Bill Grundler

COACH - COMMENTATOR - CONSULTANT

A Waste?

Is it worth it? 

You put the time in and you lost.  Maybe you didn't even get the chance to step on the floor. But you put blood, sweat, and tears into it.  Do you think you wasted the time? 

Sure, maybe you could have done something else with the time you put in.  But if you were wanting to do something else, then why didn't you do it?  I'll tell you why....you didn't because you WANTED to do this.  You wanted to put the time in.  You wanted to push yourself.  You wanted to see just how far you could go.  You loved the dream.  You saw the goal in your head each and EVERY day. 

It's easy to think that you wasted your time since the goal wasn't reached.  But think of how much joy you had while you were doing it.  You loved the feeling of pushing yourself beyond what you ever thought you could and seeing just how much you could take.  You would lay on your back after a session staring at the ceiling with your chest heaving and sweat pouring from your body and thinking...."holy shit that was awesome! I never thought I'd be able to make it!"  But you did.  So yes, the GOAL may be the championship but each and every day you are there getting after it, you are involved in the championship.  Because there is no way you can get the goal without putting the time and sacrifice into it. 

As an older athlete, I have known years and years and years of training.  And the most amazing thing about it is that when I am pushing, breathing hard, muscles burning, and feeling dizzy, I feel like I did when I was in my early 20's as a collegiate wrestler.  THIS makes me feel young.  It's my Fountain of Youth.  No, I'm not as fast or as strong as I once was (well maybe I'm stronger but not faster hahah) but what, and how, I feel is exactly the same.  It's magic!  For those of you that feel like you may have wasted some time training for something, or studying for something, or sacrificing for something, remember that it is NEVER a waste.......even if you don't reach it.  They say it's the journey rather than the goal.  I believe that.  You gain so much from pushing yourself beyond what you think is possible.  And this is and will ALWAYS be worth more than the actual win because of everything you learn from it and everything you will, and will be able to do, in the future.  It's NEVER a waste.  EVER! :)

Master Program or EASIER Program?

NO, A MASTERS PROGRAM SHOULD NOT BE EASIER!!!!

My brother, James, is a Games-level Masters Athlete in the 45-49 division.  He is strong, he is fast, and he is capable of doing some pretty incredible workouts and doing them well.  When I programmed for him and got him from the general crossfitter to qualifying to the Games in 2015, we had to build him to an elite capability.  But the way to do this was NOT by picking some general program out there and then just giving him a lighter version of it because is older.

Now I’m not saying that Masters Athletes should be doing Matt Fraser's workout program, even if they want to be a competitive Games level Masters.  But the program should be at a level that pushes those that would be in the Games.  For example, how many Masters Programs would program Clean and Jerks at 225# for men and 155# for women regularly?  Does that seem like too much?  What about a set that has Masters doing increasing weighted thrusters from 135-185# for men and 95-125# for women at
30-20-10-20-30reps?  Is the volume too high?  In both instances, the answer could be yes and it could be no……solely depending on the athlete that is doing the program.  

For my brother, I knew that he could handle those weights and these rep sets just fine.  So then why would I make the C&J weight at 185# or decrease the reps or the weight for the thrusters just because he is older? I wouldn’t.  The only reason I should make the weight lighter is that I am wanting a particular response from the workout.  I want a higher intensity.  So I bring the weight down and then he can do more reps faster increasing that intensity.

I get so frustrated watching Master Athletes jumping to a program because it's popular but not understanding that it's really not designed for “them”.  The BEST way to get the programming for yourself would be to have a coach that sees you every day program for you.  They will know your strengths and weaknesses, they will know how you move, they will know your real limit to push to, they will see how you are recovering for the next day and how you feel, and they will be able to see if you are getting the right stimulus from each piece of the programmed workout.  But I get it, it's expensive.  

The next option would be to have a program designed for you.  Whether this means a truly designed program specific for you remotely or a templated program, it's important to understand what you are getting.  Just because a program has a bunch of stuff on it, does NOT mean it's a better program.  Just because it’s the same thing this big name or that big name are doing doesn’t mean its better.  Just because it takes you over two hours to do it doesn't mean its better.  

It all comes down to the stimulus intended, the REASON for the workout.  The reason is NEVER “because its hard”, or “because I saw [insert badass crossfitter name] do it on Instagram.  There should be a reason AND the programmer should be able to design it so that they know ALMOST EXACTLY how long particular event should take, or how many reps someone should be able to do or design it so that it can be known.  To do this, the program for Masters needs to be APPROPRIATE for the athlete.  There will be a massive amount of difference from athlete to athlete and the programming needs to be such that the top athletes, best athletes, strongest athletes, etc get the desired stimulus from the program that day, as well as all the levels of competitor below them.    

This isn’t as simple as dividing people into levels, or age groups.  You can't just make it lighter and think that it is now APPROPRIATE.  If I am strong enough or have the skills to do what a younger athlete can do, then why would I/should I do a scaled down weight or movement…just because I'm older?  If I can move it about the same number of times as someone younger, or do about the same number of reps as a younger athlete, then why change that?  If you do then I don't get the workout I should.  In fact, it makes me worse than what I was.  On the flip side, if I can't do the weight or the movement, THEN if I don't have an APPROPRIATE scale or modification, then again, I get some other workout.  and it might actually make me worse also.  If you are pigeonholed based on your “general age” rather than by your abilities then you won’t improve correctly.  


Next is that the program and the programmer have to understand that Masters don’t heal and recover the way younger athletes do.  This is tough to understand when you have no idea what it feels like to grind and then have to get up the next day hobbling around.  Again, the object to contend with this is NOT to make the workouts easier but to let them hit A workout.....one good workout hard.... so that they can get the most out of it and then will be able to function the next day to hit another one hard.  

If we understand Crossfit, then we know that INTENSITY is the key to all the gains we want.  We dont have the ability to hit workout after workout after workout with the same intensity.  Sure we can do it, and we will even be “pushing hard” through it. But because we don’t have the same recovery of the young STARS, all that will do is grind us down.  It won’t prep us to PR and continue to get better.

"But what if I make it to the Games Bill???"  Well then yes, you will need to add the volume of multiple workouts in a day so that your body is used to that.  But for Masters, that literally is ONE competition in the entire season (not including the local comp types).  The OPEN, 1 event a week.  The ONLINE QUALIFIER, 1 event a day.  Then the GAMES has 2-3 a day.  If you are pushing hard on your workouts on the days you have them, at a competition pace (at least the ones that are programmed to be as such), then your body will be up for the challenge at a competition.  

At what intensity do you think you will hit multiple workouts in a day during regular training?  100%?  80%?  65%?  I can tell you its closer to the 65%.  Sure you are working hard but “hard” is a relative term.  And if you can’t put the right amount into it, then you can’t get the right results out.  And with our bodies being incredible compensating machines, after we train like this a bunch (if we aren’t broken from it) then we are training to work at THAT level of intensity.  No wonder everyone is so sore during the ONE event from the OPEN or after a local competition.  

Finally, Mobility.  YES, we should be doing it.  YES, it's important.  YES, we should understand what and why we are doing it.  But if you are picking a program because it has THAT or a dynamic workout………then you aren't being the older and wiser Masters Athlete.  I think its great that it's included and if you are a newer athlete to the game then its a bonus for sure.  But THAT does not make it a successful program.  

You need to learn about mobility and how to tend to the issues you have.  Have your coach or your trainer help you with mobility movements for YOUR issues.  Sure you can have movements that will pertain to the workout for the day but you need to work on YOUR issues first.  Go to youtube and see whats out there.  Try different things and see what works best.  Take mobility classes.  Read Mobility books.  I honestly feel this needs to be what you do for you.  If the program has movements for the day's workout, great!  But that shouldn’t make or break the program.

The BEST program is one that is tailored to YOU and APPROPRIATE to YOU. NOT to your age!

 

photo credit: the crossfit games

Need a little More?? Why??

     When many people start doing CrossFit workouts at the INFERNO, I usually get the question, "so when do we do the CARDIO?"  First, a cardio, or aerobic workout, means that your body is needing to pull oxygen into the blood so that it can use it to fuel the muscles.  Cardio DOES NOT mean just running, or just swimming, or just cycling only.  It literally is ANYTHING that causes your body to need to use and draw in more oxygen. 

     We all know that CrossFit is Constantly Varied Functional Movements done at High Intensity.  Most have a decent understanding of what the goal of a CrossFit workout is: increased work capacity across broad times and modal domains. This means you should have a broad based level of strength and conditioning to be able to attack any task.  This increase in fitness and functionality will render a body that is not only a badass machine but looks like a badass as well. The hot body becomes the by-product of the fitness program, not the goal.

       The old school of thought is that to get "in-shape" or to look good, you need to burn calories.  The first thing almost EVERYONE will think of is running.  "If I run for 30 minutes every day then I will burn X number of calories and I'll lose weight."  Not an untrue statement but seemingly puts emphasis in the wrong directions.  For most, running 30 minutes will burn anywhere from 300-500 calories.  if you do this three times a week then you are burning up to about 1/2 a pound of fat a week.  

       For many, this will be on the treadmill at the globo gym.  And if they haven't been doing anything, then yes this is a great exercise for them.  The downside is that the majority will never increase the speed, the duration, the incline, etc. and with this, you will only be able to advance to a point.  Then you will actually lose fitness because you will have maxed out your potential at this speed, time, and distance.  

       With the advent of high-intensity interval training, or even more importantly, CrossFit, the increase of intensity (the amount of work done faster) has become the magic ingredient.  Studies have shown that as you increase the level of intensity, you can actually decrease the amount of time needed to get all the benefits of the workout.  In fact, the shorter the duration and the higher the intensity, the more strength and muscle toning benefits there are as well as cardiovascular benefits.  Think about the body of a sprinter versus a marathon runner.  The sprinter will have much more muscle tone and be much stronger than a marathon running.  There are some world class runners that can even jump on to a 20" box yet they are one of the fastest long distance people on the planet.  

     The next important thing about this training is that instead of your calorie burning ending at the end of the workout, you can continue to burn for hours after the workout.  Think about an oven.  If you turn the heat up to 100 degrees and let it heat for 15 minutes, and then compare it heating the oven to 475 degrees and letting it heat for 5 minutes, the 475 will be hot for much longer than the 100 burn even though it was heating for a much longer time.

     Have you heard of a Tabata workout?  8 Rounds of: 20 secs max effort work and: 10 secs of rest for a total of 4 minutes.  This workout time frame was developed by Dr. Izumi Tabata.  He found that doing this intermittent max effort work for short amounts of time with a small rest to be able to have a "sort of" recover to go again.  These types of workouts have been shown to burn just as much as the long slow to moderate intensity but in fractions of time.  Sounds to me like a win win to do these!!!

       But here's the thing, you need to push hard!!!  If your intensity level, your speed, tempo, or work done, in a 6-10 minute workout is that of a 16-20 minute workout, then you are just doing a short activity.  You won't get the long burning that shorter high-intensity workout will.  You won't get the strength and muscle toning benefits.  You won't get the fat loss benefits.  Basically, you are losing out all around!  The entire key is to get yourself going!!!  But, yes I know......this is VERY uncomfortable.  And usually, the shorter the workout, the more painful the experience.

       Here is where your mental toughness pays off.  Yes, the workout is short, but you NEEEEEEEEEEED to stay in the fight for the ENTIRE time!  You can't let yourself take a break.  You can rest when you are done!  But now is the time to fight!!!  If you have much left, especially to go and do some 30 minute run after, then you didn't go hard enough.  If you aren't laying on the floor exhausted, smashed, then you didn't do a maximum effort. 

       Of course, maximum effort will be relative based on the individual but also the length of the workout.  So you have a 20-minute workout, then your job is to go as hard and as fast as you can for that 20 minutes.  It's not just about burning a few calories. It's not about training for the Games.  It's about getting the maximum benefits you can get from these workouts.  It's all right there for the taking.  You just have to take it!

       So if you need that 30-minute run because you need to settle your head, then by all means.  But if you feel like you need to add "some more cardio" to your regiment, ok, but why not try to just go faster in the workout you are given.  I'm not opposed to testing things out, but just make sure you test out going "ALL OUT" in the workout as well! 

       Good Luck out there and get those GOALS!!!!

Was It Really Worth It???

       Was it really worth it?  That thing you worked so hard for.  Maybe it was a job you studied hard for to crush the interview, or it was a competition that you have been training for months or years for or just that goal that you have been sacrificing for daily.  But after all of this, you didn’t get it.  Maybe it was that there was just someone better than you, or you froze when you had to react and respond, or you got injured, or life just got in the way and you couldn’t go for it.  We have all been here at some point.  And when it happens, we slam ourselves with the question “was it really worth it???”

       The Rolling Stones have a song that has an incredibly accurate and appropriate answer to that question:  “You can’t always get what you want.  But if you try, sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.”   Well, that sounds great but really it sounds kinda of negative and shitty! 

       Let me give you an example.  When I worked for the fire service, it was always known that to get a job was extremely difficult.  For some, it would take years to get a job.  For some, there would be many, many tests, dozens of interviews and still not get the job.  Then there would be another person that take their very first test and interview and they are in.  I don’t believe that this happens because the one was just so much better than the other.  But what I do know is that there was something that the first person NEEDED before they could really be ready to step in there. I'm not talking about not having the right information to answer the question.  I mean more like they aren’t READY to take on that job: the responsibilities, the commitment, the ability to handle stress, whatever.  

       Here's another one: back in the late 70’s early 80’s, my favorite wrestler was Lee Kemp.  He was a 3 time World Champ, 7 time National Champ, 2-time Pan-Am Champ.  Basically, he was the best wrestler the USA had at the time.  But with all of this, he never won the Olympic Gold medal.  It wasn’t  because he was hurt.  It wasn't because he didn’t make the team. It wasn’t because someone’s better.  He did all his training and preparing (much longer than most since the Olympics are only every 4 years) and then the USA boycotted the 1980 Olympics that were held in Russia.  An outside source took his only opportunity away from every being an Olympic champ. But even with this crushing blow, he was able to take his past successes, his commitment to working hard and learning how to bounce back from such an unfortunate situation and become not only a successful entrepreneur but a keynote speaker for mental toughness and working hard.  And 28 years after the boycott, he was announced as a coach for the 2008 USA Olympic Wrestling team.

       And for a little more personal example:  I was never one to do the CrossFit Games Masters Competition.  That just wasn’t a goal or a dream of mine.  But after I tore my ACL at the SoCal Regionals, I just couldn’t recover fast enough to be competitive in the Open division.  And when my brother James did well through the Masters Open, he told me it would be fun to go to the Games together in the masters Division.  I agreed and was pretty fired up at the idea.

       In 2015, I went into the Master Division ranked number 1. I battled up against some other studs all weekend and ended up going into the finals tied for 1st place with Matt Swift from Australia and we had to a workout with Squat Snatches and Ring Muscle ups.  It just happened to be one of his favorite workouts.  Wasn’t one of mine hahaha!  As it turned out, Matt won the title and I came in second.  But this isn’t the example.

       As the 2016 season come around, I had a full year of good training on my knee.  I missed going to the Open Regionals by 7 spots which were massive since they only took 20 from SoCal for the new combined regions.  But this was going to be my retribution year in the Masters!

       My brother and I were in the same age group this year.  We were doing a ton of virtual training together and got to actually meet up and train together.  It was tough with all the training but really fun. Like a blast from the past from when we wrestled as kids.  

       We went into the Games strong and ready!  On the second day, we had a quick double event where we had a Toes to Bar set with light Clean and Jerks and a Sprint, then a quick break and into 5 minutes to find a 1 rep max Squat Clean.  I was sitting at the top of the leaderboard going into the event.  I didn’t do great on the Toes to Bar event so I knew I needed to lift heavy in the Clean event. I hit 315 in warm up (and I hit 325 at home when I practiced the event) so I knew I could go big.

       We start off and I jump immediately to 275.  I pull it easily and stand up quick.  As I get to standing, the bar flies off my shoulders.  It was so light but the judge calls it a no-rep.  I decide to keep going up.  I miss the next one at 305, miss it again, then come down to 295 and miss it.  Time ends.  I got a zero.  Come to find out there were a minimum work requirement and a zero means you can no longer continue in the event.  I was out of the Games.  

       It hurt bad. Really bad! But I was able to cheer and coach my brother on to a 7th place finish.  It was one of the most fun times I have had with him.  He grew as a CrossFit athlete and our relationship grew to a new depth.   

       In all of our situations, ones that are successful (and I mean they turn out the way we wanted it to) and the ones that aren’t (where we don’t have the desired outcome), there is information for us that we need to pick up.  The hard part is that this information might not even be very obvious for us to see.  We might not see it all! (these are the toughest ones)  But we need to pull our focus way back from “poor me” or “awesome me” and see the big picture of the situation.

       The fact is that we don’t exist in these small little moments of time:  the win, the competition, the interview, the job, the goal.  These are simply pinpoints in our life.  Sure there will be flashes of joy and pain, even extreme flashes.  But life is a big swooshing swirled painting with many colors and designs.  At the end, those little pinpoints of joy and pain will be micro-moments of the bigger and fuller view of our life.  

       This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t fight for these things you want, that you shouldn’t aspire to do great and wonderful things.  But know that you will fail MANY more times than you will succeed, and sometimes it's out of your hands whether you do or not.  And there is a ton of information that we can get from these situations to make ourselves and our lives better.  

        Yes, it sucks bad ……really bad, to not get what you work so hard for.  But it's up to you to see what you learned by going down the path.  Take those things and continue forward, knowing that you didn’t waste any time.  You got exactly what you needed, exactly when you needed it!

Yo!

Im gunna say it and im not even embarrassed:  I think the Rocky movies (1,2,3,4 and Rocky Balboa, 5 doesnt count) are truly some of the best movies ever written.  Now i am a Star Wars FREAK, but i ALWAYS have an emotional reaction when i see the Rocky movies that i never get in any other movie.  I happened to catch the tail end of the Rocky Balboa movie tonight, and just as when i watch any of the Rocky movies, i instantly tear up.  It doesnt matter if i watch the whole movie or just a small part.  I will instantly get watery eyes.  Sure, its an underdog story, but that is just the surface.  The movie is about heart.  How much can you take and keep going.  Its not just beating the odds against the "better boxer", its about all the other stuff you have to deal with at the same time.  This has always resonated with me.  Its about a guy trying to be proud of himself, have his family be proud of him and his kid be proud of him.  I think about this everyday.  Im not trying to be a someone in particular but i am trying to be a someone.  Someone that i am proud of.  Someone that has left something great for his kids.  Someone that his family is proud of (whether they agree with him or not but proud of the fight and what he is striving for).  Someone that his kids are proud of even if he is the annoying gym guy, who always shows up at the stuff his kids are doing whether they want him there or not.  And finally a guy that fights the feeling of giving up because he knows he wont be ok with that.  Its not about the win or lose but not feeling like a bum.  Having self respect.  I have a bunch of things in my world that are awesome.  But i have a bunch of things in my world that are not awesome at all.  In fact, some are shitty.  i dont tell people the things because honestly i dont want to get lost down a path of my own bummed-out-ness and id rather look for the positives and keep pushing through.  But because of all these reasons, ill watch the Rocky movies and instantly tear up.  Its not a sad tearing though.  Its like a release.  I can empathize with what im seeing and i can let the emotions out(i try really hard not to do this in front of people haha).  But the best thing is that when Rocky "wins", its himself seeing the situation as a win.  He fought hard, he respected his own work, he respected the work he put into the training,  he respected the way he stood back up, he respected the way he took care of his family, etc.  Yep, they are some of the best movies ever.  Thanks for those Mr. Stallone! :)