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Welcome to the Champions Club Summer 2019

See schedule here. Dancing, anyone?

Entries in rest (5)

Beast Mode + Workout Notes

The workout on Friday was probably the first time in a while that I felt like I really messed up at the sessions; we needed to do the back squats from the racks so we could go heavier. But this really got me thinking a lot about barbell strength and lifting heavy weights. This is a topic that I ponder and has been covered on this site a handful of times - most famously in the editorial What is Strength? from the glory days of 2015. This topic also popped up in my head while watching college football over the weekend and seeing players continuously tap their helmet to ask for a sub, and also at our basketball open gym while noticing how much more our kids complained about getting fouled when they were tired. And also watching Planet Earth II.

I really, really think CrossFit hit the nail on the head with how they approach building strength. If you can do a 400-lb. deadlift then big ups to you. If you can do a 300-lb. deadlift in the middle of a brutal workout with running and pull-ups mixed in, then you are a different breed of beast.

Strength, in real life, is very, very rarely expressed at full rest. The ability to be strong, - in as many varieties as possible, while being tired is something that I need, you need, my grandma needs, baby Josh needs, and Shea Patterson needs. (Chase Winovich seems to have that covered.) A lot of attention was given last year to Saquon Barkley cleaning 400-lbs.

This is absurd. I would also love to see what his capacity would be doing Elizabeth (even if he needed to up the weight to 155 or 185 pounds). I think most coaches and programs will be blending strength with conditioning sometime in the future - probably when the younger coaches move up in the ranks - but until then it's mostly theoretical, though backed with some good anecdotes.

As far as our gym goes, it's tough to judge purely by numbers because of the variety of athletes. Alexis Anthes is a high school sophomore with 3 months of CrossFit experience and an average strength base coming from Coach T. NuNu is an 8th grader who's feet might well have never both been off the ground at the same time before joining in May. Jay is Jay. Mrs. Pip is Mrs. Pip. Saporito, Elizabeth, and Cecilia are all back in college. I would say Katie Shakes has a perfect capacity of being strong while tired, but then I'll watch her do a push-up in Cindy and reconsider.

Mostly, I judge things based on my gut feeling. We had to get our technique on point at the end of the spring/start of Summer, then we needed to build some stamina in the legs and feet. Now I really think it will help us to feel some heavier weight in the workouts. I don't like it. And Murley/Shannon might not come back until we're through this phase, but I think it's a big part of getting a great effect from workouts like Friday or today. I don't really want any 500-lb. deadlifters, or 300-lb. cleaners, but I would like to see what kind of capacity we can develop with heavier weights within the confines of a workout.

What does this look like? Well as luck would have it, our 8:30 am session did a nice job of showing us this morning.

Normally, Mrs. Pip would have been at 65 lbs., Schornack at 25 or 35 lbs., and Mrs. Kroll at 35 lbs.; here they were at 85, 45, and 55 respectively. Not huge increases, not a weight that would be a big sick of injury, just a little extra something that might require them to slow down a bit and really zone in on the lift. I thought the technique was really good considering it was the third round. Yes, it was technically supposed to be a power clean, but as long as the squat position looked good I wasn't going to mention anything; they already had enough on their mind. Either way, all three were able to keep their positions pretty well with a weight heavier than usual.

More to come!

Quote of the Week vol. 181

"Recovery is more than just the absence of work... I tell my athletes you need to disconnect from your Michigan State student and athlete personalities."

- Tim "Red" Wakeman. Elite Leadership lecture, Spartan Strength Clinic

Although I missed a lot of this talk when it was first given, I got to listen to it a second time around on YouTube and of the many good points coach made, this was one that stood out to me the most. The term I used before was "flipping the switch," but I think this makes more sense.

I have the coaching "switch" turned on just about every waking moment of every day. And while I am not actively coaching every minute of the day, having the switch turned on - or being connected, as Coach Red would say - does take its toll. Whether that means studying material, writing on the site, mopping the floor, working out myself, recruiting, or even just talking to someone with a filter of what I would normally say, the switch is always turned on. When I talk to Shannon, I always make it clear to her that all of those examples counts, in my book at least, as logging coaching hours - even though it's not directly coaching a session at the Champions Club.

Listening to this talk by Coach Red helped me realize why I love College Football so much. It is the one thing that makes me "disconnect" from coaching more than anything else. And after a fall Saturday when I start watching Desmond, Kirk, Reece, and Corso at 10 am and fall asleep watching Boise State vs. Hawaii at 2 am, I feel very rejuvenate and ready to connect to coaching again. On a smaller scale, playing Pokemon and watching Harry Potter also give me an hour or two of the switch being shut off. As I progress in my coaching career, I think this is the one thing I'll have to improve on the most.

What are some of the things that completely "disconnect" you from your job?

How to Recover After This Bogus Week

There was nothing good about this week. We know if Linda is in the conversation with the easiest workout in a set, it's a rough one. If you've been consistent with your attendance, you've probably decomposed into a fine paste. Heck, even if you were just at the Filthy Fifty you will be feeling that for a bit. Learning how to bounce back from these rough stretches of workouts is an important part of being an athlete.

Two years ago Murley did a good post about knowing when to just chill and rest or go through some kind of active recovery. Check it out.

Rest vs. Recovery

Sabal ran a 6-minute Mile, Kinda

Since its inception, CrossFit has placed an indredible emphasis on the area of work capacity; which is force x distance / time. How much weight? How far is it travelling? How long did it take?

If a 160-lb Joe Wonsil does Fran with 65 lbs in 4 minutes, and a month later the same 160-lb. Joe Wonsil does a 3:45 Fran, then his capacity to do work improved. Constant pursuit of this will lead to fitness - whether you want to call it "elite" is up to you, but either way it's pretty darn good.

We can use the same lens to view running and endurance training. Let's use the hot doctor, reigning Athlete of the Winter, and Radio Disney Enthusiast Aaron Sabal as an example.

Sabal's pr in the 1 mile run is 6:39, which he knows he got sometime, but can't remember quite when or where. When we did our miletime trial last Summer, he ran a 6:45. On Tuesday, Sabal ran one mile in 6:02 - the only thing is, it was divided into three separate runs: an 800, then two 400s. His first 800 came in 3:08. Then he rested 3 minutes and ran a 1:26 400. Finally, his last 400m was at 1:28 and that came after a 2-minute rest.

So by using built-in rest periods, Sabal was able to cover one mile faster than he possibly could had he gone straight through. And while the workout doesn't perfectly match the demands of an all-out mile, it comes very close because of the amount of rest.

When using intervals to train for long distance race, it is best to use roughly a 1:1 work to rest ratio - meaning you rest exactly as much as you work, or sometimes close to it. The shorter the distance you are training, the more you want to rest - something along the lines of 5 or 10:1 work to rest ratio. You want to be near full recovery.

Sabal ran for a total of 6 minutes, and rested for a total of 5 minutes. His body was in the same state it would be in had he run an all-out mile.

This was today's Sabal, not Tuesday's

To put this in CrossFit terms, at the end of the day Fran is 45 thrusters and 45 pull-ups. Deciding exactly how you do them is going to determine what you get out of the workout. Imagine if you did all 45 thrusters before moving on to all 45 pull-ups. Your arms might get a better "pump," but you would not be nearly as tired as usual because muscle fatigue would cause you to rest more. What about if you did 9-15-21 reps (kinda like the sdhp/power snatch one a few weeks ago)? Again, you would do the same amount of work, only getting a different response. We tried this out today, actually.

Our workout today was also 1 mile of running and 5 minutes of built-in rest, only the order was in reverse. The results were mixed. Pudge, Megan, Shakes, and Erin all went slower. Ricky, somehow, went faster. As for Sabal he went slower as well (although, the later sessions were hampered by the downpour, so the times are skewed a bit). Take a look at the times yourself:

Tuesday / Today

Your purpose for working out determines how you select work-to-rest sets. But in general, the one that allows for the highest work capacity is the best one to train at. It is also why the workouts suck so bad (which is the same message I relayed to Matt Fecht after he was concerned about his conditioning after a simple 20-minute Cindy left him dizzy and dying.) Again, it all depends on what you are going for, but using this system can help give you a desired training stimulus in a fraction of the repetitions or time.

As for the two running ones we did, which one do you prefer? Ascending or descending?

Long Term Training

I've been around this CrossFit thing for quite awhile now and I've learned (mostly the hard way) that we should be training for the long term. Nobody here is competing in the CrossFit Games this year. Nor is anyone training solely for an event in the coming months. We view all of you guys as projects that we can work on for years. Keep that mindset when working out. I talked to AJ and Jason about this very topic when they decided to do the hill workout on their own this Sunday (which is our scheduled rest day for a reason). Their workouts yesterday and today weren't awful, but you can bet they will be feeling it come Friday or Saturday.

Kelly is not everyone's favorite workout. But it's a benchmark workout in CrossFit and it's gonna come up again. And you will do better. Give it time. We use workouts like Kelly to test our progress. If you focus on form and technique for a majority of your workouts, imagine what your benchmark times will be like three or four years from now.