Blog Archive


Workout of the Day
In teams of two, partners alternate full rounds to complete five rounds each of:
500 Meter Row
Dumbbell Man-Makers x 10 reps

What do your friends say when you tell them about CrossFit?

Over 5 years of coaching CrossFit, I’ve had the great pleasure of having my athletes introduce me to friends of theirs.  Then I’ve had the displeasure of having these strangers tell me about how they’ve heard all about me, all about CrossFit, and here’s 87 reasons why they can’t join Cactus CrossFit.

Nice to meet you.  I’m just here for the hot dogs!

Seriously, what do your friends say when you tell them how you got in great shape?

“I have a bad (back/knee/hip).”

“I’m not athletic.”

“I have to get in shape before I start CrossFit.”

“I don’t want to get bulky.”

“I could never do that.”

“I don’t like working out in groups.”

“CrossFit is dangerous.”

The list goes on and on.

We all have invisible scripts that we use as barriers for why others have something we don’t.   We all have them!   

She’s only dating him because he’s rich/skinny/smart/in debt/a smooth talker.

He’s only successful because he’s connected/trust fund baby/lucky/a cheat.

She’s only skinny because it’s genetic/an eating disorder/unhappy about xyz.

Recognize that even though CrossFit has changed your life, and that you know it could change anyone’s life who is willing to be consistent, coachable, and work hard, think about bringing someone to CrossFit like a pair of Chinese fingercuffs.

The more insistent you are someone come, the more they are going to resist you.  We’re not a cult, after all!

Instead, simply tell your friend, you’ve gotten in a new fitness habit, and when they’re ready, you’d love to bring them to a Saturday workout sometime.   Relax.  And try to find out what some of your invisible scripts are, and how they might be holding you back in your CrossFit or relationships, or career.


02 May 2013

On Success


Photo Apr 20, 4 56 29 PM

Workout of the Day
Four sets of:
Against a 4-minute running clock, complete:
500 Meter Row
400 Meter Run
Push-Ups x Max Reps


Rest 4 minutes between sets

On Success

There is something about success.   When you see it,  it seems Different.  Other.  Unattainable.

Everything about the level of success which is public, which is visible, is so different from where you start, or where you are, it is unrelatable.

And so we shrug our shoulders.  That person is all genetics.  On Steroids.  Inherited their money.  Has the right connections.   Doesn’t have my blah, blah, blah limitations.

But that is a myth.

The truth is that more than 80% of millionaires are first generation affluent.  The truth is that every athlete started unable to even flip themselves over as a baby.

The truth is that consistent hard work over a long period of time is unseen, ignored, and discounted until it looks like natural talent and is irrepressible.

Success always looks like a duck in the water, calm on the surface, furiously paddling underneath, until it takes off and flies away.  And that flying is Other.

No matter what area you are striving for success in: fitness, money, relationships, professionally, or otherwise, the fundamentals of how you succeed are the same.  It’s the what that is different.

Some areas, you make 100 calls a day until you are successful.  That’s what it takes.  Some areas, you hit the gym five times a week until you have changed your identity into someone who doesn’t eat crap.  Some areas, you serve your partner because you love them, and you want their life to be easier because they chose you.

And when that success becomes visible, when you buy that house for cash, when you lose those 40 pounds and can deadlift twice your bodyweight, when your spouse is annoying all their friends because they just.won’t.  You will look different.

And your friends, and co-workers will have their reasons why you are unique and they can never achieve what you did.  So they can crawl back into their safe, mediocre lives.

Cactus CrossFit isn’t about safe.  We aren’t about mediocre.  We are about teaching, through CrossFit training, the fundamentals of success.

You don’t get to free lance.  You do what we tell you to do.  Push your limits.   MAKE your body change.  It’s not going to adapt unless it thinks it will die if it doesn’t.  You have to go there.  Repeatedly.  Over and over.

That pain in your body is victory.  It means your body is going to change so it doesn’t have to feel this way again.  So you go faster.  And heavier.  And longer.  And you realize, success was a decision you made, sitting at your office, or in your car, or on your couch.  When you said, no more.  I’m tired of being tired.  Tired of being weak.  Tired of watching your body degenerate in the mirror on the long slow ride into the pine box.

So you acted.  The most powerful thing in the world.  Action.

You want a fun experience?  Go to the fair.  You want to be a success?  Pay the price to win!   Anyone who makes the decision to win can do it.  We can help you.  But we can’t provide the motivation.  We can’t.  No one can.

You’ve got to have that yourself.



Workout of the Day
Four sets of:
Front Squat x 4-6 reps @ 21X1
(yep, that means you need to pause in the bottom position)
Rest 20 seconds
Tall Box Jump x 4-6 reps
Rest 3 minutes

Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 8 minutes of:
20 Alternating Reverse Lunges
40 Double-Unders

“I want to try out a class so I can see if I like the workouts.”

In the classic children’s story “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe” 4 British children are transported to another realm called Narnia.  And in this land, there is a Christ-like figure, an actual Lion, named Aslan.  He is the King of the land, he has supernatural powers, but he has been gone from the land for generations.

The children are being told about this supercreature and their reaction when they find out He is an actual, like, claws, mane, and teeth Lion is about what you’d expect:

“Is-is he a man?” asked Lucy.
“Aslan a man!” said Mr. Beaver sternly. “Certainly not.  I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea.  Don’t you know who is the King of Beasts?  Aslan is a lion-the Lion, the great Lion.”
“Ooh!” said Susan, “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe?  I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”
“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.
“Safe?”said Mr. Beaver.  “Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you?  Who said anything about safe?  ‘Course he isn’t safe.  But he’s good.  He’s the King I tell you.”

When we are talking with people in their orientations about whether they want to start CrossFit, they tell us about what they’ve been doing for fitness, what their goals are, and how important it is to them to achieve their goals, and what they’ve tried which hasn’t worked.

Sometimes, folks want to try a workout to see if they like it, and my response reminded me of Mr. Beaver’s.

“Like the workouts?  Fun?  Who said anything about fun?   CrossFit isn’t fun.  If you are doing it correctly, the actual workout is the toughest part of your day.  You question yourself, and everyone around you.  There’s nothing I’d rather do than stop working out.  I hate working out.  That’s why they call it a workout, not a funout.”

The fitness industry has, for 30 or 40 years, been watering down exercise to a level that will try to be palatable to the culture at large.  “20 minutes of walking twice a week” to lose weight, under the philosophy that anything is better than nothing.   Well, it’s not better than nothing.  At best, it’s a waste of time, and twenty minutes I’ll never get back.   At worst, you could get hit by a car and die.

And so my new answer, the only answer there has ever been, is:

“Like the workouts?  Who said anything about liking the workouts?  Of course you won’t like the workouts.  You’ll hate the workouts.  But they are effective, and that’s more than you can say for all the junk you’ve done to this point, which is why we are talking.”

Naturally, this truth is what scares off lots of beginners.  At Cactus we work hard to scale workouts so that beginners can learn the movements, gain proficiency, ease into the intensity, and feel comfortable with the coaching, facility, and movements.

But after a few months, when you’ve established your mechanical consistency, it’s time to start busting your butt.   Today’s workout is a perfect example.  You could cruise along and get 3 or 4 rounds, feel the lactic acid in your legs, the burn in your lungs, and the sweat on your brow, and walk off patting yourself on the back for getting your workout in.

But if you get 8 rounds, you finish with your back on the floor and you just want everyone else in the class to stop talking to you.   Fun?  Yeah, 10 minutes later, it’s lots of fun.

Workout of the day


Emom – 10m
5 Power Snatches (work on technique and efficiency.)


Front Squat (115/75)
Push Press

Today is a Test

This isn’t about false arrogance.  This isn’t about being cocky.  This isn’t about words, or style, or flash.   This is about the deepest part of you,  ‘deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties’ you wonder if you are good enough.

And you are terrified to find out the truth.

Once you have the mechanics of the movements down in CrossFit, in many workouts, the only thing holding you back is fear.   We prescribe intensity.  And when you get done with a workout and say “that was a good one” what made it good?

Do you risk failure in a wod?  Or do you sandbag so you’ll finish with a respectable time?  Which is worse, DNF’ing because you went so hard your body failed or getting a top 5 score and feeling like you left something in the tank?

A few years ago my Fran time was stuck in the high 4 minute area.  Every time I would Fran, I couldn’t get sub 4:40.   I saw videos of much smaller guys finishing in sub 2 minutes.

I knew I was stronger than them.  My pullups were locked in.  But I couldn’t go any faster.  I always had to break.  Either mid 15 of the thrusters or in the 9’s.

And I had to face the fact that maybe I was just a coward.  I didn’t want to feel the pain and the agony, the muscles screaming, the lungs burning, that going any faster, or unbroken, would have necessitated.

Many people like to wrap themselves in tough guy talk.  We drive matte black trucks, we cover our bodies with tattoos, we spike our hair, we spend our money outrageously, we brag about the women we’ve conquered and the men we’ve seduced.

But with CrossFit, there is no talk.  There is only time.  The time on the clock when you finish.

So after wrestling with the question of my own manhood for a few months, when the thought of doing Fran filled me with dread of the pain that was coming and my own humiliation in the face of my willingness to toss in the towel and cry “no mas” I reached out to Omaha Ricky.

Ricky is a long time CrossFit Games competitor and owner of CF Omaha.  He gave me the suggestion of just going as hard as I could, for as long as I could, and when I couldn’t go any faster, stop.


“Okay, then”

What he gave me was permission to fail, or as Rocky says, “to take the hit”.

The next time Fran came up, I took Ricky’s advice.  I went all out, as fast as I could, as long as I could.

I finished the workout.


I took over a minute off my time.

Not because I was stronger.  Not because I had done some special training to lead up to it. Not because I had done lots of thrusters and pullups in workouts.

I put on my big boy pants and stared down failure.

You know the rest.  Now I have to go sub 2:30.

Can your ego take the hit of training?  As CJ Martin says, you can learn a lot by giving your all in training and finding out where your true limits may lie.   Nothing is lost by going all out in training.   And if you discover how hard you can really go, then you’ve gained more in 3 minutes than most people will gain in 2 years by being willing to risk failure.

I believe every man has a question inside of them that needs answering.  “Can I do it?”

I wondered this with regards to special ops training in the military.

I wondered this with regards to supporting myself.

I wondered this with regards to building a business.

I wondered this with regards to the boring, consistent, hard work of being a real husband and father to my family.

CrossFit gives us a safe way to answer that question in one way.

What is inside of you?

So when you see these amazing CrossFit athletes, is it because they are genetic freaks?

Is it because they have trained longer and harder than you?

Or is it because they said that today they are willing to go to a place you shy away from inside of themselves?

The bad news is that you can find out the answer today.   The good news is that you will get another chance tomorrow.

Cactus CrossFit is about fitness.  We are about giving people an opportunity to change their life.  But it isn’t going to be easy.  You are going to have to make changes.  You are going to have to do the work.

I can’t cook for you.  I can’t give you the recipes or lead you by the hand. Google Paleo whatever.   Stop making excuses.

Confront the fact that there are people in this room who have decided they are tired of being fat and out of shape, and they have changed their lives.

It can be you.  But it isn’t easy.

We’ll help you as much as we can.  But you are going to have to do the work.

Today’s workout is light weight for an rx’d athlete.  Burpees.  So what are you going to do?  Are you going to stop.  Are you going to fall back on your training, your mechanics, breathe, and follow through?  How fast can you go?

How many KB swings did you get yesterday?

We will not judge you.  Not for failure.  Not for hitting the wall.  Not for sandbagging to protect your ego.

We are here to say we love you.  Yeah, I said it.  We love you.  You took the hard step of joining this community, a place filled with people who deliver, and those who want to be the kind of people that deliver.  That took guts.

But we love you too much to say that bad movement is okay.  We love you too much to let incomplete reps count as rx’d.

We will love you enough to share the truth with you.  Even if the truth is that today, you quit.  Today, you didn’t bring it.

Workout as hard as you can, not harder.

You are here to get better.  So don’t apologize for where you are.  Apologize if you are still there in a year.  We want to help you, and the best way is to show you the way.   You can do it.

Better yet, stop apologizing.  Show us.  By showing up. By doing the hard work of learning safe, efficient movement.  And then by dropping the hammer on your training.

And when you learn to do that in one area of your life, perhaps it will bleed out to other areas.  Maybe, just maybe, through CrossFit, you learn that failure isn’t so bad.  That the risks of not giving your all far outweigh the risk of coming up short.

Maybe you’ll start your own business. Maybe you’ll go out and get what you’re worth.  Maybe you’ll tell that person that you are the best thing that ever happened to them, and if they don’t know that by know, they ain’t ever going to know.

Maybe you’ll chase that dream.

Maybe you’ll answer that question of “Am I good enough?”

Maybe you’ll learn that “Am I good enough” is the wrong question.  The only question is whether you are willing lay yourself on the line for what you want, what you stand for, what you believe in.

And when you’ve done that, you’ll have answered the question about whether you are good enough.

This post only applies to healthy, skilled athletes.  If you are learning the movements, you cannot go all out.  If you are injured, you cannot go all out.  Be smart.

Workout of the Day
Four sets of:
Weighted Supinated-Grip Pull-Ups x 2-3 reps @ 2110
Rest 10 seconds
Unweighted Supinated-Grip Pull-Ups x Max reps @ 2110  (no kipping!)
Rest 3 minutes


Three rounds for time of:
Barbell Ground to Overhead x 10 reps
300 Meter Run

Go as heavy as you can on the Barbell while making sure you can get through the first round unbroken touch and go.  It should be a challenge, it should force you to be tight and efficient, and you should have to really focus to have a chance at getting through rounds 2 and 3.

The reason you aren’t in shape isn’t because your gym isn’t cheap enough, maybe it isn’t expensive enough

Have you noticed how cheap a gym membership is?   I am seeing a proliferation of the big box gyms driving membership pricing lower and lower.  You can get a gym membership in Scottsdale for less than $10, and the Village is offering free yoga all summer.

But one thing strikes me.   With gym memberships so inexpensive, why is our society so physically unhealthy?  So obese, so inflexible, so weak.  For the entire time I’ve lived in Scottsdale, gym memberships to facilities with lots of great equipment (though no bumper plates, naturally) beautiful locker rooms and showers, and pretty people to look at could be had for $20/month.

I’m guessing that moving that cost to $10/month didn’t make a whole lot of people say, “You know, I couldn’t afford $20/month, but at $10/month I will finally carve out 5 hours a week to consistently go to the gym and get on a program.

So the reason that collectively we are physically sick is not because our gym was too expensive.   No, the reason is our gym is too cheap.

No matter the price, the bathroom quality, how pretty the girl at the front desk is, or how many mirrors there are, the ‘globo gym’ business model is a simple one.   Finance equipment, pay labor as cheaply as possible, and sign up as many customers as they can during those customers moments of best intentions (New Years Resolutions?) and sit back when they stop coming (but keep paying) because, from a fitness perspective, globo gyms don’t work.

Why doesn’t the conventional gym membership deliver results to their clients?

1.  What do I do?

Most people who go to a gym don’t have any idea what to do.  Inevitably, they bounce between what they read in magazines or online, move through a line of machines, or hamster their way along on a cardio machine.   This drives the fitness magazine industry, the personal training industry, and the ice cream industry when you quit going and feeling like a fool walking around the gym endlessly.

2. How do I do it?

Even when you read something online or in a magazine, the vast majority of people aren’t going to be able to correctly execute many weightlifting movements unless they already have a weightlifting background.  (If you are thinking “no problem, I don’t strength train,” or “I keep weights low and basic movements” you are missing out.  Strength training is the secret sauce to body composition changes)


Good Lord, working out conventionally is boring.  By yourself, the same thing week after week.  I know.  I did it for three years after college.  Try to find a partner to workout with, but that is tough between schedules, philosophies, and fitness levels.   Most flare out quickly.

4. Why am I doing this?

Results usually come slowly, or you are in a ‘maintenance phase’.    Typically this is maintaining substandard levels of strength, power, and endurance.  But it is where you were in school, so it must be the peak of your powers.

5. So cheap, it’s easier to not show up than to show up, easier to keep paying then to go through the hassle of canceling.

You ever see the Friends episode when Chandler tries to quit the gym?  Better to keep paying $10/month than go through that hassle right?

Enter CrossFit

Hey, we are not cheap.   Here’s why:

1.  We tell you what to do.  You’ll do our program.  You want to do your own program, no problem.  There’s a $10/month gym you passed on the way over here.  This way, you can outsource at least one decision in your life, leaving cognitive will power for more important things.

2. We teach you how to do it. Every day.  We introduce movements in your private intro sessions, and review and polish movements EVERY. DAY.   This can take a while.  Don’t worry.  You didn’t learn how to walk in one hour either.

3. Fun! 

Every day is like high school sports tryouts.  Every workout is scored.  You MAY compete every day to improve yourself, and try to do better than those around you.  Hey, it’s not for everyone, but it is for lots of people!  If you enjoyed participating in sports, you may sneakily enjoy CrossFit.

4. Your performance results can be tracked every day

I know.  You are in a maintenance phase.  A phase you are hoping lasts the rest of your life.  In CrossFit, you will see your performance in workouts get better every day.  Or at least, you will have that opportunity.

As you track your workouts over your initial few months, you will see strength numbers go up, workout times go down, and feel your skills improve in various movements.

5. So expensive you’ll actually, GASP!, keep coming!

Look, we want you to understand what you are getting into at CrossFit.  Nothing makes us more frustrated than our athletes who sign up and don’t come to class.   If you just come, consistently, you will get results.  We will help you.

No, you cannot sign up for one month.  We can’t teach you fast enough in a group format to get you the results we can deliver in just a few weeks.  This is a process.  We want you to know that.  And when you sign up, we want you to be committed to the process for at least a few months, so that you can see what all the fuss is about.

The financial cost of a CrossFit membership is a tangible statement of that commitment.  If it were less expensive, you could afford to not come.  We want to hit that sweet spot where you can afford to train, but you can’t afford to just throw the money away and not come.  After all, that’s how you get results and that’s what you wanted right?  Not just to say you workout.

So if you aren’t getting results, if you are getting sicker each year (heavier, weaker, less flexible) maybe the problem is HOW you are going about your fitness.  And you have to ask yourself, at the gym you want to join, if you are going to actually get results this time, would you be the exception, or the rule.

At most gyms, most ‘members’ pay but don’t go, workout but don’t improve.   The rule is quitting, or not improving your fitness.  That’s the business model.  At Cactus CrossFit, our athletes who show up, get results.  ALWAYS.   That is the rule.  The exception is the person who trains hard consistently and doesn’t get results.   Then we get to talk about sleep and nutrition.  Good times!




Workout of the Day
Shoulder Press @ 20X1 tempo
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)
For the shoulder press, 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

“Lucky Sevens”
Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 7 minutes of:
7 Box Jumps (24″/18″)
7 Burpees
7 Kettlebell Swings (24/16 kg)

Compare to 071911

From ESPN the Magazine:

“… in a study recently published in the journal Sleep, she and her colleagues have jolted the world of sports analytics by essentially showing that you can get safe, legal HGH just by shutting off the lights.

scientists don’t fully understand what happens while we sleep, but they know this much: Some of our genes act as internal clocks and release hormones according to cycles called circadian rhythms, which are triggered by darkness and light and alternate over 24-hour periods. When we mess with these rhythms by not getting enough sleep, our metabolism of glucose (which gives us energy) declines, and our level of cortisol (which causes stress) increases. Further, sleeping for long stretches is naturally anabolic: During deep sleep, our bodies release growth hormone, which stimulates the healing and growth of muscle and bone. So while it’s possible to push through a lack of sleep during any one day, proper sleep helps athletes in two ways. First, it boosts areas of performance that require top-notch cognitive function, like reaction time and hand-eye coordination. Second, it aids recovery from tough games and workouts.

The U.S. Olympic Committee began taking the issue of adequate sleep seriously in 2005, when it consulted with sleep specialist Mark Rosekind, a former NASA scientist, to help redo rooms at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and at the 2006 Torino Olympics. Out went twin beds; in came plush-top mattresses, blackout curtains, thermostats set to cool temperatures and reliable alarm clocks. Rosekind and his colleagues pushed for the Olympians to get nine to 10 hours of sleep a night, not the five to seven most young adults manage. “People need to be as smart about sleep,” Rosekind once said, “as they are about diet and exercise.”

Emphasis mine.


Workout of the Day
In teams of two, with only one teammate working at any time, complete three sets for max reps of:
3 Minutes of Pull-Ups
Rest 2 Minutes
3 Minutes of Thrusters (95/65 lbs)
Rest 2 Minutes
3 Minutes of Kettlebell Swings (32/24 kg)
Rest 2 Minutes

Read More

Workout of the Day

TESTING DAY – Please follow prescription and report scores. We use this data to track our athletes’ progress.
Fives sets of:
Back Squat @ 30X0 tempo
Rest 2 minutes
Strict Pull-Ups x Max Reps
Rest 2 minutes

Read More

06 Sep 2011

Magic pills

Gina deadlifts 193 for 3rm

Workout of the Day
Take 15 minutes to build to a heavy Power Clean;
and then,
In 12 minutes, complete as many ladders as possible from 1 to 5 reps of Hang Power Clean, with approximately 75% of your 1-RM Power Clean
(Example – Perform 1 Hang Power Clean, drop the barbell and rest as needed; then perform 2 Hang Power Cleans, drop the bar and rest as needed; then perform 3 Hang Power Cleans, drop the bar and rest as needed; etc…up to 5 Hang Power Cleans, then start again at 1.  If you drop the barbell before you achieve the designated number of reps in that set, you must begin that set over – i.e., if you drop the bar on your fourth attempt of your set of 5, you must begin the set of 5 again from 0.)

Read More

Workout of the Day
Five sets of:
Back Squat x 3-5 reps
Rest 30 seconds
Pull-Ups x Max Reps
Rest 3 minutes;
and then,
In teams of two, with only one team member working at a time, complete three rounds each of:
30 Double-Unders
20 Walking Lunge Steps with a kettlebell

Rob asks, in response to my mention that I’ve done multiple workouts per day the last two days: “What do you think about multiple WODs in a day?”

Here is my slightly edited response:

I’ve always been against multiple wods a day.  I think for 99% of people, they are unnecessary.  I doubt I’ll do it for any extended period of time.  As a recreational athlete, I’m pretty happy with the results I have from my very erratic and low volume wods that I have done till now.  I am usually getting 2 wods a week in, 3 wods a week has been a good week for me to this point (Note: This is since opening the gym in 2008.  When I started CF in ’06, I did one wod a day for 3 days, took one day rest, repeatedly.  Probably for 2 years).

Multiple wods in a day are best when working different muscle groups, and particularly for working on skill work.  For instance, after doing a wod, could I mess around with kipping toes to bar or L-sits a few hours later?  Sure.  These are things that can’t be done for very long, don’t impact negatively the various energy systems, and don’t fatigue the Central Nervous System.  You can work on skill movement, which is low intensity as much as you want to.

 Now, for someone who is just CrossFitting for their personal health and fitness, I recommend the shortest possible workouts, at the highest possible intensity. Yes, a single 40 yard dash would meet that criteria, but it wouldn’t create a physiological adaptation, which is what we want.

 So how much can you workout? Check your intensity. If you are crushing workouts, maintaining a high work rate, then go ahead. If your times or results are slipping 20, 30% it’s probably time for a rest.

 This is also taking for granted that your sleep, nutrition, and stress levels are already dialed in. If you aren’t sleeping enough (8 hours for most) and aren’t eating clean, then I wouldn’t consider multiple workouts a day.

 I was able to get pretty respectable CrossFit results with just a few wods a week. Mixing in multiple wods a day, taking even a full week off for recovery, all of these things are a part of constant variance in your exercise program, and have a place within CrossFit. But you still have to be smart about it. 

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