Tabata this: Learning something new at Cross Fit Asheville
Through other people’s programming and my own workouts, I’ve gotten into what I now see as a two-pronged Cross Fit workout trend. Typically on any given day, there will be a skill instructional which is relatively lacking in intensity followed either by a strength workout (5x5 deadlifts for example) or by a very specific type of met-con (pick two or three exercises, three rounds for time, etc.). On a recent visit to CrossFit Asheville while on a business trip, I was exposed to a very different type of programming that introduced some good variety to my workouts that I will definitely leverage in the future.
Shanna is a co-owner and the director of training at the facility so I assume it’s her that’s doing a majority of the programming. Before I arrived in town, I took the opportunity to review a bunch of the WODs from their facility…easy to do as they’re all posted online. Some things I noticed:
1. They NEVER post WODs in advance unless it’s a special event (Barbell’s for Boobs, Fight Gone Bad, etc.) This is nice for two reasons: First, part of Cross Fit is preparing for the unknown so showing up in the morning and not knowing whether it’s going to be the Filthy 50, Death By Pullups, or a 1 RM front squat test is kind of appropriate. It contributes to mental toughness. Second, it eliminates the client’s ability to pick and choose their workouts. It forces you to show up and work even when you know it’s going to expose your weaknesses.
2. Like most/all Cross Fit facilities, there are periodic benchmark’s and Hero’s sprinkled throughout the calendar but all other WODs typically include both a strength and skills development workout at moderate to high intensity, followed by the WOD.
3. They repeat WODs over time and track that last time a WOD was performed so you can track your progress. Every client is keeping a notebook so it’s easy to track your fitness achievments. I don’t keep notes religiously so while I know I feel good in general, I couldn’t really quantify my progress empirically at this point (need to do something about that).
4. In the Asheville facility, they frequently use cadence prescriptions which I had not seen before except in body building circles. For example, a front squat designated as 21x1 is not reps and sets as I errantly read it but rather 2 seconds to squat, 1 second hold at the bottom, the x denotes an explosion to come back up AFAP, followed by a 1 second rest before beginning the motion again. This forces a focus on form among other things, can be used as a tool to fine tune an exercise to target a specific muscular benefit, and ensures everyone is working the same way.
4. THIS IS THE BIGGIE. Based on comments I heard from the the coach and the class, Shanna occasionally (frequently?) likes to program met-con WODs in a way I hadn’t been exposed to before. I’m used to the “go like hell until you can’t go anymore” style of WOD (a la Murph, Filty Fifty, etc.) and while I’ve done some tabata/interval workouts before, it certainly isn’t an integral part of my training by any means.
First, for a brief introduction to tabata workouts you can visit this link. I don’t want to re-hash what others have already written on the topic, instead focusing on the workout. I’d also note that the program I discuss below is not tabata in the strictest sense…the original tabata workout is 4 minutes alternating 20 seconds of work with 10 seconds of rest. As a cardiovascular fitness tool, the scientific literature purports to show nearly the same positive effect as 45-60 mins of cardio in already fit adults.
Here’s the workout for my visit:
Complete 4 rounds of A1/A2:
A1. Ring rows* @ 21×3; 4-6 reps. Rest ~60s.
A2. Burpees x 6 AFAP. Rest ~90s.
3 rounds as follows
AMRAP 2 minutes:
5 ring dips
10 wall balls
Rest 1 minute
AMRAP 2 minutes
5 Deadlifts @ 40% 5 RM (NTE 135/115)
10 Double Unders/30 Single Unders
Rest 1 Minute
The strength component is pretty straightforward One training note here…for coach Randy who trained us that morning, AFAP means “as fast as f#cking possible or I’ll kill you”…arms and legs flying, chest smacking the ground. I’ve never felt worse after 20 burpees.
I was confused when I saw the WOD on the board for the morning but here’s how the rotation goes. You begin by alternating ring dips and wall balls for a 2 minute AMRAP. You get a 1 minute rest, after which you do DL/DU for two minutes, followed by a rest. You repeat that whole cycle three times.
The net effect on the body is pretty tremendous during the workout. My reaction during the rotation was to wind up getting that full 100% effort feeling (usually partway through the second exercise component of the cycle) and just when I couldn’t give more, the rest/rotation was called. A sigh of relief, my heart rate would level out, I would panic breathe a bit and as you start to feel it subside you hear the dreaded….”Again…faster!”. The key here that makes this workout so uncomfortable is that 1 minute is insufficient for most of us to recover from the effort we just put forth.
In summary, this is yet another benefit of working with different coaches in different environments. I laude the programming creativity as this is a workout technique I was aware of, but have not regularly leveraged in my own workouts. It was uncomfortable for me, taught me a new approach, and forced me to go out and read/learn a bunch of stuff. I’ll definitely be incorporating this moving forward, and will discuss with the coaches at my box. Long term, these workouts provide the same benefits as longer cardio workouts of moderate to high intensity and perhaps more importantly, will decrease heart rate and muscular recovery time while doing work.
Go forth and tabata this or tabata something else!
- 2 years ago
The travelling CF-er: Community and variety on the road
I do a fair amount of work-related travel. One thing I’ve learned over the past year or so of doing regular CF workouts is that there are a whole host of challenges and temptations for the travelling Cross Fit athlete. The most obvious challenge is the nature of travel itself: up early to the airport, sit in a confined space getting dehydrated, sleep deprivation in crappy hotel beds, jet lag. Couple that with the fact that most hotels these days are sandwiched between TGI Fridays and Chili’s and travel, whether for work or pleasure, has to potential to drive your diet, your performance, and any gains you’ve made, straight into the toilet. And lets face it…any hotel that claims to have a fitness center is just plain lying to you. A broken eliptical and some out-of-order cable machine have very little to do with fitness.
There are plenty of places online to lookup travel WODs to keep you going in your hotel room and in most cases the only things required are your regular workout clothes and maybe a jump-rope if you want to get really creative. Here’s a list to get you started in your hotel room, but a google search will reveal pages and pages of compiled lists of options.
Travel WODs for the solo CF-er away from home are neat, but I like the community in the gym and I also like variety. Thankfully, there is a trend in the CF community whereby most boxes will allow travellers to attend workouts while they are in town. I love this option as I work in a small box that is still acquiring equipment and I enjoy being challenged by workouts I wouldn’t typically be exposed to. I recently took advantage of this custom and dropped in on the nice folks at CrossFit Asheville. Shanna and Corey Duvall run an excellent facility and have created a very welcoming community of athletes that were encouraging and happy to have me in. Randy Kite was about as enthusiastic a coach as you’ll find at a 5am WOD. I was definitely challenged and was coached and given input just like any other regular client. It was an awesome experience to work with them and I’ll definintely go back on future road trips as long as they’ll have me. Shanna has a very cool programming technique that I’ll discuss in a different post.
a) Typically when you’re visiting someone else’s box, you’ll want to contact them in advance of your arrival to let them know you’re coming and find out about any liability forms, local customs regarding workouts, etc. BE HONEST ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE LEVEL!
b) Always advance schedule your attendance at a WOD. I typically try to do this in a way that does not affect their normal clientele. For example, if the 5 pm WOD is typically full, I’ll shoot for a more sparsely attented time slot. Typically this means I wind up in a 5 am WOD but I’m an early bird anyway.
c) When you get there, ask questions if you’re not sure about something. There’s no better way to piss someone off or come off as rude than to walk around like you own the place and know how they do things. This should be common sense but just be smart and considerate.
d) The typical etiquette during a visit is to make some sort of a contribution to the box. Some places may have a predefined fee that they charge for drop-in visits while other places may ask you to buy a shirt or make a donation. I like to have a CF shirt from all the places I visit so I typically buy a shirt or two. NEVER complain or negotiate…you’re a guest.
e) If the box turns you down or otherwise is unwilling to have you in, for gosh sakes thank them for their time, wish them luck, and SHUT UP. It’s their box and they’re free to run it how they want. Complaining about it just spreads ill will. This has only happened once in all my phone calling and emailing around so it is rare.
- 2 years ago
On Giving 100%
So here’s something I’ve been struggling with mentally of late…I have some of my own ideas, but opinions and input are certainly welcome.
I watch a lot of TED talks. For those of you who may not have been exposed to TED, it stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design…you can check their website out over here. Essentially, TED gets a bunch of really smart or really inspiring people to give talks at TED-sponsored or TED affiliated events, and then records them and gives them away for free under the concept that these ideas are all worth sharing.
One recent talk I watched was given by Kathryn Shulz and was titled “On Being Wrong”. To begin making her larger point on error blindness and the risks of wrapping ourselves up with being right all the time, she asked the audience a profound question: “What does it feel like to be wrong?” The answers from the audience were about what I expected, reflecting a general negativity, embarassment, unpleasantness, etc. Then things got interesting…because the audience answered a different question than the one she asked. It feels embarassing or bad to realize that you are wrong…but right up until the point at which you are exposed, it feels a whole helluva lot like being right! Be sure the watch the whole talk at the link above for her Wylie Coyote analogy…
So what does any of this have to do with Cross Fit, self improvement, or anything else we write about on here? Not much on the surface…but then I got to thinking. Let’s start with the following quote that every high school and college athlete has heard ad naseum:
"Give me 110%!"
It was screamed at me by football and soccer and track coaches from the time I was in 8th grade and while I knew I should always be working hard, I never really knew what that meant until I started doing Crossfit in my mid-30’s. Sorry coaches….I was a little dense.
Anyone who has done CF style workouts for any length of time knows what it feels like to go 110% in a workout. You show up for the workout energized, pissed off, or otherwise motivated to leave a hole in the world by the time you’re done. Either you wake up the next day with rhabdo or you suddently and explosively discover why so many Crossfit boxes have 5 gallon buckets laying about…your boy Ralphie shows up. Others will doubtlessly say otherwise, but it is my heartfelt opinion that you don’t get better by giving 110% every day. You get injured, or sick, or loose your desire, or a whole lot worse things by giving 110% every day. You get better by giving 100%…plus just a tiny bit extra in repetitive fashion. You improve through consistent hard work that makes last week’s 110% this week’s 100%. If you want to show up every once in awhile and have a real barn-burner WOD offset by good nutrition and recovery, I think that’s awesome. But doing it every day simply isn’t sustainable. What is sustainable is going like hell until there’s just a few drops left in the tank…and then coming back and doing it again tomorrow. This post over here from Crossfit Montgomery County sums it up pretty well.
So, how do we know? Let’s make the “On Being Wrong” connection now. The issue lies in the fact that for the regular “Joe Public” Crossfitter, the guy that does a morning WOD and heads to the office to sell insurance, or the gal that stops in at lunchtime before heading back to write more software, 80% effort feels an awful lot like 90% and 90% effort feels an awful lot like 100%. Until you are called out in front of the whole crew by the coach, or your name sits next to that crappy time on the big board, something less than full effort feels just like we’re working at full effort. Most of us can tell half speed from full speed, but we can’t easily tell 95% speed from full speed, particularly in the heat of the moment with heart pounding and sweat dripping while we’re on the clock. Couple that with the evolutionary tendency to take the path of least resistance/least energy expenditure and tsk, tsk…what to do?
I’ve started my thinking process on this topic studying contrasts in my own life. What do I mean by contrasts? My opinion of a good workout has dramatically changed over time…and it changed in leaps and bounds the first time I did a Crossfit style workout. Does the end of my workout today feel more like I’m tapped out, or does it feel like I used to on the good ole’ Nautilus machine in college? I’ve started narrowing the contrasts as my frame of reference expands: Did todays workout feel like my first Fran or that tentative, sub-par effort at Cindy a few weeks back? If you don’t come to CF from a fitness background pick another analog. Does it feel like you mowed the lawn twice or somebody mowed you? Does it feel like you took the stairs to your office or like you decided to take the stairs to the top of the Empire State Building?
I’m well aware that there are scientists who can hook me up to all sorts of machines and, over time, tell me what 100% is for me in calories and VO2 max statistics. But that means little when the clock starts and you’ve got to get through the Filthy 50 while almost, but not totally, killing yourself. I know I should see progress over time, and I know that at the end of the day, when the scores go up on the big board, it doesn’t matter that Sally got 7:15 and I got 8:30 (yes the women frequently take my lunch money at the box I work out at)…what matters is that I own that 8:30 and know it was the best I could do that day.
So let’s have it. What tools do the rest of you have for judging a good workout? How do you know when you’ve hit the proverbial nail on the head? And doesn’t 90% effort feel almost exactly like 100% some days?
- 2 years ago
On Surgery and Setbacks
Nick has had some very good posts of late on 1) Listening to your body and 2) Failure/Setbacks; I’ve been out of the loop here for awhile and as a means of explaining myself, I thought I’d throw up a post in an attempt to reinforce the excellent points he’s made.
A few months back (April or May I think) I was doing a CF workout at a non-CF gym near my office. I knew this place wasn’t exactly my style but I joined up as a backup plan to the CF box I worked out in because it was cheap and close to the office and I could dash over for a quick workout at lunch, or hit the treadmill to get the blood flowing if the weather sucked to much to be outside. Being as it’s such a small place, they’ve got a lot of gear packed in there which means you get bumped from time to time if people aren’t paying attention. In the middle of overhead squats I got bumped by a guy that was screwing around with his buddy and not paying attention…instead of tossing the weight I fought it and felt that tell-tale pain in my groin. I dashed to the bathroom long enough to examine myself and wrongly convince myself that it wasn’t much of a bulge (not the good kind!) in my lower abdomen at all. One sneezing fit later and I’m a candidate for hernia repair surgery.
This represented a huge setback for me. At the time, I was scaling benchmark WODs less and less, gaining some serious strength and power in my legs (always my goat) and gaining confidence and power in olympic lifts. My cleans and snatches were getting downright snappy and here I was ordered not to lift at all and do only moderate linear exercises (brief jogs or bike rides) in advance of surgery. THAT SUCKS!
Going through an injury requiring surgery (however routine and minor) has taught me several important things of value in the CF realm:
1) General anesthesia is cool. Nuff said.
2) The 37 year old body recovers and responds to trauma in a way completely unlike the 24 year old body. I had a hernia repair in graduate school and despite it being an open procedure, I was back up and about in 2 days, and back to normal activity inside of 2 weeks. Despite this recent adventure being a scoped procedure, I was bent over for at least a week, and just over 1 month out anything involving core rotation (Russian Twists for example) produces sharp pains in my lower abdomen…something my surgeon assures me is normal as the body adheres to the teflon patch. Because of my age and fitness profile, listening to my body becomes critical in cases like this…better to take an extra week that an extra 2-3 months because you didn’t listen in the first place.
3) To paraphrase the great Yogi Berra, 80% of this game is half mental. While I remember being really annoyed at pushy-shovy frat-boy for running into me, I don’t recall being profoundly mentally impacted by the injury, but I’ve found that I now overthink any CF routine that involves oly lifts. Even in the CF box I work in now, a hypersensitivity has crept into the concious part of my workouts, leading to hesitation, self doubt, and poor form whenever the bumpers are supposed to end up over my head. I had been having trouble getting back into a rhythm during such workouts and this whole crisis of confidence came to head when I asked the trainer where I should ditch the weight “if I can’t push it up”. WTF? I used to asked where he wanted it when I was done and owned it.
4) Building on point 3 above, you cannot “forge elite fitness” or get anywhere close to it if your confidence is shot. My solution to this problem is to over-communicate with my trainer asking tons of questions about form and process, and at the same time cutting back weight and focusing on form to rebuild muscle memory for lifts. Sure it means that I’m not getting the full benefit of my oly lifts right now, but we rebuild from failure in measured fashion rather than repeating the same damn thing over and over again, expecting different results. I can see it starting to pay off now, and my weight and percieved power during the workout are increasing, and I’m far less concerned now with the “if” and more focused on “what next”.
To sum up, take the prescribed time to recover from injury or fatigue. If our goal as crossfitters is to build fitness and perform all workouts “as prescribed”, why in the hell wouldn’t you rest or recover from injury as prescribed. And be sure to deal with the mental toll injury exact on you if a constructive and measured fashion. Pain and discomfort are most certainly a part of the crossfit experience. The workouts are designed to make us uncomfortable and push us beyond traditional boundaries of what we think we can do. The thing is, I haven’t ever read an article or a blog post, nor have I ever talked to a coach, that said we get extra credit for inflicting pain in a way that is ultimately destructive to our path.
- 2 years ago
Over and Over and Over
The best way to get good at something is to do it over and over. That’s assuming of course that you’re doing it right. Otherwise, you’re just learning bad habits. In my latest attempt to correct some problems with my karate basics, I’m also having to relearn the movements. It’s difficult, it’s awkward, but I think it’s starting to pay off. For the last week I’ve been practicing one technique (junzuki / front punch). Here’s some observations so far.
(Note: these may have nothing to do with whatever it is you’re doing wrong. And, yes, you are probably doing something wrong.)
- Doing the same thing over and over for a week sucks. It’s tiring, it’s humbling, and it’s harder than it would seem. But, the best insights are just starting to show up. Perseverance is paying off. For example, I realized today that for the better part of my karate career my movement in the front punch has been focused at least in part on getting a “snap” from the sleeve of my karate uniform. While training in a t-shirt, I’ve found that there’s an extra movement fro my hip in the opposite direction at the end of the technique. This is stunting my reach and has been placing the perceived point of impact 1 - 3 inches short of where it could be. Crap.
- Take time to consider how the power behind the technique is generated and keep it mind when you’re practicing. I have been relying heavily on my front foot being firmly planted to generate movement from my hip. I don’t know that this is incorrect for a different application, but with regards to basic mechanics it’s making my punch late which means no matter how fast my arms comes off my hip, it’s going to be slower in connecting with the target. More so, it’s forcing me to rely almost entirely on the strength of my shoulder and arm (with some hip rotation thrown in). While it feels quick and snappy, it actually reduces the kinetic energy (and therefore the power of the punch) by removing the mass and motion of my body from the equation. I’ve been hearing about putting the body behind the punch for awhile now, and it’s just starting to click that I am not actually doing that. Crap.
- Even the most basic technique can be broken into smaller and smaller pieces. As a beginner, we learn the gross movement and general mechanics. As we get better, and as we learn more about working within our own abilities and limitations, we should be able to break the technique into chunks, than those chunks into smaller pieces. There might be a point where this just becomes a useless exercise, but being able to do so can highlight problem areas in the technique and allow you to correct just the parts that are causing you problems. If you haven’t done this before, I highly recommend it. Start by going through the whole technique as slowly as possible. Do that a lot. Then see where it goes. Where are the transitions? What areas are stickiest for you? Can you modify them without screwing up the intent of the technique? There is a ton to be learned from this exercise.
- If you don’t have a partner, get a mirror. If you don’t have a mirror, take video. Hell, even if you have a mirror, take video anway. You have got to see yourself going through the movements to find and fix things, and being able to go back on video to compare previous training and/or to see your progress is really useful.
- If you’re a serious student of a martial art, you can’t limit yourself to class times. Real progress is going to happen when you’re practicing on your own at your own pace. Class should be reserved for your instructor to review your progress and teach you new things, but you’ll get better faster if you’re taking those lessons outside the dojo. Can’t find the time? Bullshit. How much time did you spend on Facebook this week? Right. Take 20 minutes a day and practice one thing. Make it something basic, regardless of your rank. Add time however and whenever you can.
Anyone else going through this type of training? What observations are you coming up with?
- 2 years ago
Back to Basics
I attended an instructor’s seminar this past weekend with 20 (-ish) other wado-ryu karate practitioners, all of whom had significantly more experience (and ability) than I. I really enjoy these seminars. Not only does it put me in front of some incredible instructors, but I always walk away highly motivated and with a ton of fresh insight. This time was no different, except that I also took part in the black belt exam, my first attempt at earning the distinction of that advanced rank. In that particular effort, I failed.
Failure. That word has such a shitty connotation. In a good number of circumstances, it can be the best outcome and I’m finding this to be one of those circumstances. I don’t want to get into a long history of my training experience, but I’ve been traveling this path since 2001 with close to 3 years of time off scattered between the time I started and now. I’ve had great instruction, and in my opinion 10 years of training, in whatever shape or form, marks a significant amount of effort. So, there’s a small, but undeniable sense of disappointment that I can’t and won’t ignore.
But if I had passed, it may have done me more harm than good. I knew in my gut that I wasn’t ready. Not only has my practice been primarily solo for the last couple years, but there has been a tremendous amount of change in my life recently that has made my practice sporadic and unfocused. Had I passed, it would have tarnished the respect I have for my previous instructors, my current instructor, and my fellow members of this small, elite organization I’ve involved myself in. But I didn’t pass. The leadership that acted as my examiners are the top level instructors in our organization. And they sat the exam with the utmost objectivity.
Now, they could have said, “No, you suck, move along”, but they didn’t. The first words out of my instructor’s mouth, words I won’t forget, were, “We’d like you to try again.” The following 10 minutes included very specific feedback from the 6 person panel that I would take away as homework. Whether I pass the next exam or not is irrelevant to me right now. Rather, I am certain to be better off for having failed this exam.
I’ve always felt that the current McDojo culture has deminished what once was a very difficult achievement. These days, schools concerned with putting profit over quality pass out black belts as if they were simply a certificate of attendence. When I pass this exam, I’ll know I earned it, and that it didn’t come easily.
For now, it’s back to basics. I need people to train with for sure, so I’ll be travelling a bit and recruiting people who want to join me on this journey. In the meantime, I’ll be tackling one basic technique at a time, drilling it over and over, and requesting feedback, asking questions, and generally pestering the people who have left me with this intense motivation.
For those who have been following my blog and workouts, prior to the seminar I put myself through 11 weeks of a linear progression strength cycle. I missed my load numbers in that week, and then took the following week off to focus just on rest and training for the seminar and exam.
I’m back at it this week, and will be picking back up the LP, although I’ll go through a bit of a reset since I didn’t hit some of my loads in that last week. Additionally, I’ll be adding some metcon work back into the mix, ala CrossFit Football.
20 minutes of warm-ups and basics, then 40 minutes of front punch (junzuki) practice. It’s intense to just do one technique for that long, but as I’ve been told, it’s the key to fixing many of my other issues. This will likely be my focus for at least the next few weeks.
Deadlifts: 1 x 10+ @ 262.5#. I pulled 12.
5 rounds for time of:
6 x Power Snatch @ 75# +
10 x Box Step-Ups @ 40# each hand
I forgot my timer so I just had to power through it. Thinking I finished in the 5 min. range. The original workout was rx’d at 135# and 54# respectively. Having had a couple weeks off of loaded effort, I scaled down a bit. I probably could have gone 80# or 85# on the snatches, but I did a practice effort at 95# and wobbled too much to feel safe. I’ll get there.
- 2 years ago
When to listen to your body
The way I see it, the two most vocal groups on the recovery/rest issue are 1) the no pain, no gain folks who think you’re weak, and 2) the your-body-is-always-right folks who think the former are steroid abusing neanderthals. I’m just starting to formalize my thoughts on this issue, so chime in if you have a different opinion.
I just wrapped up a week’s worth of travel that included 48 hours of driving to and from Colorado, and little to no sleep on a floor in between. To boot, I ate like crap - sporadic and convenience oriented. During that week, I had what I feel were my two strongest lifting days to date. No PRs mind you, but the reps were higher and I simply felt stronger, like I brought more to the bar. I took the day off yesterday to “rest up”, which included a ton of sleep, paleo friendly food, and no training. Today, I’m lethargic, I feel weak, and I generally feel like I’ve been drugged. But I laced up for my training anyway. I put up the prescribed weight for my progression, yet if felt as if I’d doubled up the increase. I’d slated some conditioning work to follow up the lifts, but by the time I got to that point, I was tapped. So I called it.
This brings me to my point - sometimes, your body is right, and sometimes it isn’t. There is absolutely a difference between overloading and overtraining. Overloading is good, overtraining is bad. Assuming you don’t have a good coach who’s calling it for you, telling the difference between the two can be tough. I have some guesses as to what category the various personalities our clients and athletes bring to the table might fall under, but I’d rather discuss my own experience and how I manage it.
I’m a type AB personality - I fall into both categories, sometimes swinging into type A, and sometimes into type B. When my motivation is up, I can find myself on the edge of overtraining. That generally leads me to burn-out and a subsequent shift into no training at all. Then I’m fighting for the motivation to get my groove back. In the past, I’ve fallen victim to thoughts like, “Man, my body is begging to rest, so I should lay around for 3 months.” Ok, maybe not that dramatic, but you get the point. I’ve since learned to manage my training and balance the ebb and flow of recovery needs. It’s not perfect, but it’s getting better.
Given the outline of my last week, it’s no wonder I feel beat down. Poor food choices, poorer sleep, and general work/life stress to boot have simply primed me for overtraining. So today, I made some choices for the week: 1) condense my strength sessions to two days, 2) change my conditioning sessions to skill work and 3) move that skill work to non-strength days. This buys me a lighter load (no metcons), and more time for recovery over the course of a given day. I’m also forcing myself to be in bed at a particular time ensuring at least 8 hours of sleep. My workouts will be in the afternoons (normal for me anyway) so I’m not forcing myself out of sleep earlier than necessary.
I feel like these choices are a good middle of the road - I’m not giving all training, but I am scaling back. The general intesity of the week is lower. This isn’t new to anyone, though, is it? It’s called deloading. Deloading is an important tool in the arsenal of a strength/fitness coach and any athlete looking to improve their performance. Digging around, it seems most coaches are calling for a deloading week every 4 - 6 weeks. Seems fair, but I think it can/should be dependant on the athlete. This week marks the 6th of my 12 week summer strength cycle and given how shitty I feel, I think a deload is called for. But if you’ve got a good rhythm, if you’re making gains, by all means, stay in your groove. So long as you’re getting adequate nutrition and rest, ride that horse.
The issue arises, though, as to when you are actually in need of some dedicated recovery time and when you might just be feeling lazy. Here’s the questions I came up with for myself:
- Am I sick or injured? If yes, then it is probably in my best interest to rest up.
- What’s going on elsewhere? Is my nutrition and sleep up to snuff? Critical factors in many a good coaches opinion.
- How long have I been feeling sub-par? If it’s just today, am I just being lazy? If it’s been a few days in a row, or if my previous 2 or 3 sessions have suffered, I should consider some deload/recovery time.
- How long has it been since my last recovery/deload week? If it’s been awhile, even if I’m feeling strong, I might want to consider some deload time. It could ward off a future burn-out.
- What does my programming look like? Am I overdoing it with conditioning work? CrossFitters are notorious for metcon addiction. Be wary. If you’ve just gone through several months of chippers, maybe it’s time to take a step back and re-examine your goals. And take a break while you’re doing it.
This isn’t rocket surgery, but it helped me to examine where I am this week. I’m comfortable with my decision to deload this week, but I’m eager to kick it back up a notch next week.
- 2 years ago
Mine goes to 11
I’m in week 3 of my renewed strength cycle, and Tuesdays are typically a rest day. Not today, though. Coming off a great weekend at the USAW workshop, hosted by Kate Rawlings at Coca CrossFit in Ohio, I’m motivated to get stronger, to get faster, to be better. So motivated in fact, I’ve set a monumental goal for myself - to qualify for the 2012 CrossFit Games. I mentioned this to my buddy on the drive to/from Ohio. His response, in short, was, “Do you have any idea how hard that’s going to be?” And he’s right; I don’t. But I’m going to learn. Compared to the current crop of top CrossFitters, I’m weak, and I’m slow. My endurance isn’t too bad, but it’s not at the professional level. Today, though, I’m faster than I was last week. I’m stronger, too. More importantly, there’s this voice that keeps nagging at me. It reminds me that despite all I’ve been through in my life, I haven’t given up. I may not arrive first, but I always get there. When I’m gassed, I fight harder. When the hill is steep, the only thing I can think about is maintaining my rhythm. One foot in front of the other. Don’t quit. I’m not a naturally gifted athlete. I’m not Matt Chan, or Chris Spealler, or Rich Froning, Jr. I’m Nick Kirkes. I’m tall, skinny, and I only have a year to sharpen my blade. This is my announcement. 3… 2… 1… Go!
I’m in week 3 of my renewed strength cycle, and Tuesdays are typically a rest day. Not today, though.
Coming off a great weekend at the USAW workshop, hosted by Kate Rawlings at Coca CrossFit in Ohio, I’m motivated to get stronger, to get faster, to be better. So motivated in fact, I’ve set a monumental goal for myself - to qualify for the 2012 CrossFit Games.
I mentioned this to my buddy on the drive to/from Ohio. His response, in short, was, “Do you have any idea how hard that’s going to be?” And he’s right; I don’t. But I’m going to learn. Compared to the current crop of top CrossFitters, I’m weak, and I’m slow. My endurance isn’t too bad, but it’s not at the professional level.
Today, though, I’m faster than I was last week. I’m stronger, too. More importantly, there’s this voice that keeps nagging at me. It reminds me that despite all I’ve been through in my life, I haven’t given up. I may not arrive first, but I always get there. When I’m gassed, I fight harder. When the hill is steep, the only thing I can think about is maintaining my rhythm. One foot in front of the other. Don’t quit.
I’m not a naturally gifted athlete. I’m not Matt Chan, or Chris Spealler, or Rich Froning, Jr. I’m Nick Kirkes. I’m tall, skinny, and I only have a year to sharpen my blade. This is my announcement.
3… 2… 1…
- 2 years ago
I know, I can be a bit long winded…
I got a lot of feedback on yesterday’s post. Most folks agreed that the content was spot on. At least 3/4 of them thought it was too long, and potentially condescending. Long winded and condescending is the last thing I want to be, so I’m adjusting my approach. I chatted with the owner of my daughter’s school today, letting her know I had some concerns (no specifics yet) and that I’d like a chance to sit down with her to chat about the menu. She was open to it, so we set up a time to meet for late next week. This buys me a little more time to provide ideas and tools rather than just spew a bunch of facts at her. A conversation, at least, is a step in the right direction. Almost lost my lunch with today’s workout in the ungodly midwest heat and humidity. I’ll get used to it, I’m sure, but I gotta stop training in the mid-afternoon. Today’s Workout Hang Power Clean: 5 x 3 - 95, 115, 130, 135, 135 Last week looked pretty much the same except I tried 140# on the final set and failed on the 3rd rep. I think I need to increase the loads in the early sets and decrease the amount I add to the bar each time. This will take me backwards a bit in the weight, but my form on sets 4 and 5 were spotty at best. At one point, I felt my left elbow give a bit and tweaked that shoulder as I tried to dip under the bar. No bueno. Deadlift: 2 x 5, 1 x 13 @ 235# Still 20# off my pre-break mark at the same reps. This is and will always be my favorite lift. Conditioning: 3 rounds for time of: 400m run + I finished in 12:40. Not sure if it’s lack of sleep, or that I’m 1.5 weeks deep into a Whole30 and could be missing out on calories, or the oppressive heat (D. All of the above), but while I faired well in the strength component, I had to scale reps and rounds for the conditioning (rx was 5 rounds and 15 reps). I scaled on the fly, and wish I had scaled the load instead. Lesson learned.
12 Front Squats @ 115#
I got a lot of feedback on yesterday’s post. Most folks agreed that the content was spot on. At least 3/4 of them thought it was too long, and potentially condescending. Long winded and condescending is the last thing I want to be, so I’m adjusting my approach. I chatted with the owner of my daughter’s school today, letting her know I had some concerns (no specifics yet) and that I’d like a chance to sit down with her to chat about the menu. She was open to it, so we set up a time to meet for late next week. This buys me a little more time to provide ideas and tools rather than just spew a bunch of facts at her. A conversation, at least, is a step in the right direction.
Almost lost my lunch with today’s workout in the ungodly midwest heat and humidity. I’ll get used to it, I’m sure, but I gotta stop training in the mid-afternoon.
Hang Power Clean: 5 x 3 - 95, 115, 130, 135, 135
Last week looked pretty much the same except I tried 140# on the final set and failed on the 3rd rep. I think I need to increase the loads in the early sets and decrease the amount I add to the bar each time. This will take me backwards a bit in the weight, but my form on sets 4 and 5 were spotty at best. At one point, I felt my left elbow give a bit and tweaked that shoulder as I tried to dip under the bar. No bueno.
Deadlift: 2 x 5, 1 x 13 @ 235#
Still 20# off my pre-break mark at the same reps. This is and will always be my favorite lift.
3 rounds for time of:
400m run +
I finished in 12:40. Not sure if it’s lack of sleep, or that I’m 1.5 weeks deep into a Whole30 and could be missing out on calories, or the oppressive heat (D. All of the above), but while I faired well in the strength component, I had to scale reps and rounds for the conditioning (rx was 5 rounds and 15 reps). I scaled on the fly, and wish I had scaled the load instead. Lesson learned.
- 2 years ago
Great School, Shit Food
I just put my dad hat on…
Little Ms. Shortstack is attending an awesome pre-school not far from where we live. She’s head over heels about this place. Her teachers are all great, and I dig all the stuff this tiny person tells me about when I pick her up. It costs a bit more, but it’s well worth it. Except for the food.
As a busy parent, one of the perks of this school is they provide breakfast. I prefer to cook breakfast for the two of us, partly because I know what I’d prefer she eat, but also because it’s a few moments of guaranteed time with her holding (relatively) still. But, being busy and still getting settled in the area, I’ve made use of the school breakfast a handful of times now. The first time I dropped her off with the intent on her eating breakfast at the school, they were having plain scrambled eggs, toast, fruit, and milk. Not horrible, not awesome either. The next time, she got Fruit Loops and fruit. Another time, after staying at her mom’s, it was pancakes with syrup. Noticing the trend? So I looked back at the menu they send us each week, and it’s awful. Sugar, highly processed foods, and very little quality protein (dairy included). Breakfast, lunch, and snacks, all the same.
Take today, for example. I had planned for the two of us to go to dinner after school and have a little frozen yogurt afterwards because she filled up her little responsibility chart dealio this week. We were bantering about her day, when she told me, “Dad! I had a donut with jelly inside!” She’s 3. This was amazing to her. I thought, odd, a donut in the morning. “No, for snack, Dad. The kids had pancakes for breakfast, with syrup and blueberries.” Yesterday was ice cream day, kicked off with more Fruit Loops. Holy Mary…
As a nutrition student, I’m highly engaged right now with what I’m eating and how my daughter eats. I’ve got her to the point where she asks me to cook breakfast because, “Fruit Loops are bad for us, Dad.” I’m proud of that, yet I don’t force her to eat as strict as I do. I don’t deny her sweets here and there, she isn’t reprimanded for her cravings, and I try to teach her moderation when we do splurge. I want her to eat healthy, and I’m at a loss with the disconnect here - awesome intellectual preparation, horrible nutritional foundation. This school has been open for several years; have other parents not thought it odd? There is so much effort towards preparing these kids for a bright future, yet they are being short changed nutritionally. The habits they form now around food will be carried with them into adulthood.
Nutrition in schools has long been a mess, we all know that. I suppose now that I’m staring at it, that it’s my child, and I’m paying top dollar for it, my blood is heating up. Take note parents and educators alike - healthy food is NOT more expensive, and the only way to see change is to demand change. I’m starting simple, with a polite letter to the school director this week. Who knows where that will go, but if it comes down to me providing our own food for her to take to school, so be it.
Taking the hat off…
2 x 5, 1 x 8 @ 83#
2 x 5, 1 x 10 @ 135#
4 rounds for time of:
25 x dumbell thrusters @ 20#/arm
Screwed up the clock but I think I finished right around the 10 min. mark, maybe a little longer.
- 2 years ago