Coach G’s Weekly Blog – w/e 20th April 2018 (Week 23)

Something to think about...............

So, another CrossFit Games Open is behind us, time to look back and reflect on your performances. How did you do? Hopefully it has identified some strengths and more importantly some weaknesses. What really caught you out? What do you need to work on going forward so that you’re better prepared for next year? Whatever it is, apply yourself, don’t be disheartened but be encouraged that you’re not perfect, life would be boring otherwise!



Sara and I have been away for a couple of weeks, so not really had the opportunity to physically see how you guys have gotten on, but we've been keeping an eye on the community page and the daily WOD posts and you look great! Hopefully, I've managed to leave you a program that has been challenging but more importantly fun. The last few weeks have been tough, lots of strength work, lots of weightlifting and of course, MURPH! I'm not going to summarise the weeks I haven't been here but here's a look at this week!


This week in particular has been a hard one, starting with a 'power hour' on Monday which included plenty of aerobic work initially and finishing wish some strict and technical work with the snatch, strict pull ups and strict ring dips. Tuesday was no easier, an opportunity to establish a new 3RM Back Squat then hit a bit of volume on Front Squat. Then the WOD, Abmat sit ups into hollow rocks, what's that all about? Hopefully this short little WOD really taxed the core as it was intended to.

Wednesday saw us hit some high volume HEAVY Strict Presses then a tasty little 'Death By' to really challenge not only your aerobic capacity but your mental strength and willingness to make the next minute and go deeper into the pain cave. 

Thursday was all about pulling! 5x5 Deadlift at 85% is just an all-out assault on the Central Nervous System and to make it worse finishing with 3 x max effort distance intervals of 1000m, 500m and 250m on the rower in the 26-degree heat. 

Friday provided a much needed respite from the onslaught of strength training from the previous 3 days, allowing you to focus on the more technical gymnastic movement, the Handstand Push Up.



So building on from the previous talk about energy systems and muscle fibres etc. I want you to reflect on the training for this week and use the below illustration to think about what energy systems were being used during the different elements of strength and WOD this week.

Energy Systems.png


You will likely see that the majority of the time we have been working somewhere between 10% and 40% in the WODs, hitting predominantly the aerobic (or oxidative) energy system. As an example, Thursdays strength and workout would have required us to encroach into the realms of all three energy systems with the Deadlift and rowing testing both your aerobic and anaerobic capacity. Strength wise we have been working around the 85-95% region of power output, working predominantly the phosphagenic and Glycolytic pathways (anaerobic).


So how does this relate to use and development of the different muscle fibre types? And why do newer athletes make all the gains? We’ll have a look at that in more detail next week as we analyse the weeks training.



Shout out to Sam for making it into the 13thminute of the death by on Wednesday and not quitting, that’s true determination when you know that the harder you push the longer the suffering is going to last! Well done mate!



Something I personally struggle with is the so called 'Pain Cave', which basically means going into a dark place and putting yourself through personal suffering. A lot of the time I hold back, not wanting to feel the burn in the lungs, the burn in muscles, the burn in your gut as you physically want to vomit due to pushing yourself so hard. It is not a place that I have the mentality to push myself into a lot of the time, but this mentality can be developed over time.


Some of you will know what this feels like, some of you will not!


I challenge you all next week to walk into the box, look at the board and say 'I'm gonna have this one today'. I don’t care what day it is or what the WOD is, I don’t care whether you're scaling or not. I want you to come in, attack the workout and try and go to that dark place to get the best time or score you possibly can!

You never know, you may love it! And if you do, keep challenging yourself frequently to go to that place. The gains you will make will be on another level!



Saturday will see your coaches spend the afternoon in the box, working out together, sharing learning and experience and cementing standards and expectations for the benefit of you all going forward. In the early days of CFNS myself, Sara and Murf were a few cogs in a small machine. Over the last 3.5 years that small machine has grown significantly and we've introduced a few more cogs along the way to keep things going and growing.


Hopefully you will agree with me that we now have a fantastic team of CrossFit Trainers and Personal Trainers in the box. 


Saturday will be the first of many future coaches training days where we can begin to ensure that we are cohesively working, learning and adapting together to keep the CFNS machine moving in the right direction.


Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens the other.


This is one of my favourite verses from the bible and something I am a firm believer in. As far as your CFNS coaching team goes, the whole unit is significantly greater than the sum of its individual components. It's my commitment to you that we will continue to work together to sharpen each other to make us better and more knowledgeable coaches for the benefit of you all.


I look forward to sharing some feedback with you next week!


Coach G’s tip of the week: Look after your hands! Shave and file your callouses routinely to reduce the potential for your hands to rip during high volume pull ups. 


Coach G.

Coach G’s Weekly Blog – w/e 25th March 2018

Hands up if you love thrusters and C2B pull ups. Nope. Hands up if you took part in the 24 hour AMRAP for Sport Relief. Yep. Hands up if you still got any hands left……………Then you clearly didn’t take part in the 24 hour AMRAP!!


This week saw us hit a lot of heavy squats, targeting both the Back Squat and Front Squat. We also managed a cheeky barbell complex and some serious volume on some heavy deadlifts. Massive week for lifting, improving technique and making gains! From a Metabolic Conditioning respect we’ve hit some challenging 10-15 minute workouts, focussing on some challenging and technical elements such as HSPU, ring dips and the dumb bell hang squat clean.

Finally, I can’t leave out the amazing feat of fitness, strength, stamina and most importantly community that we managed to accomplish on Friday/Saturday. Sara, Murf and I are so immensely proud of what we have created and what you guys have helped to develop. Those last few minutes seeing you all working away to bring us home over the 24 hour milestone was why we opened the box and it makes all the hard work worthwhile.



The weeks training has seen us work (and develop) all energy systems. The Back Squat on Monday saw us hitting heavy doubles, working both your Phosphogenic and Glycolytic pathways. Similarly, the Deadlift would have seen us hitting the same energy systems.

The WOD’s have seen us hitting a good mix of both the Glycolytic and Oxidative pathways, with each workout designed to hit a varied percentage of each. Hitting all of these systems ensures the use and ultimately the development of all three types of muscle fibre; Type I, Type IIa and Type IIb.

I’m going to go into more detail over the coming weeks about the above, including detail on why newer athletes hit PB after PB and why some of you more seasoned athletes see the gains start to plateau and struggle for months to get a 1kg increase! This is all to do with the above.


I think I’ve already touched on this but the 24 Hour AMRAP was the highlight of the year to date, not just the week. Special shout out to John Hart for putting in the last solo shift on Saturday, this guy is an absolute legend. I have to say, that 7 minutes was the hardest I’ve ever seen you work! It’s amazing what you can achieve when you’ve got the whole community standing around cheering you on.



Clean and Jerk Complex. What was your limiting factor?

If you are a proficient and balanced lifter, the limiting factor on this should have been you hang power clean. If this was not the case then you likely have a deficiency in your overhead movements. The causing factor could be one of a few things: poor technique, inadequate shoulder or core strength or balance. If this was the case then you need to identify the fault or weakness (with the help of your coaches) and work on making it a strength!



Sara has posted a link on the community page to a free month of ROMWOD. This is an awesome tool to help you recover from the rigours of training. I suggest that you get access to the free month and give it a go, you can do a session in front of your tv or iPad etc. and it only takes about 20 minutes. Do this after every session and you will see the results pretty much instantly.

Coach G’s tip of the week: Sign up to the free month of ROMWOD and most importantly, use it!

Keep on being awesome.

Coach G.

Coach G Weekly Summary w/e 18th March 2018

Sup amazing CFNS athletes?

So, here we go with the first ever Coach G weekly blog post (its only taken 3.5 years)! I’m going to be sending this out at the end of each and every week in the hope that it will encourage you, inspire you, educate you and raise your overall interest and understanding of CrossFit to a whole new level!

Just to explain the format a little, I’ll be hitting five topic areas; Summary, Technical, Highlights, Focus and Preparation.


Provide a brief general overview of the week.


Discuss some of the technical elements around the programming and why we did what we did, in order to better improve your understanding. Believe it or not, there is structure and order behind the apparent chaos!


Talk about a couple of key highlights for the week.


From my observations of athletes’ movements, attitudes, work ethic etc. I will pick one key element each week for you all to think about and focus on going forward.


I’ll be providing a few tips on how to physical and mentally prepare for the coming week of training.

In addition to my weekly blog, the CFNS coaches will also be taking turns doing a weekly post about a topic of their choosing! (this is the first they’re finding out about it!). Keep your eyes peeled.

So what happened this week?


CF Games Open Workout 18.4 came to challenge us, hurt us and in some cases humble us. It was a tough challenge and highlighted weaknesses in pretty much everybody’s fitness.

In terms of the general programming this week saw a serious amount of heavy lifting. We continued with our weekly Back Squat cycle which I hope is proving fruitful for you all, hit some heavy and technical overhead work with the Push Press, Snatch and Overhead Squat and some short but spicy met-cons to help improve your overall work capacity!

All in all, a good week. Well done to all who managed to make every session and well done to all who did as much as their body’s and busy schedules allowed.


As with all strength elements, were generally trying to keep volume low and intensity high. The best way to make strength gains is to lift above 85% of your 1 RM for no greater than 4-5 reps. Getting the % accurate is key to success and making the necessary gains. In general, if it feels easy, you’re probably not heavy enough. If it feels too heavy, you’re probably just a little tired or out of sorts. Always try and hit the required percentages and I can guarantee that you’ll make the gains.

In terms of volume, we generally save this for the WOD. This week has seen us hit thrusters and push jerk at low to moderate weights for a moderate number of reps. It’s this kind of volume that will help to improve both our cardiovascular and muscular endurance.

We also dabbled in some technical work with the squat snatch followed by a heavy WOD focussing on another two weightlifting elements, power snatch and overhead squat. From a gymnastic respect we’ve hit Chest to Bar pull ups, burpees and handstand push ups and even managed to squeeze in some running and skipping. All in all, it’s been a busy week which has targeted a number of movements in weightlifting, powerlifting and gymnastics!


Thursday saw you all hitting heavy squat snatch, a highly technical movement that requires a significant amount strength, speed, and flexibility to execute successfully! Well done to the handful of you that managed to hit PR’s on this movement!


This next week is going to see us do a lot of squatting, heavy! Make sure that we’re getting to the classes on time so we get the best out of the warm ups. If you generally feel pretty stiff and sore after a heavy leg day (like I do!), try and get to your sessions 15 minutes early to give yourself a more in depth warm up and get as loose and flexible as possible (apologies 6amers, you will have to make sure you do some mobility before bed if you need it.). Even if you only have 5 minutes to do this, hit some wall squats, KB squat hold and pigeon stretch when you get to the box. If you’re stuck on what mobility to do, we have two copies of ‘Becoming a Supple Leopard’ on the shelf. Have a look through and design yourself a little warm up.


Make sure you’ve got your meals prepped or a meal plan and ingredients in place, try to get 7-8 hours sleep each night and do as much mobility as you possibly can outside of the box. You will definitely reap the rewards and be able to hit your training with a greater level of intensity!

Coach G’s tip of the week: If you don’t already have one, make sure you acquire a customised speed rope to enable you to master the Double Under. The gym ropes are fine but the only way to truly get the movement is to have rope that is a perfect fit for you!

Once you have one, spend 10 minutes a day getting used to it. You will master the movement in no time!

Have a great week in everything you do!

God Bless

Coach G.

Settling into the grind

A little milestone passed almost un-noticed this week. I’ve now racked up 500 hours of class time as an athlete at CrossFit Northern Soul.

Trust me, I’m pretty astonished by this. No other sport, exercise regime, fitness system or “thing that involves moving & shit” has ever held my attention like this at any point in my life. I’m nearly three years into my CrossFit journey and I feel like I’ve only just scratched the surface of the possible.

With this amount of time invested though there does come some associated “baggage” I’ve collected along the way. I’ll try and break this down into meaningful chunks.

Daily PB’s are looooong gone.

Chuckling at this one as I actually hit a cheeky Cindy PB today (entirely accidental as I was busy failing to complete Chelsea) but the days of you simply having to walk in and pick something up to be doing a PB dance are over. Every single kilo, second or repetition has to be ground out over weeks of solid graft. The downside of this is that you can sometimes feel like your progression has stalled. That sinking feeling of grafting and getting nowhere. The upside though is that when that tiny 1% improvement finally does arrive, the feeling of accomplishment is sweet indeed.

You have a profound understanding of what you’re shit at (and you start avoiding it).

I suck at bodyweight gymnastics. I don’t bend (much). I am the least natural upside-down human I’ve ever seen and I live in constant terror of irreparably smashing myself to bits whilst swinging about like a stunned fish on a gym rig. Where this understanding can lead you is being selective in your focus / what you gravitate towards. I’d likely be better at bodyweight gymnastics if I spent more time actually doing it. What’s my next learning event? Rowing seminar this weekend...

“I know what I’m doing”

No I don’t. Most of the time I’ve not a bloody clue. I am vastly, vastly more experienced than I was but I don't “know”. At best, I understand and can replicate with some success. What I’m talking about here is the mindset of “I’ve always pulled early on a heavy Snatch attempt so you ain’t changing me now”. The challenge of overcoming bad habits and simply being coachable is huge and I take this moment to apologise to any coaches that I may have inadvertently given “the eyes” to at any point.

“Why am I doing this?”

The struggle is real. I know that a good percentage of my time I've got a smile on and I’m somewhat genial but to drag my arse out of bed to get to CFNS for 6am is bloody hard and there’s plenty of times I’ve had to have a long conversation with myself. Keeping the reasons why CrossFit is important to me and what I want to achieve (move well for a long time, don’t be shit etc) close to me are key to me making that walk each day.

Ditch the bags

So, what have I learned over these 500 hours? Quite a lot really. The key that underpins this though and keeps me coming back for more is that even though the game has changed, it’s no less fun than it was before. The goal now is to spend the next 500 hours wisely trying to ditch the bags I’ve picked up. Stay humble, stay coachable, go upside down once in a while (bugger) and celebrate PB’s like no-one is watching.

Here’s to enjoying the grind! 

Ed. Member since 2014.


I believe we have 3 different member types at CFNS, and I’m not saying one is better than the other, or you should be “A”, or you will even fit into one. Just awareness of the types will help you to adjust your mindset when it comes to your goals and training. 


Type A: “I just go to CrossFit to blow off some steam, I don’t lose any sleep on my score”.

Type B: “I came to CrossFit to lose weight, fell in love with it because it’s fun, but can’t push myself to the limit it takes to lose weight”.

Type C: “I come to CrossFit, give it all I can, compete with others in the class, and am dead afterwards”.


Again, nothing wrong with being any of these groups. But each group has their own goals, and own motivations, and if you simply copy others, you may not reach your own personal goals because their method and motivation is different to yours. 


Let’s start with Type C. 

Rich Froning is a typical type C. As a kid, his parents made him do chores for the sake of it. In his book, “First”, he recalls being told to move bricks from one side of the garden to the other, only to be told, once finished, to move them back to where he started. He did it, because he was told, and was taught to not question it. He claims that this mindset has helped him in his training. He doesn’t question a workout, he keeps working because theres still work to be done, because there is, because there is. (I’ll explain that bit later.)

We find that this mindset can be replicated in military or ex military personnel. They’ve been conditioned to do things without questioning, and to keep going until someone tells you to stop, with simply the reason of “honour” or even no reason what soever. They don’t need a reason, because it will end, and when it does… then it’s forgotten about.

Type C people don’t listen to their emotions, until the job is finished. And that is going to be my point for this essay. Don’t listen to your emotions, because they lie. 


Type B. (The person most likely to have reached this part of the essay).

The simple fact that you care about the way you look, highlights the fact that you care, you have emotions and can be pretty sensitive about certain things. That’s cool.

But that can be a hindrance to your training (and your diet for that matter). You’ve decided you want to look different - that’s awesome. But you haven’t decided what lengths you’re willing to go to to get there.

SO you start your diet, or CrossFit, or both and your immediate emotions are still based on the very recent emotion of wanting to change, so it goes well, you put your all into it. But then you have a bad week at work, or you come last on the board, OR you don’t lose half your body weight in a month like you thought you would (Holla!) and your emotions twist and turn to something else. Your emotions are telling you that it’s actually harder than you thought it was gonna be, so is it really worth it? OR your emotions tell you that you’ve worked hard for a month, you DESERVE a rest, so you’ll just take this week a little easier at the gym, or on your diet. You’ll tell people you have a slight niggle in your (insert body part here), and that you need to take it easy but you’ll be back to 100% next week. You won’t do any mobility or extra rehab work on that body part because it’s not actually there (even if you can feel it!). Your emotions are making up lies to excuse you from ultimately not doing what it hates doing - which is being uncomfortable. You’ll keep coming to CrossFit, but you won’t see any differences because your diet has given up (“I’ll just rely on CrossFit”), and you’ve now understood that it doesn’t take 120% effort to finish an AMRAP. Even if you go slow, you’ll finish it (therefore not getting your heart rate up, therefore not hitting fat burning zone). 


Type A. (These people didn’t make it past the heading, but that’s cool.)

These guys are pretty secure in themselves. They know they need to exercise to live longer, so they join up. Seeing the people at CrossFit makes their day, the exercise is just an added bonus. They generally give it 80% effort, and then either head straight out or the door, or congratulate everyone else. Their mindset is that they come to the box to switch off, so thinking during a workout or allowing emotions to dwell just doesn’t happen. They don’t have any particular goals, so they don’t get despondent when they don’t hit a target or get a new movement. These guys won’t lie in bed at night and think they could have gone harder, because tomorrow is a new day and they’ll just train again. That’s cool too.


Again. There is no right type for you, it’s personal to you. Unless you want to get better at CrossFit. 


I, Sara, am a type B. I used to be a type A. I had a season of depression that crept up on me 6 years ago, and I simply went to the gym to get out the house, try to ignore everyone, and get those free drugs (endorphins). I just wanted to get to the gym, move, and walk out. I worked hard in there, but I didn’t cry over it at home or tell everyone about my routine (until now…). When I eventually fell in love with the people there, got strong, and then was introduced to CrossFit I became a type B. I wanted to be the best and quickly. I quickly found that I wasn’t the best, and I wasn’t willing to do what it takes to become the best (eat, sleep, train 3 times etc.) So I made excuses for myself and eventually quit CrossFit because of a “niggle” in my knee. 

I won’t bore you with how I got back into it, but it literally was due to a change in my mindset. I adopted a type A mindset towards physically making it to CrossFit, and then a type C mindset to training. And it went from there. 


You can mix and match, but a type C athlete is going to see the gains you’re wanting to see in your life, quickest. And, ultimately, that’s what we want… right?


So… what’s the secret to becoming a type C mindset when you’ve not been conditioned in that way growing up? Condition yourself. In every corner of your life. We get preachers talk about this at church. 


Our emotions tell us that our husbands/boyfriends don’t love us anymore because he doesn’t surprise us with gifts everyday, like Ryan Gosling does. But the TRUTH and LOGIC is, it would be pretty boring if they did, and does that REALLY mean that they love us if they did?


I did Cognitive Behavioural Therapy back during the “Great Depression” of my 20th year on this earth. It was life changing, and I recommend it to ANYONE, mental health issues or not, who wants to be mentally stronger. 



My lame-o explanation of it (sorry any experts I offend) is that we must reason with our brains over everything. Our emotions are altered because of the weather, hormones, or even what we freaking EAT! So why allow all these things to alter our days? I would lie in bed all day because I felt that the earth had let me down in certain ways. CBT helped me by questioning my thoughts. Why has it let me down? I would answer that, and then the next question would be and what has led me to feel that? And then, Is that my fault, or did I have any control over this? And so on. (I used this book, it’ll explain it better than me 


Applying this to your motivation

You turn up because you’re ready to lose fat, boost your metabolism, and get stronger. You need to tell yourself that you’re ready to just give 100% of yourself up

You give the warm up 50% effort because it’s boring and repetitive, and it hurts. But you need to tell yourself that you’re ready to just give 100% of yourself up. 

You cap out at a safe weight on the strength, because you hurt, or you had a bad day, or you need to save yourself for the WOD. But you need to tell yourself that you’re ready to just give 100% of yourself up. 

You feel that as you didn’t really feel the effects of the strength like others did, so you may as well pretty much just give up on the idea of “smashing” the WOD and just write off the session, and do better tomorrow. But you need to tell yourself that you’re ready to just give 100% of yourself up. 

You’re lying on the floor like everyone else post WOD, but you know in your heart of hearts, you completed 10 no-reps, you didn’t go all out, and you could probably do more. But you need to tell yourself that you’re ready to just give 100% of yourself up, so you go and complete some airbike work in open gym.



My point here is that you need to ignore, question and ACTUALLY change your thoughts. 


  • “I need to rest”. No Sara, you don’t, just make it to 10. TURNS TO -  “Pick up the ball”.
  • “I need this chocolate bar to make it to the end of this depressing day”. No Sara, the hormonal response from that sugar will trigger a hyper and then hypo energy level and you’ll feel crapper in an hour. TURNS TO - “I’ll ring my mom and see if I can make her day better”.
  • “I’ll just make it to the end of the WOD, I’m not feeling this today” No Sara, you’ll feel worse for not going all out, work until the last second, harder. TURNS TO - “Throw yourself into that burpee and switch your brain off until you’re finished”.
  • “I’m having a glass of wine, do you want one?” No Sara, that’s not going to help you, or Gary with your training tomorrow, and that’s your goal. TURNS TO - “let’s play Nintendo together”. ;)


If you find yourself asking WHY, then you need to answer yourself with the same thing I mentioned above that Rich Froning says, because I am, because I am, because I am, because I am. And keep going until you’re all out of excuses.


It’s a choice guys, you’re gonna feel like an idiot at first. But this is the secret you could have paid £300 to a life coach to find out. You’re welcome to pay me the £300. 

Practise it in EVERY SINGLE CORNER of your life. Question your emotions. It takes doing something 21 times before its a habit. Stick with it and you’ll find yourself doing it without realising by summer. Please. 


Peace Out, Sar.