Did you wake up with Post Thanksgiving Blues?

By: Coach Mario

“Negative emotions like guilt have an essential role to play in a happy life; they’re big, flashing signs that something needs to change.”

Let me ask you:

  • Did you wake up with the Post-Thanksgiving blues? 
  • Did you overeat and hate yourself for it? 
  • Did you tell yourself you were going to limit how much you ate but didn’t? 
  • Did you say you were going to get up in the morning to workout but slept in instead?

Guilt is a fascinating emotion that scientist are just now beginning to understand.  Scientists believe that the feeling of guilt has the power to regulate social behavior. That’s a good thing. 

It’s a “sign” that something isn’t right. Unfortunately, many take guilt too far and use it as a demoralizing feeling against themselves. Most often than not, they don’t even realize they are doing it. 

New research has identified guilt as an important feeling in “promoting prosocial behavior.” That feeling of guilt can keep you from making less than ideal decisions in the future. It also has the power to hold you accountable for sticking to your promise of eating better and exercising more often. 

So next time you begin to sense the feeling of guilt ask yourself  “What is this feeling of guilt trying to protect me from?” Follow that with, “What can I do at this moment to reduce that feeling of guilt?”

But whatever you do don’t let guilt make you feel bad about yourself. That not what guilt was intended to do in the first place. Always remember that at the end of the day you can’t control everything in your life, but you can control your thoughts. Those thoughts control your feelings, and your feelings control your behavior. 

Who cares how much you eat on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year because it forces us to stop and remind ourselves to give thanks and count our blessings. With that said, I’ve never understood the guilt of eating an endless amount of food on Thanksgiving. Isn’t that what makes Thanksgiving one of the best holidays ever?!

I know that’s probably not the most politically correct answer as a trainer and coach, but it’s the truth. No single salad made anyone skinny. Conversely, no Double Cheeseburger ever made anyone become overweight. Nevertheless, if you are already feeling anxiety about overeating on Thanksgiving here are three tips that may help keep your calorie consumption somewhat manageable. 

Stay moving
Just as popular as chest day is on Monday for bodybuilders, everyone knows that Thanksgiving is left for running 5ks. Every city in the U.S. host 5ks on Thanksgiving. My theory is that because they know they can take advantage of the mindset “if I burn extra calories by running, then I can eat more food.” Although I don’t agree with that, it does help ticket sales.

If running isn’t your cup of tea, perform a quick bodyweight workout from home. Here is a list of workouts and exercises you can do that require no equipment. Whatever your choice keep the workout fun. My family has decided to play sports this year before dinner which is going to be interesting, but I like the idea that we are all encouraging each other to move and break a sweat.

Fill up with protein and veggies
When it’s time to eat start with your protein and vegetables first. I encourage you to snack on those foods higher in protein and fat before the Big Meal. It can take up to 20 minutes to feel full once we start eating, so picking at food while waiting for dinner to can help make you feel fuller before you are tempted to eat the typical starchy Thanksgiving style foods. Does mash potatoes, cheesy potatoes, stuffing ring a bell?

Who cares
You’re not going to eat perfectly on Thanksgiving. What does that even mean anyways? There’s no reason to place all that pressure on yourself. You begin to get caught up on eating “healthy” that you forget the whole reason you are celebrating Thanksgiving, to start with. Each the company of family and friends. Laugh, tell stories, give chest bumps. When it’s all over, we’ll wake up the morning and crush it like we usually do.


Learning the Power Clean in 60 seconds

The utility of the Power Clean is unparalleled. Not only does this exercise develop explosive power coupled appropriately can produce effective conditioning doses. 

As a staple exercise in our gym, our coaches have mastered a simple warmup for the Power Clean. At the novice and intermediate level, the Power Clean is a hybrid exercise of both the Deadlift and a partial Front Squat. The third most crucial instructional advice we teach is how to add speed and timing to the lift. 


The narrow stance and hand placement of the Power Clean are very similar to the Deadlift, plus or minus a few inches. More importantly, we teach our athletes how to initiate the Power Clean with their legs and not their back. When the deadlift is trained correctly the transition to the Power Clean is smooth. 

Front Squat

If the start position is the DL, then the finish position is a partial front squat. Here the athletes learn approximate heights where they feel comfortable catching the bar, while learning how vital resting the bar across the shoulders is. Pausing athletes in the partial squat teaches them balance and body awareness. For coaches it allows us to see possible errors in the Power Clean before ever attempting the entire motion. 

Hang Power Clean

The considerable distance from the ground to partial front squat creates multiple error points. By starting in a hang and “dragging the bar to the top of the knee” before jumping to the Front Squat works miracles in timing and lack of explosiveness. Keep it simple. “Jump and land in a partial front squat” eliminates the tendency of pausing and overthinking. 

Power Clean

The effectiveness of this teaching progression is that we can chunk this movement into its parts before building it back up. An error in the Power Clean is usually an error in Steps 1, 2, and/or 3. Placing the athlete at the step and correcting the fault is the smartest thing a coach can do.

As you get more comfortable coaching this progression, this can be performed as a warmup. When you’re first learning this complex it acts more like an instructional piece.


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How To Perform the Elusive Toes To Bar

Watching the Toes-To-Bar (TTB) performed at high speeds is beautiful. Advanced CrossFit athletes can make them look effortless. If you’ve ever attempted to perform TTB’s you know they are anything but effortless. Like anything in life, if you want to get good at these it’s going to take proper practice and training.

Training only the CrossFit for the last 10 years, and owning a gym for the last 7, I can confidently name 4 commons reasons athletes struggle to perform this exercise.

1.Grip Strength

If an athlete cannot hang on a pull-up bar for 60 seconds at-a-time there is no magic cue you are going to be able to give them as a coach that is going to help. Whether you are performing a kipping version or a strict version grip strength is paramount. There are many ways we can help develop grip strength. The most functional would be the implementation of the farmers carry or another odd object lift. Not only can this strengthen the forearms they are an effective conditioning tool when coupled with other exercises. I would be remised if I didn’t talk about appropriate body composition levels. Novice athlete that are severely overweight will always struggle with this exercise. No amount wrist curls or farmer carries are going to help this individual. The real issue is their weight, not their grip. As their weight comes down their grip strength will improve drastically.

2. Core Strength

The next step once an individual is able to consistently hang on the bar is to focus on their “core” strength (I hate that word but you know where I’m getting at). The best transfer exercise would be a hanging L-sit hold. These are performed statically which help reduce the shear forces on the grip compared to swinging. The goal should be to build up to holding a fully extended L-sit for 30 seconds at a time. From there a strict TTB is in order. Multiple sets of 5-10 reps are ideal. Another good option if an athlete still can’t hang on a pull-up bar is V-ups. If you watch TTB performed you will notice a forceful, if not violent, contraction of the abdominals. The closest thing to that is the V-up

3. Coordination

In comparison, stringing 5 TTB is much more advanced than performing 1 TTB strict. Not only does a kipping version provide more volume in less amount of time they indirectly develop grip strength through the intensity of quick cycle rate. In gymnastics, we call this coordinated effort of the body a “kip swing“. The force potential, when performed correctly, transfers into other movements like Pull-ups and Ring and Bar Muscle-ups. In training, a progression of kip swings that immediately follows a knee-to-chest motion is very effective at developing the timing needed to be able to kick the leg higher and higher into the air.

4. Flexibility

An athletes inability to touch their toes from a standing position severely limits their ability to string multiple reps together. Although an efficiently performed TTB doesn’t require a full extension of the knee, the tension on the hamstrings will always there. Every workout that includes Knees-to-Elbow KTE) or TTB should always begin with a 5-minute mobility piece on the hamstrings. With time, if an athlete works on it consistently enough, their flexibility will improve. Here’s a secret…the difference between a KTE and a TTB is about 2-3 inches of hamstring length. Even with tight hamstrings, an athlete can perform the TTB if they learn to quickly “flick” their toes to bar at the moment their knees come up to elbow height.


The True Meaning of Moderation

The dieting term “cheating” comes from the philosophy of the Clean Eating Approach. On this diet, it is typically encouraged that 80-90% of your food remains “healthy” (whatever that means). The 20-30% left over can be used to eat “bad” (whatever that means) foods. In this context moderation is your limit on how much “bad” food you eat. Heres the problem studies have shown that trying to”eat clean” isn’t sustainable long term. These diets are restrictive and very unpractical to modern living. I try not to use the word cheating in conversation with clients because the connotation implies you are dishonest and unfaithful to yourself. To make matters worse, this type of diet begins to create feelings of guilt and shame about eating certain foods which you had never experienced before.

What I tell my clients is if you aren’t tracking what you eat it’s impossible to know if the amount of food you are eating is causing the weight gain. That’s the cold hard truth. Anyone else who tells you otherwise is probably trying to sell you something.

Moderation is constant counterbalancing of your daily caloric numbers to ensure you don’t gain weight.

For me to be able to help someone who wants to lose weight, I would need to know everything they are eating for at least a month at a time. This type of journaling provides me a measurable, observable, quantifiable way to troubleshoot someone’s eating habits. From there I can help them tweak their caloric needs to help them lose weight while being able to enjoy the process.

So what does it mean to eat in moderation? Let me give you an example. If you plan on going out to dinner with the family and decide to have two beers, If you are a conscious eater, you would naturally tell yourself “I’m going to have to eat a light meal tomorrow to counterbalance those beers.” Or let’s say you want to eat a cup of Ben & Jerry’s Ice-cream for dessert. You might tell yourself that you are going to skip breakfast and fast until lunch the next day. Without knowing it, you are practicing the technique of moderation. Those who maintain a lean body fat percentage throughout the year do this quite naturally. For most of us, it takes a lot of practice to know if we are eating above our means.

Moderation is constant counterbalancing of your daily caloric numbers to ensure you don’t gain weight eating less favorable foods. For those that are overweight, this can only be done by quantifying ones’ food intake on a daily basis. Otherwise, you are left to guessing which ultimately causes frustration due to the inconsistency and inaccuracy of not knowing how much one is eating.

Anyone else who tells you otherwise is probably trying to sell you something.

Which raises another question. How many calories should you be eating?

The answer to this and most fitness questions is it depends. Everyone’s caloric needs are different. Using online macro programs will help you set a baseline for weight loss. But easier than a fancy calculator is simple multiplication. Just multiply your body weight by 10. Weigh yourself on Monday. Measure and log EVERYTHING you eat all week long on the MyFitnessPal app. The following Monday I want you to weigh yourself again. What happened? If you gained weight a factor of 10 is too high, drop it to 9 and repeat the process measuring and tracking EVERYTHING. If you lose more than 2lbs your factor is too low raise it to 11 and see what happens. Did you still lose weight, maintain, or gain? A sustainable weight loss program reduces weight at .5-1bs/week.

Ultimately, maintaining a healthy body weight comes from being able to accurately know how much to eat, so you don’t gain weight.

Not many people can do that which is why tracking is so important


Easy Tips For Training the L-sit

By: Mario Ashley

We are so used to training the abdominals through repetitive spinal flexion and extension that when we incorporate an exercise that requires a static position we second guess its effects. That is until you try the L-sit. It is the easiest looking, least intimating core that I have known.  That is until you try it for yourself. I have seen younger women master this exercise while I have seen it make grown men cry.

As we know it, the L-sit place the spine in flexion. Although to a smaller degree it is evident when you focus your eyes on the athletes look back. You notice more of around than you do an arch. In gymnastics, we define this as a “hollow body” state. Its a rigid, stable, and entirely safe position for the spine.

The problem is that because this position is rarely ever trained holding this position for 60seconds at a time is impossible. That is where effective, yet challenging regressions are useful.

1.Parallettes (P.Bar) or Boxes?


The chief complaint comes from the difficulty of keeping the legs of the ground. On the P. Bar, the room for error is small. A lack of flexibility in the hamstring and mobility int he hip flexors are the leading cause of strain. For these athletes, the box modification is best suited for them so they can focus more on bracing the abs and legs time to pray your feet do not touch the ground.

2. Where to place your legs?

In a perfect world,  everyone can point their toes and fully extend the knees. This rarely happens. Adjusting the levers, based on where an athlete places their legs while in the static position is crucial because you want them to be able to find a version that challenges them yet allows them to stay up for 20-30 seconds at a time. The three options we use are: double knee touch, semi-truck (one knee tuck, one leg pointed), or both legs fully extended.

3. Applying Time Under Tension

Ultimately being able to fully extend the legs for a few seconds is pointless. There isn’t enough of a stimulus to affect positive change in strength and or stability. Finding the correct modification based on #1 and #2 is ultimately predicted by their ability to keep their feet off the floor for at least 20-30 seconds at a time.

4. Practice. Practice. Practice.

Very few people can set up on a parallette and hold 60 seconds or longer. It takes repetitious practice like any other skill. Mastering this will make situps feel like a big waste of time.