RWS CrossFit

1133 N Fountain Way
Anaheim, CA 92806, USA

Quick Guide to Smashy-Smash

smashy smash chartThis handy-dandy chart is a little something I concocted.

While poking my muscles in search of tight spots (I can’t fall asleep if something feels jacked up)
I deduced that there’s a connection between muscle innervation and myofascial pain.

This goes one of three ways.
1- Muscles (and joints) with common innervation can impact one another.

Example: Knots in pec major can send pain to the medial epicondyle of the humerus
(the attachment point of the common flexor tendon of the forearm).
Triceps dysfunction can do the same thing.
All of these muscles share a nerve root (C7).

2- Muscles with attachment points on the axial skeleton (skull/spine/rib cage)
impact muscles with nearby nerve roots.

Example:  The scalene muscles, if overly tight, mess with nerves going down into the
shoulders, chest, and upper back, and can completely destabilize the shoulder girdle.

3- Large muscles that connect the axial skeleton to the limbs (pecs, lats, glutes)
can distribute dysfunction to a very large area of effect.

Example: The glutes connect the sacrum to the pelvis, and the pelvis to the femur.
They are a well-documented culprit for pain in the hip, lower back, and knee.

Chart explanation:

The yellow column shows which muscle groups are innervated by each nerve root.

The blue column shows which muscle groups are active in immediate proximity
to the axial skeleton at each nerve root level.

The green column shows which muscle groups fit in both the blue and yellow columns.
Think Venn diagram.

How to use this chart:
1. Figure out what hurts or is inhibited.
Smash it from a few different angles for several minutes. Retest.
2. If it still hurts, look at the other columns on the same row(s) as the thing that hurts.
Smash them also.
3. Remember to check ALL rows where your pain/stiffness is located.
Also remember to smash THOROUGHLY.
If you don’t actually get the knot out you gotta keep at it until you do.
You might require a massage therapist to do this for you.

If you don’t know where to start, I would suggest the muscles of the chest, abs, or glutes.
Since these are large muscles with lots of leverage, attachment area, and innervation overlap
with other bodily regions, they are likely to be involved in whatever your problem is.

Example 1 – elbow pain: smash arm & forearm near the elbow, then chest & lats;
after that, hit the rhomboids, traps, and spinal erectors.
Example 2 – low back pain: smash glutes, then QL, spinal erectors, psoas, and abs;
after that, hit the hamstrings, quads, adductors, and calf muscles.

What if you follow all the steps and nothing happens – no improvement at all?
Well…something might actually be messed up on you, for realsies.
See a professional – preferably a good physical therapist.
It’s exceedingly rare for it to come down to that, but we have peeps we can send you to.

Good luck and happy smashing!

TL;DR version:

When it’s hot and humid, you may not be able to go as hard in your workouts.
Just stay hydrated and focus on refining your movement skills,
and you’ll still get good benefit from training.

Full version:
So when it’s stupidly hot and/or humid outside,
as it’s been here the past couple of weeks,
are you seriously supposed to train?!


But here’s the thing I’ve learned.
Dry heat is easy – just stay hydrated and you’ll be fine.
Overheating only becomes an issue when you run out of water.

Humid heat, on the other hand, is a problem.
Your body can’t cool itself off effectively because sweat doesn’t evaporate.
Heart rate skyrockets far more than normal as your body
desperately tries to get blood to the skin’s surface, and
you can forget PR’s on anything longer than about 5 minutes.

But you can’t just NOT train longer time domains, or skip training altogether.
Fitness backslides, you get into a rut, and then you have inertia to overcome.

Here’s what I suggest.

While heat is terrible for “cardio,” it’s fantastic for strength and power work.
Warming up is near-instantaneous, staying loose is a breeze,
and overheating is much less of an issue by default.
This means it’s easier to hit a PR on your lifts.

So hit your lifts hard, staying hydrated the whole time.

When it’s time to do conditioning work, just do what you can.
Make special efforts to stay extra-hydrated, and don’t be afraid to
take more breaks than normal while your body attempts to regulate temperature.
You may not get the same “intensity” fix, but it’s just TRAINING.

Focus on movement refinement, and making each rep perfect.

If you have to TEST longer workouts in the heat…good luck.
Drink plenty of water ahead of time, and have extra on hand
to pour on yourself during the workout.

Happy training!



The picture may not look like much, but I’m not one for presentation.

We’re in the middle of our Summer Shred nutritional challenge here at RWS,
and there was only one problem with that…

Pizza tastes fucking amazing.
But it’s absolutely awful for you, generally speaking.
Full-fat cheese, fatty pork-centric meats, and a thick bready crust?
You’re looking at a LOT of fat and carbs, and not enough protein to justify either.

So what do you do when you get a craving for that wonderful savory
Italian import cuisine, and you’re watching your macros?

You do it yourself.

Here’s a breakdown of our first experiment with “Meatza.”
I’ll include our planned modifications for next time at the end.

Prep time: *shrug*
Cook time: *shrug*
Total time: about an hour

1. Mix 3# ground turkey (90% lean), 3 eggs, and Italian seasonings.
This is the crust.
Bake at 450F on a baking sheet, 15 min or so.
It will leak – make sure the sheet has a lip around it or your oven is gonna get messy.
While this is baking, cook up a pound of bacon and 1.25# of turkey Italian sausage.
Chop up the meats (when they’re cooked), and some fresh basil.

2: Dump a whole jar o’ pizza sauce on the crust.
Layer on the bacon, sausage, and basil, along with 3 oz. of turkey pepperoni.

3: Create your cheese blanket.
We used 12 oz. part-skim mozzarella and 3 oz. Parmesan.

4: Add your flavor plants.
I hate vegetables on pizza, but red pepper and pineapple are awesome.
Cut 1 red bell pepper into strips, and pile it on top of the meatza with a can of pineapple chunks.

Broil until cheese is slightly brown, and bubbly.

Final macros (approximate): 310g fat, 50g carbs, 510g protein
Final weight: 6-7 pounds.
This made a total of four meals.

Changes for next time:
-scale it down a bit, basically – 2# of turkey for the crust instead of 3
-nix the sausage and add fennel seed to the crust
-sautee up some garlic, add to cheese blanket
-divide the sauce into two layers – one just above the crust and one just below the cheese
-estimated macros: 220g fat, 50g carbs, 340g protein

Yes, this is a little high in fat blah blah blah…
look, it’s WAY healthier than regular pizza.
And it tastes pretty damn good.



I have refined my meal-prep practices somewhat since I first posted my curry recipe a year ago.

This is partly because I’m not single anymore and therefore have a reason to minimize time spent cooking,
and also because (as mentioned many times before) I am at my core a very lazy human being.
I don’t think this is a negative trait, by the way – after all, it was an evolutionary advantage when
humans had to worry about starving to death – I just get shit done as efficiently as possible.

Also, this recipe just tastes better.

So! Here’s how I make Thai curry these days.

– crock-pot
– non-stick skillet
– rubberized spatula
– …can opener?

– 2.5 pounds of chicken breasts & thighs
– 1/2 small jar of curry paste (red or green)
– 1 can coconut milk (regular)
– 1 cup frozen peas
– 1 cup frozen spinach
– 1 cup frozen bell pepper strips
– 2 cups baby carrots
– 1 cup uncooked white rice (optional, IIFYM)

0. Crock-pot the chicken ahead of time.
1. Throw said chicken into skillet. Cut into chunks using spatula.
2. Add curry paste, toss chicken until relatively evenly coated.
3. Add coconut milk and stir.
4. Add carrots and spinach and stir.
5. Once everything has mixed together somewhat, add peas and bell pepper strips.
6. Cover and simmer until veggies are all cooked.

This makes 5 days’ worth of lunches for me.
I don’t know the macros, but it’s somewhere around 25g fat, 15g carb, and 50g protein.
If you need extra carbs, cook up the white rice and add it in – that gives you an extra 30g carb per meal.


Our name is our goal: Real World Strength.

We want you to build strength and fitness in a way that directly benefits your life.

Since long-term consistency is the single most important factor in fitness success,
we want to make sure our approach to training supports that.

Some people get the idea that fitness means all-in, balls-to-the-wall every day,
no rest, no breaks, and perfect eating all the time.
Maybe they see professional athletes do this and think
“I want to be like ______, I need to do what they’re doing!”

I mean, the logic is sound, right?

People who train and eat like monks all the time are one of two groups:

1- People with a LOT to lose
-getting paid lots of money to be in the best shape possible (professional athletes, movie stars)
-people who have extreme adverse physical reactions to alcohol or junk food (alcohol allergy, Celiac, Crohn’s, autoimmune disorders)

2- People who will burn out FAST, fall off completely, and soon find themselves
right back where they started if not worse

Since you’re probably more likely to be in group 2 than group 1…
Here’s what we advocate.

  • It starts in Fundamentals.
    This is where we get you in the habit of coming to the gym, doing legit work, and not making excuses.
    We’ll also give you movement and mobility tips, recipe ideas, and get you thinking about food as more than just “stuff you put in your mouth that tastes good.”
  • Once you graduate Fundamentals you can transition to group classes.
    As a graduate you’ll have a solid understanding of whatever we might throw at you so you won’t feel “lost.”
    Plus you’ll already have met many of your new training partners, so you don’t have to worry
    about doing something new with a bunch of people you don’t know.
    Quite the contrary – you’ll be refining your movement skills alongside buddies!
  • We want you to come into the gym at least three times per week – most people see the best results that way.
    On other days, do active things OUTside the gym.
    Go out in nature, play with the family, try out new activities or sports, and go on adventures!
    This helps you see the REAL WORLD STRENGTH you’re developing at RWS!

So here’s our code for long-term fitness:

  • Come in the gym and train 3+ times per week
  • Eat clean MOST of the time but loosen up and enjoy yourself 1-2 meals per week
  • Go out in nature and/or play a sport once a week
  • Go on an adventure at least once a year

This will ensure that you’re motivated and ready to kick ass year-round for many years to come!

I still can’t believe how few CrossFit gyms are doing this.

It’s kind of appalling.

I’m referring to one of the main variables involved in any strength-training prescription.

First you have sets, reps, and load.
These are the things that get all the love –
the variables that determine how much total work you’re doing.

But nobody (well, outside of OPEX gyms it seems) thinks of…

It’s so fucking basic it makes me want to shake people by the shoulders.

Why, oh why, do you NOT think to control how each rep is executed?

(I’m also speaking to my younger self – before about two years ago,
I had only a feeling this was important but it didn’t occur to me as to how.)

But this is 2016, people.
That margin for error we used to have, in terms of programming?
It’s gone now.

You need to dial in HOW they do things if you expect them to get the
best possible results.

I will make a few points toward this.

  1. Accuracy:
    This is one of the ten general skills of fitness.
    I consider it akin to “consistency” in terms of movement,
    and helps ensure that progress is built on a solid foundation.
    Every single rep executed exactly the same develops a high degree of mastery.
    This means breathing, bracing, movement speed, all that jazz.
    Plus once you’ve established control at a slow tempo,
    it’s EASY to speed it up – the tension stays the same,
    but the effect of the stretch-shortening cycle (if present) is amplified.
  2. Strength through the entire range of motion:
    Each movement has its own resistance curve, so to speak.
    Take the squat, for instance: You’re generally going to be
    strongest at the top, where you have the most mechanical advantage;
    you’ll be weakest either just above the bottom or about halfway up,
    since that’s where you’ll be at the greatest mechanical disadvantage.
    Going slow on the way down ensures that you’ve developed control
    through the hardest parts of the movement –
    this means better muscle activation and core stability.
    If you just squat “however,” you’ll bounce the shit out of the bottom
    to “cheat” your way through the hard part.
    Which leads me to…
  3. Structural integrity:
    Once you start bouncing the end ranges of the movement,
    rather than use a controlled stretch-shortening cycle,
    you’re relying on the elasticity of your connective tissues
    instead of the actual strength of your muscles.
    When you’re young and you heal quickly, and your tissues’
    collagen content hasn’t completely gone down the shitter,
    you might be able to get away with this.
    But when you’re 50 and things don’t “bounce back” the way they used to,
    how do you s’pose your knees will feel from all that cumulative microtrauma?
    If you guessed “not that great,” pat yourself on the back.
    Not only that, you’re getting more strength stimulus from less weight –
    this means happier joints.
    On that note…
  4. Increased training effect:
    This comes from being acclimated to increased time under tension.
    I discovered this once I started doing all my squats with a 30X1 tempo –
    three-second controlled negative, no pause, stand up as fast as possible,
    exactly one breath at the top before initiating the next rep.
    With sets of 10, you’re forced to figure out how to breathe while moving under load.
    Also with strict press at a 21X1 tempo – controlling the negative at a steady cadence,
    with one-breath pauses at the top & bottom – for high-rep sets dramatically
    improved the fatigue resistance of my shoulders and arms (a big weakness of mine,
    especially since my wingspan is 5 inches taller than my height).
    You think those things might be useful in Fran?
    That’s how my mediocre-athlete-ass broke three minutes, after seven friggin’ years.
    So in a word, doing all strength work with a controlled negative –
    maybe not SUPER-slow like a bodybuilder, but slower than you’d normally go –
    and a fast concentric, helps you build strength in a way that has TREMENDOUS
    carry-over to other activities (like CrossFit WOD’s).
    Not only are you building maximal strength through the movement’s entire ROM
    and at increased time under tension…which means more muscle mass…
    But at higher reps you’re developing positional strength endurance,
    under fatigue, in a controlled setting, WITHOUT the pressure of “3-2-1 GO!!” and a racing clock.

It’s a one-way street – the benefits of training with slower negatives improve your ability
to lift quickly (by virtue of positional stability at each point in the movement
improving your ability to generate maximal tension),
but if you never slow down the negative you have NO control over it when you’re forced to.

Am I saying that you should implement slow negatives in WOD’s?
I suppose you can, but I wouldn’t recommend it for “Nancy” or anything.
Although I have used it for assistance-work-type WOD’s with good success.
But no, this is primarily for skill-based strength development work.

And if you’re an Olympic weightlifter where that “bounce” out of the bottom of the squat
is a necessary part of the lift to perfect, you do need to practice that.
But I would submit that at least during a “hypertrophy” block of training
(assuming you’re following a periodized weightlifting program),
your squatting and pressing movements should include slower negatives.

Anyway. That’s the end of my rant.
Go try squatting with a controlled three-second negative with just 75% of your max.
If you’re not used to it, it will absolutely humble you.

In the past, I’ve gone on record saying that you NEED heavy strength work to be a successful CrossFitter.

I still do think that.

But I’ve come to understand that there’s more nuance to it than just “lift heavy thing get strong oogabooga.”

When you look at the musculoskeletal implications of workouts, there are three main types:

  1. Heavy workouts – emphasis on work over 80% 1RM – low rep (<20 total)
  2. Light workouts – emphasis on work under 50% 1RM – high rep (>50 total)
  3. Medium workouts – emphasis on work at 50-75% 1RM – moderate rep (20-50 total)

If you really want to, you can smash all three types of workout into a single training session…
but I wouldn’t recommend it, at least not at high dosage for all three. You’d be pretty wrecked.

Here’s what each workout type does.
[Note: I’m assuming you’re focusing on one of the three – not like “okay I did one rep at 90%,
then five at 75%, and ten at 50%! I did a super awesome workout!”
No you didn’t. You did three mini-workouts and didn’t really achieve anything.]

Heavy workouts:

  • example: 5 sets of 2-4 reps, all >80%
  • high tension on muscle attachments, tendons, fascial tissue
  • high CNS activation – facilitates neurological improvements in strength
  • main damage: connective tissue
  • frequency: once every 72+ hours if multiple reps >90% 1RM
  • strength training effect: high
  • endurance training effect: low
  • hypertrophic response: myofibrillar (muscle strength; “dense”)

Light workouts:

  • example: 75 reps for time, using 30% 1RM
  • high repetition – helps to thicken tendons & connective tissue
  • main damage: metabolic (decreased blood pH, accumulated waste products)
  • causes inflammatory response – breaks up scar tissue, promotes healing
  • frequency: up to every day if volume and work density are low enough
  • strength training effect: low
  • endurance training effect: high
  • hypertrophic response: sarcoplasmic (muscle endurance; pure “size”)

Medium workouts:

  • example: 4 sets of 8-12 reps, all >60% 1RM
  • moderate repetition – highest volume
  • main damage: muscle fibers through repeated eccentric loading
  • frequency: every 48-96 hours, depending on volume
  • strength training effect: moderate
  • endurance training effect: moderate
  • hypertrophic response: both sarcoplasmic and hypertrophic

So how do we put all this together?

I will borrow from the late great Bill Starr and propose an adaptation of his “heavy-light-medium” model.
We need each type of workout for different reasons, and putting them in the correct order
will maximize the gains we can achieve.

We need the heavy workouts for max strength.
Light workouts help the connective tissues regenerate after being beaten to hell.
The medium workouts build the most total muscle, and prep the nervous system
for the loading of the heavy workouts.
We want more muscle, since a bigger muscle has more strength potential.

For example, using the squat…

  • Monday: Build to 3RM, 5 sets >80% 1RM; max unbroken reps @ 80% 1RM
  • Tuesday: 5 rounds – 10 front squat (40% 1RM), 10 C2B pull-ups
  • Wednesday: Snatch – build to heavy double; “Amanda” (9-7-5: muscle-ups, SN 135#)
  • Thursday: active recovery – rowing, wall-ball practice at easy pace
  • Friday: Build to 10RM, 3 sets >60% 1RM; max unbroken reps @ 60% 1RM
  • Saturday: Clean & jerk – build to max 3-position; “Helen” (3 rounds: 400m run, 21 KBS 53#, 12 pull-ups)
  • Sunday: active recovery

Here we have Monday as the “heavy” day,
Tuesday is a very light day followed by another “light” day on Wednesday,
Friday is our “medium” day, and Saturday is a light-medium day.

This is obviously omitting any heavy upper-body work,
which could also follow a heavy-light-medium pattern offset to complement the squat.

Anyway, to answer the question posed by the title of this article:
Can you, in fact, get stronger with light met-cons?

No. Not by themselves, anyway.
You need them to HELP you stay healthy and in-shape as you get stronger.

I’ll describe a situation I’ve been in a few times, that maybe you can relate to.

Imagine: You’ve been invited to a party, gala event, or other non-barbecue social function…
and regular (read: non-lifter) folks comprise the majority of attendees.

Two thoughts go through your mind:
1. There won’t be nearly enough meat there.
2. Etiquette dictates that I bring something to contribute,
lest I devour all the meat like a rampaging locust swarm.

We can address both of those problems with one easy recipe.

Cook time: 20-30 min


  • Pulled-pork-in-a-can (thanks, Costco!) – 3 pounds
    -or- …y’know, actual pulled pork (slow-cooked pork shoulder)
  • Dry rub seasoning of choice – enough to coat the pork
  • Mini sweet peppers – 4 pounds
  • Guacamole – 2 pounds

Dump cans-o’-pork into a large skillet coated with bacon grease (or butter).
Coat the pork with dry rub and stir-fry until crispy.
While the pork is cooking, rinse the sweet peppers and cut the tops off.
Pull the seeds out.

There are three ways to present this:

  1. When the pork is done, stuff the peppers with it.
    Arrange them all on a platter. Add a tablespoon of guac to each just before serving.
    This would be necessary for cocktail hors d’ouevres.
  2. Leave all three entities separate in their own bowls.
    Let each person self-serve and eat as they see fit.This is my preference, since I’m lazy and hate bothering with food presentation,
    and also because there’s less opportunity for things to get fucked up.
    This would be ideal for buffet-style.
  3. Stuff the peppers, but leave the guac separate for people to self-serve.
    I…don’t know why you’d want to do this.

Another option could be to have barbecue sauce as a side condiment.
Any kind will do, but I’d recommend a sweet mustard-based Carolina-style sauce.
Put that on the pork before the guac, or perhaps cook the pork with it if you like.

Anyway! You end up with a simple, delicious appetizer that can double as a meal in a pinch.
Because who doesn’t like sweet peppers, guac, and pulled pork, right?

What I’m about to detail pulls double duty as both a great steak marinade
AND as the most amazing salad dressing I’ve ever consumed.

I like to use it for both at once. You don’t have to.
But you should.


  • 1/2 bottle of red wine
  • 3 tbsp Dijon mustard (“pardon me sir, but do you have any Grey Poupon?”)
  • 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp rosemary (fresh or dried is fine)
  • 1 tsp black pepper (freshly ground)
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)

Combine all those in a bowl, then dump into a gallon-sized Ziploc bag along with your steaks.

Marinate for 30-60 minutes.

Pan-fry your steaks with the extra marinade.
When the steaks are done (blood starts seeping through the surface after flipped),
continue cooking down the marinade until you get a viscous reduction.
You should have about 1/2 cup or so when it’s done cooking down.
Be sure to caramelize some of the marinade on the steaks – trust me.


  • 1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds

Combine those in a bowl, then add your reduction from the steak pan and stir.
Chill in the freezer for a few minutes, then stir and toss in the salad.


  • All quantities are approximate – I just eyeball stuff.
  • For salad dressing only, do every step that doesn’t involve meat.
    It tastes better with a little beef fat cooked into it though.
  • If you grill your steaks, use a sauce pan to reduce the marinade.
    Again, it won’t be QUITE as mind-blowingly amazing, but still good.
  • Be advised, the marinade will die the steaks a purplish color.
    This makes it a little tricky to gauge when they’re ready to flip.
    Luckily, you’ll have a big margin for error – if you end up flipping them
    back and forth a few times until you see that blood start to seep through
    (indicating you’re right at medium-rare), they’ll be fine.
  • You can probably use this as a chicken marinade as well, but…
    why would you want to NOT eat steak?

If you had to describe these to a foodie, you could call them a
“red wine/Dijon marinade” and “red wine vinaigrette.”

I just call it RDS – Ridiculously Delicious Sauce.

Enjoy. I sure do.

It’s Open season again…

So let me get something straight.

If you can do the following list of movements,
you should sign up for the Open:

  • overhead squat 65#/45#
  • unassisted pull-up (kipping)
  • barbell thruster 65#/45#
  • power clean 115#/75#

Those are the entry requirements for the “Scaled” division,
based on last year’s workouts at that level.
Any well-rounded CrossFitter past the novice stage can do all of those.
For Rx’d division, the list is a bit tougher (and kipping is allowed):

  • muscle-up
  • chest-to-bar pull-up
  • barbell thruster 95#/65#
  • power clean 185#/115#
  • overhead squat 120#/85#
  • double under
  • squat clean & jerk 165#/110#
  • snatch 115#/75#
  • handstand push-up
  • box jump 24”/20”
  • toes to bar

This is based on previous years’ Open WOD’s.

If some of those are out of reach it’s okay –
that’s why the Scaled division exists.

So now that we have that out of the way…

Reasons why someone would be reluctant to jump in:

1- Can’t do one or more of the movements on the “Scaled” list

(The pull-up is probably the most common limiter.)
I would still suggest doing the Open and plowing through what you can.

It will show you what you’re good at – and not so good at –
compared to your peers worldwide.
And chances are it will light a fire under you to fix your weaknesses.

2- You aren’t a competitive person

Yeah…I used to think I wasn’t competitive either.
Turns out I’m HIGHLY competitive…just cool-headed about it.
You might learn something similar about yourself.

And regardless of any competitive aspect, the Open is still a
valuable assessment tool to evaluate your progress.


3- You’re afraid of embarrassing yourself with low scores

Sack up.
Do your best and you have everything to be proud of.

There’s no better feeling after a workout than looking back
and knowing you gave it everything you had.

While high scores earn you props,
low scores do not merit disrespect from anyone.
All we care is that you tried.
Besides, you can’t win if you don’t play.

4- You can’t do any of the movements for the scaled workouts

This concern is actually legit.
At least get the basics down before throwing your hat in the ring.


Look, the Open is not like a regular competition.
If you can’t string together chest-to-bars,
squat snatch 150/100+, or run a mile under 8 minutes,
I’m not going to advise you to enter a normal comp.

But this is different – this caters specifically to
beginners AND elite exercisers, on a large enough scale
for anyone to figure out their peer group
and strive to beat them wherever they can.

I’m doing the Open.

Who’s with me?