Feb 20


So as I sit here in Dublin airport waiting to board an 11 hour flight to do the Barbell Business workshop I thought I’d write about being wrong.

I’m sure entirely what I want to say, and this might be a short blog post. (Edit: Turns out it’s not!)

Basically it seems to coming down to a worry or embarrassment about being wrong. But being wrong is the only way you grow, right?

Do I want to be placated or do I want to grow? Can't I have both!?

Do I want to be placated or do I want to grow? Can’t I have both!?

I suppose we also need to talk about what being wrong means. Like we’ve all had it, wrong decisions, wrong relationships, wrong ideas. They’re only wrong in hindsight for a start. WAY back when I was training to be a life coach (guess I always wanted to help people) my life coach told me “you did the best you could with what you knew at the time.” Powerful. And true. I can’t even remember what I was worried about or what we were discussing but that’s stuck with me. And it’s a very good tool for self-forgiveness.

Secondly, nothing’s ever really 100% right or wrong either, is it? We can bust out the old adage that if that shitty thing hadn’t have happened you would have never ended up here (if here at the time is pretty sweet) but I’m not talking about that specifically.

Take programming, for example. I’ll regularly go back and look at the workouts I programmed and think “Jesus, that’s shite!”. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t. But I know at the time it was the best programming I was capable of putting together. We all hit Rippetoe’s low bar back squats for a time, believing it was the right thing to do. And we got some gains from it (Just gains with an s, not a z). Combing low bar and high bar was then the thing. Then, it was all about the high bar.

So yeah... Squat debates!

So yeah… Squat debates!

Right now I feel that the front squat is way more important for CrossFit and Weightlifting, with much more “direct” carryover. Having said that the back squat still has it’s place. And I also ‘know’ that chasing strength gains in the squat at the detriment of integrating it back into other aspects of CrossFit isn’t the way to go. It’s a great starting point for putting together a programme, and there’s a great buzz around test week. But there could be a better way.

Funny, even writing the above paragraph I’m questioning myself and getting a little uncomfortable. Almost as if I’m justifying my programming and reasoning. It’s not a bad thing, I suppose, to regularly question what you’re doing. If you challenge it and it turns out to be wrong, at least you can stop it then.

I don’t want to be wrong because I don’t want to cause harm. That’s a big part of it. I do best when I focus on what’s going right and trying to do more of that. When I feel I’ve done wrong the immediate emotional reaction is to berate myself for it. I guess the belief behind that is I “should” know better, and people relied on me to be right.

But I also know that by looking for and stopping/correcting what’s wrong is a way to improve. And I want to improve. Sure, I’m sitting on an 11 hour flight for a 4 hour wait for another 1.5 hour flight to go to a conference to improve. A part of me wants to get a pat on the back and be told “keep going”. Being brutally honest, I don’t want to go in there and feel humiliated that I’m doing things all wrong (embarrassed monkey emoji hiding his eyes).

A large part of this blog was inspired by Jamie’s post here.

Oh wow, an hour down. As a sidenote to this blog, I’ve definitely noticed since I’ve started journalling my sense of amazement and number of “oh wow” moments has definitely increased.

I listened to this podcast Lewis Howe’s did with Esther Perel about relationships not too long ago. She talked about how we’re too harsh on what we define as a failure. A couple getting divorced after 25-40 shouldn’t be considered a failure, she argued. If they came together (phrasing!) created a relationship, had kids and supported each other for the vast majority of it, only to grow apart again, that’s okay. It doesn’t have to last forever for it to be considered a success. Well worth a listen to.

Another thing on being wrong, is that it very often paralyses us from taking action before it even begins. Hell, I debated investing in this course I’m attending because “what if it’s a waste of time/money?” It’s costing us close to €3000 to attend, and 5 days, not to mention the opportunity cost of staying at home and trying to make money, or the fatigue from me travelling and Derek running the show.

I said ‘cost’ deliberately as that’s how it can feel sometimes. But the right way to think about it would be an investment. CrossFit costs a lot of money. But as I’ve discussed it’s better viewed as an investment with a massive pay off. Harder to see is the very real cost of inaction. The missed opportunities by not taking a shot, and not experimenting. Credit to Tim Ferriss for first bringing to my attention the notion that instead of looking at things as permanent decisions, you treat them as experiments. You take on a new job/relationship/training course/system/programme not as an irrevocable and irredeemable decision, but rather as an experiment to see where in life in takes you.

There’ll never be a 100% perfect decision, what you’ve got to do is take a shot an commit to it.

So it’s a funny thing. I need to be wrong to grow and be happy, but I really wanna be right! There’s a balance, sure, in trusting you’re doing the right thing while also re-evaluating and changing the wrong actions. Finding it is the tricky part!!

Feb 09

Adventures in Journaling & Habit Forming

So since January 1st I’ve been using the Five Minute Journal, after I heard about it on the Tim Ferriss podcast.

By the end of Christmas drinking and wedding season, I needed it.

I kept drinking because I was scared that if I stopped, the cumulative hangover would literally kill me.

I kept drinking because I was scared that if I stopped, the cumulative hangover would literally kill me.

The last wedding I was just spent. Amazingly drinking all those depressants had given me the “mehs”. I went up to my hotel room and realised that I was utterly sober and just wanted to leave. I calculated the number of units I’d consumed and reasoned that I could safely drive at 4am. Lay there in bed staring at the ceiling and maybe got a few hours sleep. I waited way past my calculations as well just to be safe.

So safe to say I needed some positive habits to kick off the year. And probably best for this experiment I was pretty wiped to begin with.

To explain how the journal works, you start off by writing some notes as to why journaling is important to you, what your obstacles to journaling are, and how you’ll overcome them. Then, each day you’ll start with three things you’re grateful for, and three things that would make the day great. Finally, you write a daily affirmation. In the evening, you write up three amazing things that happened, and two things that you could have done to make the day better.


First of all, it’s hard. First thing in the morning, to think of all the things you’re thankful for rather than “FML, I just want 5 more minutes in bed.” We’re hard wired to look for threats. You know, a threat is far more likely to kill us than a treat is. Those sabre tooth tigers didn’t fuck around back in the day, constantly hunting humans for food. Delicious nourishing berries, if we missed them, didn’t kill us straight away. (Although we might die of a slow starvation.)

I genuinely think the point of this whole thing is not to have things to be thankful for, but rather to start reprogramming our brain to search for the good and positives in our lives. Rarely is everything 100% shitty, or 100% brilliant. The problems, worries, perceived and very real problems we have tend to be more pervasive in our thinking. This is a deliberate and conscious exercise is disrupting that pattern and finding things to be thankful and the amazing things that happened that day.

One thing it has forced me to deal with is that very often I don’t know what will make me happy in a given day. When bluntly faced with this question, I’m stumped more often than not.

Honestly, there’s a part of my brain that’s looking for the magic pill. That all elusive one thing that will make me 100% perfectly and permanently happy. “If only…” pops into my head, more than I would have realised it did.

So a benefit of this short lived experiment (still ongoing) is that I’m setting smaller expectations of my day. Now this could read as a very depressing thing to write, or defeatist. It’s not. It’s learning to appreciate the little things. It’s learning (very slowly) to be self reliant on my happiness, and not make it conditional on something outside of my control happening (a new prospect calling, for example, or Munster to win!!)

This seems potent right about now.

This seems potent right about now.

Historically I’m shit at living in the moment. I’ve looked back on a lot of times in my life and said “you should have enjoyed that more”. Now, of course I realise that we all look back on certain times with rose tinted glasses. Our memories are notoriously inaccurate and we forget large parts of what happened. We even make up shit that never happened. They’ve done studies where they’ve shown people photographs of themselves at parties and other events and the subject has made up a memory of being there. But journalling has helped me appreciate the moment more as it’s happening.

At the risk of this blog post becoming an Instagram motivational account, I'll add this pic as well.

At the risk of this blog post becoming an Instagram motivational account, I’ll add this pic as well.

Has it made me absolutely zen like? Fuck no! It’s not a miracle cure. Nothing fucking is.

See it’s never one thing. Never is. It’s a combination of hundreds and thousands of small incidents that bring us on or off course. Journaling, I’ve found, has helped me sharpen my focus on all the small actions that add up.

And it helps put things in perspective for me. Now I know we joke about first world problems and everyone’s problem to them really is the biggest problem in the world but there’s definitely an element of focus. Are you counting your blessings or counting your troubles?

Journaling this month has coincided with reading Bressie’s book. Now, I don’t know the guy, nor his pain and his struggles, but one thing that hit home in the early chapters was that he didn’t appreciate what was good in his life. He was a successful rugby player and musician, the types of careers most dream of. Now I don’t know if the anxiety causes the inability to appreciate what’s right in your life or if lack of appreciation causes/adds to the anxiety and resultant depression. What I can say from my perspective is taking the time to look for things to be appreciative of and happy about has kept me on an even keel. Particularly at the end of a not so great day where I’ve to shift my focus from my worries/struggles/demands to what went right.

See we’re all weird. If we smile, we get happier. Our body’s are constantly searching for clues as to how we feel, so they reason if I smile, I must be happy. So we can smile first, and then be happy. Doesn’t make sense but it’s shown to have an impact.

Journaling has helped me start to develop better habits, and the daily check ins point out what irks me or what I’m not accomplishing. So in addition to journaling I started adding daily positive habits to my life.

Week one, believe it or not, was not to go to bed with dirty dishes in the sink. I hated doing them at night. Still don’t quite revel in it. But I’d be so pissed off coming into a dirty kitchen or looking for the frying pan to make breakfast only to be annoyed.

The dishes gave me a sense of accomplishment. That’s been built up now, taking on just one very small new habit each week so I don’t burn out my willpower but gradually, incrementally, make my life run smoother.

Another thing I’ve discovered is that I am in no way as organised or as scheduled as I’d like to be. I just didn’t realise it until this year, even though it’s obvious in hindsight. Being my own boss I get to set my schedule, but there’s definitely more scope for a better one.

I know I like to blur the lines between work and play. I don’t want my job to be something I escape from. But, if I’m never fully relaxing because a task is hanging over me then I’m not giving 100% am I? If I have non negotiable time scheduled for something it gets done and gets done right. So February is all about setting these times up.

For example, Thursday is programming day. But it gets worked around. It’s important. It’s enjoyable. It’s challenging. But it’s not given the priority it deserves. It might get done early in the day, or later. Shit, there’s been times I’ve finished it off at 8am Sunday morning before the programming video goes up! Now, though, it’s getting scheduled as part of my two hours dedicated work time, which now takes place in Starbucks instead of at home. At home it’s too easy to throw on some Netflix and get distracted with domestic chores (Which, if they were just scheduled, would get done and cause less stress!)

So I’m going to continue journaling and building small habits. There’s an app in beta testing but I’ve found that writing on paper stops me checking instagram again. My advice to you would be to give it a go for a solid month. It’s not going to change anything overnight (nothing really does) but I’ve found it very valuable. Oh, and for god’s sake, do your hollow holds!

Jan 27

The Value of Training

So my friend asked me to write on this and with that in mind all the shitty ideas are his, and all the ones that resonate with you are my interpretations. Deal? Deal!

How much would you pay to have your heart restarted after it stopped prematurely from a clogging of the arteries? If you lost the use of your legs today or had to get them amputated would you spend everything you have to regain their use? I would.


But, how much would you pay to prevent it? My guess, half of fuck all. Fuck all being the most widely used currency there is.

Why is this?

Well, essentially we’re all really, really, really bad at assessing the future. And we don’t like to take risks, really. (Side note: I’ve used really too much in this paragraph already. Really, I have.)

Instant gratification is promised, but future dividends are not. I know this can of coke will taste delicious right now. I can’t see the effect this small, tiny, effort done repeatedly is having on my health.

Ditto my expensive coffee. I know this latte will taste yummy. I can’t guarantee skipping this will lead to the chain reaction that leads me to having enough savings to get a mortgage.

The same is true, to some extent, with shitty form and niggling injuries. The “cost” of 20 minutes a day ROMWOD seems high. I mean, I can still train with that dodgy niggle, or poor hip flexibility. But will mobility GUARANTEE an instant improvement in my form? Will I get an instant PR? No. So, we don’t do it as it doesn’t give us the tangible results we want or need straight away. And it’s hard to invest time when you can’t see an instant return. It’s harder to invest time when we think we might get no return or even a negative return.

So this leads us on nicely to the value of paying for training. Shit man, CrossFit is expensive. What am I paying for? Like, the workouts are free online anyway. And private training so I can get that PR I’ve wanted for years? Please!


For some reason, the cost of gyms hasn’t really changed much over time. This article – http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/time-for-yearly-gym-rush-but-limber-up-by-shopping-around-25890562.html – puts the cost of gym membership in Ben Dunnes in 2004 at €325, and we can reasonably assume. You can join the gym now for €245. So it’s actually cheaper now.

By comparison, the price of a Big Mac was €2.74 in 2004, and €3.68 in 2015 – Source – http://bigmacindex.org/

Oh man, I shouldn’t be writing this while hungry. I want a burger now.

Also, there’s the very real benefit that paying premium for something just makes you value it more. Instead of paying money to someone you’re investing in yourself for a big, big payoff.

You move better, look sexier, progress quicker, and are healthier as a result. All of these things are pretty high on everyone’s list of wants, yet as a total percentage of discretionary income spend it’s disproportionate.

(Finally, my economics class in college is paying off!)

The punitive damage for not investing in high quality coaching can be a couple of hundred in physio bills if you’re lucky and serious surgeon consulting fees (if you’re not! It’s weird isn’t it, €300 on physio to fix something that a €75 PT could have prevented. Doesn’t seem that expensive now does it?

Now let’s move on to the real paydirt. Beyond the physical. To throw some latin at y’all – anima sana in corpore sano

They'll never go out of fashion because they've never been in fashion

They’ll never go out of fashion because they’ve never been in fashion

How much would you pay for friendships and a support group?

Here’s some figures:

  • Having a better social life can be worth as much as an additional $131,232 a year in terms of life satisfaction
  • A happy marriage is worth $105,000 a year
  • Seeing friends and family regularly is worth $97,265

Oh go check out the source here and see how much your health is worth!

Isn’t that worth paying some of your disposable income each month for? Nah, a few curries and that Sky subscription are much more worth it.

What about therapy? Since this blog’s popular posts are about mental health how much would clarity and a release valve be worth to you, really?

Another problem, similar to the instant gratification, is that these things are hard to see in advance. One cannot imagine a future than their present. If you look at how they imagined the future in the 1950s you see images like this.


So why would someone believe you when you tell them they’ll be healthier, and happier, more comfortable and confident if they just do some thrusters and burpees a few odd times a week? Difficult to comprehend from the outside and a near impossible sell.

But yeah, this shit is expensive man.

Nov 16

As I Understand Depression

Ever since I published my suicide attempt (or Splash, as it became known amongst friends) people have asked me for a follow up piece on how I deal with it. So here it is.

Truth is, I’m not sure I deal with it. As I’m going through a depressive patch now seems the right time to try and explain for those who don’t understand, and talk about dealing with it for those who I might be able to help.

I say going through, which in itself we’ll take as a positive, rather than I AM Depressed, which seems much more permanent and ever lasting. It’s also a weird one, as I seem much more cognisant of it than normal.


Fact is, it’s generally something I have to keep an eye on. That dark cloud, that it could come at any moment. While there can be triggers, there are times when I just feel it approaching. It’s like an aura a few days to a few weeks out. The sound of the oncoming storm, even if you can’t feel it (or admit that that’s what is coming.)

It’s at that stage when reminding yourself that there’s a cloud coming helps. And thus begins the intellectual battle with the emotional/hormonal one. And fuck me can that hormonal side make a strong case!

I’ve found it helpful to let those close to you know if I can feel it. That’s taken a long time to be able to do, as well meaning and well intentioned advice can have the exact opposite impact. I suppose we could say it’s like warning your coach you haven’t slept or are feeling a serious case of DOMS from the previous day. While it doesn’t change the workout, it can alter our expectations of what our performance will be that day.


When the big dog arrives, or the black mist descends, or you fall down the deep hole, you cannot help but focus on the pain. Regardless of all the good around you the one pain point screams like a siren and draws all your attention towards it and it alone.

Think of it like this, if you sprain your ankle or break your arm, that’s all you can focus on. The pain is at times all consuming. You might forget about it for a while but then it hits you again with a blinding reminder it’s there. It doesn’t matter that all your other joints are working well, it doesn’t matter that you can still do lots. All you can focus on is the pain point. Same with depression.

The truly interesting (and possibly terrifying) is that when in a depressed state, the thoughts and feelings you have take on such a degree of certainty and permanency unlike any other time. That you are finally seeing clearly how everyone hates you, and the world is a horrible place.

The irony of this certainty is that it only exists towards the negative. All the bad you can think of (and man can you think of a lot) is one hundred percent certain. Everything else good you did/felt/achieved, you doubt completely. “I told you it was too good to be true, you never deserved that happiness” the darker angels of one’s nature taunts me with. Repeatedly. You never deserved happiness. This is your natural state.

Writing this now I can see it’s complete horse shit. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t take A LOT of effort to put those voices in perspective. And please don’t get alarmed by this. In order to paint an accurate picture the harshest and darkest thoughts must be expressed.


There is an over riding, all encompassing desire to escape and to hide away at it’s peak. All your energy collapses and concentration – fucking forget about it! So while there may be a hole host of positive steps that one can take to help them out, the energy simply isn’t there. To relate it back to exercise. No matter how much you may want to pick up that heavy bar or hit that handstand push up late in the workout, or do just one more fucking burpee, you simply cannot. Same with the dark hole. Sure, focusing on the things you’re grateful for will help but the effort it takes to drag yourself away from that virtually all powerful pull of the negative makes it all but impossible.

The single worst aspect is the self hatred, of annoyance that turns to frustration that turns to anger at oneself for not shaking it off. While amazingly, writing this up, is as absurd as it sounds. Fighting the storm like this (berating yourself for not being able to control it) only amplifies it. Intellectually I know, and you know, that self acceptance is the answer to let it wash over you. Reminding yourself of this is key.

This really is a first world problem. That the thoughts in my head turn against me. That’s not a real problem. Certainly not like the ones people face. And since if the reader has made it this far, you deserve to watch this:

Comedy helps. Even if you’re not in the mood to laugh, comedy helps. Comedy is that way of taking a different perspective on life and while at times it may be completely absurd and irrelevant, it’s exactly what you need. It is no more ridiculous than the negative slant you’ve allowed occupy your brain.

And music helps, even if you don’t want to relate to it, it can disrupt the slide in your brain. When you find yourself listening to “Eyes Without A Face” or the more downbeat Sigur Ros songs you know it’s time to start listening to Ben Howard’s “Keep Your Head Up” and other upbeat songs, especially if you’re angry with them because there’s nothing to be happy about.

(My second favourite song of all time, btw)

Achievement is the route out of the hole for me. At times. Whether it’s universal or not I have a need to feel useful and purposeful. To feel in control. Though again the energy to start can feel debilitating. Because as you start to clean your kitchen you realise just how filthy it’s gotten, and just as you get through the dishes, the counter is fucking filthy. And there’s laundry to be done, and then your room is a fucking state. So all your efforts only have a minimal impact, and don’t “solve” the problem. It could be that you’re looking for that one fix that makes everything better, and alas it will be the culmination of hundreds, if not thousands, of small, repeated efforts that will make it better.

And please don’t call me brave because I share it openly. I don’t feel it’s any bravery on my behalf. I possess an ability to describe things in a way that on occasion resonates with people. If that can help people, I should do it. If you’re in a position to help, you should help.

I tell people about this because I’m certain (there’s that word again) that there’s someone suffering far worse than me, alone, and without the support I possess. But there is a worry that all this becomes very hipsterish. That as depression and mental health become mainstream it becomes an excuse for those that are lazy or not arsed to do their job. I argued quite extensively with a therapist about this point. And maybe it’s me being harsh to others plights. I dunno.

As you withdraw into the hole (remember, in it’s insidious nature it feels to a degree right and home and where you belong) you develop the selfish attitude that people should be sympathetic to the plight inside you. Although how could they know when you haven’t explained it to them, and are so immersed in your own internal pain that you don’t focus on them and what struggles they may be having. In your head, you’re the only one suffering. Alone.

It’s said that concentrating on others and helping others helps immensely with it, yet I haven’t found the sweet spot there between helping others and looking after myself. So I can’t offer any insights on that.

All this shouldn’t mean that you should treat me, or anyone else going through a struggle any different. I don’t believe you can anyway. Being nice to someone only when they’re struggling isn’t really being nice, is it?

Crazy thing is, the fog lifts, or you wake up and find yourself out of the hole, and you can’t identify with the thoughts you had or the feelings you experienced. They’re not real. Like a dream, they’re something you only vaguely recall and can’t wholeheartedly associate with the “you” you are now.

The ‘benefit’, for want of a better word, is that I do tend to enjoy the upswings more now. Not completely, as there is a bit that thinks at times it’s too good to be true. But through exploring this, and writing this piece, I’ve learnt to understand that is is a journey with ups and downs, neither of which is permanent, and to try stop looking for permanency and an even keel. To me there is no end point, and chasing that without savouring the journey is something I have to keep reminding myself of.

Thank you.

Nov 06

The Emotions of CrossFit

So maybe it’s because I’m just exposed to it as part of my job, or maybe it’s because I’m sensitive, but I see a lot of anxiety in people. And it’d be really cool to just have a magic wand to say “Hey, you’re okay. Relax. You know what, you’re good.”

For whatever reason, this whole CrossFit thing tends to expose people pretty quickly. You become raw. You can’t really hide. Occasionally the demons in our head can take root and start to tell you that you’re not good enough and if only you were different you’d be better/happier/less anxious/more secure.

Maybe it’s because I see it a lot that I’d like to tell you that you are good enough. Like I mean we all see everyone’s highlight reel without really seeing their behind the scenes. How many times has a friend told you something and you said “I had no idea!”?

You’re not broken, or incomplete, or fuck it even unloveable because you weigh a certain weight, look at certain way, or are even “only” able to lift a certain number.

If this was said to me I would probably disregard it as well. It’s easy to brush off well intentioned and well meaning words with “yeah but you don’t know”. And maybe I don’t know. Hell, I’m sure I don’t know. But my hope in writing this is that it’s at least one positive message for you that may help you out. And I’m all about helping people 🙂

I wonder if we see what others see would we have a much better opinion of ourselves?

I’ve long held the belief that it really isn’t what you do or what you achieve (or attempt and fail even, which is probably a better barometer of someone. How many hits you can take and still keep moving forward.)

It’s the people you share it with and the relationships you have which I personally believe are ultimately the most important thing. That human connection. And that’s really what we get in CrossFit.

I’m coming to the conclusion (dangerous I know) that all of this is really just people’s therapy. It’s therapy for a number of reasons.


It gives you a sense of control. So I believe in The Happiness Advantage they got college students suffering from depression to just take care of one square foot worth of space on their desk. Their rooms could have been full of pizza boxes and they had difficulty bathing in the morning but they started with something small like one square foot. Gradually, being able to control even the tiniest aspect helps.

When you’re in the gym, you have that control and mastery over just a small fraction of your life. That 1Kg PR doesn’t mean anything really, and yet it means everything. It’s seeing the reward for all the hard work you put in. So many other aspects of life may feel like a crap shoot, and you’re not entirely sure your efforts had any impact, but that PR you earned every bit of it, and can stand over it with pride.

It’s probably the only place that you are truly mindful as well. When you approach that back squat, you’re in the moment, and all that matters is the squat. Ditto with a horrific metcon. Sure, you may want to escape that particular brand of mindfulness but you’re fully present in those burpees!

That horrific metcon however does help release a lot of endorphins, and potentially that big problem you had before your workout doesn’t seem so insurmountable any more.

I think the main reason I love CrossFit is the connections we form. I mean, really, behind it all, is a place where everyone knows you. They see you at your most vulnerable (no one takes an unfiltered selfie mid workout) they probably see your insecurities more than you allow most – you can’t hide them – and that’s why they love you.

CrossFit is your happy place. You share your struggles with those who admire and inspire you. Afterwards you laugh away the pain of the wall balls and strangely look forward to the next time you feel like death mid WoD.

While writing this I’ve thought about and had discussions on what happens when this safe place becomes an addiction, and what happens when it gets taken away through injury or life circumstance.

There’s a bunch of things around this. Firstly, when you ‘lose’ your social group you feel threatened. Like it’s a survival mechanism in humans because we evolved in small groups and getting removed from that group essentially meant death.

That’s why it hurts and is scary.

You couple this with the fact that naturally we’re wired to focus on the negative. We can only focus on what we can’t do, and what the loss is, rather than the opportunities it may present.

If I’d to propose a solution to this it would be to remember that being a CrossFitter isn’t the only thing that defines you. And it is not the sole determinant of your value, or your happiness.

We all have that tendency to mistake intensity with permanency. Intellectually we know the highs, nor the lows, won’t last for ever. The trick is remembering this in the moment, enjoying the highs as they last, and knowing the lows won’t continue forever.

To scale it back from the drama of injury, this can become an obsession when we find something we’re good at, or believe we can be. You may be the best there ever was, and you may not be. But sport is cruel. Unfortunately a bitter pill to follow is just because you work hard, and really REALLY want something, is no guarantee of success. You may never reach the lofty goals of where you think you can be. All you can do, all you have control over, is to do the best you can in any moment. You shouldn’t be any better than that. Do your utmost (even if that’s just showing up and going through the motions sometimes) and let the chips fall where they may.

And I suppose this brings us back around to the initial point. Your worth isn’t determined by where you finish in a workout. You’re not 15Kg less a human than that girl who out lifts you. You’re not 2 minutes less valuable than the guy who has the gym record. You’re you.

I think maybe, just maybe, if we all accepted ourselves even a little bit more like the way we accept everyone else, we’d all be a little happier and enjoy our journey a little bit more. Hell, I’d wager we’d get closer to our ideal selves that we’re always chasing 🙂

And for God's sake, savour this!

And for God’s sake, savour this!

Oct 14


All coaches do is guesswork, really. We know nothing.

We guess by the fact that we can know what a programme is meant to do but really, we’re dealing with very complex systems in humans here.

For a start, if we create any programme for our class or group, we run into a problem. The problem is that the programme is not unique to the individual, and mightn’t 100% hit on their level of development. Are they raw beginner, kinda beginner, beginner, intermediate beginner, intermediate intermediate, etc. etc.? (Did you like the gradient scale I just made up?)

Secondly, we don’t know nor can we control the variables outside of the 3-5 hours they spend in our care. We can’t control for the fact they’ve lost sleep because of the new baby, are stressed because of their job, are distracted because of the new love interest, or are riddled with full blown AIDS.

Now I’ll maintain that we have to, as coaches and programmers, ignore all of this. I don’t subscribe fully to the “just get them to exercise” mantra.

Yes, if you’re training 3x/week and not addressing your diet, mobility, stress, sleep, and mental health, there’s probably a lot you need to work on before deciding which iteration of 5-3-1 best suits you, or whether you need to focus on triple extension or catapult.

BUT, if we discount or ignore everything else, and I think we should, you should be on a programme that not only alleviates stress and gives you lovely post workout endorphins, but makes you better as you go on as well. 80% committed 100% of the time and other such motivation phrases can apply here.



My reasoning behind this is that you deserve a coach that at least tries to improve you, and not hopes that by turning up you get better. Whether that attempt falls short of the mark is different from the ‘just make sure they have a good time’.

Now, since I’ve started typing we’ve strayed very far from the mark about why I believe coaches are just guessing. The balance point between intrinsically enjoyable and productive is the fine art (and hey, guesswork!) of what we’re doing in our profession.

We also guess quite a bit about technique, and movement selection. Sure, they’re back may be weak off the floor, but is it because of neuromuscular control or do they need something more specific? Will good mornings or paused cleans improve this better. Do they need single leg hamstring work? Is the weakness coming from the upper back? Is there a hip issue?

Regardless of the cue,  please avoid creepy hand syndrome

Regardless of the cue, please avoid creepy hand syndrome

Alas we need to do this through trial and error. That’s guesswork. And the guesswork is down to a sample of 1 that keeps changing the variables. We’ve added in extra work and subtracted more as well to fix other issues, which are having a knock on effect.

I’m not saying guessing is bad. It’s the best we’ve got. But I think we’re deluding ourselves if we say we know anything for certain.

Now, here’s the funny thing. We have to, absolutely have to, deliver all of this with the utmost of confidence. Our clients demand and expect it. Would you feel very comfortable if your doctor or solicitor delivered their advice without confidence?

This all inevitably leads to coaching and other professions walking an extremely fine line between arrogance and humility. Too much either way and you’re going to get burnt.

Let’s be perfectly, absolutely clear that because we really all do know so little that this isn’t licence to just throw shit together, or make things up and claim them as truth as much as everything else. What I’m trying to say is that we can’t lose sight of the fact that we are in a constant, never ending trial-and-error experiment in everything we do, with variables changing all the time.

Heck, even the game is changing all the time.

As an aside, and I’m just writing now, is that one has to continuously improve not only to rise up a level, but just to stay at their level. We know this. What got you to the Games in 2007 was signing up, now that only gets you to The Open. What got you into the Open in 2011 was an ability to do double unders and power snatches. Back then, getting your first DU was a big thing for most of the community. Fast forward to 2015 and getting your first Muscle Up or HSPU is what we expect. The level rises all the time. The arms race is ongoing.

So, if all we can do is our best guess, what can a coach do?

Well, we can care. That’s really it. We can care as much as we can.

We don’t want to just pay lip service to this, we need to demonstrate that caring. Knowing the person’s name is a good start, then remembering their numbers, movement issues, favourite workouts, all contribute to it. Then asking about their life.

Ben Bergeron has something on this here.

Caring then extends out to all the little touches that add up (no, not that kind of touching, that’s wrong!)


Constantly improving your service is one way of caring. Doesn’t have to be by much, but a softer toilet roll is nice, a slightly cleaner and more organised gym. More praise on IG to your members, opening up a gym Spotify playlist or Total Request Thursdays – you can totally steal that.

In fact, one of the best things we ever did, in terms of positivity and client feedback, was go down to Penneys and buy a few euro worth of hair bobbins and hair clips for the ladies when they forget them. It was our most popular post to that date, and still talked about weeks later.

Caring can also come in the form of realising that you’re speaking to a person. They’ve got their own shit going on, and the longer I walk this road the more I realise just how much everyone is carrying.

Then you’ve got to separate what’s important, and what’s an excuse. This is a fine fucking art. Do you allow them leeway because their dog just died, or help them get through it by forcing them to work the same as if it was a normal Tuesday? Tough one to call.

Secondly, we also have to forget that they are people at times. When judging movement, all they are is a series of joints and angles. Fix that. In competition, they’re so hyped up they need you to be the calm, reasonable centre of the universe.

But yeah, caring is all you can really do, I guess 😛

Sep 05

Three Months In

So we had our quarterly review last week. And since we had cheesecake I figured this is a blog for Cheesecake & Barbells rather than the company blog.

Company Retreat Number One

Company Retreat Number One

I suppose the big thing to talk about is am I happy? Now, I am. But I wasn’t for quite some time.

Everyone kept telling me “you must be delighted?”. Note I said telling and not asking. But I genuinely wasn’t.

I was petrified really, and it was not good for me. I’d held this belief that I knew what to do to make a successful affiliate and now all my chips were on the table. I’d rolled the dice and I just had to see where it all landed.

I wasn’t sleeping. My heart rate was always elevated. And there really is a limit to how much coffee you can put into your system.


So what did it take?

Honestly, therapy. I needed to talk to someone outside of the whole thing who could help me see what I had rather than focus on what I’d lost to get it, or what I still had to accomplish.

The big problem (for me at least) is not having a great marker for what “it” is, and therefore you can never tell or confirm when you’ve hit it. Added to that there is no tectonic shift when you do hit a goal. 100 clients? Cool. Doesn’t magically feel any different from 99 or 98. That’s why it’s important for me to write this and take stock of what I’ve got when I walk through the doors of T27 Rowan Avenue.

Finally, after 3 iterations, I think I’ve the CrossFit gym I always set out to have. The place I didn’t have for myself way back in 2007. I wanted a place that had a welcoming energy about it, where everyone cared for everyone and as a result pushed people past what they thought possible of themselves. One Team, One Mission, right? The mission is striving for excellence, and enjoying the journey.

Today was just a great example of that 🙂


And now, some praise for #DerekDavis.

I remember when I left my old company, Derek asked me what my plan was. While it was at the time unformed exactly, I knew CrossFit Ireland wasn’t dead and buried.

At some point Derek asked if working with him again was something I’d consider. Honestly, I had to think about it. Firstly, did I want another business partner again? I mean, there’s risks involved there 😛 Sure it can seem appealing that you’ve someone to share the load (and blame) but it can mean a loss of control. There can be issues with who does what, and where the buck stops.

Now I can blame anything on the giant teddy bear :)

Now I can blame anything on the giant teddy bear :)

We talked about it, purely as friends, for quite some time before deciding to work together. This wasn’t something either of us was going to enter into lightly. We talked about what the value of working with each other would be, and what the pitfalls were that we wanted to avoid.

When we decided to give it a go, we then spoke a lot about what we wanted CFI 3.0 to be. I think this large scale planning and discussion has helped the new business grow considerably in such a short space.

Derek’s been far more impressive an employee for the new company than I expected. He’s an A player.

(Not Playa, there’s a difference between an “-a” and an “-er”)

A simple example is how one day I said off hand that we should ‘at some point’ paint the cubby holes. Two days later I get a text from Derek (on a Saturday afternoon no less) saying the first coat was on, and the second coat would be applied on the Sunday. Sure, it’s just some paint, but it’s impressive how much work he puts in.

It’s not just a business. Sure, it’s a vehicle for money. But it’s also my passion. It’s also a measure of my worth. What mark I leave behind on this earth. With #DerekDavis, I get that sense of ownership, pride, drive, and hustle that I never had before.

We haven’t gotten everything right. And the thing is you never really know what’s right. All you can really do is what you think is best. Call the play, run the route, and then see what’s next.

Our hope is that we can spot the things we’ve gotten wrong early and adjust/improve them in such a way that minimises damage and builds up the business.

Let’s see where the next three months take us.

Aug 27

Throwback Thursday: My Affiliate Application

It’s 8 years since I got my affiliate licence, and I really have no issue re-upping every year. So here’s my initial application, spelling mistakes and *shudder* lower case f’s and all!!!!



Simply put I love Crossfit! I’ve always exercised but it was more supplementary than an end in itself. It was too easy to take a rest day; take it handy; skip the whole workout entirely. Now I workout for the intrinsic joy it brings to me.

The drive of knowing you’re been recorded helps me immensely, and rewards me in so many ways. I love the feeling of heading to the gym full of butterflies and doubts. What time will I get? What am I aiming for here? Will I have to scale/sub? By how much?

There’s the inevitable battle of wills: Part of me saying “take it easy today”, the other part saying “C’mon, break that PB”. I never know how I’ll perform. Sometimes I’m really surprised by how well I’ve lifted. Other times, disgusted! But that’s the beauty of it. After I’m finished (and I’ve picked myself up off the floor!) I can’t wait to get back to the gym the next time.

My first crossfit experience was on Monday, April 16th. It was Cindy and seemed fairly doable. My God did that hurt! I couldn’t finish the pull ups without doing jumpings/reverse, the push ups became a joke and I stalled on the squats because they were my “rest”. Instantly I was hooked. I knew I’d started something incredible.


I knew about Crossfit for a long time before ever trying it. It was always seemed impossibly intimidating, and this was from someone who considered themselves fit. Once I got into it I wanted to tell others about it, and that everyone can do Crossfit and it’s not just for the super elite. I finally understood why this was the future of fitness and I’ve been telling everyone about it who’ll listen.

Crossfit to me is as much about mental toughness as anything else. The no quit, one more rep, straight back into it, see how far you can go attitude has already spread into the other areas of my life. I no longer just show up and run through the motions. I find setting myself goals a lot easier, and my mental self talk is far more empowering and liberating.

About me:

I’m 25 years old, and live in South Dublin, Ireland. I coach a mixed martial arts club in my suburb and hold a blue belt in BJJ. I was the first to bring the “Play As the Way” method of coaching kids in MMA to Ireland, and have set up Sub Championships Ireland. Crossfit has already changed the way I coach and teach. I look to find out why something works or fails in a different light now, instead of just thinking: this works, and this doesn’t. We also mix up the class structure more now, and the response from my athletes has been amazingly positive.

I’ve a BSc in Sports Management from University College Dublin.

I think part of the reason Crossfit appeals so much to me is that I like to have a reason for why I’m doing something. I love the explanations in the certification videos posted. The concepts become blindingly obvious once they’re explained.

I’m completely committed to bringing the fitness revolution to Ireland. I’ve signed up to the Crossfit Journal and Crossfit Kids journal. I watch the WoD videos and post my times/loads/scores to comments for every day I follow it. I’m visiting Chris Kemp in Crossfit Northeast England later this summer and in December will be attending [my Level 1 certification]


I want to be affiliated because I want to be part of something special that truly helps people in a profound and lasting way, and Crossfit does that. If I was just to open a gym or personal training without giving credit to Crossfit, it would be akin to theft. It’s gotten to the point where I can no longer comprehend strolling into a gym just to lackadaisically performing 3 sets of 8-12 reps of whatever machine happens to be free. I’ve seen the light and I want to show others it too. I had a similar experience when I was introduced to MMA several years ago (I was doing traditional martial arts at the time). Shortly after that I was spreading the message of functional martial arts training as well.

If Affiliated, I’d start running Crossfit Kids & Teens as soon as school starts back in September. I’d start taking one on one clients as soon as they become available while continuing to search for a full time premise to host Crossfit in Ireland. I would love if a Crossfit methodology to training – particularly in young people where obesity is rising at a disgusting rate – was adopted on a large scale in Ireland.

I’m not sure if this is what you were looking for but hopefully I’ve gotten my enthusiasm for Crossfit across.

Thank you.


Aug 04

And not a single burpee was done that year

So, The Reebok/Nike CrossFit Games Season 2015 is in the books and it’s time I put my thoughts down, rambling and disconnected as they are.

When things go wrong, go back to the beginning. (I really, REALLY, hope someone got that reference.)

I actually stopped writing to go watch this clip.

So, The Open. I didn’t enjoy this year’s Open as much as 2014 (which, I’m calling the best season of The Games so far). Granted I was homeless so had no athletes to take care of. The gym tour was fun, and something I’ll do in 2016 – now taking tenders 😛

A big complaint I heard about the Open tests were that they weren’t really workouts. We all fell in love with CrossFit because of it’s ability to bring us right slap bang into the middle of the redzone and kick us in the ass in a way you wouldn’t find outside of a Amsterdam Brothel.

This year it was way more “test” feel than workout feel. Or what people will call bottlenecks. With the exception of 15.5, most of the workouts stopped you pretty quickly. If you are bad at toes to bar (seriously, when are people going to realise these matter, a LOT), you’ll slow down. Overhead Squat/Chest to Bar you crash out on, and if you don’t have muscle ups or handstand push ups, forget about it.

One solution

One solution

As The Open and the entire Games have developed, there’s been a pretty clear statement of intent from Castro and Glassman that they want to eliminate all but the fittest quickly. They’ve reduced who makes it to Regionals, and continuously made the tests from one stage to the next harder. Inevitably The Open was going to follow this progression.

Now I’d argue elevating the heart rate more (which we traditionally associate with CrossFit workouts) before we attempt our first Toe to Bar/Muscle Up/HSPU probably would get more success than having to attempt one early in the workout. As Yogi Berra said this game is ninety percent mental. People psyche themselves out of things they’re physically capable all the time and giving it a go with no pressure or expectation can lead to unexpected victories. Tsypkin writes well on this.

As a personal aside, I didn’t like that you had to do 10 reps of the thruster in the final workout of The Open. I’m reasonably sure my judge got that one wrong. She knows who she is!

Yeah, but that’s not what CrossFit should be!

One thing we need to remember is that sport isn’t what we think it “should” be. It is what it is.

All sports have transient rules. FIFA, governing body of the most popular sport in the world, changes it fucking ball (the implement used for the sport) at major tournaments. The NFL have made Bill Belecheck’s “ineligible receiver” play illegal now. Rules of sport change.

If you only understood one of those analogies it’s because I’ve to write for audiences both sides of the pond. #firstworldbloggerproblems Now the counter argument to that is that the sport doesn’t change as much as CrossFit. Changes in sport are a matter of degree, that’s all. And the reality is we can’t tell what knock on effect a change will have until we implement it.

Regionals, and Camera Work

Regionals is when most of us get to sit back, crack open a beer, and watch other athletes. Possibly smugly thinking to ourselves, I would have done better than them. The camera work for CrossFit, while it’s improved, still has a long way to go. There’s not a single day where we don’t hear Sean Woodland scream “and outta nowhere…” for someone to steal first.

I'm sure someone's winning

I’m sure someone’s winning

They didn’t come out of nowhere, it’s just the camera focused on one or two lanes. I think a better tracking system is needed but what that is I don’t know.

Camera men, or whoever is in the broadcast suite, need to stop showing someone set up for a lift, only to cut away to someone else as well. It’s pretty infuriating at times.

Too Much?

I think the commentators will have all received a bollocking from Castro the last week. Constantly saying how brutal The Games were will not help with the haters. CrossFit is all about intensity, and brutal just seems to be a beatdown without any rhyme or reason. That it’s a pure endurance test, in that it’s who can stand the longest, not who excels across broad time and modal domains.

For the record, doing snatches after endurance work isn’t borderline irresponsible, it’s what these fuckers do ALL THE FUCKING TIME. Morning cardio. Afternoon skills. Evening Metcons. That’s what they do. Coming up to The Games these guys are probably doing one workout an hour for 8 hours or so before tapering, if they even taper.

There’s been extremely tough events every year. There was a time when the 140Kg deadlift in the Prebok Games (2010) was too heavy for a metcon. Ask Rich about 2011 and regular rope climbs, I’m sure no one has mentioned that to him. 2012 was known as the Regionals everything got “heavy.” 2013 had legless rope climbs stopping everyone. In 2014, it was too much gymnastics. Strict HSPU? Are you fucking kidding me? No way!

This happens all the time, why are we surprised still? The sport of CrossFit is aimed at exceeding what we believe humans are capable of!

Remember when guys used to miss 60Kg Snatches?

Remember when guys used to miss 60Kg Snatches?

I’ve said it before that Castro et al seem to want to draw a distinction between “fittest” and best trained, and while we’ll include the ten physical skills, fittest also means most adaptive. This is why we generally won’t see “traditional” CrossFit at The Games. He wants tests that athletes will struggle to prep for in advance.

Which leads us to…

Exciting Finals

I have ZERO problem with the pegboard. I mean, Glassman has long been a proponent of gymnastics, and “old school” training methods. If the pegboard was mentioned in 2002 then we’ve had 13 years.

As the athletes and their coaches prep for The Games, they take a risk. The emphasise more running over rowing, more chippers over intervals. Less sprints and more 20RM deads.

It’s the same as another sport. One concentrates on returning serves off our backhand between Major tournaments, or fast greens more than bunkers. There’s a (calculated) risk that what you’ll do will pay off.

We worked someone’s lifts from the hang rather than blocks. We did singles instead of 3RM touch and go. We get it right, we don’t. We take it on the chin and move on.

Personally, I like to see a more exciting final. I loved Cinco 1/2 and the “Quick N Thick”/Double Grace finals, because they looked like races. I wasn’t a huge fan of the Muscle Up/Clean Ladder at Regionals. But that’s purely because it was very “busy” to watch. But there’s absolutely a place for a sub 2 minute race, it’s CrossFit’s 400m run, so to speak.

Remember when he stole Fraser's chalk?

Remember when he stole Fraser’s chalk?

I just preferred the 2014 finals and the race was clearer and there was less failure. Having said that, a bunch of people couldn’t Overhead Squat the final weights in 2014, and Josh Bridges famously threw away his sunglasses and belt after he couldn’t get through the deadlifts in Cinco 1.

Neilsen makes the point that The Games shouldn’t showcase for TV. BUT, he also said that the MU/Clean was the coolest thing he’d ever seen and made it look like a sport.

I think, as the sport evolves, we can find a way to make it an exceptional test (with failure) and exciting viewing.

My Favourite Moment of The Games HAS to be when Briggs lapped Camille on Sunday morning. The little pat on the back said so much, it was beautiful.

You can watch the full humiliation here. It was better than a loser’s clap.

And finally, a word on Nike

I have a half assed theory that someone in HQ is talking with Nike. I can’t believe that Nike would play a game like they’re doing without greater foresight.

Nike’s “Don’t Ban our Shoe, Beat Our Shoe” just to me doesn’t seem like something a juggernaut of the sports world would do. It’s more like something a plucky young upstart would do in an attempt to go viral.


Having said that, Nike’s attitude is actually very akin to Glassman, i.e. fuck you and political correctness, we’re gonna say what we feel. This, coupled with Glassman claiming Reebok need to sold to someone newer/hipper than Adidas, makes me believe that there’s some form of collusion going on.

My best guess is HQ is playing Nike in order to force Reebok into a better position. Back in 2011 Reebok jumped on a golden opportunity. They had some cash, but no identity. CrossFit had little cash, and an identity fit to burst. Reebok snagged a 10 year title sponsorship deal for what was, at the time, pennies.

I can’t imagine that there isn’t a break clause after 5 or 7 years in that contract. Now whether CrossFit are trying to get out of Reebok to Nike, or they’re using Nike to force Reebok to bring more money to the table remains to be seen. If I was a betting man, I’d wager it’s to force Reebok to up the sponsorship money.

But that’s the 2015 Season over now, and we all head into off season. We should just get really, really strong with a barbell and hope that toes to bar don’t show up again in next year’s Open, right?

Jul 27

In Praise of Seanie

So yeah, this happened…

Seanie, quite simply, is my nigga. He’s the guy that makes me look like a great coach. We inspire and support each other and we’re better people because of the relationship.

I first met Sean in the summer of 2013 while he was doing an internship with Dominic. This was during “The Arms Race” days when everyone was hitting PRs pretty much every week.

In fact, the first piece of coaching advice I gave a young Mr. Brown was “don’t set your back, because energy put into setting your back is energy that could have gone into lifting the bar.” Sean, in his Asics, snatching 80Kg, didn’t know whether I was serious or not. He was a cocky little fuck back then too, it’s a large part of his success and part of his charm 🙂

Later on that year, while back from the UK for a week, I asked Sean who was programming for him and he said no one, he was just doing things. So I offered to take him under my wing and a bromance was born.

Interestingly, myself and Sean have trained together a total of 11 times. Everything else we’ve done mainly through remote coaching. Email for Coach’s Eye videos, whatsapp for mental check ins, and since he’s moved to Atlanta, FaceTime for shirtless video calls. (He assures me he’s wearing pants below screen)

He claims he wasn't even flexing in this photo!

He claims he wasn’t even flexing in this photo!

Sean’s training started to move from CrossFit towards Oly Lifting when he attended a Klokov seminar and put like a million kilos on his clean. Kevin D’Arcy told him he could make Europeans. That was in March 2014. We finished out The Open and I slowly began transitioning Seanie to a full Weightlifting programme from a competitive CrossFit one.

Sean was gunning for European Under 23s at the time, and if memory serves we needed 5 competitions and a certain total to make him eligible for selection. I really knew Sean was something when he was texting me during his first competition. The aim was to get 6 from 6 and hit conservative numbers. But, some other dude was there and close to Sean, so Sean ‘played the platform’ by jumping up his lifts to force his rival to go early and miss, claiming the W in his first competition.

From then on, it was really just a foregone conclusion in my mind that Sean would excel.

(Dude really needs to edit down his videos!)

Fast forward a year and Sean is setting his sights on hitting the minimum qualifying total for Worlds – 290Kg.

We took a big risk at Leinsters. We tried to go 120-125-130. Sean had a bad day at Leinsters, and missed 125Kg. For Sean, playing it safe isn’t an option. (There’s another example, you have to know your athlete. For some, a miss gets in their head. One miss and they’re done. For others, they get angry and can use it. Sean is the latter.) He was agonisingly close at 130Kg on the snatch! Not to be. What followed was an unremarkable clean and jerk session for our hero.

After Leinsters, we had a VERY aggressive schedule. Smolov Jr for three weeks then British Nationals. For British we wanted to open higher in the snatch, and have tighter bunching. In British he went 122-124x-126, then 152-156-159.

Then The Outlaw Barbell Taper for Nationals.

At Nationals, Sean missed 110Kg twice in the warm up. I told him not to hit it again but he’s occasionally still rebellious. Man I wish I had remote controlled athletes. He missed 115Kg, he missed 120Kg.

Ordinarily, this would be cause for panic. Not with Sean.

Sean also told me he felt sluggish and tired before hitting any real weight. My simple answer to that was it doesn’t matter how he felt, it mattered what he hit on the platform. He was sluggish the week previous when he hit a 180Kg Front Squat for a 10Kg PB.

(As a coach, that was the attempt to get him out of his head. You don’t have to feel a certain way. We’ve all had days we’ve felt great and performed shite, and days we felt like poo and surprised ourselves. How you feel is a lie. Granted, this line is by John Broz so there may be some worry about drug use in that but it’s still a good line.)

Sean went out and snatched 125Kg, then 128Kg, and had a near miss at 131Kg. Clean & Jerk warm ups went fine, nailing 150Kg like it was an empty bar. But he missed 156Kg as his opener. The bar crashed down on him and he rushed the jerk. No worries, I knew Sean had 160Kg in him.

We loaded 157Kg…

We then loaded 158Kg…

Then I got the platform cleaned… (Can you tell I like the stalling tactic?)

Then 160Kg… BOOM!

Sean asked me after were we going for 162, and I said ‘no, 163. We didn’t clean 163 off blocks for nothing!’

Piece. Of. Piss.

Two Hundred and Ninety One Kilo Total!

Sean has succeeded incredibly loyal, and trusting.

I like to keep Sean at 90% consistently, by this I mean we max out A LOT! Practically every day. I wrote a little about the whys of it here – http://www.cheesecakeandbarbells.com/2015/01/12/random-thoughts-on-programming-considerations/

Essentially we need to know what problems are arising, and the easiest way to both expose and fix weaknesses is to bring them almost to the point of failure. Sean could hit percentage work all day everyday and it could hide a problem. By maxing out, and dropping back. We can see the problem and address it.

I’m not a huge fan of accessory work that’s done exclusively with a barbell. I’m sure there’s science behind it but I find that there’s a diminishing return to doing your main lifts with a bar and then all the accessory work too. Now Sean will still do snatch balances (which he detests!) and some RDLs but we don’t exclusively stay with a barbell.

Pulls we rarely do. My beef with pulls is that I tend to see athletes do them at either the wrong tempo or the wrong bar path that they don’t have carryover to the lift itself. Now maybe there’s an argument for the psychological aspect of pulls but I’d prefer paused or tempo lifts, where the lifter is forced to finish the lift at the end.

(Note, these are actual Coach’s Eye videos from earlier in the year, and not done for the blog)

Sean does connectivity work every day. I’m a strong believer in this keep his shoulders healthy. He’s gonna do hollow and arch holds til he’s blue. He’s going to do muscle ups, handstand push ups, and all that other ‘dangerous’ CrossFit movements. I think weightlifters in general should spend more time on conditioning and bodyweight exercises. They build work capacity, get the blood flowing and done right, can speed up recovery.

At the start of the year, Sean did up to an hour of correctives (stolen from Darkside Strength) and connectivity (stolen from Kaitlin Hardy) before he even touched a barbell. To give you a sense of his trust and loyalty to this, he did this for about 3 months before telling me it was taking him an hour to do!

A lot of people asked me was I pissed off when Sean moved to Atlanta. Far from it! Firstly, as a remote coached athlete he could be coached anywhere. Granted flights home become a bit trickier but that’s a minor thing considering how infrequently we do face to face sessions.

Secondly, and more importantly, it’s the relationships in life that matter way more than what you do, and you’ll regret the things you don’t do way more than the things you do. He asked my opinion, sure, and I “gave him my blessing” and off he went. It’s worked out pretty well for our hero.


What’s next for Sean? Well, firstly he’ll take pretty much a month off. The last 12 weeks have been an absolute grindfest. Coupled with his travel schedule he needs a break. He’ll play, hit connectivity and correctives, and do some conditioning (he only had 11 abs viewing instead of his regular 12 last time I saw him.)

Then, technically, he needs to get faster underneath the bar. It pains him that I beat him once from the power position. Once. And he’ll deny it. We also need to address his jumping back issue. They’ll be the two main areas of focus for him ahead of 2016 and the 300 total.

Sean doesn’t need me. He really doesn’t. At this stage his technical knowledge is equal to mine, and clearly his kinaesthetic awareness is off the charts too to be able to respond to cueing so well. What I do is keep a cool, objective eye on his training. He doesn’t have to think about what to program, he just does what he’s told. But it works. And as long as it works, we’ll keep smashing PRs.

Once again, my nigga

Once again, my nigga