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Posted on April 23, 2019

Coming back from a break

Great Article from one of my old boxes and mentors.  Take it in and how true this is.

I was chatting the other day with Emily K. after we both took a class at Mount Laurel.  Emily was coming back after a long break from working out simply because life got crazy.  I felt like I can also relate because I had to take a long layoff over a year ago.  We were trading ideas on what we found helps you succeed coming back from a layoff and I wanted to share them because coming back from time off is really hard and a lot of people will fall off a few weeks in simply because they try to get everything back ASAP.


1.  Forget your old numbers (or what you could do in the past) for 6 months.  Don’t even bother looking at your numbers in Wodify or wherever you store them.  When you stop working out with weights, you lose the strength in those movements.  If you look at what you used to do before every workout you set up a bad situation where you either are unhappy because you know you are doing lighter weight then you used to or you push yourself really hard just to reach your old weights – which leads us into tip 2.

2.  Just move and enjoy that you are moving.  This tip could help a lot of people even those that aren’t coming back from a break.  When you are first coming back, don’t try to go as hard as possible, don’t worry about your time, and don’t worry about the weight on the bar.  If you are coming off a long break, shoot for 60-70% effort in the whole class.  A lot of people come back with a vengeance and because they know how to move fast and want quick results – they go 100%, 5 days a week for a week and a half – and then they can’t move and have to take 2 weeks off.  70% effort does not mean less progress than going 100%.  In fact, you can get continually results and progress doing every workout at 80% intensity forever.  100% effort every day does not mean maximal results, it means that you are going to burn yourself out.

3.  Start with less days and work up.  If you use to come 5 days a week and are coming back, don’t just force yourself to do 5 days.  This is the one that bit me hard when I came back.  I would force myself to do 5 days no matter how sore and tired I was.  What happened was I would through 4 days and feel good.  Then I would force the 5th day and drag ass through the whole class.  Then I would take Sunday off, come in Monday and drag ass through that workout and it would stall my progress because my body was just so tired.  Once I learned to drop to 3 classes a week for a month, then progressed to 4 – I progressed so much faster.

4.  Your goals may change.  The last thing to remember is that your WHY for working out may change over time.  I started Crossfit over 12 years ago and still love it, but how I approach Crossfit and what I want to get out of it has changed drastically over time. For example, my first 4 years of Crossfit were all about learning new things and getting moving.  I generally spent 60 minutes a day working out, 6 days a week.  I focused on learning how to move and just genuinely enjoyed getting a little fitter every workout.  Then I had 6 years where I was focused on getting as strong as possible and really enjoyed doing weekend competitions and pushing the envelope of what I could do physically.  During this time I worked out 2 hours a day, 5 days a week.


Now I am in a stage where I like to come to the gym to socialize with good people and keep moving to be healthy.  I workout 60 minutes a day, 4 days a week and honestly I try to stay in the 80-85% intensity range every class.  I know at some point I may get back to wanting to training to increase my lifts and compete again or I may not and that’s all good.  It is just important to know that when you come back, your goals and approach may change and that it is important to think about what you want to accomplish by coming in to the gym.  The main goal for us is always to keep you moving and healthy.

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Posted on January 25, 2019

Posted on March 29, 2018

Deadlift set up vs Clean set up

Hi everyone,

Some education on the deadlift set up here.  People are struggling with the DL set up compared to the clean set up.  There are very different. The hips in the DL must be high creating tension in the hips and hamstrings. The setup for the clean the hips are low creating tension in the upper back and shoulders so that we dont create hip thrust when the bar passes through the hip or high hang position.  I attached a link to a great video about hip position for the DL. Also below are two illustrations by Kelly Starrett world renounced physiotherapist and on the CrossFit HQ staff for improving human movement.  As you can see in picture on the left the distinct difference in the DL and clean set up notice the hips and chest placement.  The picture on the right clearly shows where the hip need to be and how it stays high as you pass through the hang position.   Again remember the high hip loads the proper muscles to make the lift. Also note the in both pictures the shin is vertical.  I can not stress enough about high hip placement in the DL and low hip placement and high chest in the clean.

  Deadlift set up video

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Posted on February 7, 2018

Yes you can do CrossFit

“I could never do CrossFit.”

Trainers often hear this statement from people who don’t do CrossFit, and I want to apologize for giving you the wrong impression.

I’m here to tell you CrossFit is not a sink-or-swim fitness program, and no minimum level of fitness is required.

You can do CrossFit—but I know why you doubt that.

We often say CrossFit is “infinitely scalable,” but I realize many people have no idea what that means. I’m sorry about that.

The truth is that trainers get excited when we describe a program we love, and we take some shortcuts when we try to explain things. In doing so, we actually break one of CrossFit’s fundamental principles: Define your terms.

CrossFit Inc. Founder Greg Glassman talked about “scalability” of the program in the third edition of the CrossFit Journal, published way back in 2002. The word made perfect sense in the context of the article “What Is Fitness?” Glassman defined his terms and clearly explained that loads and intensity can be modified—or scaled—so the same program can improve fitness with Olympians, grandparents and everyone in between. The principles of the program stay the same, but the application is 100 percent individualized.

As gym owners and trainers, we’ve talked about scaling regularly over the last 16 years, and in many cases we haven’t given enough context for people like you—people who might want to try CrossFit for the first time but don’t understand the program or are intimidated by workouts that look impossible. We need to fix that.

ALT TEXTModifying a movement so it’s appropriate for a client is often referred to as “scaling.” (Dave Re/CrossFit Journal)

I was reminded of this a few weeks back when I asked a new member of our gym if he had hit a “PR”—personal record—on deadlift day.

“What’s a PR?” he asked, and I immediately realized that I had not done my job as a CrossFit trainer.

Instead of using language that would help a new person access our program, I used jargon. I accidentally spoke in code. I’m glad he asked the question, but if he hadn’t, he would have left feeling confused and excluded. He might have even thought that CrossFit just isn’t for him. And it would have been my fault.

So let me explain why you can do CrossFit:

Every workout can be adjusted so every single person can do a version of that workout. This is true whether the person is under 5 or over 100. It’s true whether the person is fit or overweight. It’s true whether the person is healthy or sick. It’s true whether the person is right as rain or dealing with significant injuries.

CrossFit coaches tailor training for individuals by modifying workouts. Trainers might change the movements in the workout, or they might change its length. They might ask an athlete to lift more or less weight. They might ask an athlete to move faster or slower. This process is often referred to as “scaling.”

By adjusting workouts, trainers allow the fittest people and first-timers to train side by side—and both groups become healthier. The best part: The experienced athlete and the new person will bump fists at the end of the workout, each knowing the other just overcame a challenge.

ALT TEXTPull-ups can be modified to challenge athletes at any level.

ALT TEXT(Left: Collen Baz/CrossFit Journal, Right: Kieran Kesner/CrossFit Journal)

Here’s an example. The workout below is called Murph. It’s a signature “Hero workout” named in tribute to a fallen Navy SEAL. It’s meant to be difficult, even for the best athletes in the world.


Run 1 mile
100 pull-ups
200 push-ups
300 squats
Run 1 mile

Some people make this workout even harder by wearing a weighted vest. This is often called “scaling up.”

If you turn on the TV and see someone performing this workout at the CrossFit Games, you might be inclined to say, “I could never do CrossFit.”

It’s correct that you might not be able to do that version of the workout. Many people can’t—even experienced CrossFit athletes. But if we make some adjustments, you’ll be just fine.

Below, we’ll modify Murph for someone who’s never gone to a gym—perhaps someone like you.

Modified Murph

  • Walk 100 ft. at a brisk pace
  • 10 modified pull-ups (Stand facing something that won’t move, like a signpost. Place your feet about 6 inches from the post, grab the post firmly and use your arms for control as you lean back until your arms are straight. Then pull yourself back to vertical. Rest when you need to.)
  • 10 modified push-ups (Stand at arm’s length from a wall, with your hands flat on the wall at shoulder height. Bend your elbows to bring your chest and face to the wall, then push on the wall to go back to vertical. Rest when you need to.)
  • 20 modified squats (Sit down in a chair and stand up. Rest when you need to.)
  • Walk 100 ft. at a brisk pace

The second workout is still Murph. And it would be challenging for the right person. It could also be modified further. You could walk fewer than or more than 100 ft., and you could choose to use a walker or to jog. You could move your feet closer to or farther from the post or wall. You could lower yourself to a tall bar stool or watch this video and learn how to perform squats without a support. You could do fewer or more reps of each movement. You could rest more or less. And so on.

Think of it like this: The medicine is the same, but the dose is different.

Every single workout in CrossFit can be modified like this, and skilled CrossFit trainers quickly make adjustments for clients in every class. We’ve seen creative trainers adjust workouts for kids, teens, people over 100, people with congenital conditions, people with combat injuries, people with no fitness experience, people over 600 lb., people with chronic diseases—the list goes on.

To make this aspect of the program clearer, CrossFit recently started posting modifications for CrossFit.com’s Workout of the Day—or the “WOD.” As originally written, these workouts are designed to challenge very fit people. You’ll now see two more-accessible variations of the workout—but many more are possible.

ALT TEXTA skilled CrossFit trainer can help you learn how to move properly, and he or she will modify all movements so they’re appropriate for your current level of fitness. (Tai Randall/CrossFit Journal)

If you want to start CrossFit today, try the workout above, Modified Murph. If it’s too hard, make it a little easier. If it’s easy, walk a bit farther or do a few more squats. Or consider the beginner option for CrossFit’s Workout of the Day. If that still looks too challenging, modify it until it works for you.

Better yet, remove the guesswork and have an expert create workouts that are tailored to your current abilities. Find a CrossFit trainer or CrossFit affiliate. A qualified CrossFit trainer will skillfully modify the workouts for you and help you perform each movement correctly.

And now, if you ever hear the word “scaling,” you’ll know exactly what it means.

It means you can—and should—do CrossFit.

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