• Rob Olson

Member Q&A with Rob

^ 24hr wod completion celebration!

Members submitted questions via Facebook and PM to Owner and Head Coach Rob Olson this week. Check it out!

1. What makes a good member that maybe isn't obvious? Community is probably the main reason most of us love this place, what can we do to improve that?

A “good” member has several qualities. First and foremost, they have a positive attitude. Negativity is like a rotten egg, you can smell is from a mile away and nobody wants to be around it. Second, they are honest. Similar to a rotten egg, nobody likes a cheater. People know when others cheat, and it just creates unnecessary drama. Third, they are open to coaching. If a Coach gives you a tip, do you honestly try to fix it, or do you keep doing what you were doing because you don’t want to slow down or reduce weight? Fourth, they work hard.

Everybody has off days from time to time, and sometimes CrossFit is a release from a bad day at work, so we don’t expect all of these qualities to be present all of the time, but to have a good vibe at CFS, the majority of people need to exhibit these qualities.

2. How do you conquer burnout? The first two years of crossfit the gains were exponential but I've been seeing the gains plateau or even diminish a bit. I'm a bit concerned this might be causing burnout.

Burnout is real. There are three ways to conquer it and avoid it altogether.

First, implement more deload weeks into your training. [Read my full blog on deloads here.] Remember we grow and get stronger from CrossFit when we rest. The actual workout puts stress on our body and makes us weaker. So if you are not getting enough rest, the cumulative effect will be that of burnout. [Rest refers to both days off from training, as well as sleep quantity and quality].

Second, examine your workout schedule. The ideal CrossFit routine is 3 days on, and 1 day off. Repeat. Its been scientifically proven that you cannot maintain the same intensity for more than a few days in a row. Another common routine, not as ideal, but fits our schedule better, is 5 days on, 2 days off.

Third, examine your nutrition. If you are not feeding your body the right amount of calories, it will not perform. Its fairly common for people to be “under-eaters” and this directly translates to more stress on the body, more cortisol, and more burnout.

3. My question is nutrition. If you are working out in the morning, what’s your go-to before you workout? Would you ever recommend not eating before a wod? And two, what do you eat before an endurance run/bike (two plus hours of activity)? What are your go-to’s during a distance event? What’s the goal nutritionally during a marathon? Purely carbohydrate and fluid? I think that covers it. Thanks!

If I workout in the morning, most of the time, yes, I do go on an empty stomach. If I do eat something, it would be a banana or a small amount of carbohydrates. Personally speaking, I find that if I workout with food in my stomach, my workout suffers. My body is sending blood to my stomach and intestines to aid in digestion, but I need more blood in my arms and legs and muscles that are working hard. I never feel nauseous, I just feel slow.

For endurance activities over 2 hours long, I’ll have a higher carbohydrate meal beforehand, probably 2+ hours before I go out. I’m a big fan of Kodiak pancakes, or a simple protein with white rice.

My go-to during any endurance event is Tailwind. I used this for my 50k (32 miles). So for over 8 hours, all I consumed was this product. No gels, no goos, no pills, just this. It is basically sugar and electrolytes/minerals. It tastes good, its easy on the stomach, and it has everything your body needs.

Lastly, the goal nutritionally during a marathon is to keep your body fueled and avoid depleting your glycogen stores (aka – hitting the wall!). I used the tailwind product above, and I ran with a mini bottle in each hand. I did the math and figured out I needed to drink 1 bottle per hour. So as I ran the race I kept an eye on my watch to ensure I was drinking enough. You’d be surprised how easy it is to not drink, more often than not I found myself having to drink because the hour was almost up and the bottle wasn’t empty!

^ Coach Rob running the 50k with the bottles of Tailwind

4. What are a couple of your favorite go-to meals, and between-meal/post-workout snacks?

Oh boy, favorite meals! Breakfast I typically have 4 eggs and a bowl of old fashioned oatmeal. Lunch is usually chicken, white rice, and cashews. Dinner is more of a toss up, but typically is a salad with chicken and goat cheese.

Between meals, well, I just eat more meals (lol). I eat a lot – 3,300 calories. But if I need a snack, I crush those Perfect Bars.

Post-workout I do 30g of protein and about 60g of carbohydrates, and depending on my schedule, the goal is to eat another meal within 1 hour. Feed the machine!

5. Do you remember your first crossfit workout? If so what was it? Also ... if you were granted one super power what would it be.

Hah! My first CrossFit workout. Do I remember it … yes and no. It was the spring of 2008, San Diego, at 4am, and I had already dunked in the Pacific Ocean and gotten nice and sandy from head to toe. Then Dave Castro (one of our instructors) proceeded to lead us in a “wod” that consisted of, well, all I remember is pullups and burpees. Up to this point in the Navy all we were ever allowed to do was super strict pullups, and now Dave is up there kipping and doing 50+ pullups telling us to keep up! Most of us had never seen kipping let alone practiced it, so naturally most of us were falling behind and were sent to the Pacific Ocean for “remediation”. Good times!

If I were granted one super power, I would want to fly! I love travelling and this would enable me to see the world!

^ Not your typical first CrossFit wod

6. Who is your fitness hero and why?

Sounds cliché to say because he is the Fittest on Earth, but Mat Fraser! Dude is legit. Who wakes up and does 500m repeats on a rower at 5am in their basement alone? Mat does. His work ethic and drive is humbling. A great quote from Mat – “I consciously seek out every day – "What am I bad at"? And how can I pound this weakness until it’s a strength?”

7. What are your top priorities for improving CFS?

Top 3 Priorities:

First, finding a long-term home.

Second, improved work-life balance for the employees. [reduce burnout]

Third, continue to redefine what it means to be a health and wellness facility. I don’t want to be just a gym. I want to be the place that people come to get healthy, to get well, and to stay happy, healthy, and fit. Coaching can be so much more than fixing a squat. I want help people with mindset and life outside of the gym as well.

8. What do you recommend for stretching and warming up before class? Do the workouts fit together with a theme or specific goals for the week, a month or are they stand alone work outs?

Warmups – the one thing I wish more people did before class! Just hop on a bike or rower for five or ten minutes. This simple act primes the body for fitness. Think about the average person who sits at a desk for 8 hours during the day. Or the Mom or Dad that is driving their kids around. Sitting is devastating to the body. To then come in to CrossFit and expect your body to be ready to go is honestly asking a lot. Getting on the rower for 10 minutes will do a world of good to loosen up your body and raise your core temperature to prepare it for fitness. The warmup we program in class is more often than not a specific warmup related to the wod. Everybody can benefit from more “general” warmup.

Programming – There are weekly goals and monthly goals, but there is no specific theme or macro or micro cycles. In any given week I try to hit all the different stimulus's, from long 20 minute AMRAPS to short 3 minute intervals, to heavy squats with low volume to light squats at high volume. Upper body and lower body, core work, plus gymnastics, weightlifting, cardio, I try to get them all varied enough keep it fresh and hit all the body parts in different modalities.

9. The mental struggle of pushing yourself hard vs. not getting injured is really difficult when you're super competitive (as I am). I have no problem pushing myself all the way to true failure, but I also tend to injure myself when I do so. I never want to give up, but I also try to listen to my body. I've found that balance to be extremely difficult mentally. It's a huge grey area and any tips you have to think about that differently would be helpful.

My first question would be, why do you get injured when you push yourself hard? You should theoretically be able to push yourself 100% and it not result in an injury. Is form degrading? Are you pushing past your range of motion and overextending in a fatigued state? Is it an overuse injury from doing more reps? Does the same body part get injured each time, or is it different?

Without knowing the answers to the above questions, here is my advice:

Always ask yourself, what is the risk vs reward of this workout in relation to my goals? How can I scale this wod to maximize my gains while remaining injury free? For pretty much all of us at CFS, if there is a risk of injury, I would recommend reducing intensity or scaling. Better to get 1% gains every day injury free than get 2% gains every now and then with some injuries.

I know this is a general answer to a specific question, but in order to get to the bottom of it, I would need to know more. Please follow-up with me if you want to discuss further!

10. What are your tips for integrating CrossFit training with Triathlon or other distance training?

When I did my Ironman, my schedule was this:

CrossFit – Mon / Wed / Fri

Endurance – Tue / Thur / Sat

Rest – Sunday

For the endurance training, since my goal was an Ironman and had 3 disciplines to train, I would do bike intervals on Tuesday, swim on Thursday, and run on Saturday. My training was far from the traditional Ironman methods. I never did more than half of the race distances in training, I never did any “brick” workouts, and I never trained for more than 2 hours a day. **Actually, I think I did ONE bike ride that went for 3 hours. I don't like to plan my routes, so I just ended up going farther than anticipated lol

Also worth noting, I had two goals – to complete the Ironman, AND not lose any of my strength. So I added extra strength work on top of my CrossFit workouts. Nothing complicated, but I would squat heavy once a week before a wod, and I would bench heavy once a week before a wod. I re-tested my strength after the Ironman, and no gains were lost due to the long endurance work.

CrossFit fitness translates more to other disciplines than people think. Doing the endurance training was as much about working the skill of the event than anything.

^ Coach Rob at Ironman Lake Placid 2017

11. After last Friday's workout and for a solid 48 hours after I felt like I couldn't eat enough... did that WOD wake up my inner tape worm and has that happened to you and what do you suggest to do in that situation?

Simply put – you were not fueled properly before the workout. When we workout, we use glycogen in our body (stored carbohydrates). If the workout is intense enough and your glycogen stores dip, your body will take whatever sugar is in your blood for energy. This causes low blood sugar, which causes the hormone ghrelin to be released. Ghrelin is known as the hunger hormone!

To fix this, try eating more carbohydrates before you workout!

12. What are your top 5 tips and tricks within Wodify that the "average" user wouldn't know?

Top 5? Yikes, not sure about 5, but here are 3

1 – Once you have been at CFS for a few months and have accumulated some data from logging your workouts, you can view that under “Performance History”. It’s very helpful to know for instance when back squats come up what you have done in the past!

2 – All those likes and comments on your performance are great, but if you do not like the notifications, you can switch those off under your profile settings.

3 – If you get a new credit card or change bank accounts you can update your payment information right from your app!

13. Injuries or pain... to work through or not? If so... guidance.

Never work through injuries or pain. The vast majority of us are at CFS to be healthier and gain fitness. There are always ways to scale and modify workouts to avoid injured or painful body parts. Treat your body right, you only get one of them! Talk to the Coach about how to modify the workout. The risk vs reward just is not worth it to use the injured body part.

14. Serious question.. in the first 24hr WOD, what were your top 5 favorite workouts and why?

Top 5? Pretty sure I blacked out most of the wods! I do remember the yoke carry, that was fun, midnight murph was great, and the Indian run at 7am with breakfast sandwiches after was a real treat!

^ Good times at the 24hr wod with great people!

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