Thursday, December 31, 2009

Reflecting on 2009 and Goals for 2010

Seeing as how it is the last day of the year, I figure I'd be a negligent blogger without a post about the past year and oh-so-wise words on setting goals.

2009, for me, was a year that was far more "half-full" than "half empty".  In fact, I'd say it was all good, and it's just a matter of looking at it:
  • I became Crossfit Level 1 certified; this would have never, ever happened had it not been for Coach Brandt.  I would have never even considered it had it not been for his words of encouragement.  This certification enabled me to coach at our affiliate, which has been an incredibly rewarding experience.
  • I attended Robb Wolf's Nutrition Certification, which was initially thee only cert I was interested in---and I'm damn glad I went.  Robb could talk for literally DAYS an not cover what needs to be covered.  Even his off-tangents during the lecture were full of applicable info.  Since he has subsequently "left" the employment of Crossfit, there's a HUGE number of folks who won't get to see him in the near future in that capacity.  I went into that cert well-informed (if I do say so), but I was humbled leaving it.  
  • We* opened a New, Kickass Facility.  It's over 4000sq ft, has a killer welded pullup station, MULTIPLE lifting platforms, a la Catalyst Athletics, lotsa whiteboard,  an awesome "leader" board with the Hero/Girls/Benchmark workouts...I could go on. 
      *I always catch myself saying "we", as if I'm an owner of Crossfit Lethbridge.  I'm not, but I feel strongly enough about the place and people that I feel I have a stake in it.  I'm going to continue saying "we", in reference to CFLA.  It's mine, damnit. :)
    • I broke many, many PRs.  Looking back through my logbook (YOU have a workout logbook, right?  If not, you WILL for 2010.  If I see a client that isn't writing shit down in 2010....) I'm utterly amazed at the progress I made in 2009.  Everything from max strength, muscular endurance, technical coordination (read: elusive double unders) and power output increased.  This isn't a testament to me---it's a testament to the efficacy of Crossfit-style training.
    • I successfully dealt with an injury.  Wait, WTF?  Didn't that injury cause you to not be able to participate in 90% of the regular programming?  Isn't your overhead strength the same as a 9 year old girl?  Didn't you have to deal with daily pain, not to mention the mental pain and stress?
    Yes, to all of that, but see the bullet above that, and then GFY.  Because of my shoulder, I made massive gains in other areas, learned a helluva lot about myself, and realized a setback can be spun into a gain.  The cup is half FULL, bitch.

    What, no "resolutions"?  No, fuck off with resolutions.  Resolutions mean that something has to be "resolved", like a problem or issue.  A goal is something to work towards, something that requires effort to be attained.  The cup is half full, remember?

    Points to consider when setting goals:

    1) Quantify Your Goals.  What I mean by this is put a number or time limit on your goal; it could be a 405 pound deadlift, or it could be run 5km by Aug 1st.  Goals are more likely to NOT to happen if they are subjective---it makes for a VERY easy out, since your mind is your worst enemy.  A goal of "I'll do better in 2010" is so open ended and subjective that it's a waste time even thinking about it, not to mention pathetic.

    2) Don't Shoot Low.  If you can do 10 double unders in a row, and your goal for 2010 is 11, I'll beat you like a rented mule with your Buddy Lee rope.  Aim high!  If you put down 50 for 2010, and December rolls around and you AMRAP out 47, is that failure?  Christ, no, that huge success.  Aiming low is for weak people afraid of failure.  Remember what I think about Failure.

    3) Write 'Em Down, and put them where you can see them.  Ever look at that board in the warmup section with all the little white bits of paper pinned to it and wonder what it's for?  That's 2009 goals for CFLA coaches and clients.  It's a reminder to you what they are, and having them in a public place is 

    My Goals for 2010
    • Put on 10lbs of LBM.  This would bring me to 175 from 165.  And I'm talking lean body mass, not just 10 pounds of fat and water weight.  I'm roughly sitting at around 8-9%BF, and I'd like to maintain that.  This one will require conscious effort throughout the year, and re-visting the Land of Moo.  I have a line on some high quality, non-homogenized, organic milk, so I can be a dairy junkie like Sean'O.  Maybe we'll have to have a race to 175#??
    • Increase my Deadlift to 412.5#.  This one will be tough; even after doing my Strength Bias program for the last few months,  I'm still stuck at 385#.  412.5# is exactly 2.5x my bodyweight, but it's a helluva long ways away from 385#.  Nonetheless, it'll happen.  That 10lbs of LBM will come in handy here.
    • Get my 500m row under 1:25. 
    • Get my 5km run under 22 minutes.
    • Dial in my diet 90/10.  That is, 90% of the time I'm eating what I should be, and 10% I eat what I shouldn't be.  I won't accept 20% slop here.  (Glassman will get that.  Ha!)
    • AVOID injuries by training SMARTER.  Pretty hard to quantify, or even qualify a goal like this---but it's just something that has to happen.  How do I do this?  first off, I plan on not slacking off in my warmups.  We have PHENOMENAL warmup criteria at CFLA.  Coach Brandt had put together a couple of great "A" and "B" warmups, consisting of full ROM mobility and dynamic movements with a very Verstegen-esque quality (which rocks.  One of the best things about Verstegen's Core Performance was the mobility drills)  and I've noticed that Coach Gillespie has a knack for great warmups also.  Face it: old guys like warmups, 'cause they hate getting hurt.

    I haven't been logging all my workouts here; I've hit the firehall a couple of times over the Christmas break, which has just consisted of interval sprints, some core work, and either power cleans or front squats.  Both my knees have been "aching" lately---since my incident on Dec 10th, the right has been sore when squatting with significant weight.  In a mild drunken haze on Dec 25th, I crunched my left so damn hard into the coffee table at home I nearly threw up.  So both seem to be throbbing now.  Time to lay off the heavy squats.

    Numbers Matter
    I did get a nice PR Dec 18th on my 500m row by almost a second; my previous time was 1:28.6 back in April-ish, and I squeaked out a 1:27.9 with a massive effort thanks to Coach Brandt's encouragement. I like the 500m as a measure of power output and glycolytic endurance.  I hadn't attempted this in a while, so my self-programing and shoulder fiasco haven't hindered my gains that much.

    Dec 30th, CFLA, 1PM

    Overhead Press
    45# x10
    115#x1,0.  Wow, lol.  Remember I was saying I was as weak as a 9 year old girl?  I wasn't kidding.  At least I have mentally strong shoulders, haha.  This surprised me, actually.  No pain, just....stuck, about 1/4 of the way up.  Actually racking it with my elbows down (vs high, as in front squat rack) does cause pain.  Seems to separate my AC joint.  Same with a racked kettlebell.  Anyways, carry on...

    115# x5 Push Press
    125# x5
    135# x5.  Surprisingly easy, with only mild pain at lockout.  Nice reminder that at least I have some decent explosive hip power.  And we all know what matters more.  :-)

    5 Rounds For Time:

    10 Wall Ball Shots, 10' , 20#
    10 Chest To Bar Pullups
    10 Glute-Ham Developer Situps

    7:45.  Last time was Oct 8, 9:40.  I must have been REALLY dogging it, because a 2 minute PR is just silly.  Nothing in my notebook, but I didn't break at all this time except for 5 breaths between the WBS and pullups.

    Wall balls felt good on the shoulder, no pain during, and as I type this, it feels pretty good.  I'm honestly wondering if bursitis and inflammation could actually be the cause of all the damn pain and instability.  I've talked to a few other Crossfitters about shoulder issues, and some have had stubborn bursitis.  I'll continue to add back more overhead volume, and see what happens.

    Heading to Waterton National park this evening for dinner, and then skiing to Cameron Lake in the morning.  Awesome way to break in 2010!!!

      Thursday, December 24, 2009

      Anti-Oxidants: The Good, The Bad, and the...Ineffective?

      The Good

      We've all heard it a million times before, from a million different sources:  Eat your anti-oxidants.  But really, what the heck ARE "anti-oxidants"?  To understand what they are, what they do, and what this means to the average athlete, we need to delve into a wee bit o' biochem.  Save the groans, pour yourself a cup o' java, and read on.  It ain't gonna be that bad, I promise.

      Oxidation:  It's How We Rust

      If you've ever come across an old piece of iron, (or driven a 1978 Honda Civic), you've more than likely come across rust.  "Rust" is basically iron that has interacted with oxygen to start a chemical process called oxidation.  This process causes the release of heat and the breakdown of the iron.  What does this have to do with athletes?

         We "rust" in the same way; the normal, everyday functions of out cellular makeup involve oxidation.  Think of it as the "garbage" our body makes.  Another way to look at it (from a firefighter's point of view) is that as our body "burns" (uses fuel), we have some products of incomplete combustion left over (free radicals)  Think of free radicals like the really drunk,rowdy, and violent guy at a party---no good can come of it, and there's going to be damage done.  For a more exact explanation, free radicals are unpaired electrons that are highly chemically reactive---therefore, cause more oxidative damage.  Oxidation has been implicated in basically every form of chronic disease, ranging from cardiovascular disease, premature aging, impaired athletic recovery and DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness)

      Everything from blinking to eating to worrying to laughing causes oxidation on some level.  It's essential, and it's also impossible to avoid.  Some things, though, cause more oxidation than others.  Actual thermal burns, obviously, cause massive oxidation.  Large alcohol intake, or poisoning, causes oxidation.  Exercise, even good 'ol MetCon and Strength Training, causes oxidation.  This is where the focus of this post will be, but that's a bit later.

      The Bad?  Maybe.

      Anti-Oxidants:  The TV Says To Take LOTS, And The TV Is Always Right.  Right?

      Since the early 70's, the keyword "antioxidant" has gained momentum like a fat kid on a crazy carpet in's pretty much everywhere now, and the general public has been "educated" on proper purchasing etiquette (that was smeared with thick sarcasm, by the way).  Much of the research behind antioxidants has come via Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling, who studied molecular genetics and coined the term "orthomolecular medicine", or in layman's terms, mega-dosing vitamins for the treatment and prevention of disease.  Needless to say, this is not without controversy in the conventional medicine field.  But I digress.

      So what exactly DO anti-oxidants do?  Another term used in place of antioxidants is "free radical scavenger".  Remember the drunken, rowdy party dude Mr Free Radical that was about to start randomly grabbing asses, spilling drinks, and getting in fights? (no, this wasn't me Saturday night.)?  Our antioxidant, or free radical scavenger, takes care of this douche.  Kinda like the big 'ol Mormon football player that gets along with everyone and is just there to help out.  He's just SUCH a nice guy!!!

      Antioxidants slow, or stop, the oxidation process by eliminating free radicals; less oxidation, less damage to the human body.  Therefore, antioxidants, in theory, have the ability to treat disease, make us live longer, and enhance our athletic recovery.

      The Who and Where.  Names.  Gimme Names!

      Ask anyone on the street where they'd find anti-oxidants and most will tell you fruit and vegetables---and they'd be right.  Everything from carotenoids in carrots to sulforaphane in broccoli.  Others include polyphenols and tannins found in green/black tea, red wine and other plant-based food sources.  Commonly known singular antioxidants include Vitamin C (ascorbic acid), Vitamin E (tocopherols and tocotrienols), and the mineral zinc.  These are often found in OTC (over the counter) vitamin formulas.   Gluathione, an endogenous antioxidant (fancy-shmancy for "I made it myself, mom!") is made from various non-essential amino acids, and is in fact one of the most potent free radical scavengers at our disposal.

      From this extremely simplistic point of view, it appears that antioxidants are essential and highly beneficial---and they are.  But a very LARGE (and incorrect) issue, much like the propagation of the Lipid Hypothesis, has been building for the last few decades: We need to take them in mass quantities to be healthy.  Human mentality is geared towards the easiest route to a goal---it's why we are at the top of the food chain, but it's also our downfall.

      Study Time: That Silver Bullet Ain't So Silver

      Antioxidants prevent health-promoting effects of physical exercise in humans.

      Department of Human Nutrition, Institute of Nutrition, University of Jena, Jena D-07743, Germany.
      Exercise promotes longevity and ameliorates type 2 diabetes mellitus and insulin resistance. However, exercise also increases mitochondrial formation of presumably harmful reactive oxygen species (ROS). Antioxidants are widely used as supplements but whether they affect the health-promoting effects of exercise is unknown. We evaluated the effects of a combination of vitamin C (1000 mg/day) and vitamin E (400 IU/day) on insulin sensitivity as measured by glucose infusion rates (GIR) during a hyperinsulinemic, euglycemic clamp in previously untrained (n = 19) and pretrained (n = 20) healthy young men. Before and after a 4 week intervention of physical exercise, GIR was determined, and muscle biopsies for gene expression analyses as well as plasma samples were obtained to compare changes over baseline and potential influences of vitamins on exercise effects. Exercise increased parameters of insulin sensitivity (GIR and plasma adiponectin) only in the absence of antioxidants in both previously untrained (P < 0.001) and pretrained (P < 0.001) individuals. This was paralleled by increased expression of ROS-sensitive transcriptional regulators of insulin sensitivity and ROS defense capacity, peroxisome-proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARgamma), and PPARgamma coactivators PGC1alpha and PGC1beta only in the absence of antioxidants (P < 0.001 for all). Molecular mediators of endogenous ROS defense (superoxide dismutases 1 and 2; glutathione peroxidase) were also induced by exercise, and this effect too was blocked by antioxidant supplementation. Consistent with the concept of mitohormesis, exercise-induced oxidative stress ameliorates insulin resistance and causes an adaptive response promoting endogenous antioxidant defense capacity. Supplementation with antioxidants may preclude these health-promoting effects of exercise in humans.
      PMID: 19433800 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE] many of you have taken a handful of vitamins after a crushing workout, thinking you are "enhancing" your recovery?  Yup, I bet it's a shitload.  Pointless?  Yes.

      But wait...there's MORE sciencey goodness:

      Free Radic Biol Med. 2008 Jan 15;44(2):126-31. Epub 2007 Feb 9.

      Moderate exercise is an antioxidant: upregulation of antioxidant genes by training.

      Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Valencia, Blasco Ibañez, 15, 46010 Valencia, Spain.
      Exercise causes oxidative stress only when exhaustive. Strenuous exercise causes oxidation of glutathione, release of cytosolic enzymes, and other signs of cell damage. However, there is increasing evidence that reactive oxygen species (ROS) not only are toxic but also play an important role in cell signaling and in the regulation of gene expression. Xanthine oxidase is involved in the generation of superoxide associated with exhaustive exercise. Allopurinol (an inhibitor of this enzyme) prevents muscle damage after exhaustive exercise, but also modifies cell signaling pathways associated with both moderate and exhaustive exercise in rats and humans. In gastrocnemius muscle from rats, exercise caused an activation of MAP kinases. This in turn activated the NF-kappaB pathway and consequently the expression of important enzymes associated with defense against ROS (superoxide dismutase) and adaptation to exercise (eNOS and iNOS). All these changes were abolished when ROS production was prevented by allopurinol. Thus ROS act as signals in exercise because decreasing their formation prevents activation of important signaling pathways that cause useful adaptations in cells. Because these signals result in an upregulation of powerful antioxidant enzymes, exercise itself can be considered an antioxidant. We have found that interfering with free radical metabolism with antioxidants may hamper useful adaptations to training.
      PMID: 18191748 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

      Oral administration of vitamin C decreases muscle mitochondrial biogenesis and hampers training-induced adaptations in endurance performance

      Mari-Carmen Gomez-Cabrera, Elena Domenech, Marco Romagnoli, Alessandro Arduini, Consuelo Borras, Federico V Pallardo, Juan Sastre and Jose Viña 1 From the Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain (M-CG-C, ED, AA, FVP, JS, and JV); the Catholic University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain (CB); and the Polytechnic University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain (MR)

      Background: Exercise practitioners often take vitamin C supplements because intense muscular contractile activity can result in oxidative stress, as indicated by altered muscle and blood glutathione concentrations and increases in protein, DNA, and lipid peroxidation. There is, however, considerable debate regarding the beneficial health effects of vitamin C supplementation.
      Objective: This study was designed to study the effect of vitamin C on training efficiency in rats and in humans.
      Design: The human study was double-blind and randomized. Fourteen men (27–36 y old) were trained for 8 wk. Five of the men were supplemented daily with an oral dose of 1 g vitamin C. In the animal study, 24 male Wistar rats were exercised under 2 different protocols for 3 and 6 wk. Twelve of the rats were treated with a daily dose of vitamin C (0.24 mg/cm2 body surface area).
      Results: The administration of vitamin C significantly (P = 0.014) hampered endurance capacity. The adverse effects of vitamin C may result from its capacity to reduce the exercise-induced expression of key transcription factors involved in mitochondrial biogenesis. These factors are peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor co-activator 1, nuclear respiratory factor 1, and mitochondrial transcription factor A. Vitamin C also prevented the exercise-induced expression of cytochrome C (a marker of mitochondrial content) and of the antioxidant enzymes superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase.
      Conclusion: Vitamin C supplementation decreases training efficiency because it prevents some cellular adaptations to exercise.

      Before everyone freaks out and flushes their vitamins down the toilet, lets talk about the "Why".  To be more specific, lets go back to oxidation.  Specifically, exercise-induced oxidative stress.  Now, we know from looking at someone that's done years and years of long distance running...

      This guy is 23.  I kid you not.

      ...that oxidative stress is bad.  But we are talking about a massive IMBALANCE; as with everything in life, balance is optimal, imbalance, or over abundance/deficiency of something, brings strife.  Regarding exercise-induced oxidative stress, well, the human body is a beautiful thing: stress forces adaptation--->adaptation gives us the ability to perform better under that same stress, because our body becomes more "efficient" because of said stress.  With exercise, the ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species) that are created force our body to create more acidic buffers, build stronger, more effective muscle fibers, and utilize various substrates better (enhanced insulin sensitivity, anyone???).  By high-dosing antioxidants, one is essentially blunting these positive adaptations.  Don't believe me?  Check this out:

      Reactive Oxygen Species Enhance Insulin Sensitivity  

      1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Monash University, Victoria 3800, Australia


      Chronic reactive oxygen species (ROS) production by mitochondria may contribute to the development of insulin resistance, a primary feature of type 2 diabetes. In recent years it has become apparent that ROS generation in response to physiological stimuli such as insulin may also facilitate signaling by reversibly oxidizing and inhibiting protein tyrosine phosphatases (PTPs). Here we report that mice lacking one of the key enzymes involved in the elimination of physiological ROS, glutathione peroxidase 1 (Gpx1), were protected from high-fat-diet-induced insulin resistance. The increased insulin sensitivity in Gpx1−/− mice was attributed to insulin-induced phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase/Akt signaling and glucose uptake in muscle and could be reversed by the antioxidant N-acetylcysteine. Increased insulin signaling correlated with enhanced oxidation of the PTP family member PTEN, which terminates signals generated by phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase. These studies provide causal evidence for the enhancement of insulin signaling by ROS in vivo.

      There's a plethora of studies that can be found on this; the take home message for athletes:  Antioxidant intake should come from whole food sources, first and foremost.  Just because they done a study on ascorbic acid and cancer cells in a petri dish does NOT mean you should be shwacking back 5 grams of vitamin C in your PWO shake.  More is not always better.  As Crossfitter's we KNOW this---a 10 minute WOD is a helluva lot more effective than a 3 hour run(shuffle).  Balance, people.

      As an addendum, there ARE specific cases when you can effectively supplement; some of these include suppression of excess cortisol, treating adrenal fatigue (which, I might add, I'm not entirely sold on.).  Are there merits to taking a quality multivitamin/mineral?  Perhaps.  But I would time it well away from the PWO window.  

      There's a whole crapload of implications this post didn't cover; the topic is just too massive for a one-size fits all approach unlike the dot-com WODs of the day (once again, REALLY thick sarcasm.  Crossfitters will get that).  Post your questions, situations, and thoughts to the comments.

      Have a Merry Christmas!

      Thursday, December 17, 2009

      Stop The Insanity, Printer Rage, and a few WODS

      Well, more breaking news from the frontlines of World War Crossfit:  Robb Wolf Update

         We received communication last night from CF Legal that our affiliate license was to be terminated today. Greg Everett (Catalyst Athletics) received the same notice.

      I think everyone saw this coming after the Black Box Fiasco, but it just boggles my mind.  Two of the most knowledgeable guys EVER regarding nutrition and Olympic lifting were basically canned from Crossfit.   Both have been 100% dedicated to training people properly, and 100% dedicated to not conforming to a single system, and utilizing EFFECTIVE techniques.  That last sentence speaks deep, deep volumes about what's going on.  Expect more on this in Part 2 of Things I Hate About Crossfit

      Also, on a semi-related note, James Fitzgerald of Optimum Performance Training has put out his own certification process.  Now this isn't insanity, it's just pure awesomeness.  I can't deny the fact I've already looked into this for myself.

      2010 is going to see a LOT of changes for the Crossfit community as we know it.

      So one of the tasks on my "honey-do" list (these seem to exist only on my days off, oddly enough) was to print out the Christmas letter Tam had written last night, and mail it to about 30 friends/family members. Easy enough, no? No. Why?

      I ended up in a fistfight with my printer. Actually, it went like this: It started talking smack to me, I tried to reason with it, and in self defense, I Brock Lesnar hammerfisted it, and then à la Matt Hughes-style, slammed it to the ground in our office.  The resulting mess of ink and blood (I told you it was self defense) left me smiling, to say the least.  The rest of the afternoon was a mad dash to get copies made and mailed prior to the 4PM deadline.

      New OPT Training Logbook.  Organization to the nth degree

      Recent Workouts
      Dec 15, CFLA, 8PM
      1RM Squat Clean

      Huge PR night for everyone at the 5 and 6PM classes; I wanted to carry over that positive energy into a PR for myself, but it wasn't in the stars that night.
      95# x complex I made up (High hang, mid hang, full squat clean) x3
      205#x1 Caught low resulting in a shitty rack, but easily squatted out of it.
      220#x0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0........damnit.  Got too damn greedy with a 15# jump.  Must have screamed at the bar for 30 minutes.  Tried for 210# after this, no dice.  Just bagged mentally and physically from too many (counter-productive) attempts at 220#

      I have to take pause and realize, though, where I am now vs just a few months ago; at one time, 165# was tough.  Just a month ago, 195# was near impossible.  A few weeks ago?  205# was my bane.  Serious gains have been made, and I have to remind myself of that.  I had a goal of 225# clean for 2009, so I'm pretty happy where I'm at.  Might take another shot at this around the 23rd.

      3 rounds for time:
      500m row, 12 BW deadlifts (165#), 21 Box Jumps
      9:41.  Not a bad time, per se, but I was surprised at how thrashed my deadlifts were from cleans.  After a 1RM attempt at anything, I always feel "good", as in, not gassed, but it quickly becomes apparent just how much a max effort fatigues oneself.  I think fresh I could bust the 9 minute barrier.  Goal for 2010.

      Dec 17th, CFLA, 11AM

      Decide to push the envelope, so to speak, with my shoulder, and join in an actual group WOD, with Coach Brandt and the 11AM crew.  Black Kat joined in since she slept in and was feeling under the weather.  I actually thought the stars might be aligned properly for me to hand her her ass in a WOD.  Yeah, not really.  Even handicapped with freakin' H1N1 she can wipe the floor with me.

      20 Rounds For Time
      3 Burpees
      5 Squats.
      6:43.  Shoulder felt shitty in the warmup, ok in the WOD.  About 5 seconds out I realized I wasn't going to catch Kat, illness or not.  Girl is too damn fast, and I've always been proud of my burpee speed.  Wacked the jewels hard around round 9 or so---in this regard, I miss the 'ol soft turf of the baseball academy. 

      Strict Pullups


      Weaker than Nov 22nd, when I pulled 75#x3; wouldn't think that a few burpees would do anything to gas me here, but who knows.  Talked about various grips with Kat after---going to try a little n=1 experiment where I AMRAP my pullups with a "thumbs-over" grip, and then a week or so later, so a "thumbs-wrapped" grip.  Should be interesting.

      Monday, December 14, 2009

      Soapbox Time: Some Things I Hate About Crossfit

      First Off: Props to Trevor Salmon at Optimum Performance Training in Calgary; I wasn't able to make the Nutrition 101 cert due to bad weather, but he's sending me the DVD. Much Appreciated!!!

      Buckle In.

      So, it's about time I post this; I had planned on venting about a few issues prior to the Black Box Fiasco, but I figured I better let things cool.  They really haven't, but the opinions of an in-experienced part time Crossfit coach aren't going to shake the world.

      The Obvious Disclaimer:  If you haven't figured it out, I obviously am very passionate about Crossfit, the community, the people, and the training methodology.  I'm also a sarcastic bastard.  Yup, that's my disclaimer.  Figure it out.  Some of these points are serious, some not so much.  In the end, it's just my opinion.

      And now, in no particular order...

      2 Crossfitters 1 Chalk Bucket.  Funny Stuff. Google it.

      1) The "Elite" Snobbery.

        So....where the fuck did THIS come from?  Some dude trains to be able to bang out a bunch of seizure-like pullups and flail around a mediocre weighted barbell, and becomes ELITE?  Christ almighty.  I'm fairly sure on many an affiliate's wall there's a sign that reads "Check Your Ego At The Door".  That should be carried over into the public sector, also.  If you feel good about your training, that's cool.  If you're able to do really well at sports outside of Crossfit, that's totally awesome, too.  But I don't care how many goddamn times you've done "Fran" or "Cindy",  you're still not an Olympic athlete spliced with a ninja wrapped in a bulletproof vest.  Other folks have been doing HIIT for a LOT longer than Crossfit has been around.  Hard to believe.  I know.

      Wanna hear something funny?  I was trying to find an image for this point, and I plugged "Crossfit Douche" into Google Images.  First page is a picture of me.  Now THAT is funny.

      It Happens.

      2) Denial of Risk Of Injury.

        Maximal Effort = Risk Of Injury+++.  That's a fact, and that can't be denied.  Any time you place a athlete, elite, amateur, or weekend warrior, into a position of maximal effort, there's a risk of injury; as effort increases, so does risk.  This has even been quoted by Greg Glassman: "A program that is 100% safe is one that is not effective at all".  I'd have to agree, emphasizing that intensity and effort  = effectiveness.  So how can you deny that Crossfit doesn't increase injury?  Even with due diligence of trainers, programmers, and the athletes themselves, within a group of people involved in intense exercise, it's going to happen.

         My beef here is NOT with the lack of safety or bad coaching, it's that some folks have been quoted as saying that injury rates have been reduced or eliminated.  I call BS.  Pull a runner away from a massive amount of kilometers every week into a beginning Crossfit program?  Sure, chronic overuse injuries may be eliminated.  Put a sedentary former athlete with old injuries and imbalances into a position of unfamiliar movements and loads?  What do you think *might* happen?  Should one do everything in their power, once again, from coach to programmer to athlete themselves to prevent it?  Your damn right they should.  But denial that the program has it's inherent risks is negligent.


      3) Lack of Nicole Carroll.

        Do you think I look at the .com website to actually read the rest day topics?  Do you think I'm there to compare times with other nobodies from all over the damn globe?  Do you think I accidentally stumbled upon Crossfit because I was intrigued by the concept?  Jesus H Christ no.  I saw a picture of Nicole Carroll, dammit, and the rest was history!  Where the hell has she been?  How the hell do they expect people to actually want to read the .com site.  Fill it with informative and totally free, open-source information?  Pffft.  WTH.  Gimme Nicole back, Glassman.  You can't hog her all to yourself there at HQ.

      Josh, rockin' the Vibrams.  Oly in Metcon?  Not so rockin.

      4) Olympic Lifts in MetCons

      Huge beef of mine.  HUGEHAY-OOGE!! There's not really much I can say here that hasn't been said a helluva lot more eloquently than Greg Everett himself; in fact, he has a 3 part series on utilizing the Olympic lifts in a group setting in the Performance Menu Journal that goes over everything quite well.  A well put quote from part 1: "How do you incorporate Olympic lifts in a metabolic conditioning workout in a group setting?  Easy answer: You Don't"  Well said.

         "Technique goes down as fatigue increases".  This is a direct statement from the Crossfit Level 1 certification.  So tell me, where does 30 clean and jerks for time fit into this?  Take a movement that requires a massive amount of technical proficiency, slap a moderate/heavy load on, and try and blaze through as fast as you can for TIME?  You have got to be fucking kidding me.  If that ain't a recipe for disaster (read: point#2), then I'm not sure what is.  Very, very few people can pull off that kind of intensity and maintain technique.  A group setting of various levels of skill?  Coaches nightmare. 

        Now, "Grace", aka 30 - 135# clean and jerks for time, is a fairly extreme exception, as are "Isabel" (Josh Everett's lightning fast performance even demonstrates technique lapse during 30 135# snatches---and he's one of the best) and "Randy" (75 power snatches at 75# for time.  I've seen it done with solid form, so it is possible.), but this still holds true, in my opinion, for anything over the 3 rep range.  AND especially combined with other elements of a metcon that induce massive anaerobic, aerobic, and central nervous system fatigue.  Try busting out 15 snatches at 95# after a 400m sprint.  Yeah, messy.

        Metcons should be designed around fully functional movements that require the least amount of technical proficiency possible---pushups, bodyweight squats, overhead press, pullups, sprinting, rowing, wall ball shots.  These movements, in my opinion, are much safer under fatigue that complex compound movements like the Olympic snatch, the clean and jerk, and to a lesser degree, the deadlift, push jerk, and push press.


      5)  Warm Climate Affiliates

       So while I'm freezing my freakin' finger tips off, doing a pre-warmup at home while my truck warms up for the drive, there's Crossfitters out there  doing pullups on damn palm trees, and not subbing a 400m run with a 400m row.  Damn them!  "Virtual" snow shoveling is an insult, and I guarantee their form totally blows.  It should be a requirement to shovel actual snow before you can use that movement (a fine fully functional movement, I might add) at a sunny affiliate.

      I've got more beefs, but that'll be part 2.

      Thursday, December 10, 2009

      7 Foods Not to Eat and 7 Rounds For Time


      So I stumbled across this list today; they are a dime-a-dozen,but I quite like this little 7 point gem, and the points are all valid.  I've added some of my own thoughts at the end of each point.

      1. Canned Tomatoes
      The expert: Fredrick vom Saal, PhD, an endocrinologist at the University of Missouri who studies bisphenol-A
      The problem: The resin linings of tin cans contain bisphenol-A, a synthetic estrogen that has been linked to ailments ranging from reproductive problems to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Unfortunately, acidity (a prominent characteristic of tomatoes) causes BPA to leach into your food. Studies show that the BPA in most people's body exceeds the amount that suppresses sperm production or causes chromosomal damage to the eggs of animals. "You can get 50 mcg of BPA per liter out of a tomato can, and that's a level that is going to impact people, particularly the young," says vom Saal. "I won't go near canned tomatoes."

      The solution: Choose tomatoes in glass bottles (which do not need resin linings), such as the brands Bionaturae and Coluccio. You can also get several types in Tetra Pak boxes, like Trader Joe's and Pomi.

      Mike's Thoughts:  If you can find glass bottled tomatoes, hell, let me know.  BPA is an issue, and endocrine disruptors are something that everyone needs to steer clear of, especially pregnant women and children.  Your nalgene bottle?  Probably harmless for an adult.  Canned tomatoes?  Limit your use. 

      2. Corn-Fed Beef
      The expert: Joel Salatin, co-owner of Polyface Farms and author of half a dozen books on sustainable farming
      The problem: Cattle evolved to eat grass, not grains. But farmers today feed their animals corn and soybeans, which fatten up the animals faster for slaughter. More money for cattle farmers (and lower prices at the grocery store) means a lot less nutrition for us. A recent comprehensive study conducted by the USDA and researchers from Clemson University found that compared with corn-fed beef, grass-fed beef is higher in beta-carotene, vitamin E, omega-3s, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), calcium, magnesium, and potassium; lower in inflammatory omega-6s; and lower in saturated fats that have been linked to heart disease. "We need to respect the fact that cows are herbivores, and that does not mean feeding them corn and chicken manure," says Salatin.

      The solution: Buy grass-fed beef, which can be found at specialty grocers, farmers' markets, and nationally at Whole Foods. It's usually labeled because it demands a premium, but if you don't see it, ask your butcher.

      Mike's Thoughts:  We don't have a Whole Foods here, but places like Nutter's, Oliver Health Foods, and Harris Farms (my fav) carry grass fed beef.  Conventional beef around here is probably more grain that corn fed, which is actually worse---the grain adds to the lectin load, making regular beef more inflammatory.

      3. Microwave Popcorn
      The expert: Olga Naidenko, PhD, a senior scientist for the Environmental Working Group,
      The problem: Chemicals, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), in the lining of the bag, are part of a class of compounds that may be linked to infertility in humans, according to a recent study from UCLA. In animal testing, the chemicals cause liver, testicular, and pancreatic cancer. Studies show that microwaving causes the chemicals to vaporize—and migrate into your popcorn. "They stay in your body for years and accumulate there," says Naidenko, which is why researchers worry that levels in humans could approach the amounts causing cancers in laboratory animals. DuPont and other manufacturers have promised to phase out PFOA by 2015 under a voluntary EPA plan, but millions of bags of popcorn will be sold between now and then.

      The solution: Pop natural kernels the old-fashioned way: in a skillet. For flavorings, you can add real butter or dried seasonings, such as dillweed, vegetable flakes, or soup mix.

      Mike's Thoughts:  Popcorn? WTF?  I don't see popcorn growing on trees or running around on four legs in the wild.  It ain't food.  Smarten up.


      4. Nonorganic Potatoes
      The expert: Jeffrey Moyer, chair of the National Organic Standards Board
      The problem: Root vegetables absorb herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides that wind up in soil. In the case of potatoes—the nation's most popular vegetable—they're treated with fungicides during the growing season, then sprayed with herbicides to kill off the fibrous vines before harvesting. After they're dug up, the potatoes are treated yet again to prevent them from sprouting. "Try this experiment: Buy a conventional potato in a store, and try to get it to sprout. It won't," says Moyer, who is also farm director of the Rodale Institute (also owned by Rodale Inc., the publisher of Prevention). "I've talked with potato growers who say point-blank they would never eat the potatoes they sell. They have separate plots where they grow potatoes for themselves without all the chemicals."

      The solution: Buy organic potatoes. Washing isn't good enough if you're trying to remove chemicals that have been absorbed into the flesh.

      Mike's Thoughts:  Not a real big fan of potatoes much at all; they contain saponins, specifically, solanine and chaconine,  which increase intestinal permeability the same way lectins and gluten do; this may be more prevalent with white and greenish-type potatoes than other tubers like yams, indicating higher levels of saponins. Regardless, they are a PWO food item at best for glycogen replacement, not an everyday food staple.

      5. Farmed Salmon
      The expert: David Carpenter, MD, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany and publisher of a major study in the journal Science on contamination in fish.
      The problem: Nature didn't intend for salmon to be crammed into pens and fed soy, poultry litter, and hydrolyzed chicken feathers. As a result, farmed salmon is lower in vitamin D and higher in contaminants, including carcinogens, PCBs, brominated flame retardants, and pesticides such as dioxin and DDT. According to Carpenter, the most contaminated fish come from Northern Europe, which can be found on American menus. "You can only safely eat one of these salmon dinners every 5 months without increasing your risk of cancer," says Carpenter, whose 2004 fish contamination study got broad media attention. "It's that bad." Preliminary science has also linked DDT to diabetes and obesity, but some nutritionists believe the benefits of omega-3s outweigh the risks. There is also concern about the high level of antibiotics and pesticides used to treat these fish. When you eat farmed salmon, you get dosed with the same drugs and chemicals.

      The solution: Switch to wild-caught Alaska salmon. If the package says fresh Atlantic, it's farmed. There are no commercial fisheries left for wild Atlantic salmon.

      Mike's Thoughts:  Some farmed fish have such an inverse ratio of omega-6 to omega 3 fatty acids that they can easily be considered a health RISK.  Research done in 2008 on farmed tilapia showed massively elevated levels of pro-inflammatory O6 fats, versus the anti-inflammatory O3s.  If it doesn't say "wild" on the label, don't even think about it.

      6. Milk Produced with Artificial Hormones
      The expert: Rick North, project director of the Campaign for Safe Food at the Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility and former CEO of the Oregon division of the American Cancer Society
      The problem: Milk producers treat their dairy cattle with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST, as it is also known) to boost milk production. But rBGH also increases udder infections and even pus in the milk. It also leads to higher levels of a hormone called insulin-like growth factor in milk. In people, high levels of IGF-1 may contribute to breast, prostate, and colon cancers. "When the government approved rBGH, it was thought that IGF-1 from milk would be broken down in the human digestive tract," says North. As it turns out, the casein in milk protects most of it, according to several independent studies. "There's not 100% proof that this is increasing cancer in humans," admits North. "However, it's banned in most industrialized countries."

      The solution: Check labels for rBGH-free, rBST-free, produced without artificial hormones, or organic milk. These phrases indicate rBGH-free products.

      Mike's Thoughts: Today's conventional bovine milk has far, far too many cons versus pros; we're lucky here in Canada in the fact that r BGH isn't used, but the detrimental side effects of a lifetime of dairy consumption far outweigh any minute benefits attained from milk.  It does a number of things quite well due to the fact it's EXTREMELY anabolic:  It makes people fat, and it gives them cancer.  Think about it---as a newborn, what's the ONE food that we take in?  Milk.  Pure fat, protein, and hormones.  It makes us GROW like weeds as babies.  Historically, humans eventually lost the enzyme, lactase, because eventually we weened ourselves off the boob in favor of meat, vegetables, nuts, seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar. (heh.)
      So tell me:  Why are you still drinking it?  It does make gaining weight a helluva lot easier for an athlete, but keep in mind, the anabolic and insulinogenic, and inflammatory properties of milk come with serious long term risks.

         Unfortunately, we aren't able to buy raw milk in Canada---everything is pasteurized.  Raw, organic milk from grass-fed and finished cows would potentially be a viable option, but it's just not the case here. 

      7. Conventional Apples
      The expert: Mark Kastel, former executive for agribusiness and codirector of the Cornucopia Institute, a farm-policy research group that supports organic foods
      The problem: If fall fruits held a "most doused in pesticides contest," apples would win. Why? They are individually grafted (descended from a single tree) so that each variety maintains its distinctive flavor. As such, apples don't develop resistance to pests and are sprayed frequently. The industry maintains that these residues are not harmful. But Kastel counters that it's just common sense to minimize exposure by avoiding the most doused produce, like apples. "Farm workers have higher rates of many cancers," he says. And increasing numbers of studies are starting to link a higher body burden of pesticides (from all sources) with Parkinson's disease.

      The solution: Buy organic apples. If you can't afford organic, be sure to wash and peel them first.

      Mike's Thoughts:  I agree, especially with thin-skinned fruits and vegetables---buy organic.  Studies indicate that while the nutritional value of organic vs non-organic is very similar, the risk from contaminates and pesticides is irrefutable.  Avocados?  Not a big deal.  Bananas?  No worries---thicker, non-edible skin.  Strawberries?  Only organic.  Apples?  Only organic.  You get the picture.

       CFLA, 1PM, Dec 10th

      After coaching the 11 and 12 classes through "Cindy" today, I really wanted to hit this up, but my shoulder was still aching from the 10-1 reverse pullup/pushup ladder.  I've done 10 and 12 minute Cindys, but it's been a loooong time since a full 20.  But not today.  Gotta ration my pushing movements over the week.

      Regardless, I was a bit of an idiot anyways, as you'll see:

      Bench Press

       45# x many.  Meh, seems ok.
      95#x10  Meh, kinda sore, 2/10 pain.
      135#x5  Huh.  Left doesn't want to go up as quick as the right.  3/10 pain
      165#x1  The right wants to leave the left in the dust.  5/10 pain.

      Stupid?  Maybe.  But now I know.  The unilateral weakness it more concerning than the pain.

      Low Bar Back Squat, as planned
      275#x3 Creaking on my left knee, then my right, then nearly got stuck in the hole, lol.  Too deep.  But got 'er up.
      300#x1 Pulled the plug---right knee not happy.  Last thing I need is a lower body injury to pair with my shoulder.


      7 Rounds for time:

      50ft sprint
      15 situps
      50ft sprint
      7 BW deadlifts (165#)

      6:10.  Did this one way back in May, had a 7:09 time.  No rest, just blast through everything.

      Wednesday, December 9, 2009

      Shoulder Update

      So I had my consult with Dr. Kwan, the orthopedic surgeon I'm seeing about my shoulder.  For those that don't know the full story, I'll give a bit of a recap:
      • I started having nagging shoulder pain in Jan of 2009; at this time, I was working on my clean + jerk a fair amount, and also working on my handstand pushups, and muscleups.  
      • From memory, there's no specific acute incident that I can recall that triggered anything; I roughly remember bailing on a few muscleups, but that's it.
      • I had been doing Crossfit since Nov 2007, pain free.
      • A potential subluxation/dislocation to my left shoulder happened around Sept of 2007 during Tae Kwon Do, resulting in pain overhead for about two weeks.
      • Since Jan, I have had: Chiropractic adjustments, physio, massage, and ART with no relief.  I adhere to an anti-inflammtory diet, threw copious amounts of NSAIDs at it around April/May, take fish oil religiously, and putting ice directly on my skin no longer bothers me.
      • I have had an ultrasound, multiple xrays, and a contrast MRI.

      • Anything overhead, where the angle of my acromion and clavicle (AC joint) is "closed" (arm straight up) causes pain.  Pushing movements away from me cause pain in the anterior delt region.  Pain during a WOD is tolerable, next day pain blows chucks, and is cumulative.
      So what's the scoop now, you ask?

      Official Diagnosis (80% official, but I'll get to that in a sec): Bursitis secondary to glenohumeral ligament laxity causing shoulder instability. 

      English:  The ligaments holding my shoulder in place are loose, and the "bursa", or fluid filled sac that cushions the joint, is irritated.  Pissed. Steaming mad at Mike for letting it get all inflamed and shit.


      So, everything as far as diagnostic imaging has been clear, with the exception of my xrays.  They showed osteolysis of my distal clavical---damage to the end of my collarbone where it had been bashing into my acromion during overhead movements.  Ultrasound of my rotator cuffs was fine, MRI was "clear"---but Kwan stated that even a contrast MRI is only 80% accurate, and I could still have a labral tear or bicep tendon issue.  Bah, wtf.

      The Plan

      So, the plan is this:  He wants me diligently working on strengthening my rotator cuffs with various mobility drills using light weight.  Like, 5 lbs weight.  Everyday, for the next 30 days.  Supposedly, this will "tighten" up the joint and stabilize it.   I didn't bother explaining that I have a mile long list of rotator cuff exercises that Cory gave me, mobility and thera-band drills that Brian gave me, and specific stretches, both static and dynamic, that Chad gave me, and that I do this at home, while reading, while at work, during warmup, during cooldown, etc etc etc. Nor did I explain I can still do over 40 kiping pullups, bust out 3 strict chins with 90#, and put 185# over my head.  I'm pretty fucking sure my rotator cuffs are fine.  Nor did I point out the ultrasound was clear on those, also.  I just asked "ok, and after that?"  

      After 30 days, if there's still pain, he wants to inject cortisone, an anti-inflammatory drug, into the bursa.  My displeasure must have been obvious, because he explained that this would be more diagnostic than anything.  I'm not worried about the procedure, but it's a band-aid solution versus treating the cause, even if it is diagnostic.  All it'll do is remove the inflammation, I'll feel better, I'll start hitting WODs, and shit will get inflamed again.  Not to mention the increasing the risks of actual tendon rupture with cortisone.  But he's the surgeon.  Not me.

      AFTER that, he would do an arthroscope to take a look inside the actual joint itself.  At this point, if I could do that myself, I would.  In the year I've had to dwell on my ongoing injury, I've had a fair amount of time to investigate various cases of acute and non-acute shoulder injuries; needless to say, I think the 80% rate of MRI success is bullshit, and going by how "smoothly" my contrast went, I'd say there's more going on than what the picture shows.

      I understand why he's being methodical, and I understand I still have a very high degree of function compared to other injured folks, but christ, I just want this damn shoulder fixed.  A resection of the ligaments is a major, MAJOR deal, and I honestly DON'T know if I want to go there.  But a scope would be SO damn definitive for imaging, even if it is invasive---but it could find a spur, a tendon tear, a torn labrum instantly.  Before a ligament resection, though, there's other fixes---like clavicular resection, where they make more space for the bursa and tendons to move so they don't get pinched.  But he's the surgeon.  Not me.

      For now, I'll comply with the Doc's orders, 100%.  I start physio again, based on the tentative diagnosis, and aim treatments around that. I'll throw the fucking kitchen sink at it, and I'll keep doing what I'm doing.

      Monday, December 7, 2009

      Books, Books, Books, and More Books.

       Some of the pages from my library that are applicable to this blog; some are out on loan, and some are MIA.  Click the image for a close up.

      For the record, if anyone wants to borrow one, by all means, just ask.

      Today, I'm looking for recommendations from YOU---what book have you read in the recent past that you gained some enlightenment from?  Which book did you have an "ah-ha!" moment?  Which author do you frequently return to for more information?

      Post your recommendations to comments.

      CFLA, Dec 7th, 1PM.

      Power Clean/Squat Clean/Hang Power Clean

      Don't ask why I chose this complex; it just kinda of happened that way.  Today's M.E.B.B (Max Effort Black Box, programming done by a guy named Mike Rutherford) wod included a 3-3-3-1-1-1 Hang Power Clean, so I kinda stole the rep scheme from there.  The complex, though, just happened.

      95#x3 (PC/SC/HPC)
      175#x3 (Hard to hang power clean this.)
      195#x0, x0, x1.  Fyfer was working out at the same time as me, and starting giving me royal shit for missing this.  To quote him "How damn high do you want that bar, Mikey??!??  JESUS, just clean it already".  Well put, Coach Fyfe.  After some inspiring profanity and technique tweaking, I PC'd this up.
      205#x1, squat clean, and fairly easy.  I'll take it!  Hooray for a PR.  Thought about 215#, and then thought wisely.  Get a PR,  stop.  Don't be greedy.


      Pullup/Pushup Ladder, 10-1

      10 Pullups, 1 Pushup
      9 Pullups, 2 Pushups
      8 Pullups, 3 Pushups
      So on and so forth until I reach 1 Pullup and 10 Pushups.  That's 55 of each for the math whizes out there.
      4:14.  Went faster than I thought, left shoulder aching by the end, though.  Gotta keep the elbows at 90 degrees max, or it screams like a cold engine at -25 Celsius.

      I see the orthopedic surgeon tomorrow.  Nervous?  Hell yes.

      Friday, December 4, 2009

      Some Days, It Just Ain't There. Kinda Like Today.

      First things first: I'm in a pissy mood, so you get no apology today for either profanity and/or bitterness.
      First Things f-ing last:( that's from Reservoir Dogs, for those in the "know"):  There's a contest at the end of this post.  Don't be a tool and scroll down.  Just read it like a normal human being.

      Pretty much my view from the front window:

      Welcome to Alberta!  GFYS, Ma Nature.

      Now, common sense would dictate that if one does not have to venture forth into this madness, one should not.  Well, while I normally make fun of people who lack common sense, and trust me, there's a plethora of 'em, I needed to work out.  Screw the weather.  I drive a 3/4 ton.

      I realize I've dropped not-so-subtle hints at an inflammatory post about Crossfit cleverly entitled "The Things I Hate About Crossfit".  Patience, dear reader.  It'll happen.  Just not today.  I need to be focused for that doozy.

      What happened today was, in no particular order: Failure, Insomnia, a PR?, Deep Conversation x2, a PR, and more Failure.  Too damn long for a blog title, so you get what you get.

      CFLA, 1PM, Dec 4th.

      OHS, 1RM

      "Um, Mike, WTF?".  Yeah, I know.  But I *had* to try.  Walking in and seeing some fantastic numbers on the board (Kat, 170#.  Now certified fueled with BEAST!, Kyle, 200#, Ja-Hey-Zuss.  Dude weighs in at same weight I do, and Moah D and Fyfer at 209# and 205#, respectably.

      So, can yah blame me?  Ok, fine.  But I tried, anyways.
      135#x1.  Hmm.  Is this supposed to feel this shitty?  I get a laugh from Coach Brandt.
      155#x1  Better, in the pocket all the way.
      175#x1 Ah yeah, no worries.  200# here I come.
      185#x0 Failure to launch.  Couldn't lock it out from the heaving snatch balance (behind the neck push jerk), so it ended up coming down partially on my upper back and right arm.  Uncool.  Knurling + weight + gravity = bad shit happening to skin.

      Throbbing shoulder, too, but this I expected.  175# I'll take.  For now.

      FS, 3RM
      250#x0 wtf, I says WHAT THE F*$k??  Hmm.  Lets try that again.
      250#x1 yeah, coach Brandt certified, but I'm pretty sure I wasn't low enough.  Damnit.

      I did 245# for 3 on Nov....pfft, sometime after the 17th, Mr. Common Sense didn't write the date down.  250# should have been doable for 3, but it's now my 1RM.  Failure, but a PR?  I'll take it.  I had a sweet rack, elbows high, bar tight to the throat, but no dice.

      1000m row
      Back Extension.

      Did the row in a lolly-gagging (wtf does that ACTUALLY mean, anyways???) 3:30, and threw in the towel.  It Just Ain't There Today.  3:30 is an ok 1:45/500m split, but FFS, it felt like GSP was roundhousing me in the liver the whole time.  45 pullups and 45 back extensions?  GTFO.  Fasted today, just coffee and coconut oil, but I can't blame it on that.  Felt much better on the same in the past.

      Had some great convo with Coach Brandt and Ryno at different intervals, about different topics.  Love that kinda talk.  That's when you really get to know a person, no bullshit----just two guys talking, about real shit that matters.  Yup, you're right: Had To Be There.

      Speaking of Ryno, I watched him bust an EASY 210# OHS.  I mean easy.  Tried 215# but pulled a Mikey, except dumped it correctly.  Dude has way more in the tank, I'm talking 230-ish.  Freaky.

      Contest Time, Kiddies!!

      Winner gets some certified Lethbridge Fire Department Schwag.  Schwag, in this context, is good free stuff.  Not low grade Mary Jane.  Ok, onto the contest:  Name the Author of this:

      The Iron never lies to you. You can walk outside and listen to all kinds of talk, get told that you’re a god or a total bastard. The Iron will always kick you the real deal. The Iron is the great reference point, the all-knowing perspective giver. Always there like a beacon in the pitch black. I have found the Iron to be my greatest friend. It never freaks out on me, never runs. Friends may come and go. But two hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds.

      Name it.  Post it to the comments.  And get some sssssssschwag.  Hell, I'll even mail it for all the international readers I gots me.

      Wednesday, December 2, 2009

      Reduced Volume + Increased Intensity = Results

      This isn't normally my type of thing (read: nutrition), but when I come across something that's yelling as loudly as this study, I get all giddy inside like a kid at Christmas.  Time to get Sciencey!

      Reduced volume and increased training intensity elevate muscle Na+-K+ pump {alpha}2-subunit expression as well as short- and long-term work capacity in humans

      Jens Bangsbo, Thomas P. Gunnarsson, Jesper Wendell, Lars Nybo, and Martin Thomassen Copenhagen Muscle Research Centre, Department of Exercise and Sport Sciences, Section of Human Physiology, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
      Submitted 12 April 2009 ; accepted in final form 28 September 2009
      The present study examined muscle adaptations and alterations in work capacity in endurance-trained runners as a result of a reduced amount of training combined with speed endurance training. For a 6- to 9-wk period, 17 runners were assigned to either a speed endurance group with a 25% reduction in the amount of training but including speed endurance training consisting of six to twelve 30-s sprint runs 3–4 times/wk (SET group n = 12) or a control group (n = 5), which continued the endurance training (~55 km/wk). For the SET group, the expression of the muscle Na+-K+ pump {alpha}2-subunit was 68% higher (P < 0.05) and the plasma K+ level was reduced (P < 0.05) during repeated intense running after 9 wk. Performance in a 30-s sprint test and the first of the supramaximal exhaustive runs was improved (P < 0.05) by 7% and 36%, respectively, after the speed endurance training period. In the SET group, maximal O2 uptake was unaltered, but the 3-km (3,000-m) time was reduced (P < 0.05) from 10.4 ± 0.1 to 10.1 ± 0.1 min and the 10-km (10,000-m) time was improved from 37.3 ± 0.4 to 36.3 ± 0.4 min (means ± SE). Muscle protein expression and performance remained unaltered in the control group. The present data suggest that both short- and long-term exercise performances can be improved with a reduction in training volume if speed endurance training is performed and that the Na+-K+ pump plays a role in the control of K+ homeostasis and in the development of fatigue during repeated high-intensity exercise.

      No?  Translation:  The control group doing LESS km/week improved performance by INCREASING intensity by incorporating sprints.  Now, for those than think running is just running, well, I'd urge you to head out to a track (albeit, frozen, but whatever) and run some 30s sprints.  FULL OUT.  Rinse, repeat.  Yeah, that's intense.

      Why am I blathering about sprints?  We talk a lot about intensity in Crossfit.  In fact, I might alter a WOD for a client, reducing the total workload, to "keep the intensity" up.  By doing this, the client is able to maintain a high level of power output, and therefore, achieve the hormonal and physiological manipulation that makes the workout effective.

      Intensity.  It's good shit.

      Deadlift, CFLA, Dec 1st, 8PM

      Finished up coaching the 5,6,7PM classes, and while I felt like going home and curling up to a bottle of Patron, I figured a coach actually doing some work was warranted.

      Gayest shorts.  Ever.  But it illustrates the terminology about grip.

      135#x5 mixed, left pronated, right supinated.  This is my usual mixed grip (right "up", left "down")
      135#x5 mixed, left supinated, right pronated.  
      225#x3 double pronated grip (both hands "down", or towards my body)
      285#x3 mixed, left sup, right prone.  Felt brutal.  My weaker grip, fo' sho'
      315#x3 mixed, left prone, right sup
      345#x3 mixed
      365#x3 mixed, 10# PR from Nov 6th.  I'd be a liar is I said these reps were pretty.

      Tried a few 1RMs at 415#, which was just stupid funny, considering how 365# went.  No dice, not even close.

      Met Con, "Annie", brought to you today by Vibrams.  Get primal, get Vibrams! (That's some catchy advertising for you, Jamie K.)

      Double Unders
      Situps (Abmat, feet anchored)
      Pretty damn happy with this, as this was actually my first ever crack at Annie.  In the past I had either just missed the day it was programmed, or as one enlightened client stated "had just conveniently avoided it".  Perhaps.  My double under have always sucked rocks, but in all 150 reps, I just missed once, in the 40 set.  Was it the power of Vibrams?  I dunno.  But I'll take it!  Situps are slower than molasses in January, as Ma used to say.  I could bust into the 5 min realm if I could just speed these up.  I'm fairly sure the abmat slows things down by forcing a great ROM, but I have nothing at this point to compare that, other than from what I'm hearing and seeing from others.