Category Archives: General

General Info and Announcements

Member Stories – Elly Raulin

Well hello there, my name is Elly and I love CrossFit.  My tale is like most others you have read.  I wanted to better myself and get more in shape but hadn’t been able to do so on my own.

I was always active in high school and college, participating in Track and Cross Country.  I loved the team atmosphere and social side of working out.

After college, I stayed active but was finding it harder to stay motivated – especially when it came to strength training.  My workouts started to plateau or decline.  I had tried lifting before and thought it was not for me.  So I ran and ran, and, when that got boring, I ran up hill.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t really seeing or feeling the results I wanted.  Something was missing.  Then at the end of 2015 I found CrossFit, specifically the wonderful world of CrossFit Recursive.

I had heard of CrossFit before but never thought it was for me or something I would grow to love.  I was a runner!  I did cross country and track; I don’t lift and do gymnastics… Not just I don’t but I can’t. Right?

have never been so happy to be wrong.  The first day I walked into CrossFit Recursive Coach Vivian greeted me with so much excitement and spunk that it was almost a physical sensation.  She had a lot of coffee that day. We talked and, by the end, I thought I was already a part of the gym the way Viv joked around and chatted with me like she already knew me.

At the beginning, I would come to the gym with my head down thinking this was like any other workout spot – you come in, lace up, work out, and go home.  At other gyms I went to, you were there to work out, not hang out.  Again I was wrong.

Everyone greeted me and wanted to get to know the new member of their community.  That right there is what told me this was going to be different and that I was never going to leave.

The community, friendship, and support of Recursive is what I love.  Sure the workouts are great, and I am hands down in the best shape of my life, but what has me coming back time after time is the people.

I will be moving soon to a new house (in Waunakee) and my friend asked if I was going to find a new CrossFit gym…. “Why would I” was my reply.  I never even thought about it.

There might be a gym closer but it is not MY gym.  I have been a part of the Recursive family for just over a year now and couldn’t imagine a better place to work out.  I’m staying in shape, achieving new goals, watching others improve and succeed and all while meeting new people and making friendships.

Like many people, I have struggled for a long time with body image issues and self-confidence.  The CrossFit workouts and sense of community have been a huge help in working to overcome those problems.

Some of those demons may never go away, but I will continue to fight them into silence and submission with my successes at CrossFit.  For every handstand pushup and PR, they get a little quieter.  The feeling of setting the next goal and having the coaches and my fellow members cheering me on is exhilarating.

I am thankful every day to the community and support this gym has created with its members.  It has helped me to try new things and push myself harder in my workouts.  I love showing up for class and always leave happier and stronger.  It is another home. So thanks for reading and I will see you at the box!

Grateful for the Recursive Community – Written by Coach Valerie

About two weeks ago, I texted Nikole about my experience dropping in at a gym, and she said “Hey, why don’t you write about it?” Fast-forward two weeks and I still haven’t, and I know exactly why.

This post will be far more emotional and personal than I typically share, which makes me uncomfortable: like most of CrossFit.

It’s impossible to dive into this post without disclosing some things about myself. As an adult, I have moved a lot. The last almost six years in Wisconsin is the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere as an adult.

The first move was so hard and finding friends as an adult, without school, is a skill.  I’m an extrovert in the truest sense of the word and I crave human company, so I’m pretty good at being friendly. I try very hard to extend this friendliness to the new people in a crowd. I immediately introduce myself and likely invite that person to do something.

You may have noticed at the gym, I almost always pair myself with the drop-ins or new members. It’s really important to me that people feel welcomed in any situation. In fact, I probably go over the top. It’s not unusual for me to meet someone and invite them to brunch the next weekend or to join my running group, or to JUST SPEND MORE TIME WITH ME. Okay, the point has been made.

I carry this trait with me when I drop in at other gyms. I travel a fair amount for work and it’s not unusual for me to pop into a gym wherever I am. Most of the time, my friendly nature gets a lukewarm reaction from regular members. I get it. I’m dropping in, they will likely never see me again, and it might not be a good use of time. Most of the time, I’m nonplussed by the whole thing.

Two weeks ago, I dropped in at a gym in my hometown of Chicago. I was home for a week because my mom is currently undergoing treatment for cancer and I was helping take care of her. To be fair, my mom doesn’t need much caring for; she’s a trooper.

On my first day in town, I went to the gym at 9:00am and explained my situation and that I would like to drop in a couple of times that week. The staff were friendly and the rate for the week was reasonable, so it seemed like a go. The time is important: it was 9:00 am. My mom’s treatment began at 7:15, and it’s Chicago, which meant a 5:30 wake up call to battle traffic to get to the hospital on time. I tend to be an early riser, and at 9:00am, my facilities are still fully in-tact and I’m at functioning on all cylinders. I left the gym really looking forward to a workout in the evening.

Fast-forward. After I left the gym, I drove to Racine to complete an evaluation on an offender in the jail there. I tried to work my actual job as much as possible during this week at home.

By the time I rolled into the gym for the 5:30pm class, I was no longer at my best. I was tired and hungry, hangry if you will. More importantly, as I’ve discovered over these weeks of treatment, by the end of the day, my emotions are at the surface. Despite a really good prognosis, cancer is f-ing scary and I’m terrified every single day. It’s hard to be at my best when my emotions feel more intense.

I arrived early, like any good Recursive athlete would, having been taught by Dirk and Nikole the importance of good etiquette when dropping in. There were a lot of things that felt wrong at that point.

First, I couldn’t figure out the programming online, which evidently dovetailed into some of the warmup, that I just totally missed. Second, several people commented on the size of the class, noting the classes never run that large.

We began to WOD and no one asked me my name or how I stumbled into the gym. It was kind of like I wasn’t even there.  To be completely fair, my heightened emotions also prevented me from introducing myself to other people.

When it came time to grab barbells, there were no women’s barbells available. And not one person offered to give me theirs or help me find one. I’m not much of a princess, but I was stunned. The coach provided me with a men’s barbell, but he had no idea my skill level to know if I could handle a warmup with that weight (I know it’s only 10 pounds, but still).

Later, he presented me with a short women’s barbell; good thing we weren’t snatching. In my head, I had a very Dorothy moment. There’s no place like home. I missed our community, knowing that such a thing would never happen at Recursive. Perhaps, had I been in a more centered place, I wouldn’t have been bothered by this seemingly minor occurrence, but I was.

Overall, the workout was fine, and I went back for a second day. The gym is a mile from my parents’ house and I’ve been back home twice since dropping in, and felt no inclination to return to the gym.

This experience was a reminder that I’m grateful for our little space in the world and that on any given day, we’re all carrying our burdens to the gym. It’s helpful to lighten the load with a friendly face. And please, introduce yourself to our drop-ins and make them feel at home. Their journey to Recursive could have been a rocky one.

Member Stories – Todd Kinsman

Hi. My name is Todd and I do CrossFit. Honestly, I still find it hard to believe that I do CrossFit.

I didn’t even know what CrossFit was when I came to the gym. Three years ago I set out to find a fitness program that would help me get in shape in time for my wedding (2 months away at the time… in 2014) and I stumbled upon CrossFit.

Because I’ve always been an ‘indoor kid’ I didn’t realize that CrossFit was also a sport that had an increasingly bigger following—I just wanted to have my pizza and eat it too. I came because I was told by a friend that there was a gym downtown offering a free class and that I should check it out if I wanted to get into shape. So that’s what I did.

I signed up for the free class (member number 6, whoot whoot!) and met Nikole and Dirk for the first time. (That’s a photo from the day we all met!) They were kind people who were passionate about fitness in a way that wasn’t intimidating. I felt welcomed to the community and immediately signed up for more classes. About 6 months later I realized I joined a sport but it was too late to back out, I was hooked.

It’s been over 3 years since I signed up and I’m so happy I did. Recursive has been a constant in my life that has not only given me a place to achieve my fitness goals, but also a sense a community and belonging during busy times, sleepy mornings, and exhausted evenings.

Watching others work hard to learn a new movement or reach a new PR has kept me motivated to set similar goals for myself. In the first year I tended to scale most of the workouts but as time passed the awesome coaches have worked with me and showed me techniques to build the strength and flexibility needed to be successful in the WOD movements.

Thanks to CrossFit and the Recursive family, I’m in the best shape of my life. I even enjoy working out and finding new fitness challenges. Last year my goal was to learn how to do a ring muscle up, and I actually did it.

I’m still not great at ring muscle ups but it was a wonderful reminder that the daily work, however tedious, can really pay off. There are so many lessons in the gym that I have applied to my daily life, helping me succeed and generally be a better human and because of that I’m grateful for Recursive and it’s many amazing members.

Member Stories – Jennifer Madden

I am over 40, overweight, have a knee injury – and I CrossFit.  Nine months ago, I was looking for an exercise program that would support my weight loss efforts.  I knew about CrossFit.  My sister was addicted.  I endured hours of conversations revolving around the WOD, her latest PR, her new Olympic lifters, etc.

She encouraged me to check it out so I googled CrosFfit affiliates in Madison.  CrossFit Recursive (CFR) popped up as the closest affiliate.  As I poked around their website, I saw they had a New You: Six Week Challenge program that was geared towards beginners.  I signed up. It was a no brainer.

Of course, the day of the first session I was questioning the ‘no brainer’ part of my decision.  When I showed up to CFR, there was a group of women sitting in the waiting area nervously making small talk.  What I loved immediately about the group was that it was composed of women all ages and all sizes. We were all stepping outside our comfort zone.

Over the course of six weeks, we were introduced to the various CrossFit movements, a nutrition program and, most importantly, the lingo. I remember the first time we did sit-ups I couldn’t believe how bad my abs hurt – they hurt for days!  But each week I kept going back and I wasn’t alone.  Slowly but surely friendships developed. We supported and encouraged each other as we entered the unknown.  “She wants us to do what?!?”  By the time the six weeks were over, I had dropped 10 more pounds, developed muscles I didn’t know I had and made new friends.

The 6 week challenge was over.  Now what?  Do I dare consider attending the regular CrossFit classes?  There was a group of us who really wanted to continue CrossFit but were nervous about attending the “Big girl” classes.  They seemed so intimidating anytime we entered the main room during a WOD – barbells being dropped, music blasting, people were chalking their hands (why would we need chalk?), etc.

Our answer was to pick a class time we could all attend so we had each other to lean on during the class.  During our first class, everyone was so welcoming and encouraging.   The coaches were awesome.

I remember one day my CrossFit partner-in-crime and I were staring nervously at the bars we were expected to hang on to.  The coach came up to us – clearly aware we were ready to dart out of the building the first moment we could – and talked us through the WOD and gave us options to scale the movements.  Lo and behold, we actually were able to hang off the bar and lift our knees at the same time – who knew?

Every time I finished a workout, I amazed myself at what I could do.  I would get so nervous before a WOD but then I did it.  What a great feeling!  Even though I had to scale almost everything we did, I quickly learned that no matter your fitness level the WODs are still hard for everyone – scaled or not.

The other thing I learned is to get over myself.  It is my body and my workout.  I simply cannot compare myself to anyone else.

Now that I was hooked, my sister suggested I do a CF competition because it would be a “good fitness goal”.  I signed up for Festivus, a competition geared to the novice and intermediate CrossFitter.  As I signed up, I thought “What am I doing?”  Then I looked at the workouts and thought “I can’t even do some of the moves! Seriously!  What am I doing?”

Box step ups were my nemesis.  I couldn’t step up on a 20 inch box to save my life and now I was going to do a competition that had them in one of the workouts.  It was then I decided I needed to get a one-on-one training.

I started working with Coach Aaron in January.  The competition was in April.  Four months to get ready.  Initially, Aaron did a base line assessment and determined a week by week training plan that would build my strength and increase my mobility.

I still didn’t believe I would ever be able to do box steps ups but then I did them – and I did them after only a handful of sessions.  I couldn’t believe it!  The best part was the excitement from Coach Aaron.  He immediately said ‘We need to share this with everyone’.

At first, I was embarrassed to share it.  It was such a basic move for most people.  The support I received from CFR was overwhelming and speaks to what I love the most about CrossFit – the community! The community at Recursive is what keeps me motivated to continue to show up.

The week leading up to the competition, I kept thinking about the workouts and I would get nervous and question my sanity.  However, the day of the competition I was surprisingly calm.  I was there to celebrate my accomplishments from the past four months.  I was now able to physically do all the movements.

The energy of that day was amazing.  It was exciting to watch people all shapes, sizes and ages compete.  There were five of us from CFR participating in the competition.  I loved that we were there to support and encourage each other.  It made the day so rewarding to watch each of us give it our all.  Participating in Festivus turned out to be a really good decision – and I even PR’d my clean.  (Yes, I speak the CrossFit lingo now.)

I am amazed at what my body can do now that I wouldn’t have been able to consider doing this time last year.  CrossFit has been life changing for me.  I can’t wait to see what I will be able to do this time next year!

Member Stories – Jason Phipps

After my daughter was born in August of 2015, I spent the next year being stressed out with a job change, sleepless nights, and having a borderline horrible diet. I tried to exercise when I could, but I wasn’t focused and had no defined goals on what I was trying to accomplish. This caused me to continue putting on weight and feeling sorry for myself, until I was up late with my daughter and the Crossfit Games happened to be on ESPN. Probably like many people, I thought that the Games was Crossfit.

I assumed you had to be in great shape and have an affinity for going shirtless to be a Crossfitter, so I never considered joining a gym until that night. I talked to my wife about it the following morning, and made a ‘No Sweat Into’ appointment for later that day.

What struck me the most was that Recursive didn’t seem like any other gym I had seen. I have had memberships at a few globo gyms, and those worked like they’re supposed to; go religiously for a month, then quit going and continuing paying until your contract is up. I remember being surprised at how minimalist Recursive was compared to other gyms I had joined before.

Still a little nervous, I decided to sign up for Foundations just to see what it was all about. The six classes were an eye opener, and a great avenue into full classes. I had done some Olympic lifting in high school, so I was familiar with some of those movements. What really stood out was how difficult moving my body weight around was. I had never really done that before, so I realized pretty quickly what my strengths and weaknesses were.

Fast forward to my first few classes, and I finally started to understand what Recursive was all about. I naturally felt intimidated my first full class because I was the oldest person there by about ten years, and overhead squats and running were on the menu that morning.

Like most newbies, I felt like I needed to keep up with the rest of the class and I went out way too hot. About round 3 of Nancy, I thought about walking out the front door and never coming back because I wasn’t ‘good’ enough. What I didn’t expect was the positivity coming from the other athletes in the gym. I was getting high fives on the run, and was being encouraged by the coach and the others when they finished up. Had I been doing that workout on my own, or with a group that didn’t care about helping others finish, I probably wouldn’t have come back.

The same thing happened on my first Sunday workout. Hot Shots 19 seemed simple enough on paper, but it completely wrecked me. I finished dead last, but even the people that finished 20-25 minutes ahead of me stayed to cheer me on. That’s what kept me motivated and coming back. Finishing that workout finally made me realize that it isn’t about competing with others, it’s about getting better every time you step into the gym.

After a solid five months, I decided to sign up to compete at the Festivus Games this past weekend. I think I needed that because I had been going to class anywhere from 2-4 times per week, but hadn’t really changed my lifestyle habits other than showing up to the gym.

I’ll admit that I was starting to feel a little discouraged when I had to step on the scale during my daughter’s last check-up. Check that, a lot discouraged. I finally decided that I needed to take this seriously, otherwise the money I was spending and pain I was putting myself through each week probably wasn’t worth it.

I made a few changes, including giving up alcohol until the competition was over (roughly 40 days) and completely giving up soda in favor of water. I also made it a point to go to Open Gym on Sundays and work on the WOD’s that made up the Festivus Games. In that 40 days, I dropped about 15 lbs and can now fit into a few pairs of pants/jeans I hadn’t been able to wear in over a year. That’s a great feeling.

I know it might sound cheesy or cliché, but the past eight months have really changed my life. I have a newfound toughness in my work life, and I fully contribute that to having to gut out a few more reps before the clock hits zero.

And though she doesn’t even know it yet, I’m setting a positive example for my daughter that I wasn’t doing before I started at Recursive. Another big part of me getting to the point I have is the support of my wife. She has been unbelievably supportive of me and has probably taken a back seat at times when I want to go to the gym. I think it’s vital to have someone in your corner, and I wouldn’t be making the positive changes I am without her.

Overall, the entire experience has been fantastic, and I hope that anybody that is on the fence when it comes to starting Crossfit takes my story and decides to jump in the deep end. It’s totally worth it.

Recursive’s 28 Day Nutrition Challenge!

The newest offering at Recursive is our nutrition program. Nutrition is at the base of the CrossFit pyramid.  While it’s awesome to be able to do a muscle-up or triple back handspring your way into a room, ultimately, it’s overall well-being that will impact your quality of life the most.

How you fuel your body impacts your current performance and future health. When considering overall wellness, the 23 hours of your life that occur outside of the gym matter more than the time in the gym.

Our 28 day challenge will help you kick-start a healthy diet that’s sustainable much longer than 28 days. Here’s what will happen:

April 1 or 2: Meet with Valerie or Nikole for a 10-15 minute meeting to establish your base line numbers and set goals.

April 2: 1 hour kick off nutrition seminar, during which you’ll receive the challenge outline, meal plans and grocery lists.

After that, you’ll submit your points weekly and at the end of 28 days, we’ll determine a winner. The winner will not be selected based on weight loss, but rather overall participation in the challenge, which includes emphasis on things like drinking water and sleep.

Spoiler Alert: the challenge awards daily points for taking Omega-3 fish oil (more on that next week) and recovery after workouts, so you might want to order those products in advance (SFH Order Form is on the counter right now!)

Having a group of people participate (there’s a Facebook group!) will provide accountability, which will help you reach your goals and provide support when you’d really like a glass of wine (like I do, right now, but I’m not drinking it).

We are even encouraging you to invite your family and friends to participate. (No need to be a Recursive member – nutrition is important for everyone!) Bring the two to three people you are with the most to do the challenge with you – you’ll have some accountability partners and friends to share food and recipes with!

Coach Valerie started on this plan a week ago, to try it out before we implement it. It’s fairly easy to stick to and can be adapted based on your food preferences. In the first week she’s noticed that her energy seems better and she’s already lost five pounds.

Recursive Members – $59
Recursive Friends and Family – $79

You can sign up online to participate in the challenge right now!

Member Spotlight – Kathryn Swartz

My first CrossFit workout? It was a 7 min AMRAP of 7 burpees and 7 air squats.  I remember starting this workout and thinking this isn’t so bad…then after 2 minutes I was hurting something awful. I knew I was about to get my butt kicked by something that seemed so easy at the start.

How did you find CrossFit Recursive? I was a member at a different affiliate, but wanted something closer to home and to work, and saw Recursive was opening. I joined right away, and was the ninth person to join the gym. I still have my member #9 t-shirt.

What has been the most fun so far?  I absolutely love the community and friendships at Recursive.  It has been so welcoming and inspiring to be surrounded by so many wonder people and athletes.

Something we might not know about you? I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Nepal for 2 years…back when I thought it would be a good idea to live without electricity, running water, or a proper toilet for 2 years.

Occupation? Physician

Favorite CrossFit Movement? Deadlifts, or anything else that requires a barbell!

Least Favorite CrossFit movement? Running.  That may be the worst part about Recursive is that since we are on the bike path we inevitably have running in WODs all the time.

Your ideal WOD?  Bear complex or some other barbell heavy WOD.

Greatest CrossFit accomplishment so far? Just keeping at it, trying to show up when I can with busy schedule and kids.

Things that interest you outside of CrossFit?  I like spending time with my two kiddos, gardening, and yoga.

Member Spotlight – Isiah Harris

My first CrossFit workout? Would have to be EMOM I think I did 5 pull-ups 20 push-ups and 20 air squats. I literally almost passed out. I think this is the hardest workout that I had ever done up until that point because the workout was for one hour straight and this was outside of the gym.

How did I find CrossFit Recursive? Well I was looking through an old goals book I had, and on the first page it said start CrossFit training, so that was a goal that I had never done or accomplished. I typed in CrossFit on my phone in Google and CrossFit Recursive was the first one that I found. I read up on it seemed like a pretty fun and  open community so I came in for foundations and I never left. I love the gym!

What has been the most fun so far? I would have to say doing my first competition and being supported by so many members of the gym. Plus me and my partner ranked 13th In The nation in Burpee box jumps!

Something we might not know about you? Well I grow up in foster homes and group homes. Growing up I got into a lot for trouble and I was not always the person I am today. But I’m glad that I went through a lot of those things. It’s helped me a lot and it made me a better person.

Occupation? I’m a used car salesman right now I’m in the process of opening my own dealership. I got my tax ID and my LLC – oh my company name is called MADz Auto. It’s just so hard finding a physical location that matches my needs and the criteria to pass zoning.

Favorite CrossFit movement? That would have to be the Power Clean.

Least favorite CrossFit movement? Double unders definitely! They are just so hard!

Your ideal WOD? Well I like sprints so I would have to say 10 power cleans with like 190lbs, 10 wall balls and a 200m row. A couple rounds of that with the time cap.

Greatest CrossFit accomplishment yet? That would have to be when I clean and jerked 185 or 195 pounds. I was so excited that I almost did my own bodyweight!

Things that interest you outside of CrossFit? I love to play Ultimate frisbee in the summer. I love to snowboard in the winter time. I love to hang out with friends and just have a good time, chill, kick it, be lazy. And I love working on cars and riding motorcycles – especially riding motorcycles.

For Whom The Bell Tolls – by Coach Patrick

Best get excited my Recursive people, it’s a straight up Dr. Dre ring ding dong ring a ding ding dong kind of moment. You might’ve noticed we’ve got a new PR bell hanging up, waiting for the chimes of improvement to rain down upon us from the heavens.
Inscribed on the bell is “Better Than Yesterday” and it symbolizes a whole smorgasbord of things. It represents celebrating and honoring your hard work, day in and out, days where you brought it, days where you didn’t want to go but showed up anyway, days where you were frustrated by where you were, days where you killed it and knew it, and everything in between.

It also represents strength of yourself and the strength of community, ringing that beast isn’t a small feat or a private ceremony, it is owning your dedication and it is shared amongst those fighting along side you, those who want the very best for you just as much as you do.

So it doesn’t matter if you are a single strike timid bell ringer or a farmhand chow time multi-striker or even a Thor’s hammer power ringer… what matters is you recognize what ringing that bell means to you and everyone else who hears it. It is purpose, community pride, tradition, and celebration. I, for one, can’t wait to hear you ring ding dong ring a ding ding dong. Happy WODing you beautiful badasses!
Wait wait wait, there’s more…!? Speaking of pride and tradition… we simply can’t boringly call it the PR bell, I yawn just saying it. So here’s the deal, the winning team of the Intramural Open gets the naming rights to the bell. Anything from Chauncey to The Incredible Bell of Magnanimous Magnitude, it shall forever be known and referred to whatever the winning team deems a perfect fit for the Recursive PR bell, a fixture of all future athletes to strike a chord with this year’s sweat and work poured into the Open.

Community pride and tradition, nailed it, stuck the landing, now go earn some bell strikes and naming bell rights!

Pick This Up, Put It Down – By Coach Patrick

Alright everyone, time to grab some red meat, chalk, weight-belts, tight shorts and loose hoodies, protein powder for dayz, and a favorite picture of your biggest bromance crush!

It’s time to talk about good ole fashioned barbells and weightlifting. However, instead of crushing a heavy PR and sounding off our barbaric war cry (which you should absolutely do) this is geared more towards the etiquette and safety of working around barbells and weights.

Done right, there’s nothing more righteous than getting your lift on; done wrong, it’s a major buzzkill and hazard for you and those around you.

Coaches are around to ensure good form, safety, cues for better movement, celebrating your badassery, and much more, but they can’t be everywhere all the time so the responsibility falls on you and everyone in class to help be accountable when working with weight. So let’s quickly hit some of the things you need to know and practice day in an day out…

1. Empty Lifting Floor Space
This goes for WODs, strength work in the rigs, and lifting from the floor. Make sure all plates, collars, water bottles, invisible friends, real friends, and everything else not properly attached to the barbell is away from where the lift is going to take place.

If you’re working from the rig, a good guideline is to keep any spare plates inside the rig. You may not know it, but every time a plate is left out on the ground in the open space underneath where someone may be lifting, say back squatting for instance, a puppy dies. Don’t do that to puppies.

Also, barbells bouncing off stuff on the floor make for sweet torpedoes into your shins, ankles, back, etc. Spoiler alert: barbell torpedoes generally win against fleshy human meat sacks.

2. Load and Unload Bar Evenly
Symmetry is your best friend. You wouldn’t strict press a barbell with 25 pounds on one side and 10 on the other, unless you straight cray, I mean I don’t know your life. Same rules apply for loading and unloading bar, stay away from cray, load evenly. You throw 10 pounds on one side throw ten on the other. This seems like common sense but is worth the reminder, especially when getting into heavier weights on the barbell.

Fun fact for those interested in physics, a 45 and 25 pound plate on a barbell with an empty opposite side is the perfect threshold to play Russian roulette on whether or not that barbell will jettison up like a catapult.

More spoilers: flying barbell catapults also win against human lifter folk. Point is, add and remove plates evenly, alternating barbell sides as you go.

3. Communicate
Use your words, all the words. If you are partnered up with one or two people, try pre-planning weight changes, roles for loading/unloading, and lifting order to minimize the time the bar isn’t moving.

Once one Sally Squatsalot racks that barbell, Diane Deadliftsaton should be calling out the weight she needs, getting it evenly loaded, and starting the lift. This maximizes the amount of time each person gets to lift and recover because we all love recovery almost as much as the lift. Plus it gives each athlete an individual game plan, we are all different and shouldn’t follow or chase the weights of the person lifting in front of us.

4. Know How to Fail
Here’s something you don’t often hear, failing is awesome. When it comes to lifting, especially in heavy weighted sets and max attempts, failure is the royalty that courts the kingdom. You don’t get better immediately and you don’t improve by staying safely confined in lifts and weights you know you can always hit.

Challenge yourself, go for something that is an intelligent step up for you. If you hit it, fantastical. If you don’t, you’ve just challenged your body in a neurological and muscular way, this is huge for long term improvement.

That being said, know how to bail comfortably and safely. It is completely normal and fine to have the weights you are about to attempt create some anxiety or fear in you. What isn’t completely normal or fine is to let that bar crush you into former human meat mashed pulp. If you are unsure how to bail, ask a coach.

Practice bailing with lighter weights from time to time to recognize what your body may do and what you need to tell it to do in order to get out from under the weight safely. Please oh please don’t let the first time you ever bail be on a crushingly heavy weight. I want you to lift that weight, I want you to succeed in squatting the hell out of it, but if you can’t that day, no big deal, bail from it safely.

5. Be Alert and Aware
Another common sense rule but one, in the excitement of big lifting days, can sometimes get overlooked. You have your station at the rig or floor space, and we’ve already covered being cognizant of what is around you, but it is respectful and ever so safe to know what is going around you at other stations too.

Keep an eye out for other stations and rigs, things on the floor around them, who is lifting and when, etc. A good example of this, if Clark Bigclean is on the platform closest to where all the weights are stacked and he is about to do some work, wait for him to finish or give him a wide berth so you aren’t in any place that puts you or him in any peril.

6. Listen to Your Body
This can be explained in two different yet equally important ways.

The first is pay attention to yourself as you prepare and execute lifts. Many people often overlook the simple fact that heavy weightlifting takes some toll on the body. Not in a “ermehgerd you’re gon die” sort’ve way, but rather the nervous system and bodily taxation that happens under load and stress.

If you’ve been eating nothing or went on a weekend bender, if you’ve slept an hour in the past day or regularly don’t get much sleep, if you are stressed or frustrated, if you changed something major in your life recently, if you’ve been at the gym 12 days in a row, if you’ve done similarly heavy loaded lifts without enough rest days in between, if you’ve been engrossed in binge watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix, or anything else that changes your general routine and recovery, then don’t be surprised when even your warmup feels like lifting a small moon. This isn’t a big deal, but it is something to be mindful of to perhaps alter your percentages to account for the diminished badassery you are bringing into the gym.

Again, no reason forcing for your body to feel like it is going for a one rep attempt at the heaviest thing ever when really you are at 60% (I assure you this can happen from time to time if you’ve never experienced it). Back off/adjust on weight , do work, focus on technique, recover properly, and return to the full graces of your wicked skills when you’ve given yourself a reprieve from the abuse.

Secondly, and you know I am a stickler on this bit, practice good form consistently before you go heavy. At the beginning of this year we did the CrossFit Total, and there were a few I told to not go for the 1RM attempt, instead I had them do working sets of technique work. Why? Because they were brand new to picking up a barbell and their bodies needed time to get used to idea of loaded stress in a specific movement mechanic such as squatting.

This isn’t just for settling into the idea of mobility and technique, but also for the nervous system and neurological response that the increased demand and stimulus weightlifting produces. In short, do it right the first time, be patient and consistent, and the numbers and GAINZ will come.

Well Broseph and Barbella, that’s my time, as always feel free to hit up myself or other coaches with questions. We’re happy to sit ringside whilst you become the undisputed champion of your lifting legacy!