I agree with all of this… Take the time to read them all and you will be a much better person at the end Thank you John!
1. Know what you are training for. You need a goal, a destination for your journey. Pick a goal, chart a course, keep your head down and don’t come up for air until you meet it.
2. The squat is the foundation of any good program. A program that does not involve the squat is incomplete. Any coach that tells you, you shouldn’t squat as it is bad for your back and knees, but if it is done you should not squat below parallel needs to be punched. Email me and I will send someone out who specializes in punching people who need a punch. And when I say squat, I mean the one where you put a heavy bar on your back. If I were talking about the front squat or overhead squat, I would have said front squat or overhead squat.
3. Be a performance whore. Your only mark for progress should be performance and success. Don’t get caught up in dogma, realize all that matters is performance. Don’t get married to one philosophy or stuck in one circle. Look to expand your training arsenal and realize your only master is getting better.
4. “Know when to hold’em, know when to fold’em.” When you start hitting the weights, certain days you feel like the weights are made of foam and you could lift the gym. Other days, the weights seem to be made of adamantium. Realize on the days when the weights are light, go for broke and set a new personal record regardless of what the program says. On the days when the opposite is true, all you need to do is survive and realize the weights will be there tomorrow.
5. Don’t fall prey to the Secret Squirrel Program. This is what happens when late at night while scanning the internet you decided to hybrid CrossFit Football’s strength WOD with CFE’s running 2 days a week with CrossFit’s hero WODs and Outlaw’s Olympic programming just for good measure. All the while doing 23 hours a day of ketogenic interment fasting. If you think this secret squirrel program will help you become the fittest man on the planet you are delusional. All that will happen is you become a massive ball of injury, end up doing nothing but Mobility WOD for 2 years with the testosterone levels of a 14-year-old eunuch.
6. You need to warm up. Warming up is key to raising core temperature and getting the muscles, tendons and fascia warm. You are warming up because you are preparing to train. Take the old boxing proverb to heart. “If you go into the ring cold, you come out cold.”
7. Use Lacrosse balls If rolling out with a soft foam roller is painful, you have led a life of luxury and share the energy expenditure with a veal. Real athletes roll out with two lacrosse balls and Kelly Starrett sitting on your body part adjacent to it.
8. Static Stretching is great way to cool down. Period.
9. The first movement at the beginning of your training week needs to involve a heavy bar on your back.
10. All the machines and praying in the world will not build a physique like the one crafted from lifting free weights over 85% of your 1 RM.
11. Weighted Pull Ups can cure world hunger.
12. Isometric holds build stability and strength.
13. It is better to live like a farmer than a bartender. Farmers go to bed when the sun goes down and wake when the roosters crow. Bartenders hang out with drunks, don’t go to bed till 3 or 4 in the morning and sleep all day. Be a farmer.
14. Heavy prowler pushes cleanse the soul.
15. Sleeping 8 hours or more a day makes you bullet proof. Yes, if you sleep more than 8 hours a day, bullets will not harm you and you will be able to control the minds of those around you.
16. Shower in ice-cold water in the morning. Hot shower before bed.
17. Vitamin D is the most important vitamin of all, so go outside and get a tan. As George Robert’s dad once said, “Georgie, even fat looks good tan.”
18. The only proteins that count are the ones with faces, souls and a mother. I do not care how you process hemp and peas…it is not real protein.
19. Earn your carbs. Don’t get lulled into thinking a primal or Paleo diet is low carb diet. If you are a hard charging athlete that lifts heavy weights, sprints and moves, eat some carbs. Low carb diets are for fat people and sedentary people with metabolic disorders. If you are training for the CrossFit Games, playing football or trying to run a hundred miles you have earned your carbs.
20. I don’t care how far or often you run, running slow will never help you get fast. The road to hell is paved with good intentions and marathon runners. I am not impressed that you finished a marathon in 5 hours. I am more impressed that it took you 7 hours to sprint 421 100-meter repeats.
21. Percentages are a waste of time for beginners. Why you ask, because to efficiently lift a true 1 RM you need an extremely well training central nervous system. And efficiency in the CNS comes from prolonged training. Hence, how could a beginner have enough control over their body or their CNS to put forth the ability to lift a true 1 RM? They can’t. So don’t do it.
22. Every man should own a slow cooker and a grill that uses lump wood charcoal.
23. Meat from grass-fed cows should make up the bulk of your daily food consumption.
24. Drink water. Anyone who tells you they don’t like to drink water needs to grow the fuck up. How much…at least 1 ounce per 2 lbs of body weight.
25. Dont let fear be your limiting factor. Louie Simmons told me, “To master kung fu, the training must be severe.” What Louie means is, don’t take the easy way out. Winners and champions are forged in the crucible of competition and hard work. Don’t let fear of not meeting your goals be your limiting factor when it comes to training or success.
26. Full Fat Greek Yogurt is an excellent source of protein and probiotics. Anyone that tells you dairy from pasture raised animals is bad, should be pushed in the mud.
27. Have the talent to rest. If you think taking a rest day is weakness, you have never really trained hard. And you definitely have low testosterone levels.
28. The Second Amendment was put in place to guarantee the First Amendment. Problems arise when we allow our leaders to suspend the First Amendment and many other rights given to us in the Bill of Rights because of fear. When terrible things happen in society, we are so quick to give away our rights so the government can protect us and make it so it never happens again. It is impossible to stop bad people from doing bad things, but you can train and prepare for the day when good men are called upon to stop evil men. That is Edmund Burke.
29. Guns are inanimate objects that can be used to do harm. Much like cars, airplanes and knives, all these things can be turned into weapons if someone so chooses. Banning the sale, use or ownership of inanimate objects will no better cure the world of evil, and then eating low-fat food will cure a fat ass.
30. Lift heavy and awkward implements. The power from picking up and lifting awkward and heavy objects creates a strength not found in a weight room. Anyone that grew up on a farm or wrestled or played football with farm kids knows what I am talking about. We also call this Field Strong.
31. Having kids puts everything into perspective. My wife and I had twin girls in late 2011; I just came up for air in late 2012. Kids put things in perspective. The things that mattered so much, seem small and unimportant. What is important is raising your kids, providing a positive role model and keeping your wife happy and loved so she doesn’t drive the whole train off the tracks.
32. Learn to cook. Even if it just involves adding meat, water, salt and root vegetables to a slow cooker or burning meat on a grill. Learn to cook. Nothing is as unimpressive as someone who cannot or will not learn.
33. Stop posting on message boards. If you have more than 100 posts on any message board, kick your own ass.
34. Twitter rocks. If you can’t say it in a 140 characters, it doesn’t need to be said.
35. Training Vs. Testing. Learn certain days are training days other days are testing days. Have a plan each day and realize professional athletes don’t compete everyday. They save that for when the money is on the line and the crowd is in the stands.
36. Read. Real. Books. In this Internet age, digital books, periodicals, websites and blogs consume us. I feel something is missing, hard copy books.
37. Bacon. I started eating bacon in the 70’s. I am not sure when many of you found bacon, but if it was last two years, I am sorry. Up until recently for many, bacon has been a mystery. But upon finding it, it is all they talk about. I am proud of you for finding bacon. I am sorry your dad didn’t make bacon on Saturdays when you were growing up. I believe it makes you feel primal and talking about bacon on social media is your way of thumbing your nose at society, but enough. Welcome to the party and guess what? We are serving bacon.
38. I don’t care that you are 100% Paleo; if a friend offers you a beer, drink it. Nothing says “FU” like not accepting a drink from a friend because of a diet. Grow the fuck up.
39. Work the tissue. Active Release Therapy. Graston. Deep Tissue Massage. Mashing. Do something to mobilize tissue and speed recovery.
40. Move the bar as fast as possible. When lifting weights, you should move the bar as fast as you can at all times. Think compensatory acceleration. If you have never head the term “compensatory acceleration”, go google it now. I will wait. Slow reps are akin to the splinters in your ass from sitting on the bench watching the explosive guys play. The only thing moving slow did, was make me slow. Fuck slow.
41. Don’t be a cartoon character. In today’s age of social media and virtual existence, people are not held to the same standards they were so long ago. Individuals are more cartoon characters than real people. Be a real person that can be depended on and does not take every opportunity to take advantage of those around you. Being a man involves more than growing a beard and drinking whiskey…even those things do help.
42. High testosterone levels = nice guys. I read a study a while back that related mental wellness and all around nice guys having higher testosterone levels than their male dick head counterparts. Next time you meet a douche bag, instead of cursing the day he was born, realize he is a lesser male and just has low testosterone levels. Pity him, because there is nothing worse for a man than having low testosterone levels. If you are reading this and think you might have low test levels, go see a doctor.
Warning: Reducing intensity can be habit forming. Please consult your CrossFit trainer immediately.
You have to do Fran today.
Stop reading, close your eyes and really think about that for a moment.
Note the freefall feeling in your chest, the sweaty palms and the subtle changes in your breathing.
Now consider this statement:
You have to do Fran in less than 12 minutes today.
I bet you suddenly don’t feel nervous at all. You might even view the reps as a warm-up for another workout.
Same weight, same reps, same workout—different results.
Intensity burns. It tastes like a mouthful of old pennies soaked in battery acid. It makes you dizzy. It causes you to writhe around on the ground trying to work the misery out of your muscles. It usually requires a period spent on your back or butt, and sometimes it sends your lunch back the way it came in. Intensity gets caught in your throat and keeps you hacking hours after the workout ends.
Intensity also brings results. Push someone out of the comfort zone and physiology adapts. Do that regularly and fitness improves dramatically. After more than 15 years of workouts on CrossFit.com and six years of the CrossFit Games Open, we can make that statement with certainty backed by data.
Discomfort creates adaptation, but it can be very tempting to avoid the continuous discomfort needed to keep driving adaptation—even as a CrossFit athlete who knows its rewards.
Repetition creates habit, and you can adjust to almost anything—even fairly unpleasant stuff like Fran. I’m sure The Man in the Iron Mask was pretty uncomfortable for the first period of his imprisonment, but after a few years of metal, he was probably well used to flattening out his sandwiches so they would fit through the mouth slot.
Same deal with fitness. As we all know, “beginner’s gains” in CrossFit are the reward athletes are given simply for ditching inactivity or a stagnant fitness routine in favor of a superior regimen. When beginner’s gains evaporate and the nose must go right to the grindstone for sustained improvement in CrossFit, it can be tempting to get comfortable and step back from intensity. Not all the way back—just enough to take the edge off. Satisfaction with current output can reduce discomfort significantly—and limit results—while the quest for further improvements would bring great reward but also renewed acquaintance with that deep burning sensation.
Reducing intensity can be as subtle as breaking up Fran’s 15 thrusters when we don’t have to. It’s a very minor reduction in effort, and almost no one notices—sometimes not even the athlete. Fran burns a bit less, and only 20 seconds are added to a PR time, giving him or her the opportunity to attribute the score to an off day, bad sleep or “that third burrito at lunch.”
Luckily, the athlete still stays far fitter than if he or she hadn’t done Fran, but slacking off a little can lead to slacking off a lot, which is equivalent to treating a CrossFit workout like a 20-minute roll through the sports section while plodding on the elliptical machine.
I realized I was cutting with the wrong side of a very sharp knife a few weeks back in a workout that forced me to push myself:
100 wall-ball shots Do 13 burpees after any broken set; no resting while holding the ball.
In that workout, my utter hatred of burpees forced me to complete my final set of 45 by pushing into the neighborhood of my physical limit. But my mental limit had come 30 reps into that last set, when I normally would have quit had the burpees not been present.
“I can’t finish this unbroken,” I thought before a coach saw me mentally crumbling and quickly advised that trading only 15 wall balls for 13 burpees plus 15 wall balls was a bad deal.
So I kept going, and while the 45th rep burned deeply, it was achievable. In fact, I had a few more in me. I had no idea—but my coach did.
The workout and the coach kicked me off the elliptical machine, so to speak, and they highlighted the fact that I’m capable of more than I think I am. I bet you’re more capable than you think you are, and your CrossFit coach knows it. Listen to him or her when you’re told to keep going and see what happens. When the coach says, “Do 5 more,” do 5 more—even if you think you’ll fail. I bet you won’t. I bet you’ll get fitter.
To get even further out of your CrossFit comfort zone, I’d encourage you to experiment with workouts similar to the wall-ball challenge detailed above.
Air Force, with 4 burpees preceding the work every minute, is a good example of a nowhere-to-hide workout.
Or try 500-meter rowing or 400-meter running repeats with a thruster penalty for every second under a certain challenging but achievable time.
Another option: Create a workout with a scheme about 2 reps out of your comfort zone and vow to do all sets unbroken. Fran at 23-17-11 might present an excellent challenge even if it lacks the mathematical grace of the original prescription.
Or you can create workouts in which a certain number of reps must be completed every 60 seconds. If you pick the right amount of work for your fitness level—say 15 wall-ball shots and 10 heavy kettlebell swings, for example—you’re going to have to work hard and go unbroken to get the work done in each minute.
To reap the greatest benefits from CrossFit, you have to be willing to push yourself, to be uncomfortable, to suffer for reward. And most of us are most of the time. The whiteboard and the rivalries thereon are powerful motivational tools. Still, a 5-minute Fran can become a habit if you let your mind trick you into dropping the barbell well before you need to.
Remember: Objects in motion tend to stay in motion, while objects at rest tend to head to the chalk bucket.
About the Author: Mike Warkentin is the managing editor of the CrossFit Journal and the founder of CrossFit 204.