Are You Coachable?

CrossFit, like all worthwhile pursuits, takes time and sustained effort to improve at. The athletic pedigree, injury history, genetics, and training background you bring to the table will certainly play a large role in the trajectory of your learning curve as well. No matter where you fall on the continuum of these parameters, the master key to long-term success is “coachability”. Why is coachability so important? Because of the impact it has on so many other attributes impacting your athletic development.
Coachability is the willingness to listen, be corrected, learn, and to act on that correction. The 2 variables that most determine your coachability as an athlete are effort and attitude. In any situation, you are always in control of these two things, and should strive to optimize them. Effort isn’t about the leaderboard or your score; it’s about working hard, embracing discomfort, and genuinely giving your best effort. Coaches notice and will always reward hard work and sweat equity in the weight room. Attitude is about staying positive, being open-minded when it comes to feedback, and willing to adjust your technique and approach in the pursuit of improved execution and performance. Being a coachable athlete ultimately is a choice you make that is determined by your mindset. In order to make the most of your time in the gym, you need to trust in the advice and judgment of your coaches, stay present and engaged, and work hard.
Inherent in the coach-athlete relationship is a division of labor: the coaches job is to coach, the athletes job is be an athlete and train. As coaches, we are concerned with the long-term development of the individual, from novice to seasoned CrossFit athlete. Getting good at CrossFit and all the various disciplines involved takes months and years, not days and weeks. There are no shortcuts to learning the nuances of kettlebell exercises, basic gymnastics, barbell lifts, etc., only countless repetitions. It is easy to fall prey to the idea that we are unique and able to skip the fundamentals, jump from the boring “basics” to the more novel complex lifts that they see more experienced athletes perform. The flaw in logic here is that they didn’t see the countless number of workouts the advanced athlete performed in order to earn the privilege to tackle the more advanced movements.
With all this in mind, it is essential that you play an active role in your pursuit of improved fitness, health, and development. As the Danish proverb goes, “he who is afraid to ask is ashamed of learning.” Ask questions, be inquisitive, experiment, and rely on the advice and guidance of individuals that are more experienced and accomplished than yourself in the areas you seek to improve upon. If you do that, and are willing to put in the work, success will take care of itself!

Labor Day Weekend 2018 Schedule

Hey everyone, here’s our Labor Day Weekend class schedule so you can adjust your workout plans accordingly:

Friday 31 August – Normal Schedule
Saturday 1 September – 8AM WOD / 9AM WOD / 10AM Barbell Club
Sunday 2 September – Closed
Monday 3 September – 8AM Track Workout

Labor Day’s workout will be at Blair High School. Bring your running shoes and get your sweat on before commencing with aggressive rest and relaxation!

2018 Black & Red Open Recap!

By: Marcos Hernandez

In case you hadn’t heard, our in-house Weightlifting Team, El Jefe Barbell, competed this past weekend at the Black & Red Open in Tyson’s Corner, VA. This meant that your beloved CrossFit coaches had to throw on their Barbell hats and spandex for the day and coach/lift the team to victory!
The day began with Christian Villalas on the platform bright and early at 8:00am. For those who aren’t aware, an 8:00am start time means a 6:00am weigh-in… the lighter guys have it tough! Christian had a tough day and couldn’t put the pieces together on the platform to hit his lifts, but valuable lessons were learned. Always a good sport, he stuck around to help our lifters in the the next session.
The 10:00am session was a busy one for EJBB. Katie Weddle and Nivana Campos were on the “Red” platform and, at the same time on the “Black” platform, Marshall Knight, Justin Jeng, Marcos Hernandez, and Lukas Hernandez were all lifting. That’s six (6!) athletes at once. Thank goodness Josh and Chris were able to keep control of the situation because, out of this time slot, the team came away with three medals. Katie and Marcos each got gold and Lukas received the silver medal for their weight classes. Katie and Marcos also came away with third place finishes in the entire meet!
Honorable mention to both Justin and Marshall who went 6/6, not missing a single lift. This achievement is remarkable! With a crowd of people all watching, they hit big personal records on both the Snatch, Clean & Jerk, and Total, and had their best competitions to date. Make sure to congratulate them the next time you see them!
After wearing himself out coaching six lifters it was Josh Dempsey’s turn to show what he could put together. Going against the top two lifters in the entire meet (adjusted for bodyweight) he came away with the bronze medal, the team’s fourth medal of the day.
Last but not least it was Caitlin Seaton’s turn to go lift something heavy. She had been dealing with a tweaked shoulder but was able to fight through it and adjust her technique enough to come away with a personal record in both lifts! It just goes to show there is a lot left in her tank and it’s only a matter of time until she brings home hardware for herself.
Thanks to everyone who came out to support the team! Your support means a lot and some of those lifts were only made because of how loud you cheered. Everyone knows the noise makes the bar lighter on gameday!

4th of July Week Schedule + Sunday Classes Update

USA! USA! USA! With Independence day rapidly approaching, here’s a heads up on the CFSS 4th of July week schedule so you can plan your training accordingly. Normal daily schedule unless otherwise specified below.

Monday 2 July – 7:30pm Barbell Club
Tuesday 3 July – No classes after 530PM WOD
Wednesday 4 July – 9AM WOD only
Thursday 5 July – No 6am WOD

If you are in town for the 4th, make sure you come in early and get your workout on before the backyard barbecuing commences. Hope to see you all then!
Additionally, starting July 1st we’ll be consolidating our Sunday class schedule. From July through Labor Day weekend, there will only be a 930AM CrossFit WOD offered on Sunday mornings!

The Ten Training Commandments

Courtesy of Ben Bruno
1. Thou shalt not train through pain.
2. Think of strength training as your entrée and cardio as the side dish. Both have their place, but divvy your time and energy accordingly.
3. The hard exercises that you hate doing are generally the ones that work the best. Sorry.
4. You can always make an excuse not to train, but at some point you just have to make time for it. Or be weak and out of shape.
5. Thou shalt train thy legs.
6. Mobility work is boring; do it anyway.
7. Remember that outside the gym, no one cares what you did for your workout, or about your diet. Keep it to yourself.
8. Similarly, nobody cares how much you lift. Drop the ego, drop the weight, and do it right. Form matters.
9. Train the muscles you can’t see in the mirror (glutes, hamstrings, back, etc) more than the muscles you can see (pecs, biceps, etc). It’s good for you, and just because you can’t see them, everyone else still can.
10. Don’t overcomplicate things. Always be learning, but at some point you have to put down the books and pick up the weights.


Lyttonsville Place Bridge Closure!

On June 18th the Lyttonsville Place Bridge will be closed to allow for construction of a replacement bridge by the Purple Line Transit Partners (PLTP). The construction of the new bridge is scheduled for six months, during which time the bridge will totally inaccessible until the project is fully completed.
Due to the heavy volume of traffic that passes through Brookville Rd. on a daily basis, it is reasonable to expect an increase in traffic congestion for all incoming and outgoing vehicles between the gym and points north (Georgia Avenue / Dale Drive. / Seminary Road / Linden Ln.). This obviously is poses a challenge for everyone who drives through the Brookville Rd. corridor, whether visiting a local business or simply using the road as a convenient cut through.
PLTP and Montgomery County Dept. of Transportation (MCDOT) have provided an official detour map to navigate the bridge closure, linked here: Official Purple Line Detour Maps
Additionally, there is a newly opened traffic easement between Stewart Avenue (a side street off of Brookville Rd.) and Kansas Avenue which will provide an alternate route through the surrounding residential area and provide easier access from East-West Highway / points south of CFSS.
As of now there are time restrictions on the cut-through in the evening and morning; whether or not those will be strictly enforced are yet to be determined. Using this will be the fastest way to get to the gym if you are coming from East-West Hwy., but with so many people needing to use this route it is hard to say how congested it will be.
In addition the official detour map linked above, we’ve attached our own maps with highlighted routes as to the best routes to get to the gym depending on where you are coming from to hopefully mitigate the effects of the bridge closure. To more easily view the attached maps, right click on the image and select “open image in new tab/window”.
bridge closure detour maps
The left image depicts how to get from the gym to/from East-West Highway via Sundale Rd. using the Stewart Ave. easement. The right image depicts how to get to/from the gym from East-West highway via Lyttonsville Rd using the Stewart Ave. easement.
bridge closure detour maps 2
The left image depicts how to get from the gym to/from East-West Highway via Jones Mill Road, Forsythe Ave., and Linden Lane. The right image depicts how to get to/from the gym from East-West highway via 16th St. and 2nd Avenue.

Move With Intent!

The whiteboard tells an incomplete story when it comes to workout performance. Think of the whiteboard simply as a scoreboard:
• What level did you do?
• What was your time / score?
• How many rounds did you miss?
• How much weight did you lift?
While these are useful bits of information, they are purely objective, quantitative measures of performance and output. What they fail to capture are all the subtle, subjective, and qualitative aspects of a training session that can’t be conveyed by a score. How you deadlift is more important than how much you deadlift. This can easily get overlooked when chasing a particular score on the leaderboard. Constantly pursuing higher intensity levels as movement efficiency and quality erode is foolish at best, and injurious at worst. Luckily, there are other ways we can measure workout quality and improvement that are both safe in the short term, and sustainable in the long.
Shift your focus to moving with intent each time you set foot in the gym. Moving with intent means moving deliberately, purposefully, and with appropriate aggression or control, depending on what is required at that time. Intent means conscious thought as to how you approached the barbell and set yourself into position to perform a heavy (or light) deadlift. Where do you place your feet? Your hands? What is your breathing / tensioning strategy? What is your desired bar path / body proximity once you start pulling? How mentally aroused and aggressive do you need to be at this particular weight? These are just but a few thoughts that may run through your head when you shift your focus to moving with intent. Don’t simply go through the motions as you perform your warm-up and working sets; be present and concentrate on your execution in all phases of the lift so that you can steadily improve your technique, rep by rep.
Generally speaking, everyone that lifts wants to lift heavier weights over time. However, not everyone understands the intertwined nature of precise, flawless technique and lifting progressively heavier weights. One cannot exist without the other. This same concept applies to conditioning workouts as well – your ability to maintain a high output during a WOD is largely going to be determined by your efficiency in each individual movement component of said workout. Additionally, you cannot hope to achieve the full benefits of any exercise (the real benefit of training), if you don’t perform the exercise with the right intent. A couple examples: picking up a slam ball slowly, then passively dropping it to the ground using all arms on a ball slam vs. ripping the ball overhead fluidly, then slamming it into the ground like you are trying to crack a hard coconut on the ground. Burpees performed by collapsing on the floor, then sprawling back to your feet haphazardly vs. a controlled descent to the floor, hopping back to ones feet where they started, all the while occupying no more space than one would use to perform a push up. A kettlebell swing with excessive layback and soft knees vs. a swing that finishes with powerful hip extension, knees locked, torso vertical, arms long and kettlebell projected to chest height. While both examples may constitute a rep, they are not created equal.
The leaderboard is a great motivator and useful tool for gauging performance. However, a “fast” score that subjectively looked like a slow moving car crash from start to finish is not enviable, desirable, nor more impressive than a slower score performed within the margins of quality technique, executed with a sense of purposefulness. Always strive to move through full ranges of motion, rest when you cannot, and don’t forget that more isn’t always better, only better is better. Raise your personal standards for movement quality and always remember, the standard doesn’t get tired even if you are.

Extra Credit

One of the primary constraints in programming CrossFit workouts is a scarcity of time. We’ve got one hour to cram in a thorough warm up, skill work, strength & power development, and finally hit some conditioning to round things out. Our programming lens is typically focused at the weekly level – are we striking a good balance of workout types, movement patterns, rep schemes, loading, etc. across a 7 day period? While we do our best to be as well rounded as possible, the inherent breadth and depth of CrossFit can make this challenging. One way we’ve tried to mitigate this scarcity problem is by programming weekly “Extra Credit” finishers. Extra credit
(EC) is just that – an additional, voluntary add-on to your current workout designed to address or focus on a common athlete weakness or omission in that weeks programming, or simply something we’d like to place a short-term emphasis on. These EC finishers should be done pre- or post-WOD, as a way to add productive volume to your current training workload without contribution to any significant fatigue or soreness. How often should you do the EC? Probably at least 2-3 in a given week, possibly more depending on what it is. Let’s say the EC is kettlebell swings, but we’ve already done a ton in that day’s WOD, maybe you skip it. However, let’s say the EC is banded glute bridges, or 5 minutes of the couch stretch, those you could and probably should try to do every day you are at the gym. Everyone is looking for improved performance and better returns from their workouts. Stop skipping the obvious solution or pretending you’ll do something more at home- take 5-10 minutes after class to work your weaknesses and round out your fitness.

2018 Spring *Partner* Throwdown

spring '17 throwdown group shot 2
The CrossFit Open is officially behind us, summer is right around the corner, and that means it’s high time for an in-house Throwdown, Partner style! You’ve been grinding hard, getting stronger and fitter week in and week out, so it’s only right you and your partner put your collective fitness to the test against your fellow athletes.
The Throwdown will take place Saturday, May 12th from 9:00am-1:00pm. There will be ~4 events with a little bit of everything mixed in, from max effort strength tests to pure bodyweight conditioning to skills based challenges. Stay tuned for clues as to what will be included but it is all movements we have been practicing and emphasizing in class! Same-sex teams will be required to sign up for either the Rx or Scaled divisions so everyone will be able to participate. Sign up online here!
There will be a $20 buy-in per team that will go to a charitable organization chosen by all the participating teams. On the sign up sheet we are asking for 1 recommendation per person for a worthy charity who will receive a donation. Keep an eye out for a follow up email as we get closer to the event to narrow down the list and determine which charity ultimately receives the donation.
Weather permitting, we’ll be doing a cookout immediately following the Throwdown 1:30-3:30PM. We will be setting up on the roof and everyone is invited to attend, regardless of whether or not you are able to make it to the Throwdown. The sign-up sheet for the cookout will be posted on the whiteboard so please make sure to sign up as soon as possible so we can figure out what everyone is bringing.
Mark your calendars and assemble your squad for what is sure to be a great afternoon of fitness and fun competition. Once you’ve got your partner, don’t delay – get your team registered ASAP. Now is the time to showcase all the effort and progress you’ve made here at the gym and to set new goals moving forward! More details to follow in the coming weeks.

CF Open Gear Recommendations

With the CrossFit Open right around the corner, here’s a few gear recommendations to help you hopefully perform better and make it through the next few weeks unscathed. You don’t need to get any of these items to participate, however each item has its benefits and may come in handy on certain workouts.
1) Wrist Wraps (18”)
There will be undoubtedly be overhead/front-rack barbell work, handstand push-ups, burpees, and other movements that will place a strain on your wrists. These are great for improved wrist stability and reducing the chance of soreness & sprains.
2) Gymnastics Grips
Rogue Fitness Grips & Victory Grips
The Open will have pull-up bar work. Think Pull Ups, Toes to Bar, Muscle Ups, and everything in between. They will probably show up in multiple workouts and potentially in very high volumes. Ripping your hands is a surefire way to ruin your workout and your week, so consider investing in a pair of these. The Victory Grips, while more expensive, are the best you can get.
3) Knee Sleeves
Rehband Knee Sleeves & Hoogkrip Knee Sleeves
Knee sleeves provide warmth and compression when lifting, helping the overall health of the knee and preventing knee trauma. If you’ve ever injured your knees or if they’ve got some miles on them, invest in knee sleeves and thank us later.
There are two types you can look at. The Rehband knee sleeves provide more cushioning, compression, and warmth; the hookgrip ones are primarily for warmth and better for everyday use. If you need help deciding what you need please feel free to ask a coach for advice.
4) Weightlifting Belt
Remember the workout with 55 Deadlifts? Or when the one with a 1-rep max lift? That’s why you need a belt, enough said. And this simple, easily adjustable Valeo belt is quick on and off so you can always grab it or lose it mid-WOD without wasting precious time.
5) Jump Rope
Don’t complain about not having double-unders if you haven’t even taken the step of getting your own rope. Having your own rope helps immensely! With YOUR rope you can better get the timing and pacing needed for DUs while practicing away from the gym. You also wont have to worry about someone grabbing your “favorite” because you’ll have a jump rope specifically fitted to your preference.