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Michael Elliott, CrossFit L1 Coach/Personal Trainer

My passion is helping people reach their fitness goals. Learn more about how I can help you change your life for the better!

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Thursday, April 16, 2015


Butt down.  Chest up.  Head up.  Flat back.  If you've spent any time at CrossFit Syracuse, or any gym, you've heard these cues multiple times by coaches.  As a coach, you've most likely used these cues, as well as many others.  Some cues work for the majority of athletes, while others are less effective.  Learning how to properly use cues is very important to being a good coach.  It is also important that your athletes understand the big picture.

A Cue is a short, quick word or two to get an athlete doing the right thing without having to over think things. Cues should be short and sweet.  Do you see an athlete rounding their back while performing a deadlift?  Using a cue such as "Flat Back" may be enough.  If not, try "But back, chest up".  Still no change?  Now it's time to step in and do some more in-depth coaching.

Cues should illicit an immediate response from the athlete.  If there is not an immediate change then try a different cue immediately.  Using the same cue over and over is not acceptable.  If it didn't work the first time then why would it work the second or third time you say it?

I don't like stopping an athlete in the middle of a set, or in the middle of a workout.  Sometimes stopping an athlete is necessary.  If the athlete's safety is in question, and cues aren't fixing the problem, you must stop an athlete.  Some further explanation of the movement and what you are trying to accomplish may be enough to fix the problem.  If not, taking weight off the bar, or scaling the movement may be necessary.

It is also important that an athlete understands why you were asking them to do something while performing a certain movement.  I often see athletes performing pullups or muscle-ups with their head tucked down, looking at the floor.  I will give them the cue "look up".  The reason for this cue is to get the athlete's head in a neutral position.  After the workout I try to explain this to the athlete.  Explain to them why you want their head in a certain position and why the other position may not be ideal.  Making sure the athlete understands why you are yelling certain things at them during their workouts is very important so they won't continue making the same mistakes in the gym.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

COMMUNITY NEWS/EVENTS: Autism Awareness Walk (4/25) and Fundraising WOD (4/20)

Coach Pat and Kolgan
Team up with CFS and one of our own CrossFit Kids, Kolgan DeForest, to raise awareness and funds supporting programs for autism and its related disorders in our community. We invite you to join us at CNY Autism Society's 10th Annual "One Piece at a Time" Autism Awareness Walk on Saturday, April 25th at 10am at Long Branch Park in Syracuse. The walk is a family friendly fun walk with no donation required at registration that morning (see more event details below).

We'll also be hosting a fundraising WOD at CFS in all regular classes on Friday, April 20th. Members and friends are encouraged to participate in the walk, the WOD, or both!

To contribute financially, you can either fill out a CFS account charge card for your donation at the fundraising WOD on April 20th, or you can visit the link below to donate directly to the CNY Autism Society via the Team Kolgan page: 


WHEN: Saturday, April 25, 10:00 am.

WHERE: Long Branch Park in Syracuse.

TIME: Registration: 9:00 & Walk: 10am.

 WHAT TO DO: There will be family-friendly activities at the Park for walkers to enjoy, vendor tables to visit with opportunities to network, awareness items available to purchase, and light refreshments will be available. This walk route is disability-accessible.

Event website:

PS.  If you are not a member of CrossFit Syracuse, and have never tried a CrossFit workout, this is the perfect opportunity to give it a try!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Tip Of The Week - What Shoes Should You Wear?

In a CrossFit gym you see all types of footwear.  You see Reebok Nano's, Olympic lifting shoes, Inov-8's, Vibram Fivefingers, and many others.  At least once a week I get the question "what shoes should I wear for this WOD?".  A few factors are involved when deciding what shoes to wear for a particular workout. 

What are your goals?  What are your goals as an athlete?  What are your goals for that particular workout?  If you are trying to improve your mobility so you can better perform a pistol (one leg squat) then training barefoot or in minimal footwear like the Vibram Fivefingers would be a great option.  If you need to perform pistols in a competition, Olympic lifting shoes may be a better option because of the raised heal.  If you are training for absolute strength in a back squat or front squat then training in a weightlifting shoe would be best.  If you are training for general health and fitness, then squatting in a flat shoe will be your best option.  Squatting in a flat shoe will limit your ability to squat heavy, but you will gain flexibility through the range of motion.

If your goal is to improve performance, you must improve your positioning in a given movement.  If you always train in an Olympic lifting shoe you will limit your mobility over time.  Your ankles will become tight which will limit your ability to squat properly when you take the Olympic lifting shoes off.  Work on your movements barefoot, or in minimal shoes, to help improve your positioning and mobility.

There is always a give and take when wearing a certain type of shoe.  CrossFit is designed to prepare you for anything.  To accomplish this you must train for anything.  Vary your training by varying your footwear.  Wear Olympic lifting shoes for some workouts.  Wear minimal footwear for some.  Wear a shoe that is not ideal for a given workout from time to time.  It may slow you down in that particular workout, but it will make you better in the long run.

Friday, April 10, 2015

FOOD FOR THE WEEKEND: Easy Lunch For The Week

Need an easy, quick, and healthy lunch for the week?  Frozen vegetables and chicken thighs is a great option.  Cook a batch of chicken thighs early in the week, add frozen vegetables, microwave at work.  It can't get much easier than that! 

Sunday night I will grill a package of Organic Chicken Thighs from Wegmans.  I will put the cooked thighs in the refrigerator.  Every morning I simply put one of the thighs in a glass Tupperware container and pour frozen vegetables on top until the container is full.  You can add some alive oil and seasoning as well.  Simply microwave for a couple minutes at work and you have an easy, healthy lunch!

This "recipe" is very simple, cheap for 5 to 6 meals, and takes very little time.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

TIP OF THE WEEK: How To Get Strong; Accumulation of Quality Work

Some CFSers Accumulating Quality Work
I am often asked "What do I need to do to get stronger?".  "How do I get better at squatting?"  "How do I get better at Pullups?"

My initial response is usually "Do more pullups".  Or Squats, or whatever movement they are trying to get better at.  Accumulation of work is how we get strong.  We don't get strong by squatting today.  We get strong by squatting every week, or multiple times a week, for months and years on end.

Doing more is just part of what you need to do.  You need to not only do more of the particular movement (accumulation), you also need to make sure the repetitions you are performing are high quality repetitions.  Most of us have heard the saying "practice makes perfect".  We have also heard the saying "practice doesn't make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect".  This is what I'm talking about here.  When working on getting stronger you need to not only practice movements, you need to practice perfect movements.

Pullup Strength:  You swing like a monkey on the bar, bicycle kick yourself up and up, then reach your chin as high as you can until your chin raises above the bar.  Awesome!  You did a pullup!  Is this the best way to develop strength in that movement?  Are you practicing perfect pullups, or are you just trying to get your chin over the bar because that is what CrossFit says you need to do? 

CrossFit Regional competitions are right around the corner.  Watch these athletes.  They don't just perform pullups; they perform perfect pullups.  They don't just squat; they squat perfectly.  This is part of what makes them so good at this sport.

When you are in the gym, don't think of what you are doing as a workout.  Think of it as practice.  Every time you perform a repetition you are practicing that movement.  Be sure to be practicing quality work; and do it often.

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