Good morning guys! I am going to jump right into this post because I am super stoked to share this new blog series with you all! I invite you to follow along over the next six weeks as I attack Las Vegas’s  Camp Rhino  6-Week Challenge.

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I should probably begin by stating my reasons for joining this challenge. You guys know that since being back in the states I have been working out in our home gym with a few random drop-ins around town. Most of all, I wanted to find a place that I could be surrounded by like-minded individuals, and it was a priority to find a gym that offered variety. After scoping out a few different places, I stumbled upon Camp Rhino. Camp Rhino not only offers CrossFit, but has multiple boot-camp locations across town (indoors & outdoors), and to top it off, obstacle training. I read into the 6–week challenge and was convinced to join when I realized I had the potential to earn my money back. To join the challenge costs $300. If you attend a total of 24 classes, meet all nutritional requirements, and strive for daily improvements, you get every penny back. This was an incredible incentive!

I attended the initial athlete’s meeting at the beginning of the week and was accompanied by a room full of eager and motivated individuals. There were people that had previously battled cancer, men that were powerlifters but joined the challenge to support their wives, competitive athletes, and people like me, simply looking for a new gym to call home.

Tuesday morning (day 1),  I woke and logged my stats. This was the first time that I have been on the scale since my initial “summer-shredding” weigh-in. I began my cut (before the challenge) at 143 pounds and dropped to where I currently sit at 137 pounds.
Starting Measurements:
• Weight 137#
• Chest 36″
• Waist 28″
• Hips 33.5″
• Glutes: 39″

Once I established my starting point, I laced up my Nanos and to the gym, I went. This was the first CrossFit class that I have attended since leaving Italy at the end of last year & it felt incredible! Days 1 & 2 complete!!

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Now, fast forward three weeks….This week marks the halfway point and I am feeling great! So what is the challenge providing me that was lacking in my previous training program? This is easy,  more intensity. As I mentioned before, Rhino does offer boot camp, obstacle training, and mobility classes, but my focus has been on CrossFit. I still begin my mornings as I have for months now, with a pilates/yoga/core session at home, and then I head to CrossFit. I try to maintain this routine at a minimum of four days a week, and two days a week I focus strictly on isolation training at home in place of going to CrossFit.

As for my diet, my food choices relatively remain the same all year round; however, since beginning this program I have replaced my weekly “treat meal” with just an increased calorie consumption of the foods I already eat (the camp-rhino program allows for a weekly cheat, this is a personal choice). My top carbohydrate sources are whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, with higher-glycemic foods structured around my workouts. I avoid saturated fat and trans fats as much as possible, and I use olive oil 99% of the time when sautéing veggies. I incorporate nuts and seeds at least 3-4x a week and typically include one small avocado a day. As for protein, I have gradually converted to a plant-based diet with the exception of egg whites and the occasional raw sushi roll (this has been a gradual transition since the beginning of this year for a nutritional study. I will share my reasons behind this decision in a separate post).

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So what about my stats? As of this morning, I have lost 3 pounds and a total of 4 inches, which is awesome considering my primary purpose for this program has been to find a new gym to call home; so, tighter abs and glutes are just an added bonus!

That’s just it, I wish I could stress the importance of a healthy, well-balanced diet! If you adhere to healthy eating habits and couple that with a few days of intensity within your training, you are guaranteed to yield results.

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Now here it is, 6-weeks later and I have completed Camp Rhinos 6-Week Challenge!!!!!
I had my final check-in Wednesday afternoon and earned 100% of my money back! If you recall from my first post introducing the challenge, the total cost of the challenge was $300. To earn back your money one must meet the nutrition recommendations, attend 24 classes, and track and log progress stats for 6-weeks.

I reached my lowest weight of the challenge earlier in the week at 131.8 pounds; I chalk this up to the fact that I failed to meet my water intake and woke up a bit dehydrated.  I weighed myself the morning of my final check-in at 133.5 pounds and that was the final weight logged. Overall, I showed a weight loss of 4-pounds and a total decrease of 6-inches. Most importantly, I found a new gym to call home. I collected my $300 dollars and rolled it over to pay for the following two months.

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My plan is to continue with my cut for a few more weeks until Olympia weekend (look for me at the Gorilla Wear booth!) I did allow for a night out this weekend with some friends and indulged with a few gin and tonics and had a veggie-loaded thin crust pizza on Saturday night, but this morning it was back to the grind.

To understand me is to grasp the understanding of my primary passions- Competition and Coaching. My competitive nature stems from the completion of my very first Triathlon many years ago. AFRAID, TERRIFIED, PANICKED. Like a fish out of water.
These are the emotions that led to or produced, great performance.
These emotions created within me, healthy competition. Understanding that fear was my formula for effectiveness, led me to the obsession and marvel of the human body’s capabilities during competition.
TRIATHLONS, DUATHLONS, MARATHONS, ULTRA-THONS, AND OBSTACLE COURSES… my choice of extreme sports due to the mere fact of being solo performances (the competitive element being proposed by and against one’s self). I am driven by fear. Fear of giving anything less than my personal best. Fear of not making the attempt at all. The fear of not finding my best self has to lead to over 20 incredible racing adventures, in five different countries, on three diverse continents. This fear in return yields self-satisfaction, self-glorification, and above all else, self-respect.
Understanding that my athletic success stems not only from hard work, tedious training, and dedication, but as well as self-determination, leads to hard work and dedication within all other aspects of my life.
However, regardless of the preparation…Nothing could prepare me for my greatest adventure, coaching.
ACCOUNTABILITY, CREDIBILITY, AND LIABILITY…Characteristics that accompany this role. It comes with immediate realization, it is more than just the sport. It is more than teaching someone a clean, a jerk, or a Snatch. It’s more than a conditioning challenge or CrossFit. It’s more than being just a coach…It’s mentoring. It’s being a motivator.
Positivity creates confidence. And to believe that you will succeed tends to silence the voice of self-doubt. This for me as a coach is primitive. To instill self-confidence, which in return yields greatness. Enthusiasm not only for the sport but for each individual athlete is part of my formula for success. Getting an athlete to believe in themselves and the desire to achieve prominence is key!
With 20 years of certifications to display, these pieces of paper are mere printouts in frames, stuck on my wall. While they represent knowledge and know-how, they do not possess the power of pronouncing me as a good coach. But….the coffee mugs that read #1 coach and coaches change lives, well, those sources are a significant offering of thanks for accountability and motivation.
I began coaching to hopefully use it as a platform to inspire, but rather I am the one who is inspired. 

I had the wonderful opportunity this week to guest coach at ASD CrossFit, Pordenone, Italy. This Box has been open for roughly eight months and is full of amazing athletes. With most being relatively new to CrossFit, I was unsure what to expect. For their skill/strength training, we programmed a Snatch Progression to a 1RM followed with an EMOM. These athletes are coached by an amazing Olympic Lifting coach and it shows!! Their pulls and progressions were extremely precise and their mobility was exceptional!
I programmed for them a 20:00 AMRAP
20 Wall Balls (16#/20#)
20 Box Jump overs (20″/24″)
10 Clean & Jerks (85#/105#)
10 Burpees
Not only were their movements on point, but they WOW’d me with their endurance!
The determination, drive, and discipline of the athletes are absolutely inspiring! They were such a welcoming group of people, that even with our language barrier, put us at complete ease. I recommend this Crossfit box to anyone traveling through or a local athlete searching for a box..give this one a try!
To show their gratitude, they invited me out to dinner which was an absolute blast- along with the best Tiramisu I have ever tasted! 

Having this experience just justifies yet again to me the comradery among CrossFit and its athletes.

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The law of overload is one of the first principles in exercise physiology, and no resistance program is successful without it. 
The key to building massive, powerful muscles is to increase the training weights you use. Overload must be approached using sound scientific training and common sense. Sure, you can do dumbbell curls while you lunge, but don’t con yourself into believing you are providing any sort of serious overload to your legs. Want real overload? Hit the squat rack. When it comes to making gains and adding size, the first and most obvious way is adding more weight. New Trainees should take advantage of this method. Increased increments of weight for new lifters should progress steadily over a period of two to three months before hitting a plateau.  When plateaus are reached, periods of increased loading come into play. Half-pound plates added to a bench press weekly over the course of a year would equal a 52-pound gain, one pound plates would equal a 104-pound gain, so realize that micro-progression is progression to long term success.
This pace is undoubtedly impossible to maintain forever, so this is when you would increase the volume. Volume is increased by performing more sets with weight over 65 percent of a one-rep max. Anything less than is not heavy enough to have a real training effect. There are a number of ways to add volume to your routine. Try adding an extra set to your workout. If you benched 4 sets of 5 with 200 pounds last time, you performed 4000 pounds of volume- if you do 5 sets next week, that becomes 5000 pounds of volume. One extra set has a profound effect on total volume. As long as you don’t sacrifice intensity in the process, you’ll find that higher volume is superior for increasing strength and hypertrophy.

Another alternative in making progression is to take a full range of motion exercise and turn it into an extended range of motion. The range of motion can have a huge impact on a movement. Examples of this would be deficit Deadlifts or snatch grip Deadlifts. A deficit Deadlift is performed while standing on a plate a couple of inches off the ground to increase the range of motion. While performing this movement with only 80 percent of a one-rep max, it is still more difficult than a regular Deadlift at the same weight. With snatch grip Deadlifts, by adding the extended grip, causes an overload in the movement, thus adding an extra level of difficulty.

Another way to catalyze hypertrophy- incorporate prolonged negatives into each repetition to increase muscular tension, while using explosive movements through the beginning of the movement. An example of this would be in curling a Barbell. In the initial movement of the curl, apply explosive force, while in the negative movement, slowly release back to starting position. This is known as the principle of retro-gravity. To add even more intensity, try doing the same amount of work with decreased rest intervals. More volume in less time will add gains to your strength once you have reached a maximum weight. In order to surpass a plateau, hypertrophy must be maintained, therefore shorter rest times are not an excuse for lighter weight!

For powerlifters, Olympic lifters, and anyone else that competes in specified lifts, the core lifts have to remain at the nucleus of the program- But for Bodybuilders or anyone just looking for a shredded set of wheels; front squats, leg extensions, Olympic pause squats, leg press, and many other variations can be incorporated for alternate workouts.

Finally for increased hypertrophy, simply increase your intensity- train more often. Training in squats twice a week overloads your system more than squatting once a week.

Building strength and mastering control of your body is the basis for building proficient lifting techniques. Once you are able to perform a task with greater ability, you can then do so at a faster pace. This defines power. Power can be referred to as strength speed.

Certain lifts, movements, and drills when performed at a faster rate, produce power output, but none of this can be done without first having built a foundation of the ability to perform even the most basic tasks. In explanation, a novice needs to master the ability to properly perform movements such as Deadlifts, Squats, and Overhead Press, before trying to grab a bar to perform Clean and Jerks.

Everyone’s Deadlift is much higher than his or her power clean. What you really need is explosive strength. This shows most obviously when your leg extension goes beyond ninety degrees. The faster you go from ninety to 180 degrees, the more you are going to power clean. Those fibers will have to keep firing all through that portion of the lift…Power.

‘Making the plates rattle A sure-fire way to know that your power is explosive all the way through, to the top of the lift along with significant speed. This is a training tool I use to ensure powerful force in driving upward.

Conclusively- Key mechanism of speed, power, and strength, working in complete correlation are necessary components for successful Olympic Lifts.

If your workout consists of heavy lifting and your pre-workout consists of a 200M run and a couple of air squats, it may be time to adjust your regimen.

As every Weightlifter understands, doing full snatches, clean and jerks, or any heavy lift, requires a high degree of flexibility in every part of the body. All the major muscle groups and corresponding attachments are involved in competitive lifts: shoulder girdle, back, and hips, and legs. A lack of flexibility in the shoulders will prevent the lifter from locking out snatches and jerks. It may also keep one from racking a weight on his shoulders while cleaning. Tightness in the hips will have an adverse effect on getting into a low position for snatches and cleans. Not only preventing the correct execution of a lift, but lack of flexibility in any heavy lift also makes one more susceptible to injury.

Because every part of the body is activated during the execution of Olympic lifts, every joint and muscle group needs to be given some attention before doing any heavy lifting. This is where there is confusion between the two disciplines needed to enhance flexibility: warming up and stretching. While closely related, they are not the same. Merely stretching a muscle or joint isn’t sufficient preparation for a heavy session in the weight room that will be filled with complicated athletic movements.

Warming up and stretching are both vital disciplines for all heavy lifters. Everyone knows a warm muscle is more elastic and reacts better to movement than a cold one, and it’s only common sense to know supple muscles are less prone to injury than tight ones.

In the gym, we like to take you through many variations of warm-ups and movements to prepare you for your workout.  You may be wondering if there is a vital importance in completing a warm-up and movements? The answer you will get from all the trainers in the gym is, “ABSOLUTELY!”  But that doesn’t always answer the question of why it is important that we spend the time to get you properly warmed up and mobilized. After various warm-ups consisting of inch worms, rowing, running, and other movements in order to get your body temperature rising, we like to spend time mobilizing and practicing movements that are associated with the workload for the workout. This type of movement is called Dynamic Stretching. Once you are properly warmed up, we take you through a series of movements that consist of air squats, leg kicks, lunges, and jump squats. This series of dynamic movements would be great for setting you up to do a strength series of squats, deadlifts, or split-squats. Dynamic stretching is an active movement of muscle that brings forth a stretch but is not held in the end position. This is very critical and important. Dynamic stretching will be beneficial to your performance and set you up for the current workload. Why is this critical and important? Here is science. Your body has many mechanisms that need to be activated and stimulated. When you put your body through a series of stretches while in motion, it sends signals from the brain to the muscle fibers and connective tissues in that area to prepare to do work. Your body’s temperature begins to rise and blood is pumped to the working areas of the body. Getting good blood flow to the area of the working muscles is very critical in order to supply the area with the energy needed to do work. Along with getting proper blood flow to the working area, the muscle fibers and connective tissues will gain more flexibility and range of motion. Many studies have shown that dynamic stretching can help increase power, improve flexibility, and increase your range of motion.

In other words, by doing dynamic stretching after your warm-up and before your workout, you are going to feel stronger and work up to a heavier load.  Another point to remember here is that dynamic movements are very sport and movement specific.  We will change the types of movements you do in the warm-up dependent upon what the workload is going to be for that day. Additionally, your range of motion and flexibility will also be greater. Have you ever done air squats at the beginning of a warm-up and felt like it was terrible, but after doing a proper warm-up and working on the movements which mimic and simulate squatting, your actual squat will then feel more natural and will flow much smoother.

Jumping rope is an excellent exercise to help improve stamina and conditioning. One method to make jumping rope more challenging is to do “Double Unders,” which means you swing the jump rope two times underneath your feet with only one jump.

Double Unders have gained popularity more recently as an exercise used in CrossFit workouts and competitions. The goal is to start doing double-unders consecutively, which is a seriously intense workout.

 

Double Unders Tip #1: Jump High & Jump Slow

Double under requires that you jump much higher than a normal jump rope revolution. In fact, you can jump just an inch off the ground during your normal jump rope routine, but a double under requires you to jump much higher. Jumping higher and slower helps create enough time for you to swing the jump rope 2 times underneath your feet as opposed to just once. As you get better and more efficient at doing double-unders, you won’t have to jump as high.

Double Unders Tip #2: Use Your Wrists

Probably the #1 most common jump rope mistake is when beginners flail their arms as opposed to turning their wrists in order to create momentum for the jump rope to start revolving. This is similar to a swimmer being very inefficient in the water: an inefficient swimmer gets tired very fast and doesn’t go fast. With jumping rope, you want you’re skipping to be as efficient as possible so you don’t waste too much energy. If you do, you won’t last for much more than 30 seconds, or a minute. Jumping rope is all in the wrists, which should be roughly at your waist.

Double Unders Tip #3: Keep Your Elbows In

Another related mistake beginners make is not only using too much arms but extending the arms and elbows to far away from the body. This makes the jump rope shorter so revolutions become more difficult and it’s harder to hold your arms extended from your body. Instead, keep your elbows close to your sides.

Double Unders Tip #4: Keep Your Torso Upright

Because double-unders require that you generate significant speed to spin the rope around 2x with one jump, beginners will often bend the torso forward in an effort to shorten the distance the jump rope needs to cover. Instead, remain upright with only a slight bend in your torso as in the photo below.

Double Unders Tip #5: Practice, Practice, Practice

Practice makes perfect. If you are just starting out with double-unders, I recommend the following progression:

  1. Start jumping rope normally, then on the 5th rep do a double under, then stop

  2. Repeat until you consistently complete a double under

  3. Next, do 100 jump rope reps, with every 10th jump being a double under

  4. Repeat until you can do this without stopping

  5. Start jumping rope normally then on the 5th rep do a double under, and on the 6th rep do a double under

  6. Repeat until you can do this easily

  7. Now start doing consecutive double-unders with as many as you can in a row!

Eventually, you will be able to complete 25+ double-unders. As a simple and effective workout, complete as many double-unders as you can to failure for 5-10 rounds with 30 seconds rest in between each set.

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If your ab training still consists of chasing some arbitrary number, like the old-school idea of 100 or 200-plus daily reps of various exercises, then maybe its time to rethink your approach. Volume alone won’t carve out your abs. Even if you’re not stuck in an outdated mindset, you can still reap the benefits of adding toes to bar to your workouts.

If you’re not familiar with the exercise, you have probably seen the movement performed. An athlete hanging straight down from a pull-up bar and swinging his feet up to touch the bar for multiple reps. Calling this move “dynamic” sells it short—it not only places incredible demands on your core muscles, but it also builds your grip, arm, and shoulder strength. The move is trickier than it looks, though, so be sure to follow these tips for proper setup and execution.

Toes to Bar in 5 Steps

Grip
Place your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width, wrapping your thumbs for a secure grip—when you kick your feet up, you don’t want to kick your hands.

Flex
Squeeze both your butt and abs, creating a “hollow-body” position where your feet are slightly in front of your torso. With these muscles flexed, your body’s ready to swing.

Transition
To transition from backswing to upswing, simply drive your knees toward your elbows, then extend your legs, kicking your feet toward the bar as they rise.

Downswing
As soon as your momentum toward the bar ends, pull back into an arc and squeeze your butt to load your hips for the next rep.

When it comes to training, concentration with a 100 percent focus is crucial to reach greater intensity levels. The first step is to really believe that becoming stronger and faster is possible. In the same way, you can command your body to push further when everything else suggests that you cannot. In the same way, you can mentally coax your body to train harder and with more intensity. Athletes are masters of mind power or at least they should be if they want to be exceptionally focused. 

So how do we get the power of our minds to remove the fear?
Athletes need to focus on winning. Their focus should be on doing everything they can to win. That means tuning out any spectators, any fears, and even their opponent. This is what allows a professional to be successful and what compels so many to stay in the ranks of being an amateur.

So if you’re an athlete get focused on being the master of your sport. Apply the power of your mind to help you stay focused on your competition and your ability. Sure there will be fears and there will be distractions, but when these come up you need to focus your mind and focus on your abilities.