Posts Tagged ‘Training’

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

Last week:

  • Fitness
    • Metcons
      • Workouts have been all over the map for me lately in terms of feeling good or bad about my fitness, but such is life. I’m very curious to see how this year’s Open goes in terms of movements that I consider “strengths” verses “no so much strengths” for me!
      • A variation of Isabel (30 Snatches for time) was Wednesday’s workout, and I debated all day whether I would try the “Rx” version of the day (115lbs) or whether I’d give the “Competitor” weight (155lbs) a go. At the last minute, I decided that 155 was the right choice, did quick singles the whole way, and finished my 30 reps in 4:03. I’ll take it!
    • Barbell Work
      • Monday brought waves of Power Cleans; Min 7 – 3 Power Cleans @ 81% (230lbs), Min 8 – 2 Power Cleans @ 84% (240lbs), and Min 9 – 1 Power Clean @ 87% (250lbs), and some pause Front Squats (heaviest at 275lbs)
      • Built to a heavy single of Clean and Jerk on Friday and hit 280lbs. It wasn’t my prettiest lift, but I’m glad anytime I get to 275+
    • Calorie Challenge
      •  Since it was a short week (I left town Friday afternoon and just got back), I had quite a bit less time to sit on a rower or bike. I did, however, hit another 700 calories. That puts me at 3,000 for the month so far. I’ll likely reach 4,000+ by the end of February!
  • I did write one “The 2018 Open is Coming” post! The Open starts this week, I can’t even believe it!
  • Progress on the book (Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual by Jacko Willink) continues. Still haven’t given myself more than 10-15 minutes once or twice before bed, but I’ve already put more of a focus on reading in 2018 than I have over the last few years. I’m celebrating that.
  • Swimming Post is live! It’s fun to already have had some people reach out asking more details about my “Swim Better Now” clinics. Bottom line is that I want to help people get better, whether that means swimming faster, or just learning how to float safely in deep water. If you, or anyone you know, is interested please do not hesitate to reach out.

This week:

  • The first workout of the 2018 CrossFit Games Open is released this week. In the past, I have recorded “strategy” videos for each week. My goal is to try and get a video and post live by the time you wake up on Friday morning. Wish me luck!
  • I had a pretty poor weekend of sleep at the place where we stayed up in the mountains, so my goal is to get over 6.5 hours of sleep two days this week. No, that doesn’t normally happen. I was going to challenge myself to say 7 hours, but when I do reverse math based on the alarm, it’s just not realistic. Working on it!
  • I have a really big weekend of work ahead, with nearly 10 hours of client work accounted for between Saturday and Sunday. Even with that, I’d like to devote some time to continuing progress with the drywall in our garage!

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

Here’s a picture from our weekend in Breckenridge. Have a great week, everyone!

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Every single day you go to the gym, you should give yourself one thing to think about during training.

I’ll give a few specific examples below, but my logic behind that statement is simple. As someone who suffers from paralysis by analysis in my own life, it is so simple to get overwhelmed with details that you can’t focus on a single one properly. For example, I could sit here list over 10 things to think about in order to plank properly. Plank… you know, the thing where you hold your body at the top of a push-up? So imagine how many cues one could have when completing a workout with four different movements, many of which are far more complex than a simple plank.

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Instead, once you know what you’re going to do for the day, pick a one thing and hone nearly all of your energy on completing it as effectively as possible. Let’s discuss a few scenarios:

Heavy Strength Set

If you know you’re going to try and move mountains today, the anxiety and excitement leading up to those heavy reps can be exhausting. For a big squat day, make sure your core is tight throughout the lift. Or that you knees stay out. Or that you take a big breath at the top before beginning your descent. Even those three things combined can be too much to focus on at once. Keep your cue(s) simple, meaningful to you, and effective! The less in your brain, the more you can just move that weight!

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Long Workout

Let’s say it’s a 5 round workout with rowing, wall balls, deadlifts, sit-ups, and pull-ups. There’s a lot going on there, huh? Instead of trying to overwhelm yourself with pacing out your splits of how fast each round should be, you could say to yourself, “today, I’m going to do each round of 20 wall balls as a set of 12 reps, short rest, then a set of 8.” Many people believe that making a plan of attack and “visualizing” your workout is a great strategy.

If you’re in a competition, the stakes are different, and I completely agree! Planning out and rehearsing every second might be the difference between first and second place. But very few people have the time, energy, or desire to spend that much time getting ready for their 4-6 days of training every week! Pick a thing or two, and just breathe through the rest.

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Active Rest/Recovery

Some days you’ll show up to the gym feeling pretty beat up. Your body is sore, your mind is tired, and you haven’t been sleeping well. “But it’s Friday,” you tell yourself, and you “ALWAYS work out on Fridays.” That doesn’t mean you need to red line on the workout, completely wreck yourself, and hobble around all weekend.

If you make the decision that you just need to move for the day, that’s totally fine, and I support you. Even on those days, you can find something to focus on. Maybe on the rowing portion of the workout you focus on keeping your heels down and start to learn what your stroke rate is for repeat 500’s. If there’s snatching for strength, really emphasize making your receiving position as snappy as possible. You can always get better, even if you’re just there to move for the day!

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Now, this post is in no way implying that the rest of your training session should be done by completely checking out. Quite the opposite, in fact. I believe that everything in the gym should be done “with purpose.” Instead, I’m trying to help athletes narrow down a primary point of attack each day. Having a panic attack because you’re staring at the bar before a deadlift attempt thinking, “chest up, back flat, proper stance, breathe, chest up, knees back, push away the floor, grip it and rip it, etc, etc,” doesn’t help anyone.

We’re in the gym to get better every day. Try your best to narrow down your scope on the big things, and as long as you head out of the gym with a smile on your face, most of the time you’ve done alright. This fitness game of ours is most certainly a marathon, not a sprint.

First of all, I’m not sure if I’ve ever written the word don’ts before, but it looks weird!

Ok, back to the focus of the post: Accessory Work

If you are an athlete that steps foot into a CrossFit gym on a regular basis, odds are that there are three to four-hundred things you’d like to improve to become a better athlete. Identifying some, or all, of those things typically leads athletes down one of three paths.

Path Number One

“That’s way too many things to try and improve… therefore, I shall choose to improve none of them!”

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Path Number Two

“I want to get better at Handstand Push-Ups. My legs need to get stronger. If I can improve my engine, I’ll get more rounds in workouts. With more flexible ankles, my rowing will get better. I want to get a PR on Murph next year. But I’d also like to beat my Fran time. ROM WOD 8 days per week will help me. I think I want to go that Double-Under clinic next weekend.” ~ The consecutive thoughts of one person

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Yes, there is a laundry list of things we can all improve upon, but trying to attack too much at once is unrealistic and really not smart. Why, you ask? Because some people (yes, I’m talking to you) will spend 30 minutes after class every day working on Muscle-Ups. Thirty minutes. Hanging and swinging from rings or a bar. After they’re tired from a workout. Not only will that likely lead to tearing hands, but trying to be explosive and technically precise after 60 minutes of torture (excuse me, I mean intense physical exertion) isn’t usually the best plan.

Path Number Three

Be a planner. Pick a few things you’d like to start improving. Find a person, or people, who can help you create an intelligent training plan or progression. If applicable, have someone who can watch you practice, or if you video your attempts, those who can give you constructive feedback. Too often “we don’t know what we don’t know,” and having a more experienced person in your corner can help foster huge breakthroughs. After a few weeks, note your progress on those items in your training log (yay, progress!) and create a new list!

Now, I’ve got Good News and Bad News:

The Good News is that in our sport of CrossFit, you LITERALLY have an ENDLESS list of things you can choose to improve at any given moment.

The Bad News, is that you’ll never be good at ALL of it. So don’t even try.

But, really, that’s also still the Good News! I’m telling you that (for most people in nearly every circumstance) you can work on a single skill foreverrrr, and still be able to keep improving over time! That is so awesome. Most things that are worth keeping don’t happen overnight, either.

If there’s anything I can do to help you on your journey, let me know. Set realistic goals. Have a plan. And actually try your best to enjoy the journey. If all goes well, we’ll be on it for a long time!

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I’m not sure why, but for some reason I’ve always had a really strong opinion as to whether or not people should have programming written specifically for them. For the purposes of this post, let me be clear and explain my definition of Personalized Programming. I am not defining it as “How-To” progressions for certain advanced movements. If someone wants to learn how do their first pull-up, muscle up, handstand push-up, double-under, etc, there are a plethora of guides out there to help. Those are helpful and appropriate for anyone who wants to get better! Personalized Programming means exactly that. It could include warm-ups, strength cycles, extra workouts, multiple sets of accessory work, etc. A full suite of activities to do in order to help you attain and surpass whatever goals you’ve set for yourself.

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A lot of people who pay for this service still belong at a CrossFit gym. These athletes follow their gym’s programming when they take class, and then add in their Personalized work before or after class, or on their rest days. The reason I feel so strongly about not mixing and matching, is because a very common way of getting hurt is by overdoing it. If you train at a good gym, there should be a progression found in your training. Micro and Macro cycles, a gymnastics-focused wave versus a strength block. If an athlete comes in and throws in 3 extra days of heavy back squats when their gym is on a rest week before re-testing a 1 rep max, can you see how mixing and matching could lead to injury?

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In order to define fitness, CrossFit categorized human performance into 10 Physical Skills. They are:

  1. Cardiovascular/respiratory endurance – The ability of body systems to gather, process, and deliver oxygen.
  2. Stamina – The ability of body systems to process, deliver, store, and utilize energy.
  3. Strength – The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply force.
  4. Flexibility – the ability to maximize the range of motion at a given joint.
  5. Power – The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply maximum force in minimum time.
  6. Speed – The ability to minimize the time cycle of a repeated movement.
  7. Coordination – The ability to combine several distinct movement patterns into a singular distinct movement.
  8. Agility – The ability to minimize transition time from one movement pattern to another.
  9. Balance – The ability to control the placement of the bodies center of gravity in relation to its support base.
  10. Accuracy – The ability to control movement in a given direction or at a given intensity.

The entire CrossFit methodology is founded upon a concept that an athlete is only as strong as their weakest link out of those 10 movements. Therefore, if you’re really strong but not great with balance, you’ve got a glaring error in your fitness. The example I always remember hearing included two male athletes; one who could deadlift 500lbs but couldn’t jog a mile without stopping, and the other could run a sub-5 minute mile, but couldn’t deadlift twice his body weight. The purpose of the comparison was to say that just because someone may have been incredible at one thing, their deficiency in another thing could severely impact their overall effectiveness as an athlete. In CrossFit, the goal is to be more of a jack of all trades and a master of none. That way, no matter what is thrown at you (the unknown and the unknowable), you’d be more adequately prepared to handle it successfully. (Click here to read the incredible “What is Fitness” article that essentially serves as the Manifesto of the entire program)

Why bring in all of this CrossFit history if I’m writing a post about personalized programming? It’s simple, really. If people are trying to get better at CrossFit, and CrossFit says, “Do everything, all the time, and keep trying new things,” but people spend hours and hours focusing on one specific thing instead, doesn’t that seem kind of counter-intuitive? As I’ve said many times before, most people who are at the gym are there simply to get in better shape. That demographic will benefit just fine from belonging to a gym that has a decent idea of how to make people more fit. In my opinion, they do not require personalized programming.

So which groups of people should devote the extra time and money towards having something written specifically for them? I’ve created a partial list below:

  1. Competitors– CrossFit claims to be the physical fitness program that “specializes in not specializing.” That means you don’t really need to focus your efforts on any one thing in particular because at a good gym, over time you’ll do almost everything on a rotating basis. If you’re training specifically to compete in something, however, you’ll need to hone in on certain areas that you’ll likely see in competition. If you can’t perform the Olympic Lifts without some degree of efficiency, you’re not going to do well. Be clear of the distinction here: Competitive CrossFit athletes ARE specializing in a certain type of fitness, so they will benefit from personalized programming. Training for an Olympic Weightlifting or Strongman event? I completely support getting programming made just for you! In those cases, you’ll need it!
  2. Looking for Subject Matter Expert– You might love your gym’s regular class programming, but you’ve always wanted to improve your running technique or learn how to swim. If there isn’t someone around who can teach you those skills, of course it makes sense to find a professional somewhere else who can.
  3. Trust in a coach– Maybe someone who used to coach at your gym left but they know you really well. Perhaps a famous athlete you’ve always loved and followed posted online about offering customized plans just for you. There is nothing wrong with turning to people you know and trust to help make you better. That’s why we live in such a great time. We can be connected with people all over the world! 
  4. People training on their own– If you are paying for a program made just for you, and that’s the only thing you follow on a regular basis, that now becomes your only training. In this scenario, you’re less likely to overdo it. This option is great.
  5. Just for fun– I’ve written an 8 week rowing plan for someone who just liked rowing and wanted to get better. I’ve worked 1:1 with an athlete for 4 weeks who just wanted to learn how to do a muscle-up. You don’t need a reason to explain why you want to get better at something. I just don’t ever want it to lead to injury. If you’ve got time and money to follow a plan, more power to you!

Who do I think should NOT invest in Personalized Programming?

  1. Beginner athletes– A lot of gyms have a specific “On Ramp” program where they run new members through a basic overview of things they could experience in a given class. Once that’s done, give yourself a few months (years?) of following the daily workouts provided by your gym. Your average “Weekend Warrior” won’t need to work out for more than 4-5 hours per week at a good gym to get in better shape. Most people don’t need much more than  that! When the time comes that you decide your goals are more specific, and your gym isn’t providing resources to help you grow, then you can look for custom programs.
  2. Athletes who are going to overdo it– I understand you want to get better. That’s what’s crazy about this sport of ours. There are SO MANY THINGS we want to improve on, all the time. The good news in all of this, is that with good coaching, you can create a list of goals, and then set aside a reasonable action plan to attack them one at a time. Just don’t go to your home gym four times per week, try to do every workout you see Ben Smith do with your friends, follow Jason Khalipa’s EMOM of the day, attend every skills seminar your gym hosts, and compete every other weekend. It’s too much!

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When it comes to Personalized Programming, there’s also a big difference between in-person versus remote coaching. Thousands of “online coaches” offer training plans that are a one-size fits all offering. The reason I don’t like those as much is that it implies a few things. First, that the coach writing the programming understands the needs of the athlete following it. If I send the same plan to 10 people looking to get better at 10 different skills, there are going to be some things help you, and others that might not. Make sure that if you don’t have a set of eyes on you during your training, that you’ve got another way to ensure you’re moving properly and not establishing bad habits.

Most of my personal training clients who I don’t see every day either send me videos of their more technical movements so I can review them and provide feedback, or schedule in-person training once per week, or a few times per month to cover some more advanced movements with a coach present. That’s the way I prefer to do it, at least! If they are 100% remote clients, where I never see them, I just make sure the programming is safer for them to do on their own. If careful attention is paid to results, and the lines of communication are open between coach and athlete, everyone is likely to be ok.

To conclude the longest post in the world, let’s recap:

Personalized Programming is great and can help athletes everywhere. It can certainly help take performance to a new level if done properly. I am also NOT bashing companies and coaches who offer Personalized Programming to others. I am specifically referring to athletes who belong at one gym, and feel the need to do more and more and more to try and improve. More is not always better. Especially if there’s not specific reason for doing more, such as an upcoming competition.

Too many people think they need something special, when all they need is time to get better at things. It takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become a “master” at something, remember that. If there was a magic pill or a proven short cut, I promise you more women would snatch 250lbs and more men would have sub-1:30 Fran times!

In the event that someone thinks they need more volume, the first thing I’ll typically suggest to them is to do slower volume. Moving slower and with more of a focus on technique and full range of motion can help speed up progress a lot more than rushing through more. (Read more about my philosophy on that here, if you’re interested.)

Be patient. This CrossFit thing is a marathon, not a sprint. Find coaches and training partners who can help you, but also keep your ambition in check. If you’re injured you can’t train, and nobody has time for that!

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For the last 8.5 years, almost to the day, CrossFit has been a huge part of my life.

In that time, I’ve ranged from being a rabid advocate of the program, badgering everyone I knew to try it with me like a beach vendor who nearly accosts foreigners in hopes of selling them his local trinket… to the head coach of a gym with over 350 members, who didn’t feel the need to push it on anyone, rather just loved the program because he knew it worked.

I’ve had periods of time where I would spend nearly three hours per day working out, completing two training sessions per day, 4 days per week, I’d compete in local events every few weeks to try and put my fitness to the test, and I looked forward to planning my next soul-crushing workout each every day. There have also been times where I simply couldn’t find the motivation to pick up a barbell because it just didn’t feel fun anymore.

Now, I find myself at a crossroads.

Recently, I’ve experienced more change at the same time than at any other point in my life. Usually, life spreads the big things out, at least a little! In the last 6 weeks however, I’ve left my job, planned to move across the country, got married, traveled to Brazil to visit family, decided not to move after all, and had the privilege of learning how much fun it can be to look for a house in one of the most competitive Real Estate markets in the entire country. That’s a lot in a month and a half!

What’s crazy, is that it’s all really positive change! Some people are hit with bad break after bad break, yet for me, these have been really good. I think the kids say #Blessed, right?

The crossroads has to do with what I will do for fitness now. Do I stick to CrossFit? Maybe a strength/squat cycle to focus on getting stronger and improve my technical movements? Is it time to head back to a Globo gym and try to get those 6-pack abs in time for summer? Do I go cardio for a bit, and get into running or swimming? Obviously the answer that me, the coach, tells myself is to do it all! I live in a place where you can be as active as you’d like outside. I’ve got so many friends who own or coach at CrossFit gyms that it shouldn’t be that hard to find people to train with here and here. And the thought of a “Bi’s/Back” and “Tri’s/Chest” training regimen really doesn’t seem that bad some days!

The reason it’s so tough for me to decide is because I had always convinced myself that I needed to train FOR something. I had to be in a squat cycle because if not, how would I get stronger? If I wasn’t Snatching at least once per week, I’d lose all of my “gainz” and regress. Want to do burpees without stopping? Then keep doing burpees! But at the end of the day… why does it matter?

I always tell people that CrossFit can prepare you for just about anything. It will make just being active more fun. So, with that logic, I don’t need to go through brutal workouts all the time. Visiting the “Pain Cave” every time the clock counts to “3, 2, 1, GO” isn’t required for someone to be fit. It isn’t required to be healthy. It’s only required if the END GOAL is being a good CrossFit athlete. And I’m not sure that’s what I want right now.

I’ll tell you what though, it’s hard to say that to myself and not feel like I’m letting “2011 Tom” down just a little bit!

Over the next few weeks I’m going to assess what makes me happy, what gets me fired up to go do, and what I find to be…. fun! I have always told people that fitness should be something you enjoy (even when I wasn’t necessarily feeling that way myself), and I want to get back to that place.

I’ll keep you posted on how it goes. Who knows, there might be a competition or race I decide to train for sometime in the next few months!

Wish me luck!

Drama alert in the Again Faster Beat The Team WOD Series! Drama alert! With what turned out to be over 400 athletes submitting videos for the first workout of the 8-WOD competition, it became clear to the Again Faster Crew that watching and validating every single air squat for every person would be impossible.

So they went to a system where only the top 30 in each category get validated. Read below for more info.
To find the current leaderboard through the last event, click here at any time.

Update on Scoring

~by Again Faster

Due to the overwhelming response to this year’s Beat the Team Series, it became clear over the weekend we needed to reevaluate how we were going to score the events. While we wish we were able to devote the time and man power to individually validate each and every score submitted for “Stacey” and the future workouts, with almost 400 scores, it is simply not possible. We’d still be watching air squats in November.

As such, we determined the best course of action would be to re-focus on the sole task of this competition, which is to name 4 new members to the Again Faster Competition Team, while doing our best to continue providing the community with an online competition in which they can challenge themselves and gauge their skills against athletes from all over the world.

We’ve organized and validated the top 30 scores for each the men and women in the Open division. If the athlete finished first, they received 1 point. The athlete in 30th received 30 points. From there, anybody who submitted a score for the workout automatically received 50 points, and therefore continue to be eligible for subsequent events. If you submitted a time faster than the posted Top 30 scores, please assume it’s because our judges deemed your ROM insufficient. These decisions are final and will not be altered.

You will note the scores of current Again Faster Team members appear within the Leader Board when applicable, but that their scores will not count in the overall ranking of each WOD, as they are not eligible to win the prize.

For the Master’s Division, we have ranked the athletes as deep as we have valid scores for. Since no Master’s woman received an invalid judgement, nothing changes for them. Each of the women will receive their placing in points. For each Master’s male athlete whose “Stacey” score was deemed invalid due to technical or ROM deficiencies, they will receive 30 points automatically. Like the athletes, they are welcome and encouraged to continue competing.

We will be displaying only the Top 30 in each Open division, the Top 7 Master’s Women and the Top 17 Master’s Men. Ideally, we’d be able to show each athlete where they stood against each of their fellow competitors, but it’s simply beyond our current capabilities. We apologize for not being able satisfy these wishes, and for not having had the foresight to know that such an idea was naive at best.

Above all, we thank each and every one of you for competing in the 2011 Beat the Team Series, and we look forward to seven more weeks of competing alongside you.

As I shared last week on this blog, the crew at Again Faster is hosting another “Beat the Team” WOD Series. I decided to compete in it this time because:

A- Hopefully having to throw in a few more workouts per week will keep me out of trouble
B- I absolutely love seeing where I stack up against athletes from all over the world!
C- I pride myself in good form in my workouts, so by posting videos for all to see, if provides me with a chance to get some feedback from others as to how to improve!
and
D- Let’s be honest. I love competing and by sitting back and playing “arm chair quarterback” while I critique everyone else, it’s a lot better if I put my money where my mouth is and do them myself, too!

WOD #1 was a new one they created for one of their Team Members, Stacey Kroon:
“Stacey”
150 Air Squats, 2000m Row, 150 Air Squats

It was gross.

And yes, even though I had poker chips to mark every 25 squats, I STILL miscounted (and did a few more, I think). What a genius 🙂

Thank you so much to my friend JR who posted this YouTube video on running from the folks at DontBeThatGuyVids on FB yesterday!

Now, before you watch… if “lead foot with a side of mouth breathing” was one of the options, that would have to be me. But given that I need to choose one of these five, I’d say I’m a “Dandy”. What kind of a runner are you?

So good.

Today is the first day of fall, huh? Time FLIES! With Autumn right around the corner, that only means one thing….

WINTER IS ALMOST HERE!!!

Now, I love summertime. So much. Soooo much. Being outside in the sun is one of my favorite past times, but when that time of the year comes when the snow starts to fall… I’m ready to shred!

My buddy Jack, who runs the Apres Powder Winter Sports Blog that I’ve featured here quite a bit, wanted to take a few minutes and ask me about how I prepare (and recommend other people prepare) for another epic season of crushin’ pow.

Check out the interview by CLICKING HERE! I think Jack did an AMAZINg job! Thoughts?

They’re trying to create an place of acceptance and tolerance. They hope to foster an atmosphere of not judging one another.

I’ll let you guys take this one. What do you think?

At least this news broadcast isn’t joking about their culture, either. Check out these three Planet Fitness commercials.

Did I laugh out loud at each of them? Yes.
Will I ever join a Planet Fitness? No.