Massif Athlete Rich Nicholes & The World’s Toughest Mudder Experience Written by Rich Nicholes In the most basic of explanations, my race was epic!  I did not accomplish a single goal, but I left everything I had on the course.   I had everything dialed in on my pre-race prep.   I put on a good 7 – 10 lbs (I never did a pre-race weight) in carb loading.  I was hydrated so well, I was peeing every 20 minutes prior to the race.  I carried a water bottle with me constant for 2 days prior.  I was as well rested as one would expect, given the late start time and pre-race jitters.  I pre-soaked in a hot tub and took epson salt baths.  My mind was focused.   I checked in on the Friday prior to race day and got my bib, credentials, and pit time.  It took about an hour of waiting in line before I got my bib.  When they handed me […]

Everyone’s Been Lying To You: Real Change Takes Time

Personal bests don’t happen every day. These successes take years of precise, dedicated training. Unfortunately, because success gets all the glory and the work that goes into success gets overlooked, few athletes understand what goes into this long-term process. Even fewer commit to spending years training their weaknesses. Athletes are only as strong as their weakest link. Many try to improve the things they’re not good at by the movement over and over again. What they need to do is follow a training system that specifically addresses that weak link and, also, gets them stronger, faster, and fitter. If three people did a pull-up assessment and each complete the same amount of pull-ups, each person would have a limiting factor. An out-of-breath athlete would need to develop his aerobic capacity whereas another might need to work on bicep strength. If another person couldn’t hold onto the bar, he would need to work on grip strength. As simple and straightforward as these things are, they are often overlooked. The key isn’t to […]

Redefining Failure

It takes 95% failure to create 5% success. We often don’t see the depth of work put that results in personal records and podium finishes. We rarely noticed and appreciate the months of dedication that lead to those moments. The great thing about training is the cumulative effort involved. Whether we’re successful or not, that effort makes us stronger, faster and fitter. However, it seems that missing a lift, not hitting a personal record, is perceived as a failure. This perception overlooks the hours of dedication and sacrifice—literally the blood, sweat and tears–that goes into what it takes to be an athlete. Often there is a sense that it “should be easier”, or that it’s “supposed to be different.” The hard truth is that it’s harder than you think it’s going to be and no one is immune to the mental and emotional impacts of training. Often there is a sense that it “should be easier”, or that it’s “supposed to be different.” The hard truth is that it’s harder than […]

What We Do: Individual Program Design

You have goals. We help you reach them. Here’s how we do it in five simple steps: Step One: Consultation During your consultation, we review your goals, training history, injuries, and other important details. Then we discuss the lifestyle factors that need to fit with the program: what time you can train during the day when you can train during the week whether you feel best in the morning or afternoon what your sleep habits are what your lifestyle stresses are We learn about every athlete who trains at Massif through this process. Through this process, we start to develop priorities that reflect your goals. Your timeline helps us adjust the trajectory in which we create progression in your individual program design. For example, if you want to compete in an event two years from now, your training will look differently than if your event is six months from now. Step Two: Assessment Everyone is different, and needs different priorities addressed. During the 90-minute assessment, […]

Meet Nick Fowler: The Man Behind Massif Athletics

Massif Athletics founder Nick Fowler changed the course of his life the first time he saw El Capitan and said, “I want to climb that.” His goals shifted from attending the San Francisco Art Institute to climbing full-time. “The first time I climbed El Cap, it took 7 days. It was pretty rough. Three of us were climbing the Triple Direct Route. We got passed by two climbers on three separate occasions. They had nothing but ropes and water bottles. We had a haul bag, food and water for seven days, and I thought, ‘We’re doing something wrong.’ That was the last time I spent the night on El Cap. Since then, I’ve climbed it 97 times–all of them refusing to spend the night on El Cap.” Within a year, Fowler set his first of several speed records on El Cap, a solo, ropeless ascent of Leaning Tower. He became the first and only person to on-site solo an El Cap route in a day by summiting […]

Athlete Profile: Phil Kithas

      Phil Kithas came to us in February with fitness goals of participating in and completing a Spartan race. He didn’t know what to expect in terms of what his training would be. But he was going to work hard to achieve his goals.   From the first day an assessment was done to establish structural and ROM imbalances. Testing for power and aerobic capacity was also completed. We do this to establish training priorities. While Phil had a good aerobic base, he needed power endurance.   His program design was developed and his training cycles began with building a solid foundation with constant reevaluation of his priorities and shifting of his training power endurance could then be developed.   The time had come, the race was only a couple of weeks away and discussions were had about peaking and prep for the race, fueling, programming adjustments and being rested are all paramount for success. The day of the race finally arrived. Phil did […]

Getting The Most From Your Massif Program

  GETTING THE MOST FROM YOUR MASSIF PROGRAM Recently I decided to learn more about how we create the programs for our clients. In order to get up to speed, Nick and I set an appointment to sit down together and develop a week-one program for one of our brand-new clients. This seemed simple enough. But every few years I am wrong about something, and this time I was spectacularly wrong. HOW WE DESIGN CLIENT PROGRAMS As it turned out, our meeting lasted about two hours. Our discussion involved almost every imaginable detail regarding this client. We reviewed his history, lifestyle, and goals; his movement patterns, and his performances on the various fitness tests he had recently undergone.  We discussed his likely response to various exercises, the particular schemes of sets, repetitions, and balance of aerobic to anaerobic work, and when this should be scheduled and how it should progress over time. I left our meeting with a renewed appreciation for the expertise that goes into the creation […]

The Truth About Deadlifting

  The deadlift is one of the most misunderstood lifts.  You have a bunch of internet experts telling people that ‘they’re using their back’ when their position is fine, while others applaud ‘good form’ when their back angle is awful. To clear things up, I’m going to address the different misconceptions in the starting position of this lift. Misconception #1: Stay tall.  “The more upright you are, the better.” I’m not sure where this idea of staying upright and ‘keeping your chest up’ came from. In most cases, this causes more dysfunction than it fixes. That last sentence may have blown your mind. Many of you may be shaking your head. Let’s take a look. When people try to keep their chest up, they do a few things that hinder a healthy start position.  First, usually they bring their hips into more of a squat position, instead of pushing them back and engaging their hamstrings, which should be a primary focus of the lift. Consider the purpose of deadlifting versus the back squatting. In other words, what are we […]

Gluten-Free Turns Mainstream: Why It’s Popular and How It Affects Your Health

      Medical research, cultural patterns, and marketing influenced the rise in gluten avoidance. While there are legitimate, medical reasons why certain people need to avoid gluten, there are many questions about why the gluten-free diet increased dramatically in recent years. It’s important to understand what the facts are regarding gluten consumption in order to a potentially unnecessary fad. WHAT GLUTEN IS AND WHO CAN’T REALLY EAT IT  Gluten is a plant protein that occurs in wheat, barley, rye, and some oats. For some individuals, gluten-free isn’t a fad. It’s a necessity. For example, celiac disease damages the lining of the small intestine when a person eats gluten. It prevent the intestine from absorbing necessary nutrients. A Mayo Clinic gastroenterology team conducted a study about the condition and claimed that Celiac disease is four times more common now than it was 50 years ago. Some evidence suggests the increase in Celiac disease stems from people eating too much gluten. Other evidence points to significant changes in the biological make-up of new wheat. According to […]