Masters in Crossfit

11 Mar 2016, Posted by CrossFit Carbon in Blog

old deadliftOne of the great aspects of CrossFit is that it is accessible to people of any age. A big part of CrossFit’s mission is to help people maintain functional capacity well into their later years of life. There’s many athletes, who state that because of CrossFit, they’re more fit at 50 years young then they were at 25. CrossFit’s goal is more than just to prolong life expectancy and be super, crazy fit. It’s also trying to enhance and increase the number of physically independent, pleasurable years. An elderly grandma who can deadlift 150 pounds is not going to have issues getting out of bed, getting dressed, picking up grandkids, etc.

Some of the major differences between Masters and the open division is, as we could’ve guessed, the level of overall experience. Sure, there are some Masters athletes that have been crossfitting or Olympic lifting for years, maybe even decades, but this is not true for all Masters. It appears that currently, many in the CrossFit Masters division get a late start or started, took a break, and then returned, because they are busy with careers, home, and child rearing, so they can’t give their full time and attention to much else. 

Then we have 50+ who are no longer as involved with day-to-day parenting. Many realize that they need to go to the gym and the knowledge that they are staying in shape, while their same-age friends are deteriorating physically, becomes the new way to fill their days.

Then we have those who are 65+ who are retiring and grand parenting, resulting in once again having family responsibilities. It appears though, that women, are informed about the dangers of osteoporosis and how engaging in resistance exercise can reduce these dangers. This more than anything, has prompted the rush to gyms by older women who in their youth would never seriously consider weight training as an activity.

So we wanted to hear from a couple of our own Masters athletes about the difference between competing either in Teen or RX/Open level of CrossFit versus Masters. In order to do so, we asked a couple of our badass Masters level athletes to find out!

 Please tell us a little about yourself:

  • Name:  Liza Nelson (LN)
  • Tom Mohr, in CrossFit, people know me as “Tommy M” (T.M.)
  • # of months/years at Crossfit Carbon:

LN: Since it opened…4-5 years.  Proud to be one of Carbon’s founding members. :)

T.M.: 3+ years at Carbon; 6+ in CrossFit

masters wodhopper

WODHopper Masters Team (left-right Kiko, Liza, Lesly, Dave)

Do you have a background in sports or athletics?  If yes, what sport(s) and for how long?

LN: Yes. In middle school through college I was a competitive volleyball player.  I participated in travel teams initially and at that time played Junior Olympics for Northside VBC.   In HS I competed all 4 years on our varsity team at Good Counsel HS in Chicago.

At Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) I was on both the swimming and girls’ volleyball team.

T.M.: Not particularly. Like any boy growing up I played soccer, basketball in the local little leagues but my primary sport was golf. I started at age 5 and played competitively in local area events and then traveled and played a national circuit as a junior during both the winter and summer. I also played in college as well.

  • Before crossfit, did you do anything else to work out or get fit?

LN: Yes.  I trained for triathlons, essentially either swimming, biking or running.

T.M.: I became interested in fitness at age 22 and it wasn’t until then that I first stepped foot in any gym. I had no idea what I was doing but I knew that I both wanted and enjoyed it. What drew me into an early form of “competitive fitness” (if I may) was at age 29 I entered into the EAS “Body-for-LIFE” challenge. I did a total of 4 challenges and was, what I believed, in great shape at that point in my life.

  • What brought you to crossfit & what keeps you doing it?

LN: About 5 years ago, I got my ass handed to me during a Crossfit workout…. a ladder of deadlifts @ 95#, pull ups and overhead squats with a 20 # bar.  (Courtesy of our own Jay Miles).  After it was all done, I was laying on the ground gasping for air and I totally loved it.   I guess because it was so different from what I normally did.  The very next day I went out and signed up for a membership at the closest Crossfit gym and the rest is history!

There are so many things that keep me doing CrossFit.  I absolutely love the community, especially at Carbon.  The coaches and athletes are like a second family and I’ve made some special friendships.

T.M.: The high point of fitness for me was during the BFL challenges. Later, I burned out because the lack of variety started to really grind. In 2006 I stepped away from fitness, gym and nutrition for nearly a year because I was no longer motivated or inspired. In April of 2007 I knew it was time to get back to the gym because during the past year I literally ruined myself. I felt and looked awful. As odd as that sounds, I chose that path because that was the only way that I would be completely ready to re-commit. I started working out with some friends from work at the company gym and was immediately enjoying myself. However, I wanted to do everything I could to keep history from repeating itself so I kept pushing for more challenge and a lot more variety. This is when I “accidentally” found CrossFit which ultimately led me to my love for Olympic weightlifting. Since then, I haven’t looked back. Best of all, I can honestly say, I haven’t come close to burning out like I did previously.

  • How do you respond to those who say, “I need to get in shape… but I’m too old to do all that. I can’t move like I used to (or like you)!

Liza (LN) at Crossfit Freedom Fitoberfest

LN: First I tell them if you put in the work and effort during your Crossfit workouts, it will yield results. Crossfit workouts are scaleable and you don’t have to do everything prescribed.  There is always a modification to a movement if you can’t do it.  Once you start CrossFit a good coach will provide substitutions to exercises that will help you get that movement eventually.

T.M.: People that know me, know I’m direct. I say that because that statement warrants a direct response. I’d say two things: 1) “Stop making excuses!”  2) “If you’re still making excuses, you’re not fully ready and committed to properly developing your health & body. To be successful you have to truly want to do it. Period. Until then you’re wasting yours (and potentially others’) time.”

Conversely, if someone were committed, coming to the gym and trying their guts out and they said “I am still struggling to move better” then my response would be far more nurturing. I’d first compliment them on their commitment. Next, I’d share with them how it’s a personal journey with a path that is 100% dictated by them and their personal efforts. Finally, I’d end with an open offer to make time for them to help, provide advice, or assure them that they too could move the way they ultimately want to move.

  • Has crossfit helped as you’ve gotten…more experienced in your age ;) ? If yes, how?

LN: CrossFit makes me a better person no doubt!   Both physically and mentally.   5 years ago, I would have never thought I could lift and move like I do now.   I’m stronger at 45 than I was at 25.  I always say I wish I had come across CrossFit in my 20s!!

Making progress as a CrossFit athlete, whether it’s increasing strength or endurance requires a lot of dedication and hard work.  You get out what you put in.  You only cheat yourself if you half-ass your workout and I can see how that has crossed over to my everyday life.  Whether it be at work or with family, I try to give 100% effort in everything I do.

T.M.: 100% without question, both CrossFit and Olympic weightlifting have helped tremendously. When I was in my early and mid-30’s I believed I was in great shape. I stepped into that CrossFit box at age 38 and realized I had a good fitness “foundation” but there was still long roads to travel. 2 years into CrossFit, I woke up on my 40th birthday and was in considerably better health. My inner health was significantly better as verified by my physician, my strength was drastically increased and I was physically capable and actually doing so much more. Additionally, I radically improved my overall mobility, which prior too I had no clue about, which has led me to both greater efficiency and physical safety while training. Now, it hasn’t come without a price. I say that because I’ve learned some hard lessons due to lack of discipline, ego, and overall foolish masochism. The lessons came in the form of injury and let me tell you what you already know – injury is 0% fun and 100% aggravation and remorse.

  • What are the biggest differences you’ve noticed in working out at your age now (or Masters), versus when you were younger? (This can be physically, mentally, emotionally, time management, life events, career, family, etc.)

LN: Well, the obvious is that you have to work out smarter.  You can’t work out 7 days a week and expect to sustain a high level of performance day in and day out.  Taking a day or two off or substituting a skill / mobility day for a workout will help keep your body healthy and keep you in the gym. I have always made my health and wellbeing a priority, but now that I’m older it’s not all about what it does for me.   I work out and eat healthy to set an example for my family.


Tom aka Tommy Mo

T.M.: It’s a good question, an important question. You mention a lot of areas that are very pertinent, so I’ll narrow it to two specific areas: 1) Inside the gym, 2) Outside the gym.

Inside the gym, my approach now is very different now than what it was 7 years ago. I look back to when I started and I see all of the mistakes I made. It was a very reckless approach that led to many setbacks. I’ve learned from my past and it’s drastically changed my approach I use today. Keeping it high level, here’s some principles I use: 1) I focus a lot of attention on mobility and proper warm-up prior to any workout. 2) I use my own approach and design. It’s not perfect and I do blend feedback from others into my approach, but the bottom line is I build it, I design it and most importantly, I flat out own it. 3) I focus on no more than 2 successive training days. 4) I follow a periodized approach as much as possible. 5) I won’t hesitate to alter my plan, pull back on the reigns or shut it down completely if something doesn’t feel right or pain surfaces. I won’t be a fool and “try to push through it.” The only lag area is my diet – it’s just flat out awful right now. I eat like a child and I’ve got to be much more disciplined.

Outside the gym it’s a balance of family and a demanding professional life. My family is everything to me and as my kids are getting older and into more activities, I try to be at as many of them as I can. Professionally, I work a demanding job, for a fast paced, type-A company in an industry that changes over night. Overall, I enjoy it but balancing the job and family puts a premium on time management. I do my best, roll with the punches and plan my schedule as best as I can.

  • What’s your advice for those that are in the CrossFit Masters category (40+), who are wanting/needing to jump start their health?


  • You aren’t too old to start Crossfit because I started Crossfit when I was 40 years old and 2 months after having my third child.
  • It’s going to suck and it will be hard!!
  • Eat healthy, it will boost your performance in the gym.
  • Ask for help of your coaches or fellow Crossfitter’s when it comes to movements.  Realize that they are there to help you get a good and SAFE workout.
  • Expect to see positive changes right away.  You will be stronger, eating healthier and overall a happier less stressful person.   Crossfit is the Fountain of Youth!!  

T.M.: Without hesitation, regardless of the caliber of athlete, I would share these four pieces of advice:  1) Set actionable and measurable goals, 2) Establish your training metrics (strength numbers, wod times, etc) and be sure you not only know them but exercise the discipline to follow them when you put in the work, 3) Have a clear plan that aligns with your goals, and 4) Make sure to always keep it fun. I believe as an athlete you always have to be calculating, but as a Masters athlete you have to calculate with an even greater level of precision. You calculate all of the variables that CrossFit and Olympic Weightlifting deliver such as: Total load moved, workout load %’s, total working sets, total rounds, total reps, estimated rounds and reps, estimated time to completion, how you feel, what you did yesterday, etc. You need to pay attention to the variables and details because if you’re not careful it could negatively impact your progress, or even worse, sideline you. If you do this well, you’ll certainly see progress.

Thank you for your time! We love hearing from our athletes. You inspire us every single day! For more information on this topic check out.

Carbon Food Challenge

29 Feb 2016, Posted by CrossFit Carbon in Blog

food1We conducted an interview with our very own, Co-Owner & Coach of Crossfit Carbon, Ivy Rasmusen.  Ivy is facilitating Crossfit Carbon’s food challenge this week and we wanted to know more about it.

Why did you decide to have a Carbon food challenge?

-Nutrition is something that everyone always asks about.  We wanted to help people better understand their relationship with food for life!

Who can participate? 

-Anyone! You don’t have to be a member of Crossfit Carbon to join.

What’s the most important thing you hope people take away from this?

-A better understanding of what they need to eat on a daily basis.  How eating the right foods can affect (for the better!) your mood, energy level and your workouts.

Why is the challenge 45 days?

-The first 25 days are a “re-set” and the next 20 are the “everyday” lifestyle that you should be eating all the time

Are there “cheat” days or meals?

-During the second half we will address the 80/20 rule and how life happens!

What happens if I “mess up” or over eat?food

-Just keep going!  Nobody’s perfect.

What are your best tips or words of advice for those looking to do the Carbon Challenge or clean up their diet?

-Plan and prep!  And clean out your house!!!  If it isn’t in your house then you are less likely to eat it!  :-)

How did you learn how to eat clean?

-I first started with Paleo and then have adapted over the years for what works best for my body and training.  Clean eating is a lifestyle for us, not a diet.   


Saturday Feb 20 ‐ Informational Meeting at 10:15 am

Tuesday March 1 ‐ Informational Meeting #2 at 7:15pm

Wednesday March 2 ‐ FINAL day to register for the Carbon Challenge!

Saturday March 5 ‐ pictures, measurements, Q&A 8:00‐8:45am OR 10:00‐11:00am

For more information or questions contact

Valentine’s Gift Ideas for a Crossfitter

09 Feb 2016, Posted by CrossFit Carbon in Blog

Guess what- Valentine’s Day is coming up!!! Now you have no excuses for forgetting. Are you unsure of what to get your sweatheart (see what I did there? ;) ) aka sweetheart, favorite athlete, partner, burpee bae, bff, or family member(s) for V-Day? We’ve got you covered with plenty of ideas here!soxbox1

-One place you could start is by checking out The Sox Box for a variety of knee high socks, with fun sayings and additional athletic accessories.

-Want to prevent your sweetie from ripping their beautiful hands? Give them JAW Pullup Grips. JAW Pullup grips are a great solution to the problem of high repping grip intensive movements.  The grips offer you protection when doing pull ups, toes to bars, and other grip intense movements and easily transition to other movements as well.

jawgrips-Is your athlete trying to master DU (double unders)? Or perhaps they already have them mastered, but could use a new rope? These Rogue jump ropes are perfect and customizable! Add the athlete’s name, initials, or favorite quote!  

-Does your fitness buddy lift heavy weight? Do they squat, olympic lift, deadlift, and more?  Then they could benefit from having a weight belt! Weight belts are used to provide stability, support, and reduce pressure and stress on the spine.

-Last but not least, does your Valentine’s cutie ever come home with bruises, cuts, or scrapes, on their shins?  Check out these shin guards made for box jumps or rope climbs!

For more info. check out this blog or shop here for more gear for athletes. Happy lifting and Happy Love Day! XOXO

Prep for your first crossfit competition

10 Jan 2016, Posted by CrossFit Carbon in Blog

So you signed up for your first competition!! First off, Congratulations. You signing up is the first and hardest step to challenging yourself. Honestly, you deserve it. You’ve trained hard and put the time in, so now what to do for the big event? We’ve got some guidelines for you so you know what to bring, wear, eat, and set up starting from the week before the competition to the big day and then after!

What to Bring


  1. SHOES!!! The shoes you WOD (workout of the day) in, including your Olympic lifting shoes. It can also be nice to have a backup pair or a pair that you’ll wear around the competition before, during, or after so you have something more comfortable.
  2. Clothes! Shirts, shorts/tights, socks (tall and short). You’ll want to bring multiple pairs depending on how many wods there are. If you’re sweaty you may want to change. As for the socks, you’ll want to bring short ones for the regular wods and then tall ones for rope climbs.  *If you’re on a team, you may want to try to coordinate clothes so you can rep your box or favorite colors together- helps you look more like a team and it can add fun to it!competitiongear
  3. Wrist wraps – very important if there’s any overhead movements.
  4. JUMP ROPE! Bring your own rope. You will most likely not be provided with a rope at the competition
  5.  Food and drink- You may want to bring a small cooler if needed. OR you can just bring a separate bag with water bottles or shakers, snacks, protein powder, pre-workout powder, fruit, etc.
  6. Chair or blanket – you’ll want to make sure you know whether or not the competition is inside and/or outside. If so, that will also affect what you bring. Either way, it’s a good idea to bring a foldable chair for you to sit in and/or a blanket to help keep you warm and identify your designated area. If you’ll be outside, it’s advised that you bring a tent to help keep you and your team in the shade.

What to Eat and When:

The Night Before

The night before, eat a large meal full of fats, carbohydrates and proteins. Don’t plan your cheat meal the night before a competition in case you get an upset stomach from it!  Also, try to get some sleep. It may be difficult because you might be excited/nervous for the big show – don’t fret! One night of little sleep won’t wreck you AND you’ll have adrenaline pushing you during the competition. 

The Morning Of

Wake up early enough on the day of the competition, preferably about 2.5-3 hours before to be able to get a good sized meal in. The most helpful tip for food is to eat whatever you’re body is typically used to. If you normally eat eggs in the morning then go with that. You can also always add, sweet potatoes, avocado, almond butter, meat, veggies.  Again, depending on your habits and your stomach, you might want to eat a little about an hour before the first WOD but this isn’t always necessary for everyone. Something small could be a protein bar.scaledcomp.

Before and During Competition

After your first WOD, you will want to do a protein shake and carbohydrates right away. You will need to be digesting your carbohydrates and proteins as quickly as possible. After your second WOD, and depending on how much time you have, you can try some chicken or other solid protein and some white rice or fruit. Stick to foods that are easily digestible. If you’re not able to eat solid food, make sure you are at least drinking protein shakes and getting carbohydrates in however you can!  Again, this is all dependent on how you’re feeling. Trust your body and judgement. It’s a learning experience so you’ll know what works best for you once everything is finished.

After Competition

So you’re done competing! Now time to celebrate! But before that, it’s important once you’re done to make sure you have all your belongings and clean up your area. Also, be sure to cheer on the other athletes. This one of the best parts of competing, watching and supporting other CrossFitters.  Lastly, reflect on how things went. Did it go how you expected? Was there anything you could control or would have done differently? Did you perform how you wanted? If you didn’t go as far in the competition as you wanted, don’t dwell. Remember- not everyone can be 100%, 100% of the time. Give yourself a break and celebrate!

Things to Remember

-Get there early. You’ll want to make sure you leave yourself enough time to find the location of the gym, get the layout of it inside, and find where the designated athlete areas are, and where the warm up area is, etc. There is nothing worse than rushing into a new environment right before you are supposed to work out and risk forgetting something. Get checked in and get settled in before you have to focus on the first workout!

-Be prepared and keep and eye and ear out. Nobody is going to call your name or remind you to get ready before you have to work out so pay attention to when your heat is going. If you have time, you can lay down, but you won’t want to be out for too long. Keep paying attention.

-Be respectful! You are a guest at another gym. Clean up after yourself, keep your belongings in designated athlete areas, and follow the rules of the gym you’re at. Don’t forget- be respectful to your JUDGES. You may think that last rep should have counted, but you don’t see what they see and also, people make mistakes. The judges are volunteers and they are doing the best that they can. The best way to get each rep is to do your best and make every rep count!

-Last, but definitely, not least – have fun! If it’s your competition, give yourself some credit. In a new environment, you may perform differently than you expected yourself to. Don’t forget to enjoy the experience.

For more info. read this. and GOOD LUCK !!!!

New Year, New YOU!

27 Dec 2015, Posted by CrossFit Carbon in Blog

With 2015 almost over, now is a time for reflection on the past year and looking forward and planning for what 2016 can bring.  As the new year approaches, it can be very helpful and beneficial to reflect on what went well and what didn’t go so well throughout the past year. This reflection can be in all areas of our lives, including work, relationships, squatsnewyearfamily, financial, health, and more. Once you’ve looked back on what you’re proud of and what you can improve upon, it will help guide and direct your 2016 goals.  Now in order to make and obtain year long (note, not one week or one month long) goals, there’s some tips below to set achievable and realistic goals.

~Set a goal that is difficult, achievable, and one you actually want!

We often overestimate our abilities, especially when it comes to physical training. If you’ve never run before, then resolving to run a 5k in less than 25 minutes might be too ambitious. How about resolving to run a 5k without stopping and without walking?  However, if you don’t really care to run more and it’s simply a goal because you feel like you “should” run more, then forget it! It won’t happen. You have to want to achieve your goal. Keep it fun and enjoyable!

~Divide your goal(s) into tangible parts.

Do you want to lose weight? How much weight over how long? Do you want to become stronger? What’s a common task that gives you trouble that you would like to perform with ease? Do you want to change your behavior in some way? In what situations will you exhibit the different behavior? Phrase your goal in real-world terms that are measurable and have meaning to you. Then, put smaller more attainable steps in line to get you to the ultimate goal.


~Have a plan to achieve your goal, because your goal requires work.

How do you plan to accomplish the work? Do you have the information, facilities, time, money, etc. you’ll need?  You might need some tools, training, or guidance, for instance from your crossfit coach or health care provider to safely create a plan to achieve your health care goals. That being said, when will you work on your goal? If the answer is “whenever I get time,” then go ahead and cross that goal off your New Year’s Resolution List. You don’t have to create an hourly schedule, but if you don’t commit tangible time towards your goal, then you won’t get anywhere. We all get 24 hours in a day–every single one of us. We all decide how to allocate those 24 hours, and every minute we allocate to something is taken from something else. It may be taken from something useless or something you enjoy, but the time you devote towards achieving your goal will be taken from something else. Recognize it, accept it, and plan for it!!

  ~Reach out to others for help!

Going off of what was stated in tip #3, talk to those who are experts in the area of your goal. Network, meet in-person, consult, do your research, ask for help, tell your friends, and more! Once others start to know what you’re working toward, they will be more conscientious of your new path, but also may help keep you accountable or join in on the fun.

Achieving goals requires real things: planning, sacrifice, effort, and dedication. Good luck and Happy New Year, New YOU!!

For more information or tips on setting goals read here or here.