Apr
04
2014

Recap: 2014 CrossFit Games Open

bp

With the 2014 CrossFit Games Open in the rearview mirror, it is a good time to reflect on what just went down. First of all, what I saw from our members at TwinTown CrossFit was nothing short of spectacular. You had the guts to accept a tough challenge, you met the challenge head-on, and you rose to the occasion. You should be proud of yourselves for this.

This year’s Open was brutal. Each week you were asked to complete physical tasks that would make most women and men cower. You could have sat on the sideline and made excuses for why you shouldn’t compete, but instead you decided to get in the game and give it a shot. You harnessed whatever fear and apprehension you may have had, and channelled it into a commendable performance. It was inspiring to watch you attack each workout.

If the Open exposed weaknesses in your game, start improving today. You have an entire year to turn these weaknesses into strengths. A word of caution: it is easy to quickly forget about, or ignore, the weaknesses exposed in the Open and begin next year’s Open in the same place you are right now. The 2013 Open exposed my horrible shoulder mobility, and after the 13.5 I was determined to correct the problem. But rather than put in the time to achieve better range of motion in my shoulders, I made excuses and did not do the necessary work. Due to my laziness, the overhead squats in 14.2 kicked my ass and put me in my place. My performance was embarrassing and, frankly, inexcusable. Don’t let this happen to you, it is demoralizing.

For the majority of us the CrossFit Games Open is not about securing endorsement money, or a spot at regionals; it is about seeking to better ourselves through a physically and psychologically taxing event—did anyone else have dreams about the workouts? No matter where you finished on the leaderboard, or how many of your goals you achieved, you are all better for having gone through the experience. Now, capitalize on the momentum you have created and own your fitness in 2014. Don’t go it alone, like I tried to do, only to come up short in next year’s Open. This will lead to easily preventable frustration and disappointment. Your coaches are here to help you if you need guidance, so hit us up and we will work with you on your weaknesses. The 2015 CrossFit Games Open will be here before you know it; make sure your game is in top form before then.

What weaknesses did the 2014 Open expose in your game?

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    Apr
    03
    2014

    TwinTown CrossFit Sport/Fitness

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    Beginning next week, we will be adding an additional level of programming to our workouts; you will see this new programming track listed as “TwinTown CrossFit Sport” on Beyond The Whiteboard (the track that we have been using will now be labeled as “TwinTown CrossFit Fitness”). The Sport track will allow us to give a further push to the athletes that can use it, without clogging up the schedule with a separate class. The two workouts will also be formatted similarly, so everyone will be on the same schedule throughout the hour. This Sport track will not be available everyday, as the programming for it will be based off of the Fitness track, and on some days a further progression will not be needed.

    “But Peter, how do I know which track is right for me?!” Oh, well it’s funny you should ask! Here are a couple of brief points that will help you make that decision:

    Could you achieve a competitive score on the Fitness workout? The Fitness WOD is foundational to the Sport, so unless you know that you would crush the former without issue, adding further challenge isn’t going to be beneficial.

    If there are weights involved in the workout, you should be able to lift twice the weight called for, as a one rep max. Generally, the Sport track will be slightly heavier than the Fitness – you’ve been warned!

    There is no scaling for the Sport track. Scaling back an intentionally advanced workout just don’t make no sense!

    Are the movements in the workout appropriate for you to be doing in a timed manner? Just because you can do one or two of something when you’re fresh doesn’t mean that it’s time to start throwing quantity and intensity into the mix.

    Is choosing the more advanced workout furthering your fitness? This is what’s really most important. I don’t care who you are or what your goals are; if using the Sport track is either increasing your risk of injury, or is leaving you standing around pissed off, you need not be doin’ it.

    You can always get in touch with your coach if you’re not sure which track is best for you, but the decision about which workout to choose will ultimately be up to you. Make sure you are choosing the appropriate workout for where you are at!

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      Apr
      02
      2014

      Phyllip Bids Us Farewell

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      I just did my last CrossFit workout at TwinTown CrossFit.

      It’s funny, but even after this much time, I still remember the first one I did here. It was a complex of “Row 1000 m, 21 deadlifts, row 800 m, 15 deadlifts, row 400 m, 9 deadlifts.” Rx for the deadlifts was 225 pounds. I did them at 75 pounds. Helping start a box from the ground up was hard. I still remember all the workouts I did at night by myself, just me and Teddy. But just like you learn in geology class, time and patience can change anything, and I’ve been proud to watch TTCF grow up over these past years.

      It’s four years later now, and what has changed? A lot. I’m now just one year away from finishing a doctoral program. I’m getting married in July to a fantastic young woman from Texas. And I’ve never been more in shape in my life even on my worst days.

      TwinTown CrossFit means a lot to me because it began a transformation within me, one that involved starting down the path of learning some of life’s most important lessons. I say “starting” because you always have another level to go to, and sometimes you even take a step or two back. These are lessons such as how to know your limits, how to trust your trainer and fellow athletes, where confidence and love and trust really come from, how to respect people who are different than you, how to face your fears, and what believing in yourself really means.

      It is my parting wish that all of the athletes at TTCF have the opportunity to begin learning these lessons and about how to apply them in their daily lives.

      However, if you miss the greatest TwinTown CrossFit lesson of all, then you have really not been paying attention in the gym.

      The greatest lesson that you can learn at TTCF is that we are all the same.

      TwinTown CrossFit teaches us this not because we have the same level of ability, but because we are all performing at the same level of effort. After watching countless hours of athletes of all kinds giving their best into the workouts they do, after cheering them and pushing them on towards the finish line, and after seeing the same grit and determination from everyone who comes in to do a workout, I have observed this to be the case. Whether you come in on your first day or your last, whether your are doing 20 rounds on Cindy or 8, or whether you can lift 175 pounds on a deadlift or 450, you and all the other athletes in the gym share one thing in common. You are all performing at the highest level that you possibly can that day. You are all performing to the best of your abilities. You are all champions because you conquered your fears and jumped into the CrossFit ring. You deserve the congratulations and encouragement you get from other athletes and coaches because you just performed at the highest level of your game right now. You earned that through hard work, and you should be proud of yourself. That being said, there’s always a new level to reach for and work towards, and once again, you and everyone else in the gym have this in common. We share remote similarities than differences here, this much is always true. Apply that to other areas of your life, and you will see how similar all of us on this planet really are.

      Back in high school, I was probably the least likely to be called “athlete.” I’m glad to say that I can share the title “athlete” with everyone at TTCF.

      My thanks go out to Teddy for making TwinTown CrossFit happen and giving it the vision any other affiliate would be jealous of, all the coaches for continuously helping all of us to advance, and all the athletes who work so hard every day to make TTCF the enjoyable place that it is and for your support and friendship even in some of the most difficult moments of these past few years. It has been hard to give up time in the gym to pursue my career as an audiologist, but being able to come to TTCF has been a big help, and all of you were a big part of that. I will carry you all in my heart as I start this new journey in my life.

      With nothing but love,
      Phyllip Johnson

        Posted In motivation

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        Apr
        01
        2014

        Messing Around

        I’m not cut out for school. Something about my learning style is a very poor match for structured, formal pedagogy. When it comes to books, or lectures or any of the formal means of learning, I’m a total dud. In the classroom I feel like I’m on a long death march where intellectual stimulation will appear like a mirage in the desert, and then, poof, vanish.

        Over the years I realized that I learn best by messing around. I just have to get my hands dirty, tinkering, manipulating, and kneading over a problem. When I’m really engaged in a problem I lose time, for hours, and sometimes days on end. Every single significant break-through I’ve made in my intellectual and athletic life has been an outcome of exploring and messing around on my own.

        This is not to suggest that class time serves no value. I have been blessed with access to some of the world’s best teachers. But your teacher isn’t there to give you all the answers. The teacher is there to frame the problem in a way that fascinates you and makes you want to explore on your own. As a narrow example I tell other coaches not to bother going to weightlifting seminars. You’ll learn more about weightlifting by chasing a body weight snatch on your own time than you ever will by sitting on a folding chair listening to someone talk at you for a weekend.

        In the context of fitness, it’s not so easy to burrow into a problem unless you have access to a gym. That’s why we are changing our open gym this week. Rather than two hours of open gym per week, we are going to keep our doors open on Wednesdays from noon to 4:30PM and on Fridays from noon to 3:30PM.

        I hope you will use this time to mess around, make friends, conquer your weaknesses, and above all, have fun.

         

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          Mar
          31
          2014

          Ankle Mobility Pt.1: Limited Dorsiflexion

          Blog post foot

          Your bad ankles are ruining your squat.  Limited dorsiflexion may impact a wide array of movements.  Worth noting is the severalstudies that show its’ impact upon the  squat, pistol, and landing from a jump (think double under and midline position here).  When beginning to enhance and make gains in ankle mobility follow this three step process:

          1) Myofascial release for the calf, ankle, and plantar fascia
          2) Stretching of the calf’s major muscles and movers
          3) Ankle mobility drills

          This process is effective because it loosens the soft tissue before working on the specific joint.

          Here are a couple examples of work you can insert into the aforementioned process.

          Calf Myofascial Release.  You can replace the lacrosse ball and rack plate with a barbell with 5-pound plates on both sides or a foam roller if you feel this is not as stable as you would like.

          Plantar Fasciia and foot release.  Don’t take this one for granted.  This is absolutely essential to loosen the soft tissue.

          Ankle release.  I feel one can be more effective if the ball is on the floor and in place of pushing the ball into the ankle, you push your ankle into the ball.

          Voddoo floss release.  A nice little video showing how to use the voddoo floss band in order to assist the tibia into internal rotation.

          Kelly Starrett Calf work.

          Banded calf stretch.  For all those on my roster you know this is one of my favorites to give out after the FMS.  This stretch is incredibly effective.  I recommend sitting up against a wall, butt all the way to wall (if you have tight hamstrings you will feel the stretch surge up).  You can replace the band with a towel, a rope, or even a shoelace at home.

          In line lunge stretch.  I recommend double wrapping the band around that pole in the middle of the gym for this one.  I also am partial to using a 15-25-pound plate plate under the ball of my front foot in order to increase the stretch in the Achilles.

          Ankle break- Notice he is not simply standing up.  His knees come forward (break) in order to force one into dorsiflexion.

          A nice achilles mobilizer.  Starting at 1:40.

            Posted In blog, crossfit, mobility

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            Mar
            28
            2014

            14.5 is a Monster

            bp

            This year’s CrossFit Open ends with a beast of a workout: 21-18-15-12-9-6-3 reps of thrusters + bar-facing burpees, for time. Ready, set, dry heave.

            This workout will take some time to complete—I figure if Annie Thorisdottir completed it in 11:05, I might be able to finish in about a week. Since classes are only an hour long, and this workout necessitates heats, we have to cap each heat at 20 minutes. I’m terrible at math, but this means we will have somewhere around 15 minutes for the warmup. This is not to say you need more than 20 minutes to complete 14.5, or that a 15 minute warmup is insufficient, but if you are registered for the Open, and you’d like more time to warmup and you don’t want to be pressured by the time cap, then come to the Uptown gym at 1:30 on Sunday. We will be there to score for you, and the Sunday heats will have no time cap.

            Whether you tackle 14.5 today or on Sunday, give it hell!

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              Mar
              27
              2014

              How heavy should I go?

              Prilepins-Chart

              A.S. Prilepin was a Soviet sports scientist who researched the training programs of over a thousand weightlifters. The end result of his research is “Prilepin’s Table” which establishes optimal rep ranges for given percentages of one-rep max. Prilepin’s Table has found its way into the playbooks of coaching luminaries, including Louie Simmons of Westside Barbell and Rudy Nielsen of Outlaw.

              Prilepin was primarily interested in how athletes get stronger. If your main goal is to get swole for the beach, Prilepin can’t help you there, bruh. Bodybuilders want hypertrophy, which is generally achieved with high reps of lightish weights. Athletes want strength which is achieved with low reps and heavy weights. If strength is your goal, Prilepin’s table will help you dial it in.

              So let’s look at a specific example of how to compute your ideal loading based on a prescribed rep scheme.

              Say the WOD is a 5-5-5-5-5 dead lift. In other words, 5 sets of 5 reps for a total of 25 reps. That set and rep scheme falls squarely into the first row of Prilepin’s table, so you would want to work somewhere between 55% and 65% of your 1 rep max.

              My 1-rep max dead lift is 406 so I would do this workout at 65% of 406 which is roughly 265 pounds.

              Pretty simple right? The devil is in the details. Here are some things I’ve learned about how to apply Prilepin’s Table.

              Try to level-load. Too often people will do workouts that look like this: 135-155-185-205-265. That’s basically four warm up sets and one work set for an average per-set volume of 189. Most importantly all but one of the sets falls outside of the optimal range defined by Prilepin. Unfortunately under-training won’t make you stronger. Now what if you were to level-load five sets across at 265? Your volume per set would be 1,325 pounds which is a completely different (better) workout.

              Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. A couple years ago I dead lifted 5×5 at 345. That workout lit me up and I didn’t dead lift again for six months. In essence I traded one day of personal heroics for six months of productive training. Unfortunately over-training won’t make you stronger.  If I had stuck to Prilepin’s prescription I would have accumulated literally tons of volume in that lost training time. Big bummer.

              Add a little weight every week. This doesn’t work in a truly randomized programming environment but if you are in a gym with sane progressions, the same workout should come up over and over. Use Prilepin’s Table to establish your week 1 lifts and then add 5 or 10 pounds every week. With a 5 pound increase, at the end of a five week cycle, you would be lifting 100 pounds more per set over your week 1 lifts. That’s a very safe way to get strong; all that’s required is a little patience.

              So what if you have no idea what your max lifts are? Unfortunately Prilepin’s Table is really only useful if you know your maxes. That’s one reason that Beyond the Whiteboard is so important to your fitness goals. Don’t waste time in the gym by guessing at your numbers. Unless you know your numbers you will always be under training or over training. 

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                Mar
                26
                2014

                “A Trip Impossible Without CrossFit”

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                There is nothing more fulfilling in this line of work than hearing about the real-world changes that people’s improved fitness are making on their lives. That said, you can imagine how pumped I was to get this email from Matt a couple weeks back, detailing a recent hiking trip he had embarked on with his son. Matt’s strides since starting at TTCF, his attention to detail in class, and his pure determination to succeed make him a model athlete. If you know Matt, you probably already know this about him. If you’ve never met, please read his story to see what he’s all about:

                 

                A few weeks ago I went to Hawaii with my 10-year-old son Owen.  One of the highlights of the trip for us was getting a remote backcountry wilderness cabin in the crater of Haleakala National Park.  To reach this cabin we had to start at approximately 10K-feet of elevation and hike about 6 miles down the Sliding Sands Trail.  The cabin itself is located at about 7500 feet altitude.  We spent two nights there, and had to pack in all food and supplies.  My pack weighed about 50 pounds and Owen’s weighed about 20 pounds.

                 

                The hike down was relatively uneventful, with nice weather, gentle winds, etc.  The hike back out, however was totally different.  Once we left the crater floor, we hiked directly into a cloud.  Visibility was cut down to a few feet, we had driving rain the whole time, and a 40mph headwind.  Temperature was also down to 45 degrees.
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                This hike out was one of the most strenuous experiences of my life, both physically and mentally.  I had to carry Owen’s pack on my front in addition to my own for much of the climb.  The trail itself consisted primarily of wet sand and rocks.  And of course, the higher we climbed, the thinner the air became.  So that describes the physical hardships.  But I also had to be mentally strong for Owen.  He was really struggling, and I had to keep his spirits up.  Inside I was ready to break, but outside I had to keep it together.
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                I’m telling you all this because I am convinced that I would not have been able to do this hike out had I not been doing CrossFit with you guys for the past year.  Just knowing how to use my legs properly allowed me to climb that trail in a way that kept my legs from dying.  The increased endurance I’ve built up allowed me to keep going when the air got thin.  My increased core strength allowed me to do this while carrying 70-plus pounds worth of pack.  Mentally, the WODs I’ve been through have rewired my brain into realizing that something that sounds flat-out impossible really isn’t, especially if you break it down into small steps.  I would look up the trail into the mist and just tell myself, “get to that next ledge, get to that next turn.”  And I would say those to Owen as well, helping him break down this impossible climb into possible segments.

                This experience has been a transformative one for my son and for our relationship.  He doesn’t realize it, but he’s changed.  He used to whine about carrying his gear when he would have to go to ski practice or races.  Now, he volunteers to carry his own gear and his sister’s.  He gladly helps his mom with groceries or laundry, without thinking about it.  Is he physically stronger than before?  Maybe slightly.  Is he mentally stronger than before? Exponentially, and it’s all due to how my time at TwinTown CrossFit has changed me.
                  Posted In blog, members

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                  Mar
                  25
                  2014

                  Our New Head Coach

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                  I am delighted to announce that Peter Bekke will be taking the reins as Head Coach at TwinTown CrossFit.

                  Over the years, I have interacted with many, many coaches…

                  Peter is different.

                  Peter personifies our motto, “be humble, have hustle.” I have never known a coach to take such sincere joy in his athletes’ successes or to work so tirelessly on their behalf. I can think of no better person to entrust this important role.

                  As Head Coach Peter will be doing all of the programming and is directly responsible for gym-wide athletic and fitness outcomes.

                  Please join me in congratulating Peter as he ushers in a new era of athletic excellence at TwinTown CrossFit.



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                    Mar
                    24
                    2014

                    Your Health Is Not Linear

                    Adam OHS

                    There is a mystical element starting with walking through the doors of our gym.  You’ve completed an intro, done the FMS, 6 weeks of foundations, and you’re getting noticeably stronger by the day.  The months go by and you can still add 5 pounds to the bar every week or maybe even every day.  It’s magical.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve had the worst day at work or a fight with your spouse or a close friend.  You walk through those doors and everything changes.  In time however, things will change.  The day will come when you will no longer be able to add weight to the bar.  Your times on workouts may improve only sparsely on a sporadic basis.  We in the athletic world call this drag “plateauing.”  The principle of plateauing was originally formulated in order to explain the time course of drug action (in your system).  The theory has been widely accepted by the scientific and mathematical community and has applicability in physiology and system dynamics as well as an array of other actions.

                    Here are three things you HAVE to do in life:

                    1.Pay your taxes

                    2. Become one of the dearly departed

                    3. If you participate in athletics: Plateau

                    Assuming the aforementioned is true, a couple of unfortunate things tend to occur right alongside the plateau.  Frustration, frustration, more frustration, and possibly even the desire to quit.  The old-timers (people who’ve been around a couple years), people who’ve played a sport through a higher level, and maybe a person who has been very ill at some point in their life understand something absolutely essential to the athletic mind: they realize their health is NOT LINEAR.

                    Think about the person undergoing chemotherapy.  Does this person feel a little better every single day?  Maybe for a while, but then the next round of chemo begins.  Think about the addict.  A person who kicks a habit with drugs or alcohol may find great success immediately, but most are in and out of the system or rehab 10-15 times before things go smoothly.  Athletics is the same way.  There is no such thing as a 45degree angled line straight to the pot of gold on top when it comes to your body.  Begin to look at the bigger picture when you plateau.  Eventually there will come a time when again significant improvements will be made.   A true champion never lets that plateau bring them down, whether it be your health in times of illness, or athletics.

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