Kelly Starrett Interview (Full Episode) | The Tim Ferriss Show (Podcast) | Transcription
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Kelly, what do you have for breakfast? I ate 20 dwarves while doing a handstand on the carpet. It's a key to that carpet. I'm like a mole of mint bowl. I did this altitude like in one flat out for a half mile before my hands start to shake. I'm going to ask you a question. Now what is the secret about the pastime? What is my duty? I'm a cybernetic organism living to show about metal and discovered. Me, Tim, Paris, so... This podcast is brought to you by Mizen and Maine. Don't worry about the spelling. All you need to know is this. I have organized my entire life around avoiding fancy shirts because you have to iron them. You sweat through them. They smell really easily. They're pain in the ass. Mizen and Maine has given me the only shirt that I need. And what I mean by that, and Kelly Starrett loves these shirts as well, is that you can trick people. They look really fancy, so you can take them out to nice dinners, whatever, but they're made from athletic sweat wicking material. So you can throw this thing into your luggage in a heap or on your kitchen table like I did recently and then pull it out, throw it on with no ironing, no steaming, no nothing, walk out, and you could probably wear this thing for a week straight or make it your only dress shirt and take it on trips for weeks at a time. Never wash it. It will not smell. You will not sweat through it. You've got to check these things out. So go to 4hourworkweek.com, all spelled out 4hourworkweek.com/shirts. And if you order one of their dress shirts in the next week, you will get a Henley shirt for free. That's worth about 60 bucks. So put them both in the cart, use the code TIMTIMTIM, and you will get the Henley shirt for free. Check it out 4hourworkweek.com/shirts, and you'll see some of my favorite gear, including the one shirt that I've been traveling with. The Tim Ferris Show is also brought to you by 99 Designs. 99 Designs is your one stop shop for anything graphic design related. You need a logo, you need a website, you need a business card, or anything else. You get an original design from designers around the world who submit drafts for you to review. You are happy or you get your money back. And I have used 99 Designs for book cover ideas for the 4hour body, which went to number one New York Times, for banner ads, and you can check out some of my actual competitions at 99designs.com/Tim. You can also get a free $99 upgrade if you want to give it a shot. That's 99designs.com/Tim. Hello, ladies and gentlemen. This is Tim Ferris, and welcome to another episode of the Tim Ferris Show. I am thrilled to be bringing you yet another example of world-class performance. And of course, in the Tim Ferris Show, what I attempt to do is deconstruct those performers to give you the tools and tricks that you can use. And whether those people be from the world of finance, say investors like billionaire Peter Teal, celebrity like Arnold Schwarzenegger, or sports.
Overview Of Crossfit, Fitness And Nutrition
What are the most common nutritional mistakes in CrossFit? (02:50)
And this episode is going to focus on the one thing, besides politics and religion, that get Americans all hot and bothered, and that is CrossFit. We will delve into the good, the bad, and the ugly of all things CrossFit. We will answer many, many questions, including what are the three most dangerous exercises in CrossFit gyms, generally speaking? What are the most common nutritional mistakes in CrossFit? What do elite CrossFit athletes do differently than the rest? For example, what do rich phroning and Jason Calipa do for warm-ups? Is the CrossFit games really CrossFit? And what is the future of CrossFit? The man to answer all of this and much more is Kelly Starrett. He's trained CrossFit athletes for more than 130,000 hours and 10 years at San Francisco CrossFit, which was one of the very first 50 CrossFit affiliates in the world. There are now more than 10,000. His clients include Olympic gold medalists, Tour de France cyclists, World and National record holders, and Olympic weightlifting and powerlifting, CrossFit games medalists, ballet dancers, elite military, on and on and on. This is going to go very, very deep. It involves significantly less alcohol than the last long conversation I had with Kelly, which is also included in the blog post at fourhourworkweek.com/podcast where you can find show notes and other things for our workweek.com/podcast. And without further ado, enjoy, discuss, debate, yell and scream. Here you are, Kelly Starrett. Sir Kelly, welcome back to the show. Oh, thanks for having me. Thank you. It's a little more lucid this time, perhaps. A little lucid, a little less alcohol, a little more caffeine. Whatever you gave me here, I mistakenly thought it was one cup of coffee. You're like, "It's strong." I was on the phone and I was like, "I don't wear a strong fucking strong coffee." I think it's supposed to be diluted at like eight to one, but it's fine. I'm sure it'll be fine.
10 years of CrossFit (04:52)
So we are here at San Francisco CrossFit and you have quite an anniversary, I suppose you can call it. You've spent 10 years in this world called CrossFit. Yeah, this is, this year now is 10 full years. So I want to dig into this because we've known each other for quite a while. And to perhaps lead off for people who may not be familiar with this world, or have heard the word a million times, but don't know what it really means, for you what is CrossFit or how do you define CrossFit? You know, there's the official definition of trying to get people to work at higher intensity in movements that replicate the movements that we see in life. It looks like squatting and deadlifting and pushing and pulling and running. If you had to sort of mash up the tenets of gymnastics, Olympic lifting, powerlifting, and all the aerobic responsibilities also that come along with that, that's what the programming looks like. But that's not what it is. For me now, 10 years, I've been, I mean, we estimate even in our gym here, we've been doing it for nine plus years, we've done maybe 130,000 athlete hours here, which is a lot of pattern recognition. It's a lot of people going up and down, squatting, moving. And what we've come to, I really come to understand this, this is my own interpretation, it's basically saying we have figured out now, here are all the things that a human should be responsible to be able to do. You know, can you put your arms over your head? Yes or no? Well, can you do that in a handstand? Can you do that with a dumbbell? Can you do that with a kettlebell? Can you do it with a barbell? Can you go from ground to overhead to that? Can you press overhead? What ends up happening then is we've been able to window down to say, here are the positions, the archetypal shapes that are represented in every sport and every situation, every position. But in the gym, I can say, do you have this position yes or no? And then I can say, oh, you do, well, let me challenge it.
Understanding sport (06:45)
And the obvious one for the gym for most people is, you know, is low. Let's make it heavier. And you know, because you've come out of a serious, strengthening background in the past, powerlifting, that a long time ago, our answer to everything was, oh, just get stronger. Oh, he's got glute weakness. I'm like, seriously? That guy deadlift 700. You think his glutes are weak or she plays in the NFL? You know, I mean, like people are ridiculous. It's not a weakness problem. And what I found for a long time was that we were throwing bigger and bigger engines onto cars that couldn't handle it, right? Well, how much do I need to squat if I'm a runner? 400, 500, 600? Right. Guys like Pavel, where like, you can double bodyweight back squat. You're probably good enough. You're excused from getting any stronger, right? You know, Dan John was like, hey, you should front squat. You know, long time ago, Greg Glassman was like, hey, look at the overhead squat versus your front squat. Just presupposing that you can do those two movements. Right. Right. And then look at the difference between there. And that's a pretty good indicator of how robust your spine is and how good your shoulders are. So we got now, we can start asking a little bit different question besides, is it, because what we evaluated was, well, I put more weight on the bar, so it must be better, right?
Something lacking for people coming in? (07:48)
But now we can say, hey, what about if I have you run around the building and you start breathing hard and then show me how strong you are. Show me how that position was. Oh, okay. So now I can challenge your position with cardio respiratory demand. And boy, that starts to look a lot like sport, huh? Like fighting. Looks like skiing at the bottom of a bump run or running all the way down and having to cut or, you know, I mean, that actually starts to feel like sport. What happens if I start to burn or I'm fatiguing metabolic demand? What happens if I had speed? I make a lot of errors if I go fast. What happens if I'm competing? Like you and I just decide right now, we're going to go have a pushup contest. Whether you are the world champion and pushups are not a little bit of your back if your brain starts to freak out because it's on the spot. So we had the psychological pressure.
Efficiency of Intensity (08:34)
What happens if I make you change mechanics and so there's a bunch of block practice. Instead of doing a hundred swings, we're going to do a burpee then to a kettlebell swing. So suddenly I can change the motor programming and what we found, and this is my own language around this, is that all of those things are really the efficient of intensity. Metabolic load, right? Car respiratory demand, load speed. The other aspects are aspects of the training that are the sort of intellectual piece around sort of programming the training. But my estimation is that the people who can maintain the best positions are the best athletes and remain the most robust and have the biggest work capacities. And as a side effect, because we teach all these principles, can apply them to things that matter like life and sport, not just more exercising. No. I was having a conversation with you mentioned Pavel, and he is a tendency for very short answers, which is fun to listen to. He's a great voice too for the short answers. But somebody asked him for basic advice related to endurance, and he said, "Fix your posture. Work on your posture." Whether that is running posture, standing posture, sitting posture, et cetera. And what I'd love to ask you is if you look at the CrossFit community as a whole, there are so many gyms, so many boxes. What are problems that are very often not being addressed? So people come in, they jump straight into the workout of the day or metabolic conditioning. What are some common mistakes of whether it be CrossFit instructors or trainees, where they come out six months later and from your eye you're like, "A-B-N-C is not the best." Sure. Well, I will correct and just play the devil's advocate around the statement because my experience has honestly now been, no one just jumps right into a gym anymore. You can see on the internet and go explore on your own garage, but I think about 100% of the gyms I run into have some sort of holy crap. You don't know how to move. You may have a big engine, but you don't have any exposure to this. Like, our cyclists are the worst. They come in with the most robust aerobic engine. They generate huge amounts of concentric force, have no eccentric control at all. That means they can't lengthen under load, basically. Those people are listening who are not in the gym much. If you're in a squat position and you move up into a standing position, you can think of that as concentric doing the reverse eccentric where you're lengthening. So what we saw was that people were coming in relatively aerobic fit. I mean, people aren't slouches anymore. They really aren't. They're exposed. They're doing intervals. I mean, the internet has blown people's, I think, general conditioning now much higher. Like, for example, and I'll come back to the question, but for example, you know, the crossfit, unofficial crossfit mascot, everyone loves the show is pukie, right? Pukie the clown. I haven't seen someone vomit in a crossfit in eight years. Like, it used to happen all the time. Like, people used to come in, do a workout, and vomit because technically there's an area in the back of your brainstem called the area postroma. It samples your blood circulation, right? And what ends up happening is people were generating so much lactic acid that the brain was like, "You've poisoned yourself, but activated your volmission center." That's the mechanism for vomiting from workouts. That doesn't happen anymore because people's conditioning, whether you're at a soul cycle, dude, go to a soul cycle, blow your brains up on a bike. You're going to be, like, protected, not from move memory, central glove, but like, you'll be able to buffer some lactic acid, right? So we've seen, I've seen the general fitness go up, but what has happened now is that people have said, "Okay, look, you can't just come in here and train because you're going to wreck yourself." And more importantly, you're not going to understand what it is we're trying to do, which is here are the fundamental movements that are the sort of signature positions of the crossfit method, and you don't know any of them, right? So we force people to come in, and the mistake is, as a coach, that I need to get people moving. And this is why, if you go to a crossfit level one seminar, they are going to teach you, and they're really excellent. Excellent coach is very thoughtful, very, very, the course has evolved in 10 years. A ton. We've become more sophisticated in 10 years, but we teach you with really low loads, i.e., a PVC pipe or a medicine ball, because I've never seen anyone die from those things, but the ego gets involved, and pretty soon, there's a barbell in it, and you can still see people performing a tremendous amount of work in bad positions. And what ends up happening is, as we get people in, we have to give them a little taste of intensity, and we do that with the rowing machine and some burpees, and we get them saying, "Hey, I need to show you what happens when you're reading hard." But then, and we end up making, I think, a set of decisions about getting people moving, right? Because if you're my mom, maybe you don't have the ankle range of motion, you have an artificial hip, the most important thing is that we start squatting, right? And I have a lot of ways of making that difficult, "Oh, we're going to get on this air dying, and we're going to sprint a little bit, and then come back and air squat for me." Like, that's enough for a lot of people.
The biggest mistake in the crossfit community (13:40)
The problem is, and I might turn your feet out, and I might be okay with you rounding your back a little bit. It doesn't have to be perfect, but now, at least you're squatting, we can have a conversation about what's next, right? I can make errors. The problem is, we start loading this inefficient, this compromise movement, because we said, "Hey, the first thing is, let's get moving." Now, what? And what is, we need to continue to refine the mechanic for life. And that's the biggest mistake. I think people aren't understanding, they're like, "Well, they're squatting up and down now." We'll find the mechanic meeting the movement. The principles behind the movement, right? And it's all there for us. It has always been there for us. "Hey, limit motion of your spine under load." Everyone agrees. And yet, when I take the average person off the street and just have them squat very fast, I see a ton. I had a young NFL prospect in today, right, getting some advice about his knees, going to go to the combine. I asked him just to do an air squat, and the amount of reversal in his spine, he literally rounded into a dumped, like, dog taking a poo position, and he had massive fins in the middle of his pack, where his musculature has overdeveloped from him, basically rounding underneath. And I was like, "So, that's not really good. Let's do less of that." And he's like, "What are you talking about?"
Precursor to injury (14:50)
Like, he couldn't even identify that this thing was going on, right? And, you know, from the physical therapy side of things, from the sports performance side, the highest level form on, these issues that I hammer on and hammer people on are the limiting factors to you getting, stopping injured, and they're the limiting factors to you being the best in the world and winning a gold medal. I mean, these little details. And so, we should be constantly refining technique to express what is full physiology. So, for example, there was a, you know, one of the things, there's so many voices in fitness now, and so many people come in, but like, someone basically, do you know what apologetics is? Like, that's... I get the first part. Not the plural. Apologetics is basically in religion where people come around and explain a phenomenon in terms of the dogma. "Oh, this is what that meant now," right? And they... It's because a lot of it was allegory and metaphor and lesson, right? In science fiction, apologetics means you can explain any technology away based on some other thing. Well, I see apologetics happen in human physiology. "Oh, the reason you can't squalow it down is your hip structure," right? "Oh, some people don't just have long femurs, so they can't take a poo in the woods and squalow it down." I'm like, "What are you talking about?" The issue is that people... We haven't given people clear benchmarks about what is normal and what is disnormal, right? Cook and those guys, Cook and Burton, and the functional movement screen have tried to establish baselines for performance, but those don't even go all the way to show me that you have full range of motion in your ankles. Like you, one of the secrets I don't think people understand is that you have good positions, and those positions have protected you for a long time, right?
The missing aspects of modern strength and conditioning programs. (16:30)
You can squat with your feet together, ankles together, all the way down. Full hip function, full ankle function, but people are coming into the gym basically as demi-human. They have big, aerobic engines because that's what someone said they should do, but they don't have even like 50% of the range of motion they should have, and they don't even have the motor control to be able to start to express this stuff. You know, what is it if you want the great tranquility to be willing to sweat the white-hot beads, right? I mean, Olympic lifters got it right, and you can see why the Olympic lifters are like, "What the hell? Why aren't you Olympic lifting? You can't even put your arms over your head." You know what I mean? And the Olympic lifting demands that we have basic capacities in all of these shapes. The only thing that's missing is the bench press shape, but guess what? Olympic lifters do some bench pressing, you know what I mean? So they figured it out. It's a lot easier to go that direction to go around. Right, and that's right. And so it's interesting, you know, I think that what we have not done a good job of is showing people how far away from normal they are, right?
Fitness and athleticism aren't the same thing. (17:23)
You'd have no, like, you should be able to keep your back flat and leg straight and hinge over and pick up a barbell. And I bet -- I know you can do it because I've seen you do it -- but I bet that 95% of the people of the street are stiff, don't have the motor control, tight hips, whatever. It doesn't matter. It's not indictment on their lifestyles. It's an indictment that we don't understand what good function is and the training we've been doing for the last 50 years has not necessarily heightened that. Now, there are populations. The Jiu Jitsu guys have been on this a long time, right? That you have to have these good positions. They're requisite. Lectures the size of camel, the collectors. It's true. It's a little low back soreness, otherwise. Besides that, but what you're seeing is a lot of people have worked this out many, many, many times. We haven't applied it to sort of the rigor of modern humans. And that means modern strength and conditioning. And we haven't couched it in the term. So when people walk into the gym, you know, it is -- I don't think people realize as a coach, it is an enormous fucking challenge to say, oh, by the way, you have no understanding of how you move. And if I make you breathe a little bit hard, if you throw it away and you move like crap. And by the way, you eat like an asshole and you don't sleep. And what are we going to do in this hour? We have to start a conversation. So for me, there's this line of, well, we got to get people in the door and we got to get them started, right? But that's not the end of the conversation, you know? Yeah, you can squat with your feet turned out like ducks. You totally can. You can set a world record on powerlifting like that. But you know what you can't do? You can't run? You can't jump and land? You can't cut -- I mean, it really causes all these problems. I see it. And I also see people losing performance that way. So the question remains, this dichotomy then is, share my feet are turned out because that allows me to squat all the way down. Great. That's a beginning of a conversation. But the optimal position is the position that allows me to take my fitness and now transplant that into motor patterns instead of just saying, well, you're really fit now, so you're protected. Now I can say, well, I've practiced these shapes and this pattern and the theory and the principle, and I can then apply that to whatever I'm doing. And that's what's missing from the gym. So this is a really fascinating topic for me, the gym to sport transition. And whether that is a worthwhile goal also. For me, just as a side note, I've been spending time exploring just chanced upon meeting the co-founder of AcroYoga. And I'd never had much interest in yoga. Let's stop. AcroYoga sounds really stupid. But what it's not really stupid.
Where do you hold your hands when doing handstands? (20:07)
No, it's not. And it's partner yoga involving gymnastic and acrobatic positions. So if you've ever seen, say, a Cirque du Soleil performance with two strong men where they're linking arms and holding handstands overhead and so on, the motions are quite similar, but you spend a lot of time on your back, balancing people on your feet and so on. And but coming back to your squatting position, I remember asking Jason, I think his last name is pronounced Nemer, really excellent coach, why he was recommending that I hold my hands a certain way when practicing handstands, because I've been instructed elsewhere by other gymnastics coaches to do it a different way.
Glassman's original maxims of fitness (20:43)
And he said, the reason you're holding it that way, even though it's a little more uncomfortable, is because when you go into the actual positions in AcroYoga and you're doing it at speed, you're going to maintain that exact hand position. So you want to train that pattern. And I was like, oh, got it. Yeah. And let's talk about athleticism though. The training versus athleticism conversation. And I hadn't heard of this because I'm not exposed to the CrossFit game as much. But can you talk about the softball phenomenon of it? Well, it's CrossFit as originally conceived by Greg Glassman. And if you look at the original fitness in 100 words or less in there, it says, "regularly learn and play new sports." Hey, nice middle split, bro. Well, you started doing the middle splits. We're sitting here on the floor in the gym and I was like, I'm getting to get getting to the adductor jealousy. So although your ties look like swollen ticks and mine look like... I just woke up and I was like this, bro. I don't know what happened. Came with your kit. So the tenant always has been, hey, you need to keep learning and you keep diversifying. They call that lateralization.
Why CrossFit is great for general physical preparedness (22:01)
People have been talking about it in surfers or some skill. The big wall climbers suddenly are doing breath holding and they learn something about it. Or slacklining. Yeah, slack, exactly. Lateralization. Right. Stephen Kotler has been all about it. So that's an important piece of saying, okay, you have the skill set. Let's go challenge it in a no domain. That's the crucial. What is interesting and is always going to be a problem with... For me, with CrossFit is that I can't always... CrossFit is the single for me, the single best integrated way of training I have ever come across. I haven't seen it. I've seen it refined. I've seen Mackenzie apply it. The concepts and principles to endurance athletes. I've seen Wellborn apply it to power athletes. The kernel and the methodology is the same. Right. But I haven't seen something that looks better at general physical preparedness. Like I want my daughters to have a skill set and a base fitness and strength and this is the model. Is it the model? Should I have all of my NFLers do something that looks exactly CrossFit? No, but I can still keep the tenants there. The thing, the base code is so good. The problem is sometimes we confuse the ability to perform a lot of work with the ability to be athletic. And one of my definitions of who's the best athlete is who picks up the new skill the fastest. This is why, I mean, your little experiment about the Tim Ferriss experiment about how fast can I learn really piqued my interest because I'm like, that is the limit. How fast can I apply this base skill set? What does that base skill set look like? Remember Robert Heinlein had that little quote and was like, a man should be able to put you a hog, captain a ship, etc. Like plan a war, like set a bone, right? Specializations for insects. That was like some strong girls in the background. I don't know if you heard that. But the issue here is, you know, what we should be doing is trying to ask ourselves what constitutes the right skill set to quickly pick up new skills and to reapply as myself as a learning animal. And what I can tell you, and my believe this in my soul of souls, and I've seen it, that good strength and conditioning programs, and I'm talking about at all now, right, beyond CrossFit. Good strength and conditioning programs reinforce skills and positions. Edo Portal, for example, is a good example of this, right? I don't know if many of his guys are going to play in the NFL, but that's not, he hasn't, he isn't right about this concept. But that, you know, how do we, what's the language of creating a ready state in the human so that I can constantly be not limited by my physical capacity? That is position two, that's positionally driven. That's my ability to pick up new skills.
Crossfit In Relation To Sports, Games And Common Mistakes
CrossFit as preparation for other sports. (24:55)
And I think what you're referring to is in the CrossFit games, we saw that people were freakish about their work capacity. And then some people asked them, I make very strong, huge aerobic engines, and they were like, just throw this ball, and you're like, "What was the event? I didn't see it." It was a softball toss. Three throws. Yeah, throw a distance. Throw the softball as far as you can. Now check this out. Turns out that Rich Froning played football in college. Guess what? He's a pretty good athlete. Graham Holmberg, two sport college athlete, right? Oh, what did he do? Oh, he was the, like, pitcher and the quarterback. He's a mutant. So he did all right. But there's some other kids who obviously had deficiencies in there, have thrived in, because in CrossFit, but the nature and the limitations of challenging people's fitness, it's hard to see the aspects of athleticism. That's always the case. They really do try to program those things. But it's also limited by, like, how do we have a pick up game of basketball? I can't really see and judge that stuff. They make people swim, they make people run, they make them go bike. The obstacle course was a great example of the expression of just moving through the environment. I love that event. But there were some people who had some really horrific softball. They ended up rolling an underhand. And that really begs the question, because the central tenet of what this experiment was, and it's important for, I think, the average person who is cross-fitting, right, is that there's sort of two CrossFit. And I think CrossFit HQ would back me up on this, that we have the highest expression of cross-fitting, which is the CrossFit Games. And I just came from an athlete camp that Reebok put on in the Bahamas. I'm not going to lie. It was okay. Yes, right. But we did a bunch of train sessions with some of the best athletes on the planet. And the first thing that all of these gamer guys did, like, these are the, like, these are rich phonings, Jason Kleepas, all really extraordinary athletes, they all went and played pick up football, and on some Ashturf, like, boom, immediately, and you're like, "Oh, wow, these guys are pretty legit athletes." There was some aspect of athleticism that they carried to CrossFit, and then CrossFit allowed them to heighten these functions. And what I think happens sometimes is now, because people can't sort of separate that out, it's easy to put on a pedestal. If I can just work really hard, then I'm going to be a really good athlete and be able to pick up all these new sports. And yes, one of the things that I've seen Greg Cook pivot on, and some people pivoting on around CrossFit, is they didn't, they've realized that people aren't giving up capacities to CrossFit, right? They still are, most of us are still have flankering range of motion, could you do pistols? Additive not. Yes, yes, yes. And for a long time in the strength and conditioning world, we have seen people get a really big power clean, and then everything else sucks, right? It all sucks. So what's interesting about the program here in our gym is that we really ferret out all the crappy movement patterns, you know? So let me ask you this, if I could, this is just top of mind right now, I guess two things. If someone were to ask you, is CrossFit Games really CrossFit? Should the multitudes of people in CrossFit gyms aspire to that as an objective? Number one, let's start with number one, but got a bunch top of mind.
Is CrossFit Games truly CrossFit? (28:15)
No, I don't think they should, but I will tell you that the athletes involved and the experiment involved has been so informative for me as a coach, as a physio, because I can really see what the deficiencies are at day five, at day three, under these loads. And it really starts to matter when we see that the best athletes, refined position, refined position, refined efficiency, and win, right? That's been the name of the game. It used to be that you could just outwork people, that people are trained two or three times a day. They are the most meticulous athletes I've ever seen in any sport anywhere. They are on top of the nutrition game, on top of the recovery game, on top of hydration, adaptation, mechanics. They are really, really have depth.
Lessons learned from the CrossFit Games (range of motion, training sophistication, etc.) (29:02)
Rich Froning, he's a little tiny guy, you know, I think he's probably like 190, 195, just something like that, snatches 315, like in tennis shoes, in Reebok, flat, nano shoes, not Olympic lifting shoes. And he does that in the context of also being able to do all these other things. So I think it's what it has done, the reason for me that the games are so important is that it's changed the consciousness about what's possible. By the way, you can still run this mountain 7K and be brutally strong. In fact, why aren't you? You know, and I think people have been having that conversation for a long time. It also has gotten us really clear about what works and doesn't work in a very sort of pressure cooker situation in terms of... You know, programming and training load. A little bit of the programming. But I would say about nutrition, about... I've never seen these, any athlete in the history of the world do more work than these kids. I know the Tour de France guys, I know them personally, and their wattages are insane, the best run... Everyone's putting out hard, but no one like the CNS load, the crazy loads, and that has really made it very clear about the lessons that we've been able to pull out of it. So as an experiment, as Formula One, but not all of us should aspire to be Formula One drivers or even drive our cars like Formula One, and very few of us have the genetics, which is the also sort of... The lie. The lie that we tell ourselves, "Well, I can train like them, so you're not them genetically, I'm sorry." But, sorry Tim Ferriss, you're a bad method. You know what? Play Scrabble. You are relatively strong. You're strong-ish. You're aerobic fit. Good thing you're a smart kid. And you're a good dancer. People don't know that about you. And I learned to throw the jaffos at the people who are stronger. And I can run away. So, you know, I think that it's vital to understand the role of the games that play it in terms of raising the boat.
Recovery score for a workout. (31:01)
Also, sort of distilling down the essence of what's important and not important, and the lessons we've learned out of that and how to program. You know, because I think a long time ago, even guys like Louie was like, "Well, we're all powerlifting, so we're just flat powerlifting." Well, that didn't work at all, right? And what we're seeing is very sophisticated training. A mega wave, heart rate variability. Like, what people are doing. What is a mega wave? It's a way of sort of looking at bow rhythms, heart rate variability, and really coming up with a recovery score so you can understand in real time the effect of your training. So, the HRV would be part of that. Yeah, absolutely. But like HRV on steroids, right?
Hiring General Electric (31:35)
And so, what's amazing now is we see that level sophistication. And I've been able to take that and apply it to NFL. And, you know, I mean, not like, "Hey, we do thrusters. We're going to be good at the NFL." But really, the principles. And also, it's given me the view of understanding all the corners that we're missing, right? That you have to have the corners of your range of motion and capacities. Otherwise, we're going to have issues. What do you mean by corners? Well, sort of the edge cases. Like, this is an, this is a 10% case. You know, more like, show me that you actually, you don't have 85% ish of your shoulder range, but you have stability and capacity in the fullest end ranges. So, in the corners of your range of motion, right? So, if all the way overhead is one of those corners I'm on over my head, like, if you're not, if you can't hold two dumbbells over your head with your arms, like straight, like your hand, holding like hammers and your rib cage down, that's an incomplete position. And it's that position that's costing you when you swim, it's that position you're costing you when you throw a ball, it's that inefficiency that's costing you when you fall. Now, we have a way of really understanding. And what I've been able to do is, for me, I've been able to repurpose CrossFit into the greatest diagnostic tool ever. And it's independent of you breathing hard, right? The intensity is an important piece that other people understand. So, the GPP that everyone has been talking about for gazillion years, general physical fairness, the Russians, I think invented that word, right? And they got into it, they're like, you have to be able to jump off a ladder, right? Without your knees wobbling. That was a really simple way of just loading a squat, right? That's what that was, it's not mystical. You know, what we said for a long time was, you know, get your kid in gymnastics, that's really good, it'll make good athletes. Why the fuck does that matter? Like, really, tell me why. Well, it turns out that the things that you have to be able to do in gymnastics teach you certain positions and principles that you can then apply. Yeah, use your skeleton, not just your muscles. Yes. And then we can get away with, you know, big muscle-mount guys who get their asses kicked, you know, like, you know, or the little skinny cardio-whip it, who falls apart, can't lift 60 kilos off the ground when they're breathing a little bit hard. Like, those are both ends of the spectrum that aren't good. You mentioned nutrition, and I've got a bunch of questions, but in brief, what would you say are the most common nutrition mistakes or what are the most common things that you have to do in your life?
Common Dieting Mistakes (34:01)
Let's see. Determinate beliefs that CrossFitters have. Well, this is the first, for a lot of us, me included. You know, I'd actually heard, you know, the zone was the first thing that, you know, that Greg talked about. Back when I was first training in CrossFit, I think I've told you this before, but back when the Santa Cruz guys would come to Mountain View to train at the Health Gracie Academy, it was all about the zone. And I remember training with those guys. Well, and so, again, let's get to understanding why that mattered because people's macronutrients, their combinations in terms of what they were eating was way, way out of, was wacky. Not eating any fat, not barely getting enough protein, massive amounts of carbohydrate. And that was the first way we could just identify the problem, right? So, but then we started measuring and weighing. And then we had an idea of what we're taking it into this day. I look at a ban on them like three blocks, you know, like that's 30 grams of carbohydrate. You know, it's been useful. It's like a, like a metric unit, right? That's a kilometer. That's a meter. It gives me a baseline of understanding how much food I need to be eating. But then, and it was always about food quality. That was always an important conversation. But then people would be like, well, I can eat this bacon and drink this beer, and I'm still in the zone. And it was like, come on. You know, and so what would happen then was that we saw this paleo revolution wash over the crossfitters. So I were like, and the first time I said this to my wife, Juliet, bless her little heart was like, she, Google's online because Juliet's the biggest skeptic and she was like, this is some bullshit. I'm like, what? She's like, the first thing that came up was hornets, nests, soup, like wasp and nest soup Kelly. She's like, that's what you fucking mean. And I was like, I don't, I think it means no grains, you know, and we should eat vegetables. She's like, this is some bullshit. But that was really again a conversation about food quality, right? Well, then we saw this revolution. Juliet literally is just like the greatest bullshit detector. Thank you. Everyone, everyone just gave yourself a Juliet. But then what we saw was that everyone got super squeaky clean, like didn't even use salt. And I was like, oh, you know, salt is really useful. I saw a bunch of my friends who cleaned up their diet and they were, they literally tanked like they were blacking out because they weren't getting any salts ever. Like we, there's this thing called salt. It's amazing. Humans invented the salt routes for it. I read a study on primates and why humans are so fond of fructose, you know, there's naturally a cring sugar in fruit and why it's so problematic to have say a high fructose corn syrup or a govane actor. It's like 75% plus fructose and we get fatty liver disease. When we were migrating apes, the way that we would sustain higher blood pressure without salt was with fruit.
Common Dietary Mistakes And Workout Safety
Sea Salt makes perfect sense. (36:55)
Oh, isn't that make perfect sense? Yeah, it makes perfect sense. But yeah, salt. Guess what, folks? Pretty important. Like blood pressure. It's important like Stacy Sims is a good homey of ours, right? She is an exercise physiology, sad of Stanford. She's been an exercise physio to the best athletes on the planet, especially the best aerobic athletes, but she assists everyone. Her company is called Osmo Nutrition and her thinking about hydration is vital, but she's like, hey, there's this stuff called sea salt. Take a pinch of it. Throw it on your water and quit being a jerk and diluting yourself. You know, not diluting, diluting. Right? And what we've seen is that people are not applying the lessons that we've learned in sport for the last 20, 30, 40 years to day-to-day life. So people got really squeaky clean and they could not eat enough carbohydrate to support the level of training that we are doing, right? And all the endurance athletes were like, dude, you can't eat 100 grams of carbohydrate day and expect to thrive. And sure, just be a keto-adapted athlete. I'm like, yeah, that works if I have to do it. But man, that's not working for me so well. You have to be very meticulous. And you have to have the genetics to really support that. Yeah. You know, and like, boo, oh, I looked at some sugar now. I'm not keto-adapted, right? And, you know, the key is always, and this has always been the CrossFit HQ position for one, number one, eat enough carbohydrate to support exercise. Well, I've finally figured out what that means, right? And that's a fluctuating norm, you know? And also, in the last 10 years, we have figured out, for example, through the miraculousness of blood testing, of genetic testing. Like, we can actually get that stuff now done pretty easily. Turns out, for example, I'm an aerobic responder. It means big aerobic workouts cause my body to be like endervana. And power athlete stuff. I have to train that stuff. Of course. But that is not where I should be making my money. Why my genetics tell me, and it's interesting that any success I've had as an athlete, I've basically been swimming against that stream my whole life, right? Well, my genetics also tell me that I don't process saturated fats very well, and they call it lean paleo, which means eat high quality food kelly, but you don't need bacon every day. I don't eat bacon every day, and I don't eat nuts cause when I do, my cholesterol goes through the roof, and I know we can be sophisticated about cholesterol, but when your cholesterol's 400, like there's something up. Right? That's not, you know, and I had a bunch of friend calories in a big, in a wapper. Right. So I think that's the, what we found is that people have gone back to rice, they've gone back to, you know, hey, I've got to source my carbohydrate intelligently in order to support the amount of training I'm doing. And that was, I think a reaction, people are less afraid of gluten. I think they really try to stay away from it. You know, maybe that's just Monsanto that's talking there, but, you know, I'm sorry you're gonna have to add that out. Sorry, Tim. No, no, no. They'll send a letter out to your house. Not mine. It's fine. Just kidding. I love you, Monsanto. That's not that, that's possibly. You know what's funny about weeds? Nothing's funny about weeds. So, you know, the bottom line is I think we've seen that correction, but once again, we should take that lesson from the highest level sport. That's what coaches are trying to do, distill principles, not methods. And also, I think particularly when it comes to macros is know thyself and know thy sport or training load, right? So, Pita Tia, Dr. Pita Tia, who you've never spent any time with? No. You have to meet this guy. You guys would love each other. But he was on the podcast and we talked about cancer research, but he's also, he would... See, he's the sugar cancer connection guy. He would talk about that, certainly, but he is a former oncology researcher. He's also been a surgeon, and he's a high level. He would not want me to say a high level, but he's a high level endurance athlete, you know, 100 miles swims and things like that. Yeah, I'm gonna call that high level. And he's also very strong for his body weight.
Common Dietary Mistakes Duds (40:51)
And he loves doing time trials for cycling. And so, he is almost always keto adapties and ketosis for those people who haven't heard my conversation with Pita Tia. All that means is you're utilizing fat. This is highly simplified, but fat instead of glucose as your primary fuel. And when he's doing these intense rides, though, he knows exactly his respiratory quotient when he kicks over to anaerobic. And how many calories he can consume and how many calories his liver can store so that he never comes out of ketosis. So he can be pounding gels, but he's like, "Okay, I know that my liver and my body weight, I'm gonna store about 400 calories of carbohydrates based on this target distance and this target wattage, etc. I can end my race and still be in ketosis or my time trial." And my problem with that, of course, is that that's true and he is the freakish outlier with the data. Right. And very few people are gonna do that. That's amazing. But what's fascinating is... So, yeah, the paleo community, what are any other common dietary mistakes that you are feeling? People are terrible around water. Coffee has been the cult like black fluid. What do we call it? The cup of fear? Cup of fear. Cup of fear. And people are like, "I don't need to drink water, drink coffee all day long." And then this kill cliff, which is an amazing crossfit soda. It's not related to crossfit, but sponsored by some crop. Anyway, you get the idea. It's amazing with vodka, too, by the way, which also can be gluten free. So you're still paleo. It's fine. But I think what we're seeing is that you can... Here's what's crucial. You can be at 80% of your function and come in and do relatively okay once you move well, once you've been doing this for a while. You can just be on the edges of your sleep, on the borderline, eat some extra ice cream, budge a little bit, not deal with stress. But of course, we know all of those things I've got to keep an eye on. This is what a physical practice is. And what we've seen then is, for me, it's important that you're actually signing up for a race. You're signing up for an event. The gym is not the event. This is the place where we train. And yes, it feels like competition here because it's intense. It's deep practice. Daniel, cool. Thank you. It's me really, really practicing the telecode. That's right. Nice, dude. It's deep intention. It's heart aerobic conditioning. But it's still not the same thing as stepping into a ring. Or lining up on a 5K or signing up. And what you realize is how important all those aspects are to your training. You have to eat right. That's why I'm like, look, the CrossFit does a CrossFit Open, which is the biggest sporting event in the history of mankind. That's what it is every year. More people sign up for the CrossFit Open. They do five workouts. And then it's a big international competition. This is a virtual game. It's a virtual game. It's a feeder to regionals. So whether you like it or not, why don't you do it? And for no other reason, then why don't you have something hanging over your head for five weeks in a row? Because that's really, which also gives you a target other than the next days. More fitness. Yes. So you can actually decide what the optimal diet is given that five-week goal.
Example of effectiveness of Crossfit (44:15)
You just make a whole bunch of different decisions. When they say, "Deadlines focus the mind. Mr. Deadline guy." And you stay up all night because you realize you're like, "Wow, it really does force your thinking about this." And I think that's what sometimes gets lost in the CrossFit gym. Initially it was terrifying. I didn't know if I was going to survive. Let me give an example. When I started this thing, ten years ago, Adrian Bosman, who was a CrossFit headquarters Ubermensch. And he was one of our first coaches. I did all the coaching. This was all unknown. We were the 27th CrossFit, I think officially 50th. Now we're like 27 on the list. How many are there total? 11,000 roughly. Which is a revolution. I mean, it's not a gimmick. And what ends up happening was there was a workout that was snatch 135 pounds 30 times. Adrian and I didn't know if we could do it. We didn't know anyone who had done it except like Olympic lifters. You know, who would seriously train and we're strong. And one day we were like, "We're going to do this even if it takes us all day." And we psyched ourselves up and like, "Now, they throw that as an after effect. You can do that in 90 seconds." I mean, things have changed dramatically in ten years because it's like the four-minute mile. Adrian's like, "Oh, you're still running four-minute miles. That's so quaint. We're in the one-minute mile now." But ten years we didn't know. And so now we're starting to see that. You know, what's possible. Yeah, for sure. Now, coming back to the snatch for a second. So I've never been a practitioner of Olympic lifts for a whole host of reasons. But primarily because I had reconstructive shoulder surgery in 2004 doing silly stuff like grappling that made my arm show out of the front of my chest. Maybe you should have been Olympic lifts. I had a lot of apprehension about that. So I've fully said like terminal, it's going to overhead last 15, 20 degrees. But I found a lot of value, particularly in the last six months or so, with focusing on overhead squatting movements. Yeah. Still not to the point where I'm going to do snatches. And I think that's where I've become smarter over the years is recognizing that you can really refine movement patterns. I don't have the go-big or go-home mentality anymore that I used to because the risk benefits so unfavorable to me. But why is Rich Froning so good at the snatch? And what are the common mistakes that people make with that movement? Well, Rich has excellent mechanics. His full range of motion is ankles, his excellent shoulder range and understanding of stability. He's able to get his, I mean, he just does things that are naturally important to snatching. He does them effortlessly in terms of getting his torso upright. His obviously it's a lot of training stimulus and these things. But he understands how to create stable shapes and he's able to get into those shapes. So he doesn't have to work very hard. The work he does goes into, he gets 100% benefit from that. He doesn't have to, he's not working at 80% of 70% efficiency. Does that make sense? That makes sense. He's working hard on those shapes. What you discovered though is I think underlying the, you know, it's a part of the functional movement screen since 1986. Dan John is like always, always throw or say, "I wish I had overhead squatting more." Glassman valued it as like one of the most important capacities. And in fact, one of the earliest best cross-it workouts, I think it's called Nancy. And it's run 400 meters, so innocuous, right? And then just overhead squat 95 pounds. 15 times like, I'm sick, like that's, that's pinche weight. But just 15 times 400 meters doesn't sound pinche. No, you'll have to overhead squat 15, 95 pounds 15 times. We're in 400 meters. And then just do that. Oh, I see. Just do that like five times. And what you're going to see really quickly is when it happens, like everyone can fake it for three.
You shouldnt rely just on speed (48:10)
But then as you start to fatigue or your, your, your, your positions aren't robust, you, you bounce off the, the tent. You, you no longer have access, right? And you know, you start, the, the world gets really small and then you start suffering. And then you're eventually a Labrador retriever in the close sliding door. True fact. True fact. So, you know, I, I think what is key is understanding what are the salient positions. You know, all we're doing when we say overhead squat is I'm saying, show me you can squat with your torso upright. And that looks a lot like sport, doesn't it? And if you have to lean forward really far to do that, then it says you have incomplete hip. And ankle function. And you don't know how to create stability in your trunk. And that is a very powerful idea, right? And what's nice about the overhead squat is I call it a category one movement. I can get very organized and I can grind down to a position where either we agree that it's full range of motion or not. Or until I start to lose position, I can come back up. And what I've removed out of it is the element of speed. So for my nine year old, for example, Georgia, the overhead squat is something we do all the time. Sometimes we just bring the little kitty barbell into the into the living room. And for sure, even less, it may be 10 pounds. And she just has to do three sets of five. Why it's practicing the shape, practicing the position. And that's where we're going to get bang for the buck. You can pull. You don't need a snatch heavy. Do you think you should be able to see that? Do you think crossfitters focus on working out and not practicing? Well, totally. And I would say that that let's let's take it out across it for a second. And let's put it into running. Sure. Running is a very, very technical skill that we should be developing from a very early age. And there are only like what 30 million runners in America who run three times a week. And only 80% of them are injured in a year. That's like the worst statistic ever. Listen, if you're listening to this, do not let your children run. It's dangerous. Comma, if you're a runner and running is the one of the things that makes us human, you should be able to run. That is one of the tenets of being a good athlete. In fact, look at the NFL Combine, for example. They jump, right? They have to bench press, which is a joke. That's the one piece that's a joke. But everything else is a run drill, change direction, it's about fluency and economy of running and changing mechanics. No wonder a couple of years of crossfit put this big like, you know, cone drill thing in there because they're like, "Hey, look, this thing, you should be really competent at and you're going to get punished if you suck at it." So if we look at most people's running, how much actual skill development do they do in running?
Bill outs safe exercises (50:38)
You mean besides tying their shoes? Next, none. None. And they just start running. Unless you're with, say, Joe DeFranco, planning on being in the NFL Combine, he's like, "Actually, if you're right-handed, you should switch your feet this way because you cut one step out of the shuttle run and then, wow, now you're super strong." And Joe does a whole bunch of stuff about being, do you have the positions to run? For me, the most dangerous sport to middle-aged men is a track workout. Oh my God, so dangerous. Like, you're just asking for a pull-hand string or a torn cap because you're at the end ranges and when you start doing your back starts to deflect because you can't buffer your huge engine, then you have a neuro-mechanical compromise, tear-hand string. It's the same thing that happens in basketball. We don't even talk about what the end... Do you have the required range of motion to run? Yes or no? And resoundingly, the answer is, "Hell no." And do we do any skills or drills about improving economy? No. So what ends up happening, of course, is that we should, and what I can tell you that I see is that I see very, very intelligent coaches practicing skills, teaching skills, and then challenging those skills in a workout. And that is good programming. So if I am getting to a point where I'm comfortable with overhead squatting with the barbell, and... That never happens, by the way, because it always gets worse. Well, I've... No, you should have... I'll send you some photos. They're hilarious. If I'm considering going into, say, training for the snatch, what are common mistakes that I should be aware of that I should avoid? Well, you know, we have basically been able to break those fundamental positions down. So how about this? Show me that you can actually put... Just put some tens on the bar, grab a women's bar, make it really light, you know? Better for my tiny little bit of your hands anyway. Well, hey, they're called dwarf hands. All right. And one of the issues is, you know, show me you can keep your back flat and actually get to the bar. And what you're going to see is that people can't do that. Get to the bar. Get to the bar. Get to the bar. Yeah, no, no. Just get into the setup position for the bar. And what you're going to find is that people can't even get into a decent setup position without rounding their back and dumping their shoulders. And then we start asking the question, "What the hell are we doing? Your setup position is so shitty." Set up me in that bottom position. Yeah, can you show me you can put your hands in a snatch grip and then sit all the way down your ankles, right? Sit down and get into a good position. What you're going to find is that people universally can't do that. So suddenly I've learned something about myself. Why do all the best coaches teach from the hang? Well, if you teach from the hang, then I take that portion out of it. I can drive a lot of the benefits from snatching without taking you to these compromise shapes. And the problem is, I know you can snatch from that compromise shape, but that's not the shape we all agree is the best shape. Does that make sense? So if you can't even get all the way down to the bar, an issue of technique is never, we're never going to solve this because you're making basic type one errors from the first inch off the ground. Right. Or in centimeters because everything's in kilos and lump-clifting. Let me ask you, I want to put you on the spot for a second because I've always wanted to ask you this and I'm not sure why I haven't. Yes, these are my real calves. They're not calf points. I was curious about your chesticles. Also real? No. It's just the left. I noticed you only put one and just testing it out. If you had to remove three common exercises from CrossFit Gems in the interest of safety, what would they be? So if you had to, gun against the head. Well, it doesn't have to be three.
Bench is the number one most dangerous strength exercise (54:14)
Let me deconstruct that for a second. That's crucial because first and foremost, all the movements in the training language are currently safe if you have full range of motion in the motor control to doom. Right. So presumably though, you get a thousand people come in. There are certain exercises where a higher percentage of those people will lack that prerequisite. The number one most dangerous skill, bench press. And why? Because people don't have any internal rotation in their shoulder. They pin their back down. Right. You compress all day long, standing overhead, military press, stress. You're going to fail safely. When you fail in the bench press, that shoulder is going to translate forward. There's your labrum. Can you bench press safely? Yes. Do we love floor pressing in our gym? Absolutely. We floor press a ton. But what I find is that people do not have the basic mechanics. And that's one of the ways that we've gotten our head that we define strength, how much bench. You know how much bench. You know, my friend Mark Bell danched over 900. Our friend Mark Bell. Our friend Mark Bell. Our friend Mark Bell. And you know, that's an amazing amount. And what I will tell you is that his positions and mechanics, it is so technical. Like I think I once I became hyper technical. Yeah, it also has the assistance work and everything that he does related to it. It's so sophisticated. I think after knowing Mark and Jesse Burdick for several years, I feel like I finally learned how to bench press. Even though I've been bench pressing since I was what? Like a man. I came out like like my testicles dropped and they handed me a bench press, you know. And so I mean, I've said I pulled the bench out of that. I also pulled the rings out. And the reason is what we see is that people can do movements that look like ring dips. They go up and down. But they don't lock out their shoulders in terrible positions. And what we value is them doing work going up and down. But if we put the rings back in for stability work, show me you have a good start position and finish position. Like here's one of my problems. Like the TRX is a great piece of home equipment. Like you can, one of the things that we, I'm a big fan of is understanding that if your hands are on the ground doing a push up, right, then you can cheat off the ground. You have what I call a closed torque environment. If you grip a barbell that's closed, it's closed torque.
Importance Of Full Range Training And Future Of Crossfit
Why rings are so important & the value of closed chain (56:36)
It's basically a circuit, right? And I can create stability off that in really strange positions because I can still bend the wrist. I like bending the bar. That's right. I should be bending the bar, but I can still bend the bar even though my body's in really strange shapes. As soon as I put a dumbbell in your hand, you can't do that anymore. Different game. Right. That's why kettlebells are so important. My dumbbells are so important because they, I call it an open torque system. I have to create all the stability at the big primary engine. I can't cheat it up through the chain. And so why are rings so important? Well, one of the reasons rings dips are important is because they force me to show my hand what's really going on at the shoulder. In an open torque environment. The problem, so one of the reasons it's TRX is great is that you're basically taking really simple movements and being able to apply this, I'm in a strap, I'm hanging, right? And I can't cheat anymore, right? Because if I'm disorganized at the shoulder, I don't, I don't join any force. So, but the problem is with the rings that you can still cheat yourself into an interrelated, into an terribly interrelated position, cranking your neck back, and you can still go up and down until you can't. And remember, the gym is a diagnostic tool. I should be figuring out what's going on. I think the shoulder will hand, the hips will handle a lot more silly BS a lot longer than the shoulder will, right? If I had to pull out one more movement, you know, hand against the gun against the wall, I would say the butterfly kip, only because, I think it's how, if you ask me to do a bunch of pull-ups, guess what I'm going to do, butterfly kip. But I understand the principles and I have good range of motion. It's a completely safe position, but what we see is that people do not have, I asked them to put their arms over their head, for example, right? And they can't do it. And then so suddenly magically hanging from a bar is going to increase that range of motion. No, they're going to cop and say, then swinging and landing. So what we do is we add speed to a bad position and then that's really the recipe. Kapow, because the wire, the panel wire. Once again, you know, we program all that stuff on our gym, but you'll notice that we have a lot of static ring stations, because what we saw is, well, people can't even do, they can't even get into the start position on the rings, which is elbows locked out, butt squeeze, thumbs turned out. They can't even get into the finish position or the start position. So what are we talking about? You know, what we're doing is we're end up arguing about bullshit, right? You can't even get into the bottom position of a snatch. Why are we talking about your snatch? Right. I mean, I'm getting into more gymnastics these days and I want to be able to do a back tuck. I've never been able to do a back tuck. Really? Yeah. Attribute wise. I have the attributes necessary, but it's a long story. No, because that was obsessed with that too. Yeah, yeah. So I want to get to that point. You can do that safely, but you can certainly do it very, very unsafly or attempt to do it unsafly. And I think that the question of sequencing and how you put things in a proper order from diagnostics to refinement to training. We have not given people the background or the language of how their bodies work. Yeah. You know, I get to work with kids like children, like first graders and some kindergartners in our swim team all the way up to masters, Olympic athletes. I mean, like, I see it all, right? And what I can tell you is that most along the way, no one gets any formal training. And the mistake has been always like, I think CrossFit is doing it more right. The DeFranco's gyms, the Mike Boyle's, the places like that are, you know, Shannon Turley at Stanford. There are pockets of really excellent thinkers who are teaching people how to move. And that's a specific thing, right? And that's not just jumping back and forth and chasing a bouncy ball.
The value of full range of motion & effortless movements (01:00:27)
That's very specific skills and challenging those skills with the things we talked about. So, you know, what we've seen is a decentralized, and CrossFit samples have a decentralized Soviet sports system. We have 11,000 states. And what you'll see is that kids will grow up through the CrossFit system in a generation and they will have, they'll already be like, well, of course, I can go over at Squat. What do you mean? Why can't you go over at Squat? You know what I mean? And we'll solve a lot of problems. But the key piece is we can't confuse exercising for full human capacity. That's the missing link. And speaking of full human capacity, if you look at the most elite CrossFitters, what are, are there things that they do that the lower ranks do not? Commonalities that you've observed that people can borrow or emulate or incorporate. But you're saying that top CrossFitters, that the bottom aren't doing, that's just the recreational top, top quartile or decile of. They all have, most of them I know are obsessed with mechanics, most of them, and really spend a lot of time refining that mechanics. That's really, you know, their positions are more effortless. Like there was a, you know, I had this physical therapy instructor and she was like, she taught pediatrics and she's like, let me be fucking clear. Muscles and tissues are like obedient dogs. And I was like, like my mind was like, gush, like this is coming from the pediatric physical therapist who was like, what the hell's wrong with you?
Multi-Range Video Tapes Recommended (01:01:55)
Why are you so stiff? No. And you know, I, in the key, the key. We're doing synchronized stretches. The key is that people aren't spending enough time working on full position. And maybe it's because I have not made the case for it because what we've done is we know you can get by at 80 percent. But show me you have full capacity because that's the thing that these top athletes have. And you can work with the car. Meaning the corners of these positions. Yeah, the positional, full position. And I always use this example, but squat down with your feet together, keep your heels on the ground, knees together. Can you do that? Yes or no? If you can't do that, knees together all the way down, chilling out in the bottom, like we're at a campfire, then you're missing full range of motion, ankle range of motion. One of those things is missing. And that's the mechanism for your hip impingement. That's the mechanism for your plantar fasciitis, for your bunion, for your tornic chilies, you know, for your pulled calf. I mean, that is the fucking problem. And you should be obsessing about this. You know, CrossFit is like, it's or any good modern strength conditioning system because we're not the only ones doing it now. But they force us into the shapes that are diagnostic, you know? And you know, if you've been around Pavell, well, then you probably have done a pistol at some point. Sure. That's because you have to be able to have that open torque control on your leg, right? That's how he gets away with not having to do lots of step ups, right? Show me that you can squat up now on one leg with that strength. And immediately, I can tell if you have the ankle range of motion, hip range of motion to do that, right? So it's interesting that that got pulled into the language because it was so diagnostic. If there were two or three movements that people listening to this could videotape themselves performing for sort of maximal diagnostic value, let's just say it's busy, professional and it's like, ah, you know, I'm probably letting go and I want to get back into training. I want to be able to videotape myself at certain points just to see how screwed up I am before I try to do something I did when I was 20 years old.
CrossFits A Fad Discussed (01:03:56)
Is there anything in particular you'd recommend? Well, here's the problem with that is that you somehow devalue some of the other positions. And in physical therapy school, you have this great statement. They're like, test something you think you changed and something you didn't think you changed. And I was like, that is so eternal and amazing. And I was like, well, fuck, it's my fucking shoulder. And if I'm compromised on this end, I maybe don't have the intellectual capacity to understand how that compromises me on the other side. And so what's crucial is that you can go from the start position. So for example, you may not think that Olympic lifting is important to you as a swimmer, but Olympic lifting forces you all the time or swinging kettlebell into having full interpretation of your shoulder. So even just doing the burgner warm up with the PVC pipe is Olympic lifting coach. You can Google burgner warm up. How do you spell his name? It's like B-U-R-G-E-N-E-R. Got it. And if you, Mike burgner, and if you just get into this high hang position, like you're doing like the robot dance out to the side, right, you should be able to get your hand all the way down to your hip and your shoulder shouldn't twist forward. So people are like, oh, I don't need to Olympic lift. Well, you should be able to snatch PVC pipe without hurting your shoulder. But those same people will go to the pool and not recognize that the finish position for the crawl stroke is the same position. And so what ends up happening then is in the swimming language, if I'm missing that interrotation at the end, that means my shoulder comes forward and that means my next stroke is compromised. And that's why you have to have full range on both ends of your shoulder, right? Because I'm going to compromise and that's going to mess up my next start or my next start. I've been amazed how much my entire physiology has changed just focusing on terminal knee extension. Just like lay on your back, put your legs straight up in the air, pull your toes back, straighten your legs. And if you can't straighten them completely, I was like, wow, my legs are shaking like, you know, I handled that over to two NFLers today who were coming back from an ACL repair that they sit all day long. They're sitting 14 hours a day in the slide bent. They don't have that range, posterior chain is, you know, you should, why can't you do a long sit? You know, last time you saw me, I could barely do this. And now I'm like, that's right. Out to the, you know, one of the things that you know, the truth PR lifetime, one of the, one of the truths is that, you know, we're always talking about putting the hip back into the socket. Like that's the capsule stretch. That's for our body stuff. Definitely. But what you figured out was, boy, if I have some or some load, my legs are up and I put some load through that that's seeded that hip back into the position and reinforced that mechanic. And then you had to be stable in that shape. Same thing happens when you squat theoretically, same things should be happening when you dead lift. But what we see is that the modernness of us is what messes us up. You have to have a movement practice. Pilates is a movement practice. Yoga is a movement practice. Acro yoga is a movement practice because they're exposed cross with some movement practice.
Strength training has evolved to become more advanced, demanding more from you. (01:07:15)
But then I also have to probably breathe hard a little bit somewhere in there and get stronger. And your movement practice can handle that. It can be kettlebells based. You can go to the Olympics that way. And then the last piece of course is that you have to be able to take care of your tissues. You have to know how to do some basic maintenance. You know, one of the reasons that for our body spoke to so many people was that it was like you gave them a blueprint, a Betty Crocker cookbook of how their body worked and the things that they can do that were actionable. They didn't require a doctor or a physical therapist. That's the revolution. Thank you. And thank you for helping with that. So I have to ask this, this is a, it's a common question. It's not one that I ask myself much, but I'm curious how you would answer it. Is CrossFit a fad? Oh, I would say totally. Totally a fad. Because front squatting and running is a fad. It's a gimmick. No, look, gymnastics is not a gimmick. Olympic lifting, not a gimmick. Powerlifting, not a gimmick. You know, one of the things that I don't think people recognize CrossFit so much. You can even go back to Pavel's book. It's like he interviews some MMA guy who was legendary for his conditioning. He does the 100 kettlebell snatch test. And he doesn't like eight minutes and it destroys him. Like I have 13 year old girls who can do that version of that thing in like three and a half minutes. Now, I mean, so we've done is we've gotten a lot better conditioned. And I think people understand that CrossFit is always prioritized conditioning and aerobic engine first. You've got to take care of that stuff. And the body weight control stuff is the easiest way. And the most democratized way, then let's have a conversation about how much you weigh, how strong you are. If you're going to be the best of the CrossFit games, you're going to have to be really, really strong and really aerobic for all the rest of us. We can keep putting money in that strength bank. But that aerobic function bank, it goes dry. Now, the conditioning to, and I know you got a bunch of people to train here and business to handle. So I'll let you go in a minute. But the, to thin slice conditioning for a second, because for me, of course, I want to dig into the, the measurables. Is that primarily when I look at say a metabolic conditioning workout, a Metcon workout, is it primarily trying to push up that anaerobic threshold so that you don't get crippled by lactic acid and hydrogen ions and all that and puke into a bucket? Is it VO2 max? Like what are the primary components that you can kind of perform, that you can track? The idea is that, you know, we could maintain all these other functions, strength, power, all the things that sort of valued us as powerful functional people. And I could get all the benefits of the aerobic, anaerobic training with interval like training, high intensity training, right? Zoom me to bother prove that a long time ago. But what we found is that, hey, probably you need to go long once in a while to make sure you can. And there's some adaptations that only happen at that long steady state, right? I'm about to, I'm signed up for the Molokai. I'm paddling OC1. It's like a five to seven hour race. Twenty minute workouts are not going to do it for me. This is kayaking. Outrigger canoe. Outrigger canoe. Right. But my point is that I'm going to have to go long. How long we need to go is up to my coach. You know, I'm probably not doing longer than an hour, still maintaining, respecting this aerobic piece. But that the intensity, you know, all of our energy systems work in concert and at the same time. You know, if you go longer than two minutes, two minutes is a 50% aerobic, 50% anaerobic effort. So, you know, running, you know, it's six minutes, eight minutes, you're full aerobic power. You know, that's just so much more interesting. Do 1K repeats. You know, that's something people didn't understand about Brian Mackenzie's model. You know, it's like he has me do five K repeats and stuff and on the erg and it's brutal. That's brutal. Is the standing or seated erg? That'd be the Skurg, the Skirg. Skirg, you know. Got it. You know, that's, that's, that's a terrible place to be. You know, 1K repeats. You know, and I think we've even, people are not afraid of working hard anymore. We've gotten past that. Now let's have a little bit better conversation. What, what do you think is the future of CrossFit? You can ask it anyway you want. Well, you know, it's going to continue to refine itself. I think, you know, people are coming in and all the coaches I know and work with, you know, are starting to understand what is we're doing and how sophisticated it's not just we just don't throw a bunch of random shit up and exercise until we puke.
How will CrossFit change in the future? The old way of CrossFit no longer works for those who want to excel long-term. (01:11:21)
You know, it seems like that, you know, a bunch of, a bunch of jerks swinging around the bar. That's not what's happening at all. There are some jerks swinging on the bar. Well that, that happens. I mean, I always point out I'm like, the physical therapist out in the world, you had a business long before CrossFit, FYI. Like there are people who have been fucking themselves up in every sport for as long as they're in people because we're ego driven people because we're, we're driven to perform. Right. So, you know, the key is to pull your ego out of this and really play the long game. What do you look like? How strong, how fit can you be when you're 50? The conversation changes a little bit. For me, it's not, you know, can I do the 600 anymore? It's, you know, what's this look like when I run an Ultra? What's this look like? How effective an I am at running a 10K or paddling? Those are, for me, starting to be more interesting conversations and just absolute strength or absolute work power. How can I, how does this make me a better mountain biker? If, if there were any, any sort of parting tips, suggestions, requests that you could make of the people out there who are either currently CrossFitting or considering CrossFitting, what would you say to them? What would you suggest? You know, tooth, it's not about who can work hardest anymore. That ship has sailed. If you're in a serious strength conditioning program, you are very fit. You know, you probably fitness is not, unless you're a beginner, fitness is not the limiting factor anymore. Your positional quality, add intensity is the limiting factor because you're going to do the same experiment that everyone has done and you will end up in a little tiny box at some point wondering why you're George St. Pierre and you've torn both your ACLs, right? No one was fitter, no one was more powerful but his positions cost him his ACLs.
Personal Development And Coaching
Be the douchebag you were meant to be (01:13:07)
And now he's, that consciousness has come at a very, very high price. And you know, you should be able to do these things forever. You know, there's, there's not a time where you don't need to get up off the ground or do a push up, but just, let's become more sophisticated. Let's advance the conversation a little bit. Don't be a douchebag. That's a big one. If I walk into the room and you're around your back, I'm going to cock punch you. Come on. It may happen once in a while, your heaviest loads. I was drinking coffee and you tried to cock punch me around. I thought it was aggressive. Luckily, I mean, I just, I think that's, that's the issue is that it's, you know, you need to bring the awareness that we're supposed to bring to this. If we're doing a five rep, we're just not even a five rep max, but we're just squatting. That fifth, fifth reps, you look fucking good. You just did four more. Make it look better. Okay.
Instagram Account and Finding the Right People (01:13:57)
Okay, we got, we got to run guys. Last question, any lesser known strength coaches or coaches period that you particularly, that stick out in your mind that people might want to look up and learn more about. Oh. Joe DeFranco is amazing. If you haven't ever listened to PawVul talk, you know, he solved a lot of this a long time ago. Yeah. The, the internet is rich right now with, you know, I would say look at who's been on the podcast. There have been some serious banner carriers for a long time. Mark Verstigian at Exos has been talking about these basic shapes and comp positions for a long time who are on his show, who's around, you know, right? And I, and I think the working coach pieces is it, there are a lot of models, you know, but you just, just need to start a practice and then from there we can advance ourselves. But there's, there's a lot of really good thinking in the world. And it's very exciting. This is a good time being the world. Definitely. So yeah, question your assumptions folks. Test your own rules. And don't be afraid to suck. Don't be afraid to suck. Find a place where you can suck. Primarily safely. Kelly, where can people find, find you on the internet and elsewhere? I'm on your couch. TimFaresCouch.com. And I have to be confused with other couches on the internet. Dude, we're at mobilitywad and mobilitywad.com. And man, I can't believe I've been doing this for 10 years. That's a lot of pull-ups.
To Be Coached by Kelly (01:15:25)
Yeah. Well, to many more decades. All right. Thanks so much, man. Appreciate you. This podcast is brought to you by Misen and Maine. Don't worry about the spelling. All you need to know is this. I have organized my entire life around avoiding fancy shirts because you have to iron them. You sweat through them. They smell really easily. They're pain in the ass. Misen and Maine has given me the only shirt that I need. And what I mean by that, and Kelly Starrett loves these shirts as well, is that you can trick people. They look really fancy. So you can take them out to nice dinners, whatever, but they're made from athletic sweat wicking material. So you can throw this thing into your luggage in a heap or on your kitchen table like I did recently and then pull it out, throw it on with no ironing, no steaming, no nothing. Walk out and you could probably wear this thing for a week straight or make it your only dress shirt and take it on trips for weeks at a time.
Review On Fitness Gear
Reliable Gear Review & Misen (01:16:16)
Never wash it. It will not smell. You will not sweat through it. You got to check these things out. So go to four hour work week dot com all spelled out four hour work week dot com forward slash shirts. And if you order one of their dress shirts in the next week, you will get a Henley shirt for free. That's worth about 60 bucks. So put them both in the cart. Use the code TIMTIMTIMTIM and you will get the Henley shirt for free. Check it out for our work week dot com forward slash shirts and you'll see some of my favorite gear including the one shirt that I've been traveling with. The Tim Ferris Show is also brought to you by 99 Designs. 99 Designs is your one stop shop for anything graphic design related. You need a logo, you need a website, you need a business card or anything else. You get an original design from designers around the world who submit drafts for you to review. You are happy or you get your money back. And I have used 99 Designs for book cover ideas for the four hour body which went to number one New York Times for banner ads and you can check out some of my actual competitions at 99designs dot com forward slash Tim. You can also get a free $99 upgrade if you want to give it a shot. That's 99designs dot com forward slash Tim.