Blog Archive

Author Archive: Neal Thompson
Page 18

Are You Training OR Are You Just Working Out?

This is much debated on internet forums and in gyms everywhere. I believe that you need to be tracking your workouts (not all of them, I will explain later) or you are just working out and not doing everything you can to create the change you are seeking.

When you wake up and read the WOD posted for that day, 99% of the time you should know exactly what you are going to go for that day, what you did last time, how you are going to improve this time, etc.

There are many ways that you can track your workouts. There are many apps available on smartphones, an old composition book, OR you can use our ZenPlanner Workout Tracker. Lets look at a few of those options.

Smartphone Apps

Apps like SugarWOD and Beyond the Whiteboard are great in that you can upload your workouts into them (customizing as needed) and track your training. The big downside with these is that there is no comparison to our community and our gym’s programming will not already be uploaded.

Composition Books

This old school method is a great way to keep track of everything that you are doing. The downside is the labor required to transfer your personal records from journal to journal each time you fill the journal. I used to use this method extensively, I still have some journals from when I was in high school and college. With books you still have the issue of not having a gym leaderboard and community.

ZenPlanner Performance Tracking

With our ZenPlanner Performance Tracking (ZP PT) the daily programming is already uploaded for you and there is a “Daily” leaderboard and “All-Time” Leaderboard as well. The ZP PT is mobile friendly. The first time that you open this link on your smartphone it will ask you to save it to your Home Screen. Go ahead and do this and now you can: reserve and log in for classes, view the class calendar, enter your results, and view and manage your profile.

If you don’t have a smartphone, you may use the tablets we have at the gym to log in as well or just click on your icon where you signed in for class and record your results there. If you prefer to head home and do it there, then you can of course just follow the link on your laptop or desktop.

Screenshot of the ZP PT.

Screenshot of the ZP PT.

What Should You Be Tracking?

This depends on what you are looking to accomplish. I like to track the following: weight, strength and conditioning benchmarks, food when eating something out of the norm, and the daily WODS. I could track rest and mobility as well but I choose not to as it doesn’t really vary for me. I know my routines and only when completely out of them do I write it down.

I track my weight because it is a goal of mine to lean out and achieve a certain weight, therefore I do this every day. If you are working towards something very specific, you need to track it daily. Not to the point of obsessive but just to be aware of it.

The benchmarks are obviously how I know if my fitness is progressing, maintaining, or slipping. Benchmarks are ESSENTIAL to be tracked. You need to know either your 1,3, or 5 rep maxes in all of the lifts and you should know your personal bests in the girl/hero WODS.

I like to record my daily results whether a benchmark or not because it keeps me in the habit of recording and I will put more comments in regarding my strategy or areas that struggled with so I know what to do if something similar pops up.

As a minimum, you should be tracking your benchmarks. This will make things easier and keep your head in the game. For some, this will be enough. Those that struggle with eating well, daily journaling of what you eat, when you eat it, how you feel after eating it will go a long way to correcting poor eating habits. I use this quite extensively with my clients. Then there are those like myself that need to track something daily to stay in the habit of doing so.




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It is the last Fire It Up Friday of March and this incessant rain is melting away remnants of what was the WORST winter in my memories. For that I am grateful!

Today we have a classic Girl WOD with “Diane” in classes. 45 reps of 225# deadlifts and handstand push-ups! Here is a little strategy on how to approach this wonderful little gem. The deadlift load is a light/moderate weight. Choose the correct weight for this if 225# is on the heavier side, or you will miss the training effect. The reps should be able to be completed unbroken or one break within the sets. If you are dropping the bar each time from waist height, you have too much loaded. Keep a steady pace so that you can actually breathe. (Think breathing similar to what we teach when performing wallballs).

The Handstand push-ups are going to be where you will struggle unless you can perform 21 unbroken handstand push-ups. You want to have a plan going in as to how many clusters you will need to break the volume into. For example, if you 10 reps of HSPU are the most you have ever completed unbroken, then you should aim for 6/5/4/3/2 to complete the set of 21. You will probably need to reduce that down on the set of 15 to something like 4/3/3/3/2 and finally the set of 9 to 3/3/3. The most important thing is to not go to failure on any particular cluster. The primary muscle groups of the HSPU are small and when they are depleted well…

Good luck and FIRE IT UP!


Beginning next week, on Mondays and Thursdays the Strength Club will be rolled into the 4:30pm class. Attendees should be prepared for 75-90 minutes of training as opposed to the normal 60 minutes.

Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays will continue to be CrossFit classes.


Saturday 032815

“OPT Repeatability Test”

3 rounds, at 100% effort:

Row 250m
10 Kettlebell Swings 70/53lbs
10 Burpees
10 Kettlebell Swings 70/53lbs
10 Burpees
10 Kettlebell Swings 70/53lbs
Row 250m

Rest 12 minutes between rounds.

Sunday 032915

Complete three rounds for time of:
40/30 pound Dumbbell snatch, 21 reps, right arm
21 L Pull-ups
40/30 pound Dumbbell snatch, 21 reps, left arm
21 L Pull-ups

Post time to comments.

These are squat not power snatches.

Monday 033015

Front squat 3-3-3-3-3 reps

Post loads to comments.

Tuesday 033115


Max calories in 10 minutes on the Airdyne or on the erg.

Wednesday 040115
Test: Max Strict Pull-ups

Test: Max Kipping Pull-ups

Conditioning: 5 RFT
15 Unbroken Wallball Shots, 20/14
15 Unbroken Double Unders

Thursday 040215
Strength/Skill: Ring Dips 5-5-5-5-5

Conditioning: Complete 3 rounds for max distance
Row 4 minutes

rest 3 minutes between sets

Friday 040315
Conditioning: AMRAP 20

1 Rope Climb
then perform 3 rounds of:
5 Power Snatch, 75/55
7 OH Squats, 75/55
9 Burpees

Saturday 040415
Strength/Skill: Strict Pull-up Ladder
4 sets building up to 6 reps (work in groups of 3-5 people resting only as your squad performs their reps)

Strength/Skill: Push-up Ladder
4 sets beginning with 5 reps building up to 10 reps (work in groups of 3-5 people resting only as your squad performs their reps)

Conditioning: Tabata Squats

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20 Mar 2015

Fire It Up Friday! 032015

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It has been a great week of training in the gym. Nice to see some faces that have been away this winter getting after it. Mother Nature is still playing some games with us with the weather variability. She’ll settle down soon. I hope.

Fire It Up! Fire It Up!

The PR Bell was ringing this week. Nothing gets me more pumped than when I have an entire class hitting new lifetime personal bests in a lift. It is truly electric. Each person just starts feeding off of the other’s previous attempt and by the end of the session, everyone is moving weight that they never thought they would be able to move.

5:30pm Class all rocked out Lifetime PR's last night.

5:30pm Class all rocked out Lifetime PR’s last night.

Meet Justine A!

Please welcome Justine to Our Crew! Justine is in the picture above on the far left. She has been training with me privately since December and just recently began training in our group sessions. She is awesome!

When Justine is not training with us here, she is a Wushu practitioner. Wushu is a form of Kung fu that has developed into a sport and is regulated by the International Wushu Federation. There are two disciplines: forms and sparring. Justine participates in forms. Think rhythmic gymnastics with Kung Fu Panda kicks and swords. AWESOME RIGHT! Justine is training with us to continue advancing in her sport.

Justine is also a Foodie. Audrey, you and her need to get together. You will usually see Justine in our 5:30pm class and be sure to introduce yourself to her and welcome her to Our Crew.

St. Patrick’s Day

Thanks to those that rocked out in great spirit for St. Paddy’s Day on Tuesday. The winner of the $15 Starbucks card is…Audrey H! Audrey was decked out head to toe in green with shamrock headband. Congratulations Audrey! (Her pic can be found on Instagram, I have yet to figure out how to save an image from there!)

SFH – This Saturday Get Some Deals and Save Some $$$$

Will from Stronger Faster Healthier is going to be visiting with us again on Saturday from 9-12. He is going to have a table set up for all to sample products. If you have never used any of SFH’s protein or fish oil, this will be your chance to try before making any purchases.

I personally LOVE the FUEL. FUEL is their anytime, everyday protein and I mix it with some frozen berries, greek yogurt, chia seeds in my blender to make a delicious smoothie.

Any purchases or orders placed this Saturday ONLY, you will receive 10% off your purchase.


Here is this upcoming week’s programming:

SATURDAY 3/21/15
For time:
21 Handstand push-ups
500 meter Row
21 Weighted pull-ups
15 Handstand push-ups
500 meter Row
15 Weighted Pull-ups
9 Handstand Push-ups
500 meter Row
9 Weighted Pull-ups

SUNDAY 3/22/15
In teams of two, complete as many rounds as possible in thirty minutes of:
25 Burpees
Average body weight back squat, 15 reps
One partner working at a time.

MONDAY 3/23/15
15 Burpees
15 Power Snatch

TUESDAY 3/24/15
Shoulder press 1-1-1-1-1 reps
Push press 3-3-3-3-3 reps
Push Jerk 5-5-5-5-5 reps

15 calorie row
15 deadlifts 135/95
15 wall balls

THURSDAY 3/26/15
Complete as many rounds as possible 20 minutes of:
15 Double-unders
15 GHD Sit-ups
15 Back extensions

Post rounds completed to comments.

FRIDAY 3/27/15
21-15-9 reps for time:
Deadlift 225 lbs
Handstand push- ups

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13 Mar 2015

What’s Under The Kilt?

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St. Patrick’s Day is next Tuesday and we are going to have a little fun with it. Let’s get in the spirit of the holiday that this city so enjoys! We are running two different mini contests. One of which is very simple and every one can easily participate. The second…requires a bit more on your part and the reward, in my humble opinion, is far more valuable.

Here are the details:

Contest #1: Wear your favorite green workout outfit during your WOD on Tuesday. Make sure that your Coach takes a picture with you (in the group) and posts it to our social media sites: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram with the #whatsunderthekilt.

Each participant will be entered to win a $15 Starbucks Coffee Card. BONUS: If you wear a green VINTAGE CrossFit Boston T-shirt, your name will entered twice to win the $15 Starbucks Coffee Card and double your chances of being chosen.

Contest #2: Wear a Kilt OR any Tartan/Plaid design (SHORTS/SKIRTS/PANTS/KILTS ONLY – SOCKS DON’T COUNT) during your WOD on Tuesday. Make sure that your Coach takes a picture with you (individually) and posts it to our social media sites: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You then need to share it with your friends and family along with the #whatsunderthekilt. Tweet and post to @crossfitboston along with the #whatsunderthekilt.

The person with the greatest amount of likes/shares/retweets will win – 3 Personal Training Sessions with yours truly.

So, lets have some fun with this and I will have some Guiness on sight to enjoy post WOD.


cartoon courtesy of Cagle Cartoons.

cartoon courtesy of Cagle Cartoons.


SATURDAY 3/14/15

Five rounds for time of:
115/75 pound Push-jerk, 15 reps
15 L pull-ups

SUNDAY 3/15/15

Teams of two, one partner working at a time. Partition work as needed.

“Partner Eva in a Boat”
Five rounds for time of:
Row 1000 meters
2/1.5 pood Kettlebell swing, 30 reps
30 Pull-ups

MONDAY 3/16/15


For time:
100 Pull-ups
100 Push-ups
100 Sit-ups
100 Squats

TUESDAY 3/17/15


Three rounds, 9-15- and 21 reps, for time of:
95/65 pound Thruster


“Backwards Elizabeth”

9-15-21 reps of:
Ring dips
Clean 135/95 pounds

THURSDAY 3/19/15

1. Deadlift 1-1-1-1-1-1-1 reps

2. AMRAP 8
8 total pistols
8 deadlifts at 50% of day’s heaviest

FRIDAY 3/20/15


5 DB Cleans, AHAP
10 DB Push Press
15 DB Squats

09 Mar 2015

Attack Your Weaknesses

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We are a performance facility, right? In our ongoing attempt to develop our best version of ourselves it is necessary to do the things we don’t want to do.

Take today’s WOD for example. At first glance, it is easy to say, “Oh row 5000m! I am going to skip it b/c…” You can put in whatever reason you like. I would venture to guess that whatever reason you place in that sentence. That is the EXACT reason you do need to be here on this day.

I was happy to hit this workout under the instruction of Coach Mickey. He did a great job of prepping us in the drilling the movements and then getting our bodies and mind prepared for the task.

I grew up a power athlete. My sports were wrestling and football. Short bouts of intense work followed by rest. More so in football than wrestling but you get the point. Training sessions like today are what I have been focusing on to improve my overall fitness. 

I hope next time you wake up and see that WOD and remark that you are going to skip the workout because of X, Y, Z…don’t! Come in and get better.

5000m row Baby!

5000m row Baby!

06 Mar 2015

It’s Time to Say Goodbye

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It’s time to say goodbye to the excuses of why you can’t achieve more.
It’s time to say goodbye to those “friends” that hold you down.
It’s time to say goodbye to the habits that contribute to you being a lesser you.

Train. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.

It’s not complicated, but it’s not easy either. A while back I posted an article about discipline. Discipline is doing the right things daily. It’s doing the common uncommonly well. It’s not very sexy. 

I am not suggesting your life should consist solely of waking up, coming to CFB, going to work, eating, and then home to bed. That would be a boring life indeed and we all have commitments. What I am suggesting is leading a life that is more minimal. Discard the excess or trim the fat of what gets in the way of you becoming a better version of you.

Dedicated to YOUR Fitness!

Evan, Shannon, and Tom rocked out to a new 1RM PR in the Clean.

Evan, Shannon, and Tom rocked out to a new 1RM PR in the Clean.

CrossFit Games Open 15.2

Tonight at 6:30pm is week 2 of the CF Games Open workouts. All are invited to come and participate or watch. If you are participating please plan to arrive no later than 5:45 to begin prepping for a 6:30pm start.

Some have asked why we are only running the Open workouts during one class and not in the regular programming. The reason is that many of our members are uninitiated during the Open and we want to provide as great of an environment for those that are initiated to compete in. The weekly 6:30pm slot on Fridays is the stage to shine on and have it be more of an event rather than just another class.

Week 2 March Programming

Here is the next week of programming. See you in class!


Complete as many rounds in 20 minutes as you can of:

75/55 pound Power snatch, 12 reps

10 Push-ups

SUNDAY 3/8/15

“Partner Filthy Fifty”

For time, partition any way, partners must use same weights/boxes:

50 Box jump, 24/20 inch box

50 Jumping pull-ups

50 OH kettlebell swings, 1.5/1 pood

Walking Lunge, 50 steps

50 Knees to elbows

50 Push press, 45 pounds

50 Back extensions

50 Wall ball shots, 20 pound ball

50 Burpees

50 Double unders

MONDAY 3/9/15

Row 5000 K

TUESDAY 3/10/15


Complete as many rounds in 20 minutes as you can of:

5 Handstand Push-ups

10 One legged squats, alternating

15 Pull-ups


For time:
Squat cleans 135/95

THURSDAY 3/12/15

1. For time: 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1


75/55 Shoulder to overhead

2. Clean and Jerk 1-1-1-1-1-1-1 reps

FRIDAY 3/13/15

1. Shoulder Press: Work up to a heavy set of five

2. Five rounds for time of:

15 Unbroken Wall Ball Shots

15 GHD sit-ups

SATURDAY 3/14/15

Five rounds for time of:

115/75 pound Push-jerk, 15 reps

15 L pull-ups

02 Mar 2015

030215 – Monday Motivation

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Yes, there was more snow today! Yes, winter sucks! Yes, WE ARE OPEN!

To say that this has been a trying beginning to the new year is and understatement. I understand how hard it has been to get around. To keep your schedule. It can feel at times as though it is spiraling out of control. 

The sun was awesomely warm this past Saturday. Some of the mountains of snow have begun to melt down. It is getting brighter, earlier and darker, later. Now is the time to blast through the winter doldrums. Get in and train!

Some food for thought.

“You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it master you.” – Brian Tracy

Today’s Workout

Five rounds for time of:
115/75 pound Snatch, 3 reps
115/75 pound Overhead squat, 15 reps
Row 500 meters

Fire It Up! Fire It Up! This week felt as though I was in the gym for the first time in quite awhile. With Abigail first getting pneumonia and then the 3 consecutive weeks of storms and no school, Jess and I had to really juggle our schedules. For those of you that have missed me, I am happy to let you know that I am back and will be on the coaching schedule more frequently. 

Beginning today here are the classes that I will be instructing:

Tuesdays – 5:30pm
Wednesdays – 6am & 7am
Thursdays – 5:30pm
Fridays – 6am & 7am

 An Open Letter to the Gym

Dear “Regular” CFB Member,

We are sorry.  

We are sorry that for the next 5 weeks when a large number of people at the gym are going to be obsessing over this thing called the “CrossFit Open”.

For the uninitiated, ‘The Open’ is an annual event where people sign up to see how they rank against thousands of their peers.  To level the playing field as much as possible nobody knows what the workouts are ahead of time and  everyone’s reps are judged and counted using very specific standards.  

The workouts are announced on Thursday nights, and scores must be submitted online by Monday afternoon.  As a gym, we will be posting the workout as the gym’s 6:30PM WOD on Fridays.  But this minor change isn’t the main reason why we are apologizing.

For most who do the Open, it is a chance to set a baseline performance or to compare your progress from year to year.  It is also a great way dip your toe in the water from a competition standpoint. 

Doing the Open at your ‘home’ gym surrounded by supportive friends and coaches is a fun and instructive way to expose yourself to this side of CrossFit. Some people run 5ks or do bike races, for many people at our gym, this will be their ‘challenge of the year’.  

For some people at the gym, this is one of the most hectic times of the year… and that is who We are apologizing for.  For those who take competing very seriously, there is very little in life that duplicates the stress of the 5 week Open.  Nervously awaiting the announcement. Reading countless articles on how to attack the workout.  Doing the workout.  Checking the leaderboard 3-4 times a day (or hour!) to see how your score is moving around as other people enter theirs.  Repeating it when you are disappointed with your performance or if the team needs it. Etc.

Naturally this level of stress tends to make people a bit “crazy”.  Crazier than usual anyway.  You will notice people walking around with papers, some asking “Will you judge me?” or “Will you video me?” 

You will see groups of people doing the same workout all over the gym.  Sometimes they will be in an inconvenient place, asking for equipment, setting up cameras, or making too much noise during a class.  People will be hovering around the computers so they can ‘log their scores’ and ‘check the leaderboard’.

While it is inconvenient to those of you who aren’t doing the Open, keep in mind that for many people who have decided to participate in it this year, it is an extremely taxing and stressful time.  Let’s celebrate their decision to ‘step into the arena’… “whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly…”.  Let’s support them by cheering them on, giving them space, letting them act out their quirky preparation routines, and understanding when they drop a few choice words if they fail to hit their mark after a second time through a particularly terrible workout.  These are your friends and classmates.  They are your tribe.  Let’s support them like you would your favorite sports team!

In return, we ask athletes doing the Open to promise to stay out of the way as much as possible and stick to the aforementioned schedule.  To understand that not everyone is doing the Open – and that is okay!  To understand that many people have no desire to do the Open again, or at all, and our gym is ultimately about leading better lives (not just about doing great in the Open).

So everyone (competitors and non competitors alike) need to get physically, mentally and emotionally ready for the Open.  It is going to be crazy in here for the next month or so, but for all of the weird stuff going on there is also a lot of great stuff too.  

The Open isn’t just a time for people to test and challenge themselves. It is a time to rally around our friends, training partners, and coaches.  A time to build a stronger community, and share in more than the sweat and effort we do every day. To share our collective ‘experience’.  To feel the highs, and lows, that come from doing something epic.

Get ready, because it is going to be a bumpy (and fun) ride!

March 1st Week of Programming

SUNDAY 3/1/15
In teams of two, complete four rounds, each for time of:
1000 meter row
Every minute on the minute, both partners must perform 5 burpees. Partition work as needed between efforts.

MONDAY 3/2/15
Five rounds for time of:
115/75 pound Snatch, 3 reps
115/75 pound Overhead squat, 15 reps
Row 500 meters

TUESDAY 3/3/15
20 Double-unders
10 Sit-Ups

Rest 5 min

5 Wall Climbs
5 Burpees

1. Accumulate
a. 50-100 perfect push-ups
b. 25-50 shoulder pass-throughs and/or kip swings
c. 5-10 wall climbs

2. Pull-Up Madness. With a continuously running clock do one pull-up the first minute, two pull-ups the second minute, three pull-ups the third minute… continuing as long as you are able.

Use as many sets each minute as needed.

1. 1RM Clean
2. 3×3-5 at 60-75% of your max effort with flawless technique

FRIDAY 3/6/15

1. Push Press-Work up to a heavy triple
2. Half-12.3

Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 9 minutes of:
15 Box jumps, 24/20″ box
115/75 pound Push press, 12 reps
9 Toes-to-bar

Complete as many rounds in 20 minutes as you can of:
75/55 pound Power snatch, 12 reps
10 Push-ups

20 Feb 2015

Fire It Up Friday! 022015

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Fire It Up! We just got back from Florida with the family. It was great to take some time away and recharge the batteries. I can say that I didn’t miss the snow. Not one bit.

We did come home to a bit of water damage from all of the snow and ice on the roof. It would have been even worse had we not had it cleared before leaving. Today is going to be spent getting the newly accumulated ice dams off the roof to prevent further damage.

I hope that you all had a great week of training despite the arctic cold. I will see y’all in the gym this week.



Abby tried to bring the warmer weather back to Boston with her.


12 Feb 2015

Fire It Up Friday! 021315

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It’s Friday baby! It’s time to Fire It Up! With the unprecedented snowfall that has hit Boston, I have made shoveling my second job. It’s CRAZY! The forecast are calling for another 12-18″ on Saturday night into Sunday.

Be sure to catch the blog to look for updates on any changes to the class schedule. Coach Mickey will get the word out to everyone. It will be on the BLOG AND CFB FB page.

The Whole Life Challenge has been great for Jess and I. She has been consistent in her training and really reclaimed her physical self. The WLC coupled with Renegade Rowing and she has found an excellent combination. I have benefitted also, 12 pounds lighter and two belt notches smaller. I can say that I am pleased. There has been a great deal more cooking at home with greater variety as well. 

I am away this week for February Vacation, so you won’t see me in the gym but I am going to be looking at the Instagram account to catch up with some ass kicking! Get Some!

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