The Quest for Freeze Fest – Event 1 Announced

On January 17th, I will be competing in the Freeze Fest Team Challenge in the scaled division for the second year in a row.

With snow in the forecast, the organizers knew winter was coming and decided it was the perfect time this past Friday to announce that the first event is a barbell speed ladder.

Here’s the breakdown of what that means:


  • Each station has 2 barbells.
    Athletes will have 2:00 to get through the ladder.
    Score = Time it took to complete or 2:00 + :01 for each number of barbells not lifted.
  • 1 rep per person, Athletes must be at the same station. If one cannot make the lift the other may move on but the team will be time capped and the lifter that missed the lift is done lifting. Once a team moves on to the next station they may not go back even if there is time left on the clock.
    1 athlete lifts at a time. 1 barbell on the mats at a time, except for deadlift. Athletes will get a no rep if they lift before the other barbell is on the mats.
  • There will be two bars at each platform/ station. Both will be off the station when you get there. The first athlete will roll the bar forward onto the mat. Do his or her lift and roll the bar off. After that the other athlete will roll the bar onto the mat and complete his or her lift. After that they move to the next station and repeat.


  • Snatch – Snatch, power, split snatch are permitted. Hang snatch is not permitted. The feet are the only body parts that may be in contact with the ground at any time. If an athlete comes to his or her knees they will receive a no rep. Athlete must catch the bar above the head without any contact above the hips. A small press out is permitted as long as the bar is caught above the head. The lift ends when the bar is overhead and all joints are locked out, with the feet within shoulders and the athlete has gotten the the “good” signal from the judge.
  • Clean and Jerk – Clean, power, split are permitted, Hang clean is not permitted. The feet are the only body parts that may be in contact with the ground at any time. If an athlete comes to his or her knees they will receive a no rep. Bar must make contact in the front rack position before the bar moves overhead. Split jerk, push jerk, push press permitted. The lift ends when the bar is overhead all joints are locked out, with the feet within shoulders and the athlete has gotten the the “good” signal from the judge.
  • Deadlift – Standard deadlift only. Sumo deadlift is not allowed. Bar starts on the floor. Hands may be pronated or alternating. Hands must be with feet width. Athlete lifts the bar to the full extension with shoulders behind the plane of the bar and knees and hips locked out at the top. The rep ends when the judge has given the “good” signal.


  • Station 1: Snatch 95/65lb
  • Station 2: Clean and Jerk 115/75lb
  • Station 3: Deadlift 225/135lb
  • Station 4: Snatch 135/ 85lb
  • Station 5: Clean and Jerk 155/105lb
  • Station 6: Deadlift 315/185lb

As they say in Minnesota, “Oofda!” This event is a fast and furious way to start the morning, but as predicted it is strength-based.

Last year, the organizers kicked things off with a clean ladder. And similarly, at the Dakota Games, they began the competition with a 3-rep bear complex.

There is a science to the madness, I just wish that the snatch wasn’t in the mix.

While the clean and jerk weights are heavy, I know I am capable of doing them and doing so in one attempt.

However, I have never done a 135# snatch before. With it being such a time sensitive event, there is no room for hesitation or doubt.

You have to attack the bar with confidence and attitude and telling yourself you can do this.

Though all the positive thinking as one can muster will not help if you lack the strength and proper form.

I will need to drill the movement over the next two months in preparation. It would greatly behoove myself to do a progression in anticipation.

And at the same time, I can’t forget to work on the other two lifts as well.

What do you suggest? Any recommended programming or drills that I should follow? Leave your recommendations in the comments section below.

The Quest for Freeze Fest – Event 4 Announced

On January 17th, I will be competing in the Freeze Fest Team Challenge in the scaled division for the second year in a row.

The organizers continue to announce the events and recently released info about Event Four. It is a 5-minute AMRAP of snatches and pull-ups.


Athletes perform 12 Snatches as a team, then they run to the rig and do 12 pull-ups as a team. Athletes must be together at all times with both at the mat or at the rig before work is completed.

Athletes may switch as needed to get the work done. Score is total reps as a team.

Snatches: 95/63lb
Score is total reps as a team.
Run distance will be given at the event.

Why must the CrossFit gods continue to taunt me?!? This is now the second of four events focused around the Olympic lifts. Can’t we just do some back squats for time?

Regardless, I feel good about the running distance as I started doing track workouts on Saturday mornings.

And I also feel very confident in my pull-ups. I have been working on strict pull-ups two times per week, both close-grip and wide-grip.

I know that concentrated effort will translate over to being able to knock out a set of 12 kipping pull-ups.

Maybe my partner can just take care of all the snatches? I am half joking, but as I start to now think through the events, I’m reminded of the importance of a great partner and an excellent strategy.

There will be many conversations over the next few weeks as we put together our game plan so that we can best leverage each other’s strengths.

We are just over thirty days away. I am getting excited!

Why I Continue to Visit Other CrossFit Gyms

Last week I had to travel to Fargo, North Dakota for a work trip. You can skip the wood chipper jokes because as you might recall it wasn’t my first time there.

I went to Fargo back in June to compete in the Dakota Games, a two-day CrossFit competition. It was expertly run by the folks at CrossFit Fargo (CFF) and many of their athletes competed.

I had the pleasure of competing with Will from CFF, who was always just one or two lanes over in my heat throughout that weekend. In anticipation of my trip, I reached out to him about visiting CFF for a workout.

Every time I visit a CrossFit gym across the country (or around the world, such as in Bangkok, Thailand), its always a worthwhile experience.

I have written in the past about kicking off my 30th birthday celebration in Las Vegas with a WOD at CrossFit Las Vegas and how I spent a week with Fit Farm in Omaha.

It always trumps the alternative of getting room service and watching a marathon of Hoarders because the hotel doesn’t offer HBO.

Here is a short list of why I continue to visit other CrossFit gyms:

1.) For My Routine

I am a very organized individual who likes to keep to a schedule. When I form good habits, like following a training program, it kills me when I have to break it. (I know, I know #firstworldproblems).

But work trips are part of the job and it’s easy to fall into the trappings of life on the road – crappy fast food, hotel bars and skipping workouts.

Shaking off a long day’s work, stretching out the legs and doing something physical always helps counterbalance the effects of travel.

And being able to keep to my routine makes me more focused on the other things I do on the road – like how much sleep I get, water I drink and food I eat.

You always go home at the end and sticking to your routine helps make the transition back to the normal day-to-day that much easier.

2.) For the Perspective

I have awesome coaches and actually many more than any one person deserves. They all do a great job of explaining the proper form and mechanics of the various lifts and movements.

But sometimes, since I think way too much, it doesn’t translate properly for me. When I visit other gyms, I always get one great little nugget of advice, a different perspective, that transforms my understanding.

My regular coach and the temporary one are advocating the same mechanics but just that new way of wording it always makes a difference.

In July, I was a groomsman in my buddy from college’s wedding in the heart of downtown Chicago. Having a few hours to spare before I had to be in my tux, I decided to get in a workout and visited Sweat on State.

I was the only one at the 8am class with Coach Rob. We worked on the mechanics of the snatch, which were a major weakness at the Dakota Games.

Rob’s instructions on how I needed to get more vertical, though I heard explained in other ways before, totally helped and I saw instant improvement.

Similarly, last week at CrossFit Fargo, Coach Jessica was watching my Deadlifts and noticed that I was rounding my back when putting the bar back down. It’s a constant problem that my regular coaches have tried to correct.

Her different perspective was to think when lowering the bar of doing a Good Morning. That totally clicked for me.

Maybe it’s just being in a new setting – a new classroom – but every visit to a CrossFit gym always leaves me smarter than before.

3.) For the Gym Porn

Some people get excited by the architecture of churches, others by the landscaping of parks. I get excited by the interior of CrossFit gyms.

In contrast to the cookie cutter of the chain globe gyms that don’t vary from state to state, a local gym always screams with personality. I mean look at the amazing mural above at Solcana CrossFit, which is just a few miles down the road from my box.

Outside of having the same necessary equipment, no two CrossFit gyms are ever alike. Some have huge awesome rigs like CFF, while others have banners strewn high in recognition of all their members from the armed forces.

I love seeing how the equipment is set-up, the rows of rowers, the pull-up bars and racks. And each with its different setting and layout.

CrossFit New Berlin in Wisconsin is tucked into a big health club and so has access to an indoor track for the WODS. While Fit Farm has a big AstroTurf area in its gym, perfect for sprint work.

Put a visit to a local affiliate gym on your itinerary for your next trip. You’ll meet great people, get in a solid workout and appreciate why this is more than a fad.

Understanding the Texas Method

Over the summer, my CrossFit gym converted their box in Northeast Minneapolis into a bad-ass barbell club.

I was picked to be a part of a test group of members to put the place through its paces and see how a programmed weight-lifting class would work.

Our task since we started in August is to also provide feedback about what type of additional support and equipment we need.

Thankfully, Coach T-Money (aka Tracy) is leading our merry band and helping us improve our form along the way.

The focus of this 8-week trial has been the Texas Method, which was created by the legendary Mark Rippetoe as a next step after Starting Strength. It is meant to be an intermediate-level program.

As he describes in his article on T Nation, “the workout consists of a volume day for the major lifts on Monday, a lighter recovery/variety day on Wednesday, and a high-intensity day on Friday for the major lifts.”

Those lifts would be back squats, deadlifts, bench press, strict press and cleans. They are complemented by accessory work on Wednesdays with sets of back extensions on the GHD and rows.

In our trial period together, the barbell club used the first week to establish our one rep max. It was also a good way for us to get to know each other a bit more in the group, as we were going to be spending a lot of time together. My first week numbers were as follows:

Back squat = 225#
Bench press = 175#
Deadlift = 345#
Strict Press = 130#
Clean = 145#

After our test week, we have been in the throws of three 2-week cycles. Each cycle looks essentially like this in terms of the breakdown of sets and reps:

Back Squat5 x 52 x 51 x 55 x 52 x 51 x 5
Bench Press5 x 51 x 13 x 5
Deadlift1 x 51 x 5
Strict Press3 x 55 x 51 x 1
Clean5 x 35 x 3

Rippetoe explains the madness behind the method, “If we design the program correctly, we can plan workouts that place optimum stress in the optimum pattern to continue the adaptive drive of the program for a long time:

A high level of tonnage-stress early in the week, a lighter workout in the middle to aid in recovery — “active rest” it’s sometimes called — and then a higher-intensity lower-volume workout at the end of the week.”

The truth though is that Mondays are gnarly. It is heavy for all the lifts and you feel it. Yet, Friday is heavy too, despite the lower amount of sets.

I’m not alone in the group with being found sitting on the floor after hitting the 1 set of 5 back squats.

You get a little light-headed, you see stars and sometimes you just say “Whoa!” But the program is designed with recovery-time in between these big days.

If you hit your reps on Fridays (or for the deadlift on Monday), then your weight increase the next week by 5-10 pounds.

I can share that this past Friday, which was week 5 out of 6, I did 1 set of 5 reps in the back squat at 215 pounds. If you look above, you can see that is only 10 pounds shy of my 1 rep max for that lift.

Also, the rep scheme changed slightly, and we did 1 set of 2 reps for the strict press on that same day.

My prescribed weight was my 1 rep max and I hit it! So the progress is clear in terms of my increase in overall strength.

Again, coming back to Rippetoe, he states, “At any point in your training career, quantifiable progress must be your objective.

It’s easy at first when you’re a novice to the barbell. The Texas Method is a good way to carry you through the next step: maintaining the trend of handling increasingly heavy weight.“

We will be testing our 1 rep max again during the eighth and final week of our trial period. However, Rippetoe nor the coaches intend for the Texas Method to end so abruptly. It actually can be used as a long-term progression.

Eventually, you will hit a wall but it has a much longer shelf life than other programs out there. A few of us in the barbell club have discussed continuing with the programming beyond our short time together.

For a full explanation at the rationale behind the Texas Method and specifics on how the programming works, make sure to check out Rippetoe’s article. Click here to read it.

Tracking Water Intake

As per the direction of my remote​ coach, Amanda from Central Athlete, I’ve been tracking my daily water intake for the past 30 days.

She asked me to make it a daily goal to drink 84 ounces of water. The science behind the number is that it is approximately half my body weight (175 pounds) in ounces.

To track my water, as mentioned on her before, I use a free iPhone app called Waterlogged.

You can see in the chart below that I have been inconsistent this past month. I missed the mark 12 out of 30 days.

I am going to focus over the next month to hit 84 ounces all thirty days in a row. Hopefully the warmer weather will make more often grab for an ice cold glass of water because I sometimes forget, especially when I am busy with work, to take a sip.