

“Sorry, I know you thought it was a PR, but you didn’t stand all the way up before dropping the bar.”

Those are just a few of the examples of things I say on a regular basis to athletes in class. Over time, I’m able to create pretty meaningful relationships with most of the people that I coach (thankfully), but there’s always a certain few who refuse to take advice or listen to the suggestion of the person directing the group.

I’m sure there have been times where a coach is jealous that an athlete can out-perform them. Or times where athletes feel like the coach is insulting them by suggesting a lighter weight, or requesting and increased range of motion. I, however, don’t play any of those games. The eye rolls, the weight or movement selection out of spite, the sighing and being bitter for a few days… it doesn’t help anyone!

My job is to help you get better. My goal is to keep you healthy. My responsibility is to not let you do something that could get you hurt. So when I’m leading a class and make a comment to someone about slowing down or being more in control, please don’t be offended. Talk to me if you have any questions, ask me to video a rep or two and show you what I’m talking about (I’m a very visual learner), or respectfully tell me you’re going to do it anyways. But please don’t think I’m ever trying to hold you back. I’ve been doing this for a long time (in comparison to a lot of people in the CrossFit Game), and have one thing in the forefront of my mind each day… to be able to walk out of the gym and say, “Nobody died!”

As a rule, I’d always rather you go a little lighter and practice perfect form in workouts than “going for it” and risk getting hurt. Besides… almost none of us are going to the Games. We’re doing this fitness thing for fun, to stay healthy, and to look better naked. Get a time that’s 20 seconds slower to put up on the white board, but walk out of here on your own knowing you did everything right!

Help me, help you!

Safety first. I’ve got your back. I’m here for YOU!

-Smashby

DISCLAIMER:
The thoughts featured in the post are mine and mine alone! 

I have never claimed to be a great writer. In fact, I usually say my writing is like my talking… I usually do too much and use too many words! But every once and a while I see some piece from a blog or a FB post that makes me want to literally jump up and down and high five a stranger. Today, I read one of those posts! *High Five*

The topic covered was is something most of us typically refer to as “rep-shaving” in our little CrossFit world. My blog has featured at LEAST 2 posts on the topic, so I’ll include the link right below here if you care to go back and read my thoughts.

https://smashbytraining.com/2016/02/25/smashby-speaks-the-crossfit-games-open-2016/

Now this NEW post, written by Mike Warkentin (who is the managing editor of the CrossFit Journal and the founder of CrossFit 204) is probably the most brutally honest, and all-encompassing blocks of words that I’ve read on the topic. It’s called “An Open Letter to Cheaters” and basically says what almost all of us think on the issue:

Why? Why would someone intentionally skip reps/rounds during a workout, shorten range of motion, or write the wrong weight used for that Shoulder Press?

We all have had brain meltdowns during or after a workout and lose count when we can’t even see straight, but some athletes out there do it on purpose. Often. My typical approach as a coach (which falls into one of his categories in the piece) is to just let it go. I’ve said the sentence, “They’re only cheating themselves…” countless times, but Mike makes a point: while they’re only cheating their own physical progress and development, it can STILL have a negative impact on the community around them.

Even when I started competing back in 2010, I remember no-repping myself during workouts!

Even when I started competing back in 2010, I remember no-repping myself during workouts!

As competitive creatures, person “A” could become discouraged if they keep doing full range of motion push-ups, and time after time person “B” beats them in a workout by not locking out a single one. CrossFit is founded upon the concept that we all suffer together, so we that we all get better together!

In my nearly 8 years of CrossFit, I’ve probably posted a few hundred videos of myself working out. While some of them are to share my accomplishments with friends, most of the time it’s for the silly reason that I want my friends to know that when I talk about my “exercise racing” times or numbers, that I’m being honest. (And to hope I can get some remote coaching on technique, since 95% of my training is done alone!)

Enough of my rant, please check out this article, and let me know your thoughts! I really enjoyed this one. I’m going to start trying to write more often, too. It makes me feel good to hope that my years in this “sport” of ours can potentially help (or entertain?) at least one person out there.

Enjoy your weekend, friends!

Week 2 of the 2016 CrossFit Games Open is here! After watching the video for the 16.2 Workout Reveal, I was pretty floored by watching those guys get after it. Obviously most of us know how much of a beast Dan Bailey is after watching him at the Games for the last few years, but even then I never would have expected him to get through the entire thing in 20 minutes! (I know there was the “missed rep” debacle after the live show, but I’m just saying I didn’t think that 275 and 315 pounds would look that light to those guys!)

Strategy on this one, for me, is going to boil down to knowing your own ability level on Toes to Bar and Double-Unders. In my mind, those are two movements where being proficient can be an absolute game changer. Just because an athlete CAN do 25 reps of TTB in row, does NOT mean that they SHOULD do 25 reps in a row. Once your TTB fatigue your grip and/or your core, sets of 10-15+ will very quickly become sets of 2-3 reps. It is not worth crashing and burning that hard for that movement.

For athletes who have controlled kips, and can get through reps smoothly, I think sets of 5-10 will be best to try and maintain throughout the entire workout. Remember, hopping down off of the bar, turning around, chalking up, hopping back up, can all take a MINIMUM of 5-10 seconds every time. The smoother those transitions can be, the easier it will be to make it through to the next round.

I feel the same way about DUs. Just because an athlete CAN do 50 in a row, if it’s going to take so much out of them that on the next round, they mess up every 5-6 jumps because they’re so tired, 50 in a row wasn’t worth it. While in my video I emphasize the importance of getting to that tie-breaker as quickly as possible, unless time in the round is about to expire, I don’t think it should be at the expense of absolutely crushing your pace.

Remember, after all of that jumping rope, you need to pick up a heavy bar, quite a few times. So, if fatigue starts to set in by the 20th or 30th rep of DU, take a short rest, regroup, then finish the set. That will minimize the time needed to feel prepared to attack that next set of cleans.

In my opinion, the longest rest of the round should be taken after completing the final clean, and before the first TTB. If an athlete rushes back to the TTB too soon, they’ll likely get far fewer reps before needing to jump down. Remember, every time you hop off of the bar, it’s probably going to take 5 seconds to get back on. So, sets of 5-7 reps will be far more efficient than having to hop down every 2-3. Take your time, and make sure you’re getting slightly larger sets before having to hop down as long as your kip is solid.

Truthfully, unlike 15.1 last year, I don’t really see this as being a workout where TOO many people will PR and hit a weight for the first time and keep repeating. However, given how the tiebreaker is set up, I do think that the folks who move through the other movements (TTB and DU) as smoothly as possible, will have a big advantage over their counterparts who come out swinging and just can’t hold on.

I feel the breaking point for “regular” people 🙂 on this one will be the round of 225lb squat cleans for men and 145lb for ladies. The athletes who can cycle through consistent singles and keep their breathing under control will pass the folks who get too excited and try to hit 3-5 reps of touch-and-go through the first few sets. Athletes who make it through the round of 225 will have a HUGE advantage. If time is getting close to capping during that 4th round, athletes will be able to go harder with their final sets. Remember, if toes to bar get completed, the reps added to the score due to double-unders at the end are significant! Get to that final tie-break as quickly as possible on the last round!

Have fun, and as always, please let me know if you guys found this helpful!