The Principle of Abundance

Abundance means the giving of your talent and resources for the benefit of the whole rather than the scarcity principle which suggests there’s only so much pie to go around and that you’d better get yours before someone else does!  Abundance can be found in all the major religious texts (Christian’s will know it was “Give and you shall be given” in Mathew and Ephesians just to name two books of the Bible)  as well philosophy (think “Karma”), what comes around, goes around.

In this podcast with Matt Scanlon from 321GoProject, we talk Abundance for about the first 5 minutes.  Give it a listen and see how you might be able to incorporate Abundance to help “lift all ships with the tide!”


Treat Your Body Like a Battery For Better WoD Times

DisciplineTreat Your Body Like a Battery

At CrossFit Dynamo, we like to create not just fit, but smart athletes.  That’s why our coaches don’t just teach great technique but impart the expected stimulus for the workout as well.  Further, we are always available to talk strategy for a workout of the day (WoD)!

But, during the WoD, it’s all you!  And as we all know, it’s easy to follow a plan until you get hit.  So, here’s a little tip to pay attention to while in the depths of the really tough WoDs.

First let’s think about your phone and the charging of it.  The phone I’m thinking about shows a green bar when it’s full or nearly charged, yellow when in the medium range, and red when it’s at 20-30% of life left.  What happens when you let your phone get to 80% (the beginning of the yellow range) and you recharge it to full?   Doesn’t take too long does it?

Now, what about when you’ve let your phone get deep into the red?  Seemingly, it takes forever to recharge, right?  Especially, when the radio had to be turned off!

Well, your body’s regenerative powers are much the same way.  When you go to failure in a movement, let’s say your last of the last pull-ups, your body won’t allow you to do another for quite some time.  Yet, if you do a set of pull-ups and stop when you first start to feel the burn (the yellow range), you’ll be able to get back on the bar much sooner and keep moving.  We call that “leaving a round in the chamber.”  Or, not shooting your last bullet.

As an example, let’s say you have 20 pull-ups to do before moving to a new movement at the beginning of a chipper WoD.  You can do 10 pull-up UB from past testing.  If you do those 10 pull-ups, you’ll come down completely spent (in the red, 0% battery power).  Probably spending 20-30 seconds before you can even think about getting on the bar as your muscles uncramp and you catch your breath.  Then, you might be lucky to get 5, probably more like 3 and then you’ll be “out “ of pull-ups again for another let’s say 20 seconds.  You’ll be working between a capacity of zero  and 30% battery power.  So, if we assume that every pull-up takes the same length of time, we just look at rest periods.  First rest after ten, 20 seconds, plus, another 20 at 15, and probably another 20 at 18 before you finish.  That’s a minute of rest to get it done.

On the other hand, what if you do only 5, leaving 5 in your body?  So, maybe a quick 5 second rest, and then 5 more.  Another 5 seconds and then you’re at 15.  Even if you’re greedy and need another little break, you’ve only spent 20-25 seconds worth of rest (about half) to do the same amount of work!  You’d be working between the 80% and 100% of your body’s capability and be done sooner.  You’d have better Intensity and also feel better going to the next movement!
In another installment, we can talk about looking at a WoD as a whole, determining the systems in play and when it might be OK to sell out to get through to the next movement.

But, the key take away from here is, know your redline and do everything you can to stay under it.  When you exceed it, you’re playing catch up for  the rest of the WoD and your time (and soul) will suffer!



In Fitness Programming, “Constantly Varied” does not mean “Random”

I get asked from time to time how I come up with our workouts.  I passed the programming of our  1,000th WoD maybe a month ago, and you guys have no idea how I agonize over programming.  I wish it was as easy as just copying CrossFit main site programming and I’d be done with it.  Unfortunately, those WoDs don’t always fit our needs.  Kelly’s seen me wrestle with creating WoDs, it’s not pretty.  I try to stay to a classic CrossFit model, one NoRandomProgrammingthat doesn’t bias towards any of the 10 components of fitness as we define them, but I do think that Olympic lifts, strength, and flexibility are more effective than some of the others.  So here’s what I’m thinking about while programming:

  1. Strength Cycles – I lay these out in 4 month chunks and we’ll have testing weeks 3 times a year so you can note your progress.  I put these on the calendar first and this is what we do normally between the group warm up and the normal WoD.  I call this the Strength WoD.
  2. For a given month, I usually theme it (e.g.  Let’s increase our deadlifts or increase our Fran Times).  So, you may get more work on certain systems as I let other systems “rest” a little more.  For instance, in month’s past, we’d done more cleans/power cleans than you normally feel you get, I heard.  That’s purposeful.  The majority of the box had better deadlift numbers (PRs) and hadn’t really done a deadlift during the month!  They were able to PR because you were unknowingly working on your 1st pull strength.  I also take into consideration when the The Open is going to hit.  More strength later part of the year, more metabolic conditioning running up to the Open, b/c that’s mainly what they test.
  3. I take into consideration the following when programming:  body systems being worked (posterior, anterior, abs, shoulders, chest, Lats, etc…), Energy Pathways (Phosphagenic, Glycolitic, and Oxidative),  mix in loads (light, medium, heavy days), total number of reps for the day (low, medium, high) which can effect Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness 2 days later, along with scheduling benchmark WoDs evenly dispersed throughout the week (so everyone gets a shot at them) and mixing in proper doses of metabolic conditioning, gymnastics, and weight lifting movements by themselves or in combination.  I also try to vary rep schemes to keep things interesting and make you think.  The more honest you are with yourself on a given day, normally the better you’ll do.  It’s a slightly cumbersome process, but it gets the job done.  In this way, I try to ensure you’re not sore “every” day (if you are, I’m doing something wrong), and especially not on key days like benchmarks or Open WoDs.  There are a couple of others things I’m throwing in to make things special around here, but I’m not going to divulge my secret sauce.

Sorry you asked?

7 Ways to Survive a 100-Day Burpee Challenge

Before we actually discuss surviving this crazy challenge that results in an athlete doing 5,050 burpees over the course of 100 days, let’s talk about WHY anyone would anyone want to do it in the first place.  First, we’re going to define a burpee as starting from a standing position, moving to a horizontal position on the floor where chest and thighs are on the ground, returning to a standing position and jumping with a clap above the head to open up the hips to full extension.  So, why do a burpee challenge?

  • CrossFit is hard enough, why make it harder? Exactly!  Life’s hard.  But, when you choose to make your life “harder” with the challenge of CrossFit (how it seems early on at least), you give Life perspective.  When you CHOOSE to make your life more challenging, you are more in control of it.  Not many things in Life can reach the intensity you normally find yourself in during a WoD.  Accepting the Burpee Challenge is just another way of telling Life, you got nothin’ on me!  It truly makes all the other challenges of your day easier.
  • The challenge hits around 60 burpees a day near Thanksgiving and over 90 by Christmas? Ain’t nobody got time for that!  What the burpee challenge reminds us is that we need to keep moving, we need to stay disciplined, and sometimes do something even when we’d rather not.  At the holidays, it’s a huge motivation to get off the couch and not put those seasonal pounds on as well!  You’re making a conscience decision!  Get after it!

OK, so hopefully, you’re still with me…  Here’s how to survive the challenge:

  1. Save your wrists! From Day 1, work on technique and don’t drop to the ground with your hands much higher than your shoelaces!  This may mean doing mobility work BEFORE you start.  Hamstring stretches, rolling a lacrosse ball on your plantars are a couple of many alternatives.  Find what works and do it!
  2. When you are deeper into it, think about changing up your burpee style. Do 10 posterior dominant, next 10 quad dominant, next 10, step back into them and out of them.  Monotony is not your friend, have a little “fun” with it.  Not sure what the different styles are?  Check out the video below and practice yourself!
  3. Track your progress! Download the Burpee Challenge spreadsheet (100DayBurpeeChallengeSpreadsheet)  and see how many burpees you  have done for the challenge on a daily basis!   They start adding up pretty fast!
  4. Hope for burpees in the WoD! Nothing changes the mindset about having burpees in a WoD like being in a Challenge!  Heck yeah, yours count, all the way up to the total for that day OR if you’re having to catch up!
  5. After about Day 40, DON’T SKIP DAYS! Discipline is a major component of the challenge, so don’t sabotage yourself by skipping a day or three.  It can feel insurmountable trying to catch back up.  So don’t!  Hopefully it gets you up off the couch at halftime on Thanksgiving Day as well!  It’s also great for getting visiting family involved.  Heck, get the kids involved!  Do them as the first thing out of bed, see if you’re day isn’t better than normal!
  6. It’s OK to break them up during the day. Do you have a normal let down an hour after lunch?  Kill 10 or 15 then to wake up and get productive!  Watching your kid practice football, lacrosse, basketball?  Do some in the corner.  Just don’t listen to the other parents snicker.  I would say for the best results, it’s best to do them with intensity, but some days, it won’t be there.  Find a way!
  7. Find an accountability partner! We’re all about Community, so find someone to lean on and for them to lean on you.  Makes them twice as easy!


Float That Bar!

You’ve probably heard one of your coaches during an Olympic lifting day (Cleans or Snatches) talk about “floating the bar.”   It may not click the first time you hear it, or day hundred for that matter, but to get efficient with these lifts AND for getting your 50lb bags of dog food into the hatchback, this concept is essential.
What we mean by the phrase is that you’re going to have to trust yourself and disconnect from the bar.    You heard me, disconnect.  When we back squat, the bar is on our back rack and stays CONNECTED to us throughout the squat to hip crease below knee and then back to standing with hips extended.   We call the back squat a connected movement.  Same can be said for strict presses, overhead squats, and deadlifts.  Examples of disconnected movements include squat/power cleans, squat/power snatches, wall balls, and even the snatch balance we did last week.  So, when you disconnect from something it means it’s going in one direction and you are manipulating your body to catch it in another.  While the weight is not on you, it is very easy to move quickly and with precision.  If you’re not completely disconnecting, you may find your movement is restricted.  You may even miss the lift!

Having a bar in front of you can be intimidating and get in the way of learning.  But everyone has taken out the garbage at one time of their life or the other.  Watch the video for an explanation of how “disconnecting” can actually make you a more efficient and powerful weightlifter (of bars, baggage, groceries, but maybe not children).  Here’s the first take vid (I’ll do it better next time):

A Note on Virtuosity

Coach John on the MU rig competing in an event.

Coach John on the MU rig competing in an event.

[repost from last NYE, 2012.  I didn’t get much comment on it, so figured you guys thought I was a loon.  Turns out, it lit at least one fire, thus, I’ll try to light one more for 2014, and slowly reach my new year’s resolution of world dominance.]

I’m not much for New Year’s resolutions.  If you find something that needs to be bettered, there’s no time like the present to get it done IN THE PRESENT.  However, since I’m the minority on this, perhaps it’s a good time to put forth a thought that I’ve been mulling over for six months since the inception of CrossFit Dynamo.  It’s the concept of Virtuosity.  The definition I use is simply this:  Virtuosity is doing the common, uncommonly well.

As you may have noticed by now, mobility and range of motion are watchwords here.  Sometimes, I wish that I had added them to our motto:  Technique, Intensity, Community.  However, the sleeve length on our original hoodies would have been more like straightjackets.

As we now will be focusing on your range of motion during the WoDs, the onus of virtuosity will now be placed on you.  It’s a tough thing, especially while your central nervous system is breaking down from the reps necessary to complete the WoD.  You may have to slow down to ensure you’re doing it right.  You will have to be even more present in your effort, when many times all we want to do is find our happy place.  However, you will find that it will get easier over time and with continued discipline.  But, you’ll also notice that we all will break down at some point, if the WoD is hard enough.  You will also find that the better your technique is, the easier/faster it will be to complete with full range of motion.

Doing the common, uncommonly well.  Sounds easy, doesn’t it?  But, let’s just look at the squat.  As we tire or are in fierce competition with our friend next to us, our squat depth may get shallower.  Our hip extension, lessen as well.  The decrease of our range of motion means we get through reps faster and we’ll have a better score on the board!  But really, while we all care about that score (and don’t act like you don’t), shouldn’t the number posted be as honest as the work we’ve put into it?  Are we not cheating ourselves and our fellow CFD family members when we are not doing our upmost to ensure the best range of motion we have?  Even if that means we finish slower than everyone else in the room?  But let me ask you this:  when you came in last in the WoD, and I mean like way last by minutes or rounds.  Were you not celebrated for finishing?  There is no shame in finishing last at CFD.  The fact that you had the pluck to walk through the doors made you one of us, and us a part of you.

So, by learning, understanding, and executing true range of motion, will we not find renewed discipline, and courage to do what’s right, even when times get tough during the WoD?  And if we can harness our minds to do that under the fire of great toil, should that feeling stop as soon as we walk out the double glass doors of the box?

Can we not apply this lesson to being a better husband, wife, parent, employee, or ________________? 

I wish each of you a safe and healthy new year.  I pledge that I, and our coaching staff, are here for you to help your reach and surpass your wildest goals.  Dream big, you may be surprised what you can accomplish once you let go of the boundaries that your mind and your “friends” may have shackled you with.

Happy New Year and may it be the best yet,