18.1, Rifles, and Puppies..

We've all been patiently awaiting the arrival of 18.1, most of us with the anticipation and eagerness of Ralphie on Christmas Eve. What would the new movement be? Would we actually get that Red Ryder Carbine Action Air Rifle? Could it be true? 

Sorry Ralphie, but mom and pops got you the knock-off version. At least that's how we felt when we heard the new movement was DB Hang Clean to Overhead. I mean, sure its still a "new movement" but isn't it really just a knock-off version of the DB Snatch? It's not the pistols or handstand walks we were hoping for. Oh well, we still get to play fitness after a longggg offseason. 

18.1 Tips & Tricks

18.1 is a 20 minute AMRAP of 8 Toes to Bar, 10 Dumbbell Hang Clean to Overhead and 14 or 12 calories on the rower. Nothing sexy, nothing fancy, just a long grinder designed to wear down your grip. There's only a few things to keep in mind:

  1. If your grip isn't a strength, break up the T2B early. Don't be a hero. If your grip goes, then you'll crumble.
  2. Always start with your weak arm first for the DB Hang Clean to Overhead. When it comes to unilateral work, it is common to see global fatigue, meaning even though you are only using one arm at a time, both arms will get tired together. Be smart and use your weak arm first so that your strong arm can make up the difference afterwards. 
  3. Push the row, but not so much that it will blow you up for the other two movements. Unless you are an amazing rower, you probably want to have a 1 to 1 T2B/DBC&OH to Row interval. So if it takes you a minute to complete the T2B and the DB work, you should hold yourself to about a minute on the rower. 

And that's really it. Find a pace that feels comfortable to you, something that is challenging but you won't gas out on the T2Bs. Nothing more really.

And sorry for the knockoff rifle. We decided to upload some motivational pictures of puppies to make up for it...

     

    February 23, 2018 by Jason Yule

    The Final Countdown

     

     

    It’s here. In exactly one week (give or take a few hours), Dave Castro will announce 18.1 to hundreds of thousands of eager, excited, and probably slightly scared enthusiasts. Today we just want to leave you with a few final thoughts heading into the start of the 2018 season.

     

    ENJOY IT

    You’ve put in the hours; you’ve sacrificed your blood, sweat, and possibly some tears over the past few months. You’ve dialed in your nutrition, your training schedule, your sleep, and any other variable you think might give you an advantage. Now it’s game time. The most significant thing you can do to help yourself now is to ENJOY IT!

    Stressing out over what the workout might be won’t help you at all. Stressing out about a particular movement or time domain that you didn’t train quite enough won’t help you at all. What you need to understand is that anything that happens now is largely out of your control. Stressing about this stuff is just wasted effort. Try your best to enjoy the next 5 weeks, I promise that being happy and excited will do more for your performance than being stressed and worried will. Plus, the Open will be over faster than you think – don’t waste it.

     

    LEAVE YOUR EGO AT THE DOOR

    “No one care’s what your score is.” I absolutely love that quote. It took me a LONG TIME to come to grips with it, but it’s so true. I used to think I have to put up an awesome score because everyone is watching me. Well, eventually I realized that was kind of foolish – the Open is about pushing myself to be better after all.

    If you have to scale a workout, you didn’t fail. If you don’t repeat a workout, that’s fine. Again, the only thing you should be concerned with is pushing yourself. If you feel external pressure to perform at a certain level, don’t give into it. Listen to your gut and do what you feel is right for you. If you give in to external pressure I promise you won’t enjoy the Open as much as you should.

     

    DON’T GET UPSET

    Things will go wrong. The workouts will be hard and you will be pushed past your breaking point. That is the exact intent and design of the 5 Open workouts. The only thing you are allowed to be upset about is if you don’t give your full effort. Everything else is off limits. We know there will be new movements that will surprise us and we know our weakness will show up too. Greet them with a smile and a can-do attitude.

    Oh, and there is no bitching, no complaining, no whining, and no excuses. These are reserved for losers and quitters. Not you.

     

    For most of us, the next 5 weeks are what we train year round for. Enjoy it, don’t stress, and be smart. And of course, be #greaterthanyesterday.

    February 15, 2018 by Jason Yule

    The CrossFit Open – to Scale or not?

    The Open is just around the corner. In exactly 3 weeks we will all have our laptops, tvs and phones streaming the 18.1 live announcement to see what Castro has in store for us this time. What will be the repeat? 17.1? 17.3? Or maybe something from a few years back? Regardless of what he throws at us, we know there will be some challenging skills. Ring Muscle-ups haven’t been programmed for 2 years, and it seems like Handstand Push-ups are here to stay. We know Double Unders will be incorporated.

    With this realization comes a very important question – if you can’t do a particular skill, will you scale or not? This question is not as simple as it seems. There are many angles to attack the question from, including the specifics of the workout, how close you are to that skill, and what your overall goals are. Now, you may be asking why this question is important. I believe this is a very important question because the Open, for most of us, is the springboard into the entire year of training to follow. It’s where we discover our biggest weaknesses, our strengths, and everything in between. There are mental and physical implications of the Open, and it’s important to come out of the Open with the best mental state possible.

    Let’s dive in.

    Specific Workout Formats

    Let’s dissect this by looking at two different workouts: 17.2 and 16.3 both featured high rep bar muscle-ups, but in a very different format. 16.3 had very short rounds, so the bar muscle-ups were early and often. 17.2, however, had a long chunk of workout before the bar muscle-ups showed up. So obviously 17.2 was much more do-able for people who didn’t have muscle-ups yet.

    Specific Skill Level

    Your specific skill level also plays an important role. Are you currently in the process of developing a skill, or are you pretty darn close to getting it? In other words, how close are you? If you are close, then chances are the adrenaline and extra motivation/pressure of the Open might push you over the hump. If you aren’t close, then you’ll probably just be developing poor habits that could hinder your long-term growth.

    Your Overall Goals

    What are your overall fitness goals? Do you crossfit to improve your health and wellness so that you can enjoy a better quality of life? Or do you crossfit because you have aspirations of competing in the sport? While the Open is a great competition for us all, it’s important to determine this ahead of time because of the mental implications. Whether it’s the muscle-up or double unders, chances are there will be something that will slow you down. That’s what the Open is INTENDED to do, put up barriers to weed people out of advancing. If you run into that barrier at full speed, and it knocks you on your ass, there is a very real chance of disappointment and frustration. So you have to figure out if the disappointment of not being able to accomplish something is worth the risk.

     OR 

    Now, I don’t want you thinking I am pushing for people to scale. I have seen how the Open has pushed people to accomplish feats they didn’t think were possible. I’ve seen how hard people have pushed for something. But I have also seen people try too hard for something, risking injury and pride, and leaving feeling defeated.  So what I am saying is, be smart. Don’t let your ego or outside pressures influence you. Do what you feel is right.

    Yes the Open is a competition, but it is also a time for celebration and joy. If you feel down on yourself or defeated, you didn’t do it right. You should finish the Open EXCITED because you pushed yourself to new levels and you know what you need to work on over the next year.

    February 01, 2018 by Alex Carravetta

    New Swagggg

     

    Hey, did you hear? Boxstar has new swag dropping on Friday. It's the New Year, and you're crushing it, right? Well we want to make sure you're staying warm AND looking as fresh as possible. Ladies we're dropping brand new full length leggings - these things are BOLD and you will definitely stand out at the gym. Guys, we didn't forget about you - two brand new crew-necks perfect for warming up and for those chilly lifting sessions. Ladies, they'll look great on you too. And lastly, because we just love tacos so much, we had to make a taco shirt. Take a peek now:

     

    Crew-Necks

    We're launching two different crews, the Varsity and the Army. If you couldn't figure it out, the varsity features the distinct "varsity" lettering front and center. And the Army is featured on the distinct olive green that is so representative of the branch. These bad boys are extremely comfortable, and as already mentioned, extremely functional. Both are perfect for warm-ups, EMOMs, skill sessions and lifting sessions. 

     

    Greater Than Yesterday Tights

    Our ladies have been asking for more full-length tights so we had to deliver. These things are BOLD ladies - super vibrant and look amazing. They feature "Greater Than Yesterday" down the leg because everyone needs more GTY in their lives. These tights are just like all of our others; they feature 4-way stretch, anti-wicking material and they don't ride up OR down during workouts. 

     

    Tacos are Forever

    So, yes, we are a pretty serious, down-to-business type organization. We value hard work and grit, but we also like to have a good time. And while we love fitness more than anything, all good things must pass. So when the fitness does eventually fade, rest easy, knowing tacos will be with you until the end of time. And who doesn't love tacos?

    January 25, 2018 by Jason Yule

    18.Zero - Did you miss this?

    What the heck is 18.Zero? Did you miss this? While most of the United States was asleep early on Wednesday morning, Dave Castro was being Dave Castro over in London. Apparently he released 18.Zero, which we have "zero" idea of what it means.

     The workout was as follows:

    21-15-9
    Alternating Dumbbell Snatches
    Burpees
    ...........
    *New Movement Standards*
    - DB can't switch hands until it crosses the athletes face
    - Burpees have to be hop back and hop up (no step-back/step-ups)

     

    Very interesting. So not only do we have a brand new workout, we have two brand new standards as well. Upon first glance, it doesn't seem to be too crazy of a workout. While it would definitely be a quick burner, it doesn't seem to be anywhere near the soul crushing workouts that the Open is known for.

    Maybe a new PR / Marketing stunt to get people excited and registered for the open? We all remember Dave's campaign for the team series, right? At this point, nothing would surprise me.

    I think what is more important is the standards he implemented. I've personally always viewed the step-back/step-up as a sort of scaled version of the burpee, since it's not capturing the original intent of the burpee. Maybe HQ decided that we've gotten too good at pacing burpees, and wants to get back to that original intent.

    When it comes to the DB Snatch standard, the first thought that comes to mind is the grey area that comes with it. Is there a specific cutoff point? Forehead? Nose? Chin? I feel sorry for any judges if we see this standard in the open this year.

    Or, again, this could all just be a rue created by Castro and the HQ marketing team to get some excitement drummed up before the season starts back up. Can you believe we are only 5 weeks away??

    We'd love to hear your thoughts! Post your comments below!

    January 18, 2018 by Jason Yule

    Building Your Mental Game

    At the most fundamental level, CrossFit isn't very surprising. We know all the movements that will be thrown at us. We've practiced every combination of every movement, we've practiced each specific skill, and we've developed capacity in each movement. At the top of the sport, athletes have nearly identical strength numbers and can all do the same impressive feats when it comes to gymnastics. So what's the difference? Why are the same top few athletes constantly making the games, the same athletes constantly on the podium? On a local level, why can I beat someone who has way better measurables than me? 

    The answer is it all comes down to your mental game. I don't think this is a secret. There are so many podcasts and books and articles written about CrossFit nowadays that we all understand how important the mental game is. The secret sauce is figuring out a) if we have a strong or weak mental game and then b) how we go about strengthening it. Its obviously not a skill we can hammer out like pull-ups or handstand push-ups. 

    So, how do we build your mental game? Like most things, its not so simple as to say do X and Y will happen. There are underlying variables to take into account, there are different starting points and progressions along the way. The first step is to figure out where you currently are when it comes to mental capacity.

     

    Your Current Mental Game

    In my opinion, the most significant mental barrier is confidence - even hours before my training session starts, if I have a workout that has any of my weaknesses in it, I start to make up stories in my mind. I start figuring out how I can compensate one way or another, etc. Once the training session starts, if I have any doubts at all, those weaknesses turn into impossibilities. 

    The second most significant mental barrier, again, in my opinion, is sticking to your game plan(s). Man, I can't tell you often I want to deviate plan as soon as it starts getting difficult. I start telling myself "I NEED an extra break here, and extra break there." And then after the workout being so frustrated at myself because I totally DIDN'T need to take that break. Anyone else relate?

    The Path to Improvement

    For the purposes of this article, I'm going to assume that you are average, like me, when it comes to your mental game. You doubt yourself every now and then, and aren't likely to stick to your game plan, especially when its a tough workout. So how do get better? How can we fortify these two aspects of our mental game? Easy - we need to build progressions.

    A games athlete doesn't have to worry about if its going to be a good pull-up day or not. He's not stressing if the HSPUs are going to be too tough for him today. But most of us are. Maybe its not those specific movements, but most of us have a few movements that worry us a bit. We don't have the luxury of going into that workout with maximum output in mind, we just care about getting better at our weakness. So that's what we have to focus on.

    Don't set yourself up for failure by thinking you've failed if you don't do good on that weakness today. Understand that modifications are ok, scaling is ok. Your mental progression for this workout is telling yourself that no matter what you have to do, you are going to do it 100% effort with no doubts. If you have to scale your HSPU's tonight, who cares. You won't get that fancy RX, but guess what, no one - I repeat, NO ONE - cares. Do what you need to do to get better. Whatever you decide to do, do it at 100% and crush it. Don't let a standard defeat you.

    This is powerful because when you get used to approaching workouts like this, then you no longer stress out and worry about getting that standard. You're fine with modifying so you don't put extra pressure or mental fatigue on yourself. You're excited when you go the gym instead of being worried. And chances are you're going to perform a hell of a lot better, and hit that standard a lot faster. Excitement does A LOT for performance.

    When it comes to your game planning, the mental progression is just being smarter when it comes to building your game plan. If you haven't had any success sticking to your game plan, then for the love of god don't think you'll stick to a Regional or Games level pace, that's just a recipe for failure. Create a game plan that builds in some cushion for yourself. For the first week or two, make your game plan easy.

    The objective is to just start completing workouts according to plan. Start building that mental confidence that you can do it. After a week or two, then you can start SLOWLY increasing the difficulty of your game plans. Over time you will be able to make tough, gut checking mental decisions to stay on track, but you need to develop that mental capacity FIRST. Be smart and set yourself up for success, not failure. 

    As always, I'm curious to know if you guys found value in this article. It's a battle I struggle with often, especially when I'm not as on point as I should be with my training, yet I rarely read anything on how to improve the mental game. I'd love to hear your feedback, and more specifically, what your biggest mental hurdle is.

    January 12, 2018 by Jason Yule

    Ditch Your Goals in 2018

    Ditch your goals this year? That seems like an odd statement. Aren't goals they key to staying focused and staying on track? Aren't they necessary?

    Yes, but I had to use a controversial title to get you in here, didn't I? With that being said, I'm not completely lying about ditching your goals for 2018 - for some of you it still might be completely necessary, and that'ts just because you are focusing on the wrong TYPE of goal. Let me explain.

    Outcome Oriented Goals

    There is so much content on why and how to create goals - they need to be SMART goals, they need to be realistic, they need to be challenging yet attainable, etc. Then you need to break down the main goal into sub-goals along the way, and on and on. You all know this, so I'm not going to repeat it any more. 

    But, what I find interesting, is there is very little to be read about the TYPE of goal you are setting. What do I mean by the type of goal? Aren't all goals the same? Well, yes and no. What most people think of when they set a goal is a specific outcome: I want to snatch 200lbs. I want to finish top 100 in the Open. I want to have a sub 2:30 Fran. 

    Let me ask you a question - how are you supposed to break down any of those goals? For example, lets say I currently snatch 175 and my goal is 200. How do I break that down into manageable sub-goals? Add 2.5lbs every week for 10 weeks? We all know that lifting, ESPECIALLY the snatch, doesn't work like that. You could go weeks at the same weight, even see your max drop, before finally rocketing back up.

    So back to the question I proposed - how do you break these down? You can't effectively break performance goals down because there is no linear path in CrossFit. This is why I titled this blog "Ditch Your Goals," because if they are outcome oriented they are unfortunately just a waste of time.  

    Process Oriented Goals

    The other type of goal I alluded to is a process oriented goal. I know I can't expect to add 2.5lbs to my snatch every week, but I can definitely practice my snatch technique 3x per week and work on strength 3x per week. See the difference there? Instead of focusing on the actual result/outcome, i'm focusing on the process to get to that outcome. I can't control what actually happens to my max snatch number, but I definitely can control what I am doing to work toward an outcome.

    The best endorsement I can give for process oriented goals is from Katrin Davidsdottir, who said "my goal was never to win the CrossFit Games, my goal was to maximize every single day and every single training session. Winning the Games was just the result of that process." 

    Another good example is weight - say you want to drop to 15% body fat. We know that our body is too volatile to simply say I want to lose 2% per month until I reach it. If you do that, and don't see the linear results you expect, you may get discouraged and quit. Conversely, if you commit to tracking your food every single day and staying within your prescribed macros 6 days out of the week, you are much more likely to reach that ultimate goal of 15% body fat. 

    The other thing I LOVE about process oriented goals is that they make you think a lot more about HOW you're going to achieve something, versus just saying you want to achieve it. In my previous example about the snatch, if my goal was to add 2.5lbs per week, great, but how does that happen? When I revised it using the process oriented goal, I had to figure out exactly what I'd do to make it happen - work on strength and drill the snatch a few times per week. 

    With that, I'd love to hear all of your thoughts - have you guys switched to process oriented goals yet? Have they worked better or worse for you? And why? Comment below!

    January 05, 2018 by Jason Yule

    2017 In Review

    Wow, what a year. 2017 has come and absolutely flown by – can anyone else remember New Year’s like it was just yesterday? From the annual goals we set to such a memorable Open and Regionals, to the Games coming to Madison, and so much more. I couldn’t be more excited to go back through our best year yet. Actually I lied, I am more excited to look ahead to 2018, but I’ll hold tight for now.

    THE PREFACE

    In 2016 we decided it would be cool to get our athletes together for a photo shoot and team throwdown. We had so much fun that we decided we’d have to do it again in 2017. It was just as much fun this year, but something else was going on. These guys brought it. Like, a level we’ve never seen before. After doing 3 full-fledged workouts in about 90 minutes, and after seeing what we saw, we knew 2017 was going to be big for our athletes. We just had no idea how big.  

    THE OPEN

    Does anyone remember how anticlimactic week one was? Leaderboarding all day Monday, just to be told athletes would have another day? And then the same thing Tuesday? Well, when it was all said and done we woke up to something pretty cool – our guy Streat took home 1st in the North Central and 10th in the World. What a great Week 1 surprise to wake up to, and what a foreshadowing it would prove to be. When the Open was all wrapped up, Dylan had finished with a top 5 position in the region, Streat and Jessica both had finished top 15, and Andrew had finished 10th in the team division with his affiliate CrossFit Alpha Dog. All had secured a return trip to the Central Regionals, this time in Nashville Tennessee. We were stoked.

    REGIONALS

    Does anything scream we’re about to party like going to Nashville for Regionals? Seriously one of the coolest spots by far. The food was amazing and what’s better than partying with a bunch of crazy fitness fanatics? Regionals flew by in no time at all but luckily there was a ton to remember. We met and partied with the Fitaid crew for a couple nights (thank god for Partyaid), we ate like southern kings (I’ve been dreaming about Arnold’s for months now), and we cheered our hearts out (but none more than the Hoerner's). When it was all over, we packed the truck and headed back home to Wisconsin.


    THE GAMES

    Man was that picture one of our favorites ever. Being born and raised in Wisconsin, we are absolute homers. Add in the fact that I went to UW-Madison for college and you can see why we were so stoked to host the CrossFit Games this year. Most people didn’t realize that Madison was consistently rated the fittest city on Earth, but we did, and so we also knew that it would make the perfect home for the games. If you guys recall, I wrote this pretty cool article on the top fitness related activities to do while in Madison for the Games. Check it out here!

    Wow, was Madison was another whirlwind. We set up as a Games Vendor for the first time, and debuted our new and improved booth, which we eventually dubbed “the wall.” Major props to Aaron Hinde over at Fitaid for the idea and inspiration to make the change, it was awesome and definitely made us stand out from the crowd of tents. My only complaint with the Games was that we were working too hard to properly enjoy it (that’s a joke of course).

    Unfortunately we didn’t get to see much of Streat’s inspiring and defying performance – from getting struck with a surprise sickness to becoming the 14th Fittest on Earth, but we weren’t totally in the dark either. It seemed like every few minutes someone from Boxstar Nation would walk up and fill us in. How awesome is it that we have such a passionate fan base? I know for a fact that a lot of people who came up to us didn’t even know Streat, but were cheering for him like they were buddies. That’s pretty badass if you ask me.

    Luckily we did get to enjoy some of the festivities of The Games. Our friends at Fitaid shot off some Boxstar swag to the fans and they invited us over for a night of celebration where we had the pleasure of meeting the Barbell Shrugged crew – we’ve long looked up to these guys and it was a blast to finally get to meet them and chat with them. PS, Mike was looking pretty good in his new sweatshirt.

    GRANITE GAMES

    The year wrapped up with our standard trip to the Granite Games. After our success at the CrossFIt Games we knew we wanted to kick it up a notch, so we decided to expand “the wall” and man was it awesome. We literally had a 10 person line waiting for our arrival on the first morning, an unexpected surprise. Again, it seemed like we were too busy to think until the after party on Sunday night.

    LOOKING AHEAD

    And like that the year is all but wrapped up. Our company has grown so much in 2017, and we are so thankful and so grateful to every single person who has supported us and our mission. We live in a constant pursuit of being greater than yesterday, and it’s so amazing to see you guys join us on this journey.

    In 2018, expect more of the same, just better. We aren’t changing much; you’ll still see us at local and major competitions throughout the year, so stop by and say hi. We’ll definitely continue our Ambassador program because it was such a hit, so stay on the lookout. One new thing we will be introducing in the New Year is our Preferred Affiliate and Affiliate Wholesale Program, details on that coming soon. Other than that, our main goal for 2018 is to just keep getting better. Just like all of you.

    Thank you again so much for being part of this amazing community, and we can’t wait to crush 2018 with you.

    Jason & Jason

    December 29, 2017 by Alex Carravetta

    Veteran's Day New Releases!

    We've expanded the Defender Collection.

    Last Veteran's Day, we debuted The Defender Collection. We created the Defender Collection in honor of the men & women that serve or have served to defend this great Nation.

    This year, we've added new items to the collection. We're introducing our Ladies Patriot ShortsLadies Spartan muscle tankLadies Strike TeeMen's Spartan tee, and Men's Strike Tee.

    A huge THANK YOU to all Veterans!

    Veteran's Day SpecialAll tees and tanks are buy one, get one 40% off. No code required.

    Ends Monday!

    November 10, 2017 by Jason Yule

    Leading by Example

    What most people think it means vs what it really means

    Leading by example is a pretty worn concept, meaning, most people know what it is and what it means. Its one of those things that is overplayed a bit - everyone is "leading by example" these days. But what I find interesting is that not many people are following. 

    Leading by example: What people think it means

    So lets start by looking at what leading by example means to most people: 1. Be the hardest worker in the room. 2. Practice what you preach. 3.  Do, don't say. 

    I don't think any of this stuff is revolutionary to you, you've heard it time and time again, right? And yes, I do believe this stuff is incredibly important for anyone trying to lead by example. But that brings me back to my original question - why isn't anyone following? Why aren't we motivating people to burn their questions and to shut up and hit the grindstone? 

    Leading by example: What I think it means

    Let's get into the details of leading by example; what so many people neglect and choose to ignore. See, what I think leading by example means is what it ISN'T. Leading by example ISN'T complaining. It ISN'T whining and it ISN'T making excuses. Leading by example is eliminating your ego and cockiness. Leading by example is forbidding negative thoughts into your mind and only seeing positive outcomes. Leading by example is keeping these tiny little tendencies in check.

    I think so many people who are "leading by example" are missing the boat because, yes they are practicing what they preach, they are doing the right things and working the hardest, but it is what they allow to come out of their mouth that brings them back down to everyone else's level. 

    For example, take an athlete who works his butt off during a workout, so much so that you are extremely impressed by his effort. But then after the workout, its complaint after complaint about what went wrong. Or he or she lets a cocky remark slip, or walks around with a sense of entitlement. Just like that, this person went from inspirational and motivational all the way down to they're full of themselves.

    So I challenge you to re-evaluate how you are leading by example. Yes, you better be doing the obvious things, but those are just cost of admission. But what are you doing when it comes to the subtle things - they way you are being perceived by those you want following you? Are you truly a leader in their eyes, or cocky? A leader, or a complainer? A leader, or a whiner?  It's up to you.

    November 03, 2017 by Jason Yule