opex, opex fitness, opex red, crossfit regionalsCongratulations to all of our athletes that competed over the weekend in the South Super Regional and Atlantic Regional! Look out for upcoming weekend reviews, interviews and more!

Also, Strength Matters and James Fitzgerald discuss the fitness training for a female client. The entire webinar can be found here.

May 24, 2015

opex, opex fitness, formerly opt, program design, ccp, coaching certificate program, coaching education, james fitzgerald

Where Are You Going As a Business

As coaches, we are often aware of the fact that we must attune to what it is our clients want out of their training—their goals, the reason they are training, their priorities, their current abilities…ultimately, their why. 

Or, at the very least, we seek to understand these things.

However, something I find time and time again with coaches I train, or consult, is that they themselves struggle with defining these things for themselves:

What their goals and priorities are as a coach and business?

Who their ideal and primary audience (client) is—the types of clients they connect best with and work with?

The reason behind their work, day in and day out? 

As business owners, coaches, it’s important that you, too, realize your businesses’ (as well as your personal) purpose, goals, and priorities, in order to become a better coach, a better business, and truly make the impact you were meant to (and want to) make.

While it’s important to recognize that your purpose (your why), your goals and your priorities may certainly shift, or evolve, as they often do with time—What’s most pertinent is to take the time to deeply reflect and think about where you are today, in the present moment, figure out your why, and then align your action steps with that why today.

I’ll use OPEX as an example.

As OPEX has evolved as a business—and global movement—over the past decade since I first founded it, so has my why. 

I always knew I wanted to help coaches become better coaches, as well as train and educate clients how to get the most out of their personal fitness journeys—but what that specifically looked like?…I kept my eyes on those two missions, and today, OPEX’s priorities are clearly defined:

1. To educate and empower coaches to become better and professional coaches; and,

2. Offer and deliver an unparalleled coaching and training experience for those individuals who take their fitness journeys seriously

We do so here at OPEX through two pointed offerings:

1. The CCP—Coaches Certificate Program; and,

2. Remote Coaching

These two things are the meat and potatoes of the OPEX business—our core—and knowing this, allows all action steps, time commitments, business decisions and more to align with these two priorities.

Know where you sit as a coach and business; where you are going; what your strengths (and weaknesses) are; and what your vision is, then…stay honest and true to who you are and what it is you are doing.

May 23, 2015

opex, opex fitness, meal prep, nutrition, meal planning, formerly opt, exclusive coaching

Paleo Nutrition and Performance Training

Do the two go hand in hand?

Yes and no.

First things first, it’s important to define what exactly ‘Paleo’ means when you ask the question, because depending on who you talk to, you may get conflicting points of view.

Paleo can easily seem like it has about 15 different versions.

There are varied opinions depending on whom you ask.

Whatever the ‘nitty gritty’ differences are  in each, there is no getting around the primary principal of Paleolithic eating: Eat real food.

According to Dr. Loren Cordain, one of the world’s leading experts on Paleo, “The Paleo Diet is based upon eating wholesome, contemporary foods from the food groups our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have thrived on during the Paleolithic era, the time period from about 2.6 million years ago to the beginning of the agricultural revolution, about 10,000 years ago.”

No ‘ifs, ands or buts’ about it, ‘Paleo eating’ is essentially all about sticking as close as possible to foods with one ingredient (itself). In order to do so: Shop the perimeter of the grocery store, avoid anything with ingredients you can’t pronounce, and opt for quality food sources in their most original form.

These foods include: fresh meats, preferably grass-produced or free-ranging beef, pork, lamb, poultry, and game meat, fish, seafood, fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and healthful oils including olive, coconut, avocado, macadamia, walnut and flaxseed.

Dairy products, cereal grains, legumes, refined sugars and processed foods, however, were not part of our ancestral menu.

And while you avoid some foods, the Paleo diet is not about eliminating entire food groups. You need a balance of foods represented from all major food groups: Meat and protein, essential fats, and carbs included.

Yes. Carbs.

In terms of Paleo and performance, the most common ‘problems’ you see people with Paleo, or rather, their misconceptions of Paleo nutrition, is avoiding carbs, or eating very low carbs.

While fats and proteins are highly touted on the ‘caveman diet’; If you want to enhance your performance and train like an athlete, carbs are a necessary part of that equation.

That being said, is it really possible (or even necessary) for an athlete to adhere to a Paleolithic-based diet?

Before answering that question, we must define what type of fitness and athlete we are talking about.

For the purposes of this article, we are specifically talking about a Paleo diet’s role in a glycogen-depleting sport like CrossFit, or these outlets: endurance events and Iron Man competition.

There are two avatars to this equation:

·      The everyday gym goer and/or fitness enthusiast (a client or “student” of fitness); and,

·      The athlete

For those who enjoy training and working towards improving themselves daily in the gym, but are not necessarily on the road to the Games, a Paleolithic-based diet, centered around real whole foods can absolutely fit into the equation.

And while perfection is not the expectation here, the majority of this person’s intake should consist of real protein, lots of veggies (particularly greens), healthy fats, and a moderate amount of starch (such as starchy vegetables, potatoes, sweet potatoes).

Depending on their tolerance as well, some clients may very well benefit from properly prepared foods, such as rice and oats, particularly surrounding their training goals.

As for protein shakes? They are not necessary, particularly if a person is allergic to dairy (whey or casein), or using them as a meal replacement support. However, if it is preferred, in general, a quality protein powder (such as that from Revive foods) paired with some carbs post-workout, won’t hurt someone to replenish energy stores.

On the other hand, for athletes, [true performance athletes, wherein competition (or working towards competition) is their goal], a Paleolithic diet is not the end all, be all to support a person’s nutrition. However, if they are eating a substantial amount of carbohydrates to support recovery and training, the Paleo diet is also not off the table.

More often than not though, an intake of some non-Paleo sources of fuel (think Gatorade powder post-workout to immediately replace sugar stores lost and regulate cortisol levels) is going to need to fit into the equation. The same can be said about protein powders. There is a time and a place for these, and around training (particularly if a person is performing more than one session, or in the gym for hours at a time), a protein powder most certainly is not going to do harm for that individual.

Here is an example of what a competitor’s intake may look like, with the base being a Paleolithic diet:

Training Day

Before Training: Greens First, Max Fiber, Fish Oil, Vitamin D, Probiotic, 2 cups Black coffee

Breakfast: (Post Workout Meal) 2 cups Berries, ½ Avocado, 5 Wellshire Pork Sausage Patties, 2 Eggs

Pre-Workout: Black coffee, B-Complex

During Training: 40 g. Carbs (Gatorade)

PWO: Revive protein powder (80 g Carbs, 40 g Protein), 5 g Creatine

4 pm Snack: ½ lb Salami, 1 Cup Green Beans, Avocado Chips

7 pm Dinner- ½ c. Guacamole with celery sticks, 4 Small Bone-in Chicken Thighs, 1 Large Sweet potato roasted in coconut oil, 2 cups Roasted Broccoli in Olive Oil

Before Bed: 3 g Fish Oil, Probitoics, ZMA


Running/Endurance & Gym Training Day

Before Training: Greens First, Max Fiber, Fish Oil, Vitamin D, Probiotic, Adrenal Support, 20 oz. Black Coffee

Breakfast: (Post Running Meal) 1 Hot Pork Sausage, 1 Orange, ½ cup Guacamole, 3 Eggs

During Training: AMARA Beverage (8 g carbs), 5 g Creatine, Green Energy Drink

PWO: Revive protein powder (80 g Carbs, 40 g Protein), 5 g Creatine

3:45 pm Meal: 8 oz. Chicken Thighs, 2 Cups cooked asparagus, tomatoes & mushroom salad with olive oil, 1 cup Tumeric  spiced potatoes

7 pm Dinner- 1 c. Papaya salad, 1 c .Beef salad, 1 c. Beef Curry, 1 c. Sticky rice, 1 c. Lamb Curry (Thai food out)

Before Bed: 3 g Fish Oil, Probitoics, ZMA


Rest Day

Before Breakfast: Greens First, Max Fiber, Fish Oil, Vitamin D, Probiotic, B-Complex, 2 cups Black coffee

Breakfast: (Post Workout Meal) 1.5 cups Berries, ½ Avocado, 1 Wellshire Turkey Sausage Patty, 2 Eggs, 6 oz. Ground Beef

Lunch: 6-8 oz Ground beef, 2 cups Roasted Broccoli in olive oil, ½ c. Macadamia nuts

3 pm Snack: 5 oz. Steak, ½ cup Guacamole

7 pm Dinner- 4 Celery Stalks, 1 Cup Guacamole, 14 oz. Flank Steak, 1.5 Large Sweet potato roasted in coconut oil, 2 .5cups Roasted Broccoli in Olive Oil

Before Bed: 3 g Fish Oil, Probitoics, ZMA


As you can see, the bulk of this athlete’s nutrients come from real, whole foods, with the additions of supplemental support and sports-performance nutrition to enhance their performance and recovery.

Lastly, a question that often comes up in light of popular athletes seemingly ‘getting away’ with non-real food sources, is:

What about other foods, like donuts, breads, pizza, and ice cream? “Cheat meals”? (Why do individuals really need a cheat meal? Think about it…)

Not always off the table.

If we are talking serious athlete, these individuals are on the ‘verge’ of sickness, and the level of training they are doing is actually not always the healthiest. At some point, any food—particularly fast acting sugars—are quickly and easily assimilated by the body. At competitions, for instance, many athletes find easily digested fuel in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a Lara bar, or meal-replacement shake, to keep going. For these individuals: A little dirt never hurt may certainly apply.

The bottom line?

Real food always does a body good—especially for the majority of the training population, but when it comes to being an athlete and competing at the highest, elite level in a glycogen-depleting sport (like MMA, CrossFit, etc.), a Paleolithic diet is not the end all, be all.

Be realistic of where you sit; and eat appropriately, because when you do, you will see results. Fuel the machine.


James FitzGerald

OPEX ONE May 22, 2015

opex, opex fitness, formerly opt, exclusive training, remote coaching, coaching education

May 22, 2015
Coach Robin Lyons

The Lost Art of Aerobic Endurance Training for CrossFit

First of all let me start with saying that human beings are designed to be enduring.  The more enduring we are, the more resilient we can be in life period.  The aerobic system is one of our genetic predispositions as humans and must not be forgotten in exercise prescription in fear of “losing strength”.   The single greatest contribution a competitive fitness athlete can add to their program is CORRECTLY prescribed Aerobic Endurance Training.

Most people believe that aerobic training is just simply running, rowing or cycling for 30-45 minutes.  In reality there are several levels of aerobic training and each “feel” different to the athlete and must be prescribed correctly for proper development.  In CCP we discuss many levels of aerobic training for development in performance.  Most recently we added MAP 10 to our list as our definition of Zone 1 training.  The reason we use the language MAP over Zones is to separate the connection of Heart Rate training to aerobic training.  Training programs for CrossFit have too many variables that can skew an athlete’s HR zone from session to session; CNS demand the day before, sleep, nutrition, etc.  Therefore, understanding needs to be directed towards “individual effort” and rate of perceived exertion.  The HR isn’t always a predictor of intensity or effort.  The coach is responsible in educating the athlete on the characteristics of aerobic training so the athlete themselves can identify the correct effort.

Characteristics of Aerobic Endurance Training.

At OPEX we characterize aerobic training as a sustainable, repeatable and paced efforts.  This development can only be achieved at an intensity, which the complete oxygen-transporting system (aerobic system) is activated to the maximum, while lactate accumulation in the muscles is not yet reached. Training the aerobic system and its many levels, depends on the athlete’s current fitness level and function of the athlete.

Just like we wouldn’t take a novice lifter and make them squat #400 pounds on their first day of training, the same should apply with energy system training.  Aerobic metabolism plays a vital role in human performance and is the foundation of energy system development.

What Are the Benefits of Properly Prescribed Aerobic Training

#1- Enhances transportation of oxygen to working muscles
#2- Increased enzyme availability for muscle endurance
#3- Provides ATP required to resynthesize PCR during times of low activity between high efforts.
#4- Liberate Free Fatty Acids for fuel (regulates body fat distribution)
#5- Speeds recovery between high intensity training sessions
#6- Improves cardiovascular health and function

How to determine if an athlete is ready to increase intensity?

Aerobic adaptations can be achieved within a 6-12 month period depending on the starting point and function of the athlete.  Once adaptations have been developed aerobic performance can be further enhanced through exercise economy (technique) and higher efforts (increase lactate threshold).  Its important to understand that athletes need to earn the right to perform at higher efforts by proving their efficiency in longer pieces both mixed and cyclical.   In our OPEX assessment we use various endurance tests to identify competency in a broad stroke. For example; the 90min AMRAP; which is a mixed module endurance test, and the 60min Row test; which is singular and specific, gives us insight to an athlete’s current potential.  We review data to compare the “developmental groups” with our “top athletes” to determine if an athlete has sufficient aerobic development and possess the adaptations needed to move into more complex aerobic efforts.

Progressing an athlete in energy system prescription is done once the athletes have proven they can sustain a pace and repeat efforts over and over. Starting with long slow efforts and building shorter and faster efforts is a progression that is largely individualized based on the athlete’s function and economy.

Prescribing Aerobic Training

First knowing your athletes baseline in aerobic activity.   Functional work capacities in simple exercises like; Running, Rowing, Swimming, Airdyne, Push ups, Sit ups, Squats, Pulls etc.   What might be “easy” work for some athletes could be threshold training or CP battery training for others. KNOW YOUR ATHLETE.

Simple visual markers a coach or athlete can identify that tells them they are NO LONGER AEROBICALLY TRAINING …

  • Inability to pace,
  • Irregular breathing
  • Using chalk or hands on knees to “get air”—stopping.
  • Focus is narrow; you can tell in their eyes if they are really working


One Week Training  Prescription for a Competitive Female Athlete who Needs Aerobic Development

Considerations for this design:

    • Athlete’s lifestyle supports 10 sessions per week (6-7 of those are aerobic)
    • Most aerobic sessions are long slow pieces and cyclical; Map 7-10
  • Each day begins with priority of aerobic training
  • No limit to MAP 10 prescriptions, as long as the athlete’s lifestyle can support it.  Give as many hours possible of low intensity work for athletes who don’t possess developed aerobic mechanisms.



30min  Bike—easy effort- conversational pace MAP 10


  1. SA KB OHS – barefoot, turn and look at the kb like TGU, come on toes as needed    @32X1; 2-3/arm x 4 sets; rest as needed
  2. Segmented Snatch grip DL 3-3-3-3-3;rest 2min–release at top
  3. Muscle Snatch 4-4-4-4;rest 2min


EMOM 10min

odd– strict HSPU max in 30sec
even– DU 30sec amrap


10min ABike Zone 1



30min Row; every 500m get off and complete 60m of FW #heavy MAP 10


30min walk with weight vest MAP 10



30min @ sustainable pace MAP 8

1min Row

1min Skip rope

1min FLR

1min Run

1min Abike


  1. Push Press  +Push Jerk + Split Jerk; 5sets; rest 2min
  2. OHS @30×1; 5-5-5-5;rest 2min
  3. Snatch Push Press BTN 6-6-5-5;rest 2min
  4. SA Upright DB Row 8 reps x 3; rest 1min


EMOM 12min

Odd—wall ball shots x 10 #20-9ft
Even— FW amrap distance in 30sec  #heavy


10min easy spin Abike




Swim 30min- 25m every 90sec @ easy effort MAP 8




30min Airdyne; every 2min get off and complete 2 Wall walks MAP 10


  1.  3 Position Hang  power Clean( knee-thigh-hip); 5 sets 65%;res 90sec
  2. Hang Clean Pulls 4-4-3-3;rest 2min
  3. Front SQ@20×1;  4-3-2-2;rest 3min
  4. EMOM 1 rope climbs 18ft x 10min



60min Hike natural intervals (hill, slopes)


  1. EMOM CJ @ 60% 3 reps–12min
  2. EMOM HPS @60% 3 reps –12min


8min amrap
5 pull ups strict
5 Push ups
5 T2B

rest 3min

8min amrap
10 sit ups
10 back ext
20 DU 




Want to learn more about the OPEX theory and methodology behind Program Design? Sign up for one of our upcoming Program Design Courses, or our OPEX C5 Course.

May 21, 2015


Resilience is how great battles are won and tough circumstances are overcome.

The concept is defined as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.”


May 20, 2015

opex, opex fitness, formerly opt, relentless, resistent, amanda goodman, exclusive coaching

It’s Who You Are In The Moment

Have you ever felt like you were going around in circles and doing the same thing? This is something I hear often from clients. People have patterns of behavior and on a surface level these patterns may look like we are going around in circles. But the more you learn about behavior the more you begin to see the little nuances. At first glance what appears to be circles winds up being an evolving spiral.


May 19, 2015

opex, opex fitness, formerly opt, exclusive training, remote coaching, coaching education, individualized program design

Why Do You Do?

Ernest Hemingway once said, “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” Take a minute to think about that and let it sink in. I don’t about you, but that excites me. To know there is never enough time, to understand that I can continually grow, for the time that I have on this planet. To grow as a man, a coach, a friend, a son, one day maybe a husband, perhaps even grow as a father one day. (more…)

May 18, 2015

may 18 2015

Many people have angry shoulders, or poor posture due to sitting at a desk all day long. Generally when I work with athletes with shoulder pathologies or they just have sub-optimal posture, I’ll substitute the bench press with a floor press or a variation. This week’s exercise you should be doing is called a floor press with hip bridge, which you can see here. (more…)