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Workout Partners: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

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Working out is one of your favorite things to do and you want to propel your gains to a level you have never reached before. Your first thought is how many supplements and food can I eat to make #gainz; your second thought however is how to properly choose a workout partner that will help you progress, get stronger, and push those heavy weights. There are a lot of positives and also negatives to workout partners, and this is coming from personal experience with both sides of the coin. Below I will present you with not only the pros and cons of workout partners, but also HOW to choose a proper workout partner based on your specific needs. Enjoy!

Pros:

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Spotting – Want a built in spotter for bench that knows your preferences and is always there to help you hit max weights, this is when a training partner is essential. I personally dislike asking people I don’t know for spots, because most of the time, they aren’t very good at it.

Accountability – There are a lot of people out there who wouldn’t set foot in a gym if it wasn’t for a workout partner motivating them to come. If you are the type of person who needs just a little push from others, a workout partner is almost essential.

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Motivation  – There isn’t a person on earth who would say a good workout partner didn’t help them to make any serious gains. When I had a solid workout partner my bench was at around 320#, it hasn’t been at that weight since 2004, when I had my training partner. A good training partner gives you just enough push to hit weights you wouldn’t normally do on your own.

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Form Police – There is only one way to properly coach form and that is to see it from the outside looking in. You could video all of your lifts but even then a second pair of eyes could be beneficial. A good workout partner will keep his or her eyes on your form at all times and give and constructive criticism when necessary.

 Cons:

Consistency – Some people just don’t want to train as much as they say they do. Your success will suffer if you rely on a training partner who will actually only workout with you once or twice a week, if at all. If this is your training partner, ditch him or her, and train on your own or find a new buddy.

Flakiness – My last training partner would schedule days to go with me to the gym and then cancel the night of. I would then reschedule for another day HOPING he would actually commit. Ultimately, he continued to flake so I stopped reaching out and went to the gym alone.

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Slackers – You may have a training partner who shows up to the gym on-time, every time, and meets all your overall criteria in a gym buddy but there’s just one thing you don’t like, they don’t workout. Its one thing to show up to a gym, its another thing to actually get the training volume in you prefer. I see it all over, training buddies more interested in talking than working. If this is your training partner, try to convert them or give them the boot!! Your success cannot ride on the shoulders of a gym slacker.

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Goals – You and your training partner need to have similar goals. If your partner wants to do all cardio and you want to hit weights, its not going to work out. Find someone looking to get big like you because lets face it, you don’t do cardio.

So how does one choose the perfect workout partner, and frankly, how do you find them? Well, if you consider all the above criteria then it seems like it could be a difficult process. The answer is Yes and no. The first workout partner I had was a co-worker who had the exact same goals as I. He was training at a differnet gym so I said “come to my gym” and from there we started an awesome gym relationship. We pushed each other, had competitions for weight gain, weights pushed or pulled, and just had fun while getting much bigger. We would bounce supplement ideas off each other, what worked, what didn’t. He was always on time and showed up for every workout. He was one of the best training partners I have ever had. I have gone through about 3 others since then and only one other, another co-worker, had matched up perfectly (see above push up picture). My last one was flakey, didn’t work as hard, and was inconsistent. He was a bomb and I dropped him and started working out by myself again. So, pick someone with similar goals, is on time, works hard, and pushes you to make gains safely. When you find this person, and where you find this person is up to you, but they are out there but choose wisely. Make them #gainz!

The Truth about Vegi-Oils

You sure you want to cook with the same oil used to power this dudes car??

I have been reading a lot about different types of oils recently, which ones to avoid, and of course which ones to use in daily food preparation. Well, I stumbled upon this article on Thankyourbody.com that I felt was a great overview of the good and bad oils, and so instead of being redundant, I went ahead and posted the link to the article below. Enjoy!!

Here is a snippet from the article regarding type of oils to use and which ones to avoid.

Oils that are OK to use:

  • Coconut Oil (Use expeller-pressed to avoid a coconut flavor)
  • Tallow
  • Lard
  • Butter
  • Palm Oil (Although, please find from a sustainable source as so much palm oil today is being harvested in horrific ways. When in doubt just stick with coconut oil.)
  • Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (Great for non-heat dishes like salad dressings, humus, mayo, etc. Can be used in cooking at lower temperatures or when combined with another saturated fat like butter or coconut oil.)
  • Avocado Oil (Great for non-heat dishes)
  • Other fats (not necessarily for cooking, but essential to good health) include meats, eggs, dairy, and fish (nuts are also good in moderation as they have a high level of polyunsaturated fats).

Oils to be used sparingly:

The following oils are okay in moderations. Most contain high levels of Omega-6 fatty acids, so they shouldn’t be consumed freely. But they are considered natural fats, and do have health benefits. They are not great for high heat cooking, but acceptable in dressings, mayos, and other non-heat foods.

  • Walnut Oil
  • Flaxseed Oil
  • Macadamia Nut Oil

Oils to avoid completely:

Here’s the big list I avoid as much as possible:

  • Canola Oil
  • Corn Oil
  • Soybean Oil
  • “Vegetable” oil
  • Peanut Oil
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Safflower Oil
  • Cottonseed Oil
  • Grapeseed Oil
  • Margarine
  • Shortening
  • Any fake butter substitutes

http://thankyourbody.com/vegetable-oils/

Online Coaches (The 4 Golden Rules)

 

Throwback Thursday article regarding the surge in online coaches; this was written by two well known people in the industry, Dave Tate (Elite FTS) and John Meadows. Enjoy!

“With the recent surge in online coaches, I thought I would share a little something Dave Tate and I put together (mostly Dave) to help you assess if someone is worthy of your hard earned dough.
Here are the 4 Golden Rules:
1. What is their education? … Do they have a degree? In a related field? BS, Masters, PHD? Certifications? Continuing Education? Internships? Work History? Mentors? Self Thought? It’s very important that they understand how to translate education, studies, etc into actual client scenarios too. This is critical. On a scale of 1-5 where do they rank? 5 would be advanced degree, internship and 2-3 very good mentors. Work back from there. If they are only self thought they get a 1 or 2. 2.
2. What have they done? Do they lift? Did they play sports? What level? How long? How long to get to the top level? How long did they stay at top level? What adversity did they face? If they are so good at coaching, they should have at least been able to get results with themself.
A 5 would be the person who busted ass for years to get into the top 10%. They faced adversity and had to earn every pound and sacrificed and paid a price for it. A 1 would be the person who did nothing. A 2 would be the genetic freak/anomoly who hit the top fast and never really faced adversity.
3. Who have they trained? Who are their clients? Do they have any? Did they ever have any? What hands on experience do they have? Have they created people better than they were? Have they worked with beginners? Intermediate? Advanced?
A 5 would have worked with every skill level and has made people better than they were (are). They have years of experience doing so and have many tools in the box. A 1 lies about who they have trained. I also wouldn’t give a 5 to those who only work with advanced or pro athletes. A real coaches knows not just how to work with pros but also how to create them.
4. Who coached them and who have they trained with? Do they know how to listen? Follow directions? Were they coached by the best or by nobody at all? Have they trained with champions (it rubs off). Do they know when to drive and push hard and when to back down? Do they know how a squat should look, feel and sound? Do they know basic gym manners.
A 5 has been coached by the best and has learned respect for it. A one has never been coached by anyone who pushed them hard, disagreed with and learned to respect. Typically these are know it alls. Avoid at all costs. If you find a perfect 20 its REALLY rare. The goal would be to find a 16 or better. They won’t be cheap but they will get you where you need to go and the extra money you do spend will be nothing compared to the medical expense and downtime working with a 12 or below. Hope this helps.”

The Cost of Protein – Money Wasted Looking Great

Eating well costs money. One could easily live off ramen for a year and save quite a bit of money, but we won’t, because we are worth it. Instead, we are left to spend my money on lean beef,chicken, turkey, fish, veggies, fruit, and expensive healthy fats in order to eat clean.  There was an article years ago on 70’s Big  that breaks down here what the cost is for consumption of protein on a  daily, monthly, and yearly basis. The post is funny as hell, and really does make you realize how much you spend on keeping your physique in top form.

The Link:

http://70sbig.com/blog/2011/08/cost-of-protein/

Rack Chat: Goals, Vids, and More

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I wanted to post up some recent workout vids I took over the past few weeks or so. I really don’t have any specific goals planned with the exception of breaking past my old PR on deadlift at 350lbs. I pulled an easy 345# last week and was capable of more but decided to leave it at that. Otherwise, just looking to pack on some size and lower my BF % a bit. I am hanging in at around 185lbs which is almost an ideal weight for me as I don’t have any desire to be much heavier. As with most 30+ year olds I am battling various issues in and around my pelvic region; I work a FT job that plops me in a chair for nearly half the day. Couple that with an hour in the car and my hamstrings, hip flexors, and lower back are a constant battle for me. I continue to do my dynamic warm ups, foam rolling, and post workout stretching which has provided a bit of relief. As with anything, I need to stay consistent or it is all out the door. Thanks for listening.

 

 

One and Done.

So the CrossFit Games Open is in full swing. We are two weeks in, and just about every CrossFitter in the world is getting a taste. The seasoned ones are losing sleep, skin, and their minds over every last rep, while the newbies are walking in to the gym for their normal workout, and getting walloped with workouts and movements they may have never done before. The great thing about this Open is it brings the entire CrossFit community together. Seasoned vets helping newer athletes, newer athletes learning more about the “sport” of Crossfit, and the entire gym coming together as one.

During the Open, athletes have five days to complete a specific workout. Over these five days, athletes can choose to do the workout as many times as they wish, and submit the best score they achieve. This gives the athletes a chance to feel the workout, adapt, and make changes to better their score. This is a huge bonus for those athletes looking to qualify for the CrossFit Games as individual or team athletes, as they can rectify their mistakes and misjudgments. But is this true CrossFit?

In competition, athletes get ONE CHANCE to do the workout. That means each athlete needs to have an uncanny ability to figure out the workout on the fly, and know EXACTLY what they are capable of. Part of that capability is the willingness to take themselves to that dark and scary pain cave that all CrossFitters know and love to hate. If an athlete can approach the workout, finish it with nothing left on the table, and be completely satisfied and confident with their results, THAT is CrossFit. That to me is true fitness. And WOW is that hard to do.

This is why we see such different leaderboards between the Open and Regionals/Games. No name athletes top the leader boards during the Open, and when we get to Regionals, they are no where to be found.

We are in the middle of the Open now, so making any adjustments at this point doesn’t make sense. Maintain your focus and strategy for the next three weeks. But as we finish up and move back to normal training, think about the One and Done mentality. Think about leaving EVERYTHING on the gym floor every workout. Make an effort to understand your capabilities and mental game. Use this knowledge and understanding to help yourself make the on the fly adjustments during a workout to get everything out of it you can. Leave the gym knowing you literally did everything you could do. It will be extremely satisfying and fulfulling, and you’ll be a better CrossFitter than when you walked in.

Here is a really good perspective on this from my old coach Casey Parlet of CrossFit 760 – http://www.crossfit760.com/blog/qualify-ego/

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Kevin Ogar: Road To Recovery

Who’s Who with Torey Throop

On Tuesday, February 25th, two days before the 2014 CrossFit Games Open stars, I had a chance to sit down with up-and-coming CrossFit athlete Torey Throop.  I’ve had the pleasure of training next to him for the last year.  No one’s got more heart than this guy.  Keep you eye on him in 2014.  Here’s what I found:

SM: Who are you, where are you from, and where do you train?

TT: Torey Throop, from Alma, Michigan, Vestaburg originally, train at CrossFit Deviate.

SM: Where is CrossFit Deviate?

TT: Rochester, MI

SM: How long have you been CrossFitting?

TT: Uh…About 19 months?

SM: That’s pretty short?

TT: Just under two years, yep.

SM: Did you participate in any sports or weightlifting before CrossFit?

TT: Played College Basketball and Golf.  Played football, baseball, and basketball in high school

SM: Does your snatch improve your golf swing?

TT: Shoulder mobility

(Laughs)

TT: Definitely.  And explosive hips!

SM: Makes sense.  Any sponsors?

TT: Uh…Just my buddy Brad helping me out with some Fox gear, so that’s pretty rad.  But I’m open to options at this point

SM: Why is Miranda Oldroyd so much buffer than you are?

(laughs)

TT: Because she’s been doing CrossFit longer…That’s why.  She’s a beast

SM:  She’s a stud.

(laughs)

SM: Favorite benchmark workout?

TT: Hmmm…I would have to say…(pondering)…UGH…

SM: So many to choose from.

TT: There is…Uh…Helen’s not bad.

SM: Oooohhh

TT: I like it.  It’s a good CrossFit workout.  It’s just classic CrossFit.

SM: What’s Helen again?  That’s uh…Running, kettle bell swings, and pullups?

TT: Running, kettle bells and pullups, yep.

SM: What about for 2013…Any achievements, or particularly special PR’s?

TT: This last year?

SM: Yep

TT: Um…pretty psyched to get my Fran time under 2:18.  That was cool.

SM: Brutal

TT: Clean and Jerked 315, uh…Snatched 250…So mainly my strength numbers went way up.  Squatted over 400, deadlift is getting close to 500.

SM: Those are all Big Boy numbers

TT: Trying to get up there.  Chasing guys that are getting better, so it’s hard

SM: So it’s safe to say you’re pretty strong going into the 2014 season.

TT: Yep.

SM: Why is Rich Froning so tan?

TT: Man…they don’t get much snow in Tennessee

SM: He must have a tanning bed at Mayhem.

TT: He does.  He cheats.  He gets waxed too I think

(Laughs)

SM: Who does your programming?  Do you have a coach?

TT: UM…I started by myself in the garage.  I’d always just do benchmark workouts like every day, and hero workouts.  But now everything is more…not structured, but…I still make it up every day as I go.  I gotta give a lot of credit for strength to Rehif and…You know…I wouldn’t be where I am without him.  A lot of my knowledge comes from him.

SM: Who’s Rehif?

TT: Rehif Murray, one of the part owners of CrossFit Deviate.  He does the programming for the gym.  It’s good stuff.

SM: I can vouch for that.

TT:  And uh…Galloway and Coach Mike (CrossFit Deviate Olympic Lifting Coaches).  My oly was pitiful when I started CrossFit.  I’d have to give them the credit for my Oly form.

SM: It helps to have good coaches.

TT: Oh yea…I mean…I can’t imagine seeing better coaches anywhere, but I know there are a lot of good ones out there.

SM: Hip Hop, or Rock/Punk in the gym?

TT: Rock/Punk definitely.

SM: Running or rowing?

TT: Hmmm…Rowing.

SM: Ooooh…spicey

TT: Yea…yup.  They’re both bad.  They both suck.

SM: Last, but not least…how many burpees did you get in 12.1?

TT: Dude…I don’t remember fully…I think it was 133.  I never did the actual workout.  I did it on my own.  I did it last year before the open…a week before…I think I got 133.

SM:  Where would that score have ranked?

TT: Uh…It was somewhere in the top 20 I think.

SM:  Damn.  That’s crazy.  Well thanks buddy and good luck this year.

TT: It was a pleasure.

You can follow Torey Throop here:

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The CrossFit Games Open, Goals, and Life.

CrossFit Games 2014

So the CrossFit “Season” is upon us.  And just like tens of thousands of other CrossFitters, I signed up for the CrossFit Games Open last week.  For the non-CrossFitter, the Open is a worldwide CrossFit Games qualifier held over five weeks.  CrossFit HQ releases one qualifying workout a week, where the participants have five days to complete the workout and submit their score.  The top 48 men and women, and top 30 teams in each region move on to Regionals (semi-finals).  From there, the top three men, women, and teams in each region move on to the Games.  If you’re active in the fitness world and don’t know what the CrossFit Games is, you’ve definitely have been living under a rock (hopefully one you’ve been lifting)

CrossFit has done something special with the Open – They have created a worldwide playing field in which to test your fitness.  You can see how you stack up against Rich Froning, Samantha Briggs, your rival CrossFit partner, or anyone who’s part of the open for that matter.  They have created an event that will push most people to a physical and mental place they have never been…probably five different times over the five week event.  They have given CrossFitters a medium in which to workout on the same playing field as their heroes.  And they have given the entire CrossFit world a continued motivation and a goal to shoot for every year.  It really is pretty amazing.

If your gym (box) is like mine, everyone’s palms are already sweating in anticipation.  For the competitors, this is what many of us have worked towards all year.  For the other 90% of the gym, this is something they can get excited about and have fun participating in.  It really brings the entire gym together.  It also opens the eyes of new CrossFitters to the sport of “CrossFit”.

I’m particularly excited for my gym, CrossFit Deviate.  Last year we were only about six months old and placed 34th in the Open, four places out of a free ticket to Regionals.  Heartbroken, but not discouraged, I watched every athlete pour their blood, sweat, tears, and dedication into their training all year, and I am 100% confident we will be one of 30 teams at the Central East Regionals later this year.  In addition to the team, we have a handful of individual competitors that will more than likely qualify as an individual (this is elite shit we are talking about here), including our coach, and my friend, Torey Throop, who will give the top ten in the Central East a run for their money.  It’s going to be an exciting season for our little world of fitness in Rochester, MI.

Our team will consist of six individuals, three men, and three women.  More than likely the team will be chosen based on each individual’s performance in the Open.  As for me…I would do anything to be a part of the team.  I live and breath the sport of CrossFit, as well as my gym, my second family and home, CrossFit Deviate.  I have a good shot, but as hard as I train, my day job makes being the best CrossFitter I can be somewhat difficult.  Months of traveling only hinder my progress, and it just so happens that I’m traveling the entire five weeks of the Open this year.  Great.  As long as I have this job (which I love, by the way), maintaining the high level of skill, strength, and conditioning needed to be a regional team contender is going to take a truck-load of discipline, focus, and motivation.  Is it doable?  Yes.  Would it be much easier if I didn’t travel?  Of course.  It’s hard not to make excuses.

Which brings me to the point of this post – Life.  99% of us have lives that need our attention.  Kids, family, jobs, health…you name it.  Anything can set us back or cause us to lose focus.  The great news is, it’s OK.  Life gets in the way sometimes.  Don’t get frustrated if you miss a day, week, pound, lift…We all have bad days.  More often than not, we can learn a lot from that bad day!  Just keep your eye on the ball, keep moving forward, don’t make excuses, be grateful you’re able to workout, and you will no doubt achieve whatever goal you have set for yourself.

Feel free to share them below!

PS: Write your goals down and look at them everyday!  SERIOUSLY!