Be Stronger For Longer

By Scott Paltos

“Scott Paltos is a beast. He’s a former NFL player who owns an unbelievable training facility in New Jersey, and of all the CrossFit athletes who’ve approached me over the years, he’s the only one I’ve worked with for any length of time because he simply gets it. He’s strong as hell, he’s fast, he’s got endurance, he listens, and he’s also one of the best coaches around.” — Kiefer

 Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat: I’m a CrossFit competitor. I am not, however, a main CrossFit site follower. I own a facility called PUMP CrossFit & Performance in East Hanover, NJ, and that’s how I got started with something a lot of you—including, perhaps, Kiefer himself—consider the enemy. Affiliating with CrossFit was a great way to get people in the door—where we’d be able to open them up to our way of training.

 I’m 5’11”, and I weigh 240 pounds, so I’m not exactly the easiest visual sale for our programs. When prospective clients come into our facility, normal guys say, “He’s going to want me to get too big,” and women think, “I’m a girl. I don’t want to look like a man.” I made an intelligent business decision and added CrossFit to my place—but when it comes to getting results, the idea is to leave the dogma at the door.

The Carb Back-Loading Connection

  I’m now going into my third competitive CrossFit season with Kiefer as my advisor. How’d we meet? Well, I hammered the guy with messages until he finally responded: “Scott, I hate CrossFit, but you intrigue me with your size and ability, so I’ll help you out.”

 What’s interesting about this is that in a community that frowns on anything unrelated to Paleo, Kiefer’s methods are making a huge statement to a very distinct population of CrossFitters. With that said, however, so is the idea of building strength—or, just as importantly, not losing strength while consistently increasing metabolic ability with CrossFit’s metcon conditioning.

 Since I’ve had the benefit of Kiefer’s guidance for most of my competitive career, his system has been a big part of my arsenal for pretty much everything I’ve been able to do. As my nutrition has changed, however, so has my training—and what I’ve found is that the two must function seamlessly together in order for you to experience success or make any progress at all. Anyone who thinks otherwise is a jackass. Training and nutrition need to coexist.

Don’t Let Your Weak Points Dominate 

 My background is in football, powerlifting, and strongman training. I’m not a gymnast. I want to train heavy and fast, and I hate long, drawn-out workouts. With CrossFit competitions, however, you can’t have weaknesses anywhere. Guess what, though? Unless you’re one of the top athletes in the game, you’re going to find something that floors you, so you have to work to improve your weaknesses—but at what cost? One thing I see way too many people doing wrong is working their weaknesses to such an extent that they begin to weaken their strengths—so what you need to strive for is the proper balance in your training so this doesn’t happen.

 In my case, I’m 36 years old, and 70-80 pounds heavier than most of the athletes I’m competing against, so I need to play to my strength—and that’s strength itself. My technique is tight, and my engine is pretty good. I enjoy moving things, but I need to make sure my programming ensures I can still keep this as an advantage.

The Individualization of Horsepower

 Here’s the point to all of this: If you want to keep your metabolic engine running on high without sacrificing strength or maximal output, add heavy loads and movements to your long-ass workouts. Here’s what I mean by this:

 I’m a big fan of what I call potential percentages. This is similar to what Louie Simmons of Westside Barbell advocates on max effort days. It’s also related to the concept of relative maxes for that particular day. The trick to this is being aware of what your body has in the tank on any given day. Just because your workout is scheduled to have a 315 pound deadlift in it doesn’t mean that lift has to stay there—especially if you’re not in the right frame of mind (or body) once you’re in the gym.

 I see too many people getting caught up in hitting their targeted percentages for each workout, forgetting about all the other stuff that life can throw in front of them. I have three-year-old twins and I own a business, so I have no idea what life is going to hand me today, tomorrow, or next week.

 Still, you have to lift heavy loads in the midst of your chaotic, metabolic, heart-pumping work. They key here is coming to the realization that adjustments can be made to fit your training, again, on any particular day. Sure, you can complete the workout of the day (WOD) that’s directed, but it may need some variance to it to work at the metabolic level that’s required.

How To Do This

 The good news here is that it’s not hard to figure out how to do this for yourself every day. Everything starts with your warm-up, when you wrap your hands around a barbell and feel how heavy your movements are. A few minutes in, maybe you rev it up—or then again, maybe you don’t. You dictate your level, and you dictate your load. You need to know when to ramp yourself up, and when to back yourself off—and if you’re a trainer or coach, you need to know when these things are appropriate for your clients or athletes. When pulling back is what’s best, that’s what you need to do—and you need to know what that feels like.

 To put this into practice, I’m going to show you some of the programming I’ve used, both for myself and for my clients at PUMP. Some are of the typical CrossFit variety, and some aren’t. What they all have in common, however, is one outside-the-box theme: that of adding heavy loads into longer, metabolic conditioning workouts.

 Example #1: 20 minute EMOM (every minute on the minute)

 EMOM, perform 1 burpee and 3 power cleans. They don’t have to be touch-and-go (i.e., you can drop and reset). If your reps are clean and done easily, add weight at the 8 minute mark, and again at 16 minutes—adding a burpee at these points, too.

 In the video, I’m doing the power cleans with 250, 275, and 300 pounds.

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Example #2: Deadlift Simple Wave Ladder (lift every 20 seconds)

 In this video, I’m doing the following:

 WAVE ONE: 275 (axle), 315 (barbell), 365 (log), 405 (axle), 455 (barbell), then rest 3 minutes.

 WAVE TWO: 315 (axle), 365 (barbell), 405 (log), 455 (axle), 505 (barbell), then rest 3 minutes.

 WAVE THREE: 365 (axle), 405 (barbell), 455 (log), 505 (axle), 555 (barbell).


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Example #3: CrossFit-esque WOD (25 minutes, AMRAP)

1. Lift stone from ground to shoulder, ascending with rounds (i.e., 1-2-3-4-5, etc)

2. Toes-to-bar: 7 reps

3. Box Jumps (24-30″): 10 reps

4. Kettlebell Snatch: 15 each arm (75 pound kettlebell used in video)


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Example #4: Kiefer Meets Paltos (6 rounds, each for time, with your first set determining the length of your rest interval)

1. Clean and Jerk: 5 (225-275 used in video)

2. Pull-ups: 10 reps

3. Wall Balls: 15 reps

4. Row: 100 meters

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  • Dmunnee

    kipping pull-ups in a DH video?? Has the world gone mad??

  • Timmy

    Obviously if you are doing a CrossFit workout the lipping pull-up is the nest efficient for time. Don’t be a close minded biggot

  • Steve

    The majority of CrossFit gets so locked up in the dogma that they hold themselves back. You also have too many shitty coaches and owners who think “I have to do Paleo, that is what everyone does” and they never look at better options. I own a CrossFit and am pushing all of my folks towards carb backloading and carb nite for people with more to lose and everyone is having success!

  • Scott Paltos

    @Dmunee…kipping is a must, but don’t fret I program a ton of strict Pull-ups too

    @Steve you are correct, but like many disciplines there are “shitty” coaches. Walk into any MMA dojo and you will see them. Any gym, any gymnastics studio, etc. The hope I have is to educate that many more to do what is right…BOTH training and nutritionally


    • Steve

      Oh yeah, I agree every discipline has shitty coaches (look at everyone the Jets hire). I spend most of my time reading and learning from EliteFTS, Catalyst, Cal Strength, Westside Barbell, Juggernaut Systems, Dangerously Hardcore. I feel too many of the I took a weekend lets open a gym people do not spend the time to learn outside the box from the best in the business

  • Thomas

    Great Post Scott, and Kiefer. Unfortunately what people read on mainstream articles about CrossFit is far from the real CrossFit. After being a gym rat for 15 years, I found CrossFit, love it, and have owned a CrossFit box for almost 3 years now. I also follow and love the Paleo lifestyle, and now do a “90% Paleo” Carb Back Loading, as in over ripe bananas etc when eating at home, and dessert when eating out post training on weekends. I have had incredible body composition results with my Paleo Carb Back Loading, emphasis on incredible (thanks Keifer!!), and I too lift very heavy, every single training day, before my WOD, which is regularly very heavy too.

    Question (when i started reading the article I thought you would include this):
    Will your Carb intake schedule vary on the days you will be performing the Open workouts?

    My plan is to peak in the Open, not Regionals.
    (Open WODs will be done at 5:00 pm per OPT´s programming)

    Thank You,

    Republic of Panama

    • Scott Paltos

      @Thomas, Appreciate the words. Funny “Paleo” CBL. I have some friends who do it close to it as well. BUT I have gotten them to adjust some “good stuff” in there too, not just that junk food paleo stuff. hahah

      As far as intake in the Open…honestly I would not adjust because of the workouts. I would stay on tap with your normal schedule. I am not a fan of adjusting much during the those weeks. I would prefer to keep training as normal as possible, food as normal as possible, and keep anxiety down. And the Fitz’s OPT model means a lot of volume, so make sure if you are shooting for high performance in the 5 Workouts, you play with the volume correctly. OPT has a great program Mike or James both know their stuff. BUT that is their job to coach and train. So be sure it fits in with your lifestyle and your abilities.

      Ok…good luck.