Competition Corner

The Large Whiteboard Lie

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“Hey guys it’s all about You vs. You”
“I don’t care how good that team is, you can beat them if you just focus on YOUR game.”
“Don’t worry about what weights that are on the whiteboard. You choose your own weight.”
“Don’t worry about the CAP time, I just want you to push yourself.”

If you have ever heard these phrases you have competed in athletics in SOME capacity. Even more specifically, a few of those phrases are exclusively used by CrossFit COACHES. You even read about it in the history books, we don’t care how good the Soviet hockey team is, we don’t care what their record is, our USA college boys will give them a whooping. But the fact of the matter is that we always look to the left, and to the right, to see what the other people are doing. Are they lifting heavier than us? Are they moving faster than us? Are they undefeated? We are told not to compare ourselves, but the temptation is so strong that it seems impossible. No matter how fast we run, we wanna know how fast that other girl ran. No matter how much we PR’d by, we wanna know if we finally beat that guy. Throw in what we like to call the “whiteboard” and it’s a done deal. We now have the ability to not only compare ourselves with people in our class, but also in previous classes throughout the day. I mean, if you are asked to do a front squat, why WOULDN’T you look and see what John Doe lifted? EVEN IF it’s a weight that is a bit too heavy for us. So essentially in a community where we preach self improvement, a You vs. You mentality, and “better than yesterday” ideal, we somehow have managed to put the ultimate measuring stick (the whiteboard) right in front of our members and tell them not to look. Sounds kinda contradictory doesn’t it? So I’d like to explain how at CFNP we are going to adjust a few things to try to reinforce (or un-reinforce) these ideals.

“Mr. CrossFit tear down this whiteboard!”
I know we have already established love-hate relationship with the idea of a CAP time, sometimes it has pushed us, other times it’s downright discouraging. So away it goes. And it is now to be replaced with a “Goal Time,” a time in which we want you to try to complete the WOD in. This means if the Goal Time is 7’, then choose weights and progressions that will allow you to complete the workout in 7’. If you choose a weight too heavy and you are headed for a 20’ WOD, well lets adjust a few things so that you don’t have to slow down so much and get closer to that Goal Time.

“Yeah right Gabe! So you want me to do 30x Front Squats at 65 lbs, run 400m, do 30x Burpees, and then 40x DUs and shoot for a 10:00 Goal Time?!”

Technically yes, yes I do.

Now here comes the fun part. If that seems impossible, then how about we do 30x Front Squats at 55 lbs? What if we chose a weight that forced you to only rest three times, rather than nine times? Or what if you are a quicker athlete, and those burpees, DUs, and run took far less time, leaving you with excess time with the barbell? How about we use up all that time and add some extra 15’s on that barbell? You see many people have taken a peek at this approach and instantly said “So we need to be lifting lighter from now on?” Absolutely not! I have tried this Goal Time approach and have been forced to move much heavier weight than I would have originally programmed for myself. A few WODs will be broken down below so that you may see how one would go about attacking these training sessions both if the athlete is a good runner but light lifter, or a heavy lifter with weak gymnastic skills. Many of us have an incorrect mental approach, we already know what weight we are going to do, before we even know how long the WOD is supposed to take. Believe me, some WODs will be light, fast, and short, others will pan out to be quite heavy, either way, the Goal Time can be a real S.O.B. so be ready to adjust accordingly.

Scenario 1

Example WOD
4 Rounds
6x OHS
400m Run
*Goal Time – 12’

Athlete #1 Approach (tends to be faster but weaker)
3’ per round to hit Goal Time
400m Run = 1:30 [estimated time]
6x OHS = 1:30 [remaining time]
Now this athlete due to their fast running, will be left with a lot of BB time, this is a great chance to go very heavy since only 6x OHS are expected in 1:30

Athlete #2 Approach (tends to be slower but stronger)
3’ per round to hit Goal Time
400m Run = 2:30 [estimated time]
6x OHS = :30 [remaining time]
Due to the athlete’s slower run time, they are now left with 30 seconds to perform 6x OHS, this is still a considerable amount of time to be holding the BB but the load is likely to be lighter in this case

Scenario 2

Example WOD
4 Rounds
10x Power Clean
10x PU
10x BJ
*Goal Time – 10’

Athlete #1 Approach (tends to be faster but weaker)
2:30’ per round to hit Goal Time
10x BJ = :30 [estimated time]
10x PU = :30 [estimated time]
10x Power Clean = 1:30 [remaining time]
Due to this athlete’s speed and efficiency with gymnastics they will be asked to fill in the remaining 1:30 with 10x Power Clean. These will be VERY HEAVY.
Now let’s say this athlete wishes to only spend :30 on the BJ and Power Clean, and instead wishes to spend the remaining 1:30 on 10x PU despite being well-experienced in them, then we would introduce a more challenging PU, perhaps a CTB PU, Bar-MU, or even Ring MU. I hope the freedom of this approach is coming through loud and clear.

Athlete #2 Approach (tends to be slower but stronger)
2:30’ per round to hit Goal Time
10x BJ = :45 [estimated time]
10x PU = 1:00 [estimated time]
10x Power Clean = :45 [remaining time]
Since this athlete is going to be slower during the gymnastics portion, they are only left with :45 to perform 10x Power Cleans. This is still a reasonable amount of time and a relatively challenging load may still be used.

Now let’s get back to theory, hopefully those applied examples made it a bit more easy to understand. More than anything this is about truly setting a challenge of “You vs. You” and taking it head on. There won’t be too many weights written up on that board for you to plan against. You will be picking your poison, there is nobody to turn to and compare yourself to, there is no coach to complain to, this is going to be you facing yourself day in and day out. IF you were to miss these goal times and go under the goal time by 5’ that is no better than going over it by 5’, either way we could have chosen better progressions. In a lot of these upcoming WODs expect fixed work domain, meaning the rep amount is fixed, and the time is what you’re working for. This is the opposite of a fixed time (ie: AMRAP) in which it is easier to ease up and coast across the finish line since the time will be ending regardless. If this new programming makes you nervous, good, then it’s doing it’s job. We are going to be experiencing true relative heavy loads and true relative levels of intensity. Other people’s times on the whiteboard will be irrelevant to you since you likely won’t know what progressions they used. If you really wanna find out what weight they did then go ahead and ask them but the reality is that very few times will you both need to use the exact same weights and progressions to hit that goal time. If you ever look at a Goal Time for a WOD and are entirely confused please feel free to ask for guidance. Folks, this is going to be a lot of fun. This programming will allow you to increase loads as desired, focus on weaknesses by adjusting estimated times at each movement, and overall increase your awareness of what you are truly capable of.

From the CFNP staff to you, enjoy 🙂

Open House is Coming!

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CrossFit North Pasadena will be having an Open House on October 18th beginning at 10am. The event will be filled with activities ranging from a lecture on what CrossFit is and the CFNP philosophy led by owner Gabriel Perez, raffles, shopping, food, and even a chance to try out a free beginner workout led by the instructors of CrossFit North Pasadena. So grab a friend, heck, grab three friends, and join us for a fun event that will also include an exclusive promotional offer by CFNP that we have never offered before!

Competitive Greatness

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When I was in High School I had a coach, his name was Ken Drain. Coach Drain was one of the greatest coaches I ever had in my athletic career. He coached me in Football, Basketball, and Baseball. If you asked me what techniques he taught me in Football I would have zero information for you. If you asked me to write a list of the Basketball plays he taught me, well that list would amount to nothing. However, if you asked me to show you the Baseball swing he taught me…well…that would also result in a big fat nada. Some great coach huh? I was put on his Varsity baseball team as a freshman, and four years later, as a senior, I had learned absolutely nothing new about the sport of Football, Basketball, or Baseball. So how or why on earth did Coach Drain impact me so strongly? He had one job as my coach, make me a better athlete, totally failed me right? Well his impact went far beyond the field and the way in which this occurred is why I have been dying to write this blog for so long…this silly grad school nonsense keeps me busy from time to time. First off, I was telling the truth, I seriously can’t remember a thing he taught me on the field; not in a single sport. However, that’s only because all that stuff is overshadowed with what he taught me off the field. #hallmark right?

So first let’s figure out who we are talking about. Ken Drain is an intimidating coach. He is quiet, he is direct, and has a sense of humor that at times makes you uncomfortable trying to figure out if he’s joking or not so you end up doing that quietly-laughing-and-look-down-at-your-shoes-while-your-face-turns-red maneuver. He was great. He was a man of God that I never saw wear a cross. He lives a life that St. Francis meant when he said “When necessary, use words.” You wouldn’t know him well because he’s not talkative, but if you are around him long enough, you will end up knowing what he’s all about just by his actions and demeanor. I say Coach Drain impacted me so strongly because he single-handedly taught me one of the greatest concepts I have ever learned. Given, it was borrowed from another great coach of our era, John Wooden, but Coach Drain brought it to me and I saw him preach it everyday on and off the field. Coach Ken Drain introduced me to the idea of, Competitive Greatness; since then, I have never been the same.

So there I was, a freshman listening to Coach Drain chew out the team because of our performance. He went down the list (I could’ve sworn he was replaying the entire game in his head the way he described the plays) of things we did wrong and could’ve done better. “On that 3rd down our offensive line was slow off the line. On 2nd down in the 3rd quarter our QB stopped moving his feet and didn’t hit his receiver in-stride.” By the way, we won that game. I remember as that freshman thinking to myself what is his problem. We won by plenty, nobody got hurt, the road to the championship was still there…then he dropped the phrase. “Where is your competitive greatness?” That got my wheels turning and the rest is history.

Competitive Greatness actually has nothing to do with being “great” or even “winning” but instead has everything to do with the heart of the athlete. Competitive greatness is defined by John Wooden as “performing at your best when your best is required.”Coach Drain would express to us that all athletes want to win. As a result of this desire to win, all athletes are willing to face conflict, but that is simply to achieve the end-goal, winning. What competitive greatness is all about, is the DESIRE for that conflict. You may be winning, you may not have a shot in Hell, but does that change your mental game? Competitive greatness has nothing to do with the podium, but everything to do with gritting your teeth, embracing that burn….and smiling as you welcome it. It is a thought that passes through my mind constantly during a WOD, and a thought that I hope passes through the minds of those who read this blog. When those final reps are in sight, when your lungs feel like they’re going to burst, and your hands are torn, are you going to just finish mediocre? Or are you going to push that red-line and see what your body is capable of? The fact of the matter is that nobody can tell which path you choose. Only you will know. Competitive greatness is not something you see, but rather something you feel. It has nothing to do with your athletic ability, but everything to do with your competitive capacity.

I have always shared my favorite Bible verse and described it as the most overlooked Bible verse, and I will never be embarrassed to share it. It is found in 1st Samuel 17:48 (the book of 1st Samuel, the 17th chapter, and the 48th verse) and is in the context of the great historical event known as “David and Goliath.” The verse states that as “Goliath moved closer, David rushed out to meet him.” David RUSHED out to meet him. He welcomed the conflict and literally rushed to meet it. The competitive man would have approached Goliath. A sane man would have rushed the opposite direction. But a man of competitive greatness rushes towards it. One who has competitive greatness welcomes that challenge because they know that with a great challenge comes an opportunity to grow, a chance to take one step closer to greatness. As a competitive athlete I may not always win, shoot if we’re being honest, I have never taken 1st place in any event I’ve competed in, but I tell you one thing, I won’t ever avoid that conflict. My challenge to you is to find that conflict in your daily life. Most obvious would be a training session yes, but what other conflicts can you rush toward and conquer? Let’s go beyond the gym and take it to the workplace. Let’s bring it into your kitchen. Let’s apply it to all we can. To all that those challenges I say…

Identify it.

Rush towards it.

Grit your teeth.

Defeat it…and smile the whole time.

The 2014 CrossFit Open

The 2014 CrossFit Open

On February 27th the 2014 CrossFit Open begins. For five weeks, every Thursday night at 5PM, CrossFit Headquarters will release a WOD online and CrossFitters around the world will complete it at their respective boxes, submit their score and see how they measure up. What are they measuring up against you may wonder? Well on the grand-scale, some want to see how they rank in the world. Others will try their hand at ranking within their region (SoCal, NorCal, Northeast, etc). IF an individual ranks among the top 43 men or 43 women in their region, well hot dog, they get to go play at the Regionals! Once at the Regionals, the top three males and females go to the 2014 CrossFit Games (the stuff you see on ESPN.) It should go without saying that this worldwide event is a huge deal in the CrossFit community and is what many consider to be CrossFit’s version of the Playoffs.
Now let’s allow reality to sink in for a bit and take three giant steps backwards.
No we wont be sending anybody to the CrossFit Games. Fingers crossed, we may send an athlete or two to the SoCal Regionals. However, most athletes (approximately 98% of those trying out for the Open) wont even make it past the Open. You heard correctly, on February 27th around 4,000 men and women in Southern California will begin the Open with high hopes; and around 3,900 will end their season with disappointment.
So why even try? Whats the point? If I cant win, well poo on that, I aint playin!
In order to truly understand the idea behind the CrossFit Open we need to dig deep and understand the meaning behind CrossFit as a whole. Ask yourself how many times you’ve looked across the box during a WOD and seen somebody lifting a heavier weight than you; did that stop you? Did you drop your bar and say “Well if I can’t lift what they’re lifting then I quit.”? Probably not. You didn’t quit because you understand that what really matters is YOUR personal improvement. What matters deep down is embracing the challenge. Maybe you’re lifting a lighter weight than that other girl, but you’re lifting a heavier weight than you did last month and that’s what matters. The truth is, we don’t CrossFit to beat everybody’s WOD times, because let’s be real, there is always somebody better and that would be a long path of disappointment. We CrossFit because we like to see ourselves improve. We love knowing that running around the block doesn’t leave us in a sweaty heap on the floor anymore. We get satisfaction in knowing that those size 10 jeans don’t fit anymore because they’re too big, which beats the OPPOSITE reason they weren’t fitting a couple of months prior. We thrive on the feeling of accomplishment.
Now lets bring it back home to the CrossFit Open.
Why would you participate in a huge event like the CrossFit Open? Because you can! We are in the sport of challenging ourselves folks, and here is the ultimate gauntlet being thrown down. Do you have what it takes? Not to make it to the Games, we don’t care about that. Do you have what it takes to stick with this Open for five weeks and give it your all? Heck if you get curious, you can look up how you rank among all the other 37 year old men in SoCal if you really want, but in reality what this is an opportunity to do is take on a worldwide challenge, and stick it through to the end. For five weeks you will be a part of something much larger than yourself. You will be suffering, overcoming, and doing incredible things that you never thought possible. For these five weeks you see what it feels like to be a part of the CrossFit community in its entirety. In addition to this personal challenge, by competing under the CFNP name you will be contributing to CrossFit North Pasadena’s ranking as a team in Southern California. If our team ranks high enough in SoCal we can actually send a team to the Regionals, this means CFNP can have a team of multiple guys and gals at the SoCal Regionals!
Now as a preemptive move I have created some excuses and smashed them; enjoy.
1. I don’t have time for this (aint nobody got time for that!)
A. The CFNP Saturday WOD will always be that week’s Open WOD. So you will end up doing it as a WOD anyways, why not make it matter?
2. I dont have the money for this.
A. It costs $20 and extends over a 5 week period; I think we can all spare $4/week.
3. I dont want to get embarrassed online when people see my score.
A. There will be around 6,000 people in Southern California, and over 100,000 people worldwide submitting scores; you really think somebody’s going to search for YOUR name and laugh?
4. I dont know how to register
A. Copy and paste the link below, follow the instructions, and don’t forget to register under CrossFit North Pasadena.
http://games.crossfit.com/

I apologize for such a long post guys, it was meant to inform, inspire, and make you laugh. I hope you enjoyed it and I look forward to seeing how many people we can get to register for this awesome worldwide event!

KISS Part 1

KISS Part 1

K.I.S.S.
I was taught this approach/acronym at a very young age in athletics. It got me playing positions I had no business playing on the football field (linebacker and offensive lineman). It got me playing on the Varsity baseball squad as a freshman. It helped me get through really difficult times in life. It has helped me run my business while applying for grad school. And most importantly (to this post) it has gotten me to the point where I competed at Regionals for the second year in a row. The acronym I’m referring to; “Keep It Simple Stupid”. The application: virtually anywhere. The success rate: see for yourself. This particular post (part #1) will deal more with nutrition, but part #2 will deal with training.
Disclaimer: I am not a huge fan of calling people “stupid” so for the remainder of this post it will be KEEP IT SIMPLE.

I won’t get into how this saying has helped me in other areas of my life, but I will say that I was not exaggerating when I used those previous examples. I owe a lot of my accomplishments to keeping this mental approach to virtually everything in my life. For now, let’s talk CrossFit. The following dialogue actually happened in the early stages of CFNP and epitomizes what I’m referring to.

Me: Ok so let’s go over your food. I noticed you’re eating a lot of proteins and carbs, good. Any chance we can mix in some fats?
Woman: Sure, like what?
Me: How about some almonds, walnuts, or avocado.
Woman: I will eat the walnuts and avocado, but I don’t have time to eat the almonds.
Me: Why is that?
Woman: I read in a health article that if you soak your almonds in water for twenty-four hours before eating them, more nutrients are absorbed in your system. If I don’t have time to do it right I’d rather not do it at all.
Me: [Silence]

Keeping it simple? I think not. Here was a prime example of an individual who was over-thinking and analyzing her nutrition to the point where it was actually holding her back from achieving her goals. She read an article, which by the way are not all that trustworthy anymore #foodpolitics, decided that it was 100% truth and formed her plans around this one article. This doesn’t only apply to food either. It can apply to all facets of CrossFit. Keep It Simple.

Part #1 of this KISS series is dedicated to food, because it is so near and dear to my heart…and stomach.
I love having the food conversation with people, ESPECIALLY other CrossFitters who consider themselves to be pretty legit. The monologue gets passed around like a conch and each person speaks on what has thrust them into “greatness”. One person will say they eat 3x the fat. Another person will say they only eat lean meats, while the very next person will say they only eat fatty meats and no fruit. Finally you’ll get one brilliant mind that says they decide to not eat at all on certain days and train even harder on those days. What I find ironic is that all these people swear by their approach, yet they are all competing on the same high level. They are yet to realize that we all follow the general and simple Paleo diet. Nobody has noticed that maybe adding 3 almonds to a meal ISN’T all that vital after all. Maybe the fattiness of a meat isn’t going to make you unstoppable. Maybe eating only purple fruits every other Thursday of an evenly numbered month ISN’T going to send you to the CrossFit Games.  Most people feel the need to tweak something to make it not normal. They need to somehow take a very simple idea, and make it elaborate beyond recognition, because that might be the key to success. These scientists who have spent years on researching how certain macronutrients (and micronutrients) affect our metabolism and performance share their findings to the world, only to have some CrossFitters decide that it’s too normal for them. They’re elite. That research and those studies, why, they were done on mere mortals, elite athletes must have more elite fuel. So they decide to tweak what the scientists provided, to better suit their machine-like body. Heaven-forbid they obey the genius scientist that spent years in the lab testing and retesting.
Does it end in a catastrophic failure? Hopefully not, chances are that if the person has any idea what they’re doing they won’t kill themselves or cause serious harm. Yet they can’t seem to simplify their nutrition and instead spend their energies on their training. My challenge to you is that you simplify your life, specifically in the nutrition department. Again I recommend this approach to every part of your life, but let’s simplify and tackle one thing at a time. Follow the paleo guidelines, try your best to stick to the simplicity of it and not get caught in the media frenzy when a new article comes out every day. Shop, eat, think, like a caveman and you will lean out and feel fantastic. Many great minds have gone before us and done the dirty work, they have spent hours of experimentation and data collection, what do you say we “humor” them and try it out. Do what they say. Who knows, it’s so crazy simple it just might work.


P.S. You’ll notice this was “KISS Part 1” which focused on nutrition; the next part will be focused on training. Stay tuned.

Open WOD 13.2

Open WOD 13.2

Alright guys so 13.1 is a thing of the past and we are now staring down the barrel of 13.2! One quick note before I even discuss this new WOD; keep in mind that the Open is all a game of well-roundedness. Realize that 13.1 was heavy, and of course the strong guys took more control on that event, but not all 5 WODs will be that way, some will be short and fast, others may be more gymnastic-based. The name of the game is to keep your damages to a minimum when the WOD is not in your favor. Remember, the rankings up until this point have literally ranked you on ONE WOD alone. Once more WODs are introduced into the Open the rankings take into account each WOD toward one grand cumulative total score.
And now without further delay…
WOD 13.2
AMRAP- 10″
5x Shoulder to OH (115/75)
10x DL (115/75)
15x BJ (24/20)
NOW WE’RE TALKING FOLKS! This WOD falls into what’s known as a “burner”. This means no weight is going to crush you, it doesn’t get any heavier, and the reps are just about right to shoot for huge sets if not unbroken. The gymnastic movement is about as basic as can be in box jumps and the window is a short ten minutes which lends to the name “burner”. A burner is a WOD that you try to sprint through, it will test not only your capacity to keep a fast pace, but will also test your mental capabilities to push through that “burning” sensation.
Now for a few quick tips:
I would recommend considering push jerks if that will ensure unbroken reps. A lot of people could potentially waste time if they slowly push press the reps later into the WOD.
Make sure that you stand up all the way on the DL movement. You DO NOT want to get no repped during a ten minute WOD, every rep is far too crucial.
Spend some free time working on your footwork for the box jumps. Lots of wasted steps and hops take place for people. Again, a short ten minute window means every second is important, don’t waste any time doing small bunny hops.
Keep everything very close to your box. Most of your time will be spent doing the box jumps so that is your anchor-point. Set up the barbell so that your back is to the box and move from movement to movement as quickly as possible.
For Example: 3-2-1 Go! Knock out your 5x PJ, drop the bar and begin DL, knock out your 10x DL, turn around and jump into your first box jump. No moving around the gym.
Keep an eye on your pace. Once you complete your first round you will then have something to shoot for. If it takes you 3 minutes to do your first round, with respect to fatigue, you’ll want to keep your rounds as close to 3 minutes as possible for as long as possible.
All in all, this is going to be a fun WOD. The snatches were a bit scary for most, understandable, but now we’re looking at a very typical CrossFit WOD that CFNP would see any day of the week. Go out there and have fun guys.
This is going to burn a little bit.

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