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Johns Path… fitness rediscovered!

“Long-winded but…3 years ago I was a squishy 245 pounds, had dangerously high blood pressure. I had been on in-effective cholesterol medication for 3 years, with 330 cholesterol and my triglycerides (aka: the animal fats that kill you) were 220. I was told by my Doc that I was turning into a ticking time bomb at age 35.

I started doing Crossfit at Crossfit Salem 2 1/2 years ago. I quit eating oatmeal and egg whites for breakfast every day and started eating bacon, eggs and sausage (I added more of the animal fats that were going to blow up my cholesterol and kill me!!!). I cut 95% of fast food, food dumped out of a bag or box, fat free anything, quit drinking pop or juice of any kind, heavily limited gluten, grains and alcohol.

Now, I’m at a very un-squishy 240 pounds, perfect blood pressure, 178 cholesterol with 65 triglycerides (70% drop on those killer animal fats that come from all those fatty foods like bacon and eggs that are so bad, they will make your future grand kids hearts explode like a stick of butter in the microwave). My cholesterol went down on every blood test I’ve had in the last 3 years.


My doctor was shocked at what my resting heart rate is now and I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been. Long story shorter, simple changes over time, and getting rid of processed-shit-food in my diet have made a world of difference. I’ve changed to eating whole foods, (my wife’s badass cooking) I never fear fat, and added a fantastic exercise program and eating style, that is simple, effective and designed to last for life, beyond short term gratification. It has all improved my mental and physical health and life drastically.

The simple diet changes have been as instrumental as Crossfit. I did P90X and ran 1,100 miles the year before I hit up Crossfit. I lasted 9 weeks on P90X and hated every mile of the running (not that they are bad, just not effective for me). In the end I was still in horrible physical shape. Crossfit (and all the kick ass people there) made the difference. When was the last time you were in a gym or in your living room and had 15 people encouraging you through an intense workout?

I realize this is a “look at me” post, but it’s in the hopes that people with the same struggles of long term weight, diet, blood health and stress issues, can look at results, that took more than 30, 60 or 90 days, 1,100 miles, or 500 bicep curls in front of a mirror at Globo-gym and created life-long, healthy habits. I did it for myself and my family. I can’t take care of them if I don’t take care of my own health.

Last goal, one more drop on the blood numbers and off all meds!”


CrossFit with injuries, don’t give up!

I began at CrossFit Salem in Dec 2010. My prior athletic endeavors included 25+ years of distance runnning, spin classes and a couple years of Pilates. Like others I made great strides and really enjoyed the intense competitive nature of the WODS.  In early 2012 I began having shoulder discomfort which led to an MRI reveling bilateral labrum and bicep tendon tears.  In April 2013 I underwent reconstructive surgery on my right shoulder followed in 2014 by repairing the left.


Needless to say my CrossFit journey has been a series of stops and starts.  My injuries were not due to CF.  In fact, my surgeon told me if you are going to blame anything, blame your parents!  ( ie: I was born this way.)  He described my joints as hyper mobile with no end to their mobility  limitations.  Throw  in an active lifestyle, lifting and gymnastics and i was a set-up for “wear and tear”. Had I been the type to sit on the couch  eating Cheetos I would have never found myself in the OR twice in one year.  I would have never found the joy and confidence that comes from accomplishment either, not to mention the many wonderful people I have met thru crossfit.

The type of surgery i had takes at minimum one year to recover from.  Because the tendons lack good blood supply they are very slow to heal and any movement of the joint needs to be progressed at a turtles pace.  Eight weeks immobilized in a sling and then a long slow climb.  Three months before I am cleared to curl a 3 pound dumbbell.  Easy to get discouraged when I was accustomed to barbell, squats, pull ups, running and jumping.

Post op week one I was tethered 24/7 to an ICE machine and had an IV catheter in my neck delivering continuous anesthetic and pain meds.  I decided my focus would be nutrition.  I planned and practiced clean healthy eating as I knew that was the one thing I could control.  Nutrition was my WOD the first 7 days and I crushed it!

By week two I was back coaching.  Being in the box, with others kept me in the right frame of mind.  I am thankful to Andy and Josh for allowing me to continue to coach despite my limitations.  And of course grateful for the support and understanding of all the members who participated in my classes during this time.

For the first 4 weeks I was limited to walking.  I upped the intensity by getting on the treadmill and pumping up the incline to the max.  I found 45 min. of daily incline walking was perfect.  I soon began programming WODs with incline walking and a variation of right arm dumb bell curls, presses, rows, lateral and front raises.  My left arm remained safely in a sling.  Within a couple weeks i was working in box squats and goblet squats.  Since i was was limited in the amount of weight I could hold in one hand i decided to work the negatives with a super slow descent in the squat thus get more bang for the buck so to speak.

By 7 weeks I was given the ok to run.  However, I quickly  discovered the swinging of the arm hurt too much.  Not to be discouraged I compensated with short bursts of runnning with incline walk recoveries.  Perfect.  At this point I also added box step ups and right arm thrusters and suit case style one arm dead lifts.

Thru both recoveries i have participated  in general classes as often as possible designing modified WODs while maintaining similar rep schemes.  Staying active and staying CONNECTED  is what has helped me the most.  Working out alongside someone who is power cleaning a loaded barbell makes me feel as though i too am working despite that fact that i may be wielding a 25# kettlebell.  The energy is intoxicating and feeds the fire, releases the stress, just the same.

It is important to not get discouraged with injuries.  They are going to come up with an active lifestyle.  There is never a reason to quit.  Fitness is a journey.

Andy gave a great analogy one day saying if your car gets a flat you don’t stop driving it.  You put on a spare and keep going.  So it is with injuries.  We all have limitations, it doesn’t mean we need to stop doing what we love.  There are many many ways to work the body and gain and maintain fitness.  I am forever grateful for what i have learned thru cf and thru my own personal journey.  No regrets!


Recovery and You

Hey guys,

So we need to talk about recovery a little bit. Crossfit is a very intense program that stresses your body in a lot of different ways. Now, a lot of us are doing Crossfit because we got tired of the easy, blah, generic routines we were doing in the globo gym. Crossfit is new, it’s fresh, and above all, it’s HARD. We like it because it’s hard, it challenges our minds, our bodies, and it gets us in great shape. Now before I go into recovery recommendations I will say that everyone is different and will have their own unique amount of “optimal” training time per week and this will vary based on where you are in your fitness journey, your goals, what other stresses you have in your life, to name a few.

Now how much is too much? Well….. that depends, yeah probably not the answer you were hoping for, well it’s just not that easy. As I mentioned above, we’re all different and that individuality will help determine how much is too much for you. Here are some warning signs that you aren’t recovering well from your workouts. First, you start feeling sick when there’s no other reason for it. It’s not flu season, no one else around you is sick, and you’re just feeling crummy and your throat is sore and your nose is runny, etc. Well your body is trying to keep up with the demands of your training and you immune system is taking a hit for it. Another could be that you just feel achy everywhere, in your joints, muscles, etc. Now don’t confuse this with your standard muscle soreness or possibly cramping which is par for the course, especially after a high rep metcon working some muscles you haven’t used much for a while. But I mean you come in and even after your warm up your shoulders and elbows are hurting a little bit while doing some light weight cleans or snatches. Or it could be your hips, knees, ankles and squatting.

The point is you’ll notice a difference and that’s your body trying to tell you it needs a bit of a break. Don’t be afraid to back off for a few days to a week and even after that period to ease back into your training. I hit this wall myself after doing Outlaw for 3 straight months a couple summers back. I ended up backing off the training and then just focusing on some basic lifts and not doing a crazy amount of metcons for a while and then I was back to normal.

Now to switch gears for a minute, I have to talk about recovery and the current strength cycle we’re on. I love seeing everyone do Wendler, it’s an exceptional program that I’ve always had success with whenever I use it (and I’ve been using it off and on since 2011). It’s nice to see people getting excited about their strength numbers when traditionally we’ve focused more on the metcons. After all, there are 10 physical skills that Crossfit says are needed for true fitness and strength is one of them. If you want to maximize the strength gains you’re going to see at the end of this program, I would urge you to think about doing the assistance work vs. just the metcon. Also, during our deload weeks, the metcons you are doing should be reduced. It doesn’t make sense to reduce the volume in your lifts but not your metcons as the point of this week is to ensure you’re recovered for the start of the next cycle so you can hit it hard. I know it feels weird to back off on anything as that not the norm or generally encouraged in the Crossfit culture but it is needed sometimes to encourage progress.

If you have questions about any of this stuff, ask a trainer. But I hope you found some insight for yourselves in this post.

– Nack

Thoughts on the 2014 Open

The 2014 CrossFit open is in full swing. Here are my thoughts on competition as it pertains to your results and dealing with the emotional highs and lows of this competition. Every week we are in a position to be tested, judged, evaluated, critiqued, and subsequently ranked with our peers. This is inherently a stressful and competitive environment. Most of us will be disappointed with our score and feel we should have gotten more reps, I know I do. It’s important to understand that if we give 100% effort, and there were not significant errors in strategy, that we walk away head high and ready for the next challenge. Use those feelings to drive and motivate us to work hard in the future and not linger on the past. You are not defined by your Open score or rank! It’s a reflection of what you could do that week. It’s a milestone on the timeline of your CrossFit journey, make it one to look back at and fuel the training in the future! We all have goals and some people train aggressively all year for this competition… but there are no losers in the Open! Do the best you can, note the things you need to work on during the next training year, and then move on to the next week!

– Andy

Squatting and Knee Positioning

Hey guys,

The knees are a very important part of our anatomy and especially for active people. We want to keep them healthy because they’re involved in almost every single movement we as Crossfitters do. There are lots of topics we could go into about body mechanics and keeping your knees injury free, as well as tools (re: knee sleeves), mobility, etc. but I’m strictly going to keep this post focused on our knee positioning in the squat.

When I first started Crossfit I was told to never let my knees go past my toes as if I did it would put too much sheering force on my knees and that would lead to injury. Well I’ve heard that repeated lots of times but there’s only one problem with it…. Once I got more into doing the Olympic lifts (Snatch, Clean and Jerk) or even just high bar back squats and front squats, I noticed that it’s pretty much impossible to not let your knees go past your toes when you’re at the bottom of any of those lifts. So I started doing some research and found that in the weightlifting circles, not only do they coach you to let your knees go past your toes, they even encourage it For Example(Tip number 7). Now this isn’t to say that there’s some magic in having your knees past your toes, this will differ from person to person based on your own individual proportions. Your own proportions will dictate how far forward your knees travel when getting into what’s described in the video above as a “weightlifters squat”.

From another perspective, in order to achieve depth in a high bar back squat with the bar and your body in the correct position (ie more upright torso, bar over the mid foot) you have to let your knees travel forward a little bit and have your butt a little closer to your heels. It seems a bit contradictory that most Crossfit coaches recommend the high bar back squat over the low bar but then tell their clients to not let their knees go past their toes. By recommending those two things in conjunction we’re recommending doing one thing but ultimately doing it improperly. Now, if your knees are traveling so far forward that your heels are coming up off the ground, especially in weightlifting shoes then that is not good and will lead to failed lifts and potential knee injuries. All of what I’ve mentioned above is assuming that your foot is flat on the ground with the weight in the mid foot and dare I say maybe even slightly back towards your heels. It’s not necessarily the fact that you have a loaded bar on your back with your knees forward that’s the issue, it’s where that weight is distributed. If you’re sitting on the balls of your feet with a loaded bar, then all that tension is in your knees. If you’re in the hole with your weight evenly distributed over your feet then there’s not nearly as much stress on the knee joint. If you care to read some other opinions here’s a thread on the pendlay forums where Sean Waxman himself chimes in at the bottom of the first page here.

I hope this helps clear up some confusion about the types of squats we do and that pesky cue that won’t go away about keeping your knees over but never farther forward than your toes. Feel free to discuss in comments.

– Nack

The Crossfit Reinforcement/Feedback System

Hey guys,

This topic come up in a slightly different form on the Facebook page with a lot of discussion around performing movements properly. This article delves into the mindset that drives people to perform sloppier movements while doing the workouts we do. Hopefully this will encourage some more introspection and allow people to recognize why they might be striving for that extra rep at the cost of sloppy form that might lead to injury. I think this article applies whether you’re a competitive athlete during training (not necessarily during comp though) or someone coming in just for GPP (General Physical Prepardedness).

It’s Not Crossfits Fault It’s The Reinforcement System

– Nack

Optimal Training Volume

There are always questions in Crossfit about how much should I workout and how often. The long answer is…. it depends! It does depend on first, your goals, and secondly your recovery efforts. With this simple graph we are trying to show that the key to training is to find the “sweet spot” where you get enough recovery to realize the improved fitness but don’t slip into overtraining, fatigue, and possibly injury.

Andy-Training Volume

This graph is not based on any actual data, that is why there is no scale on either axis. The value is in understanding the concept and finding you own graph and the right amount of training for your situation and goals. How you train is a completely different topic, but does bleed over to this graph. It is assumed that you give a solid effort each time in the box and have a solid program that focuses on basic training principles such as good technique over big numbers (reps or weight).

A. With any recovery level, undertaining will not yield optimal results. This may be a calculated decision based on time you have to dedicate to training. Undertraining is still insanely better than no training at all. To increase reuslts simply get your butt to the gym more often and be consistent. This graph represents your average training volume over the year…. not one week.

B. Optimal results for a person with average recovery. Many times this equates to 3-4 days per week of great Crossfit programming. Consistently more could lead you to the point of diminishing returns (D or E).

C. Optimal results for a person with excellent recovery. Their additional recovery efforts in the form of sleep, clean nutrition, supplements, stress levels, and age mean they can train more often and ride the results curve a little higher. Typically this is 4-5 days of training per week on average. Some weeks may see 6 or even 7 days of training and deload or rest weeks then follow to make up the difference. Recovery via mobility is key at this level to avoid overtraining.

D and E. This is overtraining, and its counter productive. Overtraining can happen in the amount of days per week or the amount of hours per day. … or the amount of reps. It all adds up to more muscle and adrenal fatigue than the body can repair with the amount of recovery provided. You will feel this, back off the volume and/or increase the recovery efforts to optomize your results and avoid injury.

The dangers of overtraining are serious and most importantly will not help you reach your goals. Injuries can derail you fitness efforts and are never worth the risk. Not all injuries are related to overtraining, it is important to analyze how your body feels and your general state of fatigue to determine if you are at an added risk for injury and burn out. If I had to suggest a side to err on I would pick undertraining just based on the nature of the possible risks vs. reward. So start slow and build up your training volume, if you feel significantly fatigued and unable to perform at normal levels then it could be a sign that you have crested the curve and are doing too many reps, too much weight, or just too many consecutive days for the level of recovery. Tweak your recovery and continue honing in on an optimal training volume to MAXIMIZE RESULTS!

– Andy

Some Notes About the 2014 Open Competition

Hey guys,

With the upcoming Crossfit Open about to be upon us, it will become important to remember the things that are laid out in this article on breaking muscle.  We all want to do well, we all want the people at our box to do well.  But if we don’t do it with integrity, then what’s the point?  Give this article a read, it doesn’t matter if you’re an athlete, coach, or a judge it has something for everybody ;).  This is a unique chance for each box to show their integrity because almost all of the time we’re judging our own athletes.



New Content Coming!

Hello Everyone,

We will be tweaking things on the site in the coming weeks. Already we’ve started publishing the WODs back into the upcoming WODs section which also pushes them out via the RSS feed. So if you used to use that feature and hate having to go into Facebook and looking for the file, fret no more, you can access the WODs as they’re entered by checking the RSS feed now. We will also be adding periodic blog posts from our trainers and others on various topics relevant to Crossfit or fitness in general that you should find interesting.


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