Diaries of a Coach 018 || Lessons from 18.1

After barely enduring last year’s first open workout, last week had my mind racing with the anticipation of 18.1. Would it make 17.1 look easy? Would they ease us in gently? What movements, what modalities, what weight selections are we talking? All the questions and no answers until Thursday at 7pm.


Unfortunately, when the workout was released last Thursday evening, life was happening and there was way too much on my mind to give it a second thought, so I didn’t. Life outside of CrossFit… what?!?!


But once I had time to process, I was actually pretty excited. Rowing, I’m all over it. Dumbbell, yes please. But 20 minutes? No freakin’ thanks.

My fears were immediately dialed in to the significant (self-perceived) regression in my conditioning over the last ten weeks. Unfortunately, when it comes to training, there are often seasons where we focus on technique, one or a few specific movements, or on various weaknesses, to the neglect of others. For me, the past few months have been consistent work and dedication to my Olympic lifts (plug for Dylan and his Olympic lifting class… that’s where it’s at y’all!) and I was simply afraid I wouldn’t be able to hack it.


While I am proud to say I recently hit a PR on my snatch, the truth of the matter is that I’m used to sets of 1-3 reps, with more than adequate rest before the next. Gains in strength and technique have surely been to the detriment of my cardiovascular endurance, or so I thought.


However, and here’s the lesson, a lesson that actually took me by surprise… the loss was well worth the gain. Maybe it was partly mental stamina, but whatever the explanation, I was able to keep a fairly consistent and moderately fast pace throughout. For 20 minutes. Turns out that my body knew it was capable of that duration of conditioning, so when the time came, it performed within that capability. Regardless of the time that had passed.


Part of me has always feared narrowing my focus in training, thinking I would surely sacrifice my strengths in order to work on weaknesses. Which I just haven’t been willing to do. I’m sure to some degree, there is some truth to that. However, the strength and technique gains I have seen have been well worth the time, the effort and any slight dip in my conditioning and a few other skills and movements. I’m willing to account for that loss in order to now take huge steps forward with Olympic lifts.


While the Open is a great time to push yourself and test your fitness, it is also the perfect time to explore your opportunities for growth. Don’t get discouraged, get encouraged to develop those areas!

So with that, let me encourage you as we continue on in these Open workouts. Admit the weaknesses and then do what needs to be done to commit to working on those post-Open.


Coach E

Diaries of a Coach 017 || Don’t Be A Scoundrel

Alright guys. The Open is upon us. Sometime tomorrow we will know the first of five 2018 Open Workouts. With all the hype that has led us into this season, it’s no wonder nerves are at an all time high.


First of all, that’s good. A good dose of healthy humility never hurt anyone. Let’s be confident of where we are and how far we’ve come, but humble as we admit our weaknesses and the abundant areas of opportunity to improve. The Open will be a great measurement of current strength and skill in order to dial in our practice and training over the next year.


Secondly, don’t let these nerves get the best of you. Don’t let the desire to do well, to excel above others or even yourself, lead you into areas of dishonesty. Don’t be shady y’all.


When it comes to the rigid judging system put in place for these Open Workouts, there will be no where to hide when it comes to rep standards and completion. But more than that, it’s important that we cultivate integrity, whether we are in Open season or not. Why? While it’s tempting to get caught up in the hype of competition, scores, winners, losers… the goal should always be diligence in training. When we are diligent in practice, our performance improves. When we do things like count insufficient reps, or shave reps completely (think, doing 10 reps instead of the prescribed 12), we do nothing but hurt ourselves and our progress toward better, stronger, more efficient movement.


Now, hopefully you guys have heard this before from your coaching staff. In fact, Coach Gen touched on this last year in a post on Integrity In Training, just before the Open. If you missed that, click here to read more.


What’s important here is not your score, it’s practicing proper movement in order to progress over the long haul. If not, what’s the point? Let’s keep ourselves and those around us from self-sabotaging progress tomorrow for the sake of a score today.


I’ll leave you with this. In order to make my point, I went looking for a good definition of integrity. Here’s my favorite, “Integrity is a personal quality of fairness that we all aspire to — unless you’re a dishonest, immoral scoundrel, of course.”


I’ll just leave that right there.



Diaries of a Coach 016 || My First Open

This was my first Open Workout:

10 dumbbell snatches,
15 burpee box jump overs,
20 dumbbell snatches,
15 burpee box jump overs,
30 dumbbell snatches,
15 burpee box jump overs,
40 dumbbell snatches,
15 burpee box jump overs,
50 dumbbell snatches,
15 burpee box jump overs.

20 minute time cap.

Some of you may remember it from last year. Open WOD 17.1. As much as I’d like to say I’m a seasoned vet, I’m actually just coming up on my one year anniversary with this crazy thing we call The Open. Last year was my first year to participate, at only about six months in to CrossFit at the time.

Leading up to the first workout, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. And with this being my first experience with the Open, a workout like this quickly became the expectation moving forward. As soon as I saw it, I questioned, “Wait, will they all be this bad? What have I gotten myself in to?” Let’s just say fear did not delay.

Let’s be honest, it was awful. (Can I get an amen from anyone that did it?!) Especially when conditioning isn’t your strong suit. On top of a terribly hard workout, my coach at the time persuaded (borderline pressured) me into the RX-ing my first ever Open workout.

I felt nothing but nerves leading up to that 10 second countdown. From buzzer to buzzer, beginning to end, the actual workout is all a big blur. The only thing I remember is slamming my opposite shin with the dumbbell at one point and looking at the clock as I finished, seeing that I had exceeded the time cap by 41 seconds.

And you know what’s funny? As if once was not enough, I tried this workout again THE NEXT DAY (word to the wise… not smart). Instead of doing better the second time, I actually did worse. Still not beating the time cap and here’s a fun fact, I peed a little bit! #CrossFitriteofpassage

Moral of the story: My first Open workout was not pretty. Yours doesn’t have to be either. But I can honestly say, I am so glad I did it. It pushed me mentally and physically, way past what I thought I was capable of. It humbled me, reminding me that I have work ahead of me to do. And it excited me. It’s exciting to test your limits and see yourself get better, faster and stronger over time. Maybe one day I’ll tackle that workout again and hopefully see measurable progress.

So if you’re considering The Open this year, do it. You won’t regret it!


Nervous? Here’s a few things to ease your mind.

The workouts are 100% scalable, just like you’d see in a regular workout on any given day.

Full permission to be where you are when it comes to skill and strength. It’s all about having fun and challenging yourself, pushing a little harder than you normally would.

This year, the Open will be a little different at CFA! We are playing in teams. You’ll have friends cheering you on the whole way. Think fun and encouraging atmosphere with your CFA fam! Points are more participation based than performance based so if you don’t beat the time cap, but you did your best and well…. you did it at all, you’re not only contributing to your own strength and challenging your limits, but you’re contributing to gaining the lead with your team! Registration for the Intramural Open with your CFA family closes on Friday {2/16}! Sign up on the sheet under the whiteboard and let’s get this party started!

Follow the FB event here! 

February Athlete of the Month – Max McGregor!!

Each month we spotlight a different CFA athlete who stands out and shows just how awesome they are. What is it that makes up an Athlete of the Month? It may not be the person that finishes the fastest, Rx’s every WOD, or gets a PR every time they walk in the gym. Although we love and celebrate when those things happen, the Athlete of the Month is made up of much more than physical ability. This person shows up, gives their best every time, and then gives a little more. They are hungry to learn and always ready to do the work. They support their fellow classmates and encourage them to reach their goals. This athlete embodies what we believe the CrossFit Austin Community should be about.

Our February Athlete of the Month is Max McGregor! Max came to us back in 2015 and has established a solid place for himself in the community. Although he’s a tried and true member of the 6:30 am class, you’ll occasionally see him pop in during an evening class. He and his locks can’t be missed! Max exemplifies so many of the qualities we look for in an AOM and has shown really amazing progress in his time here. Max, the CFA Team is proud to honor you as our FebruaryAthlete of the Month and as an awesome part of this community. Thanks for your all your hard work and we look forward to seeing all you accomplish in the years to come! Congratulations!

State your Name and/or Nickname please:
Max. This one bully calls me man bun.

Words to live by?
Take it easy, it’s probably not a big deal

What is your fitness background?
Sports on sports on sports – hockey, basketball, soccer, and anything else that has a winner and a loser.

How long have you been CrossFitting?
Since the day after Thanksgiving 2015

Take us back to your first day of CrossFit… How did you feel? How do you compare it to workouts today?
It was like a 40 minute partner workout I did with Christina. I was full, I was hungover, and I was last. Things have gotten a little easier since then.

What’s your favorite part of CrossFit Austin?
Obviously the 6:30 gang

Current Training Goals/PRs?
I just got ring MUs since they were added to the programming so next is handstand walks.

What advice do you have for folks just starting out in CrossFit?
Stick to it. The progress in the first year is enormous. Once you feel the progress working out becomes an addiction.

What is your cheat meal go to?
Pizza, cookies, ice cream, bread, pizza, ice cream, pizza, pizza

How do you use your fitness outside of the gym?
Sports on sports

Tell us about a moment you felt most proud of yourself during a workout.
16.3 was huge. I had never tried a bar muscle up and ended up getting 9 or 12 that day. Any PR is fun. Smoking T in literally every single workout also never gets old.

If you could create a WOD and name it for yourself, what would it be?
20 minute AMRAP –
4 ring MU’s
10 pushups
30 DUs
20 wallballs

What are your hobbies, interests and/or talents outside of CrossFit?
This is starting to feel like a bumble profile. I do everything with Stella, one day she’ll be allowed back inside CFA. Anything outside with her is fun, anything competitive, I love to travel, drinking is still fun, & spending a Sunday melting into the couch isn’t so bad either.

Tell us something we don’t know about you…
I’m a mortgage lender & I’m really good at it. Buying a house is one of the coolest things you get to experience in life & you need to ask me about what it takes to do it – 512-800-0981.

Longhorns or Aggies?

Leave the fine folks of CrossFit Austin with some parting words…
This is where I’d normally tell a pizza joke, but it’s too cheesy.

Diaries of a Coach || 015 – Barbell Cycling

Hey CFA, Coach Erica here. Wanted to give you a little recap from the skills session this past weekend on barbell cycling. For those of you that couldn’t make it, here are some quick tips with the ol’ barbell as we approach The Open… fo’ free!

First things first. Before we can talk about positioning, variations of a lift and cues to save you time and energy, we have to accurately (and humbly) assess the work ahead of us. For the sake of this discussion, because we are specifically talking about barbell cycling, lets assume the priority is speed through a determined number of reps. The first assessment must be the recommended weight as it relates to personal work capacity. Depending on that, we then prioritize speed, under a relatively manageable load, or efficiency, focusing on maintaining heavier loads while preserving effort, grip and overall fatigue. We must also keep in mind the rep scheme and how it will relate to grip and to other movements that may be included in the workout. An accurate and honest assessment of the workout is crucial.

From there, let’s breakdown the discussion into various barbell movements that you’ll see in classic CrossFit workouts as well as The Open: the Snatch, Ground to Overhead and Shoulder to Overhead, all in their various forms.


When it comes to the Snatch, we have three acceptable variations. First up is the Muscle Snatch. This catch position allows the most efficient use of time because the lift finishes in the achieved standard – knees, hips and elbows extended with the barbell overhead. However, this particular lift is expensive in regards to strength and exertion. Be prepared to transition to a power snatch when necessary.

Tips: Keep the bar close on both the ascending and descending portions of this lift. As the bar descends, shoot the hips back and get the elbows over the bar quick, ready for your next pull. When weight is light, go straight down without a touch point at the thighs, almost vertical shins and weight in the heels.

When weight or rep scheme exceeds what we can consistently muscle, the Power Snatch becomes the most efficient variation. When cycling power snatches, adjust to a wider stance to save time (rather than jumping and landing every rep) and reduce range of motion from floor to overhead.

Tips: Again, keep the bar nice and close with an aggressive turnover to lock out at the top of the lift. Slightly push the hips back to reach the power position faster. As the bar comes down, same cues apply from the muscle snatch. However, a touch point at the thighs may be optimal, with weight as the determining factor. Touching the bar slows the bar down and keeps it close, ensuring a better position over the bar for the next rep. It also reduces tension in the back.

Finally, the Squat Snatch. Ideally, the squat snatch is used only when specified in the standard of a workout. If weight is relatively heavy, we may utilize the squat snatch out of necessity. Again, start with a wider stance when cycling, to avoid replacing the feet with each rep. Because we are speaking specifically in the context of CrossFit workouts, rather than Olympic Weightlifting, a slight cut to the hip extension may also save time as you pull yourself under the bar to achieve the standard of this particular lift. (If you know me, you know it pains me slightly to say that because this is NOT optimal in competitive Olympic Weightlifting.)

Tips: Keep the bar close. (Seeing a theme with that one? The closer the bar the more control as we cycle.) Be aggressive turning the bar over and locking out. Pull under the bar to reach appropriate depth, below parallel. Again, adjust the need for touch points as the bar descends based on weight.

Shoulder To Overhead

Next up are our Shoulder to Overhead movements. Options here include the Push Press and the Push (or Power) Jerk. (Strict Press and Split Jerk have been omitted for the sake of this particular discussion as it relates to barbell cycling.) Upon first glance there is an advantage to the push press because we end the lift meeting it’s standard, hips and knees extended. However, weight is our variable here. Opting for the push jerk will allow heavier weight and higher volumes.

Tips: In both lifts, sit the hips back with an upright torso and explode from the shoulders. Think about punching the bar into your overhead, rather than pressing (this was a game changer for me). Squeeze that booty and lock out your knees to finish. Then, pull the barbell back down and reload into the bottom of the dip, the explosion point of the next rep. With the push jerk specifically, take that wider stance again, to save time. Drive with the legs and then sneak under the bar to save those arms! Another tip for both, breathe (simple, right?), but often overlooked. Exhale as you punch overhead and inhale as the bar returns to the shoulders. Lastly, practice hand positions that might give you an advantage in regard to range of motion. If mobility allows, you may be able to adapt an advantageous wider grip.

Ground to Overhead

Finally, your Ground to Overhead. Let’s assume all Shoulder to Overhead assessments and variation techniques apply. From the ground, we then focus on the Clean, where the Power Clean is primarily most effective. Just as with the power snatch, starting in a wider stance will save time and reduce range of motion. No matter which overhead variation you establish as preference for the given workout, you are already in your dip position at the end of your power clean, so immediately drive overhead.

From the top down, touch point options include, straight to the ground, a touch point at the shoulders or straight to the thighs. Your choice should depend on the degree of difficulty for the weight required.

And there you have it folks. While it’s a lot of info, hopefully you found one tip or trick that you can try out to increase efficiency. So get out there, lift that barbell well and don’t forget to give me coaching cred when you’re named Fittest on Earth!

-Coach E

*Adapted from CrossFitInvictus.com. Click the link for full articles.

Sweat With Your Sweetheart

Looking for something special to do with your Valentine?

Join us for CrossFit Austin’s Annual Sweat with your Sweetheart WOD!

Whether it’s your husband, wife, fiancé, girlfriend, boyfriend, brother, sister, best friend, random person you met when you showed up to the gym….doesn’t matter to us! Grab a partner and lets get sweaty!

Saturday, February 10th @ 9:00 am & 10:00 am
Free Class
Limit 1 visitor per member – visitor must be with a member
Capped at 20 and both you and your partner must reserve a spot!


Diaries of a Coach || 014 – R&R

As many of you may know, a few years ago I sustained a training related injury to my back. Unfortunately, as I’ve continued training, there are seasons that just take me out. This is one of those seasons.
What is ridiculous to me, even in the midst of chronic pain and extreme discomfort, is that the hardest element of recovery for me is rest. I’m beginning to think these flair ups are my cue to take an extended period of rest, my body telling me it needs it. But my mental game is so stubborn. I’m out to make progress, gain strength and efficiency, see changes in my body, so any time off seems like a step in the wrong direction. False. Rest is an integral element to training and the element that is most overlooked. Without it, we actually stall progress and risk injury.

So, without further ado, here is a great article from Strength and Conditioning Coach, Bill Starr, on rest. In it, you’ll find a scientific breakdown of this magical one third of our lives, a justification for effectively blaming all our sleep problems on light bulbs and permission to nap on random benches for the sake of our gains. He will also give you some practical sleep tips to make the most out of those precious hours of shut eye! Enjoy!

As always, your coaches are more than happy to help with anything you may be dealing with so hit us up and let us help!