Odd Object

COW #5

It's been a while since I last posted a COW - or Complex Of the Week - so I figured it was time to get back at it! 

After the post "F*CK YOUR FANCY GYM" was published and people came back with so many positive reviews, I thought that it would be awesome to give y'all a simple (not easy) sandbag complex that illustrates the points that were covered in the post.

The sandbag is an incredibly simple peice of equipment that offers amazing versitility.......this COW is a great example of that.

COW #5

3 Rounds:

  • 10 Sandbag Deadlifts
  • 8 Sandbag Shoulders(4|4)
  • 6 Sandbag Squats(3|3)
  • 4 Burpees Over Bag
  • 300m Run

Note: If you want to make this extra spicy....take the SB on the 300m run!


Does the shiny equipment with names you can't pronounce make you stronger? Maybe. However, chances are that you probably don't even know how to sit in it properly, let alone effectively use the equipment. And let's rewind just a bit...there's a major problem -- YOU'RE SITTING DOWN!

Last time I checked, working out required some work to be done. The overwhelming number of pulleys and cables, ergonomic design, or comfortable padding don't make whatever thingamajig more effective at building strength. 

In fact, it's my contention that the more simplistic a piece of equipment is, the more valuable it can be when building a stronger, tougher, fitter human.

A perfect example is the sandbag. Yes, you read that correctly. Look, If you asked me what one piece of equipment you should get so that you could start training today....the sandbag would be the golden ticket.

Let's just look at the benefits of building and training with a sandbag:

  • Sand is cheap
  • Duffle bags are cheap
  • Trash bags and duct tape are cheap
  • You can drop sandbags on most surfaces.
  • If any part of the bag breaks, it's easy to fix....and you guessed it....it's cheap.
  • You can create an appropriate weight based on your fitness level and/or exercise you're doing.
  •  It's easy (and cheap) to have several on hand for a multitude of uses. Think light, moderate and heavy.
  • I am confident that with a little imagination, you can find a way to use a sandbag to mimic any exercise you can think of.
  • Sandbags are odd objects....this is a good thing...trust me.
  • Sandbags soak up your sweat and start to smell. This, too, is a good thing. It forces you to deal with something that's not convenient, sexy or easy....It develops toughness -- both physical and mental.
  • It closely replicates the tasks that life throws at you. When shit hits the fan, it doesn't come in nice, neat, easy to move packages that smell like roses. Remember that and train for it. 

I could easily keep rolling on this list, but I think this should do the trick. You get the idea by now, right?

Yes, the sandbag is incredibly simple. But in that simplicity you'll find an incredible training tool that offers unlimited versatility and, if used wisely, a potent training stimulus that will have you dropping your globo-gym membership like it's hot. 

I Got A Fever....

This will make more sense later on, but do you see what I did there?! HA! 

Alright, alright....enough with the bad jokes. Let's get in to this one so y'all can enjoy the rest of your day.

I may just be me, but it seems as thought complexes have become a little more "mainstream" as of late - which is great! It may have something to do with the increasing popularity of this f*cking freak - Dmitry Klokov - and the crazy shit he's been doing with some insane weight.

Here's just one example of the silliness.... 

Forget about the music and bust out your calculators....this is 205kg.... x 2.2....that's 451lbs that he's tossing around!!! Notice that this complex is done without dropping the bar or adjusting the grip in any unnecessary way. That's really what makes a complex a complex....It's a collection of movements that are performed in an unbroken fashion. 

Now, for an important question....WHY?

What is the benefit of complexes? Besides the obvious fact that you are performing actual exercises designed to build strength.....one detail that is often forgotten is TIME UNDER TENSION. Simply put, you are under the load of whatever you're moving for an extended period of time, which is a great way to stress your system into moving faster, performing movements more aggressively and ultimately stressing your system into adapting to all of these factors by packing on muscle and building strength. All good things!

The only downside to complexes is that you must already possess solid technique of the movements you are including in the complex. If the technique is not there in one or more of your chosen movements, the entire outcome of the complex will suffer and the truly shitty nature (in a good way) of these will not become as apparent. 

Other than that, complexes are truly potent tools that can be used to become better at ALL things. It's also an amazing way to pack in a lot of work into a small amount of time.....also a major plus!

Now, as I mentioned in the beginning of this whole thing.....complexes having seemingly become more popular. Again, this is awesome and all, but everyone that I've seen has been performed with a barbell. Now it's my turn to ask.....WHY?

As I've mentioned before in several blogs prior to this one, barbell are a convenient, neat way to move weight, but how many times in your life are things so neatly set up and presented to you as a loaded barbell? My guess would be that it's probably a rarity.

So, this is where I make my argument that you might consider utilizing the potent nature of complexes, but apply a certain amount of "real-life" to the situation by using odd objects.

Hopefully you can see that this would be a great way to build your strength and conditioning in a way that will better prepare you for what you might actually encounter in your day-to-day life.

Not to mention, the extra effort that odd objects require of an individual will surely add an extra dose of spiciness to an already spicy workout scenario -- Always a good thing, right?!

Now, because I'm such a big fan of complexes, I've decided to start a weekly series of COWs: Complex Of the Week. I will share whatever crazy combo I come up with for the week, and post it up right here on the blog so that you can give it shot wherever it is that you workout. 

I think this will be fun, cool way to reach out and connect with some of you that may not have the chance to workout at TCS, and not to mention, a great way to introduce and implement an outstanding training tool into your program or routine.

I would really love it if those of you that decide to take on the COW would post your results and general thoughts and experiences in the comments section. I don't know.....I think this could be pretty damn cool!

In any case, this is COW #1. And as we've already covered, this one is without the use of the barbell, but rather some dumbbells. Before I turn you loose, the dumbbells definitely make things a little more difficult. If you need to, break this 15min workout into thirds and try to increase the load every 5 minutes. I think this would be the best course of action, but it's just my suggestion. Be smart and work hard! Simple as that. Enjoy!

Friday Night SWOD - Recap

By now you've probably seen some picture, post, or tweet from last Friday evening's event at TCS, the Friday Night SWOD. I'll be honest in saying that this was one of our smaller FNS events - my theory is that holding this on the same night as the ACL opener is not the best plan of action, but what the hell. We had a blast with a bunch of great people! And really, that's why we do this.

So, with that being said, the competition was a huge success!

We had athletes from Houston, San Marcos, Seguin, Cedar Park and of course Austin. All of these competitors took on the 3 workouts of the evening:

1. "Draggin' Ass"
2. "Load'n'Go"
3. "The To-Do List"

It was clear that everyone thought that the first workout was the nastiest of them all.....which is exactly what we planned on. Competitors tore into this workout with a blistering pace that soon slowed to a "Get this shit over with" grind. Once each heat ended with several athletes taking a couple moments to collect themselves before attempting to stand and walk off the workout floor. Perfect!

The second workout slowed things down a bit.....at least temporarily while each athlete had 6min to establish his/her 2-Rep Max Front Squat before going immediately to a nasty little sandbag/stepup complex that only lasted for 90sec, but surely felt like a lifetime. 

We saw some massive lifts, and I would say that the majority of the athletes managed to PR their old 1-Rep Max and take it for a second rep! 

One moment that was captured by our video crew pretty much says it all. This is Carlos.

Carlos is the owner of CrossFit Houston and came up for his first FNS. He's probably glad he did, as he set a new PR on his Front Squat and ended up taking 3rd place overall.

On the final workout of the night we kept it super simple. But as you've heard on this very blog:

"Simple does NOT mean easy."

Athletes had to complete a ridiculously heavy set of single-arm DB presses, then go right to a short set of Burpees, only to then be forced to move a heavy-ass sandbag while performing Sandbag Getups. Miserable.

Nevertheless, these athletes powered through and came out the other side feeling beat-down and broken, but had fun all the while. Some athletes even got to perform some exercises and use some tools that they had never used before, like the stone and sandbag. 

At the end of the night, we gathered around and announced the top 3 males and 3 females in the Rx'd division, as well as the top female from the Scaled division.

Rx'd Males:

  1. Elliot E.
  2. Joshua K.
  3. Carlos I.
  4. Layke F.
  5. Jason W.
  6. Nathan F.
  7. Anthony B.
  8. Russ L.
  9. Elliot S.
  10. Michael S.
  11. Gabe K.

Rx'd Females:

  1. Taylor M.
  2. Cat C./Amanda H.
  3. Michelle H.
  4. Allison W.
  5. Carrey B.
  6. Lindsay S.
  7. Nicole A.
  8. Marianna M.
  9. Shannon
  10. Evelyn
  11. Laurie G.

Scaled Females:

  1. Shelley S.
  2. Katrina T.
  3. Ashley B.
  4. George

All of the competitors did an outstanding job throughout the entire night. But, as is the case with any competition, the FNS would not have even happened if it weren't for the judges and volunteers. 

These ladies and gents spent the entire time counting reps and maintaining a high standard of movement, as well as making big changes to the layout of the workout floor for each of the 3 workouts. Again, without these individuals the night would have gone completely different and no one would have had the quality experience they did. So a big Thank You goes out to those that made the evening possible!

In closing, I would just like to say that you can stay up to date with the events that Travis County Strength has going on at any given time by checking the EVENTS tab on the website. This is where we will post future Friday Night SWOD's and much more! You can also stay in touch with TCS goings on right here on the blog! 

Until next time!

Friday Night SWOD - The Workouts

I'm sure the competitors have been eagerly awaiting this post, so I won't waste any unnecessary time getting to the details of tonight's event. However, I do need to remind y'all of the evening's timeline that can be found HERE. Please be sure to plan on shittier-than-normal traffic due to ACL.

Keep in mind that the information we have released covers the basics. You will need to be here on time to get the full briefing of all 3 workouts and their details. Don't miss this!

Lastly, if after seeing these 3 workouts you absolutely know which division (Rx'd or Scaled) you will compete in, contact Jen as soon as possible with this information. 



WORKOUT 1 - "Draggin' Ass" (6min Cap)

3x AFAP: 

  • Weighted Tire Drag
  • Bear Crawl (Forward)
  • 2R/2L Stone Shoulders
  • Bear Crawl (Reverse)
  • Rx'd Male: 
    • Tire Drag -- Rd. 1 @ 90 | Rd. 2 @ 100 | Rd. 3 @ 110
    • Stone @ 115 
  • Scaled Male: 
    • Tire Drag -- Rd. 1 @ 70 | Rd. 2 @ 80 | Rd. 3 @ 90
    • Stone @ 95
  • Rx'd Female: 
    • Tire Drag -- Rd. 1 @ 70 | Rd. 2 @ 80 | Rd. 3 @ 90
    • Stone @ 75
  • Scaled Female:
    • Tire Drag -- Rd. 1 @ 45 | Rd. 2 @ 55 | Rd. 3 @ 65
    • Stone @ 45

WORKOUT 2 - "Load'n'Go" (7.5min Cap)

  • 6min to Find: 
    • 2-Rep Max Front Squat


  • 90sec AMRAP:
    • Sandbag Shoulder-to-StepUp
  • Rx'd Male:
    • Sandbag @ 90
    • Box @ 20"
  • Scaled Male:
    • Sandbag @ 60
    • Box @ 20"
  • Rx'd Female:
    • Sandbag @ 60
    • Box @ 16"
  • Scaled Female:
    • Sandbag @ 50
    • Box @ 16"

WORKOUT 3 - "The To-Do List"       (6min Cap)


  • 30 Single-Arm Dumbbell Shoulder-to-Overhead (15R/15L)
  • 20 Burpees
  • 10 Sandbag Getups (5R/5L)
  • Rx'd Male:
    • Sandbag @ 90
    • DB @ 75
  • Scaled Male:
    • Sandbag @ 60
    • DB @ 55
  • Rx'd Female:
    • Sandbag @ 60
    • DB @ 45
  • Scaled Female:
    • Sandbag @ 50
    • DB @ 30

Friday Night SWOD -- INFO#1

It's almost that time! We are now just a couple of days out from the Friday Night SWOD and I'm sure you are wondering about the details of the evening, right?

Here we go. This is a quick run-down of what you need to be aware of:

  • NOON on Friday -- Workouts Released
    • The 3 workouts you will take on will be posted right here on this blog. Be sure to check them out and familiarize yourself with them. Attention to detail!
  • 5:00 - 5:45pm -- Athlete Check In
    • It's important to know that Friday is the first night of ACL....Traffic will suck! Make sure to plan accordingly so that you arrive on time and don't hold us up. Don't be THAT person!
  • 5:30 - 5:50pm -- Judges Meeting
    • If you are judging this event, you must be at TCS no later than 5:30 so that you know what's going on and what will be expected of you. 
  • 5:50pm -- Introduction and Workouts Briefing 
  • 1st Heat will start no later than 6:15pm

One final note:

Remember that the 1st place male and female will both be walking out with a hefty amount of CA$H money! We will also be stuffing the winners' gym bags with cool (and useful)  prizes that have been donated to us by some of Austin's best small businesses - all of which have a footprint in the fitness community at large. Needless to say, it pays to be a winner....specially at the Friday Night SWOD!

After reading this, if anyone has any questions, please feel free to CONTACT US!




What is Strength [by Jen Shaw]

What is strength?

by Jen Shaw
Creator and Head Coach of LIFT

How much do you snatch?  Does it really matter? Is that really going to help you get away from an intruder? Pull a loved one out of a fire? Carry someone a far distance in an emergency situation? Yeah, I mean..it does help. However not all problems you are faced with come in tight pretty little packages with time to set up and get chalk, as Trav says. When shit hits the fan, you do as your adrenaline says and fucking move. You might think that is over the top..but I assure you it is not. 

Working out and being strong will allow you to be that person that can help save your family, be the reliable force that others know will be able to get you out of whatever shit hole you have put yourself in. Working with odd objects will allow you to do these things. Now let me be clear, in order to work with odd objects you have to press, deadlift, and squat. Otherwise you have a back that is as strong as cotton candy. And ain't nobody got time for that!

Logs, stones, kegs, yoke and sleds. They are difficult, odd, hard. Oh well...so is anything that is worth pursuing. Learning to use this equipment will make you the strongest version of yourself, and make the barbell seem easy! 

On the 24th Coach Nick Mounce will be heading up a class focusing on some of these objects. If you think I am just full of it, come on and sign up. Prove me wrong. Better bring your strong back though.