On Strength Training and Strength Cycle: A Q&A with Coach Jeremy
By Kate Reece
Coach Jeremy has been with CFSBK since practically the beginning. In Margie’s Underneath the Hoodie write-up, we learned numerous fascinating facts about the oft-bearded introvert with three younger brothers, such as that he was run over by a lawnmower as a child, is ardent about guns, zombies, and atheism, and as a third grader, was obsessed with an encyclopedia of Greek mythology. Since everyone in group classes doesn’t always get to interact with him as much as his Strength Cycle members and his PlayStation console, we wanted to solicit his thoughts for the blog about strength training. In pounds? The man presses 235, benches 345, squats 435, and deadlifts 505—so he certainly knows something about being strong. Hopefully the answers to his questions reveal a bit more about what all the cool kids are up to over on the platform.
CFSBK: Talk to us about how you got into strength training. What has your athletic journey looked like and when did you first find CrossFit?
Jeremy: I was always active and athletic as a kid. I wrestled and ran track all through high school and ran for three years at NYU. After school I went in-and-out of being in shape, mostly just running and doing stupid lifting when I was in shape. In late 2005 I started looking at how powerlifters trained and since I figured they were fairly strong, I decided that January 1, I was going to start a basic program. After a year of that, I kind of went through the same process with CrossFit—researching and dabbling, and finally jumping fully into it in January 2007. I trained for most of that year on my own before finding CFSBK.
CFSBK: You’re kind of famous in our slice of the world for going to the 2008 Games. Tell us about that experience. What was CrossFit like back then?
Jeremy: The games were different then—much smaller, no stadium. It was at Dave Castro’s family ranch in Aromas. There were no qualifiers of any kind. You just signed up and competed. I had thought about doing the first games in 2007 but the timing wasn’t right. So when the opportunity came around again, I didn’t really think about it, I just signed up. I was pretty much alone the whole weekend. I hung out with a few of the CrossFit NYC crew, but I didn’t know them real well. So mostly I just hit my workouts, ate some food, and napped in-between. It was three workouts on Saturday: deadlift and burpees, chest-to-bar “Fran,” and that fucking hill run. Sunday was a heavy squat clean “Grace.” I did alright. I think I placed 33rd out of almost 200. It was a fun experience, I’m glad I competed.
CFSBK: How did you decide to start Strength Cycle?
Jeremy: Strength Cycle was an idea that David and I had discussed for a while back at the Lyceum. We saw the need for a dedicated strength program, there was interest in it from members, and it fit in well with my previous experience. Unfortunately, the space and equipment just weren’t right and it went on the backburner. Once we moved into Degraw, the opportunity was there and the program moved quickly from there.
CFSBK: How has Strength Cycle evolved since its first iteration?
Jeremy: It’s grown considerably. The first cycle was four people. From there it grew to a group of eight; after a few cycles I saw the need for some of the veterans to move onto more advanced programing and the B cycle was born. It stayed there for a while until I somewhat begrudgingly added the morning cycle which I still have a kind of love/hate relationship with. I love teaching it—for whatever reason the conversations are always a shade funnier in the morning (or maybe it just seems that way) and I really have a great time with the people in it. I do however hate waking up for it. I’m not a morning person by any stretch and I don’t miss waking up before 6am on the weeks where we are on hiatus. In terms of what we do in class—that hasn’t changed all that much. The beginners progression is boringly repetitive, no getting around that. You hit the same lifts over and over again adding weight each time, which is simple but effective. The B cycle gives me a little more ability to play with programming so it’s gone through some different iterations over the years.
CFSBK: It seems like the people who have done Strength Cycle all become proselytizers on its behalf. But for those who haven’t encountered one of the platform’s devotees and are curious, what should they expect if they were to join?
Jeremy: The best way to describe Strength Cycle is that it’s a lot like the lifting portion of your typical group class. You’re paired up with some people on a rack and you lift. There are some differences—you lift with the same people each day, you have more time per lift (since that’s all were doing), you don’t have to think about your numbers, and you work with the same coach every time. I think what people like about Strength Cycle is the fact that it’s slowed down, simplified, and more predictable compared to group class.
CFSBK: What if they’re scared they’ll miss group classes? I’m asking for a friend.
Jeremy: Well, you’ll get to see group class every day, from the comfort of the bench you’re sitting on.
CFSBK: What are some misconceptions about lifting heavy weights (or about Strength Cycle) that you’d like to dispel?
Jeremy: People are too afraid of losing their conditioning. Being stronger makes you better at CrossFit. If you look at high-level CrossFit athletes, the thing that jumps out most is how strong they are. You can’t have high-level strength endurance without first being strong.
CFSBK: I’d imagine you’ve read almost everything every written about strength training. Give it to me in a no-bullshit elevator pitch. Why should people do this?
Jeremy: There is no training adaptation more important than strength. Without strength the other physical attributes are useless, or severely limited. Endurance without strength? Have fun doing boring shit for long periods of time. Mobility without strength? Hope you enjoy competitive stretching. Strength is about force production. Without it, power and speed are impossible, and how can you have fun in the absence of those qualities?
CFSBK: There are some pretty awesome photos of you curling babies and eating enormous chicken drumsticks after lifting. I also heard that you hang out with kids at the Park Slope Food Coop when you’re not at CFSBK. Tell me a bit about how you spend your days when you’re not on the platform.
Jeremy: I’m no longer a member of the Coop. I’d rather just go to Whole Foods where they simply let me exchange money for goods and services without me having to sweep up a couple hours a month. I have three brothers with eight kids between them so I still have plenty of opportunities to hang out with kids. When I’m not at the gym, I’m fairly boring. I read a lot—books, Interwebs, comics. I put in quality time with the PlayStation and watch a fair amount of movies. Nothing that exciting.
If you have any questions for Coach Jeremy about Strength Cycle, shoot him an email at Jeremy [at] CrossFitSouthBrooklyn.com, or really, just ask him.
- Happy belated birthday, Jake L.!
- CFSBK’s softball team, Las Calaveras, has their second game tonight at the Red Hook ball fields. Come cheer them on at 6:15pm! There will most likely be tacos to follow.
Pump Iron—Bob Couch YouTube
Carbohydrate Confessions: Stories (and Data) from a Low Carb Convert Precision Nutrition
Should You Wear a Lifting Belt? CrossFit Invictus
Clean and Jerk
Fitness: Clean Segment Deadlift + Clean + Jerk
If you have a hard time organizing the pull off the floor then perform the clean from the mid-hang, after the clean segment deadlift.
Performance: Clean and Jerk 1-1-1 then, 85% x 1 x 2
Work up to a heavy clean and jerk in 3 attempts, then perform 2 singles from the hang at 85% of today's best lift
Fitness 3 x 5 Linear Progression
Performance: 75% x 6 x 5
Optional DIY Cash Out
50 V-Ups or Hollow Rock
I am so glad to hear that J is no longer a member of that blasted PSFCoop, and that it was a simple rational decision. Capitalism! Also Jeremy has (mostly) great taste in music.
Samir Chopra says
Haha. F"in classic Jeremy.
I loved strength cycle – loved the lifting, my platform buddies, loved the confidence and knowledge it gave me.
Dave Fung says
LAST MINUTE NOTICE:
Ryan Joyce and I are looking for a third male teammate for this Saturday's Mayhem in the Meadowlands.
WODs have been announced and are available on the site:
Best part of the whole event will be drinking a beer on the 50 yard line in Giants Stadium, with fellow kickass SBKers!
Contact me if you are interested: firstname.lastname@example.org
I love it. What a good man. The strength cycles were where I made some great friendships. He knows his way around a platform. This is a great, great guy.
Jeremy's the main man and I encourage all to do the strength cycle. You will not regret it.
Oh man great interview with Jeremy! Laughing over the co-op thing, before I go on a tangent, I have a bunch of friends at the co-op and their stories have made me want to stay away. Also enjoy some of the same hobbies as him too (J, we should talk!)! Would LOVE to incorporate the Strength Cycle in the future. Like having him as an occasional noon coach too!!!
Last night's 7:30 class with Ro and Melo
6 rnds + 5 kb swings @ 16 kg
Enjoyed working on handstands again, and was able to go up higher on my kicks and close to handstanding after I learned lunging with the correct foot… my left foot > right foot.
My my, what a handsome, charming fella – my best friend and favorite person to talk strength with. I suppose I'm biased, but his presence always inspires awesomeness on the platform.
(Even if he rejects cooperative capitalism. I guess then he won't mind if I don't share my co-op bought food with him after I re-join in June.)
6am. Clean & jerk (kilos): 60, 75, 85, 95, 100, 105, 110, 90x1x2. The jerk at 105 was fairly crisp. While the one at 110 had a significant press out. Cleans felt good today. Was really getting my elbows around fast. Front squats: 200x6x5. That was tough. Skipped the cash-out.
Haven't been able to fit a strength cycle into my schedule, though I'd really like to do one. Someday I'll be a cool kid.
Dave Fung says
Strength class was great. Built up my confidence to put myself underneath a loaded bar. Also fun times with Jeremy and platform buddies.
Wow I learned so many things about Jeremy I did not know!
Strength Cycle is absolutely amazing. I first heard the scoop on it from Stella and I believe my first question was something like "Can someone like me (meaning someone who could barely lift anything) take the strength cycle?" And she was like "yes!" and thereafter I found nothing but encouragement and inspiration from Coach Jeremy and all my platform mates. Not only did it make a huge, huge difference in my ability to lift heavy things, I also got immense psychological benefits out of coming to class and learning to be patient with and focused on incremental progress. I took three cycles back to back about a year ago, and many of the things I learned there remain valuable and useful to me both in and out of the gym.
Also I love Jeremy's comment about the morning cycle — it's true, there's is some je ne sais quois there. I still fondly remember a lot of good time on the platform at that ungodly hour!
I hope everyone gives Strength Cycle a whirl at some point — it's really a great part of what makes CFSBK so awesome.
Rita has wanted to join for a while. I am all for it if she wants to join and do all of the shifts, fully supportive! Regrettably, I am afraid that I would evaporate if I walked in. Having said that, system works very well for others, the food is good, and I wish them the best of luck!
Strength Cycle always looks interesting and I hope I'll take the dive sometime this year. I would miss the WODs though 🙂
6am with Nick and McD on a soggy floor…
Clean & Jerk – hit 165 today which matches a PR I hit a couple of weeks ago. This time it felt a lot better, although my balance could have been better on the jerk. I feel like I'm starting to get this movement comfortably.
Backed off to 175 from 185 on FSQ this week because last week I was pretty close to failure on my last reps. Felt pretty good today although Nick pointed out that I was going too low, which I think was an overcompensation from my LBBSQ this week when Fox told me I wasn't low enough. I'll find that happy place at some point.
I fucking love Jeremy. Not only will he somehow get you to lift more than you ever thought you could (and his interview makes it seem like it's really simple, but if it were, we could all do it alone), but practically every word that comes out of his mouth is hilarious, filled with meaning, or both.
I will never forget the time when I was benching I think 102.5 for my 3×5. I was struggling with the final rep and I started to gasp "help! help!" He didn't help me. I got the bar up. I believe what he said after that was, "Don't ever fucking ask me for help again." Which sounds mean, but it's not. He saw the speed at which the bar was traveling and he KNEW I could do it. That was how I learned: Jeremy knows what he is doing, and if you truly do need a spot, he'll spot you. But you don't get strong without going to weights that are so heavy that you're not 100% sure that bar is going to come back up once it goes down.
I miss the hell out of being on the platform. I have not been able to figure out a good way of doing the morning class (I wish it met 3 days a week, but now that I see J hates mornings it sounds like that's a pipe dream) and still working out another couple of days a week — only 2 days doesn't feel like enough — but when I see the numbers Serene and Charlie have been putting up, MY GOD do I want to do it again.
Anyhoo…did yesterday's work today. We did not try actual muscle-ups, but I did learn how to practice the transition with a band, so now I have a new thing to work on. Fitness WOD, 6 rounds + 3 ring pushups with a 20kg KB. Kinda wish I'd gone with the 24. Also I now have an interesting matching set of bruises on my arms that I don't even know how I got. Maybe from the carabiners on the rings while doing pushups?
Tried the morning cycle once- never again. Jeremy is a coaches coach and a good friend as well as a real mensch. I highly recommend working out with him. You will get strong and make friends.
It's amazing how strong you can get in just 8 weeks of working out with Jeremy. He knows pretty much everything you need to know about lifting and getting stronger.
Simply put, Jeremy will wake up the BEAST within you!
Laura Mc says
I wish that strength cycle was earlier in the evening, or that I lived closer to the gym. Until then, I will just continue to be jealous of everyone getting mega buff with Jeremy while I struggle with burpees or double unders or whatever miserable thing has been programmed for group classes. 🙂
Yesterday's WOD at 6:30 with a 24kg bell (American swings) and ring push ups. Got 6 rounds plus 15 kettlebell swings. Handstand practice afterwards made me super queasy. Also my wrists hurt from the approximate 9 seconds I spent practicing false grip ring pulls.
Margie: I wish you luck not sharing food with Jeremy.
Becca Wolf says
Jeremy is f-ing awesome!! He knows what you are capable of doing before you would ever think you could it!! Before taking strength cycle i would try to hit the classes i knew Jeremy was coaching so i could get some of his expertise. Then i started my first strength cycle and learned how f-ing hilarious he is – from the one liners to the tangents!! Numerous coaching tips have stuck with me and have carried over to being back in group classes. Strength cycle is the shit (i look forward to more in the future) and it will awaken your inner beast – ROAR!!
Jeremy speaks the language of my people. Last night, when he was listing flavors of Steve's ice cream, I swooned.
Also, strength cycle is great. Everyone should take it at least once.
Strength Cycle has been so much fun. I would definitely do another one straight after if I did not have my shoulder thing. I can totally see how it can be addictive as you can literally see yourself getting stronger.
I truly believe everyone should do it at least once- I can't really believe the gains I have made in the past seven weeks in both strength and confidence.
I love the fact that I am entrusting my lifts to Jeremy- he decides what I am lifting on the day and if there is a rep-out, it is his decision when I stop. This has been so great, mentally.
He does make it sound simple in the interview, but he somehow knew exactly what to do to take me from the point of not really feeling like I deserved to be lifting so much, to knowing that I can own these weights and more. So much more!
It's also been awesome spending time chilling out on the platforms, getting to know my bar mates, getting better at barbell math ( a bit), watching group class and coming in the evening instead of the daytime.
So very excited and nervous about the Total.
Speaking of which…Strength Cycle last night.
45 x 5
95 x 5
135 x 4
150 x 3
165 x 3 x 3 paused.
Jeremy did not want me to do heavy rep-outs three times in one week, so this was a nice surprise when I walked in, as I was mentally prepared for something else entirely. This way I could 'still work hard without the weights being heavy.' Paused squats are weird but good. I learned something about depth last night. Ha.
45 x 5
75 x 4
95 x 2
100 x 5 x 2
100 x 7 rep-out
Kinda gave up on the right rep.
33 in 5 x 5, 1 x 3. They're back!!
Strength Cycle is awesome. If you haven't done it, do it.
6am class with McD and Nick
Yesterday's WOD: 4 rounds even in 12 min.
Muscle-ups weren't going well today. A cue from McDowell (that I was pulling too early) helped at about the half-way point though, and after that things seemed to go a little better. Thrusters weren't really a limiting factor, with all the time I was resting between muscle-ups.
I'm with Stella in wishing the 6:30am strength cycle happened 3x/week.
Echoing Dave — come compete tomorrow at Mayhem. Should be a great day and lots of fun with the SBK crew.
Yesterday's 8:30 with MeLo.
4 rounds + 3 muscle-ups on the WOD. Hit 13 of 15 singles, which is much improved from the last go around. Wrapped my wrists which helped to hold the false-grip.
Tuesday was a bit of a wash because of quad fatigue. Worked up to 70kg on the snatch before three misses at 74. The 6×5 at 235 felt really difficult.
this strength class thing sounds interesting.
i should check it out
Really enjoyed last night's fitness WOD – including the sustained dizzyness through handstand work. I am working to get comfortable with 20 kg on the kettlebell and this was good practice for that. I am still not sure if I did 5, 6, or 7 rounds + 13 kg swings.
My favorite line from the Jeremy write-up: Mobility without strength? Hope you enjoy competitive stretching. (Great point.)
And, I was wondering who was going push back on the Coop point. I LOVE that it was Margie. One more reason I look forward to getting to know her when she's back.
Yessss hoorayyyy to the big J!!!
I was hesitant to start strength cycle because I enjoy group classes so much but I was stuck on my squats and really scared to jump up in weights for some strange reason so I signed up. It was very strange at first and to be honest boring and so laid back that I was rushing through my lifts. He notice my form was all screwed up and dropped my weight extremely low but as I began to get comfortable I began to enjoy it and i just passed the weight to what I ended up in group class by only 5 lbs I feel like I conquered a fear I also am not bored I sit back and laugh at those ugly looking wods! I'm signing up for another cycle because now that my form has improved I can now move up in weight! I also think he is awesome and knows exactly what he is doing!!!
I forgot to mention the secret to strength Eat everything and a lot of sleep!!
Whit H says
Great stuff reading about Jeremy and SC! Jeremy (and Margie's!) influence on Strength at CFSBK has certainly affected the trajectory of my gains/capacity in a very positive way. Competing in TTD — a powerlifting meet — really opened the door for me and showed me that not only could I lift much heavier weights than I thought possible, but that it's super effing FUN.
10AM… so sore from yesterday's massive amount of fitness, but got my butt into class!
C&J: performance drills at 33#. like the high hang position and focusing on HIPS and ELBOWS!
63, 83, 103, 123, 135F (didn't meet the bar in the clean; dropped way down and let it crash onto me, elbows went down, tried to double bounce it up… HAH nope!), 135 got the Clean, Failed the Jerk.
That clean felt f*cking awesome. I've been really focused on getting down, getting my elbows around fast, and this felt pretty wonderful, even though it was still slow-ish coming up.
Jerk: need to work footwork this week. I'm hopping my front foot UP but not OUT, so i'm wasting air time and landing short and high. the bar got up plenty. just need to split and get down.
FSQ: 75×5, 95×3, 105×1, 110x5x3 – felt great! sitting straight down, bouncin' up.
Traded the cash out for some tricep mash, couch stretch, and ext rotator hip stretch.
gabrus and McGrath,I miss you guys.
I remember back at the lyceum Jeremy would somehow appear out of the shadows and do these monstrous things with huge plates on the barbell. I knew I wanted some of that. I spoke to Osorio and he just told me to be patient and wait till we move to a new space. It was a pretty freaky scene. Just putting your hands on a barbell on a cold January night was a trial.Patience paid off, big time. Cross fit was fun but this lifting really hooked me good.
dave p says
@stella, I got the same bruises! Definitely from the rings, I felt things chaffing during the WOD. Also, ridiculous: I ran almost two hours this morning and the only thing that's sore are my traps… From yesterday's WOD. I should try WODing regularly again some time… Maybe after a strength cycle? I hear they're good for you
Jeremy rules. Strength cycle taught me a LOT about lifting and about myself.
OG tonight for Squats
95×5 135×4 185×3 225×2 275×1 305×1 315×1 (PR) 330xM
Final max out at the end of the Russian cycle. Happy to hit 3 wheels, got a little greedy and went for that 150kg, probably could have had another 5 or 10 instead. Then decided to max out Snatch and Clean and Jerk after… good idea right?
95×3 115×2 135×1 155×1 165×1 175xM,M
Clean and jerk
135×1 165×1 175×1 195×1 205×1 215×1 225xM,M,M
215 went up easy, wanted 225 for a PR but was out of juice. got under 2 of the cleans though, so it should happen soon.