Monday, March 10, 2014

Another stupid post on squatting

Advice on squatting:

-Squat frequently in some variation or another. It doesn't necessarily need to be heavy all the time. But squatting heavy and squatting frequently should be done on a consistent basis in some way or fashion.

-Squat as deep as physically possible. This includes unloaded and loaded settings. If you can squat perfectly ass to grass without a load, then why wouldn't you with a load? Do you catch heavy cleans and snatches above parallel? Then don't train yourself to squat to that depth. If your reason to quarter squats is that you are "scared" that you won't be able to get out of the bottom, take some weight off and re-train your squat. Start light and build to where you are ONLY able to sit down in the bottom position for 5 seconds before standing on each rep. That'll unscare you.

-Have one squat stance, for everything. Front squats, back squats, overhead squats, goblet squats, air squats, squat cleans, squat snatches, squatting to eat, squatting to dump (shout out to squatty potty), squatting to pick up a heavy stone/object/child. The width of your feet and angle of your toes should be equivalent on all these lifts whether light or heavy. Why? Because you should never compromise range of motion and Because Greg Everett says so

-Increase your squat so that you can increase your clean, your snatch and your overall strength. Its magical how that happens.

Ways to improve your squat:

-If you are unable to squat deep, find out why and address your issues. Ankles, hips, quads, everything tight? Smash the tissue, mobilize and stretch those bad boys out consistently. 30 years of terrible posture/positions and lack of/non-exsistent stretching and mobilization won't be un-done with one or two 10 minute mobility sessions every other week. It takes consistent exposure to the stretching and mobilizing of your tissues to really make a change AND it takes pressure. Heavy med balls on the chest, barbells, thick PVC pipes, super friends, all these are excellent tools to really get ourselves into better positions. Don't think your body weight is enough, because its not. If a foam roller gives you pain, you should be embarrassed. If you don't have time, make time. If you can't make time, its not that important to you so stop complaining to your coach.

-Sit in the bottom of the squat more. If you suck at something, put yourself into that position more often to improve that position. This can be accumulating time throughout the day in the bottom of your squat. Start with 10 minutes a day then move onto 20 and 30, its amazing how much your squat will improve the more time you spend down there.

-Adding tempos to your loaded squats helps build the type of body awareness needed to know where your bottom position is. If you need someone to tell you whether you're squatting deep enough or not, most likely you aren't, luckily for you this drill will help. Like stated above, sit in the bottom for 3-10 seconds to really learn how to sit comfortably in YOUR deepest possible position. If you can't find comfort down there, its a mobility problem, address it and fix it. Use this drill until you no longer have to ask someone whether your at depth or not, find comfort and confidence in your rock solid bottom position.


Squat deep and heavy more often. Get strong.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Limiting your potential

Do you want to know the secret to unlimited potential? It's very simple, stop comparing. I believe that there is very little satisfaction in our own achievements because we are constantly focussed on what the other guy/girl has done. Nothing is ever good enough because we always have our eyes set on other peoples achievements. This is limiting our growth as an athlete and as a human being.

"My 150lb clean isn't that good because Megan did that for 2 reps and she's a girl!" 
"10:40 on today's workout...but I used 95 (most people were using 185)"
"My son Jake sucks at baseball because he didn't make the all-star team like his friend Danny" 
"I made $100,000 this year, but Jenny made $110,000"

Sound familiar? Regardless of how you look at it, I think we can all relate with those statements above whether they're accurate to our profession or something we have thought/said once before. We'll never be satisfied with our own unless we let go of comparing our actions and achievements with that of other people. Focus on yourself and stop caring about what the person next to you is doing. A friend and role model of mine (shout out to Heidi) has once compared this to growing a garden. If you are constantly focussed on other peoples garden's and not your own, what happens to yours? It withers and dies. Now translate this to your goals, personal achievements, children, job, relationship, etc. Keep focussing on other people's and carelessly watch yours go to shit. This is easily avoidable as long as we can focus on ourselves and learn to celebrate our own personal gains and achievements without peeking over the fence to see who's doing what. Be happy with everything you do, whether it be big or small, because it's good enough. Trust it, believe it, and watch yourself make strides like never before.

Final thoughts. The Open is around the corner. Remember how YOU did last year and try to improve off of that. Don't let Rich Froning dictate your efforts. His, along with the other top scores are irrelevant to yours. Understand this and you will feel better about your efforts at the end of the 5 weeks.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Training alone

If you want to be good in this sport, you must learn to train alone and learn to enjoy the hell out of it. The best in this sport do so AND prefer it. Those that can't train alone and say they perform better in a group setting or with music playing or with people around are simply weak minded. It's the equivalent to only training everything you're good at, every movement that makes you feel elite, then when you're asked to do shit you suck at, you do just that...suck. Of course we'd love to do things we excel at, but most of the time we have to do the shit we don't want to do when we don't want to do it. Why? Because it makes us better. Yeah it's not as fun, it's tough and its really fucking boring but if you can learn to quiet your mind and push yourself past limits when no ones watching, imagine what you can do when this isn't the case. If you can break that little voice in your head, then breaking your oponents will be cake. It hurts to go hard when no one is there to push you, so by training alone you learn to do it yourself. Your PR's don't get celebrated, they just become routine and no one cares about if you are or if you aren't, except for you, so that's why you do it and do it with intent. Training alone builds character but most importantly, it builds mental fortitude. Plain and simple.

So, next time you put off a training session because you can't bro out or because your pandora station lost its connection, re-assess how important your training goals are to you. If you want it bad enough, nothing should be that hard, especially training by your lonesome. 

Friday, November 1, 2013


 "Sometimes you're the bug, sometimes you're the windshield"

This quote has been with me for so long but has just recently began to re-surface. Literally its meaning is so simple yet so deep. This phrase reminds me specifically of our perspective inside the gym, I'm talking about our performances day to day. Some days you will feel like you're on top of the world and others just a big bag of worthless shit. How do we respond to these days when we feel like crap? How do we respond to those MOMENTS when we fail? When things aren't going our way or when everything is just flat out not working to our liking? Are we throwing a fit? Frustrated? Mentally defeated? Yes, these may all be feelings that we experience but it doesn't mean we can let them show and let them affect us. 

If I learned anything from playing professional baseball it was to have a short memory. This translates to everything in life. The most successful people in our time are consistent. That means they are performing more times than not and that also means at times, their performance is shit. Do you think those rare instances keep them down? Nope. They instantaneously forget and move on. How they respond to failure is the catalyst to their future successes. It is how you respond to those days that you are "the bug" that will affect your current mood, attitude, mindset and even future performances.

Remember that your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions and your actions become your habit. Don't let something as simple as a missed snatch attempt, a failed PR or a slower Fran time affect yourself as an athlete. There are times where your 1-rep max feels like 75% and at times 125%. Everyday will be different and it is all relative to the moment. There are way too many important things in life and I can guaran-damn-tee you snatches, clean and jerks and "WODS" aren't one of them. Know your priorities and whats important to YOU. Don't let a shitty performance define who you are. Not everday is going to be a personal best day. If and when those days come, stay positive, confident, and continue onward. 

"Failure is the fertilizer that grows character. Strong character breeds success"

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


Looking back on some of these blog posts, I see that my last entry was in August of 2011! What the hell is wrong with me for waiting this long to re-post something or anything intelligent, thought provoking or just insightful for that matter? I've said this time and time again, but I believe there are WAY too many excellent resources in this community not to fully take advantage of the wealth of information, knowledge or just plain instantaneous thought that exists in the social media world of our CrossFit community. I read athletes blogs constantly and take something away from them each and every time I go about perusing their paragraphs. Regardless of who that athlete is, games caliber, elite-shmilete or just a solid all around coach trying to better their clients, they all have something to say and for the most part, it's good shit.

So with that being said, I have made a committment to re-vitalize one of the best blogs ever created, voted on by my family. A lot has happened since my last post and I have promised myself to re-vamp Train Hard Live Smart more often, starting now and into the future. Whether thats weekly, monthly or occasionally, I promise there won't be a 2 year hiatus before the next post. Scout's honor.

I'm going to use this first post to bring to attention something that's been bothering me the past couple months. I am not usually one to speak my mind on videos that I see on the internet, facebook and twitter, but lately there has been a decent amount of posted "accomplishments" that have become a bit silly. I'm talking about all the snatch PRs that athletes are hitting with the help of straps. Now, is this really a PR? Granted, you did move the weight overhead and proceeded to stand up with it, showing full lockout, but would that qualify as a successful rep in an olympic weightlifting competition? CrossFit competition? Any competition?

I think straps are a great addition to a weightlifting program, but in the sense that they're used to optimize technique without having grip be an issue. For example, they can be used for multiple reps of the follwing: snatch deadlifts, snatch pulls, multiple position snatches, snatches for reps. These are all areas where grip is less of a priority than techmique, so we can utilize straps to aid in holding onto the bar, maximizing the speed and efficiency of our pulls. All without worrying about if you're going to drop the bar or not. I'm not a professional weightlifter nor coach on this topic, but what I can acclaim is I've snatched a load with straps and then attempted to snatch that same load without straps. Needless to say the weight slipped from my hands initiating my second pull. It's a world of difference, plain and simple.

So, with that being said, congrats to the lifts that are being completed with straps, the fact you completed that lift is a feat within itself, but if you are going to publicize and consider it a "PR", let's remove the training wheels. Nobody's deadlifting 500lbs off the ground with straps calling it a PR. That would just be silly. Here is some random dude using a bit of old fashioned grip strength, doing it right:

On another note, overhead squat "PRs" without actually having to jerk the bar overhead is not a PR. Let's be real. It's like saying we can all dunk a basketball as long as someone hoists us up to the rim. That's not dunking, that's just silly. This is a real PR...

Now obviously all of this is thrown out the window if your previous PR is also with the use of straps, that in fact would obviously be a PR, sorry for being an asshole. But if that's the case, you should probably build that grip and start lifting without straps more often. Just sayin'...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

2011 Games

After coming back from the 2011 Crossfit Games out in Carson, California it's hard for me to believe that anyone present at this years games including the athletes, vendors, spectators, judges and volunteers wouldn't want to return year after year. This sport is amazing and it's only going to get better.

I knew nothing about crossfit before 2010 but with my recent infatuation and obsession with the sport, its not hard to see the kind of progress and incredible attention that it has gained over the past few years. Looking back on some footage from 2008, 09 and even last year and hearing some of the veteran athletes talk about previous games, its pretty clear to say that the crossfit games have completely evolved within a remarkably short period of time...and this is simply from the outsider viewing in.

It was truly an overwhelming experience. From showing up several days in advance only to have Dave Lipson greet you at athlete check in to receiving 20lbs of gear from Reebok which included personalized attire, shoes, sweatshirts and even sweet ass compression calve sleeves that I happen to be wearing as we speak. Why, because they're awesome.

Those first few days really gave me the chance to teeny bop on all the crossfit celebrities before shit got real and man did I seize the opportunity. I think I went up to every athlete and called them by name, sadly they did not know mine, but that was where I simply told it to them and by the weekends end I was certainly the most popular crossfitter inside the Home Depot Center. Fact.

The events prior to the first "real event" on Friday that were set up for the athletes were almost as sweet as a 210m open water swim. Tuesday night we all gathered at the Marriot ballroom to have a special dinner that included only the individual athletes and the HQ staff. The buffet consisted of possibly the healthiest selection of foods possible. But I mean really, what are you going to feed 100 of the fittest athletes in the world? Suprisingly though, there were blue cheese crumbles that Spencer Hendel seemed to be devouring. I followed in hopes of equating a similar food selection with a similar performance that weekend. I was wrong. Dude is not human. Period.

As the night continued, Dave Castro spoke and recollected on the past games speaking briefly but specifically on each of the individual champions and we all had the opportunity to stand up and introduce ourselves considering we'd be spending most of the next week together. I stood up and said that it was my first games and that it was a privilege to be able to compete this weekend with the world's greatest athletes. It really was incredible to be in the same room with the type of athletes that were present. Everyone was so nice and so cool, very down to earth and real like J Lo.

Wednesday and Thursday were a bit more formal and consisted of some decently long hours spent at the Home Depot Center going over some prerequisites to the competition like standards, movements, a swim test and some cool media interviews. Before you knew it, Friday had come and the 2011 Crossfit Games had truly begun.

The events were extremely unique and ingeniously programmed. Just looking back at some of the workouts from the previous games, it seemed like the programming continued to evolve along with everything else. This year, workouts consisted of a higher technicality of skills and play intertwined within traditional style crossfit workouts making for 10 very uniquely varied WODS. From open water swims to sand runs to handstand walks, L-sits, softball throws, rope climbs, monkey bars and farmers carries, to say that the Crossfit Games was searching for the most athletic along with the world's fittest would be a statement not far from the truth. It was quite an experience to just observe the way some of these athletes went about their preparatory routines and pre-workout rituals. Superstitions wouldn't be the right word, but rather a simple warm-up routine that you could tell had been repeated over and over again in which would best prepare the athlete for success in whatever unknown lied ahead.

You'd be surprised how much technique and strategy went into some of the movements. With the announcement of the workouts literally an hour before the first heat began, it left little time for any true strategy to take place, so you saw a lot of guys feeding off one anothers tactics within their individual heats as well as exchanging practical advice that would assist in their own upcoming heats. That is why you can't beat this sport. Never will you see in any other sport, the type of camaraderie and companionship like that found in crossfit. Guys completing workouts high five-ing one's that are on their way to finishing, guys staying on the field after finishing cheering on the other competitors as they do the same, hugs, handshakes, exchanging of techniques and strategies. The competition is really only a small aspect of what Crossfit is as a big picture. It's meaning goes beyond fitness.

Last but not least, my support crew, my fam and my friends that came out to support me while I put my fitness to the test. They knew how much it meant to me to be there and they knew it meant just as much to have each and every one of them there in my corner. I wouldn't want anyone else there to share the experience with (except 1 who couldn't make it out, you know who you are!) and I certainly wouldn't want anyone else there to watch me punish my body like I did all weekend. You guys know who you are and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of your support, encouragement and sheer presence of being. Sometimes support can be overlooked and taken for granted but not here. I want all you guys to know that everything you do is appreciated and it's the relationships developed with people like you that make life's accomplishments more enjoyable.

Overall, an unbelievable experience. I certainly learned a lot and can take that with me into 2012. I can't speak for everyone but it's an honor and a true privilege to compete at that level, the money's not what it's about. It's amazing being out there in that atmosphere because you realize you never want to miss an opportunity of getting back. Makes you hungry...real hungry. Until next time folks.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Recap and Respect

This past weekend I was fortunate enough to take a small break from school to go and put myself on the pain train for a few days. I don't know if it can get much better than that. Not only was I able to participate in the 2011 South Central Regionals but I also had the opportunity to be with my family and close friends that I've missed so dearly in the past month or so.

I must commend all the participants this past weekend. The female individuals, male individuals, and team competitors did an outstanding job not only competing but enduring that Texas heat and showing unreal acts of camaraderie and sportsmanship. I can't forget about the judges, media team and staff volunteers as without you guys this event wouldn't have run as smoothly as it did.

First and foremost I want to congratulate Zeph Littleton and Andy Lewis, you guys were awesome and there is no one more deserving than the two of you.

I also want to thank everyone who came out to support me this past weekend. I met a lot of new faces and am overwhelmed with the support and community that exists in the South Central regional. It was an honor to simply be in the same area as all of the athletes competing. Congratulations to everyone that participated and a special congrats to the Crossfit West Houston athletes who really came in this year and did nothing but live up to their potential and open some serious eyes.

Leah Shullenberger placed 9th in her first standard competition. The girl was second guessing competing a few months out of sectionals, now she's the 9th fittest woman in the region. Sorry bout it.

The Crossfit West Houston team of Ryan Hopkins, Kristen Mullen, Garrett LeFevre, Papi Bejarano, Steph D, and Tricia Jackon did nothing but impress and represent West Houston to the fullest. They ended up taking 8th out of about 30 nasty teams in the region. Big ups to all of them as they truly left it all out there and showed what they were capable of.

And last but not least how can I forget about my brother, the big behemoth, Aryan Barto. The dude did nothing but impress all weekend. So inspiring to watch a guy his size move the way he does. He came into the weekend an unknown just wanting to have a "good time" and left with everyone knowing his name. He's big, he's fast, he's strong and he wears shirts with loosened neck ties. The dude keeps it casual but obviously from this weekend, he means business. It was a real treat to be able to share the floor with him on Day 3 and I have no doubt in my mind that he will be in contention for a podium position in the years to come.

Props to Bayou City Crossfit as they put one heck of a team together. An unreal balance of strength, speed and skill made for one heck of a team that will be fun to root for out in Cali at the end of July.

These competitions that come around every so often are a beautiful thing. It's not so much about going toe-to-toe with the fittest athletes that Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi has to offer but it's about the time spent with them in between workouts. The time spent just picking each other's brains, laughing, shooting the shit and having a great time is what I look forward to the most. What makes these athletes so valuable is that they're damn good people. I can't emphasize how great it was to catch up with all the old faces and meet a ton of new ones and I look forward to what the future holds for us all.

I want to give a special thanks out to my family. I love you guys and thanks for everything you do for me. Big Robert Exline and my West Houston family, thanks for coming out to show your support, I miss you guys dearly and wish you all the best. My newly acquired Crossfit NOLA crew, you guys killed it and I'm so proud of you guys. Syn and the NWA crew for the awesomely controversial gear that I will never stop rockin'. And lastly thanks again to everyone else for all the kind words, gestures and support that you showed my brother and I all weekend, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Crossfit would not be crossfit without you guys.

With that being said, I've taken a few days down to recover and by recover I mean not doing shit. I'm trying to let my body heal up a bit before I get back on the grind and get this thing going. I'm really looking forward to representing the South Central region out in Cali at the end of July. I really believe we've got some heavy hitters and I know this is the year we're going to make a name for ourselves. I'm going to do everything in my power to best prepare myself to compete against the best come July. I'm hungry to prove myself and ready to lay it all on the line for the South Central.

Here's an interview I did with ESPN 97.5 on Day 2: