Podcast – Legion Strength & Conditioning

MaryKay Dreisilker Assault Bike
On a recent episode of Talking Elite Fitness, Tommy Marquez and Sean Woodland interviewed Dave Castro about the way that the CrossFit Games season will be structured going forward.

With all of the upheaval in the CrossFit world, it’s no surprise that we will likely see huge shake-ups in the qualification process for the Games starting in 2021.

How can CrossFit take the best of the Regionals era of qualification and potentially integrate some of the aspects of the Sanctionals era?

Will CrossFit develop a better relationship with athletes, event organizers, sponsors, and coaches under Eric Rosa’s leadership?

Check out the full conversation with Jon, Luke, and Todd to learn:

  • What we think the new normal will look like with multiple prestigious events run by CrossFit, Loud and Live, and potentially other players yet to enter the space
  • Which aspects of the Sanctionals season CrossFit should keep – and which they should get rid of
  • How HQ can help develop a participatory ecosystem of well-run competitions to build a grassroots interest in the sport of fitness

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Show Notes:

  • [00:13] What were the positives of the Regionals-era of the CrossFit Games season? What were the positives of the Sanctionals-era of the CrossFit Games season? How can the sport be legitimately professionalized for the athletes involved?
  • [11:47] What’s the possibility of multiple different “seasons” or competitions for functional fitness – including the CrossFit Games, the IF3, and Loud and Live events? How should qualification for the CrossFit Games work in the new era?
  • [22:20] How do we differentiate CrossFit as a participatory sport vs the CrossFit Games season? Are there things to learn from other sports that have an ecosystem with multiple tiers of sanctioned, live events (like weightlifting)?
  • [31:40] How should CrossFit HQ support the grassroots development of local competitions?

AJ HSPU
It’s one of the most important things that an athlete can improve in the sport of CrossFit.

However, it’s not very exciting. It’s not something that people can post about on Instagram and get a bunch of engagement.

We’re talking about reducing variance in training results.

This means that – as you improve – you will often find that the range of possible outcomes or a given session gets narrower and narrower. This means that you’re more likely to hit a similar weight on your squat clean – no matter what you’ve done before in the session or in the training week.

You’re more likely to be able to maintain the same pace on rowing intervals. Even when you’re having an off day on strict handstand push-ups, they never totally fall apart.

Once you’ve acquired all of the necessary skills to compete, the most important thing for most athletes isn’t necessarily improving their best possible performance – it’s improving their worst possible performance.

Check out the full conversation with Jon, Luke, and Todd to learn:

  • How to think about variance in training results – and why “variance” isn’t exactly the same thing as consistency
  • Why some athletes can execute no matter how tired they are or how “off” they’re feeling – and others can’t
  • How to think about designing training sessions to work on “bringing up the floor”

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Show Notes:

  • [00:13] Why is reducing variance in performance one of the most important things that an athlete can train for? Is “variance” the same thing as “consistency?”
  • [07:52] What does it mean to “bring up the floor” – and how does the scoring structure of most events impact the way that athletes should train?
  • [16:14] How should athletes think about combining different movements or doing different kinds of workouts in training? How should athletes balance “progressions” with doing more chaotic, sport-specific sessions?
  • [24:15] Quick summary of practical recommendations for reducing variance in training results

Saud Chest-to-Bar
This week, we’re getting super tactical and specific and discussing improving chest-to-bar pull-ups.

Many athletes are capable of hitting gymnastics movements when they’re not too tired, but things unravel quickly when they have to do big sets in workouts.

How should athletes think about improving chest-to-bar pull-ups? What are the requirements from a mobility perspective? From a strength perspective?

Check out the full conversation with Luke and Todd to learn:

  • What the mobility requirements are for chest-to-bar pull-ups – and how to actually get mobility drills to translate to improvements in the actual movement
  • How often to train pulling strength if you need to get stronger to improve your chest-to-bar pull-ups
  • How to balance working on the “building blocks” for a specific movement with incorporating the movement into metcons and sport specific scenarios

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Show Notes:

  • [00:13] A lot of people can do chest-to-bar pull-ups when fresh, but lose them quickly when fatigued in a workout. What should these people be thinking about when trying to improve the movement?
  • [06:43] What should athletes think about for an assessment process in improving chest-to-bar pull-ups? What are the movement and mobility requirements? What are the strength requirements? How can athletes figure out what is the limiting factor for them?
  • [23:57] What are the strength requirements to be able to do chest-to-bar pull-ups? How often should athletes train pulling strength if that is something that they need to improve?
  • [31:00] How should athletes balance training to improve a skill like chest-to-bar pull-ups with incorporating that skill into sport specific training scenarios?
  • [39:00] Summary of practical takeaways

Seth Toes-to-Bar
As athletes start to get back into the gym, a lot of people are going to be touching barbells and pull-up bars for the first time in months.

Even if you’ve been doing a lot of push-ups, running and DB snatches, that doesn’t mean that you’re going to be prepared to jump right back into thrusters and pull-ups.

What should athletes be thinking about to avoid injury? How much should athletes expect to have lost in their strength? What’s the first really high intensity workout back going to feel like? And, how should you react when your performances are much worse than you’d like?

Check out the full conversation with Jon, Luke, Todd to learn:

  • What movements are the most likely to give people trouble after significant time out of the gym?
  • What percentage of your previous maxes should you be expecting to lift if you haven’t been using a barbell for a few months?
  • How long will it take to “feel fit” again?

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Show Notes:

  • [00:13] If people are getting back into the gym after only doing lunges and push-ups for the last few months, what should they be thinking about in terms of jumping back into more “CrossFit” movements?
  • [06:18] What are some ways to create intensity that don’t rely on high volume of movements that we may not be used to – like kipping pull-ups? What should people be expecting in terms of their ability on strength work if they’ve been away from barbells?
  • [15:10] What will it feel like getting back into conditioning at high intensity? How often should athletes be doing “hard” workouts?
  • [21:12] Most athletes will be worse at things they haven’t been doing while out of the gym. Even though it will probably come back, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t painful to do worse. How should athletes handle the emotional hit of performances that aren’t up to their expectations?
  • [31:12] Summary of recommendations: pay attention to eccentric volume, especially of movements you haven’t been doing. Understand the timing for regaining “lost” fitness. Be prepared for the negative emotions you’ll probably experience when getting back into training.

Aromas

In a break from our usual efforts to provide evergreen content based upon solid training principles, we instead theorize recklessly and rampantly about what the 2021 CrossFit Games season may look like.

With the precarious financial state of many Sanctional events exacerbated by late event cancellations as well as likely extension of travel restrictions and potential second waves of COVID-19, we are likely to see continued disruption of the competition schedule.

Will local competitions step in to fill that gap? Will athletes be willing to do events that involve multiple people in close quarters?

And, what will the training implications be for athletes who likely won’t have any significant in person competitions on their calendars for awhile?

Check out the full conversation with Jon, Luke, Todd to learn:

  • How likely is that the CrossFit Games actually happen? And, how many Sanctionals will be able to run in 2021?
  • Will people be motivated to train without an event circled on their calendar to compete in?
  • What will the impacts of taking significant time off from competition be on people’s performance?

Listen Here

Show Notes:

  • [01:03] With significant alterations to the 2021 competition season – both at the Sanctional level and the local competition level – how will athletes stay motivated to train?
  • [09:39] While there are plans to run the CrossFit Games in Aromas, how likely is that to actually happen? And, how many Sanctionals will be able to run in 2021 – and how many will be put out of business due to 2020 event cancellations?
  • [17:26] Will local competitions be running again anytime soon?
  • [22:34] Will people be motivated to train without an event circled on their calendar to compete in?
  • [27:53] What will the impacts of taking significant time off from competition be on people’s performance? Will this further the separation between elite athletes and everyone else? Will some athletes benefit from a forced deload rather than a packed competition schedule?

MaryKay Dreisilker
This is the second part of our interview with MaryKay Dreisilker after our first interview got cut short due to some internet connection issues.

MK qualified for the 2020 CrossFit Games with a 35th place finish in the Open, and she recently did a well-received workshop for members at South Loop Strength & Conditioning on how to handle the stress of COVID-19, as well as the inertia and difficulty getting things done that many of us feel while stuck at home.

We figured that these concepts were worth sharing with a larger audience, so we had MK back on to discuss how she thinks about mental resilience during challenging times.

Check out the full conversation with Jon, Luke, Todd and MaryKay to learn:

  • How to “self start” during unstructured days and overcome the inertia of sitting at home
  • How to balance the rigidity of having structured, planned out days with the need for freedom and adaptability
  • How to break the cycle of feeling overwhelmed – and how to start taking action even when you’re feeling stuck and paralyzed

Listen Here

Check out more from MaryKay here

Show Notes:

  • [00:58] How to manage stress in uncertain times – and how MK is dealing with the difficulties of “self-starting” with unstructured days and lack of motivation.
  • [13:20] How does MK manage the rigidity of having structure to her days with the necessity to have freedom and adaptability?
  • [24:20] How to handle plans going awry – and how to react when you’re unable to finish what you think you’re going to be able to do in a given day.
  • [29:12] The dangers of negative feedback loops – and how to prevent yourself from starting a downward spiral of negative emotion when things aren’t going well.
  • [39:52] “Action brings clarity” – How should people start to take action when they’re feeling overwhelmed?
  • [47:15] How is MK dealing with emotions related to the uncertainty of the current CrossFit Games season? And, what positive habits is MK focusing on to stay centered?
  • [01:03:53] How to learn more from MK

MaryKay Dreisilker
MaryKay Dreisilker qualified for the 2020 CrossFit Games with a 35th place finish in the Open.

She’s been working with Legion since 2017, so we figured it would be good to get MK’s thoughts on training – especially in times of wild uncertainty.

This is the first part of our interview and was recorded in March, and things have obviously been changing rapidly since then. MK’s advice on dealing with uncertainty and the emotional rollercoaster of training is salient as always.

Check out the full conversation with Jon, Luke, Todd and MaryKay to learn:

  • How to handle bad days in training – and when it’s ok to feel your feelings and when it’s time to move on
  • How to avoid feeling guilty if you have a bad day in the gym or need to skip something
  • How to handle uncertainty and chaos – especially in relation to something that you’ve worked really hard for

Listen Here

Check out more from MaryKay here

Show Notes:

  • [00:53] MaryKay’s background in both gymnastics and ultimate frisbee
  • [06:02] Starting CrossFit on a Groupon – and gradually transitioning into taking training more seriously and eventually pursuing competition
  • [14:45] How does MK handle bad days in training? And, the process of separating the emotions of training with the actual effort you put into training.
  • [22:27] How does MK handle modifying training – and how to avoid feeling guilty if you have a bad day in the gym or need to skip something.
  • [25:48] How is MK reacting to the uncertainty in the 2020 CrossFit season?

MaryKay Split Squats at Home
We find that a lot of athletes are doing most of their training in either CrossFit classes or with a small group of “more competitive” friends – and that they’re often trying to figure out how to tack on additional training sessions to what they’re already doing.

It may seem a bit crass to be talking about “gains” in the middle of a global health crisis, but – with a lot of people moving from training in gyms with barbells, pull-up bars and assault bikes to training in their living rooms with a dumbbell and maybe a backpack full of heavy stuff from their kitchen, people are wondering if they’re going to lose all the progress they’ve made in the gym.

While some things will definitely take a hit, the good news is that you’re not *that* fragile and adaptations in strength and aerobic capacity are relatively persistent.

The ability to really suffer on a high power output CrossFit workout, however, comes and goes much more quickly.

Check out the full conversation with Jon, Luke and Todd to learn:

  • What traits will stick around – even if you take some significant time off from serious training with full equipment – and which ones won’t
  • Why regaining fitness is easier than gaining it the first time
  • What you can prioritize while training at home with less than ideal equipment selectionListen below – or on the podcast player of your choice.

Listen Here

Show Notes:

  • [00:15] What is the current status of the coronavirus situation in Barcelona (where Luke is), Chicago (where Todd is) and Denver (where Jon is)?
  • [03:02] It may be crass, but a lot of athletes are wondering if they’re going to lose all of their gains.
  • [08:24] What types of adaptations are people potentially going to lose and which are more resilient even if you take significant amounts of time off? Why does it feel so bad when you come back to doing hard CrossFit workouts after some time off?
  • [19:25] What is the difference between athletes who handle adversity and things not going to plan well and those who do not?
  • [28:50] What should training focus on given that people may not be able to do as much “CrossFit”? What can athletes work on given that they may not have access to a lot of equipment – and what can be improved even in non-ideal circumstances?

Max Recovering
We find that a lot of athletes are doing most of their training in either CrossFit classes or with a small group of “more competitive” friends – and that they’re often trying to figure out how to tack on additional training sessions to what they’re already doing.

There’s been a shift over the last several years in the fitness community towards a better understanding of “training as a stressor.”

This is a fantastic thing, since folks seem to recognize that more is not always better, and training is not helpful if you’re not able to recover from it.

However, this has also led to a industry of recovery tools – often with associated highly mechanistic and scientific-sounding explanations of things like upregulating parasympathetic tone and and influencing the cortisol signaling cascade.

But, do these things actually do anything?

How much does recovery really matter in terms of long-term progress for athletes?

And, can we actually do anything to change our ability to recover?

Check out the full conversation with Luke and Todd to learn:

  • What are the most important variables that impact recovery – and which ones can we actually impact through our actions?
  • Do people really have a genetic ceiling?
  • How to think about volume and intensity in training – and why the “high/low” model from endurance sports is great for CrossFitListen below – or on the podcast player of your choice.

Listen Here

Show Notes:

  • [00:15] How much do things like saunas, massage guns, supplements, and breathing drills really impact recovery?
  • [06:12] A framework for thinking about recovery: What are the most important variables that impact recovery? Which of these do we have control over? When is it worthwhile to focus on marginal gains?
  • [15:08] Do people really have a genetic ceiling?
  • [19:44] How do we design training programs appropriately relative to someone’s ability to recover?
  • [24:04] What are tangible takeaways for people in terms of thinking about volume and intensity – and how should people design their programs to balance volume and intensity?
  • [31:10] Why the “high/low” model from endurance training is relevant for CrossFitters – and why it helps us find the appropriate level of training stress.

Michael Jacobson Squat Clean
We find that a lot of athletes are doing most of their training in either CrossFit classes or with a small group of “more competitive” friends – and that they’re often trying to figure out how to tack on additional training sessions to what they’re already doing.

For athletes looking to get stronger, this can be tricky since they are often trying to mash together a squatting or weightlifting cycle with a program focused on “CrossFit.”

So, how much additional work should these athletes be doing?
And how much is too much when it comes to adding in additional strength work?

To find answers, we need to understand the concept of “adaptation currency.”

Each athlete has a certain amount of training that they can adapt to in a given week, and they need to spend that “adaptation currency” wisely.

This means prioritizing ruthlessly when adding stuff into your training – especially when you’re already doing a program with a lot of volume.

Check out the full conversation with Jon, Luke and Todd to learn:

  • What are the trade-offs between training with a group (either in classes or with friends) versus focusing only on the most important things for you
  • How to find low-hanging fruit that you can improve with targeted additional training
  • How to structure a week of additional sessions on top of your existing programming

Listen below – or on the podcast player of your choice.

Listen Here

Show Notes:

  • [00:13] What are the trade-offs between doing classes with additional programming vs following a fully individualized program?
  • [10:00] Why training with others can help people who don’t always have the time or energy to train?
  • [15:13] How should athletes think about their priorities in training – especially if they’re already doing a standard CrossFit program in their classes?
  • [25:30] How to think about spending your adaptation currency wisely – and why athletes should focus on low-hanging fruit.
  • [30:34] Some specific recommendations for mapping out a training week and selecting priorities for additional strength work.