Two-Brain Radio: Incorporating Strongman Movements Into CrossFit With Rob Orlando


Sean: 00:05 – Hi everybody and welcome to another edition of Two-Brain Radio with Sean Woodland. On today’s episode I talk with four-time CrossFit Games competitor and strongman subject-matter expert Rob Orlando. First, Chris Cooper almost went bankrupt in 2008. Now he’s running a multimillion dollar company dedicated to helping entrepreneurs avoid the mistakes that he made. He spent thousands of hours mentoring gym owners one on one, and his new book is packed with advice to help you grow your business and create your Perfect Day. “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief” is an Amazon bestseller. Check out the book reviewers who are calling it a must-read and a lighthouse for your business, and if you want to level up, this is the business book that you need. Rob Orlando has competed at the CrossFit Games three times as an individual and once a master. He also runs the Hybrid Athletics strongman course. We talk about his days as a competitor, why he decided to incorporate strongman movements into CrossFit workouts and whatever possessed him to do the benchmark workout Grace with a 300-pound barbell. Thanks for listening everybody. Rob, thanks so much for taking the time to do this, man. How you doing?

Rob: 01:22 – I’m doing really good. Sean, how about you buddy?

Sean: 01:23 – I’m doing great. I wanted to start with what fitness looked like for you before you got involved in the world of CrossFit.

Rob: 01:37 – That’s a long time ago, Sean, I’ve been doing this a long time. If we want to go back to, um, you know, when I was 12, 13 years old, it’s like things started for me that early where I got a pull-up bar for my 12th or 13th birthday. I got a bench press set and my first Joe Wieder plastic weight set.

Sean: 01:56 – Yeah, I had those.

Rob: 01:57 – The ones that are sand-filled and if they hit the ground they break open. I had that stuff going way, way back and my older brother and I would just kind of lift weights and do pull-ups and push-ups and it just seemed like it was always something that I gravitated towards. And then kind of fast forward through high-school athletics, I played football and I was always the guy leading the stretches, the cool-downs; it just seemed like a natural fit for me.

Rob: 02:26 – And then I went off to college and I got a degree in exercise science. And I’ve been self-employed and on my own in the fitness world since I was, you know, 22 years old when I got out of college. So it’s just been aa lifelong endeavor, now going on 30-plus years. And it’s changed over the course of those, those years, from the age of 22 on, it’s kind of more from like bodybuilder to a strength athlete to a strongman competitor. Then it kind of moved into the CrossFit world in 2007 and eight. And that’s been, you know, I’ve just kind of found this balance point where now I’m still in the strongman world because I get to teach the seminars. But I’m living life as an affiliate owner and a competitor and as a, you know, broadcaster for the CrossFit world.

Rob: 03:19 – So that kind of runs the gamut for the last 25 years or so.

Sean: 03:23 – How did you get involved in CrossFit?

Rob: 03:26 – You know, way back in the day, and I think this is how the vast majority of people, 10 or 12 years ago found it. It was basically just this weird website that would throw up a workout of the day, and you’d get sucked into the vortex of like watching old videos of people like Greg Amundson and Annie Sakamoto doing, you know, these benchmark workouts, Nicole Carroll, doing these benchmark workouts. And that’s exactly what happened to me. So I found the website, one of my private clients that I was training for years, he said, you got to look at this workout called Murph. And I just thought he was completely insane. Cause at the time I was a strongman competitor exclusively.

Rob: 04:15 – The longest thing that I would ever do was, you know, a minute long. And I would say like, who’s gonna go run a mile and do a hundred, 200, 300. It just seemed like it was completely off the wall. But I checked out that workout and I remember I was sitting in my—at the time it was my girlfriend, now my wife, I was sitting in her family room. I was on a computer watching videos and I saw Annie and Greg do Fran. And you know, as I’m sitting there, and this is a true story, I was sitting there eating ice cream out of the tub. You got to remember I was 230 pounds. I was a strongman competitor. I was right at the top of the lightweight class. And I’m sitting there eating, you know, ice cream.

Rob: 05:01 – And I’m thinking like, why are these people moving that fast? It just crazy to me. But the next night, it was the next afternoon, I did Fran in my basement. And it I put 135 pounds on the bar because I was like, I can’t use 95. It’s too light. So I used 135 pounds. I had no idea how to kip. I don’t know how long it took me, but I laid there on the ground for well over an hour. My wife was concerned. She was like, you know, it reckless almost. But to me it was kind of eye-opening that how could I be so strong and not fit at all. And so that was my first dive into CrossFit. And from there I would just go to the website day after day and I would cherry-pick the workouts that made the most sense for me.

Rob: 05:57 – I would do the heavy lifting stuff and I would avoid all the endurance stuff. But you know, that the longer you do it, for me anyway, the longer I did it, the more I realized that there were a lot of holes in my fitness. And just overall health. And it was just like, I’ve got to do something different because at the time all the people that I was competing with at 230 pounds, they were slowly graduating up into the middle weight class and they were getting into the 265 class. And I just didn’t want to be that big. I’m only five foot eight and I didn’t want to be five eight, 260. And I started to not be that interested in the strongman world or being a competitor in that world. And CrossFit just kinda took me in.

Rob: 06:47 – And that was how I got involved. And from there it was just more and more workouts. And I read the book, “Enter the Zone” by Barry Sears and changed the way that I was eating and lost 25 pounds, like almost right away, cause I was eating enough carbs for about 10 people. And I lost a bunch of weight relatively quickly. It zapped my strength, but I ended up getting to a point where I was much more comfortable at like 210, and then from there it was kind of a slow ride down to the 200-pound marker, and the longer I’m at like 195 to 200, the fitter I get. And you know, now I’m doing this—I’m at this weight for almost 10 years now.

Sean: 07:32 – How did you figure out that you could actually compete in CrossFit and be successful at it as well?

Rob: 07:42 – That’s a good question. So at the time, I had just opened up my gym—like I was going house to house personal training people. And I was tired of running from house to house and dealing with the kids and the dogs and the phone calls and all this stuff that you have to deal with as a personal trainer. And I thought if I open up my own space and make my members and my clients come to me, I’m in control. And now they’re in my world. So I opened up my first facility in, I think it was the very tail-end of a 07, really early 08. And it was around that time, later in that year, late 2008, there was a girl that was working out at the gym and she was into CrossFit as well.

Rob: 08:35 – When we opened up we weren’t a CrossFit affiliate, that wasn’t the goal. We were just kinda, I was doing personal training there, and it morphed into a CrossFit affiliate later on. But she told me in the tail-end of 08, she’s like, hey, they’re doing this, a try-out for the CrossFit Games. It’s up in Albany and it’s in early—I think like, you know, April or May of 2009, you should try out. And I was like, I had nothing to lose, but I basically had zero prep. Cause nobody knew what it was. It was just this little obscure thing going on. So I made plans to go to Albany and I think there were, I want to say there were somewhere around 70 male athletes that were trying out, top five got to go to Aromas to compete. And I finished in fifth place, so I earned a spot. My first competition ever in the CrossFit world was that Regional. And then my next competition was at the Games in 09.

Sean: 09:33 – How did your background in traditional strongman movements and competing in strength sports help prepare you for competitive CrossFit?

Rob: 09:41 – You know, and I talk about this a lot at the seminars, that it’s this like idea that strength takes a lifetime to acquire and it’s this kind of long, slow process of just building that baseline of strength. And I believe that over years and years and now it’s decades of lifting and moving heavy odd objects, you have that baseline. So then all I need to do in order—and especially in 08 and 09 and 2010 when the skill wasn’t that good, right? It wasn’t these really highly technical lifts and movements that we were seeing. You know, the sport was in its infancy. I came into it with a good strength background and that allowed me, all I needed really to do was to work on my conditioning to be a well-rounded CrossFit athlete. Now it’s completely different. The playing field is totally different. You’ve got these guys that they are, you know, every bit as strong as like a really good Olympic weightlifter and they’re also a world-class gymnast and they’ve got lungs like a triathlete. So the sport has evolved and changed over the years, but in the beginning it was just who’s the strongest guy that has a decent set of lungs, and that just seemed to be, you know, I fit the mold for that.

Sean: 11:12 – Those 2009 Games are still viewed as one of the most difficult ever at the ranch. What was it like competing in that setting, in that competition?

Rob: 11:21 – I mean, looking back now it feels nostalgic and you know, I love the fact that I got to compete there and that I got to be part of such an early event where it was just so raw. The entire spectator area was like a thousand people. I mean, it was such a small event looking back now. And a lot of it was kind of seat of the pants, and in a way CrossFit is still that, you know, like Dave Castro still makes adjustments on the fly. That’s one thing that I’ve learned from the broadcast booth is that, you know, we always talk about it, right, Sean, that one thing we know is that like things are going to change and events are going to change.

Rob: 12:08 – And so you just have to be able to roll with that. And looking back at the 2009 Games, it was very rough. And the competitors, in between events, were sitting on a concrete slab inside the barn. The events, they weren’t even scripted really. They were kind of—the final event, the chipper WOD, I think that was put together like 20 minutes before the event itself. The event that we did that was I think three rounds of 30 snatches and 30 wall balls or something like that. They originally had it to be five rounds and that event just knocked people out. So I think it’s very cool and nostalgic to look back and to say that I was a part of that and that I got to compete alongside some guys that were stepping into CrossFit as well for the first time, like Mikko and Tommy Hackenbruck, you know, Matt Chan and some of these guys that I’d only seen on videos and then there I am sitting on a rower right next to them.

Sean: 13:12 – You were able to compete at the very first CrossFit Games with Reebok as the presenting sponsor. That was in 2011. What were the biggest changes that you noticed as a competitor when that took place?

Rob: 13:24 – I think just the size and the scope of the competition. You know, if I’m comparing 2009 to 2010, obviously we’re going from Aromas to Carson. And in 2010, I found myself in the opening event, on the tennis-stadium floor and I was in the final heat for the men that night. And the workout was Amanda. It was the first time that they were putting that workout out there. There was, like an F14 flyover, the national anthem, and then three, two, one. And I mean, I remember looking around at the floor and you know, there weren’t that many people in the stands. I don’t think there were a lot of people there to watch it, but for me personally, that’s one of those goosebump moments where you kind of say, this is a very cool thing.

Rob: 14:17 – You’ve got to pinch yourself. And remember the details because it’s a pretty cool place to be. And then you fast forward to 2011 and everything just explodes. That’s when Reebok gets involved and this thing just takes on a life of its own where, you know, you’ve got—it’s not an empty stadium on the first day. It’s a full stadium and the crowd gets bigger, the events get bigger, the purses get bigger, the whole thing just explodes essentially over the course of that single year from 2010 to 11.

Sean: 14:51 – What was the sense that you got from being there on the floor as a competitor about where the Games were headed from that point?

Rob: 15:02 – I think you could sense that again, like looking at the growth from nine to 10 and then 10 to 11, you got the idea that this thing was a snowball going downhill where you just can’t even believe that the Regionals events in 2011 were five times the size of the Games just two years prior.

Rob: 15:27 – And you started to feel like that it’s a runaway train where there are so many people and so many competitors around the world that they haven’t even seen this yet. And as they get introduced to it and they find it through social media and the really good athletes get sucked into it, the quality and the caliber of the athletes is gonna go up. The skill level is gonna go up. All the weights are going to go up, and this thing’s just going to keep getting bigger. And I think we’ve kind of seen that play out, where you’ve got these guys—like, I was fortunate enough to call the Games this year as the color commentator, and as I’m watching the Games and you’re watching Mat Fraser squat clean almost 404 and just one workout after another.

Rob: 16:16 – Compete long, compete short and heavy and gymnastics. And you see the skill level, the purses go up, the endorsements, the sponsors, it’s evolving into a full-blown sport. It’s no longer just this obscure little, you know, backyard game.

Sean: 16:33 – You were featured a lot in some of the really early videos that CrossFit put out. How did that come about?

Rob: 16:43 – That’s actually an interesting story. So, I had a computer that I used to just sit on my desk and it was, you know, it was the computer that I used to run the business, but it had a little camera. It was like a Mac, it was a Mac desktop, and it had a camera that I used to just flip on, and record stuff that I was doing. And at the time, a lot of this stuff I was doing was just really heavy versions of existing CrossFit workouts.

Rob: 17:13 – And so I would film this stuff. I would give it a quick edit. And then I think I sent something to Tony Budding at the time, I believe I just sent it to Tony at CrossFit or media at CrossFit, something like that. I sent them an email and I said, look, here’s a video of something. I think it was like King Kong or I don’t know which video it was, maybe the deadlift thruster workout I had done. I said, you know, here’s a video of something that I shot. And at the time we weren’t a CrossFit affiliate. But they said, this is great, if you’ve got other stuff, send it, because we’ll post it up. So, I mean, at the time I had tons of this footage. So I started sending Tony everything that I had. And CrossFit was nice enough to start putting that stuff on their website.

Rob: 18:02 – And that opened up the floodgates for a lot of other athletes to do similar content. And then that evolved into, you know, where there was workout demo videos, of a lot of times it was me, Dave Lipson, Austin Malleolo, there was a bunch of guys, James Hobart, that would get called on like, hey, this workout’s gonna come up, can you shoot it and send it to us? And then, you know, they would edit it and put it up. So it just started organically because I had this content and I think CrossFit tapped into it and started putting it on their site, it wasn’t contrived. It wasn’t something that I was looking to do. I just, I was filming my stuff and putting it on my own YouTube channel. And, you know, it just morphed into CrossFit putting on their website.

Sean: 18:46 – One of I think the more infamous videos is you doing Grace at 300 pounds. What possessed you to even give that a try?

Rob: 18:55 – Yeah. So that actually a good story too. So, in 2010 in Albany, one of the events at the Regionals was you had a seven-minute clock. So it was a seven-minute event. But inside of that seven minutes, you had 40 seconds to do three clean and jerks with the heaviest possible weight. And you had unlimited attempts, and so you’ve got a barbell, you’ve got a bunch of weights sitting there and you’ve got seven minutes on the master clock. And then once you grabbed the bar to do your first lift, you had 40 seconds to complete three successful clean and jerks. And I was in the last heat, I had seen a bunch of the guys go, I think the best ones at that point was 265 and I went out and I think I did one or two reps at 265, I did 285 for a triple.

Rob: 19:55 – So I knew that I had won it. But I wanted 300 and I was like, I’m gonna give this a crack. So I put 300 on the bar and I did three clean and jerks in 40 seconds at 300 pounds.

Sean: 20:10 – Wow.

Rob: 20:10 – That planted the seed, because I wanted to see like, all right, if I can do three in 40 seconds at 300, could I potentially do 30 reps of that? And it took me, I want to say two to two and a half years of kind of letting that germinate and trying it in every different iteration. So I would do like, you know, one clean and jerk every minute for 30 minutes. I would do a clean and jerk at 300 and then run a hundred-meter jog. So I would do this in a million different ways. But I never hit the volume of doing all 30 reps. And then I had kind of mentally prepared myself.

Rob: 20:53 – Like, all right, I’m gonna give this thing a crack. And I started the camera and you know, I think I did six or seven in the first minute, way too aggressive, came out hot. But you know, like 20, 24 minutes later, whatever it was, I hit rep number 27 and then I missed 28 and I missed it again and I missed it again and I missed it again. And I’m like, I got three reps left, what if I can’t finish this thing? I’m never doing it again. But I was like, what if I get to 27 and I just can’t knock this out? Thankfully I hit 28 and then knocked out the last two just to finish it out and I want to say it was somewhere around 28, 29 minutes, but there was at least five minutes of fumbling around with rep number 28. And again, at the time nobody was doing that kind of thing. Now I’m sure it would just be, you know, like what Rich or Mat does like on a random Tuesday. But for me it was a whole lot and now I can’t even imagine doing it, but it was one of those things, it’s a box that I’m glad I checked.

Sean: 22:11 – Yeah. I don’t think many people are even doing that nowadays, man. That’s pretty impressive. We’ll be back with more with Rob Orlando after this.

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Sean: 23:10 – What motivated you to mix movements and elements from your background in strongman into CrossFit training?

Rob: 23:17 – You know, that’s pretty simple. It’s really return on investment. You know, from my perspective as a coach—now we’re shifting gears from like competitive side to like, now I want to help people move and I wanna get people on the path to fitness. I draw this comparison all the time at my seminars where we talk about the complexity and the learning curve on a squat snatch versus the complexity and the learning curve on a tire flip. And I ask, you know, I’ll usually ask the people in the audience, like, if you coach this stuff, how long does it take you to get a sedentary person to do a squat snatch? And the answer is, you know, the right answers are usually like six months plus. And my argument is I can get that same sedentary person to do a tire flip perfectly in about four minutes, and then I can have them doing it with intensity in a workout just a couple of minutes after that. So as a coach and as somebody who’s trying to get people on the path to fitness, I know that these movements exist, how can I possibly ignore them? How can I not put that in my toolbox? That was really the motivation to bring these movements that I knew had merit and bring them to the community. And the CrossFit community just embraced it from the start.

Sean: 24:36 – Yeah. That was my next question is what was the reaction to that when you start bringing out, you know, Atlas stones and tires and, you know, yokes and all that kind of stuff?

Rob: 24:44 – Yeah, I mean I think there was—from the way I remember it anyways, even now, there’s still a stigma associated with the word strongman. I think people have a—there’s an imagery that comes to mind when they think strongman. They think about guys like Brian Shaw and that are, you know, six foot six, 450 pounds and they’re lifting 500-pound Atlas stones and they’re carrying thousand-pound yolks. And so there’s an imagery that comes to mind. The problem is, very much like CrossFit, that’s the tip of the spear. Like that’s the stuff that you see on television. But what we needed to do at Hybrid Athletics, I had to engineer products that would enable normal people, regular people, like regular 175-pound guys, 130-pound ladies to do these movements.

Rob: 25:42 – So we had to build Atlas stones that went down to 35 pounds. We had to build farmers’ handles that were 20 pounds when they were empty. So that we made it, it’s what Glassman talks about at the Level 1s way back in the day, we have to make this infinitely scalable. So we created some gear that normal people could use and then we had to go out there and start teaching people how to do it. And that was the genesis of the seminar. It’s like, all right, well we have this stuff, we’ve made the equipment to make it accessible. Now we have to go out and educate. And the CrossFit community just soaked it up. I think they were ready for something interesting. And at the time, it was like a rabid culture of people trying to get information and knowledge and we just happened to hit it right where, you know, we had this new angle and I think that’s where Dave and Greg, they said, hey, we like what you’re doing. We’d like to bring you under our umbrella, so CrossFit from the top down just embraced us.

Sean: 26:48 – You were then dubbed the CrossFit strongman subject matter expert, and then you had to put together a course with a curriculum. What was that process like?

Rob: 26:57 – Oh, this is great. So at the time, there were a lot—I have a certain way of doing things and a lot like I think Dave makes adjustments on the floor at the Games, that’s kinda how I program. That’s kinda how I work out. Everything is a little bit, I say this all the time. It’s like drive-by Braille, right? We’re going to feel our way through this thing. So I was hanging around a bunch of people that at the time kept telling me, you need to come up with a formula.

Rob: 27:32 – You need to come up with like a curriculum where you’re going to carry the yoke on Mondays and you’re going to do Atlas stones on Tuesdays, there’s gotta be a rhythm and a cadence to this thing. And I trusted these people and I tried really hard to come up with a blueprint that I thought people would buy into. But it just didn’t work for me. And during the California road trip, which was this epic road trip that me, Dave Castro and Dave Lipson and Dave Malar, Bill Grundler, like we went all the way up the California coast. We started down at Coronado, made our way up to San Francisco, and then we kind of, you know, quote unquote “auditioned” for CrossFit at San Francisco CrossFit at the time. And that was the first time that Dave had seen our seminar, like how it worked.

Rob: 28:24 – So the night before the seminar, I’m sitting in my hotel room and I’m still handwriting this bullshit curriculum that I’m trying to fabricate out of thin air. And it’s like trying to write you know, a fiction story. It’s just not something I believe. And this is, I swear this is true. I took all the notes and everything that I had written, crumbled it into a ball and threw it in the hotel wastebasket. And I had absolutely no idea what I was going to say when I got up to the whiteboard the morning that we were auditioning. It was like walking up onto a stage, completely blank. And I had an outline for what order I wanted to do the equipment, but outside of that, I had no framework and it was basically built on the fly.

Rob: 29:18 – But I think my approach to that whole thing was just this is not something that’s scripted. It really is drive-by Braille. And how often do you put this stuff in? People would ask me, you know, how often do you carry the yoke? And I’m like, well, as often as I do chest-to-bar pull-ups. Well how often do you do the farmers carry? As often as I do handstand push-ups. Like it’s, to me it’s just one more thing, it’s not some special thing that deserves some special day and a special class. It’s just more toys that I can go into the toy box and grab.

Sean: 29:54 – I have not been personally to a lot of gyms that have what I would and I think what you would call traditional strongman equipment. Been to a few. Why don’t you think more gyms, especially now, incorporate those types of elements into their programs?

Rob: 30:09 – It’s a million-dollar question, Sean. I really wish I had the answer. Cause when I teach the seminars and I’m sitting there and you’ve got, you know, five or six gym owners in the audience and you ask them point blank, you know, as the day is wearing on, you ask them like, how do you go back to your gym on a Monday knowing that these movements are there and the ROI is so potent, right? That I can invest five minutes into this sedentary person who’s never done any of this stuff before and I can make this appropriately difficult for the person and I can dial it up and dial it down. And by the way, it has universal appeal, right? Like everybody likes to flip tires. Everybody likes to lift Atlas stones.

Rob: 31:01 – I haven’t met anybody that’s like, oh, I hate that. It has universal appeal. So you see the light bulb go on. I think that the major drawback, there’s two that I can think of, is one, is a lack of creativity on the part of the gym owners and their own creativity in how they program the workouts. They think like, well, we don’t have 10 yokes so I can’t program yoke carries. You know, there’s a creative way to integrate this stuff into your program even if you’ve got 20 people in class, there’s a way to get people through a workout. And I think a lot of them, they just don’t understand how you would work this stuff in. And then the other part of it is you have to so firmly believe and fully believe in the movements that you have to sell it to your members.

Rob: 31:56 – You have to get them to understand the value in these movements and the carryover into everything else that they’re going to do. And I think a lot of times, like even though people are unbelievably motivated at the seminar, a lot of times it wanes over time. So, you know, give it two, three weeks and you know, now they’re going back to their gym and you fall right back into the same programming habits. I think there’s a delay there. If somebody left our seminar, went back to their gym and had all the toys sitting there, I think it would probably make a substantial difference because they’d be more inclined to just say, all right, yeah, we’re going to program this stuff in. And they would see the from the membership and it would encourage them to do more and more of it.

Sean: 32:43 – If there is a gym out there, a gym owner or coach listening right now, who wants to add more strongman movements or elements to his or her programming, where should that person start?

Rob: 32:55 – If you go to, we have Strongman WOD which is like, it’s become like this huge, depository of workouts. And so if you have a yoke, you can very quickly do a filter and say yoke and all of our yoke workouts will pop up. You can also go to our Instagram page, which is @hybridwods, and that’s our daily programming, so people can see how we program and they can see what we’re doing. And I think that if nothing else, like there’s a couple people that I follow on Instagram only to see what workouts they’re programming. I love Pat Sherwood and what they’re doing at Linchpin. And I tend to line myself up a lot with his style, which is simple couplets and triplets. It’s old-school CrossFit. It’s a total throwback. We just happen to pepper in some more strongman movements. But I think @hybridwods on Instagram is a good place for people to go where they can see what we’re doing as a gym on a day-to-day basis.

Sean: 34:03 – You have always been known as the guy who lifts heavy stuff. How has that changed as you have now progressed into the master stage of your career?

Rob: 34:13 – Yesterday I deadlifted 550.

Sean: 34:15 – So not much.

Rob: 34:16 – No, not much at all. I put up a post I think last week on Instagram and I’ve been off social media, you know, on and off, I kind of go hot and cold on it. But I put up a post last week that, you know, even though the setting has changed and the backdrop has changed, cause I went from lifting weights in my basement to, you know, to my own gym and you know, so the backdrop has changed, my desire to be strong and my appreciation for like slinging weights around, it’s still there. And I’m 44 years old and I feel like I keep getting fitter, I keep getting stronger. We have a deadlift bar. We’ve had it here for years at Hybrid where it’s just loaded up and we leave it in the corner.

Rob: 35:09 – And we call it the cold bar. And you don’t warm up, you just walk over to it whenever the mood strikes you, you walk over, you give it—you know, you set up and you do a pull. And, you know, this thing has fluctuated from, I don’t know, call it 365, upwards of 525. And wherever it’s at, I’ll just walk over and deadlift it. And at the end of the week, I’ve done five or 10 deadlifts, at the end of the month, I’ve done an extra 50 reps, and you just keep adding to that baseline of strength. And to me, it’s still interesting. I’ve been doing this an awful long time and I don’t think there’s any finish line to the strength game.

Sean: 35:49 – Heavy days are always important for well-rounded fitness. I found as I get older, I tend to maybe, I don’t want to say shy away, but I look at them a little differently than I used to. How should older athletes incorporate heavy days or heavy implements into their training effectively?

Rob: 36:04 – Yeah. I mean, look, I’m 44 and the amount—even what I was doing two and three years ago, I kind of look at that and I say, man. Cause I keep notes on the last couple of years of my workouts. I have a note on everything. So I have my scores. You know, there are days I come in here and I still feel like I’m 35, and then there are other days that I come in and I feel like I’m 85, you know, it’s the game. But again, it goes back to the idea that it’s drive-by Braille, right? Like if you walk into the gym and your joints feel great and mentally you’re on point, then I think you’re probably in a pretty good place to go at it really hard.

Rob: 36:45 – On the flip side to that, I’ve been dealing with—I had knee surgery in May and I’ve just been dealing with this nagging recovery. And I’ve had to adjust a lot of things. So on the days that the knee feels good, I get after it; on the day that it doesn’t, I just adjust things on the fly so that I can still get a good workout in. I don’t beat myself up over it. I just kind of, you know, it is what it is. This is the situation that it is. I am 44, I am a car with mileage, and there’s a lot of squats, a lot of deadlifts, a lot of bench press, a lot of overhead work. It’s just a lot of work that’s been done, and you know, I always remember that, that it’s not—I’m not all that interested in the day to day.

Rob: 37:36 – What I’m really interested in is like the year to year. So you know, what I do today doesn’t really matter all that much because it’s just a tiny little stepping stone on what I did yesterday and it just sets me up for whatever I’m going to do tomorrow. And the big picture is like, can I still be getting stronger, fitter? Can I keep pushing, you know, the envelope into 50 years old. And I think the answer is yes, as long as the program is constantly varied, high-intensity functional movements that are scaled appropriately for me and my position.

Sean: 38:10 – You’ve been able to be part of the broadcast side of things for the Games the past couple of years. What’s it been like for you getting into that side of the sport?

Rob: 38:20 – To be honest, like I love it. It’s been a new challenge. I don’t mind talking, I don’t mind public speaking at all, the seminars, they’ve really— I don’t mind getting in front of people and especially talking about fitness, cause you know, I feel totally comfortable having that conversation. So, you know, putting a headset on and being part of that team, it’s been an incredible experience. And I’m fortunate that I’ve gotten to do a few different events where, I mean, you’re surrounded by real television people that are unbelievably talented. And these guys and girls that I’ve gotten to work with, they make the job pretty easy because, you know, everything is so professionally done that I know that all I gotta do is put the headset on and talk about CrossFit and that’s something that I’m really comfortable doing. I have no problems throwing that headset on. And it’s been a real treat to take on this new skill, cause that’s what it is. It’s a skill that we have to get reps at, to take this new skill and really explore where it’s gonna go.

Sean: 39:29 – What is now on the horizon for you and for Hybrid Athletics?

Rob: 39:32 – Let’s see, for Hybrid Athletics, so in our second location, the one in Bridgeport, next month we’re actually celebrating four years. We’ve got a great community of people here, we’ve got about 90 members. It’s not a huge gym, but I get to hang out with my friends every day. And so for the gym, we’re just going to keep doing what we do. I kind of put blinders on in that regard. I don’t really pay attention to almost anything that’s going on outside this box because it doesn’t do me any good to do that.

Rob: 40:05 – So we keep the blinders on. We keep the focus on, you know, making sure that people here are taken care of and we keep going through that self-induced hardship that we do every day. And then for me personally, there’s a couple of new products that we’ve been working on. There’s a barbell product that we are just finishing up with the tooling and then there’s a strongman-specific product that we’ve been—God, it’s taken like almost two years to get it through prototyping. So we’ve got some cool stuff coming out there and you know, and then the seminar, I think if I’m looking at the seminar, it seems like we might be shifting just a little bit in terms of, you know, not the content so much, but just the delivery.

Rob: 40:55 – I think the seminar, it started out as just we’re going to focus on six or seven movements and it’s all about the movements, and what it’s morphed into over the last three or four years because I feel like the feedback from people has told me that these are the parts of the seminar that they value the most is a deeper dive into programming and kind of what makes Hybrid program unique, how I program for myself. Because I program the gym for me. Like I literally don’t consider anybody else, I program these workouts for me as though I’m going to try to get back to the Games year after year and then we scale it for every single person in class. But you know, what we find is that people keep getting stronger. They keep hitting PRs and it’s a decently well-rounded program. So, for me, I feel like the seminar is going to move and evolve into a little bit of a deeper dive into like business management, programming, membership management, just some of those different little pieces that are—they’re not tire flips. We’re still going to learn that stuff, but I think the seminar might change direction just a bit.

Sean: 42:13 – Well, Rob, I really appreciate you taking the time to do this, man. Best of luck with everything with you personally and with Hybrid Athletics and I look forward to seeing the next video of you doing a 300-pound Grace.

Rob: 42:22 – I’ll put that on my list. Thank you so much, Sean, I appreciate it, buddy.

Sean: 42:27 – Huge thanks to Rob Orlando for taking the time to speak with me. If you want to find him on social media, he’s on Instagram. It’s @crossfitrobo, and his website is If you’re enjoying this show, I would encourage you to subscribe to Two-Brain Radio. Every week we bring you the best from the fitness and the business worlds. It starts on Mondays when Mateo Lopez fires up the marketing machine and explains how real entrepreneurs are generating huge ROI on ads. On Wednesdays, I bring you great stories from the most interesting people in the fitness world, and then on Thursdays, Greg Strauch and Chris Cooper bring you the best of business, a host of experts who can help you level up as an entrepreneur. So if you haven’t, please subscribe to Two-Brain Radio so you don’t miss a show. And of course, we would love to hear what you think in a review.

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