Is Your Programming Disheartening Your Members?

Brooks DiFiore

Mike (00:01):

Time to train. Let’s just open up my app for the WOD. OK. 10 rounds of six muscle-ups and six snatches at 185, a then freestanding handstand push-ups and overhead squat weighted pistols, then a max lift and accessory work? Who am I? And Mat freaking Froning? Like, I just want to stay fit and then get on with my life.? Who has time for all this? I better talk to Brooks DiFiore from Two-Brain programming. I’ll do that right after this.

Chris (00:28):

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Mike (01:09):

We’re back on Two-Brain Radio. It’s Mike Warkentin and I’m not doing the ridiculous workout I talked about in the intro. I wouldn’t even do half of it or a third. Yet. A lot of programming streams offer super elite workouts that discourage many people at best and overtrain them at worst. Brooks DiFiore owns Arsenal Strength in Pittsburgh and runs Two-Brain Programming. He’s with me today to talk about programming for the 99%, not for the elite. So Brooks, welcome to the show. Here’s my story for you. I used to program the hardest version of the workout and scale down. Maybe 10 of 200 people in our gym could do the workout as it was written. One day a client comes up to me and says, it’s super disheartening that I can never do what’s ever on the board. How common is this problem? And what does it do to the morale of your clients?

Brooks (01:53):

I think it’s a problem that’s becoming less common, but is still very apparent in many gyms. You know, if I look back at when I first started CrossFit, which was in 2009, 2000. I’ve been around for a little bit. You know, the workouts that you saw that you were like, how am I going to do this? Like, to me, that was something that really motivated me to go into the gym and trt to attempt it. But I was a college athlete at the time I was competitive and like there, wasn’t going to be a lot that they could put up there that would discourage me from coming in. I think that where CrossFit is now or where functional fitness is now, you know, it’s becoming so mainstream that those sentiments are becoming less and less common among your general clients.

Mike (02:43):

  1. Now, you know, I get what you’re saying ’cause back in the day, like when I kind of started CrossFit around the same time as you, you could look at, say a workout like Fran, and you’re like, huh, that’s a tough workout. But like, you could probably do it in like, you know, 10, 15 minutes to start or something like that. Like you could still do it, and then you’d be astounded at like Josh Everett or Greg Amundsen putting up a five minute Fran or something like that. And now it’s down in the two minute range, so things are even more extreme. But then when you look at some of the workouts that are being programmed from time to time, now, they’re like, they’re super extreme where it’s like, you know, deadlifts are now three fifteens. We’re starting at things like that, or snatches at 200 pounds for reps and things. It’s just things, as fitness has evolved, like a five minute Fran time down to a two minute Fran time, has the perception changed of what people need to program? Like, why are some people going a little bit too far in one direction here?

Brooks (03:34):

I think partially it is because of the Games and the competitive side of CrossFit, because you see workouts like that and they are fun. And you see people in the Games, you know, competing with those types of workouts. But again, is that really what is best for the general population of our gym on a daily basis? I think it comes down to really two sides, like over programming for skill and strength, like you mentioned. But also setting too high of expectations for either how fast to do a workout or how many rounds and reps you should complete in workout.

Mike (04:18):

Yeah. And that’s interesting too, because you know, one of the things that at certain competitions and Games level and so forth, the timing and the setup and the coaching and the warmup, isn’t really a concern for the programmers. Like Dave Castro never has to be like, oh, I wonder how long Mat Fraser needs to warm up, you know, whereas in a gym setting, the pace of a class and you know, all of that is really tough on a coach to manage. And you guys teach that at Two-Brrain Programming, but it’s not always something that comes naturally. And I’ve certainly made mistakes as a programmer where my coach has come back and say, dude, like we had no time for anything. How are they supposed to get warmed up to this level of whatever, you know, in the time you allotted, you know, that’s such a common mistake that’s out there. I think. So you’re right. Like it’s not just about the programming and, you know, the skills and the morale and so forth. It’s also about the pacing of the class. So if you don’t give people the right workout, it can really destroy an athletes experience, right?

Brooks (05:07):

Yeah, absolutely. And when people come in and they have an hour and they want to get this workout in, like we need to be teaching people basics and things like that. But at what point does their fitness level get diluted down because you’re trying to teach this high level skill that really might not be that important for them to ever perform in the long run.

Mike (05:28):

I ran into that a lot where it was like, muscle-ups is a great example, where there were a number of people in any gym that can get muscle-ups male, female, the whole deal. Like we had tons of women get their first muscle-ups in our gym. However, there were some people that we do like muscle transition drills with, and these people didn’t have a single strict or kipping pull up without like a huge band or something like that. So they were so far away, was that muscle-up transition drill, really needed for them? You could argue that like skill development is good, but at the same time, did it really help them get closer to their goals of first pull-up? Debatable. Right. So I totally get what you’re saying. And we always struggle with that. There’s always that struggle in a group situation to figure out how do you please everyone from your top high-end fire breather to like the person who just walks in and wants a quick workout and then to go home and play with the kids. Right?

Brooks (06:15):

Yeah. And, you know, even if I look at my gym and we have great athletes who can bang out a high volume of muscle-ups. I still look at them and I say, OK, well, if we want to get you better at muscle-ups, like, we should probably just continue to drill the basics. Right. A really good kipping pull-up, of a really good chest to bar pull-up. Like let’s continue to develop that skill rather than just muscle muscle up yourself to death. And I think that’s when we as coaches really missed the boat on like the mindset of like scaling for certain athletes, like only scaling down and never scaling up. Like one, it would be super beneficial for an athlete who can say string together, you know, five to 10 bar muscle ups to continue to develop that foundational technique of a kip. Right. And during that time, you never have to worry about what the other eight, nine people in the class are doing, because they’re still working that same foundational movement with you.

Mike (07:16):

So let me ask you this. CrossFit back in the day, when it was originally conceived, what was built basically on, you know, on a program that would challenge the best athletes. And it was basically programming built for Navy SEALs. And then, you know, Greg Glassman talked about back-filling for grandparents, right? So the idea was like, you present the hardest thing because it’s going to inspire these fire-breathing early adopters, and then you’re going to do it the other way. It starts scaling back. And he had the whole thing where he had, you know, very average normal athletes in his gym and older clients and so forth. And he used the same principles. He just didn’t have them do the same crazy workouts. And he was convinced that, you know, by talking to the tip of the spear, you would inspire them. And it would trickle down in various levels and it worked, and there was a, you know, a gigantic, you know, multinational, a hundred million dollar company built out of this. The plan worked for CrossFit. Why doesn’t it work perfectly for gym owners?

Brooks (08:08):

So I think that his theory of sharpen the tip of the spear, everyone else will eventually catch up, like that’s a hundred percent correct. Right. Especially in like a competitive environment, like if you’re in a competitive environment or a competitive gym, like your coach better be programming for the best person there. And then that is going to raise your level of performance as well. Right. There’s absolutely no argument there. But when we start to, you know, when we look at, you know, CrossFit and what it was, like back then, there was maybe only one place for you to do CrossFit in a city or the town. Right. So it’s like, yes, you needed to or else you never would’ve gotten to the level that it’s at now. Now you have so many different options, right. As far as what CrossFit can be and you know, what kind of gym you’re running, that if you’re dealing with that general population, like just the idea of getting a pull-up could be motivational enough to make them come in and work. Right. I think there’s the fine line between finding like inspiration of something that you cannot do yet, but seems achievable. And then something that is just so far out of the realm of possibility in a client’s current state of mind that they say, well, what the heck am I doing here?

Mike (09:25):

And it makes sense from a marketing perspective, like when you’re trying to inspire fitness people and acquire new clients, you can’t really do it with like, here’s a sexy banded pull-up right. You have to show like the, kind of the hardcore thing, just to attract people. I’m talking in the very early stages of like, you know, a brand new fitness program. People want to see, the early adopters want to see new challenges they haven’t seen, hard things, intensity, all this different stuff, but that doesn’t, that, you know, that changes over time. So when you and I opened our gyms, like, I’ll tell you my early clients, by and large, when we started in 2009, 10, they were police firefighters, military, ex college athletes, ex bodybuilders. And then we had a lot of like competitive athletes who were pretty good at recreational sports or, you know, been very good athletes.

Mike (10:11):

So that was the essential clientele. Five, eight years later, it was changing where we got all those people already. They were either still in our program or they had moved on to other challenges. Now we were starting to talk to their mothers and their sons and their daughters and their, you know, relatives and coworkers and things like that. So that market changed a lot. And we were still at the time putting up like super hard workouts on the website, bloody pictures and things like that. And that wasn’t what people wanted to see. And of course we had an issue. Then we realized we would market it to a very different group of people. And we took, you know, tried to hide our workouts. Not because they’re bad workouts, but because if people don’t understand the scaling that goes into them, did you have that same experience at your gym?

Brooks (10:49):

I opened my gym six years ago. So I think we were on the tail end of that. Right. We really started to realize that they needed to change the perception around what CrossFit could be in the sense of, like, it doesn’t have to be like hands bleeding, you laying on the floor, you know, doing these crazy things. Right. And in the past six years, I think that many affiliates have done a great job of making the idea of CrossFit much more accessible to a general population.

Mike (11:25):

It’s really cool how when we look, especially at Two-Brain gyms and we look at the things that they’re doing now, in terms of marketing, how they present themselves, it’s so neat to see the evolution of things. Right. And like, I’m thinking specifically here of Billy Gorham’s gym. And I talked to him on Two-Brain Radio just a little while ago. And when you go to his website and search for it, the tagline that comes up is where beginners start their journey. And I think that’s just so great, right? Where he’s talking to a specific audience there and he’s showing them what they need to see, happiness, fun, excitement, support, coaching, all those things. Whereas, you know, eight years ago, my gym was like, you go there and like, wow, there’s blood all over that guy’s shins. Talk to me a little bit about the influence of the Games. We touched on a little bit, but how did the CrossFit Games influence programming at the gym level? What happens there?

Brooks (12:11):

Again, I think we see these Games athletes doing these absolutely spectacular things. And we’re like, OK, this is how they train all the time. Right. And Games workouts, like they’re so visually appealing and well-designed that they just look like fun. Right? And I think as coaches, as programmers, like we want to introduce fun all the time into our program. So I think that we can just get a little bit carried away and forget that like Games athletes, 99% of the time they’re doing really boring work regularly.

Mike (12:42):

And they’re doing a lot of it. And that’s all they’re doing. Like a lot of Games athletes, not all of them, but many of them it’s like their full-time job. They train five, six hours a day. It’s all they do. They don’t have full-time jobs. They train, eat, recover. That’s basically what they do. And they’re trying to get to the Games. It’s a huge amount of work. And it’s funny, the Games, you know, the programming at the Games has always kind of trickled down a little bit. If you remember 2009, that was the year where Mikko Salo won. And it was a huge volume. Like there was tons of workouts, big chipper at the end, like the whole deal. All of a sudden, everyone thought there had to be more volume. And then there was the year, I think it was 2012 when Camille LeBlanc-Bazinet won, there was more gymnastics.

Mike (13:19):

And all of a sudden everyone was doing more gymnastics. Right. And things have kind of changed where you see things always kind of trickled down. And it is, I think that curse of novelty because the Games are so far away from almost everyone and they’re growing further and further away. Back in the day, like 2009, a really good athlete had a chance to get to the Games. That’s not the case anymore. You have to be a super elite athlete. And I had a conversation with Rob Orlando, the CrossFit strongman hybrid guy, and we were talking about strongman stuff. And then we got off topic, started ranting about Games stuff. And he said, my job literally as a coach is to tell people you’re not going to the CrossFit Games, which I thought was incredible because he realized at that point that, and he had been a Games competitor.

Mike (13:59):

Most of his clients had these, or not most, many clients have these aspirations, but they weren’t realistic. And they were setting themselves up for failure. And of course he got into fights with clients just as I did, but you know, it’s because you’ve had that issue and we had at a Games athlete at our gym for a couple of years and it really put a strain on things where we’re trying to figure out how do we accommodate someone like that and someone who has no interest whatsoever, you know? So I think you’re exactly right. The Games are very, very far away from where the average programming is. So talk to me about like the programming streams that are out there are. Are some of them overprogramming?

Brooks (14:30):

They might be. The only people that can answer that other people who are running it in their gyms and the feedback they’re getting from their clients, right. If you’re in a super competitive gym, like it’s probably going to be hard to program for them. But if you’re doing something that is either, you’re either setting expectations too high or you’re regularly programming movements that are going to discourage the everyday person from potentially coming into class that day, then yes, you’re over programming.

Mike (15:06):

And the only way you’re going to figure that out then is by talking to your clients and evaluating, right. You have to have that relationship where you can’t just sit at the top and say, I love this programming. It’s amazing. It doesn’t really matter what you like. It matters what your clients, right. Am I correct?

Brooks (15:18):

Sure. You know, even like going in with the idea of setting expectations, right. I think that we’re always like, OK, what would the high bar be, right. Let’s just say there’s 10 minute AMRAP. And you’re like, OK, a Games athlete or regionals athlete would get like four to five rounds of that. Like, is that what you should be putting into your notes for your coaches to tell your general population? Like sure. If they scale it correctly, you know, but what if you have people that it’s achievable for, but like they get two rounds of it, right. And you just totally overshot your estimate of what they should get, because you have someone who is very fit, right. Just from like an overall general population level. And they’re trying to compare themselves to a regionals, Games level athlete. So I think that at times, like dialing back our expectations and letting athletes exceed them will go a long way into making them feel like they’re getting what they need to get accomplished.

Mike (16:18):

Yeah. Nobody likes to fail, you know? And that’s always a challenge when I was programming, which I don’t do anymore. My wife takes care of that, but it was always a challenge because you want to set up something hard, but you never wanted to set something up where people would feel utterly defeated. You know, where let’s say you put a chipper together and half the athletes only get into the second movement and don’t get to have any fun on the third and fourth and fifth one, that’s bad programming, you know? And it might work for like, you know, if I programmed for Jason Khalipa, it might’ve worked if I programmed for Mat Fraser, but it’s not going to work if my average accountant who comes in just wanting to work out, leaves saying, I didn’t even finish half the workout, man. This sucks. Right? Like it can really hurt your clients’ morale. And it’s all about the presentation. I love what you said there. If you say, oh, well, you know, you should be able to get three or four rounds of this and you make a mistake. And all of a sudden clients get two, they feel like they failed. Right?

Brooks (17:06):

Yeah. They feel like they haven’t, that they’re not the level that maybe they thought they were, or that maybe that the work they’re putting in hasn’t been paying off and you need to change.

Mike (17:16):

Another point. You’re exactly right. They’re actually subverting your own chain of success. They’re like, well, obviously the program is not working for me.

Brooks (17:23):

Exactly. How many times does the coach hear that? And just, you know, almost lose their minds. Yeah. Yeah.

Mike (17:29):

And this syncs up exactly with what Chris Cooper has talked about in bringing clients into programs, he wants you to find in your gym, wins for your clients, right from the first day, like, what are they doing right? Even if it’s just like you showed up, put your shoes on and did a workout, or it’s like, you’re good at deadlifting or whatever it is, finding wins in every single spot. If you don’t find wins for your clients, and if you don’t highlight those wins, you’re going to have problems. So your programming is a huge part of that because it can definitely eliminate wins. So Brooks, how do we fix all this? You mentioned a few things, but let’s really dig in. How do you address these issues? Make sure that you’re programming for the clients and helping them find wins and success.

Brooks (18:08):

One of the biggest things we can do is get away from that program for the best, scale for the rest and say, Hey, I’m going to program for the bulk of my gym. And then I’m going to scale up for the people who need it or down for those who need it. Right. So it takes the pressure off coaches. You maybe go and like now you have to find a scaling, 12 people in class and two can do bar muscle ups. Now you have to find 10 scaling variations, right? I’m sure there’ll be people in there who are, you know, doing just chest to bar pull-ups you might have to do three or four, but you still have to have that conversation with everyone. Right. If you just choose and then you can even go down to like doing, you know, ring rows or bent over rows.

Brooks (18:50):

So you have this thing, that’s all the way, you know, at level 10, and you’re asking somebody to do something at level one, and that’s great. Like that’s why CrossFit is, you know, so accessible to everyone. But as a coach, I’d rather my coaches say like, OK, Hey, we’re going to do pull ups, right? Pull ups are how the workout is written. Also, athletes who need a little bit more, they have the opportunity to scale up to bar muscle ups. And if you can’t do pull ups, then you can scale down to ring rows. Now you’re taking this bulk of a class, right. And said, Hey, you’re doing exactly what you need to do. And now you’re maybe having these scaling conversations with one or two people, and you can spend that time actually developing a personal relationship with your clients rather than just trying to find a scaling variation for them.

Mike (19:37):

I wouldn’t have a clue on the ratio, but I would guess that I’ll say 85% of gyms scale down more than they scale up. And I think you’ve hit on something there because really like we had back in the early days, we had some really good athletes and we would often scale up for them specifically because you look at a workout. It was just so far below what they were capable of. But I think in scaling up, there’s also this tendency sometimes to think you’re further ahead than you are. And like, let’s talk about like Fran, as a simple example, scaling up Fran makes it a different workout. Right? Like sometimes there’s workouts that people will look at, oh, those are too easy. But if you do them faster, they’re horrific and super effective. Right?

Brooks (20:17):

Right. Like, yeah, absolutely go faster. I think like we, so I do want to make a distinction between like, like your everyday programming and like, benchmarks. Like, so even like, in the context of this conversation, like my mind has been like on your everyday program, now we introduced something like benchmarks, right? Where yes. Things like muscle ups, handstand push-ups, handstand walks, super heavy weightlifting, those things like are absolutely appropriate because we’re testing, right. We’re trying to achieve something that we’ve never achieved in the past. And I think that, you know, we talked about that novelty thing. It makes those movements a lot more fun for people if we save them primarily for benchmarks and testing pieces.

Mike (21:07):

I really like that because what it does is it gives people an opportunity to, you know, exceed their previous scores or to even like, let’s say I can all of a sudden I can do Fran and I can do pull-ups. Whereas I had to use a band before, that’s a huge win that shows up. And it only shows up when you program those benchmarks from time to time. I remember our gym specifically the two days that always had the best atmosphere of all time were Helen, which is, you know, running and again, barring injury, anyone can do these things. There’s running, kettlebell swings that are fairly light and pull-ups and pull-ups some people that can’t do, but they do bands and that’s fine, but everyone could almost complete that workout exactly the way it was written. People loved it. The other one was deadlift day when we would do, you know, max out a deadlift or hit a heavy five deadlift or something because almost everyone can deadlift. And the benefit of that is these clients feel these huge wins and a sense of accomplishment.

Chris (21:58):

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Mike (22:43):

So talk to me here a little bit more about these expectations and how you set them with your programming. You know, how your coaches deliver the programming at the whiteboard.

Brooks (22:51):

Yeah. So again, let’s set expectations. We always dial back our expectations a little bit for what we think is achievable here, because at the end of the day, just for my general population of people, I’d much rather have them leaving the gym thinking that they accomplished something above and beyond what they went in expecting to complete. The other thing we do, the other thing we do is we program for what is our general population, right? We look and we say, OK, again, you know, like pull ups, muscle ups. Handstand pushups, you know, pushups, ring dips, like those are, you know, but we always take the middle variation, right? What is the one that the bulk of the athletes or clients are going to be able to do? And then let’s make sure that we have an option for the athletes who need to scale up. And another option for the athletes who need to scale down.

Mike (23:45):

What’s your client avatar?

Brooks (23:47):

Our client avatar?

Mike (23:48):


Brooks (23:51):

We serve a general population who wants to be able to live their best life by improving their health and fitness. Like that is what we’re going for. And then within that, there are people who fall in love with doing CrossFit.

Mike (24:06):

I’m throwing this at you out of the blue and the reason why I asked it, because I knew you would know your avatar, but I think a lot of gym owners, I was guilty of this, won’t know that, the answer to that question. And when you don’t know your avatar or your ideal client or your general population and the people you’re trying to bring into that population, it’s really difficult to figure out how to program for them, right? Like if you think that you’re a super competitive gym, but we also serve grandmothers and grandfathers. I mean, it can be done, but it doesn’t give you that you can’t—there’s kind of a gap in the middle there. So by asking you, I just want to see, like, because you know who your clients are, that makes it a lot easier to program, do you agree?

Brooks (24:41):

Yeah, it does. And you know, especially when we look at that and say, OK, like we want to help people live their best lives possible through improving their fitness, right? And along the way, they’re going to fall in love with CrossFit or functional fitness and stay for the long term. Now with that, like everybody who comes in, they need a different element of fitness to improve their life. Right? Some people need to lose weight. Some people might need to build muscle and get stronger. Others just might need to improve their general fitness. So within that, it’s why we built Two-Brain Programming, we want to have a framework where we can make sure that we are talking to these people in their language about how that workout is going to specifically help them with their goal on that day.

Mike (25:24):

So talk to me more about Two-Brain Programming, its philosophy, and like, how is it going to help gym owners retain and please their clients?

Brooks (25:28):

Their clients. It’s going to help gym owners retain their clients because again, it’s going to give you a lens in which you can frame any workout of the day, right into multiple client avatars, depending on their goal. So take one workout. What you do is relate it to the weight loss client. You take the same workout and you relate it to the client who’s trying to build strength. You don’t necessarily have to change the programming or like change your Rx or make something scaled. It’s just about talking to them in a way that’s making them understand why this is benefiting them today.

Mike (26:03):

What are the three most common avatars within a general client group? Like the goals that they have, you mentioned two there.

Brooks (26:10):

Yes. Weight loss, general fitness and then increase strength or build muscle.

Mike (26:14):

And that’s going to cover like what, 80, 90% of clients that are out there, their goals?

Brooks (26:18):

Yeah. You know, the other, I mean, I would argue that it would cover 100% of the clients out there. Yeah. But what you get is, the more you get to know your clients, you’ll start to understand the things in their lives that they do that will make their goals more specific. So for example, if I have a general fitness client who is a golfer, well, I can start to talk to them about the general fitness track, right. Or through the general fitness avatar every day. And then maybe give them some variations that’ll help them with some rotational strength to improve their golf swing, or have a weight loss client. Right. And their primary focus is weight loss, but they want to run a 5k or a marathon. Well, then I can just go even further within that avatar that we provided in related to not only weight loss, but their goal of running a 5k or a marathon or whatever it might be.

Mike (27:12):

So can I put you on the spot here and ask you for just a general simple workout Two-Brain Programming would create and how you would present it to those three different clients?

Brooks (27:21):

Yeah, sure. So let’s say you have a workout that’s a hundred double unders, 20 hang power snatches, 75 double unders, 15 hang power snatches, 50 double unders, 10 hang power snatches. Twenty-five double unders, five hang power snatches. Rx.

Mike (27:38):

We got weightlifting and we got some conditioning stuff and we’re dropping the numbers all the way down.

Brooks (27:42):

Yeah, absolutely. So you might say that general fitness athletes should approach this with the goal to finish or basically go down sweating, right. We want you to go really hard. So like this avatar group should be encouraged to perform double unders wherever possible to work on this skill under pressure where necessary, you know, up the number of reps or decrease them right. To scale this WOD. And the snatch should be a moderate weight that athletes can perform five to six times unbroken when fresh. Right. That’s a pretty traditional way of like briefing any sort of CrossFit workout.

Mike (28:14):

I’m going to ask you a specific question about double unders. What would you say to an athlete who has like occasional spurts of two to three, but you know, in that a hundred round, they’re not going to, you know, they’re not going to get a hundred,unless they go for like two hours, what would you say to that athlete about the skipping?

Brooks (28:28):

I would tell them, OK. You can do as many double under attempts as you want to in about 75 to 90 seconds, right. That should not take you more than 75 to 90 seconds. So go ahead and you know, whip yourself to death with that rope, two or three, but then at the 75, 90-second mark, you got to get onto the snatches.

Mike (28:48):

What that’s going to do is prevent a really stubborn athlete from literally trying to do those hundred double unders for the entire workout.

Brooks (28:55):

Exactly right. And you just like look over and you’re like, you know, time cap is up and they just, you know, they’re on 50 double unders.

Mike (29:01):

And they’re covered in red streaks.

Brooks (29:04):

And then you get a call from their spouse, wondering what’s going on.

Mike (29:06):

Hit me with the next one.

Brooks (29:07):

So let’s say we take that same workout and we talk to a strength athlete about it, right? So we can say like strength athletes will be challenged by the volume of the hang power snatches mixed with the additional demands of the jump rope, right. This avatar group should be encouraged to perform double unders whenever possible, same deal. It’s like to work on that skill under pressure. And the snatches should probably be a little bit heavier. OK.

Mike (29:33):

So would you still want them to go that’s how many unbroken would you want them to get?

Brooks (29:37):

We might have them go in that three to four row. Right. A little bit lower if they wanted to go heavier, but they could also kind of go the opposite way. Right. So a lot of times, especially in the movement, like a hang power clean, like, so with this specific workout? No, I would not actually want them to do that. Right. If they’re snatches from the ground, I would say, yes, let’s go heavier. Maybe let’s do some fast things. Knowing that it’s a hang power snatch, I would actually just want them to hang on to the bar for longer. So they get more muscle breakdown, right. More hypertrophy, which is going to lead to them building more muscle down the line.

Mike (30:11):

And see the great part about that as you just explained to me as if I was a strength athlete interested in building strength, why am I working in sevens and eights and higher rep numbers? It’s like, literally, because that’s going to help you grow more muscle fibers. And we all know, at least anyone who’s done this kind of thing. If you get to seven, fairly heavy hang snatches in a row, it’s brutal.

Brooks (30:30):

It’s so brutal. Right. And you’re even making sure that like, you know, an athlete really understands, like I would, you know, I want to be clear that like, I don’t want you to do 15 or 20 of these unbroken. Like, I want you to pick a weight that’s going to be tough to do for, you know, a set of 12 and then a set of eight, right? So you get into that rep range where you know is ideal for building muscle.

Mike (30:55):

The hardest thing in workouts is when you get high reps and you have to pick loads that are so close to your limit, it’s super rough. So you’re definitely going to build some strength there. Give me your final brief.

Brooks (31:04):

So we’d say like lots of reps, a lot of technique, and like a really short time cap. Make this a challenging workout, especially for many athletes who might be newer and and like wanting to lose weight. Right? So this avatar group should be encouraged to pick a version or a scale number on the jump rope that lets them keep moving with minimal trips. Right? So like if this group right here, I would say, OK, let’s just scale to either scale it down. The number of reps that we’re doing in double unders, or let’s go to single unders, right? Cause I want you to keep moving. I need your heart rate to get elevated. The higher your heart rate is over the course of this nine minutes, the more calories you’re going to inevitably burn, which is going to help you lose pounds.

Mike (31:48):

Same workout, three different ways to present it. And it makes sense, like, let’s be clear, we’re not slimy selling this right. To like say, you know, cause I’ve seen it in the past where a bunch of bodybuilding clients all check their programming and it was all literally the same stuff. And they were all like, we’re eating the same things, the same amounts, doing the same movements on the same days. And he even forgot to change the name at the top of the sheet when he handed it to me. Right. We’re not talking about that. What we’re talking about is tailoring these workouts and that’s where the onus is on the coach to really figure it out, tailor the same workout to each client and explain how that workout is going to help that client accomplish their goals. Correct?

Brooks (32:22):

Yeah, exactly. And I mean it’s providing a better service, right? I mean, especially in a group setting, like they know they’re all getting the same workout, it’s a group setting. Like your like level of coaching and your level of service will really start to shine if you know your clients well enough and you’re confident enough to go up to them and have these conversations about their specific goals, you know? Sure, you might have athletes in class who are just, they just want to work out and that’s fine. Right. That’s exactly what that general fitness brief is for. Again, you will have outliers who want to lose weight specifically will tell you that they want to lose weight, or you will have athletes that want to get stronger. And tell you that you want to get stronger. Like if you want to keep them around for the long term and like truly help them reach their goals, like these are conversations that you should be having with them on a daily basis.

Mike (33:10):

It’s not a snake oil thing. And then the other thing is that exactly what you said, like group programming is your discount option, right? So people expect, like they’re not getting a completely 100% personalized program. They’re getting a general thing that’s customized to them. But this also leads to a high value conversation. Where if someone says, I want more, you can say, let’s talk about your goals and let’s maybe get into some personalized individual one-on-one programming, right?

Brooks (33:37):

Yeah. You know, and I can even take that same mindset and relate it back to, we said like scaling for earth, program for the general population, then scaling up and scaling down, you know, for a lot of our athletes who were like very close to getting handstand pushups or getting bar muscle ups or your PR-ing a snatch or clean and jerk. Like the minimum, like the coaching that they get in class will be minimal compared to personal training. Right. I’d much rather take that client who I’ve see is very close to getting bar muscles and rather than drilling it with them in class, right, when there’s 11 other people who have no interest or aren’t even close to possibly getting bar muscle ups, I’d rather them take them in a one-on-one setting for a half hour and work with them.

Mike (34:22):

Really, that is an opportunity to help a client. It’s also sales opportunity to help your gym’s revenue, right? Like again, we’re not trying to sell things we’re trying to help, but selling through, you know, after helping is the way we run our businesses. Talk to me about how can people find out more about Two-Brain Programming, maybe see what you guys are all about and see what the workouts and briefs are.

Brooks (34:40):

Yeah. So you can go to We have a 30-day free trial. We release each month of programming of a week before it’s scheduled to go live. You can go in, you can download it all in a spreadsheet, edit it. You can make it your own. All the avatar briefs are written there for every single workout. So if you really want to get a better sense of what we’re talking about, I’d encourage you to head over to the website, sign up for your free trial.

Mike (35:06):

People will just see when they sign up for this, they’ll actually see the workouts and they’ll be able to see what you just did, where they have the workout,and the three different avatar brief sso that they could learn how to present them.

Brooks (35:15):

Correct. So if you’re a Two-Brain growth client, you get tier one for free, just reach out to your mentor and they should be able to tell you the coupon code for that, to get access to it. If they don’t, they can just email me, and I’ll make sure you get set up. For everybody else, sign up for a 30 day free trial.

Mike (35:38):

And what’s tier one versus tier two?

Brooks (35:40):

Tier one would just be the full programming breakdown without any, session plans, coach’s notes. It doesn’t include our daily SEM content, our move, manage, sleep, eat, move, manage, our daily accessory tracks. So we have accessory tracks for functional bodybuilding, weightlifting, and gymnastics to go along with the programming.

Mike (36:04):

So all that stuff comes in tier two.

Brooks (36:06):

All that stuff comes in tier two.

Mike (36:09):

Excellent. Listeners. If you’re out there and you feel like you want to learn a bit more about the Two-Brain Programming system, head over there. And it’s really cool because the sleep, eat, move, manage thing that Brooks just talked about, it takes your coaching from just coaching the squat to coaching people as total people. And the cool part about that is that, you know, Brooks and I were talking before the show, there are some gyms that are locked down. There’s some people that are working online, or even if you’re not locked down, it gives you some extra things that you can do to help your clients and help your gym. Brooks. Thank you so much for being here today, talking programming, I’m not going to do well. I’m going to do the hang snatch workout, but I’m going to scale it down a little bit. Is that cool with you?

Brooks (36:43):

That’s cool with me. I’ll be scaling it too.

Mike (36:46):

It’s Friday and I’m a little tired today and I just kind of want to work and then maybe have a beer.

Brooks (36:49):

I’ll join you for the beer.

Mike (36:52):

All right, my friend, we will do that soon in person whenever these lockdowns end. Thanks again, Brooks. I’m Mike Warkentin and this is Two-Brain Radio. We solve gym problems here twice a week, every week. Subscribe for more episodes. To solve problems in between those episodes, join the Gym Owners United group on Facebook. You know how some gym owners’ groups are full of complaining and arguing? Gym Owners United is full of helpful people just like. You join for peer support and advice from Two-Brain mentors, including Chris Cooper. That’s Gym Owners United on Facebook. Join today, and I’ll see you in there.


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