The Goat WOD

Within the past four weeks, we’ve run the ‘Goat WOD’ as one of our daily workouts, twice. The format for this session is simple: Pick two ‘Goats’ (movements you struggle with or don’t have yet) and alternate them across a 20-minute clock. The intent is to refine or gain new skill in an area that needs work, so that when you return to the gym, you’re able to do more (or to be more efficient).

You won’t find this kind of workout at other gyms. That’s because most fitness programs are set up around the concept of EXERCISE, which is physical activity done for it’s own sake. At CFDV, we don’t ‘exercise’ (well, maybe during Bootcamp we do!).. We TRAIN, which is physical activity performed for the purpose of satisfying a long-term goal.

If your long-term goal is to develop a broad base of physical capabilities, then you need to work your Goats. You need to acquire the skills that allow workouts to become challenging, and to take meaning.

A quick example of this in practice is the difference between two athletes doing the benchmark workout ‘Fran’. The athlete performing full kipping pull-ups is the one that’s on the floor at the end of the session! The athlete who did ring rows worked hard, but the effort delivered is simply no match for the kips. To be clear - I’m not trying to shame anyone here.. But unless the athlete with the ring rows is ACTIVELY SEEKING kipping pull-ups (and eventually gains them), then the long-term results will be a fraction of what they could be.

Take a look at the pyramid to the right. This is Greg Glassman’s ‘Theoretical Development of an Athlete’ and it serves as a great model for your road map in CrossFit.

First, work on your nutrition. Provide yourself with quality fuel, reduce your chances of chronic disease and get your body composition in line with your genetic blueprint (i.e. lose the extra pounds).

Second, develop your lungs. Gain or improve the ability to run, row and bike. Develop your metabolic engine so you can do work, for a sustained period.

Third, develop body control. Start with the basics: squats, pushups and chins. Progress to box jumps, pistols, handstands and then to levers and muscle-ups. Have confidence moving your body.

Fourth, get strong. Develop and improve your deadlift, squat and press. Clean and jerk your bodyweight. Work unilaterally and bilaterally, across a wide range of equipment.

Finally, put it all together in your ‘sport’. Yours might be basketball, soccer or hockey. Or maybe it’s CrossFit or lifting competitions. Or, it could be that your sport is keeping up with your kids in the backyard or taking long walks with your dog. Regardless of the goal, the approach (i.e. CrossFit) will improve or enhance your execution of any physical activity.

Back to the Goat WOD.. This is your opportunity to work on the things that make this pyramid wider and taller. How much quicker will you achieve your goal if you have better conditioning? Maybe you can use running, or burpees, or rowing during the Goat WOD, as one of the two movements..? How about gymnastics? Practice kipping, or toes-to-bar, or air squats. Need strength? Throw in a heavy clean or squat. The choice is yours!! When choosing movements, think strategically about your current abilities and how they line up with the long-term goal. Attacking the weaknesses will deliver a greater return than if you chose to reinforce your strengths. And work with your coach. They see you all the time and can help you decide on what to prioritize. You joined our gym because you wanted great coaching - take advantage of it!

Kelly Tobin (longtime Early Bird CFDV athlete) said this about CrossFit: ‘CrossFit is a lot more fun when you’re good at it’. I think this quote directly underscores why the Goat WOD is a staple in our gym. The workout makes you improve what you suck at. And it’s ok, because we all suck at something!

Transformation Tuesday - Kathy Molloy

All of our transformation stories are special, because each one is unique and intensely personal. There are many paths to success, but all involve self-discovery, hard work and consistency.

Kathy Molloy has been a member at CrossFit DelVal for over four years (and before that for several years at another high-intensity gym). Recently, she had a ‘moment-of-truth’ where she realized that she had allowed several key lifestyle habits to back slide. Kathy decided to join our Amplify! Nutrition Fall Reboot challenge and improve her eating habits, for four weeks.

The results were immediate and noticeable: Kathy lost 11 lbs (14 on the gym scale!) and 4.5 points on the BMI scale. All in FOUR WEEKS. This, folks, is tremendous progress.

I sat down with Kathy and asked her a few questions about her journey:

What have you done differently over the past month?

Over the summer I felt I was going through the motions but with no intensity at the gym plus eating and drinking whatever I wanted. When I decided to get my head into it I made small changes at first, cleaned up my eating for a couple of weeks. Then I started Amplify with Jacki and decided to go ‘full on’ for 28 days and see if I could see a visible difference. I ate clealyn and added extra workouts with the "big kids" after the 630am class. Within a week I was feeling a difference!

How did you get ‘re-motivated’ to work on nutrition?

When I got back from Nashville in August I was horrified when I stepped on the scale, and that was it! And honestly I didn’t need to step on the scale, I was constantly feeling bloated.

Any tips and tricks you learned that others might find useful?

I have found, for me, I need to keep certain things in my diet or I feel "deprived" and then I have an easier time quitting. A small amount of milk in my morning tea, a diet coke a couple of times a week if I really wanted one (down from 7-8/day so that’s not bad). I moved the couple of “junk food” items I have to my pantry in my basement so I have to make a concerted effort to “cheat”.

Congratulations, Kathy! I hope your story is inspiring to all of our athletes, especially those experienced folks who are ‘going through the motions’. It’s never too late to clean up your nutrition!

Heavy-Light-Medium for Strength Gains

Our Barbell Club coaches are often asked to program custom strength workouts for our athletes, as many people need to get stronger for CrossFit. Many of these athletes are no longer ‘novices’ in the traditional sense, so we have to get creative. Heavy-Light-Medium is a training methodology that you can use to get additional strength gains for a considerable amount of time!

First, let’s define what a ‘novice’ trainee is and how he or she should approach training. A novice trainee is defined by their ability to recover and adapt between each session. So, if that trainee squats on Monday, he or she can recover and add more weight to the bar on Wednesday, and again on Friday. This is a GREAT time in an athletes training cycle, because they PR each and every session! But like all good things, novices gains will eventually slow and the trainee will need to ‘graduate’ to something more nuanced.

For novice barbell trainees, we recommend a linear progression (LP) program like Starting Strength, which uses progressively heavier weights each session to drive results. An example of this program in action (squats only) would look something like this:

Monday - Back Squat three sets of five reps @ 150lbs
Wednesday - Back Squat three sets of five reps @ 155lbs
Friday - Back Squat three sets of five reps @ 160lbs

We repeat this pattern until the trainee can’t continue adding weight to the bar. It’s really simple, but it won’t work forever, as the stress of the workout cannot be recovered from in time for the next session. And this style of linear progression is very mentally and emotionally challenging, trying to get psyched up to go heavy EVERY session. Linear progression programs like this only last for about 2-3 months before a switch is required.

This is where Heavy-Light-Medium comes in. HLM allows us to arrange stress across a full week, instead of session-to-session. This allows the trainee to deliver enough stress to push progress, and allows enough time between hard workouts so as to adequately recover.

Here’s an example of HLM, again for squats:

Monday - Back Squat FIVE sets of five reps @ 150lbs
Wednesday - Back Squat TWO sets of five reps @ 135lbs
Friday - Back Squat FOUR sets of THREE reps @ 165lbs

Compare the total number of sets for this example: LP uses nine while HLM uses eleven. And while Monday is REALLY hard, Wednesday is less volume and less weight (a light day). Friday, while overall the heaviest weight of the week, is a ‘medium’ stressor because we’re only asking the athlete to do triples, instead of fives. Another nice thing about Friday is that the athlete gets a chance to push the relative intensity on the bar with a heavier squat. The total WEEKLY stress is still high enough to drive progress, but the only crazy day is Monday.

Another way to program HLM involves the use of movement varieties on the light or medium days, as a way to tease out different (i.e. lower) levels of stress. Consider the overall stress of a front squat or a pause squat.. Those movement varieties force the athlete to use less weight, because of less muscle mass involved (front squat) or via the removal of the bounce (pause squat). An athlete could simply program those movements in place of the big scary back squat and instantly have a lower stress day.

Oh, by the way: this is very similar to the way that we program for our CrossFit athletes. In CrossFit, the palette of movements and implements is bigger, but it’s basically the same principle - constantly vary sets, reps, loading and density while increasing the stress gradually. The interplay between training volume (i.e. sets and reps) and intensity (i.e. weight on the bar) is often the critical factor that allows for continued progress. Athletes need BOTH, and management of these variables becomes more nuanced as training age progresses.

Want to play around with HLM? Andy Baker has written a lot of good info on this topic. Need more help? Talk to a Barbell Club Coach (Amy, Justin or Rob) and we’ll give you a hand.

Transformation Tuesday: Jaclyn Jagodinski

We have a lot of expectant Mothers who’ve trained through their pregnancies here at DelVal. And most of the time, they bounce back from childbirth QUICKLY. This week’s Transformation Tuesday is no different, regaining her pre-pregnancy fitness in just a few short months. Congratulations to Jaclyn Jagodinski!

How long ago was your son born? 

Jason is just over 10 months old! Time goes by really quickly, I feel like just yesterday I was romping around the gym with a big ole belly!

When did you begin training after he was born? 

It took me about two months to come back to CrossFit. I joined LA Fitness after the first six weeks because truthfully, I was so nervous to come back to CFDV. I felt weak, slow and super intimated even though the 6:30am crew were hounding me to come back! Once I came back the support was amazing - no one judged me. I’ll be honest though, it was really hard. I felt stronger at 30 weeks pregnant than I did at six months postpartum and that was a hard thing to grasp but I just had to keep training!

What did you focus on when you re-entered the gym? 

I was determined to get my kipping pull-ups back! When I started, like many, I couldn’t do any and worked my as* off to get them! Around week 23 of my pregnancy, they disappeared and I thought I would never be strong enough to do that again….ever… and it was heartbreaking. I came back to the gym and started over with ring rows and before I knew it, I was back up over the bar…I cried with joy!

Have you done anything differently with your nutrition? 

Of course! I tried to stay very healthy during my pregnancy, I don’t think I even had ice cream! But, my genetics got the best of me and let’s just say I gained more than the recommended 25-35lbs. I grew up very overweight and have struggled for a long time, it wasn’t until after college that I really started to value and understand nutrition, not just the fad diet side of it. I had to work my butt off to get back in shape and spent a LOT of time envious of my friends who slipped back into skinny jeans after they left the hospital.

After I was about five months postpartum I did the Amplify! Program and Jacki really helped me refocus.  I was still nursing and she was super sensitive to that but still pushed me to fuel my body. I think I lost about 8 pounds on the program but during my entire postpartum journey I have lost over 50lbs. Only 6lbs of it was my baby!…HAHA

How do you balance your family, job and training? 

Okay, so this is where it gets REAL. This part of it is SO HARD if anyone tells you it is easy they are lying! I am the head of marketing at a software company in Wayne and my wonderful husband is a police officer, so his shift work and my work/travel schedule really suck. I had to start going to 5:15 am class and wow is that early and when you have to wake up all night to feed a baby, you’re basically dead. I did this because I wanted to stick to my goals.

I try to get to CFDV at least 4 days a week and if I can’t make any of the classes because my husband is working 14 hours I make sure to do something at home. The 6:30 am crew surprised me with a jogging stroller during my pregnancy so I spent a lot of time jogging down toward the gym and just rocking that Broomile [our mile run course] with my baby. Just this week I ran the Broomile in 8:25 and was shocked and so proud… I guess it’s a little easier without a stroller!

Do you have any advice for expectant mothers about training & fitness? 

Yes, I do.  No matter what, just make it happen. CFDV is where is spend my “me time”. I show up when my baby and my husband sleep and I do this because I want to! Being happy and healthy for your family is so important but being happy and healthy for yourself is priceless.

Also, this “balance” stuff is really hard. Show yourself grace whenever you can…new Mom or not!

Any other comments or thoughts? 

Thank you!

Our Free Trial Workout

A consistent piece of feedback we get from our joiners is that they often delay starting, for months and sometimes years. ‘I’ve been stalking your website forever!’ is a common refrain. Most (mistakenly) believe that they need to ‘get fit’ before they begin. This couldn’t be further from the truth! The most important variable when starting a fitness regime is CONSISTENCY. Can you workout 3,4 or even 5 times a week, on the regular? Can you curb your sugar and alcohol usage? Can you get the sleep required to recover? Do you have a network of people who are ‘in the know’ about your fitness aspirations and are willing to support you? These are, in my opinion, the REAL things that joiners should be worried about. Trust me when I say that once the bell rings and the workout starts, no one cares that you’re scaling the weight or doing Ring Rows instead of Pull-ups.

At CrossFit DelVal, we host a free CrossFit workout for all of our new athletes. This workout is scheduled one-on-one with a CFDV Coach, during quiet times in the gym. The workout session lasts one hour and breaks down as follows:

0:00 - 15:00 - Meet the trainer and sit down in the office. Discuss fitness background and goals. Talk about the client’s ideal fitness outcomes and work through potential roadblocks.

15:00 - 30:00 - Coach the athlete through the movements used in the workout. Resolve any technical issues and suggest workarounds, if necessary. Explain the workout and discuss strategy.

30:00 - 40:00 - Perform the workout, which is:

On an 8-minute clock, Row 500m. With time remaining, complete as many rounds and reps as possible of: 12 Russian Kettlebell Swings (35lbs for guys and 26lbs for ladies) and 7 Burpees.

40:00 - 45:00 - Cool down from the workout, stretch, and re-enter the office.

45:00 - 60:00 - Answer questions about CrossFit, the gym or any related fitness subject.

We’ve run our free CrossFit workouts the same way for ~8 years. The workout is a keeper - it’s scalable, simple to teach, safe for beginners and most importantly, a great demonstration of our program and it’s efficacy. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Firebreather or a Coach Potato: this thing is powerful and FUN.

How do we modify the workout? If you’re already fit, we might increase the weight of the kettlebell or increase the number of reps (or both). If you’re just getting started, we usually lower the number of reps or modify the range-of-motion of the Burpee. The ‘point’ of the workout is to demonstrate the program and how it might help meet a fitness goal. It’s to show the client how we work and about our gym culture. It’s NOT to impress the client with how hard we can push (anyone can do that!). There is no puking allowed and you WILL be able to walk up steps tomorrow.

If this process runs well, we set our clients up for a lifetime of success by introducing them to varied functional movements, calibrated to their physical limits. Once a prospective athlete joins our team, we gently knock on those limits until we establish new boundaries. Each workout is an opportunity to expand their margin of experience and get them just a tiny bit fitter. This is a long road with a distant horizon. Our Free Trial Workout is Step One.

CrossFit can be a life-changing pursuit, if you allow it to be. If you’re interested in giving it a try, you can book a Free Trial workout, just like the one described above. We promise to treat you well and not to ‘sell’ you. We don’t have to, because CrossFit sells itself.

Athlete of the Month - Dominic Ervin

A staple of our ‘Get Lit, Stay Lit’ young athlete group, Dominic Ervin is our Athlete of the Month! Dom is seen in our CrossFit classes as well as the Dungeon, where he is busy refining his Olympic Lifts for his next competition. Read onwards for more of his story!

You spend a lot of time developing and working on your Olympic lifts, how do you balance CrossFit as well? Do you do any additional conditioning outside of CrossFit to maintain your lungs?

I have a very tight schedule every week, between going to school full time, my three jobs, and my training for my upcoming competition in December. I try to work on different mechanics and skills after I train my lifts. Balancing CrossFit in my routine is very difficult at the moment, but I try to throw it in there 2-3 times a week if I can. If I can’t fit CrossFit into my schedule, I’ll go to my other gym after work (at 9pm) with my brother and do all of my accessory work. I’ll also hop on the treadmill for a half hour and do various speed intervals.

You’ve made recent changes in your nutrition and how you perform. What encouraged you to do that? Do you have any tips for others who are trying to cut weight? What have you found that allows you to stick to your diet?

In February of last year, I decided I wanted to get into shape. I weighed 235 pounds during my first year of college. I knew I was going to be playing baseball for Delaware County Community College and I was not in good shape for college baseball especially being a pitcher. I also had a weight loss competition at my work going on at the time. I was hitting my other gym every day for 2 hours just lifting and doing some cardio. I started meal prepping my lunches for school with chicken, rice and veggies while also switching between steak. This worked out for me while I lost 20 pounds in 3 months. I then won the contest at my work. My tips for others is to work your hardest and it will come to you. Weight loss doesn’t happen overnight as we all wish it would. You have to put in the work to see the results. I’ve found that making my food every Sunday night for the week helps me stick to my diet. I label my bowls to count all of the macros so I can log it into MyFitnessPal. If you don’t have that app I recommend that you get it now.

Tell us about your friend Justin and his role in your journey..?

After I lost the 20 pounds I decided I wanted to push myself even further. I’ve known my boy J Money Marriott since 6th grade. Justin and I used to be the big kids on the basketball team and baseball team. I knew Justin lost a lot of weight with CrossFit so I told him I wanted to try it. I came in on a hot day during May and did the intro workout with kettlebells and burpees and I wanted to die. From that day on I was hooked! I had Justin sign me up and I started doing CrossFit everyday. I went on to lose more weight but also gained strength. I was squatting more than I was able to at 190 pounds from what I could do when I was 235 pounds. This made me like CrossFit even more even though I was scaling about 90% of the workouts.

I did the partner snatch/clean/deadlift climb with Justin in July of 2017 and that is when I got into Olympic lifting. I started going to Barbell Club (slide if you’re tryna get strong) every Wednesday and Saturday while also working on my technique before and after CrossFit classes. So shout out to Justin for getting me to become a Olympic lifting athlete!

What has been your proudest fitness accomplishment?

I’ll give you one for CrossFit and one for Oly lifting. So for my Crossfit accomplishment it’s the fact that I never saw myself as being able to do any of the workouts that I’ve seen people doing before I started doing CrossFit. Once I started, with tons of practice I am able to do about all of the ‘RX’ movements. The one thing that I struggle with still are the double unders. I prove that white men can’t jump haha!

With my lifts I am hoping to be snatching 200+ by December. I recently just hit a 190 block snatch at about 180 pounds. If you are tryna get strong, give my boy J Money a call and he’ll give you that top of the line programming.

Do you have a favorite workout? What is your least favorite workout?

My favorite workout would have to be Murph. Although it is a very tough workout, it keeps you moving for a long period of time and it pushed me way past my limits. Never would I have thought that I’d be able to do a mile run, 100 pullups, 200 pushups, 300 squats, and another mile run in a weighted vest. My body hurts just talking about it!

My least favorite workout is anything with double unders.

Outside of CrossFit and oly lifting, do you have any other hobbies?

My hobbies outside of the gym include hanging out with my friends, sleeping, eating, playing baseball, and taking long walks on the beach with my girlfriend.

You’re still in college? What is your major? Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Yes, I am technically in my 3rd year of college but I’m my second year with my current major. I’m a Early Childhood Education Major at DCCC. I will be transferring to West Chester University next fall. In 10 years, I hope to be a 3rd to 5th grade teacher. My passion to be a teacher is to make sure every child gets a great education and to better themselves in and out of the classroom.

What is one thing that people might not know about you?

One thing that people don’t know about me is that I have a big fish tank with 10 fish, 2 turtles in a turtle tank, and 3 hermit crabs in another tank.