I'm Not Making Progress. Do I Need a New Program? Part 2

Written by Michael Bledsoe. Posted in Training Articles


If you’re consistent and are training with intensity our next question has to be recovery. All too often I start asking the recovery question and people look at me like I’m dodging the question on programming. That’s not it at all.

A few years ago I noticed that my progress had stalled. I was consistent and I was hitting it with a lot of intensity. I was also practicing a pretty good diet. Not far from what I currently do. I thought to myself “I’m just getting old, I’m tapped out, I guess I passed my prime”. I decided to live with that mentality for a few months.

Then I found the solution. I actually stumbled upon it by accident. I had been getting 5-6 hours of sleep most nights. This was because I was working the gym until 9pm and getting up at 5am to open it up. After I could wind down that gave me just enough time to get 5 hours of sleep. When I was in the Navy this was super typical protocol as well. I had lived most my life on this much sleep. What I didn’t realize at the time is that I was trying to accomplish physical tasks which I had never performed either.

Solution: I stopped coaching classes both early in the morning and late at night. Doug, Ashley and I worked out a schedule where we all had the opportunity to get ample sleep. We did this because I just thought I was getting burnt out on working. Hell No! That wasn’t the problem, I’ve always been able to crush work all the time because I love what I do.

The problem is that I wasn’t getting enough sleep. As soon as the schedule changed I made myself get more sleep. I had read that if you train hard you need 8-9 hours of sleep per night, so that is what I was going to do. At first I would wake up well before my alarm clock would go off. I would make myself stay in bed until I hit the 8 hour mark. I then got up and got to work. It took weeks for my body to learn to sleep 8-9 hours a night. I assure you, I can now sleep 10 hours straight if nobody interrupts me.

What happened after that? I began to see all my numbers move up at the same time! I didn’t just get stronger, but I got leaner, looked more muscular and my endurance improved considerably. I felt 10 years younger!

The truth of the matter is that I became more productive and felt better than I ever had in my youth. Being tired was my normal. After experiencing months of getting 8-9 hours of sleep I could never go back to walking around in a mental fog due to 5-6 hours a night. I regret not getting more sleep when I was younger. I think about all the things I could have accomplished had I just gotten more sleep.


Herd the butterflies and set that new PR!

Written by David Gross. Posted in Training Articles


Use the Fear to your advantage

Lifting a heavy bar or attempting to go where we have never before takes courage, and 
lots of it. Getting under a barbell snatch, clean or squat can really place us out of our 
comfort zone and put us in a weird place mentally. Sure you can stay at a weight that 
you know you can lift, but your not going to make tons of strength gains or get super 
huge. It takes pushing past that point and stepping outside of the lines, thats what 
makes you better.

How do you prep?

Im sure that regardless of your training background, knowingly or not, you have set a 
PR (personal record). When this is done, usually there is a customized ritual of 
addressing the barbell, breathing and verbal cues that get you ready to go. Regardless 
of what goes on before the lift, run or WOD, I can almost guarantee that your nerves will 
be running wild and almost uncontrollable. It’s at this point where you need to take 
advantage of this crucial moment and use it to your benefit. Use the uneasiness and 
fear to drop faster, push harder and fly past the point of not setting a new PR!

Commit to It!

Once you start something you finish it right? Take this and use it not only outside of the 
gym but in you workouts too.  Especially on any lift, address the bar, grip it and rip it!  
This mentality, when applied with correct form, can be very powerful. Im sure that you 
have seen the half lift, or have done countless times, when you go to lift max weight and 
just bail out in the middle of it when clearly it could be done. This is where you have to 
buckle down, put all aside and go for it! Start, finish, no more and no less. 

If it works, use it

Some pace and are very calm, others turn into fire-breathing monsters. Whatever works 
for you to get you pumped up, mentally prepared and ready to go, use it every time. 
Step outside of your comfort zone and get huge! Take the “PR Fear’ and use it to your 
advantage, however that may be. And remember, one you start, don't stop until the lift is 
complete and your running to the PR bell to ring in another milestone.
David Gross 
CFL-1 Coach



How to Avoid Scaling All of your WODs

Written by Von Ralls. Posted in Training Articles


Why going RX is preventing you from going RX

by CTP

Have you ever decided not to post your score after a workout because you had to scale or modify the movements?  Did you feel that due to the scaling you didn’t do the “real” workout?  Are you ready to start posting RX times on the board?  If you answered yes, then this article is for you.


As Prescribed

If you’ve made it here and are still unaware as to what “RX,” even stands for, look no further than the heading above.  Some of the athletes at Faction make going RX look like a piece of cake, and some even scale up, making it more difficult than what was prescribed.

Are they doing something you’re not?  Nope, they’ve just accumulated enough strength and skill work over time to be able to handle RX workouts.

If you’d like to start going RX on your WOD’s then you need to:

  1. Get stronger
  2. Practice your skills
  3. Stop going RX

You can, and will go RX and heres how...

Stop “Saving it for the WOD”

The stronger you are the easier the WOD will be.  Lets look at the popular CrossFit workout “Fran” for example.  Fran is 21-15-9 of Thrusters and Pullups at 95# for men, and 65# for women.  If you can front squat 225# for 5 reps, then doing 95# for 45 reps is going to feel much easier.  

All too often I’ll hear an athlete say they don’t want to lift heavy on the Strength/Skill side so they will be fresh for the WOD.  This idea actually does seem pretty intuitive at first, however it is not going to dramatically hurt your WOD, if at all, and will only slow down your overall progress and ability to go RX.

While you most certainly can and will get stronger doing the WOD, that is not the goal.  The primary role of our WOD’s are metabolic conditioning.  The time and place to increase strength is on the Strength/Skill side.

You’ll never get the strength you want if you don’t lift heavy.  If we are front squatting for a 5RM and you never get to a weight where the 4th and 5th rep were a grind then you aren’t lifting heavy.  Every time you fail to lift heavy, you leave a lot of progress on the table.

We have a limited amount of time for strength work, sometimes getting to a heavy weight can be tough.  If you don’t keep track of your PR’s (See: “The Number One Mistake Preventing You From Hitting PR’s”), then you will struggle to use your time efficiently.  If you know going into a workout that the last time you performed a 5RM front squat you hit #225, then you can make smarter jumps in weight in order to hit a new PR, instead of just lifting until it “feels heavy,” which can be very time consuming.

Work on Your Goats

Sometimes your inability to perform a workout as RX has nothing to do with the weight prescribed but the movement itself.  You’ll always scale handstand pushups if you never practice just getting into a handstand.  Maybe doing them makes you nervous, or you just struggle with them, and therefore they aren’t much fun... whatever the case, if going RX is something you really want then tackling these “goats” should be a priority.

A “goat” is an exercise or movement you dislike doing, or are weak at.  A great time to work on your goats are over the weekends during open gym hours, or after your warm up.  

Quit Going RX

And last but not least, going RX when you’re not ready to go RX is only hurting you.  Sometimes I wish there wasn’t even such thing as “RX”, as it can be the cause of many of headaches while coaching.

The Good

Having an “RX” keeps a lot of athletes motivated.  It gives you something to strive for, something to accomplish, and satisfaction when completed knowing you performed the workout exactly as it was intended to be.

The Bad

It makes some athletes feel like they aren’t getting a good workout when scaled.  This is far from the truth.  With the exception of a few genetic freaks, everyone in this gym scaled at one point, it’s how we get better.  

The Ugly

It can have the inverse effect and be a motivation killer.  If you are a guy and can’t perform the WOD using the prescribed women’s weight it can surely mess with your ego.

What To Do About It

It’s easy to fall into the “RX trap”.  That feeling that you need to do it RX or you’re not really working out, or you that you shouldn’t be proud of yourself.

The fact of the matter is that regardless of what the RX is, you should pick weights and scale in such a way that it challenges YOU.  Everyone is different, and are at different points in their fitness journey.

Priority number one should be safety (your technique).  If you can’t perform a movement/or certain amount weight with good technique then you should scale.  Seriously!  Priority number two is consistency.  Can you maintain good technique for multiple reps?  If not you may need to scale.  And finally intensity.  If you find yourself continually putting down the weight or stopping then you should be scaling.  Pick a weight and modification that allows you to stay moving.  Your conditioning will greatly improve this way.

Going RX with bad form is only a quick road to injury and no progress, and stopping after every other rep is really counter productive to the entire purpose of metabolic conditioning, don’t be “that guy”.

As I mentioned earlier we get stronger on the Strength/Skill side, and we do our conditioning during the WOD, so don’t look at scaling during the WOD as a missed opportunity to get stronger.
By focusing on lifting heavy every chance you get, working on your goats, and scaling appropriately going RX is most certainly in your future!



My CrossFit Experience

Written by Von Ralls. Posted in Training Articles


I can still remember my first WOD like it was yesterday.  I was new to Memphis and I didn’t know a lot people, I was working at the UofM Rec Center where I met Doug and Mike.  Mike had talked about Crossfit a few times around me, and asked if I want to do a WOD with him and Rob.  Not really knowing what Crossfit was, and more importantly trying to impress Mike. I said yes.

That next morning at 6am, I drove to the address he gave me.  I pulled up to house and Rob and Mike were pulling out barbell, kettlebell, bench, and a pullup/dip rig and setting up in his carport.  I can remember the morning being a nice cool morning, and a little mist on the ground.   

I had just recently had surgery on my wrist and had not been on the dance team my last semester at school, so needless to say I was a little out of shape.  We started warming up and Mike and Rob taught me the movements.  Kettlebell Swings and Pushups.  

3 Rounds
  • Run around the block
  • 10 KB Swings
  • 10 Pushups (on step)

Looking at it now, it doesn’t seem that bad, but at the time I thought I was going to DIE! As I’m running my first time around the block, Mike and Rob are cheering me on and I’m smiling acting like it’s a piece of cake, as soon as I’m out of their eyesight I start walking and panting like a crazy person and then as soon I was was back in sights I started my happy little trot. Then came the kettlebell swings and pushups, I can only imagine how awful they looked.  I could barely push myself off the step and the 26# kettlebell was HEAVY! During the WOD, I thought Crossfit was stupid and as soon as it was over... I LOVED IT!

So for me, that’s where it all started.  Coming from not being able to run around the block once or even do a big girl push up to snatching body weight and muscle ups.  

Looking back, I’m so glad I said yes! That one try, and wanting to impress a guy grew into me marrying that guy, working with amazing people, the best of friends, and an awesome Crossfit family! Crossfit is for anybody that will just give it a try. You don’t have to be good at it first, just keep chipping away.

Ashley Bledsoe

I'm Not Making Progress. Do I Need a New Program? Part 1

Written by Michael Bledsoe. Posted in Training Articles

This is a super broad and long subject. This will be split up into a few parts.

Every once in awhile I get an email or someone approaches me in the gym with just that question. 90% of the time the answer is no. For the 10% of the people who might need a different program it is only because their goals may differ from the goals of the WOD at Faction. If this is you feel free to come talk to me about our personal training options.

What are the goals of the programming at Faction? Our goals are that of many other CrossFit gyms and that of I will steal the quote from just so you can be reminded.

“CrossFit is a core strength and conditioning program. We have designed our program to elicit as broad an adaptational response as possible.

CrossFit is not a specialized fitness program but a deliberate attempt to optimize physical competence in each of ten recognized fitness domains. They are Cardiovascular and Respiratory endurance, Stamina, Strength, Flexibility, Power, Speed, Coordination, Agility, Balance, and Accuracy.”

Methods Are Many, Principle are Few

Faction approaches programming with what we have learned through formal education, personal experience and experience in coaching others. We program using what works and throw away what doesn’t. We are ever evolving in our understanding of how the body adapts and how different people adapt.

Our program is not random, and each workout is specifically designed to elicit a very specific response. Each exercise, rep scheme and intensity is chosen for a reason. Other coaches do this as well. Our programming is designed for our athletes. Feedback encourages positive change.

If you leave feedback on the blog it will benefit you and the other athletes because it will increase our feedback.

Why Aren’t I Getting Better?


First, what are your goals? Have you been tracking progress? Is it written down? If you haven’t written your goals down then it gets very hard to see progress. Progress takes time and time allows you to take progress for granted. If it were easy, everyone would be fit.

Have you been consistent for at least 4 months? I mean, have you been showing up to train 3-5 days a week every week? Showing up 5 days one week and 1 day the next isn’t going to get you progress and is not a sign of consistency. It’s ok to take a vacation for a week. Just be consistent outside of that.

For beginners 1 day a week will get you progress. The longer you train the more consistency and intensity will be necessary to keep pushing progress. If you’ve been training for a year and aren’t hitting it hard 3-5 days a week 90% of the time then progress will lag.

Log your trips to the gym and be honest with yourself. If you are being consistent and still feel like you’re not making progress I plan to post a few more parts and one of them will help address your progress issues.