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     The Official eNewsletter of TODAY! Fitness

vol. 2013 issue 9



Do-It-Yourself:  Agility High-Step Ladder

I always get excited when I find a new piece of exercise equipment that I can make and use.  I ran across this agility high-stepper in one of my equipment supply catalogs and thought that it would make a good addition to our Warrior Workouts on the weekends... especially since I made if for like a third of the cost J

I remember back in the day when I was playing football.  I think that every high school in our area had the old standard double-row of tires that pretty much served the same purpose as this contraption... to coach the athletes to keep their knees up and step accurately.  However, since I'm already pushing my luck with like 6 tires (ranging from small to a 425lb tractor tire) back behind my house, I figured that adding another 10 or 12 of them might not go over too well ; )

PVC pipe is readily available in the plumbing section of most home improvement stores.  I used 2" PVC pipe for strength and durability.  You will need to buy 6 pipes since they typically come in 10 foot lengths.  5 pipes will be cut exactly in half with a circular or miter saw, which is perfect since the plans call for 10 x 5 foot sections.  I cut the other pipe into 8 x 5 inch pieces for the risers that you see in the picture above (I also cut additional riser pieces for optional height increase).

Materials - $101.20

  • 6: 10ft. x 2" PVC pipe... $37.20

  • 12:  2" PVC T-fittings... $17.28

  • 4:  2" PVC elbow fittings... $4.72

  • 100ft 5/16" bungee cord... $42.00

Tools needed

  • circular saw

  • drill w/ 1/2" bit

  • knife or scizzors

  • PVC glue

My plan is slightly different from the one that I saw in the equipment catalog.  I chose to use T-fittings for the support piece that sits on the ground whereas they used elbow fittings.  My thought behind this was that I could easily raise the height of the entire structure, simply by adding additional riser pieces to the bottom of the T-fittings near the ground.  I suggest cutting all pieces first and laying them out on the ground so that you can get a visual of what you are trying to assemble.


  • Cut 5 of the 10 ft PVC pipes in half
    (10 x 5 ft sections)

  • Cut 1 of the 10 ft PVC pipes into 8 x 5 inch pieces (optionally cut an additional 8 x 5 inch pieces to increase height as desired)

  • 4 Bottom Supports:  For each of the 4, Make an "H" using a 5 foot PVC section and 2 T-fittings.  Use PVC glue inside the middle portion of the "T" to provide stability to the structure.

  • 4 Upper Rails:  For each of the 4, Put and elbow fitting on one end of a 5 foot PVC section and a T-fitting on the other so that the non-connected side of the elbow is pointing down and the middle of the T-fitting is pointing down.  Glue these pieces in place also.

*NOTE:  If you want to be able to break this structure down for easy storage, that will be all the gluing that you will want to do.  I chose to glue more of it for stability which I will decribe in the further steps below.  Skip the glue references if you don't have room to store 2 large 5 foot x 5 foot sections!

  • Installing risers:  Using your 4 Bottom supports, glue a riser to the top side of the "H" on each.

  • Connecting the Upper Rail to the Bottom Supports:  Glue the elbow fitting from 2 upper rails to both risers of one of the Bottom Supports.  Then glue the bottom part of the T-fittings from the upper rails to both risers of a completely separate bottom rail.  You should now have a big 5 foot by 5 foot square. 

  • Do this again for the other side of the structure so that you have 2 big squares.

  • There should now be 2 x 5 foot pieces of pipe left.  Use these pieces to connect one side of one big square, to the other side of the other big square.

  • Drill 1/2" holes, horizontally though both sides, approximately every 30" through the top rails.

  • Thread the bungee cord through one rail, and across and through the opposite rail and tie a knot.

  • Grab the bungee and stretch it about 6 or so inches so that it is tight enough... cut it and knot it on the other side.  Do this for the length of the upper rails.

  •  Drill a hole in each of the bottom supports on the end.  Thread the bungee through one support and tie a knot.  Pull the bungee the length of the structure and cut enough so that there is plenty of extra.  I use this piece to tie and untie when I take it apart and put it together.

  • DONE

300 Workout

Pretty cool movie, right?  A bunch of shredded, tough guys, outnumbered, but proud to stand and fight for their country.  The Battle of Thermopylae was a legendary underdog story that the movie "300" brought to the big screen.  However, what was most impressive about the movie was the physical condition that the actors got into in order to become Spartan warriors!

Men's Health published the "300 Workout" shortly after the movie success, which was coined as a "grueling, unorthodox 300-rep rite of passage". The workout was designed to simultaneously build muscle, increase muscular endurance, and strip fat fast.    

When we don't have a lot of time, or we just need a short, intense workout to change things up, my buddies and I will do this 300 workout followed by my sandbag interval complex which pretty much leaves us spent!

For the 300 workout, all exercises are done without scheduled rest between moves.  You go from one exercise to the next, as fast as possible, until you complete all the required reps.  300 typically takes about 20 minutes to complete and does a pretty good job at hitting a full body workout.  The exercises are demonstrated and described on the Men's Health page, as well as some alternative progression levels for those not quite ready for Sparta


  • Pullups - 25 reps

  • Barbell Deadlift with 135 lbs. - 50 reps

  • Pushups - 50 reps

  • 24-inch Box Jumps - 50 reps

  • Floor Wipers - 50 reps

  • Single-Arm Clean-and-Press with 36 lbs Kettlebell - 50 reps (25 per arm)

  • Pullups - 25 reps

ref.  Men's Health




Sandbag Exercise of the Month!

Plyo Hop-overs


Agility... leg strength... cardio... this exercise will deliver them all.  We typically perform this one for reps or for time and I can tell you that it's a gasser!


Target:  legs and butt (quadriceps, gluteus maximus, gastrocnemius)

Description:  A very simple exercise.  Stand on one side of the sandbag.  Jump over to the other side of the bag and immediately jump back... continuing for the desired repetitions.  The object of this exercise is to limit your ground contact time, changing directions after each jump.

The Top 10 Most Difficult CrossFit Movements

Each and every person will bring a different skill set with them when they begin their CrossFit journey.  Some people have strength, some have endurance, while others have flexibility.  However, no matter what you bring to the table, there is bound to be something that is going to trip you up in the programing.  It is the nature of the beast.  Constantly varied and constantly pushing your limits.  This is a list, in no particular order, of some of the most frustrating CrossFit movements, today, because Iím sure HQ is thinking up new ways to haunt our dreams as you read this.

1. Double Unders-  Jumping rope.  No big deal, kids do this every day.  Oh wait, you want it to pass under my feet twice in one jump.  As you begin, you imagine Rocky training with Apollo, speed rope hissing through the air while sweat drips from your body.  You swing the rope over head and immediately hit your feet.  Good start.  The average person swears about 3.7 times per one double under when they first start.  Rightfully so, you would probably have just about as much fun standing in place and just whipping your arms and legs with the rope.  Then it happens, you string some together.  The sound of the rope passing under your feet twice is like an angelís whisper.  Then you see some YouTube video of a guy hitting triple unders.  Thanks, why donít you just kick my dog while youíre here.

2. Thrusters-  For some reason I feel like Greg Glassman was not that good at math.  In CrossFit, 1 never equals 1, itís always 2=1 or 3=1.  There is no better example of that then the thruster.  So let me get this straight, essentially you want me to power clean, front squat, and  then push press, and that equals one rep.  Now hit 21 reps, 15 reps and 9 reps.  ďItís the set of 15 that gets you.Ē.  Nah, Iím pretty sure rep 1 sucks just as bad as rep 45.  Iíve never heard someone cheer ďYay, thrusters!Ē at the beginning of Fran.

3. Wall Balls- Ok, these are just like a thruster, only with a soft, 14-20 lb, medicine ball.  What could go wrong, right?  Wall balls will suck the life out of you faster than trying to run through quicksand.  But they seem so harmless.  You want me to do how many of them in a row?  150 wall balls will have you making up stories about a vacation on a dude ranch where you were on a cattle drive for a week. Thatís easier to explain why you are walking funny and avoiding steps like the plague.  Plus, no one would believe that a plush 20 lb ball could do that to a human being, until they tried it at least.

4. Burpees- Someone once asked me if a singular burpee was called a burpi, to which I replied ďNo, burpees never come in singles.Ē  Drop down to the ground. Do a push-up.  Hop back up. Jump and touch your hands above your head. Repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat.  You get the idea.  The only way to get over burpees is tricking your mind into thinking you like them.  Say it with me, ďBurpees are awesome.  I love burpees.Ē  Repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat.

5. Muscle Ups-  Ahh, the ever elusive muscle-up.  Trying to pull yourself up on top of the rings from a hanging position.  Iíll just swing back and forth for five minutes, thatíll get me up there.  Letí be honest, even after you get them, some days you have them and some days you donít.  She is a fickle creature the muscle-up.  And the worst part is,  this is what a gymnast calls just ďgetting up on the ringsĒ.

6. Rowing- Itís not that rowing is difficult, anyone can do it.  Itís just that itís so damn boring.  Thereís a reason why they do it on a river with scenery instead of in front of a 4 inch monitor that resembles your old Nokia cell phone.  Now that i think about it, having that snake game on it wouldnít be half that bad.  I might actually attempt the half marathon.  The only one who likes rowing is that guy who is 7í3Ē and gets 250 meters per stroke.  Thereís one at every box, but ask him how much he likes overhead squatting and toes-to-bar.

7. Handstand Push-ups- So, you know those push-ups that you have been doing, ya Iím going to need you to flip up onto that wall and do them upside down.  Donít worry, the six quarts of blood that rush to your head will be enough to distract you from the fact that your shirt and shorts are coming up exposing pretty much all of your insecurities.

8. Box Jumps-  Ask someone to jump 20-24Ē in the air, no problem.  Ask them to jump onto a wooden or steel box, big difference.  Now, most people have no problem with box jumps, until the  they smack their shins for the first time.  The first time you bash your shin good off of a box, you collapse to the ground like Peter Griffin from Family Guy, clenching you shin saying ďawwwĒ for ten minutes.  Then that next set of box jumps might as well be 10 feet high as you stutter to gather the confidence to get back on top.  You are now contemplating hypnosis to get over the fear of that seemingly insurmountable two feet.

9. Pistols-  A one legged air squat.  If only you could get half a point for just the downward part.  Because itís not the fall that kills you, itís the sudden stop at the bottom and then trying to come back up.  Yes we know, use a counter weight.  All the tricks in the world donít stop the fact that it feels like my knee cap is going to explode out of my leg like a bullet, hence the name, maybe.

10. Snatch- I think the worst part of the snatch is that every time itís brought up it turns into an episode of The Office where everyone turns into Michael Scott repeating ďThatís what she saidĒ.  Yes we get it, it sounds dirty, but maybe if you focused on your form as much as your innuendos, you could actually hit a half decent rep.  Name aside, the problem with this olympic lift is that we tell you to remember all these positions then when it comes time to lift, we tell you to forget all of them and just hit the snatch.  Go ahead, say it.

All ten of these movements are challenging in their own special way.  Some take strength, some endurance and others flexibility.  Most certainly they all have one common denominator, practice.  I always tell people in my classes that practicing these movements in a WOD is a lot like flossing your teeth before you go to the dentist, no matter which one, you are going to be there awhile.  Now Iím sure competitors from the Central Beast Region like Rich Froning or Ger Sasser might look at this list and think ďWhatís so hard about any of those movements?Ē, but itís not about the 100 or so athletes that make it to the CrossFit Games.  Itís about the hundreds of thousands of regular people across the globe that curse these movements daily.  Letís be honest, all of us are thinking it, I just had the wall balls to say it.

Keep practicing and stay healthy my friends.

Adrian Van Balen - Crossfit Integrated Fitness

Opportunities for Giving!

Yup... I'm at it again!  This is the time of every year that I put my hand out and beg for donations!  It's so much easier nowadays to do this, without calling people up or getting in their face about it... no pressure.  People just decide that they want to help and make an online payment... no collecting involved, and you can reach out to so many more people.  This can go a long way towards helping the people that benefit from the funds collected by these organizations.  Multiple Sclerosis and Leukemia... these are 2 worthwhile causes that could really use your support.  Once again, I thank you in advance for your support!

It's Go Time!

September is typically a big month for me.  School is back in session and I typically help out coaching with my daughter's volleyball team... I have the MS Bike to the Bay on September 21st, followed by the Delaware Mud Run on September 22nd.  A perfect way to wrap up the end of summer!  We still get outside for the Warrior Workouts on the weekend (as long as it's dry enough to flip the tire and above freezing)... and there is certainly plenty of stuff to keep us busy indoors when we cant!

October is coming up quick and that is typically a month where people start to slack a little... but not you, right?  When the weather gets colder outside, and it starts getting darker earlier, motivation after work can sometimes suffer.  Make a plan!  Make a deal with yourself to carry out your plan and keep things moving.  Whether you have to wake up early before work, squeeze something in at lunchtime, or hit the gym after the whistle blows... you will reap the rewards when summer rolls back around next year.  Sound like a plan?

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Exceed Your Potential!

Pete Mazzeo, CPT

"Begin with the end in mindĒ - Doug Flynn

youtube of the month --> 30+ Ultimate Sandbag Exercises
Great collection of functional sandbag exercises! | Personal Training | News | Tips & Tools | Fitness Stuff




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