Training Week Sneak Peak

Here’s an upcoming session for this week. Here you get a look at the two different tiers of programming at the gym – fitness (health) and competitor (performance).

Pre WOD Competitor:
Work up to a 3RM Pause jerk – Pause in Dip, Pause in split, don’t use the blocks, -5% with no pauses, -10%
then
5×3  Jerk Dip – this should be at or above your max jerk, can go very heavy if position is good
then,
1RM 10s jerk rack support – be sure shoulders are driving up and into the bar, passing out sucks

Foam roll thoracic spine and cocuh stretch when finished

Warm-up:
1 minute goblet squats with pause in the bottom, then
6 minutes-
1 round Burgerner
5 OVHS
10 PVC pass throughs

Strength:
Fitness
– OVHS – 5×5
Competitor – 5RM OVHS, no pauses, -5%, -10%

WOD: 10 minute AMRAP:
5 Hang full snatches 135/95 (Scale with Hang Power snatch + OVHS) When in doubt, go lighter
7 Bar Facing Burpees

Fitness Cashout:
4 minutes planks and side planks

Competitor Cashout:
3 Rounds:
8 reps – Good Mornings
rest 90 seconds
8 reps – Bent Row

Aerobic Base Development – Competitor:
4 rounds – 2k row – 4 minute rest between rounds

Who You Are and What You Need: Part 3

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This is the final part of a three part series on what to think about before you look for a new program. You can find part 1 here, and part 2 here.

3) The mind is primary

Let’s assume it’s possible to write the perfect training program for an athlete; exactly what is needed in exactly the right amount in order and amount, giving the greatest progress in the shortest amount of time – but the athlete thinks it’s boring, it’s ineffective, that they should be doing something else, adds in “extra” work, spends too much time on Instagram watches PR videos….

The perfect program is no longer perfect. Lack of commitment is poison and turns people into liars. “Yeah I’m recovering well” is really “I hate this and so I go home and eat like crap and play video games until 2am then when I come in and feel like dung I blame my coaches and the programming and my Nanos because I saw Mat Fraser snatch 315 wearing Nike Metcons and that must be my issue.”

If your head isn’t right, nothing else will be, either. The mind is primary.

Stop this foolishness and step up your mental game. Make your brain make your training work. You can only win. A dedicated mindset influences life inside and outside the gym because there is focus and focus brings efficient success.  When progress comes, you know you’re on the track toward the holy land of ultimate gains. You win.

If progress doesn’t come, you KNOW you have to change course. It’s not a guess or the incontrovertible “I just don’t feel like it’s working…..” You will have done everything in your power to make it work and it hasn’t. You have a new direction. You win.

But constantly second-guessing training is self-injury and will doom you to a life of fitness wandering and mindless internet forums. For example, people want to talk for years (and have) about whether 3 sets of 5 are better than 5 sets of 3. The truth is both work if you want them to, and neither will if you don’t.

I’m not saying belief is magical fairy dust. But people underestimate the power mental fitness wields over physical fitness.

We have a test called “Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day”:

50 Wall Balls 20/14
10 Burpees
400m Run
45 Power cleans 115/80
10 Burpees
400m Run
40 Thrusters 95/65
10 Burpees
400m Run

This workout reduces people to slop. After a few classes we started thinking about calling it “Poopy Pants” instead. It’s tough. Cool.

But here’s the twist: athletes do it every week for three weeks and are required to improve their score each time.

This is a beautiful test because it assesses everything other than physical fitness. A week is simply not long enough for large physiological adaptations – so how do you win? With your brain. Strategy, pacing, approach, acceptance, recovery.

Doing a tough workout once, that’s little league stuff. Doing a tough workout and knowing you’re going to get smashed with it again in 7 days, now you’ve got guts.

But doing a tough workout, and knowing you’re going to experience again, and again, and again and requiring of yourself to do better each time – even in the face of a score you know you can’t beat – that is next level stuff.

I’ve had people destroy themselves on their first time through it. Heaping piles of sweaty flesh. The second week they improved their scores by more than a minute. Yay. Happy. Way to go. But now what they’ve done with their accomplishment is raised the bar for themselves, and just a couple inches higher than what they think they can reach. This is opportunity.

Opportunity. If they improve their score each time – the ultimate feeling of victory over some pretty intense struggle. If they don’t – monumental disappointment because they’ve crushed themselves with something crazy and still lost.  One of these things will happen and they need to be ready to handle both.

Mental fitness is physical fitness. Physical fitness is mental fitness. They are the same – the ability to withstand struggle – using different tools. A left hand and a right hand. An easy way out is to divide these two and make them separate, but anyone who has been to a dark place in the middle of a workout know the only way out is a beautiful combination of the two.

Before you look for a new program, be sure you’re working on things in your head as much as you work on things in the gym.

Who You Are and What You Need: Part 2

DSC_0666-1Part 1 can be found here. 

2) Your success is your responsibility

Good programming creates an environment of success – IT DOESN’T CREATE SUCCESS. You do. YOU.

Sometimes athletes have the impression that the workout on the board is magical fairy voodoo training dust that courses through your veins at 3-2-1 Go.

Dropping some truth – Magical fairy voodoo training dust does not exist.

Some coaches are honest about this, some are not. The dishonest ones want you to believe in this voodoo as a way of establishing expertise – they know and you don’t. They’re going to tell you during a workout  to “maintain torso rigidity and intra-abdominal pressure through active lumbar and thoracic extension and a reset of the valsalva maneuver between consecutive repetitions” hoping that you have no idea what they’re saying because nothing gets a shitty coach off faster than confusing people.

They’re going to tell you they decided to make the reps go up by fives or down by fives because of the way the body reacts to odd numbers instead of even numbers, or that they spent 9 hours on a Sunday night writing and rewriting a workout based on the analysis of the previous week’s results, muscle fiber response, how it fits into the current periodization microcycle, and finally because of their ultimate authority, wisdom, knowledge and experience they have chosen the following:

21-15-9
Thrusters
Pullups

They want you to believe in the magical fairy dust.

Yes – writing workouts for athletes requires knowledge and this knowledge needs to be constantly developed, honed, applied, and tested. It is science and an art. Good coaches are convicted enough in what they do to lead the way, but humble enough to acknowledge there are infinitely more things to learn and ways to grow.  But the issue here is when coaches use the knowledge they have (or don’t have) to control, deceive and oppress people instead of develop them.

Unfortunately coaches like this exist in the world and these coaches should be punched in the throat. But in the end – you are responsible for you. Don’t be a mindless slave. Be knowledgeable, gain knowledge and nurture the desire to always learn more – this will sharpen your bullshit detector and will help your training. You are responsible for you.

Enough about these dishonest lying bastards – The honest coaches and the successful athletes will tell you that there are no magic sets and reps, a super program, an ultra cycle. It comes down to smart, hard work.

Smart work See previous post. There are different kinds of smart, and a lot of those kinds work. Pick one, stick to it, change when you know you need to.

Hard work – If the work is smart but you’re a sandbagger, a liar, lazy, or think you know better – you’re screwed. Nothing will help you and it doesn’t matter how much money you spend on coaching or remote programming. Badminton is cool, maybe try that?

Smart. Hard. Work.

I am NOT saying that coaching or programming doesn’t affect your success as an athlete. It does. But before you go through two weeks of training “without any progress” and decide that it’s time to jump ship to “find something that works”, sit yourself in the tub, break out the bubble bath and candles for a little heart-to-heart chat:

Are you working hard? Recovering harder?  Are you in tune with your body and who you are as an athlete? Are you mentally tough? Resilient is a great word – does it describe you? Are you surrounded by people that can lead you, push you, encourage you, and call you out on your bullshit? Do you call yourself out on your bullshit? Do you know your strengths and weaknesses? Do you feel responsible for your own success?

If you can answer “yes” to all those questions and you are not seeing the progress you think you can get, drain the tub, jump the ship and find a new captain.

If you can’t answer “yes” – or worse yet – if you have no idea what the question means, just shut up, grab the hammer and go to work.

Next post: The Mind is Primary

Sneak Peek Week – Day 1

Olympic – Full Lift
EMOMx10 – 1 full snatch @ 70%
Olympic – Strength
5×5 Snatch High Pull from the high hang

**This is the closest video I could find – He’s going from mid thigh, and I want you going from the hip. Think down and out of the power position, with as little forward lean as possible. Straps are ok, try to avoid them if possible.

WARM-UP: 6 Minutes
2 Minutes:
3 Wall Squats
3 Air Squats
2 minutes:
6 alternating lunges
6 pushups
2 Minutes:
6 shoulder dislocates
3 close grip OVHS

STRENGTH A: 20 minutes
Fitness: Back Squats 3×10 – Start first set at 60% and go up as possible
Competitor: Back Squats – 10RM – 5 sec pause in bottom 5 sec pause at top, then -5%, -10%, without pauses, perform reps as fast as possible

STRENGTH B: 15 minutes
5 minutes to warm-up to starting weight, then
EMOMx10 – 2 Push Press + 2 Push Jerk, increase weight as possible

STRENGTH C: 15 minutes
Deadlift – 1×2 @ 75%

then,

Speed Deadlifts – 5×3 @ 60% – rest 60s to 90s between each set

Competitors: Stand on a 25 pound plate for a deficit if desired and you don’t have low back issues. Focus on leg drive, butt squeeze and hips at lockout

Fitness Cash-out or Individual Work:
5 minutes – Max hollow hold to max superman hold

Competitor Gymnastic Skill: Perform this work today, Thursday Open Gym or whenever you have time this week – WK1DY1

**NOTE: The following is taken from Dusty Hyland’s Skill WOD, which is AWESOME.

3 sets: 3 swings to Ring Pullup, 1 swing to Muscleup or if you don’t have muscleups, 3 swings to ring pullup, 1 swing to ring pullup – Rest as needed

then,

3 Sets: Ring Muscle-up Complex – Rest two minutes between sets. If you don’t have strict muscle-ups, perform 3 supine ring rows then 3 dips

then,

TEST: 1 Set Max Unbroken Swinging Muscle-ups or Swinging Ring Pullups

then,

6 Sets: 1 weighted strict muscleup or pullup – If doing muscleup, use a med ball or a bumper plate you can drop, DO NOT USE A DIP BELT. If doing pullups, a dip belt is permitted

then,

Support hold with ring turn-out:
Set 1: 10s
Set 2: 10s
Set 3: Max time

Who You Are and What You Need: Part I

If you’re an athlete looking for online programming, you have a long road ahead of you – CrossFit mainsite , Invictus, OPT, Outlaw, Misfit, local box, remote programming, individualized programming,  etc, etc, etc, click, click, click – which one do I pick?

Rewind the clock 10 years and choosing a training program to follow was EASY – there were fewer options coupled with a healthy dose of ignorance – people simply knew less about what made a good program “good” and a bad program “bad”.

“WOD until you puke!!!!!” seems ridiculous now, but back then it was “hard training”.

The sport of fitness is growing and with it, the knowledge within the community – this is good. But couple this growth with the accessibility of the internet, the prominence of social media, and the eagerness of people to make money, it can be easy to become lost in the shuffle of training methods, philosophies, and implementations.

Every time a gym posts a lifter screaming “fuck yeah” with PR no-foot, no-hands, no-contact snatch off the high blocks with straps, knee wraps and a squat suit (you know who you are), the PR junkie in our brain goes “oooo I want that”. Follow.

Then we watch the CrossFit Games and find out that it’s now called the Invictus Games because they’re all going to win anyway, we say “oooooo I should follow them.” Follow.

Tomorrow, you hear that Froning makes up his workouts as he goes along through the week and “No plan as plan” seems like the magic bullet. ZenFit. Follow.

Or maybe you are getting bricked at the gym, maybe your joints hurt, maybe someone said something mean to you on Facebook, your marriage is falling apart, you ate some bad cheese – a new program will cure all your ills and lead you into a life of wealth, fame, and prosperity. IT. WILL. MAKE. YOU. WHOLE. AGAIN.

Follow.

How do you wade through it all?

This is the start of series on navigating your fitness future: general principles an athlete should keep in mind as they figure out who they are and what they need.

Point 1: There are many ways to success

One coach believes in a strength and conditioning approach towards progress – an oversimplification would be more “working out” and less “WODs”.

Another’s belief is “to get better at CrossFit you need to do CrossFit”.

Or another combines the two thoughts.

Some programming is constantly varied and some is less so.

There are also coaches who believe less in individualization and more in allowing the demands of the sport elicit progress – “one size fits most” – and workouts are more general.  There are coaches who believe only in individualization as the way forward and trying to follow a program someone else is doing will simply lead to stalled progress and injury.

Here is the bitter truth some people don’t want you to know – All of these approaches can work.

GASP.

I know this statement goes against the wishes of guru coaches who want to wag their super secret ultra specialized elite knowledges around in the air so they can lead the masses to fitness nirvana, and might be surprising coming from someone who writes programming. But it’s true – lots of things can work. There are many ways to improve fitness, but upon examination the most successful ways will have some things in common.

At the most basic level, training programs will understand and adhere to basic concepts; volume, intensity, fatigue management, movement proficiency, recovery, etc. For example, there are different ways to improve the back squat. Different kinds of sets, different reps, different percentages.

What doesn’t change is that as the weight gets closer to maximum, a person will be able to do less reps in a workout, less reps through a training week and will require more time to recover. The basic concept here is “as intensity increases, volume decreases”.

In other words, what people can do is lift heavier weight for less reps, or less weight for more reps.

What they can’t do is lift their heaviest weights for the most.

For example, this brain-busting prescription:  10 sets of 3 at 100% of 1RM.

Yes, this was actually a thing. Like, in real life a coach expected people to do for a workout.

A couple things to keep in mind here – just because many things work doesn’t mean everything works. Not all programming is created equal. Some coaches suck. Some are awesome. And even though there are different ways to successfully apply basic principles, there is a reason some programming is more successful than others – it’s just better.

This “many things work” belief also doesn’t mean that YOU are qualified to make your own programming. The internet is full of people who say things like, “Ok, I know what I need so I’m going to do 5/3/1 to get stronger then Invictus for my metcons then gymnastics wod for my gymnastics stuff then make up my own workouts on weekend because that’s what Froning does and…..”

Just because you can justify what you do doesn’t mean it works or even makes sense. Be humble enough to be able to admit you may have no idea what you’re doing. Your body isn’t an internet forum and it won’t take your bullshit.

Next Post – Point 2) Your success is your responsibility

Everything and the Kitchen Sink

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Competitive fitness is a complicated – it’s hard to think of a sport that requires a person to be proficient at so many different things in so many different ways.

For example, being able to lift more weight than the competition is great, but unfortunately one needs be able to lift lighter weights more time more quickly  over longer durations in order to win. Also unfortunately, these qualities of fitness lie on opposite ends of the spectrum of fitness and this is where things start getting complicated. Training absolute strength at the expense of enduring strength is expensive and can lead to a teeter-tottering of capacity; strength goes up, endurance goes down and trying to play catch up leads the opposite to happen.
Trying to train both qualities to their maximum potential simultaneously can be devastating. This is your programming that looks something like this (I’ve also included the coach’s thinking behind prescribing each):

Olympic work:
Because Oly. 

30 snatches at 80%  

Six year old Chinese weightlifters do like 1000 reps a day and eat only sushi, so we should too. Plus this is “30” and Isabel is 30 so this will help me not think of too many numbers. 

Clean and Jerk – Max attempt

GO FOR A PRRRRRRRRRRRR F YES POST THAT SHIT ON INSTAGRAM

Strength:

Smolov Week 4 95% 7×5

Dude i totally saw this program on the internet when i googled “squat program”

WOD #1:

Double Heavy Fran

Fran sucks so let’s double it and then double the weight to make it quadruply suck. People will think I know what i’m doing

WOD #2:

Half Marathon Row for time

They had this at the Games so yeah.

WOD #3:

200 pistols for time

Just a little burner – if you want to be the best you have to beat the best and the best can do 200 pistols in, like, 60 seconds or something crazy like that

Programming like this comes from coaches copy/pasting from Games athletes, copy/pasting from multiple sources and claiming it is a Super Program (“I have taken the best from Westside, Russian weightlifters, Invictus, Outlaw Way, and my own expertise and created the only way people should ever train”, or from coaches who simply don’t know that they don’t know.

MORE IS MORE IS MORE YAY FITNESS I’M GOING TO THE GAMES BABY.

People start training like this because it’s fun because training is fun. Then they get pissed because they take a giant brick to the face called “We are but mere humans”. Strength goes away, endurance goes away, fitness goes away – and in their place is injury, constant fatigue and lack of progress.

To be clear, I’m not hating on people using other people’s programming – in fact I encourage it! Especially in cases where coaches expertise lies in coaching and not in programming (yes, these are two completely different things). Being humble enough to know that someone else may help your athletes better than you can shows great character and is a mark of a good person and great coach.

So, we’ve established what a training day should NOT look like in an effort to address the needs of the competitive exerciser.

So what should it look like?

**Pause for a moment and consider that in fitness, there are many ways to the Truth. If you look at what CJ Martin (CrossFit Invictus), Ben Bergeron (CrossFit New England), and James Fitzgerald (OPEX, formerly OPT) prescribe for athletes, they are going to look different. They agree in some areas and disagree in others but they are still very successful. So when you read this and want to fight me, that is AWESOME as long as it’s a conversation supported by knowledge, fueled by conviction, and carried with the mindset that opinions aren’t inherently true.

Onward.

Here’s an example from this week of training:

Friday:

Strength 1:

Work up to a heavy single back squat – heavy but fast, no grinding

WOD:
Warm-up to starting snatch weight, then to starting clean and jerk weight 

EMOMx8 – 2 Snatches – Go up in weight as able
Rest 3 minutes
EMOMx8 – 2 clean and jerks – go up in weight as able

1 minute break, then

4 Rounds for time:

10 Toes to bar
5 Burpees
10 C2B Pullups
5 Burpees

Cash-out A: 4 minutes strict HSPU ladder – deficit if possible

Cash-out B: Row 14x 500m Rest 60s

A Cliff Note version of today’s workout in energy system speak would look like this:

Alactic (Absolute strength) – leg

Creatine Phosphate Battery (while improving Olympic Weightlifting technique)

Lactic Endurance – Gymnastic – Density and Skill under fatigue – Upper body emphasis

Aerobic Base Development

The beauty (and the effectiveness) comes from how these things fit together.

Absolute Strength: Notice the high intensity/low volume of the Absolute strength – get something heavy on your back, but not for too long so that it doesn’t affect the snatch/clean and jerk or the row. Boom, you have addressed your strength without interfering with the other work that needs to be done.

Creatine Phosphate Battery – This is your ability to repeat powerful movement over time. Too many reps at once and it starts to become lactic/aerobic – which we’re getting to with the gymnastic work. Too much rest and it becomes alactic which has already been addressed with the Back Squat.

Lactic Endurance – Gymnastic Density: Here we’re challenging local muscular endurance. Notice the lack of a barbell movement or leg dependent work. After the back squat and olympic work there is going to be some accumulated fatigue, and in order to continue training at a high intensity, we focus on the upper body, specifically density work, aka doing more reps in a small amount of time. Even though athletes will be working hard, this also allows a break for the legs which is benefit the rowing work coming up.

In other words, JUST THROW IN SOME THRUSTERS AND THAT WILL MAKE IT SUCKKKKKKK is not a smart approach.

This workout is scored – if the midline is weak, the t2b will burn it out and degrade the C2B, if the grip/arm/shoulder is weak everything will degrade. If neither are weak but there is no skill, fatigue will cause inefficiency. If you are great at everything, you win.

Aerobic Base Development – Ah, the stuff everyone hates but everyone needs. Sit on the Rower for 45+ minutes and row. Because of how today is designed, it is very possible to do well here, but you have to want to, and while it seems obvious, not everyone does. Yes, it is physically challenging, but the mental challenge here is what will cause most people to say “…..umm i have to, like, go and stuff….”

Everything and the kitchen sink. To improve in this sport, everything needs to be improved, but in a way that honors how the human body functions and adapts to stressors (more on this later), and progresses and is prescribed in a cohesive way. Smart programming is not voodoo, but a mixture of knowledge and common sense are keys to ensuring your athletes’ long-term success.