It's always a learning opportunity when you visit another box. One of CrossFit's charms is that each affiliate has the opportunity design a unique experience. Unlike the conformity of a franchise, the lack of conformity allows for positive and negative variance but also for allows from innovation and continuous improvement.
Yesterday's CrossFit Strongman Course at Hybrid Athletics in Bridgeport, CT was a great experience. Why?
- I came away appreciating how Strongman movements can boost athletic performance.
- I'd done things like Atlas stone lifts and tire flips before but now know the proper technique and how these movements translate to improving other CrossFit movements.
- I got a great, full-body workout.
- It's cool to lift beer kegs.
- The box has some unique features and best practices to learn from.
- The instructors, led by Rob Orlando, were great hosts.
First of all, the lead instructor Rob Orlando is a Strongman expert, well-spoken and continually engaging. Below is a video of Rob doing Grace at 300 pounds. I won't be testing this anytime soon. Well, never actually.
Below are some photos from the host box, Hybrid Athletics:
The box has an intimate size and a definite cool factor. Throw in a few couches and it would pass for a trendy coffee shop.
The set-up is well-considered and very much different than a typical box.
Including this badass motorcycle attached to the box wall.
One of the side rooms is a well-stocked kitchen and another room is filled with their clothing merchandise.
Their clothing isn't just a logo. It has attitude.
The amount of strongman equipment is like no other box that I've visited.
The tires are used to form a sitting area around the whiteboard.
The whiteboard includes a membership count and target. This location opened a year ago.
The whiteboard outlines the box rules...
Including critical rule #7.
Students have a laminated profile on the box wall.
And there's a deli/bakery across the street.
The course was focused on Strongman but Rob also took the time for an extended Q&A. Below are the highlights of what I scribbled in my notebook. I did my best to capture the thoughts and quotes but cannot claim 100% accuracy:
- "When we think of strongman, we think of 400 pound guys named Magnus."
- Strongman movements and equipment have great ROI.
- Flipping a tire is something a new athlete can share with their friends.
- "How can you differentiate? Your box should be fun. It should have a buzz. Boxes are too often run by complete assholes."
- Protecting your biceps is a key consideration of strongman movements: "Use the big muscles to do a big job."
- "Every strongman rep is a true test."
- "Atlas stones are just a lot cooler than a rower. Stones are also cheap and the variety of movements is unlimited."
- Suggests testing GTOH with an odd object (e.g., a water-filled keg) and then retesting your Grace time. Many significant time improvements have been seen using this method.
- Consider mixing strongman movements into a WOD. For example: 10 rounds of 10 squats, 50 foot Farmer's carry and 5 burpees.
- "We don't need to learn Strongman movements. We just need to remember them."
- Rob programs for himself. He does the same workout as everyone else.
- WODs have no Rx weight. The weight used is customized for each athlete based on 1) what they can move safely, 2) how they're feeling that day and 3) what will allow them to meet the intent/timeframe of the WOD. Per Rob, "This allows people to think bigger."
- Rob programs one day at a time: "How will I know how I'll feel on day 15? How are the members feeling?" He programs based on how he feels and by getting feedback from the community.
- They do not write scores on the whiteboard or use an online tracker. Per Rob, "Leaderboards can turn into cheater boards. We care about participation and not competition."
- Strives to have the simplest workouts. The fewest words for the hardest workout. They often use CrossFit.com WODs. No calculations should be required.
- He sometimes sees WODs programmed by other boxes and thinks, "What the fuck are you doing?"
- Strongman movements should be programmed the same as any other CrossFit movement.
- How does one stay strong? "Feed the recovery. Eat three times as much and lose the motor."
- "We need to get back to the roots of CrossFit as an exercise program versus an athletic endeavor."
- Be patient versus shooting for the short-term jumps: "Strength takes a lifetime to acquire."
- They rarely program snatches and never OHS. Snatches provide the least results: "Just stop snatching and focus on deadlifts, back squats and clean and jerks."
- Before the CrossFit Games, he changed his eating and used MetPro for nutrition and spent $800 a week on food: "I never was sore at the Games."
- "Every time I do a workout, I question my life choices."
- Strongman movements should be slowly introduced to your community: "Start with a little sprinkle of rhabdo."
- "Why should you lift a log? Because it's not a barbell, that's why. Constantly varied, remember?"
- "All athletic endeavors start with violent hips."
Thanks again to the CrossFit Strongman crew and Hybrid Athletics.