Thursday, 27 March 2014


Exciting news!  I am going to be expanding my CrossFit coaching for the 2014-2015 season.  To do this, I will need to have a NEW website with more options and a bit more user-friendly template.  Stay tuned, keep fit, and have fun.


Sunday, 21 April 2013


Photo credit - Lindsay McCardle
All through my formative years - elementary school and high school - I was extremely active on a daily basis.  In elementary school, I walked 20 minutes to and from my house every day.  I played sports/games at recess, repeated at lunch, did PE, and then walked home, where I typically played basketball out in the back lane.  I also played soccer.

In high school, I also walked 20 minutes to and from my school, played basketball at recess, played basketball at lunch, did PE, and had a rugby practice or game after school most days.

In both cases, I had well over 2.5 hours (and often as much as 4 hours) a day of physical exercise, a lot of it at a moderate intensity and only some at "full speed ahead".  Contrast that with my usual daily life now, which consists of driving places, coaching athletes, and sitting at a desk for 80% of my working day... before blasting out a crusher workout at 100% for 1-1.5 hours.

No wonder I have mobility issues, recovery issues, and am more injury prone than ever before in my life!  

This is why I've started taking recess during the day.  There's no bell, no rush of classmates (although a few co-workers join in), but the premise is the same.  Get moving, do some light activity (usually a game of some sort), and refresh body and mind.  I typically take a half hour each day to do this, which ends up giving me 2.5 hours more activity per work week than I was getting previously.

The results?  Too early to tell from a physical standpoint but mentally it's done wonders.  Now when I start losing focus while working, instead of going to the old standbys of youtube and facebook or nodding off at my desk, I go and grab a ball, a co-worker or two, and shoot some hoops or play outside.

If you're like me and most of your day is taken up by immobility, try taking a recess.  Physical benefits aside, these breaks will help you re-focus on the good things in life like being outside on a beautiful day or spending time with friends.

Now, the next step is getting a building-wide bell every few hours...


Friday, 24 August 2012

The NEW Crossfit rules - Olympic Lifts

Podium SC Athlete Lindsay M - Regionals 2012

Olympic lifting is awesome – performed correctly it requires an impressive combination of strength, power, flexibility, balance, and speed.  It is truly an athletic form of lifting huge weights overhead and requires dedicated practice to get it right.

In CrossFit however, most are doing it wrong, VERY wrong.  I can’t tell you how much it bugs me to see “another” Crossfit video posted online with people lifting with terrible form... and there are WAY too many of these already.

Two factors are at the heart of this issue - the low average skill of Crossfit coaches in terms of effective teaching practices and the relative ignorance of whoever is planning the wods.  If that sounds harsh to you that’s fine, but I’ve seen a LOT of coaching and a LOT of programming and these are the conclusions I’ve come to.  Your members are paying you good money with the expectation of high level service, so it is up to you to provide it and make sure they get their money’s worth.

The “typical” Crossfit coach is an interesting phenomenon in the physical training world – a weekend, $1000, and you are set up to teach others highly complex skills.  You might mention that there are a bunch of personal training courses that run similarly but the reality is that those people are NOT turning around and teaching cleans and snatches and doing 30 of each for time.  You also might mention that there are a bunch of specialized Crossfit courses out there for lifting and gymnastics etc.  I will respond that these are merely the STARTING point of your skill development as a coach, and in no way truly prepare you for actually coaching these lifts effectively.

In order to fully understand teaching the Olympic lifts, you have to train them yourself and for a LONG time.  You really will not know how to truly coach these lifts until you have reached a reasonable level of proficiency (which in my mind would be about a minimum of 50/70kg for women and 80/110kg for men).  Bodyweight plays into this a bit but for average sized individuals, if you are lifting those loads with good (FULL snatch and FULL clean) form, you probably know a thing or two about what works and what doesn’t.

Class structure, contrary to popular belief, is NOT a restriction on effective teaching – you just need to know HOW to do it and how to identify technique issues.  Without extending the length of this blog unnecessarily, this means a lot of skill transfer exercises (NOT 5x3 snatch balance for max load) with a reasonable progression and KNOWING what you are looking for so that you can cue corrections. 

You should probably also have a structure for your class in terms of WHEN people lift so that you are watching 4 or 5 people at a time as opposed to a whole class of 15+.

So, RULE #1 – if you are a coach, GET BETTER, a LOT BETTER at the Olifts yourself through dedicated practice (and I mean a LOT of practice), LEARN what works and what doesn’t through personal experience and research, and develop a teaching progression that is sensible and with a long term view.

Issue #2 is programming.  I almost hate this word in the Crossfit world since it is so abused.  “Programming” used to mean employing a systematic series of physical challenges that progresses someone (or a group of people) towards an end goal.  It requires forethought, an understanding of the goal, proper progression, and reasonable knowledge of the energy systems and muscular characteristics of the body.  What it has degenerated into in the Crossfit world is shotgunning wods based on a “we did that yesterday so we’ll do this today” type approach.  Believe it or not, when I first showed up at the affiliate I used to co-own, the programming was done on a night-before basis or even sometimes 15 minutes before class time!  “Programming” has become synonymous with “making up workouts” and it is not surprising to me at all that people are F’ing things up badly as a result.

The Olympic lifts are one of the biggest victims of this trend.  Here’s the deal – the Olifts are best performed and LEARNED from at least a “relatively” rested state with a focus on accuracy and coordination.  This is the exact OPPOSITE of what happens in a wod.  Case in point – Isabel – 30 snatches for time.  If someone is reasonably proficient, they will get maybe up to 10 reps with pretty solid form and the remaining 20 reps with successively worse and worse technique.  In that scenario, you have AT BEST 10 reps that are developing a “good” motor program and 20 reps that are developing a POOR motor program... guess what wins out?

An interesting insight into Isabel in particular comes from a personal programming experience of mine.  I create a wod for my Affiliate called “Breaking up with Isabel” which consists of 6 rounds of 5 snatches, each successive round starting on the minute.  Interestingly enough, MANY people got a BETTER Isabel time out of this workout than they did when they actually did the full 30 snatches in a row... and guess what, their form was a WHOLE lot better.

Now I understand completely the need to test wods like Isabel and Grace ON OCCASION, especially as athletes near competition time, but these (and things like barbell complexes) should not form the majority of any Crossfitter’s exposure to the Olifts.

Secondly, much too much time is spent on learning (and training) the power variations of the lifts.  The power variations are technically simpler but can create serious flaws when it comes to developing full clean and full snatch techninque... primarily, the arms in the power variations are used excessively in pulling the bar UP whereas one of their main functions in the full lift is to pull the body DOWN.  Repetitive power snatches and power cleans will interfere with the timing for full snatches and full cleans.  I have met a LOT of people who can power snatch and power clean who CAN’T do the full lifts... But I’ve yet to meet ANYONE who can full clean and snatch who can’t do the power variations.

I’m wary of giving programmers too much info as the absolute worst scenario is utilizing methods that you don’t fully understand, but this is too big of an issue to let slide for much longer.  So here are the NEW Crossfit rules for programming the Olifts:

RULE #2 – If you want to do Olifts in metcons, make those metcons interval-style with the Olift as the FIRST component.  The rest period leading into the Olift will preserve the “good” stuff better this way.

RULE #3 – Program both Snatch and Clean variations (i.e. teaching and skill transfer exercises) at LEAST once per week... it is preferable to have some sort of technique work (bar only in some cases) on an everyday basis to ensure your members get good contact with these movements

RULE #4 – Spend MORE time at 75-85% loads and LESS time “going for max”

RULE #5 – PLAN ahead with your progressions and work towards an end goal 4-8 weeks down the road

RULE #6 – The vast majority of your programming of Olympic lifts should be as a technique/strength portion prior to the WOD... I’m talking 80% or more of the reps should be under low fatigue conditions

RULE #7 – Program with the goal of the full lifts in mind as opposed to the power variations

 I could go on for a while on these, but that is the starting point.  If you do the above, you will be ahead of most Crossfit coaches and Affiliates in terms of sensible, safe, and progressive programming of the Olympic lifts.

Before I end this blog though, one more request – if you have a wod video and the form is TERRIBLE, please please PLEASE do not post it up online.  We’ve got enough people sniping at us already, let’s make things better as opposed to worse!


Friday, 10 August 2012

Changes to Coaching and Programming

Michelle hitting du's at last year's Taranis Winter Challenge

Fitness, and the pursuit of optimal levels of fitness, is constantly evolving... and since my business is built around helping others explore and develop fitness, it must also evolve.  As a result of necessity (my time available) and athlete requests (more accessible programming), I am changing some of the structure of my Coaching and Programming Services.

Primarily, the Complete Training Systems section is getting a makeover.  From here forward, the fully supported training option ($250/month, all training provided with online support) will be known as the Elite Training Group.  Athletes within this group get training tailored exactly to THEIR needs based on a series of assessments and ongoing measurements. The good (and bad, depending on how you look at it) news is that this group is currently FULL, as I have a core group of committed and talented people and need to ensure they receive proper quality of service.  Stay tuned for an Athletes Page on this website detailing who is training wth the PSC Elite Training Group.

To provide more options for programming for competitive crossfit athletes who aren't part of the ETG, I have created a new programming service.  I will offer complete training (i.e. metcons, strength, technique) that is targeted towards peaking for the Open and Regionals but is not individually tailored to each athlete.  This is a great option for those looking for a progressive plan that is well designed and focused on hitting all of the needs of the crossfit athlete.  This will also be the plan that I myself will be following, so you are guaranteed that I will make it as good as I possibly can.  This option will now be known as the PSC Competition Team and will be offered for $150 per month.

These changes will be happening as of right now and I believe they will provide a lot more opportunities for people to engage in some excellent programming with some real thought, experience, and passion behind it.

Onwards and upwards!


Tuesday, 24 July 2012


Realizing potential through
Executing plans that move us forward.
Learning from mistakes,
Educating our bodies and minds.
Never settling for good enough, we
Take hold of all opportunities to progress.
Leaving fear of failure behind while
Elevating our game.
Striving for constant improvement so that the only result is