My Top 5 Favorite Posts of 2011

Here is a collection of my favorite posts of the past year in chronological order. We're gonna go VH1 Storytellers on this one and get some of the back story on the best of 2011.

This was my Swan Song. My walk-off homer. I should've quit while I was ahead. 10 Tips For Success was probably my strongest writing (and most widely read) of the year and it was the first thing I wrote for CrossFit Delaware Valley. Rob Miller (the owner of CFDV) had approached me about writing a series of articles for beginners, several of which I still need to write, and this was the first in that series. On the morning that it posted the initial feedback was positive and I asked Rob if he could pass it along to the CrossFit affiliate page, in the hopes that maybe they would repost it later in the week. They did one better and shared it on the CrossFit HQ Facebook page. Within hours it exploded. There was something like 70,000+ page views by 6 pm that evening. I had made a dent in the CrossFit community, although no one really knows who I am. Twelve months later and it's still getting reposted and shared on other CrossFit affiliate websites all over the world. I'm kind of a big deal in Canada and Scandinavia.

Is paleofication even a word? It is now. I can conjugate anything. From a nutrition standpoint I think this one really hit home with a lot of people new to paleo or struggling with the transition.

3.) Early Adopter, Late Bloomer
Every superhero has an origin story. Here's mine.

After covering the 2011 Mid-Atlantic Regionals for the CrossFit Games site, I was asked to do a follow-up article leading up to the CrossFit Games about one of the three teams that were going on to California. Since I had spent most of the weekend talking with the athletes of R.A.W. Training I already had an idea for a story and all I really needed was a few follow up questions. There were two interesting notes to come out of this article and are the reason I chose it for this list. The first is R.A.W.'s 35 Skills list. For anyone who read this article I think there was a ripple effect in how individuals and teams approached their training. The second was Molly Tuman's quote, "There is no off season." This response I think really impacted the CrossFit community. Ever since this article posted I've seen lots of tweets with hashtags saying something to the effect of #nooffseason or #2012startstoday. Where the idea of "no off season" had a positive or negative effect is up for debate, either way it made its mark.

5.) Why You Need to Get Stronger
Why? Because I said so. But seriously, I felt this needed to be said yet again. It'll help you in CrossFit as well as life. 

My 2011 Reading List

While most of the stuff I read this year was nutrition-related material, and not always in book form, I was able to sneak in a few other things along the way. Here are a list of books that I've read over the past year that I would recommend. All of these books can be found in my Amazon store if you're interested.

If you have any book recommendations, please leave them in the comments below. I'm always looking for new and interesting reads. Thanks.

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
The 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferriss
The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss (read for the second time)
The Black Swan by Nassim Taleb
Rework by Jason Fried (read for the second time)
Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes

Repost: Why You Need to Get Stronger

This is a repost of an article I did for CrossFit Delaware Valley back in October. 


"Strong people are harder to kill than weak people, and more useful in general.” ~ Mark Rippetoe

There are plenty of good reasons to get stronger: a faster metabolism, stronger immune system, decreased fatigue, increased bone density and self-confidence, just to name a few. Chances are you’re not doing enough strength work each week. How do I know? Because most CrossFitters are addicted to the big sexy metcon and neglect overall strength development. Why is that? Weightlifting is uncomfortable. Metcons are uncomfortable but it’s a different kind of uncomfortable. In weightlifting, the barbells are heavy (as they’re supposed to be) and looking at a barbell with lots of plates on it can be intimidating. Why would anyone ever need to squat that much? What’s the benefit to putting that much weight overhead, or pulling such large loads from the ground?

Put on your learning pants, kids. It’s time to discuss some common misconceptions about strength training.

Won’t I get bulky if I lift heavy weights? This is one of the first misconceptions you hear out of people opposed to weightlifting. It’s damn near impossible for women to get crazy bulky, even if they wanted to, simply because women have about 5% to 10% of the testosterone that men have. You certainly can get bigger if you want to, but that’s mainly determined by the kinds of food and quantity you’re putting in your mouth hole. You can just as easily lean out as you can bulk up by lifting heavy weights. Martin Berkham has plenty of documented cases over at LeanGains that show how one can have a lean physique by only lifting heavy. A quick Google image search of Olympic weightlifters in any class under “heavyweight” will show dense, strong, toned physiques. And I’ll bet you Tom Cerecedes’ creepy doll collection they aren’t doing wall balls. As all the trendy CrossFit shirts say: Strong is the new skinny, and strong is sexy.

Not only is this kid stronger than you, he dresses nicer than you too.
I just want a toned {insert body part here}, so I’ll just stick to bodyweight movements and light weights for high reps. And I just want a pet unicorn. Bodyweight movements have their place in overall fitness and strength, but to truly get stronger you need to apply force and stress from an external load; in this case, heavy weights on a barbell. This will get you stronger.

But what about gymnasts? They’re ripped and all they do is bodyweight movements. They also can fit inside my pocket. If you trained for multiple hours everyday since you were 6 years old, you’d be a bodyweight beast too. And since my time machine is at the body shop right now, you’ll have to settle for getting strong the old-fashioned way, and barbells will allow you to get stronger faster. Getting stronger leads to more muscle, and more muscle means less fat. Getting toned just means getting lean and strong. Want an ass you can bounce a quarter off of? Make sure to squat and deadlift every week. Not only is this kid stronger than you, he dresses nicer than you too.

What about the long metcons? I don’t feel like I’m getting much of a workout if I don’t get my heart rate up. Just because you’re not doing a 20-30 minute metcon doesn’t mean you’re not getting a great workout. Do a legitimate cycle of strength training from something like 5/3/1, Texas Method or the Greyskull linear progression and tell me you’re not completely spent after one of those workouts. If you’ve hit a plateau in your weight loss or changes to your body composition, a cycle or two of strength-biased training with shorter metcons could be just the thing to reboot your system.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. You want to know how to become a better CrossFitter? How to start destroying WODs in leaps and bounds? It’s real simple: Get stronger – both physically and mentally.

Look at the top CrossFitters and you’ll see a common thread running through the majority of them: they’re all really strong. You too could have a sub 3-minute Fran time if a 95 lb thruster feels like you’re using a pvc pipe. The people who crush CrossFit workouts do so first and foremost because the weights feel light to them. So, if you want your metcons to suck less, get stronger.

CrossFit aside, do you think you possess the speed and strength to get yourself out of a life-threatening situation? I’m not talking about being cornered in the tunnel of a sports arena by 100 ninjas. That’s ridiculous. Ninjas don’t watch sports. I mean would you be able to sprint into the street in time to scoop up your child from being hit by a reckless driver? Or, when you’re older, have the strength to pick yourself off the ground if you were to fall? These are real life situations that people deal with. Chances are you’ll never find yourself hanging over the side of a cliff by one arm while holding on to Brandon Walsh and trying to pull him up to safety, but wouldn’t you like to know that you could?

2011 Holiday Gifts for Mobility Mavens

Looking for some gift ideas for the CrossFitter, Powerlifter, Strongman, or Endurance fanatic in your life? Here are a few relatively inexpensive gifts that will have a huge impact on recovery and mobility.

Ice/Heat Therapy
I've had the same set of these bad boys since 1995. The gel packs have come and gone but the wraps have held up. These are great for icing your knees, shoulders, and back. For more acute pain or injuries the Cryocup Ice Massage is a better fit.

Rogue Mobility Pack
I'm a big fan of mobility work and recovery. If you were going to purchase one of the Mobility Packs Any of those Mobility Packs would be a good choice. Mobility Pack 2 will have a heavier band than 1, or you could get #3 which has both bands, but don't add in the rumble roller. Instead, get the next item.

Trigger Point 'The Grid' Foam Roller
What's nice about The Grid is that it's a PVC pipe core but with three different densities of padding on the exterior. PVC is nice for rolling, but it's a little difficult to use for rolling your back. Plus, this roller is small enough to travel with.


From Russian Kettlebell Swings With Love


Allow me to make a case for the Russian kettlebell (KB) swing and why it should replace the American swing in CrossFit.

In CrossFit, when a KB is used, 99% of the time it is used for swings - particularly American swings. An American swing is where the bell travels overhead. With a Russian swing, the bell only needs to travel to chest level. Bigger isn’t always better.

In a CrossFit competition the standard for a KB swing has been to finish with the bottom of the bell facing completely upward and directly overhead, which can cause quite a debacle. This movement has digressed the swing to a two-armed snatch, and takes most of the hip snap out of the movement. The whole point of the swing is to use that hip snap to drive the bell up and build power in the glutes, hamstrings and hips. A Russian swing is not an arm movement. The American swing is a partial arm movement. The CrossFit Competition Swing (CCS) is mostly arms. Does CrossFit need yet another overhead movement? I’m going to have to say Hell Nyet.

Another factor is the safety issue. Going overhead with the American swing can get a little dicey especially as the weight gets heavier. Add in the strict judging standards of the KB swing in CrossFit competitions and the CCS becomes a shit show. Whatever it has become - an upright row to a snatch - it’s no longer a KB swing.

The second safety issue is that a lot of people tend overarch at the top of their swing, some even come up onto their toes, and all the while putting unnecessary stress on the lower back by compressing the spine. Whereas if you stuck with the Russian swing, you can stay rooted in your heels, with your ribs down, and your trunk tight. This is a much safer position for the back and shoulders, and you actually get to take advantage of the power in your hips during the movement.

Take a look at the picture to the right of the guy in the blue t-shirt. Now, I don't know who this guy is and I'm not trying to make him look bad. I found this image on a Google search and it just happens to fit with what I'm trying to explain. As you can see in the image, the bottom of the bell is facing up to the ceiling, directly overhead. If this were in a CrossFit competition we could give this guy the rep. Now, back to the safety concerns. His back is arched putting the discs in his lumbar spine (low back) into a state of compression. He does appear to be firmly footed with the weight in his heels. So he's got that going for him, which is nice. But he's pushing his head forward under load and straining his cervical spine (neck). Compare this to the picture below of Lance Armstrong doing a Russian swing. His ribs are down so there's no arch in his back, and his head is neutral so there's no strain on his neck. The bell is at the peak so no need to worry about damage to the shoulder girdle. The bell stays out in front of him where it belongs, keeping this a hip-dominate movement as it was intended. 

Other than the practical reasons of safety and maintaining proper form, by switching to the Russian swing you get to use much heavier weights. And isn’t that what it’s really all about?

Earn Your Carbs

Cheers, kid. You earned it.
When you hear the word "carbs" the first thing that pops into your head might be some type of grain product: bread, pasta, or pizza. In the Paleo world those foods aren't even a consideration. Sure, after all of the processing, additives, preservatives and dressing up, some of them are pretty tasty. But in terms of overall health and how you feel after you've eaten those foods, it's just not worth it.

When I'm referring to carbs, I'm talking vegetables and fruits, or starches and sugars. Cutting out the grains almost by default makes Paleo a low-carb way of eating compared to a typical American diet. But contrary to what you've heard all of your life, you don't need that many carbs in your body to get you through the day.

There's no such thing as "carb-loading" before a sporting event. Think of your glycogen storage (the sugar that's stored for energy from carbohydrates) as a gas tank on a car - you can't overfill a gas tank. Once it's topped off, that's it. The excess gas can't be stored and so it spills out all over your shoes. The same thing is happening in your body, except the excess gas is being stored as body fat and causing you to gain weight.

If leaning out or weight management is your goal, you have to look at it as earning your carbs on a day-to-day basis. If you're really active on a particular day (i.e. on your feet most of the day moving around, or doing multiple workouts at different times in the day), eat some starches (yams, sweet potato, squash, etc) and a little sugar (in the form of fruits) after that activity or activities. If you sat on your ass for the majority of the day, you can't justify those five pieces of fruit, two tablespoons of honey in your tea, three large sweet potatoes and some various Paleo dessert just because you killed some 7-minute metcon. Unfortunately, your total amount of effort doesn't justify the extra sugar. So, stick to the green leafy vegetables on your less active days and take advantage of the recovery benefits of a higher dose of starches after your workout or a long day of high activity.

Redemption Fundraiser at CrossFit Delaware Valley (11/19/11)

Carlos Gibson, former CFDV member and now a trainer at CrossFit 215, is putting together his second-annual Redemption Fundraiser. See the details below. 


Paleo for Performance workshop at CrossFit Delaware Valley

On Monday, November 7th at 8 pm, join Laura Pappas and me at CrossFit Delaware Valley for a one-hour workshop on Paleo for Performance. Details are on the flyer below. Sign up here. 


Always Be Recovering


Recovery is a fickle bitch. Treat her nice and she'll be nice to you. But mistreat her and you will pay severely. Around the interwebs you'll hear expressions like, "There's no such thing as overtraining, only under-recovering." Sometimes less is more. I've certainly seen plenty of people overtrain and run themselves into the ground with overuse injuries, adrenal fatigue and metcon burnout. Were these folks under-recovering? Bitch, I don't know your life!

If you're training three to five days a week, which is an average range for most CrossFitters, your body is in a state of constant recovery. When you think about it that way, it makes your food choices that much more important. You really don't get a whole lot of leeway if you intend to optimize your recovery. Every single thing you put in your mouth-hole matters. Is that entire box of Samoas that you just inhaled helping your recovery process? Not so much. A 16-ounce rib eye with a huge side of mashed sweet potatoes and steamed broccoli smothered in pastured butter? Now we're talking.

You need to approach your training from the standpoint that you're always in a state of recovery. Injuries don't occur from overtraining, injuries occur from under-recovering. The foods you eat, supplements you take, the amount and quality of sleep, and time spent on mobility work all need to be accounted for on a daily to weekly basis in order to maximize recovery. A: Always. B: Be. R: Recovering. Always Be Recovering.

Guest Post at CFDV: Why You Need to Get Stronger

This little bruiser will mess you up.
Are you opposed to lifting heavy because you think you will get bulky? Are you stuck in a weight loss plateau? Do you want to know the secret to becoming a better CrossFitter? Read my post at CrossFit Delaware Valley on Why You Need to Get Stronger.

I'm Still Here

I've been neglecting my blog lately. I've been meaning to post some actual content and not just training logs but haven't had the time or energy lately to do so. Between my day job, and all of my responsibilities at CFDV: coaching classes/personal training/running a nutrition challenge - plus all other matters of my daily life - the blog has fallen by the wayside. But I hope to change that.

Moving forward I'm aiming to have at least one real post each week of actual content, in addition to any recipes or other things that I feel like throwing out there. I may abandon the training log and just post PRs, goals, and other things I'm training for.

Training Log: 9/19/11

Strength AM
Bench 5/3/1+

Metcon AM
20s & 30s

20 Calorie Row
30 Wallballs (20/14)
20 Toes to Bar
30 Box Jumps (24/20)
20 SDHP (75/55)
30 Burpees
20 Shoulder to OH (135/95)
120ft Sled Pull (215/135)


Strength PM
Front Squat - work up to a heavy single
Power Snatch - work up to a heavy single


Looking back on last week I realized I only trained twice, so I thought I'd make up for it by doing two sessions today. The strength pieces weren't too bad. I got 5 good reps on the bench at 175 (bodyweight). The metcon made me feel shaky though. I had to scale the shoulder to overhead down to 115 and still spent several minutes on that. On the PM strength session I got up to 215 on the front squat and 125 on the power snatch (failed twice at 135). 

Training Log: 9/12/11

Metcon

With 21 minutes on the clock, perform the following every 3 minutes:

3 Push Presses
6 Strict Pull-ups
9 Burpees

First off, let's take a moment to reflect on the bad asssery of this trophy. This is a showcase piece that needs to be displayed on a mantle and properly lit to  emphasize its manliness. It's an executioner holding a barbell with plates like a club. You don't get much more manly than that. Maybe if the executioner had a beard poking through the bottom of the mask, then it would be even more manly. 

CFDV trainer Zach Frankhouser brought this bad boy home from a powerlifting meet he competed in this past weekend in Lancaster, PA. Zach kicked some serious ass and it shows. Now onto my workout.

This was an interesting workout. It's meant to go a little heavy on the push press and challenge yourself there. But then there's those strict pull-ups that can sneak up on you if you burn out too quickly on them. I wasn't sure what weight to use in this workout as I just did some overhead stuff yesterday with 125 and 115 as the weights and my shoulders were feeling a little tender. I decided to start at 95 and increase by 10 lbs each round until I found a challenging weight. I got up 10 145 and held it there. The pull-ups weren't too bad. I got all 6 for the first couple rounds and then had to break them up into threes after that. Having done a decent amount of strict pull-ups over the last month helped me in this regard. I've taken a break from my strength-only programming the last week or so, and need to get back into it. Being stronger greatly helps in the workouts. My conditioning hasn't suffered too much so I feel I can be a little more cavalier with my strength-bias. 

Kalyn McDonald - A CrossFit Testimonial

This is a re-post from CrossFit Delaware Valley.

For 10 weeks this summer my sister-in-law Kalyn lived with Kara and me. During those 10 weeks I worked with her to improve her dietary and lifestyle habits. Here is Kalyn’s story.

When I first came to Larry it’s safe to say I was in the worst shape of my life. I was the heaviest I’ve ever been, and I was no longer exercising on a regular basis. My diet resembled that of a college student (pizza and beer) due to the fact that I am still in a college environment attending graduate school. I knew that if I wanted to get back in shape and feeling good, I would have to start with my diet.

Larry started off with a general discussion of my health history and everyday habits – this meeting alone helped me realize just how unhealthy I had been living. Eating food items with gluten when I have a known gluten allergy, eating dairy when I am lactose intolerant – I was out of control! For as long as I can remember I have had issues with food, so naturally I thought that it was normal to feel unwell after consuming a meal. When I first tried to go gluten-free, I was constantly hungry. Nothing that I ate seemed to fill me up. I then found myself consuming unbelievable amounts of rice at each meal, just to feel full. Rice gets old very fast and before I knew it, I was eating foods with gluten again.

Larry was able to suggest an eating style that would accommodate all of my dietary restrictions and actually fill me up. We started from scratch – cleaning out the pantry, going grocery shopping, and even cooking together! The biggest help was planning ahead: making weekly menus and cooking items in bulk – a suggestion that Larry made to help with transitioning to this new lifestyle. Most of my meals consisted of lean meats and veggies. I used to not eat anything for breakfast. Now, I not only have gotten in the habit of eating breakfast every morning, I can make a mean over-easy egg.

Along with new eating habits, I was also attending CrossFit Delaware Valley classes about four times per week, which really helped me get back on track with my fitness. Although I don’t have a CrossFit gym where I go to school, I’ve learned enough of the basics to do some WODs on my own and will be traveling an hour and a half a few days a week to an affiliate in Columbus, OH.

With the combination of a healthy, reasonable diet and CrossFit, I was able to lose pounds and inches from my body. In just 10 weeks I lost 20 pounds, 4.1% body fat, 2.5 inches off my waist and thighs, and 4.25 inches off of my hips. I feel better than I ever have. Larry was able to come up with a lifestyle that I would be able to easily adjust to and sustain, and I am confident that I will be able to continue this on my own back at school. 

Kalyn’s story is a good example of what can be accomplished in just 10 weeks with a little hard work and discipline. Not only did Kalyn lose a decent amount of weight, body fat, and inches, she also greatly improved in her overall fitness. In 10 weeks, she took 3 minutes off of her CrossFit Baseline workout, went from being too scared to even think about jumping onto two 45-pound plates (8 inches) to jumping on a 20-inch box, ran a Broomile without stopping, and climbed a rope for the first time in her life. How much can you change your life in just 10 weeks?

Training Log: 9/11/11

9/11 Throwdown WOD
2001 meter row

then 11 reps of each of the 9 movements...

Box Jump (36/24)
Thruster (125/85 thruster) - Deaths at the Pentagon
Burpee chest-to-bar pull-ups
Power Clean (175/120) - AA Flight #175 (South tower)
Handstand push-ups
KB Swings (2 pood/1.5 pood)
Toes to bar
Deadlift (170/120) - Flight 77 and flight 93
Push Jerk (110/75) - Number of floors in each tower

2001 meter row


Several of us did this workout during open gym this morning under the suggestion of Helen White. It was a tough workout which wouldn't have been too bad if it weren't bookended with 2k rows. The only thing I had to scale was the HSPU, where I'm still stuck in 2 abmat land. I thought the thruster and push jerk were going to give me some trouble, but I was able to do them in threes or fours and work through them pretty quickly. What I spent the most time on was the 175 lb power clean. 175 lbs usually isn't too much trouble but I've never done it for more than a single and especially not in a workout where I was already pretty fatigued. I failed on three of the reps, which really slowed me down. I probably spent 5 minutes just on the power clean. I finished in 38:45.

Training Log: 9/5/11

Strength
Squat 5, 5, 5+

Metcon
Labor Day Relay
5 teams of 6 people must complete for time:

1.) Pushup bridge
2.) 21 KB Swings, 15 Box Jumps, 9 Burpees, then 150 Wallballs. 2 team members must keep a 45lb and 25lb plate aloft until all members move through the shoot.
3.) 300 Double Unders/200m relay
4.) 21 KB Swings, 15 Box Jumps, 9 Burpees, then 150 Wallballs. Team must keep 185lb barbell aloft until all members move through the shoot.
5.) 400m run with pole or tire.

I got 10 reps at 215 on my last set of squats. The relay was fun but long. I haven't done a metcon in a while and this was ended up taking 43 minutes and some change. Over 30 people showed up for the class and the chaos of it all was quite a spectacle. For someone who really sucks at double unders I managed to string a few together and even got five in a row at one point. I'm going to need to start taking those seriously and actually get the timing down. 

Training Log: 9/2/11

Squat 5, 5, 5+
Bench 5, 5, 5+

Today's workout was in Sheldon's man shed, aka Hobo Gym. Tippy came over too and got to run around with Sheldon's dog, Emmy, so everyone got some exercise. I used 205 on the squat and got 10 reps on the last set. I probably had a few more in me but I was happy with 10. I moved up 5 lbs on the  bench and gave 170 a try. I got 5 reps on the last set, failing on my 6th rep. I'm going to give 175 a try next week but if I don't get 5 reps on the first set, I'll scale it back by 10% and go from there. 

Training Log: 8/31/11

Best. Children's Book. Ever
Strength
Bench 5, 5, 5+
Deadlift 1x5+

Sometimes you just have to be smart enough to know when to order the mild wings. Last night I got a dozen hot wings. The waitress said they were hot. I figured that the hot would be spicy but tolerable. I couldn't finish my dozen because they were too much. When I got home my stomach was on fire. I awoke around 1 am this morning and audibly said, "Oh no!" as I bolted out of bed and ran to the bathroom in the dark. It got me at both ends. 

Today, I was pretty much out of commission. My stomach was still bothering me and I didn't have much of an appetite. I probably should've either taken today off or gone a little easier on myself rather than continue with the next progression in my training.

The bench felt heavy at 165 but I got 7 reps on my last set. On the deads I was able to get 6 reps at 375, but felt pretty woozy during my warm up sets. 

Go the F**k to Sleep, read by Samuel L. Jackson. For real.

Training Log: 8/29/11

Strength
Press 5, 5, 5+
Squat  5, 5, 5+
Weighted chins 2x6-8
Push-ups x50 (sub max, fewest sets)

In the press I got 8 reps at 100 lbs on my last set, and 10 reps at 195 on my last set of squats. I used 10 lbs on the weighted chins and got 7 reps in both sets. The push-ups took me three sets: 15, 15, 20.

It seems the shoulder pain I used to have in my right shoulder is gone but has migrated over to the left. The press bothered my left shoulder during the first two sets. The squat felt uncomfortable during the first set, a little better during the second, and pretty good on the third.

Training Log: 8/24/11

Strength
Squat 5, 5, 5+

I spent a real long time warming up tonight. Including warm up sets I probably spent 40 minutes warming up. I used 185 this time because last time I used 175 and got 15 reps on the last set, so I thought a 10 lb jump was appropriate. On my last set tonight I got 15 reps again, and could have maybe gotten a few more. I guess I'll do another 10 lb jump next time. I think I've been underestimating my squat.

Training Log: 8/23/11

Strength
Deadlift 1x5+
DB Press 3x10
3 Chin-up ladders

I moved up to 370 this week on the deads and pulled it 7 times. I thought it was only 6, but Brian Coyle was counting out loud next to me and he said it was 7, so I'll take his word. I haven't done a dumbbell press in a while and was trying to feel out what weight would be good. I started with 20s the first set and was up to 30s by the third set. 30 or 35 is probably a good weight for now. I had planned on doing 5 sets of the press but ran out of time.

Training Log: 8/22/11

Strength
Bench Press 5, 5, 5+
3x Chin-up Ladders
5x 10 DB Walking Lunges

Here's a fitness tip: If you have a decent sunburn on your back and shoulders, there's nothing wrong with taking the day off from bench press and squatting. You won't get a max effort on that day. I made it through the bench press with quite a bit of discomfort, but even with an empty bar my shoulders were on fire in the squat so I subbed some walking lunges with 50 lb dumbbells in its place. Definitely not the same load or desired effect. I probably should've done ten sets instead of the five but oh well. It was a relatively easy day.

Protein-Packed Primal Pancakes

1 cup coconut flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking soda
3 eggs
1 tsp Trader Joe's pure bourbon vanilla extract
1 tbsp honey
1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
1 cup water
1-2 tbsp coconut oil (to coat the griddle)

Coat the griddle with one to two tbsp of coconut oil (depending on the size of your griddle/frying pan), and heat the griddle to medium heat. The griddle should not be smoking. Combine all of the other ingredients into a large mixing bowl and stir together until smooth. Ladle in the batter and use the bottom of the ladle to  flatten out the batter into a circle about 6 inches in diameter. Cook about one to two minutes per side or until browned. When they're done, add some grass-fed pasture butter (I like Kerrygold) and some real maple syrup.

This recipe made the stack seen in the picture to the right. That is about 9 pancakes, about six inches in diameter. These pancakes are considered primal and not paleo due to the addition of grass-fed dairy products. Call them what you want. All that matters is that they're tasty, filling and gluten free.

Training Log: 8/18/11

Strength
Bench Press 5, 5, 5+
Deadlift 1x5+

I used 155 lbs on the bench and got 10 reps on the last set. I warmed up for the deads with a few power cleans before getting into three warm up sets of deadlifts. I pulled 365 for 5 on my last set of deadlift. The last two reps were a little ugly but I got the weight up. I was supposed to do two sets of weighted chins, but forgot to do them. The deads took a lot out of me.

Training Log: 8/15/11

Strength
Press 5, 5, 5+
Squat 5, 5, 5+
3 chin-up ladders

I started the Greyskull linear progression today in conjunction with a new attempt at mass gain. I used 95 on the press and got 10 reps in the last set, at which point I strained a muscle in my neck that hurt like hell. In the squat I used 175 and got 15 reps in the last set and could've maybe gotten more. I need to up the weight by 10 lbs in the squat for next time. I got up to four reps in the chin ladder for the first two ladders and three on the last for a total of 26 reps.

Training Log: 8/14/11

Strength
Bench 3, 3, 3+
Power Clean 5x1

I used 150 on my last set of bench and got 12 reps, which means the weight was too light. On the power clean I got up to 195 and failed twice at 205.

Training Log: 8/10/11

Strength
Deadlift 3, 3, 3+

Skill work
Practice skillwork for 15 minutes. 

Metcon
AMRAP 15 Minutes:
10 Handstand Pushups
20 Ring Rows
30 Overhead Walking Lunges (45/25)

I used 360 on the max set of deadlifts and got 7 reps before my form started to go and I just about lost my grip on the bar. 7 reps at 360, I'll take it. For my skill work I did 3x10 reverse hypers with 50 lbs and worked on my shoulder mobility for the metcon. 

This metcon was no joke. I hit muscle failure in the first round on the HSPU and ring rows. I did the ring rows at just about horizontal with my feet up on a 20" box. Add in some overhead walking lunges and my shoulders were fried in no time. I managed 2 rounds + 10 HSPU and 18 ring rows. 

Training Log: 8/9/11

Strength
Press 3, 3, 3+

Metcon
2 x 300 meter row

The press is not my strong suit. On my last set I used 105 and got 4 reps out of it. Not really something to write home about. The metcon was supposed to be 5 sets of rows but I ran out of time, and honestly, I was pretty beat after two all out sprints. My row times were 56.8 seconds and 58.6 seconds.

Training Log: 8/6/11

Fight Gone Bad
In this workout you move from each of five stations after a minute. This is a five-minute round from which a one-minute break is allowed before repeating, for three rounds. The stations are:

Wallball: 20 pound ball, 10 ft target. (Reps)
Sumo Deadlift High-Pull: 75 pounds (Reps)
Box Jump: 20″ box (Reps)
Push Press: 75 pounds (Reps)
Row: calories (Calories)

Four days in a row is not something I normally do, but given the way this week worked out it just happened that way. The last time I did Fight Gone Bad was at the end of May and I scored 230. Today I was hoping to surpass that. 

From the start my lower back was on fire (still recovering from the deadlifts on Wednesday. I really felt the pain in my lower back during the sumo deadlift high pull. The last time I did this workout I started with the row and scored really high on that, this time I was consistent but not nearly as high. I ended up with a score of 226. 

Training Log: 8/5/11

Strength
Bench Press 5, 5, 5+
Back Squat 5, 5, 5+

Aaaaaannnndddd now I'm sore. Damn you delayed onset muscle soreness! I felt good yesterday throughout the day. By the evening I started to feel some soreness. Today, everything hurts. I probably owe the foam roller and lacrosse ball dinner because I got a down and dirty with both of them. It helped loosen up my kibbles and bits but I was still ridiculously sore. What I should've done was invested in a few bags of ice and hopped in the tub. Ice baths are never fun but damn do they work. I may need to do one tomorrow.

The last set of bench was at 145 and I got 10 reps. The last set of the squat was 180 and I got 10 on that as well. My squat pales in comparison to my deadlift.

Training Log: 8/4/11

Skill work
Practice skillwork for 15 minutes.

Metcon
AMRAP 15 Minutes of:
10 Medicine Ball Cleans (20/14)
10 Hanging Knees to Elbows

I woke up feeling pretty good despite going to bed feeling physically exhausted. I guess the post-wod reverse hypers, foam rolling, ice and fish oil helped. 

For my skill work I played around with some handstands, pistols and shoulder mobility. In the metcon I got 9 rounds even. The limiting factor was the knees to elbows. My grip got pretty fatigued with about five minutes left but I tried to keep to my original plan of doing the KTEs in fives. That worked until about the last two rounds. 

Training Log: 8/3/11

Strength
Deadlift 5, 5, 5+
@ 65%, 75% and 85% of 90% of your one-rep max.

Metcon
‘Crazy Eights’
4 rounds of:
8 Push Jerks (155/110)
8 Burpees

Today was my first day on a 5/3/1 strength protocol that we're doing this month at CrossFit Delaware Valley. I'm not a big fan of high volume deadlifts with heavy weight but I had no idea how many reps I was going to pull on the third set and thought that 10 reps would be something to shoot for. My first two sets were at 235 and 270 and were pretty easy. My third set was at 305 for max reps and I ended up pulling 17. When I finally set the bar down I felt like I had just completed a metcon. My legs were shaky and I was out of breath. 

Blowing my load on the strength portion I had very little left for the metcon and my legs were still feeling shaky. I used 135 for the first round but then had to drop that down to 115 because I was just not feeling it and every time I lowered the bar from the jerk it banged off my collar bone. I need some more mass on my collar bone. My lower back was killing me during the metcon and I had to stop several times to catch my breath but also to give my back a rest. I finished in 10:49.

For recovery I did 3x10 on the reverse hyper with 50 lbs, foam rolled, stretched and then iced my back when I got home. Hopefully I'm mobile tomorrow. 

Don't Eat Processed Crap

Dropping In at CrossFit Fort Wayne


This past Friday Kara and I visited CrossFit Fort Wayne for a noon-time workout while we were in Ohio visiting Kara's family. The noon class was small which was nice. After a warm up of a 400 meter run, followed by three rounds of agility drills, and three rounds of bear crawls and crab walks we were sweating: heavily. The heat and humidity need to take a break.

After the warm up we went into some skill work on the rings doing the equivalent of toes to bar but on a dynamic plane. Having only been open a year, all of CrossFit Fort Wayne's equipment is pretty much brand new from Rogue. The skill work was nice because I haven't done much of it in a while as we've strayed away from that at our gym. 

I held back a little on the skill work because I wanted to save my grip for the WOD.

5 rounds of: 
5 deadlifts (275/185)
1 rope climb (20 ft)

I'm glad they posted this workout on their website ahead of time. This gave us advanced notice to stop off and buy some long soccer socks before we got there. Rope climbs can be like the Cobra Kai on your legs: No Mercy.

On the deadlift, 275 was doable but while warming up with a few reps I was seeing stars and feeling a little dizzy after I stood up, so I decided to scale it to 225. The heat, humidity and buckets of sweat coming off of me were not helping either.

The rope climbs at CrossFit Delaware Valley are to 15 feet. That extra 5 feet at CrossFit Fort Wayne made a huge difference. By the end of the fourth rope climb I thought I was going to fall. My grip was gone and I was not feeling good about the rope climb. The weight on the deadlifts was not a problem, but the movement did wind me. I ended up subbing 10 ring rows for the last rope climb because I was not certain I would not fall from 20 feet. I need to work on my rope climbs and find a new foot lock. I generally use the S-wrap (or Spanish Wrap) but I find it hard to come back down the rope using that technique. I finished this workout in 7:44. Thank you to owners Andrew and Sophia Walsh for letting us drop in. 

Is the Paleo Diet Too Self-Righteous?


You gonna eat that? It's a bit of an odd question, and not even proper English. The person asking could have one of two agendas: 1.) Are you going to eat that? Because if not, I want it. Or, 2.) Are you seriously considering putting that into your body? I find myself asking both versions of the question on a regular basis. The first version is asked with the attention of me eating more (I'm just a growing boy). The second version comes with judgment and self-righteousness on the back end. I don't like it but eating clean has turned Kara and me dirty. We've become Judgy Judgmental Judgers.

I don't think we're alone in this rationale. I think this is common in the Paleo community. You clean up your diet, you see great results, you feel a hell of a lot better and maybe you even tell a few people about the way you eat and try and get them to give it a shot. Paleo, like CrossFit, is already viewed as a cult by those on the outside who don't get it, which probably fuels the Paleo folks to feel even more entitled to judge (either internally or externally) those around them for making what they perceive as horrible food choices.

When we go food shopping we regularly see parents pushing their cart through the store with their kids in tow, loading up on chips, cookies, cereal (lots and lots of cereal) and other crap. I tend to keep a poker face while grocery shopping as well as my comments to myself but I can't help but ask myself are they merely uninformed consumers or do they just not care? Could be a combination of the two. Kara, on the other hand, takes the passive-aggressive Midwestern approach and mutters things under her breath just loud enough for me to hear. Although, one of these times I fear she may morph into liquid metal and disembowel some unwitting shopper.

So, what do you think? Is Paleo too self-righteous? Do people who follow the Paleo lifestyle come off as pompous, entitled, or judgmental? If you follow Paleo do you find yourself judging those who make poor food choices?

Training Log: 7/26/11

Strength
Back Squat - work up to a heavy single
Press - work up to a heavy single
Weighted Chin-ups 5x5

On the squat I got up to 225 before stopping. I didn't want to go for a one-rep max but based on how 225 felt, I don't think I would've gotten much higher than my current PR (245). I need to squat more.

On the press I tied my PR of 125 and stopped there. My left shoulder was giving me some trouble so I didn't want to add anymore weight to it.

For the chin-ups I used a 20 lb dumbbell and rested a couple minutes between sets. The chin-ups got difficult by the third set and the rest periods probably got longer but I wasn't really keeping track of that.

Training Log: 7/24/11

Photo credit: Tom Cerecedes
Strength
Power Snatch 8x2

Metcon
Every 30 seconds for 12 minutes, perform one power snatch at 75-85% of 2 RM

I may have only done 7 sets of the power snatch (I lost count), but I ended on 135 for two which was a 15 lb PR over my previous one-rep max, so I was pleased with that. For the metcon I used 105 which was somewhere in between 75 and 80%. After the workout I realized I should've gone with 115. It wasn't very taxing on me cardiovascularly, and the weight wasn't heavy enough for me to break my form.

Training Log: 7/23/11

Strength
Deadlift 5 RM

Metcon
Tabata Chin-ups
Tabata Push-ups

I hit a 20 lb PR on the deadlift 5-rep max with 345. I'll take it. I tried to hold 5 chin-ups for each interval of the tabata but that eventually dwindled down to 2. On the push-up I tried to hold a 7-rep interval, but I could only hold that until about the fifth round and then held 5s for the remainder.

Training Log: 7/21/11

Marilyn Monroe got cotton allergies too when she worked out.
Strength
Back Squat 5x3 (progressive)
Good Mornings 3x10 (sets across)
Bench Press 5x3 (progressive)
Chin-ups x25

I finished my last set at 205 on the squat and 170 on the bench. I was working out alone in the basement so I thought I'd play it safe on the bench when I don't have a spotter. I used an empty bar on the good mornings and the chin-ups were done in sets of 5 in between the good mornings and start of the bench sets.

Squatting with Zach

CrossFit Delaware Valley trainer Zach Frankhouser squats 365 for 10 reps. No big deal. And it's done with steel plates, so you know it's legit.

Training Log: 7/20/11

Skeleton + Elliptical = Funny on so many levels.
Strength
In 15 minutes, find your max Thruster

Metcon
Run 800m
30 Turkish Getups (53/35) OR 10 Rope Climbs
Run 800m

I  tried to stick to the movement standards from this year's CrossFit Regionals thruster ladder. I squat cleaned all of my attempts and got up to 165. I really liked this portion of the workout and would love to try it in true Regionals-style as a ladder of bars. I've never done a 1 RM on the thruster so I wasn't sure to shoot for, but now I've got a benchmark to surpass in the future.

The metcon was brutal. High humidity, 90+ degree weather, and running are not my friends. My calves and stomach cramped up on the run, my grip failed by the 7th rope climb and I finished in 18:17. 

Training Log: 7/17/11

Strength
Snatch 5x1 (80% of 1 RM)
Clean and Jerk 5x1 (80% of 1 RM)
Front Squat - work up to a heavy single


On the snatch I used 100 lbs and 150 on the clean and jerk. The jerk felt a little funny on each one. I was having trouble getting the bar positioned in my hand properly. I ran out of time on the front squat and got up to 175 on the third set, but felt like I could've kept going up.

Paleo Strawberry Shortcake

Paleo Coconut Milk Whipped Cream
1 can of full fat coconut milk
2 tbsp real maple syrup
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Mix together in a glass bowl and place in the fridge uncovered for several hours to allow the milk to firm.

Paleo Shortcake
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 jar of almond butter
2 eggs
¼ cup of raw organic honey, melted
1 tbsp vanilla extract
½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking soda
½ cup shredded unsweetened coconut flakes


Preheat oven to 325.

Microwave the jar of almond butter and honey for about 30 seconds to soften it, and then pour the almond butter and honey into a large mixing bowl.

Add the vanilla, salt, and baking soda, and mix the batter. Add the eggs and stir by hand until smooth. 

Add in coconut flakes and continue to mix thoroughly. The batter will be very thick and sticky.

Grease a 9x9 pan or glass baking dish with 1 tbsp of coconut oil. Pour mixture into the pan and bake for 35-40 minutes.

Cut up strawberries, throw on some coconut milk whipped cream and enjoy. If you don't feel like waiting for the whipped cream to firm up, like I didn't, your strawberry shortcake will look more like the picture; with thin and runny, but still very tasty cream. 

Training Log: 7/15/11

Strength
Back Squat 5x3 (progressive)
Power Clean 7x1 (progressive)

Conditioning
4x 60-yard prowler push

The back squat went as follows: 155, 165, 175, 185, 195. After a long warm up all the sets felt good. Even 195 didn't feel too bad. A few weeks ago, every time I squatted 185 it felt god-awful heavy. I'm glad to see I'm getting some strength back.

On the power clean I got up to 185. Failed twice at 195. Dropped the weight down to 190. Failed again and decided to stop there.

The prowler push ended up being harder than everything else combined. The pavement is not evenly finished and there's a section of about 50 feet where the prowler just hits a wall and the friction made the 180 lbs feel like well over 300. Each trip on the prowler felt like the equivalent of a 20-rep max back squat. I was hitting muscle failure and my legs felt like jelly.

Training Log: 7/13/11

Strength
Snatch (wave progression) 60%x3, 65%x2, 70%x1, 65%x3, 70%x2, 75%x1, 70%x3, 75%x2, 80%x1

Clean & Jerk - same progression

This took a lot longer than anticipated. I finished everything for the snatch and then got through the second wave on the C&J before it got too late. I was supposed to do 100 weighted sit-ups and 25 chin-ups as well but that obviously didn't happen. And I'm not sure why but my hip flexors were killing me after all of the snatches. 

Vote For Me To Be On the Cover of WOD Talk Magazine

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