This post is a summary of a recent article we have put together on how to ensure your HMB is safe and high-quality. To read...Read More
Many of us, CrossFitters, weightlifters, strongmen, gymnasts, NFL players, and entrepreneurs alike have hit that wall at some point where we ask ourselves, "why am I still doing this?"
For me it was after a particularly frustrating attempt at deficit handstand push-ups that no matter how many times I tried, I fell on my head, repeatedly. With a pounding headache I sat down with my coach afterwards and he explained to me something I'll never forget, "Successful people aren't the ones who are the most talented, they are the ones who stick with it the longest." This simple statement put that frustrating day (and the many that have followed) into perspective. Whatever your walk of life, if success is your goal, you have to put countless hours into training, learning, improving, and most importantly: failing.
Many of you probably watched the 15.3 Open announcement and thought, "14 minutes of failed muscle up attempts..." But without that failure, we would never succeed. Those of you that actually had this experience, do you feel closer to successfully completing a muscle up? Did you learn anything from that repeated failure? My guess would be yes, even if you didn't get one. Anyone who has found success in any sport knows the ripe taste of failure better than anyone. Camille LeBlanc Bazinet has failed a muscle up. Remember when Rich Froning couldn't do a rope climb?
Start watching at at 16:30
Check out this video of Julie Foucher practicing her olympic lifts in 2009. Look familiar? It takes hours, days, weeks, years of failures to even come close to that feeling of true success. The question remains the same for all of us, how many times will you try?
Many of us, CrossFitters, weightlifters, strongmen, gymnasts, NFL players, and entrepreneurs alike have hit that wall at some point where we ask ourselves, "why am...Read More
The rapid ascension of weightlifting standards amongst the Crossfit Elite is evidence that both coaching and training standards are rapidly improving. High quality athletes and coaches from the weightlifting world are now in high demand amongst our community, as seen in Olympic athlete Tom Sroka's recent move from team Muscle Driver USA over to join Rudy Neilsen's Outlaw Way Barbell Seminar Staff.
As we get better at weightlifting however, we also begin to hit obstacles more often seen with the weightlifting elite. One of the most common obstacles we see as coaches is athletes getting stuck in a plateau: No matter how hard we work, how much we try and improve our programming, diet, rest etc. we just don't see improvements in our lifts. In an attempt to improve myself as a coach, I caught up with Tom Sroka, also an ambassador for us here at Blonyx, to get some tips on how to coach athletes through this difficult time. Here is a summary of the interesting points and practical exercises I learned from Tom:
All lifters should train differently, not simply according to their perceived level.
Many coaches use different techniques depending on the level of their lifter (e.g. intermediate or advanced, advanced being medal winning at regional and national meets). They withhold advanced movements such as the sots press or jerk recovery because they think it will overwhelm the athlete. “Tailor your coaching for each lifter, regardless of level” says Tom. "Make adjustments according to their individual strengths and weaknesses. Make adjustments and note your lifter's physiological response to them and if positive, keep them, if negative, move on. Having a standard training regimen that is dependent on the lifter's level is much more likely to lead to a plateau, as their weaknesses aren't being specifically catered for. Get to know your athletes, and you'll know what changes to make when they show signs of plateauing."
Look out for external causes of plateauing
Many things contribute to a lack of development in a weightlifter. Once you have looked at the lifters form, technique and programming and feel that it is adequate, Tom recommends you look at the big picture. “What is the lifter doing outside of training?” Are they working 12 hours per day? Are they sleeping? Are they training full time for the CrossFit Games? Tom pinpoints a large contributor to this as overtraining and improperly deloading. “Your deload should be programmed into your schedule…if you’re feeling over trained or tired, it’s too late. Use your experience as a coach to know when the volume you are programming requires more downtime.”
Drills to help you pass a plateau
For those lifters that feel they need something new, Tom has outlined several drills below that he would recommend for a lifter that is struggling with a certain part of a lift. Use these to increase your strength or speed in the area you are weakest:
a. Weakness: The Pull
- Heavy Pulls https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_IdYjwdwNeY
- Heavy Pulls pausing at the knee
- Heavy Negative pulls https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcOiLqZmgZs
- Heavy pull from hang
- Heavy pulls from blocks https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9zENA1Ejkc
- The “No hook no feet” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ccyMOhru2PQ
- Snatch Balance
- Bottom Up Overhead Squats
- Pause Front Squats
e. Weakness: Jerk timing
- Oscillation Drills https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9HlxXCAU9U
- Pressing for the split https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=obV3rMCQdLI
Tom Sroka is a Blonyx ambassador and competitive US weightlifter and coach. He is the founder of the strength agenda (www.thestrengthagenda.com) as well as head weightlifting coach at CrossFit Vitality, CrossFit Weddington and CrossFit Northlake. Tom was the 2013 American Open 105+ champion and is currently on the Staff for Outlaw Seminars. You can follow Tom on Facebook, Twitter (@Srokus) and Instagram (@SuperSrokus).
The rapid ascension of weightlifting standards amongst the Crossfit Elite is evidence that both coaching and training standards are rapidly improving. High quality athletes and...Read More
Photo: CrossFit Inc.
Jason Khalipa rowed a 1:18:02.3 for the “Half Marathon Row” event at the 2013 CrossFit Games; a blistering 1:49/500m pace that I am not sure I can survive 2k at. But let’s put this in perspective: in a casual training session, World and Olympic champion rower Eric Murray beat Jason’s time by a massive 11 mins (2 miles) [Watch it here]. In spite of this, Jason’s rowing tips video has been viewed over 158k times on YouTube making it the 16th most viewed rowing technique video on the channel to date.
This left me to consider the question: Would CrossFitters become better at rowing if they took tips from pro rowers rather than Jason?
With this question in mind, I picked up the phone to Greg Hammond, Marketing Director (CrossFit) for Concept 2 and asked him: Is CrossFit “rowing” the same as professional rowing? And if not, what can we learn from their differences, and how should this influence our training?
Here is what I gained from talking with Greg:
- Rowers use boats, CrossFitters use ergs
Using a Concept 2 machine isn’t rowing on the water; there are no boats or oars involved. Instead, it is a machine us Sport Scientists refer to as an ergometer, or “erg”, used to measure work performed. “This is key to the differences in technique and training between CrossFitters and rowers” says Hammond. “Rowers train to move a thin, light boat through water as efficiently and as quickly as possible whereas CrossFitters train to use the erg as efficiently and as quickly as possible, but without the worry of getting wet. There is a much bigger need for smooth fluid technique and balance on the water.” CrossFit even offers a training course for rowing that lets CrossFitters actually get on the water the second day to show them the complexity of the movement.
There is a much bigger need for smooth fluid technique and balance on the water.
- CrossFitters tend to “muscle” it
Jason Khalipa deadlifts over #550 and can snatch over #275. The strength he has over the comparatively slender elite rower means he has additional power to call on.
“I see a lot of CrossFit athletes bobbing and throwing their heads back when on the erg.” reports Greg.
“This is a result of them muscling their strokes: employing more upper body strength in the pull at the cost of efficiency and stability. In Jason’s case he also pauses in the recovery, which breaks up the flow between strokes.
“In contrast, professional rowers keep their heads and torsos moving back and forth in a fluid non-stop, horizontal plane of motion. This is vital in flow and balance when on the water and avoids leaving speed and power on the table through muscling or pausing.” Muscling the stroke this way on water will cause the boat to slow down.
- CrossFitters use the erg differently
To CrossFitters the erg is simply a piece of equipment used in the WOD: “It’s like a kettlebell,” says Greg. “It’s used in a variety of ways that often come with strategic considerations. When doing Jackie for example, the row at the start needs to be paced correctly to preserve energy for thrusters and pull ups.
The old saying: A ‘WOD can’t be won on the erg but it can be lost’ is very true.
This is different to professional rowing: Athletes row a set distance and when they are done they don’t have to worry about pull-ups or box jumps waiting for them at the finish line. Their aim is simply to excel at rowing.”
- Elite CrossFitters and On-water rowers need to put in time to build capacity
One similarity between Competitive rowers and CrossFit athletes is the need to put in the time to build capacity. Improving technique is just a one part of the equation. “CrossFit Games winner Rich Froning has reported rowing over a million meters in a year [that’s almost 2,740m a day on average] to improve his rowing.” Greg tells me. “Putting in time on the erg should be as important to you as working the Olympic lifts and gymnastics movements if you want to be a great CrossFitter.”
Here are the practical learning points from my discussion with Greg on how to be a better CrossFit “rower”:
- Be prepared to devote significant time to the erg to build capacity and work on technique if you want to go from good to great.
- Master the erg. Get to know how it works, what the dampener does and how to get the most from adjusting it; Learn what the computer is telling you about stroke rate, split time, power output etc. and use this information in your training to develop benchmarks and milestones to show performance gains on a regular basis.
- Consider the different situations you’ll be in on the erg in the WOD and work on incorporating them into training. Learn how using it can impact your strength and capacity based on pace and duration. Aim to read the WOD and know exactly how you are going to pace the row, regardless of what is thrown at you, knowing you will be using it optimally.
About Greg Hammond
Greg has been an employee at Concept2 for 17 years. He has been training with CrossFit since 2006. Greg trains out of Champlain Valley CrossFit, rubbing shoulders with celebs like Dani Horan and Matt Fraser.
Want to work on your CrossFit rowing technique? Why not sign up for one of CrossFit Inc.'s rowing seminars. Click here to find out more.
Photo: CrossFit Inc. Jason Khalipa rowed a 1:18:02.3 for the “Half Marathon Row” event at the 2013 CrossFit Games; a blistering 1:49/500m pace that I...Read More
With the CrossFit Games Open less than a month away, athletes are training harder than they have all year. With this increased volume comes improved work capacity, strength, and endurance, but the risk of injury also increases. We've all felt the regular aches and pains associated with vigorous training, but opinions on treatments vary greatly. Here's a quick and easy chart to assess your pain, and some simple tips on which method will help you get better faster.
With the CrossFit Games Open less than a month away, athletes are training harder than they have all year. With this increased volume comes improved...Read More
A whopping 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated; are you one of them?
Water does everything from lubricating your joints to improving brain function. It's also a legitimate way to fight off hunger. The Journal of Athletic Training claims athletes should drink 17-20 ounces of water 2-3 hours before a workout, and another 7-10 ounces 10 to 20 minutes before exercise, as well as replacing any fluids lost during your workout within a 2 hour period after you're done.
The moral of the story? Drink more water!
A whopping 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated; are you one of them? Water does everything from lubricating your joints to improving brain function. It's...Read More
Being a top ******** athlete isn't just about training your butt off and genetic advantage, its also deeply routed in psychology. Check out this awesome, detailed info graphic to truly take your A-game to the games (regionals/open)
Being a top ******** athlete isn't just about training your butt off and genetic advantage, its also deeply routed in psychology. Check out this awesome,...Read More
1. Steve Howell and the Invictus ATG team
Team Invictus Around the Globe (Aja Barto, Blonyx athlete Steve Howell, Azadeh Boroumand and Michelle Kinney) took 1st place at SICest of the Southwest contest in Phoenix AZ. Special shout out to Aja Barto on his #345 Clean & Jerk with no warm-up. Aja started using Blonyx products about 6 weeks ago (although he is not a Blonyx athlete).
2. Jenn Jones
Jenn came 4th at Oktoberfest Obliteration IV in Tomball, TX. Jenn has shot up the competitive ranks to become a woman to watch on the competitive circuit. keep it up Jenn
3. Ricky Frausto and the ******** Omaha team
Ricky led the CFO team to 1st place at the highly competitive Heart of America 4 event in Springfield, MO. The team were joint 1st after the first event and never looked back. CFO narrowly missed out on the games this year so have something to prove to the ******** community on the circuit. Is it any surprise that the box that brought you Kyle Kasperbauer and Stacey Tovar is topping the leader board?
1. Steve Howell and the Invictus ATG team Team Invictus Around the Globe (Aja Barto, Blonyx athlete Steve Howell, Azadeh Boroumand and Michelle Kinney) took...Read More