Sawtooth Training Tips by Chris Marhefka (B3 Gym)

Post by Sam Abbitt
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Last week I dropped into B3 Gym in Gainesville, Florida to meet with owner and head trainer Chris Marhefka to get some training tips for completing my personal arch-nemesis obstacle, Sawtooth.

In the video, Chris shows me how I can use pull ups, dead hangs, one handed hangs, fat grip progressions, and other training techniques to conquer Sawtooth and other upper body strength oriented obstacles.

Oh! And I should mention that I hit a dead hang PR in this video (1:21). Haha!

Chris Marhefka is the founder of B3 Gym in Gainesville, FL and co-founder of Eat the 80, a healthy meal delivery service in Florida. He has worked with more than 2,000 clients and has 10+ years experience as a personal trainer, CrossFit instructor, and nutrition and lifestyle coach. He holds a Certified Personal Trainer certification from the American College of Sports Medicine and is a CrossFit L1 and L2 certificate holder.

I Will Conquer Sawtooth in 2019.

One of my deepest secrets is that I can’t complete Sawtooth. That’s right, the founder of Savage Race can’t complete one of his own trademark obstacles. I’ve had eight years to do it, and every time I try, I end up falling in the drink.

A few months ago, I decided that 2019 would be the year that this would change. I know that conquering Sawtooth will require hard work and dedication. The two biggest factors keeping me from successfully completing Sawtooth are 1) I am overweight, and 2) my upper body is not strong enough. Both of these issues will need to be addressed to enable me to accomplish my goal of defeating Sawtooth.

Being overweight makes obstacle course racing a lot harder. The way I think about it is that for every extra 10 pounds of fat on my body, I might as well be wearing a weighted backpack filled with 10 pound plates. To address this issue, I’ve been eating clean for the past few months. I follow a Paleo-ish diet, and I’ve experimented with intermittent fasting and ketosis too. I’ve found that if I limit my carbs to 50-100 grams per day, I can steadily lose weight, and it really doesn’t require a lot of effort or will power. Another tactic that works well for me is to challenge my friends to weight loss and fitness challenges. Savage Co-founder Lloyd Parker and I both lost about 30 pounds in three months participating in one of these challenges. So I’m down 30 pounds, and have about 15 to go. I think I’m on track in the weight loss department.

To address the strength issue, I’ve been hitting the gym to get stronger. I have a great garage gym at my house that makes it easy for me to get the work in. Even more important, is good programming, so I hired a remote coach, Sean McGovern to create an individualized training plan for me and to hold me accountable. Following Sean’s plan, which is specifically tailored to help me reach my goals, I’ve been breaking PRs in the gym that I haven’t come close to in eight years. So I think that I’m on track in the strength department, too. If you think that having a remote coach could be a good fit for you, I highly recommend you contact Sean.

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