Gains, Losses, Goodbye Instagram

Wow. Well, what a few weeks it has been. Utterly maniacal at work, I’ve been unable to blog since my Jiminis Insect Protein bar review. Even then, it was a few weeks before that too. I promise to get back on track as of now. In that time, there have been gains to the Snatch (oh yes!), the Thruster (vom!), and I’ve said goodbye to Instagram. I’ve reviewed my own outlook and perspective on my fitness, nutrition and goals. It’s been a busy time, that’s for sure.

Starting in reverse order:

Outlook. I’ve written about it before; I am competitive by nature. I always was while growing up and used to play a lot of rugby, sprint a lot of races, and jump in a lot of sandpits. My aptitude my have been somewhat debatable but I competed. I am motivated by competition. It’s what got me through the Commando Course, and it motivated me to leave the Army for the Royal Marines (competition against myself). As I’ve grown older (๐Ÿ˜ข) so I’ve moved away from rugby and ahletics, no longer spend time yomping around the hills and sleeping in bushes, and instead found CrossFit. At the same time, I’ve hit a point in my career where I’ve taken on a lot more, and where family situations mean I simply don’t have the time to compete at weekends. That may change in the future but not yet (standfast the 10km OCR I have coming up this Sunday). But I still work best under the pressure of competition. So what? So I’ll be using my time in CrossFit Watford more wisely to identify specific individuals and compete against them. It’s what CrossFit should be about anyway but we tend to be a little ‘British’ about it over here…very polite. I’ve also begun revisiting those things that motivated me to push myself to great lengths before and will regularly refer back to a few ‘totems’ such as the Commando Dagger and Dartmoor Map above.

Nutrition. I’ve not been eating enough to build mass and strength. Simple. I have been carefully managing my intake to not appear flabby and soft. Appearance-first. Well, you can’t put on muscle mass and stay trim easily. I’ll now be upping my intake, still monitored, to at least 2500Kcal per day, and to 40% Carbs, 30% Protein, 30% Fat. Close to Christmas, I’ll reevaluate and begin to focus on conditioning once more.

Instagram. Instagram made me sad. I’ve concluded that unless you are happy to take your top off (which noone wants to see of me!), make awesome food, or take amazing photos, then Instagram just isn’t going to work (oh, and post at least 5 times a day). After a year, I have the total of 240 followers, even though over 1500 have followed/unfollowed (highly irritating). I only joined to try and build an audience for this blog but the time taken to fight for followers in a congested domain (fitness) wasn’t worth it. I found instead that I was rearranging coffee pots, contriving situations, and staring at my phone during workouts. I noticed a horrible narcissism developing and I got upset every time I saw someone in better shape than me (perceptively, everyone). So, I’m taking that time back. Goodbye Instagram. I’ll still be on Twitter @nomadiccrossfit though!


Now, the successes.

3 weeks ago, CrossFit Watford, “15mins to a heavy Thruster”. Previous best of 90kg. New Personal Record of 100kg!

2 weeks ago, at home in the garage, @amrapplusone programming to work up to a heavy Snatch. Previous best of 77.5kg (achieved only about a month or so ago). I fought and fought for this, failing 3 times on the way up. 80kg. Boom. I have chased and chased this for 2 years or more when I finally took 75kg after years of trying. I was ecstatic all day after this. Done at home, with a York Beefy Bar (no spin) and 1″ hole mixed plates, this went up easier than I was expecting. It took a lot of working up to, granted. I couldn’t have achieved this on a 6am session, for example. However, I’ve reset my numbers on the Amrapplusone programme and will continue to push onwards.

There we have it, all caught up. Well, the main events anyway.

As I endeavour to write more often again, what would YOU like to see on here?

Let me know.


Leave your Situations at the Door

Leave your situations at the door

So when you step inside jump on the floor

– Mary J. Blige 

Staring in to the down gazing eyes of one of our athletes, it was clear that she was about to just give up on the day, if not the week. Hard work ebbing onto the floor, leaving a sullen shell to clear the rower and remaining kit away before shuffling out door defeated. 


Not having that shit in this box! 

I don’t care what is going on in your life outside the box (well, I do actually but my upcoming point still stands), you do not allow it in to the box. Leave it at the door. I say this not from a standpoint of how it might affect the mood of others, nor how you’re not going to be on your game – both of those are valid – but from the this:

Your time in the box is your time. 

What you do in that hour is for you. It is your opportunity to develop, to succeed, to improve, and to win. How DARE the comments of colleagues, the stresses of work, or the rising cost of the bus fare impinge on YOUR time?! You have your goals, you have set out your plan, and you have paid your subs. The effort you put in within the hour we set for you is all yours. It is not to impress coworkers, it isn’t to think about tomorrow’s meeting, it certainly isn’t to worry about that note you forgot to write – all of those things are important but they won’t be solved in your hour with us.

This is YOUR TIME. Everything else can get f@#&ed. When with us, you are not judged, you are critiqued and not criticised, you have nothing to prove to anyone except to yourself.

How often in your daily routine do have to answer to none except yourself? How many times a day do you end something a stronger, faster, more powerful version of you than when you started? When else do you get to shut the world out and focus on your own needs? Give yourself over to this time, this chance, and kick the rest of the world in to touch.

This is YOUR time. How dare anyone ruin it for YOU. Own it. Dominate it. Leave as a fitter person, on YOUR terms, than when you came in.

Rant over.

Setting an Example, Out at the Front, not at the Top.


We are the Coaches.We are empowered and entrusted to develop the health and wellbeing of athletes. We have a responsibility to Deliver. We Set the Example. We Lead from the Front.

This statement I firmly believe in and I would like to take this time to break it down.

The Whiteboard. Being a coach to athletes is not about being at the top of the whiteboard, day in and day out. As a coach, there is certainly a degree of credibility that comes from being in the top few % though. Who is going to follow the person who doesn’t demonstrate a strong level of all round fitness, regardless of their competencies. At least, not in this game, perhaps more so in elite, specific sports where the coach is intentionally detached from playing but who has demonstrated high levels of competence as a dedicated coach. In fitness, you trust the person who demonstrates fitness. As coaches, it is our job to make those around us better than us and so there will always be people above us on the whiteboard. Plus, time spent coaching is time spent not training which will have an impact.

Communication is about more than words. It is the sum of our words and deeds. Simply put, we cannot expect athletes to listen to what we say if we don’t follow it ourselves. We are being watched ALL THE TIME. Our words are just part of what we are saying. How we act, how we move, the example we set…these are powerful messages. Don’t get me wrong, I am hardly the most virtuous CrossFitter out there. I like chocolate, I like a little cake sometimes and I drink too much caffeine in the form of Monster Zero (yep, I do); I may or may not have a secret thing for Cool Doritos too. But in front of the athletes (and 80% of the time generally), it’s professional, competent and leading by example. While on communication, be careful to not overstep the bounds of your own knowledge – not rumour or heresay, knowledge. Bad advice and guidance, no matter how well intentioned, is bad advice and is not guidance. Seek help the moment you are outside your comfort zone. And then go and dive in to the books and learn!

Programming. If we are following completely different programmes then how do we sell our programme to the athletes? Standfast those on competitor programming vice General Physical Preparedness (although CrossFit opposes this view too), but if you turn up and stroll to the other end of the box to do your own thing while others are sweating in a heap on the floor then it screams, “this programme isn’t good enough for me but it’s good enough for you”. Back to my previous point about not being top of the whiteboard, you still have to be ON that whiteboard. Athletes want to see how they measure up against you; as coaches, it’s good to see where you measure up too.

Nutrition. In the words of the guy who took me through my Level 1, 5 years ago, “here be monsters”. Nutrition is a thorny subject – everyone is set in their ways, there are thousands of competing ‘diets’ and approaches. However, one thing that almost all agree on is to reduce/remove refined sugars, have some starch, have some nuts & seeds, eat lean protein, eat tonnes of beautiful, green leafy veg (REAL FOOD). Within that, you can weigh/measure/count what you like within your preference. Personally, as you know, I weigh my food for 5 days a week and see considerable benefits by the 35% Carbs / 35% Protein / 30% Fat model. Of course, quantities of each do depend on your activity levels and goals. BUT what is not included are heavily processed, manufactured, brightly coloured products that contain clearly artificial ingredients but which have killa names obviously designed to get you to part with your cash as quickly as possible.ย  As coaches, it is hard enough attempting to talk about basic nutrition while competing with highly-funded advertising, what is even harder is if trainers in your profession advocate them too – I should mention that this is not a common occurrence in CF Watford; it really isn’t. I’m merely highlighting a point as something that I have witness. The only way we can compete with dissociated advertising is with the up-close-and-personal approach that a coach delivers.

Effort. We might not be the best in the box. Our mobility might not be where it should be. We will have our ‘goats’ too – things to work on. But as coaches, we demonstrate the effort required to get to that next stage of fitness. We put in the full range of movement in the burpee box jump, and we explain why. We fight to maintain external shoulder rotation in the shoulders during overhead squats, and we explain why. The athletes have to see that we work as hard as they do in every facet of the coaching session. You might not think it but they are looking to see your progressions too. And this goes for that 6am session that we really didn’t want to get out of bed for too. The athletes made it, we need to bring our A-Game, even if we don’t feel like it.

Scaling. We might Rx most things…but we didn’t used to. Not only that, we shouldn’t always, either. Scaling plays its part in all our development but the coach scaling a workout occasionally will also send the message to some of the more ‘determined’ athletes, “hey, if coach is scaling, perhaps I should too”. You might have told that to scale a thousand times but nothing demonstrates “leave your ego at the door” better than actually doing it ourselves.

Jumping in on WODs. This is a habit that I started getting in on but have now drawn back from. CrossFit is not cheap. It is far more expensive than typical gym memberships, despite not having the free towels, DVD memberships, spas, beautiful changing rooms and TVs. It is expensive because athletes pay for the value that a coach brings in giving them the personal attention throughout the 60 mins of the day that they invest in. It is our duty to unrelentingly pursue their progression and development. If there is another coach present to take over then dive on in – athletes do want to compete against the coaches, after all. But ultimately, they pay for coaching; they didn’t pay for globogym.

So, that about covers it, I think, although I’m sure I’ll think of something else as soon as I publish this.

Is there anything you look for in your coaches? Are there strong examples out there that we could learn from? Are there bad examples out there that we can learn from?

Answers, not on a postcard, but in the comments box below.


Bring a notebook, support your local coach

“1930 Night Ninjas, bring a notebook, it’s in your interests ๐Ÿ˜ˆ”

If there was one behaviour I could change at the local CrossFit level,  it would be for the athletes to bring a notebook to class.

As coaches/trainers, most of us are a bit geeky about seeing positive change in our charges. We read articles on programming, movement, fitness, nutrition, et al, often late in to the night, even when we know we have a 6am session to prepare for. We’ll take a question from an athlete and go away to find the answer as soon as we can. We like being innovative in delivering classes, ensuring as many people get the benefits of time with a qualified trainer as possible. We’ll explain why the workout is the way it is, what the athlete will get out of it, why the programming is structured this way or that.

We do this because we genuinely care about athletes’ development. We want to see growth and change; it’s why we become trainers and coaches.

And so it is so incredibly frustrating when a strength portion of a WOD calls, rightly, for the class to work at a certain percentage of a 1RM and for the response to be, “I don’t know what my 1RM is” despite us having spent the previous cycle working up to one. Or to suggest scaling and for the question, “what should I scale it to?” despite you having just spent the warm up working up to the correct weight or rep scheme. My particular favourite – being blamed when an athlete has to change the weight half way through a WOD because, “you didn’t tell me what to scale it to so I rx’d it”.

You’re right, I didn’t tell you. I didn’t tell you because typically, we have classes of 11-16 people. We have a membership of about 100 people. As a coach, I could not possibly hold on to all of that information – if I could, I wouldn’t be a CrossFit trainer, I would be a maths professor working on the Mars lander programme. This is the responsibility of the athlete. Only you know what you got last time, how many reps you did, how fast you went, what your weakness was and what your strength was. Yes, as coaches we need to know our athletes, I fundamentally believe that, but I cannot know your 1RM Push Press or how fast you can do 50 Bar Facing Burpees.

Bring a notebook to class.

Not a phone.

A notebook.

I know it sounds patronising but consider the effort a coach has gone to in order to give the best they possibly can to a class of people driven by their own distinct, individual goals and motivations. We could turn up, turn on the lights, shout “3,2,1, GO!”, sit back and then clear up after (we do these things too, and more). Would that be worth your money when you can go to any generic branded gym and do that for a fraction of the price? It certainly wouldn’t be worth my time to get out of bed at 0515 every day if that was all I was going to give.

Please, bring a notebook. Make a note of the workout. A quick note of your top lifts in the session and jot down your time / reps for the WOD. Add a line on which bits you struggled on and where you excelled – that’s all there is to it.

Then, when the coach suggests you spend 5 mins before a WOD working your weaknesses, such as double unders, pull ups, handstands, whatever, you can look back and immediately identify where you are currently imbalanced in your fitness journey. When the board says, “Push Press 5 x 3 @ 85% 1RM”, you can quickly flick back through and know your numbers. When the MetCon has, “20 x Deadlifts @ 70kg”, you can look back and see that you managed 15 unbroken last time and so have a goal of 20 unbroken this time! We can’t possibly know all of this stuff about you, only you can.

So, help out your local coach. If they put the effort in to give you the best possible route to your goals, do your bit as well. Taking a photo doesn’t count, you can’t reference it quickly or write notes on it.

Get a notebook.


Here, I’ll even give you a link, because I’m a coach and I care: Mega Cheap Notebooks


I’m Sorry if you don’t like my Honesty.

To be fair, I don’t like your…miscounting.


Trump Fact

I left the gym yesterday morning feeling pretty pleased with my workout. After a chipper containing heavy power cleans, muscle ups, lots of wall balls, double unders, push ups and running, I was content with my performance. Sure, I need to work on barbell cycling (recurring theme), and I should tidy up Muscle Ups before the Open (easily done) but overall, it was a steady and strong performance. There were also only 3 of us who managed it Rx.

But when we see scores on the board that are obviously too quick then we know one of two things:

  • The athlete scaled too much.
  • The athlete ‘can’t count’.

To address the first, there are correct times and places to scale, of course there are. You cannot and should not be conducting high intensity movements until you have Mechanics and Consistency nailed. Shit bust. No arguments there. However, if you’ve been languishing in your comfort zone, scaling movements or weights, because it gets you a faster time on the board then you are not progressing and we need to re-evaluate you. We are there to push ourselves and develop, not race to top the whiteboard. “Leave the Ego at the Door” – sound familiar?

To address the second, we have all been there: you’re halfway through a WOD, you zone out for a microsecond and then recover, thinking, “ah, crap, what number was I on??”. Typically, you make a decent guess and end up 2 or 3 above or below what you were aiming for. A good coach will laugh about it with you because we have all been there. But 20 is not a mistake. 20 is a calculation where you have decided to ‘miscount’. A good coach will not laugh about this with you. For the person next to you who was aiming to beat you today, you have denied them that right. They will either decide to cheat next time because it is ‘normalised’ and seen as acceptable, or a schism will develop in your box and negativity towards those ‘miscounters’ will occur; this is inevitable in a competitive, community-based, developmental fitness programme such as CrossFit.

Luckily, the Open is coming up. Each athlete will have a judge focused on them at all times; miscounts won’t occur because counting is taken out of the athlete’s hands for the duration of the WOD.

So you could say I was a little upset to see my score as the slowest on a long list yesterday; but, I wasn’t upset at my score because I know it was honest, true and that I have developed incredibly within this box over the last year. I was upset, and I see it as a failing on my part, that a very small minority appear to believe that repeated miscounting is acceptable. As a coach, I have failed to engage those particular athletes correctly and I will readjust my techniques accordingly. I will learn from this. ๐Ÿ˜‰

And with that, today’s workout!

CrossFit WatFord AM Session

I was coaching today but with a new assistant coach in, and a small class of experienced warriors, it was a chance for me to do the WOD too.

16 min AMRAP

  • 10 x Pull Ups
  • 20 x Pistols
  • 30 x Burpees
  • 40 x Sit Ups
  • 50 x Squats

Total: 2 rounds plus 45 reps

3 rounds of Pull Ups, unbroken. 3 rounds of Pistols, steady, a bit staccato but happy with where I’ve come with these in the last few weeks. Burpees, well paced and very consistent ๐Ÿ™‚ Sit Ups, all unbroken. Air Squats, only broken once in the first round to nudge someone else in to getting decent depth in theirs. In the second round, I stopped very briefly at 40 in order to slow down and rest slightly before taking on the Pistols again. This was intentional and I’m happy with then getting through the 3rd round of Pistols.

Snatch Accessory PM Session

20 min EMOM

3 x Snatch Hi Pulls

  • 5 sets of 50
  • 5 sets of 60
  • 5 sets of 65
  • 3 sets of 70
  • 2 set of 72.5kg

If nothing else, I’m far more comfortable on the bar than I have been in a very long time. There is nothing wrong with 3 reps at 72.5kg at all, getting the bar almost to chin height each time.


Due to a ‘working lunch’ yesterday, a lot of “biege” was consumed (1/4 sandwiches, half wraps, vol au vents, etc). However, today it is back on track. I do have to increase my protein intake and reduce fat, so I’ll be amending my shopping soon:

  • Pre-WOD: 15g Mixed Nuts
  • Breakfast: 35g Porridge Oats, 200ml Whole Milk, 25g Whey Protein, 1 Raw Egg
  • Snack: 15g Mixed Nuts
  • Lunch: 100g Tuna, 3 Scrambled Eggs, 100ml Whole Milk, lots of Leaves
  • Snack: 15g Mixed Nuts
  • Dinner: 300g homemade Beef Chilli, lots of Leaves, Veg.
  • Post-WOD: 25g Whey Protein, 200ml Whole Milk

I’ll be reducing to semi-skimmed milk for a while in order to bring fat content down a little. I need to find a better, natural higher protein snack instead of nuts too. Suggestions?

Idiots don’t eat before a WOD

I’ll get to the title in a moment.

The week began well! Deep and crisp and even, the frost this morning was cutting. Stomping through it to the gym at 0600, I was feeling pretty bloody festive and jolly! I decided to take a few snaps, as I crunched my way across the compound.

0615 on the way to the morning session.


Christmas Feet

Costa coffee on hand, and mostly recovered from the Rectus Femoris pull last week, I was intent on raising the numbers in the Snatch High Pulls.

Morning Strength Session

EMOM 20 – Snatch High Pull

  • 5 x 1 @ 45kg
  • 5 x 1 @ 50kg
  • 5 x 1 @ 55kg
  • 5 x 1 @ 60kg

This is an increase of 5kg at every level from last week and the form was strong on almost every single pull; very pleased with this set!

And then things started to go….less well…..

CrossFit Watford 1830 Session


Almost exactly 12 hours after the morning session.

Having had a pretty minimal lunch of a chicken breast and not much else, I had intended eating in London during a work trip.

The tube, coming back out of town. Well, kind of, it's artistic, innit!

The tube, coming back out of town. Well, kind of, it’s artistic, innit!

However, that didn’t materialise and the 1930 session I’d intended to get to became 1830 as a spot came up. Rushing back on the Tube, I didn’t eat anything and drove straight over to CFW. I had realised I’d not eaten but only, foolishly, downed some sachet of ‘cherry juice’ or some such freebie. Feeling fine though, I headed headlong in to:

3 x 5 Thrusters (up to 85% 1RM)

60 / 65 / 70 (x 2, struggled, reracked) / 5 x 70kg unbroken!

Happy with the lifts, I felt a little drained in the legs but pretty happy with a 5RM of 70kg.



  • Min 1 – 30 x Double Unders
  • Min 2 – 15 x Burpees
  • Min 3 – 15 Cal Row

The first round of double unders were ropey…my legs felt pretty heavy…and broke 3 times or so. Still, they were complete in under 30 secs and I hit the floor for the burpees. It took 50 secs to do 15 burpees! This was not a good sign. 15 cals on the rower complete in 45 secs. Back to double unders. Focusing, I managed to complete 27 before a quick break and finish. The burpees were another 50 sec slog before crawling on to the rower. 15 cals in 50 secs…1 pull per cal….and as I picked up the rope my vision rapidly began closing in, my legs started to shake and I stopped.

Taking myself over to the side, I slumped down, my heart rate absolutely racing! I stood up, and then sat back down again with a smack.

Charlie came over with an oat bar and it was at that point I wanted to kick myself for being such a complete twat and not eating properly today. I know it’s the silly season, with mince pies, chocolates and shit but they are not the substitute for food, people. I bloody mean it. High Intensity training is just that and it requires energy. I wasted myself during the Thrusters, achieving a new PR, and what was left was drained during the workout; I felt like a car running out of fuel.

So, learn the lessons, people!

Eat, Drink, Workout!

Positively going through the motions

I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced 1 kick 10,000 times.

Bruce Lee


“Going through the motions” sounds like a bad thing. Where you’re stuck in a rut ย or merely conducting work in a routine fashion for no apparent endgame, it is. However, there are times when repeating the motions is a good thing, especially if done clinically, with precision and with a goal at the end. I am, of course, talking about Olympic Lifting. After putting aside Oly Lifting (other than within MetCons) for the last 3 months, in favour of the Squat Programme, I have now returned to morning Oly sessions. Given the time of day (0615), I’m not looking to light up the world here. What I am aiming to do is “go through the motions”, repeating the well-worn drills given to me by Mike Burgener (*name drop*) and his son Codi on my CF Weightlifting Trainer course all those moons ago. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat. By the end of Nov, I will be in a position of confidence and mobility to allow me to start pushing the weight in preparation for the CF Open next year.

Having now begun coaching again, I am also looking to take the CF Level 2 course next year. More to follow.

Morning Session

Snatch Drills

  • Burgener Warm Up
  • 5-Stage Snatch Transition Exercises

3 Rounds of (empty bar):

  • Pull to Knee
  • Pull to Power Position
  • Hang Snatch
  • 3 x 3 Snatch @ 40kg (plus 2 x Overhead Squat)
  • 3 x 3 Snatch @ 50kg
  • 3 x 1 Snatch @ 60kg
  • 1 x Snatch @ 65kg

Entirely focusing on form and focus, I never intended going above 60kg but decided to finish on it before stripping the bar.All lifts were solid, although obviously not perfect. I’ll repeat this routine a few times before looking at developing strength.


A typical day in CrossFit Watford

CrossFit Watford 1930 Session


3 x 5 Back Squat


Could have gone heavier, surprised myself with this one although perhaps should have had more faith in myself after the recent Squat Programme.


6 Rounds for Time @ 50kg:

  • 12 x Power Clean
  • 10 x Front Rack Lunge
  • 8 x Thruster

Time Cap: 20 mins

Total: 5 rounds + 27 reps. FOR F*%!ยฃ SAKE!!!! I paced it too much and talked myself out of it. For the sake of about 10 seconds, I failed to come in under the time cap. I am really pissed about this one. I appreciate that barbell cycling is not a strength of mine (what barbell work is?) but getting to that barbell 1 second quicker each time would have given me more than enough time to complete it.

Change happens in the dark spaces, the places where you don’t want to go. Change happens when you stress your body and mind. Change does not happen when you take a breath whenever you f’king well feel like it!!!

This is the second time in as many weeks that I’ve thrown a tantrum over a workout. It’s not something I’m used to seeing in myself and I’m not liking it. For what it’s worth, I can only put it down to it being Remembrance, soon to be Dad’s birthday, Christmas (without Dad), etc. I guess it’s weighing on my mind more than a little right now. That’s for me to sort out though – I definitely do not advocate to my athletes getting upset in a workout! It’s for you to enjoy, embrace and grow!

To end on a positive, my form was excellent, I know that. I fought hard in each movement for stability and form throughout.