Category Archives for "Functional Fitness"

Adapting GPP to Strength Work by Crystal McCullough

Last Weekend to get our latest E-Book “Performance Zone” for only $19! Check it out now at:

==> www.mashelite.com/performancezone/
====================================================

Adapting GPP to Strength Work
by Crystal McCullough (Check her on Instagram @crystalmac_72)

Strength training is extremely important and has so many health benefits and very few, if any, risks (knuckleheads aside) for anyone of any age. Women, unfortunately, tend to shy away from strength training because they have believed the old wive’s tale that says women will get bulky if they lift weights. This is a misconception and flat out wrong. “Bulky” is a subjective term that can mean different things to different people. I would love to review a study that compares women in one camp (let’s call them Team Weak) vs. the women in another camp (let’s call them Team Strong) and their incidence of osteoporosis. For those of you that don’t know, osteoporosis is a debilitating disease where bones become so weak and brittle, you can break a bone by simply standing on it. Women, because of hormonal changes as we age, are more susceptible to this disease. Strength training has proven to reduce the risk of osteoporosis by strengthening bones and increasing bone density. Other health benefits of strength training is decreased body fat percentage and increased muscle mass. The more muscle mass you have, the better your metabolism is. So, why would we not want to get strong? I target women here because what man doesn’t want to get strong? Women are harder to convince.

August of 2015, I took over as affiliate owner, general manager, and head coach (yes, I wear many hats). One of my responsibilities is the programming, which I absolutely love to do. I came into a situation where the athletes were accustomed to one way of programming which was very traditional CrossFit. It was random and constantly varied. My way of thinking and many of my peers is that strength training should be planned out and you should know why you are programming what you are programming at any given time. The worst thing you can say to a member of your gym when they ask you a question about your programming is “I don’t know”. KNOW!! I have our strength planned out for several weeks in advance and work conditioning around that strength. I had a brief transition period because I was not ready for the programming to be placed in my lap at that time. So, I fell into the mold of random until I could get it together. After a few weeks, I was able to create a template that I felt would better our athletes and keep them coming back. Conditioning is still very much constantly varied from movements to time domains. The program still consists of traditional CrossFit style couplets and triplets in various time domains. I also like to put some non-traditional movements in to shake things up a bit and work on muscular imbalances. Strength is not random nor is it constantly varied. In the last few months, I have adopted the Squat Everyday approach and my members are seeing the benefit in it. I have also begun to add in underused movements such as barbell rows and dumbbell work.

Adapting my athletes to more strength work has not been much of an issue. It has actually been very smooth. I would like to credit my passion and belief in what I program and the backing I have from my other coaches. I will not say that the programming is flawless because there is always room for improvement. I am constantly learning and will adapt the programming accordingly. The worst thing we can do is come to a point when we feel there is nothing else for us to learn because we know everything. We are then no longer useful to our athletes.

Some key points:
1. Have a plan and a purpose for everything you do. Don’t make things up as you go. Take the time to sit down and create a template for programming. Map out your strength cycles and then build in your conditioning around it.
2. Don’t keep that plan from your athletes! Athletes want to know why they are doing what they are doing. It isn’t them questioning your programming, but instead, they are empowering themselves with an understanding of how and why they are training.
3. Have scheduled de-load days, and quite possibly weeks when you think it is necessary.
4. Be able to answer questions posed to you by members. Give your other coaches the same insight so they can answer those same questions.
5. Be passionate about it and believe in the programming you are creating. If you are passionate and believe in it, your athletes will be excited and buy in!
6. Educate your athletes, especially your female athletes, on those myths that make them shy away from strength training. Also, make sure they are fully aware of all the benefits strength training provides.

You don’t want to create a program that will eventually break your athletes due to the volume. The goal should be to better them and, at the same time, give them longevity and an injury free experience if at all possible. The foundation for this is smart programming and also teaching athletes to listen to their body as well as having a coach’s eye when we see an athlete struggling. And I will end with reiterating if you believe in it and are passionate about it, they will be too.

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Last Weekend to get our latest E-Book “Performance Zone” for only $19! Check it out now at:

==> www.mashelite.com/performancezone/
====================================================
This book will help you discover all the steps necessary for “getting in the zone”, or what we call “entering the flow state”. This book will help you:

-Give you the history of flow or the zone
-Explain what is needed to get into flow or the zone
-Give you The Guide to Initiate Flow
1 Clear goals
2 Feedback
3 Skill ratio

This is definitely my favorite book to have written. I hope that all of you enjoy reading it!

==> www.mashelite.com/performancezone/

About the Author:

Crystal McCullough

40-year old Army wife and Mom to a genetic 13-year-old freak. Basketball player turned runner turned CrossFitter turned powerlifter. Crystal has podiumed over the years at 5k and 10k road races, local CrossFit competitions, and most recently competed at the Arnold 2016 XPC Powerlifting Finals as well as USAPL Raw Nationals 2016 in the Open division. Her best lifts are 145k squat, 81k bench, and 162k deadlift. She is an RN with a Masters degree in Nursing Education, a CrossFit affiliate owner, and a Mash Elite Performance nutrition coach (among other stuff). She is a member of the Mash Mafia Powerlifting team and is currently studying for her CSCS as she prepares to move to Winston Salem with her family in May to join the Mash Mafia crew on a full-time basis.

The CrossFit Paradox by Coach Nick Scott

Our latest E-Book “Performance Zone” has dropped! Check it out now at:

==> www.mashelite.com/performancezone/
====================================================

The CrossFit Paradox

In this piece I am going to go over what I refer to as the “CrossFit Paradox”. This is based off of several years of observation, and experimentation involving literally hundreds of athletes. So what is the CrossFit Paradox? The basic gist of the principal is this: You can improve athletic performance in a given sport using CrossFit training, but you cannot improve in the sport of CrossFit beyond a certain level by only using CrossFit training. Let that sink in a moment…

Now, that we’ve processed that statement, I’m going to start backing up my claim. For years Louie Simmons has been telling big, sweaty, huffing and puffing powerlifters that the only way they can beat the guy standing next to them is to out work them. He has always maintained that a lifter needs to have a good GPP (general physical preparedness) base in order to have the requisite conditioning to be able to handle more volume in the weight room. I think everyone can agree this statement is true. The more fit you are, the more you can do; and the more you can do, the faster you’ll develop. Simple really. So here’s the funny thing, what is CrossFit? Yep, you guessed it….a GPP program (straight from coach Glassman’s mouth).

Over the years I have used Westside barbell methods to train my CrossFit athletes. At every single powerlifting meet I have had athletes in I have always had people on the podium, and in fact at every single meet we have won best overall lifter. Now keep in mind these are CrossFit athletes competing in powerlifting. So we weren’t up in the super high weight classes, and weren’t doing equipped meets. These were all raw meets, and yes we stuck out like a sore thumb. However people were always surprised that we were winning all the time, especially against people that just did solely powerlifting. I would often get asked how I was able to develop their strength so quickly, and I would always reply “CrossFit.”

If you think about it, this makes a lot of sense. Westside uses the conjugate system for accessories and GPP for conditioning. So what does a metcon end up looking like? A constantly varied group of accessories (conjugate), plus conditioning (GPP). In fact, we learned that prepping for meets, it was actually really easy to combine your conjugate/accessory work with your metcon. Simple, just use movements that make sense and make a metcon out it!

My lifters had such a level of conditioning that they could do more squats, more deadlifts, and more sets of bench than the average powerlifter. They could also recover from their training sessions faster. As a result, my athletes got stronger in a shorter frame of time when first starting out than traditional powerlifters just starting out. I’m not the only person who has seen the light on this, in fact the strongest woman in the world Laura Phelps-Sweatt does CrossFit these days.

Moving on to Olympic weightlifting. At every single meet I have had athletes in, we have won gold. Period! In fact in my team’s first ever weightlifting meet they gave out 10 total medals, my athletes took home 7 out of 10 of those medals. Again I was asked how I did this, again I replied “CrossFit.” For the record, I have only ever trained one dedicated weightlifter…and yeah, I still made him do CrossFit (he hated it too). That guy went on to be the Kansas state champion, and took best overall lifter in powerlifting and weightlifting (he did back to back meets actually). CrossFit lends itself very well to quickly developing weightlifting aptitude. The reasons are obvious, we do Olympic weightlifting A LOT in metcons. Tons of movement pattern reinforcement (if coached properly), as well as even more volume within the lifts themselves. As mentioned previously, more work gets you there quicker. I believe when you have plateaued in a specific thing, and you feel that perhaps “this is my limit” that the way forward is not do more of the same. To me that’s like slamming your head against a wall. But rather the way forward may very well be something else entirely. Only an open mind is capable of seeing possibilities beyond what is in front of them. To achieve true mastery in a thing requires one to often times search outside of that thing for answers.

Lastly in the strength spectrum we have strongman. Every athlete that I have had compete in strongman has qualified for nationals. Every. Single. One. And again, CrossFit. They moved faster, got tired less quickly, and were on average as strong or stronger than their competition. GPP for the win again! Tons of athletes and coaches have added CrossFit into their training to help elevate them in their sport. For example: Cristiane Justino (UFC fighter), New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton, Danica Patrick, Houston Astros pitcher Brady Aiken, Robert Guerrero (boxer), Erin Cafaro (Olympic gold medalist – rowing), Mattie Rodgers (weightlifter), Ilya Ilyin (Olympic gold medalist – weightlifting), and so on.

Now for the paradox. I have never seen a CrossFit athlete get to a very high level within the sport of CrossFit and break through into Regionals or the Games by just doing CrossFit. Now don’t get me wrong, you can get super fit by just doing CrossFit. But you’ll never see anyone getting to Regionals on CrossFit alone. You can probably smash some local comps, and kill it in your gym against your classmates. But beyond that, it won’t happen. You see a guy named Michael Rutherford way back in the “Preebok” days of CrossFit saw the writing on the walls. He saw that his athletes as a majority weren’t strong enough to do the WODs as Rx’d. Their rate of progress to get to that point was very slow, and in some cases would just never happen. So he started having his athletes do dedicated strength training on top of their WODs. As a result, they got stronger, faster! Again the inverse result, to get more out of CrossFit you needed to do more work outside of CrossFit! Now you see it everywhere with high level CrossFit athletes. They have a weightlifting coach, a gymnastics coach, a running coach, etc. They all know what Louie Simmons has been telling lifters for years. If you want to beat the guy next to you, you need to out work them! But for CrossFit athletes this means doing more in weightlifting, powerlifting, gymnastics, and aerobic-specific training/development.

I will end this with saying that I know this obviously isn’t a catch all and absolute rule for sport specific athletes. There will always be outliers. However, more often than not, I’ll be correct in this. If you’re a powerlifter, weightlifter, football player, or what have you, that wants to get better at their sport, then I strongly suggest getting outside your comfort zone big time. Especially in the off-season!

If you’re a CrossFit athlete who is really wanting to breakout, I suggest focusing your training to supplement your sport. If you’re not strong enough, then add in powerlifting. If your Olympic lifts aren’t making the cut, then add in more weightlifting, and so on.

You see, sometimes when you plateau, the answer isn’t to keep grinding forward with what’s in front of you. Then you will just be slamming your face into a wall. Sometimes the answer is to do something else entirely. This only works when you have an open mind and you are able to see the possibilities outside of what lies directly in front of you. It has been my experience that in order to achieve true mastery of a thing, you not only need to have the discipline to train dedicated in that thing until you feel that you have reached the end, but to search outside of that thing for answers. It is when we close our minds to possibilities that we see less.

About Coach Nick Scott:

Nicholas Scott
CrossFit affiliate owner of 5 years. Started my gym in my back yard on a 14’x15’ slab of concrete with some pull up bars stuck into the ground and a squat rack. I have been a personal trainer since 2005, and a CrossFit coach and athlete since 2009. Every year since 2011 I have qualified athletes to Regionals, and have even competed at Regionals twice myself. Over the years I have had the incredible privilege of learning from some of the world’s greatest coaches. I started my coaching education by learning from Rick Hussey and Becca Sawnson at Omaha’s Big Iron gym. They introduced me to powerlifting training and the sport of powerlifting. After receiving my CrossFit Level 1 in 2010 I was lucky enough to be coached and trained in Olympic weightlifting by coaches Mike Burgener, Ursula Garza, Jodi Vaughn, Chad Vaughn, and Cody Burgener. After that I received my CrossFit Endurance certification and worked with several triathletes and marathon runners. Follow him on Instagram: @scottstrengthsystems

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Our latest E-Book “Performance Zone” has dropped! Check it out now at:

==> www.mashelite.com/performancezone/
====================================================
This book will help you discover all the steps necessary for “getting in the zone”, or what we call “entering the flow state”. This book will help you:

-Give you the history of flow or the zone
-Explain what is needed to get into flow or the zone
-Give you The Guide to Initiate Flow
1 Clear goals
2 Feedback
3 Skill ratio

This is definitely my favorite book to have written. I hope that all of you enjoy reading it!

==> www.mashelite.com/performancezone/

“CrossFitter Turned PowerLifter: Mentality Differences” by Crystal McCullough

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Our latest E-Book “Performance Zone” has dropped! Check it out now at:

==> www.mashelite.com/performancezone/
====================================================

CrossFitter Turned PowerLifter

“Mental toughness is a collection of attributes that allow a person to persevere through difficult circumstances (such as difficult training or difficult competitive situations in games) and emerge without losing confidence.”

I consider myself a multi-sport athlete. Yes, I am a Powerlifter, but I am still a CrossFitter. I am simply on an extended hiatus from CrossFit to pursue certain Powerlifting goals. My hope is to go back and forth between the two depending on the time of year and the season.

I am going to be honest with you from the get-go. I am a baby in the sport of Powerlifting. I do not pretend to be an expert or even know very much about this sport. I am in the process of absorbing as much knowledge as I can from the best in the sport so I myself can be successful as both coach and athlete. I want to just go ahead and put that out there.

I was initially introduced to Powerlifting in 2010 through a friend of mine that personal trained his athletes out of a CrossFit gym. He then held a meet in that same gym. It was the first time I had heard of a powerlifting meet. We were there, didn’t have anything better to do, so myself and a few other gym members decided to sign up. I had not trained at all for it, nor did I really know what I was doing. That day in May 2011, I benched 110, squatted 205, and deadlifted 275. I thought I was the shizz!! Little did I know how those numbers would change quite drastically over the next few years once I put some work into it. And, man, oh man, I’m not done yet!!

I had always enjoyed the Big 3 lifts from the time I was introduced to them, but didn’t think much about specializing in it. I just thought they were a part of the CrossFit regimen and methodology Kool-aid I was drinking. It has been said by many in both sports that CrossFit has opened up the world of Powerlifting to a very large population. This, in turn, has made powerlifting a more popular sport than previous years. I couldn’t agree more. Powerlifting meets are being held weekend after weekend in CrossFit gyms across the country. Each and every week, more and more people are being introduced to the sport of powerlifting. That being said, I know several powerlifting athletes who have supplemented with CrossFit-style workouts to break up the routine or try something new. It is a symbiotic relationship where both sports benefit from the other in relation to exposure. I believe this will continue as both sports grow.

There is a definite mentality difference between the two sports. Everything in the CrossFit community is for time. You are racing against yourself, the clock, each other….each day you walk in, you are competing in some way. There are no “sets” or focuses on small muscle groups in traditional CrossFit programming. I get looked at funny in the CrossFit gym I manage when I do barbell shrugs or hammer curls. My athletes don’t understand just yet the slowing down and focusing on specific small muscle groups. I am slowly but surely educating them on the importance of dumbbell work. They are already grasping the importance of squatting!! There is a benefit in both powerlifting and CrossFit where these types of movements can be of great value to both sports. When you are stronger, the lighter weights in conditioning workouts can be moved faster. I have had to transition my mentality from GO, GO, GO into longer resting sets and much less conditioning.

For me personally, it has taken time for me to appreciate the rest periods and focus in on the little things that had been neglected/ignored for quite some time. What led me to powerlifting in the first place was a shoulder ailment that would not go away. In all honesty, since focusing on powerlifting, the shoulder has healed and strengthened at the same time. I feel stronger and healthier now than I ever have! Definitely makes you trust the process and very appreciative of my coach forcing me to address the issue.

The one area I was NOT mentally prepared for by CrossFit was making weight and what athletes are willing to go through to get there. I had to make two drastic weight cuts in December 2015 and again March 2016. I went from 162 to 148 in a short period of time. The federation I competed in was a 24-hour weigh in. My attempt to cut weight was two-fold. First, if I could lift the same or better at a lower weight class, well, that would be awesome on all accounts. Second, I proved to myself I have the discipline to do it. There are no weight classes in CrossFit, so instead of focusing on the scale, I focus eating for performance and the weight I will perform my best at in both strength and gymnastics. There has had to be a mental switch on my part to cutting weight for the purposes of a weigh in with no intention of actually lifting at that weight. I have since switched federations to USAPL where I am comfortably in the 72k weight class with minimal to no cutting!

Mental toughness is required in both sports and I know without a doubt, the time I spent focusing solely on CrossFit helped prepare me for what I needed to succeed in Powerlifting. CrossFit requires a lot of skill in gymnastics movements and the Olympic lifts. There are a lot of days you leave the gym frustrated and disheartened. The key is to use those days to fuel yourself to keep pushing to get better. That is where being mentally tough breeds success. Powerlifting is strength only. Yes, there is technique that comes into play with the lifts just like everything else. Foot placement, bar placement, bracing yourself, depth, how you set up, etc. are extremely important and must be consistent with the lightest to heaviest of lifts. At the end of the day, the goal is to stay healthy, train smart, and be as strong as you possibly can be. This could apply to both sports. When I have a training day that I am required to lift at 90+%, I have to be mentally focused in order to be successful.

Whatever the sport you are competing in, mental focus and toughness are the only way you will succeed at a higher level. I will leave you with these pieces of advice:

1. Find a coach you trust and knows what they are doing!
2. Listen to that coach!
3. Work hard and put in the work required.
4. Realize you will have bad days and those are the days that just might be the best training days to train that mental toughness.
5. Celebrate small victories. A PR is a PR and new skills are always worth celebrating.
6. Go back to the basics and make your technique flawless.
7. Don’t talk smack or degrade others. Put your head down and let your numbers talk for you.

You could add so much more to this list, but bottom line, allow your sport to bring out the best in you!!

Good luck to you in whatever you are aiming for!!

Crystal is quickly becoming a world class powerlifter. She has squatted 325lb raw, benched 175lb, and deadlifted 370lb all at the age of 40-years-old. To find out more about her, check out her Instagram: @crystalmac_72

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Our latest E-Book “Performance Zone” has dropped! Check it out now at:

==> www.mashelite.com/performancezone/
====================================================
This book will help you discover all the steps necessary for “getting in the zone”, or what we call “entering the flow state”. This book will help you:

-Give you the history of flow or the zone
-Explain what is needed to get into flow or the zone
-Give you The Guide to Initiate Flow
1 Clear goals
2 Feedback
3 Skill ratio

This is definitely my favorite book to have written. I hope that all of you enjoy reading it!

==> www.mashelite.com/performancezone/

“But bro, cardio will kill my gains!” by Coach Nick Scott

Check out one of our six E-Books:

• “Squat Every Day”
• “Eat What You Want”
• “Squat Every Day 2”
• “No Weaknesses”
• “Mash Program Sampler”
• “The Mash Blueprint for Program Design”

Check them out here: ⇒ Mash Elite E-Books

“But bro, cardio will kill my gainz!”

How many times have you heard from “bro-scientists” that cardio will kills your muscle and strength gains? Probably as many times as you’ve seen them doing curls. So let’s drop some real science here. If you’re a weightlifter, powerlifter, bodybuilder, or even a CrossFit athlete, all you want is to get jacked, ripped, huge, buff, shredded, or “toned.” Muscles and abs are sexy; everyone knows it! Who doesn’t want to look better with their clothes off? Also, more muscle equals bigger lifts, bigger numbers, etc. So, in order to get all of this we need to find and initiate a magical mechanism called “hypertrophy”—which is a fancy word for muscle growth.

In order to achieve muscle growth, you need energy. The body uses ATP for energy to drive the muscles.
When you run out of ATP, that’s it, you reach muscle failure. That means no more reps or sets and the training session is over. If you constantly deplete this energy source, you are going to grind yourself down in the following sessions. You won’t be able to maintain the volume and intensity of training. This will very effectively “kill your gains.”

So how can we prevent this, or how can we regenerate more ATP so this doesn’t happen?

One word, CARDIO.

I know what you’re thinking “but wait, I thought cardio will kill my gainz?!” The bros have been saying this for years, citing that long cardio sessions and activity cause muscle catabolism (breakdown). This can be true… if you’re going overboard with it, say over 30 minutes or so at higher intensities.

But here’s some real science these bros don’t know. Cardio at low intensity actually regenerates ATP! Holy crap! So what does this really mean for you? It means that if you were to do a low intensity cardio session 2-3 times per week, you’d feel fresher for your weight training the following day. You’d be able to restore the ATP you used at a higher rate. Aerobic/cardio training also improves blood flow to muscles (increasing recovery), and decreases recovery time between sets.

Also, low intensity cardio training is highly effective at flushing out metabolites and toxins produced during weight training sessions. This obviously is a big winner in the recovery arena. Low intensity cardio has the additional benefit of increasing the parasympathetic state and decreasing the sympathetic nervous system activity while you rest. This means your body is under less neurological stress throughout the day, and is able to rest more effectively.

This sounds awesome right? It might be a component of training that you’re missing and could very likely take you to an entirely different level of performance and recovery.

How do we do this correctly? It’s simple, just follow these guidelines:

#1 – Start with 2 session a week for 4 weeks, then add another one in every 4 weeks, assessing your recovery. I wouldn’t suggest going over 4 sessions per week, unless you’re training for something specific that requires more.

#2 – Keep it low intensity (keep your heart rate in the 60-80% range)

#3 – Don’t go overboard, keep it short: 20-30 minutes tops!

#4 – Avoid intervals, they lend themselves to being higher intensity and creating more metabolic stress rather than relieving it.

#5 – Don’t do all running. Running is high impact and can adversely affect recovery. Use the rower, ski erg, and bike in equal parts, in addition to running, if possible.

So in closing, bro: Don’t be afraid of the cardio. Cardio will give you gains!

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Check out one of the Online Teams:

• Mash Mafia Bronze
• Mash Mafia Silver
• Mash Mafia Gold
• Eat What You Want
• Eat and Lift What You Want

Check them out here: ⇒ Mash Mafia Online Teams

“Don’t take your guns to town son.” by Coach Nick Scott

The “Eat What You Want” E-Book by @rebekahhopetilson is live! Launch Price is only $19! https://www.mashelite.com/eatwhatyouwant/
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The Book comes complete with: – Macro Calculator – Explanation of Macros
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https://www.mashelite.com/eatwhatyouwant/

“Don’t take your guns to town son.”

Wow my man Coach Nick makes some great points for CrossFitters, general strength athletes, and the weekend warriors out there. If you are masking pain and dysfunction with wraps, shoes, and other items, you might want to handle the pain and dysfunction before moving on. If you are not in this thing to compete or be a world champion, I hope that your main goal is health and wellness. If health and wellness is your top priority, then alleviating pain and eliminating dysfunction should be your priority.

If you like what Coach Scott is saying in his articles, you might want to follow him on Instagram:
–> @scottstrengthsystems

Now enjoy the article!

As I sit here and listen to my Johnny Cash, watching all these athletes, I notice something. An overwhelming amount of them are strapped, knee sleeves, knee wraps, wrist wraps, belts, Olympic shoes, etc. Another thing I notice, a lot of them move poorly….and I think there might be a connection here. Most of these athletes aren’t competitors; they are just training for life, health, and fitness.

So I say to myself, you should leave your guns at home son! Let’s think about this for a moment.
If you’re just the average CrossFit box goer, why on earth are you all decked out like a competitive weightlifter or Rich Froning?

All of these items are useful in the right circumstances. Knee sleeves or wraps make sense if you have a previous injury, or if you’re maxing your clean or squat, or if you’re 8 weeks or so out from a powerlifting/weightlifting competition and are really in the training grind. But, they do not make sense if you’re doing weights at 80% of your max or below, nor if you’re doing a metcon. If your knees are so banged up that you need wraps or sleeves every day, on every movement regardless of weight, then you have a problem.

You have a big problem. You are either grossly over-trained beyond your body’s ability to recover, or your movement/mobility/form is so bad that your body is about to explode. If this is the case, the answer is simple. STOP! Go back and fix your technique, improve your mobility, or simply drop the volume! The human body should not be so broken all the time, and you should be able to do most of your training without assistance.

Olympic shoes make sense if you’re doing an Olympic program, but if you can’t complete the movements at below 80% of your max without them…. then there’s a problem. You likely don’t have good enough mobility to get into position properly without the assistance the shoes give you. Now let’s think about that for a second. If you literally can’t do the movement properly without a specially designed shoe, don’t you think that at some point, something is going to give? Your body is telling you that you have a serious issue that needs to be addressed before you go down this road. Putting a band aid on it isn’t the way to go, it’ll just lead to a major failure down the road. That’s the opposite of health and wellness.

Having to wear wrist wraps every time you go overhead to alleviate pain is a no go as well. Unless you have a preexisting injury, this means your wrists are too weak. If that’s the case, how do you ever expect them to get stronger if you’re constantly supporting them artificially?

Weight belts are amazing, they can be a crutch as well. My rule for my athletes is no belt unless it’s over 80%. I do this because if you cannot confidently get under a bar at 80% or less for a couple of reps without it, then that means you probably have a midline weakness or imbalance. Putting a belt on will surely help you lift more weight, but when you take it off, are you really any stronger? A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

My advice is for the average gym goer, the non-competitor. However, if you are a competitor who has no previous knee/wrist/back problems you probably shouldn’t need this stuff either. At least not on a daily basis, if you’re 8 weeks or so out from a competition that’s another matter entirely.

The fittest man alive, Rich Froning, was once interviewed and stated that when he was the “fittest” he was also the unhealthiest he’d ever been. Everything hurt, tons of nagging injuries, etc. That’s the price you pay to play the game. When it’s game time, it’s PAIN TIME baby!!!

But normal everyday training volume should not leave you in this state. Even as a competitor. A competitor understands that competing will hurt, and acknowledges that they will pay a price in the long term. For those who are gifted, they will end up reaching a level that makes a life of aches and pains worth it.

For most of us, however, that’s just not reality. Everyone must decide for themselves ultimately how much they are willing to accept for where they are as an athlete. I’m not going to preach to anyone about what I think they should do with their lives. Just remember that in today’s day and age, life is likely to be very long. Before my grandad passed on he told me “Nick, if I had known I’d have live so damn long, I would’ve taken better care of myself!” I’ll always remember this, it taught me to think more about what I’m doing, what I’m sacrificing, and where that might leave me down the road. For myself, I try to balance my life and training as much as possible.

If you have to go into the gym strapped like old Billy Joe in the song, maybe stop to think about what and why you need all this stuff to become fitter. Try to fix the issues, and leave your guns at home!

Check out one of our five E-Books:

• “Squat Every Day”
• “Eat What You Want”
• “Squat Every Day 2”
• “No Weaknesses”
• “Mash Program Sampler”
• “The Mash Blueprint for Program Design”

Check them out here: ⇒ Mash Elite E-Books

The Necessity of Hardship by Nick Scott

Check out one of our five E-Books:

• “Squat Every Day”
• “Squat Every Day 2”
• “No Weaknesses”
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The necessity of hardship.

Below is another insightful article by Coach Nick Scott. A lot of strength and conditioning coaches criticize CrossFit for its extreme workouts. This is a unique look at where the puking and craziness might have a purpose. I have never heard anyone explain the benefits of suffering before. It definitely left me thinking.

You can follow Coach Scott here: ==> @scottstrengthsystems on Instagram

Now enjoy his article:

It was Buddha who said, “Life is suffering.” This is a stark and somewhat dark observation on life. Nonetheless, incredibly true no matter how you slice it. We live in a fascinating time, a time of technological wonders, the ability to talk to the entire planet in an instant. We have more computing power in our digital watches than the lunar module NASA used to land on the moon. Our phones are the equivalent of supercomputers from 15 years ago. We can do nearly anything our hearts desire, the power is literally at our fingertips. Herein lies the paradox.

We have the ability to do more in less time, and with less effort than human beings have ever been able to do in history. So we get used to doing less. The paradox here is this, the human body relies on stress to improve itself, and the only way to stress yourself is to do more.

In 10 years, we’ll have the technology “augmented reality,” and we’ll literally be connected to everything at all times. At this rate, people will have nearly no environmental/physical stressors in their daily lives. Sounds nice eh? Well, not so much, because by flooding our senses with social media, video games, movies, and TV, we are creating more mental stress. And you see, without balancing the physical and mental stresses in our lives, we create a lot more disparity. First, bodyfat to muscle mass ratios become imbalanced. Second, the body’s ability to control cortisol (stress hormone) is stunted. Third, since we become less active, our hearts become weaker (figuratively and literally). While there is little to no physical stress, mental stress will increase and our ability to handle mental stress will decrease.

People with this issue may become reliant on anti-depressants or self-medicate using alcohol or other drugs. This makes the issue, obviously, worse. How will people overcome this; how will we balance this? Perhaps Buddha can shed some light with his observation that life is suffering. As I said, the human body improves itself in response to environmental stress. It adapts itself to make itself more survivable. So maybe life should include a little more suffering.

When you work out, your body strengthens its muscles, nervous system, improves metabolism, improves heart function, decreases cortisol, releases endorphins (feel good hormones), improves sleep quality, etc.
Interestingly, while we have seen this explosion in technology we have also seen an explosion in certain areas of fitness. Adventure races such as Tough Mudder, Spartan race, and warrior dashes have exploded onto the scene. CrossFit now has more affiliates worldwide than there are Starbucks stores (literally). Triathlons, marathons, mixed martial arts, and many other types of extreme/fringe sports have also become more popular. There is one thing all these things have in common: They suck, they hurt, they make you miserable, seriously feel terrible. Essentially, they cause you to suffer. I think this is a natural attempt to create and find a balance between a life surrounded with the ability to do nearly everything without having to leave the couch, and the needs of the human body.

People are creating their own suffering by participating in CrossFit and other extreme sports. I think it’s because they intuitively understand that if they don’t introduce stress/suffering into their lives, their quality of life at 40 will be the equivalent of someone twice that age…and maybe even be in some cases a self-imposed early death.

Buddha said life is suffering, and maybe that isn’t such a bad thing. In fact it might be just what you need. Life is about creating, finding, and seeking balance. So, if you’re glued to your phone, laptop, or TV, get up and go seek something to make yourself uncomfortable. Go for a run, throw down on a swole sesh with your bros, drop in a CrossFit box for a meeting with Pukie the Clown, sign up for a Tough Mudder and train for it. Your body will thank you, your mind will thank you, and you’ll discover a little more of what life is about…experiences.
Create your own suffering and live.

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