Here are OPEX’s initial thoughts on workout 15.2 which is a repeat of 14.2.
Obviously “pacing” during the work times is important, but what you do during the rest time is equally important. Understand from the beginning that when you finish your final rep your breathing rate WILL increase. Don’t fight this! Instead, breath faster, but through your belly. By breathing quicker through your stomach faster, you begin creating the proper CO2/O2 exchange to help you recover faster. Obviously the deeper you go into this workout, you won’t necessarily be reaching “recovery” but this will certainly help you get the most out of your workout.
If you hit a point where you barely finish round (just a few seconds left), James provided 2 unique strategies:
1 – If you have been training with high volume, then get right back into the movements and keep “chipping away.” It will get nasty and grindy, but your prior volume will help you get through.
2 – If you have not been training with high volume, consider resting for a short amount of time. Walk around, recover a bit, then get back into the movements and go as hard as possible.
Get access to the full preliminary thoughts on workout 15.2 developed by OPEX, plus an in-depth analysis on how to tackle this workout, and the rest of the Open Workouts for 2015. The OPEX Open Prep Guide includes each week a workout release preliminary thought document, live webinars with the OPEX Coaches team and James FitzGerald, and a detailed report each week to help you perform the best you can on each workout.
If you’re competing in the OPEN it’s not too late to get the OPEX Prep Guide! Coaches will give their initial thoughts of the workouts followed by a full write up of how to tackle the workout, including warm-up and recovery, followed by a live webinar which is then recorded and released for you to watch at any time!
OPEX is proud to announce it will now be offering Guided Learning for it’s 5 modules. Starting with Assessment on March 11th, join James as he discusses more information to better help you understand the course and materials. If you are already a bundled member this course will be included as part of your total coach package. If you have already purchased the assessment module please contact Meghan Sweet for your discount promo code!
If you’re a member don’t forget to check in and watch the latest OPT-in Episode #35! If you’re not a member yet, don’t worry you can get in on this too, become a member here or call us today to learn more about it!
Quick and Effective Ways to Improve Performance
Mobility is a highly-touted word in the gym nowadays, and there is no doubt that it can be highly beneficial in moving better, getting under the bar quicker, rehabbing injuries and even preventing them from happening again.
Lacrosse ball and foam rolling, band walks and squats, banded hip flexion lunges, lat and chest openers, leg swings—these are just a few of the common exercises seen before and after a workout or training session.
We all know we need to mobilize in order to make these things happen—particularly in light of the 5-week Open, when many athletes are aspiring to perform at their peak.
A proper warm-up, inclusive with plenty of mobility, is a no-brainer way to doing your best when the clock starts.
That being said, mobility is also something that is highly misunderstood.
When an athlete or client comes to me and says they have (or have been told that they have) a ‘mobility issue’ with their shoulders, or their hips, or their lats (etc.) that prevents them from hitting that awesome PR, I often perform an assessment to see if this is the case.
Interestingly though, many times the issue I see is not actually a mobility/flexibility issue at all. Instead, it is a stability issue.
Lack of stability in a joint or body structure often creates tightness in the body around an adjacent joint, thus inflicting the poor range of motion, pain, or again, tightness, often associated with ‘mobility/flexibility’ issues.
Knowing this to be a potential case for that chronic, lingering poor shoulder internal or external rotation, hip flexion, or whatever else is your ‘issue’, it’s important to begin to address your body as a whole in your ‘mobility’ work and warm-ups, rather than just continue to do the same mobility exercises for the same mobility ‘issues’—and yield the same results (i.e. little to no improvement).
In fact, I would argue that if you mobilize a particular area one day, then the next, and then the next—with perhaps, some minor relief, but no resolve, the issue is more than a mobility issue. You can do all the mobility drills in the world, and if it is not clearing up the problem, it may be time to address your stability at an adjacent joint.
For instance, take the active straight leg raise seen here. Lay down on your back, feet together, palms facing the ceiling. From there lift your left leg up under control and slowly as high as you can. What happens? Are you like so many other athletes who just can’t go very high? Conventional wisdom would tell us that your hamstrings are tight, but more often than not, I find that you lack the ability to stabilize your pelvis, so in order to do this, your body tightens something up that is normally not tight, to give stability to a region that lacks it. We call this regional interdependence. If you stabilize your pelvis properly and you see a large improvement in your range of motion, then you can be almost guaranteed that it’s not hamstring length that’s the issue (see video). Anyone can inhibit a muscle and anyone can activate a muscle, but it takes an expert to coordinate muscle inhibition while activation of the proper muscles for stability to occur. For more on this, check out our Coaches Certification Program course on Assessment and Program Design to begin your journey towards mastery of these issues plus much more.
Here are a few key pointers for improving your ‘mobility’ (as well as your stability):
- Stick to Plan A. First things first, a disclaimer for you if you are participating in the Open and wanting to make sure you are nice and mobile: If you have NOT been doing it (i.e. foam rolling before your workout, or doing a certain series of banded walks), then it is NOT the time to do it right before the weekly workout. I repeat: In the heat of that moment, ‘go-day’, that workout, if you haven’t done it, do not do it. All you’re doing is changing the game plan.
- Create a strong foundation. Generally speaking, I like all my athletes to foam roll, but we experiment in the off-season plenty to see how it impacts them. Some of my athletes get weaker, some of my athletes move better so they get stronger, some actually get sweaty and warm. So again, referring back to my previous point, do not change things on game day. With that being said, after foam rolling I like to work on activation. Glute bridges, deadbugs, side plank clamshells, anti-rotation exercises on one leg at a time, PNF exercises like chops and lifts in half kneeling or tall kneeling are all great examples that I can give high level athletes in their warm ups. In the case of my athletes that are trying to rehab old injuries, we give it in their warm up and their cool down, as they likely can’t go “deep” into their CNS with this stuff anyways.
- Get to know your anatomy. Don’t be scared off by some big words with Latin origins. Pick up an anatomy application for your smart phone and start learning. After all, you want to get better so it would be wise if you learned some of the more important muscles that help stabilize the pelvis and shoulders. When you start learning anatomy you start seeing patterns, such as the hip being similar to the shoulder. I can almost always create more shoulder mobility by improving scapular stability just like I can almost always create more hip mobility by creating more pelvic stability. Again, it’s not about necessarily geeking out (though if that’s your thing, I’m right there with you!)but rather just understanding the basics so you can grasp concepts.
- The Turkish Get-up. Do it. It’s one of the BEST exercises for BOTH mobility and stability. If you can complete a Turkish get-up properly, then you are very likely starting to activate what needs to be activated and “mobilizing” what needs to be more mobile. Again though, you have to remember that not everyone can do a proper Turkish get-up so if you can’t, don’t be afraid to just perform the first few steps. I regularly have even my highest-level athletes perform just the first 3 steps of a Turkish get-up. Put the ego aside and get back to the basics. Glute bridges, side plank clamshells, deadbugs, bear crawling with a foam roller on your back (don’t let the foam roller fall), wall slides and their variations are all great ways to activate muscles that tend to get dormant throughout the day. Plus, often times when you activate your glutes you inhibit your hip flexors, so maybe those tight hip flexors are tight because you can’t use your butt. If glute bridges and side plank clamshells are too easy, try putting a band around your knees and keeping tension on the band the entire time. Anyone who says deadbugs, side plank clamshells and glute bridges are easy just isn’t doing them properly, as I’ve had professional athletes do them and they’re crawling away dripping in sweat.
So there you have it, a few pointers, tips and ideas to attack your mobility and stability over the coming weeks of the 2015 Open. For more pointers, tips and ideas check out our Open Prep Guide, where all of the coaches here at OPEX get together to hash out strategy on warm up, nutrition, pacing, and much more for every week’s workout.
A. Deadlift – 3, 2, 1 – build from 70% 1RM to tough single
B. Strict chinups – 4 min AMRAP – only single repetitions from a deadhang – must perform eccentric portion for repetition to count
12 min AMRAP@ Open pace
10 Toes to bar
8 Deadlifts – 115/75#
6 Altern. DB Snatch – 50/35#
20mins Z1 your choice
AD 15 min
Row 10 min
Jog 5 min
Cool down walk 10-15 min
SS + OHS – build to a tough set in 12 min
Freestanding HSPU/L-RC practice
strict HSPU to -6″
30 PC&J – 95#
3 Important Nutritional Points to Support Performance
Nutrition advice and wisdom is a dime a dozen.
That being said, there is no doubt that being aware and informed around what you put (and don’t put) in your body, can impact your performance in both positive and negative ways.
During the Open, in particular, nutrition, sleep, warm-up and recovery can add up week to week in in your favor or not…. In order to be BEST prepared each week consistency in nutrition is one of the most important components your can maintain over the next 4 weeks.
Here are 3 important nutritionally focused tips to keep in mind
- Don’t implement “Tip & Tricks” that are buzzing around social media.The biggest mistake you could make during competition time is implement a new diet, pre-workout, or any supplement. I have seen athletes literally go INTO competition week with the idea they are also going to suddenly clean up their eating, OR, even worse, do what a World Class athlete is doing based on their latest Instagram post. There is ONLY ONE thing I’m going to say about this: If you didn’t pay your dues in the off season with staple nutrition and solid training principles, face the truth. There isn’t a magic food combo that is going to make you a better athlete in 5 weeks. With that said, just keep it simple; think quality food choices and don’t limit calories by cutting out all sugar and dairy suddenly. Playing with your diet is best after a competition phase.
- Stay hydrated. Making sure you are drinking enough water isn’t only important for your health but also your performance. Just like with food, make sure to practice and refine your hydration strategy BEFORE competition so you know what you can tolerate and successfully integrate into your performance. The last thing you want on a 10 min AMRAP is a belly full of liquid. Do not wait until you are thirsty to drink fluids, as this is the body’s final signal that you are already partially dehydrated. At this point, if the exercise intensity is high enough, you cannot drink enough to meet your hydration needs on an intra-cellular level.It’s important to just continue hydration throughout the day. How much is enough? In our CCP course we use a formula that determines optimal water intake for an active individual by at least consuming; 0.5 x Body weight. For higher level of activity and competitions I typically suggest bumping the range up to .7 x body weight; Therefore a 150lbs person would need 105 oz/day, or just under 3 liters/day (150 x.7 = 105).
- Re- Fuel! For any multi-day competition or weekly competition re-fueling is KEY to support recovery and restore muscle glycogen for the next event. If I was going to emphasize one thing about re-fueling it would be to take advantage of the 2 hour window post activity. Your body is most ready to utilize carbohydrate and amino acids soon after a high intensity bout. Because most athletes don’t feel like eating “real food” immediately after, its best to consume easily absorbable foods like protein shakes, baby food, applesauce and yams etc….then 1 hour after have a balanced meals of quality protein and carbohydrates with healthy fats. Again go with what you know your gut agrees with. After the 2 hour window you have already prepared yourself for the next training session or comp.
– Coach Robin Lyons
A. Incline bench press – 10, 10, 10, 10 – rest 2 minutes
B. Bent barbell row – 10, 10, 10, 10 – rest 2 minutes
C1. Powell raise – 3×8/arm – rest 60 seconds
C2. Bottom’s up KB press – 3×6-8/arm – rest 60 seconds
AD 30 seconds @90%
Rest 30 seconds off bike
A. back squat 1, 1, 1; rest as needed
B. emom – PC TnG x 3 moderate weight – 4mins
Row 1min 90% aero rest 1min x 4
AD 1`min increase pace every 20sec last 20sec is almost all out
20mins Z1 AD
What’s The Story You Tell Yourself?
We all have a running narrative about things in our life, but we place ourselves in the middle of the story so we can’t
see it. But what would happen if you took the position of the “curious observer” and became the onlooker of the story?
That simple shift in thinking will provide you with a completely different perspective. From this observational stand point, you get to see your story and make decisions based on a whole picture versus being run by your story.
I just had a client who wasn’t entirely happy with his performance, so I asked him for the full narrative. The story he was telling himself was that he wasn’t happy with his results. When I asked what he made that mean, he said: “If he had results that were poor, it would mean he wasn’t good enough.” Then I asked: “Good enough for what?” His answer: “His family”. He felt like he would have let his family down. So the story he was telling himself was that if he had invested all that time and money into his training, and his results weren’t the best, that his family would be disappointed in him.
I shifted him into the curious observer position, and asked him to look at his story and tell me if it was true. It wasn’t. He had created a story that he was repeating over and over again and, in turn, creating a ton of turmoil in his own mind that was affecting his ability to train and recover.
Now that the opens are under way and week one is behind us it’s an interesting time do a check in and ask: what’s the story you tell yourself?
What do you tell yourself about your performance (the opens and otherwise)?
It’s fascinating… most of the stories we tell ourselves turn out to be fiction.
A. snatch grip DL build to a tough double in 10mins
30, 20, 10 situps
30, 40, 50 DU
5, 3, 1 MU
10mins 85% aero
5 PC and jerk 135/95#
5 box jump 30/24″ sd
10mins Z1 your choice
RTW 45 min – your choice on movements, all non eccentric and EASY pace
SC&J; 3@225#, 2@235#, 2@245#, 1@155#; rest 3 min
FS @20X1; 3,2,1,1,2,3; rest 3-4 min
15 thruster – 135#
12 alt DB snatch – 80#
9 burpee bar MU
The Open: Week One is Done
Week one is in the books.
Over 30 athletes participated in the Open Friday-Monday at OPEX HQ in Scottsdale. Competitors and the coaching team put in extra hours to ensure everyone was at peak performance. How did you prepare? Based on your performance, what strategies or tips helped you?
Check out OPEX Athlete Amanda Goodman putting up a score of 214 reps in 15.1 and 237 RX in 15.1a.
OPEX has created a YouTube channel, specifically for this year’s Open so you can keep up with the action happening here, and perhaps take some strategies from athletes.
In addition, it’s still not too late to take advantage of our 2015 Open Prep Guide. With four more weeks still to go in the Open, ensure you get the most out of your own abilities and efforts with guidance in strategizing each workout, recovery, mobility, nutrition and more.
A. RDL – 12, 12, 12 – rest 2-3 minutes
B. KB front rack WL steps – 3×10/leg – rest 2 minutes
Emom x18 minutes
Min 1 – 30 sec AMRAP – Wall balls – 20/14#
Min 2 – 30 sec AMRAP – SDLHP – 75/45#
Min 3 – 30 sec AMRAP – Box jumps – 20/18″
Min 4 – 30 sec AMRAP – Push press – 75/45#
Min 5 – 30 sec AMRAP – Row calories
Min 6 – Rest
-RDL demo: http://www.catalystathletics.
Row 1min easy
AD 1min easy
Jump rope singles 1min easy
Side plank 1min 30sec R and L
30-40mins flush out
AD 10 min @80%
rest 5 min
Row 2k @80%
rest 5 min
AD 10 min @Z1
Emom 5 min – CGBP w/chains x 1 – building sets
Emom 5 min – DB chest press – Amrap w/80#
2 sets – CTB chin up x amrap set; rest walk 8 min
3 sets @90,95,100%:
15 cal AD
20 S2OH – 115#
15m FR axel bar lunge – 185#
20 bj – 30″
15 cal row
rest walk 1:1
The Warm Up
As we have athletes prep for the CrossFit Open and, in general, athletes prep for a competition (i.e. game, match, round), a couple consistent questions come up in terms of warm up protocols:
How should I prep and warm up?
Does an intense warm up tire you out and potentially reduce overall power output?
Is there such thing as warming up to much?
A key factor most coaches and athletes fail to recognize is the exact requirements of the sport itself dictate the warm up. For example, the actual mechanics and characteristics of a football player running the ball during a game will require a completely different prep, or warm-up, than a runner being controlled and consistent during a long race.
As competition approaches, the warm up becomes a key component to success. All individuals essentially need a slightly different stimulus based upon the sport in which they are competing (Soccer, Triathlete, Bobsledder, CrossFitter, Sprinter, etc.), as well as their essence as an individual.
The warm up must be specific to the work being done and specifically for that individual. For example, a warm up created for an endurance athlete doing aerobic repeats (MAP-Max Aerobic Power) differs greatly from a weightlifter who is maxing snatch and Clean and Jerking (CP – weight training) on a Saturday.
Athletes in various facets utilize different muscle groups, power, and eccentric/concentric loading within the sport they compete. Thus, before assuming that one particular warm up is “perfect” for the individual, look at specifics such as training age, most recent training cycle (how fresh are they, have they been doing intensity, etc.), their gender, experience, the athletes essence (Are they a greyhound, jaguar, buffalo?), and identify specific structural pieces that could potentially tire the athlete during warm up (such as: the snatch if the individual has trouble with barbell work overhead already).
The warm up is individualized and intricate to give the athlete the best possible chance to maximize performance.
Remember, with the Open (if that is your competition), understand how important the warm up is in a highly dynamic and eccentrically loaded sport. FOR SOME, having too much power is actually a hindrance (those that need to be dampened to sustain repetitions). For others, power needs to be at a maximum, with the CNS most fresh to perform optimally.
For athletes that do a majority of their work eccentrically loaded (CrossFitters, soccer, basketball, football players), be specific with the warm up for each individual and look at the protocols that “jazz” them up, prep the CNS (CP work great at a low percentage and volume) and place them in a position to find structure in pacing and adaptation to the fatigue during the competition (i.e. doing reps of the actual piece at low volume but with intent).
For more guidance through the Open (i.e. warm-ups, strategies, recovery, etc.), OPEX will give more than adequate warm up protocols within the Open Prep Guide . Even though the competition is one week in, it’s not too late to take advantage of this invaluable resource wherein our OPEX coaches will bring you a weekly breakdown of the Open workout each week and coach you through a directive plan of attack.
A. Back squat – 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 – rest 2-3 min
B1. SA DB press – 3×6-8/arm – rest 60 sec
B2. SA DB row – 3×6-8/arm – rest 60sec
4 rounds for time
10-20-30yd Shuttle run
12 KBS, Russian – 55/35#
6 Burpee chinups
20mins Z1 your choice
Row 500m @90%
rest walk 1:30
rest 5 min
Row 500m @90%
rest walk 1:30
A. SS gauntlet – every 90 sec – 1 rep, 1 MU before each rep, start at 155#
B. OHS – build to a max
FS – 155#
ONLY those that should are re-doing Open 15.1, rest of group OFF.
RTW 30 min EASY
GDS prep – based on open workout 15.1 (IF you need to redo)
AD 90 sec
rest 60 sec
Row 90 sec
rest 60 sec
AD 90 sec
What does the word ‘athlete’ really mean?
I think far too often, the meaning has become construed over time, particularly as the sport of fitness grows in popularity.
Today, it seems as though practically everyone can be (or thinks they can be) considered an ‘athlete’—wherein, in actuality, they are clients, trainees, students, participants, gym members.
However, there is a huge difference in the average person in the gym versus an athlete, and it is an important difference to recognize.
After all, just because someone once said that intensity can win and yield the best results, does not mean that anyone and everyone needs to train like an athlete in order to be better than they were yesterday.
Training as an athlete DOES change in “kind”, “degree” and “intensity”. Athletes and those who are not are simply not the same, as the goals are different.
And, just because a Performance Based Test in a general personal training manual or initial client assessment is the suggested method for evaluating a person’s baseline, and what his or her goals should be, does not mean this is “the way” to treat our clients (as athletes). What about a person’s energy levels, inflammation, sleep patterns, quality food consumption, water intake, functional core strength and body mechanics? What if we used these factors as our main assessments and benchmarks with the majority of people, rather than a 1 rep-max squat or clean & jerk, a mile run time or max pull-ups?
In terms of coaching, in particular, there has been a tremendous change in the perspectives and verbiage used with these ‘athletes’ (who in actuality, are clients, students, etc.). From programming aimed at lifting heavy loads intended for athletes, to expected skill and intensity levels that anyone ‘should’ be able to achieve, to actually calling your clients ‘athletes’, when they are actually just business owners, soccer moms, college students—and everything in between, many coaches have seemed to forgotten the majority whom they are dealing with: normal people.
Walk into most gyms nowadays, and you’ll come across coaches and trainers coaching up their members as if they were athletes. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to want to be an athlete, or to be inspired by some of the amazing athletes out there; but it is important that both coaches and clients recognize the difference in being an athlete and being a participant. Awareness of this difference, and identification of wherein you fall in that spectrum can, in short, save lost time, injury and disappointment that comes with athletic endeavors.
If you choose to BE and LIVE like an athlete, there are sacrifices that must be made.
There is DEFINITELY huge fulfillment in being an athlete (I know), but the point is to align students with the reality of what is aligned and required to be and live like an athlete.
Something that not many people consider is the actual unhealthiness it takes to be ‘an athlete.’
Speaking from personal experience on that end of the spectrum, being a serious athlete or competitor is one of the sickest places a person can be, physically speaking. Athletes are often on the verge of sickness, even death, due to the nature of pushing the body to unhealthy levels, with side-effects of intense training and competition including: adrenal fatigue, extreme stress, caloric overload in order to fuel energy stores and a disconnect with one’s body in order to achieve goals and new records (i.e. ‘Forget those knees that are going to be shot in 20 years; what matters is achieving that PR now!’).
An athlete, I’d argue, cannot actually reach their highest potential if they ARE thinking about health. Most people forget that it is NOT about how healthy one is becoming or being in elite competition, it’s about winning, unleashing, and reaching highest potential. That is FAR from balance in health; that is, the OTHER side of the spectrum where vibrance and health lives.
On the other end of the spectrum, clients, participants, trainees, have it better off than some may believe: more connected to health, vibrancy, energy, balance.
Non-athletes are not expected to push their bodies to the point of ‘no return’ and to, instead, listen to their bodies, give them the ‘just right’ challenge and find life outside the gym as well. In fact, the gym is meant to ultimately enhance their lives outside the gym. Overall, there is a healthier understanding and practice of fitness as a medium for well being (rather than pushing one’s self to the limit).
These ‘non-athletes’ are the majority of the clients that the great majority of coaches work with, in gyms worldwide, on a daily basis.
While there most certainly are hosts of ‘die-hards’ (those clients and participants who love to train and train hard), it is important for both coaches and trainees to realize the distinct differences in being (and training like) an athlete, and being (and training like) a client. People need to wake up and really take a serious look at their training and lifestyle prescriptions.
And the bottom line? It’s okay to not be an athlete. That is often not the message that is spread in an intense training environment, and yet, it is a message that needs to be heard.
The more people can come to terms with the acceptance of not having to be, nor train like an athlete, they, in turn, are able to enjoy all other aspects of fitness. They can feel good, and still find joy and triumph in persevering in the gym. Ultimately, at the end of the day, it all comes down to the trainee, his or her own values. I am not making a decision on “who’s an athlete or not”, nor am I making a decision on what’s required to be an athlete.
As a coach for thousands of people over the years, all I ask is that my clients evaluate their personal goals, and ask themselves if they genuinely show signs that they are indeed an athlete—training mindsets, abilities, methodologies, time sacrifice, even physical sacrifice.
Most, however are just playing the game (or wanting to play the game); but really are not part of it…and that’s okay!!!!
I have much more to say and elaborate on this topic, and I am excited to announce that I will be at Paleo f(x) in Austin, Texas this spring, the weekend of April 24th-26th, delivering this message. I have case studies I will present, a discussion on exercise prescription and client relations, a guided exploration of figuring out where it is you fall (athlete vs. non-athlete), as well as answer any questions from you all.
For more on James Fitzgerald check out Episode 32 from Strength Matters, find our more about the Crossfit Games Champion and his ideas for training for the games!
Row 30 sec @moderate effort
rest walk 30 sec
A. PS cluster; 1.1 x 3; rest 20 sec, rest 2-3 min – PERFECT mechanics, FAST and snappy feel
B. BS – build to something tough in 5 sets
FT @open pace:
10 DL – 135#
10 burpee MU
10 DL – 145#
8 burpee MU
10 DL – 155#
6 burpee MU
10 DL – 165#
4 burpee MU
10 DL – 175#
2 burpee MU