Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The New Year

This is it, the New Year is upon us! I don't know about you, but 2012 is going to bring BIG things for myself. I get excited every December for what the new year is going to bring and this year is no different. The growth that CrossFit Central has experienced this past year and all the hard work and leadership training we have been doing is a about to pay off in 2012.

One thing I love about my gym is it gives us the opportunity to be individuals and express ourselves however we want. We can branch out and brand ourselves as we see fit and create our own little subculture within the CrossFit Central community. I've been working harder than I ever have before to forge my own brand and it is starting to pay off.
I am very excited for 2012 and all the opportunities that are going to come my way to help our gym grow and my own personal brad grow as well. I want you to get excited as well! If you notice the pic below, read it, and think about what it means. WE are our only road block. Not just you telling yourself you can't do something but other people planting that seed in your head as well.
Impossible is just an Opinion. You have the choice on weather or not you choose to accept it.
In 2012 what are you going to do?
In 2012 I am making moves, growing my personal brand and forging Crossfit Central into the stratosphere!
What are you going to do? Let other people shape your opinion about yourself or forge your own way?
Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Fantastic Exercise

Wanted to share a great exercise that I do, snatch grip shoulder press. It is a fantastic way to strengthen the shoulders and help with the lock-out of the snatch. I actually did this exercise yesterday and just happen to see it this morning on California Strength. While your at it you should also go and check out their YouTube channel for great exercises and sic training sessions. Thought I would post it so that you could given it a try and add it to your training regimen.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Video Evidence

Wanted to share video from the Olympic lifting meet at Woodward Crossfit put on by OK Weightlifting several weeks ago. In the video is a little kid I wanted to put on there because it's just cool. I love seeing little people getting into the sport because you just don't see that many and it's a sign the sport is growing. (Thanks CrossFit) On the video also is the one and only Emily Baker competing in in her first meet.
On my lifts the weight is as follows (side note, since the meet was not sanctioned we were given a fourth attempt) Snatch: 1st 90kilos 2nd 95kilos 3rd 98kilos 4th 100kilos missed
Clean & Jerk: 1st 113kilos 2nd 120kilos 3rd 125kilos missed 4th 125 missed
These small meets are exactly what I need to build my confidence and help prepare me for larger sanctioned meets. I encourage you all to leave a comment and tell me what you think.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Confidence Builds

This past weekend I competed in my third Olympic weightlifting meet at Woodward CrossFit. I didn't set any PR's, but my confidence is growing. Enough so that in January I will be competing in the Texas State Championship meet in Alvin, Texas. It will be my second sanctioned meet and worlds different than my first one.

When I competed in my first sanctioned meet this past January I choked....bad. I have dedicated myself to the Olympic lifts and training for them only for almost a year. With some coaching by Olympian Chad Vaughn, I had finally built up enough confidence in my lifts to start competing. I had one other meet early on in the summer and did fairly well, no PR's but hit all my lifts. So, I got my USAW card and signed up for a meet at 210 CrossFit in San Antonio. I picked an opening weight that I had regularly hit while training and went for it. And then I scratched on all three attempts at 85 kilos. Not my brightest moment in the world of Olympic weightlifting.

After my poor showing I decided I need a full time coach and looked to Ursula Garza for guidance. She was gracious enough to accept me into her tight nit training group, and so my training began. If your not familiar with Ursula she is a stud! A former lifter herself, trainer for the CrossFit Olympic lifting certs. and a former U.S.A. record holder in the clean and jerk. Stud! She pretty much started me over with HEAVY focus on the snatch. Since it is the most technical of the two lifts it only makes sense that we spent the most time on the snatch. We drill, drill, and drill and then do hang snatch. Lot's of hard work. BUT! it is starting to pay off. When I first started training with Ursula I could only snatch 90kilos, and clan and jerk 120kilos. Just two weeks ago while training at Central I snatched 102kilos and cleaned and jerked 125kilos. Like I said, paying off!

At the meet this past weekend I snatched 98kilos with no straps and just missed 100. I cleaned and jerked 120kilos with ease and just missed 125. Not PR's but consistently making my attempts and getting stronger. Which leads me to going to the state meet in January where I will go for new PR's in the snatch and clean and jerk.
Seeing the progress I'm making and recognizing all the hard work I have been putting in is only feeding the fire inside. All of the workouts and sacrificing my free nights with my family to go get coached is not going to be for nothing. I have big goals for myself and am visualizing myself getting there. I have video of the lifts from this past weekends meet and should have it up next week for all to view. Happy lifting!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Squat Low Squat Heavy Squat Often

As many of you know Olympic Lifting requires copious amounts of squatting. Whether it be front squats, back squats, or over head squats it happens a lot in training. Cindy was kind enough to share with everyone how it's helped her.

Most Crossfitters know that a squat isn't a squat unless your butt gets down below parallel. But, in my Olympic Lifting class, that's not low enough.
Your butt should be practically on the ground -- I'm talking "thighs to calves" low.
Before I started Zach's Olympic Lifting class, I had never squatted so low or so much in my life, and certainly not with a heavy bar.
Every class includes either front squats or back squats, and the rest of the lifts usually involve overhead squats or cleans. The weights are heavy, and the percentages and rep schemes are similar from week to week, gradually progressing upward over time.
That's after a warmup of duck walks, squat hops, and jumping squats -- which feels like a workout by itself!
See what I mean about squatting?
When I started the class in October, I thought I was going to die in the warmup. My legs burned. I had to stop frequently. I didn't know how I was going to make it to the actual lifting part of class.
During lifts, Zach often had to remind me to squat lower. "Find the bottom," he said. It was scary to go down so low holding such a heavy bar since I wasn't used to it.
Well, things have changed a lot over the past 2 ½ months. The emphasis on squatting has made a difference for me.
1. Over time, the warm up got easier. No more dreading the squat hops and duck walks!
2. My squat is lower. My husband was amazed when he saw me squat down to pick up my daughter -- my butt was practically on the ground -- and lift her 20 pound body up like it was nothing. (Yes! Squatting is functional!)
3. To top it all off, I've finally started making gains in the gym again. After just 2 ½ months, I've added 15 pounds to my front squat max (130 pounds) and finally reached 150 pounds on my back squat max -- I’ve been trying for that weight for almost 2 years!
I now understand. The simple fact of the matter is that if you want to be a stronger squatter (or stronger anything for that matter), you actually have to work at it.
It’s important to practice lifting heavy weights frequently in order to make progress and build strength.
But it’s also important because it affects the rest of my life. Lifting up my kids without straining my back is so awesome! I don’t feel old or weak. I feel young and strong.
I wonder, will I be able to pick them up when they’re older and heavier? I bet I could!

I think it goes to show that squatting for what ever sport you choose to do (being an Olympic Lifter, CrossFiter, mom or dad) can help you obviously become stronger and more confident.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Make That Change

Recently with the urging from my wife Ashley we made the switch from a microwave to a convection oven. Why you might ask? Well, she was always saying it wasn't good for you to eat the food that came out of them and if you heated things in plastic in them chemicals would leach into your food. She's a smart gal and I had also heard the same thing from my sister Amy. So being the romantic guy that I am, this past Wednesday for Ashley's birthday I went and got her a convection oven. Now, I have to admit I was reluctant to get rid of the microwave because of the convenience. I mean, waiting an extra few minutes to heat up my food was not acceptable.

Now after doing some research I'm glad I made the change. There are some scary things I have read about the use of a microwave and the affect it has on your food. Not to mention what it does to your body while standing by it when it is working. Microwaves were banned in Russia in the 1970's because of the things they found through research. Not surprising all the research done on them have happened in Europe and Russia. We Americans just can't afford the time it would take to do a little research and study the long term affects of "Nuking" our food. Just not convenient you know.
Here is just one statement from the reading I have done,
"Structural degradation leading to decreased food value was found to be 60 to 90 percent overall for all foods tested, with significant decreases in bioavailability of B complex vitamins, vitamins C and E, essential minerals, and lipotropics (substances that prevent abnormal accumulation of fat)."

The first article I read The Microwave is Killing You! By Stephanie Relfe B.Sc. states,
"Microwave cooking is one of the
most important causes of ill health. It is certainly one of the most ignored."
It is a lengthy article full of scientist talk but well worth the read.
Here is another one that is less full of science talk and geared more torwards the affects of "Nuking" and your food and nutrition.
Stop Using Your Microwave by Domestic Design
Both articles have plenty of sources so read to your hearts content.

Bottom line is this, for my family and our short term and long term health for ourselves and our son we decided to get rid of our microwave. We did it based on what we read were the affects on our food and our over all health. This is a choice you will have to make for yourself and or your family. Most of all I encourage you to go and do the research for yourself and consider what I have written or the articles I posted above. Happy Sunday!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

My Journey

This week I want to feature Stephanie. She has been with me for over a year and doesn't look to be going anywhere any time soon. I have to be honest with you tough,. When Stephanie first started at my 5:30am CrossFit Central class I was not a big fan of her. She whined and her attitude was not the greatest. Needless to say I wanted her in another class so I wouldn't have to deal with her.
I year later she is still in my Central class and is Olympic Lifting twice a week with me at Red Black Gym. She has made great strides and continues to grow as a CrossFitter and an Olympic Lifter as well. I absolutely love having her around and consider a friend.

I joined Crossfit Central in November of 2010. It quickly became very apparent to me that I would need A LOT of extra attention if I ever hoped to learn any of the Olympic lifts, let alone be able to perform them fast with some sort of technique. In April of 2011, I decided to add on Zach’s Olympic Lifting class to my normal schedule. My thinking was, I’ll take this class for three months, figure the lifts out and then I can go back to just crossfitting.

I can remember my first few classes; everything seemed very foreign and really difficult. When I started, I was secretly afraid of snatching. After all, my idea of the lift was to take a weighted bar and throw it at my head, how can you not be afraid of that? So, in the beginning I could only lift with the bar which weighs a whopping 35lbs; hey, everyone has to start somewhere. Even with the bar, I could somehow manage to lose my balance and fall or hit myself with the bar in some other way (I’m embarrassed to even imagine what that looked like.) NOTE: Learning something new is not for the proud; you have to be vulnerable and willing. I would wake up almost every morning with new bruises but all I could think about was how/what I could improve in the next class. It was physically difficult, but more mentally exhausting and at times I felt like a small child trying to learn how to tie my shoe and then immediately jump up and throw a ball. I say mentally exhausting because I would spend a few minutes in front of the bar running through a checklist in my head of things I had learned and was trying to make a habit for my body. It would go something like; feet even and toes pointed slightly out, shins lined up with the bar, bar against the body, hands in the same place each time, hook grip, eyes forward, chest up, shoulders back, knees out, back tight, weight in middle of the foot, deep breath in, hold it, small prayer to God that I would complete the lift, and this is all just to get set up. I could probably spend an hour on the platform just preparing for a lift, but then that’s where the mental part kicks in. I could talk myself out of a lift in equally the same amount of time. Now, imagine doing all of that and your body still only does half of what you told it to do.
Like I said, mentally exhausting. ..

I have had several small achievements, and some big achievements, but they all make huge impressions on my attitude. The first time I received a clean in the proper position and stood it up, I was so happy and it felt so easy, I couldn’t wait to try it again. The first time I snatched and pulled myself under the bar, I realized I would never hit myself in the head with the bar! No longer being afraid of something is incredibly liberating. That’s how it goes; you get something right, then you go back to being inept, then you get something right again. It’s a cycle and somehow along the way you learn and hopefully reinforce only the good. That’s where Zach comes in, he’s always watching.

Zach sees a lift and Boom!, you have immediate feedback on what went wrong and what you were supposed to do instead. Now get back on the platform and try again! Zach’s passion for Olympic lifting is obvious to anyone that he meets and his commitment to the sport pushes me to work harder than I thought I could. He also breaks the lift’s down so we practice progressions. Now instead of feeling like that “small child trying to learn how to tie my shoe and then immediately jump up and throw a ball,” I’m just focused on getting the loop on the laces right. Then rest will come, but it’s all in the details and you build on the technique.

I knew lifting was going to be hard when I started, but I never expected that that I would love it and would become addicted to it. I have gotten so much stronger and never fear Crossfit WOD’s with Olympic lifts in them because I always know how much weight I can handle. The initial three months I signed up for came and went; I’ve been in the class for almost eight months now and have no plans of leaving. Instead, I have huge goals for next year…like snatching my body


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Olympic Weightlifting and Me

This week I asked Cindy to share with you whatever was on her mind. She is fairly new to Red Black Gym but not to CrossFit Central. Hope everyone enjoys.

I joined the Olympic Lifting class at Red Black Gym with a single goal in mind. I wanted to be stronger. What I did not realize is that I would also find a sport to challenge me both physically and mentally -- something for which I have been searching for a long time.
I started Olympic Lifting in October 2011 with Coach Zachary Thiel, who also happens to be my Crossfit coach.
I had already been Crossfitting for 2 ½ years, but the Olympic Lifting class is even more demanding. It steps it up to a new level for me. We do a lot of work in a short amount of time. The warm up feels like a workout in and of itself, but it does the job to get you loose so you can move some serious weight.
I thought I knew something about the Olympic Lifts because I’ve done them in many WODs at Crossfit Central over the years. But it turns out I have a lot to learn. There’s more to it than just where you place your hands and feet. Details matter. Timing matters.
When you lift a bar overhead, a number of things have to happen in just a spilt second. It’s not enough for me to do a lift once and “get” it. I need to drill the movements over and over again, and that’s what we do.
The level of focus required leaves me just as exhausted mentally as physically.
I’ve already noticed slight improvements, and it’s only been 6 weeks.I’m building up my strength through Olympic lifting -- I can see the results in Crossfit. But really, it’s a side benefit to the challenge of a sport that tests my mind and body.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Squatting: By John Welbourn

John Welbourn from Crossfit Football and Crossfit Balboa goes over what he perceives is the best way to squat. There are several styles of squatting, and what ever you or your coach thinks is best for you is what you should do. I prescribe to the high bar back squat and believe it is more beneficial for Olympic weightlifting and allows for greater flexibility and depth. And like John says could take pressure of your shoulders and elbows. But that's for you to decide.
And I just like John and his brash in your face attitude....and I agree with him on squat technique. Enjoy

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Improving One Sport To Get Better At Another

I'm going to start having guest writers come to my blog and share there experiences about training and what ever else is on there mind concerning their sport.
The first guest writer is Jessica Estrada. She is a CrossFitter, CrossFit Central coach and an Olympic lifter at Red Black Gym. Big things do come in small packages!

I started Oly Lifting with Zack in May of 2011. Out of all the CrossFit movements, Oly lifting was definitely my weakest. I knew that If I wanted to be a competitive crossfitter, I was going to have to spend a little extra time working the lifts. For awhile I walked around with the mentalality that It was going to be impossible to lift as much weight as most of the girls in CrossFit because of my size. After a weekend at the CrossFit Level 1 Cert, I realized that was just an excuse. All I needed was the right technique and my size would never be an issue. That's when I turned to Zack for coaching.

Before I started Oly lifting I had never done a clean and jerk and my snatch was an inconsistent 95#. Now, my clean and jerk max is 145# and my snatch is 120#....and this is only the beginning. It hasn't been until recently that things have really started to click. I feel that I am more comfortable and more confident with the lifts. I am making daily improvements in the gym. And even though technique still needs some work, I can honestly say that I understand the lifts. I no longer look at my size as a barrier. I've actually dropped weight (not intentionally) since starting Oly, but lifting much heavier. It's all about technique.

Side Note: Oly Lifting was a deciding factor for me when I was considering coaching CrossFit. I told myself I wouldn't be a coach until I understood the movements and could successfully teach them.

Friday, October 28, 2011

To Bump or Not to Bump

Many a discussion's have been had concerning making contact with the hip's during the explosive portion of the second pull of the snatch and clean. I for one do it myself and teach my athletes to do it as well. If done with control it will help you effectively and powerfully propel the bar upward. BUT! you will see people bang the bar causing it to loop way out in front or you may see people just simply brush the bar across the body. I pick the bump, nicely placed right in between. But this is how I was taught and what I share with my athletes. It's not all the same for everyone.
I want to share an article from Greg Everett of Catalyst Athletics who gives his opinion. You can make up your mind for yourself or defer to your coach. Either way its a good read so I hope you enjoy.

Some topics seem to generate more heat than others, and for some reason, the question of how a barbell should come into contact with the body during the snatch and clean seems to get some people extraordinarily wound up. I personally don't lose any sleep over how anyone else lifts or teaches the lifts. I may agree or disagree, but I don't let it upset me to much. The following will undoubtedly further upset the same people who are already upset. Continue reading.....

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

In Transition

Transition is good right? I know the answer to that and I'm sure most of you do too. I am working on a new blog and some other shameless self promotion stuff so I haven't blogged in a few weeks. Kind of weak and not what I promised all of you.
Just want to give an update from my last post on how I did at my first sanctioned Olympic Lifting meet. Not well. Actually, you could consider it a choke. I started my snatch with 85 kilos (#185) which is something I usually workout with and is a fairly easy weight for me. Scratch! Second attempt I bumped up to 87 kilos (#187). I was angry with the first lift and was bound and determined to not get a scratch. Well I was aggressive and let the bar swing way out in front of me and let the bar go behind my head. Something that is VERY out of the ordinary for me. The last attempt was the same weight and with a little more control and patience I failed to fully pull myself under the bar. Done with the competition.
The truth of the matter is I could have continued on with the clean and jerk and not have any of it count. But I did something I normally don't do and let the misses get the best of me. I had already checked out mentally from the competition and pulled my card. Not one of my finest moments. One thing I can say is that my first meet was a humbling and a great learning experience. I realized that I need some help if I was going to dedicate my full time and attention to training and competing in the Olympic Lifts.
So...I solicited a coach, a top notch one at that and have proceeded to have my lifts broken down and rebuilt. I can already see the changes and can only imagine where I can take this. I'm starting a little old to have any grandeur expectations but I could do well enough to surprise some people.
I'll keep you all posted on the training and look for a lot of new and exciting stuff coming from me in the near future.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Ladies of Oly Lifting Crushin' It!

Several weeks ago Crossfit Central had an all women's challenge called the Iron Belle. There were two divisions, the fun division and the competitive division. The ladies in the pic below are the top three teams of the competitive division winners. I am very proud to say that two of the ladies on the 1st place team are athletes that I coach.
Claudia in the front right and Alexis peeking her head out in the back. These two ladies attend the evening Red Black Olympic Lifting class and come to extra training on Sundays. They have elevated there game and are true competitors. I also want to give a shout out to Stephanie who also is in the same Olympic Lifting class as Claudia and Alexis and competed in the fun division. During the competition she earned a new dead lift PR and rocked the house. She is the young lady pictured in my previous post performing the back squat beautifully.
One more shout out to Claudia who is also one of CrossFit Central's Diesel Athletes. I feel privileged to coach these ladies, and to watch their progress makes me very proud.
Congratulations girls! Now we need to get you all into an Olympic Lifting meet!

One last thing to let everyone know. This weekend I will be competing in my first sanctioned USAW Olympic Lifting competition in San Antonio. Since most of you know that read my blog or follow me on Twitter my passion lies with Olympic Lifting. I pretty much exclusively train Olympic Lifting and now want to see how I fare against other athletes that have the same passion as me. I will be wearing a singlet for the first time since high school power lifting. For those of you that aren't familiar with it you can check it out here. I don't think I'll be making that face though, I hope. I will be tweeting out how I'm doing and will have video and pics of the competition so be on the look out for that. I also want to give a big thanks to 210 Crossfit for putting on the competition.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

High Bar v. Low Bar

So this debate has been going on since, well.....a while. High bar back squats vs. low bar back squat. I'm here to say right now I am biased and I only teach the high bar back squat. I'm not saying low bar is wrong, just that the high bar back squat suits Olympic style lifting better. Why you ask, well in my opinion it allows for a deeper squat, and keeps the torso more vertical which is key to the Olympic lifts. Plus, it allows for more range of motion.

Someone who power lifts would probably tell you the low bar back squat allows you to lift more weight because you recruit more hamstring and glutes, which is true. You do use more of those two muscles than when you use the high bar. Someone told me if you want to get stronger faster do low bar back squat. But, if you have ever looked at a power lifter and compare the range of motion to an Olympic lifter I think, in my opinion, you can see which one in the long run is better for you.
Again this is just my opinion, take is for what it's worth.

Found this article about the two lifts just puttin around the net and thought I would share it with ya.
High Bar vs. Low Bar Back Squats: A Brief Look into Mechanical Differences

"There are several benefits to either position and depending on your goals, either could be right for you. The high bar position tends to limit the amount of weight the athlete can lift due to less overall muscle recruitment, more quadriceps and less glutes and hamstrings. But, the movement tends to be considered more athletic as the range of motion is greater and it transitions well into the Olympic style lifts (the clean and jerk and the snatch). The low bar position works more muscles and thus allows the athlete to lift more weight and potentially build more muscle, but unlike the high bar squat it does not lend itself very well to other sports. In the end, no matter which you choose, make sure you are squatting frequently in any strength and conditioning program."

My good friend Lance also shared a good read concerning to lifts. It takes no sides and I think is a fare assessment. So take a look.

Olympic vs. Powerlifting Squats

"The key to healthy, long-term training is knowing the pros and cons of training. Knowing why and how to squat is no different. High quality Olympic squatting will take your training to the next level. The only immediate downside is that you'll have to take weight off the bar. In the long run though, you'll have greater lower and upper body development — and we guarantee that's worth spending time on."

So, I think both of these articles do a fair job of comparing the two different style of squatting. I also think it depends on what your goals are and what style of lifting you want to pursue. My sport is Olympic lifting so naturally I high bar squat.
The most important thing is have squats be a part of your training. Make sure you have proper coaching and technique. And get STRONG AS F*@K!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Little Hiatus

Well it's been a while since I've written a blog post, but that doesn't mean a lot hasn't gone on. I know the last blog I had written I was in the midst of doing Fuel 21. Well, I will give you all the final results from my experience. Weight lost: #190 to #184. Body Fat: 15.1% to 13.3%. Inches lost 2.75 BUT, gained in my shoulders and biceps.
All in all it was a great experience! Crystal Nelson is top notch and knows her stuff. Her menu is satisfying and there are great recipes in her workbook. She tweaked my diet to fit my training regimen and it obviously paid of.
Since Fuel 21 ended I did go on vacation two times so I obviously didn't stay on it quit as strict. But since the end of July I have been right back on my diet and have seen a great response from my body through sleep and performance. I have been lifting heavy and my performance has not gone down. I am getting stronger and have put on good weight.
I would strongly suggest Fuel 21 for great ideas on food choices, and questions on when to eat. Crystal also touches on performance diet, and post work out suggestions. Great stuff all together.

Awwww, my sweet wife and I got to enjoy the beautiful country of Costa Rica for a week at the first of July with great friends and lots of good food. So you could see why I went off my eating regimen for a bit. I must say IF YOU EVER have a chance to travel to Central America choose Cost Rica. The people are friendly, the food is fantastic, and the scenery is AMAZING! It was our second time to go and we are already planning the next trip. Oh.... and their national beer Imperial is awesome.

Last but not least the CrossFit Games! I have been to all but one of the Games and the '11 Games were the best! The crowed was amazing the venue was full and the weather was great. A very fun filled group of us stayed in Redondo literally on the Strand on what is the widest beach I have ever seen in my life. I was waiting for Pam Anderson to roll up in her Baywatch truck ready to save me.
My sister Carey Kepler , sister in law Lisa Thiel and good friend Lindsay Smith all did great! Watching them work is awe inspiring and motivating at the same time. The caliber of athletes competing now is pretty impressive. Well, it's come along way since I competed in '08. Mad respect and I can only imagine what the sport is going to evolve into.

So...there is an update and some lame reasoning for the lack of blogging. My training is taking off and I have some Oly meets coming up here in the near future I will be telling you all about. I am bangin' some serious weights right now and fully expect to set some serious Snatch and Clean & Jerk PR's. Oly classes at Red Black are bumpin' and the athletes are making some real progress. Will have more updates on that as well. Good Day!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


As many of you know, this past weekend was the South Central Regional Qualifier for the 2011 Crossfit Games in Carson CA. You all may also know that my sister Carey Kepler and sister-in-law Lisa Thiel finished first and third respectively. And not to be left out, their training partner and good friend Lindsey Smith, who finished second just ahead of Lisa. I have the privilege to be in the gym and to train around and with the three of these girls on a regular basis. They are competitive with each other but also have great respect and help coach and cheer each other on when they are prepping for competition.

I wanted to give them a shout out, and can't wait to go to Cali for the 2011 Crossfit Games. I also wanted to give big props to Ingrid Kantola who is going to be in the Games for sure next year. You talk about Lion Heart!

I wanted to give a big applause to my brother Jeremy Thiel for a tenth place finish and getting the ball rolling for the 2012 Games. He is an assassin and will be on it for next year. Much love for my brother from another mother, Lance Cantu, who finished in eight place. The man is a beast and has heart of a champion. Look for him to make moves.
And last but not least to Crossfit Central's team who battled hard and just came up a little short finishing in fourth place and Team Red Black who finished in twelfth place. Next year can't come soon enough!

And now for your viewing pleasure I have a new video of yours truly doing what I love to do. I must say watching myself train is sometimes hard to do. I must get quicker under the bar with both the clean and the snatch. The practice goes on.

I just wanted to add that I lost a friend this past Sunday. He was a father and husband and had a wonderful family and wife. I grew up playing little league baseball, youth football, junior high and high school football with him. Over the years we had lost touch with each other but occasionally bumped into each other in Lubbock when I would head back into town. (Lubbock is a small place) He was always friendly and back in the day always had my back. I just wanted to say that life is short and you never know. Live it with no regrets and you don't have to take crap from anyone. Talk to your family and friends, and I mean talk to them. Not just through Facbook and texting.
You and your family are in my thoughts Carlton.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Power and Speed

As the sport of CrossFit has grown so have many other not as well known sports. With CrossFit, Olympic lifting and gymnastics have become more mainstream, at least with the CrossFit community. But, those of you who have never played organized sports or it's been a few years since that time may not realize that Olympic lifting has been a mainstay in many of your high school and college weight rooms. There are varying opinions on whether or not Olympic style lifting is as affective as say, power lifting or strongman training for your competitive athlete. I personally think there is room for both, but to build power and speed there is nothing better than the Olympic style lifts.

Artie Dreschler says, "The mere practice of the Olympic lifts teaches an athlete how to apply large amounts of force. Part of the extraordinary abilities of an Olympic lifter arises out of his having learned how to effectively activate more of his muscle fibers more rapidly than others who aren’t trained to do so. This becomes extremely important for athletes who need to remain at lower body weights for athletic purposes but need to learn how to apply greater force. Olympic lifts will help build force development without producing unnecessary hypertrophy, which could even tighten the athlete up and make him or her slower."

You can directly apply this understanding to train football players, wrestlers, baseball players, and even basketball players. Oh, and CrossFitters as well. These lifts can also be applied to your younger athlete to help develop body control and explosive power.

Matt Delany of www.EliteFTS.com says, "However, with younger athletes, there’s a lot you can do to progress them to have bulletproof shoulders with Olympic lifting movements. At this young age, there are many structural and postural changes that can be made quickly as long as you make smart progressions. A very intelligent physical therapist, John Pallof, has actually found a place for cleans in his program for pitchers because he believes the lifts have some unique qualities in force absorption for the shoulder.

Not only will Olympic lifting help with all the stated points above but will help with strength gains. Over the past three months I have dedicated myself nearly to Olympic lifting only with one to two CrossFit workouts a week and have managed to take 80% (#360) of my back squat max and do 6x6 with out any real spotting. Managing to make this jump in such a short period of time is quit an accomplishment for someone who didn't back squat on a regular basis. I have also managed to keep myself in fairly descent metcon shape.

I think Olympic lifting can and should be a valuable part of your training package. You should have a knowledgeable coach to help with form and to guide you with your progressions. The lifts are fun and will help you have the strength gains you want and help develop either the athletes you train or yourself.

Source: Defending Olympic Lifting Movements for Athletes, Strongmen, and Powerlifters.

Update on Fuel 21!
So this is day three of Fuel 21 and so far so good. Sticking to the list and eating when hungry. My body comp was about what I thought it would be with 15% body fat and weighing in at190lbs. My goal is for below 10% body fat and weighing in at below 180lbs. It's gonna happen!
Look for more to come!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Fuel 21 and Me

So here in the next few days I will embark on a new eating adventure. I have committed to doing Crystal Nelson's Fuel 21 for the next three weeks starting this coming Sunday. I received the allowed to eat food list this past weekend and didn't see any beer on it. I say this because during the 21 days I will be going to my home town of Lubbock for a wedding. When in Lubbock I drink a lot with my buddies who are still there and I will be challenged to say the least. Not to mention, my parents own a Mexican food restaurant which is another frequently visited place while in my hometown. And, did I mention I'm going to a wedding??
This should be fun!

I would say darn near everything on the list of acceptable foods I already eat. The biggest difference will be when I eat it and in what combination I eat it. Not to mention I won't be using any supplements other than fish oil and supper foods which I already use. As much as I enjoy post workout shakes, protein shakes along with some other supplements I am looking forward to going the 21 days without them. I am also thankful that everything that is growing in my garden is on the list of foods I can devour. I'm going to state right here right now that I am shooting for a loss of 5% body fat and drop below 180lbs. I weight 188lbs right now as I type this and know for a fact I will get to my stated goal. If I drop 5% body fat that should put me around 10% body fat which would be GREAT! Get stronger and lighter? I can only imagine what my lifts and conditioning will be like!

To say the least, I am excited to get this started and look forward to the challenge of travelling and sticking to the list. I'll keep everyone posted on my progress and might even post some before and after pics. After seeing what Fuel 21 did for coach Chris Hartwell I know I will get the same results.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Do Work Son

Wanted to share a new video from Red Black Gym Olympic Lifting class. It's not your typical video you would see me put out, but more of a promo video for the class it self. A big thanks to Elliot for his hard work and great editing on the video. He is a busy guy and has been generous enough to do the editing for all the videos I have coming.
I record the athletes for their benefit of seeing their lifts from a different perspective to help them improve. I also do the same for myself so others can see me and help me become more efficient and a more productive lifter. So be on the look out for more videos come your way and become a subscriber to my YouTube page to also see some of my favorite videos and pages I like to follow.

Monday, May 16, 2011

What Compels You?

Last week Libby, a new athlete at CrossFit Central, told me that she had written something for me. I looked at her a little bit of puzzled and asked what it was about. She explained it would let me know why she acted the way she did in class and why she sometimes got emotional.
Ya see, Libby is somewhat of a perfectionist and was a ballet dancer. She also teaches ballet, so I believe she is pretty critical of herself and thinks that she should already be a master of all the technical things we do in CrossFit. I'm sharing this with you all because I see how many of you could feel like her. Also, she is very eloquent in the way that she writes so I wanted to highlight that about her. Let me know what you think.

What compels you to lift something ridiculously heavy over your head, over and over again? Is there momentary satisfaction, victory over gravity, your mind, your muscles? Is there a sense of accomplishment in knowing you coerced muscle and bone into synergistic cooperation? I used to have similar feelings when I danced, a fleeting ability to conquer myself and the space around me, the knowledge of temporary weightlessness, the understanding of force, strength and speed. Now I tend to have the desire to wrestle words into shape and form rather than my body!

I wish I could perform with more of a Just Do It mentality. Just run, just jump, just squat. Instead, unwelcome companions creep out of their hiding places, the raw, gritty places. Insecurity runs alongside me, tripping up my feet, throwing insults with a well-metered rhythm of assault. You’re the slowest one, Libby. Your lungs in that little birdcage you call a chest aren’t strong enough to work this hard. Maybe you should bring your inhaler with you. You can’t trust that right knee and hip anymore, you know. Determination stirs and opens a weary eye. Shut up, Shut up, Shut up! Roused, determination fights back. I finish the first 400 meters, dead last, still alive, but not done.

I step up to a box, and although it’s only knee-height, I find myself staring into Fear. I don’t know why He is here, it’s just a box sitting on the pavement under the May sun, but my heart quivers. I’m a little kid again. I’m ten years old standing in the baseball dugout, waiting for Grant Evans, one of the team captains, to pick between me and Lauren Jones, the two scrawniest girls in the class, the last two for the team. Please don’t let me be last. A silent prayer goes mercilessly unanswered. With chin to chest and eyes lowered, I trudge towards the other team, unwanted. I’m twelve and my seventh grade gym teacher is yelling at me to keep up. My lungs are burning as the other girls run past me. I can see the disappointment on my teacher’s face. I’m twenty-two and the ballet master mocks my attempts in class. Why do you work so hard? It’s so easy. I’m twenty-eight and the ballet director tells me I will never be good enough. Never good enough. A devastating lie that sticks to the skin of me.

I hear words of encouragement. You can do this, Libby. My eyes can’t focus on anything other than the invisible face of fear, but I let the words loosen my pinned down will. I’m supposed to be counting, but I’ve lost track of time and space. I’m breathing hard, hefty puffs of air mimic the thump of my feet, the thump, thump of my heart. Twenty-one times. But I am still not done.

I bend down to pick up the metal bar, trying to remember how to lift it up, over, up again. I sway under the weight. Zach looks at me. He brings another bar, smaller, bright orange, lighter. We make the exchange, and though I am grateful, hot tears converge in the corner of my eyes, drain down my nose, plummet to the floor. I can feel my shoulders pinch, my stomach contract, my legs shake. My knees bend but I press my focus out, ironed flat, unbent. Three. Three more. Isn’t three supposed to be a holy number? Holy God, what did I sign myself up for?

I find myself outside again, running down Burnet, past Diego – Morning, Libby! – and back into the box, a round trip, completed. We stretch – finally something that doesn’t torment me! – and then, our workout is done. For today. I am not satisfied. I know I will come back again. I know Fear and Insecurity may show up again, too. But I don’t plan on letting them keep me company for long.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

This Is Intense

You wonder why China has eight men's Gold Medals and the women have seven in their short time competing in the Olympics? Well, I think this video explains it. This eight year old is lifting 160.6 pounds! Yeah, I'd say that's pretty sick. How can America compete against these guys and gals? Start'em young and make it fun. Check out this article and see what you think.

Lifting and coaching the Olympic Lifts is one of my great passions in life. I feel very motivated to get youngsters started in the sport and to help make it a sport young people will want to compete at. I have to say thanks to CrossFit for introducing me to the Olympic Lifting and giving it the bump in popularity it deserves.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Garden for Life

So, believe it or not I have a passion for gardening. I grew up working on my dads farm in west Texas so I guess you could say it's in my blood. I think what I like best about it is just simply watching the plants grow. I find myself sitting on the deck in the morning drinking coffee just staring at it.

Three different kinds of peppers

Come to find out I have a pretty good green thumb and am a little bit more of a perfectionist than I originally thought. So not only is it therapeutic, it's rewarding. My family and I get to enjoy food grown in our own back yard, we know where it came from and what wasn't put on it. We save money and can also share with family and friends.

Squash and tomato's will be here soon.

I strongly encourage you to give gardening a try. It doesn't have to be something extravagant
or big. It can simply be potted in small pots in the back yard or on a apartment patio. You will have garden fresh veggies literally at your fingertips throughout the summer and well into the fall.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Gettin'er Done

A nice collage of the Red Black Olympic lifting class. As you may notice we like to incorporate power training in with the lifting to give the athletes a good set of lungs and to maximize max power output. The AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) almost always consist of dumbbells and or kettlebells to help promote balance and mid line stabilization. It's a tribute to the famous Zach Even-Esh and John Welbourn from hum I learned these great things from.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

First Video

Here is the first video from the Red Black Olympic Lifting Club. I am just learning to film anything worth a darn so bear with me on the angles.
I know that I learn quite a bit by watching videos of people lifting. Some of it is do's and don'ts, but all in all it's good to watch other people lift. I hope you all get some good training ideas that you maybe hadn't thought of before and add it to your training. I know that as my athletes get better at the lifts and I get better at filming and coaching, you will gain more and more from the videos. I will try to have a new video up at least once a week from the Oly classes and my own training so I hope you follow this blog and my YouTube page.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Start'em Young

Wanted to share this clip with everyone. Found this YouTube Channel a while back and it is awesome. Wish I would have known about this Olympic lifting stuff when I was a kid.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Liberation Strength and Conditioning

Two highly motivated energized individuals to join one single highly motivated energized individual on Friday mornings 6:45am to 7:45am.

What Will Happen
You will participate in highly demanding, blood pumping, strength based and power inducing workouts.

Why Should You Join
Because if you want to get strong, conditioned, and do it all at the same time this is were you need to be. I train you the way I like to train myself using Kettelbells, Dumbbells, Barbells, Prowlers, Sleds and Sledge Hammers. If that doesn't peek your interest than I don't know what will.

I call it Liberation Strength and Conditioning because doing something different, grueling and challenging is absolutely liberating. Why not do something different?
We begin this Friday at Red Black Gym, there are ground rules to joining and farther details will be given when you make the commitment. One thing I will promise, you will get strong and it will be liberating. First come first serve. Contact: zacharythiel@crossfitcentral.com

Monday, February 21, 2011

Videos For You

So I've been lookin around and all the cool kids seem to have YouTube Channels so I decided to get one myself.
ZUTFIT is the name of the channel naturally. I created it so all of you can catch a glimpse of the Red Black Gym Olympic Lifting Club and all their glory. I also plan on throwing some vids of yours truly on there training so you can see what sort of stuff I like to do as well as videos from the Central coaches and other cool Olympic and crossfit videos as well.
I hope you all check it out and I would love to see comments on the videos I post up there.
Hope you enjoy.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Just My Thoughts........

So, at this point in my coaching career, which spans a whopping 5 years, I have come to some conclusions. I'm not saying this won't change, but I am going out on a limb here by saying it probably won't.
I coach indoor crossfit classes at Central and Olympic Weightlifting classes at Red Black Gym and some of the lifts obviously come together. For instance, today's WOD at Crossfit Central had hang power cleans in it. Naturally I had the class watch the move performed and had them perform it themselves. While I was watching the athletes perform the move prior to the actual WOD I felt like I was doing a disservice to the move and the athletes themselves. Not because they were performing the lift all wrong, but because there is so much more involved in the lift and I only have so much time to coach them up on it and correct any glaring flaws they may have.

And this is where I shamelessly promote my Olympic Weightlifting instruction separately from a crossfit class. Performing the oly lifts and becoming efficient at them takes practice and performing them repetitively creates muscle memory so that after time the lifts will become effortless. Well, maybe not effortless, but you will be able to concentrate on becoming stronger, faster and more explosive and tweak your lifts when it's called for. There are many drills, skill work and straight heavy lifting that are involved in becoming a good Olympic lifter. Not only will you become a stronger lifter but it will translate into your crossfit class. You will undoubtedly learn how to become more aggressive and also know where to focus that aggression when performing the power clean, hang clean, hang power snatch and on and on and on. I know from my own personal experience that learning the Olympic lifts, and practicing them has made me a better crossfiter. While other people are struggling with a lift like the snatch, I can rip right through it. I saw that first hand this past weekend at the Fittest Games at Crossfit Central.

So, with all of that said, I encourage all of you to consider taking up Olympic Weightlifting separate from your crossfit classes. You will become stronger, more discipline and no doubt more efficient during your workouts. Chances are you will smoke the person next to you because they are struggling and it's just like another day at the park for you.

Friday, February 11, 2011

You Are Powerful Beyond Measure

This is for all the people competing in The Fittest Games this coming weekend. You are Great and you must Act Now! because now is all you have.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The NEW Red Black Gym

So many of you know and some of you don't know SicFit Austin has transformed it's self into Red Black Gym. Along with the new name has come with new programs. The School of Strength featuring Strictly Strength, Lean Lifting and my personal favorite and simply put Olympic Weightlifting are designed to help get you strong, lean and technical.

I want to give you a quick description of what it is I do in the Oly classes at Red and Black Gym. You may assume that we only Olympic lift and that is it. While we do mainly focus on the Clean and Jerk and Snatch, I also incorporate power training. Having incorporated Crossfit Football WOD's and receiving my Football Cert. I have seen great strides in speed and strength with my Oly lifts. So, you could say that the Olympic class is a hybrid style of training. The class uses mainly dumbbells and kettelbells along with prowlers to do a 10 to 15 minute AMRAP. The short explosive workouts promotes power and speed which directly translates into better and more explosive Olympic weightlifting.

Being more efficient and educated in the Olympic lifts will directly translate into being a better crossfiter. It takes focus, discipline, and consistent practice to be a good Olympic lifter and the same applies to being a good crossfiter.
If you have any questions about the program please email zacharythiel@crossfitcentral.com

Monday, February 7, 2011


Integrity seems to be something I've been missing with this blog for the past few months. What's crazy to me is that I am outspoken and at times very opinionated. Yet, I choose not to share with you what's up with my training, what I am doing to better myself at a personal level, and to promote the programs I coach as well as the passion I have for Olympic Lifting and Strength and Conditioning. So, here I am to come clean and apologize for the lack of integrity that I have been showing and to take responsibility for my own laziness. I have much to share with you all and I think that I could help motivate and enhance your lives in some way. So with all this said, stick with me and look for more to come concerning my future endeavors.