Thursday, September 30, 2010

Courage Performance and Politics?

Well, not really, but I thought I'd share a little on a great talk I went to last night.  Today being a rest day for me, I was able to sit a think a little about the evening and how much I really enjoyed this talk.  As part of the Oakland/Peninsula/Marin Lecture Series, David Brooks was in town to talk a bit about his experience as a political writer.  

I have to admit, when I first met David, I honestly did not know that he was "famous".  I had coached and trained his son for over a couple years, and when then he came in to train.  I just went ahead and did my thing as I always do.  I quickly learned however, that David was in fact a very well-liked writer in my circle of friends and clients.  So, I read a couple of his articles, and, well, continued to train him like I would any of my clients.  I soon moved, and learned that he was coming out to my new neck of the woods to do a few talks, and I asked if I could come over and join the throngs of people coming out to listen to him.  

And here's why I like David.  He is unassuming, quiet, has a constant slight, shy smile that he keeps about him; he is instantly likable.  As one of the two "conservatives" for the New York Times, he says he was brought on to bring in a new perspective, but from an angle that democrats would understand.  To touch a bit on his personality, from a personal standpoint, David is dedicated.  He came in with a goal to get back into shape after spending so much sedentary time writing his book, and he got after it with impressive gusto.  In his silent, analytical way, he made impressively quick gains in all the major lifts, while attacking metcons with only a little complaint.  If his travel schedule hadn't broken up the programming, I am sure those gains would have been through the roof.   A fun client to have, and of course, yet another reason it was a little tough to leave, I had so many of them!  But back to his lecture.

He spoke a bit about where he came from, about how he got to the place he is today and then, spent a good deal of time talking about the leaders of our country and how they are as people.  This blended smoothly into him sharing a bit about his opinions towards how this country is being run and how he thinks it will be over the next couple years and why.  The entire lecture was led in his quiet, humorous way, and the crowd was sucked in immediately.  He made us laugh, a lot.  And I mean genuinely made us all laugh with his exaggerated views on the typical Californian rich guy, middle-aged soccer moms and politicians.   

Now I have no real interest in going into great detail about his thoughts and mine in relation to politics, I do not want this site to venture in that direction, ever.  But what I do want to touch on is the thing that makes David Brooks a well-read public figure in my opinion.  It is the way he approaches his work.  He talked so much about how these people were, as people.  He humanizes everyone, and I think that is something that is so often forgotten when people talk about others.  He shared his insight into who Bush and Obama are as people, one on one, and there was something comforting about realizing that these guys are just men, like any one of us.  They have their expertise, they have there skills, just like I have mine.  What David achieves, is not bringing these leaders down to our level, or us up to their level, he just brings us all together no matter what level we are at.  I have nothing but respect for this.  And through this very objective style of talk, and his down-to-earth personality, he is able to almost sneak in his opinions and personal ideas before people really know what's going on.  

David Brooks helped to confirm something that I strongly live by.  That it is always beneficial to try to get to know people more then just on the surface.  Every single person out there has some interesting, exciting aspect about them, and if you actually take a moment and pay attention to the people you are around, you will open yourself up to learning just that much more.

If you don't already, read some of his work below.  And, be sure to check out his third book coming out next Spring, it's all about the human subconscious.  I am very excited to check that one out!

In other news, tomorrow I am back to the strength with a good, hard run in the am, and my last round of 5/3/1 for squats and bench with Lindsey in the pm.  Next week brings a de-loading week, and I am planning some fun stuff for then, and the month of October.

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Today's strength workout called for 6 sets of 1 jerks and 6 sets of 1 cleans.  I need work!  My strength is there, I can tell because going to jerk 245#, I feel my arms snap to a locked position so quickly.  It is my lack of confidence to keep them locked out that causes me to fail.  I am nervous about my shoulders I think, and I tend to allow things to lean forward too much.  With heavy weight, this is just no good at all.  I really need to just get a full blown refresher course on the Olympic lifts, and focus on them with a couple people around working together.  I can not be failing on 245#, I should be in the 275# range if I expect to compete at a high level in CrossFit.  Same goes for the cleans.  My strength is beyond there, it's my shaky mobility and lack of confidence that leads to my splaying my feel apart, ducking my hips under the bar, and relying too much on my upper body.  I failed at 255#, and know I should be in the very high 200's for this lift.  I was so frustrated with my performance today.

I was able to feel a bit better on the day with another visit to the Burlingame High School Track.  I did 4 rounds of a 400 meter sprint and 100 double unders (with 3 minutes rest between rounds.  Another hot day meant some good sweat, but I was able to get numbers I thought would be good for this workout: 2:42, 2:54, 3:05 and 3:09.  I would have liked to keep them all under 3, but man was this a tough one.  My lungs burned, and thanks to the workouts yesterday, my arms got so pumped from the double unders, I felt like I was running with my elbow a foot from my torso.  But let me get back to form focus, returning to the fundamentals.

I have always been an advocate for getting back to the basics when things seem to be going wrong.  Where I ended up using this the most was in baseball.  I recall vividly a time when I was struggling with my batting mechanics and this causing about a week of horrible slumping and some pretty decent depression.  After getting all sorts of advice from anyone and everyone, I finally just got an early start on batting practice one day, grabbed a coach and a few buddies, and just simplified my stance.  I literally mimicked the most basic of all stances and swings.  The result?  I went 3 for 4 with a home run.  The point here folks is that if you already know what to do that does not mean you will always be doing things right.  How your body is built, imbalances, weaknesses, your programming, your lifestyle, all these things will begin to change the way you move through space, and the more your body changes the more you will need to focus on keeping your mechanics from being screwed up.

Return to the fundamentals!  It is so easy, so basic, but for some reason, we seem to neglect this simple rule because we just want to do too much all the time.  But the thing to remember is this:  the more reps you take with poor mechanics, the worse you are going to get!  So for me, if I just keep going out and trying to max out on cleans, jerks and snatches, I very well may see some gains, but no where near the gains I would see if I was doing everything with great form.  So, it's time to study up, go to a class, find a group of people who I can practice with, and then I can maybe feel a bit better about these lifts.

Check out these sites for some good info on O lifting:

T-Muscle Article
Mike's Gym
O Lift Resource 

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Couple More B-game Locations

With temperatures hovering in the low to mid 90's today, I headed over to Burlingame High School for a workout.  This workout was meant to be done yesterday, but after early morning strength and a 6 mile run in 95 degree heat, I figured I'd take the rest of the day off.  I grabbed a 44# KB and did this:

10 minute AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) of:
3 squat snatches each arm
8 burpees
13 pull ups

To make it a bit tougher, I would penalize myself with 5 strict pull ups for every mistake or brake I had throughout the workout.  Well... I didn't break or make any mistakes, I just moved sooooo slowly.  Burlingame High School is absolutely legit, the CrossFitters dream.  There is an all turf field, a 400 m track, and a rubbered out area with three heights of pull up bars, a ling dip station and a string of monkey bars.  So perfect!  My one issue was that the bar was thin and it was freaking hot!

I ended up getting 5 rounds, plus the snatches, burpees and 3 pull ups and I was done.  I know it was the heat, the bad sleep I had gotten the past two nights and the rough day of nutrition yesterday (but Lindsey made awesome brownies!) that played a roll in my fatigue, but wow.  I literally sat in the car, AC blasting, for about 5 minutes just trying to get my mind about me.  Luckily I was prepared with a protein shake, and that restored my glycogen a little, at least enough to head over to my second workout.

Drove down to Burlingame's largest fitness center: Prime Time Athletic Club.  This place is just about everything that I will strive NOT to have at my place, plush chairs and sofas in the locker rooms, rows of ellipticals and recumbent bikes,  rooms of rehab equipment (lat pull downs, leg extensions, calf raises etc.), and a nice little cafe with cookies, muffins, and vitamin water.  The cafe is where I sit right now writing this post, with relaxing jazz playing in the background, I can't lie, it's pretty nice, but geez, the point of these places are supposed to get you in shape!  I strolled around the facility a bit, and found just about exactly what I expected, a good deal of people, all moving very slowly.  Hell man, I have had plenty of great workouts at "globo gyms" before, but they truly do inspire NO intensity at all.  When your free weight room has TV's in each corner, how are you supposed to comprehend rest periods?  I could go on, but I feel like I'd be preaching to the choir here.  Perhaps it's time an area like Burlingame get a shot f reality in their veins.  Perhaps it's time they get a taste of what it really means to get in good shape and stay in good shape.  Here I come B-game!!

So, got off topic there for a hot second.  I went over there for a swim in the pool.  It's been a good long time since I experienced my inability to swim, and I did not let myself down in my expectations.  I did an easy 500 meters, half breast stroke, half free style.  Then, after a little rest, went for a unbroken 500 meters.  Did it in 12:36.  That is not good at all.  So, I know have a goal.  Lindsey and I are going to be doing a triathlon in early November, and the swim is 500 meters.  I want to get it in under 10 minutes.  In fact, I want to get it in 8 minutes, at least.  The best art about this is, swimming is going to help out in all aspects of my training.  So, I welcome the challenge.  But that was the first, and last time I will ever go to Prime Time.  Sorry guys, the place just brings me down.

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Monday, September 27, 2010

Courageous Meals - 1

Almond Herb Crusted Chicken with Pan Seared Garlic Brussel Spouts, Steamed Broccoli and Sweet Potato Fries

This meal was a combination effort to come up with.  Inspired by my girlfriends wonderful suggestion to use almond meal (seeing how I am an absolute almond fiend!), we had tried out some crusted chicken breast before and it turned out great.  This time around I wanted to give it a new little spin, smaller pieces of chicken, and a little more flavor in the coating.  The brussel sprouts were her idea, and the sweet potato fries, well, they are just damn good and it seemed like the perfect "crunch" for the different textures of food we were making.  The steamed broccoli is a bit of an after-thought, so, if you have any ideas with that one, go ahead and improvise.  I will be writing this in terms of timing the entire meal, rather than each ingredient separately, let me know if it is followable!  Here's what you need:

Main Ingredients:

  • 4 organic, free-range chicken breasts

  • 10-15 small brussel sprouts

  • 1 head of broccoli

  • 3 medium sized sweet potatoes
Additional Needs (serving sizes are totally guessed!):
  • 2-3 cups almond meal
  • 2 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 small tbsp oregano
  • 1 small tbsp crushed red pepper
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup Italian herb dressing
  • 1.5 tbsp butter (no clue how much oil if you choose to swap oil for butter)(we used soy butter)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • Salt
  • Pepper
Start off by rinsing the chicken breast, then cutting them into small pieces (about 1/2 - 1 inch thick and about 2 inches long or so), go ahead and put those aside for the time being.  

[If you want your chicken to be a bit "thicker", go ahead and crack the eggs, and mix in the Italian herb dressing.  Then place all the chicken pieces in the mixture and let stand] 
Head over to the oven and turn it on to 450 degrees before moving over to the potatoes.

Without washing them, cut the sweet potatoes into 2 inch long, thin slices.  Pile them on to a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt, then season to your liking with pepper.  Drizzle with olive oil then mix them around the baking sheet until all the fries are coated.  Now, individually place the fries on the sheet (try not to have them touching each other).  Then slip them on into the oven and set a timer for 15 minutes.

After the fries are safe and sound in the oven, slide on over to the brussel sprouts.  Cut the stems off, then cut them in halves.  Heat a pan in medium heat, then add butter and a little olive oil (or, just a bunch of olive oil) and garlic until the garlic is lightly browned.  Remove garlic with a little spoon and set aside in a bowl.  Turn heat to low then place your halved brussel sprouts (flat side down) into buttered pan.  Keep on heat for 15-20 minutes while you take care of the rest of the meal.

Time to move on back to the chicken.  Mix the almond meal and dry seasonings together on a large plate with your hand (or another tool if you prefer), then coat the chicken pieces however heavily you choose.  Here is another opportunity to make them a little heavier, just coat like hell!  If you want to keep them lighter (this is where you would NOT have them soaking in the egg/dressing batter), just quickly dunk them in the batter, then slap them through the almond meal mixture before placing them in the pan.   

At this point, the fries should be removed from the oven and individually flipped over.  Mind your fingers, they'll be hot as hell.  When you put them back in for another 15 minutes, put the chicken on in there with them (this will take about 10-15 minutes to cook as well).
[Keep your eye on the fries at this point, from here on out, depending on how crispy you want them, you'll want to keep them in longer, or take them out earlier.  Your call]

When you have a spare moment, cut free the broccoli heads and place them into a small pot of water, cover, and place over high heat.  Bring that to a boil as you take care of the rest of the food, and let it boil for about 5-8 minutes before draining the water.  That's the easy one.

Now check out the brussel sprouts.  When they are browned on the flat side and tender on the rounded side, take them off and plate them.  Then place the garlic and almond slices back into the pan and cook for about 5 minutes before coating the brussel sprouts with it all.
Finally, check on the chicken (I just cut a thicker piece a little and make sure it's not pink).  Plate it up.

Serve and enjoy (perhaps with a glass of a light, chilled white wine).  What a meal.
Some notes:  

  • If you are on a strict Paleo diet ordeal, just throw on a few more broccoli heads in place of the sweet potato fries, and perhaps take a little time to season them up a notch for some interesting flavor.  Also, swap out the butter (or soy butter for my sake) for straight olive oil with the brussel sprouts.  

  • The amounts listed on here were what we used for 4 pretty good sized chicken breasts.  If you want more, or less, make your changes accordingly.

Courage's Thoughts On This meal: 

This meal is going to be one I come back to (with modifications of course) because it is light and healthy, but fills you up rather well for a chicken and veggie meal.  I personally find it tough to get the right amount of fuel in me during meals because I don't eat tons of grains, I don't eat dairy and I very, very rarely eat red meat.  So, I end up having an extra meal, an extra shake, or, just going back for seconds.  This meal however, because of the thicker coating on the chicken, ends up filling you up wonderfully.  For those of you out there who tend to be a little more active (like I hope most of my readers are!), it's always nice to find ways to get enough fuel in your system without overdoing certain nutrients (um, fats and carbs folks).  

You see, from my experience, when I am under-fueling I tend to find myself craving things like olives, avocados, nuts, fruits and yes, complex carbohydrates!  So, the key is to make sure you are filling yourself up with better choices, and making sure it's all balanced.  This meal is that in a nutshell (no pun intended).   The almond and herb coating, along with the slightly thicker addition of egg and Italian herb dressing add a bit of depth and "oomph" to the naturally lighter quality of the chicken.  The butter/oil brussel sprouts also adds a bit more thickness.  And of course, sweet potatoes in general will be a bit of a filler.

But the main point to make is this:  making good, healthy food is not all that hard at all.  And the second you get started on a dish, it becomes just another fun challenge, or game that you can play with yourself or with friends and/or family.  I hope to inspire people to give making home-cooked meals a try a little more often.  It's nice to know that what you are putting in your mouth and body, you made.

As I get started with this "Courageous Meals" ordeal, I am looking for any and all feedback.  How it's organized, is it understandable, any suggestions for meals, so on so forth.  Let me know people!

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Bright And Early

Lindsey and I got up well before the sun today to get a workout in before Lindsey left for LA for work.  5:15am down to the garage for 5, 3, 1+ deadlifts and strict presses.  Still feeling pretty tight from Friday and Saturday, we got a good dynamic warm up in, then hit the weights.  My last set at the deadlifts was supposed to be 410#, but because I was using all bumper plates (iron plates make too much noise, and we are not ready to make enemies in the neighborhood yet...) I could not fit that amount of weight on the bar.  So, my final set was at 405#.  Still struggling a little with form, I was able to get 3 good reps.  With Lindsey's form wavering a bit on deadlifts as well, I immediately proposed that we focus on posterior chain support work next week, and then we will even consider removing deadlifts from our next phase of 5/3/1 to focus on getting our core and spines up to par.  This will be talked about in greater detail when we approach our de-loading week next week.

Presses felt pretty good actually.  I was supposed to get 145# for my last set, but loaded 140# and got 4.  I felt strong with that weight, and then got frustrated that I didn't use the right weight.  So, as Lindsey went up to shower up and pack her last few things for work, I snuck in another round at 155#.  Got 2.  Feeling stronger with the overhead, but man, the progress is SLOW!

A super shake later, and I drove Lindsey to the airport, me being good ol' Mr. Mom!

Later today I'm doing a run and a short metcon:

Run - about 6 miles

AMRAP 8 minutes of:
3 squat snatches 95#
8 burpees
13 pull ups
(5 strict pull up penalty for every break)

I'll let you all know how it goes.  Courageous Meals 1 coming later today!

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Little Fight

After a good meeting with a guy about a space here in Burlingame, CA, Lindsey and I set up our equipment for Fight Gone Bad.  Both our legs were feeling so heavy from the squats, jumps and lunges the day before, but with a good warm up (with some jump rope to lighten our feet up) we got after it.  My last effort with this, I got 431, and I was hoping for something around that if at all possible.  The first round I just went all out.  Got 31 wall balls, 33 sumo deadlift high pulls, 47 box jumps, 35 push presses and 20 cals on the rower, and I felt pretty good.  The crazy part was that I actually took two rests on the push presses, and stopped with 10 seconds to spare, hoping to get set up a bit quicker on the rower.  This came back to bite me in the ass in the end.  With the first round total at 166, I dropped a bit off for the second to 141.  But the third got me like crazy.  Finishing with 120 for the round, I was so burned out it was a bit crazy, I even felt a little nauseous during those box jumps, something I am not prone to feeling, especially on something like the box jump.  But, I got 427!  I know I missed those four reps on that first round with the push presses, but to be honest, I am very happy with that score, and I know it is still pretty high up there in the rankings of top CrossFitters.  I have a video, but my iMovie is acting up, so, hopefully I can get it edited up soon.

Today is a rest day.  We have a nice trip up to San Francisco planned for the day, to see Beth, a good friend from back East, then take care of a few errands around the city.  Next week Lindsey is back to work, leaving me alone to do my thing.  Good thing about that is, I actually have something to do!  I will let everyone in on some of the details as things get approved but, all I can say is, two weeks in a completely new place and I am just getting after it!

Also, I have a new introduction to my site: Courageous Meals!  Once a week I will be posting up a meal I create, almost completely from my own mind (as in, I will rarely use a recipe).  I will post up how to put it together, with ingredients, pictures and a little inspiration along with it.  First in this series will be up tomorrow!  Hopefully you all can try it out and give some feedback.  And, as always, I am open to suggestions, especially when it comes to good meals!

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Fight Gone Bad Tomorrow

In honer of the fifth annual "Fight Gone Bad" event held by CrossFit affiliates world-wide, Lindsey and I will be doing our part by performing the workout at our house.  We got the invite to head over to CrossFit San Mateo for the challenge, but the timing won't work out as we are headed over in the am to, wait for it, wait for it... check out a potential gym space (a very, very good potential)!!

In preparation for the big day tomorrow, I watched my last effort with this workout.  I hope that I can come somewhere near this score.  As it turns out, mine is actually in the very top percentile of performances.  Time to get focused!  Check it out here:

Today's workout saw us doing 3, 3, 3+ back squats and bench, some high box step ups and DB rows, a couple Tabata exercises (vertical jumps and air squats), then a wonderful 200 yards of unbroken walking lunges!  Holy quads!

Was able to get 315# x 10 and it was easy!  My squats are going to be through the roof soon, I am amped up for that.  Bench felt good with 8 reps at 240#, that's 2 reps more than I got last time around at 5/3/1.  Step ups and rows were nothing to write home about, just some good supplemental work to get the post delts and lats firing (rows) and opening up the hips a bit (step ups).  The Tabatas were rough (20 seconds on, 10 seconds off for 8 rounds, score for these was the lowest reps in a set).  I was jumping to a 9 ft. target and was able to get 11 the first round, but then fell right off to 10, 9 and then 8.  Stuck at 8 for the remainder of the time.  The squats burned, and besides two rounds at 22, I stuck at 21.  Finally, the lunges.  200 total yards of walking lunges, penalty of 10 GHD sit ups for every break.  All I can say is ouch!  Burned like crazy but I did them all unbroken.  Quads will be a litte heavy for tomorrows fun!

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Finding New Places

A View From The Run
Yesterday we hopped in the car and drove a few miles down the road to a place called Mills Canyon Park. I was hoping for a bad ass trail with steep slops and rocky, technical passes, but, because it was in the hills, west of El Camino Real, I expected to see a wide, perfectly formed path through a tree-lined park.  Well, my hopes were answered, and my expectations were thrown to the side!  This place absolutely rocked!

The trail only led us about a mile and half in a god loop around the canyon, but it was an awesome trail.  Rocks, roots, trees, steep (and I mean STEEP) ups and downs, branches and bushes in the way, off-shoots through the creek and other excitingly scary nooks and crannies.  This trail is going to be visited on a pretty regular basis for sure!  We went through it pretty slowly, one time around, just to see what it was all about. I'll bet there are more like this, but even better less than a mile west, deep in the hills that separate the Pacific from the Bay.

Later in the day it was hang snatch practice, snatch grip, behind the neck push jerks, and Turkish get ups.  Both of us started to feel a lot better with this technical move, still a ton to work on, and I know that my lack of experience with this particular lift was getting more clear as I got heavier.  I was able to get my legs to engage more at the start of the movement, while letting my upper body wait until the last moment to pull.  I was able to get the lockout simultaneous with the foot plant, meaning I was moving faster throughout.  My shoulders are still the biggest issue here, and as I got heavier, I was getting the bar up easily, but I was able to lock my elbows out of some subconscious fear that I was going to tear apart my shoulders.  This led to having to dump the bar too many times.  We did a ton of reps, and I was happy to be able to pull out 155# at the end of it all.

The push jerks felt a lot better than last time.  I was getting under the bar so much faster, allowing my bodies downward movement to lock my arms out rather then trying to muscle the weight up.  I got 4 reps at 215# and felt very comfortable with that weight.  Finally, the TGU's.  I used a barbell and was able to get 95# with a little struggle.  I ended up cutting the session short there as my mind was wondering and I just could not seem to focus on getting the last two sets, oh well.

Saturday is the fifth annual "Fight Gone Bad" fundraiser that has impressively grown over the years in the CrossFit community.  Lindsy and I just so happen to have FGB scheduled into our programming for that day, it'll be fun knowing that we are doing such a tough workout with so many thousands of others around the world.  Check it out.

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fueling Well

Today ended up being another rest day.  I had a very tough time with the concept of sleep last night and ended up not getting to dream land until around 3am.  So today I was a little out of it overall.  I did however get the chance to drive around for a few hours looking for the new Courage Performance training center!  Saw a tons of places, and know this place is going to absolutely rock when it opens up. SOON!  I could go on forever about my new spot, but, today's post is focused back on nutrition.
I have been focusing more and more on making my own meals, and this has been going very well.  Some of the ideas that were wonderfully offered by nutritionist Michael Donovan for me were to stop eating out so much, cut back on the mixed nuts, prepare meals more regularly and try new ingredients.  I find myself eating the same meal, or a slightly tweaked version of the same meal at least 4 times per week for a good month or more when I prepare it myself.  So, the goal has been to prepare things differently, and try new ingredients.  So, I have been doing just that!

Baked halibut over garlic herb cous cous and beets with sautéed squash and zucchini.  This was the first meal we cooked at our new house, and it was a great one.  The fish was very fresh, and beets were an interesting addition to the cous cous.  I think the main thing with those red suckers is to steam or boil them a whole lot longer then we did, get them a little more tender.  The veggies ended up being lunch the next day, mixed with rotisserie chicken and olives.

Breakfast!  Lots of eggs and chicken sausage, I tend to overdo this one a bit, I need to learn a few different ideas for this meal (but I LOVE this combo of food!).  Eggs scrambled, over medium, mixed together with spinach, peppers, onions and sausage, mostly egg whites, so on, so forth.

Lindsey cooked us up a new one for the morning the other day and it was so damn good.  Pancakes made of eggs, almond meal, apple sauce and a few other flavorings (all natural, organic, and, even Paleo).  Topped with apple sauce and some nice blueberries, this was the introduction of an absolutely amazing addition to the breakfast plans.

So far my favorite dinner made at our house has to be the almond crusted chicken breast.  Almond meal, eggs, Italian herb salad dressing and a few other spices coated the chicken, and they were popped into the oven to bake.  Herb cous cous and a veggie-packed salad along side, man, what a meal!

Last night I whipped up some Italian style chicken sausage with peppers and onions, along with a small salad, very basic, but very tasty.

And finally, a dish that surprised both Lindsey and myself:  black bean burgers, onion, tomato, mustard and ketchup, wrapped in fresh lettuce.  Yet another five or so minute to prepare, but very rewarding to eat type of meal.  Highly recommended.

So there's some good food for you so far.  I will be throwing at you more of my fun fueling process as I continue to experiment and come up with new and better ideas of what I can actually make.  Ideas and recipes are more than welcome!

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

A Fresh Week

Picture from the road, no connection with the post at all.

After deciding to take Saturday off instead of Sunday, Lindsey and I headed to the garage to attempt what I had aptly named "The Lindsey Killer".  The idea was to put together a collection of exercises that Lindsey struggles with to force a bit of an extra challenge, and greater gains, something I am all about doing.

30 lateral box jumps (over and back is 1 rep)
30 10-yard shuffles (out and back is 1 rep)
30 wall balls
30 box jumps
30 GHD sit ups
30 double unders

On paper this does not look all that tough, but it turns out to be, well, tough.  It is a large amount of lateral movement, something that I find is commonly neglected in a lot of peoples programming.  The Shuffles were the most time consuming, seeing how it was a total of 600 yards of shuffling!  And for me, the straight box jumps were the toughest (and I am usually very comfortable with these).  It was the first time in god knows how long where I could not just string them together, I ended up having to step off the box each time after the 10th rep.  The 20# vest made this one a bit tougher as well, especially when I got to the GHD's.  I finished in 12:37 and felt pretty good about that time. I feel as though the shuffles could have gone a bit faster, but that was on me for getting a little lazy with the boredom of the movement.  Every 60 yards or so I would realize that I was standing a little taller and moving a little slower, so I would bear down and pick up the pace.  A fun challenge all around.

Today, after a yet another long shopping trip, we got back to strength work, and an interesting metcon.

3, 3, 3+ deadlifts and strict press

12, 12, 12, 12 weighted bridges with max cable lateral raise static holds supersetted

5 rounds for time of:
50 meter bear crawl
25 sandbag shoulder changes
50 meter shuttle sandbag sprint

Ugh, my deadlifts just keep getting worse and worse. These used my best lift by far, reps at 455# with solid form all around.  Now I get to 390# and my core breaks down like it's rubber. I have some reconsidering to do on how to go about building this back up to where it should be.  I will think about this some more, and incorporate my adjustments accordingly.  I am open to recommendations.

The strict presses felt pretty good, still weaker than I should be, but felt good with what I had.  Got 5 reps at 140#.  The bridges and cable lateral raise holds felt strong all around and I think that both of those exercises were perfect support for the heavy lifts.  The metcon was a fun one.  I marked off 50 meters, placed the sandbag (I used 52#) at one end and started from the other.  I started with the bear crawl, and went 50 meters to the sandbag, hoisted it up  and did 25 shoulder changes.  Love this exercise!  It gets everything working like crazy, and is a perfect way to help understand how the rest of the body engages to help your shoulders.  After 25 resp, it was a sprint to the far cone, drop the bag and sprint back, that was 1 round.  Did 5.  Got 9:05.

I need to get a little more passionate about my metcons, attack them with a little more intensity.  I feel as though I am holding back a little bit.

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Working "The Thick Bar"

Yesterday, Lindsey and I had a little double-dip.  We got after squats, bench and some Bulgarian split squats at the garage (I was able to get 12 solid reps at 295# on the squats, and 9 at 225# on the bench, both were weights I was happy with at this point).  We then hopped in the car to search for a public pull up bar as we do not have one set up anywhere.  After wandering around Washington Park for a bit and finding nothing, we remembered a small park by the highway that we knew would be empty.  It was, but the only issue was that Lindsey would have to be wedged into a tiny space so she could use the top of a sliding poll with a very slick grip, and I would be using a 9ft tall post holding the swings.  The bar I got to use was at least 3 inches in diameter, brutal!

3 rounds for time of:
400 meter run
21 KB swings 53#
12 pull ups

Last time I tried this was in May, and I was still recovering from my bike crash, I believe my cast had come off about two days before as well, and I got 8:10.  This time around I was hoping for sub-7:30, but that damn bar got to be pretty damn tough.  I finished in 7:57.  Lindsey struggled with her bar like crazy as well, and this got me thinking a little bit about using unconventional equipment for more reasons than just being cool.

I am a huge fan of using random pieces of equipment, or things found in nature as obstacles for fitness training.  Trees, ledges and trucks for pull ups, logs and rocks for press and throws, tires for throwing and flipping, bridges for scaling, benches and stumps for box jumps, water jugs for swings and carries etc.  The more I got into using this stuff, the more I thought about the effectiveness of doing this sort of thing.  For starters, it just breaks up the norm, keeps things fresh and interesting.  But when you look a little deeper at it all, it starts to make sense on pretty much any level you can think of.

I had a football player who had an issue with heights and literally, being on the edge of things.  I had a workout that involved scaling a bridge a handful of times, one that rested about 25-35 feet above a rocky creek.  I asked him to do this workout, and, while he was extremely hesitant at first, he ultimately got the hang of it and just tore it up.  I explained to him that while all his other football buddies were only spending time in the gym and track, doing bench presses, cleans, deadlifts and sprints, he would be doing all of that and more.  And because of the unconventional aspects of training incorporated into his programming, when he was faced with a potentially intimidating situation, he would be able to recognize that there really is nothing that he is scared of.  This summer he was able to break down a mental wall that I would argue had been his (and similarly, so many other peoples) most debilitating weakness up to that point.  The way I see it is, if you ever have a natural reaction of fear and/or doubt, training unconventionally will help to transform that reaction to possibility and excitement.  I have seen this happen with myself, and many, many clients and friends.

The positive effects of physical exercise should go without saying, so let us assume for this arguments sake that it is good to exercise.  How will it benefit you physically to use unconventional methods?  Think in terms of functionality of movement.  If you can hoist a bar loaded with 200 pounds from the ground to your shoulders, well, great.  This proves that you probably have mastered the most efficient method for your body to pick up that sort of weight in a dynamic manner.  You have stable joints and a strong, stable spine and core.  You have strong and powerful leg and back muscles, and you also have adequate mobility in your hips and shoulders.  But think of all the other movements your body CAN do.  Functional movement training is all about understanding the most efficient ways your body can move, then forcing it to get into any and every possible position, with any and every possible load, THEN testing its ability to function efficiently.  If you can now hoist a 200 pound rock from the ground to your shoulders, that bar is going to be pretty damn easy.  I am not saying that conventional methods are pointless, I am saying that incorporating unconventional methods will assist greatly in your conventional training gains.  The more diverse your athleticism, the better you will be at anything you want to accomplish athletically.

Unconventional exercise can be frustrating as hell.  You can go from being able to string together 20+ unbroken pull ups on the perfect pull up bar in your gym, to grabbing onto an awkward tree branch and only being able to get 5.  Knowing that you have the ability to pick up a specific amount of weight, or perform a certain number of reps with a given movement, and the second you use a different object at that weight, or perform the movement on a different terrain, you just can not do it is emotionally draining.  Training like this tests so much more than your physical ability.  The fact that it can be so frustrating, helps better your emotional approach to difficult situations by allowing you to recognize them.

As you can see, it is hugely beneficial to use unconventional methods when training.  Oh, and I almost forgot:  GPP.  One of the most popular of CrossFit acronyms, this stands for General Physical Preparedness.  The greater the diversity of training methods one uses, the greater ability to perform in any situation one has.  This is very similar to what I mentioned above in terms of an athlete competing, and it can be used for any aspect of life.  If you challenge yourself in all ways, you will be better prepared in any situation.  So, go use a thick bar, use rocks and trees, water and sand.  Use cinder blocks, bricks, ropes, tires, doorways, stools, trucks and cars.  Use barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells and bumper plates, use it all!

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Programming #2 - Write Your Own

This post is dedicated to supplying a simple, yet highly effective method anyone can use to begin writing a personal fitness program.  This is again something I could write a book on, so I am going to keep it as basic as possible, and if you plan to use it, know that you will need to do a few things to assure you are getting a plan that will be the most effective for YOU.

First:  Be honest.  if you know you have lower back issues, do not include heavy deadlifting right of the bat.  And, do not include crazy metcons that could put your injury or weakness in a compromised position.  Take a good, hard look at yourself and your abilities, and as you write things down, ere on the side of safety.  Remember, you can always modify as you go along.  Of course, this is why people hire a coach or trainer.  So your risk of injury will inevitably be a bit greater when designing your own program, but the information supplied here should help reduce that risk by helping you understand how things should work a little better.

Second:  Be smart.  Just because you like chipper style metcons does not mean you should be doing them every other day.  Just because you are tight with time does not mean your should forgo a proper warm up.  Just because you do not have a trainer/coach next to you helping you out with form, timing, and motivation, does not mean you can sloppily run through an intense couplet and brag about your time to yourself or others.  The idea of a fitness program is to get better all around, and to try keep the results you achieve for the rest of your life.  You WILL NOT do this if you blindly attack everything you do.  Start slow, chart EVERYTHING, and if you are being honest with yourself, great things will happen.

Third:  Be simple.  No need to get all fancy with 1-leg RDL's and Turkish Get Ups to Overhead Step Ups.  There will be plenty of room to get innovative if you want (and I always recommend trying out new things), but when it comes to your root program, keep it simple and straight forward.

In keeping with my "generality" feel here, I am going to give you a Strength Bias set of advice.  If your goals are to run a marathon, or bike across the country (...) or to attain something that would not necessarily be super strength oriented, then there may be a few things missing in what I say.  But, as a side bar, and from personal experience, using a strength bias program for any athletic and fitness goals will work wonders for you.  So if you are green to this, try it out, see what happens.

Step 1:  Get yourself a workout journal.  You can use a simple note pad, order one online, or find one in a store (or contact me and get one of mine!).  Having something that you carry along with you everywhere to post up how you feel, what you are doing and lifting, and what you are eating is probably the quickest way to actually understand how all this stuff works.  I can not stress enough how important writing things down is.  Once you start, and get used to it, it just becomes part of your life.

Step 2:  Establish your list of goals.  If you do not know what I am talking about, simply scroll down and read the first post on programing!

Step 3:  Take the first week and work on the mechanics of the main lifts you want to use.  If you plan to work mostly power lifts (deadlifts, squat, strict press, bench), then go and learn/re-learn them so that you feel comfortable with their details.  If you want to work Olympic lifting, well, just make sure you know what you are doing.  There is nothing worse than watching someone open their workout journal, see they are doing deadlifts today, load up the bar and yank the thing off the ground with no concern for their spines' well being.  Dear God.  So, get comfortable with the main moves.

Step 4:  Establish your calendar.  When do you like working out the most?  When do you have the time to work out?  Are your weekends the most free?  Are you a 9-5er?  Figure out what days you wish to work out, pick a general time that would work best, and try to stick to that.  Now, if you have the freedom to mess around with this a little, great, but if you do not, make sure you have a schedule.  If you do not, you will probably not last too much more than a few days with your program.  I suggest one of two plans:  the typical CrossFit "3-on/1-off plan"; or, the "Mon/Wed/Fri plan".  The "3-on/1-off plan" is pretty straight forward and is great for someone who knows they have a set time every day to train.  Here is what it would look like:

Day 1:  Strength lift.  Short, couplet metcon
Day 2:  Skills work.  Short triplet metcon
Day 3:  Optional strength work/lift.  Long or heavy metcon
Day 4:  Off (be active!)

The "Mon/Wed/Fri plan" is better suited for someone who is extremely busy and/or does not have a set time each day.  It looks a little something like this:

Monday:  Strength lift.  Short couplet or triplet metcon.
Tuesday:  Skills work and/or light to heavy conditioning
Wednesday: Optional Strength work/lift.  Short couplet or triplet metcon
Thursday:  Skills work and/or light to heavy conditioning
Friday:  Strength lift.  Short couplet or triplet metcon.
Saturday: Off or long/heavy metcon
Sunday:  Off (be active!)

Of course there are many, many other options here, but for the sake of keeping this simple (I have to keep reminding myself this), I will leave you with those two.  By all means though, improvise off these to find one that works best for you!

Step 5:  Write your workout!  Yup, that's it!  No, no, here's how to go about the actual programing part of programing.  Pick your strength move first.  Generally, it would be smart to start with a lower body lift like deadlifts or squats.  Next is to pick your rep scheme.  Here is a good way to do it:

3 weeks heavy strength training and metcon.  1 week de-loading.  Next month, increase your weights and repeat the same pattern.  Do this for three months total.

Do all your lifts at five rounds of 5 reps.  If you have an established 1 rep max weight, use 60, 65, 70, 75, and 80% of that weight.  If you do not have that established already, pick a weight that feels pretty easy the first set, then increase your weight each set so that on your final set of 5, you are struggling a decent amount.  You should finish all five reps, but it should be hard.  Use the above pattern for all of your strength moves for the first month, then increase your percentages by 5 for the second, and another 5 for the third.  

For the metcons, all you need to do is follow these simple rules (I will be doing a "MetCon Post" in a few days, so watch for that as well):
  • Couplets are two exercises
  • Triplets are three exercises
  • Long and hard means any number of exercises and use heavier weigh
  • For couplets, use complimentary movements (IE: push and pull)
  • For triplets use the same idea, then add a third exercises or a run, jump rope or row
  • Always think about the strength move, then use movements that are similar, but not the same (if you did heavy squat, don't use heavy squats in your metcon, use air squats, overhead squats, KB swings, cleans etc.)
Example Workout:

Day 1:
5x5 back squats
21-15-9 of:
Overhead squats 75/55
Pull ups

Day 2:
L-sit and pistol squat practice
4 rounds for time of:
200 meter run
30 GHD sit ups
30 GHD back extensions

Day 3:
5x5 strict press
For time do:
20 deadlifts @ body weight
20 power cleans @ 3/4 body weight
20 burpees
10 deadlifts @ body weight

10 power cleans @ 3/4 body weight
10 burpees

For your de-loading week, just take a week to work on skills and weaknesses, try out new sports, work on mechanical issues with the major lifts, and just tone down the intensity a bit.  Perhaps take a couple days completely off from anything hard, just a nice walk or something.

And there you have it.  As stated before, this probably could be a 15 post topic for me.  I hope my long windedness did not make this more confusing for anyone, I am merely attempting to share the process that I have in my head with you all.  As you get into this stuff, it all becomes a little bit second nature.  You start to see how exercises fit together, and how others do not.  you start to see why doing a certain combination of exercises may be way too taxing on a muscle group, or how you tend to focus on one area while neglecting another.  Again, keep it simple.  Don't try too much right off the starting blocks, and allow yourself plenty of room for error.  Stay light with your weights to start, and as things begin to click a little, that is when you can start to toy around with unconventional movements and equipment.  

Please, please, if you have any questions or comments on all this, email, call or post to comments.  I plan to supply as much information on this site as I can, and while I may struggle here and there with how I articulate things, I am always open and willing to give my opinions and advice (and take other peoples as well!).  And in the end, if you still feel uncomfortable with writing your own program, keep me and other coaches in business and hire us to do our jobs!!  

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage


After a long day of building furniture and unpacking, Lindsey's parent arrived from their long drive across the country with Lindsey's car.  They headed off for a little walk and Lindsey and I hit the pavement for a workout:

Clean practice 5 x 4

10, 10, 10 Overhead squats

21-15-9 of:
Squat cleans 135#
Ring dips

Felt pretty good with the clean work, still need to focus on keeping my feet and legs a little narrower on the catch, but besides that, felt very fast and smooth.  Looking forward to seeing what my numbers can get to these days with this.  With the overheard squats, I was able to easily get 135# for the last set.  I was feeling very tight from the past couple days workouts, and this showed on my form a bit (knees pushed forward a little much, tight shoulders led to a bit of a hyper- external rotation at the bottom.  More stuff to work on!)

The metcon was all around rough.  My back tightened up like crazy, and this led to me dumping the bar way more than I felt I should.  The dips went very smoothly, and that was nice.  I finished n 7:30 and feel as though that should be a good minute or more faster.  The most exciting part was finding a way to string up the rings on our awesome balcony.  It took a while, but they worked perfectly!

We then came inside and cooked up a perfect meal!  Almond crusted baked herb chicken, garlic herb cous cous and a mixed salad with vinaigrette.  I am loving cooking in our spacious kitchen, and I will be posting up more and more on my food fun and recipes Lindsey and I come up with as we experiment.

Tomorrow is a chill day, an easy 3+ mile run and a lot of foam rolling and stretching.  I will be working on my follow-up programming post to put up tomorrow as well, so look for that!

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Gearing Up

Rowing my heart out at the new Garage!

After a great workout yesterday (even though I was feeling pretty weak on the deadlifts and strict presses, I was excited to get out and start shopping for supplies for the new house.  Yesterdays workout found me struggling through 7 reps at 370# on the deadlifts and 7 reps at 130 on the strict press.  Both pretty rusty, but I feel confident with the added shoulder and core strengthening in my programming that i will see some massive gains over this and next month.  The metcon (30-20-10 of box jumps, push presses and half moons) was very tiring, and the push presses were surprisingly difficult for me.  105# is not that heavy, but given the heavy work before it, and the stress from the roll outs, I think I was just tired.  Got 9:13 and felt like that was a pretty good time.

So then, after a crazy day of shopping today (Ikea, target, home depot and costco!), our place looks like twice the mess from when we started.  But we have things to put stuff in now, so that's good.  The only negative is that we did not take the time to really figure out what our bathroom colors were, and we screwed up all the add-ons.  Leave it to us to try to wing all that.  So, it's back to square one with the bathrooms...ugh.  We got back a little on edge, groggy, and needing to just let loose a little, so our workout was perfect.  We chose to forgo the SWP's (Skill and Weakness Practice) so we could get a solid warm up in, do the workout, and get to putting some things away around the house.

500, 400, 300, 200, 100 meter row
10, 15, 20, 25, 30 burpees

Wowza.  100 total burpees, 1500 total meters row.  Spent!  I got 12:14 and was very happy with that time.  I think, if I ever do this one again, I will aim for around 11:30.  On the few breaks I took with the burpees, I took like two steps back, then forward before attacking them again, and I think that took away from a lot of time.  It's that tough line of wanting to take a break so you can keep going, and knowing that a 3 second break is not going to do very much for you anyway, so you might as well take a 1 second one and just push through.  I'll mark it off as "dogging it" just a hair, but still felt good with my time and effort.

Tomorrows workout looks awesome!

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Programming #1 - My Program

Over the past couple days I have taken a good amount of time in putting together a training program for myself and for my girlfriend Lindsey.  I have decided to put up two posts about programming: first, my own personal process on how I put together a program for myself, or for any one of my friends or clients.  And second, on how any one of you could put together an effective program yourself.  So to start, I will go about looking at my own personal programming method.

My first step is to establish a list of goals.  I break them down into four categories: General, Main, Secondary and Long Term.

General Goals:  These are non-specific, rarely numbers, weights or times, and are meant to be things you are aware of and mix into sessions like Skill and Weakness Practices (SWP's)(more on those later) throughout the program.  Mine are:
Consistant unbroken butterfly pull ups at any given time (more than 30)
Core strength
Consistant unbroken, strict muscle ups (more than 5)
Better joint stability
Focus on shoulder strength (!)
Eat cleanly
Cook 85% of all meals
Cook one new item a week (this week was beets!)

Main Goals:  These are the ones that you focus the most on, the ones that you design your program around.  Mine are:
5 handstand push ups
185# strict press
485# deadlift (perfect)
410# back squat
50+ unbroken push ups

Secondary Goals:  These are goals that you have in the back of your head, but do not focus on.  If you work hard enough at your Main Goals and keep good on programming in a good mixture of every exercise and movement, these will have a greater chance of being attained.  Mine are:
Sub 5:30 mile
Sub 1:24 500 meter row
Sub 18:00 5k
Sub 3:00 "Fran" (again)
250# clean and jerk
185# snatch
Sub 10% body fat
Sub 205# body weight

Long Term Goals:  These are goals that you may not be incorporating into your programming, but they are things you know you will be focusing on soon enough.  They will always play a roll in how your program progresses.  Mine are:
Compete in at least 3 sprint triathlons by Summer 2011
Compete in the 2011 CrossFit Games
Compete in a Iron Man Triathlon in fall of 2011
Get back into Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Get back into Yoga

Goals can be tough to put together sometimes, so take your time when finding yours.  The main thing is (and I struggle with this a lot) keeping your main goals under control.  I tend to put too many in that category, and then I find I have too much to focus on and overwhelm my programming.  So, keep the main ones simple, realistic yet still challenging.  

Once I have my goals, my next step is to establish a time line.  Will I be working for one month, two, three?  So on.  For this specific program, I have decided to focus on the rest of September, and all of October.  I have done so because my long term goals are such that I do not want to have such a strength bias for too long a time.  I plan on having a very conditioning-heavy November, then back to strength in December.

My next step is to figure out what my weekly schedule will look like.  This is a tough one as well.  I am picking a Mon/Wed/Fri strength focus, Tues/Thurs/Sat conditioning and metcon focus with Sunday completely off.  My Thursday will always be an easy day, and my Saturday will generally be a long, heavier metcon.  This is pretty vague, and that is the intention.  I want to have a set schedule as to when I will be doing certain things, but I also want to keep things a little open so that I can modify if need be.  I tend to throw in a second workout in a day every now and again, and with this specific schedule, I find that I am generally well rested enough to push myself a little harder here and there.  I also find that this pattern works best for me along with my life/work schedule.  I like to have my weekends a little open so that I can be a bit more adventurous (take trips and so on), and my typical schedule allows me to get whatever fitness work I may need during the week (the next post about how YOU can program will get into other schedules in much greater detail).

So what will my focus be?  Well, As you can see from my main goals, I want to get stronger overall, but mostly in my shoulders.  I have a major deficiency in my shoulders and need to focus on them like crazy.  So, I have chosen to follow Jim Wendlers 5/3/1 program again (as I did for a bit this summer), and will be supplementing that program with tons of core and spine stability, added shoulder strengthening exercises, and short metcons.  Here is what a week will look like:

5/3/1 program of deadlift and strict press
Posterior chain and shoulder support exercises
Short couplet or triplet metcon with supportive movements

15 minutes of Skill and Weakness Practice (SWP)
Longer, conditioning-based metcon (over 12 minutes)

Olympic lifting practice (lighter weight, form work)
3-6 rounds heavy Olympic lift/support work
Short metcon (generally with some form of Oly lift involved)

15 min, SWP
Easy conditioning (long run, swim, bike, row etc.)

5/3/1 program squat and bench press
Hip and shoulder support exercises
Short couplet or triplet metcon with supportive movements

15 min. SWP
Long, heavy metcon


So here's where the fun come in!  I have basically established how my program will work, what I want to focus on, and when I will be doing everything; but the main part still remains:  what exactly will I be doing?  Well, The 5/3/1 program is pretty straight forward (I go into a big description of it HERE), and I will be doing it in my own way: two lifts on Monday, and two on Friday (I know Jim Wendler, the creator would be pissed at me, or just tell me that I am actually NOT doing the 5/3/1 program…).  So that leaves everything else around it a bit unanswered.  As mentioned above, I want to focus on my shoulder weakness and additional core strength and stability.  So, the majority of my support work will involve exercises that help build those two aspects of my body.  These will include (but are no where near limited to):

Good mornings, bridges, GHD sit ups and back extensions, Glute/Ham raises, roll outs, dive bombers, pull ups, DB presses, Turkish get ups, high pulls, pike push ups, handstand push ups... you get the picture.

I need to make sure, however, that I am not overworking a muscle group or movement, so I need to pick my support work carefully.  The first week I will pick predominately shoulder strengthening exercises: big movements that force my shoulder muscles, and all supporting muscles to work as hard as they can.  The second week I will give them a bit of a break and focus on additional big hip and glute mobility exercises while keeping most shoulder movements pretty static.  Below you can see the break down:

Monday - After 5, 5, 5+ deadlifts and strict press -
4 x 10 good mornings and rollouts
For time: 30-20-10 box jumps (24"), push press (105#), half moons (52# sandbag)

The good mornings and rollouts will keep the core and posterior chain working in support of the deadlifts, but they will be light and not too taxing.  The metcon will force my shoulders to take on heavy stress under a large range of motion while lightening my lower half up with the box jumps.

The following Monday, I will be doing heavy bridges, bear crawls and weighted running, allowing my lower half to dominate the movements and take the most stress, while my upper body can relax with limited loads and ranges of motion.

And this is how I put together the rest of the workouts.

  • Tuesdays will generally have rowing, double unders or running in them as the dominate conditioning aspect.  I pick these because they allow the posterior chain to lengthen and work lightly and dynamically after the heavy strain of the deadlifts the day before.  
  • Wednesday will have light Olympic work.  Not too taxing on the muscles, and that is perfect as it is all about mechanics.  
  • Thursday is a rest day, easy conditioning.  Letting the body recover through a slightly tougher active rest.  
  • Friday is back at the strength (squats and bench press), with the same mentality of support work and metcon.  Lunges, split squats and DB push and pull for support, thrusters, wall balls, swings, pull ups, push ups as examples of  metcon exercises for this day.
  • Saturday will be designated for heavy, longer metcons like "Filthy Fifty", "Fight Gone Bad" and so on.  I will usually write my own to focus on weaknesses and to make sure they fit with the weeks program.  I will use the same strategy as described above to design these: use big movements on muscle groups that have not been the focus, limit heavier weights and larger movements on muscle groups that have been focused on.
  • Sunday is a rest day.  
Finally, SWP's.  This is basically a good 15-30 minutes of "goofing off" gym style, something we used to do all the time back at Balance Gym.  Without any specific rep/set scheme in mind, it is all about working on skills and weaknesses that you may want a little extra focus on.  For me, I have the following in my bag of SWP's (and I am sure more will find their way in there as I go along):
  • Free standing handstands
  • Handstand push ups
  • Handstand walking
  • Pistol squats
  • L-sits
  • Planches
  • Muscle ups
  • Rope climbing
  • Kettlebell juggling
  • TRX core work
  • Joint stability work
  • Balance
  • Hand/eye coordination
  • Vertimax (expect a post on this in the coming weeks...)

So there you have it, that is how I put together my program.  I honestly could go on for days about this (perhaps a book...?), and I feel as though I am cheating everyone by not going into the detail that goes through my head.  But I wanted to give an outline for how this stuff works so that more people could begin to feel a bit more comfortable with doing this themselves.  The best way to learn: read this post, then go to any CrossFit affiliates site and look through their WOD archives.  See if it makes sense.  The best coaches and trainers programming will seem a little more logical with the knowledge of how things get put together.  Then try it out yourself.  

To help out a little more, in a day or two I will post an a easy and effective way to begin your own program designing!  If you have any questions, comments, or wish to try out my programming, please email me or post to comments.

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage