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Posts Tagged ‘GSLP’

One Step at a Time

In General, Training, WOD on January 31, 2013 at 10:09 pm

The Jomad’s First Muscle-Up!

Well, so I thought I’d be starting this post very differently, but apparently I achieved my first (very ugly) muscle-up today… and I would like to plaster the video everywhere, despite its hideousness. I still don’t totally endorse CrossFit’s fascination with the muscle-up– because I think many people develop a fixation with it before they’ve learned the proper mechanics of more basic movements (pull-up, dip)– and also because I’ve found that it’s really strenuous on the body. That said, I admit it’s a little fun to have achieved one of my 2013 goals, to be able to perform one of the more “advanced” movements, etc… I’m going to do my best in the following days to resist jumping right back on the rings and instead, do more work on the transition. As you can tell from the video, my shoulders are barely clearing the rings… The movement would be much easier if I could land in the right position rather than literally “muscle” my way up there. All things in time, I suppose.

That said, it is time for Jo to switch up her training again. I’ve been feeling discontent with my routine lately. My results have been inconsistent, but mostly I’ve just been less… enthused. And thanks to a good talk with Zebrapants, I think he pinpointed the root of my problem– for someone aspiring to become a CrossFit coach, I’ve been doing increasingly less CrossFit. At first, it made sense to me because I desperately need to become stronger… and I’m still not where I’d like to be in terms of strength, but right now I’d like to be a more participatory CrossFitter. So… after some consideration, even more consultation with people more knowledgeable than myself, and even more reading (because, well, that’s what I do), I’ve decided that I can do with two days of dedicated strength per week. Zebrapants also praises the benefits of one longer metcon or hero WOD per week, and I like that idea for now because I want to work on my muscular endurance– a huge, huge weakness of mine after so much powerlifting training. That leaves two days of just doing the box’s regular programming, and two rest days per week– which is more than I’ve rested in a while now (I’ve been a one-rest-day/week person for probably too long).

Though only two CrossFit classes a week still isn’t as many as I’d like to attend, I think it’s a balanced compromise for now, and for the first time in a long time, I get to be fully present for the class– I won’t have to worry about other lifts or accessory work before or between classes. I will also enjoy CrossFitting again… and refamiliarizing myself with all the skillwork that I’ve left untouched.

Tentatively, my new training schedule will look like this:




Press 5, 5, 5+

Squat 5, 5, 5+

Weighted Pull Ups 2 x 6-8

Weighted Dips 2 x 6-8

Weighted Lunges


Box Programming




Bench 5, 5, 5+

Deadlift 5+

Weighted Lunges

Heavy KB Swings


Box’s Programming


Long Metcon/Hero WOD at 80% Intensity

The strength template is derived from Greyskull Linear Progression, which has a loyal following and is highly adaptable. My two strength days are modeled after what’s been tested and approved by different power athletes (mostly rugby players). As for the CrossFit classes I attend, I want to ensure I do everything with 100% movement integrity, that I just do the best damn job I can regardless of how much I suck or how long it takes me. If it’s suitable for a WOD, I may try to scale down the reps and keep the weight high rather than vise versa to keep more of a strength bias. I’m going to trust the coaches here… and just commit entirely and if it’s taking me too long to do everything with good form and the right weight, I’m sure they’ll tell me what to scale and how. And for Sundays, I’m thinking 80% intensity is a good way to build muscular endurance and get used to longer slogs without burning myself out. Fortunately, it’s also right before my not-doing-jack-shit day 🙂

Anyway, that’s the news for Jo for now. I’m very excited about spending more time with our members and in classes. I’m excited about doing more CrossFit again, and dedicating more time to things like snatch drills with a PVC pipe rather than a bunch of accessory lifts. If I want to be a virtuous CrossFitter, I should be paying more attention to things like technique work and mobility. I should spend more time working on flexibility and recovery… even though it feels less gratifying than the brute force workouts. I won’t know how well this works until I just plain try, so… I plan on just throwing myself in 110% and reevaluating in another month or month and a half.

Thanks so much to everyone that helped me work through my issues and figure out a plan. To quote a good friend, “I’m a plan-based mammal.” I feel better when I’m building towards my goals with concrete steps in mind. Long journeys are okay– stagnation drives me crazy.

Happy Thursday!


EDIT: SCRATCH THAT. Training schedule still up in the air. Zebrapants advises against my plan… and the whole point of having a coach is… that someone is probably wiser and better at looking at what you’re doing wrong than you are… right?

Evaluating CrossFit Strength Programs

In Training on August 16, 2012 at 11:29 pm

Fickle Jomad that I am, I’ve decided on another strength protocol. After borderline obsessive research, I can confidently say that I’m at least conversant with all the strength programs popular among CrossFitters. There are actually a limited few upheld as the “most effective.” Even the lifting regimen that I was following (70’s Big Strength and Conditioning) seems to be falling out of popularity. Here’s the breakdown:

Starting Strength: Simple, brutally effective and pretty much universally recommended for any true novice lifter. It allows you to optimize those beginner gains. However, the high volume virtually eliminates your ability to incorporate any actual CrossFitting. I have no doubt that there are individuals who– against general wisdom– add their own metcons, but the efficacy of that is to be debated…

Crossfit Football: Strength-based CrossFit designed particularly for athletes in power-based sports (football, rugby, etc). Its website provides a daily workout paired with a strength workout. Easy-to-follow– just go to the webpage and find your workout for the day, and doesn’t get too complicated. It also has three options: a basic level for the amateur athlete, another one for individuals who compete in their given sport at the collegiate level, and one more for professionals. It also offers an in-season and and off-season option for those who are actively participating in their sports. I think its simplicity, paired with the fact that it allows for more CrossFit-esque workouts explains its extreme popularity.

The Outlaw Way: A relative newcomer that’s made a huge splash. Rudy’s Outlaw programming produced an impressive amount of Games competitors this year– including third-place finisher Talayna Fortunato. Though the website claims that athletes of any level can follow this program, it is specifically designed for Games hopefuls and looks very much like an advanced training program. It incorporates not only many Olympic lifts, but also the supplementary exercises for those lifts and I worry that an inexperienced athlete could just rehearse his own mistakes without the eye of a knowledgeable coach.

Catalyst Athletics: A highly respected resource for Olympic lifting, Catalyst offers daily workouts as well as an archive of different training cycles for people particularly interested in improving their Olympic lifts. As with Outlaw’s program, though, I worry that the beginner here would unknowingly repeat too many of his own mistakes.

Greyskull Linear Progression: A linear progression program that reduces the squatting frequency and allows for a bit more conditioning.

Wendler’s 5/3/1: More of an intermediate program, this one raises your lifts by smaller increments and is thus more useful for people who have progressed beyond their beginner gains. Its absolute simplicity and adaptability make it an easy choice for CrossFitters. It also pairs well with metcon-ing.

Westside Barbell’s Conjugate System : more on this later

After my last post, I posed a few questions on the CrossFit forums about CrossFit Strength Bias, whereupon a few people responded pointing out that CFSB has fallen out of favor lately, which could be interpreted as a sign of inefficacy (there are a probably a lot more factors at play, but with my limited knowledge… I must defer to those who know more). Anyway, after that I decided I’d just return to the 5/3/1 programming that our box follows…  but someone more knowledgeable than I, whose opinion I respect, pointed out that Wendler’s program technically isn’t the best fit for my goals. As I mentioned in my last post– I want to work on being more explosive– faster sprints, more powerful O-lifts, generating more force at once… At the end of the day, 5/3/1 is a powerlifting program, which is not quite what I’m looking for.

I knew that the Conjugate system had a lot of loyal followers. Moreover, I knew that it had a power/explosive component, but I’ve always been scared away from following it. With the exception of the Conjugate system, all the programs I listed above are pretty much “plug and play.” You find your lift numbers, and the program or the website will give you a lifting protocol to follow… exactly which lifts, on what days, and how many times. The Conjugate system is more complicated than that. It’s based off “Max Effort” (1-3 rep maxes) and “Dynamic Effort” (explosive movements with 40-60% of your 1rm) days. There are no specific prescribed lifts nor specific “assistance exercises,” but rather, a very long list of possibilities from which you can configure your own program. It’s the choose-your-own-adventure option. While I could easily see how this is often the most effective program (customizable to your personal weaknesses), I could also see how it allows for the greatest margin of error. I felt that I didn’t know enough about lifting to know how to target my weaknesses, to know which lifts to choose, let alone which assistance exercises to help me with those lifts. Worse yet, there’s a myriad of Conjugate derivative programs that stray from the original concepts– including CrossFit Conjugate by Chris Mason, which eschews the Dynamic Effort days, and Westside for Skinny Bastards, which replaces the DE days with a “Repetition Effort” day.

Anyway, after trying to make sense of all this information overload, I was ready to call it quits. I should also add here that I feel a bit like an ass so avidly pursuing my own programming. The box uses Wendler’s 5/3/1, which has produced fantastic gains in many of our athletes… and I don’t think I’m special or different in any way. I just… also happened to have figured out my specific goals and have the time and will to engage that right now, and I’m very lucky in that our box allows me the resources to do that. I particularly owe so many thanks to Jefe who has demonstrated superhuman patience in fielding my many, many questions, and helping me figure out what type of programming I could do while still participating in the box’s WODs.

Very fortunately, I ran across a “Beginner’s Guide to Westside” that broke down the Conjugate system even further… after reading those forty pages, cobbled together with the bits and pieces I’ve gathered from other CrossFitters’ Conjugate templates, as well as Chris Mason’s CrossFit article and Westside for Skinny Bastards, I’ve come up with a very tentative idea for what I want to do for my own Conjugate system. This is very much subject to change…

The basic principle of the Conjugate system is that you vary your exercises on a 1-3 week basis. Here, I agree with Chris Mason in that CrossFitters (or maybe even just me) are not proficient enough/advanced enough that they need to switch it up every week. So I decided to start with a 3-week block. Also, though I know many Conjugate programs actively avoid using the four major lifts (Squat, Deadlift, Press, Bench) as the “major lift” for their max effort days, I’m going to start there just because… it’s what I know and it’s a new program and I’m nervous about screwing this up. After my first 3 weeks, I plan on evaluating how I feel and then deciding on my next set of exercises. So here’s what my first three weeks should look like:

ME Lower Body

Squat 7×1 (start @ 70% and move up)

Accessory Work:

Sumo Deadlift: 3×5 (@ 80ish percent?) (I’m not sure about this one– about the percentage, or the set counts… I chose this exercise because I saw it listed under good accessory movements for when you have problem getting out of the bottom of the squat, which I do)

Glute Ham Raises 3×10

Pistols 2 x 15 (alternating)

ME Upper Body

Press 7×1

Accessory Work

JM Press 4×5 (I have weak triceps)

Pull-ups 3×8

Dumbbell Press 3×10

DE Lower Body

Box Squat with Chains 12×2 (bar with chains 50%, then 55%, then 60%)

Accessory Work:

Sumo Deadlift: 3×5 (@ 80ish percent?)

Glute Ham Raises 3×10

Pistols 2 x 15 (alternating)

DE Upper Body

Bench 12×2 (start with 50%, then 55%, then 60%)

Accessory Work

JM Press 4×5

Pull-ups 3×8

Dumbbell Press 3×10

Some people have different accessory exercises for DE days than those of their ME days. But for now, for the sake of simplicity, I think I’d like to keep them the same. Just figuring this out took an enormous amount of research and effort– at least for someone who’s still a relative newcomer to strength training. But I like it… I feel like I’m actually taking charge of my own training, and it’s forcing me to learn even more about 1) the many methods of strength training and 2) the way my own body adapts to different stimuli. So… promising developments ahead. Thanks for reading, all.

Jo Smash!

In Training, WOD on April 14, 2012 at 5:32 pm

As with most trends, CrossFit has more than its share of naysayers. I’ve read so many inane, misinformed articles denouncing CrossFit for any number of imagined defects. However, there’s one major criticism that’s stayed with me. A friend and a powerlifting coach here at Penn State told me: “The best CrossFitters are not CrossFitters. You do not get better at CrossFit by doing CrossFit.” On the one hand, that’s a little bit flawed because plenty of people experience phenomenal success (athletic, general-health-wise, WOD-times, body composition, etc) by following mainsite programming or standard box programming. But the thing is, most people who excel at CrossFit come to CrossFit with established athletic backgrounds. At our box, our coaches are former powerlifters, track athletes, baseball players, gymnasts, etc. Many of the elite athletes in the Games came with gymnastics backgrounds. Rich Froning apparently strength trains 8 months out of the year and WODs for the remaining 4. So, by the rule of majority, shouldn’t he be considered a powerlifter first?

I ran across a post on the CrossFit forum website:

Typical CrossFit met-cons and dietary recommendations will inhibit the body’s ability to get bigger and stronger. So much so many of us, myself included, have gone to strength focused programs because we can’t make gains if we do too many met-cons. We have to run the strength programs until we get our desired results then come back to traditional CrossFit.

And this man is a trainer at a CrossFit facility.

The forums contain a wealth of questions about what outside strength program to use in order to improve at CrossFit. The most popular ones include: Starting Strength, Wendler 5-3-1, Greyskull Linear Progression, CrossFit Football, and the 70’s big S&C program that I’m using. Greyskull’s website is overrun by CrossFit refugees who claim to have “seen the light” and returned to conventional strength training after a bout of CrossFit left them weak and exhausted.

But I see no need for this extremism. As much as I’ve enjoyed and taken advantage of the discursive online fitness community, I’ve never understood why so many individuals are so dogmatic and quick to judge. An inexperienced forum participant is often disparaged for his lack of knowledge, and I’ve seen novice athletes torn apart for ill-informed training practices. But if they’re already seeking advice, clearly they understand that they have more to learn.

At any rate, I’ve given the topic some thought and… CrossFit doesn’t market itself as a strength program. It’s a “strength and conditioning program” and often we forget about the conditioning part and how it impacts strength training. It’s very upfront about its lack of specialization, so naturally, those looking to hone their weaknesses might need to defer to other programs to build better foundations. So… after all that, you might ask me– why CrossFit? Why a sport that recruits (or steals) athletes from other sports, that createsunspecialized athletes that couldn’t outlift a powerlifter or outrun a sprinter? Because I’m not looking to specialize. I don’t want to be a competitive powerlifter or a professional sprinter (as if that would happen). I enjoy that CrossFit offers a fun solution to individuals looking to improve their health and stay fit, and it builds a supportive community of people who share those goals. I want to continue participating in this community, and I’d like the opportunity to someday help individuals improve their well-being through CrossFit (I think it’s the teacherly impulse in me… spread the knowledge!). But, in order to be in a position where I’m confident and comfortable instructing, I need to be comfortable performing the wide range of tasks that CrossFit demands. And, without a strong athletic background, I need to first build that foundation before I can go onto experience CrossFit as the practice and enjoyment of physical fitness.

That said, I wanted to share today’s WOD with you (it was my conditioning day) because it was just a load of fun. I’m told that this week’s programming was designed with recommendations by Jeff Martone, with whom the Cyborg is in regular contact. I believe they have Skype dates.*

5 Rds for time:

12 wallball sit-ups

12 wall balls

12 burpee smashballs

12 kettlebell snatches

with EMOM (Every Minute on the Minute 2 med ball cleans)

I enjoyed this WOD because it was so skill-based. I like that we’re introducing more technical movements into our workouts– and intelligently so, with carefully supervised, lightweight introductory WODs. And there are few CrossFit movements more cathartic than a burpee smashball. So if, hypothetically, a short, uncoordinated, little Asian CrossFitter not at all resembling Jo happened to hypothetically suck at wall balls, she could vent her frustration on hurling 10 lbs of rubber smashball to the floor.

*Jeff Martone is the generally acknowledged Kettlebell expert of the CrossFit world. As long as CrossFit icons are doing Skype dates, could I get one with Josh Bridges?