How often should you be training?

Here’s a question I get quite often.  It used to be difficult for me to answer.  Everyone is so different.  How you recover from training will be completely different than how someone else recover.  We’ve got to consider nutrition, lifestyle, sleep, and more!  How could I possibly know?  I was looking at it the wrong way.  The answer is rather simple.

You should train as much as you can recover from.  It’s as simple as that.

A better question might be:  How do we figure that out?

I generally err on the side of caution when starting out new athletes.  We want to increase their volume in a controlled way.  The last thing we want is for someone to overdo it and have to take extended time off of training or worse.  This is where proper scaling and being coachable comes into play.

Ramping up volume slowly doesn’t mean only coming into the gym 2 or 3 times a week.  It means having a discussion with a coach and putting a plan into place.  We need to keep an eye on individual limitations, past injuries, and lifestyle.  For example, say we have an athlete whose career is as a firefighter.  The last thing we want is for them to become so run down that it puts their ability to save lives at risk.  In that case we may limit certain movements that could cause possible excessive soreness.  We’ll also want to spend some time feeling things out when we know we have some down time after to work with, just in case.

You can train often without becoming worried.  Intelligence will win here.

“If you ever feel like you’re stuck or not making progress, look through a different lense.”

Setting mini goals can be extremely helpful for achieving those larger goals.  It’s easy to get wrapped up on the big milestones and for good reason.  It’s great to hit a major weight loss mark or finally snatch your bodyweight!  What about all the time in between?

You have to find a way to find enjoyment in the day to day.  The process is something we talk a lot about at 603, but what does it mean?  We say “Trust the process.” to our athletes all the time.  Does that mean just wait?  Not at all!  We want you to be actively pursuing something at all times.  Whether it’s to make 5 classes in a week or to string some double unders together – doesn’t matter.  What matters is that you’ve got something that provides immediate, positive feedback.

We did not intentionally test anything this week yet as the weekend approaches we had people string double unders for the first time.  We had someone get 4 pull ups for the first time.  Another got her bodyweight overhead for the first time. And more!  All due to the constant pursuit to be better.

Forget about your long term goals for a minute.  What could you accomplish next week that would make you happy?

“You ready?”

Here’s the deal – as coaches we can’t want things for you more than you want them.  We wish we could because it would make things a whole lot simpler.  The truth is if you aren’t ready, now, then we can’t be very effective.

There are a few things I look at when deciding if someone is a good fit for me to work with.  If you’re confused by that last sentence allow me to clarify.  I won’t work with just anyone.  Our intake process is simple but effective.  We begin with a conversation.

I prefer face to face but a phone call will work.  I like to start with a conversation because I find it’s the best way to get real information from someone.  Are you ready to start now?  That’s my first concern.  There are circumstances where I find myself making offers, helping, or donating time, to people who aren’t ready to go.  Since we each only get a finite amount of time I can’t justify spending mine on people who aren’t all in.  When I first started my career, sure!  I’d do whatever, but as I mature I recognize the importance of urgency.

I’m sure there are coaches out there who will work with anyone and everyone.  The intent of this post isn’t to knock them or anyone else.  My goal is to point out the fact that while I understand walking through the door is the hardest part, being truly invested is more important to me.

Everyone likes the idea of losing some weight.  Everyone likes the idea of getting stronger.  Everyone likes the idea of competing.  I’m looking for those that want to actually achieve those things.

You ready?  Let me know here!

“Mechanics are unchanging, technique can vary.”

I had a very cool yet brief chat with some fellow coaches this evening and we got on the topic of mechanics versus technique.  A lot of people think these are one in the same whereas there’s actually a big difference.

The two are different, at least in my mind and approach.  I’m sure someone on the internet will disagree, but I’m not worried.  Go nuts.

Mechanics are the how and why.  Mechanics are the physics, for example, behind the movements that we perform.  Therefore they don’t change.  Technique is different in the way that it could, and often does, vary from athlete to athlete. There could be several factors that would lead to varying technique from athlete to athlete.

One might be whoever is teaching the movement is either trying to squeeze everyone into a one-size-fits all package.  Or, they’re open to the fact that everyBODY is different.  If you consider the fact that everyone has different anatomy it’s easy to see that no two are the same.  This is a common mistake I see in newer coaches.  They learn a technique and immediately think it will solve everyone’s problems.  The problems begins when said technique simply isn’t appropriate or even feasible for an athlete.  Since not all athletes can be dropped into the same box.

Long story short – if an athlete understands the mechanics of a movement first, then, we can begin to play with their technique to find ways to make them even better.  But you need that starting point.

There is no technique that will work for 100% of people.  There.  I said it.

 

“To improve, scale for stimulus, 100% of the time.”

This question goes back to the beginning of time.  Ok, that’s a bit dramatic, but it definitely goes back to the beginning of training.  People have always focused on what everyone else is doing rather than themselves.  The truth is your training will only best serve you when it’s focused on…you.

You’ve got to ask yourself the question “What is it that I want out of my training today?” and then intelligently answer.  Do you want to drive an adaptation that will make you better or stroke your ego?  Answer honestly.

When you’re being coached the process should be simple.  At 603 we explain exactly what we want from our athletes and how each movement should feel.  We advise athletes to choose loading based on a variety of inputs.  Perhaps we want athletes to perform a movement unbroken (without stopping), we ask the athletes to find a load that allows them to do so.  If they’re breaking up sets that aren’t supposed to be broken, they’ve chosen too heavy of a load.  Period.  This can be bit of a learning process, due to many of us overestimating our ability.  Back to that pesky ego thing.

Heavier is not automatically better.

I always advise athletes who are undecided or struggling with loading to err on the side of caution.  You have to understand that we’re after high intensity and we measure that by power output.  You’re not getting “more out of it” if it’s too heavy and it slows you way down.  And unless you’re proficient enough to move flawlessly at speeds that rival a professional athlete…I don’t want to hear that a workout might be too easy.  Prove it.

*Of course there are workouts in which we instruct athletes to work heavy.*

In part 2 I’ll cover how to use movement standards and benchmarks as a guide.

We’ve got to drive negativity out by focusing on the positive.

If you want to get the most out of your life, you have to start with choosing to be happy and positive.  Optimism wins every time.  No one wins by thinking they haven’t got a chance.

There will be days in the gym and in normal everyday life that you just don’t have it.  It’s ok!  Maybe you have a shoulder (or whatever) that’s been bugging you and suddenly you’re not able to do the workout on the board.  You might feel like you’re wasting your time or not getting enough out of it.  Whatever that means.  I’m here to tell you that it’s all good.  You’re good.  Stop worrying!

If you have a bad training day, move on.  At least you made it to the gym and gave an effort.  You put yourself out there and now you’re a little bit better.  You’re certainly making more progress than those who choose to skip the gym.

The important thing is you remain positive.  Whether you make the best out of your day or the worst, is your call.  People who think everything sucks are generally the problem in the room.  Don’t be that person.  In fact, remove those people.  Misery loves company and negative people love nothing more than to drag others down with them.  Pretty much go unfollow all of your friends on social media, that’s what I do.  (not a joke)

Choose to be happy and make the best of everything!  It is a choice.  I believe that whole-heartedly.  If you’re going around smiling all the time eventually someone is going to notice.  Your happiness is infectious and suddenly the people around you are happy.  If I’m in an unfamiliar situation I’ll search the room for the person who’s got a smile on their face.  Either they’re friendly, or they’re also uncomfortable but recognize the importance of portraying happiness.  Whatever, that’s the person I want to talk to.

This is your story and the good news is…you get to write it.

 

“Make your goals things that you can actually do.  That’s how you get better.”

In part 1 we used a weightlifting example goal, in part 2 we’ll use weight loss.

Weight loss is the most common goal that we get.  That means we spend a good deal of time thinking about, coaching, and creating with weight loss in mind.  Often people come to us with a number in mind.  For example, someone wants to lose 20 pounds.  We have very specific numbers in mind, even though they’re often based on very little.

Just like it’s great to have a goal, it’s even better to have a specific goal.  You’re probably thinking “How are you going to say this isn’t good?”  I’m not!  It is good, but I think we can do better.

Having a goal should create urgency, excitement, and internal motivation.  When I do a goal setting session with someone that’s what we’re after.  We want that starting point of “Lose 20 pounds” but then we’re going to break it apart and use it to create even more specific, actionable goals.

Here’s how:

Figure out what actions you need to take to reach your goal.  To lose 20 pounds we need to adjust our nutrition.  We might decide to stick to meats and vegetables and avoid foods that are easy to over eat.  We also know that adding activity will help.  Suddenly we have some real details to work with.

Our goal might now look something like this:  I will eat lean meats and vegetables for my 3 or 4 meals per day.  No snacks.  I will walk at least 30 minutes.  Every.  Single.  Day.  In addition I will commit to CrossFit classes 4-5 days per week.

Notice there’s no mention of weight loss, but you should be able to see that following that prescription would lead to it.  If you haven’t read “Get the Check!” go back and do so.

In 30 days we meet to readjust.  Goals need to be cared for, you can’t just write them on a board and wish.  They need to start as an idea that we nurture and grow.  They should change over time.