“We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret or disappointment. ” – Jim Rohn
Take a minute to re-read that quote and really think about its significance. One of the most common topics discussed on this blog is goal setting, as well as strategies for new habit formation, tips for improving your mindset, and overall mental toughness and resolve.
Everyone has goals for themselves, ways they could be better in all areas of their lives, and likely a long term vision of where they’d like to be one day. Let’s focus this concept on fitness and performance related goals specifically as they are easiest to quantify. Let’s say you play a sport, or have entered yourself in 10k race, CrossFit competition, or Weightlifting meet for example. Lets also presume you aren’t doing this “for fun” or for charity, and are actually invested in how well you perform.
You have 2 choices: train reasonably hard, eat reasonably well, get decent sleep, and achieve mediocre results. Leave not insignificant potential performance on the table by not optimizing all the variables clearly within your control. Then, when people ask about how your event went, tell them how you did while providing caveats and qualifiers, altering the narrative after the fact to make it sound like you were just doing it for the sake of doing it. We are all masters of rationalizing doing things half-assed, or providing excuses about how we could’ve done better if we wanted to if we had done x, y, and z.
The other choice is pretty simple, albeit not easy. This is the path of greatest resistance, the hard choices that separate the champions from the rest of the pack, who are destined to mediocrity. I’m talking about personal sacrifice of course; not skipping workouts, eating clean for extended periods of time, turning off the tv and going to bed early, missing happy hours and parties, and generally doing all the things that add up to provide massive advantage over your competition.
Here’s the cold, hard truth: losing sucks. Knowing you didn’t give your preparation your all is like a nagging itch you can’t scratch. Even the best at self-denial know deep down that only they are to blame for their sub-par results. Are you the kind of person who is content with being average, or squandering your potential? Whether you are an overachiever or an underachiever, consider the following quote from Muhammad Ali, “I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion’.”
“Without a struggle, there can be no progress.” Frederick Douglass
2KB Front Squats 4×5
Box Jumps 4×5
12 Hang Dumbbell Snatches (total)
10 Cal Row
2KB Rack Walk
10 Burpee Box Jump
15 Cal Row
2KB Rack Walk
Rx: M – 24″/20kg F – 20″/12kg
“If you feel like you need management in your workouts, and you are just not finding your logical voice, talk to experienced coaches and have them keep an eye on you. Ultimately that is why they are there. Remember fitness should not include injury, and especially not chronic injury. If you are unfortunate enough to have the S-Gene, as I do, seek some outside assistance from an experienced coach to keep yourself on track. Managing the S-Gene is one more way to being Strong, Healthy and Happy!”
- US Olympian & Original CrossFit “Nasty Girl” Eva Twardokens
Today’s workout draws its inspiration from legendary Russian hammer thrower Sergey Litvinov. Litvinov stood 5’10 and 196 lbs, which is rather undersized for a Track & Field thrower, yet managed to win Gold in both the Olympics and World Championships. One of Sergey’s favorite training routines called for 3 rounds of 8 front squats immediately followed by a 400 meter sprint. That’s it- 8 squats, run 400, rest, repeat, and call it a day. Seems simple enough, right?
Today’s workout is a classic example of our philosophy when it comes to conditioning: keep it simple, not easy. While squatting and running may seem easy and straightforward, I want you to keep in mind that Mr. Litvinov himself did this workout at 405lbs, while also running his 400′s in 75 seconds. The sheer amount of strength and fitness required to perform this workout is astounding, and also why there wasn’t a need to do more than 3 rounds.
These numbers should provide a few valuable lessons for us all:
1) You probably can’t appreciate how ‘strong’ ‘strong’ really is. A 405lb front squat is nothing to sneeze at. A 405lb front squat for a set of 8, let alone for a < 200 lb athlete is astounding.
2) A 75 second 400 meter run is faster than you think. Doing that after squatting and fatiguing your legs is much harder than you think.
3) Most workout don't need more volume/weight/time duration, they need to be performed with higher intensity. If you use 135 lbs for the front squat and run a 2-minute 400 meter time, recognize you have a long way to go before you can comment on the efficacy of the Litvinov workout.
4) The aforementioned numbers used in this workout (especially the squat) are unachievable for all but a select few; however, your goal as an athlete should be to make 3 rounds of squats + sprinting as challenging as it possibly can be so as to render any additional sets or reps unnecessary. "Train like hell, you'll get there" - John Coffee.
“In Romania, I train on a bar that is bent. My gym has bad lighting and very little heat in the winters. Here in America, you have everything you need to train. It’s not in the bar or the gym or the platform… it’s in you.” – Nicu Vlad
EZ Strength 4.0
AMRAP 12 minutes:
3 Box Jumps
6 2KB Deadlifts
9 Ring Rows
Fat Grip Strict Press
AMRAP 15 minutes:
5 Box Jumps
7 Toes to Bar
9 Push Ups
Rx: M – 225# F – 143#
I first came across the phrase “the hay is in the barn” from a blog post by NFL veteran and CrossFit Football founder John Welbourn. The “hay is in the barn” is a farming saying that means there is no further preparation or work to be done. This quote is highly applicable to the optimal preparation mindset for athletic competitions, exams, big work presentations, to name a few.
Being nervous before one of these significant performances is very common, but ideally this nervousness doesn’t stem from being underprepared. As John says, “do the work, put in the hours and the suffering, leave nothing to chance and when the moment of truth presents itself you can feel confident that “the hay is in the barn” and there is nothing left to do but get out of the way and let greatness happen. If you do this, the feeling in the pit of your stomach isn’t nervous energy…it is adrenalin.”
Think about it- the outcome of most events are out of your control; however, you are in control of your own effort, repetition, and sacrifice. With that in mind, don’t waste time worrying about your competition or other external variables you are unable to influence. Instead, turn your focus inward and strive to be as ready as you can given your time/rest/recovery constraints.
For a more concrete example, CFSS’s own El Jefe Barbell will be competing this weekend at the 2015 Baltimore Open (details and directions here). Our athletes having been training hard for this meet specifically for the past several months. Everyone has their own unique set of circumstances with regards to work, family, and other commitments. However, the most dedicated and committed athletes find the time necessary for their training and rarely, if ever, miss practice. Other athletes also want to improve and do well, but aren’t able to commit to their training with the same level of discipline as others. This isn’t exactly a revolutionary observation, but it bears repeating nonetheless. My advice to all my lifters the week of a competition is to trust your training and trust the process. Don’t sabotage your performance by doing anything dumb this week, or thinking you can improve a deficiency or strengthen a weakness during this final week of preparation.
Like it or not, at this stage the hay is in the barn. If you’ve truly done the work, rest easy this week and visualize your successful performance. If you haven’t fully put in the work, you may find it a bit harder to similarly keep your mind and body at ease. The beauty of sports is their unpredictable nature; excellent performances can happen at the most unexpected time. Even the prepared athlete can have a bad day. However, the prepared athlete should always hold their head high without regrets; they were ready, and if unsuccessful this time, their next victory is right around the bend.
“Raising your level of performance requires a proper mentality and meaning from within. This gives you the ability and drive to work on the things necessary to go to a higher level. When people ask me how to raise their level of performance, the first thing I ask is, How important is it to you?” – Dan Gable, Olympic Champion & 15 Time NCAA Champion Iowa Wrestling Coach
“I’m a big believer in starting with high standards and raising them. We make progress only when we push ourselves to the highest level. If we don’t progress, we backslide into bad habits, laziness and poor attitude.” – Dan Gable
“When you finally decide how successful you really want to be, you’ve got to set priorities. Then, each and every day, you’ve got to take care of the top ones. The lower ones may fall behind, but you can’t let the top ones slip. You don’t forget about the lower ones though because they can add up to hurt you. Just take care of the top ones first. In 25 years as a head coach and assistant, I think I might have missed one practice. Why? Because practice is my top priority. A day doesn’t go by when I don’t accomplish something in my family life or my profession because those two things are my top priorities.”
“Everyone has talent. What’s rare is the courage to follow it to the dark places where it leads.” – Erica Jong