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3 Ways Crossfitters Can Improve Their Engine (without getting too beat up)!

We’ve all been there. Lying on our back in a pool of sweat gasping for air after a brutal workout.

We’ve all got the sweat angels and ripped calluses to prove it.

We’ve also all sat and watched the Regionals and Crossfit Games in complete awe as the athletes motor through workouts with what looks like minimal effort.

Athletes like Brent Fikowski make long chippers seem like an easy jog.

Mat Fraser doesn’t seem to be phased by anything that’s thrown at him.

Samantha Briggs could quite possibly have a third lung!

Do you need to just suck it up and go harder? If not, how do these guys and gals build such magnificent engines?

Great genetics and hard work are definitely part of the equation but also knowing how to get the greatest return for your efforts without destroying your body in the process is critical.

Here are 3 ways crossfitters can improve their engine without getting too beat up in the process:

1. EMOMS – EMOMS (every minute on the minute sets) are one of the best ways to develop pacing for various movements and loads.  EMOMS can be used to develop strength, strength endurance, and pure conditioning.

Here are some examples of various type of EMOMS:

  • every minute on the minute for 8mins: 10 burpees

this is a great way to build a solid aerobic/anaerobic base of conditioning.

  • every minute on the minute for 10mins:

2 clean and jerks @ 75% 1RM

this is a great way to develop strength endurance.

  • every minute on the minute for 8mins: 5 deadlifts and 10 wall/balls

this is a great way to learn how to pace mixed modality work.

The key is to program enough recovery time into your EMOMS so you can sustain the effort throughout the workout.

2. Giant Sets – Giant sets are where you perform a large amount of work (i.e. 3-5mins worth) and then rest. Your work to rest ratio should be anywhere from .75 -1:1.

For example, if you were to do 4 rounds of 20 wall/balls, 20 burpees and row 20 calories and it took you 4mins to complete a round, your rest would be anywhere from 3-4mins between rounds.

In either case, with EMOMS and giant sets, you can work at high intensity and then have the opportunity to recover.  This will increase the quality of work that you put in without taxing the body too much.

3. Monostructural Interval Training – Good old fashioned interval training is still one of the most effective ways to improve your overall conditioning. By using monostructural methods such as running, biking, and rowing, you minimize eccentric and overall loading (i.e. no barbell) on the body which results in far less muscle soreness and faster recovery times. Here are some examples of some effective interval training workouts:

  • Treadmill – 1min on/1min off for 10mins at 15% incline
  • Rower – row 500m x 5 with 2min rest between rounds
  • Sled Pushes – 40m sled push x 10 with 45-60sec rest between rounds

These are excellent ways to get the heart rate up and feel a good burn without frying your muscles and nervous system.

Without a doubt, the heart and soul of Crossfit lies in it’s eloquent yet painful metcons.  This is and always will be an important part of your training. However, this can be a slippery slope if you aren’t careful.  Using a more controlled and systematic approach to build your engine will help you make more gradual improvements without burning out.

Whether fitness is a sport or a lifestyle for you, training smart, listening to your body, and always being a student of the game will make your efforts more rewarding.

Stay Strong,

Isaac Payne




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7 Tips to Become a Better Crossfitter

Crossfit is hard. Very hard. But it’s the endless challenges that it presents that makes it so appealing (and humbling).  Whether you are a games level athlete or a beginner, there’s always something you can improve upon. Like any other sport, Crossfit requires hard work, commitment and a sensible approach in order to see continual gains and reduce the risk of injuries.

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How to Fix Your Overhead Squat

The frustration must be absolutely maddening. I’m shocked you haven’t pulled your hair out or punched a hole in the wall yet.

I can’t think of a more humbling exercise than the overhead squat.

On the flip side, there are few exercises as impressive as a nice heavy overhead squat.

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Why You Need More Failures in Your Life…

The modern world is set up for you to fail.  Disappointment, rejection, and fear are everywhere.  Our lives are constantly being filled with distractions that keep us from doing what is truly necessary. How depressing is that?  Well, it’s only depressing if you let it win. By it, I mean failure.

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9 Nutrition Mistakes that are Keeping You Fat!

Let me guess, you’ve been training pretty hard and consistently for the last few months.  You’re hitting all your lifts and your strength is starting to improving quite nicely.

You’re even packing on a bit of muscle and your buddies are starting to notice.  Hell, you’re probably getting a few double takes from the ladies over on the elliptical machines!

You’ve even gone as far as sprinkling in a cardio session or two from time to time to burn a few extra calories and not be a complete meathead.

But, to your utter disappointment, all that work and hard earned muscle is completely buried under a layer of fat that you just can’t seem to get rid of.

This is a classic case, my friend.  A classic case of “I lift big and heavy weights so I can eat whatever want!” This is totally fine if you’re going for that Pilsbury doughboy or The Rock in 1987 look.


All kidding aside, you’ve made some common, yet critical, nutrition mistakes.  Don’t worry though, with a few small adjustments, this can all be fixed.  I’m going to help you get back on track and you’ll be leaner than ever in no time.

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1 Exercise that will Solve All Your Problems…

Don’t misinterpret the headline, this article isn’t about an exercise that’s going to reduce unemployment rates, pay your mortgage and put your kids through college.

However, it is about how you can build strength, improve your conditioning and get an awesome workout with very little time or equipment.

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11 Things to Keep in Mind When Trying to Lose Fat

Losing fat has got to be one the most frustrating pursuits in all of fitness.  With so much temptation from all of our favorite foods it’s amazing that only half of the western world is overweight!

Despite its’ challenges, losing fat isn’t impossible.  It’s actually a pretty simple concept.  All that’s needed is a little bit of time and discipline.

Easier said than done I suppose.

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10 Nutrition Commandments

When it comes to nutrition, you don’t need to make it complicated.  In fact, regardless of whether you’re trying to cut body fat or pack on lean muscle, there are a few principles that will always apply.

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18 Ways to Build FREAKISH Strength!

It doesn’t matter what circle you roll in whether it’s bodybuilding, powerlifting, Crossfit, or pretty much any sport with the exception of yoga (not really a sport), everyone seems to be on a quest for more strength.  If you’re in the gym and you’re moving weight, you’re trying to get stronger in some way, shape, or form – or at least you should be.

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5 Ways to Improve Your Conditioning!

I’ve never been a huge fan of the word cardio.  Not because I don’t like cardio but more so because of the stigma attached to it.

When I hear the word cardio, I automatically think of people sitting on a recumbant bike pedaling away while reading the latest issue of People magazine.

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Training and Life Lessons From the Last 15 Years – Part 2

I’ve got a few more things I’d like to share with you about my time in fitness industry.  If you haven’t read Part 1 yet, I strongly suggest you do, there’s some good shit in there!

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Strength and Conditioning Tip: Superset Big Lifts with High Intensity Conditioning!

If you’re looking to get the best return for your efforts in the gym (and I’m sure you are), then you better listen up.

It’s all about building muscle and reducing body fat.  In order to effectively do both, and yes you can do both, you need to bring the two worlds together.

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7 Benefits of Flexible Dieting (IIFYM)

I’ll be the first to admit that I find diets to be utterly frustrating and confusing. We’re all human beings yet there are so many different approaches to eating.

Are we all that different in how we process food?

I know there’s food allergies that may cause some deviations but how can there be so many COMPLETELY DIFFERENT trains of thought?

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Training and Life Lessons From the Last 15 Years – Part 1

Oh how time flies.  As I get older, I find myself saying that more and more.  But it’s true, it seems like the older I get, the more things seem to speed up.  Life can feel like one giant beep test sometimes where each year gets faster and faster until we hit our “limit.”

Do kids even do the beep the test anymore or has the school system become so diluted that it’s no longer socially acceptable to be competitive and push yourself physically or mentally?

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How to Become a Powerhouse in the Gym and in Everyday Life!

If you don’t know me or have never read any of my articles before then you should know that I’m about  2 things – getting fit and living a fulfilling life on your own terms.

One of the secrets to success in any aspect of your life is to simply condense the nonsense.  In the book Essentialism, Greg McKeown repeatedly makes reference to how we need to develop the ability to “decipher the trivial many from the essential few.”

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The Busy Person’s Guide to Healthy Eating…

I’m not sure if we’re actually busier or just more distracted, but it seems like people are finding it more and more difficult to find time to eat sensibly nowadays.

I mean, between working long hours, spending time with loved ones, raising a family, social media and reality television, who has time to prepare a healthy meal?

Well, fortunately for you, your dietary habits don’t have to go completely down the drain just because you have a busy schedule.  You can still maintain a lean, healthy physique simply by adopting a few tried and true habits that will keep you on the right path.

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