May 30, 2015

opex, opex fitness, formerly opt, exclusive training, remote coaching, crossfit regionals, opex red

Regionals: Realistic Conversations-Do You Have What It Takes? 

So you’ve been watching Regionals the past few weeks—the highs and the lows.

It’s been exciting to see the hard work of many athletes pay off, knowing full and well that every single individual out there on the floor has put in some serious time and effort in the gym in order to get to that point.

That being said, if you are a coach at a CrossFit affiliate, you, more than likely, have come across a number of clients who have been keeping up with the Regional events, salivating for their opportunity, next year, to make their mark in the Open and be out there on the floor.

In recent years, as CrossFit the sport has witnessed a surge in popularity, it has equally spurred a following of individuals, outside the current elite athletes, who want their shot at “making it.”  With this level of popularity has come an equally impressive level of competition for the top spots in each region.  And, you’ve likely noticed that many of these clients who believe that they are going to make it have never showed 10% of the dedication that you know is needed to make the next level.  How will you help them realize what their chances of making it are?  We will get to that in a moment

So, as coaches, it is important to:

a.) Not only realize that the chances of a client making it to the Regional-level is something like a 0.135% (not 13….0.13%) probability that they will make it (340 individual athletes who advanced to Regionals divided by roughly 250,000 total individuals who participated in the Open)

b.) And, be prepared to have honest and realistic conversations with those clients who are “serious” about “making it”

Here are a few key points to keep in mind if you find yourself coaching or working with clients who do want to move to the ‘next level’:

1. The TRUTH is paramount. In your initial conversations with these clients, and then ongoing, as the coach, it is your role to help your clients assess—and reassess, and reassess, where it is they “sit”—comparatively. Is it actually realistic for them to be one of the top 20 in the region this time next year if they ranked in the top 800-1,000 athletes this year in the Open?  These clients needs to be given tests that can put them against other regional caliber athletes so that you can gain insight into where they honestly sit in the sport.  If an athlete can’t do 1 muscle up do you believe that it is a good idea to tell them that they will make it to the Games next year?  If you don’t show them the truth from the beginning it will ultimately lead to a challenging relationship between you and the athlete because you failed to build trust from the beginning.  If the athlete knows where they sit they will realize the work that needs to go into getting to the next level.  It is that amount of work that often will show you who is truly committed and who is all talk.

2. CrossFit must be a HIGH PRIORITY. Realistic conversations need to happen around priorities if you have a client who is wanting to train, with Regionals in mind. For most Regional competitors, this looks like hours devoted to 5 to 6 days of training, paired with 8-10 hours of sleep every night and quality fuel—no ifs, ands or buts about it.  Most high level CrossFit competitors love this.  They love training hard and getting better.  For those athletes who don’t love it as much they love what the training affords them; lifestyle, popularity, community, etc…  Any athlete who wants to push for the next level needs to know why they are training so hard and they need to understand what they love about the process of training.  If they don’t they will struggle when they are by themselves in a dark gym doing gnarly row repeats for hours.

3. Help them understand. If clients can’t seem to prioritize CrossFit over everything, or if they can’t see where they are realistically, then it is then your role to help them understand. Help them understand that if what they are saying is really what they want (Regionals, Games), then many sacrifices are going to have to be made—hands down; as well as, potentially some time (serious time) spent gaining more training age and experience (Rome was not built in a day). Maybe they don’t want to put that work in.  If so, they need to recognize that.  Maybe they have too many other things going on in their life.  They need to see that they are prioritizing other things (which is absolutely fine) and that they won’t reach full potential in the sport.  Balance needs to exist to a point but to get to the highest level in this sport requires a great deal of time and energy and they deserve to know that.  In your conversations, don’t point the finger (‘You are not able to do this’ or ‘What are you thinking?’), but instead try to use motivational interviewing techniques to help your clients come to these terms on their own. Not sure what motivational interviewing is? Check out a few technique tips below.

4. Connect them with an expert. Programming feel over your head for a serious competitor? Don’t hesitate to connect clients with a coach who may have more experience working with athletes who want to ‘make the cut’.  Sometimes a small change in scenery, even if it’s just a conversation, can help bring light onto what is realistic for people.

5. The top may not be the best place for them:  There are a large number of amazing athletes on this planet.  Many of those athletes could be outstanding CrossFit competitors.  But, is that the best for them?  It’s tough to say without knowing them.  You have to remember a few things.  1) Unless you win the CrossFit Games you likely will not make money competing in the sport in terms of prize payouts.  While there are some athletes who can make enough money in sponsorship dollars every month the bulk share of athletes cannot.  That means that most athletes are going to have to work enough hours to support LIVING before they even step foot into the gym to train.  Starting to see….if you don’t absolutely love the process and the grind you will face questions from people around you as to why you are doing this.  Where does it lead?  You will need to set this expectation up front so that they know that their best may never get them long term job security or a “career.”  But, when you find the athlete who understands it and still wants to push, you could have a real threat to compete on your hands.

Motivational Interviewing Techniques

• Communicate respect for clients.
Clients are more likely to discuss changing when asked, than when being lectured or being told to change. Examples of communicating with respect may include: “Do you mind if we talk about [insert behavior]?”; “I noticed [insert current habit or lifestyle factor that doesn’t equal change], are you open to discussing this?  It is your job to help them understand how their training is going so you need to have these conversations but it is up to you to decide how you will have them.

• Evoke change talk.
Change talk tends to be associated with successful outcomes. This strategy elicits reasons for changing from clients by having them give voice to the need or reasons for changing. Rather than lecturing or telling clients the importance of and reasons why they should change, do this, or do that…change talk consists of responses that come from clients. Clients’ responses usually contain reasons for change that are personally important for them. Some of these questions may look like” “What would you like to see different?”; What will happen if you don’t change XYZ?”; “If you make changes, how would your outcomes be different from what it is today?”; “How would you like things to turn out a year from now? Two years from now?  Again, these change discussions can only emerge from a place of truth.  If they don’t know where they sit they won’t know that they need to change

• Inspire Confidence
Remind clients of how far they’ve come—particularly when their eyes are set where they want to be. Be the eagle’s eye point of view for helping them see the big picture.  Remember, you are the coach and they are the athlete.  Your job is to look at the big picture, to make sure that their training is progressing over time, to elegantly choose when to have them compete.  For high level athletes there job is to show up, crush workouts, then go home and recover.  The fewer moving parts that are on the athlete’s shoulders the better their minds and bodies will be able to show up day after day, month after month, and year after year and put the work in.  And, in this day and age, in CrossFit, you need to realize that it will take years to get to the big leagues so you need to plan for that amount of time and energy from the beginning.

• Open-Ended Questions.
Ask open-ended questions because it allows for a richer, deeper conversation that flows and builds empathy with clients. In contrast, too many back-to-back closed- or dead- ended questions can feel like an interrogation (yes/no questions). Open-ended questions encourage clients to do most of the talking, while the coach listens and responds with a reflection or summary statement. The goal is to promote further dialogue that can be reflected back to the client by the coach. Open-ended questions allow clients to tap into what it is they really want and what they need to do.

Up now on the Membership Site is our OPT-In Episode #39: “Staying in Your Lane” We’re going to take on what I am seeing as a blurrier and blurrier line between Strength and Conditioning Coach and “Manual Therapist” / PT / etc.
Also don’t forget to pre-order your OPEX Resilient tank top or t-shirt! $20 limited time offer!


May 29, 2015


opex, opex fitness, formerly opt, exclusive coaching, danny nichols, opex red, coaching education

May 29, 2015
Coach Mike Lee

Progressing The Clean and The Snatch


FIRST, let me start off with a simple statement that needs to be highlighted and emphasized. NOT EVERYONE should be using the dynamic lifts as part of there training. The movements are complex and require an immense amount of coordination, control and focus. Unfortunately not all men and women are made to have a perfect limb length; we all are born with different characteristics. Fitness is all encompassing; if you are simply trying to be fit then implementing the dynamic lifts are NOT a necessity.

Proficiency takes time with advanced movements. Individuals will stay on a foundational level, learning mechanics. Squat positions, pulling strength, stability, hamstring/glute/quad development, hips speed through power development are all pieces of the dynamic lifts that can be taught through more basic and safe methods:

Ex 1:

A. BS – build to 85%

– then take 80% of A and complete 3×3; rest as needed

B. Good morning @2211; 3-5 x 5; rest 2 min (moderate load, floss)
C. Seated box jump; 4,4,4,4,4; rest 2 min (tough height)
D. Speed hurdles – 3 times through x 6 sets; rest 1-2 min
E. WCU – build to a max


Ex 2:

A. Barbell jumping squat; 3,3,3,3,3; rest 2-3 min (20-25% of RM – ACCELERATE and squeeze your butt)
B. Paused hurdles – 6 sets through; rest as needed – Set them out, jump over with full extension at top then land, stop reset and go again
C. Seated box jump  – max height in 6 attempts

– then complete 5 more singles at this height

D. Broad jump – max distance in 6 attempts
E. Agility ladder x 20 time through, speed focus – switch style per set


Ex 3:

A. Paused OHS @32X1; 2-3 x 5; rest 3 min
B1. Halting snatch DL; 3,3,3; rest 1 min – building sets
B2. GH raise @20X0; 6-8 x 3; rest 1 min
B3. GH raise @40X0; 3-5 x 3; rest 3 min
C. Pendaly row @20X2; 3-5 x 4; rest 3 min


for time:
30 strict pull ups
30m DB lunge – moderate
30 ring dips
30 cal AD

rest as needed

Tricep rope kick downs; 25,25,25; rest 2 min

The need for individuals to understand that progressing the snatch and clean starts simple, FIRST and foremost the basic structural pieces need to be prescribed and almost “beat into the head” of the lifter. The movements can be taught in several different fashions, key is for coaches to not get caught up in what others are using in training. Learn from principles created from the history of Olympic lifting, I particularly like to teach the movements from the top down. With an emphasis on structure and balance, you can create the ability to build volume, allow adaptations and properly progress the athlete’s programming.

While implementing the basics in training, have your athletes watch video, research, learn and visually see what practice time under the barbell and good structural mechanics can do:



Begin to work with simple cues during some of the more basic movements that are easily understood and can be grasped by the athlete (these may be different per individual).

A few that may work:\
Arms like ropes, elbows loose
Tight upper back
Hips down off the floor
EXTENSION and reach
Close to the body, close to the face
Active in the catch

Finally as a coach when planning the athletes year, gather your thoughts, consider the goal and address all questions that come to mind……like:

– How often do you think its necessary for someone to do the movements to become proficient? Those that master the movements do thousands of reps in a training season. So, for individuals that want to be a “specialist”, is it possible? Do they have the proper lifestyle to stay aligned to support the goal?

– How often do you “practice” the movements without fatigue with clients/athletes to teach the skill and allow the brain to remember proper movement mechanics?

– How often is the movement done with fatigue, should it EVER be done under fatigue if not necessary for their function?

– How often do you as a coach practice the movements in order to give an authentic progression and prescription of the movement?

In the context of coaching, remember that every individual may require a different technique, progression or cue to ultimately make them successful. Start simple. Build the basics.

May 28, 2015

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

Athlete Spotlight; Melissa Guitron

Exclusive Coaching client Melissa Guitron would describe herself, before finding fitness, as “The college girl who did cardio at the local gym because I thought it would counter balance my love for beer.”

Today, under the Remote coaching guidance of Coach Mike Lee, the girl, who had never done a pull-up or lifted a weight in her life until her mid-20’s, can complete 50 strict pull-ups for time in under 5-minutes and can’t imagine hitting the treadmill for a monotonous cardio session.

And best of all?

She said she feels more confident in her own skin than ever.

“I never had aspirations of being a competitive CrossFitter. My goals have always been simple to feel and looks my absolute best. (Before working with Mike) neither of those things were happening, I was broken and unhappy with my body,” she said.

Melissa’s training journey working with OPEX dates back to 2013.

“I had discovered CrossFit back in 2009, in North Carolina. I then met a guy who was following OPEX’s old Big Dawg Blog and studying under the Coaches Certificate Program. We became friends, and throughout our friendship, and watching his personal growth under the OPEX CCP Program, I finally decided to begin following the SHE program in 2013,” she said.

Not long after, Melissa also signed up to take the Coaches Certificate Program Course, and traveled on site to OPEX in Scottsdale for the Nutrition module. It was there, that she had the opportunity to see, first-hand, what OPEX was all about.

“I had scheduled a session with Coach Mike to talk over the CCP Assessment module I had completed online. Within less than 10 minutes of our ‘mock-assessment’ though, Mike found some pretty big discrepancies in my own movements that no one had ever seen: A major imbalance between my right and left side, no glutes or hamstring development and completely over developed spinal erectors. Up until that point I had believed that my daily back pain was somehow normal!” Melissa said.

Realizing these imbalances and weaknesses in her own body prompted her with the notion that, although she was studying to become a better coach, she too could benefit from working with a coach herself.

“There was no sale, Mike was what I needed,” Melissa said.

The rest is history.

“Prior to working with Mike I had jumped from one program to another, there was no consistency or real progress happening. While I thought I was getting stronger, I was just breaking down my body for the sake of PRs.  As we come to the end of my current training cycle it feels like I am working with a completely new body, with new muscles and an awareness I didn’t have prior to our training,” she said

Adding, her body composition has also improved.

“Mike has really worked with my to get my nutrition dialed in, eliminating dairy, protein powders and bars. During our time together I’ve gone from 153 to now comfortably siting at 138. Beyond the scale, I FEEL better, my energy levels are up and I am stronger than I was 15 pounds heavier,” she said.

Now, as a busy CrossFit coach and affiliate owner to her new box CrossFit KURA, Melissa said she takes the same lessons Coach Mike and OPEX’s CCP and Exclusive Coaching programs have taught her to impact her own clients.

“As a gym owner bringing this element to my athletes has been huge. I approach each client the same way and have seen amazing results!” she said.

For more information on transforming your own training, check out OPEX’s Exclusive Coaching Program; as well as OPEX’s CCP program for transforming your own coaching of athletes.

May 27, 2015

opex, opex fitness, formerly opt, life coaching, coaching education, stress, coping mechanisms

In our CCP Life Coaching module we teach that the maximal potential for human growth occurs on the border of support and challenge.  But we live in a society conditioned to look for the quick fix and instant gratification to sustain the belief that everything should be happy all the time AND people have become addicted to support in an effort to attain nothing but pleasure.  It’s such a bull shit way to live.

Now one of our biggest health issues is stress.  And stress is perceptual.  AND it’s been labelled as bad because it doesn’t fit into the above societal condition, which stresses people out even more.

Oh no!  I have stress, so now I have to get rid of it or I’ll be unhealthy.  Better grab a quick fix.  Drugs, alcohol, sugar, meds!!!

“When the American Psychological Association started its annual stress survey in 2007, people perceived a moderate level of stress as ideal.  Now, survey participants perceive that same moderate level of stress as unhealthy.”

The bad news is that you will never get rid of stress.  Stress plays a vital role in the human condition.  The good news is that how you perceive stress plays a role in how it affects you.

Said another way… The way we think about stress is what affects our health.

Kelly McGonigal’s work in The Upside of Stress captures through science how our perception around stress physically affects us:

“The ratio of DHEA to cortisol is called the growth index of a stress response.  A higher growth index—meaning more DHEA—helps people thrive under stress.  It predicts academic persistence and resilience in college students, as well as higher GPAs.  During military survival training, a higher growth index is associated with greater focus, less dissociation, and superior problem-solving skills, as well as few post-traumatic stress symptoms afterward….

Crum wanted to see if changing people’s perceptions of stress could modify this measure of resilience.  Could a three-minute video about stress alter this key ratio of stress hormones?

The answer amazingly, is yes

The videos had no effect on cortisol levels.  Everyone’s cortisol went up during the mock interview, as expected.  However, participants who had watched the stress-is-enhancing video before the interview released more DHEA and had a higher growth index than participants who had watched the stress-is-debilitating video.  Viewing stress as enhancing made it so—not in some subjective, self-reported way, but in the ratio of stress hormones produced by the participants’ adrenal glands.  Viewing stress as helpful created a different biological reality.”

Stress builds resilience.  It’s like a muscle and you can build that muscle through your perception of both challenge and stress.

Sharon Prete
CCP Life Coaching Co-Conductor


May 26, 2015

opex, opex fitness, formerly opt, exclusive training, remote coaching, coaching education, ccp, coaching certificate program

What’s Your Purpose?

As a coach and/or business (gym) owner, the key to leading people is to have purpose and constantly build on that purpose.

Purpose gives you direction.

What is your purpose? What is your businesses’ purpose?


May 25, 2015


Jonson Tan flew all the way from Malaysia to meet with me. He had knee surgery in the beginning of the year and hasn’t been able to squat or move much at all due to pain so he sought me out to get him back in the game. Thanks Jonson for dropping into OPEX. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting you and appreciate you letting me take you to lunch as well! (more…)

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. (more…)