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James 'Rise-up' Ellis is man strong.


Gymnastics Skills: 10-15 min of 3 skin the cats, 6 rolling pistols, 3 handstand attempts or max walk

Squat: 5×3 @ 80%

MetCon – For Reps:
AMRAP 3 min
6 KBS (70/50lbs)
6 Clapping Push-ups
Rest 3 min
AMRAP 3 min
6 Burpees
6 Bar Muscle-ups

You all have come across some terrific luck tonight.  Not only are you receiving the promised screed from me, but you are getting a little ‘how’s your mum?’ from CBo as well.  I will put the important one first…

As we continuously change the stimulus to our body in our training, we shall also change our testing stimuli. This definitely applies to the Summer of Squats.

Now don’t get me wrong…if there must be one ultimate squat test, the clear and simple answer is still squat as heavy as you possibly can for one rep. But since I’ve seen so many additional sets of singles, doubles, triples, 5’s, 10’s, 20’s and various other rep schemes of squats this summer, I thought we could reward those of you who went through the Summer of Squats with tests that will challenge your back squat, front squat, and overhead squat in some creative ways.

I will tell you SOS’ers this, the last test WILL be a 1RM back squat, front squat, and overhead squat performed next month. Tests shouldn’t just be heavy and quick, they can/will also be long and light, moderate and intense and you may even see some mash-ups of different types of squats in one test…

For those of you who participated in SOS 2012, PLEASE make some extra time to tick off these squat tests in order to complete your full Summer of Squats. If the summer was overwhelming for you and your point tally is nothing but a mystery – give ’em a shot, eh? It’s just another challenge! PLEASE attempt to complete the tests on Saturday mornings during open gym if at all possible. If you perceive this time will be unavailable, make it to the gym a good deal of time before your class starts during the week, and ask a coach if there’s available space + equipment for you to complete the test while the prior is finishing up.

Keep sqwattin’
Coach CBo


Reading through and doing a short edit of this post reminded me of a quote from someone, but I can’t place the owner.  It reads something to the effect of: I had not enough time to write you a short letter, so I wrote a long one.  I echo this sentiment with this post.  If I would have given myself more time I may have been able to condense and clarify.  Enjoy yourselves.

Several people have asked about psychological training.  I told one such person about this idea of a personal cave and how to apply it to your workouts – especially your metabolic conditioning.  I will try to corral this rather nebulous idea I have had floating around for some time.

We all know firsthand what the psychological stress of an extremely hard workout feels like.  It can almost perpetuate a feeling of being lost and never going to win.  You know you could do better, but you just don’t want to make the extra, sometimes awfully painful effort to do so.  This ends up being ok, though.  You can make a TON of progress in life in almost any endeavor by just putting forth SOME effort.  By putting forth more effort than half of the people, you can become above average at whatever enterprise you choose.  The hard part comes when you cannot progress any longer with just that little bit of effort.

This is the rate of diminishing return, and it applies very nicely to the biological systems involved in progressing in CrossFit.  Its bastard cousin, negative returns, even has a place in this discussion somewhere.  The problem is this: if you continue to put it in the same effort every day at Ktown, at some point your fitness returns begin to slow and eventually flat line.  You will not be adding 20lbs to your squat every week.  Your Fran time will no longer be cut in half every time you do it.  At some point, you will feel like your effort is no longer matching your yield.  This can be a really hard point on your training road to get around, truly.

Now for some of you, this needn’t be a problem.  You are not trying to excel at working out.  You do not have precise goals for your triathlons, power lifting and Olympic lifting meets, and/or CrossFit competitions.  Training at Ktown is more akin to being a part of a club (the best damn club in Knoxville, obviously).  You are there to benefit from the social interaction, networking, and general ballyhoo had by all each and every day, all the while getting a great strength and conditioning workout!  But for others the stress of no longer improving at a rate commensurate to the effort being put in can be a bigger stress than the actual workouts themselves.

Enter this cave analogy.  Tenuous as it may seem, these types of analogies help give me, and I hope you, a better working understanding of what we are trying to accomplish.  I think when I was haphazardly explaining it to Karen Wesner a couple of months ago her mind was blown.  Not because this is a work of genius; but on the contrary, this may be just as vague an analogy as the idea of effort, anxiety, and diminishing returns.  Nonetheless, it works in my ineffectual mind.

To begin, I must clarify that this applies best to the metabolic conditioning portion of our workouts.  Its application could easily be applied to the strength and technique stuff we do, I just have yet to put any real thought in to that side.

Every time I enter a MetCon, I imagine myself entering my cave.  This cave has been carved out a bit by genetics, but most of its cavernous qualities I have personally given to it.  I have worked day and sometimes night to chisel, chip, and chop away at the rock.  At first the rock was porous and chipped away rather easily with my crude tools, but as time wore on the rock turned in to some crude quartzite that has become increasingly difficult to remove.  Regardless of the density of the rock, I try to go in there several times a week to enlarge the cave.  I am always trying to dig it deeper, open up more of the ceiling, and add more and more living space.

Why do I need to do this?  The cave offers me protection.  Mostly it offers protection from unknowns: weather, wild beasts, Coach Miss J’s changing disposition.  If there are times I cannot work on the cave, I know it will still be there albeit in an ever-shrinking and decrepit sort of way.  The larger I make the cave the more able it is to remain spacious while I am unable to work on it.

How do I work on the cave, enlarge it?  I can scrape away at the boundaries of it every day I am in the gym.  Early on in the carving process things were easy.  But now I am reaching the upper limits.  Now I can only make very small progress each time I put myself in to a MetCon.  I have to get in there and work hard to make these small improvements though.  It is very easy to get complacent with my new, deep grotto.

And herein lies the problem for many of us.  It is all too easy to get in to the cave and just hang out.  Sure, you are a bit uncomfortable, but you are just going through the scraping motions not affecting much change.  Now, if you really want to keep making the cave deeper and ever capacious, you are going to need to suffer.  You are going to have to get very uncomfortable.  This is not an easy task, as your cave is already quite ample.  You have to work exceedingly intense to improve upon it nowadays.

This is the problem with the concept of diminishing returns applied to something as indeterminate as fitness capacity.  It is not easy to measure the input (how hard you’re working) and the product (increased fitness).  You can simply become crestfallen when you feel like you are no longer making progress.  I can understand this.  But I would ask you to take the longer view.

If you keep getting in to the cave and pushing the outer limits as hard as you can, you will be putting a dent in to the rock wall.  Progress will be had.  Easy to see progress may no longer be possible, but it is there.  Day to day and week to week progress will be less transparent; month to month may even be shrouded.  But understand that if you keep doing the right things that we have enumerated time and time again on this blog, you will be progressing.  Take the long view.

I will end with real life application of these principles.  Coach CGreg has been doing CrossFit longer than most of you have been driving.  CBo and Miss J have been doing it since 2007/8.  All three of them are still progressing.  Miss J just PR’ed her split jerk the other day!  If you are beginning to get down on yourself because you are not progressing as quickly as you would like AND you are doing everything outside the gym correctly, talk to them.  They will tell you about their plights in the gym – how they can no longer hope to PR their snatch every month but instead hope to add 10 pounds to it over 6 months.  But hey!  It is progress nonetheless!

I wonder if someone has a better analogy or at the least has put some thought in to this type of assessment?,
Coach G

By | 2017-04-25T14:38:31+00:00 September 7th, 2012|CrossFit Ktown Knoxville, Uncategorized|2 Comments


  1. Drake September 7, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    This gives the term “Man Cave” a whole new meaning.

  2. crossfitktown September 7, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    I like it.


Comments are closed.