Recently I had the opportunity to take part in the very first combine run by the NPFL in an effort to find top athletes and showcase their abilities for the professional teams in the league. By now most people in the community have heard a lot about the league and it has generated a ton of buzz because of the opportunity it provides top level athletes like myself. The teams are signing athletes on as professionals and the sport has huge potential. The Los Angeles Combine was April 4th-6th and it was a great experience getting to catch up with people I have known for years and are now involved in the league along with getting to show my strengths in a very different format. I have competed individually in CrossFit for going on 7 years now and it has been incredible. I am far from done pursuing my limits there, however, the team aspect of the NPFL is extremely cool and a very different kind of challenge that I feel really suits me. All of my life I have competed on teams with baseball and soccer and now there is this new sport that provides the chance to continue that camaraderie with the co-ed human performance races. This year will be my first competing with my affiliate team Kinnick Butter in the CrossFit Games season (currently 8th place worldwide), but I have also hopped into a few team competitions over the years including throwing down alongside Kenny Leverich at a local competition that we won 1st place at. Every team competition I have done has been a blast; the teamwork and strategy focused races that the NPFL has created is something I definitely can thrive in.
The combine itself started out with the first day allowing athletes to choose which lifts, skills, and drills they wanted to showcase in the hopes of being called back for the final day where we would actually get to test run the first ever NPFL races so that the team operators could see how the athletes worked in the new format. CrossFit Kinnick was well represented at the combine with myself, my training partner Nick Robles, and my Kinnick Butter teammate Elyse Persico all heading down to test it out and show off the butter! All three of us snagged some PRs as we picked out different lifts and gymnastic movements to test and at the end we were called back for the final day where we were split off into mock teams to test races. The races were a ton of fun and it will definitely turn out to be just as exciting for spectators and new fans of the sport. After a long day of races, Tony Budding (CEO and Founder of the NPFL) listed off the 24 men and 24 women who would be invited on to the next stage of the combine: a two day event in June, after which teams will draft and sign players to their rosters. Elyse and I were both called up and I’m excited to continue on in the draft process for the NPFL! I’m thankful for the opportunity to take part in the beginning stages of the league and to help it grow!
Since announcing that I am going to compete with Team Kinnick Butter this year at the 2014 SoCal Regionals I have received a lot questions, most of which look like this: “Jeremy, why are you going team? You just had your best performance ever in the Open. What happened?”
First, I want to clarify a few things. I do not see it as taking a step back or going with “Plan B.” No, I am not hurt. I do not think I am too old. I do not think I am not good enough. I do not see my region as too tough to win. In fact, I will go into Regionals as the best I have ever been.
With that being true, the decision was tough because of my history competing as an individual and the goals I have for myself as a CrossFit athlete. In a recent blog I wrote about my year last year and the let down and so on (read the full blog here). I have bounced back from that, but with all the changes I have made this year I found that what it came down to is its just not all about me. I completely changed my focus this year to a bigger emphasis on others rather than just myself. What made the decision for me was the opportunity I have to lead my team to the Games. I would get to compete along side my wife and friends and I feel like this is a once in a lifetime opportunity where we have a close and amazingly strong group of athletes all focused on one thing: winning the Games. How freaking cool is it to be able to lead your wife and compete alongside her at the FREAKING CROSSFIT GAMES! Just the thought of it makes me wanna do a back tuck :-). To be able to give the whole team and my wife this gift would be the most fulfilling thing I could possibly think of doing and it will be huge for our entire community at CrossFit Kinnick.
That being said you are probably still thinking, “Hey thats cool Jeremy, but what about next year?” Well, I am glad you asked. My brother Jonathan (my co-coach along with me) and I have discussed this often and it has been in the back of my mind for most of the past eight months. This year my eyes are on winning Regionals and the Games with Team Kinnick Butter. We want to show the world what the #kinnickbutter is all about. Beyond that, we have already set our sights on my preparation to win Regionals in 2015 and claim a spot on the Podium at the Games as an individual. Lofty goals? Yes, and I am ok with that. We have learned a lot about me this past year and figured out how to get me to be at my best. I was able put up my best ever performance during the Open despite the final three weeks being thrown off with a back injury and stomach flu. All in all, I basically missed three weeks of training during the Open and still placed 42nd in the World. I have so much left to accomplish. The gains that I have made this past year have blown my mind and I am very excited to see myself improve through Regionals, the Games, and into next year. My bro and I talk about it all that time. How I still suck at CrossFit. We see all of my holes. But something we have seen this year is that those holes are being filled in. Its going to be a great year! The year of the BUTTER!
The 2014 CrossFit Games Open was one to remember for myself and my top athletes. I had my best ever finish in the Open and not just for my region (6th place in Socal), but worldwide I finished 42nd! In the past I have always seen the Open as just a stepping stone to regionals and focused more on preparing for the next stage rather than truly challenging myself with the Open workouts. I realized that I was using that as an excuse to not go all out or see what I was capable of and going into this years Open I decided to attack every workout with everything I had.
I wanted to start strong and 14.1 was solid for me; 397 reps earned me 13th place in SoCal. Then 14.2′s combination of chest to bar pull-ups and overhead squats brought my best performance in the Open ever; 346 reps was 10th best in the world (2nd in SoCal)! I could not have been more fired up. Then heading into 14.3 things got a little off track. Prior to the workout even being announced I hurt my back/hamstring and was having trouble even bending over. I took some extra rest days and managed to recover enough to get through 14.3′s high volume deadlifts. I played the workout safe until I got to the 315# deadlifts where I finished with 24 reps at the weight (154 reps overall, 30th in SoCal). At full strength that workout is a fantastic one for me but I was happy with my score considering my injury and lack of training leading into it. Going into the fourth week of the Open I was again taking it easy to heal up my back, so I went into 14.4 having only worked out the prior Saturday for 14.3. I was able to pull off a solid performance and get 31 calories into round 2 (231 reps overall, 17th in SoCal). Heading into the final week of the Open my back was feeling much better. Then I was lucky enough to come down with a stomach bug and once again I was forced to rest all the way up to performing 14.5 on Saturday. Despite the setbacks I am really happy that I went into this year with a different mindset and I pushed to my limits for those scores.
We also knew that this year would be a great one for CrossFit Kinnick and our athletes did not disappoint…Team Kinnick Butter brought the heat and we had 5 additional athletes land in the top 40 in Socal:
- Nick Robles – 35th place, SoCal Individual Men
- Elyse Persico – 9th place, SoCal Individual Women
- Melody Sanchez – 25th place, SoCal Individual Women
- Christine Navarro – 27th place, SoCal Individual Women
- Giermaine Kinnick – 36th place, SoCal Individual Women
My training partner, Nick Robles, qualified for the first time as an individual in the SoCal region. This was huge for him after taking a month off of training this past fall due to an injury. He has been hard at work alongside me making his comeback and it was great to see him crush it and go hard!
The ladies of Kinnick Butter absolutely crushed it with all four of them qualifying individually. They put out some truly impressive performances and seeing them come into their own this year was amazing. Elyse Persico put up the 9th best score in the WORLD on 14.2 (334 reps) and is a force to be reckoned with. Melody Sanchez had two Open finishes in the top 10 for SoCal (6th on 14.2 and 4th on 14.4). Christine Navarro was extremely consistent all the way across the board and it has been great seeing her become so well rounded. My wife, Giermaine Kinnick has made such incredible progress in a year and I am so proud to see her achieve the things she has. Not only did she improve her overall placing by 63 spots from last year to this one, she got her first ever muscle ups in a CrossFit competition during 14.4. This has been something she has worked for all year and I love seeing her drive and determination pay off. I cannot wait to see her crush it on the team at regionals!
The butter doesn’t stop spreading there though…CrossFit Kinnick is looking to field two teams this year at the SoCal Regional and Team Kinnick has a chance to qualify after the leaderboard reshuffles when the top 48 decide whether to compete as an individual or on their team! What a year! The fun has just begun…stay tuned because the #kinnickbutternation is ready to do big things this year!
“And that’s why I say you won’t get there by luck. None of our people that just ‘paleo’ things, (meats and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruits, little starch, no sugar), none of those people have been top performers. All of my top performers have been weigh-and-measure folks.” -Coach Glassman, 2007.
It’s 2014, and this is still truer than ever with the athletes at my gym.
Thanks for waiting… Here is what I did to recover from last year:
From early 2012 all the way to late 2013, my brother and I took a break from handling my programming due to being busy with so many other things. Looking back now we realize we made a big mistake. We took the easy route and it showed. When we realized that I had stalled out we took my programming and training back into our own hands. We went back to the basics. We identified what my biggest weaknesses were and made a plan to attack them. What was even more frustrating is that the weaknesses we identified were the same ones I have struggled with since starting CrossFit. It’s funny how easy it is to go so long ignoring the hardest things to improve on. The specific weakness training was something I did separately from my workouts and I took an extremely focused approach that attacked them from all different directions. The reality is I spent 3-5 days a week working on those weaknesses. Toes to bar, pulling strength, pushing strength, etc.
From late July until mid January, I really focused on getting stronger through powerlifting. I would powerlift 3 times a week, hit workouts only 3 times a week, Olympic lift twice a week, and work on gymnastic movements twice a week. From January until now I have upped my workouts to 4 times a week, switched my lifting focus to 3 days of Olympic lifting specific strength and skill work, and I also added endurance work with running and rowing repeats 4 times a week. Another big realization I made is that I have performed at my absolute best at a much lower bodyweight than what I was competing at. I have dropped down from 217# in October to a much lighter 189#.
All of these changes to my training regimen were a big part of my turnaround. It was more focused on what I personally needed to do and it was much less volume. It changed everything as far as the time and energy I now have to put into the things that matter most to me. I get more time with my wife and boys. She gets to train more and improve as an athlete. I can give more attention to my gym and do what I love, changing more lives through proper nutrition and CrossFit. Most importantly it has allowed me to enjoy life and focus less on me and more on others. I can credit a lot of my success to these changes that allowed me to get back to having fun this year. At CrossFit Kinnick I do all the programming for the competitors and the group classes. For the first time in around 2 years I started working out in group classes. I would program the gym workout and then make a competitor version that would usually include more advanced versions of movements and mix in heavier weights. And my athletes were beating me on workouts. My wife, Giermaine Kinnick, would beat me some days. Nick Robles, Daniel O’Brien, Chris Nicholson, Elyse Persico, Melody Sanchez, Christine Navarro, Sariah Veirs, or Andrew Perry might best me on others. It was awesome because it pushed me. Some days I would program workouts that I knew were strengths for other athletes and use that as an opportunity to try to beat them at something in their wheelhouse. Other days I would program to my strengths and try to lap them. The competitive drive was there but we were all having a blast working out together and pushing each others limits. I came to realize that in strictly following outside programming and pouring everything into my own training I had lost sight of what makes CrossFit so fantastic…the community. Hitting workouts alone or separate from my athletes was a grind. I needed a change but I couldn’t see it. Even though I overhauled my training program and changed my focus, I truly think the biggest change this year is that the fun is back…
“Stick to the basics and when you feel you’ve mastered them it’s time to start all over again, begin anew – again with the basics – this time paying closer attention.” -Greg Glassman