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Why Do We Train Our Feet?

When I talk about the limits of movement I often spend an inordinate amount of time talking about the wrists, feet, and ankles. I liken it to that of a high performance car, building the engine, suspension, and brakes—even christening it with a paint job that shows it all off—only to leave the most pitiful of tires to deal with all of that performance and power. 

The “warm-up” is often a sneaky way to get people to pay attention to the strength, balance, and flexibility of the feet. No one wants to do it, it tends to be monotonous, takes an extreme amount of attention and detail, and the progress isn’t always quantifiable; but in my experience it has paid off tremendously. This session focused mostly on the balance and explosive features of the feet.

Warm:

10m of each

-skip forward  

-skip backwards

-walking alternating kicks

-walking alternating kicks + quad stretch

-walking alternating kicks + quad stretch + instep stretch

-walking alternating kicks + quad stretch + instep stretch + single leg deadlift

-walking alternating kicks + quad stretch + instep stretch + single leg deadlift 

-lunge + walking alternating kicks + quad stretch + instep stretch + single leg deadlift

-lunge + walking alternating kicks + quad stretch + instep stretch + single leg deadlift + spiderman lunge

-lunge + walking alternating kicks + quad stretch + instep stretch + single leg deadlift + spiderman lunge + pistol

20x of each jump (all landings are straight legged, on the smaller jumps, all force should come without bending the knees)

6”

6” lateral

12”

20” (step off)

24” (step off)

4x30sec on/ 30-sec rest 

Explosive step-ups 20” box

4x30/30 double under/ single under

Work

20min AMRAP (These are “all-out” efforts, all together 60-90sec)

10x cal ski erg

+throw balls over rig 40-50-60-80lbs

+ 10 cal AB

Rest while partner goes


Should I Do A Standard Warm-up?

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I’ve seen this for some time now, and originally I used to joke about “standard warm-ups”, until I saw respectable coaches using it and now it seems it’s something that needs to be discussed. 

The argument for a standard warm-up that is preconceived and taught to group classes is that it allows the trainee to hit familiar movement patterns so they can get practice at specific, foundational movements. This all seems well intentioned, and I’m sure for the most part it is, but I have never seen this play out as trainees progressing the movements that they are so “familiar” with. It more often than not becomes the first 10-15 minutes of a class where the coach can get his/her shit together and pretend that they actually had a plan. The students don’t actually know that their goblet squat/kettlebell swing ladder that they have done a thousand times looks horrendous, because the coach is preoccupied with authoring a sufferfest.

For starters, those that teach high intensity training found in CrossFit gyms—and all variations of functional gyms that esteem to be better than CrossFit—only have a fraction of the hour-long class to actually improve movement patterns. Corrections on movements and the installation of cues hits a wall when a student is under duress (such as when one is doing high intensity training). This means the warm-up/work-up are some of the only opportunities to actually coach a student. 

I think of it like this: if I drive the same exact roads every single day, at the same exact times, in similar conditions, do I pay more or less attention to my actions? The obvious answer is clarified through traffic accident data that says you are more likely to be involved in an accident the closer you are to your home. Novelty and nuance demand attention, repetition is required but not at the expense of conscious intent. Warm-ups should be varied, individual, and meticulously watched; that is, if you are interested in getting better.

Warm: 10min easy ski/bike/row (“easy” is not mindless, focus on technical aspects of the movements like stroke rate, RPM, or refine the mechanics of your own stroke, breath or internal dialogue)

3 rounds NFT

-10 hinge (RDL making sure to load neutral spine)

-10 kang squat (RDL until you reach limit of mobility then squat down, reverse pattern to come up)

-10 air squat

-10 scap pull up (lock elbows)

-10 scap push up

-10 scap dip

-10 hollow rock

-10 hollow swing

Work up to heavy atlas stone (move from the ground up to as high as you are able)

5x @ 100

5x @ 150

5x @ 200

Work:

4 rounds for time:

10x touch and go D-ball ground to shoulder @100lbs (holding on to the ball during the decent requires more mobility, it is a compromised position, purposely)

+ 10m weighted bear crawl (hard style) @ 50lbs (before extending DB out in front, bring the DB up into the armpit, then extend out)

Rest while partner goes

Cool:

4 sets NFT

20x flat bench row 

10x Z press (single side) 


Am I Efficient or Am I Effective?

It’s worth considering that numbers in this space hold little to no value. What we are left with is effort.

Effort? 

Yeah, that’s what matters… 

Then how do we measure such a thing? 

Maybe the real question isn’t how do we measure effort, but how do we feel effort?

We are slaves to data, yet we misrepresent it often (“I give 110%”) thinking that the more scientific our approach the better the results will be. The problem however, isn’t the numbers or the data but one that is hidden deep inside interpreting them. It is being far removed from feeling what “better” is, it is relying on a progression or a spreadsheet to inform you that you have gotten better.

What is 100%? Is it a maximum effort? Is 90% better than 85%? If I establish such a number does it alleviate a hindrance, or does it enforce one? 

You are here to do work that can improve your future self—so by all means do work that makes you effective. You are here so that circumstances are easier for your future self—so by all means, do work that makes you efficient.

Warm:

10min easy bike erg (last 5min progressive flip flop 10/50, 20/40, 30/30 etc.)

Dynamic work:

3 rounds NFT (not for time)

10m walking lunge + Sampson (arms up)

10m bear crawl, backwards and forwards

10m spiderman lunge 

Work up to heavy power snatch 

3x3 @ “heavy” What is heavy? It’s enough to risk missing.

Work:

For Time:(but not for the sake of quality)

100cal ski <——This pace will dictate…

100x air squat <—— …how unbroken this can be.

100cal row

100x air squat

100cal Assault Bike


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Where Does Your Mind Wander?

It’s worth thinking about, unless that thinking is the wandering not wanted. 

At a certain point, during any increasingly difficult task, the intensity will require specific amounts of concentration. It might just be a matter of decision-making; I have to decide to continue more and more frequently the longer and higher the intensity climbs. “Will-power” then is just a proxy of something simple like… deciding what to wear.

When facing anything that requires not giving into pain a decision needs to be made. But it is fashionable folklore to believe that the level of deciding not to quit is only important at the highest amounts of pain, because the skill is developed before pain actually sets in.

We learn better decision making skills when it is layered on top of positive outcomes. In fact—like most fitness related things—jumping to extreme sides of the spectrum (in this case the intensity spectrum) helps us develop very little, except for bad habits.

Slowly increasing the effort (allowing yourself some successful progressions) is a better way to foster the “quit/don’t quit” conversation that plagues most of us. The more often we have that conversation and the more often we agree to continue, the more likely that we will with harder and harder efforts.

Warm:

10min Bike easy

Progressive Dynamic work'

10m of each compounding each movement onto the other (Don’t be tricked, these are drills to strengthen your feet)

-walking kicks

-walking kicks + quad stretch

-walking kicks + quad stretch + in step stretch

-lunge + walking kicks + quad stretch + in step stretch (like a half butterfly)

-lunge + walking kicks + quad stretch + in step stretch + single leg RDL

-lunge + walking kicks + quad stretch + in step stretch + single leg RDL + pistol

then

3-way single leg movement screen: Hinge forward + side bend + pistol (both hands should touch ground in each position) Don’t give up ankle or spine position just for the sake of depth, depth will come with proper positioning and appropriate pressure.

Work:

30min Air bike @ (choppy conversation pace) Don’t let the mind wander, if it does and the pace drops pull it back and focus on the effort. If your effort is too hard you will miss the lift—if you picked an appropriate load.

Every 3min do 10x wall balls + 1 clean @ heavy (heavy enough to risk missing)


How Do I Start Over?

 

It’s a question that no one wants to ask because doing so forces one to acknowledge their current state—painfully.  But, “I am not where I want to be” is a profoundly useful proclamation. 

The last year was not ideal, it was. certainly lacking in the competitive and physical realms. Ironically enough it was full of injuries (despite the physical trials) but also new projects and tumultuous relationships that needed to be nipped. Now I can see the clearing and however frustrating it is to build back capability it can also be a refreshing way to fix imbalances and prove that fitness and its correlative capability are not a destination but a practice. 

Circumstances change and our abilities change, it is up to us to change ourselves, to push the body where the mind desires. No one can do it for you. You have to do it yourself—for yourself.

Work:

2Hr 50Min Mixed road, gravel, and single track @ conversational pace (I hesitated on writing a pace because the fear of not having a previous ability almost kept me from riding entirely. Thankfully, I had a friend so the effort dictated the conversation, as opposed to how it is written.)