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Bulgarian Training - By: Carl Miller

Posted by Sean Hutchinson on March 25, 2017 at 8:00 PM Comments comments (103)



Training Methods

by Carl Miller

 

 

What is so different from swimmers training four hours a day and going to school or work and a lifter doing the same? Not everyone would want to do this or could, but some can and will. I want to say that although we in the West are on the right track in our training methods, there are some things that should be stressed even more, and there are some things which should be thought of in a different manner. What this amounts to is organizing and putting to work some of the great ideas born out by practical results in the weightlifting field.


 

What I am going to relate should be viewed in a certain perspective. One, it cannot be fully explained in something as short as this paper. That is why I am urging more clinics, for both coaches and athletes. There are intangibles which are difficult to put into writing unless time is allotted to write a book (this should be done but until it is done we have to get out the information as soon as possible and in as meaningful a way as possible). Two, this is not a pure Bulgarian system or any other system because we are Americans and live in different conditions. It is a system I believe can be the most meaningful to Americans. I find the Bulgarian system the most applicable because of its sound technical base, success and its similarity to what we could do in this country, even though the Bulgarians lifters are state supported.


 

 

The Meaning of Training Phases

 

It should be evident to even the most novice athlete that to get in top shape he conditions himself for a contest and then he competes in a contest. After a while he may become stale and performance drops off. Now this has a very real physiological basis depending in part on what is happening in the adrenal glands. Hans Selye, famed Canadian research doctor, has on many occasions explained his theory of stress by three stages:


1.) An alarm stage which is the phase of adaptation during which training is initiated and progress is made toward peak performance. This can be from 4 to 12 weeks.


2.) A resistance stage which is the complete adaptation or achievement of peak condition which lasts 3 to 6 weeks.


3.) An exhaustion stage which is re-adaptation to the loss of peak condition.


 

This means that a preliminary phase, a contest phase and a post-contest or re-adaptation phase for lifting are real, not imaginary; there are certain boundaries of time for getting ready for competition, reaching and maintaining the peak for the competition and re-adapting again for the next competition. It becomes even more meaningful the higher a lifter travels up the scale in competition because the stresses are more.


 

Let us use as an example the elite lifter. For him this whole preliminary/contest/re-adaptation cycle takes 16 weeks. This can be divided into an 8 week preparation phase, a 6 week contest phase and a 2 week re-adaptation phase. This works out to three peaks (three 16 week periods) per year with a 4 week period of vacation.


 

The class four lifter cannot fit exactly into the stress theory because he is new. He will make good progress because he is new and not wholly because of the correct program he is on. However, it is applicable to him because if he is to progress he needs a meaningful structure to train by so that he will make the most progress possible. He must learn a correct training system so when he does progress and changes categories, he will have trained under a system which will bring out continued progress in him. There is no reason for many of our lifters to get bogged down in their categories. If they trained under a sound system their bodies could be coaxed into far more progress.


 

Below are listed the cycles of competitions and the length of training phases for our different classes (categories).


 

 

CLASS IV

Eight competitions, every 5 to 6 weeks. Two phases of four competitions with a vacation between each phase.

 

#1

1-2 week preparation phase

3 week competition phase

1 week re-adaptation phase

 

#2

Same

 

#3

Same

 

#4

Same

 

- around 24 weeks total depending on selection.

 

Vacation

 

#5

Same

 

#6

Same

 

#7

Same

 

#8

Same


 

 

CLASS III

Six competitions every 7 to 8 weeks. Two phases of three competitions with a vacation between each phase.

 

#1

2-3 week preparation phase

4 week contest phase

1 week re-adaptation phase

 

#2

Same

 

#3

Same

 

Vacation

 

#4

Same

 

#5

Same

 

#6

Same

 

- around 23 weeks depending on selection.

 

Vacation

 

#4

Same

 

#5

Same

 

#6

Same


 

 

CLASS II

Five competitions every 9 to 10 weeks. On phase of five competitions with a vacation at the end.

 

#1

5 week preparation phase

4 week contest phase

1 week re-adaptation phase

 

#2

Same

 

#3

Same

 

#4

Same

 

#5

Same

 

 

Class I

Four competitions every 12 weeks in one phase with a vacation at the end.

 

#1

6 week preparation phase

5 week contest phase

1 week re-adaptation phase

 

#2

Same

 

#3

Same

 

#4

Same


 

 

MASTER AND ELITE

Three competitions every 16 weeks in one phase with a vacation at the end.

 

#1

8 week preparation phase

 

#2

Same

 

#3

Same


 

 

It is recognized and understood that our contest in the Unites States will not allow this to be followed exactly, but they come fairly close. And if something is off a few weeks, adaptation will have to be made. However, this guideline is also set up to try to guide our meet directors in the placement of their meets. This means having contests scheduled by classes (categories) where possible. Some places are already doing this. This also means having more local support financially as out lifters can travel when need be to closely follow such a training cycle.


 

It is also recognized that other contests will come up during this time in which a lifter may want to lift for a variety of reasons. This is fine, but he should treat these contests as workouts and not peak for them. He may train on the same da after this type of contest is over with; this is very prevalent in other countries. Sometimes entering such a contest will catch a lifter unexpectedly at his best; in this case he should not hold back. The important thing is to have treated the contest as a workout by not peaking for it. If the weights feel extra light in such a contest, the lifter may go for records.

 


The number of competitions for lower category lifters is more than the number for lifters in higher categories. This is extremely important for development. It must be stressed that what happens in the gym is only part of the development. The lifter must get used to and even thrive on competition. There is so much to learn from competition that the many peaks for a lower category lifter are important if he is to develop fully and eventually lift the most he possibly could at the end of his lifting career. The higher category lifter has had many competitions in the past and no longer needs as many. He is now a veteran and he needs to spend more time on making his body respond to higher training intensities.


 

 

The Preparation Phase

 

The preparation phase brings the body to the point where it is able to go into peak phase and maintain it. It is important to know that in this phase much of the time the lifter is lifting while tired. He trains to a tired point and then trains more. He is actually doing more work at higher intensity than during the phase that follows, which is the contest phase. This idea of training while tired during the preparation period is a concept developed by the Bulgarians to good success, but it is not limited to weightlifting. Such sports as track and field and swimming have used it for years.


 

When I say the lifter is doing more work during the preparation phase, I mean actual TIME training. This time concept was also developed by the Bulgarians. They recognized that work as measured by existing tonnage measurements was grossly in error, so why add it up. This is something I have pointed out in past clinics, based on my experience in Japan, and I was glad to see it confirmed by the Bulgarians; they have not used the tonnage system for years. What they measure is time spent per type of exercise per lifting rating (class). It is taken for granted that a lifter will rest two to three minutes between lifts. This is also a way of scheduling workouts which other sports such as football and basketball have used with success. It means scheduling time for drills in accordance with each drill’s importance to the final result so that each workout is as productive as possible.


 

 

Contest Phase

 

The contest phase starts when the lifter wants to go into peak condition and hold it for the competition. The time allotted to training is reduced; the lifter trains till he is tired and then no more. Workouts are more short and sweet. On paper they may not seem that much shorter, but it is that little bit of a slack-off in work which allows a freshness on the part of the lifter. If there is too much slack-off, the lifter loses the edge he is building for.


 

 

The Readaptation Phase

 

The readaptation phase is one of coming down off of a peak, maintaining good weightlifting physical condition, and easing into another cycle of preparation. This is a very important phase. I have already stated that the body needs this to recuperate. The adrenals have been at a hyperactive state for weeks, and they cannot take any further output. The mental, physical and emotional stress of preparation an then competition leads to a state of exhaustion. If a lifter goes from a contest immediately back into a preparation phase, he is not allowing the adrenals to recuperate. After 7 to 18 weeks the adrenals require a period of recuperation. If they do not get it, their output not returned, and there is also a drop in the eosinophil count (one of the white blood cells) because of too much constant physical, mental and emotional stress.


 

 

Vacation

 

A vacation should really be called active rest. A complete change of living habits (without going against health) should take place in order for the lifter to feel fresh for the upcoming training sessions. The theory is to have fun actively. It is taken for granted that athletes like movement; therefore, when they go on vacation they should have fun with movement. This way they enjoy themselves, a change of pace is attained, and their general physical condition does not deteriorate. Sports suggested for a vacation are: basketball, soccer, track and field, paddle-ball, handball, volleyball, gymnastics, swimming, bicycling, skiing and ice-skating. The lifter can engage in these sports in his own town or wherever he goes. He should have fun with them and just enjoy the movement of activity, letting his mind and emotions rest.


 

 

Practical and Realistic Training Time for Progress

 

The Bulgarians train longer than the amount of time presented here. I have adapted their training time to something realistic for us. Even so, to some lifters it will seem too long. If so, maybe such lifters are overachieving for their class; their bodies are just not adaptable to such training. Such a lifter might try training one category less than his actual rating. But remember, to lift more weight, the lifter must wisely increase his intensity and the amount of work. There might be a stage he will reach wherein his body goes downhill. But with systematic training and excellent health habits the lifter can probably adapt to more intensity and work. The theory of adaptability is the key to getting the most out of the body. We have only to look at the long intense training sessions (4-6 hours) or our top swimmers and wrestlers to know this can be done. They did not start out with such lengthy sessions, but they followed adaptive training methods of increasing work and intensity, and when their bodies adapted, they swam faster and wrestled better.


 

There will be casualties along the way. One lifter’s body will be able to produce less; another’s will produce more. That is one reason why there are so few world champions. It is nothing that can be helped and nothing personally against a lifter. It is also a reason why our selection process should be good so that we can get lifters with the physical constitution that can adapt to the high levels of stress needed to progress.


 

In any case, each lifter should give himself every chance of success. I have already mentioned the necessity of excellent health habits. If a lifter does not follow such health habits, his body cannot adapt as well to increasing stress. This means regular sleeping habits. It means eating well. It means no smoking. This also means being very careful of alcohol. A few beers once in an while is not going to hurt a lifter, but any more is going to have a pronounced effect on his recovery from workouts. Alcohol effects the enzymatic system which plays such an important role in assimilation of foods. There will be enough emotional stress just training and competing; to add to it other outside problems means the lifter cannot recover well enough between workouts.


 

I hope the idea of discipline has come across. This was stressed at the European Coaches’ Conference time and time again, not only by the Bulgarians but also by the other countries involved. Even the Russians said the key to the Bulgarian success is discipline. Such intense training cannot be done without it. This word takes in so much. Many training problems are solved just by having discipline.


 

*See Chart One

 

 

Related Exercises

 

To help organize the countless number of exercises, we group related ones. Each one can be designated as technique oriented (T), power oriented (P) or both (B). Below are such listings.


 

 

Snatch Related Exercises

1.) Complete from floor. T

2.) From knees. T

3.) From mid-thigh. B

4.) Deadlift to knee. P

5.) Power snatch. P

6.) High pull, straight arms. B

7.) High pull, arms coming up. B

8.) Overhead squat. T

9.) Isokinetics. P

10.) Eccentric contraction. P


 

Jerk Related Exercises

1.) Push press. P

2.) Push up and out. P

3.) On toes, split and recover B

4.) Push drive. P

5.) Balance. T

6.) Jerk, eyes closed. T

7.) Front squat & jerk. T

8.) Jerk from rack. T

9.) Isokinetics. P

10.) Eccentric contraction. P


 

Clean Related Exercises

1.) Complete from floor. T

2.) From knees. T

3.) From mid-thigh. T

4.) Deadlift to knees. B

5.) Power clean. P

6.) High pull, straight arms. B

7.) High pull, arms coming up. B

8.) Position squat. T

9.) Isokinetics. P

10.) Eccentric contraction. P


 

Leg Related Exercises

1.) Front squat. P

2.) Super killer squat. P

3.) Speed squat. P

4.) Pre-exhaustion. P

5.) Back squat, Olympic. P

6.) Back squat, pull position. B

7.) Split squat. P

8.) Olympic clean deadlift. B

9.) Isokinetics. P

10.) Eccentric contraction. P


 

 

Remedial Exercises

 

Leg

1.) Leg extension.

2.) Leg curl.

3.) Leg push.

4.) Hack machine.

5.) Isokinetics.


 

Back

1.) Good morning.

2.) Hyperextension.

3.) Stiff-legged deadlift.

4.) ¾ hyperextension.

5.) Isokinetics.

6.) Bent-knee situps.


 

Shoulder

1.) Seated press.

2.) Bench press.

3.) Behind neck press.

4.) Standing military press.

5.) Power snatch to forehead & pressout.


 

 

Exercise Groupings

 

Exercises are grouped into categories according to specific goals of a workout and then these categories are practiced so many times per week depending on the rating (class) of the lifter. The chart above lists these categories and the number of times per week they are practiced.


 

*See Chart Two

 

Some of the thoughts behind the groupings are:

1.) As the lifter advances in rating and style is learned, strength must be emphasized more.

2.) The clean & jerk is separated for some specialized training since it is made up of two separate skills, but then it is practiced in its entirety.

3.) There is a progression in the number of times various facets are practiced per week.

4.) Remedial exercises play a part in the program.


 

Let me define remedial exercises. There are exercises which should give specialized strengthening around the back, leg and shoulder joints. They are not practiced for very long nor are they emphasized in intensity. To place more emphasis on them might open a lifter up to injury or overdevelopment; he does not want to get injured doing the exercises. Part of the purpose of such exercises is to balance possible overdevelopment incurred when doing the standard exercises. Leg curls would be such an exercise to balance the development of the quads. Bench presses would be another to balance pulls. We do not need big pecs and we do not need to be able to bench big weights, but we do want to strength in the chest area for the reason stated above and for general shoulder area conditioning. Seated presses do not help the first part of the jerk, but by strengthening that area they could prevent an injury there. Just a few sets into the time allotted at the end of a time period with 80-90% of the best for those reps engaged in (for example, 80% of best for 5 reps) would be sufficient for the remedial exercises.


 

 

Actual Practice Layout

 

Listed in the next chart above for each class is a layout of the number of times exercises grouped in categories are practiced each week, and the time allotted per workout for the exercises. The exercises can be inserted. Technique groups are placed during the practice at the time that the lifter would be most fresh. Remedial exercises are at the end of the practices. The explanation of warmups and games and recovery will be presented following this section.


 

*See Charts Three to Eight

 

There are two methods of doing the exercises which fit into the time allotted per exercise grouping in the Readaptability Period:

 

ONE METHOD is for the lifter to choose a weight that is within 50-60% of his best and do four to six repetitions, doing as many sets as the time allotted calls for, resting only one minute between sets.

 

A SECOND METHOD is for the lifter to choose a weight that is within 40-50% of his best and do 4-6 repetitions, going from exercise to exercise with no rest and repeating the exercises in a circuit. The exercises can be grouped so that the time allotted to exercise related grouping is covered and the exercises are placed so that they do not fatigue any one muscle group, something like the old PHA system of the mid and late 1960’s.

 

As was stated earlier, the readaptation phase is one of coming down off a peak, maintaining good weightlifting physical condition and easing into another cycle of preparation. The adrenal glands are given a chance to rest and recuperate. In either of the two methods described above, all this can be accomplished because coordinated movements are being performed without emotional stress. It is enough of a change of pace to be refreshing and enough fast work to be physically stimulating. At the end of this phase or period the lifter is in shape mentally, physically and emotionally to go into the preparation phase of the next cycle.


 

 

Warming Up

 

The warmup should bee well planned, organized and goal oriented. It is the warmup which not only prevents both micro and major injuries but also sets the mood for the workout. A lifter can feel varying degrees of enthusiasm going into a workout; if he goes through a well-designed warmup his enthusiasm will rise.

 

Improved circulation is one goal of warming up. There are circulatory adjustments the cardiovascular system makes in order to handle increased activity. Circulation should be increased throughout the whole muscular frame.

 

Specific flexibility is another goal. A warmup must increase the flexibility in areas most useful to the lifter. Specific coordination patterns used in lifting should be a third goal of warming up. Extemporaneous movement patterns during the warmup, while increasing circulation, do nothing for adding more practice of movement patterns along the lines a lifter can use.


 

To reach the goals of increased circulation, specific flexibility and specific coordination, the warmup is best designed in a circuit with exercises placed in the circuit. A circuit has these three advantages:

1.) It can be performed in a small place.

2.) It offers an organized pattern which is a goal itself and thus more meaningful than just warming up haphazardly.

3.) It offers a method of organization of warmup exercises which stimulates the desire to train and which does not tire out the lifter.

 

With the above in mind, see the example circuit illustrated above.


*See Chart Nine

 

The lifter should go through this circuit as many times as it takes to complete a 10-15 minute warmup. He does the exercise as correctly as possible but also as fast as possible. The lifter is only in competition against himself so it is a race with himself and nobody else.

 

These types of exercises were chosen and placed in order that:

1.) They will invigorate the lifter.

2.) Gradual loosening will take place before complicated movements are performed.

3.) Maximum use can be made of a small room.

 

While there are other exercises which can be substituted for the ones presented, the jerk, clean and snatch shadow movements should be included in any type of circuit warmup. The following is a brief explanation of the exercises used.


 

 

Flexibility Exercises:

 

1.) Ankle Walk – Bend over, grasp back of heels and walk. This stretches the hamstrings.

 

2.) Ankle Stretch – Lean on a solid surface (arms outstretched, palms against the surface) and put one foot as far back as you can, keeping the whole foot flat on the floor. When you get to the point where the heel starts to come up, then stretch it down by pushing down and back on that foot. Push down for 3-5 seconds, relax and follow with 2-4 more bouts of 3-5 seconds. Do the same with the other foot.

 

3.) Yogi Crotch Stretch – Sit down, bend the knees and put the soles of the feet together, bringing the feet as close to the crotch as possible. Grab ankles with hands, arms between thighs, and put elbows on thighs, using them and the forearms as levers to push down and out on the thighs. This will stretch the adductors (inside of thighs). Hold the maximum stretch for 3-5 seconds and do the stretch 2-4 times.

 

4.) Arm Circle – Hold arms out to the side. Make 10 small firm circles forward and then 10 small firm circles backward.

 

5.) Dislocates – Take a broom stick and using the snatch grip move the stick from overhead to behind the head and down to the lower back. Return the stick to the overhead position. Repeat 10 times.

 

6.) Scapula Raise – Stand with hands on two chairs shoulder distance apart or with hands on parallel bars. Completely relax the scapula and lean down on the hands letting the shoulders come upward towards the ears. Hold for 3-5 seconds and then drop the shoulders. Repeat 2-4 times.

 

7.) Wrist Stretch – Stand arm distance away from a wall. Extend one arm putting the palm on the wall, fingers pointing down. Move the palm up the wall until it will not stay flat on the wall. Then lean into the wall so the palm does touch it again. Hold for 3-5 seconds and repeat 2-4 times. Do all three wrists.

 

8.) Split Squat – Put one foot in front and the other in back like a split clean of snatch. Put hands overhead and drop down into a low split keeping the trunk erect. Stay in this low position 3-5 seconds and repeat 2-4 times. Let your bodyweight push you down far. Work both legs.


 

 

Coordination Exercises

 

Shadow Jerk, Shadow Clean and Shadow Snatch – As in “shadow” boxing. For each of these go through the exercise like you normally would with a bar. Concentrate on hitting all positions as you go through the movement. Try to make the movement feel fluid as you do it for 5 reps. Because no weight is present you will feel clumsy to begin with, but this will subside if you go through the exercise purposefully and slowly, striving for a fluid motion. With each repetitions pick up the tempo.


 

 

Circulatory Exercises

 

1.) Crab Walk – Sit on the floor and put palms on floor a little behind the shoulders with the fingers pointing back. The feet are out front with the knees bent. Raise the rear end off the floor and on all fours walk backward, one arm and the other opposite leg going back together.

 

2.) Jump Rope – Jump using any of a variety of steps you might know. Take 30 jumps to reach your destination. This way height of jump is emphasized and not ground covered.

 

3.) Hops – The distance is short for 20 hops, which is good because you want to concentrate more on height than distance. Extend the knees, hips, back and feet fully as you hop.


 

 

Games

 

Games are used in the workout schedule for some very good reasons. The most obvious is to gain some cardiovascular strength. Anybody who says weightlifting is not an endurance sport does not understand that to keep your adrenaline up for the many hours of training, to say nothing of a lengthy competiton, takes real endurance. If the cardiovascular system is developed, then stamina can be called on late in the routine or contest because a lot of blood is not only being pumped through the system but it is also being tapped by the cells. This means more oxygen and nutrients go to the cells and more toxins are gotten rid of.

 

A second reason for games is to reinforce movement patterns that are similar to those used in weightlifting and that are power oriented. This is why, for example, volleyball and basketball should be played a lot. If you have ever played a good game of either you know how much your legs and hips get worked. Of course, broad jumping, high jumping and shot putting are good to “play” because of power movement patterns similar to lifting.

 

A third reason for games is to develop competitiveness. Although competitiveness is natural to man it is not always brought out or reinforced, so it never gets developed to its full potential. Not even a class four lifter competes in many competitions a year. This is one reason why many lifters are gym lifters. They never had much training in competitiveness as they were developing. By playing games in the training routine and placing emphasis on beating the next man’s mark or beating the other team, competitiveness is developed. This can be a lot of fun; by mixing up what type of competitions you will have, and even by inventing a few.

 

Change of pace is a fourth reason for including games in your workout schedule. The lifter needs good hard physical fun. This will help his morale when the gym seems very confining.


 

 

Workout Recovery

 

As much as possible the waste products built up during training should be removed. In this way the muscles will recover faster and will stand less chance of injury. For this reason hot and cold showers are important. The lifter should get under a hot shower for 2-3 minutes. The intercellular fluid will then be drawn from the capillaries into the cells because of the high degree of toxicity in the cells. This increase of fluid in the cells will dilute the toxins. Then the lifter should turn the shower to cool or cold (the cooler the better) for 15 seconds. The cells will constrict and squeeze the excess fluid and toxins out into the intercellular space where it will enter the circulatory system and be carried off. The lifter should repeat this alternation of hot and cold showers three or four times for best results, ending up with the cool or cold shower.

 

Another method of removing the waste products is alternating a steam or sauna bath with a swim in a pool or a dip in the snow. If you have never tried this form of recovery you are in for a pleasant feeling after a workout. There will be much reduced or even no soreness and a real fresh feeling. Taking a hot shower or steam or sauna bath without following it with cool or cold water means excess fluid will get into the cells but will take a long time getting out. It will impinge on nerve fibers because of the stretch of the cells by excess fluid, and there will be increased chance of a muscle cell rupturing. At the same time, the cell is still wallowing in its own filth and not recovering as fast.


 

 

Number of Lifts PER MONTH Above Certain Key Percentages

 

The counting of lifts (Olympic lifts and pulls) 90% and above per month has been standard practice. This has been the mainstay for judging proper intensity for many years. We now have the development of counting lifts not only for this percentage but also for the lifts 100% and over. These are not fixed at this time but some fairly accurate figures are available. The body responds to different stimuli for gaining strength. And this new development of counting lifts 100% and over should be viewed with great interest since the Bulgarians pioneered it, and the are the ones who have taken lifters farther toward potential than any other country.

 

With a good training background, most lifters will be able to fit into their proper category. It must be understood that there are such individual differences as age, years of lifting, high rating despite poor training habits, and so on. that would make some lifters uncomfortable lifting in the category the qualify for. If such a case occurs, the lifter should be flexible and use the category that seems best for him. He should strive to eventually use the category he properly belongs in. If the individual difference is extreme, then he must operate in the category that seems best. While these are guides which have proven successful, they are flexible.


 

 

Preparation Period

 

Elite:

80-100 at 90%+

20-30 at 100%

15-19 at 100%+


 

Master

60-79 at 90%+

15-24 at 100%

12-16 at 100%+


 

Class I

40-59 at 90%+

12-18 at 100%

10-13 at 100%+


 

Class II

30-39 at 90%+

9-13 at 100%

6-11 at 100%+


 

Class III

20-29 at 90%+

7-10 at 100%

5-7 at 100%+


 

Class IV

10-19 at 90%+

5-8 at 100%

4-6 at 100%+


 

 

Contest Period

 

Elite

70-85 at 90%+

17-25 at 100%

13-16 at 100%+


 

Master

50-69 at 90%+

13-20 at 100%

10-13 at 100%+


 

Class I

30-49 at 90%+

10-15 at 100%

8-12 at 100%+


 

Class II

20-29 at 90%+

7-11 at 100%

6-10 at 100%+


 

Class III

15-19 at 90%+

5-8 at 100%

4-7 at 100%+


 

Class IV

10-14 at 90%+

4-6 at 100%

3-5 at 100%+


 

 

The 100% and 100%+ lifts are included in the 90%+ counts. The part of the 100% and 100%+ lifts that is the 2 Olympic lifts and the part that is the pulls vary, but the part that is the 2 Olympic lifts does not exceed one-third of the counts during the preparation phase and one-fourth of the counts during the contest period. The pulls therefore comprise at least two-thirds of the counts during the preparation period and at least three-quarters of the counts during the contest period.


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CHART 2:


CHART 3:


CHART 4

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CHART 5:


CHART 6

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CHART 7:



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CHART 9:



FUCK 2ND PLACE!

Posted by Sean Hutchinson on June 15, 2016 at 9:50 AM Comments comments (0)

FUCK 2nd Place: In my time as a competitive athlete in the sport of Weightlifting I have gone from being the underdog nobody chasing down the top guys to being one of the best athletes in the USA. No matter what situation I find myself in I always try to find new ways to motivate myself. Motivation is one of the key drivers to being a successful athlete in any sport you take on.


When I first got into Weightlifting I was living back home in Palatka, FL. I used to train out of my buddies shed in the middle of Florida in the heat of the summer. It was just me and him lifting in 100+ degree temperatures on a shitty bar with no knurling and old spare tires for bumper plates. Half the time we didn’t even get to train together due to conflicting work schedules but we went out there and busted our asses every damn day. Nobody really knew who we were but we knew what we wanted to be. We wanted to be champions. We wanted to be the best.


I remember he would hit a number and my goal was to beat that number by a certain amount. I’m sure he had a similar strategy. No coaches, nobody guiding us, just getting out there and working hard as fuck every single day. No excuses about so and so is better than me I’ll never beat them. Fuck that, we wanted to be #1 and that’s all we cared about.


Flash forward to 2006. I had the worst competition of my life at 2006 Nationals. I bombed out in the snatch and still somehow came back and took silver in the clean and jerk. I was furious! I knew I was better than this. I ended up getting in touch with Kyle Pierce at LSUS and moving out to Shreveport, LA a couple weeks later.


When I arrived I met an interesting character by the name of Aaron Adams. This kid was insanely good at Weightlifting. By the time I met him I had only been lifting for about 6 months in the sport. He had already been around for years, winning National titles, breaking American records, and making international teams for the USA. I was technically still a 56kg lifter but knew eventually I would have to be 62kg. That’s when I set my sights on him. I came in the gym everyday and attacked the weights like there was no tomorrow. Beating Aaron was the only thing I wanted to do. Between all the shit talking in the gym and seeing him throw around huge weights daily I was so driven it wasn’t even funny.


I came into LSUS with a best total of 188kg at 56kg and my first meet there I did 211kg at 62kg. Within 2 years of training I went from a nobody 62kg lifter to one of the top 25 overall lifters in the USA. I never ended up beating Aaron in a competition but that driving force is what got me to where I am today. The point is you have to find something, anything, that will help you push yourself. Whether it’s finding the strongest guy/girl in the gym or chasing down somebody’s numbers from another gym. You have to have goals. You can’t ever sell yourself short. Sure, Aaron was way better than me when I met him but by the time he left I was within a couple kg of his best total in competition. I never made excuses for myself about him being better than me. I just put my head down and went to work everyday because I wanted to be better than he was. I wanted to be the best.


Flash forward a few years later. Now I’m reaching the end of my Weightlifting career but just now getting serious about competing in CrossFit. It honestly feels great again to be the underdog in the gym. Sure, I’m still pretty much one of the strongest guys but lifting is only a small portion of what it takes to be a great CrossFit athlete. Now I have to find somebody to chase and let’s face it, I’m back to ground zero again. I am not even close to being the best guy in the gym when it comes to CrossFit. Hell, even the girls beat me most of the time, One specifically more than others. She is my rabbit. She is the one I’m chasing because she is the best. She’s been to the CrossFit Games with our team, she’s been to regional’s 3x’s now, once as an team and 2x’s as an individual. Between the 3 top guys in the gym and her those are the people I look at daily when I do a workout. They are the ones I want to beat. How many rounds did they get??? What was their time today? Those are the things that drive me to be better. I don’t want to settle for 2nd or 3rd best. I want to be the one everybody else is chasing in the gym and until that day comes I won’t be happy. Sure you’ll have good and bad days but that doesn’t matter. You should be in there everyday chasing down your goals and not making excuses.


I feel like I’m back at LSUS chasing Aaron again. That fire is finally back and it feels great. Not great being at the bottom of the pack but great knowing that if I put in the work I can do great things in the future. It’s all up to me. Between these 4 athletes they have all been to regional’s several times, and even been to the CrossFit Games as a team. That is saying a lot since we know how competitive the sport has become. Even if I know for a fact I won’t beat them in a WOD I still tell myself I can, If I push hard enough, If I hold on just a little bit longer, maybe I’ll beat them. Believe it or not it actually happened a couple times so far. I’d say maybe 1 in a 100 WODs but still. It was a small victory for me. Every time I beat one of them I get that much closer to my goal of being the best I can be. I’ve never once gone into a workout with the mentality that “oh man, there is no way I can beat them. They’re way too good. I suck at this movement. This just isn’t a good workout for me.” FUCK THAT. If that’s the attitude you’re going to have when you train the why the fuck are you even in my gym???


So at the end of the day you have to look within. How bad do you want it??? Stop making excuses for yourself. Sure you may not be the best…yet. Work hard, push yourself a little more everyday, and eventually you will get there. It’s all about the mindset. If you can convince yourself to do something you will do it. Just take that first step and tell yourself… “I can do this. I will be the best!”

First Steps to become a great (well, maybe better) Weightlifter/CrossFitter:

Posted by Sean Hutchinson on May 24, 2016 at 1:10 PM Comments comments (0)

1.Mobility/Flexibility:


I’m not saying that you have to look like K-star in the bottom of your OHS before you start training but it definitely goes a long way and makes progressing much easier when you can perform the movements in Weightlifting and CrossFit safely. Being able to comfortably hit these positions will make everything you do easier and safer in the long run. The biggest issue I see with new athletes in this sport is rushing to add weight before they are even flexible and mobile enough to do the exercises correctly. This can cause a lot of issues down the line if an athlete wishes to take their training to the next level.


What do I recommend?


• Sign up for a site like ROMWOD. There is a daily WOD to help you improve your flexibility. The biggest thing for me is routine. I know I’m supposed to stretch out but I just don’t. I’m the type of athlete that if it’s not programmed or explicitly given to me to do I’ll probably skip it. With ROMWOD I can login anytime, click play, and follow along. Click here (or copy and paste into your browser) for a free 2-week trial to see what all the hype is about. https://romwod.com/members/aff/go/built4this62kg


• Check out mobilityWOD videos on youtube. There are tons of free tutorials on how to use tools like foam rollers, sticks, bands, lacrosse balls, etc. to improve your mobility and get your body moving correctly. K-star also has 2 books out now that you can purchase and learn from. Between all the paid and free resources out there you really have no excuses to not work on flexibility/mobility daily.



2. Learn to do the basics first:


Some common errors I see with coaches and athletes when learning the Olympic lifts are simply just skipping the basics. You have to master or at least somewhat learn the basic fundamentals before you can start increasing the load/intensity of these movements. Learn how to full squat snatch and clean from day 1. Unless mobility is an issue there is no reason you shouldn’t be learning the full lifts from the start. Pulling under the bar aggressively and smoothly is THE most difficult thing when it comes to the Olympic lifts. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen athletes who have been lifting or crossfitting for years and can’t get under the bar because they never learned or now they lift so much they are too afraid. I’m sure you’ve all seen it. There is always that guy who can power clean 225#’s but is scared to get under 185#’s in a full squat clean.


Same thing goes for the Jerk as well. This is definitely one of the most overlooked and undercoached movements out of the snatch, clean, and the jerk. I’ve seen some of the prettiest cleans followed by some of the most atrocious jerks of my life. It never fails when stepping into a CrossFit gym. Let’s be honest though, most of the issues are because of lack of knowledge for newer coaches and lack of time because of the rush to get these movements so you can perform them in a WOD. A 1 hour class just doesn’t cut it when learning these highly technically movements. Some other examples: Learn to do a strict pull up, push ups, HSPU, dips, muscle ups, etc…all strict, before you even think about kipping. Trust me. You’re body will thank you later when you take the time to develop the proper strength to control these movements rather than just kipping your way to more reps before you’re ready.


What do I recommend?


First thing I always recommend is to get a qualified coach. If you have an Olympic lifting coach that host classes at your gym, PLEASE…FOR THE LOVE OF GOD…take advantage of that. You don’t realize how lucky you are to have him/her there until you don’t have the opportunity anymore. Having a good set of eyes on you when practicing the Olympic lifts can go a long way. Learning how to do the full squat variations of the lifts is always the first step. Once you master this you can start increasing your intensity. As for the jerks, I always recommend learning the power jerk variation first. This teaches the athletes to have a straight and explosive dip and drive and teaches them how to get their body under the bar and receive it overhead with elbows locked out. Once this has been mastered we can move on to learning the split jerk. I honestly don’t think this is a necessary movement unless you plan on competing in Crossfit or Weightlifting. The imbalances this can create from multiple reps everyday throwing the same leg forward are not worth the few extra pounds you’ll be able to put overhead.


So what if you don’t have a coach? There are tons of resources/coaches who sell online coaching services. Is it the best option? Probably not but it’s way better than spinning your wheels and making little to no progress trying to figure things out on your own. You can inbox me at: builtforthisathletics@gmail.com if you would like to talk about some programming/online coaching options that I offer.



3. If you want to be a competitor than you need to compete:


This is something I definitely fell victim too when I first got into Weightlifting. I used to get so nervous about competing. Every single time was a different experience. After years and years of competing and putting myself out there in different scenarios I have gained tons of confidence in myself as an athlete. I used to get so nervous before I went out there I would literally feel my heart beat racing and not know how to relax. I feel like this happens to a lot of newer athletes. They handle training so well and don’t really think about competing until it’s too late. They get up on the stage or out on the floor and freeze up. The game plan goes out the window and everything goes to shit. It happens all the time and there are definitely ways to get better at competing.


What do I recommend?


Compete as much and often as you can possibly afford to, especially in the first few years. The more you get comfortable out on that stage the easier competing at your best will be. You have to learn to block out things or just go out there and have fun with it. The same mentality that gets you all those PR’s in training needs to carry over to game day. The only way to do this is practice. Sign up for those local competitions. Go to other boxes every once in a while and train with better athletes than you. Put yourself in uncomfortable situations and make yourself become comfortable with them. That is the key to being a great competitior. Once you learn how to control that you will take yourself to the next level as an athlete and a competitor.

Be ready for your next Weightlifting Competition: A guide for Coaches and Athletes

Posted by Sean Hutchinson on December 22, 2015 at 1:35 PM Comments comments (1)

 1. BEFORE YOU GO...


A. GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER!

Pack all your gear in 1 bag that you will be using on competition day in 1 bag. If you don’t have one by now get a gym bag. Keep your shoes, belt, singlet, tape, knee sleeves, belt, etc. in this bag. This is especially important for those traveling by plane with more than 1 connection. I can’t count how many times over the last 13 years of competing I’ve had my bags get lost during flights. Luckily I always take a carry on with all my Weightlifting gear so if all else fails I have what I need to get the job done.


Trust me on this it’s no fun running around trying to find somebody to borrow a singlet from or even worse lifting in somebody else’s shoes if you can even find somebody with your size to borrow from. Just be prepared and bring all the shit you need and don’t lose it!


B. KNOW YOUR WARM UP ATTEMPTS!


This should be pretty simple but for some reason it always stumps new athletes and coaches alike. I’m not saying you should take the same exact jumps in training every time you snatch and clean and jerk but you should definitely have a general idea of what lifts you take when you warm up to produce the best results. Most lifters try to warm up with about 5-7 attempts at different weights. I don’t mean take 5-7 reps but 5-7 jumps to different weights progressively before you get to your opener.


EX: I want to open with 110kg snatch. Here’s what my warm ups normally look like…


Bar work, 50kg 3-4 reps a couple power snatches and full snatches, 70kg 1 power 1 full, 90kg 1 full snatch, 100kg 1 full snatch, and 105kg full snatch. Then I would open with 110kg and probably take 4-5kg jumps since that’s what I am comfortable with taking in training. The idea is to get your body prepared to lift as heavy as possible without wearing yourself out. You don’t want to be in the back doing 3 reps at your opener only to go out and miss it. Likewise you don’t want to take a 20kg jump from your last warm up to your opener. Keep it simple and stick to what works for you in training and you should be fine. This leads to my next point, which is also more focused towards the coaches reading this.


C. KNOW HOW TO COUNT ATTEMPTS!


With so many new athletes and coaches getting into the sport this is something you HAVE to learn if you want to be successful. In theory it’s actually pretty simple to count attempts but I see people screw this up so many times.


I’ll use examples for this one to keep it simple then I’ll get into some weirder scenarios…


Let’s say there are 12 lifters in the session and you’re lifter is going to be the opening at 90kg. You have athletes starting at 65, 68, 73, 78, 80, 85, 88, 95, 100, 103, and 112. You’re athlete is going to be toward the end of the session in the snatch. So looking at this we can assume there will be roughly 16 attempts before your athlete will take his opener. How do I know this?? Well, I like to use common sense and past experiences. If the first 5 guys are opening up 10kg less than my athlete I can pretty much bet they won’t be taking any attempts at 90kg or more. So now I know there will be at least 15 attempts before my athlete. Now I see a couple athletes opening at 85 and 88 which is pretty close to my athlete opening with 90kg.


2. MAKE WEIGHT!


Seriously though, you know what your weight class is and you know (well you should know) how much you weigh before you go to bed and when you get up in the morning. This let’s you know how much you weight you fluctuate or “float” over night. This is very important especially for those of you who lift early in the morning. Sometimes it’s impossible to get up and find a sauna so you need to be on point and know exactly how much you weigh before it’s too late.


Don’t wait to the last minute to cut weight. All it’s going to do is hurt your performance, especially if you’ve never had experience with water cutting techniques. I’m really not a fan of lifters cutting at all early in their career. Think about it like this…


Are you really going to be a better weightlifter because you cut 4kg in a week to qualify for Jr. Nationals so you can go and finish in last place??? NO! If you want a long career in this sport you need to think LONGTERM! Unless you have a lot of spare body fat you can lose, let your body grow and do what it’s going to do. I’ve seen tons of lifters literally stall their progress because they just have to be a certain weight class. Meanwhile CJ Cummings has literally shattered records in every single weight class since he started and he has probably rarely made a drastic weight cut for a competition.


Let your body grow, let your body progress, and you will have a great career in this sport. You’ll eventually end up in the correct weight class whether that be by gaining muscle and moving up, or losing body fat and moving down. So unless you’re planning on medaling at Nationals or making a world team don’t worry about cutting and focus on hitting PR’s. If you do find yourself needing to cut some weight there are some important things to take into consideration like how much over you are and what time you weigh in. Timing is everything when it comes to cutting weight. My personally preferred method is to start with diet. Cut out all the bullshit. No beers, no soda, just stick with water when it comes to drinks for at least a few weeks. You will easily see some body fat dropping off just by doing this. Next thing is clean up your carbs. No more late night ice cream runs, no more huge plates full of pasta, and definitely stay away from the doughnuts. You should be fueling your body like an athlete anyways. Stick with lean proteins, and lots of fresh fruits and veggies. I’m not saying don’t have carbs but be aware of how much excess you are putting into your body that you probably don’t need.


If you still find yourself overweight after cleaning up the diet you’ll probably have to cut some water weight. This is where that magical “float” number can come in real handy.If you know you normally float then you will at least have an idea of what you weigh the morning of competition. If you are only .5kg over you can probably get away with just not drinking anything the day of depending on how late you weigh in. If you are more than that and are limited on time then keep reading…


There are a couple different ways to cut water but let’s start with the sauna. The best sauna is a dry sauna, which are the kind you usually find in nice health clubs. They’ll have a big heater that has rocks in it. Should be pretty hot anywhere from 170-200 degrees F. I personally know I can lose about .5kg or more in 20 minutes of the sauna no problem. Sometimes even more. I like to do 20 minute sessions and come out and “cool off”. If you are over a couple kilos you’ll probably need to take a few sessions to get all the weight off. This is why it comes in handy to practice this technique ahead of time as well. Don’t wait until the competition comes for your first trip to the sauna. You really need to train your body and get used to it so you are prepared for it otherwise it can really zap your strength.


Timing is everything with the sauna as well as most things in weightlifting. You don’t want until hit the sauna to soon and spend a lot of time dehydrated. I like to hit the sauna within an hour of weigh ins. The longer you spend dehydrated the worse you will feel when it comes time to compete.


Hot baths are another good tool, especially if you can’t find a sauna. It’s really a pretty simple technique for losing water weight. Fill a tub up with water as hot as you can handle and submerge your body. This is also something you will want to experiment with beforehand so you know how much weight you will lose in a specific time frame and also how you feel afterwards. Just like training we want our body to be prepared for what we are about to put it through so definitely practice these techniques a few times before you try them out at a competition.


3. MAKE LIFTS!


There is nothing more infuriating to me than watching a new lifter bomb out or only go 2/6 in their first competition.


One of my favorite quotes from my coach, Kyle Pierce, is “It’s not about where you start but about where you finish.”


I see so many lifters missing openers and this should NEVER happen. I know it does occasionally but it really shouldn’t, especially if you’re a new lifter and you have no chance at winning you should be there to make lifts and hopefully hit some competition PR’s.


Your first lift should be a “gimme” lift, just something to get on the board and get the flow going. Most new lifters are going to be pretty nervous so even routine lifts in the gym become difficult under pressure. Whatever you plan on opening with in optimal conditions just go ahead and drop that a couple kilos and get one on the board. Once that is done then you can take some bigger jumps to get closer to that new PR lift!


The only way to get more comfortable competing is to get in as many competitions as possible, the more the better. I recommend newer athletes competing as often as they can because you never know what kind of scenarios you will come across in a competition.


I’ve had competitions run so smoothly before and others that were a nightmare. All of the sudden I went from 10 attempts out to 3 because a bunch of athletes jumped their openers and next thing I know I’m behind on my warm ups and have to take some crazy jumps from my last warm up to my opener.


The more often you compete the more opportunity there is to learn from each experience. I hope that this helps those of you out there who are thinking of competing/coaching at your first competition and good luck to you all.


Remember, at the end of the day, we’re all there to have a good time so don’t stress out about it. YOU ARE #BUILTFORTHIS!

Why are we squatting again this week?!

Posted by Sean Hutchinson on January 29, 2015 at 10:50 AM Comments comments (0)

So, I’ve had a few people ask me over the last few months about the theory behind the chaos that is the programming at CrossFit Towson. I figured instead of answering with a short brief response at the beginning of class I’d go ahead and put some thoughts into a blog and share it with you all.


I’ll be the first to admit, I am no master programmer when it comes to CrossFit. I am still in the learning process to this very new sport/training methodology if you can call it that. First we’ll look at CrossFit’s definition of CrossFit training. “Constantly Varied, High Intensity, Functional Movement” and “Increase Work Capacity Across Broad Time and Modal Domains”. So to put that into layman’s terms: “Let’s do something different everyday, that’s very intense, and uses compound/full body movements.” And “We want to increase your ability to do work in different ranges of time with and different combinations of movements and exercises.”


So now that we have that out of the way I can talk about what I think about when I program for CrossFit Towson. The first thing I think about before I even get into the WOD is the strength. I am seeing a growing trend in CrossFit programming around the world of gyms focusing more on strength work. Let’s get real. You’re never going to get a huge squat or clean from doing 100+ reps a day with 135#’s. It’s just not going to happen. If you don’t take a little bit of time to dedicate purely to strength and technique you’re going to progress very slowly overall in the long run. I think about CrossFit like this. If I can clean 300+lbs then 135#’s on grace is going to be a lot easier for me than the guy who only cleans 185#’s. I’m not saying strength is the only thing you need in CrossFit but it is definitely a great base to have right along with mobility. The program I follow for strength is loosely based on the training I did (and still do) at LSUS for 8 years. It is based on 12-16 week training cycles that follow a form of periodization. We spend about 3-4 weeks working different repetition ranges in order for our body’s to adapt and increase our overall strength to put it simply. We only do 1 exercise a day usually working up to a 10,5, 3, 2 or 1RM followed by some drop sets at a lighter percentage. It’s amazing how doing 1 simple strength movement a day can produce such drastic results. We have literally had guys and girls double their back squats within 9 months of training. We now have several 300+lb deadlifters for men and almost all the girls can deadlift over 200+s. We also have a few guys squatting in the 300’s now and even girls squatting in the 200’s. The proof is in the results and it works.


Let’s move onto the WOD…this is where it gets complicated. Here are some things I like to consider when programming:


How many days a week are we open?


How frequently are we going to perform certain movements?


Which movements do we need to focus on more frequently?


How many reps of each exercise are we going to do per week?


How much weight (tonnage) are we going to lift this week?


How is the combination of movements going to affect the body?


How much time is enough to get the desired effect?


Is it a sprint? Is it a marathon? Is it an interval?


How is yesterday’s workout going to effect today’s?


Are these movements targeting our weaknesses?


Are these movements scalable?


These are just a few questions I think about when programming. SO ideally if I were programming for an individual I would know exactly what days of the week they are training and specific weaknesses to address. Unfortunately with group training this isn’t so simple. Some people come 3 days per week and some come everyday. That rules out programming short days and long day. What if somebody only comes MWF and you always put squats on Tuesday? Well shit…There’s another issue. That’s why I try to rotate movements so they don’t always fall on the same day. It’s an unfortunate part of programming for the masses but it is what it is. I don’t like to program too many “rest/easy” days because what if you always come in on a rest day and you don’t get the intensity you need to cause a change in the body? This is my favorite one….”WHY DID WE DO ______ exercise so much this week?!”. Well let’s look at it like this. We have 2 different types of strengths we are trying to target: Muscular strength and muscular endurance. So yesterday we did 5RM back squat with some drop sets….today we did 100 air squats. Those 2 things look similar but they are targeting 2 completely different factors in your training. In CrossFit we will probably use every muscle group every single day. Some days may seem more intense for certain muscle groups but that’s just how it is when you are doing full body movements on a daily basis. This is when it comes in handy to either A. take a rest day or B. modify your workout. I know it’s frustrating when you don’t RX a WOD but we need to focus on the big picture and not just today!


That get’s me back to RX…this frustrates me more than anything in the world when I see people that don’t need to be doing RX that do it anyways. Even when I kindly suggest they lighten it up. What happens when we go to heavy or pick too complicated of a movement just so we can put that little RX button on Wodify is that we sacrifice the quality of the workout we are doing. CrossFit is all about intensity right??? So why would you pick a weight/ movement that you spend half the workout resting when you could be getting good quality reps in? Check the ego at the door, scale your movements and eventually you WILL be able to RX the WOD and do it with the appropriate intensity!


Well, I hope this gives you just a little insight into what goes into programming at CrossFit Towson. The main advice I can give is to come in consistently and you will see results if you take the time to listen and ask questions if you have them. See you in the box!


-Coach Sean

Get your mind Right...

Posted by Sean Hutchinson on December 22, 2014 at 11:50 AM Comments comments (0)


"DON'T BE A MENTAL MIDGET!"


 “135KG on the Bar for Sean Hutchinson’s first attempt.”… “OMG, Can I make this?? I mean I’ve done it before in training and I’ve never missed it. But, I just cut weight. My legs feel week. Maybe I should have dropped my opener just to be safe. Shit…30 seconds left. OMG I made the clean, breath, breath, breath!!! FUCK, I just pressed it out. I’m so fucked. I can’t make this lift”….


That was me at the 2011 National Weightlifting Championships. It was my last major bomb out at a National Competition. I was already 5kg ahead of 2nd place in the snatch. I could have simply opened with 126kg for the win but I knew I was capable of more. At the time I had done 145kg in training so I had no reason to fear 135kg. That should be an easy opener no matter what the situation was. I remember making my last easy warm up with 130kg then going out to the platform with nothing but doubt and insecurity. Even though I was in an easy position to win, my mental state wouldn’t allow it. I honestly thought that I couldn’t win even though I had won competitions in the past. I don’t know what came over me but somehow I ended up missing 3 clean and jerks in a row with 135kg. After missing the 1st one due to a press-out I panicked. I knew I was done. I was going to be too exhausted to recover in time for the 2nd attempt.


Fast forward to 2014 American Open. I went 6 for 6, followed myself on almost every attempt except for my 2nd clean and jerk, and I hit a PR clean and jerk and overall total after recovering from shoulder surgery about a year ago. I had a torn rotator cuff where I needed 3 anchors to repair my supraspinatus. My rotator cuff looked like it went through a meat grinder. I still have shoulder pain due to the lack of cartilage in my shoulder after they cleaned out all the turn shredded pieces. I even had some bone spurs in there they had to clean out. At the time of my surgery I never thought I would touch a barbell again, let alone get back on the National stage and win competitions and hit PRs!


I think there are a few things I can attribute to my newly found success. The first and most obvious to me was having my shoulder repaired. Although going through the recovery process was anything but torture, I felt like I came out way more confident in the end. I knew I put the time and work in to make my shoulder stronger than it ever was. Within 6 months of surgery I was back competing and hit a PR competition clean and jerk of 141kg. I had not clean and jerked over 140kg in competition since the 2009 Rodger Degarmo and it wasn’t because I wasn’t strong enough physically. I was just mentally weak. Something my coach and my old teammates refer to as being a “Mental Midget”. It might sound like a crude term but for us it described somebody who wasn’t mentally tough enough.


I hate to admit it, but that was definitely my issue. I had become something I never wanted to be associated with. My mental game was at it’s lowest point over before I got my shoulder repaired. I remember going into the 2011 National Championships my best training lifts were: snatch: 112kgx3 without straps and 114kgx3 with straps but at the time my best competition snatch was only 116kg. How is that even possible??? My best clean was 142kgx3 and 150kgx1. My best jerk from the blocks was 150kgx3 and 155kgx1! How is it possible my best clean and jerk in competition was only 140kg?!?! Sure I had cleaned over 140kg almost every competition but for some reason I just couldn’t jerk it. Was it because I just wasn’t strong enough to get it overhead? Well, clearly I was plenty strong enough in the gym if I was able to do 155kg. Why couldn’t I hit these routine weights in competition?!?! It’s because I was mentally weak…I was a Mental Midget.


Now, to put this into perspective, let’s look at my training lifts before 2014 American Open. My best triple was 102kg, best single without straps was 109kg and with straps 111kg. My best clean was 130kgx3 and 138kgx1. The most I had put overhead was a 145kg behind the neck jerk from the rack. The most I had jerked from the front was 137kg from the rack and 134kg clean and jerk was my best effort in training. So how is it possible that I went from snatching 109kg with no straps and clean and jerking 134kg to snatching 115kg and clean and jerking a competition PR of 142kg after cutting 4#’s of water weight a few hours before I lifted? Something different is going on here, that’s for sure.


So, what was the difference between the 2011 National Championships and the 2014 American Open Championships? Well, I would have to say it was my mental game. My confidence was higher than it has ever been. I was in a mindset where I was just stoked to be able to lift. I didn’t care about winning medals anymore. There was no pressure on myself to try to win. I care about setting personal records and improving myself. If I happen to beat some people on the way to those new records then awesome. I think that is the problem with a lot of athletes I see competing these days. They hit these huge training lifts but then when it comes time to do it when it counts they have too much self-doubt and too much negative self-talk. When I approached the bar all 6x’s at AO all I thought was pull the fuck out of that bar and get under it! I wasn’t thinking about how heavy it was, or what ranking this lift would put me on for whatever team. Those are the last things you should be thinking about. I was out there enjoying my moment…that 6 minutes of glory we train our asses off for months at a time. I don’t remember anything else about my lifts except for how amazing they felt. It was almost like I was outside of my body watching myself do the lift. I was visualizing and I was conquering. When it was all said and done I was completely satisfied with my performance. I don’t think it was my best because there is always room for improvement, but I was satisfied for that day.


I remember going home and scrolling through all the facebook post and seeing so many lifters post stuff like this… “Well, this weekend wasn’t my best performance. I had to cut a lot of weight, I got sick a week ago, my warm ups didn’t go as planned, I only made 2 out of 6 lifts even though I had done way more in training. Hopefully I’ll come back better at the next one!” It makes me sad seeing those post. I used to make those posts. There was always an excuse as to why a competition didn’t go as planned. This leads me to my next point of being adaptable.




Sometimes the competition doesn’t go as planned. You show up, the weights feel heavy, the timing is off in your warm ups, the competition is moving too slow or too fast. Whatever it is, as an athlete you can’t let these things shake you. At AO when I found out Darrel would not be lifting I knew I would be following myself on every attempt. IF this was 2011 I would have been screwed. I would have told myself it’s impossible to recover in 2 minutes to go out and do another heavy attempt. Not this time. I knew no matter what the situation was, I would lift whatever weight was on the bar. Funny story…during snatches when I was warming up I managed to clock myself right in the forehead with an 80kg snatch. I honestly thought I knocked myself out for a second. I didn’t let that shake me though. I laughed it off…along with 10 other people who watched me do it in the warm ups, and got right back in the zone. I wasn’t listening to music, I was just replaying myself over and over in my head making the lifts. I knew exactly what to do and I went out there and did it 6x’s in a row without failure. That’s how it should always be. No matter what the situation is, you have to adapt. I’ve had competitions before where I literally miss-timed my warm ups and I had to jump from 115kg to a 136kg for an opening clean and jerk. I still went out there and made the lift because I knew that’s what I had to do. So next time you feel overwhelmed or anxious just tell yourself this is what you’ve been training for. You know how to lift the weight so go out there and do it!


I’ve been lifting since 2005 and I’ve definitely come a long way in that 9 years. I know I still have a ways to go before I am satisfied with my career but I feel like I am definitely back on track not just physically, but mentally. My ultimate goal for 2015/2016 is to snatch over 2x body weight and clean and jerk 2.5x body weight. Let me do a little math for you…I want to snatch 125kg and clean and jerk 155kg. I know it sounds pretty far fetched considering my best competition lifts are 116kg and 142kg but it’s literally 10-15kg over my best training lifts. Anyways, I think you guys get the point. It takes more than just a physically strong athlete to be successful. If you find yourself struggling to match your competitions PR’s to your training PR’s you need to stop and re-evaluate our mindset. There is no reason you shouldn’t be able to recreate those PR’s where it counts.





11 Things Every CrossFitter/Weightlifter Should have in their Gym Bag!

Posted by Sean Hutchinson on December 16, 2014 at 9:50 PM Comments comments (0)

11 Things Every CrossFit/Weightlifting Athlete Should have in their gym bag!


Well, first thing’s first…you need a gym bag.


Here is my top choice and recommendation: The KING KONG Bag by King Kong Apparel. They are now on their 3rd generation of this bag and it is top notch. I still have the original bag they came out with a few years ago and it is holding up just great. It features 2 side compartments, perfect for storing your weightlifting shoes and another pair of shoes like Nanos or inov-8’s that you would WOD in. The main compartment can hold the rest of your other gear like belt, jump rope, protein powder, creatine, etc. the opposite side of the shoe compartments can hold miscellaneous stuff like wrist wraps, training journal, etc and the front smaller pockets are great for putting keys, headphones, jewelry and other nick-knack things you can think of. The material is pretty heavy duty and very durable. I’ve taken this thing around the country and thrown it everywhere and it still has years of life left in it. I can’t recommend this bag highly enough. Did I mention it comes in camo??? How can you not want that!?! Now let’s move on to the top 11 things to put inside that bag!




1. Weightlifting shoes – Whether you are a Weightlifter or CrossFitter you will definitely need these for any heavy lifting. Let’s face it, we’re not Rich Froning. Not everybody is going to be able to hit a rock solid bottom position in nanos. Weightlifting shoes help us compensate for lack of ankle mobility to put us in a more upright and stable position while squatting and performing the Olympic Lifts. My recommendations for Weightlifting shoes: Adidas Adipower or the Nike Romaleos




 Both these shoes are amazing weightlifting shoes with a few differences. The Romaleos tend to be a heavier shoe with a stiffer front part of the sole. They also have a 2 strap system and tend to fit wider feet slightly better. The Adipowers are much lighter, have a more flexible forefoot, and only have 1 strap. Personally I have lifted in both shoes and felt completely comfortable in either one. Don’t waste your money on other cheap versions of Weightlifting shoes. Consider these shoes an investment. Most likely you will never even lift long enough to wear a pair out and have to replace them since the only place you should be wearing them is a gym with rubber floors or wood platforms. Check out eastbay.com for pretty good deals on these shoes. They usually run a 20% off code once a month so you can easily pick up a pair for $160 rather than paying full retail at $200.


2. Athletic Shoes – Not every exercise you perform will require weightlifting shoes, especially if you are a CrossFit athlete. My recommendation is to stick with what works. Reebok CrossFit Nanos are pretty much untouchable as far as the functional training shoe goes. I’ve had 3 out of the 4 versions so far and they are pretty damn durable and good-looking too. These will run you anywhere from $50-$120 depending on what websites you check and what sales are going on.


3. Athletic Tape- Great tool for any athletes needs. You can use it to take up your hands to prevent calluses or cover ones that have already torn. You can use it as a wrist support in a quick fix if you forget your wrist wraps. You can use it for other things as well but the important thing is to make sure you have it. Since I’m cheap I prefer not to spend a ton of money on tape. I usually shop Amazon and pick up a 12 pack of 1” Johnson Johnson tape for around $25, which usually last me a few months. If you want to blow some money on tape check out Goat Tape. It’s one of the most expensive tapes out there but it works pretty damn good compared to cheaper brands. I still can’t justify spending $5 on tape with as much tape as I go through.


4. Wrist Wraps- You may not decide to get a pair until it’s too late. Don’t wait until your wrist start hurting before you decide to break down and buy a pair. Between all the lifting both CrossFitters and Weightlifters do, the wrist usually take a hell of a beating on a daily basis. I learned a lot time ago my wrist might not hurt today but they will probably be killing me by the end of the week. My recommendation is to buy boxing wraps. They are super cheap and work surprisingly well compared to the new popular CrossFit style wraps. There are tons of wrap companies on the market so take your pick. They usually run $30/pair compared to about $3.00/pair for boxing wraps. Take your pick. They all pretty much do the same thing. Don’t use elastic wrist wraps. They suck, period.


5. Knee Sleeves- These can be great for anybody doing lots of lifting, jumping, running, etc. Knee sleeves provide a little bit of support at the bottom of the squat, but the most important thing they do is keep the knee joint warm. I usually recommend getting them the size recommended by the manufacturer. Don’t go to small otherwise they will feel very constrictive. You want them to be tight enough to where they don’t easily fall down but not so tight that they constrict movement. Rehband has made a great product for many years. There are a few competitors on the market but honestly I can’t recommend Rehbands highly enough! Hands down best knee sleeves on the market. 7mm seems to be more popular with Weightlifters while the 5mm tend to be better for CrossFit athletes.


6. Jump Rope- Obviously Weightlifters don’t need one but if you CrossFit you should definitely invest $20 and get a nice rope that you can cut to the perfect length. I love the Rogue Sr-1 speed rope. Either handle design is fine it just depends on the person. Make sure when you do cut your rope you don’t make it too short. I see this happen all the time and you end up having to purchase a new cable. Having your own rope means you can practice at home or on the road and you don’t have to worry about finding a rope that fits you at the gym especially if they are all tangled and knotted up.




7. Lacrosse Ball – This is super cheap and effective for mobility. You can roll out some hard to reach muscles in your back and hips and they literally are the cheapest mobility tool you can get. I think you can pick one up at a local sporting goods store for around $3. Don’t waste money on those overpriced overhyped “massage” balls. A lacrosse ball will do everything you need it to do.




8. Foam roller – If you’re too cheap to buy a $40 foam roller head over to your local hardware store and pick up some PVC pipe and get it cut down to a manageable size. They come in various diameters so find one that would be similar size to a foam roller you would use. If it’s too hard try duct taping some foam around it to make it a little softer. Great for rolling out the quads, hamstrings, calves, back, etc.


 


9. Supplements – I know you’re probably thinking…”why not just eat real food?” Well sometimes real food isn’t easily accessible. I always carry whey protein and creatine with me so I can take it post workout. Especially if I know I’m going to have to turn around and coach a class right after I finish. I try to stay away from artificial sweeteners and flavorings so I make my own custom mix at truenutrition.com. Great prices and great tasting proteins plus I can create my own blend with carbs, proteins, and fats! I also only use Creapure Creatine. it is the most pure creatine monohydrate supplement on the market. It is only made in a specific lab in Germany and tested for it's purity. I don't really mess with any other supplments except for the occassional Kill Cliff or FitAID post workout.



10. Shaker Bottle – Every athlete should have one so they can mix supplements on the go or simply to put water in so they can stay hydrated during a workout. They are relatively cheap and get the job done. I usually keep 2-3 on hand just incase I forget it and leave it in the car or at home. I prefer the original blender bottle. It breaks up protein powders and makes sure everything mixes smoothly. It’s just an all around great product.




11. The Marc Pro - Last but not least is a very important and I think often overlooked product for recovery. The Marc Pro uses electrical stimulation to create circulation in the body post workout to remove waste from muscles. It works differently then a TENS unit so don’t confuse the 2. TENS units are cheap and meant to be used to block pain signals in the body. The Marc Pro is specially designed to help your muscles recovery after grueling workouts. I love this product because it is small, portable, and rechargeable. I can usually charge it up every 2-3 days and take it wherever I need to go. Anytime I get a chance I hook up any sore or achy muscles and give it at least 30 minutes to work it’s magic. It definitely doesn’t come cheap but with a `12 month payment option and a 30-day return policy you can’t really beat this product. Give it a try for a month and if you don’t like it, send it back for a refund! Well there you have it folks. (Use discount code BFT2016 to save 5% off your purchase at marcpro.com)




The 11 things every CrossFit/Weightlifting athlete should have in their gym bag! Don’t forget to pick up a nice gym bag first if you don’t yet have one. You can follow the link on my affiliate page to save 10% off your purchase at King Kong Apparel http://www.builtforthisathletics.com/affiliates. Look forward to more blogs and updates in the future! Feel free to leave feedback with your favorite products and any discount codes you would like to share with us all!

2014: Rebuilding - The American Open

Posted by Sean Hutchinson on December 15, 2014 at 1:50 PM Comments comments (0)

So, I just got back from the 2014 American Open and have had some time to let everything sink in. I can honestly say I have met all of my post surgery goals for 2014 so far even though there were times I felt like giving up. My first official competition back was a local comp up in York, PA. I can’t even think of the name of it but it was a great experience to say the least. I was coached by one of my former rivals, and great friend, Aaron Adams. You guys might remember him being a stud of a lifter in the 62kg class as well with PR lifts of 112kg snatch and 151kg clean and jerk. Well, now that he’s retired from lifting he has picked up coaching on top of becoming an Acupuncturist professionally.




This was my first experience having Aaron coach me and I have to say it was a pretty great one. I ended up going 6 for 6 and hitting a lifetime PR competition clean and jerk with 141kg at 63kg body weight after snatching 110kg. My best training lifts at the time were 104kg snatch (no straps) and 136kg clean and jerk. I had originally entered as a 69kg lifter because I was consistently weighing in around 65kg but I got a bad stomach bug 2 weeks out and literally shit my brains out for a week and couldn’t eat anything so I lost a couple kg right before the meet. I missed an entire week of peaking but that didn’t matter. My coach had confidence in me and so did I. This was about 6 months after my rotator cuff surgery so, at that point I was just stoked to be able to do the lifts, let alone, hit a PR in the lift I always struggled the most in.


Fast forward a few months and we get to the Muscle Driver competition, which was almost 12 weeks to the date before the AO. I decided to hit that up so I could get a chance for my mom and sister to meet my new girlfriend who also happened to be competing. I wasn’t even peaking for this meet since I had to start my first week of 10’s for AO’s but I still managed to go 4 for 6 and hit a nice 107kg snatch and 132kg clean and power jerk. I couldn’t even split jerk because I had some really bad hip inflammation from a CrossFit workout I had done earlier that week. That was a huge PR for me being in the 10 rep phase of the LSUS training program and I have to attribute some of that to the additional CrossFit style training I have been doing on top of my Weightlifting training. Wait a minute…That’s right…I just said CrossFit. I know, it seems counterproductive for a Weightlifter to do CrossFit workouts, especially every single day but that’s what I’ve been doing for the last 6 months. Ok, maybe not every single day but I was doing WOD’s at least 3-4x’s a week on top of all the weightlifting I do. The extra conditioning work and core work I get from CrossFit has greatly impacted my ability to do work in the gym and stay fresh during competitions. Plus, it keeps training exciting rather than doing the same 4-5 movements over and over and over I get to push myself to do something different every day.


Now let’s talk about the AO…I’ve been looking forward to this competition since I missed the 2013 AO because I was still recovering from surgery. I remember I had just moved to Baltimore and started coaching Weightlifting at a gym there. I was literally a shell of my former self. I think I was weighing around 59-60kg at best, wasn’t really doing any training yet but I knew where I wanted to be. I wanted to be back up on that stage competing with the best lifters in the country. I remember looking at the results from the AO thinking that should have been me up on that podium…I guess I could have said the same thing about Nationals as well after getting 2nd place to Derrick Johnson because I failed to stick my last jerk. In the last year all my competitors have been steadily improving, while I have been simply trying to get back to where I once was. That was just more motivation for me to keep pushing myself although I learned to train a lot smarter than I used to do. I knew if something was hurting it was best not to push it and just take it easy. If my body needed rest I took it. If something felt too heavy I lightened it up and worked on percentages instead of trying to hit PR’s I got tons and tons of reps in at lighter weights that I could hit with good form. All these small things that I neglected in the past helped me push past my previous best. The funny thing is that leading up to AO I wasn’t really hitting insane lifts. I was hitting stuff that I was hitting back in 2009 but the difference was I wasn’t just hitting it once in a blue moon. I was able to stick these lifts any given day without question. I think that consistency is what built up to my PR performance at the 2014 AO. As of last week the most I had done in training the last 2 training cycles (12 week cycles) was 109kg snatch (no straps) and 134kg clean and jerk. I couldn’t even do split jerks because I was having hip issues in the split so I only had 2 workouts where I even did heavy split jerks.


Body weight was another issue I haven’t had to address since 2013 Nationals. I literally forgot what I was supposed to do to cut weight. I remember I was about 4 weeks out and I got on the scale at 65.8kg and was like shit, I should probably start cleaning up my diet. No more beer, no more milk, no more cookies, no more junk…ok maybe a couple beers and the occasional cookie but that’s it! I got down to around 63.5-64kg the week of the competition. I ended up driving down to D.C. the night before to compare my scale to the check scale so I could see exactly how much I needed to cut. I was about 63.7 before dinner and ended up having a cheeseburger with no bun at the hotel and a couple fries (I couldn’t help it I was starving after working all day and only having breakfast!) On top of being over weight, I never ever have to compete this late in the day. Weigh in at 4pm, lift at 6pm…weird. So that actually worked to my advantage since I had so much weight to cut. Since I live in Baltimore and the competition was down in D.C. I figured I would just wear my sauna suit down to the meet and blast the heater so I could jump start the water loss. I left my house at 63.6kg and showed up at 62.5kg. Still having 2 hours before weigh ins I hung out for a while and then put the suit back on and sat in my car with the heater on full blast in the parking lot for another 20 minutes. Came back in and I was right on with my weight. The good thing was I didn’t even feel fatigued or tired like I would if I had sat in the sauna to cut weight.


Now, lets get to the competition…or lack there of. I knew coming into this competitions I would face one of my biggest rivals in the 62kg class, Darrel Barnes. He is an outstanding Jr. lifter with PR’s of 122kg snatch and 147kg clean and jerk and a total of 268kg (going off memory here). I knew he would be a force to be reckoned with but to my surprise I found out he was not going to be lifting. This took a little pressure off me but at the same time I think I definitely left some extra kg’s off my total for that reason. We ended up dropping my openers to 105/130 since I wasn’t really competing with anybody but myself.


Warm ups went great despite clocking myself in the forehead with an 80kg snatch and giving myself a giant goose egg. I couldn’t help it, the weights literally felt weightless. I think that has a lot to do with the fact that I train with shitty rubber bumpers that don’t fit the bar snugly and I lift on rubber instead of wood platforms. My lifts felt so smooth and sharp it was unbelievable. The warm up platforms were a little slippery but other than that everything was going perfectly.


When it was finally my turn to lift I had to follow myself on every single snatch. I ended up going 3 for 3 hitting 105, 110, and 115, which was a great start for the day. Normally I would have been pissed following myself because I used to get so tired between lifts. Once again I’ll mention my crossfit training which I feel really helped my conditioning for situations like this I was able to recovery much more quickly and be ready for the next lift while still feeling fresh. Clean and jerks were almost the same with a brief pause between my 130 opener and 138kg 2nd attempt. I got a little toe heavy on my 138, which made it feel way harder than it should have. In my mind I wanted to go straight to 145 for a nice 260 total but at this point I just wanted to break my plateau and hit a PR clean and jerk and total in the process. Aaron ended up putting 142kg on the bar and I smoked it! So there we go, another 6 for 6 performance with coach Aaron. I’m starting to think this guy is my good luck charm…or maybe he just knows me better than I think. After all, we have trained together for 5 years in Shreveport, LA so I think he’s got a little extra insight as to how I work.


 


With 2014 coming to a close, in all this was a very successful year. I recovered from shoulder and knee surgery, went 6 for 6 at 2 competitions where I set PR’s at both of them including 2 clean and jerk PR’s with 141kg and 142kg and a new total PR of 257kg as a 62kg lifter. I got to get back up on the National stage and see some old and new faces in the Weightlifting World. I’m so excited to see this sport continue to grow and I am stoked to see how much further I can go in the next 2 years! Also looking forward to trying out for NPGL since we now have a team in Baltimore, MD!


Thanks for reading and if you aren’t already, follow me on instagram @built4this62kg. I post a lot of training videos on there now instead of youtube since it’s so much easier to do.

7 Rules of Gym Etiquette

Posted by Sean Hutchinson on November 6, 2014 at 11:05 AM Comments comments (0)


So, I’ve come to the conclusion that there seems to be a lack of knowledge or awareness of proper gym etiquette wherever I go these days, and it’s only getting worse as the average globo gym member makes the switch to the world of CrossFit. Below I will break down some ways you can achieve better gym etiquette, specifically in the CrossFit Box.


1. Show up on time.


My mom always preached to me when I was younger, “If you’re early then you’re on time, if you’re on time, then you’re.” Wait what??! Point being, make an effort to get to class a little early, especially if you plan to plop down and foam roll for 10 minutes. Once class starts it’s time to start warming up with the rest of the class. This doesn’t mean show up early, wait until class starts, then grab a foam roller while the rest of the class is running 400m. The worse is when we’re done warming up and somebody rolls in and says sorry I’m late what should I do. Well, you missed the warm up…you should probably warm up and catch up with the rest of the class. I’m a pretty laid back coach so I’m fine letting people jump into class but I know plenty of gyms with coaches that will tell you “Sorry you’re late, you’ll have to wait until the next class starts.” I know you probably have better things to do than stand around and wait until the next class starts but let’s not make a habit out of showing up late.


2. Pay attention when the coach is going over the WOD.


Now I know sometimes people ask questions because they genuinely don’t understand what’s going on, but when the coach has to re-explain the workout to 5 different people because they were too busy getting water, running to the bathroom, or checking their phone while coach is going over the workout it becomes a problem. Stop what you’re doing for 5 minutes and listen up. When the coach speaks it’s probably because they are telling you something important. Even if you already know what’s going on shut up and listen so the rest of the class knows what’s going on.


3. Put your equipment away!


This is the most common rule of gym etiquette I see broken. Something that was pounded into my head as a child by my father was to always put something away when I was finished. I can’t count how many times I got in trouble for leaving toys out. Eventually I figured out that pops would stop complaining if I simply put my stuff away when I was done with it. Same thing goes in the gym. The last thing I want to do is pick up all your weights and move your box after you “forgot” to put your stuff away. I already did my workout of the day and I don’t want to lift anything again until tomorrow and neither does anybody else in the following class. Also, if you’re putting your equipment up, PUT IT BACK EXACTLY HOW YOU FOUND IT! I can’t stress this enough. If the jump rope is hung up correctly when you got it out, put it back the same way don’t just toss it up on the rack because you’re too tired to spend 5 seconds hanging it up correctly. Stack the 45’s with the 45’s not the 25’s and put the men’s bars back with the men’s bars. If everybody takes the time to do this the gym will always look nice and you’ll always be able to find what you’re looking for.


4. Clean up after yourself and your children.


It’s a pretty simple rule that seems to always be overlooked. If you make a mess, clean it up. If you bring your kid and he spills a juice box, clean it up. If you use a cup or a paper towel, throw it away. If you pee on the toilet seat, wipe it off. I’m a coach, not a janitor. Same thing goes for putting your equipment away. It makes the gym look nice and presentable for the next class that comes in. Biggest thing ever…IF YOU BLEED ON THE BAR, CLEAN IT UP!!! Good God, you think this would be common sense!? I can’t count how many times I’ve seen people rip on the pull up bar and just keep going then finish the workout and walk out. Clearly if you were bleeding during the workout there is most likely going to be blood on the bar you were just using. The gym is already dirty enough; let’s not make it worse by leaving bodily fluids that can transmit disease all over the place.


5. Unless you have somewhere important to be don’t start cleaning up your weights until everybody is done.


I don’t know about you but it makes me feel like a total wimp when I see the guy next to me already putting his bar up and all his weights as he mixes up his protein shake on his way out the door. CrossFit is supposed to be about community and supporting your fellow athletes. If you finish first I expect you to be cheering on and encouraging the rest of the class. You can grab a protein shake if you want but don’t start walking in front of people carrying your weights when they are still struggling to finish the 2nd round. Once everybody else is done, now is the time to start packing up to go home. You signed up for an hour-long class, so participate for an hour.


6. Don’t walk or stand in front of people taking big lifts during strength.


This is a rule that carry’s over from my days in Weightlifting. It was one of the worst offenses you could commit in the gym. There is nothing more annoying than getting set to take a PR clean with 300+lbs and looking up to see Joe Bob standing in front of you talking about the awesome football game last night he watched on ESPN. Respect the fact that these lifts require tremendous focus and somebody could seriously injure themselves if distracted during a heavy barbell movement. That brings up another good point. Be aware of what is going on in the gym. Look around; see what your fellow gym-mate is putting on the bar. They might need some extra encouragement during a new PR lift. I don’t mind talking in the gym but if somebody is trying to get focused for a big lift, stop talking for a few seconds and cheer them on!


7. Don’t complain about the music.


This is probably one of the most annoying parts about coaching CrossFit. Jill hates rock, Jack hates rap, Bob only likes to workout to dubstep. Sorry guys and gals, we can’t please everybody. As a coach I try my best to keep some good energy flowing during the WODS but let’s face it, not everybody is going to love the music that is playing. We need to be more open minded when it comes to this. I try to switch it up every day. Some days rap, some days rock, some days dubstep, hell every now and then I’ll throw on some country music. Point is, don’t worry about the damn music and just get your workout done!


That’s about all I can think of this time but if I can think of anything else you can bet your ass I’ll write a blog about it. If you can follow these 7 points you and the rest of your classmates will have a much better experience at the gym.

7 Rules of Gym Etiquette

Posted by Sean Hutchinson on November 6, 2014 at 11:05 AM Comments comments (0)


So, I’ve come to the conclusion that there seems to be a lack of knowledge or awareness of proper gym etiquette wherever I go these days, and it’s only getting worse as the average globo gym member makes the switch to the world of CrossFit. Below I will break down some ways you can achieve better gym etiquette, specifically in the CrossFit Box.


1. Show up on time.


My mom always preached to me when I was younger, “If you’re early then you’re on time, if you’re on time, then you’re.” Wait what??! Point being, make an effort to get to class a little early, especially if you plan to plop down and foam roll for 10 minutes. Once class starts it’s time to start warming up with the rest of the class. This doesn’t mean show up early, wait until class starts, then grab a foam roller while the rest of the class is running 400m. The worse is when we’re done warming up and somebody rolls in and says sorry I’m late what should I do. Well, you missed the warm up…you should probably warm up and catch up with the rest of the class. I’m a pretty laid back coach so I’m fine letting people jump into class but I know plenty of gyms with coaches that will tell you “Sorry you’re late, you’ll have to wait until the next class starts.” I know you probably have better things to do than stand around and wait until the next class starts but let’s not make a habit out of showing up late.


2. Pay attention when the coach is going over the WOD.


Now I know sometimes people ask questions because they genuinely don’t understand what’s going on, but when the coach has to re-explain the workout to 5 different people because they were too busy getting water, running to the bathroom, or checking their phone while coach is going over the workout it becomes a problem. Stop what you’re doing for 5 minutes and listen up. When the coach speaks it’s probably because they are telling you something important. Even if you already know what’s going on shut up and listen so the rest of the class knows what’s going on.


3. Put your equipment away!


This is the most common rule of gym etiquette I see broken. Something that was pounded into my head as a child by my father was to always put something away when I was finished. I can’t count how many times I got in trouble for leaving toys out. Eventually I figured out that pops would stop complaining if I simply put my stuff away when I was done with it. Same thing goes in the gym. The last thing I want to do is pick up all your weights and move your box after you “forgot” to put your stuff away. I already did my workout of the day and I don’t want to lift anything again until tomorrow and neither does anybody else in the following class. Also, if you’re putting your equipment up, PUT IT BACK EXACTLY HOW YOU FOUND IT! I can’t stress this enough. If the jump rope is hung up correctly when you got it out, put it back the same way don’t just toss it up on the rack because you’re too tired to spend 5 seconds hanging it up correctly. Stack the 45’s with the 45’s not the 25’s and put the men’s bars back with the men’s bars. If everybody takes the time to do this the gym will always look nice and you’ll always be able to find what you’re looking for.


4. Clean up after yourself and your children.


It’s a pretty simple rule that seems to always be overlooked. If you make a mess, clean it up. If you bring your kid and he spills a juice box, clean it up. If you use a cup or a paper towel, throw it away. If you pee on the toilet seat, wipe it off. I’m a coach, not a janitor. Same thing goes for putting your equipment away. It makes the gym look nice and presentable for the next class that comes in. Biggest thing ever…IF YOU BLEED ON THE BAR, CLEAN IT UP!!! Good God, you think this would be common sense!? I can’t count how many times I’ve seen people rip on the pull up bar and just keep going then finish the workout and walk out. Clearly if you were bleeding during the workout there is most likely going to be blood on the bar you were just using. The gym is already dirty enough; let’s not make it worse by leaving bodily fluids that can transmit disease all over the place.


5. Unless you have somewhere important to be don’t start cleaning up your weights until everybody is done.


I don’t know about you but it makes me feel like a total wimp when I see the guy next to me already putting his bar up and all his weights as he mixes up his protein shake on his way out the door. CrossFit is supposed to be about community and supporting your fellow athletes. If you finish first I expect you to be cheering on and encouraging the rest of the class. You can grab a protein shake if you want but don’t start walking in front of people carrying your weights when they are still struggling to finish the 2nd round. Once everybody else is done, now is the time to start packing up to go home. You signed up for an hour-long class, so participate for an hour.


6. Don’t walk or stand in front of people taking big lifts during strength.


This is a rule that carry’s over from my days in Weightlifting. It was one of the worst offenses you could commit in the gym. There is nothing more annoying than getting set to take a PR clean with 300+lbs and looking up to see Joe Bob standing in front of you talking about the awesome football game last night he watched on ESPN. Respect the fact that these lifts require tremendous focus and somebody could seriously injure themselves if distracted during a heavy barbell movement. That brings up another good point. Be aware of what is going on in the gym. Look around; see what your fellow gym-mate is putting on the bar. They might need some extra encouragement during a new PR lift. I don’t mind talking in the gym but if somebody is trying to get focused for a big lift, stop talking for a few seconds and cheer them on!


7. Don’t complain about the music.


This is probably one of the most annoying parts about coaching CrossFit. Jill hates rock, Jack hates rap, Bob only likes to workout to dubstep. Sorry guys and gals, we can’t please everybody. As a coach I try my best to keep some good energy flowing during the WODS but let’s face it, not everybody is going to love the music that is playing. We need to be more open minded when it comes to this. I try to switch it up every day. Some days rap, some days rock, some days dubstep, hell every now and then I’ll throw on some country music. Point is, don’t worry about the damn music and just get your workout done!


That’s about all I can think of this time but if I can think of anything else you can bet your ass I’ll write a blog about it. If you can follow these 7 points you and the rest of your classmates will have a much better experience at the gym.


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