Four questions

by carney on March 24, 2014

Curtis and crew vary their grips during a pull-up workout

When fitness progress slows, or comes to a standstill, we teach our students to ask themselves four questions:

  1. Am I drinking enough water?
  2. Am I eating enough of the right foods?
  3. Am I getting enough sleep?
  4. Did I get my training in this month?

When progress slows, or comes to a stand still, there are almost always one or more “no” answers to the four questions. Once the student brings back the missing components, progress continues.

Workout of the Day

“Cindy XXX”
Complete as much as possible in 20 minutes of:
10 Pull-ups
20 Push-ups
30 Squats
15 Pull-ups
30 Push-ups
45 Squats
20 Pull-ups
40 Push-ups
60 Squats
25 Pull-ups
50 Push-ups
75 Squats
30 Pull-ups
60 Push-ups
90 Squats


Life is the event

by carney on March 21, 2014

Rob, Andy, and Kate pull the handles off the rowers.

Competition is part of the training. It’s an opportunity to test yourself in new environments, and expose physical as well as mental weakness. Competition will pull the best and worst out of people. With every win and loss is a chance to learn about yourself. Like how you handle stress, and how you relate to other people. Competition can provide the raw material for your life’s work – you. Just don’t let the experience of winning and losing, the euphoria of success and the depression of failure, go to your head. Don’t get lost in your sport, it’s only a game. Life is the event.

Workout of the Day

CrossFit Games Open workout 14.4
Complete as many reps as possible in 14 minutes:
60 calorie row
50 toes to bar
40 wall balls, 20 lb, 10 ft
30 cleans, 135 lb
20 muscle-ups


Know fear

by carney on March 20, 2014

Abby steps through her overhead lunges

Fear is a messenger. Your guardian angel who watches over you. With a breath that tickles your spine and makes the hair on your neck stand, she lets you know when you’re life is in danger.

Fear is a ghost. Fear is the neurological remnant of a tragic experience coming back to haunt you in the form of memory.

Fear is a movie. Thoughts projecting failure, pain, and loss onto the screen of imagination can be as real to your mind as the real thing.

Which of your fears does the WOD conjure up in you?

Workout of the Day

Three rounds for time:
100 double unders
5 legless rope ascents, 10 ft, start from the knees
15 push-ups, with a 20 kg plate on your back


Flexible minds

by carney on March 19, 2014

Kate gets set to snatch.

Have you ever been driving along, expecting to arrive at your destination and then been delayed by a flat tire, car accident, or traffic jam? I would predict that if you’ve been driving for a while, then the answer is “yes”.

When something like this happens, what do you tend to do? Do you rage? Shake your mighty fist at God, demanding answers that don’t belong to you? Or have you developed the mental flexibility to adjust to circumstances as they unfold? Being able to suspend your agenda and flow with the currents of your life is a skill, and like any other skill it must be practiced if you’re going to get better at it.

For many, the WOD, even before “3-2-1 Go!”, can cause undo strain. On the extreme ends, people seem to fall into two categories: they either think they need to know what the WOD is before hand, so they can prepare themselves; or, they absolutely don’t want to know what the WOD is, because they’ll stress out about it before they even have to do it.

The ideal state of mind is to walk into the WOD with the calm focus and intention to simply put forth your best effort, whether you know what’s on the whiteboard or not.

We email our members the weekly program on Sunday, so they can better prepare for their week. We’ve had some unsubscribe from the email list because it stresses them out knowing what’s coming up.

Sometimes, the WOD gets changed, either due to class size and equipment availability, or sometimes by accident (like when the WOD is misrepresented on the email). This is one of the greatest stressors for those who need to know, because it often forces them to alter their game plan.

Do you get overly anxious when things aren’t going as expected, or do you create more stress for yourself than is necessary worrying over things that don’t require action at the moment? If either one of these describes you, then that’s a good place to do some work.

A simple and direct approach to addressing these fears would be to either come to class not knowing what the WOD is, if you’re the person who needs to know, or do the opposite if you’re one who doesn’t like to know before hand and look at the WOD before coming to class. Then, work with your mind. Write down what’s going for you in your training journal, how you’re feeling and what effect it’s having on your performance during the WOD and in class.

Start noticing when you do this outside the class. The objective is to be able to set your sights on a goal, do everything in your power to meet that goal, and smoothly adjust your plans, and sometimes the goal, as the environment outside of your control changes.

Share a story of a time, either in class or out in the world, when you were successful, or unsuccessful, in staying focused on your goal, but adjusted your mindset to accommodate your new reality.

Workout of the Day

For max load:
Snatch balance, 1-1-1-1-1 reps

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For sport and life

by carney on March 18, 2014

Lisa striding out her overhead lunges.

What is CrossFit? We see it as a strength and conditioning for sport and life! Men and women, boys and girls, of all ages, all over the world must move in a lot of different ways through various environments with purpose and intent. We help you define your limits (work capacity) and then, over time, push those boundaries further than you believed possible. We know this, not just because our workouts are “hard”, but because we track and record every workout and every event. From this, what we’ve seen is impressive progress in every area of fitness (as defined in the “What is Fitness?” article), from an athlete’s 1 rep max deadlift, to a faster “Murph” time, to achieving a handstand.

Workout of the Day

Complete as many rounds as possible in 30 minutes, starting on the minute, every minute:
5 pull-ups
10 push-ups
15 squats

If you fall behind, continue for the full 30 minutes. Record how many rounds you were able to complete within the minute, and total rounds in 30 minutes.


Getting it done

by carney on March 13, 2014

Andy gets the work done, with our without the gym bag.

As a trainer, I get asked questions all the time. One of our members sent me the following email after a discussion we had earlier in the week. My reply is included.

Post your thoughts, personal experience, and book recommendations to comments.



I shared your Michael Jordan quote from this week’s WOD’s with my jogging class tonight.  One guy actually laughed at the benefits of failing.

I found a theory that I like about why I can do more exercises when someone is doing them next to me. There was a study done in 1968 that concluded people could put out 20% more energy when someone was next to them doing the same exercise. This author says that we are drawing on our competitive instinct. He makes it sound like it is not possible to draw on this extra energy when we work out alone.

competitive instinct theory




Hi Mark

Thanks for sharing the article!

I like where your thinking is going with this!

Couple of things come to mind:

1. The 1968 study done at a University with a “bunch of students” that demonstrated higher power outputs in paired students over students cycling solo does not make it a “fact”.

2. What would’ve been the outcome if I took a 3rd set of students, and before having them attempt the same challenge, took a moment to work with their mindset. Could we produce the same 20% improvement, or greater, by having them set some internal motivation to excel?

I’m convinced that we can create, using our imagination and with practice, an identical or near identical mindset to the one that would exist in competition or emergency situations, that would effectively drive us to higher levels of performance more consistently in training.

What makes this mental shift difficult is the aspect of choice. When we have a choice to push ourselves or let ourselves coast, as in a normal training day, most of us will coast. In competition and emergency situations, the choice has been removed for us and we will spend everything we have to win or survive.

In the realm of CrossFit, we want our highest power output (intensity). One of the reasons we use the group format is to get that extra push that competition provides. Though that push is helpful, especially in the beginning, we don’t need it. Everything we need is inside us already.

Competition helps to shift our state of mind and bring out our best effort. We can use the effect of competition on our mind as a form of practice. We can train our brain to flip a switch from “everyday thinking” to “go time!” at will.

For myself, I experience this happen as the clock starts it’s countdown signal. Something in my thinking changes as soon as I hear those beeps. It brings me back to competition, even when I’m alone. Adrenaline starts to pump and anything I was thinking about previously, anything I was concerned with disappears and there’s only the task at hand and my willingness to go deeply into that uncomfortable place of an all out effort.

As part of my mental training, which began in earnest, maybe five years ago. I started measuring my effort by counting how many times in a WOD I surrendered to the discomfort – that I mentally let off the throttle. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about needed recovery to complete another rep, but “resting”, which for me is is defined as “being unwilling to endure any more pain.”

Though my goal is always zero “rests”, I don’t often hit my goal. Back to that choice thing, again.

Anyway, those are some of my thoughts.

If you’re interested in some further reading into this, I have two book recommendations for you.

In Pursuit of Excellence – 4th Edition

10-Minute Toughness: The Mental Training Program for Winning Before the Game Begins

I have both of these in the library if you want to borrow them.

Thanks and see you soon!


Workout of the Day

For max load:
Forward grip pull-ups, 1-1-1-1 reps
Reverse grip pull-ups, 1-1-1-1 reps

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Nutt’n fancy

by carney on March 12, 2014

Tim adds some weight and depth to his push-ups.

Movement exposes weakness in your musculoskeletal system through pain. Pain does not necessarily mean there is an is an injury, but weakness will lead to injury. Why is it that only one shoulder, not both, will hurt in a sumo-deadlift high pull or kettlebell swing to overhead? If the movement was a “bad” movement, then both shoulders would get hurt in every person who makes these movements, but we don’t see this. Of course, the pain cannot be ignored either. If you continue to push through the pain, you’ll certainly end up injured. You have to address the problem, but the movement is not the problem, the mechanics of the tissues and joints in the area of pain is where the problem is. Fix the problem, then get back to work.

Workout of the Day

21-15-9 reps for time:
Overhead squats, 95 lb
Sumo-deadlift high pulls, 95 lb


Mix it up

by carney on March 11, 2014

Curtis varies his pull-ups during the WOD.

“There are no bad intervals, only weak efforts.” – Greg Glassman

During a conversation yesterday about Dr. Izumi Tabata’s research and the significance of it for CrossFit athletes, it became clear that as CrossFitters, there are benefits of varying our time intervals, that there is no special magic in 8 rounds of 20 seconds work and 10 seconds rest, and any interval can impart fitness benefits, if the right effort is applied.

Download this free article from the CrossFit Journal to learn how to make and use a simple Interval Generator in order to enhance your suffering fitness.

Workout of the Day

For max load:
Barbell Turkish get-ups, 1-1-1 reps (right and left)

Courtesy of CrossFit
For time:
100 double unders
5 clean & jerks, 90 kg
75 double unders
5 cleann & jerks, 85 kg
50 double unders
5 clean & jerks, 80 kg

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Eight years!

by carney on March 10, 2014

Original "box" 2006

A much younger Kaelan scoots around CrossFit Missoula’s early “box”.

Happy Anniversary CrossFit Missoula!

So much has changed in 8 years, and not just within our box, but throughout the greater CrossFit community.

When we affiliated in 2006, we were approximately the 60th affiliate. Today there are close to (maybe more than) 8,000 affiliates worldwide! Thirty-two in Montana. Four of them right here in Missoula!

More people doing more CrossFit!

And let’s not forget the creation of the affiliate owned Risk Retention Group insuring CrossFit trainers and affiliates, the explosion of the CrossFit Games, and of course CrossFit’s level-one certification test achieving ANSI accreditation, a fitness industry first!

And what do we think of this rapid growth? We think it’s awesome, and are looking forward to seeing how far we can go!

Of course, CrossFit Missoula wouldn’t have made it this far without our amazing members! We want to give special “thanks” to all our members, because without you it just wouldn’t be what it is! We love you and will do anything to help you succeed!

Workout of the Day

For max reps:
Tabata pull-ups
Rest 1 minute
Tabata push-ups
Rest 1 minute
Tabata squats


No easy day

by carney on March 5, 2014

If it were easy, everyone would do it.

Workout of the Day

For max load:
Shoulder press, 3-3-3 reps
Push press, 2-2-2 reps
Push or split jerk, 1-1-1 reps