Posts Tagged ‘weight training’

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.


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?


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!


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!




Oh, snap. It happened! The day when I watched a talk with Greg Glassman (Founder of CrossFit) and thought to myself, “C’mon, man. Really?” has finally arrived!

Check out this quick 9-second clip where a guest at one of his talks asks about the benefit of lifting shoes. Glassman basically replies with, “Why?”

The discussion I’d like to start here is:

What are your thoughts on lifting shoes? Cheating? Unneccesary? Critical? I’m very curious as to what you all have to say about this.

My answer: Love ’em and the stability they provide in the appropriate setting – Lifting heavy weights on a platform, for example (but I don’t RELY on them). For multi-domain activities (a workout with a run) or in real-life, I have no dependence on them and can move safely and efficiently without them.

Your turn…

Team CrossFit Lakewood is at it again, this time with the third workout of the 2011 CrossFit Games Open.
One more time, the workout was as many reps in 5 minutes as possible of 165lb/110lb Squat Clean and Jerks.

Two heats of athletes lifted on Saturday, and the energy was high! Check out the video below and see how much fun we have together. Great job, team. Let’s keep it up! WE’RE HALFWAY THERE!

*****Highlight of the day for me*****
Drew Vance, aka Dru-Tang, hit a HUGE personal record for his Clean and Jerk today meeting the prescribed weight of 165lbs. He then went on and did it 3.5 more times! AWESOME!

Then on Sunday I decided that I had a few more reps in me, so I wanted to give it another go. A HUGE thank you to Megan for being willing to head to the gym to be my official judge/counter. (I ended up getting 4.5 more reps then attempt #2!)


Today was the third day of FREE CROSSFIT at CrossFit Lakewood. For the third day in a row, we had about 25 people come to class! It was AWESOME! (Nope, it’s not getting old at all. The more the merrier if you ask me.) People have been spreading the word this week, bringing friends, and then THEIR friends have been bringing even more people. It’s been so cool to watch, and I’m so thankful for everyone who’s made an effort to check us out and see what we’re all about!

The last day of Free CrossFit is tonight at 6pm. Bring your friends for one more jam-packed workout this week! I’ve already heard of a few people who will be making it for the first time. I can’t wait!

Tonight’s workout we decided to introduce our guests to a good friend of the CrossFit Community: Tabata Intervals!

There were a total of 5 stations that we put people through, and since most of them were new to CrossFit, we didn’t even have them worry about keeping score. That made it easier to focus on form and technique.

Workout of the Day:
Tabata Intervals of 5 Stations – 1 Minute Rest between Station
Row / Stick Jumps / Dips / Squat Jumps / Ab-Mat Sit-Ups

For another day with many first-time CrossFitters, I continue to be amazed at how efficient people are moving. We make adjustments based on previous injuries, ability levels and range of motion limitations… and BOOM, off they went!


Great job to everyone for another incredible day at the gym, and I’m REALLY looking forward to our fourth and final night of FREE CROSSFIT at CrossFit Lakewood!


New questions from Megan, UN-suggestions from Casey and great advice from Molly King.

A pretty productive little Drive Time! 🙂


Well Alec, I’m not sure if this counts, but I had a pretty embarrassing moment happen during this morning’s Drive Time with Smashby. I listened to Toto’s “Africa” last night, and when Men At Work’s “Land Down Under” came on, I said it was by Toto. Le sigh.

So I’ve had more people talk to me about Drive Times, I had Jen Silva suggests some names for the show and I’m just about out of topics to discuss. Keep ’em coming, folks.

Today, I decided to devote a little bit of time to talk about WOD #3 of the 2011 CrossFit Games Open, strategy, thoughts, etc. Enjoy!


Well, today was day 2 of FREE CROSSFIT WEEK at CrossFit Lakewood, and it went even better than yesterday!! This evening there were 25 people in class… EIGHTEEN of which were non-members! Eighteen Newbies!!!

What does that look like? Well, throw in a beautiful day in terms of weather, a few warm-up exercises, and a lot of smiles… and it looks like this!

And then Ben S. leading 25 people through some Jumping Squats. I’d say he’s a natural leader!

The workout for today was a good one. It included quite a few shorter runs, kettlebell swings and either regular or handstand push-ups (depending on the athlete’s ability level). Here’s the crew all taking off at once for the first run lap! (thanks for not trampling me, Lion King style!…… too soon?)

Workout of the Day:
5 Rounds for Time
200m Run / 20 Kettlebell Swings / 200m Run / 20 Push-Ups (or 10 Handstand Push-Ups)

It was so cool to look around and see so many people swinging KB’s and doing push-ups. The sense of community and support you guys showed, and around people you had just met, was awesome!

For so many of you being “First-Time CrossFitters”, the form and technique work was AWESOME! Look at all of those full lock-outs at the top of the push-up!

Also, I’m proud to report that no one was hit with a rogue or flying kettlebell! That means the crew was organizing and respectful of the space around them. I mean, does it get ANY better than this? I’m not sure how, but I’m hoping to see if it does.

Now, to end the post with an feat of awesomeness, our very own Greg Walker (who has been featured on this blog quite a bit for just being cool) shows the world what it’s like to be good at Handstand Push-Ups. At the end of an almost 20-minute workout, the guy ends it with 10 unbroken HSPU’s! Pretty epic stuff… Well done, GW!


Tuesday night, Workout #3 of the 2011 CrossFit Games Open was released, and reactions are mixed in the CrossFit Community.

Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 5 minutes of:
Squat clean (165lb / 75kg) / Jerk (165lb / 75kg)

One rep would basically just mean the athlete was able to Squat Clean the weight, but not lock it out overhead. This means that each “Round” is a successfully completed Squat Clean done any way (Squat Clean, Power Clean to Front Squat, etc) followed by a Jerk (Shoulder to Overhead, really). There will be a lot of people out there that at least start off with a Full Squat Clean Thruster.

Here’s our very own Greg Walker showing you all what a Squat Clean Thruster looks like. Keep in mind he weighs 152 pounds, but he’s throwing 165 pounds over his head like it’s nothing. WHAT A BEAST!!

IMPORTANT NOTE on Range of Motion and Judging:
At the top of the jerk movement, the barbell needs to be in line with the athlete’s HEELS. Make sure we’re not counting reps that are locked out in front of the toes!

Check out the video below from CrossFit clearly outlining the expectations for WOD 11.3.


Part of my goal in sharing articles with you guys is to simply inform, or sometimes remind, you guys of things that can effect your performance in and out of the gym.

This article was shared with my by Trish O’Donnell (Coach and friend at Alpine CrossFit) and as soon as I read it, I thought… “Great, some of my teammates on Team CrossFit Lakewood are going to be mad at me after reading this.” But you know what, most of us already know this stuff.

The reason I’m sharing it with everyone, is that some of us may NOT know this, and this information is critical to performance, recovery and muscle growth. So read the quotes I have pasted below, and then go read the full article here. Knowledge is power.

Alcohol Will Make You Suck ~ by Zeke

“Research overwhelmingly suggests that alcohol use and athleticism do not go hand in hand. Although it might not be realistic for some of you to quit drinking altogether – if you want to thrive in the athletic environment you should take steps to limit and eventually eliminate it because…”

“While dehydrated, you are greater risk for many injuries including: cramps, muscle pulls, and muscle strains. Also, dehydration can lead to severe brain impairment and even death when coupled with extreme temperatures and intense practices. Dehydration also leads to muscle loss – muscle which you are working so hard to gain.”

“Alcohol, when consumed in amounts typical with most college aged drinkers, will dramatically decrease testosterone levels. Less testosterone = less aggressiveness in workouts, loss of motivation, weakness, & once again muscle loss.”

“Aside from messing with your coordination, endurance, & judgement (not just when you’re drunk, but afterwards too). Alcohol also interferes with lactic acid breakdown, which means you stay sore longer.”

“So, here’s the deal on alcohol & “leaning out for the summer”… Aside from taking in over 1,000 calories on a conservative night of drinking…alcohol is stored much like fat in the body. More importantly alcohol destroys amino acids and stores them as fat.”

“(Alcohol use) will disrupt and fragment two stages of your sleep, where your body produces the most human growth hormone. Bottom line is that if you’re not getting enough sleep – your body will not recover, you won’t grow stronger, and your energy levels, mood, & performance will suffer.”

Then, Zeke ends the piece with a Zinger. I lot of the time, people want to blame others for their lack of progress, fat loss, strength gains, etc. Check out the last two lines of the article. Very well said.

“Ultimately, the decision is yours – you know the facts. This has been my personal testimony and I hope it encourages you to make changes. If not, don’t come bitching to me on why you’re getting weaker – it’s not our programming – it’s YOU.”


Today was the first day of: FREE CROSSFIT WEEK at CrossFit Lakewood, and it was a HUGE success!!!

I’ll let you guys see what our group warm-up looked like. Good thing the gym wall was knocked down and doubled in size, or we wouldn’t have had room to hold everyone!

During the Strength Portion of the workout, Coach Chrissy and I took all of the “Newbies” through an extended warm-up where we talked a little bit more about CrossFit in detail. There were some very good questions, so hopefully we answered them for you guys!

The workout today was inspired in structure by the Classic CrossFit Workout “Fight Gone Bad.” We had 5 different stations, each of which lasted one minute. There was no rest time in between stations, and then after all 5, there was one a minute rest. Athletes go through all 5 stations a total of three times. I hope that makes sense.

Workout of the Day:
85% of Deadlift – 1 Rep every minute for 10 minutes

3 Rounds for Time
5 Stations, 1 Minute each, 1 minute rest after all 5 Stations
Wall Ball / Burpee / Sit-Up / Air Squat / Box Jump

Check out some video we took from a PACKED HOUSE last night!

3, 2, 1… GO!!!

The front row of Box Jumpers are some of our veterans, while the newer folks crush the workout behind them!

Over halfway through the workout

Maybe the best 10 seconds of the workout… the last 10!

Athletes, feel free to post your results in the Comments Section. This week I will likely not be able to note scores for everyone.

Thank you so much to everyone who brought friends to the gym last night. We’ve got 3 more days this week of Free CrossFit, so PLEASE keep it up! Bring your friends, once they love it, have them bring their friends for the rest of the week! See you all tonight at 6pm!!!