Goosebumps

We’ve all experienced “goosebumps.” The subtle response is stimulated by strong emotions, fear, euphoria, inspiring music, nails on a chalkboard and sometimes temperature changes which cause the hair follicles on your skin to contract and stand up.

Have you ever stopped to reflect on what exactly initiates those “goosebump” moments and how to deliberately (and repeatedly) re-create that feeling? Is it possible to obtain that type of elevated emotion consistently?

Unexpectedly, I’ve found myself on the receiving end of “goosebumps” on a daily basis—for the past 20 years. And it’s primarily from coaching. I’ve been acutely aware of it the entire time, but have never shared or expressed this. It happens in observation: watching people grab a nugget of information about a lift and seeing it click, or noticing an athlete who doubts their performance and then suddenly exceeds all expectations. Sometimes, it’s the “ah-ha” moment during a team meeting, or simply walking down the gym hallway and watching two joyful teammates reunite to train together during a 7p class. And the goosebumps don’t stop there. These are just the ones that happened yesterday.

I consider myself to be incredibly blessed in this regard. Everyday, I get to experience this. And it’s not always about the lifts, the big weights, the workout times or a monster-sized squat. Instead, it’s the more subtle occurrences that prove most remarkable.

To elaborate, writer, Dan Heath, argues that we can understand these goosebump-like feelings as defining moments: moments of elevation (inspiring emotions), moments of insight (epiphanies), moments of pride (achievement) and moments of connection (relationships). Coincidently, these four points are the exact things that create remarkable moments for both the athletes and myself.

So, I ask you to reflect: take a moment to, first, consider what gives you goosebumps. Then, dream-up the ways you might begin re-creating those moments: one at a time, until they repeat themselves enough to become habit.

Coach David

Rookie Mind.

I kept thinking about the Kaizen methodology last night.

While sitting around the gym watching the facial expressions of our athletes, each coach was dispersing some sort of back squatting tutorial: bracing, breathing, timing, mindset, compensatory acceleration, cueing strategies, hand placements, vision, spotting, tempo, etc. And the ideas from each coach, for each class, could not have been more different. However, what was the same across the board was the concept of education–and bringing a little more complexity to the back squat in order to advance it, regardless of training age, knowledge or skill level.

“Kaizen,” taken from the Japanese word for improvement, change for the better, or continuous improvement, has evolved since the 1950s into a business strategy of making small, but continuous changes for the better in company operations.*Applicably, it was impressive to notice the way athletes paused for a moment to absorb the sinking-in of new information: to re-evaluate what they knew (or didn’t know) and how they might advance. The learning environment was rich with content, and it was noticeably surrounded by enthusiasm.

We’ve all been in a circumstance where someone “thought they knew everything,” or where they were closed off to a new idea due to their ego. In contrast, the environment at Defined fosters development: a Kaizen approach, perhaps. And moreover, while it starts here, it transfers far beyond the box.

Coach David
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*Direct quote from https://www.sixsigmadaily.com/defining-kaizen-the-methodology-and-applications/)

Do you want a pat on the back? Or do you want feedback?

Do you want a pat on the back? Or do you want feedback?

Deliberate work in your craft is necessary. Pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone is advantageous. Living humbly and receiving feedback is favorable. With regards to improvement, being told you’re doing a good job is not essential. But it seems like that’s something we routinely look for. Let me give you an example from the Defined gymnasium coaching floor during a recent weightlifting session…

“Joe Power Clean” was working on some barbell movements. Rep after rep, I gave him subtle, simple, repeated feedback that all generally reiterated the same concept of what he was doing wrong. I could tell after about 10 seconds that he was not enjoying the process of being told he could be doing better. But here’s the thing: walking by and telling him he was doing a “good job” was the easy way out. For both of us.

A “Good job,” would have likely boosted his moral. However, telling him that likely wasn’t going to help improve his game. A “good job” does nothing for pushing or improving performance, i.e. anything you want to excel at.

So, I challenge you to look for feedback. Ask your peers how you can do better. Seek out uncomfortable corners and handle your business. Getting a pat on the back is great. Occasionally, there’s a time and a place for it. But maybe ask yourself: does it make you better?

Coach David

Leading > Hand Holding

While coaching a Team WOD a few weeks ago, Coach Ben tossed out a casual comment that holds a ton of weight for our community. It’s something that I’ve thought about at least a 1,000 times since writing this article.

Pull Ups can cure just about anything.

The introduction. We started the morning working on Hang Power Cleans, then transitioned into a powerful, quick burst of conditioning, then finished with some pull-up accessory work. The warm-up, the cleans, and the workout were all formatted from start to finish. Timing, structure, cues, goals, mindset, logistics and barbell weight percentages where are discussed and thoroughly planned out ahead of time. Not atypical by any means, this is what we do as a coaching team week in and week out.

The structure. We had about 8 minutes left in class which was a perfect amount of time to get some additional pull-up work done. It also served as an effective cool-down from the intensity. I told the athletes to grab someone to work with and do anything they wanted to on the pull-up cage as long as it was productive toward improving their pull-up game. I did not discuss progressions, regressions, rep schemes or anything else. I just asked everyone to be productive for the next 5 minutes.

The outcome. Everyone got right to work and took the opportunity to try different things. Ring rows, jumping pull-ups, banded pull-ups, holds, negatives, kipping, chin ups; everyone figured out their level of movement to execute and crushed the work. Subtle, yet very powerful peer to peer coaching conversations took place, and everyone smoothly rolled into their game plan. It was beautiful to watch. Coach Ben sat back and said, “We are kinda like parents, we have to let them go. As long as they are safe, we just have to let them figure things out.”

Pull Ups can cure just about anything.

Sometimes I worry that the CFD community leans a bit too much on the coaching staff to tell them what to do every step of the way; this 5-minute Saturday observation (along with subsequent others) have proved me wrong. The coaching team at Defined sets the tone, motivates by example, develops the culture, educates and guides our athletes to where they need to go. They do not hand hold, they lead.

Learn from your experiences, embraces new challenges, be courageous and don’t be afraid to fail.

Coach David

Training Vs. Testing

Training vs. Testing

By Kevin Agbulos

As a coach—and athlete—I always look forward to testing: the act of achieving PRs, or personal records. [Read more…]

Your hands are stopping a PR!

Do you ever consider the importance your hands play in regards to performance? Are you wiggling your fingers around mid squat? When pressing (bench press or should press) do you have a firm grip on the bar? These are all crucial items to consider the next time you lift.

Incorrect hand grip.

Squeezing your hands tight creates a beautiful chain reaction when lifting. The tight grip engages your forearms; then your biceps and triceps come into play, then your upper body tenses up, and the flow continues through your back, hips, obliques and all the way down your legs.

It is not uncommon for someone to address their hands and then improve a lift immediately. The domino effect your grip has is incredible.

Correct hand grip.

Let’s sum this up.

Squeezing the bar improves tension.
Tension improves stability.
Stability improves positioning.
Positioning is POWER!


Tight grip. Tight lift.

Coach David

PS – Put this concept into play along with many others with Coach David and CFD’s guest Ed Coan on Saturday, October 21st during a Strength Workshop from 12:30p to 5:30p. Sign up here.