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Congratulations to David Saporito, Athlete of the Summer, 2017

See his feature editorial here.

Entries in brian the trainer (35)

Leader of the New School: Katie Shakes

This has been some time in the making, but Champions Club reigning Athlete of the Summer Katie Shakes is officially on staff with Brian the Trainer at Bishop Foley, serving as the head JV softball coach.

Shakes spent the last four years on the Warren Mott coaching staff, two as a varsity assistant and two as the freshman/JV head coach. Brian must have some serious recruiting power to bring Shakes on board, and she will also be giving Jacob and Brian a run for their money as the Strongest Person on Foley's Campus.

But in all seriousness, I think Bishop Foley got a diamond in the rough with this hire. Shakes has shown in her previous coaching stints the willingness and patience to work on individual skills with her athletes outside of practice hours - which is a missing piece on most coaching staffs. This sounds like a great fit in my opinion, and we'll see for sure when spring comes around.

Congrats Shakes!

Lego Workout Format

Brian the Trainer was kind enough to meet up with me yesterday and helped brainstorm the final details of tomorrow's Lego Theme Workout. Here's what we came up with:

Split group into teams of two.

There are four phases of Lego building:

  • Load-bearing (building a base)
  • Execution (following the directions)
  • Gift-wrapped (passing the set to someone else)
  • Out the door (letting your imagination run wild)

Each team gets four minutes at each phase of the workout to complete as many reps as possible. The more reps a team completes, the more Lego blocks from our stash they accumulate. After the final phase, each team will have 5 minutes to build the highest structure possible out of the Legos they have.

Winning team is solely determined by the highest Lego structure, not the reps completed.

You guys should know by now that any workout Brian is involved in creating is never this simple; there always needs to be rules in place to help Brian gain an advantage. So for this workout, there will be four "cards" available for teams to play on someone. They are:

  • Missing piece
  • Glued together
  • Angry sibling
  • Leg-oh! (don't step on the Lego)

Details will be revealed on the cards handed out during the workout.

Tomorrow. 9 am. This should be a good one!

Beast Mode: College Kids do QGB

The strength-oriented version of Fight Gone Bad came up last week, a classic known as Quarter Gone Bad. 5 rounds, 15 sec. of work, 45 sec. of rest: thrusters, weighted pull-ups, and burpees.

The 4:30 session consisted of Jay, Jackie, and Bubs; three of our college kids trying to get back in the swing of consistent workouts. Much to my delight, their form looked really good. Check it out.

As a bonus, this workout came up last time in 2008. As luck would have it, Brian and I both did it. Check out our retest numbers:

Quote of the Week vol. 192

VJ's second installment of Thinking Out Loud to be posted tonight at 5 pm.

"If they come to you with bad habits, it's out of your control. If they leave you with bad habits, then it's on you."

- Brian the Trainer

You know Brian used to be able to do handstand push-ups?

Mini-Case Study: Mrs. Carey's Half Cycle

There is no athlete in the history of the Champions Club up to this point that has been more consistent than Mrs. Carey. From September 7, 2010 up until today I cannot for the life of me remember Mrs. Carey taking any kind of extended time off (random days missed and vacations not included). She's our model student in every sense of the phrase!

I remember when Brian and I were training together a while back him mentioning something called a "half-cycle" to me. I looked it up on the CrossFit webs shortly after and found it very interesting. In essence, the program is designed to, over time, exceed the demands of the fittest human beings on earth. Not just meet the demands, but obliterate them. Given that, it is recommended that every 8-12 weeks or so (those numbers may be off, but that's what I remember) of non-stop training the athlete takes a "half-cycle" - meaning the next 3-6 workouts get scaled in half so our bodies can catch up with the workload we have previously put ourselves through.

In our gym I notice this with some of our athletes. In the Summer, for instance, someone might take a vacation for a week and come back expecting to bonk on a workout, only to see them crush a pr or lead the pack with fresh legs. I always keep this in mind when I see you guys work out.

The reason I don't do more half cycles is for two reasons. First, the original recommended frequency of the half-cycle is based from someone following the 3-on-1-off schedule. We don't quite do that; we shade to the side of having an extra rest day in the mix. The second reason is attendance, I do like our gym's overall attendance but with things like sports in the mix it's often that by the time an off-season athlete would be ready for  a half-cycle they'd just be moving to in-season training anyway.

So what I try to do is base it off performance. While movement quality usually stays the same, the whiteboard results will fluctuate. When I think a trend might be coming in the wrong direction it probably means a half-cycle is in order. Mrs. Carey hasn't necessarily been trending down (especially considering she saw some pr's on her recent lifts and workouts), but the more I think about how consistent she's been with her training over the past 6 years(!) I would say she's long overdue for a half-cycle. That's what she's been doing this week; half reps today, 1 round yesterday, and 7 minutes on Tuesday. We might continue it a little bit into next week but we'll just improvise as we go. In the past, I've told athletes like Jacob to wait for that day when he feels like he's "ready and rearing to go" then wait two more days. JZ, Jason, Murley, and Shakes have followed similar guidelines.

Remember these days? Don't they look happy?I think most of you guys are cool without taking the half-cycles frequently because of the limited volume we have overall. But things slip by me. Mrs. Carey could probably use one ever year. If you guys ever feel like the workouts are dragging, try to fix the nutrition/sleep first. If that doesn't do anything then come talk to me about a half-cycle.

As Brian said, "one workout will never make an athlete but one workout could potentially break an athlete." 

Lifts 4 Gifts 2016 Recap + Numbers

I was pleasantly surprised with the turnout at Lifts 4 Gifts today. We had 23 in participation, with another few helping on the sidelines (Jacob and Wendy chief among them). In all we raised $325 plus a good stock of toys for the Madison Heights Goodfellows today. So big ups to everyone who donated.

The final workout numbers can be seen here. I'll come back in tomorrow morning (hopefully) with a more organized spreadsheet and the full picture gallery.

I also think a special shoutout is in order for the anonymous lender of 16 45-lb. plates. That made the deadlift ladder possible and is probably something we will repeat next year. And finally, Brian Hassler played a critical part in making this thing go today. He's a great guy and even though his jokes are of the popsicle stick variety, his presence today did more to keep things running smoothly than many of you can imagine.

.. and trim that scraggly beard

Thanks again big guy, and thanks again to everyone in attendance. I'll check back in tomorrow.

Referenced reading: The 11 Things I Learned from Brian the Trainer

Funnier referenced reading: Once Upon A Time Defenseless in Mid-air

Lifts 4 Gifts 2016 Official UPDATED

It's official. After some last-minute coordination, Lifts 4 Gifts is on for the 6th year in a row. Here's the specifics:

Date: Saturday, December 17

Time: 9 am

Location: Champions Club/CrossFit Athletic Group - 32301 Stephenson Hwy. Madison Heights 48071

Come prepared with: $20 suggested donation (more details below), change of shoes (for weather), and general idea of 1 rep max back squat, strict press, and deadlift numbers.

This year we are going to add in a little wrinkle to the mix - keeping in mind Jarrod's original idea of having some kind of time component but altering the setup. I have consulted with The Brian (aka BTT aka BTAD aka Mr. ILiftOnceAYear) and he helped brainstorm a ladder format for the deadlifts. As of now, here is the layout:

  • General Timecap 1 - Back squat 1 RM
  • General Timecap 2 - Press 1 RM
  • Group 1 - Deadlift ladder
  • Group 2 - Deadlift ladder

If we get enough weights and bars, we should be able to set up the deadlifts where athletes will not have to sacrifice their 1 RM attempt in lieu of the workout. Look for another video from myself and Jarrod (and maybe Brian) later this week. Deadlift ladder details will be included.


But let's make it clear, none of that really matters. What does matter is last year we raised over $700 plus tons of additional toys for The Madison Heights Goodfellows and Steve's Club Detroit. The truth is everybody who read this site is looking forward to some kind of warm, cozy setting on Christmas Day with little cousins running around the Aunts and Uncles in La-Z-Boy chairs while Granny is preparing the giant meat mound for everyone to binge on. This is something most of us have seen every single year for our entire lives; it's natural for us to take that for granted.

Unfortunately there are plenty of families in the area who don't have that to look forward to. Their Christmas Day will be just the same as every other one; what's the next meal going to be?

I can't pretend to know that life, but I do know that 700 bucks would go a very long way into making at least one weekend this year much more pleasant. That's why I enjoying seeing CrossFit BMW and the Champions Club get together every Christmas season for this event. It really shows the perspective of both gyms and their support not only for each other lifting that day, but their community. A suggested donation of $20 is what we have done in the past. If you can't swing that then please do what you are comfortable with, or bring a few toys you think a small family might enjoy.

Lastly, in order for the smoothest possible event, I really need everyone from our gym to post their attendance to these comments and Jarrod's people to start a list on his whiteboard or something. This will especially help establish weights for the deadlift ladder.

If there are any questions be sure to drop a line. Otherwise, hope to see you here!

- Chris