The Cave has been involved in the CrossFit Games in some fashion since the beginning. If you watched the video in the CrossFit Games History post you’d know that the Games started in 2007 at The Ranch in Aromas CA. We had a couple athletes compete that year. It was great. A small group of athletes putting this crazy CrossFit protocol into a competitive format to see who was the best. The vibe was great. Everyone just wanted to be involved and help out. This games featured the hopper workout which was literally generated at random on the spot during the games.
In 2008 we had a few more folks compete. This time the first day consisted of three workouts which completely blasted our legs. Day two was the 30 squat clean and jerks which made Jason Kalipha famous. He was in the very back of the final heat of the workout and blazed through completely shocking everyone. The CF media team didn’t even have a camera on him because there was no way this guy could win. Whoops.
In 2009 due to size limits the first regionals was created. Another group of us went down to compete including Bill B. who qualified to the CF Games Masters Final in 2011. In 2009 there was no masters category so he was competing with the young bucks. But he was there. The games that year consisted of 7 workouts. The athletes had a brutal task list to complete. This included the infamous row/stake drive workout.
2010 brought sectionals, regionals and The Games. With the growth the series of qualifying events was going to become extensive. We brought a team to regionals at UCLA that year. This was Amanda N’s first introduction to the Games. Ask her about ring dips sometime. We had a great time down in LA and our shining moment was in a tire flip, log carry event. We came in second in our heat and should have won due to some really shady judging, and yes we have video to prove it. This was also the first year the Games was held at the Home Depot Center.
2011 was the year of the first CrossFit Games Open. Thousands of competitors submitting results online as the first qualifying step was a brilliant way to economize the qualification process. CrossFit was born out of the web and it makes sense that the web would be used in its premier competition. This year Bill B. qualified to the games in the 55-59 age category. Number 569, we have the Berry gear that a few of us sport from time to time. It was great to see him compete against the fittest old dudes in the world.
2012 the CF Games exploded. Tens of thousands of athletes competed in the Open. We sent Amanda N. to regionals and Rich L. to the Games. Rich qualified in the exact same position Bill did the previous year. Due to that he also was number 569. So, someone else better do the same this year because we have a streak going.
The 2013 Open is upon us. We’ll be running competitive WODs in the gym regularly. As many as possible should participate. It is a lot of fun and your capability may surprise you. Rich L. is gunning for another trip to the Games in the 55-59 category, Bill B. has a really good shot moving into the 60+ category, and we have a few other possible opportunities to get some athletes going forward to further qualifying rounds of the Games. Sign up.
CrossFit has been called the “sport of fitness.” I think this is an appropriate analogy, and one that is useful for you to figure out how committed you want to be to it, and what level of intensity you want to bring to it.
It's not a hobby or a game to them, it's their lifestyle and livelihood.
Let’s say you played a sport as a kid. Maybe you played little league, or pee wee football in elementary school. You’re going to get a lot of things from those sports: a bit of physical fitness, the importance of teamwork, social skills, and fun (that’s key). A lot of people stop there, having learned the only lessons they want, but others continue and play on a team in high school. It takes a little more commitment to play at that level. There are try-outs, and practices, and drills. It’s still fun, and the majority of your time is spent playing the game, though some serious coaches may have extra work. The next level would be college sports, but most people don’t get there, they are content to have become an athlete in high school, maybe they maintain some of their athleticism, or maybe they play in a social league, or with friends at the park– it’s still a fun game, and just playing the game gives them the benefits they want.
But college level sports require a lot more time and energy. It’s not that the game isn’t fun anymore, but the game becomes something more than just for fun or personal betterment. Athletes are expected to not just play the game a lot, but to seriously work on their weaknesses, both on the field during drills and in the weight room. Professional leagues take this to an even greater level, incorporating an army of specialists to hopefully make each player perform at the peak of their potential.
And CrossFit is very much the same. Most of us get hooked on it it because it’s fun– it’s a social sport with a great community. You can think of a WOD as a game, especially if it’s for time. For a lot of people, just playing the game a lot will give them all they want from the sport. But as you become more and more dedicated to it, you find you have to start spending more time doing the little extra stuff to make your game better. It becomes less about your Fran time, and more about increasing your front squat, or learning the butterfly kip. After that, it becomes more about maintenance, mobility, and efficiency, about nutrition and sleep, and eliminating your weaknesses.
But just to be clear, if you’re not aspiring to play the game at the “professional” or “college” level, there’s nothing wrong with you. Most of us have lives outside of the gym and we want to be fit for our own reasons. We enjoy the game and we play it for fun and for the benefits we see without spending multiple hours of our day dedicated to it.
What level do you play? Are you happy there? Would you like to take it up a notch, or dial it back?
Ok, Cavers, it’s a quick post day. So here’s a “How to Train for Ninja Warrior” video by Ryan “Demon Drills” Ford and Brandon Douglass. I’ve been wanting to make one of these myself but he beat me too it, and I don’t mind promoting his work, since he’s a good instructor. Some of you will notice that there is quite a bit of overlap and many similarities with CrossFit training. Indeed, a lot of those same functional movement skills come in very useful on the Ninja Warrior course. Most of my top picks for exercises would have been the same. Please comment and let me know what you think.
For the record, Ryan Ford finished 32nd in the south west regional qualifiers, narrowly missing the semi-finals for one of the most competitive regions in the nation. He had an injured ankle before the warped wall. I will also give him credit for training some of the very beasts that kept him out of the semi’s and providing them with their training grounds, Apex movement. Brandon Douglass is considered Ninja Warrior Elite, and tied for 10th in 2012 ANW 4 in Las Vegas, along with Elet Hall (NE region) and our own JB Douglass, falling on the transition of the Unstable Bridge in Stage 2.
So if you’ve been following the Blog some of you will know that by Nick’s suggestion we were to post a week’s worth of our own programming/ workouts and possibly nutrition as well. Most of the new CrossFitters at the Cave don’t know me all that well, so I’ll mention a few things about myself relating to my “fitness”, interests and goals that may shed light on what and why I’m doing what I’m doing.
Basically, I’m training for Ninja Warrior and I have a couple of major “holes” in my game. Here’s a little video contrast to shed light on the situation. My attempt at a transition on the Ultimate Cliff Hanger at David & Brian’s Ninja Warrior Course in Santa Cruz:
And here is David Campbell crushing the UCH:
To be fair, David Campbell is probablyThe Best American at The Ultimate Cliff Hanger. He lives on that thing.
Most of you may not know that I’ve been fairly good at CrossFit in the past, competing in the 2007 and 2008 CrossFit Games and Sectionals or on the CrossFit Marin Affiliate Team as well as the Games Open although these days CrossFit is secondary in my training. In 2010 I competed in American Ninja Warrior II and since then I’ve been hooked and each year I’ve prioritized Ninja Warrior specific training more and more. CrossFit can definitely help provide a great fitness base for an even like ANW, but in my opinion the two disciplines that prepare an athlete the best for American Ninja Warrior (other than simply replicating and training on the obstacles) are Parkour and Rock Climbing. Gymnastics is a close 3rd. So each year since I started competing in ANW, I’ve been shying a little further away from heavy CrossFitting and emphasizing climbing and Parkour. In both 2010 & 2011 I completed the qualifier course in Venice but was just a little bit too slow to finish in the top 30, which is the pool that moves on to the semi-finals. This year, 2012, it was a much easier process to make it to the next stage because they had six regions and a lot more competitors advancing to the finals. I barely made it to the finals in Vegas but I fell on the “Jumping Spider” in stage one. Although I didn’t finish the stage, I know that I am physically capable of doing so. I made a “read” error for the obstacle. If I tried it again I very well could get it and I know that even if it is possible for me to fall, I am very capable of finishing stage 1 of the course. Here is a stage-1 simulation at David, Brian & Travis’ former Sasuke course in Santa Cruz:
Although stage two is commonly thought to be considerably harder, it is still within my capability of completing it, as long as I have a good run. Stage 3, however, is a completely different matter. I know that I have uncommonly strong grip strength and pull strength compared to most people, even most CrossFitters. (If you think you can beat me at a grip strength contest, come find me. I’ll be happy to acquiesce.) However, the amount of grip strength and endurance as well as core strength and explosiveness required to complete stage 3 of American Ninja Warrior is, well- ridiculous, and I know that I’m not there at the moment. I’ve decided to concentrate on climbing until my finger strength increases enough to at least give me a chance at completing stage 3 of the competition. Climbing at the level that I’m trying to get to is very hard, and somewhat dangerous, similarly to how how it can be dangerous to perform at an elite level at any sport. You can simply be more at risk of injury. Here is a week of my programming starting on Sept. 15th at the Meyers South Lake Tahoe bouldering competition:
Saturday Sept. 15th: Bouldering outdoors (that is climbing with no ropes- you stay low to the ground. It tends to be shorter but more powerful. Kind of like a “strength day” to climbing instead of a metcon- [longer route on a rope.]) for about 8 hours starting around 9-ish and ending around 5-ish. Actual “on the rock” time was much less. This involved plenty of hiking, strategizing, and resting in between problems, as well as enjoying the good company. It was hard climbing outdoors since I’m mostly used to climbing in a gym, but it was very gratifying and I became familiar with a lot of great climbing spots in Tahoe. The hardest problem I got was (supposedly) a V-6, which is fairly hard, but I mostly completed V-1’s & V-2’s. I think the V-6 was over rated in terms of difficulty. Also, after the climbing competition was over, I participated in the dyno comp which was fun, but I got trounced, in both the boulder and the dyno comp. My friend and climbing partner Brett Ashton, won the dyno comp and came in 3rd in the “open” category, which is populated by super-freaks. He’s about as good as you can get at climbing and not be professional. He is sponsored by Evolve. Here’s a picture of him on a V8 on the “Toltec Boulder”:
Bret Ashton on The Toltec Boulder in South Lake Tahoe. Bret, stop bitching about the heat and just send!
Sunday Sept. 16th: Woke up early to go for a run at altitude through the forest. I got side tracked by rocks to jump on. I ended up practicing a great stride / gap leap sequence on a series of rocks and a bush to jump over in between the second to last and last rock. Practiced single steps on rocks, leap over bush and land the precision on the last rock. It required considerable speed and commitment. Great coordination, depth, power, and agility training as well as the “mental” aspect of training a big skill. The moves required short sprinting. Ran back to camp. The bulk of the day was taken up by watching Bret and another fellow make a project of a V-11 that I couldn’t even start. Later doubled up by finishing the day at the “hemorrhoid” boulder on a classic V3 that I made up. Probably 1.5 hours of climbing there to close up the day.
(hadn’t snatched in a while went conservative with just 55 kg.)
C> For Time:
Rest 1 min
50 Hand Release Push Ups
Rest 1 min
Wednesday Sept. 19th: Hill sprints (roughly 80 meters?) right outside of my parents’ house:
3 R: Hill Sprint / 15 Push-ups, then rest
Moderate bouldering later that night at Planet Granite
Thursday Sept. 20th:The Cave programming Lvl 2:
A> Thruster- 5×3 @ 80% (Increased weight for sets from 40kg through 65 kg.)
B> Back Jerks - Did not have time to do this.
C> 5 min Emom of: 15 Hand Release Push Ups; 2 Single Leg Box Jump L/R.
(Coincidentally Jonny Mosely came in to the gym during the E-mom. He was one of the hosts of American Nina Warrior 4. I actually met him during the qualifiers in Venice, although he is a local and several of our clients know him.)
D> 5 min Emom of: 8 Toes to Bar/ Pull up alternate. This was excellent training for Ninja Warrior. It combines the core and pull strength necessary for a lot of the upper body obstacles as well as giving you a stamina hit.
I should have probably taken a rest day that day, but it felt good to train at the time. I paid for it the following week though, when my shoulder and later my neck seized up. I’m finally better about two weeks later, but the three days in a row of push-ups with no rest when I’m somewhat deconditioned in regards to CrossFit training may have had something to do with it. Special thanks to Dr. Sara LaMarch for helping heal up my shoulder and neck.
Friday Sept. 21st: Monsterous bouldering day at the climbing gym. I crushed a V6, almost completed a second V6 project, and started chipping away at the pieces of a pretty tough V7 among other problems that I managed to send. However, that weekend my neck tightened up during that weekend probably due to a combination of bad sleeping posture and previous workouts.
I intend on focusing on climbing for the next several months and expanding to parkour and gymnastics with some Ninja Warrior specific training thereafter. I will also be doing a limited amount of CrossFit-ish workouts, especially to keep some Olympic lifting skills. As far as my nutrition for that week, I tried to eat somewhat healthy, but I’m pretty sure that I ate too much ice-cream. It can happen on climbing trips.
As a reminder, The Cave has a Ninja Warrior Seminar & competition coming up on Nov. 3rd for kids and Nov. 4th for adults. We’re going to have a whole team of American Ninja Warrior celebrities here to coach you through several courses and teach you some Ninja skillzzz. If anyone wants to try learning some of this skill set, it would be a great place to practice! No parkour or rock climbing prerequisites! The kids’ event is almost sold out but the adult one still has plenty of room. Sign up on our website and feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
This weekend a few Cavers headed down to Santa Cruz to compete in the Diamond in the Tough competition. It was hosted by CrossFit West Santa Cruz. The competition consisted of three qualifier workouts (you may have seen some of our athletes doing these workouts in the gym over the last few weeks). Then a live competition this weekend.
Rich L. won his age division! Check out the results. He won with a solid broad based performance. Not winning any single event he just showed that he was more rounded and consistent than the other athletes. Another title to add to his accomplishments. 18th place finisher in the 2012 CrossFit Games and winner of the Diamond in the Tough. Way to go Rich!
Shari M. ranked 8th in her age division. Again with balanced performances across the tests. Thanks to coach Brian for preparing and coaching these athletes for the event.
We have all experienced failure. It is simply a part of life. There are those that try to avoid failure, and those that embrace it. People handle failure in radically different ways. For some it spurs them on to work harder to overcome, for some it sends them into a death spiral leading to never trying anything outside of their comfort zone.
How do you handle failure? At The Cave we expose people to failure on a daily basis. I’ve written posts about it before. See The Path to Success is Failure. How you handle failure is critical. One of the key things I hope to impart to my own kids as well as the kids we coach in the gym is to be totally comfortable with failure. In college there were skills that literally took me over a year to learn. This would be 5-20 attempts at the skill 3-5 times/week. So let’s say a minimum of 3,000 failures before I succeeded. This can take a toll on your ego if you let it.
John Orozco had a rough meet. Unfortunately that meet happened to be the 2012 Olympic Games. It was painful to me to watch the men’s team’s shot at a medal dissolve as a result of a few major errors. In the men’s all around Danell Leyva and John Orozco both had major flaws on pommel horse. Danell was able to come back from this and medal, but John never really recovered. Did the failure on pommel horse cause John to fall into a downward spiral, or was he simply having a bad day all around? Why was Danell able to step up and come back?
Here is a post by Garrett Kramer, the author of Stillpower, titled 8 Overlooked Factors For Overcoming Failure. Take a read and comment. I’ll leave my comments for a little later, but there are some very interesting points there.
So I’ve had a lot of people ask me about the rule that only allows 2 gymnasts from any one country make the all around finals. This year this rule was prominent to US viewers because we had 3 very strong all around gymnasts. Gabby Douglas, Jordyn Wieber and Aly Raisman all had valid shots at an Olympic all around medal. Going into floor the three were separated by just over a point. Gabby had a significant lead, but had a major fault on the floor. Even with the fault Jordyn ended just behind Gabby and it was up to Aly to decide if the second spot was going to be her or Jordyn. After a fantastic performance Aly bumped Jordyn from the all around finals.
24 gymnasts are taken to the all around finals. Jordyn’s all around score would have placed her solidly in this field. In fact, her score was fourth in the entire field. That’s right, the fourth ranked gymnast in the preliminaries was not allowed to complete in the all around finals due to the country limit rule. This tells us two things. First is that the US had an incredibly strong team this year with 3 of the top four gymnasts in the competition. Second, that the Olympics often has rules that go beyond simple numerical scoring to decide the competition.
The original intent of the Olympics is as a time for countries to come together and compete in good natured sport to improve international relations. I believe that it has functioned well in this capacity. It has been used as a political tool (boycotted Olympics, target for terrorist attacks, etc), but all in all has been a phenomenal way to bring the world together. In the past there were rules about limiting competitors to non-professionals and other ways to keep the competition as fair as possible.
I can see both sides of the limit to all around competitors per country. It was more of an issue when teams were larger, allowing six competitors per event so gymnastics squads were significantly larger. This could limit the top 24 to just a few countries. The other side to look at is if these athletes are the best, then they should be allowed to compete. I’m split on it. I do believe the best should compete, but we also want to ensure that countries without the resources to train athletes to the same level are at least allowed to represent. What are your thoughts?
A couple of weeks ago I was coaching the Tues. 3:30 CrossFit class and the only athlete who Showed up was Shari M. For those of you who know Shari, she is quite strong and tenacious, being one of the most competitive females in our CrossFit program. So Shari, for better or for worse, ended up with a one on one private from myself. Shari is a pleasure to coach. Not only is she strong, but she has good mobility as well and is eager to learn and improve. The workout was a strength set of over head squats in which she was doing considerable weight. When she got to her heaviest sets she was barely, and I mean barely reaching parallel. I was a bit perplexed (considering how good her mobility) is that she wasn’t going any deeper and when I commented on it she asked me, “How deep should I go?”. Well, honestly it depends on your goals. If your goal is to score as much weight in your overhead squat lift for the workout as you possibly can (Hey, braging rights for the chaulk board?) then by all means just go barely, barely, barely, low enough to get credit for the lift. But it seems to me that a more functional goal would be to increase the strength and power of the muscles involved throughout as great a range of motion as possible and train for it keeping the long term benefit in mind. Also remember that your snatches are particularly tied in to your overhead squats and the more comfortable you are sitting at the bottom of an OHS, the easier it will be to snatch that weight when you are performing the Olympic lift, which for a competitive CrossFitter is a very important skill. Just make sure that you have enough pelvic tilt at the bottom to not compromise the integrity of the position and put too much strain on your spinal column. Otherwise go all the way down and find out if you can dig yourself out of the hole. If you can’t and you miss the lift, that’s not a sin, it means you’re actually working hard and pushing your limits. Just look at how deep this Olympic lifter in London caught his snatch and see if you can get your overhead squats that low.
By the way, I have a great picture of Shari’s over head squats that I intended to post but this retarded computer that I’m using at my parents’ house won’t let me download the picture so I’ll have to try to add it later.
I can certainly geek out on things as most of you know. I like to see the numbers surrounding our activities in an effort to better understand what is going on, and how to make improvements. The NY Times has put together some really interesting comparisons of athletes over time. I apologize in advance if you happen to get sucked into watching a bunch of these videos. Most are short. I’ve only viewed a few. Here’s one about the 100m.