MuscleDriver USA Olympic Lifting Seminar!

I’m pleased to announce that The Arsenal home of will be hosting an MDUSA Olympic Lifting seminar on Saturday November 22nd.  The event will run from 9 AM – 5 PM with a 45 minute lunch break.  The Coach/Athlete who will be leading this seminar is MDUSA Athlete Matt Bergeron:


Matt Bergeron
Matt was invited to join Team MDUSA in April 2013. Matt grew up swimming competitively for 13 years. While obtaining his undergrad degree in Applied Exercise Science, Matt started cheerleading for Ball State. He continued to cheer while earning his Masters degree in Sports Performance. The strength and conditioning program for cheerleading introduced Matt to Olympic weightlifting.Matt follows Team MDUSA’s training program, which consists of 9 training sessions a week. Matt focuses on the two main Olympic lifts and their different variations as well as a lot of squatting and pressing. His favorite lift is the snatch while his least favorite lift is the press from the split position.

This clinic is designed to take your lifts and technique to the next level.  The whole day clinic will focus on the following:

  • Snatch, clean and jerk
  • Important aspects of weightlifting training
  • Teaching a whole year worth of programming at MuscleDriverUSA
  • Auxiliary work
  • And tips to improve weightlifting performance with programs designed by Glenn Pendlay, Don McCauley and Travis Mash

Anyone who signs up by Friday November 7th will receive 2 months free video analysis by Matt!  This is a $50 per month service!  

We will be limiting this opportunity to 20 athletes (this includes Arsenal staff) so be quick on the trigger getting signed up.  If this event is as well attended as we expect, be ready for many more in-house seminars in the upcoming year.   Attendance will be exclusive to members through Saturday of this week, and then open to the general public if we have not sold out.  Consider this a massive accelerator to those of our athletes looking to get significantly more efficient and improve your mechanics in these difficult lifts.



CrossFit Total, Programming and Attendance this week

Are you ready for the CrossFit Total?  We don’t typically share what the programming is going to look like in the coming week because we are CrossFit, which means General Physical Preparedness or GPP.  This means you cannot preview workouts and cherry pick the ones that favor your strengths, or that morning’s weather forecast.  You wake up and you get your tail into the box to put in your work that has been carefully programmed to test you at whichever level of GPP you have.

This Wednesday, you will be tested with the CrossFit Total.  Read the article in the link and ready yourself mentally heading into Wednesday.  This is one of the most important days for you to get to The Arsenal all year!  Why?  This will be setting your baseline for functional strength.  We will be using this baseline for a major strength program we will be starting the following week.

Note this quote from the article for our CrossFit newbies:

If you don’t have a damn good idea of what you can do for a heavy triple, you don’t need to be doing a CrossFit Total yet.

Know thyself, and if you are not ready for these heavy lifts, use this as an opportunity to build upon your strength base.  For those who know, make it a serious point to get into the box on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week because the programming is tailored to ready you for optimal performance.  This shouldn’t be a challenge for most of you because our attendance over the past month has been better than ever!

We have some great things planned as we close out the year, and we need some serious commitment from The Arsenal athletes (you!)  Read the article and get to the box.

The Arsenal Open Assessment & Tailored Programming Suite

2014 is a year of investment in the level of coaching and programming for our members at The Arsenal and  As part of that investment Coach John, Adam and BJ invested two days at the OPT Athlete Camp to build our suite of elite programming for all level of athlete at our box.  The results will be realized by all of our members at our daily workouts (WoDs) in general.  The bigger news is that  we will have a new level of tailored programming that is assessment/data based as well as affordable to our members.  Listen below to what this Arsenal Open Assessment and Tailored Programming suite and learn if it is for you:

Buy the Assessment battery and 8 weeks of Tailored Programming:  $120

Buy the Assessment only:  $20

Per our conversation above, the 2 day assessment battery is $20 and will provide each athlete actionable data on her/his abilities in critical areas of overall fitness.  8 weeks of programming will be tailored from that data as well as coaching throughout that period for $100.  For those members considering personal training/private coaching, this option will give you that next step in coaching/assessment that we are unable to deliver within a 1 hour daily WOD.  Personal training and private coaching can run $60 per session upwards of $700 per month, and for The Arsenal members we are offering this suite to bring the results we know will come for a manageable investment.

There will be limited space due to the more time intensive work provided by your coaches, so act quickly.  The first day of Assessment is Monday January 20th and can be registered for via our schedule.  You’ll see two opportunities throughout the day to make this happen:

Register for Monday January 20th Assessments.  The available times are 6 AM, 2 PM and 6 PM.  If you cannot make any of those sessions, please reach out to us via “CONTACT” and include “assessment” in your note to us, and we will schedule you separately.

Below are two documents that provide further background on the assessment and tailored programming suite.

2014 CrossFit Open Training Overview (1)

2014 CrossFit Open Training Assessment Breakdown

We are thrilled about this evolution in our programming, and are eager to welcome our first team through this 8 week cycle leading you through the 2014 CrossFit Open!  If you have any questions please reach out to us via “CONTACT” or in person at The Arsenal.

The horrible truth about elite training

Recently I’ve been immersed in visiting fellow CrossFit affiliates, going to coaching and athlete camps, reading the best literature by the greatest coaches walking Earth and there is a theme emerging.  The theme is that the ideas at the pillars of elite training are, well… dull and boring.  So much so that we tend to just ignore them.  Coach Dan John should be credited with that simple statement.

Olympic Lifts:  Snatch, clean and jerk.  Power lifts:  Squat, bench press and deadlift.  Classic exercises/gymnastics:  Pull-ups, burpees and push ups.

The fact remains that most of us cannot effectively complete these lifts in repetition with a PVC pipe, let alone throw serious weight.  The downside of a WOD, is that it is the expression of movements that each of us should be competent in before we add load or even consider Rx.

Rule of Thumb:  If I cannot execute the lift effectively with a PVC bar, I am not ready to WOD/Met-con with any additional weight.  

A Crossfit workout is the result of effective, repetitive, consistent, methodical, deliberate and exhaustive practice of the pillars of elite training.  We don’t WOD to get better at these movements, we WOD to use these movements as utility in metabolic conditioning.  We come to WOD because it is fast paced, competitive and interesting.  We ignore the fundamentals because they are dull, repetitive and boring.   Can you now see why we see such heinous images of people attempting a WOD before they have demonstrated competence in these movements?  (If you question this just type Crossfit into YouTube and brace yourself)

Here is your take home assignment:  

1. Write down the lifts/movements that you cannot demonstrate competency.  Write down the answer of this question under that list:  How many minutes have I deliberately trained these movements in the past week?

2. Present this list to your coach at The Arsenal.  We will then prescribe a training plan to build your competence in those lifts/movements.

We will not get better and remain healthy if we do not demonstrate competent execution of these lifts/movements every day, every WOD, all the time at The Arsenal.  For those nursing injuries, ask yourself, what is the likelihood that I was executing the lift/movement effectively?  If you have even a question about your confidence, ask a coach to put eyes on your lift.  That is why we are here.

The good news is that we are getting significantly better as group, but there are a percentage of us whose egos and concern about appearance are getting in the way of competence in the pillars of elite training.

Ask yourself:  Am I that person?

Where Should I Begin?

Confusing Sign

Starting a new training regimen or returning to training can be a scary thought, but as we said before, fear is a liar.

After a long break from training or when starting to train for the first time, many athletes have a hard time knowing how to start while avoiding injury or excessive soreness.  Breaks from training greater than six months can lead to significant detraining and muscle loss as well as weight-gain due to accumulation of fat.  Many times athletes try to regain their lost muscle mass and shed their gained fat tissue by diving back into the training regimen they had just before their break.  Most often this leads to injury; physical, psychological and metabolic.

You can’t rush perfection

Drastic changes in physical activity and diet tend to be temporary or very difficult to maintain for more than a couple of weeks.  After that, most people will either take a break and then try again with the same methods (yo-yo effect,) fall off the wagon completely or become injured and end up worse off than they were when they started their new program.  As if that weren’t enough, during a long break most people fall into a daily routine that doesn’t include training or thoughtful food preparation, making it difficult to re-establish an effective training and diet regimen.  Many of the small things that make a rigorous training program effective such as adequate sleep, nutritious diet, consistent training and deliberate recovery are overlooked in favor of overtraining and starvation diets in order to see results quickly and regain the physique, strength, stamina, and overall good health and fitness of their previous diet and training program.

The process of change

As with any lifestyle change, including long breaks in training, the effects of the change take place gradually.  Generally, when training is concerned, it takes about six months for new or replacement behaviors to become habits.  This means that it will take about that long before you can really call a new behavior or state (i.e. training, nutrition, sleep patterns, and metabolic homeostasis) integrated into your lifestyle.  This has less to do with physical adaptations, and more to do with psychological ones.   Enter – The Transtheoretical Model.

The Transtheoretical Model of Behavioral Change (TTM,) better known as the Stages of Change, provides five benchmarks or “stages,” by which we achieve sustainable behavior change.  I will discuss the TTM in greater detail in a later article, but for now it is important to know that changing your lifestyle, (i.e. the collection of behaviors and beliefs that make up your daily living experience,) is a process and not an event.  Therefore, the most effective approach to change is a procedural one.  Gradually introducing or reintroducing behaviors that are consistent with your desired lifestyle will increase adherence, decrease change-related anxiety, allow for the behaviors to be adequately reinforced, and ultimately lead to a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle of fitness.

Here are a few tips to get you started.

1. Set Goals.

Setting realistic, challenging, and achievable goals is undoubtedly the most effective strategy for any change.  It is hard to figure out how to go from here to there without knowing where “there” is, or how to get “there.”  Effective goal setting takes some time and deliberate thought but is well worth the effort.  People who set goals are nearly twice as effective at achieving them, and nearly three times as likely to maintain the changes made as a result of their goal achievements!  That’s a figure too significant to ignore!

2. Write it down.

Awareness of your behavior is the first step toward changing it.  Documenting your food and drink intake, bedtime and hours of sleep, training activities, and any other aspect of your lifestyle is vital to identifying the patterns that already exist in your daily routine.  For instance, on days when I go to bed before 11pm, I generally eat 250-350 fewer calories because I am asleep when I would otherwise be eating a late-night snack.  Over the course of a week, that adds up to 1750-2450 calories.  After a month of going to bed at 10:30pm, I may save myself from consuming up to 10,500 calories, that’s the amount of energy in 3 pounds of fat!

3. Reinforce.

Giving yourself a reward for consistently adhering to your goals and tracking your progress will help motivate you to keep going.  Pick some activity or item you want or like to do and make it a reward for consistency.  However, in order for you to get your reward your behavior must be consistent with your goals, otherwise it will lose its effectiveness.  Take as many opportunities to reinforce your good behavior as possible.  For example, use a reinforcement statement like this; “For every meal I meet my dietary goals, I will read a chapter in my favorite book.”  Or this statement that adds the element of accountability; “Every week I don’t miss a workout or cut any of my workouts short, I will go to a movie with my spouse.”

At the heart of the matter of change is a gradual and consistently progressive approach through goal setting, documentation and reinforcement.  Whether you are just starting out as a beginner, or getting back into training after a long break, with these tools you will be back in the training saddle in no time.

Why Women Should Lift

Lift Heavy, Be Awesome!

Somehow, over the past few millennia the conventional wisdom has been that men and women are completely different species, especially when it comes to training.  Many women are pushed toward ankle weights, step classes, and “toning” exercises by the self-defeating assumption that women should not lift heavy weights.  False.  Women most certainly should lift heavy weights, regularly, and with intensity. 
“But, I don’t want to get Bulky!”
          -Anonymous Female Trainee

Why Women Should Lift

Image Credit: CrossFit Rockwell

Image Credit: CrossFit Rockwell

As we well know, there are some pretty distinct physiological and hormonal differences between us, but the chemistry by which we manage our metabolism and growth is largely the same.  More specifically to my point, the ways in which healthy men and women consume, store, conserve, and expend energy are basically the same, and how much of that weight is fat, muscle, and other tissues can be changed over time by making changes to your diet and training!

So you may be wondering at this point, since we gain and lose weight in the same way, why are men generally bigger than women and why can most men get so much bigger than most women?  The basic answer is good old testosterone.

Men produce a relatively large amount of testosterone compared to women.  In fact, the average male between 25 and 50 years-old produces 14 to 16 times the testosterone of his female counterpart!  Since testosterone has a mostly linear dose-response, more test means more fat-free mass, larger muscle size, increased strength and power and reduced fat mass, among other things.  Men are hardwired to be generally bigger and stronger than women, and adult men grow at a faster rate than women with similar training histories, diets, and training.  This, sometimes among other ‘alternative’ reasons, is why some men seem to get huge while not seeming to work very hard at at all, testosterone is on our side.

So, ladies, unless you are aiming to become “bulky,” chances are you won’t. Although you are certainly capable of it if you put your mind (and body) to it.

The Results are in the Training

So there you have it, lifting heavy typically does not make women bulky or cause them to look like bodybuilders with veins popping out of their neck and legs, and very little “feminine features” to speak of.  Figure athletes and bodybuilders are very deliberate in their pursuit of the body they show off on stage, and the training they use is specific to their results.  Even though lifting heavy weights and exercising at relatively high intensities are usually a part of the bodybuilding regimen, they are among the most effective fat-loss training strategies for healthy women and they produce the lean, defined, athletic-looking physique most women (and men) are after without the large muscle-size of traditional and non-traditional bodybuilders.

As an added bonus high-intensity training makes you stronger and combined with a healthy diet, more resistant to sickness, injury, and the negative effects of stress and the environment.  So get out there ladies and lift, then lift heavy, get lean and defined, become athletic, and be awesome!