The New World of Regionals

Do you have dreams or aspirations of ever competing at Regionals?
In 2013, ~110,000 people signed up for the Open — 4,692 people advanced onto Regionals across all teams and individual competitions. 95.8% (Percentile to advance).
 
Fast forward to 2018, I’m assuming ~500,000 competing in the Open and 1,600 will move onto Super-Regionals (assuming the South America region is normal sized, and a pure addition, Europe splits and California / West becomes one region, moving total Regions to 8). That means, even to be on a team, you must be in the 99.78% percentile to advance this year.
 
Stock for Granite Games & Wodapalooza Up.
Stock for CF Games — Down again.
 
Positive from announcement, they finally did something about the West regional, though they failed to recognize how insanely weak (and now weaker) the South Region is.
 
I’m glad the sport is evolving, however I find it unfortunate that it continues to get less and less attainable, and thus gets further and further away from Affiliate support. Most athletes (even team) who are successful in this world will be required to train individually (most of the time) and separately from the group atmosphere, which negatively impacts the larger community. You will continue to have young athletes pursuing careers in a sport that cannot support them financially for the demands it requires, and will push them into bad life decisions; putting off or quitting jobs, taking steroids, obsessing over social media, and losing the support of quality in-person coaches. 
My expectation is that more super-teams will be created. Regionals will continue to be represented less and less by people who are REAL, actual parts of an affiliate — and the affiliate atmosphere will continue to deteriorate. Over the past few years, there has been less and less excitement and cheering at the Regionals. Affiliate communities don’t travel to support teams – generally because those teams all train individually and seclude themselves from the community. The individuals are looked at more through the lens of fandom, and even then it is only a few top competitors who have a following.
The sport of CrossFit just took another step closer to elitism, seclusion and separation from their affiliate base of support. Sure, it will be great for documentary sales and cool workout montages that they can sell on iTunes. But who at HQ is thinking about how this will effect excitement around the discourse of owners and coaches common interactions. Here are some thoughts of mine that I think would create excitement and energy, and fall under the realm of possibility from a logistics stand-point:
November 1-November 21:
The Open splits into two 3-week sections. The first 3-weeks will be dubbed “State/Provincial/Country championships.” Individuals and teams will compete against only those inside of their immediate geographic location during this phase of the Open. The top 15 Teams, Male and Female will advance to:
December 10th/11th:
Live State/Provincial Championships. One gym (CF Affiliate) will be chosen to host the state/provincial or country championship weekend each year. It will rotate around the state, much like State Football Championships, and the workouts will be given by HQ following the end of the Open Period #1. This will run exactly like the “Festivus Games” – Where workouts, standards, etc. will be put down from the top, and carried out through the area supervisor. Affiliate owners and top coaches will be responsible for sending quality judges. Limited tickets will be given to each affiliate who sends representatives.
This will get the “grass roots” level back some excitement. This will give Regional level, 99.5th percentile athletes the ability to compete to be State Champion, rather than hang their hat on a meaningless (albeit respectable) 18th place Regional finish.
Athletes who win their prospective state championships will be given an automatic bid to Regionals. Think of how cool it will be to have a top heat that represents all of the “state champions.”
February 1-February 21:
The Second 3-week section of the Open will determine who advances onto Regionals. The first 3-weeks of Open Scores are still factored in the way that Masters Regionals scores are. Teams/individuals will have December & January to train, come together as a team or make adjustments as needed to advance. The remaining spots still available (~10/team, ~15/male/female) will be granted through traditional open qualification.
May:
Regionals — Same format
July/August: 
Games
 

What is your Focus?

Consistent. Repeatable.

So last week we had a day that was 80% C&J for 10 sets. The goal being to go to your 80% (+/- 5-10lbs) and hit it for 10 sets, with solid and consistent form. That means the footwork in both the clean and the jerk should be balanced, and the same across all sets. The catch in the split jerk should be solid, controlled and allow for a front foot -> back foot recovery. This weight should not require a belt, or knee sleeves – just building good, consistent movement. The importance of this at this stage cannot be understated at this ‘stage of the game’ – here is why:

  • CrossFit is an efficiency sport. It comes down to how long can you repeat a consistent pattern without muscular break down. If you watch Rich Froning do Isabel you see that he has built up such solid movement patterns well beyond the capacity of 30-reps of 135lb snatches that he is able to seamlessly move through them and they all look identical. If you watch a Regional athlete to Isabel the first 8-12 reps might be efficient, then they will start to pull too much with their back, then their arms, then their grip fatigues, shoulders fatigue and they’re near failure around the 30 rep mark. If you watch a lower class athlete try 135, it is a horrid sight to watch. It starts with 3-4 moderate reps, then things quickly fall apart and they’re likely to get injured or at the very least have a dinged up back/shoulder tomorrow. The key here is to understand that everyone has a weight where they’re the “lower class athlete” and to avoid that like the plague. Watch Ben and Rich do 16.2…notice how their weight isn’t even 315 that they break down at. For most of us it was 185, 225 or 275. What weight it was for you is the weight you need to train…sometimes that is 50%, so if you’re like “ah, fuck it I need to get a higher 1RM” then you should go be a weightlifter, not a CrossFitter. As competitors you need to realize that building 30, 40, 50, 60, 100 repeatable reps at 95 or 115 is far more important than setting a new Isabel PR or doing it RX. Especially right now.
  • Every season once ~December hits, we’re spending most of our time working lactic threshold and pushing our bodies/minds to get more comfortable hitting our rep threshold with high heart rates. Ideally between now and then we would create a greater rep threshold through building better movement patterns. You can have the biggest engine in the world, but if you don’t move weight efficiently you can and will be surpassed by a less fit person who didn’t “work as hard as you” (But they did work “smarter” than you).  This is a key point to understand. I am a perfect example of this. I work “harder” than a lot of people. I move significantly less efficient than a lot of those same people. When a burpee workout comes up then and my inefficient hip mobility and burpee form come out, a less fit, less hard working person will surpass me with ease, making burpees look simple, while I’ll be over there making them look super laborous and dying. (I’m working on it)
  • Training at 100% will always win over someone who operates at 80% capacity due to ‘nags’ or injuries that linger. Constantly pushing threshold above the desired stimulus and “going for PRs” and ego training will always leave you training with less intensity and with worse form. Again, someone who chooses to do banded strict pull-ups because they know their kipping form and longevity cannot hold up will always (in the long run) win over the guy who rails away on his shoulders and core doing awful, ugly, inefficient and sloppy kips just to “do things RX.”

The goal here is to ensure that people listen to the coaches when they’re explaining the purpose behind the workout, and embody that purpose. Also to ensure that people are taking their own health and short-comings into an honest, self-aware place so that they can make the change to move forward. The Open will come up again, if you move the same, have the same injuries and the same weaknesses in February then you simply: Did not listen, were not self-aware, did not train with intention – And you might have an ego problem. 

Thoughts on Week 1

Test week was okay. A few things I need to see:

  • Training partners & communication. You need to put yourself in a situation where someone will push you. Alex wanted 405 on squats, I made him go 435 after he smoked 405. Sam might’ve stayed at 185 on Snatches Friday, I pushed him to 200 and got him out of his comfort zone. Chris checked in on me daily, ensuring I was staying gearless…came back on Saturday to make sure I was snatching in nanos, then came in on Sunday after the Seminar just to drag sleds with me for a bit so the day wasn’t a loss. We all need each other to pull this off – Hold someone else accountable each and everyday.
  • When something says “Max Effort” – That means max effort. Class or extra, every single piece needs to be attacked with intention. I don’t feel that was the case last week and I’ve had to question some of our groups effort. I find questioning that to be unacceptable.  A few things that should never be questioned: Your commitment, your effort, your attitude.
  • Evaluate and be self-aware. Look back over your tests and workouts – Everyday should have some reflection with it. And each day that reflection should strengthen your resolve to your goal. If your reflections show that your actions aren’t meeting your goals, change your goals or adjust your actions. You’ve probably seen that quote changed around a million times, yet the lack of self-awareness in our society leads people down a path that is adverse to change, or acceptance of their current state.
  • Some of you are doing an amazing job owning your own training, hitting the things you need to on your off days and extra time, committing to intentioned training and practice. I was very pleased to see the rest/recovery days utilized more wisely this week. We get Omar the Motivator and energy giver back this week from Ramadan, so please reach out to him to ensure his week goes well and he’s able to have training partners as he comes back into the group.
  • Lastly, everyone’s goal (HOMEWORK) this week is to engage a new member of the week this week, learn about their life, job, family, hobbies and encourage them to do something beneficial with you at a later day. I.e. last week JC and I discussed his next month and what it will entail for him, what makes him nervous about going to Toledo for a month, and then invited him to do a 2k Warm-up w/ push-up warm-up with me. Engage others, bring them along for the ride, it will always pay itself back to you 10-fold. I want to hear about it, write it in comments, text it to me, or share it with me in person.

Cycle 1

Alright guys, if you adjust your focus to BTWB you have been added into your Tiers for extra training.  If you “opt out” of that, or click off Tier 2 then you will be removed from the list and not see the training so please don’t do that! It will show up for you on your BTWB timeline on the day it is programmed – let me know if you have questions.

Class is starting their second Cycle of this season, but for many of you who were doing regionals/other comps or taking some leisure time after the Open this will be the first one you can really bite into. Do not miss days, do not come unprepared to train, bring zero negativity into the space of our gym. This is the most important time to improve of the whole season. You are rebuilding yourself structurally, making yourself bulletproof for the volume that will come later, and falling back in love with having fun with CrossFit, in class, with friends, and just throwing down on hot summer days!

Sign-up for seminars, get involved with a club, LEARN, find (maybe) one competition to compete in this season, but the rest of your focus should be on improving yourself and enjoying each day. We will “compete” in the gym at the beginning and end of each cycle, that should be plenty for you until you start dominating every strength day, and every metcon day, with fully legit reps and count (good luck).

Tier 1:

Once per week you will have a girl workout broken up into intervals. Your goal will be to hit the intervals with maximum intensity and post results. Your goal is to hit 5 days/week of class, and scale class accordingly so that you are one of (if not the) top time of the day. If you’re a guy that might mean doing Fran at 45lbs, but the goal is to learn how to keep the pedal pushed down, not how to struggle through broken sets.

Tier 2:

Tuesdays and Fridays will have extra work — For those of you prioritizing Endurance I would think about adding Endurance workout from Tuesday into your Thursday training program and from Friday into your Sunday active recovery day 2/4 weeks each month – Both endurance/recovery days should also include some rehab work, stretching/mobility and light skill work (i.e. empty bar snatching, moving).  This will put you 6-7x/week, but if nutrition/sleep and the other things we’ve discussed are dialed in you’ll be fine (since Endurance work can be recovery work, and most of you are like 21 years old).

Extra work for Tier 2 will be a combination of Monostructural (row/bike/run/DU) and skill or mono/barbell suck fests.  Traditionally all of the barbell suck fests will be designed to be at a threshold of unbroken, and the only factor of how well you do is how hard you’re willing to go on the rower/airdyne/run. So basically your own mental capacity is your only limiting factor.  The skill work will obviously be different, but the goal is to ensure that you’re improving your skills at a high heart rate.

Everyone:

If you haven’t watched this yet, it’s priority!

You should have a list of 5-7 things you want to practice. Your warm-up before the class warm-up should touch on at least one of those things each day, and your recovery days should hit at least 2-3. That means if you struggle with kipping HSPU you should be practicing them a minimum of 2x/week, and likely training them one more time.

Control

“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

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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.

 

Tiers

 

Watch this, rewind it and watch it again. Listen at the end, understand what she is saying. Listen to the laughs when she talks about going to the Games. Understand what you’re looking to do and how ridiculous it might seem to established coaches and gym owners. Understand that most gyms, most athletes fuck this all up. Many gyms let competitors run all over the facility and act like they own the place. That’s why they fail, go out of business, and the competitors just move on to other gyms. Our system will be what is best for the gym first, then and only then, what is best for the competitive athlete. If you are not on board with that, please go find another gym. I will not have competitors do anything except motivate, inspire and add to my culture.

I am going to begin giving out some extra work on a given Tier system in May.  Different people need different things, so these will be suggestions. I still recommend Barbell/Gymnastics Club for those of you who NEED coaching in those areas. Doing that work on your own will not net the same results. Period.

Tier 1 Definition:

  • Need to work mainly on intensity. Classic Crossfit girls workouts scores are not where they need to be yet: Karen <5:30 / 6:00, Fran: <2:45/3:00, Jackie: <6:00/6:30, Amanda: <5:00/6:30, Diane: <4:00
  • Extra work will be short, fast, and intense. The goal is to work on intensity and ability to perform inside of discomfort.
  • 2-3x/week – nothing more, class intensity is still paramount.

Tier 2 Definition:

  • Weightlifting numbers are where they need to be, Gymnastics skills are there, engine is okay. You’re a well-rounded athlete, but can’t seem to put together top 100 Open scores.
  • Goal is to train at slightly higher weights & skills under fatigue and consistently.
  • Need to build engine through engine specific / VO2 / capacity workouts.
  • Lots of running.

Tier 3 Definition:

  • You’ve made/qualified for the Games or Regionals as an individual in the past.
  • You’re self-sufficient, have nutrition and rest dialed in, you know your body and need minimal coaching.
  • Work.

 

To shift from Tier 0 (class programming) to Tier 1 you will need the following:

  • Be an energy giver. Never talk bad about yourself or others.
  • Be actively working on nutrition and rest. Maximizing recovery.
  • Train 5x/week, no more, no less.
  • Log everything on BTWB.
  • Actively perform prehab/rehab.
  • Handle injury issues like an adult, and heed coaches advice.
  • Be coachable.

Tier 1 to Tier 2:

  • All of the above
  • Accomplish 4/5 girls standards on video.
  • Have 5/3 Muscle-Ups, Butterfly pull-ups (that aren’t floppy fishy ones), 100 DU unbroken, 15 T2B UB, 10/5 Strict HSPU Unbroken.
  • BW Snatch (+/- 5lbs), 1.3-1.4x BW C&J, CFTotal above 950/630 (separate, not necessarily in CFT)
  • Run 1mile under 6:30, Row 2k under 7:15 / 8:10
  • Understand what it means to be competitive in this sport: Humility, you’re an inspiring leader to others, you set an example around the facility, you embody the rules/ideals of the gym’s culture.

Tier 2 to Tier 3:

  • You sign-up for, and achieve success in individual competitions. Anyone would be happy to have you on a team for team competitions because of your attitude, work ethic and approach.
  • You can video lifts/gymnastics and understand what you’re doing wrong.
  • You own your own training.
  • You can read the BTWB training and fully understand it and carry it out on your own (it will be complex).

 

“Extra work”

After the 2014 season we set up one team and made Regionals as a gym. We had a “try-out” type system in place and chose 4 guys/girls to make the team. As a group we all had drastically different schedules, where none of us could get together at the same time. I used the old blog as a way for us to know what extra work to do to prepare us for Regional training that year. Because the blog was public, and people love to ask the question “hey what are you doing?” others started in on some of the extra work. This started us down the path of ‘more is more.’  More is more is a concept that is set up perfectly for the 2017 mind. ‘I want it all, and I want it now and I don’t like waiting on the process/perfecting the fundamentals so let me keep trying to hack the system and cram and get everything I want now.’  The problem became that people started doing extra work, or coming to skulls before they had completed very old school, original CrossFit benchmarks. Some people even did extra work before they could complete each class of the week RX, let alone with intensity. Seriously, think about that? It would be like saying “Oh, I was shanking a bunch of shots out on the range and can’t putt yet…but I want to go compete in the US Amateur at Whistling Straits.”  And still even worse, some people came to Skulls or did extra work when they were injured and had to scale class or skip it entirely!?

Just like I said it’s important to understand what your process is, it is also very important to have a strong understanding of the CrossFit process. Because many of you are “new school” CrossFitters, you likely haven’t spent the time researching the classic Benchmarks. It is the argument of Greg Glassman that until you can complete these benchmarks, you are not well-rounded enough, intense enough, or do not move well enough to advance beyond them. My contention is that this should be a self-assessment tool for yourself to see the things you’re focusing too much on, and the things you’re not focusing enough on. Re-evaluate your individual process accordingly and don’t concern yourself with what others are doing for their extra work (or what other people’s process might be). Here they are:

  • Tabata DU Unbroken (35+ reps)
  • 2k Row <7:00 / 8:00, 1 mile run under 6:15 / 6:45
  • Front Squat 1.5x BW, Deadlift 2x Bodyweight, Strict Press 1x/.75x BW
  • C&J 1.5x BW, Snatch 1x BW
  • (Old school) 10/6 UB MU, (New school) 15/10 MU, 25/20 CTB, 45/40 Pull-ups
  • Karen <5:30 / 6:00, Fran: <2:45/3:00, Jackie: <6:00/6:30, Amanda: <5:00/6:30, Diane: <4:00
  • Murph: RX <50:00, DT: <6:00, Tommy V: <12:30/14:00, Nasty Girls: <6:30/8:00
  • Row 500m (Lightweight) <1:28/1:50 (Heavyweight): <1:23/1:45, Run 400m: <1:05/1:15
  • Another fun grouping of tests from Glassman

If your first reaction to some was “that’s so easy” and others as “pfft, yea right” – That’s a problem.

If I were to see an athlete who can complete each of those tests (or 90%+), I would then look next to:

Beep test, Macho Man, Prison Rules, 21-15-9: 315/225 DL/BJ, the Seven.

Until you’re able to complete that grouping of tests, the best thing for you is going to be:

  1. Attacking each class workout with maximum intensity. No plan, no pacing, no fear, no hunched over breaths, just maximum intensity. This is the only way to “get there” for most of these things. You will never get there on the row/run/girls workouts if you’re afraid of approaching ‘the line.’
  2. Sticking to maximizing classic movements, class gets you great at the basics. Take note of how many classes you are able to RX with intensity. Take note of where you sit in runs/rows, are you at the top of the pack for lifting, but that back of the pack for rowing/running?
  3. Creating your own extra work workouts (with a coach, or training partner) that will maximize improving in those areas. Let’s say I struggle at running and big sets of Muscle-ups: 5 Rounds: Run 800m (max effort), 10 second transition, 2 Max effort sets of Muscle-ups with a 15s break in between. Rest 2-3 minutes between. That provides direct value to you, but does not provide direct value to me. Better for me would be: 4 Rounds: 30 Overhead Squats @ 75lbs, Max effort HSPU, rest 2 minutes.

This is where owning your own training, communicating honestly and being in a good place of self-awareness will maximize your ability. Last year I took meetings individually with people, and gave them these types of things. They were not always maximized or followed through on, so that is step 2: Do the work. For those who I feel like are well-rounded in the areas listed above, smart enough to own their training from a place of good self-awareness, and mature enough to complete the extra work in a time/place/space that is not going to be at a detriment to the gym or their ego – I will grant some extra training. Until then, use M-F for #1 & #2, and use Saturday/Sunday for #3. Email me questions/concerns and write ups and I’ll be glad to give workouts to address your weak points in the targets above.

Days of process completed: 12/14

Some thought projects

quote-people-who-are-unable-to-motivate-themselves-must-be-content-with-mediocrity-no-matter-how-andrew-carnegie-32024

Think about it.

Thought project #2

Having a set of core values, things you can look to to center yourself, will always be invaluable. I’ve made plenty of comments on professional success being tangential to hobbyist success in CrossFit. I’m a true believer in that successful people are all successful due to strong habits, and knowing who they are. Every now and again you’ll see someone who was ultra talented, but not successful. Mike Tyson – A world class talent in an arena, made enough money for 10 lifetimes, but never established his values, who he was or what he was about until later in life. Success without values is a house of cards, destined to fall and fall painfully. Values first, struggle and adversity stacked on top of values, will create a rock solid foundation. For us – This looks like:

  • Integrity – Of movement, reps, effort.
  • Empathy – Listen to coaches, remove the ego, you’re never too good for the fundamentals.
  • Discipline – Nutrition, sleep, hydration, prioritizing time.
  • Passion – Loving what you get to do everyday and who/where you get to do it.
  • Thoughtfulness – Being aware of others, yourself, and the situation. Assessing and making intelligent decisions.

Ironically, people who embody these traits will rarely struggle financially, in relationships and in new endeavors. If you are capable of taking these 5 things into every area of your life, and ensuring that you stick to them regardless of circumstance, you will always find your ‘true north.’

What you need to understand though is that everyone of those values requires constant conscious effort to maintain. It requires adversity and challenges to stay strong. Without actively thinking and working on these things, it will not continue to provide value to you. I frequently tell young 20-year olds the importance of living alone for a few years. No relationships (or maybe a few failed ones), hard professional work and plenty of hobby changes. You will learn a lot about what you’re about and who you are. Do some reading, do some traveling and make some intelligent decisions with your experiences. If you’re past that time in your life…have you established those things? Do you know your values? Do you actually have discipline and integrity? Can you stop yourself from buying those shoes to make sound investment choices? Can you put your phone face down in another room when it’s time to be with family or your loved ones? Can you tell your family what you’re passionate about and ask them to help/support you…with conviction?

Some of the richest people in the world live in small condos and drive Honda Accords. Some of the poorest people live in mansions and drive Mercedes. Some of the most talented athletes never made it out of high school, some of the most talentless mediocre athletes play on Sunday’s and have Olympic medals. Some of the dumbest people have created amazing things, and some of the smartest work 9-5 for 40 years. Once you realize the only difference is your choices and your actions – you are free to do whatever you want.

 

 

 

Perspective & Priorities

Must listen

“On purpose, with purpose”

The building your cathedral story is one that I think perfectly pertains to CrossFit, work, relationships, finances, almost anything in life that offers a challenge. Anything where you have the desire to ever say “I don’t like this” or “this sucks” or “this is hard” can be almost instantly fixed by a better perspective. I’ve worked some seriously shitty jobs; being a smartass in infantry basic training paints a nice target on your back to the Drill Sergeants. Luckily, I was surrounded by guys who had a great perspective and we could always find a way to laugh the worse it got. You have to know the value of something hurting, sucking, or forcing your mind into the ‘quit zone’. I have to do push-ups for an hour straight while others get to go call their families? Good, I had the highest push-up score in our unit. I have to stay up and post guard all night? Good, that prepared me for Tomb training down the road. I have to clean the entire units weapons? Good, I could take apart and clean my weapon 3-4x as fast as the soldier next to me by the end of training (again paying dividends at the Tomb).

That value has always been my driving force.  My mentality for a long time was “If someone else can accomplish this, then I certainly can” — Now it has shifted to “If this sucks for me, it definitely sucks worse for others who are trying to catch up to me, so all I have to do is go that 1% harder where they aren’t willing to go.”  Sometimes the value and perspective in the moment is SO HARD to see. The pain, the negativity, and quitting/complaining is your natural reaction to anything that is unnatural. This is where coaches, training partners, and our community is huge. Everyone slips up in seeing this perspective in training sometimes, your job as a training partner / coach / community leader is to push that persons brain to the right spot as fast as possible. Second session on Saturday night at the track and you’re on your 20th 400m? It hurts everywhere, and your  brain wants to just slow to a 2:00 pace and coast it in? Think of the value here: Most people will be laying on a couch, or out drinking. Most people would say 10 x 400m was plenty. Most people can’t handle the pain of 1:20 splits over and over again. Most people wouldn’t do it, and almost no one understands it.

George Sterner removed a bunch of posts from Instagram/Facebook when I went to look for this post today. He is an 18 year old who finished 18th in the world in the Open. He posted last week a picture of him at the track on Saturday night at 9:18pm, after having completed 20 x 400m runs, rest 1:1. You are what you repeatedly do, you are the decisions you make when everyone else is out to dinner not hitting their macros on Saturday night (me in this case).

So, think to yourself. What decisions will you make that will separate you from others, and start to inch you towards where you want to be? Is that a mental choice in difficult moments? Is that a conscious decision to be uncomfortable when you know others won’t? Are you building a cathedral, or are you just pounding rocks? If we consider that all things are equal outside of the gym: Eating, sleeping, recovery, etc. (which we know they aren’t, but between top level people they should be) – then this is one of the few separators left in the space of training. If you limit yourself only to the extra work everyone else is doing, that the coach is giving, you must know that you are defeating everyone mentally during those workouts/reps. Otherwise you must not limit yourself to that training alone, and start to own your own 20x400m on a Saturday night.

 

Days of process complete: 6/7 (Missed macros Saturday night) – Can’t OHS train for a week or so due to low-back issue. Provides me more opportunity to work on strict pulling strength and mobility.