Mentality

How to Get the Most Out of Your Coaching Experience

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How to Get the Most Out of Your Coaching Experience
Written by: Coach Evan

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned as a coach is that not every athlete responds to the same style of coaching. I can be a hard ass with some athletes, which lights a fire in their eyes to finish the workout. For other athletes, I know they want gentle encouragement. Some only need a quick and clear cue to fix a snatch error. Others prefer a little more explanation. While this is the most important thing a coach needs to learn, coincidentally it can be difficult to figure out what type of athlete you’re coaching. And let’s be clear; anyone in my gym is my athlete.

It all comes down to communication. At Derby City CrossFit, we have cultivated a very open and trusting atmosphere. The coaches want you to move well; we want you to succeed. We can read your face and body language when we give you a cue, we can tell when what we say is more confusing than helpful, and we can feel your skepticism when we tell you to do something that feels wrong, even though it’s technically correct. Although the coaches are trying as hard as we can, sometimes we don’t get our point across in a way that makes sense to you, or we use the wrong sort of motivational tool. This is where it can be helpful to us, and in turn to yourselves, if you tell us how you like to be coached. What sort of style helps you the most. Are you the athlete that needs to be yelled at? Or do you hate attention? Is it impossible for you to listen during a workout while your heart is beating in your ears and the music is loud? Pull us aside after and let us know. I’d much rather coach you after the workout if that works better for you.

When I’m being coached, I like to be pushed. I like all critique. And if I’m dogging it in a workout, I want to be yelled at. If the coach knows I can go faster, then I want them telling me to go faster. If I’m resting too long, I want them to yell at me to get back on the bar, or to pick the kettlebell back up.

Because CrossFit is adaptable for all kinds of athletes, the coaches must also be adaptable for each athlete. The coach needs to able to tell what works and what doesn’t. The ultimate goal is to have fun while we get incredibly fit, and there’s nothing quite as miserable as being yelled at during a workout when that’s not the way you’re motivated. Coaches need to ask questions and try different techniques, and to help build a trusting relationship, the athlete should vocalize what kind of technique works best for them.

So, what works best for you? Tell your coach, I guarantee they want to know.

Thank You for the No-Rep

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Thank You for the No-Rep
Written by: Coach Slater

Dear Judge Whomever,

Thank you for the no-rep. Thank you for holding me to the standard. Sure, I may see others getting by with a slightly less-strict standard, and maybe they beat my score as a result; but, I don’t care. I’m glad you held me to the rule. I want to know where I stand.

I remember a workout during last year’s (2016) Open. I remember my judge giving me credit for a chest-to-bar pullup which prompted me to say “No, I missed it. No-rep”. I no-repped myself. I was proud of that moment. I want to know that I’d no-rep myself again, whether or not anyone else holds themselves to the same rule.

If someone were watching me getting by with no-reps, they’d be pissed. But, knowing that I’m getting no-repped means that others are getting no-repped as well. I know there are expectations. It’s means everyone’s judged equally. We’re on level playing ground. And, if I watch someone getting by with no-reps, and they’re okay with it, then that’s on them. I’m not angry at them. It doesn’t affect my performance. I’m satisfied that I gave my best effort.

Maybe the regulation isn’t fair. Maybe it doesn’t make sense for a guy who’s 6’7″ with a massive wingspan to have to do a handstand-pushup in a 36″ wide box. Maybe that makes no sense. But, that doesn’t stop me from giving my best effort. Maybe it’s also not fair that I’m so much closer to the wallball target than someone who has no issue with the handstand-pushup “hand box”. But, who cares, right?

If this were a normal class, and I had slid off the wall before completing my handstand-pushup, I would have no-repped myself then, too. I don’t want my desire to beat my neighbor to negatively affect my character, so thank you for keeping me accountable. Thank you for helping me maintain my integrity. I want to know that my score is legit. I want to know that I was held to the highest standard.

I also want all of my movements and technique to improve by consistently going thru the full range-of-motion. I know that shorting a rep only robs me of future performance. I workout because of how it makes me feel outside of the gym, making me fully able to use my body in multiple capacities in the real world. I want to be feel prepared and feel good, day-in and day-out. So, when I don’t perform a full rep, I want to know it, because there aren’t any half-reps outside of the gym. It’s my choice to show up, do work, be judged, fail, succeed, try again, improve. I chose this.

So, thank you, Judge Whomever, for reminding me and holding me to that standard. I appreciate you.

Sincerely,
Slater

When Motivation Fades

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When Motivation Fades
Written by: Coach Slater

I received this anonymous text last week, “Thought to ponder. What do you do to motivate an experienced CrossFitter who is doing it for fun (not with a goal of seriously competing) who has lost motivation? I was talking to someone on this situation. I’m curious if it just becomes hard to stay motivated when you’re not seeing big improvements or new milestones.”

I immediately had some thoughts on the matter, but realized that the correct answer totally depends on the person. So, here’s my $0.02, covering a wide range of possibilities. Maybe one item hits home for you, personally.

Appreciate the Minutiae
The reality is that training slows for an advanced athlete. Personal records are no longer set by the 10s or 20s of pounds. They come in small 2.5lb increments, over the course of six months, a year, or two years. Maybe they’re improvements not in pounds, but in increased range of motion or a honed skill. So, appreciate the minutiae, but don’t miss the forest for the trees. Meaning: don’t ignore the big picture. Look at how far you’ve come and appreciate where you are now. Then, focus on the small improvements which you’re continuing to make. Maybe you haven’t PR’d your deadlift in awhile, but you’re PR-ing WODs we retest at the end of cycles.

How Hard Are You Really Working?
You can’t become so overwhelmed with the act of “trying” that you sit around and complain. Instead, get up and work. “I am working,” you say. Are you? How’s your nutrition? How’s your stress levels? How’s your sleep? Hate to tell ya, but you’re not 22-years-old anymore. We need to spend as much time recovering as we do training, if not more. As we age, fitness is more than lifting weights in the gym. Working on those things outside of the gym is important for you to continue seeing progress inside the gym. Don’t want to work on those things? Then, accept the reality that you’re going to plateau or regress.

You Might Be Overtraining
On the flip side, maybe you’ve lost your mental edge because you’re overtraining. Not working out is worse than working out a little, but working out too much might be worse than not working out at all. Maybe you need to dial it back a tad so you find more energy and drive on the days you are at the gym.

You’re Injured
It’s hard to mentally recover from an injury. There’s anxiety from wondering if you’ll heal fully, fear of re-injury, and depression or low self-esteem from feeling “left behind” by other athletes potentially surpassing you. Luckily, there are some well-documented ways of coping with the mental effects of an injury. Here are three. 1. Social Support. Reconnect with your social crew to help you get thru this mental sticking point. Become a cheering spectator for others so you stay socially connected. 2. Journal & Set Goals. Be open with yourself about the negative emotions you’re feeling, then set realistic goals for recovery, which may just be increased flexibility for now. 3. Be Patient. Allow yourself to heal. What’s two weeks in the long run? Nothing! Going half-speed for a couple weeks or taking time off is okay.

Discipline Over Motivation
Maybe you’re looking for motivation, when you should really just be developing discipline. Just gonna quote Jim Wendler here: “Discipline always trumps motivation. Motivation is about emotion and too many times, we rely on emotion to raise our performance. Unfortunately, this can quickly wear you down and if you aren’t motivated, lead to lackluster or missed training sessions. Discipline doesn’t care how you feel, what the weather is or if you’ve had a bad day. Discipline will carry the strong. Discipline will drive success. Discipline doesn’t need a *hype* video or loud music. Discipline over motivation.” TLDR: Train because you’re disciplined to do so, not because of a fleeting motivational meme you saw on Facebook.

Forget Setting a Goal. Focus on the System
This one is related to the “discipline” bullet point. Maybe setting a goal of cleaning a certain weight, or snatching a certain weight, or hitting a certain number of consecutive pullups no longer excites you like it did when you were new to CrossFit. So, instead of setting a new goal, focus on the system. Rather than the performance, focus on the practice. You’re an experienced CrossFitter, so maybe you’re no longer interested in setting new PR’s. You’ve hit some big numbers in the past and you’re fine with all of that. You just wanna enjoy your life nowadays. So, forget the goals and commit to a system which says “on these days of the week, I workout.” Then just do it.

Live. Learn. Pass On.
Find joy in helping someone else. I picked up an important goal from Dave Tate at EliteFTS. His personal motto is “Live. Learn. Pass On.” Transfer knowledge, energy, and advice for the greater good. Your gainz may have slowed but what’s stopping you from putting someone under your wing and helping them or reveling in their successes? Maybe seeing the fire sparked in someone else’s eyes will relight it in yours. Maybe it’ll shift your focus from “woe is me”, and remind you how fun this can be. Get out of your own head and have fun with others around you.

Public Accountability & Accountabilibuddies
Go public with your goals, your frustrations, and your desire to help others reach their goals, then be amazed at the positive reaction that will ripple thru Derby City when you do so. There’s nothing as surprising and inspiring as someone declaring their own accountability. It immediately creates a solidarity with others who will help you reach those goals. So, go public and get the help of a like-minded community around you. Then ask others to be your Accountabilibuddy. “Hey, text me to drag my ass to the gym.” Done. Or, talk some casual, friendly shit to someone in your class or another class to give both of you something to shoot for. Use the community to help get out of the rut. You’re not in this alone.

If It’s Important, You Will Find a Way to Make It Happen
Maybe, it’s time to forge a new you. Yes, we all need support and you must look for help when needed; however, at the end of the day, everything is on you. There are thousands of people meeting their goals by prioritizing what is important and making it work. If that means waking up early, if that means skipping a post-work happy hour, if that means working out on a Sunday, then you make it happen. If you have to make certain sacrifices that many others don’t have to, then do it. Making excuses that you can’t find the time to train, or work on your mobility, or eat well makes you sound like a loser. If meeting your goals by fitting training into your busy schedule means you have to give up watching a Netflix show, then throw away your TV and get to work. You have to make time for it. No goal was ever attained by thinking about it. Maybe this fade in motivation is your gut check, here and now in front of you.

Open Ourselves Up

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Open Ourselves Up
Written by: Coach Slater

Everyone keeps certain personal things to themselves. It’s not easy opening up about anxiety, apprehension, vulnerability, etc… but opening up at the gym allows us, your Derby City coaches, to help you be a better athlete.

The other day, while coaching an afternoon class, Megan Courtney said to me, “Are you on your happy pills today?” I guessed that she thought I was unusually cheerful (maybe?), as opposed to other days. I told her that, “Coaching makes me happy”. It’s the behind-the-scenes stuff that’s monotonous to me, and oftentimes boring, but important for the growth of the gym, the employment of some wonderful coaches, and the betterment of many athletes at Derby City. To me, coaching is pure fun. I enjoy coaching others and helping them find something in themselves that they didn’t think was there.

But, I know what she was saying. I can come off as a quiet and aloof. And I *know* I’m that way in the mornings. I don’t bust out of that shell until after noon, usually.

I come from a background of quietness, showcased by men who never revealed too much of anything to anyone. At least, that was my impression of the men in my family. Nowadays, I have a habit of holding onto things, and I have some tendencies toward perfectionism. Sometimes I’m a little quiet or moody, but exposing those feelings and emotions actually helps me acknowledge and quickly overcome them. Other people always seem to notice because my body language tells all.

I tell you this because, as a coach, I try to read your body language every day. There are many variables in a class setting, and there are days that I need to coach you differently than the day before. I’m not going to ask, ever, for you to talk about something you don’t want to talk about. Some days you just need to be left alone. I get it. But, when I’m having a bad day, I know it’ll be better if I tell someone that I’m a little off, or if someone calls me out on it. Opening up and showing that vulnerability can help me perform better in the gym. So, if you’re having a rough day, tell a coach and we can respond accordingly. It takes courage, but opening up allows coaches to help you more directly and it might make our hour together easier on the both of us.

I’ll help call you out if, in turn, you help call me out. Be my AccountabiliBuddy. Let’s open ourselves up.

What Happens After Your Newbie Gainz Stall (and when under-eating no longer works)

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What Happens After Your Newbie Gainz Stall (and when under-eating no longer works)
Written by: Coach Slater

Newbie Gainz
When you first start at Derby City, it’s almost a guarantee to PR every time you step in the gym. In the first 8 months, you’re gaining muscle and losing body fat at a crazy pace. You’re exposing your body to new stimulus, learning new techniques every single day, and your body is physiologically adapting as a result. It’s easy to get caught in the trap of thinking that these gainz will continue in a linear fashion forever. You’re going to clean a gazillion pounds in six months, or you’re going to win the CrossFit Games in two years.

What’s happening in this newbie phase is called neurological adaptation, which means that you are causing a large number of neurons to fire rapidly in a more synchronized way, enabling you to rapidly lift heavier weights. So, your muscles aren’t necessarily growing yet, you’re just training your nervous system to create more efficient pathways. After your body begins to cement the neurological adaptations, then you’re able to push yourself harder and harder, triggering muscular adaptations, which is when muscles grow and get stronger. That’s why it’s important to focus on technique when just beginning, so you’re not neurologically adapted in poor positions. You want to give your body the ideal opportunity for future growth when those newbie gainz slow, to not create muscular imbalances by recruiting the wrong muscles in a particular movement.

So, when your typical neurological adaptations slow (aka, your newbie gainz stall), you begin to rely on muscular adaptations. This is the phase where discipline and dedication are needed, because you’re no longer setting new PR’s every time you walk in the gym. It “feels” like you’re flat-lining, but you’re not. You’ve just progressed to the next inevitable step in your training evolution. Now is when you need to find discipline to stay consistent with your workout frequency, nutrition, sleep, and stress reduction. Whereas you were once focused on achievement every time you first walked in the door… “first pullup, first bodyweight back squat, first snatch over whatever pounds”… you need to discipline yourself to focus on “progress” now. Achievement is so ingrained in our culture that we often ignore progress. But, you’re in this for the long haul, right? Now’s when you prove it with discipline and consistency. That’s what you do when you newbie gainz stall.

Ruining Your Newbie Gainz
Let’s go back to the beginner phase I mentioned earlier to talk about how you could be hurting your future progress by undereating. You can make gainz in that neurological adaptation / beginner phase while in a caloric deficit. You could come into Derby City, undereating because you think that’s what you have to do to maintain the body you want, while actually doing damage to yourself, and still make gainz. You could eat only 500 calories a day and still PR your back squat every week because your brain is just learning to do the movements efficiently. You haven’t really hit overload yet. But… when you finally do hit that point, you’re going to regress and you’re not going to like it. Now you’re under-recovered and going into a negative hormone state. Maybe you’re wondering why that awesomeness couldn’t last forever? Well, you have to adapt. What works today isn’t going to work next year.

This is the first time your body has done this kind of training, and your body doesn’t know any better than to adapt. Now the next bikini season rolls around and you think, “Well, 1,000 calories worked last year. Let’s do 800 calories this year.” But, you find that you can’t lose weight, or worse yet, you gain weight. Your body learned to create homeostasis at 1,000 calories, so there’s no longer a caloric deficit which will work. Your body is going to remember the stimulus that took you into adrenal fatigue and it’s not going to allow you to get there again. So, typically, you dig harder and add more volume via running or extra “cardio” outside of the gym, without fixing the real issue related to your recovery/nutrition. You’ve metabolically adapted to undereating and now you have to start from scratch to reteach your body how to eat and produce.

So, using this theoretical 1,000 calorie human, they can’t just start eating 2,200 calories tomorrow, like maybe they should have been doing the entire time. What if they’ve been eating 1,000 calories/daily for years now? Well, if they start eating 2,200 calories now, they’re going to gain weight incredibly quickly and lose trust in the process. Instead, they need to slowly adjust by gradually increasing calories, basically starting a metabolic repair program. Specifically, I suggest keeping your protein intake constant at around 0.8g/lb of bodyweight and adding 5-10% to your total carbs and total fats each week until you get to a “more reasonable” total number of macronutrients based on your lean muscle mass, body fat, and activity level. I like to suggest Carbs at 0.5g/lb of bodyweight for Off Days, 1.0g/lb for Easy Days where you’re moving slowly just trying to get loose for the day, and 1.5g/lb for Moderate Days at Derby City where you’re working hard, getting in a good sweat, etc… I typically hold beginners and intermediate athletes to “Moderate Days” and never progress to Heavy Days or something higher, because honestly, most people overestimate how hard they’re working.

Bringing It Home
To summarize, let me say that you needn’t be disappointed when those newbie gainz slow. It’s a natural part of your progress, and it marks the point in your fitness development where you need to learn discipline. Working out, eating right, and sleeping well should become a part of your daily regiment, just like brushing your teeth, showering, and going to work. I included “eating right” because you could be harming your future progress by messing up your nutrition during this beginner phase. In reality, I should have said “eating right” before anything else, because nutrition should be at the base of your fitness pyramid. It’s importance can’t be overstated. If your newbie gainz stall completely, the answer is always the same: you’re not eating enough, and you’re not recovering. Recovery is made possible by food and sleep. Set yourself on a path for future success.

References
Predicting metabolic adaptation, body weight change, and energy intake in humans”, Hall, Kevin.

Changes in Energy Expenditure with Weight Gain and Weight Loss in Humans”, Muller, MJ.

The Truth About Metabolic Damage”, Teta, Dr. Jade.

Don’t Be Your Own Worst Enemy

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Don’t Be Your Own Worst Enemy
Written by: Coach Slater

You may have heard that Coaches Lexi and Steve had the opportunity to attend a special training camp in New York recently. Two of the big takeaways from the weekend were “intensity” and “mindset”. I asked Coach Steve if he’d like to write about what he learned, and he’s working on that article now. In the meantime, I wanted to touch a little on the “mindset” concept, because every week, I see someone having a string of bad training days, and I want to remind you: don’t be your own worst enemy.

Feeling like you’re in a rut with your training is frustrating. You know you can perform better, and you know how to perform better, but something just isn’t clicking. There are times when we need a confidence boost; a reminder that we’re much better than we think we are at that moment. Here are ways to break out of your rut.

Stop Feeling Sorry for Yourself
I put this first, because it’s the easiest trap to fall into. If you tell yourself a workout is going to suck, you’re probably right. Your body can handle so much more than your mind thinks it’s capable of. When you feel like dropping the bar, knock out five more reps instead, then decide what to do next when you get there. Maybe you’ll tell yourself to do another three reps. If you take a break, don’t sit there and think about it. Don’t question your ability. Get back on the bar and move. Don’t leave the workout with regrets or questions.

Did you trip up on a few box jumps? Did you miss a couple snatches? Did you no-rep yourself on some handstand pushups? Did you not get your toes to the bar this week, but last week you did? That doesn’t mean you suck at those movements, and it doesn’t mean you’re never going to get them right. An isolated incident doesn’t mean you’ll never improve. You can decide to keep a positive mindset and avoid an over-generalization. Stop yourself, recognize this negative feeling, and don’t do it again.

Don’t Be a Victim
Someone with a positive mindset doesn’t complain, cast blame, or find excuses. Negative mindsets are contagious, so one of the best ways to avoid that kind of helplessness is to surround yourself with positive, motivating people. They view events with positivity. They’re not victims. They express gratitude for small things… Did you get a PR today? Did you reach 90% with better technique than last week? Did you perform one more pushup when you didn’t think you could? Great work! You can teach yourself to not be afraid of success by building on this small win. Acknowledge how good this moment feels, so you can visualize it later.

Let Go of Your Ego
You can’t reasonably expect yourself to be good at something before you even try it. And, comparing yourself to others, or being worried about failing is just holding you back from doing your personal best. Get rid of your need to win, or lift something heavier than Jane Doe, or avoid being the last person working in a WOD. If you’re too worried about “putting yourself out there”, you’re going to avoid your weaknesses, and never give yourself a chance to improve. You know full well that the only way to grow is to try things out of your comfort zone. Improving is all about being better than you were yesterday, so have confidence in your ability to adapt.

Help Someone Out
The previous three issues are inward-facing, but this last one is about shifting focus from yourself to others. The way you act and think toward others has a big effect on how you act and think towards yourself. Be more kind to other people, and you tend to be more kind to yourself. Congratulate someone on their performance in today’s WOD, and you may find yourself being more accepting of your own performance. You can’t be your own worst enemy if you’ve changed your focus to help someone out instead. Self-pity is easy, but luckily, it’s also easy to be nice to someone else.

Trust the Process

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Trust the Process
Written by: Coach Shark

Excuses are like assholes. We all have them and they all stink.

When did we become a society of excuse makers? Our grandparents would have had a shit-hemorrhage if they heard some of the ridiculousness I hear from some people on a daily basis. And the worst part is, not that we are making the excuses, but rather that we actually believe them. I hear it everyday – “I’m following the diet, but I’m not making any progress.” “I only drink on the weekends.” “This programming doesn’t work for me.” “I’m insulin resistant.” Blah blah blah. I know these excuses, because I’ve used these excuses. Yeah, you read that correctly. I was that guy at one point in my life. Sure, I was nipping at the heels of a 600lb back squat and front squatting over 500lb, but I was incredibly unhealthy. Weighing in around 290lbs, I was the poster child for prediabetes. My resting heart rate was close to triple digits and my blood pressure was through the damn roof, and all I really wanted was to be lean.

But I was lying to myself. I was my own worst enemy.

I was one of those arrogant assholes that believed I was different, that the rules of thermodynamics didn’t apply to me. “It’s not that I’m gaining weight because my calories-in are greater than my calories-out, it’s that I don’t process carbohydrates very well.” Excuse me, but horse shit. Does this sound like you? If it does, stop what you’re doing and smack yourself in the head. YOU ARE LYING TO YOURSELF.

You can attribute similar excuses to the athletes that believe that they aren’t making any progress because of the “programming”, or the “coach”, or the “gym environment”, etc… Who exactly are you trying to fool? Yes, your coach may be an asshole, he might think he hung the moon, but chances are he’s actually looking out for you. So let’s look at the facts – you’re in the gym, you’re putting in work, and yet you’re not making any progress. Well, sorry to tell ya, but it’s probably because of what’s going on outside the gym rather than inside that’s hindering your success.

You think you need two-a-days? Nope. You think you need to squat 4 days a week? Nope. You think this Russian program is better than that German program and Misfit vs Outlaw vs Invictus yadda yadda yadda. You probably need to have fewer bourbons, fewer late night trips to T-Bell, a few more hours of sleep, or just take better care of yourself in general.

Love yourself. Stop lying to yourself. Stop placing blame on others. Trust the process. Do what needs to be done.

Coach, I Can’t Hit 80% Today (or, Gauging Your Rate of Perceived Exertion)!

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Coach, I Can’t Hit 80% Today (or, Gauging Your Rate of Perceived Exertion)!
Written by: Coach Slater

Not every day is the same. Not every day progresses the way we’d like. Maybe you didn’t sleep well because your kid was up sick all night, or you forgot to eat all day because your boss has you on a new project, or you drank too much over the weekend.

As a result, sometimes the percentages on the board just *aren’t* going to happen today. You try to make it happen, but you end up walking a few steps to catch that last power clean or kinda good-morning-ed that last back squat. But hey… you got the lift, right? Not really. We want every rep to look the same, just as it does for high-level CrossFitters, Olympic Weightlifters, gymnasts, track & field athletes, you name it. We want to see consistent mechanics in order to see progress. But, our bodies don’t always comply, and that’s fine. That’s part of training.

When 80% feels like 286%, go down to 70% and finish the sets/reps while moving well and ingraining that proper movement, rather than moving poorly and potentially starting a bad habit. Today’s workout isn’t the end-all-be-all. What’s more important is the hundreds of workouts you’ll perform over the course of a year.

Rate of Perceived Exertion (or RPE)
So, why does 80% feel like 286% sometimes? Let me now tell you a little about RPE. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) says that “the RPE scale is a psycho-physiological scale, meaning it calls on the mind and body to rate one’s perception of effort… The RPE scale measures feelings of effort, strain discomfort, and/or fatigue experienced during both aerobic and resistance training.”

Said plainly, RPE is a subjective measure of how hard you feel like you’re working during a set or workout. While you may assume that 225lbs should always feel lighter than 275, 315, 355, 405, that’s not always the case. As mentioned before, if you slept poorly or didn’t eat, then that 80% is going to feel much heavier.

But, here’s where you can better use our listed percentages as a guideline to help you lift more efficiently, based on how you feel that day.

RPE Scale
Instead of seeing 80% on the board, think of it like an 8 on a scale of 10, in terms of effort.

Effort Level:
7: Weight moves quickly when maximal force is applied to the weight; “speed weight”, 4-6 reps left in the tank
8: Weight is too heavy to maintain fast bar speed but isn’t a struggle; 2–4 reps left in the tank
9: Last rep is tough but still one rep left in the tank
10: Maximal, no reps left in the tank

Hopefully this scale can help you be honest with yourself and see that what’s important isn’t just the weight on the bar, but how the weight on that bar feels at this exact moment. The flip-side of this new knowledge is that sometimes your 80% will only feel like 60%. And on those days, crush it. Add more weight. Having the ability to increase (or decrease) you intensity based on how you feel is great for making better progress. Our programming will fluctuate percentages, but you have the freedom to adapt on the fly, based on how you’re feeling.

Nutrition & Mentality for Your First CF Competition

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Dividing this post into two parts, to give you some insight on what to eat before, during, and after your first competition, and to help prepare you mentally for what’s in store.

First, let’s look at NUTRITION.

Night Before
Don’t carb-load with a cheat meal in case your stomach doesn’t react to something well. Just eat a normal meal of protein, fat and carbs like sweet potatoes, rice, red meat, chicken with avocado, etc…

Morning Of
At least 2.5hrs prior, get in another normal meal of protein, fat and carbs. This meal is the last time you’ll have fats until the end of the day, so add some bacon to your eggs, sweet potatoes, or if you eat dinner for breakfast like me, then just have another meal of red meat and rice medley.

30min Prior to First WOD
I like to have a carb shake 30min out, to kind of top off the tank. So, I use dextrose here (25g of carbs) but if you don’t have time to buy dextrose and have it arrive before next week, then a mushy banana would work.

Post-WOD and Between WODs
Throw down a shake consisting of 2:1 carbs-to-protein immediately after your workout. Something like a protein shake in coconut water or Gatorade works.

If you have another 2hrs before your next WOD, then you may want to get some solid food down, like another banana or rice and a little chicken, but no fats. Fats will slow down digestion and we need to absorb these proteins and carbs as quickly as possible. If you’re not able to eat; if you’re like me and your sympathetic nervous system is too jacked up after a WOD, then going liquid is fine. Just get in the nutrients. If you’re sticking liquid, and you did your protein and carb shake post-WOD, then you may want to add another pre-WOD shake before each WOD. Also, be careful not to OVER-hydrate between WODs. So, don’t guzzle too much coconut water or Gatorade.

Post-Comp
I’m of the belief that you can go full-bore once the comp is over. You basically haven’t had much food all day long and this meal is your first opportunity to add fat back, so go for it. A triple cheeseburger and a shake or four root beers isn’t uncommon for me after a competition. Your next meal can be more inline with your normal protein, fat, carb healthy meal.

Second, let’s look at MENTALITY

Be Ready
No one is going to call your name out when it’s your time to go. Be aware of which heats are going and what time you go. It can be chaotic at a competition, so pay attention. Get there early, look for the other Derby City folks, throw your stuff down together, and familiarize yourself with everything going on around you.

Relax
I can’t stress enough the importance of relaxing. Don’t over-hype yourself before or between WODs. Your body is being exposed to an unusual stimulus with this many workouts in one day; so, you want to get it UP as you walk out on the floor for your WOD, then you immediately want to begin to relax afterwards. You may even want to lay down between WODs, by getting off your feet and calming down. When it’s close to your next WOD, warm up again, but keep your adrenaline in check until it’s go-time. Then unleash hell when the WOD starts.

Have Fun
Enjoy the experience. Don’t forget to cheer. Be a supporter of the athletes around you. Don’t get mad if an athlete in a nearby lane bumps you on accident, or takes a spot you had eyed on the pullup rig. It’s tight quarters and everyone’s just trying to move quickly. Also, don’t get mad at a judge if he/she miscounts a rep or two. Just move on and focus on the next rep.

Lastly, you’re likely to perform much differently than you expected in this competition environment. Likely, much better. So, enjoy it, throw out some high fives, and smile.

Use Your Heart Rate Monitor to “Go Harder” in 2016

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I was asked recently about how to set a goal to “go harder” in 2016. If you’ve picked up your Goal Setting Worksheet, you know that this is a vague goal that we wouldn’t want you to set for yourself. We want goals that are objective and measurable. So, I suggested to this DCCF-er that he use his heart rate monitor and shoot for a “higher” heart rate at least once a week for the first two months, then twice a week for the next two months, and so on… I wanted to follow-up on that thought to give him (and you) more info on what these heart monitors are doing for us, so you can adjust your goals accordingly.

Put simply, they’re providing an objective measure of how your cardio-respiratory system is working, which you can use to gauge your intensity and either scale it back or crank it up.

Of the five heart rate zones our monitors show on the screen, here’s a quick breakdown:

Zone 1 (Gray): 50-60% – This is a comfortable zone for warmup and cool down.
Zone 2 (Blue): 60-70% – This is “average” effort which should allow you to maintain a conversation. This zone is good for maintaining your aerobic conditioning and recovery between our higher intensity interval WODs.
Zone 3 (Green): 70-80% – This “above average” effort is good for making improvements to your aerobic capacity.
Zone 4 (Yellow): 80-90% – You’ve now entered the “hard effort” zone which is good for maintaining anaerobic capacity.
Zone 5 (Red): 90-100% – This zone, where you’re going as hard as you can go, develops your anaerobic capacity.

CrossFit taxes the anaerobic system pretty regularly, so that’s why you need to be comfortable spending time in zones 4 & 5. However, some of us may find it easier to stay in zones 2 or 3, but upping the intensity to zones 4 or 5 will put our anaerobic energy system to the test. So, if this person is you or if you’re trying to “go harder in 2016”, you can use your heart rate monitor to work yourself into the red (zone 5) then stop and rest until your heart rate returns to the blue (zone 2). If you’re adding a new day to your workout week, say going from 3x/week to 4x/week, then this pattern of working to the red then resting to the blue can also help you slowly get accustomed to the additional volume. As you adjust to working in zones 4 & 5 more often, then you can stop resting once you hit red, and begin spending more time in those zones.

Keep in mind that being dehydrated can increase your heart rate by up to 7.5% and heat/humidity can increase your heart rate by 5%. Luckily, it’s the middle of January and it’s freezing outside, so you can’t use the second excuse for why you’re in the red during Monday’s workout.