Workout of the Day

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If you’re an avid Waze user like me, thanks to the handy “heads up, ______ reported ahead” feature, you’ve likely saved yourself many times from driving through a pothole, getting stuck in an unexpected traffic jam, or landing yourself an inopportune speeding ticket. What you’ve probably never done is taken Waze’s warning that there’s a road hazard or construction ahead and decided to call it a day, turn the car around, and head back home. That would be silly, right?

So here’s the bait and switch:

You’ve found yourself facing a metaphorical road hazard. You’re extra busy, you’re injured, your schedule changed, whatever. Are you going to turn the car around and call it a day, or reroute and find a better way forward?

- PS


6/14/19

  • Tabata pull-ups

  • 1 min rest

  • Tabata box jumps (24/20”)

  • 1 min rest

  • Tabata push-ups

  • 1 min rest

  • Tabata double-unders

  • * record lowest number for each exercise


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Generally speaking, the workout of the day is a means to an end, not an end itself. When you zoom out, the same idea applies to our GPP fitness program: it is a means to general physical preparedness, and the pieces that make it up are simply the tools we use to get there.

Today’s work calls for a heavy set of 5 keg clean and presses, but our end goal is not simply to do keg clean and presses or a heavy set of 5. Those are the means. Our end on this day, for example, is an expression of violent hip extension, core-to-extremity strength, midline bracing against an odd object, and pressing strength and stability. We artfully wrap up these end goals in a package that looks like a heavy set of 5 with an odd object. After all, if you arrived at CF No Boundaries to find today’s workout written on the whiteboard as “violent hip extension, core-to-extremity strength, etc.,” you might assume you arrived at the wrong place. You’re interested in improving your fitness, not jargon.

You should remember this distinction between means and ends for two reasons.

First, just because you complete the exercises, sets, and reps posted on the whiteboard or blog does not mean you accomplished the intended stimulus (the ends) for the day. A set of 5 keg clean and presses that is done slowly or with poor position does not meet the requirements for today’s goal.

Second, just because you’re not doing exactly what’s written out as the prescribed workout for the day doesn’t mean you’re not accomplishing the intended stimulus. Your coach may prescribe that you do a heavy set of three, or may assign you a different implement, or in another workout may prescribe you more reps or fewer reps or lighter weight or heavier weight. All of this is done in the name of achieving the intended stimulus for the day. The workout on the whiteboard is our framework; how that is best expressed in each individual will vary.

Don’t confuse the tool for the intended task. A carpenter’s work is not her chisel or lathe.

- PS


6/13/19

  • Keg clean and press - 5rm

Then...

  • With a partner…

  • AMRAP 12

    • P1: 200m run

    • P2: 50m keg carry (AHAP)

    • -switch-


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I’m sure you’re highly capable of chilling on a Saturday afternoon with a beverage in hand and no responsibilities to speak of. But how about in the middle of a workout, breathing hard, watching the clock, managing heavy fatigue? Not a traditional “chill” moment, but perhaps the most important time to be able to maintain (some) chill.

Next time you find yourself getting riled up into a panic as you manage the physical and cognitive discomforts that come with physical stress, try this: three slow, deep breaths. Close your eyes if you need to. Breathe through your nose if you’re able. Quiet the mind for a moment and seek your inner chill. While you’re certainly not going to be Saturday-afternoon-with-beverage-in-hand kind of chill in this context, I would argue that developing the skill of fostering a bit of chill in your heightened state might be just the thing that moves the needle another step forward on your performance. Plus, you might just find that the skill transfer is nothing short of life-changing.

- PS


6/12/19

  • For 12 minutes, for quality:

    • 16 KB windmills (8/side) (AHAP)

    • 8 KB turkish get-ups (4/side) (AHAP)

Then...

  • 2 rounds for reps/cals:

    • 90s max cal row

    • 30s rest

    • 60s max pull-ups

    • 60s rest

    • 30s max double KBS (AHAP)

    • 90s rest


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It’s a well-known but rarely-honored fact that you can’t buy your results.

You can take up investing or start your own business with $10 million dollars in your pocket and lose it all rather quickly if you don’t know how markets work, or don’t understand basic business best practices.

You can have all the same equipment, supplements, and programs as a record-setting weightlifter and still never amount to more than a casual lifter.

You can buy a lot of things, but results is not one of them.

There will be people who started with more and people who started with less who get to the same place. What we call “it” is irrelevant. The X-factor will always be something you can’t buy, and that’s a remarkable thing. What’s your X-factor, and how can you continue to foster and grow it?

- PS


6/11/19

  • “Luce”

  • For time, wearing a 20/14lb weight vest:

    • 1k run

    • 10 ring muscle-ups

    • 100 squats


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While I generally air on the side of optimism, I think it’s safe to say that many of the people who have the elusive muscle-up on their “things that would be cool to be able to do someday” list will never do an unassisted muscle-up in this lifetime. It’s not that they can’t -- in fact, I believe that most people with the muscle-up on their list have the requisite qualities that could allow them to learn the muscle-up with some instruction and a hefty dose of deliberate practice -- but “can” and “will” are two very different things.

But the thing is, I don’t think it actually matters that all of these people won’t ever get an unassisted muscle-up, and I don’t think that the fact that many people will never do one should be any reason to take the muscle-up off of their list. If you ask yourself the right series of questions, you’ll end up recognizing that it’s not actually the muscle-up that matters. It’s arbitrary -- a landmark or even a framework for understanding. The muscle-up (or any other challenging movement, for that matter) is a beacon that can guide you to immerse yourself in progression and practice. At worst, your practice leads to you improve your pulling and pressing mechanics, your coordination, your strength, and your understanding of how to move your body through space and around a fixed point. At best, your progressions develop until you find yourself atop the rings, having completed your first muscle-up. Either way, it gives you reason to move and ways to learn.

So go ahead and keep practicing the muscle-up. Maybe you’ll get one, maybe you won’t. But that doesn’t actually matter, does it?

- PS


6/10/19

  • Squat snatch - 5,5,3,3,3,1,1,1,1,1

Then...

  • 3 RFQ

    • 10 snatch grip push press

    • 10 snatch grip row


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If you’ve spent any time on the internet in the last week, you’ve probably seen some commentary, memes, or general public exasperation at the $999 monitor stand that Apple announced at the Worldwide Developers Conference. And if you haven’t, I’ve included one below for a good chuckle.

Here’s the short of it: Apple, at a conference announced a new computer monitor geared towards people whose careers or hobbies, such as professional video editors, depend on hardware that excels in the realm of high-definition display. The monitor itself doesn’t come with a stand, and so alongside the monitor, Apple announced the “Pro Stand,” a $999 uni-tasker to hold up your monitor. Sound ridiculous? It is, but perhaps not for the reasons you think.

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Consider this perspective put out by tech blogger Marques Brownlee: the monitor itself -- the “Pro Display XDR” -- rings in at $5,000. (Side note: this may seem outrageously costly to you and me, but compared to the monitors it’s attempting to compete with that cost upwards of $30k, $5k isn’t so bad). Apple chose not to include the stand with the monitor, a justifiable choice given that many pro video editors already have a multi-screen mounting platform that they would place their monitor on, and thus have no need for the stand. The problem is how Apple framed the whole thing. Rather than advertising a $6,000 monitor that is discounted by $1,000 if you opt not to buy the stand, they chose to announce, to a crowd full of people and the world wide web, a $1,000 monitor stand, which just sounds silly when you say it out loud.

The same offer goes from a rip-off to a deal when framed differently. One is a high-end monitor with an overpriced add-on. The other is a high-end monitor with an opportunity for a large discount if you already have your own display stand.

I’m not too worried about how Apple, a trillion dollar company, is going to suffer from people on the internet making fun of their poor choice in framing a new product, but the same errors may be affecting how you view your own world.

What can you reframe that will change your worldview for the better?

- PS


6/7/19

  • 1 mile run time trial


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In case you needed more proof that the connections between your physical, mental, and emotional self are unavoidable, new research published in the Journal of Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology provides evidence that your decision making is mechanistically related to levels of inflammation. In the study, levels of experimentally-induced inflammation (measured by levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the saliva) predicted something called “temporal discounting,” or the tendency to make decisions that favor smaller, more immediate rewards over larger rewards in the future.

While this is only one study and much more remains to be discovered, the implications here are powerful.

Opting for another scoop of ice cream now over a healthier you in the future? Sounds a lot like temporal discounting -- immediate (small) reward in favor of delayed (greater) reward. Those cravings you have when you’re sick? It just so happens that you’re inflammatory levels are higher when your immune system is fighting something off. The snowballing effect of eating a high sugar diet that leads to increasing cravings, or the perpetual listlessness that comes with a week of being sedentary, or the decisions you make when you’re stressed? These poor habits set off an inflammatory response, and the cycle continues. Feel free to let your imagination soar on the ways that your decision making is very likely affected by your general health.

There are no quiet, protected corners where your decisions exist without consequences. Good, bad, or ugly, it’s all connected.

- PS


6/6/19

  • 3 rounds:

    • 1 min max strict ring rows

    • 1 min rest

    • 1 min max strict HSPU

    • 1 min rest

  • * record total reps of each exercise

Then...

  • 4 rounds of:

  • 90s AMRAP

    • 4 SB over shoulder (AHAP)

    • 8 KBS (AHAP)

  • 90s rest


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Former MLB first baseman and designated hitter, Jason Giambi, is best known for his time with the Oakland A’s and the New York Yankees, during which he received honors such as the American League MVP, multiple All-Star awards, and the Silver Slugger Award. What he is probably second best known for, though, is his superstitious practice of wearing a gold thong when he was desperate to get out of a hitting slump. And, according to Jason (and other teammates), it worked.

Before you go out and buy yourself a gold thong for your next big business meeting or sporting competition, consider why superstitions like this work. There is nothing magical about a gold thong or any other apparel, trinket, or ritual used to garner good fortune. What these superstitious behaviors lend to their users is the power of self-belief, as well as a little bit of a productive distraction. This has even been studied in the lab -- individuals who had their lucky charms had a higher degree of self-belief and better performance than those who did not have their lucky item. When Jason Giambi stepped up to the plate after a hitting slump, his not-so-magical gold thong was an active distraction from over-thinking his task and gave a boost to his belief in his capacities. In short, it worked because he believed it would work.

While it’s all well and good to have a little something extra you take with you on high-stakes endeavors to remind you of what you’re capable of, let this be a lesson that your potential is limited by your own beliefs.

Work to foster a greater belief in what you can do, and, provided you've laid the groundwork and put in the practice, you may just find yourself knocking it out of the park.

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Your habits, like anything else, can be more or less durable.

An addiction, for example, is an extremely durable habit. The behaviors will persist in the face of extreme adversity (damaged relationships, health problems, running out of money). And while addiction is not generally considered a positive attribute, you cannot deny that the behaviors around it are, outside of the negative context, powerful ones. Commitment, persistence, problem-solving.

On the positive side, a mother or father’s commitment to their child is often an incredibly durable habit. Despite the stresses of parenting, juggled with work and other life commitments, parents will find a way to give their children time, to nurture them physically and emotionally, to look after their holistic development, all at the willing cost of much inconvenience and personal sacrifice.

A durable habit (good or bad) is modeled by the old cliché: where there is a will, there is a way.

Fragile habits, on the other hand, can be thrown off track by a bump in the road or a wayward gust of wind.

Your good eating habits are solid until a bowl of chips is put on the table at the restaurant. Your commitment to regular training is consistent until your schedule changes and it is no longer convenient. Your efforts to act with kindness are strong until someone on the freeway merges in front of you without a turn signal, and all bets are off.

Your fragile habits persist only when protected by convenience and ease. Their existence is predicated on circumstances -- on what is outside of your control. An unwillingness to adapt by changing what is in your control makes for a weak hold on such behaviors. I would hesitate to even call these habits.

Interrogate your own habits and commitments. Which ones are durable? Which ones are not? Are you leaving important things up to circumstances?

- PS


6/4/19

  • Strict press - 5x5

Then...

  • In 5 mins:

    • 500m row

    • AMRAP thrusters (95/65)


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One of my least favorite things about teaching is the grading. Not because it’s a lot of work, but because the true purpose and value of grades, as we know them today, has become increasingly muddled with our expectations of what they say about our worth as humans, and what it means to be average, good, or the best. What I see in students’, parents’, and my own attitudes toward grading reflects a perspective that seems more and more prevalent: “good” isn’t good enough when “better” or “best” are on the table.

Where once a “C” was viewed as average -- and typical -- and an “A” was a sign of exceptional effort or skill, we now live in a world where “A”s are the norm. Today, if you tell a parent their child is “average,” don’t be surprised when they respond as if you’ve just insulted them. The word now carries a connotation on par with “mediocre.” Our society values exceptionalism, and nobody likes to be told that they’re not good enough.

Don’t get me wrong. This post isn’t about encouraging you to rest on your laurels, or to praise your children when they bring home a C average on their report card. I’m the first one who will preach the value of constant growth, of developing past your current capacities. The voice echoes in my ear all the time: why be good when you can be better? With the right context and the right perspective, that voice is one of the most valuable things in the world. We all want to live in a world where people are striving for better.

But let’s talk about that context and perspective. To return to our conversation on grading, I think we can all recall a class at some point in our educational career that had a reputation for providing a GPA-reviving “easy A.” If you took a class like that, I’m willing to bet you didn’t view the work you did there as your best -- as efforts you were proud of. Contrast that with the feeling of earning an "A" in a class where the teacher was a notoriously hard grader and maintained consistently high expectations. Not all "A"s are equal, and we know which one is more truly valuable. And yet, we can all remember the attraction of the class that promised recognition of exceptionalism with significantly less effort.

We want the best. And why not? The trick, though, is to remember that good, better, and best exist on a continuum separated by degrees of hard work, commitment, talent, and time.
-Joy Sprimont


6/3/19

  • For time:

    • 50 push-ups

    • 10 burpee box-overs (24/20”)

    • 40 toes to bar

    • 10 burpee box overs

    • 30 pull-ups

    • 10 burpee box overs

    • 20 ring dips

    • 10 burpee box overs

    • 10 strict L-pull-ups