Thursday, September 30, 2010

CrossFit Southshore

Tuesday WOD

10 minutes to establish 1 RM Snatch

Rest 5 minutes

10 minutes to establish 1 RM Clean and Jerk

Rest 5 minutes

10 minute AMRAP

6 squat clean (125 lb)

12 pullups

24 double unders

Wednesday WOD

Deadlift 3, 3, 3, 1, 1, 1

Strict Press 3, 3, 1, 1, 1

I rolled off the Bolt Bus right around 1 oclock in New York and was greeted by my boy Jason Mulligan just after. Great to see his mug again. We hopped on the Long Island Railroad out to his folks place, dropped our gear and headed over to CrossFit Southshore to connect with owners Doug and Tara for a workout. In honor of the upcoming USAW/CrossFit challenge in Colorado, they had prepared the above for the class. Because this is all crammed into one session the marks probably aren’t the best for comparison to what will happen this weekend, but it was pretty cool to be able to give it a shot.

Travelling light as I was I didn’t have the most appropriate footwear—ended up doing the night’s work in just my Van’s slip-ons. No big but the snatches were pretty rusty. I got 185 easy, then missed 205 twice before hitting it. That only left me a minute to try 225, my previous PR, and I didn’t hit it. Bummer.

5 minutes later I was going after the clean and jerks. 225 for the first, 245 for the second, both felt light. My third I got 275 with a great pull and a tight jerk, definitely the best lift of my day and matched my previous best. I had enough time to try but it wasn’t even close.

The cleans got me feeling better about things overall so I ran headlong into the metcon with no hesitation. Knocked out the first 2 rounds without breaking anything and a time of around 1:40. 3rd set slowed me down a bit but I was still moving pretty quick. The pullups started to wear on my arms a bit and I started to feel the heartrate jumping during the squat cleans. I finished round 4 with exactly 5 minutes gone and I knew I wouldn’t be able to match the pace to the end because of my fast start. In my head the goal was set at 7 and I nearly made it. 6 rounds plus the cleans, pullups and 20 double unders, just 4 shy of the full shebang. All in all a great series of tests that left me feeling pretty whipped. Looking forward to seeing what the guys can do this weekend—I expect a few to be up around 8 rounds.

After a hell of an evening with Jay’s family and a few from the CFSS crew out to dinner, we made it back in today before I had to catch my bus back to DC. Due to an injury, Jason’s been off heavy lifting for the past 4 months or so, leaving him itching to get back in the game. Last night was a huge bang for him, getting good numbers on snatch and clean without any pain. Today we went for it even more. Deadlifts to 455 for each of us (PR for me), and strict presses to 185. Came away feeling really positive about the gains I’ve made the past 6 months and the process of his recovery. Hell of a morning.

I want to issue a couple of huge thank you’s, first to Doug and Tara for being so welcoming and for running such a badass gym. Great atmosphere, great community, and very motivational. Congratulations on the new spot as well, can’t wait to check it out next time I’m in town. Second, to the Mulligan family/army. Top notch hospitality and so much fun to be around. I hope they will take the show on a west coast tour and let me return their generosity in kind.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Garage Gyms

As some of my recent workouts have shown, my garage has been transformed into a gym of sorts. This is by no means novel, but I’ve received enough feedback regarding the pluses and minuses of such an endeavor that I thought it worth going into. I’ve compiled a series of top 5 lists that, in my opinion, should guide anyone’s pursuit of a garage gym. They are in order of importance. Please feel free to raise points I may have missed or question what I’ve written. This is an open forum and I’m all about learning.

5 things you need:

1. Space

Without a doubt the biggest problem with most garage gyms is that people over do it. The most vital component to your home gym is that it allows you space to move. That means height, area, and lack of clutter. A clean, simple, efficient box is what you’re looking for, not a room filled with equipment that you imagine you might one day use. Guard free space with your life.

2. Pullup Bar

Can’t get around this one… you need it. Aside from the fact that pullups themselves are the quintessential upper body strength builder, the bar offers so many more uses that it cannot be omitted. From hanging rings to doing toes to bar, this is a staple. Because it is so important, you can’t just throw up some piece of crap and expect it to do what you want it to do. You need a bar that is secure, mounted far enough from the wall that you can kip, and ideally will allow you not to waste the valuable commodity that is #1. For affordable high quality ideas on this, look here.

3. Sandbag

You’re probably wondering why I didn’t write “barbell” here. That’s because I think sandbags are better, more versatile, and cost less—therefore, they’re higher on my list. This is something that you make out of an old army sack and some double thick plastic trash bags. You can use an old couch cushion. You can use an old punching bag you find at a flea market. These are all things I have actually done in the past. Once made, this tool can be lifted, carried, thrown, swung, and slammed. Then it can be emptied. It’s adjustable in size, weight, and thickness. Don’t argue, just get one.

4. Barbell and Bumpers

Notice these go together, because a bar without bumpers is useless and vice versa. Don’t waste money on metal weights because you can’t drop them. If you go on craigslist and find a great deal on Gold’s Gym hex plates, do yourself a favor and skip it. Look for used weights at competitive events or when places go out of business, but if that doesn’t work start scouring CrossFit outfitters like this. It’s not too difficult to find affordable deals and get what you need. Barbells are necessary if you intend to build real strength. You can only get so far before you have to deadlift and squat to improve.

5. Rubber flooring

You need this stuff to protect your floor while dropping all those newly bought bumper plates mentioned above. You don’t need it wall to wall, just enough for the width of the bar and a few feet to the front and back. A 3x5 stretch of ¾ inch thickness will do the trick. That will allow you to deadlift, clean and jerk, snatch, whatever. When you’re done you can slide it into the corner. Best place to find this stuff is either at pet supply stores or trucker supply stores. It can get pricey, but it will last forever.

5a) A rack

Without someplace to rack your bar you can’t do heavy squats. If you can’t do heavy squats you can’t get strong. This will also help when training jerks, thrusters, and overhead presses. You don’t need a cage, that just gets in the way. I’m simply referring to some way to load a secure bar at shoulder height. Portable metal racks, cinder blocks, whatever. I put this as 5a) because it isn’t as important as the flooring, but it still belongs on this list.

5 things you don’t need:

1. A treadmill

If I have to explain this one I’ve failed in everything I've written to this point. It’s huge, it takes up space, and it’s not real running. GO OUTSIDE!!!

2. A bench

It’s good for one exercise and otherwise it is always in the way. Hopefully if you’re reading this blog you won’t be looking for ways to do seated exercises, so one of those multiple angle bench seats, while more versatile, is completely useless. If you need to bench press, do it from the floor. Or find a couple 2x6’s and lie on them if you really want to retract your shoulders. It’s not an important enough movement to sacrifice the space or the money for a proper bench.

3. Plyo Boxes

Just the other day I was in a pitched battle with a set of 5 plyo boxes that I acquired from a friend. I was trying to find a smart way to stack them so that I could get to the smaller, more frequently used boxes without going through the huge awkward ones one top. I ended up inverting the whole pyramid, but still remain unsatisfied. These things just don’t get used enough to justify the inevitable headache they create. They are space vacuums and shin destroyers. Not to mention that a couple cinder blocks from your backyard or a small ledge will work just as well.

4. A platform

I write this even though I just finished building one, so disqualify what I say if you like. Bottom line, it’s a luxury not a necessity. I decided to build one to see if I could, how much it would cost, and to personalize my gym. It worked great and I love the thing, but if I hadn’t done it the gym would still function just as well. The rubber flooring will serve as your platform if you don’t have the time or space to build a proper wooden one. If you do it will require 5 sheets of plywood, 2 2x8 sheets of ¾ inch rubber, a screw gun and screws, a shit ton of gorilla glue, and at least 3 cans of verathane. That’s if you do it without any stencil or paint on the face. All in all, I made mine for about 300 bucks and I enjoyed the process immensely. But I also had the time to do it and the space to put it. Not everyone has those luxuries.

5. Medicine Balls

Now, I really have nothing against medicine balls. They can be incredibly useful tools and I like the potential they offer for creativity. The problem is twofold. First, they wind up all over the place—stacked on weights, in corners, or right out in the open—and second, the vast majority of Crossfitters only use them for one exercise—wallball. If a piece of equipment is only going to be used for one movement out of a hundred and it has a tendency to encroach upon my most valued commodity, it’s not going to be on my “must have” list. That being said, they are reasonably easy to come by and if used correctly can be quite valuable.

5 things to keep in your gym:

1. A clock

It can be a digital competition clock or one of those paper-faced ones off the classroom wall. It can be a stopwatch, a wristwatch, or a pocket watch. It can be an iphone. So long as it measures minutes and seconds it will work. Just make sure it’s in your gym. If you can’t measure time, you can’t measure progress; and if you’re not interested in progress, check yourself.

2. Tape

If I had a nickel for every time I needed athletic tape and didn’t have it I would not be writing this blog. Well, maybe I still would, but I’d be doing it on top of a huge pile of nickels. Everyone needs this stuff and it’s really cheap to buy in bulk. I’d be willing to bet I could go on ebay right now and find a case of 32 rolls for 45 dollars. I may or may not have just checked that out, so you might want to take my word for it. Certainly worth that price for all the sprained fingers, ripped callases, and tweaked wrists that seem to follow us around.

3. Chalk

Granted, people tend to overuse chalk. But that doesn’t mean it’s not still a valuable resource. Any sort of Olympic lifting demands it and when you really need that extra stick towards the end of a pullup routine, there’s no better friend. The only time chalk becomes an issue is when it makes its way out of the bucket. Then it is invariably crushed into a fine powder that is both un-useable and un-cleanable for many months. But keep it in a bucket and you’re good as gold.

4. A fan

This doesn’t have to be a huge industrial vortex contraption, in fact those might be too big and too cumbersome for the job at hand. All you need is a medium sized rotating fan to circulate air. Just the faintest breeze makes a huge difference in an otherwise stagnant space, especially when that space is saturated with sweat and exhalation. Chances are your mother has one in her attic collecting dust anyways, so go exhume it, knock off the rust, and stick it in the corner of the gym to keep things breathable.

5. A foam roll

This one is a little fluffy, I admit, but these things are usually worth the raised eyebrow. You really only need one and it stores itself in a corner very easily. It is incredibly useful before and after training to rehabilitate affected areas and to prevent excessive soreness. It is also a constant reminder of the importance of recovery to fitness. All work and no rest means vulnerable tissue and injury. These are also easily found on ebay or other discount websites.

5 things to keep out of your gym:

1. Liquid

Water, Gatorade, coffee, whatever. Don’t drink it in there. Garage gyms typically don’t come with cupholders or countertops and the inevitable end result of your morning cup of Jo is going to be a sticky mess. Clean up is something a garage is supposed to inherently avoid. It’s okay to have chalk and bumper grease all over the place down there because that’s what the space is for. Introduce other substances and you have a recipe for hybridized stains and ants. And you DON’T want ants.

2. Pets

Notwithstanding the off chance they may decide to mark their territory on your sandbag, the real issue here is hair. Dogs that shed tend to lay down more of it than you realize and before long there’s a few inches collecting in the drainage grooves of your cement floor. Nothing worse than sucking wind during a workout and having a few stray fur feathers waft into your mouth. Cats aren’t much better. Who wants to be concerned with sweeping the place out every single day to avoid this problem?

3. Spectators

Maybe they don’t stain or leave follicle traces of themselves (maybe they do), but these characters can still ruin a perfectly good garage gym. Outside its walls they may be your friends, neighbors, or even your family, but inside they are efficiency sinkholes. Whether it’s asking questions at inopportune times, unconsciously obstructing sightlines, or simply absorbing some minute bit of focus from the task at hand, they are distractions that you don’t need. Make your gym a refuge for those who want to train and coach, period. No innocent bystanders drinking Kool-Aid, no cute little babies in diapers, no armchair quarterbacks.

4. Television

Enough said.

5. Laundry

Clothing is not part of the gym. It’s something you wear in, occasionally discard, but should always take out. I’ve seen a lot of garages littered with stray t-shirts, shoes, even socks, and it’s disgusting. It makes the place smell, attracts flies, and encroaches on priority #1. My protocol is that if it’s left behind, it must be trash. So I put it where it belongs.

To review: Space is king. Stock your garage gym with things that are used frequently and effectively while taking up as little room as possible. Avoid things that tend to clutter or collect dust from infrequent usage. Do not be duped into thinking you will need a bosu ball. You won’t.

Keep your gym free of messy and distracting things, including pets and uninvolved people. They offer nothing and detract much. Keep it stocked with tools intended to measure, increase, and enhance your performance and you will more than likely do all three.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Public Transportation Submissions

Workout of the Day

Back Squat 3, 3, 3, 3

Floor Press 3, 3, 3, 3

Bent Row 10, 10, 10

Very happy to share another Public Transportation WOD with everyone, this one coming from Miles in Beijing. Watch it HERE. From the looks of things the subway cars in China aren’t as tall as they are here. Still a handful of days left until the deadline so get them to me at morrison.blair@gmail.com

Monday, September 27, 2010

Blair vs Sven 5

I did this Saturday morning when I should've been doing fight gone bad with the rest of the CrossFit world. I underperformed a bit, missing 3 reps during the 4th round. My final time was 13:00 but I think it can be done closer to 8 or 9. The video link is below.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Anywherefit Iceland

Workout of the Day

Hand balancing practice

Today’s workout was strictly a skill session. I did handstands with and without the wall, alternating shoulder touches, headstands with hand support, and many other drills. In all I spent about 45 minutes at the gym doing this in an effort to offer my body a low impact day of fun and technique. It worked, I had a lot of fun and walked out feeling fresh. Tomorrow I’m going to tackle the 5th faceoff workout with Sven and I know it will sap my strength. Can’t wait.

Now, on to bigger and better things… like the trip to Iceland next August. We have finalized dates—the trip will run from Friday August 12th until Sunday August 21st. Details about what those 10 days will include are coming soon, so stay tuned. I will say right now that it looks UNREAL. Start getting your sick days lined up now, it will be worth it.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Short and Sharp

Workout of the Day

WOD 1 – AM:

Deadlift and Strict Press 3, 3, 3+

Good Morning 10, 10, 10

Chin ups 10, 10, 10

Abmat situps (10 kg) 10, 10, 10, 10

Ring dips 10, 10, 10, 10

WOD 2 – PM:

3 rounds for time

5 muscle ups

10 kb swings (32 kg)

20 rope slams

Big day that started early. 6am start to get the heavy lifting in before things got rolling and then a late afternoon link up with John and Jake in the park to cap it off. Hell of a training day.

The deadlifts and presses went well, nothing spectacular. I got a tough 5 reps at 405 lbs and then did a single press at 185 lb before getting pinned. A little ambitious on that set. The afternoon WOD was great though. Minus the fact that we got kicked out of the first park we were at, things went off without a hitch. It was a sprint of a workout that really tested our ability to stay coordinated at maximal heartrate. The rope slams are no joke. By the last set I felt like I needed to jump to lift my arms. I finished in 4:12, John at 5:00, and Jake at 5:30. The video link is below.

For those of you out there still holding onto Public Transportation videos, get them to me (Morrison.blair@gmail.com) so I can get them up on the site for others to see.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fitness Is...

Potential.

Everybody has it. Few reach it.

It’s easy to assume that people despise mediocrity because the world is littered with evidence of humanity’s desire to excel—our obsession with talent, our reverence for heroes, even our love of money. It’s easy to assume that everyone wants to be his or her physical best because everywhere there are those wishing for a better body type or a better lifestyle. They fill our virgin ears with a symphony of sincerity and aspiration, but listen closer. They clamor with empty voices.

The truth is that 90% of people just want to get by. We pretend our ultimate goal is to be the best version of ourselves, reading the right literature, quoting the right sources, joining the right gyms; but the reality is far less compelling. If we are truly honest we will admit that the level to which we might possibly rise is rarely our chief concern. More important is reaching the level where we can merely survive or, at the very least, mock survival. Getting there is much easier. Getting there requires less time, less pain, and less effort. Getting there is too often there enough.

I was speaking with my father the other day about a friend of ours whose son wanted to be a college football player. He had good size and natural talent, but he was a little slow and lacked the explosive quality most big programs look for in an athlete. One evening while having dinner with this family my dad suggested that the kid hang a bell at the top of the hill abutting their property and ring it every morning before going to school. Not only would sprinting up the hill begin to build the explosive power needed for speed and acceleration but the sound of the bell would become a symbol of his dedication to the goal. I wish I could say the kid went out and rang that bell every day, or committed himself to some other program in its place, but this isn’t that kind of story. He, like many others like him, chose instead to remain a card-carrying member of that mediocre 90%.

Why? Because greatness is HARD. Our bodies don’t care about potential. They were built to survive, not to excel, and survival has gotten pretty easy as of late. Our bodies don’t know that by being stronger and faster and leaner the likelihood of illness, disease, and injury drop dramatically. Our bodies only know that it hurts like hell getting there. It takes supreme physical and mental fortitude and an unflinching, genuine ambition to overcome these hurdles. Most of us lack this and it shows.

Now, maybe this kid would never have been great like Peyton Manning or Jerry Rice or Ray Lewis, just like some of us will always be at a higher risk for diabetes or arthritis than others, but that really isn’t the point. In this story his ability wasn’t being measured against theirs or any others, only against his own potential as an individual. He claimed that he wanted to be the best that he could be, to give himself the best chance to be a college football player. But when faced with the reality of what it would take to reach that goal he balked, exposing his ambitions as half-hearted and insincere, and his athletic future to be one ridden along the tired road to the middle. This is an all too common tragedy.

After hearing this story, I sat for a minute and observed my father. He was visibly disappointed by the kid’s inability to commit himself to his goal. Yet I knew for a fact that my dad had wanted to lose weight for years and failed to commit himself to doing so in much the same way. This struck me as a prevailing irony, not just in this conversation but in our culture in general, so I decided to ask him when was the last time he “rang the bell.” He was lost for a second, then smiled wryly as he got my meaning. “Too long,” he replied.

Sadly, it seems that our praise of greatness and our distaste for mediocrity is an appreciation and expectation reserved for others. We expect Jordan or Tiger or Ronaldo to reach their potential every time they compete and we shake our heads when they fall short. But we shrug off our love handles and that occasional chocolate cake as acceptable losses. We cry for the children growing up without physical opportunities, yet lie on the couch and amicably waste ours away. We claim we’re too old, too fat, too injured, or too tired. The truth is we’re too obsessed with getting by.

The good news is that physical potential does not expire. It has no shelf life. Whatever state you’re in at whatever moment, you can always be better. SO BE BETTER. Too often people try to do this by setting a number to hit, a person to beat, or a mirror to impress, implicitly attaching a finite quality to the process. This focus is flawed. As you change and improve, so too should your potential grow and your ambition swell. Remember that fitness is a goal inadvertently attained through the systematic overestimation of yourself in all fields. It’s a byproduct of setting the bar too high, of striving for perfection and falling just short. It’s knowing that you’ll never get there but trying your damndest nonetheless. It’s constantly pushing your limits in every direction regardless of your skill. It’s finding a way to keep ringing the bell.

Do this and we inevitably yield the best version of ourselves.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

New Company

Workout of the Day

5 rounds of:

3 minutes work/1 minute rest

4 toes to bar

8 hands up pushups

12 box jumps

70 meter run

My friend Bodie came over early this morning to train, first time we’ve worked out together since high school I think. It was a fun bit of nostalgia and the workout turned out to be great. Not nearly as intense as the faceoff WOD from last night, but still challenging. I completed 14 rounds + 4 toes to bar. Bodie did 9 rounds plus 4 toes to bar and 4 pushups. I had planned to try and deadlift tonight, but I think a battlefield adjustment is in order to cope with the growing fatigue I’m feeling. Wednesday is a rest day, so I’ll pick up the 5/3/1 deadlift and pressing Thursday morning.

On another note, some videos have started trickling in and I’m happy to share them with everyone. First is one from Brandon, a compilation of his family vacation around Europe and the workouts he and his brother did. Some great ideas and fun times on there.

Also, Marco submitted a video for the Public Transportation WOD from a subway underpass in Munich. See both under the Reader Videos page here

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Blair vs Sven 4

Workout of the Day

Blair vs Sven Faceoff #4:

10 deadlifts (140 kg)

20 burpees w/10 kg vest

30 pullups w/vest

40 wallballs w/vest

Remove vest

50 double unders

40 wallballs

30 pullups

20 burpees

10 deadlifts (140 kg)

I’m waaay overdue on this workout, so my apologies to Sven in advance. But I finally got this done and it was pretty rough. No problems with the deadlifts off the bat, but the burpees with the vest on were hard. I actually found it hard to balance with the extra weight swinging around and was way out of breath by the end. The pullups were easier than I thought—did them in sets of 10, 10, 6, and 4—but my heartrate was pounding away through the wallballs. Couldn’t wait to get the vest off. Double unders were quick but then going right back into wallballs wasn’t fun. At this point I entered the hazy zone where everything hurts but you’re only halfway conscious of what is happening. Before I knew it I was finished with the wallballs and pullups and struggling through the burpees. I broke the finishing set of deadlifts into 6 and 4 and stopped the clock at 11:31. Faster than I expected, but I was knocked out for 40 minutes or so afterwards. Light headed, a little dizzy, and seriously uncoordinated. That is until I heard Jukebox Hero coming through the stereo on my way to Monday Night Football and got a rush of fresh energy. Which was then flattened when the 49ers gave the ball away 4 times on their way to a 25-22 defeat. Brutal game.

The link to the video is below. Do this WOD if you’re looking for a challenge and let us know how it goes. Good luck.

BlairvsSven

Monday, September 20, 2010

Run the Mountain

Workout of the Day

In the morning:

10 x 200 meter hill run for time

In the evening:

10 x 1 hang power snatch

Anticipating a long day of NFL football, I decided to take myself down the block to the steepest hill in my neighborhood. 200 meters of 15% grade up and down ten times makes 4000 meters in all. A fair bit of running for a fella on a Sunday morning. Took me 26:01 in total to finish all 10 rounds. My pace was pretty steady until the last round, when of course I sprinted with all I had left to the finish. The downhill intervals were short, but just long enough to recover between climbs. Hoping to work in more and more hill running going forward.

This evening I hit some hang power snatches to work on timing and explosion during the second pull. I started at 135 lbs, worked out a few kinks, then upped it to 155 lbs. After 3 reps there I went to 185 lbs for the remainder. Looking at the video footage, my biggest problems were early arm pull and a little forward lean. I think I did more than 10 reps and definitely improved by the end. There’s a clip below.

Also, less than a week until the Fit As F*ck Challenge. Bummed I won’t be there to see it in person, but I wanted to wish everyone training and planning to compete the best of luck. I know it will be a hell of a show.

video

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Rest Day

Deadline for video submissions is September 30th, still plenty of time!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Kayaking

Workout of the Day

In the morning:

5, 5, 5+ Back Squat & Bench Press

5 x 10 ring pushup & 20 abmat situp (superset)

In the afternoon:

Kayaking on Lake Natoma

I got up today feeling pretty alright, surprising to be honest. But as soon as I did a set of squats I started to feel the soreness creeping back in. I was on the foam roll between sets loosening things up, but after each set the tightness resumed. I decided to keep things relatively light and left my top set at 130 kg. For the pressing I did floor presses and topped out at 115 kg, a fun variation that I haven’t done in a long time.

The main feature today was getting out on the water though. John and I spent almost 3 hours on the Lake paddling around, jumping off cliffs, and swinging on ropes. SO MUCH FUN. It’s been too long since I’d done this and I forgot how plain and simply enjoyable it could be. It was definitely more of a leisure pace--no real sprint paddling, but the sum total of work was there. We covered 5 miles or so in total and emerged good and tired. Took some great pictures and found some amazing spots for future workouts.

Going to soak up a day of rest tomorrow and watch my high school alma mater play football under the lights. Can’t wait.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Walk the Tracks

Workout of the Day

In the AM:

4 mile sandbag carry (100 lb)

In the PM:

5 x max pullups - strict, kip, and butterfly

There’s a stretch of abandoned track that runs from Sutter street in historic Folsom out past highway 50 and off into the unknown expanse of the California foothills. It weaves its way through the suburb that has grown up around it and cuts a path that few ever follow anymore. For a while now I’ve been wanting to explore this bit of crystallized history. Today was that day.

John and I filled up sandbags to about 100 lbs and parked cars at either end of a 4 mile stretch earlier this morning. We began under the highway 50 overpass, in the shadow of an enormous CostCo, and worked our way west back towards Old Town. Never once dropping the bags we ran, jogged, and walked the entire length in just over an hour. It was brutal at times—our shoulders and upper backs were cramping under the weight. But it was enjoyable at others—the scenery did not disappoint. Most surprising was the difficulty we had with the footing. Some sections of the track were deep, some were shallow, some ran through mud, others through fallen leaves. Most areas were overgrown with weeds and looked every bit their age. It was like being transported back in time.

The first leg of the journey paralleled bustling East Bidwell Street, a thoroughfare lavishly adorned with Quizno’s, Ross Dress for Less, and The Home Depot. Choosing to walk on such a defunct and neglected strip of track beside freshly laid asphalt felt almost like willful disobedience—strangely satisfying. The looks we got every time we crossed between traffic, the distinct pause of the Prius in the left hand turn lane… these are memories worth their weight.

Then, about halfway through the trip, the railroad veered left into a sort of nature preserve where there was almost no sign of civilization. Just like that, there was no strip malls, no pedestrians, and no apartment complexes. But the rail stretched on. I thought to myself that this was how the entire line looked when it was laid all those years ago. It’s hard to imagine that this kind of nature still exists under the concrete of the “real world.”

When we finally stumbled up to our car we were pretty ravaged. 1 hour and 13 minutes of total time had elapsed and we hadn’t rested at all. My shoulders were scorched, my legs were wobbly, and I was completely parched. I literally could not wait to get home, jump in the pool, and hit the pillow. I was so exhausted that I found it hard to keep my eyes open on the drive home. This is a great example of your body failing at the margins of its experience. Today’s WOD had time and modal domains that are rarely combined and my body felt the impact. Hallelujah for new experiences.

Digressing a bit, it’s now half way through the month and I have received exactly ZERO videos from you guys doing workouts involving public transportation. Weak Sauce. These don’t have to be professionally done. The more people get out and start training without a gym the better—this is merely an opportunity to do so. I promise the fun you’ll have is worth the effort.

The video link from earlier today is below. Big ups to Jacob for suggesting the song. Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Nutrition Redux

It’s been quite a while since I last went into nutrition on this blog and there have been more than a few questions on the subject lately. As always, my initial disclaimer: I merely intend to relate my own experience and what I’ve learned from it. Any conflicting ideas, methods, or arguments are welcomed warmly.

First off, we must acknowledge that different aims require different approaches. If one person wants to lose 30 pounds and the other wants to gain 30 pounds, their methods will be necessarily distinct. What most can agree on, however, is that this distinction typically hinges on quantity not quality. Regardless of your goals, whether you’re an athlete or a housewife, high quality fuel is what you’re after. Food that your body can easily digest, absorb, and turn into energy.

Determining what exactly this fuel should be is a process of experimentation and elimination. For me personally, this has distilled itself into a predominantly Paleo menu with a few exceptions. I pound eggs, chicken, and turkey like it’s my job. All day long I’m shoving deli meat in my face. Equally impressive is the amount of nuts I consume. Trail mixes from Costco are the obvious favorite here simply because they come in impressively large quantities. Cashew Clusters? Game over. Kirkland cranberry medley? Own it.

I eat a lot of fruit (mostly apples, berries, and bananas) and go through at least a head of broccoli and a bag of spinach per week. Other vegetables commonly consumed include onions, mushrooms, and olives. I think it is important to mention here that the predominant benefit one gets from fruits and vegetables go unnoticed. Micronutrients are all the rave these days in anti-cancer circles and I am on the bandwagon. Give me all the green I can get.

To this point this has been a pretty model CrossFit diet, and if you think that’s where it’s going to stay I have you fooled. For one, I eat a ton of potatoes. Mostly sweet potatoes and yams because they have a milder effect on blood sugar, but plenty of the regular brand as well. I do this for 2 reasons. First, I can’t get over the inherent Paleo hypocracy regarding this food. It is a root. It was gathered by prehistoric peoples for millennia. Our bodies do not reject it. It’s like all these purists decided to abandon their "evolution of digestion" paradigm because this particular food is high on the glycemic index. An index that, incidentally, I’m pretty sure Joe Caveman didn’t give a shit about. As far as I’m concerned, potatoes are still high quality food.

The second reason I eat them is because if I don’t have some starch I won’t get full. 30 minutes after a 2 chicken breast, broccoli, and squash stir fry I am starving. Add a small spud potato and I’m stuffed. This is something that has grown into a staple of my diet in large part out of personal necessity. They don’t make me tired, they don’t make me fat. They make me full.

Another example of my personal divergence is dairy. I feel no adverse effects from it. I eat cheese and drink whole milk regularly and find that I don’t feel any less energetic or strong than when I went 2 months without any of it. If anything, I feel more energized. And, before you say it, I’m not one of those cases where anything will work. Flour knocks me out cold. If I eat pizza, pasta, or garlic bread I’ll be horizontal on the couch before my grandparents finish their desert wine. Dairy just happens to work. For me it’s a great way to get decent calories and extra macronutrients to counter the amount I use up in training.

When it comes to quantity, I’ll admit that I ain’t so scientific. My friend Jim Bathurst once wrote that every time he walks past the refrigerator he ingests 2 eggs accidentally. That’s about where I’m at right now. Most of my time spent thinking about food is not about whether I will eat too much, it’s about how much good food can I put down in a given day. That may be a benefit of my genetic disposition, my high caloric output, or a combination of the two, but it doesn’t mean that such a laissez-faire attitude is the right approach for all. I know plenty of people who thrive on the Zone because it gives them the structure they need to manage their meals. I had more than a few clients who did Weight Watchers and saw incredible results for the same reason. At this point in the experiment for me, though, the only issue with quantity is whether I will eat enough.

Last thing I want to touch on is supplementation. This is another one of those tense moments for the nutrition nerd. “How can I reconcile my logical desire to eat like a caveman with the scientific discoveries of today?” Easy pal, don't strain something. Do your research, get out of your own way, and take advantage of the discoveries worth taking advantage of. I guarantee you that if I went back 5000 years and offered Neolithic Blair a gun to hunt with he’d take it in a heart beat. More than that, he’d snatch up my matches, hoard the toilet paper, and guzzle protein shakes to his heart’s content. Point is, some developments are positive and not using them is plain stupid; those include post workout supplements like protein and creatine. I know this because of how I feel after a workout when I take them compared to when I don’t. (Not to mention the overwhelming majority of scientific research). It’s night and day. The only other supplement I take is fish oil, simply because I don’t eat enough fish and the human diet is wildly out of its Omega 3/Omega 6 balance. For more information check out PurePharma. Otherwise I do my best to stick to real food.

To wrap up, I try to keep things as simple as possible. I’m no creative genius in the kitchen (if you want to know people that are, go to Health-Bent), but I get by. The good news is that as taste buds become less and less accustomed to artificial sugars and corn syrup, regular food begins to taste pretty good all by itself. Funny how that works.

I included a video of me making my 6 am smoothie. This is something I make everyday with more or less the same ingredients. It’s like a pre-breakfast that I ingest to get my day going while reading the paper, internet, etc. It’s great because it’s chalk full of good things and it goes down fast/doesn’t make me so full I can’t train for 3 hours. Plus it still leaves room for real breakfast a little later in the morning. Nom Nom Nom.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I shot 100 with 4 pars

Workout of the Day

In the AM:

18 holes of golf—booyah

In the PM:

5, 5, 5+ Deadlift & Strict Press

10, 10, 10, 10 hanging hip raises

Today got off to a roaring start as I hit the links with my grandfather for a round out at Cherry Island. Excellent improvement from my last foray a few weeks ago but still leaving much to be desired. Coordination and timing weren’t bad, but mentally I still felt like there was too much distraction inside my head, and it brought me to an interesting realization around hole 8. I was spending too much time over the ball before initiating the stroke. The reason I mention this is because it happens the same in Olympic lifting and powerlifting. I am easily at my strongest when my body is primed, loose, and not stuck in a stagnant position for too long. 3-4 seconds max, I’d say. All the mental stuff, the visualization, the checklist of technical things I want to remember; all that has to be done before I approach the bar. Or the shot, in this case. As soon as I stopped hovering over the ball I suddenly became more fluid, more coordinated—in short, more of an athlete. Sometimes we get in our own way by over-complicating the obvious. If you know what you’re supposed to do and how to do it, if you’ve done it a hundred times correctly before, then your absolute best bet on getting it right again is to stop thinking about it and just do it. Be an athlete.

This evening strength session was special. I was joined by both of my parents and we followed the same program. We took our time, watched every one of each other’s repetitions, and pushed ourselves together. It was really, really fun. I got 6 reps at 180 kg (396 lb) and 4 reps at 70 kg (155 lb) for each of the major movements. I was happy with the deads, but disappointed in the presses. Looking forward to a fair bit of soreness tomorrow.

Last thing, a couple shout-outs. Congratulations to Frank Passanante of Steelfit Strength for undertaking and completing his 2nd triathalon in our nation’s capitol. His efforts the last few years have extended beyond himself as he’s coached and motivated underprivileged kids to participate in the event to great success. His picture is below.

Also, my good friend and training partner Jason Mulligan has put his cognitive capacity and humor to good use (finally) and started a blog. It is a blast to read and I encourage everyone to check it out at Consciousfit

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Old Friend in Town

Workout of the Day

5 sets max muscle ups

5 rounds for time:

20 pushups (hands up at bottom)

50 double unders

Josh Courage came through town this evening on his way to the east bay and it was great to see him again. Although we’ve been in contact from time to time doing workouts, etc. over the past year or so, I haven’t actually seen him since last August. Reconnecting is always fun and it was cool to hear the plans he and Lindsay have for their new life in California.

For our workout I took them over to the Folsom walking bridge and hung up the rings to do some muscle up practice. Being that it was around 6 pm things couldn’t have been any more beautiful. I could honestly go down there and swing around on the rings every night if the weather were like it was today. We did 5 sets resting as needed between and I got 8, 8, 7, 7, and 7. I definitely feel like the rhythm is getting more comfortable not using a false grip but I think I need a cleaner, more efficient motion if I ever want to get up in the high teens for consecutive MU’s.

Afterwards we headed back to the house and tackled a short couplet to jack up the heart rate. Josh and I both struggled on the pushups—picking your hands up every time makes things so much more difficult it’s incredible. But neither of us took much rest at all and kept pounding away through the double unders. My time was 6:57 and his was 7:01. Lindsay did the same WOD but with 10 pushups instead of 20 and smoked us both…Next time she’ll have to bump it up.

Now that Josh is in the neighborhood I’m looking forward to getting together more and more to train.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Total Failure

If yesterday’s workout was fun and low key, today’s was grueling and demoralizing. It’s coming up on the mainsite in a few days so I won’t go into too many details, but suffice it to say that I was mentally defeated by the third round and it took me 30 minutes to complete. I’d seen this WOD come up before and really expected that I could perform well, but almost immediately I knew this wasn’t going to happen. There hasn’t been a session in recent memory that I felt so shitty about and it’s given me extra motivation to push the envelope more. If I can’t handle a routine like this that combines a lot of skills at high intensity, then that’s what I need to work on. More moving parts, less simplistic couplets and triplets. Should be a feast for some creative programming over the next few months. I'll give a more thorough evaluation of the workout after it's posted on the main site Saturday.

On another note, there are only a few dozen shirts left in the box so if you want them snatch em up quick.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Public Transportation WOD

Workout of the Day

6 rounds on a moving train:

7 OH squats right arm (24 kg)

7 OH squats left arm (24 kg)

7 Russian swings right arm (24 kg)

7 Russian swings left arm (24 kg)

50 meter bear crawl

Today I did my version of September’s Public Transportation theme, using the Sacramento Light Rail System as my canvas. I lugged my 24 kg kettlebell to the Folsom station at around 3:30 to try and avoid any major rush hour passenger traffic and set myself up on a relatively empty train. My dad agreed to come and be the film guru, so big thanks for that.

This workout wound up being even more fun than I expected. First, I definitely underestimated how hard it would be to keep my balance as the train moved side to side. I had to use my off hand to stabilize myself on the OH squats and the Russian swings otherwise I would’ve fallen. I also felt my legs working harder to fight against the swaying of the car, making the fatigue set in faster. At each stop a few more people loaded into the car so the bearcrawls got a little funny towards sets 5 and 6. Overall though, I kept my pace high and finished in13 minutes flat.

Deciding to go and do a workout like this was exciting because the elements were so unpredictable. I didn’t know what type of people would be on the train, whether I’d get booted by transit authority, or if I’d even be able to keep my balance. I’m really looking forward to seeing what other people come up with during the rest of this month. I’ve heard some good ideas, but have yet to see any of them done yet. Remember, just upload the video footage to vimeo or youtube and send me the link. Videos should be 5 minutes or less.

The link to mine from today is below.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Labor Day Weekend

It's been a great holiday. I was up in Tahoe playing in the annual SUDS softball tournament with a bunch of friends and had an incredible time. We went 2-2, finishing somewhere in the middle of the pack but had so much fun. Also, I'm pretty beat up from it. There was a lot more sprinting than I remember in slow pitch softball and my legs are feeling the effects. I think I'll take the first half of this week to rest and recover after about 6 weeks of steady training then re-start fresh towards the weekend.
For those of you in Europe who have been waiting for t-shirts to become available, wait no more. Follow the link to the right of page to the Steelfit Store and purchase there.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Swim

Workout of the Day

100 m pool sprint

30 pullups

Rest 2 minutes between rounds

My back was tight today but not nearly as bad as I had anticipated. Still, figured a swimming WOD might be the best thing for it so I headed over to Lembi Park to test it out. Really I had no problems with it structurally. The swimming was tough as hell though. And trying to do pushups after 100 meters of all out effort had me looking pretty ridiculous. We’re talking 2 and 3 repetitions at a time. It felt like I had already done 50 before even getting out of the water.

I did 3 rounds of the circuit then finished up with 200 meters of cool down. The plan is to get up to Tahoe for Labor Day weekend and a little softball, hopefully get some WODs in at high altitude in the meantime so long as my back feels okay.

T shirts will be available to Europe in the next few days so stay tuned for that, and if you haven’t already done so, take a crack at the CrossGym online challenge. Some great prizes to be won.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

September Reader Video Challenge

Today marks the first of many new efforts this site will make to give readers the chance to get recognized for training creatively. Each month will be marked by a different theme that will serve as the template with which everyone can come up with their most creative fitness routine. The theme for September is Public Transit. The idea here is to use planes, airports, trains, buses, subway stops, or whatever to create a cool, fun, and challenging WOD. No rules beyond your imagination. Videos should be uploaded to youtube or vimeo, then sent to me at morrison.blair@gmail.com. I will post every video under the reader's video link on the blog and select the top 3-4 videos for a vote at the end of the month. Winners will receive Anywherefit t-shirts and get to suggest a future theme. If there are any questions, post them here to comments. I will post a sample video over the next couple days to get things started, but am really looking forward to seeing what everyone else comes up with. Good luck!!

Faceoff Episode 3

Workout of the Day

Faceoff Challenge #3

1 minute pistols

1 minute handstand pushups

1 minute power cleans (80 kg)

1 minute rest

Complete 5 rounds

Episode 3 of my ongoing challenge with Sveinbjorn marked my first session training in my garage. Great routine that mixed a major weakness with a couple strengths. Pistols are definitely not my favorite movement so doing them today was a great bit of practice. I actually wasn’t faring too poorly. I scored 29 the first minute, 20 the second, and 21 the third. Similarly the HSPUs were also going well: 21, 13, and 11 respectively. The cleans felt pretty light as well but I tweaked my back during the third set, forcing me to stop. I had pulled 11 the first round and 9 the second. Based on my total of 135 through 2 2/3 rounds, I figure I probably would have scored somewhere in the 250-260 range.

Really bummed about my back. I don’t think it’s serious but it certainly is annoying. I know the injury and it will only take a few days to shape up as the muscles relax themselves. Still, I was feeling really great about training after the trip to Copenhagen and now having the garage all set up.

The video of what I completed can be seen here.

Blair vs Sven