Blog Archive

Workout of the Day
Every 6 minutes, for a total of 30 minutes (5 sets), complete the following for time:
Row 500 Meters
25 Wall Ball Shots

If you want a challenge, I encourage males to try a 30 lb wall ball, and ladies use a 20 lb wall ball.

CrossFit is exactly like Horseracing

It strikes me that CrossFit is like Horseracing in two main ways:

1) Handicapping, and

2) speed over time.

First, I didn’t realize that horses were handicapped.  I figured you just lined them up, and let them run to see who was fastest.  But that’s not the case.  In order to facilitate betting, they literally handicap the horses.  From Wikipedia:

Horse racing[edit]

In a horse handicap race (sometimes called just “handicap”), each horse must carry a specified weight called the impost, assigned by the Racing secretary based on factors such as performances, distance so as to equalize the chances of the competitors. To supplement the combined weight of jockey and saddle, up to the assigned impost, lead weights are carried in saddle pads with pockets, called lead pads.

That’s what we do in CrossFit as well.  We assign ‘prescribed weights’, then we adjust them for perceived abilities.  Instead of the Racing Secretary, the Coach of the class assigns them.  And the idea is we want each athlete to finish in as close to the same time as possible.  This way, we can take two different athletes, and make a compelling race for both of them.

Let’s say me and a brand new person to CrossFit, we are going to race today’s wod.  I’ll row 500m and do wall balls with a 30# ball.    The new CrossFitter may row 250m and do wall balls with a 10# ball.  I may get beat the first round, but over 6 rounds, it will be a lot closer than if we did the same workout.

So don’t freak out if the coach assigns you a lesser ‘handicap’ by scaling the workout for you.  We are calibrating the wod to your perceived abilities, so you get what you need out of the workout.   And some athletes, for some wods, will need to scale up.

Secondly, it’s been said that the horse that wins a race is the one that slows the least at the end of the race.  It’s not that they are breaking away from the pack, but rather that the other horses are slowing down faster than the lead horse.

And you can see this clearly in a workout like today’s.   What are your times over 6 rounds?  Do you stay tightly clumped, or do your times get slower and slower as you fatigue and are unable to maintain your pace?   Set a goal for your row and for your wall balls, and work hard to meet it!  You should be able to do your wall balls unbroken, so pick a weight that allows for that.   And make your pulls count on the erg!

Workout of the Day
Take 12-15 minutes to build to a 1-RM Shoulder Press   Testing Day!

Complete as many rounds as possible in 12 minutes of:
3 Handstand Push-Ups
6 Ring Dips
9 Pull-Ups
250 Meter Row/ 200m run

All Right Ya’ll!   The Combine is TOMORROW, Saturday, at 10am.  This is the evaluation period where everyone who wants to participate in the June Challenge will complete 5 not for time tests, to allow the captains some data to draft their team with.   Should take about an hour, afterwhich the captains will hold our draft and the teams will be announced on Monday.   If you can’t be a part of the challenge, but want to help, we could use some judges during the combine.     See you at 10am!


Workout of the Day

Four sets of:
Kettlebell Walking Lunge x 20 steps
Rest 90 seconds
Ring Rows x 8-10 reps @ 2111
Rest 90 seconds

In teams of two, partners alternate rounds to complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 15 minutes of:
10 Toes to Bar
20 Air Squats
100 Meter Run

June Challenge!

We are excited to announce our June Challenge!   This event will be a team challenge, captained by each of our coaches.   All athletes who register will be drafted at a private captain’s meeting to determine team rosters.

THIS SATURDAY at 10am, we will hold a “combine” where we will test different movements so that the captains have an idea of each athlete’s capacities prior to the draft.  For instance, at the combine we may test max deadlift, max number of box jumps in 90 seconds, or 800m run time.  Based on combine results, each athlete will be placed in either ‘Advanced’, ‘Intermediate’, or ‘Beginner’ classifications, and their workouts at the finals will be scaled appropriately.

THE WORKOUT will be a secret to the athletes, but each captain will know what it is.   We will hold skill workshops on Saturdays to help athletes improve their skills to do their best on the Final Competition.

THE FINALS will be June 30th at 9am.   If you don’t want to compete, we will need volunteers to judge and help set up the day, so please let us know how you want to be involved!  This will be a team competition, with each athlete’s results going to the teams aggregate totals.

THE COST will be $10 and registration sheets will be available this Saturday at the combine.

THE PRIZE – Glory.


Workout of the Day

CrossFit Games Open Workout 12.1
Complete as many reps as possible in 7 minutes of:


This workout begins from the standing position. The Athlete will move from flat on the ground to touching an object with both hands that is 6 inches above their max reach. Score is total reps completed.

From CF Invictus:

It’s my pleasure to introduce the first pre-competition visualization by Heidi Fearon. Heidi has been our healer and secret weapon for all of our competitive athletes for the last couple of years. Despite my pleading, she is happy to share some of her visualization techniques with the entire Invictus community to help everyone achieve their best results throughout the Open. Please click the link below and set aside 8 minutes of total silence to allow Heidi to guide you through your mental preparation for Open workout 12.1.

CrossFit Games Open Workout 12.1 Visualization with Heidi Fearon

Other essential resources:
Kelly Starrett’s takes you through exactly how to loosen up for Games Workout 12.1.
Carl Paoli’s breaks down the mechanics of the efficient burpee.

And if you missed it yesterday, be sure to read “YAY BURPEES” and the articles attached to it on mental toughness written by Josh Bridges and Sage and Casey Burgener.


You don't have to dress up, but you DO need a partner!

Workout of the Day
Eight sets of:
Shoulder Press @ 20X1
Set 1 – 5 Reps
Set 2 – 3 Reps
Set 3 – 3 Reps
Set 4 – 2 Reps
Set 5 – 2 Reps
Set 6 – 1 Rep
Set 7 – 1 Rep
Set 8 – 1 Rep
Rest 2 minutes between each set. Use time to mobilize lower body.


Four rounds for time of:
Double-Unders x 50 reps
Wall Ball Shots x 15 reps
Toes to Bar x 10 reps

Announcing the 2012 Paleo Partner Challenge!

It’s almost February, and no doubt we’ve had some New Year’s attempts at better eating and getting in shape come and go by the wayside.  We are excited to push any stalled attempts to the next level with our Spring Challenge!  There are a lot of details, so let’s get to it!

The Challenge
The Paleo Partner Challenge will run 7 weeks, from Saturday, February 11th to Saturday, March 24th.    We all start with good intentions and we WANT to have results magically appear, but sadly, good intentions don’t really get us anywhere.  In the end, we have to take ACTION, and so much of success can be taking the action necessary to create accountability and ongoing motivation so that we will do the work and make the CHANGES necessary to get the results we want.  This is YOUR chance!


  •  $49 individual entrance fee
  • Partners compete as a team
  • Point Tracking System
    • 3 points for each week you attend 3 or more classes
    • Graded food log each week (Saturday-Friday due to coaches on Friday)
      • 0-2 cheat meals in a week = 4 pts
      • 3-4 cheat meals = 3 pts
      • 5 cheat meals = 1 pt
      • 6+ cheat meals = 0 pts
      • Not turning in a food journal for a week will result in negative 5 pts
    • Any team which consists of an athlete who is new to our gym for the challenge will get a bonus of 5 pts at the start!
  • Put your money where your mouth is!
    • Each participant will write a check out to Streetlight USA, a non-profit charitable organization working to eradicate the child sex trade in Phoenix.
    • Coaches will hold each check until the end of the challenge, and any participant who fails to achieve a 3.33 GPA on their food logs will have their check sent to Streetlight.
    • The size of your check will depend on the size of your commitment!  All checks will be returned if you achieve your 3.33 GPA.
  • In the event of a tie on points, the tie-breaker will be cumulative inches lost among the thigh, hip, waist, chest, shoulders, and upper arms of BOTH partners in a team.  Whichever team has lost the most inches will win the tiebreaker.
  • You may sign up a friend to be your partner from outside the gym!  They must pay the $49 challenge fee, but may purchase a special 2 month unlimited pass to Cactus CrossFit for just $299, a 25% discount from our normal rates.
  • Current athletes may also upgrade their membership from Bronze to Silver or Gold for the 2 months of the challenge according to our normal pricing schedule.

The Prize

Grand Prize: Both athletes of the winning team will receive an Apple iPad2!
Second Place: Both athletes of the runner up team will receive 2 months unlimited Cactus CrossFit membership free!
Third Place: Both athletes will receive a used jump rope from Cactus CrossFit!

Many of our athletes have been clamoring for a Paleo Challenge, and I think this is a great one!  I hope you are excited about the prizes, and, more importantly, the opportunity to show yourself how serious you are about locking down your nutrition!  All the variables for success are within your control, so focus on WHAT you are doing, and the results will take care of themselves!

P.S.  If you haven’t figured it out yet, those of you who are already in great shape would benefit in this challenge from bringing in a friend who doesn’t CrossFit yet, and is in not so great shape!  Change his or her life, and help hold one another accountable to your goals!

Our Paleo Partner Kick Off will be at 8am on Saturday, February 11th where we will announce the teams, take measurements, discuss the Paleo lifestyle, answer any questions, and then hit a great workout at 9am!

Kris, the Spring 2011 winner of our Make Good Challenge!

Workout of the Day
– Please follow prescription and report scores. We will be using this data going forward to track our athletes’ progress.

Strength Testing
Five or Six sets of:
Close-Grip Bench Press @ 30X1 tempo
(place your middle finger directly in line with the outside of your shoulder – find this position by laying on the bench and extending arms straight up like Frankenstein, press forearms into the bar, now slide them down and put your middle finger where the middle of your forearm was in contact with the barbell)
Rest 3 minutes between sets
(use this time effectively to work on hip mobility or glute activation exercises – your coaches can help give you some suggestions)

Perform the following reps and percentages:
* Set 1 – 50% of possible 1-RM x 3 reps
* Set 2 – 75% of possible 1-RM x 2 reps
* Set 3 – 85% of possible 1-RM x 1 rep
* Set 4 – 90-95% of possible 1-RM x 1 rep
* Set 5 – Test 1-RM
* Set 6 (optional) – Exceed Set 5 weight

Conditioning Test
For time:
50 Burpees

(Compare results of conditioning to February 1st, 2011 – the strength portion is slightly different (better, of course) in that we have prescribed a narrower grip, but one from which we can create better data since it dictates that the positioning of your hands will be the same every time we test this)

Five rounds for time of:
25 Kettlebell Swings (24/16 kg)
7 Push Presses (135/95 lbs.)
400 Meter Run

Time is EXTREMELY tight today, so please try to be to class on time.  Most classes will only be able to get 3 rounds of the metcon today, though Gina and Steve snuck in 4 rds.

Make Good Challenge Results

Wow!  I was amazed at the improvement in the workouts as well as the body composition changes that our participants in the Make Good Challenge made over the last 8 weeks!  Our winner, Kris H., pulled off the very difficult feat of building muscle AND losing fat!   This was the big difference and what put him over the top.  Lots of competitors were able to lose muscle and fat, or build muscle and gain some fat, but Kris was the ONLY one who gained muscle and lost fat.  Wow!

Let’s look at the scoring breakdown:

Initial Workout

Place Name Score
1 Rob B 305
2 Henry H 253
3 Blake 242
4 Jenna 221
5 Tom W 217
6 Cam 211
7 Kris H 201
8 Rob D 197
9 Gina P 182
10 Travis P 170
11 Ryan N 147

Remember that in this challenge, low points wins, so after our first workout, Rob B was in first place with 1 pt, while Ryan N was in 11th place with 11 points.

Next up was the last workout, 8 weeks later, with competitors placed in order of their point improvement from their first workout.

Name Score final score improvement improvement rank
Rob B 305 307 2 Ryan N 1
Henry H 253 271 18 Rob D 2
Blake 242 274 32 Kris H 3
Jenna 221 242 21 Blake 4
Tom W 217 227 10 Jenna 5
Cam 211 224 13 Henry H 6
Kris H 201 241 40 Gina P 7
Rob D 197 241 44 Travis P 8
Gina P 182 199 17 Cam 9
Travis P 170 184 14 Tom W 10
Ryan N 147 208 61 Rob B 11

You can see the final workout totals, the point improvement (Everyone improved!) and then a re-ranking by points improved.   Ryan N dominated the improvement by adding 61 points to his workout, a stunning 41% increase!

Next came the body composition measurements.  Remember, this was two separate measurements, equally weighted with everything else.  We ranked each participant on fat lost and muscle gained in pounds.  We knew some competitors would gain muscle, some would lose fat, and some (might) attain the holy grail of muscle gained AND fat lost.  How’d it turn out?

Muscle gained (lbs)
Rob B 5.23 1
Kris H 5.11 2
Blake 0.4 3
Cam -1 4
Rob D -1.23 5
Gina -1.27 6
Travis -2.46 7
Ryan N -3.45 8
Tom W -5.3 9
Henry H -6 10
Jenna -6.33 11

Rob B did what he had to do, coming in first in this category.  At the beginning of the challenge, he was so lean he knew he wouldn’t be able to do much as far as leaning out.  So far, Rob has two first places and an 11th place, but the next category will be tough for him to keep his point total low.   Kris racked up 2nd place in muscle gained, and, coupled with his third place in total improvement, he is in good position headed into the last measurement.

Fat lost (lbs)

Kris H -6.09 1
Henry H -5 2
Rob D -4.77 3
Tom W -4.74 4
Gina P -3.69 5
Ryan N -3.55 6
Travis P -3.54 7
Jenna -2.67 8
Cam -1.9 9
Blake 0.57 10
Rob B 1.78 11

Kris H. racked up a surprising win in this category, losing over 6 lbs of straight lard in 8 weeks!  I say surprising only because of his strong showing in gaining muscle as shown above.   As expected, the two leanest competitors at the outset, Rob B. and Blake, added fat as one would expect during a challenge in which their main opportunity for improvement is muscle gained.

When we added up the rankings of each of the four areas of the challenge, it came out as follows:

Final Rank Total Points
Kris H 13
Rob D 18
Henry H 20 Tied for 3rd
Blake 20 Tied for 3rd
Rob B 24
Ryan N 26
Gina P 27
Tom W 28
Jenna 28
Cam 28
Travis 32

Kris H. takes home the grand prize, $255 cash and 3 months of unlimited CrossFit classes!  Rob Dahlgren won second, and Blake and Henry H tied for third place!  Rob won $128 and 2 months free unlimited CrossFit, while Blake and Henry split third prize, $64 and a month of free unlimited classes at Cactus CrossFit.

Even better is the average improvement by each MG Challenge finisher was 13%, and they lost an average of 3 lbs of fat!   Congratulations to all of our competitors and especially to our winners for being consistent in the gym and with their nutrition!  Thanks everyone!

***No Class Saturday!  We are running in the Spartan Race!  Come join us!***

4 rounds: Hands Must stay on the bar for the entire Round

  1. 3 strict toes to bar ( Passing through tuck position, knees to chest and then kick the bar)
  2. 3 Ball ups ( assist as needed)
  3. 3 Beat Swings ( remember to have activate  shoulders!)
  4. 3 Kipping toes to bar ( Can be performed with bent or straight legs, straight legs Preferred)
  5. 3 Strict leg lifts, performed with Straight legs as high as you can lift with pointed TOES!

Rest exactly 2 minutes between each round


OPT’s “Horse Challenge”

5 rounds for time
20 wall balls (20/15)
10 C2B Pullups

Time to beat is 9:09.

If you think you can beat it, let us know and we’ll video tape it for OPT!

David Brooks on how to change your behavior

David Brooks is a columnist at the New York Times, and he has a new book coming out called “The Social Animal.” David appeared on the Charlie Rose show, and he talked briefly about behavior, fitness, and how being social animals can dictate our habits.

My paraphrase, from the video.  The applicable section starts at 34:45 in:

How can the power of the unconscious be influenced?
We certainly have the ability to change who we are.
We have the ability to choose our environment.
Different environments will influence you in different ways.
You made a decision to go one way or another.
The other thing you can do is change your behavior.
Timothy Wilson, a professor at the University of Virginia, emphasizes that
to change your mind, you change your behaviour.
AA has a saying, “Fake it till you make it.”
If you change your behavior, slowly that will rewire the way you think.
You are what you do.  You have the power to influence who you are surrounded by.
The influence of our peers is very powerful, i.e. our obesity, our fitness.

Now, aside from being a horrendous paraphrase (or transcript), what David is getting at is that if you want to change how you think, or what your actions are, you can outflank your mind, so to speak, by making other, indirect decisions.

So if you want to lose weight, don’t think, “I need to eat less.” or “Don’t eat that donut.”  Instead, associate with and surround yourself with people who will influence you to be more healthy.   This is a big reason why CrossFit is so successful.  We meet a new group of people who are all talking about, thinking about fitness, nutrition, health, etc.   Over time, with repeated exposure to this community, your brain rewires itself and you start to make better decisions regarding what to eat, how and when to exercise, etc.

Of course this is all a very fancy, intellectual way to say “Get your butt in the gym.”  But I’ll take what I can get!   The lesson, just show up, decide you are going to commit to going to CrossFit two or three times a week if you are new.  The rest will take care of itself!

Workout of the Day
“Make Good Challenge – Spring 2011″
3 Rep Max Effort Overhead Squat from the Floor
Take 12 minutes to find your 3-RM Overhead Squat;
Rest exactly 60 seconds, and then perform the following for max reps:
60 seconds of Rowing (for calories)
60 seconds of Rest
60 seconds of Deadlift (Adv=225/155 lbs., Int=185/135 lbs., Beg=155/105 lbs.)
60 seconds of Rest
60 seconds of Burpees
60 seconds of Rest
60 seconds of Kettlebell Swings (Adv=53/35 lbs. , Int=35/26 lbs., Beg=26/18 lbs.)
60 seconds of Rest
60 seconds of Thrusters (Adv=95/65 lbs., Int=75/55 lbs., Beg=65/45 lbs.)
60 seconds of Rest
60 seconds of Pull-Ups (no modifications permitted)

Compare to 011111

The 6:30am class kicked butt, and EVERY competitor in the challenge improved their score!  Afternoon classes, please come prepared to help coordinate these workouts, things may go long.   If you are in the 5:30 class, please come prepared to warm yourself up and get ready for the challenge as we will most likely be judging and running heats.  We need volunteers to come early/stay after so that we can try to have judges to count reps, adjust weights, etc.  Thank you!

Jason will be in the gym WEDNESDAY at Noon and 4:15 on to do your body measurements, so come in TOMORROW at lunch or after work if you are not going to be at class normally.

Thanks to everyone who is participating, the results look great!

The 2011 CF Games registration is Open!

Register here.   Cactus CrossFit is registered as an affiliate so you should be good to go.  Just $10 to compete in 6 wods over 6 weeks.  We will be running these wods Saturday mornings so that everyone can compete, BUT the real fun will be Saturday afternoon as we are partnering with 6 other CrossFit gyms from around the valley to come together and enjoy the atmosphere of a big competition!  CrossFit Southwest is up first, hosting next Saturday, 3/19.  Hope to see you there!

Workout of the Day
Overhead Squat
and then,
Overhead Squat x Max Reps
(males = 95#, females = 65#);
and then,
Three rounds for time of:
30 Walking Lunges
30 Anchored Sit-Ups
400 Meter Run

2 weeks to go for the Make Good Challenge!

We are three quarters into our Make Good Challenge, and we’ve seen  our usual great consistency in attendance and intensity.  How’s your nutrition?  If you’ve suffered from a lack of focus (or just been sick!), now’s the time to lock it in for the home stretch.   Eliminate dairy, cut the cereal, find a good alternative for lunch to a sandwich.

Here are some resources: –  Free recipes online. – Matt from CF SouthWest in Tempe has a new recipe every day.  Awesome stuff! – recipes, philosophy, success stories about ‘primal’ eating.  umm, it’s paleo.

If you are struggling, touch base with us and we will work with you to identify some meals to try, create them en mass, and trust in the power of healthy leftovers!

It’s not too late to make a charge, or create a healthy lifestyle for yourself that can last a lifetime!  Enjoy!

Workout of the Day
Four sets of:
Bulgarian Split Squat x 6-8 reps each leg @ 30X1
Rest 45 seconds
Ring Push-Ups x AMRAP
Rest 45 seconds;
and then,
Four sets for max reps of:
45 seconds of  Burpees
45 seconds of Rest
45 seconds of Anchored Sit-Ups
45 seconds of Rest

How the CrossFit Games will work this year

We’ve had great experiences in the past for the CrossFit games, whether it was competing in Sectionals as an individual, or competing in Regionals as a team.

I think we’ve seen that the competitions are a LOT of fun.  Everyone who has competed has enjoyed it, and I always find it inspiring, no matter what your fitness level.  My hope is that everyone would compete in the Games.  Here’s how to do it.

This year, there are no Sectionals.  Instead, there will be the CrossFit Games Open, which is one workout every Saturday for 6 weeks starting on March 15th.   If you want to compete for the Cactus CrossFit team, you MUST compete in the OPEN.  HQ will select our team based on our gym’s highest finishers in the open.

Our ‘Official’ team will include our 3 highest ranking men and 3 highest ranking women scores from the open.   There is no limit to how many athletes we can register for eligibility on our team.  We must register prior to March 20th, but I don’t think the link is up yet.

The bottom line is, everyone who wants to compete, and doesn’t have an exemption earned through previous CF Games podium finishes, must compete in the Open, whether you are hoping to be part of a team, or compete as an individual.  Remember, the goal of the CF games are to find the fittest man and woman on the planet AS WELL AS foster an inclusive competitive fitness atmosphere where everyone is welcomed to compete.  We want you to have fun!

More details are to come, but I hope that everyone is interested in competing, it should be a lot of fun!  You can find info for all things CF Games here.

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