4 Ways to Own Any Workout

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4 Ways to Own Any Workout
Written by: Coach Slater

If you’re new to Derby City, knowing how to tackle the day’s workout can help you be more successful faster. If you’re a grizzled veteran, with weathered hands callused by years of grit, creating better workout strategies can get you past that fitness plateau.

So, let’s look at four ways to own any workout:

Take Ownership of the Whiteboard
I like to look at the workout and ask myself, “How long should this take me?” I typically guesstimate the overall time by first estimating how many seconds it takes me to complete 1 rep of a particular movement in the workout, at that particular weight listed, while including typical rest time between reps. Do that for each movement in the workout, multiply those numbers by the total number of reps, and I’m beginning to get a ballpark time to shoot for. Based on the time you decide for yourself, you’ll know if this is a quick WOD (short, repeated bursts that require a lot of energy for each rep) or paced (longer, slower, more of a grind), and formulate a strategy from there.

Learn Your Speeds
Any workout longer than three minutes needs to be paced! Pacing is all about maximizing the value of a workout. Do you know what your 70% effort feels like? Can you feel your 20min metcon pace? Understanding your current exertion level is where I see a lot of people struggle. Mat Fraser has everything from an all-sprint to a three-hour pace, and he knows what all of those feel like.

You cannot approach every workout the same and expect to get better! Shorter workouts should hurt a lot more than longer ones. Back in my day, there was no pacing. We just attacked everything as hard as possible from the moment we heard 3, 2, 1, Go… and then tried to hang on. Turns out, that’s not really ideal all the time. You need to know a faster speed on your Wallballs, just as you need to know a slower speed with them. All Wallballs are not created equal. And if you *have* the same speed on your Wallballs, no matter what the workout is, you’re missing a chance to better yourself.

Focus On Your Weakness
Look at a workout and ask yourself, “Where do I expect to get in trouble?” You can do this one of two ways: a) generally and b) specifically.

A) From a wider, general perspective, maybe you expect the suck to hit in the 4th round of 5. But maybe, in the middle of the workout, you feel the suck hit in round 2? There’s a good chance you went out too fast. Duh. On the other hand, it’s possible that you make it thru all 5 rounds and never hit the wall. In that case, maybe you didn’t approach the workout with the right intensity. Maybe you’re a “pacer”, and you’re used to only going one speed, and struggle with shorter, powerful bursts. You should work at doing the opposite of what you’re used to doing. Simple, right?

B) From a narrower, more specific perspective, what if the WOD has a 15cal Bike, 12 Hang Power Cleans, and 9 Chest-to-Bars. Some may go casually thru first the two movements to be able to attack the C2B better, while a gymnast may push the bike harder knowing that they’ll kill the C2B easily regardless. So they wait to find out in round 4 or 5 that their strength (gymnastics) has now faded.

And what if you suck at everything? Scale it back to the point where you can crush it. Or, push to where your movement quality begins to fade. Or, scale the number of reps to exactly “one rep prior” where that movement usually falls apart (like chicken winging in a bar muscle-up).

Change the plan of attack based on your goals and what you’re trying to improve.

Plan for Pain
This part is arguably the most important thing for approaching a workout: preparing yourself for how bad it’s going to hurt when you get to a sticking point. Your brain has the ability to control you and will completely shut you down, if you let it. So if you think you can go as hard as possible, then go slow for a second, then go fast again, and slow again, you’re sorely mistaken. Establish a consistent pace and pay attention to it. Then, look to increase or decrease that pace as needed, but know that you WILL need to work at doing both. If you’re going the same pace all the same in all of your workouts, you’re leaving fitness growth on the table. A tip I use for helping my pace is focusing on my breath, using a rhythm of inhale-inhale-inhale-exhale.

Then, get your mind right for pain. No one ever got fitter by staying in their comfort zone. The most important part of being mentally prepared, is understanding exactly how you can be better by facing your fear. Know why you want to do this. Know you want to be better.

Mental Tricks to Get Thru Tough Workouts

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Mental Tricks to Get Thru Tough Workouts
Written by: Coach Slater

Everyone knows the feeling of suffering and self-doubt during a really tough WOD. Those negative thoughts crawl in, sometimes before the WOD even starts:

“You’ll never finish under the time cap.”
“If you skip one or two reps, no one will notice.”
“Let’s do the sub-Life version. You won’t feel so much pain.”
“Just give up and it’s over. Right here and now, and the pain will end.”

We CrossFitters are especially prone to this kind of negative self-talk because our workouts can demand so much from us, both physically and mentally. But we can’t let them win.

Luckily, there are some pretty easy psychological tricks you can use to help yourself:

1. Control What You Can Control: Breath

You can’t control how heavy the weight is, but you can control how you’re breathing. Focusing on your breath can be calming when you feel anxious during (or especially before) a WOD. Concentrate on making your breathing regular, and adapt it to each movement. For example, on Wallballs, I like to inhale just before I catch the ball on the descent, holding it in as I hit the squat, then exhale as I’m driving up and releasing the ball. When rowing, I exhale as I drive back, quickly inhale & exhale as I return, then sneak in one more inhale at the catch, before exhaling again on the drive.

Focusing on controlling what you can control, namely your breathe, can have a dramatic effect on diminishing those negative thoughts during workouts.

2. Trick Your Brain by Refocusing Your Thinking

This trick is especially useful during longer workouts. When you feel exhausted and pain ridden, your brain concentrates on those aspects in your body, the acid in your legs, the heaviness of your arms, etc… What you have to do now is to distract your brain from these impulses by totally occupying it with something else. The easiest way to do that is by giving yourself a mental task to complete.

Personally, I recite every person’s first and last name in class. I’ve also heard that listing every capital city in the US works. Or, think of as many words as you can that contain two certain letters, like S and C for example. By doing so, you’re deliberately distracting your thinking from the source of pain. It sounds trivial, but this technique can help pass the time when things get tough and that clock seems to move at half-speed.

3. Be Inspired by Your Fellow CrossFitters

In CrossFit, we earn each others respect by going all out during a WOD. Personally, I’m typically more impressed by someone who pushed themselves and still got time-capped, rather than someone who went too light and breezed thru the WOD to finish first. Or, what about those people who do things that look impossible? Both sets of individuals are inspirational in their own way because they’re pushing it to their very own limits. If you find yourself feeling terrible during a WOD, thinking you can’t go on anymore, take a look around you. See anybody else quitting? No? Then you shouldn’t either. Be inspired by the other athletes here.

4. Adopt a Hero-Version of Yourself

Stole this idea from a book called SuperBetter, about gaming yourself for better performance. Basically, think of a hero you want to be, like Hulk, Wonder Woman, or Iron Man and use them to create your own secret identity. When you feel like you can’t go on anymore during a WOD, think of your secret identity as a mantra. Say to yourself something like “I am the mighty XXX and I will do everything to get stronger and slay the WOD-monster.”

Yes, this sounds silly, but by saying this to yourself, you’re programming your brain thru positive affirmation.

5. Accept Failure as a Part of the Process

Don’t be afraid to fail. First, remind yourself of the reason why you are doing CrossFit. Maybe it’s because you like the people here (they’re pretty cool), want to get fitter, or maybe you need it to counter depression and the stress you have in your life. Whatever your individual reason, we’re all united by the fact that we want to become better versions of ourselves.

To accomplish this, you have to push yourself to your limits and then exceed those limits during a WOD. That also means that you have to FIND your limits as well. These are the points, places, and times at which you fail. Failure to hit a certain weight, perform a specific number of reps, or finish a WOD within a time cap does not mean that you’ll never be able to do these things. It just means that you can’t do them right now. If you want to get better, hit those targets and improve, then you need to put in the work.

If you succeed at every WOD, you always PR with every lift, and you’re always first, then you simply aren’t pushing yourself hard enough. Failure is part of the process, and it makes it all the more rewarding when you finally hit that lift or WOD time you’ve been chasing!

Know Your Fitnemesis

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Know Your Fitnemesis
Written by: DCCF-Member Phil Newton

There’s a lot to be said about the power of competition as a motivating factor in your fitness. Just about anyone you ask who’s been in a comp will tell you about hitting that PR on game day because of that surge of adrenaline from being there in front of a screaming crowd. What if I told you that you could harness that energy in your day to day training?

One of the major components of improving your fitness is to push yourself past your comfort zone. If you aren’t uncomfortable, you aren’t growing. Well I’m not here to feed you platitudes and cool catchphrases to put over a stock photo of a sunrise, I want to give you a trick that will help elevate you to the next level.

There is a pretty solid consensus that suggests if you treat an objective as a game, you are likely to try harder and give yourself more satisfaction from your smaller incremental successes. Thereby making it easier to achieve greater long-term results. Look at some tips from Navy SEALs on how they handle the rigors of their training. We aren’t pushing ourselves to the brink like they are usually, but there’s a lot of good that can be taken from their mentality.

As with any game, it’s only fun if you have an opponent. My suggestion to you is, find a fitnemesis at the gym. You may be familiar with the concept of a frenemy, a fitnemesis is a similar arrangement but also a wholly different affair. They are a rival for you to compete against in the game of fitness you are creating for yourself. But that doesn’t mean that you dislike each other. Actually quite the opposite!

This new training partner of yours could be at your level of fitness, could be a new member fresh out of Elements, or could be a coach or one of the competitors. They could be a regular in your class, a person you hang out with outside the gym, or a name you see regularly on the whiteboard or in our awesome app that you haven’t even met in person yet. The important thing is that they are/were/will be present and you can use their effort as a gauge to measure your own. Not whether you beat them on the workout, but rather if you achieved your expectations of your performance. You could have several folks who are your fitnemesis. All of them at varied levels of fitness to get a broad data set to compare your fitness level.

The best part about this, is the other people DON’T EVEN HAVE TO KNOW.

Since Carl Duvall came to Derby City he’s been my Fitnemesis. He’s stronger than me in almost everything, and to beat him on a metcon, I need to sometimes go to that dark place that I rarely see outside of the Open. But I’ve used just about everyone for this purpose at one point or another. Coach Evan and I will discuss how he performed on a workout and I’ll try to beat his score; though I usually won’t, sometimes I’ll have a good day and rack up a “W”. I will often even compare myself to Lexi. I know she’s gonna kill me in every workout, but my goal isn’t to beat her; it’s to never get doubled. If she finished a workout in 6 minutes, I better not take more than 12. If I finished in 11:59, I won. If she got 20 rounds, I’m after at least 10. If I get 12 rounds to her 20, then that nerd got schooled by a VERY mediocre CrossFitter.

You should lose these challenges you make for yourself sometimes, that’s what encourages you to continue to improve. When you do lose, it exposes a deficit in your fitness that you can work on. And since you have a fitnemesis who just did better on the workout with those movements, you already have someone you can talk to and ask how to improve!

How to Survive Test Week

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How to Survive Test Week
Written by: Coach Evan

We’re coming up on the end of our training cycle. For those of you who don’t know, our cycles are 8 weeks long starting with one week of testing new movements/lifts/workouts. This sets up the foundation of our strength work and conditioning work, which takes up the following 6 weeks. The 8th week is a retest, an exact copy of the first week to see how we’ve progressed. I hear often that test weeks produce anxiety for many athletes at Derby City CF. Here are some tips that will help you do well during the retest week and future test weeks.

1. Don’t change your routine. Your body is used to how and when you perform, and changing things will throw it off. We want to put ourselves in the prime conditions for testing. Unless your routine involves poor sleeping and eating habits, stick to the normal routine. If your routine does involve the above, maybe now isn’t the time for a big overhaul, but it’s time to start thinking about making those changes.

2. Don’t get hung up on a number or a time or certain number of rounds/reps. Our biggest obstacle is almost always our mind. Our bodies are capable of far more than our brains usually allow. Case in point, for a while I was stuck at a 295# back squat. 295 would be nice and smooth, 300 would be failure. Every time. Until Coach Slater loaded my bar for me one day without telling me what he was putting on. I proceeded to squat 305 and then 310, almost getting 315. I don’t suggest that kind of psychological trickery all the time, but the following is something I do almost every day.

3. Envision your lift. When it’s time for the big lift, tighten your belt, chalk up your hands, walk to the bar, look forward, and then close your eyes. See yourself performing the lift. Go over every minor detail. Feel how the bar feels, how the weight moves, how your muscles react. Imagine that perfect drive off the floor; the smoothest sweep into power position. Envision the perfect lift. You know what it looks like. You now know what it should feel like. Open your eyes, tighten down on the bar, and lift. No extra thinking, no pausing after getting ready, commit to the lift once you grab onto that bar. If you aren’t ready, or you screw up your pre-lift ritual, that’s ok. Start over and don’t go until it feels right.

4. It is not do or die. All that being said, don’t put so much pressure on yourself. Enjoy moving your body in ways it was meant to be moved. Enjoy expressing athleticism and beauty of movement. If you fail a lift, evaluate and try again. If you keep failing, you are not a failure. Testing requires our central nervous system to be in prime condition. Just because it’s test week doesn’t necessarily mean your body is ready for test week. If you do worse on a workout it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re less fit, especially if you put in the work. Not everything will be perfect, and life and training goes on. There will be better days. Enjoy those good days.

5. Last but not least, enjoy the air of competition and camaraderie! There’s nothing wrong with a shout of joy after hitting a PR. Ring that PR bell. Scream for your friends, encourage strangers, run and jump around. Have fun. What is all of this if it’s not fun? A boring class can be the difference between a PR and a failed lift. You can make that difference.

Test weeks can be stressful, but they can also be fun. Let’s be good accountability partners and make sure everyone shows up and let’s have an excellent week of fitness.

How to Make Exercise *Stick*

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How to Make Exercise *Stick*
Written by: Coach Slater

We’re halfway in to our Summer Transformation challenge, and the four males & females who either lose the most body fat or gain the most muscle will win over $400 each. Two of the biggest keys to winning this challenge are Consistency and Nutrition. Today, let’s talk about Consistency by addressing “how to make exercise stick”.

Whether you prefer to workout in the morning, afternoon, or evening, exercise needs to become your routine, your habit, and creating new habits can be a challenge. The most successful people at Derby City don’t exercise ‘sometimes’, they attend the gym on most days without fail. Here are some ideas on how you can follow in their footsteps, making your workout just a part of your normal life.

Get Enough Sleep

This is like the Prologue before Chapter One. The first step before the actual first step. Everyone knows that feeling of running on empty because they didn’t sleep. It’s going to be impossible to keep your new exercise habit if you’re not sleeping. So, if you workout in the morning, but you don’t go to bed early enough, you’ll find it hard to get out of bed. And, if you workout after work, that’s the time of day when a bad night’s sleep will catch up with you making you more likely to go home and sit on the couch rather than get to the gym. Don’t let lack of sleep be an excuse. It’s largely within your control.

Set the Alarm

This is for you early risers. Create the habit of waking up with enough time to hit the gym, by consistently getting out of bed at the same time every day. This recommendation may sound oversimplified, but if you simply make it a habit of waking up at a certain time every day, it’s hard to break that habit without intervention. If you set the alarm but find yourself hitting snooze frequently, then you need to go to bed earlier.

Get Your Gym Stuff Ready Before Bed or Before Work

You’re starting a new habit, so it helps to eliminate any possible excuses. One of which is preparing your gym clothes, gym bag, and pre/intra/post-workout shakes before going to bed or before leaving for work. If you commonly use your pet or running errands as an excuse to go home after work, then think about changing your routine to do that on your lunch break so you can go straight to the gym after you leave the office. Make it so there’s minimal thinking required to get moving. When the alarm goes off in the morning or you get in your car at the end of the workday, you don’t think, you just do.

Just Show Up

At first, don’t focus on crushing the workout, chasing the time of someone on the whiteboard, or beating everyone in class. We need to create a habit of exercise that is so easy, you can do it even when you’re running low on willpower and motivation. So for now, just focus on showing up, even if that means you only perform the workout at “sub-Life”, get time-capped every day, and are always the last to finish. No one cares how you perform, they just care that you came and gave an honest effort.

Focus on the Process, Not the Results

Most people join Derby City telling us “I want to lose 20 pounds” or “I want to lose the jiggle”. In fact, many people said similar things to me when signing up for the Summer Transformation challenge! I think it’s better to focus on the system, the habit of working out, rather than the results. You’re trying to establish a new normal of never missing workouts, a routine of consistent attendance, because doing so will lead to your goal. Remember, “Hitting DCCF 3 days per week is just enough to *break even*, but if you’re serious about seeing dramatic physical changes, then consider 4 or 5 days per week.” Focus on what you can control, and the result will come more easily.

Treat Yourself

If you’re the type of person that justifies eating something bad because you did something good, then A) you really need to break that habit, and B) use your pre/intra/post-workout shake as a treat. Of course, I want you to make that shake a healthy one, not just a vessel for a pint of ice cream. My post-workout shake uses a bit of Kool-Aid powder, and I really look forward to the days when I put in the Orange powder. Many in the gym rave about mixing our Driven Nutrition Vanilla Whey Protein with an Orange Gatorade for a creamsicle-like taste. Focusing on that reward might make it easier to get yourself to your workout.

We want to make exercise a habit, one that is hard to break. An active life is proven to make you happier, healthier, and full of energy. So, start creating the habit, and we’ll do our part to keep you accountable.

Make the Most of Your Time

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Make the Most of Your Time
Originally Posted on Gym Jones

DCCF Note: We were so impressed with this article that we felt it deserved to be reprinted in full, to make sure the Derby City family read it. It’s conclusion is dead-on with the message we strive to consistently deliver. Enjoy.

Time Isn’t an Excuse

Training can have a remarkable effect on all aspects of your life. Improving physical fitness will make you healthier and better able to cope with stress. You will look better and feel more confident. Your psychological being will be far better off. Training can help make you a better father or mother, a better husband or wife, and it can allow you to enjoy more of the things you love. And yet people still refuse to invest the necessary time.

Much of the training discussion focuses on training and nutrition, but one of the biggest obstacles people have when it comes to training is finding enough time. Time management seems to be the biggest determinant in a person’s success in any given training program.

The first question I always ask when it comes to writing someone a program is, “How much time can you commit each day and each week?” If you tell me you have twenty hours a week and you can train twice a day, I can write you the best program in the world. On the other hand, if you tell me you only have one hour to train each week and can only make the gym twice, my hands are tied. There’s no magic I can work at that point.

I’ve trained many different types of people with varying commitment levels. On average I am disappointed with the amount of time people are willing to commit. So I want to make one thing clear: time is not an excuse. The real issue is usually that a person isn’t dedicated enough or has poor time management skills.

Case in Point:

There are 24 hours in a day and seven days in a week, which totals 168 total hours. That is a lot of time to fit everything you need into your schedule. When I encounter a person who claims he or she doesn’t have enough time, we go through an exercise together. We examine where their time is going. Essentially, I perform an audit on their schedule.

I ask a person how many hours they spend at work in a week. For the purpose of this exercise I will assign seventy hours to work. That is a person who works fourteen hours a day, Monday to Friday.

Then I assign that person eight hours of sleep a night. I don’t ask them, I tell them, because at this point everyone says they can’t get that much sleep (which is entirely another issue I could address). That is a total of 56 hours of sleep in a week. The person now stands at 126 total hours used out of a possible 168.

Then I ask what the hell they do with the rest of their time. I remind them they have 42 hours left. They start shouting out things like, “I have to commute to work,” “I have to go grocery shopping,” “I need to spend time with my family.” I assign them values for these. I give them two hours a day for commuting time, which adds to ten hours for the five days of work. I give them three hours per week to grocery shop, and I give them twenty hours in quality time (without the phone or any outside distractions) to spend with their family per week. That brings their total to 159 hours.

They still have nine hours left to train. Usually the person gets the message by this point.

The funniest thing about this exercise is that most people who say they don’t have time to train don’t actually work seventy hours a week. They don’t sleep eight hours a night, don’t commute that far, and don’t spend that much quality time with their family. So they end up having a lot more than nine hours a week to train. Do you wonder where all their time goes? I have an idea: TV, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, text messages, screwing around, etc.

If you really believe that you can’t find enough time, then two issues need to be addressed. The first is time management and the second is your level of commitment and desire. I can’t help you with the latter. Commitment and desire must come from within. But hopefully I can help you with time management.

Be the Dentist

The first step in taking back your life and freeing up time is to take command of your schedule. Don’t let others plan your schedule for you. It’s your schedule and your life so you make the rules. Your time is the most precious commodity you have. It is the one thing that you can give and never get back. Treat it like it is important. Be dominant and make protecting your schedule your ultimate priority.

Force other people to work around your schedule. When you make appointments don’t ask, “When works for you?” and then get stuck in appointment that you don’t like or that wreaks havoc on your schedule. Tell them when you can make time for them. Start planning your schedule in a way that allows you to train. If you claim your training is important, then you will protect it. People always make time for things that are important to them, like their favorite television show or a night out with friends. Why not do it with training?

I know a businessman who routinely tells people he cannot meet with them between 11am and 1pm. He also tells his secretary not to take meetings during that time. When people ask, she politely says, “I’m sorry, there are already meetings booked during that time. Are there any other times that work for you?” People don’t need to know he is going to gym or doing other things. They respect the fact that he is unavailable and acquiesce to another time. Job done.

Think back to a time you called the dentist and attempted to make an appointment. You ask to make an appointment and the receptionist gives you a time. It’s usually a few weeks out at a time that works best for them. For argument’s sake, say they tell you November 11th at 10am. You say you cannot make 10am because you have to work. So she advises November 19th at 3pm. You say the same thing and tell her you work between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. So she suggests November 27th at 9am. Once again, it is on a weekday between 9am and 5pm.

So what do you do? You say you’ll take the first appointment and rearrange your schedule to make it work. Why do you do this? Because your teeth are important and you have to make time for them. The dentist isn’t going to come in at some time that doesn’t work for his or her schedule. The dentist isn’t going to come in at 6am on a Tuesday morning because you decided that works best for you. They will not skip their lunch or stay late for you. You are at their mercy. Learn from this.

When it comes to your schedule, be the dentist. You’re the boss, you make the decisions, you make the schedule.

Avoid Time Wasters

There are a few common time-wasters. I will address three here: commuting, people, and your cell phone.


If you have a long commute, do whatever you can to avoid getting stuck in traffic. Sitting in a traffic jam is dead time. Avoid busy times by leaving your home earlier in the morning and/or coming home later.

For example, I have a friend who lives in a busy urban center. If he leaves his home at 7am, he can barely make it to work by 9am. Sometimes he is late. If he leaves at 6:15am he gets there by 7am and has time left to train and shower at a local gym. At the end of the day he does the same. If he leaves at 5pm, he gets home at 7pm. If he leaves at 6:30pm, he gets home at 7:15pm (only 15 minutes later) and created an extra hour and a half in his schedule. He saved almost four hours in his day just by adjusting his commute times. That is a lot of time to accomplish your goals.

The Cell Phone:

Most people don’t have a concept of how much time they waste daily on their phone. So do me a favor. Every time you check your phone for a text message or social media update, do five burpees. You will learn fast how much of a time suck the phone can be. I bet most of you waste hours of time each day. The cell phone also makes your other tasks take much longer because it’s a distraction.

Have some self-control. Put the phone away sometimes. Don’t be so attached. Sounds easy enough, right?


You can’t be everything to everyone and you can’t give everything to everyone. There are people (you know the ones I am talking about) who enjoy talking your ear off, ask you for help when they don’t really need it, or show up late to appointments you have with them. Learn the power of saying “no.” Be kind, be nice, but know it is okay to protect your time. Time is precious. Spend it on those who deserve and respect it.

Be Creative With Your Training

If there is a time you really cannot get to the gym, then start to get creative with your training. Doing repetitions every hour on the hour can be powerful. How many push ups do you think you’ve done this year? 1,000? 2,000? More? Try doing ten push ups ten times throughout the day. You could do ten every hour or five every half hour. If you could accumulate 100 a day, you would accumulate 36,500 by the end of the year. Not bad, especially since it’s easy. It doesn’t take much to fit into your schedule and you won’t even break a sweat. You could do the same with squats, pull ups (if you have a bar in your house that hangs from the door frame), or lunges. It is incredible how this volume approach adds up.

Multitasking is another helpful tool. When you watch your favorite show or football on Sundays, do work during commercial breaks or every few minutes, rather than just sitting on your ass. I remember once watching The Lord of the Rings with my son. It’s one of his favorite movies. Do you know how many burpees, push ups, and lunges you can get done in a three-hour movie? It doesn’t take away from the movie. You could also have an exercise bike in the living room. I have routinely ridden a Fan Bike while watching some of my favorite shows. This is the kind of thing committed people do.


Just remember, time is a precious commodity. Protect it and respect it. We are all capable of making time for the things we love. Learn to make time for your training. It could change your life. You just have to want it.

The Benefits of Bro-Pumping

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The Benefits of Bro-Pumping
Written by: Coach Slater

“Oh bro, you’re crushing that! Add some weight to the bar!”

“Girl, seriously, that looked easy!”

Bro-pumping is the act of “pumping up” someone in the gym to give them the mental edge they need to do something they’ve never done before, didn’t think they could do, were scared to try, or simply never considered. Bro-pumping takes the supportive environment you see in Regional CrossFit competitions and brings it home, on a smaller scale, for your class time with your classmates. Bro-pumping is gender neutral, and can be utilized on anyone and everyone at the gym. You see somebody kicking butt but maybe needs a suggestive nudge to try that new PR? Give them a bro-pump!

Bro-pumping is intentionally and distinctively different from Bro-shaming as it doesn’t cut anyone down, police someone over their effort or appearance, or ridicule people who workout at a different pace/intensity than you. It’s welcoming and supportive of all, because it respects weightlifting and all those who better themselves by it.

Often times, it’s on the gym veterans to initiate a bro-pump. When someone looks lost, it’s on us to help them out, instead of acting annoyed or ignoring them. We can let them know that we were in the same position when we started. Remember the people who helped us and pay it forward. Be a teacher and help someone understand that it’s ok to try our hardest and not quite succeed, but that’s infinitely better than not trying. It’s ok to feel embarrassed about finishing last in class because we tried a weight we wouldn’t usually try, or timid that we’re trying a personal record that we just saw “Becky” hit during her warmup sets.

But, bro-pumping doesn’t just apply to newcomers. Sometimes, a fellow veteran needs a boost, too. Maybe they had a rough day in the office or simply need an adrenaline boost. Pump up that person and watch your energy level rise with theirs. Bro-pumping helps everyone raise their level of performance just like a rising tide lifts all boats.

If you go to this gym, you clearly want to get better. No one is here to waste their time or money. So, the Derby City culture is, and will always be, welcoming. We’ve even mentioned it in Coaches Meetings when we say that we should never shame someone for being late. Instead, we should show how glad we are that they arrived and help them quickly mix into the ongoing class. We appreciate the transformative power this training has on us and others, so we want to share that feeling. We want to teach beginners (and remind veterans alike) that we should do everything in our power to give those around us the opportunity to succeed.

So, bro-pump somebody tomorrow. Help them succeed.

“Bro, you crushed it.”

Stop Changing Your Weights Mid-Workout

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Stop Changing Your Weights Mid-Workout
Written by: Coach Evan

Many of us find ourselves staring at the whiteboard and the prescribed weights trying to decide what weight to use. Maybe it’s Fran and you finally want to do it as prescribed. Maybe you’ve been wanting to try a heavier weight in a workout, but have been apprehensive. Big weights scare all of us, you’re not alone.

You decide that today is the day. You’re going to try it. You’re feeling good, you’re ready to lift that heavier weight all through the workout. You warm up, you’re feeling confident, even though you might move a little slower, you’re still going to be able to do it.

First lift: smooth. Feels heavy but yea well duh. First round: Oh, man that was a little harder than expected. This is where the doubt and fear sets in. Second round: there’s no way I can finish this. Get to the third round of five: changing plates to a weight I know I can do.


Unless you are hurting yourself or others around you, don’t change your weights mid-WOD. Safety and proper technique are always the most important. The second most important thing is that you are constantly pushed out of your comfort zone. Most of the time you are changing the weight because you’re afraid you won’t finish, or you’re afraid you’re going to fail a rep. You’ve heard this time and time again, but it’s easy to forget and easy to not want to apply it to your situation: failure is a great way to grow. I would encourage you to try new strategies often until you find what works for you to keep growing as an athlete; to push yourself. Then you’ll see your progress soar. Whether the strategies work or whether you fail, you will learn a lot from trying them. If they fail, you can analyze and adjust. If they worked well you’ve found a new strategy to use in future workouts. Not failing is great way to grow, too.

You may also be afraid that you’re going to hurt yourself. One of the great things about Derby City CrossFit is that our coaches are always watching, whether you can see it or not, and we’re paying attention to how you lift, especially in the middle of a workout. If we notice that something is going badly, we will come over and help with technique and possibly suggest that you modify the weight. If we don’t, have a little more trust in us and more importantly in yourself that you are moving well. You might not be able to do sets of 7 or 8 and have to back off maybe even to sets of 3. But just because it feels hard doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use the weight.

I see athletes use the same weights in workouts over and over again who crush the workouts with that weight but then wonder why they aren’t making progress. I also see athletes who are eager to try heavier weights start the workout with them and then immediately strip the weight down only five or ten pounds and then crush that lower weight. Why did they take the weight off? Because it’s hard to live outside the comfort zone.

Unfortunately that’s what CrossFit and growing as an athlete (and everyone in this gym is an athlete) and becoming fitter is all about. You have to be willing to push outside of your comfort zone to get better, which goes for most life situations too. Make a commitment to yourself that as long as the reps are still possible and still safe, you end with the same weight on the bar. Even if you get time capped, even if you barely get through any part of the workout. See it through to the end, and you’ll have better information for next time, or you might even surprise yourself by doing better than you thought. The latter is almost always the case.

Is the Comp Class Right for You?

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Is the Comp Class Right for You?
Written by: DCCF-er Phil Newton

As summer creeps in and everyone is on that mad dash to finalize that hot beach bod to show off on the ‘gram, I have had a few people ask me about the Comp Class and what it’s done for me. I’ve been doing the extra programming for a solid year now, and I can tell you, it pays off. With that being said; I can’t say that it’s right for you. There are a few questions you should ask yourself before you dive into the additional programming:

1. Are you going to the gym consistently? 4-5 days a week minimum?

If the answer to that question is no, then stop reading this article and get sweaty in a class! Doing more work on fewer days is not going to get you the results you want.

“Pfft, whatever Phil, I’m always up in there getting my fitness on.”

Well alright then chief, buuuuuuut…

2. Are you consistently hitting the workouts each day you train with high intensity?

You should be giving everything you have in the normal classes before adding additional programming. The class workouts are enough, if you have the desire to push yourself for the hour you are in the gym each day. Hit the sport weight, do the extra rounds, push yourself to do the difficult movements that you avoid. Give everything you have in class and you might just see that you don’t have the energy for extra work.

You may have seen a post I made on the DCCF Social Page during regionals about Max Bragg, the guy who made it to the East Regional and competed against Mat Fraser (You know who he is) and held his own. Well, he only did affiliate programming and look how far he got! Trust me, that dude is fitter than you.

You may be saying, “But Phil, obviously he’s a genetic freak with a job that supports his fitnessing!”

Well, you’re right, but before you think adding more work will get you where you want to be ask yourself this…

3. Is your nutrition dialed in?

If you’re eating a Whizzburger and a chocolate shake for dinner after you leave the gym every night, you’re not going to fuel yourself with the energy that you’ll need for high volume. I’m not saying you have to go strict paleo or get out the scale every time that you’re sitting down for lunch to weigh out if that extra bean sprout in your kale salad is gonna ruin your macros, but you should be mindful of the things you are putting into your body.

So, your nutrition is good, you’re hitting it with intensity, and you’re hitting it often. Surely that’s it, right? Au contraire…

4. Are. You. Recovering!?!?!

This is probably the most important step and it’s often the most overlooked. Are you taking the time to do mobility work outside of the class? Are you taking care of nagging injuries? Are you getting enough sleep? There’s a lot to consider about how much stress your putting your body through.

If you aren’t treating your time outside the gym as just as important to your training, you will see diminished results inside the gym.

If you’re nailing all the first four points, then I just have one last question for you.

5. Why?

This is a question that I ask when people say they need extra programming and almost always I get the same response.

“I want to get better/stronger/faster.” I support that decision 100%, that’s why we all show up in the first place. What you should think about is, why is this extra programming going to be the element that gets you there? Slater had a great article a while back about goals and habits that is really worth a read if you missed it.

So what goal will this extra programming help you achieve that would not be accomplished from the regular class? You want to work on additional skills under fatigue to help your chances in upcoming competitions? Yep, that’s a good reason. You want to get your bi’s and tri’s lookin’ sweet for the honeys out on the lake? A little less so. Be specific in your goals with the extra work, because it IS WORK.

The extra accessory pieces are tough, and if you aren’t ready to suffer, you’re not going to get anything out of them. But if you’re ready to sweat a lot, cry a little, and work hard; then I’ll see ya in there. I’ll be the guy almost throwing up coming off the assault bike.

Comp Class runs Mon, Tues, Wed at 5:30p & 6:30p; and Fri at 5:30p.

6 Ways Derby City CrossFit Will Change Your Life

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6 Ways Derby City CrossFit Will Change Your Life

Maybe you haven’t tried CrossFit because you’ve heard some negatives about it: it’s dangerous, it leads to injury, it makes you bulk up… but, if it were so bad, why do so many people love it? We strive to make a class at Derby City CrossFit the best part of someone’s day. We don’t teach a “dangerous” or “injurious” form of training. We teach a sustainable, long-term approach using high-intensity exercise to make you the fittest you’ve ever been.

We do so while creating a fun atmosphere, similar to the team environments of sports from your youth and young adult life. Members of Derby City CrossFit stumble into our doors and emerge as changed people, having regained their youth. These changes aren’t just physical (although they’re a bonus!); many of the greatest changes are mental. If you walk in our doors and truly make yourself a part of our family, then here are 6 ways Derby City CrossFit will change your life.

Increase Your Confidence
When you see what your body is capable of in workouts, you can’t help but get a surge of confidence. This kind of confidence doesn’t end when you leave our gym. In fact, you might just find it helps you to ask for a raise or negotiate a sales agreement with a tough client. Think all that focus on form is limited to your workouts? Think again. Your body starts to retain awesome “muscle memory”, and that begins to positively affect your posture. You’ll stand up a little taller, sit a little straighter, and carry yourself with much more confidence.

Expand Your Sense of Community
The Derby City community is known for being notoriously loyal. That loyalty doesn’t stop at the gym door, it extends to the communities we live in. Our community supports each other by hosting baby showers for each other, graduation parties for each other’s kids, and monthly get-togethers at the newest bars/restaurants in Louisville.

Challenge Yourself in New Ways
Training at Derby City is known to improve your energy level, and all of that enthusiasm and stamina has to go somewhere, right? Our members find they want to keep pushing at their comfort zones in ways that aren’t purely athletic. Some may go back to school, while others may start new careers or their own businesses. The future is wide open for dreamers and achievers with ambition.

“Up” Your Sex Drive
If you’re looking for a boost in performance between the sheets, you’ll be happy to know that Derby City has been known to make people a little “randier”. Why shouldn’t they want to get their groove on, especially after they feel so much better about their bodies?

Increase Your Focus
Adults who suffer from mild ADHD may find that training at Derby City is a good way to gain focus in ordinary life. Our training is all about having short-term and long-term goals, and really honing in on them. As your mind starts to become accustomed to this kind of concentration, you’ll pay more attention at work, in school, or during daily activities.

Better Understand Your Body
Training at Derby City will give you a new appreciation for what your body can do. Many people go through life never really “in tune” with their bodies; if you can find that connection and maintain it, you’ll benefit tremendously.

So, if you want Derby City CrossFit to help change your life, contact us below and we’ll tell you more.

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“To Change Your Life, You Have To Change The Way You Think. Behind Everything You Do, Is A Thought. Every Behavior Is Motivated By A Belief. Every Action Is Promoted By An Attitude. Be Careful Of How You Think. Your Life Is Directed By Your Thoughts!” – John Wright