Podcast – Page 3 – Legion Strength & Conditioning

MaryKay Dreisilker @ WZA

What’s up with the programming at the Sanctional events?

Are events doing a good job of selecting and testing the athletes that are going to be moving on to the CrossFit Games?

Should HQ step in and create specific standards surrounding how they want the testing to run?

Now that we’ve seen a few of these Sanctionals – and Jon and I were at Wodapalooza in person soaking it all in and jostling for position to be able to see our athletes compete – it’s time to break down some initial thoughts on how these things are going.

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

  • How athletes will decide which Sanctionals to compete at – and how the variation in programming for events and quality of athletes will impact who qualifies for the CrossFit Games
  • What we think the most common pitfalls are in the programming for high level competitions – and what the implications would be of HQ taking on some regulatory role in what the testing looks like
  • How the “haves” and the “have nots” will react to the need to qualify and compete more regularly – and what this means for structuring a competitive season

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

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Phil Mansfield

Great coaches are not always known for being the best with e-mail, scheduling, and calendars.

I’d had an intermittent e-mail thread going with Phil Mansfield and James Jowsey about scheduling a podcast or webinar for several weeks – but we’d never managed to nail down a time. Travel schedules for competitions like the Dubai CrossFit Championship and Wodapalooza – as well as time differences between the United States and Europe – impeded our progress in getting something scheduled.
For those who don’t know, Phil is a multi-disciplinary coach with a history competing and/or coaching in rugby, cycling, swimming, triathlon and more. In the CrossFit world, he is best known as the coach to multi-time CrossFit Games podium finisher Sara Sigmundsdottir.

But, sitting in the lounge at the Intercontinental Hotel across the street from Bayfront Park at Wodapalooza, I saw Phil walking past and shouted him down.

Rather than re-entering the chaotic fray of attempting to align international calendars, we picked a time early the next morning to do a recorded, audio discussion on coaching.
We snuck into a conference room that we didn’t belong in, and had a great discussion on Phil’s perspectives on building mental toughness in athletes and how to rebuild athletes who have been “fast-tracked” and skipped key stages of development.

Check out the full conversation with Phil to learn:

  • How pretty much all training can be broken down into two categories – skill acquisition training and threshold training – and how he find the appropriate balance between each
  • How athletes can back off from focusing on their immediate training results and detach their identity from their results so that they can focus on getting better long-term
  • His best trick and exercise for teaching mental toughness and self-awareness in competition – and how he progresses athletes from developing the capacity for self-reflection to being able to apply this skill on the competition floor

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

Listen Here

Check out more from Phil and RedPill Training

Show Notes

  • [00:14] A proper coffee
  • [01:34] What are the consequences of fast tracking an athlete – and having someone who is very good in sport but who has skipped steps during athletic development?
  • [06:04] Almost all training can be broken down to either working on skill acquisition or threshold training.
  • [09:51] How to find the appropriate amount of variation in skill acquisition training. “Once we say ‘for time’ everything changes.”
  • [20:49] How do you convince an athlete to potentially back off and focus on rebuilding if they’ve “skipped steps” in their development?
  • [33:18] The value of mindset coaching in competitive sport – and where a lot of people go wrong with their approach to mental toughness.
  • [44:04] How do you help athletes create organization and structure for their thoughts? And how do you translate practicing meta-cognition into training and competing?

Links and Resources Mentioned

Assault Bike

As soon as someone training in CrossFit gets past that initial hump and starts to see some improvements in their training results, a common question starts to haunt their thoughts.

A question vocalized by Peter Steele in Type O Negative’s 1996 classic “Love You to Death.”

“Am I good enough?”

And….”How long until I get good?”

Like most of these kinds of questions, there’s not a clear cut answer. But there are some lessons to be learned from the typical trajectory of development observed for thousands of athletes over time.

There are also some psychological quirks involved that can trick athletes and give them a distorted perspective on their improvement and what their maximum potential may be – and these tricks function in both the positive and negative direction.

In this conversation, Jon, Luke and Todd discuss:

  • The hedonic treadmill – or Assault runner – of adaptation, and why it feels like yo’ure always just short of being at the level that you want to compete at
  • The fast feedback loop of the internet and social media and why this may be great for elevating performance…but terrible for fulfillment and sense of well-being
  • A disagreement in how long it typically will take for an athlete to be able to transition from beginning CrossFit into doing full fledged “competitive” training
  • And finally…Jon’s philosophy of coaching based upon disappointment, regret & shame

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

Listen Here

Brigham Squat Clean

You’ve probably heard of the 10,000 hour rule.

And it probably sounded really good.

Put in 10,000 hours of work and become a world class expert at anything!

Problem is, the common explanations of the 10,000 hour rule miss the mark.

The rule originally came from some of Anders Ericsson’s research on deliberate practice and world class performers – then gained notoriety through Malcolm Gladwell’s distillation of the rule in his book “Outliers.”

Now, we’ve got all kinds of goofballs throwing around the “10,000” number in CrossFit like it’s the secret to success.

Not only do they not understand the true discomfort of the deliberate practice concept (meaning that you have to spend an inordinate amount of time deeply focused and right on the edge of your ability with constant feedback and correction), but they’re also improperly applying a concept related to skill acquisition to a sport that is more determined by physiological adaptation (ie how quickly can you recover between a heavy set of power cleans, how much oxygen can you transfer in and out of your muscle cells while doing chest-to-bar pull-ups and burpees, etc.).

We’ve had enough!

In this conversation, Jon, Luke and Todd discuss:

  • Why the amount of data available on the performance of elite CrossFit athletes is both a blessing and a curse – and how people use this data to confuse themselves about where they sit relative to the elite
  • What are the true key performance indicators for CrossFit performance
  • Why adaptation to training over time isn’t linear – and why the rate of adaptation is true “talent”
  • And finally…why everyone should quit talking about 10,000 hours
  • Listen below – or in the podcast player of your choice.

    Listen Here

Amanda Heuser on the Assault Bike

The training of many elite athletes involves seemingly endless intervals suffering on the assault bike and the erg.

While there seems to be a general understanding now that the flashy 1RM PRs clogging up our Instagram feeds don’t necessarily translate into improve performance in the sport of CrossFit – what about the long hours of grunt work spent rowing, running, biking and skiing?

Are you wasting your time sweatin’ to the oldies on the assault bike? Does hard work actually pay off here?

There is certainly value in putting in work in cyclical modalities, and we use running, rowing, biking, etc. regularly in the training programs for our clients.

However, the link between improving aerobic capacity in something like a 5k row and getting better at twenty minutes of burpee box jumps and DB snatches is a bit more tenuous than one might think.

So, how should we think about integrating running and rowing into our programming?

Is it enough to do some “CrossFit metcons” and layer an interval-based endurance program on top of that?

What is the relationship between improving scores on tests of cyclical aerobic capacity (like a 2k row, 3k run or 10 min assault bike test) and improving mixed modal tests (like Open workout 18.1, 17.1, or named workouts like Kelly or Eva)?

In this conversation, Luke and Todd discuss:
•How cyclical pieces like running and rowing can be used to teach pacing and improve the ability to be sustainable for powerful athletes
•When aerobic capacity is a limiting factor for performance – and when it is not
•The difference between building an aerobic base and training with cyclical modalities to improve performance in CrossFit

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

Listen Here

Kristin Miller (CrossFit Mayhem)

Jon and I both worked with Kristin during the NPGL’s amateur GRID tournament – remember GRID? We put together a team of misfits and went out to LA to compete, and we actually did pretty well. We took second overall, which meant that we got an automatic bid to the next year’s tournament. Still waiting for that invite…

Kristin has gone on to make two CrossFit Games appearances with OC3 Black (in 2017) and CrossFit Mayhem Independence (in 2018). She will compete with CrossFit Mayhem Freedom in the 2019 season – which is shaping up to have quite the interesting structure.

Todd & Jon have a conversation with Kristin and discuss:
•How training is planned and structured at CrossFit Mayhem (Hint: There are minimal schedules and Rich programs every day on the fly)
•How Kristin went from starting CrossFit from distance running to competing at the CrossFit Games twice with OC3 Black and with CrossFit Mayhem Independence
•How important team dynamics are during competition – and how to prevent emotion from getting out of control during a competition

Listen Here

Show Notes

  • [0:14] How did Kristin end up at CrossFit Mayhem? And the anxiety of “trying out.”
  • [7:03] Commuting several hours to compete with OC3 in 2016
  • [13:19] Kristin’s dietary restrictions
  • [19:44] Getting started with competing in CrossFit
  • [23:42] What actually happens at Mayhem on a daily basis (There are no schedules)
  • [34:53] Mayhem athletes mostly train individually – so how do they develop the team communication skills necessary to compete?
  • [46:36] How is Mayhem approaching the changes to the 2019 CrossFit Games season?
  • [52:21] How do Mayhem athletes work on their own individual weaknesses while still training as a group?

Michele Fumagalli Rowing

In competitive CrossFit, most people tend to either consistently go out too hot on every workout (and have a melt down a few minutes in), or they tend to overpace everything and always feel like they had more in the tank to give.

Based upon this, a coach needs to be able to understand what kind of prescription will give each athlete what he or she needs in order to improve understanding of the appropriate effort for a given situation.

So, is the best way to do this by giving athletes freedom to feel things out? Or is it to give them prescribed paces and weights so that they have to learn how the feel when tasked with accomplishing a specific prescription.

Todd, Jon and Luke break down:
•Why the chaos of CrossFit can disrupt some of the principles of linear progression from traditional endurance and strength training models
•Why prescribed paces and weights can work to hold athletes back in training – so that they can spend their adaptation currency elsewhere
•How to know when athletes don’t know how to pace and need to learn to calm down – and when athletes overpace and need to learn to push themselves

Listen Here

George Sterner Muscle-Up

When it comes to “effort” in skill training, it seems that less is more.

Athletes who compete in CrossFit often thrive on giving full effort. They enjoy the process of pushing themselves – and they also believe that, unless they’ve given everything they had in a session – that they did not maximize their time on the gym floor.

In skill acquisition, however, full effort is not necessarily full victory.

In fact, many athletes need to learn to relax as they perform skills like muscle-ups, handstand push-ups, and barbell cycling. Being too tense during workouts with high volumes of these kinds of movements is one of the easiest ways to get really, really tired.

It can be challenging for folks to take a step back and work on improving the quality of their movement through consistent, low intensity practice – and it can also be difficult for them to work on movement in an unstructured “play” type environment without prescribed reps and sets.

On this episode of the Legion podcast, Todd, Jon & Luke discuss the process of skill acquisition in CrossFit athletes:
•Why it’s dangerous to think that you’ve “graduated” past skill work
•The difference between purposefully training movement quality in a fatigued state vs attempting to acquire and improve skills
•The intuitive capacity of the best to correctly select an appropriate movement strategy for a specific demand – and why the rest of us need to work harder at this skill
•The value of unstructured skill work – and why this is so difficult to do for the archetypal CrossFit athlete

Listen Here

Bridget Erickson - D-ball over Box

Todd and Luke continue to talk through the changes to the 2019 CrossFit Games season.

The incentives for people to participate in the different competitions will change significantly – and we will see people having to put much more thought into their training as they decide which competitions to truly peak for.

No longer is everyone on roughly the same schedule in terms of shooting to make it through the Open to Regionals, then shooting to make it through Regionals to the Games.

Now, we will see some gamesmanship as far as attempting to schedule the season in a way that makes sense.

We will also see variation in athletes between those who actually have a plan for how to approach multiple events in a season compared to those who just want to throw down all year.

Todd and Luke break down:
•What will the toll of repeated online qualifiers be on athletes?
•Is it possible to create a points structure that allows athletes to bypass the typical qualifying process?
•Is there an opportunity for a crowdsourced peer review process to cut down on the amount of dishonesty in online qualifiers?
•How many teams can an athlete peak in a season? And how will athletes game which events and which qualifiers they choose to do?
•How will programming for the sanctioned events be handled? Will this change the dynamic of how athletes are able to train for and prepare for these events?

Listen Here

Jon and Luke talk through some of the changes to the 2019 CrossFit Games season (which are still not fully clear yet) – but we do have enough information for athletes to start planning their training.

The structure of the season for most athletes will likely change as the focus shifts away from the Open and more toward the sanctioned CrossFit events.

We will see how this continues to shake out, but here’s our initial thoughts in terms of how to structure training and what to expect.

Jon and Luke break down:
•What do these changes mean to the training structure throughout the year for athletes?
•How much will Open participation change?
•What can bubble athletes on the edge of qualifying for Regionals or the Games look forward to in their training?
•What will change for people who have an opportunity to qualify directly to the Games from the Open?

Listen Here