Do the work

I am guilty of what I call the ‘Spiderman Phenomenon’. In the movie (and comic, obviously), Peter Parker gets bitten by a radioactive spider. He is a very small boy, not really remarkable physically, picked on by the bullies, and hopeless in athletics. The morning after being bitten, he wakes up to find that he is extremely muscular and very athletically talented.

I find myself guilty of this in my training from time to time. I figure that I’ll be able to do something eventually as ling as I’m training hard, but I repeatedly miss out in achieving certain things because I don’t put in the effort needed to actually become able to them in the first place.

Addressing weaknesses directly and intentionally is very important in our journey towards elite fitness. And we do want to be elite, don’t we? Then we need to get rid of weaknesses that hold us back. Here’s the interesting thing: when we strengthen our weaknesses, our strengths benefit as well. When we work only on our strengths, out weaknesses become thar much more glaringly obvious.

Think about the back lever for a second. What benefits do you think you would gain from becoming capable of holding a 30 second back lever? Aside from the obvious coolness factor, think about how much more load your back would be able to handle in the squat or deadlift. What about your press? Might you be able to handle heavier loads overhead? Could your body handle the dynamic loading of a snatch or clean? What about your grip strength? Total number of pull ups you can do? Shoulder stability?

My challenge to you is this: choose a weakness (or two) that you are going to systematically address. Build them into your warm up, rest days, and post training times (within reason). Spend at least a month (probably more) working hard on them until you’ve reached your goal. While you are doing this, keep an eye out for other benefits that you see from changing a weakness into a strength.

Post your goals here, and report back soon!

Coach ‘going hard after the weaknesses’ A


Wasted warm up?

What do you do for your warm up? Are you even warming up? What’s the point of warming up?

A ‘warm up’ should do exactly what it says – it should warm you up. If you aren’t sweating when you finish, then something is missing. When you are sweating, it is a sign that your body temperature has increased, which also means that your muscles, joints, and attachments are warm and able to move better. Warm muscles and joints work better and are less prone to injury than cold muscles.

Is it just about sweating? Absolutely not! The sweating only means that your body temperature has increased. What else should you do in your warm up? That’s a good question! If you are smart in your warm ups, you can make your warm ups just as important (if not more!) than the main part of the WOD.

Mobility – flexibility is a huge issue in performing well. Think about your squat: do you have trouble holding your lumbar arch? Does your butt ‘wink’? Does getting into the bottom of the squat feel hard or tight? Now look at your overhead work: does getting into an ‘active shoulder’ position feel awkward? Do you feel resistance when you put your arms straight overhead? If you’re reading this article, chances are, you need help in one, if not both, of those movements. Those are just two of the many movements that we do. What about the rack position for front squats or cleans? What about when you are on the rings doing dips? The bottom of the pull up? There are many, many more. During your warm up, work on your mobility and flexibility. Foam roll tight areas to get muscles to relax and lengthen. Do dynamic movements to get the joints and muscles moving in a wide range of motion to get your body prepped. Leg swings, lunges, air squats, overhead squats with a PVC pipe, overhead squats with a close grip, kipping, and many other movements are good for working on mobility. Avoid static stretching (holding a stretch for long periods of time) aside from the Samson stretch, since static stretching reduces muscular strength temporarily.

Skill work – this is where a well planned and implemented warm up can be of great use. What skills do you need for the WOD? Use the time to practice those skills. Not feeling so solid in your snatches before hitting ‘Isabel’? Warm up with some light snatches. How about muscle ups? There are many drills that you can do as a warm up to get ready for that movement as well. Light-weight versions of all weighted movements make for good warm ups: squats, deadlifts, cleans, jerks, KB swings, snatches, etc. When do you practice your gymnastic movements? How are your handstands? Planche? L-sit? Front/back levers? You know how hard these moves are to master, and they are even harder to find time to do, right? You also know how much they will help with warming up your joints and raising your body temperature.

The standard CrossFit warm up is a good starting place:

3 rounds of:

Samson stretch (30 seconds per leg)

10~15 squats

10~15 push ups

10~15 sit ups

10~15 back extensions

10~15 pull ups

10~15 dips (ring or stationary)

This is a good starting point, but this will become dull very shortly. Incorporating different gymnastic movements and skill movements will warm you up and get you ready for your workout. Take one of our favorite workouts, ‘Grace’. Here might be some things you can do to get ready for the WOD while incorporating some skill work and gymnastic development:

3 rounds of:

10~15 kipping swings (this is not a full pull up, just the kipping portion)

10 overhead lunges (PVC pipe up to an olympic bar)

10~15 box jumps

5~10 handstand push ups (handstand hold for beginners, partial range of motion for intermediates, full range for those who find HSPUs to be easy)

5~10 full squat cleans (Medicine ball, training bar, olympic bar, all the way up to 95#, choose one that most closely suits your needs)

As you can see with this warm up, the person participating in this will get some skill development (kipping swings, handstand push ups, full squat cleans), will warm up the body sufficiently, will gain mobility (kipping swings are great for opening up the shoulders, lunges and full squat cleans will get the lower extremities warmed up), and the box jumps will get the body ready for explosive movements. You will be sweating, your joints will be happy, and you will have spent some time practicing the movement you need for the WOD.

Just to give another example of a warm up that can be done for another WOD, I’ll post the one that I’m doing for today’s workout: Elizabeth. Elizabeth consists of squat cleans and ring dips, 21-15-9 for time.

Warm up:

3 rounds of:

10~15 overhead squats (PVC/training bar/olympic bar)

3~5 skin the cats

10~15 shoulder pass throughs

5~10 full/hang squat cleans (PVC/training bar/olympic bar/all the way up to 95#, choose what suits your needs)

10~15 push ups

15~20 rolls on the foam roller (focusing on parts that are restricted)

This warm up includes activities that either prepare the body for the movements required within the WOD (squatting, pressing, pulling), works on mobility (overhead squats, skin the cats, shoulder pass throughs, and foam rolling), and gives an opportunity for skill development (overhead squats). You will definitely be warm, your joints and muscles will be ready, and you will have prepared yourself for the work you need to do.

ONE NOTE OF CAUTION: your warm up is a warm up; it is not the full workout. A good warm up can take anywhere from 10~15 minutes to do, but it should not tire you out so thoroughly that you cannot do well within the WOD itself. Warming up for Fran should include some pull ups, but don’t do so many that you can’t do the workout itself. Do some light weight thrusters, build up to the full 95#, but don’t do so many that you are fatigued and cannot perform during the WOD. Your warm up should get you ready and put you in the best place, physically, technically, and mentally, to do the WOD. It should not tear you down before you even do your workout.

Try mixing up your workouts, building on skills, and keeping things interesting. You don’t want your warm up to be boring, and you know that your warm up could be a great place to kill some of your goats (Handstand push ups for me, overhead squats for Coach J :P).

Coach ‘Be-efficient’ A

My recent Globo gym experience

Over a year ago, I stopped doing the traditional bodybuilding style training that most people still do today. I don’t have anything against those who pursue that form of training; it can improve muscle size and appearance. I just don’t see it as something that I need for myself, since I would much rather squat heavy, do a muscle up, and be able to do double unders. I want to train my body as a unit, not in bits and pieces. Having been out of it for a year, I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be in that environment.

Today I had the chance to check out a local globo gym on a one-day trial membership. A friend of mine who is interested in what I do and can’t wait for the gym to open invited me. She wanted me to see what was available at the gym and what she’s been doing so far.

‘Renaissance’ is a gym chain here in the Tokyo area. There are two close to where I live. I’ve only been to the one near the school where I work, so I can’t say that they are the standard, but this is what they have:

  • A pool
  • men’s and women’s locker room with showers, ofuro, and sauna
  • three squash courts
  • two aerobics studios
  • 1 squat rack
  • 1 bench press
  • a set of dumbbells
  • 30 or so cardio equipment
  • the full cybex machine catalogue
  • a body analyzer

After going through the check out, I went to the very nicely furnished locker room, got changed, and headed up to the third floor where the ‘fitness’ section is. First things first, they were put me through a body analysis. I stepped onto a machine that weighed me and analyzed my body fat, muscle mass, internal fat storage, fat storage by body part, muscle weight by body part, basal metabolic rate, and muscle balance. Here are the results:

  • I’m 85 kg (187 lbs)
  • bf% 16.7
  • Fat weight 14.3 kg (31.46 lbs)
  • Lean body mass 71.3 kg (156.86 lbs)
  • Muscle weight 67.65 kg (148.83 lbs)
  • Basically Meaningless Index (BMI): 25.6
  • Body type: muscular
  • Body part muscle mass: all above average (particularly in my right arm)
  • Body part fat storage: all slightly below average
  • Body fat around internal organs: average
  • My right side is more muscular than my left, with the imbalance mostly noticeable in my right leg (more muscle mass there)
  • Basal Metabolic Rate: 2062 (that seems a bit inflated compared to a lot of the other calculators that I’ve used)

The average that they compared me to (male, 28 yo, 183 cm):

  • Weight: 73.7 kg (162.14 lbs)
  • bf% 17
  • Fat weight 12.55 kg (27.61 lbs)
  • Lean body mass 61.15 kg (134.53 lbs)
  • Muscle weight 58 kg (127.6 lbs)
  • BMI 22

Looking at what the machine tells me I’m supposed to be at, I’m glad to be where I’m at. If I was at the ‘average’ level, I would be much, much weaker. Why people want to follow ‘averages’ is beyond me. I think we should try and strive for above average, or at the very least, make ‘average’ a lot better than where it is now.

Anyway, after being measured, the lady who measured me started to explain things. When she got to BMI, she asked me, ‘do you know what BMI is?’, and I told her, ‘yes, it is a system made by insurance companies to decide what premiums to set on their health insurance policies, and that if you are an athlete, the values go out the window.’ I also explained that I’m a PE/health teacher and a coach. She laughed and told me that I knew more about the things she was telling me than she did. Apparently, she is a worker at the gym, but not a trainer or someone who specialized in the field of human performance. I was impressed with how well she handled the curve ball that got thrown to her by this (and I didn’t do it in an arrogant or mean way, just simply explained myself). She then looked at me and said, ‘you must know how to use all of the machines then!’ I told her that I did, but that I mainly just wanted to use the free weights. She smiled again and took me over to the one squat rack in the gym.

I warmed up and got ready to do some presses. A guy was in the squat rack using it for benching (he was going back and forth from the cable machine to the bench), and he had just finished a set and was just sitting there. I asked if I can work in, and he reluctantly moved. If he hadn’t been so reluctant to move and obviously ticked that somebody else wanted to use the machines he was keeping to himself, I would have offered to help him with his bench technique. He had his feet stretched out as if he was laying down, his shoulder blades were not pinched, and he was bouncing the bar off of his chest. The weight? 135#. The look on his face when I pressed that weight overhead was priceless 🙂

I then moved out of the squat rack and went to the bench (while I was pressing, there was a guy ‘benching’ 115#… by moving the bar up and down about 3 inches. If he was someone working on their lockout, I could understand that, but he was obviously not a powerlifter :/) While I was benching, a fairly strong looking guy went to the squat rack and started benching. His form was good, and he was moving a lot of weight… but there was a distinct jive that he was going to always try and out bench me. Ah, the ego. I went through with my benching, not caring what he was doing. He did eventually bench more than I did for the day, but I don’t care. Benching isn’t my main thing, just something I do for fun. I wish that it could have been like the group MetCon experience, where people cheer each other on, rather than try and measure their coolness. You can’t come across as cool-looking when you go all out on a MetCon. Something about lying in a pool of sweat, wondering if you’re going to die just limits your coolness.

At 2:30, I got in line to get a participation chip for PowerFit, a combination of barbell work and step aerobics. We did some lunges, squats, bent over rows, partial deadlifts (knee to hip extension, nothing to the floor), bench, curls, extensions, and amazingly, some clean and jerks and presses. It was an hour long session with very short breaks in between to recover, change weights, grab a sip of water, and other minor adjustments. Lots of movement in the 1 hour that we worked.

Was I sweating by the end? Sure. Did my heart rate go up? Yup. Did I feel wiped out and completely trashed like I would with Grace, 300, or Fran? No.

It seemed to me that a lot of the program is designed towards ‘feeling the burn’; lots of slow reps, halting reps, and small reps at the bottom ranges of motion. Go down into the squat in a 2 count, bounce three reps at the bottom, and then stand up in a 2 count. Things like that. The lunges will definitely make me sore tomorrow, for two reasons: I haven’t been doing lunges much, and I was going a lot deeper than everyone else was. There was not much instruction on how to squat, deadlift, or lunge safely, other than ‘chest up’ No cues as to depth or corrections in form. The instructor was in the front of the class doing the session with us, so he couldn’t move around to correct people. My legs were definitely shaking by the end of the lower body portion, but it was mainly from just holding those end range positions. Did I get stronger from it? I’m not sure that 25 kg would really have much effect on my strength :/

The instructor had been introduced to me ahead of time, and was a little bit nervous about having me in the class (something in the way that my friend introduced me as a trainer, coach, and future gym owner. Oh, and I out massed him by about 60 pounds.), but by the end was glad that I was there. He told me that not many people would go as far in the range of motion as I did (I stuck with CF standards for squats and overhead movements), so he had fun watching me go at it. He was a very friendly guy, and I invited him to work out with me sometime. I’m going to drop off some information at the fitness center for him to look through. He sounded interested in CF 🙂 We’ll see what happens if he does try a workout sometime!

After it was all said and done, I did a few more sets of presses, and then hit the locker room. I was very happy to see both a hot and cold bath, so after showering off, I did some contrast baths to help with recovery. I wish that we had that at CAJ! Nothing quite like the high you get form going back and forth between hot and cold 🙂

So, my analysis of the experience:

  • a lot of people not knowing what to do (partial reps, aimlessly wondering around, watching the TVs on the cardio equipment, etc.)
  • it wasn’t newbie friendly or communal (ego, ego, ego)
  • people wear weight belts to use machines
  • people wear weight belts to do wrist curls
  • in the squat rack
  • with a 2 kg dumbbell
  • while grunting
  • powerfit is an interesting option, but could be improved further
  • people haven’t clued in on the idea that if your trainer is out of shape and overweight, get a new trainer

It was very interesting, I’ll give them that. I can’t wait to open up the box and take a shot at correcting as many of these problems as I can. Full squats, no machines, lots of bars, kettlebells, and rings, plenty of good technique, lots of community and camaraderie, and a true intent to seek what fitness is and how to improve human performance.

I don’t think I’ll ever need to go back to it though.

Coach ‘no-globo-for-me’ A

Fuzzy wuzzy is a bear to deal with…

Coach and mobility expert Kelly Starret’s blog is a wealth of information. He has years of experience as an athlete, a trainer, and as a doctor of physical therapy. He puts out a ton of great information for free (and his blog is linked to on this blog!).

His most recent article deals with something he refers to as ‘fuzz’. You know how you feel stiff in the morning after waking up? That’s fuzz. Or when you step out of a car after a long ride and it’s hard to move? That’s fuzz. Or after you injure a joint and do your best to not let it move, and then a week later you try and use it and it feels like it’s rusted and won’t work? That’s fuzz.

So what is this fuzz, specifically? Fuzz is the build up of adhesive junk between the sliding surfaces of your muscles and joints. When a joint/muscle is kept immobile, fuzz builds up. The more fuzz that accumulates over time, the more inhibitions are created in that muscle/joint.

Think about the movement issues that you have right now: maybe you have shoulder issues. What position do you find yourself in most often? Could it be that you are hunched over a desk using a computer, studying, reading, eating, or doing something with your hands? Look at your shoulder position; is it good positioning for athletic, functional movement? If not, is that where you want your shoulder to get stuck? If you have been very sedentary, when was the last time that you moved your hands over your head? Did it feel hard to lift your hands and arms up? Part of this is muscular weakness, but it is also part fuzz accumulation.

How about your hips? What is the range of motion like in your hips? Can you swing your legs from side to side comfortably? Front to back? What happens when you get into full squat depth? How about your knees and ankles? Are they being punished by poor hip mobility?

The good thing about exercising is that when you exercise properly and move through the full range of motion, you help clear out some fuzz. What will help you clear out the fuzz even more? Stretching. Watch the fuzz video and think about animals: the first thing they do upon waking up is stretching. How many of you stumble out of bed only to go and sit down on the couch? Get out of bed and start moving around a bit. Don’t aggressively stretch at this point, just move around and try to ‘melt’ the fuzz as Dr. Gil Hedley says. Stretch regularly during the day and after training to help break down the accumulated fuzz you have in your joints. If Dr. Gil were to open you up and to look at your fuzz, would he be able to melt your fuzz with his finger, or would he need the scalpel to go through the thick membranous layers of fuzz that you’ve been packing on over the last couple of decades?

Move. It does your body good.

Coach ‘say no to fuzz’ A

The next phase

We’ve worked on building up our strength, so now it’s time to go back to pursuing overall fitness. The thing is, we don’t want to lose our strength. So, how are we going to pursue total fitness while maintaining strength (and building it up more)?

Here is how: we will train 5 days on, 2 days off, and we’ll be doing a heavy lift at the beginning of each training session. After the lift, we’ll hit a heavy but short MetCon (roughly 10 minutes, 15 minutes max), an example of which would be something like Fran with extra weight for the thrusters or pull ups, or maybe something like an AMRAP of heavy movements (e.g. 10 minutes AMRAP of 2 muscle ups, 4 full squat deadlifts @ 315#, 6 full squat cleans @ 135#). After the MetCon is done, we will spend time working doing skill work/assistance work. This could be technique work for the olympic lifts, skill work for gymnastics, or maybe some exercises that you know you need to improve on/do in order to improve other lifts.

Wednesdays will be different from the other four training days. There will be no MetCon on that day in order to allow for more recovery. We will be doing something non-conventional for the heavy lift on that day (heavy pull ups, heavy dips, heavy rows, bench, etc.), and then focus on gymnastic skills for the rest of the time in a sort of ‘active rest’ type mindset.

Here is the order of the weekly schedule:

Monday – back squat
Tuesday – deadlift
Wednesday – unconventional lift
Thursday – front squat
Friday – Press

One important thing to remember in all of this is recoverability. If you push yourself to the limit all of the time, you will actually do more harm than good. Listen to your body, and know when to scale down a WOD or when to pass on the heavy lifts.

As such, in order to focus on sustainability and recoverability, here are three things that we are going to do:

1) to start with, take 15-20% off of your current five rep max as your starting weight for each lift. If you 5RM for the back squat is 300#, start somewhere around 240~255#. If you start too high too soon, you’ll get wiped out earlier.

2) Once you hit a PR, you are down with your lifting session. This could be a new 5 RM, a new 3 RM, a new 5 RM in sets across (e.g. doing 255 x 5 sets x 5 reps) or a new 3 RM in sets across. Just remember that sets across are far more taxing to the body than building up to a 5 RM. Even if you hit a PR on your 3rd set of a 5×5, you walk away. Remember, training is long term stuff, not short term gains.

3) when you hit a stall, switch to sets of 3 reps for a couple of sessions and try and work past the stall point that way.

This is how it would look when you put it all together:

current back squat 5 RM: 300
Current back squat 3 RM: 330
starting squat weight for current cycle: 255

1st session (5×5): 135-165-195-225-255
2nd session(5×5): 135-165-195-230-265 (PR as of this new training scheme)
3rd session(5×5): 135-185-215-245-280 (PR)
4th session:150-185-240-275-300 (PR)
5th session: 155-190-245-280-310 (PR)
6th session: 160-190-250-280-315 (failed on the 5th rep)
7th session:160-190-250-280-315 (failed on the 5th rep)
8th session: 160-190-250-295-320 (5×3 instead of 5×5)
9th session: 160-200-250-300-330 (5×3)
10th session: 170-215-265-310-340 (5×3)
11th session: 160-190-250-280-315 (switched back to 5×5, completed the lift, PR)

Is this a bit slower in strength gaining than if you did a straight up strengthening program? Yes. But the thing that you gain is the ability to continue pursuing all components of fitness, meaning that you are not short-changing yourself in any domain.

Also, to mix things up, we will be throwing in a few alternate rep schemes on most days just to challenge our system and increase training volume. You may see something like this:

Press 5-5-5-5-5
Press 11-7-4

The ’11-7-4′ means to pick a weight to press for 11 reps straight, rest one minute, do 7 reps at the same weight, rest a minute, and then do 4 reps at that weight. This will maintain endurance, volume, and be a different kind of training stimulus than the typical 5×5 or 5×3. Here are some of the combinations you may see:

15=>20 (do a straight set of minimum 15 reps, shooting for 20)
12=>15 (same idea as the 20 but to 15)

Keep track of how you do with these alternate schemes too, since you want PRs in these as well.

Last of all, Friday is ‘challenge day’, where we will put up a post-WOD challenge for you to attempt. These will tend to be things like ‘max reps pull ups’, ‘max reps ring dips’, or the nightmarish ‘max reps of bodyweight back squat’ (put your body weight on your back and squat it for as many reps as possible). The weekend is your rest time, so use it wisely to recover from the challenge.

Refer back to this post often in order to get an idea of what we are doing and why. One thing to ease your troubled mind: we won’t program MetCons that will tax us too much for the lift the following day. If the next day is deadlift day, we’re not going to throw a deadlift-centric WOD at you that day. If the next day is a pressing day, we’ll probably keep things more lower-body oriented and avoid taxing the shoulders. The lifting session is a pretty big deal, and we don’t want to ruin that.

Accepting set backs

I suck at accepting set backs. If I work hard for something, I don’t like the end result not coming out the way that I want them to.

Fitness, as I am learning, is a marathon, and not a sprint. I want big numbers on my CFT, but there are no short cuts to get there unless I allow myself to do things improperly (cheat) or unsafely (bad form, especially in the deadlift; I don’t permit myself to round my back ever, even my upper back). Even more than that desire, however, is my desire to stay fit and functional for my whole life. I would love to be the ‘crazy old guy’ at 80 years old still doing Fran, or walking into a gym to hit sets of deadlifts or squats. That long-term fitness is a larger goal, and so I need to learn to accept set backs on the road towards better numbers for the sake of my 80 year old self.

I switch up my training to follow a basic Starting Strength-type model of training. This dictates, in really simple terms, 3 sets of 5 across at that weight (except for the deadlift which is just 1 set of 5 at the work set weight. Read Starting Strength to learn why), of the following exercises: Squats, presses, bench press, power cleans, and deadlifts. I subbed out power cleans (looking back, I should have kept them) for bent over rows, partly due to improper technique that leads to some shoulder pain. The benefit of the bent over rows is that I have much stronger arms and a much stronger upper back that doesn’t bend too easily during heavy deadlifts.

The program is simple:

There are two types of training days: and A day and a B day.

A: Squat, bench, bent over rows

B: Squat, press, deadlift

Rotate back and forth between the two days, meaning that over a 2 week time period, each day would go three times, while weekends were rest days

M: A T: Rest W: B Th: rest F: A

M: B T: Rest W: A Th: rest F: B

If you can hit all 3 sets of 5 reps at the work weight, then the next session, you bump the weight. The weight bumps are usually around 10 pounds for the deadlift and squat, and the press, bench, and row (or power clean) are around 5 pounds. This is to try and avoid stalling. A stall is when you go for two weeks (basically 3 sessions without completing all 3 sets of 5 reps). If you stall, you need to drop the weight some and build back up from there.

This program, in my opinion, is probably the best for beginners to build their strength on. Not only do you improve your numbers weekly, but the 3 work sets all at the same work weight put a large adaptation response on the body, causing growth of the muscle tissue that is used. This isn’t ‘growth’ in terms of bodybuilder-type hypertrophy; this is dense, functional muscle (bodybuilder hypertrophy is a different kind of hypertrophy than this; it is superficial and water-filled). The only thing that makes this frustrating is that yes, it takes time and discipline. It’s not the kind of program that can be done for just 6 weeks with the expectation that numbers will go up greatly. Any strength-focused program should really be implemented over the course of several months to really see gains (as was the case of the guy that I talked with who’s squat went from 185 to 380 over the course of 4 months!).

The CFT that has me a bit frustrated came at a very inopportune time, to be honest. I had just needed to reset on the press due to shoulder complications plus stalling, and I had needed to drop my squat weight down quite a bit due to the same shoulder problem and to ensure that my form was good. If I had done the CFT 3 weeks ago, my squat and press numbers would have been very different (although my DL probably wouldn’t have gone up as much as it did this time).

If I hadn’t needed to drop my squat numbers, I would have been squatting in the 275 pound range or higher at the point of the CFT. If I also hadn’t had the shoulder problems, I would have been pressing in the 150s (and if I hadn’t stalled, of course). So, you can see that the CFT came at a bad time: injury and stalling forcing me to work at levels that I did not desire.

If I had kept the squat from before the injury, and if I wasn’t struggling with a stall in the press, here are some predictions based off of internet calculators (which of course, are not completely reliable…):

Squat 255×5 = 285×1

Press 135×5 = 150×1

Deadlift 335×5 = 375×1

Total: 810

I had come into the day hoping for an 800# CFT score. It didn’t happen. There are a number of reasons for this: the injury and needing to drop the squat numbers; getting caught in a stall on the press and needing to deload (last time I hit the press was last Wednesday, and I couldn’t finish a set of 5 at 135#. A clear sign of a stall after having done 135# for 2 sets of 5 no problem previously); and allowing failed reps to get me down mentally before the deadlift.

To be honest, I had a feeling that my press and squats were going to hold me back, and so I was tempted to not even post a CFT. The thing is, I’m learning to accept set backs. So what if this snap shot today didn’t show me at my best? I still PR’d in two of the three lifts and beat my last CFT by 25 pounds. At least my squat number didn’t drop, and I tied my PR on that as well. In another year those numbers will be completely different, since I will be stronger then. I honestly think that the upcoming programming will bring my CFT numbers up while allowing me to build up in other areas of my fitness as well. I know that to some extent, not doing the other kinds of training probably put some holes in my overall fitness that held me back some today (like not doing overhead squats, snatches, cleans, muscle ups, etc.). But you know what? Today’s CFT was just a snap shot. Doing the CFT makes you stronger in and of itself, which means that by the time that you finish the CFT, it’s already history and not a current measure of who you are.

Yes, I was injured. Yes, I had to drop weight. Yes, I was stalled. And yes, maybe the weights that I started the whole program with were not where I should have started. So what? It will all be different 6 weeks from now, 3 months from now, and a year from now.

Accept setbacks. Check the ego at the door. This is a long-term race, not a sprint. And I’m going to beat myself int he long run.

Coach ‘it’s never over’ A


I have an enemy. He hates me and everything that I stand for. Everything that I attempt, he tries to undermine. If I find success, he tries to take it away at best, and if not that, at least to point out the failures on the way.

He mocks my attempts to become better. He gladly trips me, knocks me down, and tries to pin me to the ground. He tells me that what I do is pointless, that I do it wrong, and that I will ultimately fail. He laughs in my face.

Everyday I fight back. I tell him that I will overcome, that I will triumph, and that he is the one who is weak. I sweat and bleed as we fight. If I fall, I refuse to stay down. I get back up, look him in the eyes, and tell him that we’re not through. I haven’t given up, nor will I ever.

I tell him that he doesn’t have what it takes to defeat me. I laugh in his hateful, angry face. Whenever I find success, I don’t bother to point it out to him; I know that I’ve won, and that he resents me for it. I push myself to not make excuses, to not let the small tricks he throws at me get in my way, and that I will crawl my way to my goals over every obstacle he puts in front of me.

Why is this enemy near me always? It’s because he is in the mirror, staring back at me. He whispers to me all the time, saying ‘let it go. You don’t have to push yourself. You’re tired aren’t you?’ I can’t get away from him, because he is part of me. He is my negativity, my willingness to succumb, and my desire to compromise.

It doesn’t matter. Everyday that I push myself to become better, I get closer to victory. It is an ongoing battle, one that will never end, but one that I will not stop fighting.

I will triumph over myself. I will be better today, and even better tomorrow. He can’t defeat me.

Coach A