Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Cold Weather Swim

Workout of the Day

WOD 1 – in the morning… 2 x max ring pullups 2 x max ring dips 2 x max skin the cat 2 x max muscle ups 2 x max ring hspu 2 x max front roll to support 2 x max time back lever 2 x max ice cream makers

WOD 2 – in the afternoon… Squat Clean 3, 3, 3, 3, 3 10 front squats every 2 minutes on the minute @ 225#. Complete 5 rounds. 3 x 10 good mornings (135#) 3 x 12 strict toes to bar

WOD 3 – in the evening… 1000 yard swim for completion

Coming off the trip to Australia, I was itching to tackle some new programming. This is probably to blame for what turned out to be a little too much volume today. The morning and afternoon sessions went fine—very challenging especially on the squats, but still doable. But the early work took its toll by the time I got in the pool. My original plan was to swim 1 mile, but by the 700 yard mark my quads were starting to cramp up. Pushing off the wall was not happening without minor spasms so I decided to call it after 1000 yards. I’m happy with this considering the temperature outside was below 50 degrees… Woulda been pretty easy to pack it in and skip out on the swim. Anyways, looking forward to a big rest day and a trip to cryotherapy to help the body bounce back for open WOD 2 on Thursday.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Mobility/Connected Movement Day

Workout of the Day

Full Body Srtetch Hip Mobility Drills

Prasara Yoga Flows: Plow Transitions Crow Transitions

Starting this week I’m adding an extra day of training at the front end of my work week. This is a low intensity session aimed at mobility, flexibility, and core/connected movement. The focus for me will usually be on the hips and ankles since that is where I have the biggest limitation with mobility. The core/connective component will incorporate a lot of wrestling style transitions on the mat, different types of yoga, and kettlebell groundwork. Today’s session I borrowed a few moves from the following site, which is seriously badass. Again, thanks to my man Zvi for the recommendation.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Fitness Is...


It doesn’t happen by accident.

This concept is important to grasp in a number of ways.

First, everything is a choice. Life is volitional, thus every bit of its foundation is also so. Every second, in every circumstance, you are making choices that will affect your life and your fitness. The genetic canvas is always the same—no series of choices, made or unmade, will alter that essence. But the physical particulars that you see, weigh, and measure are the result of a lifetime of definite choices. Framing things this way is both extremely empowering and a bit scary. It means that the physical you is not pre-determined, that you have a measure of control over the way you interact with the world around you and the way in which you’re going to age. It also means that you are ultimately responsible for the course your life takes, that you have the ability to fuck things up, and often will.

Second, every choice has value and they are all accumulating. The previous affects the present, the present will determine the future. Take a 50-year old man (call him individual A) that has adult onset diabetes, hypertension, and a history of joint problems. Not so uncommon these days. Rewind his life and remove every piece of candy, bread, and processed sugar he ever ate. Add nothing else, take nothing else away, and imagine the impact that would have on his current state of health. Though his genetic canvas remains identical, this minor alteration would have morphed individual A into an entirely different person, call him individual B. Individual B almost certainly has a few less lbs of bodyfat, easing the annual pounding on his joints that have caused them to become inflamed, arthritic, and full of scar tissue. Moving less laboriously, he’s inevitably stayed more active, keeping his heart stronger and the stress on his vascular system down. Individual B’s endocrine system is functioning FAR better than individual A’s, as his blood sugar has never been artificially spiked and ravaged by soda, snickers, and wonder bread. Quite probably this state is being passed on to his kids as well, because I guarantee they aren’t eating fruit loops and lucky charms for breakfast if daddy is cooking eggs and bacon. Individual B would now, also, be facing a far different set of choices than his diabetic, hypertensive counterpart. He moves with less pain, allowing him to spend less time on the couch and more time outdoors with his friends and kids. He is free to eat whatever and whenever he chooses, and is free of daily medication to protect his heart. The choice to not eat processed sugar has essentially created a new reality in this example, tipping a line of dominos that ultimately opens up a world of choices to individual B that individual A will never get to make.

Third, choices present themselves whether you’re ready for them or not. You can’t cherry pick your moments of righteousness. You have to be ready and willing to live a volitional life at all times. I can remember my high school football coach, in his own sarcastic brand of motivation, reminding us of this fact my junior year. We were practicing and getting tired, the whole lot starting to wilt under the Sacramento heat, when he yelled, “This is your last Tuesday of El Camino week, 1998. Don’t miss a rep!” This echoed around inside my helmet for a few seconds, bouncing off the walls of my brain, and I remember thinking he was just stating the obvious. “Clever turn of phrase, coach.” Then it hit me differently… he was 100% right. This was the last Tuesday of El Camino week, 1998. In fact, it was the only Tuesday of El Camino week, 1998 that there would ever be. Tomorrow it would be gone, next year would be different, and this day, this opportunity to do whatever it was that I wanted to do, would never return. Suddenly I was more motivated than I had ever been. I was flying around the field, out-working everybody, and the weariness I’d felt 2 minutes earlier was a distant memory.

When you’re tired, bored, or discouraged, it’s easy to slip into a routine that disconnects you from the importance of the present moment. Most navigate the majority of their daily tasks this way, without considering their importance or value, content to just get them done. This is not necessarily a dangerous state of being in itself—the ability to zone out can be almost meditative for the mind from time to time—but a consistent reliance upon it leads to the ignorance of the role choice plays in our lives and in our fitness. It’s as if we begin giving up the right to choose out of pure laziness. We become dependent on ease, slaves to routine, and, bit by bit, we lose the skills necessary to control our lives. Suddenly we wake up 20 lbs overweight, with an expired gym membership and a pantry full of boxed food, and realize we haven’t made a conscious choice in years.

Finally, it’s not necessarily the choice we make that’s important as much as the reason we make it. For example, the decision to eat cake because it’s your kid’s birthday party isn’t going to make a difference in your body’s ability to process sugar. Eating cake because you can’t control your craving for chocolate eventually will. Skipping a workout because your body is depleted isn’t going to keep you from hitting PRs. Skipping a workout because you're too lazy to get up in the morning eventually will.

In these examples, it’s not the actual choice made, but the underlying reason for making it that is the indicator of long-term health and fitness. Next to logic, knowledge is the most important tool a person has at his disposal when it comes to making decisions. We must root our motivation for training in reason and fact, build our goals and aspirations on foundations that won't sift away with mood, circumstance, or age, and be prepared to grow in those facets continually. Doing so will protect us from blurring the line between motivation and obsession when it comes to fitness. Growing obsessed with training, eating, or anything else is typically the result of a failure to tie our motivation to reason and instead relying on perception. Take the anorexic teenager, the muscularly dismorphic bodybuilder, or the constantly injured CrossFitter and you see the same internal demon eating away at them. They all make fitness choices based on a set of false pretenses. Whether it’s a distorted body image, a misguided sense of cause and effect, or simply the stress of wanting to be perfect, attempting to make choices without knowledge and perspective leads to failure. It becomes a constant frustration and doesn’t allow you to relax or acknowledge that which you do well. Making choices based on reason and knowledge prevents this.

Ultimately, taking control of your fitness is itself a choice, but it cannot be made without the understanding of that which is described above. Decisions must be made consciously, for the right reasons, and with the full knowledge that no choice is independent of the next. Every 6am workout you put yourself through does not supplant the last, but builds on it. That healthy dinner does not erase the bag of Doritos you ate, but moves you past it. Each choice is but a sliver of progress or regress, but see them all en mass and you have an enormous whole. Now, whether the choices made by individual A or those made by individual B have created a better life is an argument for a different blog. The point is that no choice either has made is insignificant. It all adds up. The fact that we have but a finite number of breaths to take makes every one of them important, so why slough a few off as inconsequential? The ability to make the right choices comes down to reason, experience, psychological maturity, and the understanding that fitness is an evolutionary process. These things take time, effort, and patience to develop into a solid practice. Approaching every session and every meal as a choice to be made or unmade is a good first step.

Training Day

Workout of the Day

WOD 1 – in the morning… Back Squat 3, 3, 3, 3, 3 Good Mornings 10, 10, 10 Strict Toes to Bar 10, 10, 10 Extended plank hold 3 x partner time duration on toes to bar

WOD 2 – On the beach in the afternoon… 5 rounds for time: Station 1: 40 yard mixed terrain run with wall hurdle Station 2: AMRAP db thrusters (12.5 kg) Station 3: AMRAP kb swings (24 kg) 3 athletes working at all times, whoever is at station 1 determines the time domain per round

Rest 5 minutes.

4 rounds, each for time: 10-20 yard sand suicides 40 yard kb drag (24 kg)

Rest 5 minutes.

1 attempt, max distance partner wheelbarrow walk.

Big thanks to Andrew Berridge of WOD Tours, letting us crash his gym and knock some iron around. Because of his hospitality, we got under some heavy weight today, the most painful part of which was definitely the sunburn I retained from our hike along the coast the day before. No worries though; a little discomfort here and there is a good thing. Makes you appreciate the times when you’re not an idiot and apply sunscreen in evenly dispersed, non-splotchy coats. The bigger issue was that stepping on the scale I realized I’d lost about 8 lbs since departing California. I’m guessing this is a combination of the 15 hour flight, the hot weather constantly dehydrating us, and not getting as much food as I’m used to, but whatever the cause it was a little shocking to see. I could feel the difference under the bar as well. The weight felt super heavy on my back, and I was only able to lift 170 kg for my top set of 3. That’s a good 30 lbs under my 3RM. Gabe had similar issues, so at least I knew it probably had to do with our circumstances and not some crazy, spontaneous loss of manliness.

The assistance work we followed our squats with left a more positive taste in my mouth. I’ve been slacking on the good mornings so I know I’ll feel them for a few days, and the toe to bar combined with plank holds put just enough stress on my middle to call it a day.

In the afternoon we headed down to Coogee beach with Nick and some of his gear in search of a good place to do a conditioning WOD in the sand. John, Gabe, and I split the duties and programmed a mini WOD each that would last 5 minutes or less. We did mine first, a constantly moving circuit between a run with a wall hurdle, light thrusters, and kb swings. This got things moving without destroying us, everyone getting around 10 reps per round at the weighted movements in the time allotted by the run. We finished 5 rounds in 5:24. The sand suicide/kb drag interval was an absolute crusher. No single interval lasted longer than :30, so it was a high intensity burst of effort, but it didn’t allow much rest between rounds either. The sand was deep, demoralizing, and difficult to navigate while dragging a 24 kg behind (used a pullup band). After this effort we were all spent.

The final mini WOD was a single effort: max distance partner wheelbarrow walk. Way fun, and way tough. We faced uphill so as to make it a little more difficult in the sand (which it was) and just started going. I wound up going the farthest of the 3, but have no idea how far that was. There’s some video floating around somewhere that I will try to upload.

We spent some much deserved time floating in the sea upon completion of this mess, and are planning a road trip a few hours north to see a bit of the country tomorrow.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Land of Oz

Life has taken me to Sydney, Australia where I’ve reunited with fellow Anywherefit Icelander Nick Lloyd. Traveling with good buddy John Arroyo and Games competitor Gabe Subry, I’m looking forward to 10 days of limited itinerary, creative training, and flexible Paleo. We’ve been here 24 hours and we’re checking those boxes fast a furious.

After a night out in Coogee, we woke up early and hit the coastal trail that leads to Bondi Beach. Along the way we discovered walls to climb, innumerable stairs to hike, a few sets of bars to play on, and lots of swimmable coves. We took our time hiking the 3-4 miles in order to soak up the experience and the view. Sydney has no shortage of vistas, this much I can attest to.

When we got about halfway to Bondi we found a cluster of pullup bars, parallel bars, and other generic fitness apparatus tucked to the side of the trail. Naturally we made a pit stop. There wasn’t anything organized, but levers, human flags, muscle ups, dips, hand walking, and glide kipping were all represented. We even managed to invent some exercises along the way.

From there we wound our way North past a cliff-side cemetery and an Olympic size pool that spilled into the ocean. Apparently to be a member at this club you must swim every Sunday of the year without missing. Hands down the coolest pool location I’ve ever seen so it might be worth it.

Just before grabbing lunch at the burrito shack, we came upon a stretch of graffiti wall art that had to be 200 yards long. The wall itself was a little over 9 feet tall with a double bar railing that you could climb over to finish in the beach parking lot. We combined handstand pushups at the base of the wall with wall muscle ups, pullup climbs, and some 360 degree hanging rotations to create a good short conditioning sequence. Having no real goal in mind for this made it a lot of fun, and a great way to ease back into high intensity training. We spent the next hour sipping a beer and eating burrito bowls next to the fat kid from Superbad. Day well spent.

Looking forward to another 8 days of the same.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Nearly a PR

Workout of the Day

WOD 1 – in the morning… Glide kipping, 10 minutes practice 1 attempt max distance handstand walk

WOD 2 – in the afternoon… Snatch 1, 1, 1, 1, 1 1 back squat every minute on the minute @ 90% 1RM until failure to complete. 10 minute cap. 100 meter overhead carry (135#) while pulling 145# sled 3 x max time isometric hold of inverted row

WOD 3 – in the evening… For time: 1 burpee, 60 yard run, 1 burpee, 60 yard run 2 burpees, 60 yard run, 2 burpees, 60 yard run 3 burpees, 60 yard run, 3 burpees, 60 yard run… continue until round of 10 burpees.

Made some big progress today in a couple areas. 1) I got the glide kip down. FINALLY. Took some dedicated work and a lot of video analysis, but getting up on top of a bar using momentum rather than strength is now in the arsenal.

2) I had 245# over my head not once, but twice today with a legitimate chance to make the lift. I didn’t make it either time, but they were both good misses. The weight didn’t feel too heavy, and I was fast under it on each occasion. This gives me a ton of confidence that I am very close to snatching 250#, which is a lifetime goal.

3) I pushed my aerobic capacity past the point of comfort and my body responded. The burpee ladder with 60 yard runs in between had me sucking gas hard, but I never had to break the burpees. The runs got progressively slower, I admit. Not sure there’s any way around this. But my overall time of 11:15 is something I’m happy with. 110 burpees and 1200 yards of running is a lot of work done in that amount of time.

Heading to watch my alma mater in a local high school basketball showdown with their cross-town rivals. Go Cougars!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Pipe Flips and Battling Ropes

Workout of the Day

WOD 1 – in the morning…

3 x 10 shinbox switch 3 point isometric handstand holds on parallettes

WOD 2 – in the afternoon…

3 dead stop floor press every minute on the minute @ 245# until failure to complete. 10 minute cap. 10 minute AMRAP: 1 pipe flip (330#) :30 battling ropes (alternating techniques)

WOD 3 – in the evening…

3 rounds for time: 100 yard individual medley (fly, back, breast, free) 100 walking lunges

If Tuesday was light on volume, today made up for it. I began the day with a new exercise pulled from Evolution Kettlebell Groundwork, a great program recommended to me by my man Zvi in Israel. My hip flexibility is way lopsided so this wasn’t easy for me to handle, but I could definitely see improvement by the end of the sets. For a sample of this move without hip extension, watch this..

I crushed the floor presses in the afternoon, making all 10 rounds without much trouble, and really enjoyed the assistance workout that followed. Pipe flips, the indoor cousins of log flips, are a cold blooded killer of an exercise, and SO MUCH FUN. I’ve had this apparatus in my gym for the past few months, thanks to the guys at Steelfit, but haven’t got it on tape until now. You can find some footage at the bottom of this post.

I wrapped up the day hitting the pool for the second week in a row, this time doing a more classically “CrossFit” workout than before. 3 rounds for time of a 100 yard individual medley and 100 walking lunges. The air was a little brisk, so hopping out of the pool to do those lunges each set wasn’t exactly inviting. But it provided the break from the brutality of the IM that I needed to keep working. 100 yards in the pool doing that combination of strokes takes your air in a hurry. And your arms as well. So pairing it with a relatively slower and lower body exercise like lunges is a good call. My pace during the WOD was pretty consistent, and I finished the whole thing in 12:44. Heading snowshoeing on Saturday so probably won’t get to deadlift or condition as planned, and I’m totally fine with it. Really looking forward to this trip.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Workout of the Day

WOD 1 – in the morning…

Death by… 1 muscle up, 2 handstand pushups, 3 muscle ups, 4 handstand pushups… etc. until failure to complete.

WOD 2 – in the afternoon…

Snatch 2, 2, 2, 2, 2 3 back squats every minute on the minute @ 80% 1RM until failure to complete. 10 minute cap. 10 minutes glide kip practice

WOD 3 – in the evening…

5 minutes max wall ball shots (20#)

Pretty low volume day today, with the exception of the 137 wall balls I did for conditioning (this didn’t suck as bad as I anticipated, by the way). Even with that last bit, though, my body doesn’t feel like it did too much. Maybe this is because I only made it through the 9th minute of the muscle up/hspu sequence before failing. Being decently disappointed with that number, I continued on til 15 minutes doing pullups instead of muscle ups. On the up side, kipping handstand pushups continue to feel easier and easier.

For the snatch doubles I made 225# cleanly, then attempted 235# but was only able to stick one of them. Probably a bit aggressive to try and make a double just 5# under my PR, but it gave me confidence to go for more weight next week. The back squats felt good at 355# for all 10 rounds-should be set for singles at 415# next go around.

The details for Munich-Vienna-Prague are set and Iceland 2012 is being ironed out as we speak. In case you’ve forgotten how sick this trip was, here’s a reminder.