2015 CrossFit Games Review – The Top 5 Complaints of Typing Exercisers Everywhere

5) HQ/CASTRO ARE SO UNPROFESSIONAL!  THEY CUSS!  THINK OF THE CHILDREN!

Hi, you must be new here, but I feel like I already know you.  You’re the member that asks me to turn off Rick Ross during my personal workout time because you can’t handle ‘profanity’.  Meanwhile, you HAVE to listen to “Shake it Off” during your wod but can’t STAND to listen to Pharrell and you’re the type of person that calls it ‘heavy metal’.

Listen, I’m not here to be your personal club DJ and Dave Castro is not here to cater to your delicate sensibilities.  HQ is HQ, and if you think they are NOT going to do HQ things, you haven’t been around long enough.  It’s like complaining about the weather – just stop and accept it.

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One of the most important lessons a kid can learn is sporting events are for drunk loudmouths to vent their anger using profanity and violence.  My first hockey game I witnessed two dudes go at it in the stands during warmups.  Something about Al Iafrate and a pink cadillac.  I was five.  Nobody died.

Anyway, where was I?  Right.  Castro cursing a bit on the mike is not a big deal.

4) THE COMMENTATORS WERE TERRIBLE!

I’m not going to argue here.  If I hear somebody say “Yown Coe-ski” again I’m going to have a seizure.  They’ve got a bit to learn.  But I’ll be damned if hearing Tanya Wagner speak while trying to avoid someone shoving a boiling hot mozzarella stick in her mouth wasn’t the most entertaining thing I’ve heard in a long time.  At least that’s what it sounded like to me.

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What, you think Bob Costas wants to narrate people doing pullups?

3a) THE WORKOUTS WERE TOO HARD!

The only thing you need to worry about being ‘too hard’ this year was your man’s member watching the women’s paddleboard event. The Games are hard every year, and every single workout will have finishers and not-finishers. Are we trying to turn this into soccer, where everybody participates for 90 minutes but nothing ever happens?  (unless you’re Brazil playing at home on the international stage BOOM)

The Games are meant to FIND THE FITTEST, not be an all-inclusive, feel-good throwdown with your buddies where you high-five your deadlift PRs to a couple of gluten-free Sorghum brews.  This is a process of weeding out, and painful as it is, many will struggle and fail.

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Murph was put first for a reason – to test the unspoken 11th element of CFHQ Fitness. RECOVERY.  At regionals and the games, the only fresh workout you get is the first one.  Glassman and Castro ain’t interested in your best Fran time after a visit to the chiro, a sweet de-load week and a half-day of work.  They want to test who can do the most work while beat to shit. Wednesday was a warmup and Murph was meant to pre-fatigue every goddamn muscle in the body and test from that baseline.  What, somebody at the professional level got mild rhabdo?  Truly sucks, but guess what, they’re not ‘the fittest’.   And that’s what this is about.

3b) THE PEGBOARD

Yea, not the most entertaining event, especially followed by a bike and a rower, but it COULD have been, as evidenced by the final men’s heat.  Again, this was meant to weed out people at the final ascent.  Put it earlier in the weekend?  Why?  So more people finish and you bitch about how stupid it is anyway?  An entire weekend of entertainment is not negated but one meh workout.  The way people were complaining you’d have though HQ broke out the softballs again.

3c) THE TEAMS WERE BORING!  THE TEAMS WERE FIXED!

First of all, shut the fuck up.  Froning and Hobart could have taken Sparkle Motion to the top ten without breaking a sweat.  Second, they do all the workouts for a reason – have better athletes, get better prizes.  Maybe if HQ would get their shit together and just let five athletes finish the weekend NorCal would have given Mayhem a scare, but was there any ever doubt that Rich was going to take it?  Please.

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Also, the teams are always boring.  Unless you’re on them or people you know are on them.  Then they are exciting.  It’s a part of the games, it should remain a part of the games, but it’s not ever going to be the centerpiece and you’re not ever going to buy a ticket to see six dudes try and out-burpee six girls in some sort of twisted fitness circlejerk.  There’s an entire company working to make team workouts exciting…it’s called GRID.  You should check it out.  No really, please buy a ticket.  That Eleiko rig’s not gonna pay for itself.

2) Murph was DANGEROUS

Are you fucking serious right now?  If I hear another goddamn word about it being ‘too hot’ to workout at midday in SoCal I’m gonna host my own games in the crater of an active volcano and see how many of you watch the pros crush some wicked Karen times with $275k on the line.

First off, if the individuals worked out in the morning, you people would still be bitching about it – only focusing on the teams being overheated. Secondly, WHERE WERE THE FUCKING COACHES?  In the words of the almighty Jon Taffer, “I don’t embrace problems, I embrace solutions.”

When the Games started with a half-marathon row, know what you saw?  Fueling and hydration strategies. Athletes with CamelBaks, water bottles, sandwiches and sweet potatoes. Working for 90 minutes is obviously different than ‘Heavy Helen’, so people with half a brain did the smart thing – planned ahead. 

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If I’m a coach, first thing I do when I hear Murph is get my athlete a goddamn water bottle. But wait!  Weight vest?  California heat?  How is this a fucking mystery?  Get a small cooler, fill with ice water and washcloths, have available for use on/near the field to put on your neck, head, special place, you name it. Fuck it, drag a full-size Coleman around and shove a 5lb. bag of ice down your vest while you squat.  WEAR A FUCKING SHIRT MAYBE.  How about a hat?  There are a myriad of ways to not cook yourself to death but since Rogue and MWod haven’t released the “Hot Weather Warrior” package yet, I guess nobody knows what to do.

Have you ever heard of the Badwater Ultra?  Tour de France?  Kona Ironman?  Of course you have, you own a pair of Hylete shorts and have your own jump rope.  Miraculously these events happen every year and nobody starts change.org petitions or writes ‘open letters’ like they aspire to be the Mother Theresa of fringe athletics.

Know who didn’t seem to mind the heat?  Ben Smith, cause he trained in his garage in Virginia for years, where it’s hot as FUCK. 95 degrees and 100% humidity is a chilly winter day in Newport News, and five thrusters into a workout you’d be drier if you jumped in a pool. 

1) THE DREADED N-WORD

No, I’m not talking about the Nano or a decades-old Chris Rock bit.  This is about the company that I’m not even going to name because I don’t want it to get any more press.   If I ignore your pissing and moaning long enough…you’ll just keep at it, so let’s get this over with.

The cries of distraught weekend warriors that arose from the ‘banning’ of a shoe reached epic levels of retardation this year.

WHY CAN’T MY FAVES WEAR WHAT THEY WANT!  YOU’RE JUST HATERS!  THE GAMES WERE FIXED FOR REEBOKS!  IF YOU TRAIN IN A SHOE ALL YEAR THIS IS NOT FAIR!

NEWS FLASH – THIS WASN’T ABOUT A COMPANY RIVALRY

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Here’s a list of shoe companies that were ‘banned’ (eye roll) from this year –

1) All of them

I don’t care if you wanted to see somebody rock Toms, Skechers Tone-Ups, Birkenstocks or taped banana peels on their feet. If that Chiquita sticker didn’t say Reebok, you left it in your bag.   For just this once, I may even recruit the support of that weird dude who works out barefoot at your gym.  The shoes DO. NOT. MATTER.  Nobody won or lost on a shoe this year, or any year. Did you not read about Ben Smith winning regionals in his lawn-mowing shoes?

It is difficult for me to counter a point of view that is so mind-blowingly stupid but if I make even one person feel a little dumb, it’s worth my time. The uniform for the games has been strictly dictated for years. Remember when people HAD to wear their games jerseys and not their favorite workout shirt?  Brutal.  How about being made to turn their Rehbands inside-out because the logo couldn’t be seen?  But because N***  decides to put a couple hundred bucks into a marketing campaign and prints a few shirts, suddenly it’s a human rights issue and the cries of 10:00 Franners are heard worldwide.  Nobody is bitching because they can’t run in Dockers. Get over it.

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In fact, I’m gonna tell you a personal story about N*** because this is my page and I do what I want.

When I was winding down my middle-school basketball career I pleaded for my parents to hook it up with the best shoes on the market at that time, the N*** AirMax 2’s. Lord knows they were too expensive but because I’m awesome they picked them up anyway. And what happened?  First practice someone stepped on them and the shoelace hook broke. Weird, must be a defect, let me exchange them for a new pair. Next practice, someone steps on them and bam, air cushion deflates. The fuck?  I took that shit back, traded for Reeboks (true story) and kicked ass for another year until people told me screaming down the court trying to cherry pick while my team rebounds wasn’t a championship strategy.  Bonus that they didn’t look like I was wearing Tempur-pedic foot pillows.

$129 in 1996.  Today that's ten pairs of Nanos.

$129 in 1996. Today that’s ten pairs of Nanos.

A few years later I got a pair of ‘cross-trainers’ for lacrosse season and on my first shuttle sprint, ripped half the sole off from changing direction so fast. N***s can eat it. (Romaleos notwithstanding)

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I’m tired and need bourbon.

Edit – It has been brought to my attention another person shares similar views. Good. We should start our own Games. With blackjack. And hookers. 

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Strong Is The New Shut The Fuck Up

“No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training.

It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which the body is capable.”

– Socrates (probably referring to Miley Cyrus)

Lately I’ve been noticing, firsthand, a surprising amount of disdain from friends/acquaintances regarding CF, weightlifting, and ‘working out’ in general. If I face palmed every time somebody asked me if they’ll ‘get bulky’ working out, I’d be in reconstructive surgery six months of the year. This question is usually asked by somebody who’s already ‘bulky’, just not in the way they imagine. A brief discussion inevitably reveals that they know approximately jackshit about how the body works anyway, and that they are not so much interested in learning about exercise physiology as they are in complaining about what they see as a growing affront to their aesthetic ideals – muscles.

barbells.  not even once.

barbells. not even once.

It is a curious phenomenon to me, because I’ve historically been an active person, but nobody ever complained about these issues when I was running, biking, or doing whatever – however as I’ve gained noticeable size (when you start out small the changes seem bigger) the topic continues to rear it’s head. “How big are you trying to get?” has become a common refrain, and it’s not that this is offensive but that it misses the point of what I do so fucking hard it makes my head spin. I didn’t get to choose my genetics, so when I stop growing I’ll let you know. But then a couple things happened this week that just set me over.

First, my friend was told by her boss that her shirts were too “muscle shirt looking”. These were normal cut tops for a casual work environment. First off, can you imagine the shitstorm if your boss told a fat person their shirt showed too many rolls? Or revealed too much cellulite? How is this okay? Second…who the actual fuck cares? You’ve got deltoids in the workplace! Holy shit! So we commiserated over texts but then this festering pile of dogshit showed up in my feed…

Is “Strong is the New Skinny” Really Sending a Good Message?

If you want a headache without eating ice cream too fast, go ahead and read through this mind-numbing attempt at feel good, rambling garbage. If you want to spare yourself some pain, let me go over some highlights for you.

In the phrase, “skinny” is something to be sought after. Something that’s good. And now, in order to be accepted and seen as beautiful by society, you need to be strong — with visible muscles and the ability to do lots of push-ups and dead lifts and pull-ups.

Where in the fuck are you getting your information? When did the ‘Body Image Society’ convene and publish these universal standards? Am I to believe that because you saw a few badly made images on Pinterest, this notion has become an absolute truth? You must be a marketers wet dream. Who in your life is pressuring you to start bodybuilding? My guess – nobody. This kind of ‘me vs. the world’ bullshit is the hallmark of those who lack critical thinking and coping skills when an opinion that doesn’t fit their delicate worldview is presented. I am left to infer that your self-image is so unstable that the latest fitness marketing is viewed as a crippling assault on your physical identity. And what better way to deal with that than trying to present an imaginary problem as black & white so you can be seen as the ‘voice of reason’?

stop!  my feelings!

stop! my feelings!

Everyone is different, and some of us put on muscle more easily than others, just like some of us are naturally more slender. Does this mean then that non-muscular people are now not as attractive? That they need to change, even if they are living a healthy lifestyle? Are they no longer beautiful because when they flex there’s not much there or their abs don’t resemble a six-pack? Now they get to the feel the pressure that “non-skinny” folks have felt for years, chasing after what could possibly be an unrealistic appearance?

I’m going to ignore that you are still making up statements so we begin to have clarity. I know you just got to the page with Channing Tatum in board shorts, but put away your dog-eared copy of US Weekly for a minute and let me lay some knowledge on you. As simply as I can put it, SIZE ≠ STRENGTH. It is a true mark of a fool to equate strength with ‘having lots of big muscles’. So here we have two problems. Number one, again, not a fucking clue about how the body works. Know who was strong? Mary Lou Retton. Just look at this 4 foot 9 inch monster.

Disgusting.

Disgusting.

Do you have any idea how much raw strength it takes to be even a mediocre gymnast? Of course you do – you’re an expert. After all, you took a BodyPump class last week and did some deadlifts for the first time. You are basically a world-class trainer at this point, except you can’t explain to me the difference between Neuromuscular Adapation vs. Myofibrillar Hypertrophy in regards to strength gains and if you saw a 300 pound man you’d assume he lifts ‘like, one billion pounds’. I wonder how fast your head would explode if I showed you a 125-pound woman putting 300# over her head? According to you, the only way to get strong is to “GET HA-UGE”, slowly working towards the cover of Muscle & Fitness magazine.

While we’re at it, can we go over that ‘strong’ is not an analogous term with ‘skinny’? Skinny is a visual appraisal of something. Anybody can set limits on it, but in the end, it comes down to appearance and it doesn’t help you accomplish much of anything. It is not a single measure of good or bad health. Here are some things ‘being skinny’ can help with:

  • Sitting comfortably in airplanes
  • Buying clothes with small size numbers
  • Fitting through crevices

Strength, on the other hand, is a description of potential capability – what helps you actually do something. “The productive application of force” has tangible, real world benefits to every person on earth in navigating a physical environment. How much strength you want is up to you, but if getting off the shitter at age 80 is a priority, ‘strength’ is gonna get you there.

My parents have recently began legitimate strength training. They have been committed and after 8 months, my mom is nearing a bodyweight deadlift while my dad approaches a bodyweight squat. The result? The following has improved for them:

  • Able to carry backpacks without neck/back pain
  • Not exhausted after a round of golf
  • Able to walk up stairs without legs burning
  • Comfortable carrying groceries
  • Greater ability to do yardwork

You’re right, this idea that being strong is for everyone is dangerous. Who wants improvements in their basic quality of life?

my strong-dad.  just look at this muscle-bound freak.

my strong-dad. just look at this repulsive, muscle-bound freak.

Which leads to our second point – who cares if someone has muscles or not? What the fuck is wrong with muscles? Moreover, what is so very wrong in your own head that the sight of muscles is intimidating, viewed as some sort of passive coercion targeted to you? Do you feel pressured to gain weight if you walk around fat people? Would you leave a lumberjack convention with a jar of rogaine and a flannel shirt because you were so scared of not blending in?

Maybe not in your world, but in mine, this sort of aesthetic discrimination is rearing it’s head more and more. Women get the brunt of it, but I hear it every week – “those girls/guys are just too damn built, it’s gross”, as if

a) they are there for your judging and approval

b) they would give a shit what you think anyway

c) there is some aesthetic ideal that only you are privy to, while loudly exclaiming ‘there should be no aesthetic ideal!’

It’s predictable, because with the rise in popularity of anything new, so rise the haters. But it is still unfortunate, and more often than not founded in illogical, irrational projected fears. The amount of cognitive dissonance in this article is worth a book, and I could go on, but even I tire of this shit. How about this – I’ll go and lift in peace, and you don’t blame me for every piece of marketing horseshit that makes you feel insecure. Deal? Of course not.

Please, tell me more about how women having big muscles is stfu

It’s a Narrative, Dummy

People ask us why we talk to much about CrossFit. People wonder why out of the blue, after knowing us for years, we seem to obsess about one particular subject.

The answer is simple – we talk about what matters to us. When it matters more, there is more to say.

I had an easier ‘transition’ with my family and friends. After a decade+ of relentlessly pursuing music, people knew I was ‘driven’, so to speak. I would update people on work and whatever, then excitedly discuss the next piece I was working on, the inspiring performance I just witnessed, the new album I had on repeat, and all this was perfectly normal. It was clearly a big part of my life and there were no funny looks exchanged about how much time and energy I sunk into this passion. They knew what made me tick. As my energies slowly transitioned to CF it became an easy explanation, “I am now putting all of the energy I put into music into training.” Boom. Instant clarity.

For others in the CF community acceptance of their new ‘hobby’ tends to meet more resistance. It has nothing do to with CF of course, and everything to do with an inability to identify with a newfound pursuit and the passion it creates.

One of the greatest offerings of CrossFit is the re-awakening of personal achievements outside of the work/family realm. Tangible, physical accomplishments that renew one’s sense of satisfaction become addictive. People remember what it’s like to be proud of chasing something they really wanted (not needed) and accomplishing it with no real payoff other than a smile. Something they a) never realized they wanted to do and b) never thought they could do. People remember what it’s like to utter a true “fuck yeah” and get genuine high fives all around. They remember what it’s like to truly fail sometimes and how that makes the success even sweeter.

I take myself seriously.

I take myself seriously.

It is not unusual for people to chronicle and discuss their experiences – it is normal human behavior. You can find online race recaps from bikers and runners, video training logs from lifters, and all manner of printed material about particularly memorable careers in sport, business or anything else. And the reason these exist is the same reason “The Iliad” exists and people still read it – it’s a worthwhile narrative to someone. People like stories. People like to tell the important stories of themselves.

Our exploits in any realm become a growing narrative throughout our lives. Everyone can tell you the story of their education, their career, their marriage/family or lack thereof. When people enter CF that are new to the realm of ‘sport’ (or returning after many years), a new chapter begins. Every workout offers an opportunity of self-discovery. One single set can provide a universe of experience. Ten minutes of work can take twenty minutes to describe. We can remember every repetition, every moment of pain and doubt, the fleeting seconds of success, the minutiae of each and every moment. Then we do that 10-20 times a month.

It adds up.

Couple that with something people ENJOY and the desire to tell the story grows. For many this becomes an actual pursuit, something they’ve been missing for years. And what do you know – the community offers a place to share those thoughts with people that understand the struggle. It doesn’t have to be the same struggle – therein lies the beauty. The depth of skills required in CF assure even the most advanced athletes years of struggle with SOMETHING. Every member of the gym is a potential partner in crime and someone to share your experiences with.

Finally looking down from those rings for the first time, picking up 100/200/300 pounds and putting it overhead, running a record mile – those moments take months, sometimes years to arrive, and as we slowly get there, everybody has a story worth telling. Every one of us can identify with ‘the struggle’, which makes it less about what’s on the bar and all about how big the fight has been. It’s the reason we high five someone equally for their first strict pull up as we do their first big clean.

For people on the ‘outside’ this is beyond confusing – it often draws a blank. Even I can’t fully explain the supportiveness of the CF community. I have seldom been a part of something where sharing your story is not only welcomed but expected. Take that talk outside of the gym, however, and cue the funny looks. Harder to grasp is that it’s not CF specifically that starts to define us, but rather the work ethic we discover that carries over to other parts of life.

Whereas I used to discuss mallet placement, tempo shifts and ensemble balance, now it’s jerk position, grip width, torso angle and new maxes. It’s all part of the story. If you’ve got something to tell, find someone to listen. Someone, somewhere wants to hear it.

100 Man-Ass Pounds and one full year at the worst gym ever

If you’re looking for a crossfit gym that is encouraging, welcoming, and to grow as an athlete, this is NOT the place for you. The lack of professionalism and high pretention is horrifying. I strongly do not encourage CFers to try this place out.

– Crsytal M., Yelper and CrossFit aficionado

No, this post isn’t about Gym Jones.

Today, on the button, marks 365 full days with Outlaw Crossfit in Alexandria. Or as I like to call it, “where people who hate themselves go to hate themselves even more”. I thought about making a reflective post about my trials and tribulations of the past year – the successes, the failures, the in betweens. Then I realized that this past year sucked, so I decided to write about why Outlaw CrossFit is a terrible place and why you probably would never want to go there.

You will learn to love the squat

Some people go to church on Sundays. I, instead, go to the Church of Squat, meeting on Tuesdays. Every Tuesday, rain or shine, for the entire year, you will back squat at Outlaw Crossfit. You will learn very well the difference between high-bar and low-bar and you will damn sure learn to bounce out of the bottom. At my previous gyms, I remember when we back squatted – that day. We threw some 45’s on the bar, moved it up and down, then went on to a grueling metcon of 400m repeats and 16kg chest-level kettlebell swings. Do you understand how much heavy back squatting sucks? Because you will if you come here. What kind of pscyho programs 6 straight weeks of 20RMs for the general population? When you walk in and a mom is grinding through a 20-rep set, making you look like a bitch, you will wish you never came here.

at first you're like this

YOU WILL LEARN TO LOVE THE SQUAT

Oh it’s Wednesday, we must be done squatting for the week, right? Fuck that. Remember Monday? We squatted then too. Tuesday isn’t ‘squat day’, it’s just ‘heavy back squat day’. Every other day of the week you will use your legs and it will hurt. Mondays will probably be squat snatches, Wednesday squat cleans, Friday deadlifts…how the fuck are you supposed to get strong if you’re using your legs every day? What happened to back and bis/chest and tris? You will have to do heavy clean and jerks for a lifting segment, then heavy thrusters for the metcon. I signed up thinking ‘Thruster’ was always with 95# on the bar. Imagine my dismay when I started seeing 115#, 135#, 155#…how heavy does it need to be?! I just SQUATTED for christ’s sake. My legs are dead. And they will be dead, and you will kill them more, week after week. Sure, I can recover fast enough now that it isn’t even an issue but this shit is HARD. Nobody should be doing it.

a slow realization

You will have to become a proficient lifter

3-stop snatch pulls?

I remember my first lesson on how to squat clean. It involved Rudy yelling, “SQUAT!” while I attempted shitty power clean after shitty power clean for that day’s work. If you stay here, you will not be able to avoid snatching or cleaning. If fact, you will have to learn all sorts of ‘advanced cues’ and improve at analyzing lifts. You must learn what a first, second and third pull is; you will learn how to sweep your knees back; you will definitely learn how to load your hamstrings. You might find yourself on YouTube night after night, watching endless clips of world class lifters, trying to figure out how to make yourself better. You will absolutely look like a dumbass some days as you fail lift after lift. You will not talk much about triple extension. You will not do medball cleans (thank goodness). You will wonder if it’s ‘too advanced’, then see person after person nailing reps with a barbell in one hand and a baconator in the other. You won’t always improve by putting more weight on the bar – you will improve by moving it better. Take a look below at the dogshit that used to pass for my clean and jerk last summer. I could write a term paper on all the faults in this lift but I’ve got a batch of paleo brownies in the oven and you haven’t got the time to read it.  Then take a look at just 20 pounds more a few months later.  Sure it’s only 20# increase but how can you quantify the improvement in movement?  You can’t.  If I had a video of a recent clean, the lift has changed even more and it actually looks like I know what the fuck is supposed to happen.

You will get used to doing weird shit all the time in the name of fitness

Want to piss off a room full of people? Program 3 x 30 Kettlebell Snatches (each arm) at the heaviest possible weight. Every week is a new exercise in prescribed misery. Yes, you will get stronger, but at the expense of suffering. Want to know fear? Try building up to a 1RM non-heaving snatch balance for the first time. I can’t even list all of the bizarre movements that have now become normal. 3 position snatches, first pulls into hang cleans, behind the neck presses, handstand walks – all of it bollocks. Everybody knows high rep sit-ups is the way to superior core stability. Anything else is frightening and unenjoyable.

you won’t find this shit here. don’t even look at it. in fact, close your browser and set your computer on fire.

You will learn to love ALL the ‘X Rep Maxes’

Everybody hollers for their 1RM – it’s the sexiest number because it’s the biggest, right? The fuck outta here. What’s more impressive than 205# snatch PR? Hitting that shit for a double or a triple. Everybody’s a badass until ‘Isabel’ shows up. When prescribed weight is ‘heaviest possible’, you will begin to learn the value of a 2RM, 3RM, 5RM. Something as simple as a 3×5 push press – should be heavy, right? Wrong. Should be terrible. ‘Heaviest possible’ means you should be doing some serious soul searching by that third rep. By the fourth, you’re wondering how you got into this mess and thinking maybe you can make it through the door before the barbell hits the floor and everyone realizes you punked out. By the fifth, you’re cursing yourself that you still have two sets left and you’re already on your second Vita-Coco. You will learn that properly programmed, 45 seconds of work can be as mentally taxing as any 20 minute metcon. Why would you do this to yourself?

But snatches are hard!

You will not spend lots of time on light, low-skill movements unless you suck at them

If you’re looking to do Barbara once a week you better just keep on driving because you won’t find it here. Outlaw will force you to develop strength through weighted movement (the barbell, dummy) because – surprise! – that will eventually carry over into success with everything else. How do you get a better wall ball? Get a better thruster. How do you get better HSPUs? Jerks and presses. What if the RX weight is too heavy in the metcon? You suck it up. You will spend that time doing your own personal strength workout while the rest of the class reminds you how slow you are. On the other hand, if there is a low-skill goat that comes up in a metcon, that will be your time to work on it. Suck at double unders? Looks like it’s 20 minutes of jump rope practice for you. Can’t quite ‘get’ overhead squats? You will spend the next 20 minutes ‘getting them’, and however many more workouts it takes until you’re there. Outlaw’s theory of scaling is different than many other gyms. Sure, it will eventually get you strong and capable, but you will leave pissed off for the day and without the epic short term gains everybody knows lead to success.

Hit a PR?

There are a few things I’m happy about.

1) No slam-balls. I don’t care what Robb Wolf wrote, stop programming these. Just…stop.

2) No air conditioning. This is clearly in the wrong list but I needed at least two things under this header. If I owned hell and Outlaw Crossfit, I would rent Outlaw and workout in hell for the summer.

By now you should have a pretty good idea of why Outlaw isn’t right for you, or anyone. Will you get stronger? Sure. Will you enjoy your stay? Probably not.

What isn’t obvious is this gym, despite all its shortcomings, is just like any other family I’ve ever been a part of – strangely supportive, consistently dysfunctional and oddly comforting once you get used to the routine. I owe it as much to every member there as I do any coach that I’ve succeeded in the past year.

never stay up late and read what’s coming the next day. ever.

Without realizing it was my anniversary, today I hit a 185# snatch. And it was a legit, non-ugly lift. When I walked in a year ago I could snatch, on a good day, 85# with a form that loosely resembled a pile of spaghetti in a dumpster. We did Nancy my first week and I took 25 minutes to make it through 30 overhead squats. That’s a ONE HUNDRED POUND INCREASE in 12 months. You know what it would take for me to get 185# overhead a year ago? Two friends, twenty feet of rope and a pulley. At 235#, I’ve also had an even 100# increase for my C&J.

Of course I didn’t 185# on video. So here’s one of 175# a while back. And here’s to another year in that pit of a room, 12 more months of misery, improving all the while.

Raising the (mental) Roof

You never know what you’re capable of on any given day. How you feel is a lie.

– John Broz

I’ve been finding this to be painfully true almost every day. Warming up a snatch at 95#, that first pull feels like the heaviest thing I’ve ever lifted. The following squat is like raising the Titanic. A few reps later it gets easier, but then 115# goes on and that process starts again…

As the fall has turned to to winter I have hit the first large-scale plateau of training. The easy PRs have stopped coming and days behind the bar have become as much a mental test as a physical one. I never expected to get stronger on a perfect linear curve and I am not surprised or panicked. I am, however, struggling to avoid the mental ‘woe-is-me’ pitfall when I see the same 80% day after day.

There are thoughts on any given day, demons of ideas, that I won’t be able to lift what I’m ‘supposed’ to or that the task at hand is too hard. Hitting a super-clean 225 C & J weeks ago seemed cathartic. But weeks later, and months after nailing 215, 205 still feels heavy before I even pick it up. Not a good thing. What I think should be a routine task by now is still a daily question mark.

So whats’s to blame? My body? Shouldn’t I be magically stronger after putting in the time? Shouldn’t my improving technique be leading to more and more on the bar? Maybe. It’s a more humbling realization to think that my biggest limitation is not to be found on the outside, but inside my own head.

When I really take a moment to think about it, I now have numbers that have become associated with emotion. Occasionally these numbers change but I believe it’s a potentially dangerous development. It has illustrated very clearly what people mean when they say ‘weightlifting is a mental sport’. The person that lets an inanimate object dictate their mood is not one who will succeed.

completely unrelated

Completely unrelated. The most beautiful pull-up rig I’ve ever seen in person…

115# snatch? ‘Easy’150? ‘Kinda hard’
165? ‘I might miss this’
205? ‘Impossible!’

Written out, this is the thought pattern of a weak mind. You could be the biggest guy in the room but this will instantly make you the worst lifter. What I believe this necessitates is a mental de-conditioning, though how to go about that I still don’t know. Whereas I have a respect for the plates on the bar and the work it takes to move them, this pattern has to change.

Perhaps every lift needs to be approached with the same mentality – that it’s happening. Warmups or max out, the same every time. After all, isn’t that what we’re trying to do with our bodies, why we work on bar paths over and over? Not to think ‘this is hard’, not ‘this feels heavy’ – rather, ‘I’m going to lift this fucking weight and it’s going to be a success’. The fact that the bar ‘feels’ heavy off the ground has no bearing on the potential success of the lift. Push through, trust the technique and never, ever doubt that you can’t lift that bar.

At some point, I have to expect myself to be better, allow myself to be stronger, regardless of what that voice upstairs tells me I can’t do. 205# isn’t going to snatch itself…