“Inaction breeds fear and doubt. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” – Dale Carnegie

Adrian Conway just brought his 4th team to the Games. Castro (in his real/regular state, not his character trolling state) praised the quality of Adrian’s leadership and communication. He also did something amazing, and innovative to show off exactly what Castro was saying in the final event:

They had their spot to the Games and likely Regional victory locked up. The team had a plan for the final workout, and just before going onto the floor Adrian looked at them, and told them they were going to completely scrap that plan, and he’d tell them what to do on the floor in the heat of the moment. The amount that I took away from this one single moment equals or rivals anything I’ve seen in the sport. Here’s what this showed me:

  • Effective, games level teams, have roles and everyone must expressly accept that role. Adrian is the leader, the communicator, and everyone else must follow and be an intent listener and provide information or feedback to help Adrian be more effective. Know your role. 
  • The team must have 100% trust in that Adrian will not lead them astray, and that they’re prepared for whatever he throws at them. Adrian must also know and trust that his team has completed the work from May2016-May2017 to accomplish the task he is about to thrust onto them. Any hang up in that trust, any training session where someone missed it, or dogged it, or was unprepared hurts that trust and makes the leader and the followers weaker and slower.
  • Control. Unless you are the leader, the only control you have is your own movement. In an effective team, you shouldn’t have to think at all – The leadership and communication should remove that stress from your system and you should be free to just go out and perform to your ability. Sometimes giving up control can be the most empowering thing you do. 

This weekend marks a major learning experience for many in the FCF training clan. I am excited to see you perform, to hear what you learn and take away, and to evaluate who should take the next steps. When you’re on the floor, know your role, trust your communication and release the idea or notion of control.

To those who are NOT competing this weekend:  Watch the video above, and watch Regionals. Watch these guys/girls MOVE and realize how you can improve. In years past I’ve gotten a lot of clamoring for “skulls” or “competitive sessions on Sundays” from people who simply are not ready to begin scaling up movements. I’ve had a lot of people talk about how they need to get their snatch up, or they need to snatch more….When their OHS with a PVC still needs work. Those same people when we go to start a Snatch workout they slap 135+ on the bar and start tugging away (I’m guilty of this also, and openly admit it has held my snatch back for years). The best in the sport spend 15-25 minutes properly warming up Snatch before moving forward with the lift. Many people cannot properly perform a Muscle Snatch (or even know what it is), yet will fail at 101% 6 times every single snatch session. That’s what we call improper usage of time/energy. Spend your time value at lighter weights with perfect reps and it will pay off far more. Step 1: Move better until your 90% looks like 40%.

Next: Watch their hunger and intensity. Properly timed sense of urgency is the name of the game. This goes back to Adrian’s video above. If you can’t do Karen unbroken, you should be obsessed with Wallballs every day. Start at 20 reps EMOM for 8 rounds. Do this until you can do it unbroken easily. Then move it up to 22 Reps EMOM8. Once that’s unbroken complete 24EMOM7. Then 26EMOM7, then 28EMOM6. Etc. Until you can get to 30EMOM5 and get your sub-5 Karen. It might take you a year, or 2, or 3. You might have to do it 2x/week or 3x/week. But I can guarantee you that when 55 come up in an Open workout, you won’t even have to plan for them, think about them, or worry about them. This same exact plan works for literally anything. CTB, HSPU, DU. Swap two numbers around and it works. The beauty of this is that it can start at a moderate to low intensity, and as you build slowly, it becomes intense. Intensity builds mental toughness, engine and energy systems — If you’re only comfortable performing at 170bpm, and anytime you go beyond that you hunch over and take a break…you’re limited, severely, in what you can accomplish.

Lastly: If you listen to and read the stories of these competitors, there are no excuses. I’m seeing 31 year old single mothers who work full time jobs making the games, 23 year old post-grad students who work and only have 90 minutes to workout 5x/week. If you think working 8-5, 10-7, etc. is what’s holding you  back, you need to seriously re-evaluate and realize that it is 100% your mentality that is holding you back. In one of the interviews this weekend I heard this and absolutely loved it: “I stopped blaming my coaches, my programming, my work, my kids and started accepting that I had control of my training, my mindset and my approach every day. I also discovered last year that people still love and support me even if I don’t make the Games, both were very freeing to me mentally”


Bare Minimum vs. the Extra Mile


Suggested Reading

One of the largest misconceptions in the world of goals, dreams, desires is that on some level, almost everyone believes they’re doing more than the bare minimum. I’ve come to find that Urb’s 10-80-10 rule applies really well here. Urban believes that 10% of people are “Coach Killers” – aka people who are unmotivated, make bad decisions, complain, don’t work hard and drag others around them down. 80% are ‘floaters’ who, if they go the extra mile can build/become something special, need to train and practice to be competitive and constantly do the little things right. The final 10% are the self-motivated, inspiring, hard workers who thrive when no one is looking. These 10% thrive on going the extra mile, by themselves, in the darkness of night/morning, and never telling a soul about it – because they know on game day that it will pay off.

As Urban says – the goal of the top 10% is to pull as many 80%’ers along with them as possible, show them the way, invite them to be with you and adopt your habits. This has been my sole job in opening a fitness facility. Show the everyday American what hard, dirty, grunt work looks like. The goal as an 80%’er is to not float – not accept the bare minimum, always go the extra mile and then some. When reading “Above the Line” (highly recommend) – I couldn’t help but think how applicable this was to our team and our situation. Last year I took steps to ensure that top 10%’ers would coach and lead 80%’ers through the areas they excel in, to help ‘teach them the way’  and show them how they are so successful. RT in Endurance…what many didn’t see is that RT would often test a harder version before Endurance class, with no one watching, to see what pacing/etc. was correct. Jenny in Gymnastics, constantly giving out extra recommendations, sometimes as a competitive CFer, sometimes as a gymnastics coach, and sometimes as a PT. Those resources are absolutely invaluable, however it has to be followed up on. Remember: Being coachable means taking a coach’s suggestion, beating on it in practice 10-15hrs/week, in the darkness, on your own, on the hope that maybe it earns you 3 seconds, 5 months from now. If you’ve taken coaching and just worked on it for the next 5-10 minutes, or the next hour, and then not followed up on it on your own time – that is doing the bare minimum.

Back when I used to do CrossFit at Lifetime in Dublin, I was coming off a near dead-last finish at the 2010 Ohio Sectionals. I couldn’t overhead squat an empty bar, didn’t know what kipping was, couldn’t afford to drive to Rogue (Grandview) or Fit Club – but was determined to get better. I woke up at 5am everyday so I could do an hour of rowing – No coach, no program or plan, just the pursuit of improvement. I then went to work from 8am-11am, 24-28hrs of classes each quarter (summer also), then back to lift and workout all evening. If I had a break between classes, it was RPAC time to lift or row. At the end of each day I’d usually net 4hrs or so of training time. I didn’t have planned rest days, and if I was too beat up, I’d still go in and row. My ‘coach’ was video’ing myself, then trolling the internet for hours trying to find videos or books on form. This was before Jay and Tom had really started to train with me, so I had no other training partners. Ring Rows and Dips every single day, then gravitron machine in the evening for pull-ups – My goal was to be north of 500 dips and 500 Rows/week. It was stupid to a point, but the results showed what I wanted – From 135th/167 in Ohio (For those who are unaware this exists: 2010 Scoreboard ) to 110th in the Central East, to 38th in two years.

I am a far better competitor now, but far less hungry for improvement. When I look back at what I did and how I lived back then, I just think about how much more hungry these kids must be now — the Opportunity is incredible. Being 26-27, with that much hunger to improve and current programs/information/coaching – the sky is the limit. If you aren’t improving in this environment it is likely because you’re accepting the bare minimum as ‘hard work’ rather than re-defining what hard work actually looks like. If you ask people who were competitive back in 2010, they will all have similar stories about how “stupid” we were. Stupid, hard work, will always trump smart, bare minimum.

Jade and Danielle Koch had some of the best engines I’ve seen…both actively loved running and would run 5-8 miles on their ‘off days’ or before they came to CF. People scoffed at that….”How ridiculous”…Never scoff at hard work. If you’re a guy, you’re competing with my hours of rowing logged in 2010, against my dips and rows (now muscle-ups), against RT’s marathons and Ironmans and the millions of push-ups we’ve both done….if you’re a girl, you’re competing against Jenny’s V-ups and pull-ups in 1986 and those who have a burning desire to wake up and run for 45 minutes. Not have to…GET to. They love it, their hunger for it feeds and fuels them.

The 80% who cannot find that next level motivation, end up floating in the gray area where they feel like they’ve done lots of hard work – but in reality the top 10%ers are there doing more, doing it better and faster. The 80%’ers who can find the appropriate mindset for real habit change, can transition themselves into the top 10% through their hard work. At this point in the sport, if you want to move up the Open Leaderboard, in my estimation it takes:

  • 25-35 hours/week of training and practice.
  • 98-99% perfect nutrition for the entire year.
  • Recovery protocols dialed in (practitioners, Yoga, Sleep, low stress)
  • Testing yourself against top 10%ers weekly.
  • Training is 40% of our time, Practice is 30% of our time, Recovery is 25% and Competing is <5%.

Final thought for the day, and something I was pressed on this week to think about: When is the last time you really worked on improving your double unders? When I say that most people think improving your max number. But what was posed to me was – To get 45-46 instead of 38 in a :20s tabata window. To go directly into a DU on your first rep without a prep jump? To time out exactly how many you can do in :30s, 1-min and 2-mins, and aim to increase your speed and efficiency. I’ve been ‘good enough’ at double unders for 5-years…Time to get that hunger for improvement back. That is what “practice” for 30% of our time should be dedicated to: DU improvement, rope climb lowering more efficiently, getting in and out of the rower faster, squat snatching a close-grip OHS for workouts, lowering to a perfect kipping position for HSPU – The list is endless. Start making it, start practicing better.

Days of process complete: Month 1 – 23/28 = 82% (A true B-minus effort) — Need improvement on my weekend processes. May will be tough due to travel, June will be dialed TF in.