Level Up!

Daily, weekly, monthly and yearly musings of our Coaches on all topics CrossFit, Health & Fitness related and more!

Friday Five!

  July 19, 2019

Hi folks, I promise I’m going to get a little more consistent with this blog, but in an effort to do so, I’m going to be a little more free flowing with my content. I’m going to fill you in on whatever nuggets I’ve found and pass them onto you! So here goes!

Here’s what I’m reading right now: Food: What the heck should I eat!?–Dr. Mark Hyman. A pretty straight forward and no-nonsense book that goes through food groups (meats, seafood, dairy, grains, etc) and gives us the best options and the not so good choices. My only complaint so far is that is a US based book, so most of the links to websites may not apply to Canada and sources for us.

Here’s what I’m listening to right now: Peak Human: Episode #47: The Great Meat Debate. A pretty science-y, and very pro-meat podcast, that makes some very interesting and thought provoking arguments. Worth a listen.

Here’s what I’m drinking right now: Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar Ginger Drink. Most of heard of Apple Cider vinegar and it’s supposed benefits. I’m not super sold on the validity of all the claims, but I’m super sold on the delicious and calorie free drink made from it! Sweetened with Stevia and flavoured with ginger and…Apple Cider Vinegar, it hits the spot when the heat starts to take its toll. I found mine at Remark Farms on Howard.

Here’s what I’m singing to in the car: Lewis Capaldi–Someone You Loved. I’m a sucker for a good old piano ballad (seriously, I have a whole playlist…I’ll share if you’d like!) and I first heard this while I was in England where they were really pushing this single. It makes for a great windows down belter. The more people that hear you singing and the fewer words you know the better!

Here’s what I’m doing to supplement my training: Ryan Flaherty: Seven way hips. The stronger your hips, the more bullet proof you are and the less susceptible to injury. We do a ton of squatting and a lot of the time our big primary movers (muscles) take over and don’t let the little muscles do their work. This can cause imbalances that could eventually lead to injury. This quick warm up addresses those little fellas and helps you stay healthy and strong longer.

That’s it folks. Back next week with some more random links that help or at least make you smile!

Friday Five 121418

  December 14, 2018

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Friday Five pre-Xmas Edition!

Is anyone starting to get that Christmas anxiety?  You know the one, where you aren’t sure if you are entirely done shopping?  Or you don’t know what to get someone?  Or is it just me.  Well, take your mind off of it for 15 mins and immerse yourself in some useful knowledge.  The mall can wait.  Five more juicy links to all of the knowledge when it comes to nutrition, mobility, technology, training and mindset.


Long a staple of a hearty breakfast, do eggs have a place in a healthy diet?!  If you are as old as I am (getting up there) you have been through the egg white only phase and may have even had a carton of egg whites in your fridge.  Are the yolks really that bad?  Should we be paying that extra $2 for the egg white only omelette? How many eggs a week can I eat and still be safe?  Here’s some science to help you decipher what’s noise and what’s real.

Are Eggs Healthy?


WARNING Explicit Language.

If you aren’t comfortable with an eff bomb or two, don’t click this link.  Mark Manson, the author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F@ck tackles the topic of feelings and what place they have in your mindset.

F Your Feelings


Do you have low back pain?  A tightness or tingling sensation that runs down the back of your leg?  Does your hip ache?  These can all be symptoms of piriformis syndrome.  The piriformis is a small muscle that attaches to the sacrum and the top of your femur and helps move your leg from side to side.  Check out these stretches to help you get everything moving well again.

Piriformis Stretches

Training Tips/Techniques

Everyone loves hitting that juicy WOD or going for a 1RM but how many people actually love warming up?  You should.  A good warm up is often the key to performing better whatever the task is.  So take pride in warming up and take a few tips from here.

How To Warm Up Properly


Not many people who take running seriously (or even semi seriously) don’t have some sort of device that measures their pace, distance and calories burned.  Whether that’s a phone, a foot pod or a running watch, depends on preference, but without one, I’d be lost.  What did runners do before the advent of GPS?  Well if it was 1986, maybe you owned a pair of these futuristic shoes from Puma!  Way, way ahead of the curve, they measured distance, pace and calories burned and then uploaded the data to your Commodore 64 to track your progress!  Now they are being re-released with updated computer guts, but the same styling.  Only 86 pairs are being released worldwide, so you better have deep pockets or a real love of retro running gear (or better yet BOTH!).

Puma 1986 Computer RS




Happy to help.

If you want any information about All Level CrossFit or anything health and nutrition related, please drop me a line john@alllevel.ca or come on by to
1821 Provincial Ave, Windsor ON
N8W 5V7

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The Friday Five 120718

  December 7, 2018



The Friday Five!

Even though this is the fourth iteration of my lovely blog (check em out here), this is the first  version we will be emailing out, so bear with me as I explain what I hope to accomplish to ALL of our new friends.

Every week I compile five worthy links pertaining to CrossFit/Health and Fitness in five categories;  Nutrition.  Mobility.  Mindset.  Training/Technique and Technology.  I scour the web for stuff I think you’ll find value in and can often try to dispel some of the misconceptions floating around about the above subjects.  So if you’re new, dive right in and if you’re not, enjoy this week’s treasure trove of info!


As I mentioned in last week’s column, we can often experience paralysis by analysis when it comes to nutrition advice.  So much information is running around that it becomes overwhelming and we can’t sift out the truth.  One thing that I think is a fundamental truth is that we all need lots of protein (.7-1g per pound of bodyweight). That being said, actually getting enough protein in your diet can be a challenge.   Whatever your goals (weight loss, muscle gain, maintain, etc) a good rule of thumb is to try and get 25-30 grams per meal and then supplement (if needed) after that.  That’s where this infographic comes into play.  It’s rare when you get a no-nonsense, actionable piece of advice that you can put into practice right away.  This is just that.  For those who count macros or follow a Zone diet, this could be a game changer.  Save it to your phone and refer to it when cooking or eating out.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

What 25 Grams of Protein Looks Like


“Comparison is the Death of Joy”–Mark Twain.

One of the hardest things to get past in CrossFit is comparing yourself to others.  We keep score, so inevitably people will track their progress using that someone who they’ve chosen as a personal yardstick.  “Jim front squatted 225 for 6!  I’ve got to do 230 or I suck!”  In the words of Admiral Ackbar “It’s a Trap!!”.  Don’t do it.  It can be a one way ticket to a negative mindset on what is an incredibly positive and trans formative act in your life.  Exercise.  Or in this case, exercising quickly (CrossFit).  This is a great article from some pretty bada$s ladies (with lots of great content).  It’s something we will continue to preach at the box and do our best to uphold ourselves.

Who Cares What’s on the Whiteboard?


Ankle mobility is a lot like your car jack.  You never think about it until you need it.  And when you need it, you really wish you had it.  Before I started CrossFit and I had no clue that there was such a thing as ankle mobility (or any kind of mobility).  I thought being stiff and immobile was the trade-off you made to have muscles.  Then I tried squatting a PVC pipe and fell on my butt.  Embarrassed, I thought not being able to overhead squat was due to poor technique, not poor mobility.  Soon I realized that my ankles (and shoulders, and t-spine) were holding me back.  Fast forward a few years and many mobilizations and I can now competently squat.  I still have lots of work to do and these tips from Shane Farmer of Darkhorse Rowing will be in my curriculum for the next while.

Ankle Mobility

Training Tips/Techniques

Strict pull ups are one movement that everyone has as a goal at some point in their CrossFit career.  And then once you have one, it’s like tattoos, you need more.  And for good reason.  The more strict pull ups you have, the more kipping you’ll have.  The more strict pull ups you have, the more muscle ups you’ll have.  The more strict pull ups you have, the more money you’ll have.  Ok fine.  I made that last one up, but pull ups are a great test of upper body strength and are used as barriers to entry across many professions.  The problem with strict pull ups is that you can’t finesse them, you have to work at them.  And work at them hard!  The program at the link below will get you results, but it’s not for the faint of heart.  It requires dedication, consistency and some tolerance for pain.  And it will work if you don’t have your first strict pull up yet.  Just substitute assisted pull ups or ring rows for strict and watch your numbers grow.  So if you’re serious about seeing gains in that upper body pulling, then dive right in.

The Fighter Pull Up Program

Training Tips/Techniques

Percussion massagers are the the new hot toy in the recovery market and especially in CrossFit circles.  Before that, it was muscle stim devices like the Power Dot and Compex. Don’t get me wrong.  They’re all great, have a place in recovery and I’ve got them permanently on my Christmas list, but since we live in the real world, most of us will have to make a choice.  And this isn’t a bad one.  It’s a clean and sexy looking machine with multiple speeds, a fancy carrying case and it’s quiet.  You could always go the DIY route and outfit a cordless jigsaw with a massage bit, but it definitely wouldn’t have the WOW factor or professionalism of the Hyper Ice HyperVolt.

Hyper Ice HyperVolt

Like what you see here and want to find out more about fitness and health?  Click the No Sweat Intro button below to schedule a chat!

No Sweat Intro




Happy to help.

If you want any information about All Level CrossFit or anything health and nutrition related, please drop me a line john@alllevel.ca or come on by to
1821 Provincial Ave, Windsor ON
N8W 5V7


Friday Five 113018

  November 30, 2018


Hi All Levelers,


I can’t believe how fast these weeks fly by!  Seems like I just finished last week’s FF (super cool abbreviati0n) yesterday.   As always, lots of good stuff that covers the full spectrum of CrossFit related health and wellness.  Even some great tips on Thrusters as they are coming up next week in the programming (when don’t they come up!!?).  Also some great stuff on shoulder mobility (mobility = strength + flexibility) as we have been really stressing the CrossOver Symmetry protocol at the box, but you unless you have a set at home you won’t always have access.   Lastly our mindset piece is a virtual “eff you” to the scale, which can be a completely flawed yardstick of progress.  Hope you enjoy reading them as much as I do finding them!



The amount of information floating around the web today regarding nutrition is beyond confusing.  Do I eat an all vegetable diet?  All meat?  Is dairy bad?  Is dairy good?  What do I believe?  As always, I think the answer usually lies in the middle and should be prefaced by “…it depends…”.  As we are starting to learn, nutrition is a lot more dependent on the individual then we previously believed and what it comes down to is a lot of trial and error.  What works for you, might not work for me and vice versa.  One of the hottest topics recently has been gluten.  Is it the devil or a trendy new affliction used to explain away every symptom around.  Well….it depends…

That being said, knowledge gleaned from clinical trials is always one of the best sources, so here goes:

Should I Eat A Low Gluten Diet



This one makes it into the mindset category as it takes a conventionally accepted tool of progress (the scale) and tells you to throw it away.  It’s a great lesson as it can be applicable to almost anything that stresses you out.  Checking your phone in the middle of the night (guilty) can result in a crappy sleep.  Get it out of your bedroom.  Checking your email first thing in the morning makes you anxious?  Leave it to later on it the day.  If it’s that important, they’ll find another way to contact you.  For me, this article represents managing stressors, let you being the judge of you and setting yourself up for success rather than the other way round.

Why You Shouldn’t Weigh Yourself


As I mentioned in the intro, shoulder health is very important to any athlete, but even more so to CrossFitters as we spend a good deal of time lifting heavy things off of the ground and over our heads.  We often only pay attention the the big deltoid muscles and forget about the little, but important, stabilizers that keep our shoulders safe.  This article gives you several pre-hab exercises to keep the stabilizers happy and healthy.

Five Exercises to Instantly Improve Shoulder Mobility


Thrusters are one movement that most CrossFitters have a love/hate relationship with.  A uniquely CrossFit movement (thank you Coach Glassman) that you love for the results they provide, but hate in the moment, thrusters are bound to come up frequently in any good programming.   In fact we have a whole day next week dedicated to this lovely movement.  So here are some good tips on how to get better at thrusters (and by correlation life!).

Improve Your Thruster Technique



Some people don’t like music when they run.  I am not one of those people.  I need music to still my racing mind.  I need music to get my over that too steep hill.  I need music to shut out the crazy person yelling at me as I run down the riverfront.  And I need music…well, because I need music.  But…I don’t like running with my phone.  I’m not a fan of the armband (it always ends up in my armpit).  I have yet to embrace the fanny pack and I don’t like to hold it in my hand as it gets sweaty and gross in my pocket.  What’s a poor guy to do.  I bought a running watch with built in storage and a music player (Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music)

but I really like the idea of being able to sync my Spotify playlists with a device that doesn’t take up a lot of space and doesn’t rely on a wifi or cellular signal to work.  So here it is!  If anyone gets one, please give me the lowdown, cause it looks awesome!

Mighty Streaming Music Player


And there you go.  Five golden nuggets to get you through the weekend, get you thinking, get you training and maybe even get you shopping (see above for my Christmas wish list).

Have fun, make good choices and be safe.  See you next Friday!!




Friday Five 112318

  November 23, 2018

Hey ALL,


This week’s musings on all things CrossFit from the rambling mind of a short on sleep affiliate owner, coach, husband and Dad (that’s me).  Hope you enjoy!



Don’t let your nutrition fall lag behind your training.  We all want to make those serious gainz, and that can only happen if you properly fuel your body.  Check out these foods that can help your recovery and have you back bigger and better than ever!.

8 Foods to Optimise Muscle Growth and Recovery After Crossfit Training


Stress is one of the biggest factors that holds back many people from reaching their true potential in and out of the box.  One of the biggest stresses can be relationships and family.  I know I struggle to be present for the ones I love in this age of instant gratification and social media.  Just being there isn’t enough. It’s something I’m actively working on and something that I think that will help in all facets of life.

How to Be More Present for the Ones You Love (and Your Life, Too)


Static stretching has it’s place, but it’s not always the best choice.  We all know hips can be a huge limiting factor in the gym if you aren’t paying attention to them in your down time.  Here is a great article from one of my favourite internet physios on how to keep your hips supple like that mythical leopard!

The 8 Best Drills To Unlock Your Hip Mobility


Do you have a watch with a built in heart rate monitor?  Do you know the value of training in different heart rate zones or do you just try and see how high you can get it to read (guilty).  This article explains why knowing your heart rate zones can be a great training tool and how to start using them.  Also, you can now sync your heart rate monitors to any of our new Concept 2 PM 5 monitors at the box and use this new data next time you are on the rower or ski erg!

Heart Rate Monitor Running



Don’t you wish you had a device that could track your reps for you?  No more, “am I at 41 or 49 reps…”.  Do you wish you really knew how hard you are working?  How hard compared to last time you did this wod?  Well check out this device from a Canadian company that is aimed directly at the CrossFit crowd for all of those reasons and more!

Nexus Wearable Device


And there you go!  This week’s five.  Enjoy, stay safe, have fun and leave it all out on the floor!






Friday Five 111618

  November 16, 2018


Welcome back to the Friday Five with your host, two time CrossFit Games Documentary Watcher, John “Dad Joke” Mack (I think that might have been one right there).

If you have been following along at home, you’ll know that every Friday I will be reposting five links to what I consider worthwhile fitness/CrossFit content.  It will fall into one of five categories:  nutrition, training/instructional, mindset, mobility and technology/gadgets.  Lots of practical tips and advice and occasionally a bit of frivolous nonsense that made me chuckle or excited my juvenile spirit.  So without further wordiness and hyperbole, here is the FRIDAY FIVE!



In the health and fitness world there is so much noise about supplements and how they can help you achieve six pack abs, superhuman strength, dangerously high testosterone levels and laser mental focus.  For the most part many are ineffective, harmless and brilliantly marketed, but some are actually worthwhile.   The site I am referencing below, www.examine.com, is a great resource for confirming or debunking nutrition and supplement claims.  Examine uses verified studies and unlike many resources isn’t on the payroll of the company trying to sell you the product!  The results can be a bit wordy and scientific, but they have handy synopses for those who want the Cole’s notes.  As a side note, if you aren’t taking care of the “big three”; Nutrition, Hydration and Sleep, then supplementation shouldn’t be a priority.

Does Glutamine Build Muscle?


As athletes (and we are all athletes) there is one absolute certainty.  If you have been training long enough, you will experience some sort of injury.  Whether it is a sprained ankle from an unlucky misstep, a rotator cuff injury from a Friday night volleyball league gone wrong or a pulled hamstring from kicking up into a handstand (this happened to me and was simultaneously shocking and embarrassing), injury will rear its ugly head at some point.  The way we deal with injury mentally, can really separate those who will continue to improve in and out of the gym and those who will experience the roller coaster of two steps forward and one step back in their training career.  Here’s a great article on how to use a positive mindset to tackle one of those “why me” moments.

Mindset: A key component in rehab and health


In CrossFit, we do a lot of picking things up and putting them down.  As a result of this many of us experience tight upper backs and traps (especially after “Hang Power insert the blank day”).  I know this stretch is a staple for me pretty much every day as it not only helps us with thoracic mobility, but provides relief in the traps, lats and shoulders.  Best of all it can be performed anywhere you have a flat, stable surface.  Countertops, couches, beds and racked olympic bars have all served me well.  Give it a try and enjoy!

How To Stretch Your Upper Back


As any trainer worth his or her salt will tell you, some form of dead lift should be included in your program.  One of the best “bang for buck” exercises and also one of the most functional, dead lifts will not only help you get stronger, fitter, bigger, and sexier (not scientifically proven), they will also help you kick a$$ well into your old age!  Who doesn’t need to pick up things off the floor!  That being said, dead lifts also come with a higher risk/reward factor.  Incorrectly performed dead lifts, even at lighter weights can be a one-way ticket to injury.  It’s important to treat any and every weight the same way and approach it with a mental checklist so that you can stay safe and strong!  Here is a great list of common mistakes when performing dead lifts that you can incorporate into your checklist pronto!

Top Five Dead Lift Mistakes


Around the box, you may have seen some of our athletes wearing what look like watches without faces.  What are these mysterious devices that don’t leave the wrists of some of our top performers?  They are called Whoop Bands  and they are taking the training wold by storm.  That funky little device measures a whole host of body metrics like resting heart rate, heart rate variability, sleep quality and more to provide a complete picture of how well your body is responding to your training and recovery.   Here is a great podcast on what the Whoop is, how to use it and why you should be using it.

Whoop Band


And there it is people.  Five nuggets of information that I think can make you a better athlete and person, or at minimum a little more knowledgeable!

Hope you enjoyed it.

Till next time.  Be positive, have fun and stay safe.

The Friday Five

  November 7, 2018

Hi everyone,


I’m starting a new feature that I’m going to run every Friday of cool stuff that I’ve discovered in my travels through the interwebs.  Most will have some tie in to CrossFit, fitness or health and wellness.  Some won’t, but will be included strictly out of my desire to share cool things with you!

As I started to compile this week’s list, the stars aligned and all of the content seemed to fit into neat little categories which I think will be the guiding principles for all future posts.

They are:

  • Nutrition
  • Training/Instructional
  • Mindset
  • Mobility
  • Technology/Gadgets

So, without further adieu, here is this week’s Friday Five!



This is one of the better articles I have read on macro-nutrients.  Not a lot of scientific language, just straight up info on what they are, what they do and some guidance on how, when and why to incorporate them into your diet.

What You Need to Know About Fats, Carbs, Protein, and Your Goals













I’ve been really into mindset lately (as anyone I’ve spoken to can tell you).  I really believe it is the key to unlocking whatever you want/need in fitness and life in general.  This one isn’t strictly about mindset per se, but it is a technique to help control your mind in times of stress, so I’m counting it.  Plus it’s used by Navy Seals and we all know they are bad@sses!

How to Stay Calm Like a Navy Seal












This article is from one of my favourite strength and conditioning coaches, even though he isn’t much of a CrossFit guy.  He is super smart, a former competitive powerlifter and an extremely successful guy.  This addresses one of the main mobility culprits when dealing with overhead movements, the thoracic spine.  Poor thoracic mobility can cause a multitude of problems upstream and downstream from the restriction which result in shoulder, neck, low back and even hip problems.  Check out this novel approach to making sure you aren’t cheating the mobilization.

Exercise of the Week: Bent-over T-Spine Rotation with Hip Hinge













Since we just picked up a couple of trap bars, I wanted to share this article to let you know what a trap bar is, why you might want to use it and how to use it.  I found this one to be pretty comprehensive and even comes with a few demo videos.   If you have a history of low back pain, limited mobility, or are just looking for a new exercise to add to your arsenal, the trap bar is for you!




I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a big kid at heart and I love me some gadgets.  This one checks all of the boxes for me.  Let’s me relive the childhood thrill of skateboarding without all the risks.  Check.  Gets me outside and makes me feel somewhat athletic.  Check.  Scratches that adrenaline itch.  Check.  Is an extremely cool piece of technology!  CHECK!  How I would actually justify a purchase like this…TBD.

Onewheel+ XR

And that’s it!  The Friday Five for this week.  I really enjoyed compiling this list and I’m already looking forward to next week.   Till then, have fun, be safe and I’ll see you at the box!



Stay Close to Your Why

  June 27, 2018

Why do you use CrossFit as a method of training to reach your goals? CrossFit is designed with no specific person in mind, no set shape or size, no age or demographic. CrossFit is for everyone looking to broaden there health and wellness horizons. Not good at squatting great, let’s learn to improve our squatting mechanics. Don’t like running 5km, sweet let’s do it, let’s force you out of your normal routine and comfort zone and allow change to happen. CrossFit has a unique ability to pick you up, and place you dead smack in an uncomfortable state, in the eye of the storm. For some it might get uncomfortable 35 mins into their first time doing “Murph” as prescribed and for others it might get uncomfortable somewhere on the car ride to the box. Regardless where exactly it will be, CrossFit will force you to overcome things you may not have thought possible before. Doing CrossFit forces you to become aware of your personal responsibility to your body’s health and wellness, you are not a victim of circumstance, you are responsible for your own development. Our program is designed to build better more well rounded human beings! Grace Mack said it well! “Stronger people are harder to kill”!

One thing that holds true even in your most uncomfortable of times, is staying close to your “why” and never losing sight of it. Why am I doing this? Why do I care? Why should I care? Who am I doing this for? What am I doing today that will better me tomorrow?Having a firmer grip on your why will make your most uncomfortable times seem less uncomfortable, but only until your uncomfortable again.

What is your CrossFit why? What is your business and professional why? What is your relationship why? Stay close to your why.

The Power of a Positive Mindset

  June 27, 2018

“Coach I can’t RX this workout” or “Coach what’s the best weight for me to do this WOD at so I can improve my snatches”. Which one is the positive mindset? An athlete with a positive mindset will outlast an athlete with a negative mindset in the long term. Do you often tell yourself, “I’m excited to get the most effective session in today”, or is it “I have to go to the gym right now”.

Do we search for the positive in every negative result or does the negative feel so heavy it weighs on our mindset for hours. “Man I missed all 10 snatch reps today, why am I not getting better at snatching”. This type of subtle negativity, doesn’t seem catastrophic to our well being, but it’s this negative attitude that will spill over into the rest of your day and leave you in a negative mindset spiral. “Man I missed all 10 snatches but I really liked the effort I had with my footwork, I figured out when to move my feet”.

Your mind is like a TV, if the channel that’s playing isn’t a positive one or one that you aren’t deciding to watch then you’re in luck because you control the remote, change the channel. You’re TV should run channels that drive positive change in every aspect of what you do, if they don’t, recognize it and change the channel. Search for the positive in every perceived negative and see what happens.

Where Is More Hiding?

  June 27, 2018

As coaches we are constantly giving instructions, cues, tips and feedback to our athletes. As a trainer our job is to get more out of you, the client. More knees out and chest up in your air squat, more spine neutral and hips down in the deadlift, more everywhere to create the safest, most effective movement patterns that will help yield the greatest results. But where is more hiding, if I’m doing everything the Coach is asking in that moment? “More” is hiding in the fine details, in the basics, the super not sexy practice reps that usually fall somewhere in the warm up or the wod prep. Do yourself a favour and apply the same effort in mastering the basics and fundamentals in the warm ups and wod preps and care 100% across all movements that you preform and you will see a drastic increase in things like, strength gain, range of motion increase, injury prevention and just overall health and wellness. More is hiding, it’s our job to bring it out of you, but it’s your job to want to find it.