2018 has been an incredible year for my health and fitness and I couldn’t have done it without the help of CrossFit. The goals I set at the beginning of the year have been met and I am excited for the next chapter in my fitness journey come 2019.
2018 was a great testament that consistency wins. I certainly didn’t see the big gains out of the box but after months and months of consistent hard work, reshaping my nutrition, and seeking out valuable advice, I was able to improve dramatically and reach new PRs along with become more technically savvy with some of the complex moves.
A couple notes to bookmark for the year end:
1 RM Split Jerk – 135 lbs (12-16-18)
1 RM Clean – 145 lbs (12-12-18)
1 RM OHS – 100 lbs (12-10-18)
1 RM Deadlift
– 307 lbs (12-20-18)
– 300 LBs (9-20-18)
1 RM Front Squat
– 175 Lbs (12-16-18)
1 RM Back Squat
– 200 Lbs (Nov)
– 170 lbs (7-9-18)
5 RM Back Squat
– 165 lbs (12-18-18)
– 135lbs (4-16-18)
– 8 (7-9-18)
14 LB Wall Ball – 8:19 (12-23-18)
14 LB Wall Ball – 9:20 (July)
14 LB Wall Ball – 9:40 (May)
I have some sights on huge gains next year but overall it’s that my body and mind are in the best position they can be in to crush each day. I think that is the overall motivation so when I continue to age my body doesn’t break down and limit me. That’s one of the big things that keeps me driving forward.
What about you?
Hope you all have written down your goals for 2019, both long and short term, and are focused to achieving them.
Have a great new year and start to 2019!
Now that I’ve gone to write these CrossFit posts once a month it’s giving me a chance to sit back and reflect a bit more on the bigger picture. My life has changed a lot recently and it has made me have to alter my entire schedule and has completely shaken up my world.
However, when you have motivation followed by an intent to achieve certain goals nothing should keep you down. You have to keep pivoting and make it work and do whatever it takes.
One of those areas is around your overall fitness health. I’ve never seen a Chiropractor but with some encouragement from neighbors I decided to at least go to a sesh or two and see what they had to say. It was quite an eye opening experience. First, Dr. Staker and his staff are phenomenal and really know their stuff. I knew I had a family history of back problems but didn’t realize until I got X-rays that my L4 and L5 vertebrae were fused together from birth. Certainly explains a few things but Dr. Staker did compliment me on my overall back health and that I didn’t have too much to be worried about if I was smart about it. My main issue was my right hip that was just overturned inward and probably why I felt imbalanced at times.
So, taking Doctor’s orders I’ve been stretching and foam rolling a ton over the past month and after a couple sessions recently he’s been pleased with the improvement in that hip and lower back area. I have to say, I can definitely tell. My workouts seem easier especially with my squat and I just feel I don’t have as much pressure in that area any longer.
Only time will tell but the morale of the story is this. Don’t think you know it all. If you are curious about something go seek out answers and find the truth as you never know how it might impact your life for the better. I never thought I needed to go see a Chiropractor but my newfound knowledge will help me reach my fitness goals and give me overall better health in the lower back / hip region for years to come.
I hope you continue on your journey to better health and seek out wisdom in areas you might struggle or need more insight.
I had been dogging it on my CrossFit journey posts lately due to some personal challenges on this end and only getting to the gym 2-4 times a week the last several. But, my focus is back and I was reenergized today by spectating at the Triangle Invitational hosted by the gym I belong to, CrossFit RTP.
It was amazing to see the teamwork and camaraderie across the various events and was awesome to see our team, the RX team from CrossFit RTP bring home 1st Place!
I believe the reason I was so inspired is that it reminded me that getting in great physical shape and becoming more healthy is not a short sprint but a long journey through many obstacles. These athletes competing didn’t just show up but they had been working toward this for many months and years. It was a culmination of perseverance, patience, and positivity…all factors leading to success.
I’m proud to call CrossFit RTP home and it was a tremendous effort by all of the volunteers from our gym and our winning squad! Excited to be involved some way next year…heck, maybe I’ll even compete!
This past week was a short week due to Hurricane Florence ripping through North Carolina and that brought about cancelled/postponed classes. However, it did teach me an important lesson about overexerting yourself.
On Saturday, they had an open gym as the weather was starting to clear up but there was still a threat of bad storms. I went in for a short period of time and did the prescribed WOD.
The first part was to do a 5 Rep Max of Deadlifts. This was another milestone day for me with Deadlifts as my 1 Rep Max 10 weeks ago was 300 LBS and on Saturday I did 5 Reps at 295 LBS. I felt good and was pumped that I was able to push that out.
However, here was my mistake I learned from.
The next series of exercises were Over the Shoulder Stone throws followed by Pull ups in a 15 x 12 x 9 breakdown. I’ve always had problems with the Over The Shoulder Stone Throws because of my height and I tend to not always get into a full squat but cheat as I get tired by using more upper body/back. And, I am trying to go from the 70 LBS weight to 100 LBS. Well, I sure did something to my back after completing this because when I got home my lower back was really sore and couldn’t move it for most of the rest of the day. Luckily, I iced it and stretched it out and by Sunday night I felt pretty good again.
Lesson learned: Proper form is the most important. Don’t try to be a hero and lift heavy weights just because you have confidence. Your form might suffer and that might knock you out for several days or longer if you get injured. You can have great gains even with a lower weight and still get a tremendous workout it. Be smart!
Until next time, keep grinding!
Well, this weeks post spilled over by a day as I wanted to share a quick story that was a big accomplishment for me.
It was only 6 weeks ago when I stopped doing squat therapy (normally squatting with plates under my feet) and was able to move to no plates and doing a normal squat. The squat was tough for me and my 1 Rep Max for the Back Squat (with plates) was 170 LBS.
But, with continued practice AND now having the proper nutrition I have been able to crush numbers especially my squat.
Tonight we were working on Back Squats and I just went for it because I felt good and energized. Not only did I beat my PR but crushed it by 15 LBS from 170 to 185 and with no plates to support the squat.
If you couldn’t tell I was ecstatic over the result but more importantly it gave me confidence to know that I am continuing to make smart choices outside of the gym as it relates to my overall health including sleep and nutrition.
Moral of the story: Don’t be settled with status quo and the way you have always done things. If you feel your energy is low, for example, investigate and try to A/B test how you can improve it with changing up your routines or habits. It will only help you in the long run and the gains you might have could be incredible to your performance and your lifestyle.
Anyone that strives for anything needs motivation. That is certainly a blanket statement but it is important to remember. Motivation, the cousin of Momentum, can help you excel to another level and improve your performance beyond your current capabilities.
The reason I bring this up this week is a conversation I had with a fellow CrossFitter this week. She had been away all summer in NYC but has now returned to town to go back to school and, of course, get back into the CrossFit RTP scene again. I had been very confident this summer with my change in nutrition and gains I knew I had but it was a simple kind gesture and comment by her that helped keep me motivated. She said something along the lines of “You’ve really improved this summer…your deadlift has gotten much better…”. We all strive for our own internal motivation and “chip on the shoulder” mentality but often times, if we aren’t afraid to admit it, it is the compliments of our peers that can bring about additional motivation and that extra to reinforce all of the great work we’ve been doing.
I think many of us are capable of much more but it is generally the “negative talk” that we listen to and often follow…the “You can’t do this” or “You’ll never make it” appears to have a much greater impact on us than the positive reinforcement. What I have found through many years of listening to this negativity, often by others and my own internal doubts, is that there is no place for it. No need for it at all.
We need to focus on the positives and present an attitude that is positive to combat the negative but also fuel the motivation that we might be given by others to ultimately help us to that next level.
To end on a funny note, a classic scene that often gets lost in a classic movie, -> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAs2PBL1RsA
Over the last several weeks I have started to think about different aspects of fitness and how they all work together and will certainly get back to the training aspect in upcoming weeks but I did want to layer in on the topic of consistency.
My schedule has been a bear and very weird. Somedays I was going to CrossFit at 5:30am while others I had to make it to the 6:30pm class. The word “consistency” comes up time and time again when you are looking at successful individuals and that “success” can be a number of things. What rarely happens is someone try something for a short period of time and think all of a sudden they will see a huge leap. It never happens.
This is why diets don’t work.
But, anyways, the reason I thought this post was relevant was that whatever you are doing you must stay consistent with it even through the tough times especially if other competing priorities come into play. You need to be looking at the long game and understand that some sacrifices will have to be made or changes may have to happen but you need to stack rank what are MOST important and what can be brushed aside even if it feels like you are giving up something really cool.
In regards to CrossFit, being consistent with 4-5 days a week always me some flexibility where I am not going all 7 but also keeps pushing me later in the week if I have new things pop up on my schedule. I wouldn’t have near the gains I’ve had in 6 months had I not been committed and stay consistent with my schedule. I’d encourage everyone to take a look at their day or week outlook at what things will set you up for long term success and which ones are merely “time robbers” in the short term.
More to come on this in the future but certainly relevant at this point as Football is starting back up, kids are back to school, and holidays are right around the corner.
This week was a big learning week for me and it made me reflect on the last 6 months and this CrossFit journey I am on.
I look at my progress and where I came from and it again reinforces that old Tony Horton saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither was your body”. The commitments I make each and every week to get to classes and my increased focus on nutrition has allowed me to accomplish many new goals that I never thought possible.
From squatting heavy weights to my endurance, I’ve been able to get in the best shape of my life and do it by learning a tremendous amount about proper technique, work ethic, nutrition and having a lot of fun doing it.
Short post this week but one of the cool things was I did get to talk with Dr. Zach Long from the industry leading fitness website, BarbellPhysio.com as I had him as a guest on my Just Get Started Podcast. Check out the episode here -> https://brianondrako.com/podcast/drzachlong
Week 27 of my journey saw me only hit 2 days at the gym (Monday and Sunday) due to a work event most of the week and wanting to get a round of golf in on Saturday. But…some of that was intentional and used to give myself a little rest before I go straight for about 2 weeks.
I’m continually coming back to the notion that you must listen to your body and not try to overwork it when you feel a bit off. I had a sore left should/neck area going into this past week and after the workout Monday I felt that the few days I thought I’d miss might end up being good and not to stress it.
Additionally, I was jacked up to get back there today so it put a little pep in my step as i’d been missing it.
Crushing workouts and feeling fit is always great but it can’t be done if your mind and body are not healthy and recovered.
Sometimes a little rest goes a long way to making your progress even that much more.
Make sure you audit yourself and listen to that internal dialogue.
I cannot believe 6 months of CrossFit is already in the books. Incredible!
Each week has been it’s own special challenge but I wanted to piggy back this weeks post off of one from a few weeks ago and just confirm that proper nutrition, along with proper sleep, are so important to training. Maybe more important that I’ve ever realized. Earlier in the summer and, in fact, in workouts well prior too I definitely didn’t put a lot of thought into how much eating the right amount of calories and proportions of Carbs, Protein, and Fat were to reaching my fitness goals.
Long story short, after tracking my calories for 3 weeks and really focusing on hitting 3,000 calories a day I have absolutely been crushing my workouts and having so much energy to stay powered all the way through. I’m noticing that I am now starting to keep up with some of the CrossFit veterans in our class (although sometimes I’m doing a much different weight) but it’s still in comparison to my strength.
If you’re reading this and confused on why you are sluggish during the day, always hungry and different points, or just feel like you don’t have the energy to workout then it may be time to consult a nutritionist and put some effort into what and when you put stuff into your body.
I can speak from experience of how it was before and now seeing the after and what it can do for you.
Keep listening to your body and doing the right thing!
Had some great workouts this past week but thought I’d take an opportunity just to mention the importance of listening to your body, especially when it comes to injury. I’m not a doctor but I’ve found that logical diagnosis often times wins the day.
During Tuesdays workout I was pushing hard through this RFT workout of 70 cal row, 50 pushups, and 40 wall balls. I must have tweaked something with my bicep because on Wednesday it didn’t feel all that great. I had a little soreness but my arm felt weak.
My self diagnosis was “bicep tendinitis” which I realized last in the week.
So, I decided to workout on Wednesday to “test” it out and it was semi-painful to the extent that I couldn’t put 100% into the workout.
With that, I got smart. I decided to rest for a couple of days and put minimal movement into the arm.
I decided to test it again on Saturday and everything seemed great until we got into some rope climbs late in the workout which ended up tweaking it slightly.
Had a great chat with one of the coaches there and was encouraged to do some maintenance on the arm (ice, massage, etc) whichever I felt I should do as well as stay away from doing major pulling movements for a week or two or at least to resist doing them.
All in all, I iced my arm through the weekend and feel like it will take some time to fully heal but I’m not focused on not overworking the arm and being smart about my level of effort with it.
Moral of the story: Listen to your body because taking a few days off to recover and heal is much better than tearing something more and having to sit out months. Egos get in the way a lot so being smart about those type of decisions could lead to better results down the road.
Had another great week of killer workouts but this week I’m going to focus on nutrition as it has been a big key for me lately.
I’ve been monitoring how I feel in correlation to my eating over the past month or so and realized I’d be spent in regards to energy when I tried to workout in the evening. What I came to realize was that I wasn’t getting near enough calories a day and lacking very much in my protein intake (which wasn’t helping my muscle gain goal).
I spoke with a nutritionist on Monday and it cleared up many things for me. It confirmed several of the things I was doing right and highlighted some of my core areas. I’ve started to track my calories for a period of time to make sure I am hitting some goals. Right now, I am trying to hit about 3,000 calories per day. It’s insane how much food that actually is but I know in the long run I’ll put on some weight and start to see my muscles get some growth as well.
Cliffs Notes version of changes:
- I was eating a “good” breakfast in regards to nutritious foods like bananas, avocados, oatmeal, etc but was lacking big time in protein intake. This was putting me behind the eight-ball for the day and I was always hungry midday.
The Change: I am now eating 2-3 eggs in the morning and having that on top of avocado toast or scrambling up with some sweet potato hash / pepper combo. It’s kept me full for the last week and I feel I have way more energy.
2. For snack, I was eating mainly fruit and about 1-2 cups of blueberries, strawberries, or a banana.
The Change: I am adding some protein like peanut butter or some yogurt to the snack and still eating the fruit.
3. Since I took away meat from my diet 18 months ago, I’ve been trying to figure out what to replace it with and have come across these plant based items that taste and feel like meat. I used to eat a lot of this stuff like several servings a weeks.
The Change: I didn’t realize that not only are these heavily processed but they are made mainly of soy. For males, too high of soy intake adds a lot of estrogen into the body and can mess up hormone levels a bit. So, I’ve cut back on this drastically to see if I notice any big changes. I’ve added more fish to my diet to get back to a cleaner protein.
I’ve been very conscious the last several years of my food intake and eating cleaner but didn’t put this level of thought into it. Just recording my eating habits this week and monitoring how I feel I can say that not only am I full throughout the day but I have a lot more energy when it comes to evening workouts.
Moral of the story is that it’s important to always be asking questions of yourself on how you can improve and get better and don’t be afraid of the answers as hopefully figuring that out will improve “YOU” in the long run.
Keep at it folks!
Well – the 12 week Strength Training Program came and went and it was an incredible ride of learning, pushing, and grinding until the end. Here is the final sheet of the breakdown – Strength Training Program Weekly Breakdown
Overall I was pleased with my mindset going into each workout and focus on improving the movements in order to maximize the weight I can safely lift. Additionally, just pushing myself beyond my comfort zone, which I’ve written about throughout this program, was something I am proud of and can use as I continue on.
One last piece I didn’t think about during test week but was relevant is that I’ve gained 8-10 LBs of body weight over the last few months. Some of these numbers (like pull-ups) are even better since I am pulling more weight than during the initial test week.
Some results to note:
Back Squat -> 1 Rep Max @ 170 LBs (max 3 @ 145 lbs12 weeks ago I did )
Strict Pull-ups -> 8 Strict Pullups (7 Strict Pullups 12 weeks ago I did )
Bench Press -> 1 Rep Max @ 170 LBs (1 rep max @ 165 lbs12 weeks ago I did )
Deadlift -> 1 Rep Max @ 300 LBs (1 rep max @ 265 lbs 12 weeks ago I did )
Front Squat -> 1 Rep Max @ 155 LBs (12 weeks ago I didn’t get to establish a max)
“Karen” (150 Wall Balls FT) -> 9:20 time with 14 lb wall ball (9:44 time 12 weeks ago)
Mile Run -> 7:22 (In the past I’d have trouble breaking 8 minutes)
Being over 5 months into this CrossFit thing I’m extremely pleased with my results, how I’ve managed my schedule, and understanding my nutrition to keep energized and gain the muscle mass I’ve set out to gain.
Look forward to sharing how the rest of the year goes!
This was our final week of the 12-Week Strength Training Program and my first week back from a 10-day vacation – See Results here – 12-Week Strength Program Results
I didn’t take it easy, however, and pushed myself through 6 straight days of workouts to get me back on track. My body was beat come Sunday but I felt really good and it was a nice “off” day to relax a bit. Here’s a peak at the workouts I went through this week:
I had a lot of fun this week with some of the workouts and really enjoyed the team workout on the 4th of July called “DT”. It was pretty brutal and definitely pushed me to the max to finish!
One thing I learned, again, this week is to find the edge of your comfort zone and try to push past it just a little to see what could happen. On Friday, we had a 10-minute Row for max calories and my goal was to have more than anyone that day in the class. Sure enough, after pushing through some pain near the end I ended up with 162 and the most for the day. Those little wins keep you focused on growing and building on each and every day’s workout.
Lastly, I am going to be starting Yoga again this week as I hadn’t done it at all during this Crossfit journey. I’ve realized I need to get my flexibility back which I know will help me improve my movements. This will be part of my training going forward and look forward to seeing the results as it runs parallel with CrossFit.
Keep grinding everyone!
Well, after 20 weeks of CrossFit I finally took a long break and relaxed for the past 9 days. Besides a ton of walking (which just offset my poor eating and many LBS of Ice Cream), I really only worked out one time during the vacation. On past vacations I made it a point to work out more but I’ve changed my thinking a lot on this..here’s why.
I believe it’s good to take a break from your routine and just relax your mind and body and let it rest. You can continue to push yourself day after day but part of improving is listening to your body and understanding what it needs. For me, it’s taking time off and “missing it” that gets me recharged and amped up to go hard at it again next week. It also gives you a perspective to see how you feel when you aren’t working out or eating how you’d normally eat and it can help reenforce that what you are doing is correct and help keep you focused on your goals.
Bottomline, whether you take a bunch of days off in a row or not, I believe it is crucial to rest at certain points during your training in order to let your body and also your mind recover and reset for the next wave of training.
Fortunately, this upcoming week is our last in the program and is a Deload week so it will help me ease back into my training.
Can’t believe 21 weeks are already in the books in my CrossFit journey. Excited to see what the next 21 hold!