A Bad Workout…

Alright, for the past couple articles, I have been talking about getting started and getting out of your comfort zone.  Today, I want you to know that not every workout is going to be a good workout.  By that I mean that not every workout is going to feel good.  You will probably have days where you just don’t have the mojo or your lifts feel all over the place.  For that, I want to give you a little piece of motivation:

A Bad Workout is Better than No Workout!

There is a time and a place for missing a day of training.  Recovery is important, so this is not about the day you need off so that you can heal up.  This tidbit of advice has to do with the days you know you need to train and it just doesn’t feel right!  Truthfully, as I train, I feel like I have 70% bad workouts and 30% good ones.  That is to say that I am extremely critical of my own training!  But I put in the work!

Why?  Because when I have one of those good days…it feels awesome.  It means all the bad days if training have pushed me to learn something about myself and what I need to improve and work with.  It means that someone in the 70% of rough sessions, it has been more beneficial that I realized.  It means that putting in the work pays off.

To be honest, I had one of those days this morning.  I did not want to get out of bed and put in the work.  My wife pretty much had to kick me to the floor and drag me to the garage.  We did a workout with some snatches and false-grip pullups.  In that session, out of several lifts, about 10 felt good.  But each time I hit a good lift, it made me focus on it and try to feel that again.

My motto as the Barbell Poet is that a “good lift is poetry in motion”.  I spent the morning looking for that next poem; that next perfect lift.  It pushed me to find it.  It prodded me to keep going and get my mind in the game.  It forced me to feel each piece of the lift and push on.

Was it a great session this morning, no!  Was it worth it…Hell Yes!

A Bad Workout is Better than No Workout!

Now go lift something…get better…get stronger!

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone…Literally!

In the post, I talked about keeping it simple.  This one is taking that one a step farther.  I want you to get out of your comfort zone.  Many coaches say that in order to find results you have to get out of your comfort zone, so I know that this is a cliche.

But if you are just getting started on your fitness journey, I do not want you to look at things from the traditional mindset.  If you are just getting started, I do not want you to think about having to complete a mile run.  I want you to first and foremost focus on running for a time.  And running or walking or biking is a great place to start because it gets you away from your comfort zone…literally.

If you walk or run, you are going to have to leave your house.  You have to leave the couch and the ability to just stop.  As you get started on a fitness journey, I want you to walk for 10 minutes away from your house and leave that all there.  Then you are in a position where you have to walk back.  You cannot simply stay there.

You have stepped out of your comfort zone, so it is not always best to be on a treadmill or a stationary bike…because you can quit and you don’t have to work to get back.  If you are 10 minutes from your house, you have to get back there.  You cannot simply step off the treadmill and go back to the comforts of your couch or your pantry.

Start with 10 minutes walking away from your comfort zone and every week add an additional 2 minutes out and increasing pace.  Strive to always get farther and farther away from what is comfortable and safe.  Get out there…push yourself!  The miles will come in time…for now, start with just getting up and out of that comfort zone!

Keep It Simple…Get Results

I am a fan of the methodology that is in place with functional fitness.  I can appreciate the idea of being ready for everything and anything.  With that being said, it doesn’t mean that my training has to be completely random.  In order to be prepared does not mean you need to do everything every day.  Being prepared is a result of smart training that is balanced across everything.  It means recognizing the weaknesses that we have within ourselves and working on those, while not losing too much (you might lose some) ground on our strengths.

Right now, my wife and I are in a four month preparation phase for a Spartan Race.  She has her weaknesses and her goals…so I have developed a program that focuses on those.  This program is designed for effectiveness, not for randomness or craziness.  She needs to reach some gymnastic milestones and we are going to get there.  So her programming focuses on those things and then we supplement with the things she already excels at.

I have a different set of needs in my training, but the philosophy is still the same.  I have developed a program for myself that centers around building up my work capacity and I am doing it with as few movements as possible.  My strength and gymnastic skill work will all be supplemental to being able to do more work in less time or working hard for a longer period of time.

The problem I see when I look around the world of fitness and what is going on, is that everyone is trying to do everything and getting no where.  And they are getting no where fast.  One of the best pieces of advice I could ever give to a coach is:

“Don’t make something hard for the sake of it being hard”

I don’t know who said it first, but it is the truth.  If the reason that you design a workout is simply so that at the end you feel like someone ran over you with a truck…what are you gaining?  There is a time and a place for these types of workout, but they should be thought of as a test, not the training itself.  And they do not happen everyday.

So keep it simple, get results, the test those results in a new way.  Find your weaknesses, re-evaluate, design a plan, stick with it…re-test!  It can really be that simple.

The Power Of 2…

This past weekend, I had the privelege of helping to put on a CrossFit competition at the affiliate where I coach.  It was a great time.  It was nice to not be out front for once and to sit back and have the freedom to walk around and talk to the athletes and the spectators.  While, there are a few bugs that we need to work out, the competition was great.  It was a partner competition and that lead me to think about the power of 2.  The power of being a part of something with someone.

And I am not talking about 2 as in you and your coach.  This is with another person that has your same struggle and your same determination to win the battle…whatever that battle might be.  There is a reason that we all are in the place that we are at.  We all…and I repeat ALL lack discipline somewhere.  We might have it in our diet, or our training regiment, or something completely different.  We might lack the ability to say no to certain people…it really doesn’t matter.  How we combat that is by finding someone else with the same struggles and battles and welcome them into ours.  We welcome them into ours and hopefully can step into theirs.

So no matter what your battle is, get someone else to come along with you on the journey.  Hold yourself accountable to someone.  You ended up where you are at right now because you believed somehow you could do it on your own.  You must admit that…something in doing it all by myself has failed.

So what is one to do…step it up and invite someone to be a part of this with you.  Invite someone to the gym with you.  Invite someone into a nutrition challenge with you.  If you can do that, you increase your chances at success.  The more people you bring in and form legitimate bonds with, the more success you will find.  Why?  Because most of us are wired to not want to let someone else down.  We can handle our own personal failings, but not letting someone else down.  So take a minute and use that to your advantage.  Get better with someone else, and help them get better in the process.

Embrace the power of 2.

Let’s Look At Business

I had ideas for 2 possible posts for today and maybe they both will make it out this week, but for now, I want to pull back the veil a little bin on some tips to be successful in running a gym.  As a gym manager who has had to deal with things ranging from marketing to hiring and firing…I have learned a few things and have a few small observations to make.  Some of these tips have to do with the type of person you must be in order to be successful and a few are physical things that you need to implement or be wary of implementing.

First and foremost, lets dive into personalities and opening or running a gym.  By gym, I am referring to a solid strength and conditioning program…not opening a franchise such as Gold’s or Planet Fitness…two completely different worlds!

If you don’t have 5+ years to be an overnight success…just walk away now.  Opening a gym, like any business will take time.  I have been involved with the CrossFit movement (if that is the correct term) for many years now and have watched as they open up left and right.  If you do not have the time and energy and PATIENCE to grow your product, then focus on being a damn good trainer and earn your income that way.  Being a gym owner means that you MUST put the business first and yourself a distant last.  You want a successful business do everything in your power to make your staff the best.  You must be willing to re-invest and be patient in what you are doing.  If you cannot practice patience, you won’t get very far.

Item 2…Know your market and what it can and cannot support or have realistic goals.  If you do not know what your demographic can support, then how can you adequately measure or even define success?  One cannot believe that a small time gym will grow to 1000+ members.

Item 3…Stick to your standards; do what you agree with NOT something that might make you some money.  This one is tricky but this boils down to being true to yourself.  This business is an expansion of yourself.  Do not sell something to your members that you can not get behind or support.  The CrossFit world has opened up people wanting to get into affiliates to sell something.  This ranges from clothing lines to supplements.  If you are going to sell any of this stuff to your members, then you better be able to explain the advantages of using it.  Don’t sell them all in your gym either…be selective.  In my mind, if you sell every supplement under the sun from every person who asks you to, what do you tell your athletes to use?  Do you simple say…Spealler uses Progenex and Froning uses Advocare, so who do you want to follow?  It doesn’t work that way.  Have some integrity in what you sell and be willing to tell your clients why you chose this one over that one.  I can only pray that profit margin is not the deciding factor.

Item 4…Be thick skinned.  This is the one that I struggle with daily, but am growing in it.  You have to be thick skinned and do things in a way that you can keep your head up.  You cannot react to the haters and you cannot rest on the praise.  You have to always be pushing and moving forward.  You are an entrepreneur and you have to accept what that means.  You have to push hard in good times and in bad.  But it always comes back to having a product that you can stand behind and stand up for.  Don’t take anything, good or bad, too personally…just keep working!

And now, a few things within the gym…

Getting results for your clients matters more than the results you get for yourself.  They are your business and you have to make sure that they are taken care of first and foremost.  Your success is not and never will be contingent on how well your program has worked for you, but it is about how well you can help out each person who walks in the front door.

Don’t overdo it.  Don’t run thousands of programs so that you think you are offering something for everyone.  There is no need to run a strength program, an endurance program, and a gymnastics program all the time.  If you want to offer all this, then do it through periods, but better than all that is truly incorporate those things into your standard programming and inform your members that they are in that cycle.  Educate them.  The knowledge that you share will keep them with you.  They are learning and growing!

Item 2 – If the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail…What this means is that if you are going to be rolling something out new for your members, make sure it fits with what they need to reach their goals.  Make sure that the people you approach about being a part of it want to be a “nail”.  If they are perfectly content where they are at…maybe pushing them into something else is not the best thing.  Along the same lines, if it is something that you will be keeping around permanently, make sure people have earned the right to be there or it makes them better.  Use it as motivation for a while to see how committed someone is to achieving access to the program.

Item 3 – Always think big picture, but care about the smallest details.  You have to think about what is best for the business overall, but never forget that the bathroom needs cleaning and the trash has to be taken out!

Thanks for your time!

CrossFit is Intense, Are You?

Reposted from my home gym blog…written by me!

I recently have been working on learning constantly.  I have taken to listening to podcasts in my car instead of the radio.  I do miss some of the morning talk personalities, but it gets me moving and motivated for my day.  I hear people talk with passion about what they do and how they are doing it, and I am ready to attack the day with vigor.  I find myself frustrated with complacency and laziness.  It pushes me to want more out of myself and those around me.  So it is a fantastic transition. Yesterday as I was listening to an interview with Tommy Hackenbruck and he was posed the question, “How do you handle that person that says they need harder workouts.”  His response was “I tell them to hop on the rower for an hour.”  And most of the time they say no.  He then said that he was only joking, but rather that the truth for most people that say they need harder workouts don’t.  He said that the truth in this situation is this (let this sink in):

“You don’t need a harder workout, you need to do your workout harder!”

BAM!  There it is.  What is your intensity level like during your workout.  The key to your success is not always to put in more work or harder work, but is to get the most out of each and every workout you do.  What if that seven minute AMRAP is all that you had in your day to finish a workout.  That’s it…nothing more!  What if there was no open gym, unlimited classes, but all you had was a 5 minute AMRAP? Do you go as hard as you possibly can and give it 100%. Do you take that approach to the rest of your life?  What if you had to? What if you only were given 12 minutes to get your kids ready for school in the morning…been there, done that.  You kick it up a notch and everything gets done. What if you were only given 5 minutes to answer an many emails as you could?  You would attack them and give an efficient response, wouldn’t you? 20 Minutes to clean that house, who hasn’t done with before company arrives? So I ask, are you pushing yourself as hard as you can in the time that you have?  Are you willing to push yourself just a little bit harder to see what you are capable of?

CrossFit is intense, are you?

Technique Takes Precedence

There is the old saying out there about practice and perfection.  This is kind of a lie…”perfect practice make perfect” is a little bit closer to the truth.  But what does perfect practice look like?  If your training or your life are to be put on display for others to see, what is perfect practice?

For me and those I train or train with me, perfect practice starts with perfect technique and an emphasis on that.  The requires that we all strip away the barbell and get to the basic fundamental movements that everything else is built upon.

The easiest example is the squat.  If I want to have a strong, explosive and powerful squat (front, back or overhead), it is paramount that I have an explosive perfect air squat.  The mechanics must be in place.  That is to say that I must know how to breathe, foot position, knee alignment, engaged core, etc in my air squat before it can effectively translate over into any other weighted variation of the squat.

Technique must be my priority and my focus.  Just because I can put 300 plus pounds on a bar and kind of sort of fight my way through the back squat, doesn’t make it a good idea.  It doesn’t make it quality training or effective training at that.  It creates a recipe for disaster.

So I work on my technique relentlessly.  Feeling out each and every movement for breakdowns.  I film myself with a load and without to see what I am missing.  Our bodies are teachers…the mind interprets what is going on and will let you know, if you are willing to quiet the noise around you and focus.

The same holds true for any movement out there.  Don’t just see it, and say I can do that…see it and be amazed by your ability to do it perfect.  Every movement should be a thing of poetry.  It should be something that you feel and know that it was done correctly.  You should feel the firing of your muscles and know what it feels like when done correctly…when you find that feeling, repeat!

If you can take the time to focus on the technique, then you should NEVER have a bad training session.  Bad sessions come when you only see the failures and do not learn something.  Bad sessions come when you allow your emotions to control your expectations.  If you accept that everyday you can get better, then strive to do that constantly; it is impossible to have a bad training session.

Perfection is its own reward.

P.S.  This idea works with nutrition as well.  Start with one perfect day of eating, see how it feels and repeat!