The Purpose of Testing

Posted in Physical Fitness Info on June 27, 2014 by crossfitcenturion

This testing cycle is wrapped up and we are pleased to see the numbers and results put up by those who did take part in the process. Unfortunately, all too many people didn’t take part in the effort. Allison and I will be making some considerations and decisions about future testing efforts since it is a lot of work and stress. We definitely know we have some people who take their fitness, their hard work and the testing process very seriously and want to know about themselves and what they can improve, and we are aware that others freak out and end up taking an ill advised two week break from the gym. Although the process is over, I want to clarify the purpose of testing at CFC.


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We have repeatedly told all clients to take part in the testing process because of the importance it has for the athlete, coaches and gym. The problem is too many people view the tests as a competitive event or they don’t want to be compared to other people. However, that is not the case.

We would like to think the semi-annual testing process is a goal for each client over the course of the year in that they now get to see where their hard work has taken them, what they’ve learned and what skills/movements they need to improve upon. The goal of CrossFit, a General Physical Preparedness program (GPP), is to make people ready for anything at anytime. This means being well-rounded across the board. Run fast, lift heavy, move your body, become mentally stronger and feel better and healthier. There’s always room for improvement, but how do we know what to improve upon if we don’t test it?

The testing process should be the motivation for every workout.  It is the validation of hard work and of the program they are following, provided they aren’t straying off course and trying every stupid Inlaw or other program that comes up like a new pair of underwear, and they are consistent with showing up at the gym.

The testing process is not a “player on player” competitive event. It is meant to provide each client with a marker point of where their current levels of fitness are. The only competition is among clients competing with themselves to better their previous numbers. The tests are designed to show each athlete where their hardwork has paid off, what they are capable of now versus in the past, and what needs improvement to meet their goals in the future. Every client can opt into the entire test(s), or parts of them if there’s something they can’t do for physical reasons (being scared of failure and not trying is not a valid reason). Still, what can be done, should be done.

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The testing process is not only important for the athlete, it is very important for us as a gym. We could just go along our merry way, have no structure to our program and wing it on the belief that everyone is getting better, OR we could verify that what we are doing is indeed working and then design or modify our program to that end. We opt for the latter since we believe people come to CrossFit Centurion and any other true strength & conditioning gym to follow a program that will yield verifiable results and make every penny of your hard earned money worthwhile and well spent. We aren’t snake oil salesmen, pitching something we aren’t sure of, is random or dangerous, we are selling something that works and is systematic and safe. Random and wacky will work to some extent until you get hurt and the gains stop, but I sure as hell wouldn’t pay for it and I would feel like an asshole trying to charge for it and sell it as the way to fly.

Instead, we are client driven and results driven. We want to know that it works or doesn’t, and if not, how can we fix it to make it work and be worthy of your money and our approval. So we test it.

Out of that testing comes validation to the athlete and to us as a gym. If it’s broke, we fix it. If it ain’t, we don’t. Where we see issues or areas that need improvement, we make sure to include them in the programming. We’ve seen a tremendous amount of people begin to get high skill based movements (HSPU, double unders, muscle ups, rope climbs) since we implemented the Skill sessions on Thursdays. I am sure the coaches can feel like a repetitive, broken record and think they are hashing the same thing every few weeks, but the pay off is when clients start to do this stuff in workouts and in testing! Same can be said for the 1RM stuff and the benchmark MetCon workouts where the slow, consistent progression over the training cycle yields higher numbers and faster times on test day or in a competition!

These are more than just numbers to us as a gym. They are a validation and a tool. It allows us not only to make our program better, but also to properly scale and prescribe an athlete into a particular workout. How else will we know what 65% of 1RM back squat is if there are no numbers to work with? In order to do things correctly and scientifically, we need hard data and info. This allows us to make proper scaling decisions and adjustments to each athlete’s loading in a workout or strength session so we get the gains we want and avoid injury.

No one likes tests and everyone gets nervous- I get that. But this isn’t a “point and laugh” session at the end of every test, instead the times and weights are checked out by everyone else and we always hear the “oohs” and “ahhs” from people when they see folks getting new PR’s that were either non-existent before or at a lower number. Everyone is supportive and happy for the others on the whiteboard because they’ve all put in the same sweat equity and pain contribution. Community is forged that way and everyone gets it.

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We will be reviewing the data and the testing process. It may end up we scrap it, do it as a surprise, maybe only do a couple days, or change it to an annual event. I’d hate to see it go by the wayside or be used less by the CFC athletes since it is so important and provides us with many new PR’s, High 5’s, and smiles when we see it all come to fruition. I would urge those of you who didn’t take part, and weren’t gone or dead, to join in future testing events. There’s nothing to be fearful of and in the end, we all benefit from your hard work & contributions!

Yo’ back is jacked….

Posted in Physical Fitness Info on May 2, 2014 by crossfitcenturion

Back Pain – Everyone has back issues. Unfortunately, it’s life and it’s the norm. Our back is under constant tension, uneven loading, and stuck in weird positions, all of the time. This can cause chronic and/or acute conditions in the back or neck. Some of these issues can be structural or soft tissue based. Stuff that tends to come on out of the blue (acute) is normally a soft tissue problem that will go away with rest, rehab and a short time duration. Things that we take with us from major injuries or accidents and are persistent (chronic) will usually be structural and take a lot more to fix and get through so you can function in some semblance of normalcy. Structural screw ups can be rehabbed, but may always linger in the background waiting for a perfect time to strike again. In looking at back issues, here are a few of the more common things that come up with people.

Degenerative disc disease is a common chronic issue. Over time, our discs compress and become dried out. This is referred to as “degenerative disc disease” and everyone  gets it due to gravity and time. Unless you’re a fruit bat, hanging upside down for 12 hours a day, you have it. So quit running around acting like it’s something you inherited or you are the only person doomed to such a fate. The now smaller discs can cause discomfort when nerves now get compressed around it and/or the facet joints of the spine make contact with one another. This is most common in the lower back (lumbar spine). DegenerativeDiscDisease Another structural issue that crops up is the bulging disc or even a herniation. Occasionally we get bulging discs from either a bad movement under load and extreme action, or the effects of time. For many people, a constantly over extended back position can put just enough constant pressure on the discs to cause them to bulge a certain way just slightly. This can be from work, anatomical issues, etc. Sometimes you can wander around for an eternity without feeling anything while other people are unlucky enough to have that disc bulge out just enough to hit a nerve running past it and causing pain. People may be undiagnosed and have them just due to life in general, but being smart in your training will help you avoid and/or repair discs. herniated_disc A few things that help: 1- Get a proper MRI based diagnosis if you think there’s a structural issue (not your massage therapist or drinking buddy’s opinion, and certainly don’t use WebMD or the internet or you will be convinced you will die of a host of things you had no idea plagued you). 2-Strengthening the musculature around the spine to handle and distribute the loading. 3-Proper form, ROM and movement. 4-Using appropriate weights for your current condition. 5- staying off the affected area for a while, no matter how bad you want to do the workout and then taking time to let it heal and easing back into workouts. 6-Working with different positions and/or exercises to avoid problem areas. 7-Using ancillary strengthening movements to rehab the area and add stability to it. 8-Adding traction (stretching the spine out) to your daily routine by either hanging or by creating a position of spinal flexion (lying hunch back over a bosu ball or similar – think Halloween cat on a fence). All of the above issues apply to a myriad of injuries or tweaks, but truth be told, if you are doing things right and have never been diagnosed with a structural defect, the biggest culprit for back pain lies in the musculature (soft tissue).

Muscle based issues may in fact contribute to structural failure issues (like those above), such as overly tight hip flexors and/or quads which pull the pelvis forward, thereby overextending the spine and placing compression on the discs causing a bulge. This can also be the case in lateral muscles, such as the Quadratus Lomborum, glute medius, TFL, etc. Of those muscles, the biggest culprits will often be the psoas (deep hip flexor) and the QL (the Xmas tree muscle in lower back).

The Psoas is a tough one to work and it needs constant hammering, but there are ways to do it. The psoas gets smoked through squats, constant lengthening/shortening and then being put away without being stretched out. As the muscle “cools off” it stays rock hard and shortens. This is worsened due to the fact most of our downtime is spent sitting down immediately after working out. Due to it’s attachment on the lower spine, when the Psoas tightens up, it pulls the spine forward, thereby increasing the curvature of the lumbar spine and placing stress on the discs and nerves. Image14 The Psoas can be manipulated and manually released through by applying pressure to the muscle through the front of the abdominal cavity, just along the sides of your rippling six pack and above the pelvic crest. However, this hurts like hell and usually takes a trained person to locate and manipulate.

There are several stretches that work, but they are hard and require some hardcore stretching, either with a band or a partner to get at them. The goal is to get the top of the femur to rotate forward, thereby pulling on the psoas. Picture lying on your stomach and creating pull on the leg by pulling the leg behind you (up in the air). This will get the necessary stretch into the psoas. Now you just have to Google some stretches or mess around with things until you can find it.

Lunge type stretches like this will help stretch the Psoas as the head of the femur is rotated forward.

Lunge type stretches like this will help stretch the Psoas as the head of the femur is rotated forward.

The QL is another jerk off of a muscle that causes major grief and lends itself to pelvic misalignment and then sacroiliac joint misery. The QL gets a ton of work due to it’s role of keeping pelvis leveled off when the opposing leg is working or when we are trying to maintain midline stability. When your left legs is working and under tension, the right QL in the lower back activates to stabilize the pelvis.  So, when we are working both legs or applying major force to the midline, the QL is working overtime. Along with the spinal erectors, abs, serratus, and obliques, it’s preventing us from being tacoed when deadlifting, squatting, doing KB swings, etc. As you can imagine, it gets beat up and like many of us, we probably don’t take real good care of it pre/post workout. QL As the QL tightens up, it causes pain in the hips, which may manifest itself as radiating pain just below the belt line in the glute medius muscles. This radiating pain is often across both sides. That in turn often triggers pain in and down the TFL and IT band on each leg. That’s a lot of suck going on at once…

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Pain sites and pressure points for the QL

When muscles like the QL and psoas get hammered that much and not stretched out regularly, they are going to become rock hard, shortened and inflexible. That means they are now pulling on all their connection points and moving things out of alignment. Additionally, we tend to see these two muscles start to compete insofar as working against each other due to the muscular imbalances being created by each other and we get locked in a cycle of psoas spasm/QL spasm, etc. This would be bad.

Fortunately we can reverse a lot of these effects, however, it may take some time and a lot of work on a very consistent basis. You can do a lot of the work on your own using PVC rollers and a lacrosse ball, and if you are in major need  of help, finding a good massage practitioner or ART therapist. Keep in mind that although there may not be a structural issue going on initially, it can come on due to unchecked soft tissue issues. In other words, allowing the Psoas, hamstrings, QL and other tight muscles in the trunk to be left to their own devices, they will continue to place stress on the spine and discs due to the misalignment they are causing. At some point that area affected will fail and now you have a structural defect to work around and heal.

Lastly, do some research and find out where things hurt and what you can do to alleviate the pain on your own. Just remember, it’s up to you to make sure the issue gets handled or it will never get better. Take 10 minutes a couple times a day, especially post workout, to get into those muscle groups and get them worked out. If things are feeling really bad, stay out of the workout routine for a few days, stretch, roll and let the muscles relax before they get trapped in a spasm you can’t fight through. Then ease back into your routine and take care of the problem areas along the way. Get some!

Cherry Picking and Changing Workouts

Posted in Physical Fitness Info on April 13, 2014 by crossfitcenturion

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There’s nothing more frustrating to us then seeing people cherrypick workouts. Something will come up in the WOD and normal attendees will suddenly be no shows, yet post on their Facebook accounts how great a time a time they had at the bar or found some really cool ideas for knitting socks on Pinterest (sidebar: that ranks right up there in the lameness category with folks who cancel their membership for “financial reasons” then take a two week, all inclusive trip to Maui, or post pix of themselves working out at another gym – Jesus, have some decency and tell us the truth – you’re a noncommittal, easy-street wanker or you don’t like us…). Anyhow, here’s the deal, if you suck at it, if it challenges you, if it’s really a heinous mental and physical battle for you, you probably should be doing it.

CrossFit is predicated upon the concept of improving your weaknesses. That can be physical and/or mental. It is a program that is designed to develop a well rounded athlete who is ready for any task. This task may involve various metabolic efforts, muscular efforts, movement patterns and ranges of motions. Most likely the same ones that you suck at today and avoid doing since “it’s hard”. The newsflash is that you WILL not develop fully as an athlete if you don’t expose yourself to these weaknesses, in your head or otherwise, and go after them. Once you conquer something that scares you, you become inoculated to it a little more each time. Soon, the mental stress it gave you is gone and it’s now a matter of using the physical stress to improve your fitness. Yes, workouts are going to suck for a variety reasons, but if you want easy you can find another gym where you wander around aimlessly not knowing what to do and find your pant sizes going back up and fitness declining.

Now, onto the point of changing workouts.

I allow the coaches some discretion in changing workouts to some extent due to weather, scaling, equipment needs, or class sizes, but we will not be changing workouts because the workout looks boring. If you think 400m runs and Max. Push Ups is easy, you are not working hard enough. I do that workout and I am sore for days in the pectorals. When it gets easy, I put a 10 LB bumper plate on my back and do the push ups. How about dropping down some rings and doing ring push ups? Or putting your feet on an elevated box and doing ground based push ups? You ever try that workout with bench press? Damn hard. Yes, you actually can “scale up” and make things harder if you need to, and your movements and form are still intact.

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All of our workouts at CFC are programmed over a year in advance. This allows yours truly to assess what we’ve done and where we are going with the workouts. If something is programmed, it’s likely with good reason. The programming is meant to move over and through the body so as not to overtax certain areas that have been stressed in the day(s) prior. In other words, it’s unsafe to randomly pull stuff out like Power Cleans one day, heavy swings the next and then Deadlifts on Friday – see a lower back problem there?

With shoulders and lower backs being the biggest concern for injury at CFC, we work very carefully around them. They get worked and then left to recover a bit. Now I know some of you are thinking, “Well, we seem to still do a lot of squatty/shouldery/abby/backy type stuff in the week!”. Yes, but let’s consider the plane of movement of the motion, the range of motion and the muscles being activated. If done correctly, you will get a “full body” workout over the course of the week and very thorough coverage through the individual training cycle.

This also applies when a “cardio” based workout appears. This is done on purpose to lower and/or change the intensity/stress levels on the body. There is a distinct need for exposure to these type of training modalities. We can’t just lift weights all day and do burpees, something’s gonna give.

There are occasions when a workout gets changed at the 11th hour due to a flaw I’ve seen in it or some other uncontrollable anomaly arises, but that’s relatively rare. Not to say it doesn’t/won’t happen, but it’s not the norm and you should be thankful we recognize that stuff and make the changes to avoid injury or other stupidity from happening. Another concern for changing workouts is that it may entirely throw of the desired time domain as programmed for the week in the current cycle. That means people didn’t get the intended intensity or recovery out of the workout and may have shot their wad for the following days.

Too many people get suckered into CrossFit gyms or dumb programming where they make huge gains by going stupid hard and heavy, with high volume/intensity for every workout, make some great gains and then all of a sudden start dealing with some pretty nasty injuries and/or burnout. Yes, I have seen great competitors develop this way (if they survive themselves), but more than often, they end up tweaked, or the average Joe gets sucked in and damaged. The very few that survive that type of randomized training are genetic freaks with a lot of time on their hands to eat right, do prehab/rehab work, recover and have no pressing outside life commitments. There’s a pretty good chance the other 99.8% of us are not Froning, Khalipa, Briggs, or Thorisdottir. There’s no need to try and break yourself to figure that out.

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Anatoly Pisarenko – Lean, mean, fit machine. You think he cherrypicked or did something else not prescribed? (No, we will not be working out in Speedo’s…)

There’s also a reason why all the top strength coaches in the world follow a “progressive” pattern of volume and intensity – it works. That’s what our template is based upon. Slow, steady, methodical increases in intensity, volume and stress with periods of recovery introduced to allow adaptation. This is a long term, life long for some, process of strengthening and conditioning your body, not a 8 week “beach body” program. Don’t forget the adage, “if the Russians are doing it, you probably should too.”

The end story is that if you are one of the said cherry pickers/workout changers, it’s time to stop and suck it up. If you have questions about what we are doing, then by all means ask me (Crazy Ivan) and I will tell you why things are designed a certain way in my kind and thoughtful way. I am constantly considering leaving the WOD blank each day so it truly is unknown and unknowable, but that poses an issue in that our remote followers won’t get the benefit of tried, true, science based strength & conditioning program and I can’t keep track of the workouts properly since the website and programming template are intertwined.

~ Osiris ~

~ Osiris ~

CFC clientele are in good hands. You have great coaches and a very thought-out, science and evidence based program to follow. If you follow it, gains will come at you like you didn’t expect. If you screw around with it and do silly side programs that are poorly designed and incompatible with the everyday client, or cherry pick stuff, you are going to  be stagnating, falling behind or getting injured. You pay good money for programming and direction, now you just need to trust the program and coaching. It boggles me why people want to pay for a membership, then go off and do their own crap thinking they’ve found a better program with no understanding of our template and what we are trying to accomplish. Want more? Need it to be harder? Come see me and I will make sure you get what you’re actually paying for….

Trust yourself in that you can accomplish anything and attack your weaknesses with intensity and consistency. Follow the course and trust your Captain – battles are to be won!

3-2-1… GO!

So you wanna join CrossFit Centurion, eh?!

Posted in Physical Fitness Info on June 26, 2013 by crossfitcenturion

How to join CrossFit Centurion!  (yes, another Crazy Ivan rant…)

Lately we’ve had a rash of folks come in to the front counter and give us serious lip service about their grandeur in fitness and why/how WE need to accommodate THEM as new clients at CrossFit Centurion. Hold on here! Whose house is this?!? Let’s have a quick review of CFC Potential Membership do’s and don’ts. Hell, these apply to any CrossFit affiliate worth their salt and who really care about their clients and the results they are trying to impart upon them.

Here are a couple tips.

First, don’t walk in telling us how awesome/fast/strong you are. That screams “douchebag” all over it. We don’t care how long you say you’ve done CrossFit or how rad you are when you do it, truth is we’ve seen the end result of many affiliates and/or CrossFit certified or wannabe certified coaches, and we are not impressed. In fact in many cases we are downright horrified at what we see and cringe at the association people might make who didn’t know any better. Some of the stuff we see with biomechanics and ROM at competitions and with athletes from other gyms makes us dry heave. Unfortunately, a lot of these folks are drop-in’s or transplants from other gyms.

I’ll say it right here – There are probably more bad affiliates than good ones these days, and we know who the good ones are locally, statewide and surrounding us. At the current growth rate of CrossFit, more and more shit boxes open up with “coaches” just trying to make a quick buck with no background or understanding, or worse yet, lack of passion for what they should be doing. If you come from a no-name gym, someone’s garage, a guy who just got his L1 last week and opened a box after “discovering” CrossFit, or the globo gym where you did “CrossFit like stuff all the time” with a trainer, then it holds no water with us and you WILL go through our F Class.

We don’t care how great of an athlete you were 20 years ago. That was then, this is now, and telling us how you held the state record in the 800m sprint in 1975 is great, but when you are telling us in the next breath how you haven’t worked out in 2 years, have bad “party” habits, and/or are pushing three bills on the scale, your old stats are meaningless and you will still need to go through our beginner program and gain an understanding that this isn’t some fluff program.

Your military PT program probably wasn’t CrossFit. Sure, you may be a bad ass Marine or former Teams guy with multiple trips downrange, but that doesn’t sell the farm either. In fact, the best warriors are the most modest and quiet ones. They have no ego and will gladly learn something new, even if it’s not new and they are getting a rehash, they will get through it in the hopes of gleaning some other piece of knowledge. Lots of military personnel do CrossFit, but that doesn’t always mean they do it well or are ready for a full scale, frontal assault at CFC.  This is why we start everyone with a Fundamentals Class. People need to know how we teach and instruct, not do things their own way.

Yes, our F Class has set days/hours. That’s because we all work in other job assignments and these times are the only one we can make work for all of our coaches to help teach new clients the basics late into the night. Many times our days are 16 hours in length. So, no, we will not make an exception for you because you have to get your cat wormed on Monday nights or whatever other lame excuse you can conjure up  If you can’t commit to this, you won’t commit to the regular class sessions and will be hit and miss, thereby wasting our time.

(Here’s a hint: If you join a CF gym that doesn’t have a type of start up or fundamentals program, it’s complete dogshit. Walk away now before you get hurt and bring more damage to the hardworking, caring affiliates and the CrossFit brand).

Consistency and commitment are key. Nothing is more frustrating then the client who shows up every once in a while, doesn’t remember what they last learned, has no record of lifts or times and has to be scaled back over and over due to their lack of commitment. Don’t be that tool…

You are most likely NOT going to the CrossFit Games. Don’t even drop that one on us without us having seen you in action. We have some high level athletes in our gym and locally that eat other humans for breakfast and still can’t make it to the games. Those athletes that do are the 1%. They are like an outlaw motorcycle gang…muscled up, tattooed, mean looking, wearing the same colors, but hopefully without the meth and hookers. Hopefully….

Don’t haggle about prices. You no likey, you go CalFit. They don’t coach there, and since you don’t care about being coached properly, you’ll fit right in. True fitness and health are non-negotiable. I will sell my kids (okay, maybe yours…) to make sure I can stay fit. If you don’t have that level of understanding and commitment, go elsewhere. This is a business that is part of the economy and pays our bills. It’s not a “bro deal” one stop shop.

We also do not/ will not ever do those ridiculous, embarrassing Groupon or mass bargain type deals. Don’t even ask. We won’t honor it and we know if you are trying to come in and use one, you are a temporary, transient client who will suck up our time and then be gone the moment full rates apply. For affiliates that care, those programs are a degradation of the value of your coaching and quality. Conversely that means if a gym is honoring them, the coaching and quality is either crap or non-existent. Look closely….

If you do commit to CFC, know it’s gonna hurt sometimes. In a good way, but it’s gonna be rough on some days and you’re gonna be sore…almost always. Once in a while, you might pull a muscle or scrape up a shin. Everything heals. Don’t whine about it. Fitness and health have some taxes that toll you. Know that going into it and figure out how to suck it up, or realize that this may not be the best program for you. You gotta be cognizant of the fact that you WILL run, row, squat, lunge, press and lift things. We are not going to endlessly scale around your excuses. There are no other options at CrossFit Centurion, except getting in your car and driving away.

Read the sign on the way in: “Check your Ego here!” Go ahead and bring it in. We’ll take it from you and let you have it back someday. In the meantime get ready to have your ass handed to you by our ladies of all abilities and ages. That’s some humbling stuff right there….

Your coach IS going to tell you what to do. That’s how we run classes and teach at CFC. We also avoid liability issues by making sure everyone is on the same page and following our instructions and our program. No, you will not just come in and do “your own thing”. You will do our thing. You must be coachable and open to criticism and feedback. CFC coaches are extremely knowledgeable and we constantly work to make improvements in our education so we can improve our clients. Our program works VERY well and it is what everyone will follow. You don’t like it, I don’t care….go away.

Lastly, don’t cheat. If you come into CFC looking to be top dog, you’re either gonna get pack humped for a while until you establish dominance, or you are going to cheat and do nothing but make an ass of yourself, cut your fitness efforts short, and undermine the hard work the honest client athletes have put in.

We have been catching more and more people as of late cheating to be the fastest. We silently count, shake our heads and make a mental note on those people and tell all the other coaches and top client athletes about it. It’s called “silent shame”.

It’s unreal. Why? What edge does that give you in your fitness? How do the top, honest athletes feel when they are all of a sudden undermined by minutes by people that haven’t ever been close to them in strength or power based efforts? It’s frustrating and demoralizing. We hate it. We may hate being last, but no CFC coach will ever cheat, and if they do, I get their keys back. I will take my lumps and get my ass handed to me, but that’s the way it goes in life. Anything else is distasteful and disrespectful to those who put their time in. Come in and work up the ladder, always remembering your gonna slip sometimes.  Don’t cheat. It’s a losing quality.

CrossFit and strength and conditioning have exploded into the forefront over the past few years. That means everyone wants a part of it, but not everyone wants to play by the rules the good affiliates have set forth. Unfortunately, those gyms who don’t care and are in it for a buck will take on people like “client x” above, but others like CFC will just stare at client x,  and tell him “we aren’t taking on new clients right now” in order to avoid the asshattery that is sure to follow.

It’s all about quality control from the client and the gym and we aim to make sure CrossFit Centurion stays that way!

Are You Coaching?

Posted in Physical Fitness Info on May 21, 2013 by crossfitcenturion

The New World Order

CrossFit has two distinct sides to it. There is the strength & conditioning aspect for people who are wishing to find a fitness program that is challenging, results based and rewarding. The other side is that of the “sport of fitness” where a new breed of athletes and coaches have emerged.

In that new emergence, athletes have taken movements that were commonly held as “exercises” and through programming of event
organizers (some better than others…), have flawlessly executed them for speed, time, and maximal weights (again, some better than others).

With the new athlete comes the new coach. A coach who can strategize, provide feedback and motivation, with an understanding of human physiology, exercise science and human performance to elicit the biggest gains from their athletes. In essence, the CrossFit coach is now a person that tells their athletes how to conduct “exercises” quickly to win or place well in competition, or get fitter, faster, stronger, and healthier in the gym.

Inside the gym, the CrossFit coach does the same thing. The phenomena of coaching is not reserved for competition, it’s reserved for those who teach someone athletic skills, no matter in what form or capacity. Baseball players have hitting coaches, golfers have swing coaches, rodeo cowboys have roping coaches. They all do the same thing. They teach skills necessary for athletic performance.

I am not even going to digress into the ridiculous statement or argument that CrossFit competitions and the methodology are nothing more than “exercising fast”. These comments are made by pogues who don’t get it, get winded going up a flight of stairs (but have great goddamn triceps from all those pressdowns), and who forget that all competitive events started out as some type of “exercise”. You name it, they all started out as a form of exercise that a few folks tinkered with and then realized they could be competitive with, so rules and regulations were applied. I’ll be damned if strongman competitions don’t resemble gym-based exercises that are now modified and regulated to be competitive. The chuckleheads that criticize the “sport” of CrossFit sure don’t bark up the strongman tree and with good reason as a 6’6”, 300 Lb Swedish man would giggle like a schoolgirl as he squished their head like a grape.
Anyhow, I digress. Along with the new role of a coach, in or out of the gym, it should probably be understood what it means to coach.

In my view, a coach is a communicator, motivator, a strategic analyst, and sounding board. Unfortunately, I think there are way too many “coaches” out there who don’t get that. I see it all the time.

I obviously coach regularly and go to competitive events on a regular basis as a coach and competitor. There are many times I sit back and take in what’s going on outside of the competitive floor and just shake my head. All too often I see “coaches” screaming stupidity and irrelevance at their competitors or being hand-clapping cheerleaders without bringing one single piece of useful information to the athlete. Many of these “coaches” come from gyms that have good competitors or clients, but if they had the right environment they could be great. That is the fault of the coach/gym owner.

Give Them Relevance

Trust me, your athlete knows they need to pick up the bar, use their hips, or run faster. They aren’t as dumb as might be thought unless they went into complete vapor lock (or they aren’t coached well in the gym as to proper ROM, movement and form, in which case they probably shouldn’t be competing).

What they really need to know is what they can do to make those efforts easier, more efficient, or time their rest/work, reps or rounds better. Screaming repeatedly at them like a drunken idiot to “pick up the F’ing bar and get your ass moving” is worthless. It doesn’t motivate and it tells them nothing. Hell, half the reason they do it is to shut the loud mouth up!

There is no “a-ha!” moment with dumb statements like that. It’s plainly evident that the athlete is in last place and doesn’t like it/doesn’t want to be there/wants to go faster, but sometimes they just can’t. I don’t need to be reminded of that. No shit! I know. Tell me something I can use! 

How about telling them to take a few breaths, shake it out, gather themselves and work with good ROM/form through a particular number of reps before resting or moving on? Give them valid coaching cues. I know for a fact, they’d be able to use that info to their advantage and wouldn’t feel berated and like a slouch, despite how hard they are trying. Hell, by slowing them down and getting under control, they may start to make up ground while the spastics tire out and fade away.

Telling an athlete how good they are doing, regardless of where everyone else is, can be more important and positive for them then reinforcing the fact they are down at the bottom of the pack and losing ground while sucking wind like a gopher in the desert. My personal experience, as well as that of my gym clients and competitive athletes, proves that being told I am looking rock solid and moving beautifully through my hang power cleans while the rest of the field is looking like Quasimodo doing reverse curls with a barbell, keeps my head in the game and motivated.

Here’s another thing to keep in mind. Yelling tunes people out. Unless a coach is yelling across a crowded gym or competition floor, shut the pie hole and TALK to the athlete. I don’t want to hear banshee like yelling. I hate that. It makes me want to punch people and that is looked upon as being slightly unsportsmanlike. I would argue most people feel the same way.

Like most people, yelling is a negative action and we tend to tune that kind of stuff out. We don’t want to deal with it and competition is no different. If you really want to get your athletes attention and have them tuned into you as a coach 110%, talk to them. Just a normal talking voice or slightly raised if it’s noisy, but in a conversational manner and decibel level that makes them search for your voice. Give them short, concise commands, prompts or encouragement whenever they are within earshot or you can stay close enough to provide input.

By having an athlete tune into the coach and seek out their voice, they do a few things. One, they process the information better. They have to listen and that means processing. As long as the coach is giving pertinent, worthwhile info (that should have been made evident in the previous paragraph), the athlete can process and apply it better.

Secondly, when things are at a “Grade-A” suck factor, having something that takes an athletes mind off the work and pain can be a blessing. Seeking out the voice, processing info and lingering on it takes the athlete off of the “oh my God I am dying over here” thoughts.

Lastly, talking instead of yelling in a chaotic and stressful situation or environment is pure command presence. It shows confidence and control. In my line of work, it’s not the loud mouth asshat talking smack and threatening me that scares me. Instead, it’s the quiet guy who says very little and only does so in a conversational tone while standing back out of the way taking it all in. That’s the guy I watch closely and tune into. It’s the same thing in the competitive arena. If you’re a coach who wants an athlete to respect you, talk to them no matter what the pressure. Whether it’s to encourage them or give them some gritty feedback, talk, don’t yell.

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Cheerleading

Cheering is good, unless you’re Miko Salo in which case it’s “only for the girls”. Cheering is motivation and we all need to give some and get some from time to time. But for God’s sake, no one wants to hear “Go Tommy, Go Tommy, Go Tommy. Good Job Tommy. Go Tommy” on an endless play loop with nonstop clapping as the soundtrack. That’s enough to make an athlete straight up lose his mind and ask the crowd to kill the supporter. Athletes need some cheering, but we sure as hell don’t want a cheerleader squad. If that were the case, we’d have stayed in high school and kept our letterman jackets.

Keep stuff short and simple. Too much going on is too much going on. That’s going to tune people back out. If there is one thing to focus on to make life easier, give them just that. No more, no less. They know what to do, now let the athlete go all Zen and do it with an occasional prompt here and there and some short encouragement.

Motivation & Support

Coaches are there to motivate their peeps. A few positive comments here and there do the trick just fine. Pepper those in along with some good information to help the athlete in their efforts, and talk to them to keep them in the game, and you will be doing what a good CrossFit coach should.

Keep in mind athletes are going to have up’s and down’s. It’s part of the process. Listen to them and take care of them. Spin a positive light on their efforts and make sure they see what they DID accomplish rather than what they DIDN’T accomplish. If they are demoralized, bring them up. If they get injured, take care of them and fix them up. Just show them you care. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen coaches tell athletes that they blew a workout/event, or didn’t care about how the athlete was doing afterwards. While it’s okay to have fun with things later on in good nature,  berating an athlete or being overly sarcastic post workout/event is damaging. That’s usually unappreciated and if it’s done to me, be prepared to catch a hot one.

Keep in mind that honesty is a must, but the time and place must be right. Don’t sugar coat crap. That silly horseshit about “every kid gets a trophy” is part of why society is so jacked up. No one wants to hear the truth anymore, they just want kittens, cotton candy and high fives. This is the real world and I hate to break the news to everyone, but we are real people and we need truth to make us better. Sometimes you are gonna suck, so you are better off hearing it from a person you respect than to go around never knowing. Just be to the point and make sure the time is good to address it.

Strategizing

While I consider myself a relatively intelligent cat, I have complete lizard brain when it comes to athletic events. My whole goal in the event is to go hard until I can’t go hard anymore. I don’t think about pacing, tempo, strategy, etc. for myself. I just am going to put the hammer down and hope I don’t auger in before the rest of the field.

While this has worked for me many times on the bike, wrestling mat, or in CrossFit events, it’s also failed miserably a few times. Those were the times I could have used someone removed from the situation with a clear head not intent on destruction, to give me a course of action. Coaches should be that person. I can do it from the outside looking in, but not for myself. In times like that, a CFC coach like JK is money on the spot as he’ll do higher math to tell you how to get the most benefit out of the event/workout and stay at the front end with a kick for the end.

The fact of the matter is most athletes are the same. They are focused on the task at hand, and that is to go hard until the clock stops or the wheels fall off. If no plan was implemented before the clock started, then it’s gonna be a crap shoot. Not many athletes can get into the event and figure it out on the fly, so don’t put them in that position. Talk to them before the event and get them in a plan and then STICK TO THE PLAN. Don’t deviate unless there’s a major contingency, and there better be a plan for that too.

The plan should keep them within arm’s reach of other competitors and allow a final burst to make up any minor lost ground. The plan should not be the Crazy Ivan special – Lift heavy, run fast, go again, pray it ends soon. That one usually doesn’t end well.

Sure, it’s only CrossFit, but competitors are competitors and plans and contingencies for any sporting event are a necessity. This is no different when people are trying to do their best and/or win.

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Put it Together

This is a new era of athlete and coaching. To be the best we can be on either side of the fence, we need to think about how we do our job in the gym or in the arena. We make sure our coaches understand their role at CFC to employ these tactics in their interactions with clients and athletes. It’s important to building trust and community.

Coach, motivate, empathize, and lead. Those are our roles as coaches and we need to do them well. Our athletes are counting on us!

Ian Carver
Supreme Allied Commander
CrossFit Centurion

WOD 4/1/13

Posted in Uncategorized on March 31, 2013 by crossfitcenturion

Strength

Front Squats – 3×3

Increase 10 Lb from 3/11/13
Sets Across

MetCon

7 Minute running clock

1 Thruster
1 Pull Up
2 Thruster
2 Pull Up
3 Thruster
3 Pull Up…

*Rep scheme is in ascending order
*See how far up the ladder you can get in 7 minutes

WOD 3/30/13

Posted in Uncategorized on March 30, 2013 by crossfitcenturion

2 Person Teams (total reps per team)

100 Burpees
100 Pull Ups
100 Push Ups
100 Lunges

Then: 400m Run

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