This week's WOD is suggested from Joel T. "...because it's heavy."
What You'll Need:
The Workout: 3 Rounds For Time
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Peter: Good morning. This is Peter from Fringe Sport and I am very happy and excited to be talking this morning with Sam Steen from CrossFit Pampa. He's in Pampa, Texas, up in the Texas panhandle. Sam, tell us a little bit about yourself and about CrossFit Pampa.
Sam Steen: Well, first of all, thanks for having me. I appreciate it. My name's Sam Steen. I am from Wichita Falls, Texas. Went to Texas Tech with a marketing degree and all that, but I just fell in love with CrossFit about 2008 or so, and went and just finally had to go get certified in 2009, not thinking I'd ever own a gym or anything, and then we had the opportunity, my wife and I, to move to Pampa which is a place where there was no CrossFit affiliate. She works in the medical field, so she can move around. We thought, "Shoot. Let's just head out there and be the CrossFit people there." Then affiliated about four years ago and going strong ever since.
Peter: I love it. One thing that was interesting, because you and I had chatted a little bit earlier, was the fact that you're the only box in town. Tell us a little bit about Pampa, the demographics and size of the town.
Sam Steen: Yeah. It's kind of an oil and gas town, so there's about 18,000 people. The closest large city is Amarillo. It's like 50 or 60 miles from here. We are just this little pocket out here of just hardworking people. It's really cool because unlike maybe Austin, or Dallas, or even Oklahoma City, where people are shopping around for CrossFit gyms or just for fitness in general, here we really get a chance to introduce people to CrossFit.
They have no idea what it is. They don't care that it's necessarily Crossfit because they don't even know what it is, so I get the rare opportunity to be the ones to tell them what it is and what it's like. That's a really cool thing. They don't come in with pre-conceived notions a lot of times like maybe in a big town or something like that. It's really neat.
We get an eclectic group of people from high school kids to 70 year old women. Most CrossFit gyms are like that, but they're just, a lot of people, they aren't afraid to try CrossFit because they don't know what it is. They haven't even seen the CrossFit games and stuff, a lot of them, so it's really cool to be the guy that introduces it to them, to their life.
Peter: Wow. I love hearing about that. When you say they don't really have any pre-conceived notions about CrossFit, what is the style of program and your style of training that you're introducing most of these people to? Obviously, it's CrossFit, but what kind of derivation there?
Sam Steen: We do pure CrossFit. When I say that, I don't have like a competitors programming side or a fire breather class or anything like that. We have basically one workout a day. We come in and it's a group warmup. It's a skill development and it's a workout, high fives, go home. Really it's one of those things where I don't even really have an on-ramp style class right now.
It's organic enough where we can introduce people into the class, and everybody's used to working out from X Division I athletes to 70 year old women. Everybody's used to working out together, and they're cool with scaling up or scaling down accordingly. It's a real true kind of CrossFit style programming I would say.
Peter: I love it. By the way, I'm just checking out your website as we're chatting and I see you've got a big banner at the top that says, "Die a little to live a lot." I actually had not heard that before. That's pretty awesome.
Sam Steen: Yeah, that's kind of our motto, "Die to live," or "Die a little to live a lot." I think that just says it all. People hear that or something, or see that on the back of T-shirts around here and they don't think about it or get it. Then I have people all the time after the first week come in here, and they're like, "I get it. Man, I get that. I see that you have to really really die a little, but I'm going to get something out of this in the long term and I can feel that." That's a really cool feeling.
Peter: I love it. Is there anything that you miss about possibly being in Dallas or even in Amarillo, or Austin or something like that, where there would be more of a community of box owners in different boxes?
Sam Steen: Around here, when we have our little competition or people have regional competitions, we still feel like a tight knit group of guys, even if we have to travel an hour or two to go to some competitions, but people around here are used to that. I don't know that I necessarily miss that. I never even really thought about the up or downside of being within ten miles of ten other CrossFit gyms. I'm not too worried about that.
I just think that around here, people are just used to traveling a little bit for competitions and stuff, and everybody around here is really cool as far as the affiliate owners and stuff helping each other out, sending their people and getting the word out for competitions, people move around and stuff, people referring other people to our box all the time and stuff, so it's a really cool deal.
Peter: I love it. Now, we've talked a lot about some of the upsides. Are there any downsides to you guys being the only game in town, CrossFit-wise, in Pampa?
Sam Steen: Yeah. I guess as far as just reach, reaching people and it being kind of a big deal. If you're in any town, there's like ten CrossFit gyms around and everybody's blasting you with Facebook ads and stuff like that, I guess you could potentially feel like, "Wow. This CrossFit thing is kind of a big deal and maybe I should look into one of these gyms," or something like that.
We're here, it's just like, "Okay. There's a CrossFit gym. There's an Anytime Fitness," and maybe they kind of lump us in with that, so that would potentially be the downside, I think, as far as we're trying to show people that we're not the Anytime Fitness, or the community center, or something like that. This isn't just a gym membership. This is coach-led group classes where you have accountability and you have a bunch of people around you yelling and screaming and helping you try to get better every day. It's just completely different than the other model, and trying to change people's minds on that is like one of my only jobs, and so that can probably be the downside.
Peter: Got it. I hear you. Cool. Well, is there anything else you'd like to share with our audience?
Sam Steen: I don't guess so, not necessarily. We're just getting after the open, or right in the middle of it right now as we speak, so I guess I just say best of luck to everybody in the open and tear up 17.3.
Peter Keller: I love it. We're talking now a day before 17.3 is announced. Do you have any predictions?
Sam Steen: Yeah. I think it's got to be some kind of squat. We've seen the single dumbbell, we've seen the double dumbbells. I'm really like everybody else. I think there's going to be a barbell and so my guess, if you're on the board to win a Fit Aid is squat cleans and jerks and a shuttle run for 9 minutes.
Peter: You're not part of the conspiracy theorists that think that now we're going to do a three dumbbell movement since we did one, two?
Sam Steen: No. I saw that. That would be interesting. I don't know how we'd do it, but no, I'm not on that camp yet.
Peter: Got it. For what it's worth, I do think we got to see dumbbell movement ... Sorry. Excuse me. Barbell movement, like you had mentioned.
Sam Steen: Barbell, yeah. I think so.
Peter: Then I think we need to move a little weight, so we'll see how it goes. Cool. Well, if people want to find out more, I see that you're at CrossFitPampa.com. Is that the best place to get ahold of you guys, or how would you prefer?
Sam Steen: Yeah. Yeah, that's the best place. Our email's on there too, CrossFitPampa@gmail.com. I'm emailing with other affiliate owner all the time sharing ideas and stuff like that, and just learning. I think the learning never stops and we're never done. I'm also on Instagram - @crossfitpampa. You can check out our stuff there. We have our big competitions on April 22nd, so if this doesn't come out before then, we'd love if everybody could check that out too.
Peter: Awesome. We'll make sure to get this out before then. Well, Sam, it's been a pleasure chatting with you this morning, and have a great day.
Sam Steen: Appreciate it Peter. Thanks man.
Written at 9:02AM in the kitchen of "Fringe Sport West" in Boulder, CO
We spent yesterday scouting locations in Denver and Boulder and we're coming to town. Not sure exactly where, but it seems to me that people from Boulder might be more willing to drive to Denver than vice.
We'll see how this plays out, but we should officially have Fringe Sport West (warehouse) set up in 3-6 months.
I'm pretty excited, and a little scared. We've been talking about a West location since Fringe was just an idea in my head... and it's finally happening.
What this means for you is faster shipping to the Western US, a cool location in the Denver or Boulder area that we'd love for you to come visit and hang out in, and a new local community to introduce into the #fringefam.
Color me inspired.
Oh, and here's me lifting with my buddy Kevin Wood in Denver yesterday. I love to lift with our customers family. Hit me up if you're in Denver or Boulder and I'll reach out on a future visit.
A quick warning- Kevin has been doing a lot of Powerlifting, but he agreed to do my (Atomic Athlete) programming yesterday.
And I made him run.
It's a risk you take when you lift with me :)
Kevin promised to have me box squat with bands the next time we work out, so it will all even out.
Apparently when you offer a free sticker to tens of thousands of people, a bunch of them take you up on the offer.
(I did that last week)
My wife and I are addressing all those envelopes and slowly mailing the stickers out. For whatever reason, I don't want to have the rest of the Fringe crew doing it. I'll get to everyone who emailed, and thank you for doing so. But I'm running a little slow on that.
Since I got into strength and conditioning, I've always loved sandbag training. So of course we wanted to bring out a Sandbag trainer for Fringe.
In keeping with the methodology I outlined last week:
We knew companies could make a great sandbag trainer for $80 (plus shipping). So we decided to make a great one for under $50. And we ended up being able to bring it to you for $39 with free shipping, well under our goal.
What did I miss? Give me some other great sandbag routines :)
Have a great day!
One of my great passions is studying the advice of the world's most successful. On my journey, I discover Rich Froning. He is widely regarded as the best Crossfitter of all time in the short several years of the sport's existence. He won back-to-back three years in a row and came in 2nd place the first time he competed, a feat no one has come close to.
Although a new sport, Crossfit has taken over the nation as a groundbreaking training program, gym service, and sport. Tens of thousands tune in every year to watch the Crossfit Games. Athletes compete to be crowned the "Fittest in the World."
I want to share with you the top lessons I learned from Rich Froning's book First.
I broke the lessons I learned up into different sections:
This is advice Rich gave that applies to achieving any goal, including Crossfit goals.
Rich developed his work ethic not from someone lecturing him, but by modeling his parents. His parents taught by example instead of by instruction. They worked endlessly and rarely sat down to relax.
When Rich was young, he had over thirty-five first cousins -- on just his mother's side. Family reunions were a natural grounds for competition. He and his cousins competed on everything, from video games to sports. It stoked his competitive fires.
One of Rich’s self-professed biggest secrets to success is that he always surrounded himself with people who were better than him, pushed him, and held him accountable.
You can’t make excuses when you are around people who will hold you accountable. You are also pushed farther when people around you are performing better than you.
In fact, when he already won the Games by finishing first in a workout, he continued to push as hard as he can for the rest of the workouts because he was competitive and wanted there to be no doubt he was first.
On a similar note, there is one person who was the first back-to-back two-time Crossfit champion. And it wasn’t Rich. It was a girl named Annie Thorisdottir.
Rich said she was the most competitive person he had ever met, boy or girl. He noticed that it’s something they shared in common. Both of them are extremely competitive. One time, during a demonstration, they both started lifting 100% of their one-rep max even though they agreed they would do 70% of their one-rep max.
The first time Rich competed in the Crossfit Games, he was intimidated by everyone else who showed up. The same reaction replayed during the Regionals, Sectionals, and actual Games.
He saw everyone there as physical specimens and he thought he didn't belong there. Yet every time, he took home first place by a wide margin. He realized that he was not viewing himself in the same lens he views others.
Nowadays, people say he has a monstrous appearance worth admiring. But he says he was only ten pounds lighter before he began training to be a world-class competitor. The lesson is to not count yourself out. Give yourself the self-worth you deserve.
Rich placed second in his first ever Crossfit Games. But he was devastated because he had failed the last competition because he didn't know proper rope climbing technique and couldn't climb the rope in the last event. He had lost by just three points because he was unprepared. Had he known, he would have easily been first.
However, this failure motivated him beyond belief. Some people say he would have won four years back-to-back if it wasn't for the rope climb event. Looking back, he says he would not have won any if it wasn't for the rope event.
He was confident it was the devastation of coming in second place that drove him to train and win so many times later on.
“Winning is not about being first. It’s about putting god first.” -Rich Froning
Later on in Rich's life, he didn't like where he had gone. His friends and mentors asked him, "Why do you do what you do?" and "Would you go to heaven if you died now?"
And he didn't have good answers. It put him in the longest period of self-reflection in his life.
He only prayed for his selfish reasons. And he didn't like the legacy he was leaving because it was just about his achievements. By having a purpose beyond yourself, you are more motivated and work harder and longer.
Because of this revelation, he returned to his faith in Christianity. The stories he had read in the Bible in his childhood actually had meaning.
Mental toughness a key to success in Crossfit because it helps you push farther. Rich has trained a lot of different people in Crossfit. He still wonders why some of them have mental toughness and other don’t.
If he had to answer the question, he thinks it comes down to upbringing and pushing your comfort zone early on. There have been moments during the Crossfit Games where he thought, “I don’t feel like doing this. Why am I doing it?”
And that’s when his upbringing kicked in. His parents made him do a lot of chores, including meaningless tasks like pulling nails off a board, to instill in him a strong work ethic. His work ethic kicked in automatically when he wanted to give up.
As far as pushing your comfort zone early on, he means you can’t rely on your genetic gifts. He has observed many successful athletes rely on their talents to get them through high school. But when they hit college, they meet people who have the genetic skill and the mental toughness from pushing past their limits.
Therefore, always push yourself farther than you can go. Don’t just try to skate by on winning the genetic lottery.
In this section, we cover Rich’s advice specific to Crossfit or fitness.
Crossfit is about endurance across a variety of taxing physical exercises. Rich realized during his competitive days that to win, it isn't about coming out first in every workout. It's about scoring among the top people for most of the exercises. It's similar to a Triathlon or Decathlon in a way where it's the average score of all your activities that matters.
Therefore, if you don't have a meltdown and screw up completely in an exercise, you're on your way to being a winner.
This may or may not be a bad thing depending on what your goal is. For workouts in Crossfit, it’s a bad thing. To be the best in Crossfit, it’s about being great at numerous different workouts. By focusing too much on endurance, for example, you can fall behind in powerlifting skill.
To be great at any of the possible variations they can throw at you during the Games, you have to prepare yourself by being great at all of them.
The first big key to success in Crossfit is simply showing up consistently and doing more Crossfit. The second key is to avoid seeing what your competition does.
The Crossfit media love to skout out top players and find out what unique workout routines or tricks they’re using. Rich avoids doing any of that.
Rich lets his body tell him when he has been slacking off and needs to work out more and when he is exhausted and needs to take a break.
He usually does at least two hour long workouts a day. He aims for 5 metabolic workouts a week and 6 Olympic powerlifting workouts a week.
But he takes breaks in between workouts where he’ll be texting on his phone or chatting.
His body is usually accurate in telling him when he has been slacking off and needs to turn up the heat for the workouts and when he needs to rest to recover.
Your body may not be as accurate as Rich’s though. You can use it as a compass, but consulting trainers, professionals, or friends might help.
Rich confesses that there are thousands of people who are athletically more skilled than him in every way. So how has he succeeded?
It’s his mind. He says during the Crossfit Games, it’s 70% mental and only 30% physical.
He has trained many people who have bodies that have the potential to go a lot farther, but they won’t because their mind tells them to quit early on. I found a study in the book The Willpower Instinct that discovered that the human mind sends signals of exhaustion far before your body actually exhausts as a safety measure.
The lesson is that you can push a lot farther than you think you can.
Rich would reward himself with the workouts he enjoyed (Olympic lifts) after workouts he hated (running). This helped balance him and prevent him from burning out.
He doesn’t take any pre-workout. He does take protein shakes for breakfast.
He takes supplements but advises you do your homework before you do. There are a lot of bad supplement companies out there. Check out the reputation of the brand behind the supplement before you use it. The less sugar and the more natural, the better.
As far as eating goes, he eats and drinks until his body feels full. He doesn’t track calories. Having said that, I noticed he also eats pretty clean naturally.
He judges which workouts to do by the feel of how tired his body is. There is no set routine; it’s based off his desire.
I wouldn’t advise doing the same thing. Rich’s body seems to be better attuned to knowing when to keep going and when to quit. The rest us of aren’t that lucky.
There is a saying by Tim Ferriss and Malcolm Gladwell, two people who make their living studying successful people. It goes something like, “The world’s most successful people are successful in spite of whatever they do, not because of it.” I’ve heard fitness Youtubers say the same thing.
What’s the lesson? Just because these people are genetically gifted to be able to avoid tracking calories and knowing what workout to do doesn’t mean you do.
Rich’s wife, Hillary, has always helped him stay balanced and humble. She doesn’t care much about Crossfit or what place he gets in the Games. She even has a “No Crossfit Talk” period in her house.
This is perfect for Rich because it helps keep his ego in check. It reminds him to not make Crossfit his identity and that it’s only a channel for him to promote Christianity.
I do not know if being humble actually helped with Rich’s success. However, he was always a humble person and never thought his achievements in Crossfit defined him. It was always more about promoting his religion and his sport. He even said that he doesn’t see himself as more than another guy who likes doing Crossfit.
Rich worked as a fireman for many years after he graduated college. During the job, he learned that there was always a fire going on somewhere. No matter how peaceful or quiet it was, he realized there was always something amazing or tragic going on out there in the world. It changed him to see young, innocent people die.
He finally reasoned that God has a better plan for all of this, even if it seems tragic in the moment.
While he competed during the Crossfit Games, he didn’t like crowds of people watching him because he thought it was uncomfortable watching him workout. It wasn’t enough for him to affect his performance, though.
After Rich won his second championship at the Games, they held a celebration party that night. He knew it would be packed to the brim with crowds of people because he was now the first male back-to-back winner. Those numbers turned him off.
He never liked crowds of people. He skipped the party and had a quiet dinner with his wife and a couple close friends.
How do you decide which Crossfit box to go with? First, make sure it’s an affiliate. It’s worth the investment. Second, see what the coaches are doing during the workouts. If they’re on the floor, coaching the students, it’s a good box. If they’re on their phones checking their email or texting off the floor, it’s a bad box.
No matter how tough the workout is, there is always some way to make it fun. One thing that Rich always saw no matter where he went was that Crossfitters were always happy.
Don’t compare yourself to what others are doing because they may have years of experience ahead of you. Just start wherever you are and go from there.
Most of the book was more of a memoir than a “secrets to success.” Having said that, he did manage to squeeze in quite a few tips.
I was surprised how ordinary or anti-superstar he is. He doesn’t follow a workout routine. He doesn’t track calories. He goes by his gut. He eats until he feels full and drinks until he’s not thirsty.
He’s also an introvert (like me), and doesn’t enjoy crowds -- even when competing. He also went into the whole thing thinking he didn’t belong, only to come in 2nd place in the whole world.
What’s also interesting is how cliche most of his advice is. But maybe that’s the beauty of it. There is no secret sauce you haven’t heard before. The trick is to just take the generic advice you’ve heard before and follow through. Maybe the problem is that people glaze over advice like this.
Having said that, I personally did pick up some tips I hadn’t heard before. It took some digging, but I found some gems. For me, it was his ideas and emphasis on the mental game and improving mental toughness.
1. What’s your name? Michelle Swarts
2. How old are you? 28
3. Do you have an IG handle or website? @Shell_lorraine and @stephensb275
4. Tell us a little bit about yourself: I am originally from Las Vegas, although I just finished 8 years of active duty in the Army and moved to Vancouver, WA with my boyfriend (also a vet). We are currently enjoying the benefits of the GI Bill and pursuing a degree in Sports and Health Sciences. I have the most beautiful 5-year-old girl who keeps me on my toes 24/7 and a 4-month- old German Shepherd.
5. How would you describe your training style (CrossFit, Olympic Weightlifting, etc.)? Powerlifting, powerlifting, and….powerlifting. We life heavy, eat what we want, and lift heavier.
6. How would you describe your fitness/strength level, currently? I would say our level of fitness is somewhat advanced. With years of experience, knowledge, and lots of research, we have achieved numbers that I am quite proud of. Unfortunately, the hunger is real and knowledge is power.
7. What are your fitness/strength goals? For me, I want to compete and break records. I want to bench 205lbs, squat 315, and deadlift 405 within the next year or two.
8. Describe your garage gym.
There are three main areas in which we commonly see the most elite athletes in functional fitness/CrossFit training and though we don't all need to train at the volume that these athletes work at, it is very beneficial to make sure you're incorporating each one of the "systems" into your own programming.
Strength training is essential for all athletes. Period. However the type of strength training may and should vary depending on what is required of the athlete in their sport or even more specifically to what aspect of their sport needs to be improved upon.
One thing we see a lot in CrossFit is small athletes who are great at body weight exercises but struggle with heavier loads, and then of course the exact opposite for bigger athletes.
For the smaller athletes it’s simple, get stronger. If heavy pulling, pressing, and squatting are incorporated into their programming, they should see consistent improvement.
For larger athletes it’s a lot different. Squatting and pulling heavy does not transfer that well to improving muscle ups and pressing a barbell definitely is different than doing a handstand pushup.
The quickest way to improve strength is to increase load on the movements being performed, gymnastics movements are no different, and so to increase load you must add body weight, hence, the weight vest.
Whether you’re working on handstand pushups, muscle ups, ring dips etc, with a weight vest you can program those movement just like any others that use a barbell. Find out what your weighted one rep max is on your choice of gymnastic movement and then start doing percentage work to bump that max up and get stronger.
That feeling you get during a WOD when your legs are exploding, lungs are burning, and you feel like you’re going to throw up - that is a feeling that needs to be worked on and pushed. At the same time you need to be smart about your loading, listen to your body, and make sure that volume and intensity are not always one in the same.
A great way to improve your anaerobic (lactic acid) threshold is to do workouts like Grace, Fran, or max effort sled pushes where you’re working in small time domains but stepping on the gas the whole time.
A great way to make the workouts even more intense and yield better results is to where a weight vest while doing them.
IT IS IMPORTANT to remember that intensity must be kept high in order to tax this energy system so reps or durations of workouts need to be short fast and intense. The restricted breathing, added load, and general lack of comfort that the weight vest brings to the equation can be very beneficial to breaking past plateaus and increasing tolerance to those types of “sh*tty” workouts.
You shouldn't and can’t always workout with maximum intensity but at the same time there is definitely a difference between a working and a resting heart rate. Whether it’s during a long low intensity AMRAP or a recovery walk or run, throwing on a weight vest and loading the body can bump the heart rate up just enough to where you can get maximum benefits from the work that you’re doing.
This week's WOD is suggested from @Jf_texan... "Pull-ups and those damn lunges."
What You'll Need:
Full body - Carries / Crawls:
Run 1 mile easy
100m Bear crawl
100m Lunges OH carry (40lb)
100m Burpee jumps
100m Farmer walk (40lb each hand)
100m Fireman carry
100m Sled or prowler push / tow
100 rep events:
100 Push press (40lb)
100 Pushups / non stop - rest in plank pose until done
100 Situps (40lb)
100 Squats (40lb)
100 Kettlebell swings
*add pullups as an option as well if you can do 100 pullups relatively quickly (less than 5-6 sets)
40lb = 40 pound sand bag or barbell / kettlebell
Run 1 mile easy
Workout via Military.com
Want to see your WOD in the next newsletter or show off your time? Email us at email@example.com - we love photos/videos of you showing us how it's done or your favorite workout pic.