A paper published this month in The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research looked at the question of whether the music you listen to affects your performance while doing resistance training. The participants in this study either listened to music they preferred or music they did not prefer during an AMRAP of Bench Press at 75 percent of their 1-rep max. The participants were measured on total number of reps completed, as well as mean velocity, mean power, peak velocity, peak power, and motivation. Each of these metrics increased – with motivation showing the highest increase – when the participants listened to their preferred music. The study size was small, but the results are interesting to me. It is not too surprising that listening to your preferred music increases your motivation – I think we have all experienced that. But it is somewhat surprising to me that it actually resulted in difference in force production and power output – that lifting weights while listening to music you enjoy has a physiological effect, not just a psychological one.




Reminder! The Holiday Party is Saturday. The festivities begin at 7 pm and end when Santa pukes in the parking lot. There will be tacos, alcohol, photo booths, and a magician. Cocktail attire is encouraged, as is bringing your favorite dessert to share with everyone.




A) Movement Capacity:

     6 Rounds :30:30

     Candle Stick Levers
     Arch/Hollow Holds (alternating rounds)

B) AMRAP 15:

     6 Pull Ups

     7 Candle Stick 2 Stands (w/ Pistol Option)

     Row 150m





3 Rope Climbs

3 Wall walk-ups

25 Box Jumps

E2MOM: 8 burpees


I want to share a quote with you from General James Mattis, USMC:


“A physically vigorous life is not incompatible with a contemplative life. The loss of nervous energy into a physical act creates a clarity of thinking.”


I find this to be true, especially in those times when the difficulty of the task requires total focus on the work at hand – say, for example, when I am rock climbing or carrying dumbbells around the block during a mental toughness workout. Physical practice can become an almost meditative act, and thoughts or ideas have a curious way of organizing and clarifying themselves during this kind of work. More often, though, it is in the moments after the workout, having physically exhausted myself, that my thinking is most clear. I have heard runners describe something like this, too, though I haven’t personally experienced it while running.


Do you find that workouts provide clarity of thinking? Do you intentionally use workouts as a time of contemplation? Or do you just focus on the work and let your mind do what it wants?




“The Broomstick Mile” *** Do not underestimate this one! ***

For Time:

With a PVC Pipe (except the mile)

25 Back Squats

25 Front Squats

25 Overhead Squats

400 meter Run

25 Shoulder Presses

25 Push Presses

25 Push Jerks

400 meter Run

50 Hang Squat Cleans

400 meter Run

50 Power Snatches

400 meter Run




Find a 20-rep Back Squat

*** Tanya Bentley will be leading a FREE Breath Class @ 12:00-12:30pm on Friday ***

We are halfway through Re-test Week for Cycle 18 – the last training cycle for 2018. If you’ve enjoyed success in the re-testing, please share in the comments! I’ll share one extraordinary achievement so far – Monica Martinez has made her way onto the leaderboard for Bench Press 1-rep max with a 3-rep max of 143 pounds. Way to go Monica!




A) Tidal Volume Breathing Test:

     Overhead Squat

B) 20 Minutes to find Heaviest Load:

     1 Hang Snatch + 1 Snatch + 2 OHS





EMOM 30:

5 Pull-ups

10 Push-ups

15 Air Squats

I have started reading Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and though I am only a few pages into it, I am blown away by how profound a work it is. The book explores the question: When do people feel most happy? Csikszentmihalyi figures if we can answer that question then maybe we can order our lives so that happiness plays a larger role in it.


I’ll share more from the book in the coming weeks, but as we conclude the last practice week of the cycle and prepare for re-test week I’ll leave you with this: “The best moments,” Csikszentmihalyi writes, “usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.”





For time (12-minute cap):

9 Cleans (135/95)

18 Bar Facing Burpees

6 Cleans

12 Bar Facing Burpees

3 Cleans

6 Bar Facing Burpees

6 Cleans

12 Bar Facing Burpees

9 Cleans

18 Bar Facing Burpees

Rest 4 minutes, then

Find a heavy 3-rep Back Squat (10-minute cap)




EMOM 10:

6 Overhead Squats (50% of 1RM Snatch)

     Rest 2 mins


7 Barbell Floor Press (same weight)

     Rest 2 mins


8 Barbell Alternating Reverse Lunges (same weight)

     Rest 2 mins


6-8 Strict Chin-ups

I want to acknowledge Shirley’s willingness to share about her vulnerabilities in yesterday’s post and echo the thought with which she ended her post: Pushing the edges of our comfort zones is how we grow (and that is hard!), and doing that work among a group of like-minded and supportive people is how you keep it fun.


Look how awesome Christian Donahue looks swimming that dumbbell across the pool! 




A) 15 Minute Ascending Ladder for Quality and Creativity:

     4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16…etc., reps of:



     Squats x 2

B) Bench Press:

     Peak: 5 x 4 @ 85%

     Base: 5 x 6 (By Feel)



For time:

Row 5,000m


I was corresponding with one of my remote nutrition clients over the weekend and she remarked that she had just gotten through the hardest week of her grown-up life. My first instinct was to console her with an, “Oh, I am so sorry you had such a difficult week.” But as I started to type that reply it felt wrong. It was sympathetic, yes, but not what I really felt. Instead of that false sympathy, I instead wrote to her about how excited I was for her to have struggled through the most difficult week of her life and come out the other side alive, intact, and victorious. Sure, it was a hard week, but you made it! You won, the circumstances around you didn’t win. As we talked more, we both gained a deeper understanding of how important that shift in thinking can bring about such a different sense of how an event felt. Champion instead of victim. Conqueror instead of conquered. And it was a reminder to me of how powerful our words can be when they are directed at one another. We help shape one another’s perceptions, for good or for ill, whether we intend to or not. Knowing that, what can you do this week to help someone frame their circumstances in more positive ways?




A) 3 Rounds on the 5:00 for total meters or Quality!

     15 Air Squats

     10 Tempo Romanian Deficit KB DL (32/28)

     8 Askew Push Ups

     Row for max meters in time remaining

     *4-min cap on work per round*

B) Bench Press

     PEAK: 5×5 @ 80%

     BASE: 5×8 (by feel)



A) EMOM 10:

     2 Hang Power Snatch + 3 Power Snatch (Touch-and-Go)

B) Reflections

C) AMRAP 12 “Upshift/Downshift”

     5 Snatches (Gear 4-5)

     15 Pull-Ups (Gear 4-5)

     200m Run (Gear 3)


Man, the sumo deadlifts are getting heavy! Three sets of five this week at 85 percent felt good, but heavy. I’ve seen so much improvement in our students’ technique and strength throughout the cycle and it is exciting to think about where we will be come Retest Week. Speaking of which, Retest Week is coming soon. We have three weeks of training remaining in Cycle 18 and then we will hit the final Retest Week of 2018.


As we come to the conclusion of Cycle 18, I would love to know: (1) How are you feeling? (2) Are you progressing? (3) How do you know? If you set any personal goals at the beginning of the year or the beginning of this cycle, do you feel like you’ve made progress and how are you tracking that? Are you using the Reflection sheets to track it? Personally, my training priority for Cycle 18 is to train every day of the bench press and sumo deadlift cycles and to train on every day that includes gymnastics pulling or pushing. I’ve been very consistent with those priorities (I know because I log my training and I review my reflection sheets) and I can tell that it is paying off. Will I pull 405 pounds when we retest the deadlift? I don’t know for certain, but I do know that I have put in the work to set myself up for success.


We won’t do another full cycle of training in 2018. We may have a mini cycle that carries us through from Thanksgiving into the new year, but the Cycle 19 won’t start until 2019. That gives you about 6 weeks of time to reflect on 2018 and have a conversation with your coach about setting some goals for next year. It also gives us coaches an opportunity (if you will have those conversations with us) to design Cycles 19, 20, and 21 with your personal goals in mind. Some things are evergreen: everyone can get stronger and more stable in the overhead position, everyone can benefit from a stronger core, everyone can use more energy systems training. Those are things that will never not be considered when we design a training cycle. But if you guys have personal goals that tend to bunch up around certain specific training stimuli, the coaches would love to incorporate those things into the programming.




A) Squat Mobility (10 minutes)

B) 6 Rounds :30:30

     Blocked Kip Swings / Kipping PUs

     Alternating Pistols

C) 7-10 Sets for Quality Load:

     1 Power Snatch + 1 OHS + 1 Snatch + 1 OHS

     Rest ~ :90 between sets



A) Bench Press

     PEAK 5X5 @ 80%

     BASE 5X8 (BY FEEL)

B) 5 Cycles FQL:

     3 BB Push Press + 2 Jerks + 8 FR Lunges

C) Reflection


     Team shuttle run relay (teams of 3 or 4)

     Accumulate as many 10m shuttles as you can

***Join us for a FREE Performance Breath Class on Friday from 12:00-12:30pm with Tanya Bentley***


We have had a representative for a new vendor stop by Oak Park recently and I wanted to bring the community’s attention to their product. The vendor is Kettlebell Kitchen, and what they offer is similar in many respects to Territory – a prepared food delivery service.


From what I have seen, there is a bit more flexibility in the meal plans than what Territory offers, and there are options that are more calorie dense than the usual Territory meal. From what I have tasted of their food, I like it more. Jamie enjoyed it and Kenny did as well. 


We are considering adding a Kettlebell Kitchen refrigerator at Oak Park – perhaps in addition to, or perhaps in replacement of the Territory fridge. If any of you are loyal Territory customers, I can get you in touch with the Kettlebell Kitchen rep so he can give you some discount codes to try out their food. I don’t think we are sold on them yet – that will depend heavily on whether the community likes the switch. *IF* we switch, we will give you a lot of notice and we will have Kettlebell Kitchen come out to the gym and bring samples and help you transition from Territory.




A) 2 Rounds For Time:

     800m Run

     30 Pull Ups

     40 Push Ups

     (18-Minute Cap)

B) Reflect (5 Minutes)

C) Sumo DL

     PEAK: 3 x 5 @ 85%

     BASE: 5×5 (by feel) 




For time:

1500m Row

20 Power Cleans (135/95)

20 Push Press

20 Back Squat


(12:15 cap)