When Does Improvement Happen?

Generally speaking,  you are going to find two types of athletes in a CrossFit gym: those who wish to be competitive and those who simply want to be in shape.


There is nothing wrong with either of these motives, but it is important to go about achieving your goals the right way. Competitive and sport training is often seen as higher volume and greater intensity training program. Is this really the best way to get results?

Harder workouts do not necessarily equate to greater gains in the gym, but at some point we seem to start training this way. Unless you’re laying on the floor gasping for breathe you think your workout wasn’t worth it. You think the more time you spend in the gym is the only way to excel. Your goal is to do as much work, as fast as possible. Your going to see a lot of progress at first, but eventually you hit a wall and progress stalls.

You have to learn, and understand, is there no improvement made while training. The improvement comes when you recover and your body rebuilds itself. When you are constantly beating your body down day in and day out you’re not allowing yourself to recover. And you won’t see results.

Your long-term goal should be longevity. Follow a training regimen that allows you to be injury free and to prepares you for all elements of life.

Here at CrossFit Knoxville, we encourage you to slow down your movements, focus on proper technique and form and take time to actively recover. Come in and try 3 free classes for free and see how CFK can take you to the next level of your fitness journey.

We’ll see you on the other side of the bar.

Week in Preview – Oct 17, 2016

One more week until Barbells for Boobs! If you haven’t registered yet, or created a donation page make sure to check out all of the event details here: http://crossfitknoxville.com/barbell-boobs-2016/

On to this week’s programming…

Monday:  We’re revisiting deadlifts this week for strength AND conditioning.  We’ll be working up to a heavy double for strength (double overhand only!), then take some weight off and have a traditional 21-15-9 to smoke out your grip. Lots o’ deadlifts today, so make sure to take time and mobilize the posterior chain pre AND post-WOD

Tuesday:  Tank Top Tuesday!  Get ready to work those shoulders and arms.  We’re taking a cue from one of CrossFit’s favorite girl WODs and modifying it for strength.  The focus today is on strict movement patterns.

Wednesday:  Get your battle buddy for today’s workout.  You’ll be alternating rounds with a partner with some running and sandbag cleans.  If you’re doing strong we’ll sub farmer’s carry’s for runs. Can you say grip burner?!

Thursday:  Throwback Thursday with some back squats!  We’ve still got 3×5 going on, but if you’ve been squatting on the other option, get ready to grind.  You’ll have a set number of reps to achieve at bodyweight, in as few sets as possible. After that we’ve got Rowling, aka Rower Bowling.  10×100 m sprints on the rower, but try to make it perfect because every extra meter you accumulate over or under adds up to a penalty! Can you guess what the penalty is? Come on, take one guess…

Friday:  Our Hero Wod this week will be Nate. You may have seen a version of this at CrossFit Regionals this year! Don’t worry about all the advance movements, we’ll have plenty of modifications for the gymnastics movements.

Saturday:  If today isn’t your rest day, get ready for the Hateful 8.  It’s a chipper with 8 different movements, plus running to break up the work!  Get in to start your weekend off right.

Week in Preview – Oct. 10, 2016

It’s that time of the month again – time for Friday Night Lights! October FNL will be held at West this Friday starting at 6:45pm. Teams will be same-gender partner in the Sport, Rx, Scaled, Masters and Masters Scaled divisions. Let a coach know ASAP if you’d like to participate, and plan to stay after for drinks and shenanigans! (location TBD)

Anyone’s legs sore from last week? Yes? You did it right then. Why so many squats you ask? Simply put, the squat has the single highest “return on investment” of any movement. Improve your squat and everything else comes up with it. We’re talking better mobility & joint health, increased metabolism, more muscle tone, PLUS the increased strength will allow you to go longer and harder during conditioning pieces.

If you find you’re particularly sore from last week, try increasing your water intake (Pro-tip: add a pinch of sea salt for electrolytes, and drink a glass IMMEDIATELY upon waking up in the morning – have it ready on your bedside table). Spend a little more time after class stretching, smashing and foam rolling, and ask a coach for ideas on how to hit those sore spots. Remember, as always, movement is the best medicine.

On to this week’s training:

Monday: Overhead (Press, Push Press, Push Jerk) + Running – This will look familiar, but we’ve increased the run distance for better shoulder recovery in between rounds (you’re welcome). Scale weight to go fast and unbroken. The key here is UNBROKEN – don’t worry as much about hitting the Rx button today. Pick the correct weight for you and dominate it!

Tuesday: Paused Squats + Conditioning – don’t skip squat day! (See above) – Make sure to stick around after class and do some foam rolling on those quads

Wednesday: Tabata – fast, explosive movements all around; bring your inner linebacker with you! No Rx weights today, just movements. Lean will aim for higher reps with lighter weight, while Strong will try to move heavy weights quickly at low rep counts.

Thursday: Snatch Skill & Strength – this is a day to get better! We’ll spend a lot of time drilling movements and positioning with the snatch and the overhead squat, and gradually adding weight over a 20:00 EMOM. Lean has the option of getting the heart rate up a bit, while Strong’s only focus is the barbell.

RED Friday: We’ll honor Corporal Cameron Stewart Baird, VC MG today with “The Ensign” – Similar to “The Chief” from a few weeks ago, but with a slightly evil twist.

See you on the other side of the bar.

Strugglers of the Mental Game

Keeping it all together

Keeping it all Together

Fellow Strugglers,

I have been particularly busy lately and am always amazed at how easy it is to lose focus of the most important things in life.   Staying centralized and focused on the things you can actually control becomes increasingly hard when you allow the day to day garbage to pile up and create unnecessary stress and confusion.  My favorite prayer “Lord grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference” comes up often and honestly it’s a life saver for me now and many times in the past.  A moment of clarity is all we need to regain focus.

At CFK we are focused on more than the physical aspects of fitness, there are many avenues and we want you to succeed in all aspects.  Mental, Physical, Relationships; doesn’t matter, they all count.  Here’s an interesting blog post from one of our vendors, Pure Pharma about several facets of a healthy mind and some great info.  Check it out and I hope you like it!  The Importance of a Healthy Mind .

See you on the other side of the bar,

Coach Johnny

Week in Preview

Check out our blog each Monday for a little preview of what you can expect – and why we’re doing it!


Coming off a week of fun and fundraising, let’s get back to training this week. Monday is going to be a crusher to start the week off. Tuesday will test your anaerobic threshold, we’ll get our Squats in Wednesday, our pumpon Thursday, and top off the week with a killer RED Friday WOD!

Last week was a tough week of workouts, that’s for sure. Because of this, we did notice too many rest days, especially following Wednesday’s WOD for a Rescue. Remember the goal is at least 4 days, preferably 5, but every day should not be an all-out effort. Once or twice a week, just come and take a nice and easy approach to the wod or scale it way back.  Movement is ALWAYS the best recovery.

See you on the other side of the bar!

“Cindy gets eaten by a Bear”

Lean – Interval training
Strong – Sprints

Back Squat (1RM) + Accessory

Upper body Push/Pull
(Bench Press + Pull-ups, Burpee + Row)

RED Friday:
5 Rounds: Running, Wall Balls, HSPU, Deadlifts


Sweating Through Sickness

A real-life guide to working out with cancer, as a caregiver, or anyone dealing with chronic illness


I’ve been a competitive runner for more than 20 years.  Running and exercise are my passions and the things I do to relieve stress and find joy, but what happens when your body takes a detour and your fitness routine hits a dead end?  You take the “alternate route.”

Many of you know my story so I won’t bore you with many details, but I’m a cancer survivor and I spent months and months in and out of the hospital, in another state, living in a hotel, while I fought.  Fought like hell, with everything I had and while that might sound inspiring, believe me, at times it got ugly.  Physically and emotionally, my life felt like it wasn’t my own and the number one factor in that change – my inability to run and workout.  You see, running was my therapy.  It was honestly like a friend.  I’d suffered loss and even dealt with my diagnosis during runs and now, that part of my life was being put on hold.  BUT notice those two words: on hold.

At first, I managed that void pretty well, but then the weeks of being alone in that Durham hotel, starting taking a toll.  Though I had found a Crossfit gym in Durham and was able to do some things, I wanted and needed to run, but all I had the strength to do was walk.  So, I’d walk.  My dog and I would go up and down this amazing greenway route through the Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill area.  It was called the American Tobacco Trail and it was a God-send.  It was something small for me, but it was a start.  It gave me an emotional break and I was able to see some hope.  I felt better at treatments but I really looked forward to taking my little dog for our walks.  Then it happened — one day I decided to try… and run.  And I ran.  It was like someone gave me back a literal piece of my soul.  It was so slow, but to me it felt like I was flying.  1 mile.  I ran 1 mile.  I never thought as an ultramarathoner I’d be happy with 1 mile, but on that day, it felt amazing.  Eventually I regained my strength and honestly found my stride in a pretty short amount of time.  So today I have some advice for those of you who might be struggling through sickness, playing the role of caregiver or even having a difficult time finding the motivation to stick to a plan:

1.)    GIVE YOURSELF GRACE:  Especially if you’re struggling with an illness.  Life is so hard already and when your body doesn’t cooperate, it can often feel like it’s just too much.  Give yourself some grace.  Your body needs to rest and repair and sometimes that means missing out on the things you used to do.  It’s ok.  Those things will all be waiting for you when you’re rested and ready to re-enter the world.

2.)    GIVE YOURSELF SPACE:  When you’re battling a disease, you can often feel less than your best and many times your self confidence goes down the drain.  You don’t want the world to see you “at your finest” so you avoid exercise and working out altogether.  Rather than miss what used to be a reward for your body, find some great workouts you can do in your hospital, hotel room or the comforts of your home.  You don’t have to hit your favorite 5:30 class to work up a sweat, and trust me, they’ll still be there when you’re ready to return.

3.)    DO SET A SMALL GOAL: I ran a 5k with a group of friends, during my treatment and the goal was to get to the finish.  It was such a different role for me, but it still gave me a chance to be competitive and remember what it felt like to be back in a race.

4.)    MAKE FITNESS A PART OF YOUR ROUTINE…EVEN IF IT’S A FLEXIBLE ONE:  Just make the commitment to yourself every day.  Get up and do something active if you possibly can.  BUT my number one caveat here is to be flexible for whatever your illness hurls your way.  Set a goal, and know it may change, but having that as part of your daily routine will give you something to remind yourself that you..are still.. you.

5.)    GET PLENTY OF SLEEP: It’s the one thing I still don’t get enough of, but makes the biggest difference in how we feel.  When you’re fighting illness or you’re taking care of someone who is, sleep is the best medicine.  That’s not just a cliché’, that’s a fact.  Adding exercise to any treatment protocol is just going to add extra stress to your body.  But we want it and we need it, we just need sleep even more.

Life doesn’t care what your plans are and most of us are never really prepared for hearing the words, “you’re sick.”  But, if it happens, remember to be patient, find a focused fitness path, and be kind to yourself.  Come to think of it, those are words we should really embrace every day.


Coach Mary

Programming Fun


tiredHow demanding is your job? Are you up on your feet all day logging miles or stuck behind a desk trying to solve the world’s problems? Are you exhausted at the end of the day and if so, how do you change this?  Keep reading, we may have an answer for you.

Change your mindset toward your gym time and your workouts in general.  Don’t show up exhausted and ready to hit the bed, change your attitude. (How many times has your mother told you that?)

Before you get out of the car, take a few deep breaths and focus on something positive.  Put a smile on your face and get ready to have some fun!

Focus on the fact that you are no longer at work or dealing with an issue, but instead about to add health/performance/self improvement and it’s now “You” time.

Make sure to fuel accordingly.  If you are in a caloric deficit your neuro transmitters could be low, affecting your mood.  Fueling with processed foods and sugars can have your hormones out of balance putting you in shut down mode.  Get some lean protein and a few complex carbs in you about an hour before.  Not a huge meal but something to give you energy.

Be Mindful!  Every time you walk through those doors at CFK remind yourself why you’re there. Remind yourself to have fun. Heck, isn’t that half the reason you do this in the first place?

By focusing on your attitude and consistently showing up things will change. When you have fun, you’ll be more consistent, when you’re more consistent, you’ll get more results.  More results brings even more fun, you get the picture…

CrossFit and the rest of our programs, are designed to improve your life.   If you’re not having fun you’re missing out on the best part of our programing and results may suffer.  The more fun you have, the better your results will be, it’s a proven fact!

See you on the other side of the barbell!

Quality Over Quantity

If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a Johnny Davis lecture, you know the definition to the word virtuosity. After all, CrossFit Knoxville was founded on that definition.

That may seem a bit backwards given the nature of most CrossFit WODs: fastest time, most rounds, heaviest weights, etc. With that mindset you might think the object of CrossFit is quantity over quality – but that’s not the mindset of CFK coaches.

The coaches at CrossFit Knoxville want to train athletes to obtain the highest power output, but our purpose is to do it in a way that creates a greater athletic adaptation – not just for the sake of going really fast.

Virtuosity is a word we need to all learn and understand at CFK (or just in general). As defined by Greg Glassman, virtuosity means “to perform the common uncommonly well”.  It is a synonym of excellence and is the outward expression of integrity.  To take a simple movement like the deadlift and attempt a flawless rep, striving for perfection while never achieving it, is an application of virtuosity.

Virtuosity is a measurement of quality and is rarely used in sport (with the exception of gymnastics) because sport is more concerned with power, who has the most points at the end, regardless of how they get them.  We find in CrossFit, however, that by training our virtuosity, quality of movement, we reap the most benefit of power, quantity of movement, in the end.

At CFK we have a defined order of importance for our athletes:

1. Technique – How is your posture? Do you have full range of motion? These questions are asked, evaluated and changes are made before we move on.
2. Intensity – Can you move quickly with your technique in tact? No, let’s slow down and readdress technique. Yes, great! Let’s move on.
3. Weight – When an athlete is capable of moving quickly with flawless technique weight can be added for maximum output.

Does CrossFit Knoxville’s training philosophy speak to you? Do you have a million more questions (hey, we’ve all been there)? Stop by either of our locations and speak with a qualified CFK coach and try out 3 classes for free!

We’ll see you on the other side of the bar.