“You’re brilliant, Hermione. Truly.”
“Actually I'm highly logical which allows me to look past extraneous detail and perceive clearly that which others overlook.”
This quote came after the pivotal point in Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s epic Horcrux quest. At the time, they were bombarded with information from endless sources regarding how many Horcruxes there were, where to find them, and how to destroy what they found. In the middle of this chaos, Hermione calmly took a step back to find a solution.
…then Ron had to ruin it by going I’M NOT SAP on everyone. But you get the idea.
Lately things have really been clicking for me from a coaching perspective (better take advantage of it now before I go brain-dead from concussions). I have been noticing that I can find quick solutions to any problem I see in the world of CrossFit – whether that is at the Champions Club, the Day Care, or Mott. Not only that, but this is also starting to translate to the basketball court while coaching the kids at Groves or The Family. I will concede that some of it comes from experience. But I think the predominant reason has been my execution of what I like to call Hermione’s Law – which states that a continuous search for the foundation is the best way to solve problems. For me, this process was ignited by Carl’s book free+style in the Summer, but it really came to fruition during the In-Season Training Manifesto.
The Great Pyramids helped me see a connection between the chaotic world of sports and the formal, structured setting of the weight room. I remember trying to think of something, anything, better than a pyramid to illustrate what I was getting at, but I guess that’s how I see it the best. Pyramid structures can be very contradicting. My two favorite ones (The Family’s and Coach Glassman’s) are read in exact opposite ways, but somehow still get the message across. Aside from the directional confusion, they’ve become horribly cliché because countless writers resort to using a pyramid to cover up for the fact that they are too lazy to come up with something original. But stupid writers aside, the goal for anything is to 1) find the foundation of the pyramid and then 2) develop the best possible understanding of it. Finding the source helps you establish a hierarchy. And seeing a hierarchy and understanding it is critical for finding quick solutions to problems.
Here are some examples of hierarchy in the Champions Club.
Position > movement > purpose
Movement > programming
Excellence > money
Real world > website
Coaching > movement > community
Real food > fake food > supplements
Regular attendees > new attendees > part-time attendees
Here’s a related case study that some might see as confusing, or even offensive – depending on whether or not you are Aly Baringer – but I have thought long and hard about this and I truly believe Ryan Richard is the smartest person I have ever worked with. Not school-wise, or spelling-wise (obviously), but in terms of creativity, quick problem solving, and practical applications nobody come close. It seems to me this is the case because he always thinks at the most primitive, basic level. In fact, I doubt his neocortex has even developed anything beyond that stage – which would explain a lot really. After spending so much time there, he got really good at mastering the basics, and those basics have translated downstream to many other more complicated things. But how does he get there?
10-person GHD? Of course I can make it.
Back in January I was getting ready to take the three-year-olds outside at the Day Care for what was going to be the last time before a giant snow storm. As I was helping with shoes and jackets, I heard the worst possible thing an adult at a day care could hear:
“Is that a fire alarm?”
I turned and saw Johnathan within arm’s length of the red alarm. Son of a…
Me: “Yup, sure is”
This has me all types of confused. First off…who the hell moved the book shelf blocking the alarm? If I ever find out, they will have heck to pay, heck I tell ya. Secondly, as the kid who set if off a few months ago, he should remember damn well that it’s a fire alarm. And thirdly, “why” did not seem to be the proper question there. “What,” “how,” or even possibly “where” could all pass to inquire further explanations. So as to avoid further conversation, I just pretended he wasn’t there and continued on wrangling the minions before they ran into something sharp.
But the entire rest of the day that never left my mind. Why…would he ask why? Then I thought, how else would a kid learn new things? I also remembered hearing from a few adults that kids go through a why phase. Along with other factors, this is how they get to the bottom of whatever it is they are trying to decipher.
Of the trillions of words that’s in the world, “why” may be the most important. Knowing why, in my opinion, is more important than knowing what. Knowing what gives you the answer to one specific thing. Knowing why gives you the answer to one specific thing and tons of other related things.
In the case of Hermione’s Law, it is essential to keep zooming out to find a universal truth. To do this, you simply ask yourself the question, “Why?” Then once you answer that, do it again. And again. And again. Do this until you can’t do it any more – or until the topic no longer relates even remotely to what you are dealing with. When you hit a mental block, one of two things have happened: 1) you have reached a universal truth and the fundamental layer or 2) you can’t answer why, which means you have found the next thing you need to learn. A rule of thumb: if your idea is not a true 100% of the time, you are not at the foundation yet.
Another example could be Dr. Barry Seas and his work with the Zone Diet. He originally started his career as a person that prescribes drugs to cancer patients and developed new medications. But he started to ask the question “Why was this stuff happening in the first place?” In the process of zooming out, he found the central issue for nearly every problem the human body encounters: inflammation. Cancer, arthritis, diabeetus, a sprained ankle, you name it, inflammation is behind it. So this led him to his breakthrough; the only way to truly manage inflammation levels without risking side-effects is through the diet. And the Zone was born.
Lastly, the mental journey of searching for the foundation will give you a much better perspective of what you are doing. With a better perspective you will make better decisions. For instance, when trying to write the In-Season Training Manifesto I kept getting stuck on the issue of running. So I asked myself, “Why is running such a demanding skill in the gym and yet pretty much an afterthought in sports?” Then once I understood that it was the specific setting that made the difference, I asked myself ”Why is running more difficult than a clean?” and “Why is running in a marathon easier than running in a football game?” As I kept doing this, the hierarchy naturally laid itself out for me. This understanding has helped me look at an athlete and be able to see what they suck at in the grand scheme of things. It’s about setting priorities and understanding the relationship of whatever hierarchy you are dealing with that allows you to make quick decisions and find solutions.
Hermione’s Law is not a real thing (obviously). I just called it that because I am a Harry Potter nerd and Hermione is… well… Hermione. But think of it as a cue. Hermione was not only able to realize a Basilisk fang could destroy a Horcrux, but also the Sword of Gryffindor. She did this by ignoring what was not the actual problem. In a situation where a lot of things were going wrong, this was not easy. This is a skill that can help in things like fitness, sports, school, family life, and social structures. When people get so sucked into their little world, it’s easy to get lost in all of the minor details (in fact, movies and books do this intentionally. If they started at the foundation, there would be no mystery.) Instead they need to zoom out and understand the bigger picture.
When you are in a situation like this, ask yourself, “If I fix this one thing would it fix everything else?” If not, then you need to keep searching. Another way to get it on a smaller stage is to take something random and find a way to make it relate to your category of emphasis. Once you find a similarity, that point is a universal truth. An example would be this mini-editorial where I related Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows pt. 1 with CrossFit coaching. Doing this on a larger scale will give you the ability to identify universal and underlying principles and truths and apply them to a unique solution.
For the 5th year in a row, the Champions Club will be hosting the legendary Easter Beaster team workout. This will be on Saturday April 4 at 11 am (the day before Easter). Please get there at 10:30 am for the Easter Egg hunt. This will be our last Holiday Theme workout of the school year - which means Summer themes coming soon!
If you have not participated in this before, you have to sign up to the comments if you are going to attend. We announce the teams the night before on the website. The pre-workout Easter Egg hunt at 10:30 will determine the reps you do for the exercise and the warmup/workout begin at 11 am. The teams will be competing for the Grand Hare trophy.
Of course, tradition says the Grand Hare will be destroyed via the Tara Taylor Steroid Punch. But that remains to be seen. The workout may be adjusted this year but you can see last year's results here and photo gallery here.
Please post your attendance to comments. The parents workout will be at 12:30 pm that day.
On Friday, we tested out a 1 RM push jerk with the focus on the timing of the movement rather than position. You'll notice in the video below that Erika and Jennifer have good positioning almost all the time anyway. Here's a comparison of their lifts:
What do you think Erika could do to improve her timing?
note: this does have some suggestive language. That's why I chose to wait till it's dark out to release. This is an email that was sent to me at approx. 4:42 pm. I asked the rad Russian if I could post it and he obliged. Enjoy... I guess.
Chris, I'm fucking ecstatic! Do you know why? No. You don't. I'll tell you why. Today I did something I haven't done since October 2013. I cleaned and I jerked. About 40-50 times, I toyed with some heavy-ass weight! Along with concussions(which I do all the time), nothing will throw hair on your chest like a clean and jerk will. CrossFit is great, but Olympic Weightlifting is euphoric! I thought girls were God's greatest creation. I was wrong. Turns out it's barbells... Who knew?
Barbell Induced Orgasm
I did my workout in the globo gym at my school. If there's one thing better than doing clean and jerks by yourself in a large empty gym, it's doing them with an audience! When you do big clean and jerks in your average globo gym, EVERYONE watches you. Random people come up and congratulate you. They like seeing a light guy throw heavy things over his head. All that attention..? I love it! I live to be the center of attention. Just imagine you're looking all yolked from your gnarly clean and jerk pump, all the soft body builders in the weightroom are watching you throw their deadlift over your head, and your confidence is at an all time high. It's like adding inches to your dick. It's phenomenal!
Oh yeah, and this Weightlifting session!? Pain-free, might I add? The culprit for those two hours of euphoric barbell gymnastics, you ask? Unweighting.
Before I even came to your gym for summer 2014, I knew we would disagree on Weightlifting(capital "W" Weightlifting refers to the Olympic lifts). I knew we would quarrel because I watched your athletes on the website working these graceful lifts. "What is he teaching these kids?" I thought, "Unweighting?"
Unweighting sounds like a feminine hygiene product, not badass cockstrong weightlifting!
But boy, oh boy, was I mistaken! I agreed to subscribe to your "unweighting" and "graceful" method for practicing the lifts for that summer and it took me some time to adjust. By the time I left, I had a decent understanding of unweighting, but by no means did I like it or want to understand it further. I could already lift more than anybody in your gym. Why listen? It was "stupid."
Unfortunately, shortly after I left for school I had to take some time off of exercise because of my belly muscle(another email/discussion/musing for another time).
Fast forward to today, about 3 days after leaving your gym for spring break training and I thought, "Hey! The Olympic lifts felt great at Chris' gym, perhaps I shall try them on my own!" And that's just what I did! I did one of the Weightlifting workouts I used to do.
Unweighting is a steroid. It's magic. It's cheating. It literally fixed every flaw I tried to correct back when I exclusively trained the lifts. Today(at a body weight of 174) I clean & jerked 199 for 10 singles, 177 for about 20 singles, and 133 for 15 singles. The numbers are weird because I use kg plates. Those numbers are in pounds though. Keep in mind my best jerk is 300, best clean & jerk is 265 and best snatch is 215. All at a body weight of 168. So the weights I lifted today aren't that impressive, but it's hella heavy for not doing a single Weightlifting workout in 15 months!
When I only thought about unweighting, every movement error seemed to dissipate. The scratches I would regularly get on my shins, collar bone, and the meatsack on my shoulder girdle? Gone! The pain in my hips when the bar would make aggressive contact with my pelvic area? Gone! Pain in my psoas, knee, back, wrist, elbows? Think again!
I can now say I fully subscribe to unweighting. I agree with it. I live it. I breathe it. I am Unweighting!
I'm excited to return to my favorite "sport" and hopefully get back to competing again soon. The problem with training in a globo gym is that everyone's trying to prove they have the biggest dick. You start attempting to lift weights you shouldn't be. Assuming I continue to train smart and not try to prove anything, I will once again go ham(occasionally) on the Oly lifts. And don't worry, I'll still do CrossFit. I'm just going to include a large bias on Weightlifting because it gets me going;) That barbell makes me feel like no other woman has.
I've attached a picture of my lats for no particular reason.
Ed's note: first person to make a meme of this like the bat symbol in the sky gets free chololate milk
Christophus Binnonovich III
Professional Weightlifter and Resident Advisor
"I can teach an idiot to squat in ten minutes"
- Mark Rippetoe
The next mini-editorial Hermione's Law will be published tomorrow at 7 pm. It's kind of one of those Silent Confidence types that I had in the works for awhile but could never figure out exactly what I wanted to say. It dind't turn out as great as I was hoping but I like the title and the overall idea of it.
After that, I have a full-length editorial coming on Monday at 7 pm called What is Strength? As of now, it should also be my last "nerdy/theory" editorial for awhile - they aren't as much fun to write as other stuff. The idea sparked after watching Keyshawn squat in Coach T's 5th hour class on Monday. Later that night I talked to Binno on the phone for almost two hours regarding what I saw. By then it was about 11 pm and I impulsively wrote 5 pages of gold. I just have to clean it up a bit and it will be ready for Monday. The title comes from a one of the staple articles in the CrossFit Journal called What is Fitness? written by Coach Glassman. But here's a scenario to consider:
Let's say my max squat is 135 pounds. Then in after ten minutes of technique work with Mark Rippetoe I was able to squat 200 pounds. Did I get stronger?
This is one I have been wondering about since I first started coaching track. Can/should girls be coached the same way boys are?
Also, should coaches adjust their style based on each individual person, or should the individuals adjust to their coach?
Last night at the 6 pm session, we were lucky enough to have Mrs. Carey, Mr. Carey, and Mr. Wonsil as our only inhabitants. We thought the quality of movement for both the cleans and the push-ups were as good as we've seen. Check it out for yourself.
That also carried over for today where all three dads went full range of motion on their back squats with some impressive weights to go along with it. For Mr. Wonsil and Mr. Carey, it has been a long time coming.
Better yet, their knees were not wobbling. Don't look now, but the parents (especially the dads) are making a push for back-to-back seasonal athlete awards.