Optimizing Your Training

Optimizing Your Training

After getting a few weeks into The Ground Up v.2 cycle, our team has seen lots of progress and hard work from everyone! With all things considered and everyone getting their feet wet into this cycle, we must address how to maximize (or in this particular case, optimizing) your time in the gym with our program. After watching a vlog from a mentor of mine who gave me my first experiences coaching at Regionals and the Games, I would like to share with you some ways to help EVERY athlete take some ownership into their training and programming.

The Ground Up v.2

Team Derive!

We are here! It is (unofficially) the beginning of a new CrossFit "season"! In conjunction with the completion of our 2 testing weeks, we now can begin working on improving upon those both quantitatively and qualitatively. Similarly to last year, this year's starting cycle is called "The Ground Up v2" implying building upon our foundational skills and positions. Here's what to expect for the next 12 weeks:

Part A (Skill/Strength)

  • Utilize your new percentages: You MUST use your new percentages regardless if it is the same or under your previous RM for that movement. This is extremely important in building logevity and strong positions to keep your body healthy.
  • Performance Targeting moved to Thursdays and Sundays. We have decided to move performance targeting to later days in the week to allow all athletes to get an extra day to work together and build common weaknesses. There will still be PT, but less emphasis on it during the week.
  • Rebuilding our snatch pulling positions + overhead stability: Look for isometric position work to help drill the proper pieces of the snatch. Also look for more overhead squat work as well as isometric holds in the overhead squat.

    Snatches will be generally on the lighter side to start, to allow our body to build back proper motor patterns that we may have lost in the offseason.
  • Squatting with position bias: We will have both normal front/back squatting volume to continue building general strength, however initial percentages will be targeted towards focus on making sure our positions are correct and we are not just squatting for the sake of squatting.

    In addition to this, we will incorporate tempo and pause squats to ensure that we increase strength and power into all of our weaker positions.

Part B (Conditioning)

  • Return of mono-structural/single modality workouts: You'll start to see more workouts with just a single movement or just running/biking/rowing. These seem less "fun" but will contribute to reaching your fitness goals much faster!
  • Couplets/Triplets: And of course, this isn't changing anytime soon. As athletes-of-all-trades, we are going to continue to attack our traditional CrossFit workouts with the intensity of all time domains: short, medium, and long.
  • A slight bias towards "long": Based on observation and data analysis over this last cycle, as a group we need to begin improving on longer workouts. Look for days with just a conditioning piece to allow for increased focus on prepping for longer (12+ minute) workouts.

We are very excited to get things rolling, especially with the awesome numbers we had from testing weeks! If you have any questions let us know!


The Pitfall of Emotional Goal-Setting

The Pitfall of Emotional Goal-Setting

In many facets of life, business, and CrossFit, as a society and community we understand the importance of having goals and setting them for ourselves. Goals can provide us with something to work towards, give us a purpose, or motivate us to perform better. However, many fall into the trap of emotional goal-setting.

With the dawn of the annual CrossFit Games upon us, many athletes begin to ride that "high" (mentioned in a previous post) and set goals for themselves that they are emotionally ready for, but aren't mentally prepared for. This pattern leads to a vicious cycle of letdowns, frustration, and despise towards the process of self-progress. However, rarely do people fail to achieve their goals; rather, they fail to match their level of commitment with the magnitude of their aspirations.

5 Steps to Becoming a Better Athlete

5 Steps to Becoming a Better Athlete

Any athlete will understand that feeling or "high" that takes over when witnessing a huge accomplishment or event in their sport. Ex. The anchor leg of a relay catch opponents ahead of him/her,  a basketball star gain a hot hand and dominate a gamea football player making the game sealing TD. Regardless of the sport, when experiencing these events, it creates this motivation and hormonal change that makes us want to get up and DO SOMETHING.

Now if you happen to play that particular sport, the popular responses are "I'm gonna get to work now" or "Next year starts NOW." With that comes the territory of setting enormous goals that the mind and/or body cannot achieve without time. And generally, the "high" that you ride, doesn't last even close to how long it takes to achieve said goal.

After a few years of working with all levels of athletes, here are some appropriate steps that I have noticed rang common among the successful ones.

Coach's Corner - The idea of "Potential" and ponderings from the 2016 Open

For 16.5, I tried something a bit different. I purposefully posted each individual athletes score one-by-one, as they completed the workout. To be honest, the initial purpose was a bit of an improvisation. As I continued writing, I realized that all of the scores placed in the middle of the gym left no stone unturned. I started to become aware that it elicited emotions and reactions from our athletes, many of which I haven't seen previously...


As our athletes' head coach, it is my job and the job of my staff to provide the attention and guidance to help every athlete achieve their goals. Potential on the other hand, is something that we as a staff may see in an athlete, however that athlete must have the passion and determination to reach that potential. Simply presenting the idea of "Oh, you have SO much potential..." is just not reasonable, and almost cruel. It is our job, to help spark that passion, desire, and determination in each athlete to help them see it, want it, and most importantly, have fun with it.

I personally found this year's Open programming to be absolutely excellent. It has allowed me to make mistakes. Not at the expense of our athletes, but rather myself. By performing the workout directly after release each Thursday, it has allowed me to make mistakes, learn from them, and share with our athletes so that they don't have to make the same mistakes or at least mitigate them. Soon, many of them began to see what I saw: their amazing accomplishments and the vision of their potential. And I'm not talking about the yearly "Well this year sucked, now I gotta work harder for next year's Open." mindset. I'm talking "Wow... I can't believe I was able to do that. I think I can get even better."

There was absolutely no greater high this year, than being able to provide athletes with a gameplan or guidance, and for them to stick with it and blow their expectations out of the water. I'm a huge advocate of positive mindsets and visualizations, and nothing sparks positivity more than success itself. Which brings me back to the whiteboard...


As more people trickled in and out of the gym for Friday Night Lights, the whiteboard became more and more popular as the night went on. What was amazing was some of the things that I heard:

  • "Wow. We all KILLED it."
  • "'Insert athletes name', holy crap you smoked that!
  • These are awesome times!
  • "'Insert athletes name', you can totally beat my score!

So many positive things were said, so many thoughts were shared, and so much support was given. I became so impressed with how each athlete handled such a tough workout, and how they gave their heart at one point and then cheered on a fellow competitor at another. Each athlete leaving it all on the floor, knowing that they did their best. So in a weird way, Dave Castro, thanks.

The competitor deep down inside of me pushes to train my hardest every time I come to the gym. It also pushes me to understand how to compete, how to be a good competitor, and most importantly now, how to become a better coach. Going from 9 athletes in 2015 to 30+ athletes in 2016 has allowed me to share my knowledge and experience in ways unprecedented. This year has shown me that all you have to do is show an athlete you believe in them and help them see the small wins in every daily battle. And once those wins turn into giant victories, you've gained something even more: trust.

We are so proud of everyone this year. No matter the placing or performance, always remember: Onwards and upwards.

-Frank Nguyen


16.5 Strategy

16.5 Strategy

Here we are! The culmination of the Open has finally arrived!

I have to admit, I doubt any of us predicted this one. Dave Castro continues to be an asshole by surprising us with something new-- this time repeating a movement that was already done.

Lets break this down:

16.4 Strategy

16.4 Strategy

This is a beautifully programmed chipper! Continuing on the theme of the year, I feel like the programming has been extremely good. This is a potent combination of 4 movements: the first 3 (DL, WB, Row), challenge the capacity of your lungs and legs, and HSPU thrown in at the end to see what you have to give at the end. Lets break down the movements!

16.3 Strategy

16.3 Strategy

Here we are guys-- the MU workout of the open (however, I honestly think based on the way this year is going, ring MU are still coming).

If you are new or unfamiliar, this is the time of year where many gyms and athletes reach the brink of frustration and celebration. If you have been doing all the workouts as prescribed, and you have yet to achieve a muscle-up, you must have the following mindset:

16.2 Strategy

As mentioned in our strategy talk earlier tonight, there are a few things to consider in this workout:

  1. How proficient are your TTB?
  2. How proficient are your DU's?
  3. How proficient/strong are your cleans?

If you have great TTB, awesome. This will help you gain more time to do those cleans (or DUs if you're not so good at those). The biggest concern in this workout is the time under tension created by the constant flexion and extension of the hip in 2 of the 3 movements. As your midline stability deteriorates from TTB, cleans become exponentially harder. This is where your strategizing comes into play.

  • Weak TTB? Fast, Small sets, think singles-5's. Reduce time under tension
  • Strong TTB? Bigger sets, think 5s-10s. Again, same idea, reduce time under tension.
  • Stud? 10-15+. If you're in this category, you'll know your tipping point.

With that being said, you also need to consider realistically which round is your working set? What I mean by that is what round do you intend on getting to? If that first round seems challenging to you, attack it at all costs like the workout is 4 minutes. However, if the first round seems routine, but you see the challenge in the second round, tempo the 1st round (but not too much) and attack the 2nd round (mins 4-8). The idea here is that you need to attack the round that you feel will be the hardest on you, so that you can get through it. Because if you can make it past that particular 4 minute interval, you have a whole new 4 minute round to get "free reps". Think of it this way: lets say you get 175 reps (3 reps short of 2 rounds, aka Frank's score), now if you get JUST 3 more reps, that opens the door for 4 more minutes of additional TTB/DU/Cleans that you can add on. And if you need me to do the math, THATS 86 MORE REPS to add on to 178 (thus why I plan to redo it).

Speaking of redos, this is a great workout to be able to redo, because its not too taxing, and those extra reps are achievable depending on where you finished. More so than 16.1, every rep makes a big difference here.

Lastly, in terms of your clean and DU proficiency, not much to say because these 2 movements can't really be strategized outside of just doing them. DUs need to be UB, but if you cant, go as quickly as possible, but stay relaxed. Panic and frustration are your enemy on those. Cleans should be done calmly and assertively. Attack the bar and move well with limited rest. Limitation there is leg strength, and not much to strategize for that, since you can't really change that right now (lol).


Good luck!

New Year, New WHY

New Year, New WHY

Its that time of year again! New Year, New Me. Here at CrossFit Derive, we are 100% behind you, whether you're a new athlete taking the jump into fitness, or a current athlete shooting for some new big goals.

With all of these new goals and new motivators, its due time to chat about one of the most important parts of all the decisions we make: WHY?

2016 Open Prep Cycle

2016 Open Prep Cycle

All DERIVE athletes-- the time has come! We are 58 days away from the first workout of the 2016 CrossFit Games Open! For more information on what the CrossFit Games Open is, see HERE!

Technically, the coaches have been prepping you guys for this since September, but you'll see actual targeting towards this year's open in this upcoming cycle.

There won't be any drastic changes to what we have been doing, as our program has done a great job in prepping you guys up to this point. However, here are some of the bigger changes you can look forward to in the upcoming 8 weeks:

Brick and Mortar: Mesocycle 3 of The Ground Up

Brick and Mortar: Mesocycle 3 of The Ground Up

We are through 8 of the 12 weeks of The Ground Up! We have seen MAJOR progress from essentially all of our athletes and we are super stoked to see where we can take you guys!  The next 4 weeks will be working on solidifying the last 8 weeks of hard work, as well as introducing some new pieces to build our overall strength and conditioning.  Here are some of the small changes for our last mesocycle (4 weeks), called Brick and Mortar.

Saturday, 9-5-2015

Class at 10AM & 11 AM, please sign-up for class at cfderive.frontdeskhq.com/schedule

With a partner, complete:

8 Rounds of DT
(Alternating each movement)
9 DL, 155/105
6 Hang PC
3 Push jerks

Rest 3 Minutes

8 Rounds of Mary
(Alternating each movement)
10 Alternating Pistols
15 Pull-ups
(Level 1 will perform Cindy)

Rest 3 Minutes

Randy (Split Any way)
75 Power Snatches, 75/55#
(Level 1 will be Hang Power Snatch)