Maximizing Your Amplify Experience

Part 3: “Going Strong”
The Smart Approach to Strength Work

We got you started with preparation tips from Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, so now it’s go time.

Let’s look at how to approach any barbell lift (or even gymnastics skill focus).

First, understand there are quite a few styles of strength programs out there, with various macro- and micro-cycles to their name. Many have worth in any given fitness regimen, depending on desired goals and as long as the athlete is dedicated in following the progression.

In the CrossFit world, we want to build strength and skill while maintaining cardiorespiratory conditioning, so we put to use a generalized preparation program. Ultimately, let the coaches balance consistency and variance while you put in the work.

You’ve got your eyes on the prize, which is of course gains in muscular strength and endurance, so here are a few pointers that should allow you to ring that bell as you test your strength.

BEGINNERS:
Hurry, hurry, hurry! Step right up! Test your strength!
Make sure to simultaneously develop range of motion as you develop strength. Take the muscles through proper ROM so that each joint gains stability at beginning and end range. Connective tissues like tendons and ligaments need to become resilient while the muscle fibers grow in number and size, so it should all go without saying: strength takes time. You’re in this for lifelong fitness. Keep that in mind.

1.) Mechanics
Watch videos, pay attention to demos, and listen to cues. Be vocal with questions for clarification. Coaches will focus on the basics of the movement, then a few specific points during the exercise, then back to the large movement pattern. (Globally, then locally, then globally again.) Keep the form early for gains in the long run.

Mechanics Example: heels down, knees out, chest up during Back Squats.

2.) Consistency
Find and focus on the cues that seem to help– without overthinking the lift or skill. Move with solid mechanics every time, not just once in a while.

Consistency Example: stay smooth through the shoulder joints on kipping Pull-ups or Toes to Bar. Work strict pulls with sound form, then kip through the midline, not just legs, so multiple reps are clean.

3.) Intensity
If, and only if, a barbell lift or gymnastics skill is consistent in mechanics should we look to increase intensity. Be willing to reel yourself in during heavy 1rep tests or during a MetCon if your movement pattern is ever lost.

Intensity Example: are elbows dropping and lower back losing stability on high rep Cleans? Quite possibly an ego check is in order. No shame here; there’s no crowd of onlookers egging you on to swing the heavy mallet. Either slow down, drop the weight, or both.

VETERANS:
Big gun, coming through! No Rube here. Roll up the sleeves and give ‘er a whirl!
Don’t neglect the above. Check form first, then ramp up and attack the rep sequence of the day. And have fun! This is a great time to socialize between lifts. Give some kudos to the new kids on the block– they look to you for social cues. Plus, seeing others move, efficiently or not, can help with your own body awareness.

1.) Keep the Rep Scheme
Sometimes, the programmed sequence doesn’t seem like enough. Do not unnecessarily max out on a lift. Let the progression work for you. The No pain, no gain philosophy is short-sighted. Be smarter than that, and reap the benefits when it’s time. Likewise, try to hold on during the tough days. Those are on purpose, so only give in to keep safe or prevent from overtraining.

Strength Example: Snatch work calls for 5 sets of 3 at 65%, touch-and-go. You feel good and increase the weight, but have to drop in between reps. You missed the concept of barbell cycling here, and the purposeful lighter load to achieve the desired stimulus. Can’t complete more Snatch reps in a different part of the workout or on a different day that week? You missed the target completely. No prize for you.

2.) Know Your Body
Are you the type that needs a solid warm-up on the barbell before getting into the working sets of the day? Or do you tend to fatigue early and need to make bigger jumps in weight? We understand our tendencies better with experience, so let’s use that knowledge to get the most out of the strength session.

Strength Example: Deadlift options. 1) extended warm-up at #135/95 for 5 reps, then 5 more at #185/125, then 5 more at #225/155. Or, 2) quicker jumps with 5 reps at #135/95, 3 at #225/155, heavier singles up from there.

3.) Be Ready to Fail
How can you know what’s possible if you don’t test your physical threshold? Failure means we’ve tested the upper limits of our capabilities. The overload principle causes breakdown of the muscle by placing it under load, and the body rebuilds to resist future stress. We just want to safely find that failing point, and correctly do so periodically in programming, so we can approach our threshold again– whether it be in power lifts, Olympic lifts, or gymnastics movements like pull-ups and handstand push-ups. So, embrace the failure in order to succeed. Then ring that PR bell loud and clear and claim your oversized stuffed animal. Don’t worry– you’re strong enough to carry it.

Strength/Skill Examples: Strict Pull-ups to failure. Testing a 1rep Front Squat. Working on extra dips and transitions on the rings to finally achieve a Muscle-up.

RECOMMENDED READING:
Giving Up
Information on how to correctly fail by dumping a barbell.

Dedication
Hard work is never easy. Work, build gains, and work again. Check tips on how.

Movements
Click each link for pics, video, and other details.

 

This is part three of a six-part series entitled Maximizing Your Amplify Experience. Stay tuned for more.

– Scott, 7.14.2017

Maximizing Your Amplify Experience

Part 2: “You Are Here”
Upon Arriving at Amplify

You made it. You prepared with tips from Part 1 of this series, you’re off the couch, and you finally have pants on. Plus, there’s that unique mix of dread and excitement setting in for another Amplify workout.

Wait, you arrived more than a minute before class starts, right?

As coaches, we’ll get you warmed up– but keep in mind it’s a generalized warm-up before any specific workout preparation for the hour. This usually involves large muscle group movements followed by some quick drills, but you can get moving even before that. Yes, you’re in the gym, but now the work begins. If showing up is half the battle, there’s still more distance to cover.

Let’s map out some items for you to do in the minutes before class.

BEGINNERS:
To gain your whereabouts you need a zenith, since it’s easy to lose your bearings once inside the Amplify doors. Generally, there is a lot going on; often times several classes are occurring, the music is bumping, and of course there’s that whole sweating and grunting and dropping weights thing. So, let’s get you pointed in the right direction.

1.) Timeliness
Early on, we know you look to the coaches to tell you pretty much everything to do. But, surprise! You actually know your body better than anyone. Yes, even those of you with awful, *ahem*, developing body awareness. So, do you need more than 5-10 minutes preparation? Get here earlier, and follow #2 and #3.

2.) Blood Flow
Foam roll with a purpose. Rolling out increases circulation, breaks down soft tissue adhesion, and provides myofascial release. If you haven’t been shown how yet, grab a coach! A good start is to hit back and lats, quads and hammies, and calves/achilles. You can also warm up with simple PVC pipe movements or our crossover symmetry bands. Those are the elastic bands over in the corner, hanging from the wall. We have diagram details of exercises to do as movement prep there. We even have mobility posters on the wall. Still feeling lost? Don’t be stubborn– ask for directions!

3.) Socialize
Connect with our community. You won’t be disappointed. Drop any stress of the day and build your social health while developing your physical well-being. Not a social butterfly? No problem. Buddy up with just one or two other newbies you recognize. There is power in numbers, after all, and sharing accountability with another newcomer can set a grid of consistency on your fitness journey.

VETERANS:
As experienced athletes, your internal GPS is now preset– you have specific places you like to go upon arriving at Amplify. Your meridian, if you will. This is fine. Here are some reminders in case you’ve found yourself zoning out or losing sight of your surroundings.

1.) Know the Workout
Some check the WOD the night before, others like to find out upon arrival. Both for mental reasons; we get it. Either way, by the time your class starts you’ll benefit from knowing what movements are coming your way. It will help with warm-up and also any gear you may need (shoes, jumprope, wrist wraps, etc). Come with any questions to help clarify the expectations for you and other members.

2.) Movement Prep
Are you guilty of camping out on a foam roller? Don’t just sit and take in the scenery– get yourself moving so you’re not cold or stiff heading into the first portion of class. This might also be a good time to get extra weakness work in. Mobility/PVC drills? Kipping? Handstands? Even an easy barbell lift to activate the CNS might be worth your while. It’s your gym. Put it to use.

3.) Be a Leader
Give encouragement to the previous class as they finish their workout. Introduce yourself to any members you haven’t met. Build our community. Remember being a newcomer? Help guide our Intros or Elements participants. Develop comfort within our doors; everyone benefits. It isn’t just the coaching staff who open Amplify as a second home. You are here. Help make the most of it!

RECOMMENDED READING:
Warm-ups
Workout preparation and awaking the CNS. What works?

Range of Motion
Need work on mobility? Cutting your ROM in a workout? Check out these tips and videos.

Attitude
Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t– you might be wrong? Check out how.

 

This is part two of a six-part series entitled Maximizing Your Amplify Experience. Stay tuned for more.

– Scott, 6.30.2017

Maximizing Your Amplify Experience

Part 1: “Cleared for Arrival”
Before Entering Amplify

Prior to setting foot in the gym, some items need to be in place to ensure success with any fitness program. For us at Amplify, we pride ourselves in understanding that the development of the whole person is the ultimate goal; we always want to consider the entire spectrum of health and wellness: a balance of physical, mental, emotional, and social well-being.

This means we should first acknowledge time outside of the gym in order to help facilitate personal progress in your fitness journey and in life.

To start, here are some “to-do’s” before coming to class.

BEGINNERS:
First off, welcome! You’ve taken control of your fitness journey, and in looking for a safe and reliable place to land, you decided on us.

Some newbies come to us with absolutely no fitness background. Others are athletes looking for the next step in life or have been in and out of other programs before settling on Amplify. No matter what, no matter how intimidating it may feel, and no matter how much turbulence life has had before now, we are here to make that transition as smooth as possible. We’re glad you landed on Amplify.

1.) See the big picture.
Strength and conditioning takes time. Fitness is both a journey and a destination, although in this analogy we never really “get there,” we just arrive at layovers– short-term benchmarks where we refuel and reenergize to keep working our way towards the next goal. Keep in mind, it doesn’t all have to happen in one workout. Set a one month goal. Set a summer goal. If you want, set lots, aim high. But see them through. How? Write them down. Tell other people. Amplify coaches are here to help, so ask questions!

2.) Plan ahead.
We already set the daily workout, so that’s easy. But by planning your set days each week, checking the workout and any related videos ahead of time, and coming in with a plan of action, this not only shows true commitment but it’s also mentally easier once you set foot in the gym. And no extra baggage! Work around your career and social calendar, just for an hour. Allow yourself that. Let the only weight on your shoulders be that of the barbell, and the only stress be that of the MetCon.

3.) Hold yourself accountable.
While it’s okay to miss workout days, it’s not okay for it to become a habit. You didn’t register as an Amp member to stay home. We host nutrition challenges, so become involved! Use Wodify or a personal journal as a workout log to see your progress. Need more help? Find a copilot. Connect with a buddy in the same class hour as you and create weekly check-ins.

VETERANS:
Thanks for continuing to fly the friendly skies with Amplify. You are the heart and soul here, so your preparation is not to be neglected. Even after months or years at the gym, we could all use refocus and reminders.

1.) Don’t become complacent.
No recycled air here. If you haven’t felt stagnant, good on you. However, if you think your fitness journey is now an overcrowded flight circling the runway, then we need to find new motivation. How? See #2 and #3.

2.) Revisit goals.
It is just as important to examine your own goals as it is for a beginner. Life changes, and so should your outlook on approaching your fitness regimen with fun and fury. You know how exciting it is to have small victories or PR after years of hard work, but also remember to smile at life’s setbacks. That’s just headwind, after all, so set a new standard and attack. Change your altitude to improve your attitude.

3.) Maintain priorities.
Family and friends matter. Put those life essentials on level with your personal health. Along with social health development should be your physical well-being, and vice versa. After all, you can’t be there for loved ones if you literally can’t be there because of a lack of wellness. There’s always a big picture involved; invest in yourself in order to invest in others. Adjust for heavy winds, and keep navigating.

RECOMMENDED READING:
Goal Setting
Simple tips on how to plan your summer workouts and reap the benefits come fall.

The Fitness Equation
Things can look so simple on paper: fuel, work, rest, repeat. So where do we go wrong? Check out the basic recipe for success in physical fitness.

Cherry Picking
Why shy away from the very workouts you need? See recommendations on how to avoid laziness.

 

This is part one of a six-part series entitled Maximizing Your Amplify Experience. Stay tuned for more.

– Scott, 6.16.2017

2017: A New Year

A New Year

Lifestyle vs. Resolution
We love challenges at CrossFit Amplify. Nutrition challenges, fitness competitions, and even the popular New Year, New You motivational cliché for newcomers.

Yet it must be said that what we are attempting to construct in those 3-, 6-, or 8-week challenges is not necessarily a resolution. It’s a lifestyle.

We have come to understand that anyone looking for a quick fix with diet and exercise clearly needs some guidance. Those who expect health and wellness in just a matter of months often become very disappointed, and therefore fall off the fitness (band)wagon. See, this isn’t a “get rich quick” scheme. Fitness isn’t in the 8-minute Abs, ThighMaster, Bowflex, Tae-Bo, or Zumba. And it’s not in Bootcamps, Kettlebells, or CrossFit training either.

The magic is not in the program– although some are identifiably better than others. (Insert jab at easy target here. Shake Weight, anyone?) The magic, if there is such a thing, is in the lifestyle. It’s in the hard work. Any fitness or nutrition challenge simply exists to kickstart behavior. Realistically, whatever enjoyable activity gets a person moving can produce results. But results are not in the decision to exercise, they’re in the action.

Being active… how fitting a term.

Think about it, from your own past, with your own New Year’s resolutions. Did they stick? If you said to yourself, “no,” was it because you really didn’t want to change in the first place? And if you said, “yes,” then it must not have mattered that you began on January 1st. You could have started any other day of the year. Am I right? Maybe a new year was the kick in the butt you wanted/needed, but it was just a small part of the behavior choice.

It was a lifestyle change. Not a trick, not a scheme, and not even a resolution. It was action. And that, my friends, involves much more than just a decision.

The Translation
Find that place where motivation becomes routine.

Here at Amplify, we have a recommendation for you: follow a strength and conditioning regimen. We’ll even set the daily workouts. And post them publicly online.

The magic isn’t in the programming; it’s in the lifestyle change. It’s putting the plan into action, it’s the camaraderie with our Amplify community, and it’s the 23 remaining hours each day that are spent in healthful eating habits, mentally stimulating work, and social and emotional bonds with loved ones.

CrossFit Amplify

The Execution
Set a one-month goal. Set a year-long goal, if you can. Set lots. Aim high.

But a vision needs a plan of action, like a catalyst needs a conductor. Create a plan to collect the spark of a vision, and carry through on the attainable. One without the other is a waste of energy.

Know the days of the week you will make it in to the gym. And hold yourself accountable.

Keep in mind that this is ever-changing, and even a lifestyle can look different from year to year. Priorities can shift with work, family, and stress. Setbacks occur, and if we consider all this to be part of the process, part of life, then a big picture vision works to maintain balance.

Again, lifestyle vs. resolution. A resolution is easy to scrap. A balanced lifestyle is never thrown away; it fluctuates and evolves, naturally, but it remains intact.

The Yearly Challenge
Each year I offer a motivational challenge to each and every reader, as prompted by our own love/hate relationship with CrossFit and the tough workouts we endure.

New to our AmpFam? Welcome. The journey is fun, but the outcome is better. And the group of people here are second to none. Check past posts regarding the fitness equationdedicationprogresscommunity, etc. Ask questions. Seek out answers.

The challenge?
Step back and do some self-reflection. Think about what goals you have and how you will pursue those goals. Bigger than that? Think about what can be done to continue or set into motion your lifestyle.

  • What brought you in to the gym in the first place? Why did you step foot into Amplify?
  • What are you doing to take the next step, to make the next advancement in your fitness journey?
  • Where can the trainers help? Specifically, what can you communicate that would further benefit the time you put in the gym each and every week?

Whether you are an Amplify veteran or have just joined the ranks of our gym, here’s looking ahead at another year of fitness without boundaries.

Thanks for being here, and as always, thanks for reading!

– Scott, 1.1.2017

2016: A New Year

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A New Year

Amplify & Anarchy: What’s with the logo?
The anarchy “A” symbol was adopted for CrossFit Amplify almost 6 years ago.

Early on, the logo was debated. Would it be too edgy? A turn-off, for some? Will it be mistaken as a promotion of chaos or mayhem? Or could it be a great draw to our barebones approach to fringe fitness?

It’s a delicate subject, particularly since the concept of anarchy has a confusing and negative past. When the question comes up, I find myself answering in a variety of ways depending on time and the sentiment in which the question seems founded.

Sometimes it’s a simple, “Yep! Yeah, it is the same symbol. We thought the circle ‘A’ would look cool.”

Other times a more detailed explanation helps, since research proves the term is a bit misunderstood and maligned.

Although anarchy now represents disorder, a true anarchic view was/is not necessarily what the masses and extremists have come to see it as. In its original meaning, anarchy does not equate to mayhem. It is not chaos. It is not barbarism. And it is definitely not terrorism. The initial meaning of anarchy as it relates to human beings is the concept of having no rulers and no masters. Rules, yes. Absolute rulers, no. But the accepted definition now involves a belief in the absence of government and/or not recognizing authority through lawlessness, disruption, and turmoil.

So why did Amplify assume such an image?

Below is further background, if you’ll humor me for a bit of a historical digression.

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The “good” translation?
No one person creates a living for another. We are born free, and should live as such.

A real anarchist in no way condones violence, instead preaching voluntaryism: the belief that our society can live voluntarily in action and transaction. In close relation, the non-aggressive principle is cited most commonly as a major component of anarchism, referring to a principle of ethics in which uninitiated aggression is illegitimate or improper.

In short, both of these terms explain that we are able to make our own decisions regarding what is safe or unsafe, healthy or unhealthy, and as long as we do not initiate violence and our choices in life do not negatively interfere in someone else’s well-being, we are free to act and react as we see fit.

In this context, then, anarchy means freedom.

From the anarchist viewpoint, the historic creation of government was to control people… in the negative sense. Control has historically occurred by the rich and powerful. The rule of people by people, held to a caste system, in a divisive state. Freedom only for those in power.

CrossFit Amplify

The “not-so-good” translation?
Obviously, throughout history the anarchist belief system, and in turn the anarchy symbol, evolved in meaning. Many symbols have done so, some to a terrible end. Need an example? Check into the original scribing of the swastika in Sanskrit to its most recent use as propaganda with the Nazi Party, concurrently evolving to represent hate instead of good luck and well-being.

For the anarchy symbol, eventually it came to represent disorder, insubordination, and other negative actions, most of which are historically degenerative, destructive, and even violent. Which now means anarchy is and will heretofore be used as a term synonymous with mass chaos.

Some historically infamous figures have identified themselves as anarchists and have wreaked havoc on society, leading to this evolution of the term. Anarchists have committed assassinations of Presidents and other leaders, not just in America but across the globe. They have called on violence in the name of their idea of anarchy, just as hundreds of religious zealots have killed in the name of their gods. This is the extreme. These are terrorists.

True anarchists would never promote violence. But the real truth is that anarchy now does precisely that: it describes a state of disorder.

Amplify Logo

The point?
The use of the anarchy “A” at the gym is by no means an endorsement of barbarism and chaos.

Quite fittingly, however, some modern conceptions of anarchy actually fit well into the CrossFit world of fitness.

  1. Non-conformity. There is a draw to CrossFit for many people—we began as an edgy, outsiders’ collective of free-minded thinkers in our exercise habits. A non-conformist view towards corporate fitness, if you will.
  2. No rulers. No masters. A legitimate fitness progression within CrossFit means consistency can get us results, while variance can make those results optimal. Rules, but no boundaries. Our workouts see many leaders with many different strengths in many different fitness components… all who respect others who lead too. Masters? Only in terms of age.
  3. Chaos & Disorder. The workouts at Amplify are often chaotic, and in many ways bring a person back to an inherent, barbaric nature of primal physical work. We’re never haphazard, but our MetCon workouts can definitely leave us feeling wrecked and disordered.
  4. Community. Our fastest, strongest, and most talented of athletes work right alongside our newest members and those still learning. In fact, we’re all still learning. We build ourselves up by cheering each other on, no matter if it’s the last member to finish a workout or our top athlete at a televised regional competitive event.

What does this all mean?
It’s a free market notion that we’re in this together, that we all deserve an equal opportunity in life, just like we do in our personal fitness. This unity is larger than that which a top-down, politically biased, prejudiced workout society could ever force upon its “citizens.”

And so, Amplify is full of anarchy. Disorder to the fitness norm. Disruption in sedentary lifestyle. Chaos in the MetCons. Unity through weekly suffering. Leaders by example in a community without a fitness caste system.

No matter what angle we take on the logo and associated term, every time the question comes up from now on, I will guide the conversation so it evolves into the fact that it is now our gym logo as well.

The circle “A” stands for Amplify. And that, dear AmpFam, makes it the most important symbol we could have adopted.

New Year 2016

Yearly Challenge
Each year I offer a motivational challenge to each and every reader, as prompted by our own love/hate relationship with CrossFit and the anarchy of the tough workouts we endure.

New to our AmpFam? Welcome. The journey is fun, but the outcome is better. And the group of people here are second to none. Check past posts regarding the fitness equation, dedicationprogresscommunity, etc. Ask questions. Seek out answers.

The challenge?
Step back and do some self-reflection. Think about what goals you have and how you will pursue those goals. Bigger than that? Think about what can be done to put some order into your chaotic life.

  • What brought you in to the gym in the first place? Why did you step foot into Amplify?
  • What are you doing to take the next step, to make the next advancement in your fitness journey?
  • Where can the trainers help? Specifically, what can you communicate that would further benefit the time you put in the gym each and every week?

Whether you are an Amplify veteran or have just joined the ranks of our gym, here’s looking ahead at another year of fitness without boundaries.

Thank you for being here, and as always, thank you for reading, you rebels.

– Scott, 1.1.2016 Ⓐ
SCOTTrings

Words of the Week

target-practice-with-babyGoal Setting

Any good summer begins with a goal. Multiple goals, perhaps.

Most of these goals are unwritten, which is just fine. So in your head, or in your heart if you typically think of things cinematically, albeit inaccurately, what is it you’re looking to accomplish this summer? Does it include your personal fitness? Let’s assume so.

In life, a good goal needs to be smart.
It needs to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely. “SMART.”

After all, a goal without a plan is just a wish.

SMART Goals

  • Create the specifics.
    Again, even if just in your head. What is it that will specifically happen, and how?
  • Fix a measurement to put in place.
    Without a means of tracking things, how will you ever know if you’ve succeeded?
  • Make sure each goal is achievable.
    Sure, you could shoot for the moon, but what frustration or procrastination might develop without immediate success?
  • Is your goal relevant to you?
    Make sure it’s not just something you think sounds good over cold beers at a summer party.
  • And finally, make your goal time-based.
    Bound it all to the calendar. When is it that these things will happen?

smartgoals

In the the realm of strength and conditioning, goal setting is just as important as it is in any other facet of life– career, family, hobbies, etc.

Spending an hour here or there throughout the week working through a series of Back SquatsPull-ups, or maybe hitting a fun MetCon while hammering an area of weakness is all well and good. All very important, and all topics in articles I’ve written in the past. But without a sense of what the end goal is, this work is futile, unfortunately. The Fitness Equation requires another piece: a look ahead to the why.

Each summer I kickstart our weekly articles with the same reminder: that this time of year can be two-fold in purpose. These are the months to do great things with family and friends. And those “things” are essential to life. Go, do them, and enjoy the social health development. But with the right plan, with set goals and fitness priorities, summer can also be the perfect chance to get your workouts in and reap the benefits come fall.

Below are my three constant reminders as I start into the Words of the Week each summer.

Summer Goal Setting
Step 1: See the big picture
You have three months of great things ahead. Three months to work on your strength and conditioning. It doesn’t have to happen in one workout. Set a one month goal. Set a summer goal. If you want, set lots, aim high. But see them through.

Hold yourself accountable with a nutrition challenge or look ahead to the Amplify Open competition in August. Use Wodify or a personal journal as a workout log to hit correct lifting percentages and also to see your progress.

I don’t know one CrossFitter who is content with their current skill set or fitness level.  That’s the best part– there is always more to do. But it takes goals, everyone. Which is why summer is not just a three month beach escapade with horrible pop music playing over the stereo.

Step 2: Plan ahead
If you come to Amplify we already set the daily WOD, so that’s easy.  But by planning your set days each week, checking the workout and any related videos ahead of time, and coming in with a plan of action, this not only shows true commitment but it’s also mentally easier once you set foot in the gym.

I don’t mean you should obsess over your future or what’s to come; I’m talking about knowing what you’ll expect of yourself come “go time.”

Let this also be my yearly reminder to warm-up properly. Yes, we’re all sore. So get in here and perform some self-maintenence whenever possible. Can’t fit in extra minutes before or after your class?  Foam roll at home any chance you get. Speaking of, are you in need of a mobility goal this summer? Neglecting your deficiencies for three more months seems like a really crappy plan.

Step 3: Intensity
Always include the correct intensity. Some is good, more is not necessarily better. Yes, intensity is key. But no, you don’t need to spend hours breaking down your body systems. Especially without proper recovery.

If you keep the intensity up in your conditioning and your time under duress at appropriate levels, you not only make gains but also keep overtraining from spiraling out of control.

funny-astronaut-space-moon-quote

So there it is; a three step process as common sense reminders each year. Make the most of your efforts by formulating goals each day, each week, and each month this summer and always.

And remember that baby steps are important and very motivational. Allow the little victories in life to build together like foundational columns supporting the future you.

So away we go! More coming each week through August, so stay tuned for updates each Monday. Or at least that’s the goal ;)

Happy Summer!

– Scott, 6.15.2015

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2015 CrossFit Open: Five Weeks & Five Years

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2015 CrossFit Open: Five Weeks & Five Years

Another CrossFit Open comes to a close after five torturous weeks of physical tests and mental challenges. Naturally, thrusters and more thrusters ended the Open, coupled with rowing this time around to make the final week absolutely quadtastic.

With the end of the 2015 Open, CrossFit Amplify also celebrates its 5-year anniversary.

We opened in April of 2010 on the shoulders of big dreams. Well, modest aspirations.
The goal? Stay open a year. And to make two things happen in the meantime: 1) each month’s rent, and 2) a difference in each member’s life.

Humble origins allowed us to focus on people and individual improvement, and the gym grew organically… mostly by word of mouth. One year came and went. Then two. Then three.

Here we are five years later, well-settled in a new facility with enough space and equipment to do workouts and hold competitions we would have only dreamed about in 2010.

Amplify had over 100 members register for the 2015 CrossFit Open to test their fitness through the five workouts of worldwide competition. That makes two years in a row surpassing this number, which ranks us among the highest participating gyms in the North Central Region.

Steady fitness development, growth in the community, and a consistently fun social atmosphere are all a mark of pride for us, achieved only by the class of individuals who enter the Amplify doors.

By no means do we have it perfectly figured out as a strength and conditioning facility, what amidst the giant masses of the fitness industry. But perhaps that’s why this works, here at Amplify. We’re in this together, mistakes and all, learning and striving to be fit, to grow as human beings, and to be better than yesterday.

Five years.

Mike, myself, and all of CrossFit Amplify could have only accomplished this with the immense help and involvement of many past contributors, our fellow trainers, and of course the Amp community itself.

Now lovingly titled the AmpFam, it has grown into an entity all its own– one that can be felt immediately upon setting foot in our facility.

Particularly during Friday nights of the CrossFit Open, the feel of our second home is something that can’t always be put into words; that sense of family is present in seeing everyone rally behind each other with energy and passion, not just to complete the workout of the week, but to bond in something larger than physical fitness.

As owners, the two of us have seen CrossFit grow from that where you knew almost every CrossFitter in the area by name to the current scenario of over 10,000 affiliates worldwide, with nearly 200 in the state of Illinois. Through a decade of peaking interest and through a recent surge of internet hatred, CrossFit is thriving.

Amplify has completed each year of the CrossFit Open since its addition to the competition season; we’ve seen “the sport of fitness” swell from its inception to the current live-streamed and televised event.

Each year, the new Open workouts are announced with much excitement, surprise, and even dismay. Nonetheless, we struggle through the same weekly workout that everyone in the world is completing and share in the growth of the CrossFit community at large.

This year was no different; the excitement of CrossFit Christmas comes on five Thursday nights in succession, one of which was nearby in downtown Chicago this year, with a solid AmpFam crew representing along the railings on the live feed.

AmpFam front and center on the CrossFit Games Live Stream

And the workouts themselves?

The addition of a scaled division for 2015 gave hope that all movements would be manageable by everyone who registered. For the most part that became true, although there will always be our weaknesses, our goats, to work on.

To redo or not to redo. That is the question.

Unless you’re on the cusp of qualifying for the regional, or you know, you just know that you can contribute to the team score as a competitive athlete, the rule of thumb for a CrossFit Open workout is “one and done.”

In general, it’s very difficult to replicate interest and intensity in the exact same WOD just days apart and still continue in a smart training regimen. Pull-up callus tears, anyone?

That said, repeating an Open workout can allow for improvement– some benchmarks can take place with reps or time, and that first experience can give important feedback for the second attempt. This totally depends on the workout, of course. That cave can be a dark, dark place, full of grunt and sweat and drool.

Need a reminder? Just take a look at pictures of your pain face mid-workout. Striving for extra reps, or being stabbed with a sword? You make the call.

Either way, each season we have Amp athletes complete a skilled movement for the first time or PR a lift during an Open workout. This is something you won’t see in the digits on a computer screen.

A submitted score will never show the emotional struggle or the small accomplishments or the uproar of a spontaneous cheering section at our gym’s Friday Night Lights.

15.3 Amp

15.3 Wall Ball Action

As far as regional qualification goes, Amplify has been fortunate enough to have representation for three years in a row now with individual female qualifier, and resident badass, Kristin Miller. Kristin finished 11th in the North Central Open this year. We all watched her cement that spot during 15.5 and put closure on another impressive five weeks.

In 2013, the Amplify team initially missed advancing to the North Central regional in the CrossFit Games by one spot.  At that time, top 30 teams moved on from the CrossFit Open. We were 31st.  That is, before all the declarations took place with the North Central individuals and teams. After all was said and done we did in fact qualify a team for the 2013 regional in addition to Kristin.

In 2014, the Amplify team missed the top 30 by just a few spots.

And now, in 2015, qualification has changed.
Only the top 15 teams will go to the regional, this year meeting in Minneapolis and combining the North Central and the Central East in a “super regional,” of sorts. Our team placement of 20th in the North Central a great feat, but no longer an automatic qualifier.

So the waiting game begins, and we soon see how our top rankings file in place as individuals across the region declare their desire to go team or not.

In the end, we have the 20th fittest team in the region, the 140th fittest team in the world, and by far more importantly, five years of growth, memories, and community.

So we put closure on another Open and welcome in the start of year six as CrossFit Amplify.

This has surpassed anything either Mike or myself could have imagined, while at the same time fits right in line with what we dreamed all along. And there are big things ahead too– it’s just a matter of what the future will bring.

Congrats to those of you who took on the 2015 Open, and welcome to those who will join in the carnage of 2016. Hey… we made it through all five weeks without burpees this year! Who would’ve thought?

Cheers to five weeks, to five years, and to the five alarm fire in our lungs from every CrossFit Open workout past, present, and future.

– Scott, 3.31.15

Amplify’s 2015 CrossFit Open Leaderboard

2015: A New Year

fire_fist_vs_water_fist-wallpaper-1024x768A New Year

Like fire or water, it seems love and hate can spread fast these days.

Once the internet takes hold of something it gets ripped apart. Like a forest fire raging in a dry summer heat. Like a hurricane flooding a coastline city street. If something is popular, so is its hatred. Particularly online.

Social media is afire with the love of CrossFit, so accordingly it is flooded with CrossFit hate.

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When Mike and I started into CrossFit training towards the end of 2007, even before CrossFit Amplify took roots, in many ways it was looked upon as a new-fangled workout regimen. A bit extreme and somewhat insane, fair or unfair. Yet although it was pretty much the norm to receive weird looks from neighbors or fellow globo-gym goers, there wasn’t the swelling wave of hatred that has seemed to pick up speed recently.  Sure, people disagreed with the CrossFit philosophy since its onset in 2000, but branches of the military, law enforcement and first responders were consistently showing interest not necessarily because of the extremity of the workouts, but because of their functional aspects. Likewise, the general public was interested in the novelty of constantly-changing workouts with consistent results.

With the advent of the CrossFit Games and the inclusion of Reebok and ESPN, CrossFit is far more mainstream than just four or five years ago. And if something is mainstream, then, as expected, haters will show their face. Or, shall we say, hide behind a computer screen. Keyboard warriors are an expectation at this point, surfing their own oil-infested internet waters with a lit match in tow.

It’s an “us vs. them” ideology that permeates many parts of life– sports, education, nationalism, race, religion.  Fitness is no exception. At the risk of sounding completely corny, can’t we all just get along?

The obvious answer is no. We are fire and water. But it brings up so many other questions.

For instance, why disrespect other people who are doing something they love? Moreso, those enjoying a hobby with physical benefits? Instead of making fun of people that want to get fit, instead of taking video to fuel social media fires, how about stepping up with encouraging words? How about asking, teaching, or at least engaging in a conversation if you think they are doing something wrong?

I wrote about this exactly one year ago today, with many of the same questions. It seems this is just as much an issue of bullying as we see in adolescence. Read all about it here, if you didn’t last year.

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To quickly elaborate, in a few regards CrossFit hate stems from people promoting their love of the gym life. We’re a cult, after all, so memes and message boards blast the obsession that some exude.

In other regards there’s the injury debate. It’s a topic that I’ll save to detail at another time, but understandably, fitness professionals and physical therapists ultimately want what’s best for the health and well-being of the general public. Good. Fine. Never an issue. The pursuit of safe movement is valid and necessary in any athletic endeavor. Bad form, incompetent trainers, ego over safety? By all means, critique. Still, ever see the CrossFit fail videos? Half of what gets shown and laughed at isn’t even from a CrossFit gym. Which is why it’s easier to just turn a deaf ear, like throwing a bucket of water on the bonfire of hatred. Go on enjoying the benefits, so long as technique and movement efficiency exist. Just don’t feed the trolls with ridiculous new exercise combinations.

And as far as the argument that people will lose strength or conditioning gains because of CrossFit? Looking at statistics within our lifts and workouts, we see many more gains in our gym than fitness losses. But we’re just one gym in one city in the world. In the end it’s about finding something that works for you.

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The real reason for bringing all of this up is to highlight the continued excellence we see in the Amplify community despite whatever icy back-and-forth exists on the internet. It’s been yet another great year of physical and mental growth, and our Amplify family is increasing all the while.

New to our AmpFam? Welcome. The journey is fun, but the outcome is better. And the group of people here are second to none. Check past posts regarding the fitness equation, progressattitudecommunity, etc.  Ask questions. Seek out answers.

Each year I reflect on the Amplify community and share some basic thoughts and thanks to what has developed. This year I echo those sentiments. But I also issue a challenge. A motivational challenge to each and every reader, as prompted by our own fiery love/hate relationship with CrossFit and the tough workouts we endure.

The challenge?
Step back and do some self-reflection. Sure, the normal questions should take place, like thinking about what goals you have and how you will pursue those goals. But bigger than that is to set fire to the wave already in motion.

  • What brought you in to the gym in the first place? Why did you step foot into Amplify?
  • What are you doing to take the next step, to make the next advancement in your fitness journey?
  • Where can the trainers help? Specifically, what can you communicate that would further benefit the time you put in the gym each and every week?

Is there a fire under your ass or are you just going through the motions? Is the drive still there or do you you need to reignite the embers?

Are you attacking your weaknesses so they come crashing down under the weight of the waves of your work? Do you need to water the roots of your love of fitness by finding more physical challenges to branch out towards?

Whatever analogy works, use it. We’ll be here to stoke the fire or water the parched ground for you to find footing and burn/melt through your goals, this year and always.

– Scott, 1.1.2015
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2014: A New Year

A New Year

I was about 14 when I found punk rock.

Life changing, for sure. Coming from a fairly normal and fortunate upbringing, punk music didn’t represent a distaste for life, necessarily, but it hit home as it satisfied a very natural need of adolescence: to question everything. Question the norm, question the rules, question the answers, question existence… question oneself.

A punk rock song won’t ever change the world. But I could tell you a few that changed me.

If you’ve been there you know; people are drawn to punk for many reasons, all unique to each individual. For me, the attitude of the music and lyrics was easy to relate to. But songs with societal meaning registered just as much as the galloping riffs that accompanied those often-indiscernible words. (Good thing for liner notes.) The punk community is one that offends the mainstream with no mercy but all in the demand for tolerance and equity. Racial and class lines be damned.

Identity in school, as in life, remains just as difficult a topic as ever. In my case, not following pre-set expectations made a lot of sense… classifications, stereotypes, cliques all seemed dumb and immature. Counterproductive. Moreover, why can’t a person be interested in a lot of different things, and hang out with lots of different people? Funny enough, finding like-minded friends and having that kinship of a social circle is essential in teenage development.

Cue the music.

Following punk and getting into everything from “well-known” underground music to smaller, local bands ended up creating a place for me in a counterculture scene that was welcoming and unique. A wide open road of my future.

It is the same things that drew me to CrossFit that drew me to punk rock.

In a sense, punk rock means you do what you need to survive. CrossFit means much of the same. The pursuit? A no-holds-barred approach to health and fitness. Just what this aging punk needed. Destroying my body with sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll seemed just as dumb as the expectations of a stereotypical high school. The “live fast, die young’ mantra was stupid and narrow-sighted… even with its flaws I loved life and wanted more of it.

I wanted to be healthy, I wanted to stay alive, and I wanted to feel challenged in the meantime. But working out was for the masses. Sweating with no goal? The same 3 sets of 10? Redundancy in the usual gym routine? Yes. What I needed was a heavy dose of existential reality to counteract the mainstream fitness being shoved down my throat. So what if the punk community would judge me for taking care of myself? Is that really punk anyway? Judging a person because of lifestyle choices?

Like a time bomb ready to explode, I jumped into CrossFit training in desperate need of a fitness counterculture. And the chaos of a CrossFit workout? It made me feel right at home. Kind of like a lesser-known group punks try to keep to themselves with the claim of “I knew them before they were cool,” CrossFit is that indie band I hope doesn’t sell out. It’s that balance between underground and mainstream. Between obscurity and being chewed up and spit out by the masses. It’s a scene I now need to stay alive… it supports my head… gives me something to believe.

The sense of family and acceptance? It’s here. Think it over. Maybe there was a void in your life and you knew it. Or maybe CrossFit wasn’t anything you thought was missing… it was something you weren’t even looking for, yet it fit. Like a friend’s basement, or a bowling alley, or a run down theater full of punks just like you. Or better yet, a place where everyone wasn’t the same. A place you knew you could hang out and be yourself and endure workouts that unite us all. Like only a true local scene can.

After all, we’re in this fight together. This is a community, not just a place to work out or listen to music.

What is shocking and sad is that the punk music scene was and continues to be hypocritical. While creating an accepting sense of family, in many respects it is also guilty of the very thing it despises: it can be judgmental and outright elitist in its beliefs. This is an interesting, alarming similarity to CrossFit.

Fitness shaming is all over the internet.

The answer to “Why?” might be simple enough: it’s just as much an issue of bullying as we see in adolescence. And things are automatic when you see them every day.

Or perhaps the answer to that question isn’t so easy to configure. Why would someone tear another person down just to make themselves feel better? What does a person gain by shaming or ridiculing another’s workout regimen, lifting technique, body image, or sense of self-worth? Once again, more questions than answers. The only hope is that the acceptance in this community far outweighs the elitism. Forging Elite Fitness is the goal. Requiring it is a detriment to society.

 

So we head into 2014 with the same goals as a year ago. New to our crew of outcasts? Welcome. The journey is fun, but the outcome is better. Both are necessary, so check past posts regarding commitmentattitudecommunity, etc.  Ask questions. Seek out answers.

Search the back catalog of CrossFit articles, videos, and other media across this site and the rest of internetland like a teen discovering good records for the first time. Commit, stick with it, trust the programming, and hold yourself accountable.

And as for that 14 year old punk of yesteryear? Instead of degrading the older version of himself, maybe he’d be impressed in the philosophical teacher and coach still listening to some of the same bands. Or maybe not… who knows, with all that angsty teenage feist. But I bet that young kid would like the do-it-yourself attitude of CrossFit. Guaranteed.

Here’s to another year of growth, you punks. Ⓐ

– Scott, 1.1.14

* Special shout out to Paul Mirek, childhood friend and fellow punk, coach, and CrossFitter. “Pick it up, pick it up!”

2012 CrossFit Games

CrossFit Open

Starting February 25, we will host any and all CrossFit Open competitors on Saturday mornings.  At 9am or 11am, please schedule a validation workout with an Amplify trainer. Our normal Saturday class time of 10am will already have a workout going and will therefore not be an Open validation time. Again, reserve a spot at 9am or 11am.  Boom!

Saturdays Validations: 2.25, 3.3, 3.10, 3.17 (tentative), and 3.24
Open WOD Validation: 9am
CrossFit Amplify WOD: 10am
Open WOD Validation: 11am

MEMBERS:
Amplify members are free.  Talk to us at the gym or send an email reserving a spot.

VISITORS:
Interested in getting your workout validated?  Amplify is a host site; we are happy to have you.  Please email us at crossfitamplify@gmail.com and be prepared with movement standards and range of motion.  There will be a small drop-in cost for the 5 weeks of validation; completion earns an Amplify t-shirt.  Come join the fun!

CrossFit Games, July 13-15, 2012

Ever wonder how overall fitness could be a competition?  Want to know what’s seemingly physically impossible?  Or maybe you just want to catch up on your favorite CrossFit Firebreather.

Check the CrossFit Games website to find your answers and get your fix.

The top athletes and teams in each region from the Open will move onto Regionals. The best athletes and teams at Regionals will compete at the CrossFit Games from July 13-15, the world’s premier test to find the “Fittest on Earth.”

Warning: the video footage of the Games is highly addictive.