Coaches Blog

Showing Up Is Half the Battle

Hey guys! It's been a few weeks since I have offered some words of wisdom. Today, I am going to tackle a subject that applies to EVERYONE!  Consistency. I often have people ask me why they aren't making progress. "Why haven't I gotten any stronger? Why haven't I gotten any leaner?" Usually the answer lies on decisions people make outside of the gym- diet, sleep, stress, etc. Sometimes the issues lies in the gym itself. When I take a look at the books and find out that people are averaging 1 visit per week over the last couple of months, the answer is abundantly clear... Just show up.

Training is like anything else. It needs to become a habit. After 6 or 12 months of continual attendance, you will be amazed at what can occur. Each workout or meal you complete will add on to the one before, and sooner than later, you will be closer to what you're seeking athletically.  A lot of the issues people have is finding their fittest self often comes in the inability to create healthy habits. Eating the correct foods at the correct times; showing up at the gym ready to train on a consistent basis; going to bed; and, waking at a reasonable time.

Sometimes life can get in the way of our fitness goals. We are injured, family or work can be inconsistent. All of these are important and inevitable but can be worked around. Make the commitment to yourself and your family that your health and fitness needs some level of dedication. A healthy and happy employee or parent is much more productive. Be that vision of health for your coworkers and children. Injuries happen but can always be worked around. Healing up is much easier when you keep moving and training the body. Don't let the excuses win!

Coach Justin





Disappointment... For Time!

I think we have all been there. We are looking at the clock count down, thinking of how we are going to approach the workout. 3...2...1... Go! Then, the wheels fall off. Your set of 10 turns into a set 3, and then, a set of 2, then a set of 1. "What's going on? Why can't I string these together?! I'm horrible..." The time keeps going as you try to gather yourself. "My hands hurt. The bar keeps bouncing away from me!" And, "Time!" "Way slower than I was hoping- I suck at this!" Last week was the first time I have done conditioning in a while. It brought back some good feelings but also a lot of bad. I put expectations on myself relative to how I've performed in the past. When I don't meet those expectations, I consider myself a failure. I totally discount all the work I just did. "I didn't do it fast enough. I didn't go heavy enough." My mind is filled with constant down thought and negative speak.  I've noticed that even when I PR, I think to myself, "I could have gone faster or heavier." Why can't we be happy with the effort we put in? Why can't we embrace the fact that we showed up and did it?! We just did something that is beneficial to our bodies.

I often wonder if doing everything "for time" puts undue stress on us as athletes. A big part of why we workout is to do something that makes us look and feel better. If we are constantly disappointed with our performance, we are missing the "feel better" part. I am going to try to put my focus into the journey and not the initial outcome. Embrace the fact that I just did 50 power snatches and not the fact that I did it much slower than I expected.

I challenge you:  look at things from a different perspective the next time you find yourself disappointed with your results in the gym. Look at where you've come from and how far you've come!  Embrace the accomplishment! Celebrate what comes of showing up and giving your all, even if it doesn't result in a PR or a "win." All I can ask as a Coach is that you show up and work hard!

Coach Justin


Does a cupcake come on that kale salad?

Part 2 Carbnite

This is how Coach L and I eat. It's pretty simple. After an initial 10-13 zero carb adjustment period, you eat under 30g of carbohydrate each day for 6-7 days. This teaches your body to utilize protein and fats as fuel sources instead of carbohydrate. The benefit to this is that your body will turn to your fat stores in order to provide your body with energy. This diet, like any good diet, is not a quick fix. I have been eating this way since November and have only lost 2% body fat during this time. However, I have been able to add muscle. For me, staying at the same bodyweight while losing body fat and building muscle is a win-win. I also love this diet because it keeps me sane. I know that every 6 days or so, I will get a non-optimal meal such as doughnuts, pizza, nachos, etc. You get 1 night per week to do this. Knowing I have a "carbnite" in the near future allows me to stay on track because I will be able to have anything I've been craving soon enough. The carbnite is very important as it stokes your metabolism and helps to start up some hormones that, on a long-term, low-carb diet, start to slow down.


Carb Backloading

This is very similar to the diet above except carbs are eaten in the evenings after training days. This diet works very well for people that are already at a lower body-fat percentage. You can manipulate your carbohydrate intake in relation to your activity level. This is how a lot of higher-level CrossFit Games athletes tend to eat. They consume carbohydrate pre- and post-workout. I don't recommend this diet unless you're under 15% body fat or so. People tend to overeat carbs here. Some people, like Dr. Pease, are genetically elite and can eat carbohydrate in excess and still stay lean. Most of us are just not built like that.


In summation:

1. Keep things simple! If it's processed, it's probably not worth putting into your body. Eat whole foods, and opt for grass-fed or wild-caught versions of protein.

2. Don't fear fats! Dietary fats are important and can be used by your body as fuel. Fats do not cause insulin spikes either!

3. Pick a plan you can stick to. Don't be afraid to live. If you fall off the wagon, don't beat yourself up. Get back on that wagon the next chance you get.

4. Listen to Justin- he is awesome!

Coach Justin


Ummm... I've been working out 2 weeks, where are my abs already???!!!!

Abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym. While I don't agree with this 100%, I do think it's about 90% true. I have athletes come to me all the time asking why they aren't getting leaner. The most important factor to obtaining a measurable change in body composition is your diet. When I talk about diet, I am not talking about going on a fad diet like the South Beach Diet. I am using the word "diet" to describe what a human consumes on a daily basis. In our culture, we have started to associate the word "diet" with a quick fix. People tend to loose sight of the the decades they have spent making poor dietary choices which have resulted in the state they are currently in. People today want results yesterday. Unfortunately, if you want real, sustainable results, this process takes time. You can't just complete a quick "Whole 30" and expect your body to change and reverse all the damage you've done the previous 30 years of your life. A person needs to make a complete lifestyle overhaul in order to enact the change in their bodies that they desire. The key to this is finding an eating plan you can realistically stick to FOREVER. In the next 2 weeks, I will discuss a few options of diet plans that people can use as a framework in order to have success!  Up first are the Paleo and Zone Diets... 

Part 1

Paleo Diet

I love the framework of the "Paleo" diet as it focuses on whole foods. Any "diet" that I suggest will have it's roots in eating unprocessed, real food. Think of your body like an automobile. If you are filling your gas tank with sugar, you will not get very far. Your vehicle will need check ups all the time, and you'll most likely need to replace expensive parts more often than needed. Eating a diet filled with whole food options is easier than people think. You will need to prepare, to some degree, as the success, or failure, for most people hinges on having food ready to eat. So, making a bad choice on a whim isn't an option when you have food prepared.

I am not a huge fan of the verbiage when it comes to the Paleo diet. People still tend to overeat carbohydrate on this diet. I have found that carbohydrate is the enemy of health in most cases. Most folks that are hardcore Paleo are shoveling serving after serving of fruit, sweet potatoes, or other starchy carbs into their mouths. "It's ok! It's Paleo!" You have to factor in the effect a food group has on your system when you eat it. Fruit is sugar; sweet potatoes are sugar. When you ingest sugar, bad things happen internally.

My suggestion is that if you are going to give Paleo a go, focus primarily on healthy protein and fat sources. Use carbohydrate sparingly, dependent on your activity level. Fruit should not be a staple in any of our diets.


Zone Diet

"The Zone" is the diet CrossFit HQ recommends. I don't think it's realistic to follow this diet unless you're the type of person that enjoys organizing your sock drawer by color and function. This diet takes a high degree of preparation as you must weigh and measure each thing you put into your system. The pros, however, are that you can make changes to the diet easily since you know exactly what is going into your body. People who stick to this eating plan tend to have fantastic results initially. I just don't see this as a sustainable lifestyle for the long term. At some point, weighing and measuring your food is going to become tiresome. I also don't like the food choices you can make while on the Zone. You can eat subpar food choices as well. Each food has a number (or, block) associated with it.  This Zone allows for bad choices to be made, ie:  1/4 of a doughnut is equal to 1 1/4 cups of broccoli. Anyone that knows how foods effect the body internally know that these two food options are not equal in any way. The doughnut is going to spike your insulin levels while the broccoli will not. This does not even take into account the vitamin and mineral differences between the two. While Zone does make a distinction between favorable and unfavorable food options, people can still justify making bad choices.

That's all for now! Next week, I will discuss the regimen Coach L and  I use "Carb Nite" as well as it's brother "Carb Back Loading."

The descriptions above are very loose, and there are much more that goes into each diet. We will discuss each diet more in depth down the road. Feel free to reach out to me with any questions.













Coach Justin



Rest Days were the best days... now I sip protein when I'm thirstay!

I see a lot of athletes from all disciplines (CrossFit, Powerlifting, Weightlifting, etc.) training hard when they would make significantly more progress if they trained a bit smarter. Most folks look at working out like everything else in their life, "If I do that extra set of cleans, I'll get stronger." "If I do that extra metcon, I'll be more conditioned." "If I put in an extra 10 hours in the office, I'll get that promotion." I used to think the same way until I started to experience issues due to over-training/under recovering. Your body gives you signals when you need rest. Unfortunately, you may not notice most of the signals until it's too late. I have been dealing with some tricep tendinitis for 6 months. Tendinitis, for me, came after a few weeks of feeling tired and sore. I ignored the issue and trained through it- BIG mistake! Once that happened, just a few rest days would not do the trick! If I had listened to my body and trained smarter instead of harder in the beginning, I may not have come to a point that my body refuses to make progress. Sleep, diet, stress, and genetics all play a role in how we recover. "Rich Froning does this, so if I do that, I will go to the games." WRONG! He was born with the genes that allow him to train multiple times per day while eating fairly poorly and still exhibit amazing gains in the gym. You and I are not Rich Froning. Accept it, move on, and learn what it takes for you to make the most out of what you were born with. None of us recover at the same rate as someone else, so comparing yourself to another person is setting yourself up for failure. For example, I cannot train much more than 4 days a week without feeling extremely sore and lethargic. I lift heavy very frequently, my diet isn't perfect as I don't eat enough most days, and my sleep and stress levels are not where they need to be. All of these factors play into why I succeed or fail in any given workout.

We need to make a better effort at prioritizing our rest, diet, and stress levels. Mastering those areas will not only help you in the gym, but you will feel amazing just about everywhere in life. Take my advice- train hard, and rest like a champion!












Coach Justin

Guess what?! I got a fever, and the only prescription is more barbell!

I'm sure most have you have noticed the emphasis we place on barbell strength movements in our program.  I've always been a proponent of strength. As a coach, the more training systems you are exposed to, the more you can see what commonalities each has and what works for people. Most people that walk into our gym are there to drop a few pounds or start to feel better for their every day life. Very few of us have aspirations to become competitive CrossFit, Powerlifting, Olympic Lifting, or Strongman athletes. Since this is the case, why don't we just run and jump on boxes for 45 mins every class? Wouldn't that burn the most calories and get us "toned?"  The answer is ABSOLUTELY NOT! I know that some of you have come from gyms that do this very thing. You came to us tired, weak, and injured. We use barbells as a tool to get "the most bang for our buck." We only have an hour with you 3 to 5 times per week, and we need to optimize our training with you. Our goal is to turn you into the strongest version of yourself possible! The fastest and most effective way to do that is with basic barbell movements. 

A smart coach doesn't throw out movements such as barbell rows or dumbbell curls because you don't see them at the CrossFit Games. That coach understands that we are after a training stimulus to grow. In order to gain basic strength to perform the higher skill movements, such as the handstand pushup, muscle up, or even kipping pull up, That athlete will find him or herself more likely to succeed in these movements the stronger they are. The stronger you are, the easier it is to do just about everything. Running becomes easier as your muscles take longer to break down, playing with your children becomes easier as you can throw them around for longer with out breaking down. That's what we are searching for at CrossFit Alpharetta:  The Strongest Version of YOU!












Coach Justin

Is your Coach a Great Coach?

Welcome to the first of many blogs from myself and the other Coaches. You'll find many helpful topics ranging from mental strength, diet, training tips, and just about anything else that may inspire us to write. Without further ado, here we go! I hear athletes often talk about their Coaches as if they are infallible, which often makes me wonder:

What makes a great Coach? 

While I place the utmost respect on people that continue to hone their craft, I firmly believe that a great Coach isn't created in a weekend course. A great Coach is created through years of trial and error. A great Coach is constantly evolving and experimenting on his clients. At it's core, a great Coach wants what is best for his athletes and won't compromise just to make a few bucks. Each great Coach comes to his belief system based on the Coaches he or she has come into contact with. Search for a Coach that seeks out knowledge from coaches who know more than he or she does; a coach that is constantly asking questions; a coach that doesn't dismiss an athlete's questions or disregard their goals as stupid.  Find Coaches who will build you up but keep you based in reality. A great Coach will keep you moving towards attainable goals and bring you back down to earth when you choose something that is out of your reach for now. A great Coach realizes "there is more than one way to skin a cat," and they see there are often times no right or wrong answer to a problem. However, there is an optimal way to get a person from A to Z. 

When looking for a gym to place yourself, make sure you are searching for qualities a prospective, GREAT COACH possesses. Find that person, believe in the program, work your ass off, and you'll be on your way to success! 

I will continue to seek information to make all of my athletes the best they can be. I will become a Great Coach!

Coach Justin