Figure it out, by Anthony

Paleo Challenge

[This is going to be long-winded, so bear with me while I get through the tedious foundation of this bit before we get into the practical stuff. Also, sorry about all the lists.  There’s way too many lists.]

Being strong is very important to me.  Getting stronger has been a priority for me for most of my life.  I grew up in a home that put a lot of value into physicality.  My family was constantly doing manual labor and playing sports and doing all sorts of physical things.  Some of my youngest memories are of my parents doing manual labor on the dairy: I remember watching my mom carry massive milk crates when she fed calves; she would carry one on each side – easily.  I remember watching my dad buck (hundred pound) hay bales like they were as light as a pillow.  My older brother used to carry calves from the back corners of the pastures to the barn on his shoulders, which required a lot of total-body strength and endurance for a twelve-year old.  We didn’t really watch TV; we would gather in the living room to have push-up contests for hours. And yes, we were ALWAYS wrestling each other.  All these examples of strength are to demonstrate that when was young I didn’t even need to intellectually understand what goes into developing a strong body; it was just something that I naturally understood to be an advantage.  It’s kind of like the innate understanding of Mark Rippetoe’s infamous quote: “Strong people are harder to kill; and generally more useful.”

Then, as I grew to adolescence, I got super scrawny. Really, though, I was outrageously skinny.  When I was a freshman in high school I weighed just north of a hundred pounds, which some of you might relate to, EXCEPT I WAS 6’2”. IMG_4304

While I had always been able to hold my own in a sibling wrestling match and compete with my peers at sports, I was never strong enough to stand up to my own high standards for strength.  Around the age of 14 I made it my charter to do whatever I could to become strong.  (yes, I know that’s a subjective and esoteric goal, but I didn’t care.  I wanted to be as strong as possible.)  My dad was on board, too.  My dad hooked me up with more milk and eggs every morning than any normal boy could handle.  He had me on the GOMAD plan for about eight years.  (for those of you who are unfamiliar with the bulking lexicon of the 90’s/2000’s, GOMAD= Gallon Of Milk A Day)  Think about that for a second: A gallon of milk a day for eight years.  I dare you to try it for A WEEK.  You’re going to be in pain by day 2.  I’ll bet you two hundred burpees you can’t do it.  I don’t say it that way to brag.  Rather, I mention it as evidence that speaks to how focused and dedicated I was to my charter.  It meant EVERYTHING to me.  I lifted every weight I could find and ate thousands of extra calories EVERY DAY.  Then, right about as I was getting close to my goal, high school ended and I found myself on a college football team full of polar bears, mutants, and monsters.  Guess what happened next: I needed to get strong(er) again.

In college I stayed on the GOMAD plan and lifted all the weights and ate all the protein and did all the training.  Then, just about the time I got big and strong enough (235 lbs) to get onto a college football field and catch a few touchdown passes… college ended.  (side note: College is awesome, but I digress).

Now I found myself out of college and without any utility for the inflated body I had so fervently pursued.  I had all of the habits and behavioral disciplines that go along with GETTING BIGGER (because to me, bigger meant stronger), but none of the lifestyle that went along with being healthier.

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So I stumbled around a little bit trying bodybuilding, endurance training, P90x, and eventually I found RKC (RKC is Russian-style kettlebell strength and conditioning).  I fell in love with RKC because I was reminded of what it meant to need to be stronger. (related note: You see, there’s lots of people out there that want to be stronger.  “Being stronger” is a novel concept and it seems great – there’s no obvious down side.  Naturally, bunches of people want to be stronger.  Conversely, though, very few people find themselves in many lasting positions where they need to be strongerThe difference between want to and need to is the difference between short term effort and long term success.  When I was doing RKC, and now again when I do CrossFit, I need to be stronger.  So, putting myself into the CrossFit lifestyle has created for me the need to that is necessary for long term success.)  So there I went doing RKC routines over and over and eventually it led me to the CrossFit website, then to a CrossFit gym in Fresno in 2008 where the first workout I ever did was Fran, and before I did it I told the coach I could do it in four minutes, BUT I was wrong and it took ten, and I realized that I was missing something, because the guys at CrossFit gyms were kicking ass and I was nowhere near their level.

Looking back, I think this is the exact point where I had my “Ah Ha!” moment.

  • It started with me wanting to be as strong (or stronger) than the biggest strongest guys.
  • I always felt the need to be strong, so I stayed focused.
  • Then I spent ten years trying to get there, but (to a certain extent, in my own mind) failed.
  • Now I’ve got this thing called CrossFit, and to be good at CrossFit, you need to be strong.
  • EXCEPT, and here’s the great part: You don’t need to be AS STRONG AS THE STRONGEST, you only have to be close, because even if you’re not as strong as them, CrossFit rewards you for being stronger for longer.

Example:  Really strong guys clean & jerk 400 pounds.  I worked my ass off to get strong, but I could only clean & jerk ~300 pounds.  Now, though, I’m doing “Grace” (For time: 30 Clean & Jerks at 135 pounds), and I’m better at it than those super strong guys.

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This was something that – I’m not kidding you – CHANGED EVERYTHING.  I used to be the scrawniest dude around (don’t believe me? my nickname was Twig), but CrossFit was right in my wheelhouse, because to be good, you need to be strong, but you don’t have to be the strongest.

View More: http://lisadejagerphotography.pass.us/XvNbL138285

All of this is to lead me into the discussion about the Paleo/Primal Challenge.  (related note: I hope you’re still focused on eating clean foods.)  I am excited about the CFM Paleo/Primal Challenge for two reasons:

  1. You’re going to improve your body composition. This is always a good thing.  If you’re not underweight, there’s no down side to getting leaner.
  2. YOU’RE GOING TO LEARN ABOUT YOUR BODY.

Yes, being lean is great.  It looks good; it feels good; it works good.  But more importantly, we all need to understand what makes your body work better.  If you do the CFM Paleo Challenge you’re going to get some feedback about your body that you might not have known.  Let me explain what this means by telling you about my own experience with Paleo.

Let’s go back to what it looked like when I was in my first year of CrossFit.  I was having a great time and training my butt off and I was (again, just like when I was 14) doing everything I could to get better.  I started to focus on nutrition, so I read everything written by

Gary Taubes

Robb Wolfe

Mark Sisson

Mark Hyman

and lots more.

After reading everything I could consume about performance nutrition, I tried Paleo.  I stuck to it – for a long enough time to get some good results – and I paid attention to what happened to my body.  I was doing it so I could become a better CrossFitter, because that was my new charter. As a result, a lot of positive things happened:

  1. I got leaner.
  2. I ate as much as I wanted, and I LOVE to feel satiated.
  3. I could eat all of the things I really love to eat, without sacrificing very many things that I like.
  4. I stayed strong – for the most part.

View More: http://lisadejagerphotography.pass.us/XvNbL138285

For the most part, choosing a strict paleo plan worked well for me.  Eating Paleo was a way for me to continue to accomplish my goal of having a strong and useful body. I learned a few things about myself and my own body:

  1. Eating zero gluten and zero processed sugar makes my body look the way I want it to. I get lean to the point where I can see the cuts in my arms and body that I like.
  2. Preparing paleo foods isn’t all that difficult when you get used to it.
  3. Eating lots of fats made me feel good; and made me sleep great.
  4. The leaner I get, the better I perform at most CrossFit workouts, especially those that are biased toward body weight movements.
  5. I missed beer and fried foods.
  6. For me, Low carb diets create a deficit of glycogen in my muscles when I am training hard, which is a negative. The result is that I am not able to perform well during heavy lifting.

After I spent enough time on a strict Paleo diet, I started to make tweaks based on what I learned. So I played with substituting some non-paleo foods.   After some experimenting I learned:

  1. I have a moderate tolerance to gluten. This means I can eat a little bit without negative consequences.
  2. My body responded well when I eat peanut butter at night. Natural peanut butter (only ingredient: peanuts) was good, but the processed junk (skippy/Jif) was better.  This was because the combination of sugar/fat/protein provided glycogen for the next day’s workout.  (note: I make a point of this because one of my best friends gets exactly the opposite results from peanut butter.   Fortunately, he know this about himself and avoids the stuff.)
  3. Potatoes make me stronger.
  4. When I eat more fiber my digestive system tends to work better. (also, yogurt, see below)
  5. Lean meats and fatty meats provide the same results in terms of recovery, strength, body composition, etc. but fatty meats taste way better.
  6. Fish oil supplements make me recover more quickly.
  7. Coffee is the best paleo beverage.
  8. Dairy products, from whey protein to cream to cheese, are a nutrient rich way to eat delicious foods with lots of positives, but that have minimal, if any, harmful effects on my body.
  9. The only dairy product I avoid is milk – it makes my stomach upset. Cream is fine.
  10. When I train hard, yogurt is the best thing for me.
  11. I can drink beer one night a week without many negative effects, if any – if I train hard.
  12. I can drink beer two nights a week with some, but minimal, negative effects – if I train hard.
  13. If I drink beer more than two nights a week I struggle with dehydration, digestion, body composition, sleep patterns, mental focus, and anxiety – no matter how hard I train.
  14. Hard cider is fine, but I like beer way better.
  15. Frying foods in paleo-friendly fats is still delicious.

The point here with all these lists is simple: I know what works for me.  I know what I have to do to be as strong and as fast and as fit as possible.  I also know what kind of foods I can eat and still stay lean.  I know what kind of foods (and how much of them) change the hormones in my body.  I know what things my body responds poorly to.  I know how to align my fitness goals with my lifestyle goals and how to find an equilibrium.

Let’s go back to my CrossFit journey.   Five years later (being now), I don’t care as much about my Fran time (which, by the way, ended up peaking at 2:30, which accomplished my goal of beating that faceless guy in my nightmares) or my max clean & jerk.  I still do care about being able to perform well in my workouts because it makes me feel good.  I no longer feel like I need to be the strongest guy around, but I like to be able to show my kids what it looks like to be strong and healthy, the same way my parents showed me.  I know I’ll never squat five hundred pounds, but I think it sure would be cool to squat four hundred – and run a six minute mile.  Accordingly, I eat using Paleo principles.  I don’t eat sugary snacks or drinks.  I avoid processed foods.  I limit grains.  I eat LOTS of meat and vegetables, and outrageous amounts of fat.   I use all of the things I’ve learned to create the best system that aligns with my goals, my lifestyle, my family life, and the culture i’m a part of.

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So now let’s talk about you…

Do it.  Eat Primal. Or Paleo. Be strict.  Figure out what works for you.  Figure out what makes you feel/work/look great.  If you’ve never done it before, you’ve got some work to do, but you can do it. After you go strict, you can experiment with what foods, if any, you can add or subtract to your diet.

Want some real talk?  If you’re overweight you have absolutely no business drinking soda, Starbucks drinks, or juice.  When I see overweight people casually drinking Starbucks drinks it reminds me of a person with emphysema smoking a cigarette.  Generally speaking, if you’re overweight you should avoid every carbohydrate until you reach your body composition goals.  Generally speaking, whether you’re overweight or not, you shouldn’t casually eat anything out of a cellophane wrapper.  Generally speaking, the food you eat should rot if you leave it on the shelf.

When I say “generally speaking,” I’m talking about the people who have not gone on strict paleo diets and taken notes about the feedback their body is giving them.  Let this be encouragement to you to get it done.  We love Paleo/Primal because we love the simplicity and the sustainability of the lifestyle. My family and I have had success with Primal because IT’S A SYSTEM THAT IS SUSTAINABLE.  I don’t wish I was out there eating something else – I’m satisfied.  I don’t wonder how I’m going to get through the day getting enough food – I’m used to it.  I don’t crave candy or chocolate or sweets – I’m not addicted to sugar (any more).  I don’t have to spend lots of time counting or measuring or weighing food – I’m too darn busy for that.  If you’re on a plan that is not sustainable, you’re much less likely to succeed.  I, along with the rest of the CFM team, want you to succeed.  We want you to be well.  If you haven’t done so yet, figure it out.

Safety first, kids.

I’d like to follow up on last week’s post about why you should not do CrossFit. Yes, there are some people out there who have done CrossFit poorly and gotten hurt. We do it differently at CFM. We want to build you up – not beat you up. Each and every day we focus on stability on a core-to-extremity basis, meaning the first priority is stabilizing your midline (you MUST take great care of your spine), then look to add stability in the hips and shoulders, then outward to the knees/elbows, then down the wrists/ankles. After we achieve stability we then look for “mobility” in the same sequence, looking for braced extension and flexion in universal motor recruitment patterns. This means that your body moves only as much/as fast/as heavy as your body will allow using proper mechanics for each movement. With this approach we’ve seen increased function in athletes who had previously debilitated bodies – to the point that they now thrive.

Regarding movement progressions, our hierarchy of movement is as follows:
1) Stability
2) Range of Motion
3) Volume (amount of reps)
4a) Speed
4b) Load

Let’s use the hierarchy of movement to look at squat (or most foundational movement) for a beginner athlete; we’ll call him Rich Froning.

First we want to see Rich start with a good base, meaning his heels are going to be under his shoulders and his toes pointed slightly out. Why? Because THAT is going to give him the most stability. Then we want to see rich push his hips backward and slightly bend his knees as he initiates his squat. As Rich’s body is moving downward, the first priority is (again) a stable midline. So what if Rich can only go down a little way? Then he should stop, because, you guessed it: he needs to keep a stable midline. He also needs to keep his feet flat, his knees out, his back flat, and hips back. This is all part of #1.

Then, as long as he’s stable, we want Rich to travel as far as he can in his squat. Here’s the deal: we have two standards for range of motion in our squat. The first is a subjective standard: Travel as far as you can while maintaining a stable midline. This is different for everyone. Holly and Gus can squat low and stay stable. Anthony and Jeff can’t quite get as low without their back bending. So, keep your chest up, Rich; you gotta squat with a flat back. The second standard is a hard/objective standard: the crease of the hip should pass below the top of the knee. This is not a matter of opinion – it is a simple matter of fact. I can look at any squat and easily determine if the squat is good, bad, or close. MOST of our athletes are held to this objective standard, because those athletes automatically can apply this objective standard to the hierarchy. SOME of our athletes get a bit of relief; we want them to stop squatting lower if we think it’s unsafe. This subtle difference is something that makes CrossFit Merced’s brand of coaching special.

So, now let’s put Rich into a regular class – and here’s the WOD:

3 Rounds- 500m row / 10 Front Squats (135/95) / 15 pull Ups

We’ll do an assessment on Rich and modify his workout according to the hierarchy above.
1) Stability: Rich has demonstrated that he can do front squats without bending his midline. Check.
2) Range of Motion: Rich has also demonstrated that he can do front squats through enough range of motion that his hip crease is below the top of his knee. Check.
3) Volume: Rich has done a bunch of front squats in last week’s strength portion, so we’re sure Rich can do 30 reps. Check.
4a) Speed: Well now we’re getting into trouble. When Rich goes too fast he is losing stability and range of motion. SLOW DOWN, Rich.
4b) Load: Rich’s front squats look great with 75lbs, but they are bad at 135. SCALE THE WEIGHT, Rich; keep it at 75lbs until your midline gets stronger.

Now that we’ve got Rich all set up we’re going to keep an eye on him, but we’ve also got to watch the rest of the class. We want to make sure that Rich does great reps, but he can see us out of the corner of his eye and he knows when we’re not looking. Understand this: Rich now knows what he’s supposed to do. THE ONUS IS ON RICH to do it right. I’m sorry if it’s hard; I’m sorry if you REALLY want to beat your friends; I’m sorry if you REALLY want to do this wod Rx. We’re always going to try to point you in the right direction, but, once Rich learns how to do good front squats, ITS ON RICH to do it right.

There have been some bumps and bruises, but for the most part, CFM athletes have been very safe. The ones that have a tendency to be safe are the ones that are coachable and have the discipline to back off when they need to. Of the injuries that can happen, we’ve seen it for the following reasons:
1) Not moving as instructed. One time I saw an athlete hurt his knee. 30 seconds before he got hurt the coach told him “Don’t slam your knee into the ground – it’s going to get you hurt. Well, crap.
2) Old injuries exposed. A guy who tore his rotator cuff playing baseball never took care of himself. Then he came in and tried to clean and jerk 200lbs. It didn’t work out well for him.
3) Overuse/deconditioned: An athlete who had an existing Achilles tendon injury hurt himself when he showed up to run a 5k. Note: He didn’t show up to any of the running workouts that we implemented in the 6 weeks before the 5k. The previous workouts were designed to be an accommodating conditioning leading up to the 5k.
4) Accidents happen. This one is the one we see the least, but it’s a huge bummer when it does happen. We always want to steer CFM athletes toward functional movement that isn’t going to lead to injury, but shoot, you’re building yourself a massively functional body. To build this body you have to push yourself. It’s not much different than if you were trying to make yourself the best basketball player possible: you’d play basketball every day. Eventually you’re going to land on somebody’s ankle if you rebound enough basketballs. Does this make basketball bad? No. It makes it a sport.

Like we said last week, the best way to stay completely safe today is going to be to stay on the couch. We all know that there’s a small amount of risk that goes along with a high level of physical exertion. Never forget, though, that if you come in anyway, you’re going to get fitter – and getting fitter eliminates risks. We’re confident that the bumps and bruises we’ve gotten from CrossFit are FAR less damaging than being overweight/being slow/being weak/being tired/being sick. We hope you’re on board with us – we’ll do our best to be responsible in our programming and teaching – you do your best in being awesome. I’m sure we’re all going to be just fine.

Why you should definitely not CrossFit

Being the owner of a CrossFit affiliate and having done CrossFit for almost 6 years, I’ve heard just about every reason under the sun for why people should NOT do CrossFit. It’s certainly interesting; when I wear my CrossFit Merced sweatshirt out in public (which is almost every day – who am I kidding?), I hear all sorts of fascinating comments, some misguided, and some intriguing. But as someone who enjoys CrossFit and plans on doing it for as long as I can move, here are some reasons why YOU, my friend, should not do it yourself.

It’s expensive.

Yep, it is. Most of our members pay between $129-$149/mo, which ends up being about $1500 per year. All you get in return is access to 8 classes a day, run by a certified coach/trainer who has your well- being at heart; who will teach you how to Olympic lift, who can talk to you about the right fuel to put in your body, who can help you push past barriers you thought would never be broken. You get access to barbells, kettlebells, gymnastics equipment. You learn the importance of a stable and strong midline. You learn kinesthetic awareness (how your body is designed to move). All of these things translate to everyday, real-life situations; playing with kids or grandkids, moving a large package at work, being able to hike a hill without puking. You’ll understand you are not defined by limitations anymore. Your insurance rates will decrease because you are no longer at risk for diabetes or heart disease.

Long story short, you should definitely keep that $130 in your wallet.

RISK; You might get hurt.

Yeah, you might. You also might get hurt getting those boxes of Christmas decorations out of the attic, or turning the wrong way in your desk chair, or picking up a pencil from the ground, or sneezing too hard and blowing out your back (these are all actual, real life injuries I’ve seen people have, btw). Because in CrossFit you’ll have to do things that are hard, there is an inherent risk. Putting weights over your head (incorrectly) is dangerous! Picking up heavy barbells (incorrectly) is dangerous! You’ll certainly be sore and have some fatigued muscles. Your best bet? Stay on the couch and watch Friends reruns; be safe! You should also consider, though, that there’s also the risk of NOT getting fit. If you become/remain unfit, you risk being overweight, and all the sickness and disease that follows. You risk having to get bigger and bigger clothes. You risk the chance to be proud of yourself – and your body. You risk that your kids might think of you as lazy – even if you’re not. You risk not making friends through some amazing shared experiences. SO, if you’re cool with THOSE risks, then yeah, the couch is probably the best place for you. We’ll follow up on the topic of safety tomorrow, but you can read a little about how to not get hurt doing CrossFit here.

It’s really damn hard.

Yeah, it is. You’ll be expected to put your body to work, sometimes doing things you didn’t even know your body could do. You’ll sweat. Your heart will beat out of your chest. You’ll fall on the floor after a workout because you gave every single ounce of energy you had, and you’ll be expected to do the same thing tomorrow. You’ll have to show up consistently. You’ll have to prioritize working out over watching television. You will have to be humble and listen to a movement expert. You’ll have to realize the only way forward is pushing through some pain, and that you’ll actually be better for it. It’s way easier to continue putting off what you know is good for you until tomorrow, and then tomorrow again, until tomorrow becomes 5 or 10 years later and you wonder how you got here.

You have to be humble.

A little humility goes a long way. The problem: we’re not humble. We’re not ok with getting our butts kicked. We’re especially not ok with OTHER PEOPLE SEEING US getting our butts kicked. I don’t care who you are, CrossFit is going to humble you. I have to work out with some amazing fit people and they kick my butt every day. It’s incredibly humbling. So, if you’ve got an ego, if you’ve got a persona, you think people think you’re awesome… Don’t come to CrossFit – that ego/persona is going to get smashed. Stay away. [*whispers:* want to know a secret? Nobody at CFM cares how fit you are or aren’t. All we care about is how hard you try. Show up; give us your best; give us your honest score. You’ll be admired for it every time.]

I could go on! I could tell you about how you’ll have to be accountable to friends, how you will have to be honest with yourself about how fit you actually are, or how you may have to come out of your shell a little bit and meet some new people. But I digress – you get the point. There are plenty of valid reasons for you to not CrossFit. What’s yours?

How does Holly do it?

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I never had to worry much about my weight when I was younger. I was active, more into dance and cheer than sports in high school. I do remember wishing I was skinnier. I had more of an athletic build and muscular legs but would have preferred to be Kate Moss skinny. (Only us 90’s girls will understand.)

Fast forward about 15 years and three kids later. I was struggling a bit to get rid of the last of that ‘baby weight’. I had never been one to work out consistently. I tried this or that but nothing really stuck. I tried to eat healthy by cutting calories and choosing low cal options.

Right after my son turned one my husband drug me kicking and screaming into Crossfit Merced. Lots of our friends were members and loved it. He wanted something we could do together to get in shape. I promised him I would try it but knew it wasn’t for me. I had never lifted a barbell in my life. Well, it did stick and I started to fall in love with how good I felt after surviving each tough workout. I was addicted to the feeling of accomplishment after each new PR. It also helped that everyone there was so accepting. I had found something new that I could be good at!

I started to feel stronger and noticed a difference in how my clothes fit, how my body looked and felt. I stopped caring and paying attention to the weight on the scale. About a month into my CrossFit journey, the gym participated in a Paleo challenge, but I didn’t take part in it; I had enough to figure out. I was still googling what movements were what when the workout was posted every night.

I did, however, pay attention. I listened to what my friends and the coaches were talking about eating. I looked up the Paleo diet and recipes and my husband and I started slowly changing the way we cooked and ate. I started to notice that I felt even better and that my body started to change even more rapidly. I was able to perform better in my workouts. It was about this time that I stopped caring about getting thin. I wanted to be fit! I started longing for that athletic body again and wanted to be strong. I realized I wanted my daughters to know that beauty comes in different forms and to grow up watching their Mom be strong and active.

The concept of eating right is simple, really; eat clean and natural.

Let’s try and approach nutrition with a common sense outlook – You wouldn’t fill up your favorite car with crappy fuel and expect it to run well. Nor would you NOT fuel it and expect it to run forever on fumes. We need to eat well to feel well and perform better at life.

A few of you have asked what I eat so here you go, in a nut shell…I eat a lot of protein, veggies, good carbs, good fat, and a little dairy. I try to eat lean meats but I do love a good steak or hamburger. I love fish but tend to overcook it so I need to work on that a bit. Veggies, the more the better! Good carb; we usually always have a case of sweet potatoes on hand and they are my go to. For healthy fats, I love avocados! I use a lot of coconut oil for cooking and have recently fallen in love with avocado oil. I’ve switched to using whole dairy products when I use them. My body doesn’t tolerate much dairy so I don’t consume very much. I eat fruit but it’s not really my favorite thing so I don’t really worry about eating too much. I try to stay away from bread and enriched products such as white rice and pasta. I also try to avoid sugar. I don’t drink soda and try and drink tons of water throughout the day. The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is down some H2O. It just makes sense.

That being said, I am far from perfect. I have my ‘cheat’ meals, days, and weekends away. I love homemade brownies! I’d prefer to sit and eat the bowl of batter and not even put them in the oven:) I just try and space these ‘cheats’ out so they don’t become a habit. I can definitely attest that consistently eating well makes me feel better overall.

Please feel free to ask me for any recipes or snack ideas. We are in this together. Let’s eat well so we can feel and be well.

WOD 1/12/17 and PRIMAL CHALLENGE

It’s time, friends. The holidays are over, we’ve had our fun (and cookies), and now it’s time to get back to work – not only in the gym, but in the kitchen.

For 6 weeks (42 days) leading up to the open, our gym will be engaging in a Primal Challenge? What is it, you ask? Well, it’s a way of eating that will lead to greater energy, better health, loss of body fat, and, most likely, weight loss.

You can find PLENTY of information here: 21 Day Primal Challenge

While the specific challenge above is for 21 days, we figured we could try it for 6 weeks leading up to the open.

Some questions you may have:
1) How do I sign up? Answer: you just did.
2) What do I get for competing in this challenge? Answer: better health, body composition, and performance. Yes, that’s it. No prizes or trophies…We are doing this as a community for accountability’s sake. We want to be healthier versions of ourselves, and doing it together makes us stronger.
3) Do I HAVE to do this? Answer: of course not. You can do WHATEVER you want to do. However, the coaches at CFM have committed to doing this as well, and we would love for you to join us.
4) How do I measure success? Answer: the scale (for MOST of us) is a good indicator of how well we are doing. However, we will also be doing a couple WODs next week as a benchmark, and will repeat those same wods 6 weeks from now for empirical data about our performance.
5) What do I eat? AnswerWhat-to-Eat2
6) What else will be expected of me?

1. Eat real food.
2. Avoid sugar, grains, unhealthy fats, beans/legumes.
3. Align your carb intake with your weight goals and activity levels.
4. Move frequently: Get between 2-5 hours per week of moderate aerobic exercise.
5. Lift heavy things: Conduct 3-5 brief, intense sessions of full-body functional movements.
6. Sprint: Go “all out” at LEAST once a week.
7. Get 8 hours of sleep every night.
8. Get 15 minutes of direct sun exposure each day.
9. Play! Find time to let go, disconnect, unwind and have fun each day.

You probably have more questions… ask a coach! Or check out the website above. In any case, the best way to do it is to jump in. Our coaches will be posting their favorite quick and easy recipes, and we want to help you every single step of the way.

Who’s in??

STRENGTH:
Bench Press 10-8-6-4-2
Lateral Row 5×8

CONDITIONING:
4 Rounds for Time
12 Toes to Bar
9 Thrusters (115/75)
3 D-Ball to Shoulder (150/100/80/30)

WOD: 6/13/13

Strength: 7X1 3-Position Snatch – heaviest possible, rest 60 sec.

*Notes: Position #1 is the low-hang – approximately 2″ from the

floor. Position #2 is the traditional hang (just above the knee), and

position #3 is the hi-hang (mid-way down the thigh. All sets should be

done without dropping the bar.

–  then  –

12 minute AMRAP:
16 Barbell Step Ups (Alternating, Front Rack) 115# to 24″ / 75# to 20″
14 Pushups
12 Toes Thru Rings

*Post times.

I’ve been doing this a long time, and I’ve mostly figured out that CrossFit competency rests on a tri-pod.  Without a leg of the tripod, it falls.

The first leg is Strength (or more accurately, Power – see yesterday’s post for an explanation on the difference).  The ability to move large loads (whether it’s an external load like a barbell or kettlebell or your body weight is no difference – you have to be able to move large loads just the same) is the cornerstone of this sport.  Get strong and everything will become easier.  Strength is a journey – it’s a long term process.  You aren’t going to get strong in 90 days (you also aren’t going to get particularly weak in 90 days).  You have to dedicate yourself to strengthening your body.  Concerning strength, shoulders, midline, and hips are your main power generators and stabilizers.  You should be strong in these areas.  Smaller extremities like elbows, knees, ankles, fingers, etc (and the muscles connected to them) are not really much of a concern when it comes to being strong.  You won’t fail an objective because you didn’t do enough bicep curls, it’ll be because your back isn’t strong enough – trust me.  Get strong.

The second leg is conditioning.  You have to be able to sustain movement.  More importantly, you have to be able to sustain fast, powerful movement.  This requires mobilizing oxygen and fuel to your body in your aerobic AND anaerobic pathways.  The good news is that conditioning is (relatively) easy.  All you have to do is embrace the suck during the WODs and go as hard as you can.  Run faster, burpee faster, row faster, take shorter breaks between your pullups (which would be a combination of conditioning and, guess what?  Strength! see above), etc.  You can mostly develop a decent base for conditioning in a short amount of time.  90 days IS long enough to develop some conditioning capacity if you’re committed working hard at it.

Technical Proficiency is the third leg.  It is the most vague of the three because it is so broad and it overlaps to the others so much.  It is also the most difficult to achieve.   It means having practiced and developed competency in whatever movement you are performing.  It also means having the physical capabilities and mobility to accomplish that movement.    Some of us (either by bad design or by personal neglect and non-maintenance) have tight joints and muscles that prevent you from becoming technically proficient.  We can’t get into the proper biomechanical positions to support overhead squats, front racks, running positions, etc.  Most of the time it’s not your fault, BUT it is a challenge you must accept if you want to get better at CrossFit.  You MUST mobilize those parts of your body that are holding you back (BTW, >50% of the men at CFM have hamstrings that are WAY too tight).  Get your shoulders and hips loosened up and you will be able to squat more – guaranteed.  Pay attention to the coaching cues that you get in your classes. 

That was just me rambling, but here’s the short version:  Get strong, go hard, and learn the techniques.

WOD: 6/12/13

Strength:  EMOM for 6 Minutes (7 sets):

3  Deadlifts @ 75% of 1RM

 

-then-

3 rounds for time:

Run 400m

14 Ring Dips

7 Power Clean & Jerks 165/105#

*Post times.

 

CrossFit is different.

CrossFit is a fitness regimen designed to develop your body to be able to move more functionally.

Boot Camps, body pump classes, aerobic classes, home exercise videos, and running clubs are all very similar in that they focus primarily on heart rate and sweat.  In these systems, participants are encouraged to move as a means to accomplish these objectives.  It’s not a bad thing – movement and sweat are, generally, good.

CrossFit, instead, focuses specifically on movement itself.  Your body was specifically designed to use universal motor recruitment patterns to accomplish daily tasks.  In CrossFit, we focus on teaching these movements.  Squats, presses, jumps, and throws (among other things) are required capabilities in the world we live in.  CrossFit is intended to prepare you to navigate whatever daily missions you might encounter.

CrossFit is unique compared to other fitness systems in that all of the following elements of fitness are developed:

1. Cardiovascular/respiratory endurance- The ability of body systems to gather, process, and deliver oxygen.

2. Stamina – The ability of body systems to process, deliver, store, and utilize energy.

3. Strength – The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply force.

4. Flexibility – The ability to maximize the range of motion at a given joint.

5. Power – The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply maximum force in minimum time.

6. Speed – The ability to minimize the time cycle of a repeated movement.

7. Coordination – The ability to combine several distinct movement patterns into a singular distinct movement.

8. Agility – The ability to minimize transition time from one movement pattern to another.

9. Balance – The ability to control the placement of the body’s center of gravity in relation to its support base.

10. Accuracy – The ability to control movement in a given direction or at a given intensity.

Yes, you will sweat during CrossFit, but you will do so much more.  You will squat well – with your heels down, knees out, chest up, and moving all the way through the range of motion until your hip is clearly below your knee.  You will develop pressing ability with an externally rotated, active, powerful shoulder.  You will learn the importance of, and develop a stable midline in any functional movement.  You will learn how to use your body’s powerful levers and contractile potential to move, direct, and stabilize large loads.

So, when your friends ask you if their “fitness class” is just like your CrossFit class…
Be kind, but explain to them that it is, indeed, different.

WOD: 6/7/13

Strength:  3 x ME UB Pullups
Notes:  For your first set you may do any style, including kipping, butterfly, or strict.  Your second and third set must be strict, dead hang pullups.  Please pay attention to your hands and protect them as necessary.  Nobody is allowed to tear hands.

–  then  –

For time:

100 Double-Unders

50 Ab-Mat Sit-ups

40 (steps) Walking Lunges (back or front rack) 135/85

30 Push Jerks 135/85

20 Handstand Pushups

*Post times.  Strict 25 Minute time cap.

If you found a way to drink 2 gallons of water yesterday, put a feather in your cap, but I think some of us missed the point, so I must apologize.  Though I was speaking in hyperbole, It seems that the “2 Gallon Challenge” was taken much too literal by way too many athletes.   2 gallons of water per day is not necessary.  The point was to encourage you to make a conscious effort to hydrate yourselves well.  

As a general rule of thumb, you should drink enough water so that you do not become thirsty.

I also found this as a recommendation: (Active) Athletes should be drinking half their bodyweight in ounces per day + ~16 ounces of water per hour of exercise (at 75 degree heat – increase the per hour of exercise amount for increased temperatures).

For me, (210 lbs) that’d be 105 ounces + 32 ounces (heat adjusted hour of exercise) = 135-140 ounces/day (or just over a gallon).   I generally drink much more than that, but it seems like a good baseline.
  Try it (if you’re into counting).

For those of you (like me) still trying to pound 2 gallons, good luck keeping your sheets dry tonight.

WOD: 6/6/13

Strength:  7X1 2-Position Clean + 1 Jerk – heaviest possible, rest 60 sec.

*Notes: Position #1 is from the floor, Position #2 (without dropping

the bar) is the low-hang – approximately 2″ from the floor. The Jerk

comes after the 2nd position Clean.

 

-then-

“(Power) Elisabeth”

21-15-9 of:

Power Cleans 135/85#

Ring Dips

For time.

 

Hydration is important.  Your body doesn’t work well when you don’t have enough fluids in it.  You need more water than you think when it’s this hot.  Try to drink 2 gallons (yeah, two gallons) of water today…  See what happens.  You’ll be making lots of trips to the restroom, but you’ll probably feel great.  If you drink 2 gallons of water I’ll give you 2 free bottles from the fridge.  We’ll call it the “2 Gallon Challenge.”  Keep track of it 🙂

Also, let’s all try to do a better job cleaning up after ourselves; remember to pick up your water bottles and, believe it or not, all of the bumper plates DO fit on the rack – let’s find a way to make them fit.

WOD: 6/4/13

Strength:  1 x 20 High Bar Back Squat – Heavier than Last week.

-then-

3 rounds for time of:

Run 400m
10 Thrusters 115/75#

 

This is a good article.  I find myself thinking these thoughts, but it’s hard for me to be this honest with some of you.  [Disclaimer: We’ve got a good group that is VERY consistent with your attendance – this is not for you.  Keep it up.]
The Evils of Undertraining

WOD: 6/3/13

Strength:  7X1 2-Position Snatch – heaviest possible, rest 60 sec.

*Notes: Position #1 is from the floor, Position #2 (without dropping the bar) is the low-hang – approximately 2″ from the floor.

-then-

For time:

30 Push Press 115/75#
30 Over-the-Box Jumps 24/20″ (touch top)
30 Pull-ups
30 HSPU

Regionals Recap, Part IV (random thoughts not necessarily related)

The journey > The destination

34th place in the NorCal Regionals is my final score.  33 athletes earned better scores; 8 athletes did worse.  It’s the number the world may use to judge my fitness.  It’s the number the CrossFit community will use to determine my value.  It does not, however, define me.

I went into Regionals with 2 defined, yet immeasurable goals:
1) Enjoy the moment
A year ago I let myself become overwhelmed by the stress and pressure of the competition.   I got hung up on the mistakes that I thought I’d make.  I was distraught about what scores my competitors were posting.  I put an enormous amount of pressure on myself.
This year I got my head out of the rat race and focused on the right things.  I made friends with a lot of the other athletes.  I stopped to thank my judges before and after each workout.  I enjoyed being able to be out on the field competing.

There were moments before each of my heats where I’d have 3 or 4 minutes to myself where I’d reflect and try to put things into proper perspective.

I’d take the time to pray and thank God for blessing me with this opportunity.  “There are a thousand things that are out of my control that had to go right for me to be here and they all lined up for me.”

I remember telling God, “Lord, thank you that the hardest thing I have to do today is deadlifts.”

I saw the crowd of CFMers who showed up in force with a giant face-on-a-stick to support me and I felt like a superstar.

I even came to tears once thinking about how difficult this WOD was going to be and how awesome it was that my son, Luke would be watching me.   I’d think about how one day Luke is going to have to deal with hard stuff, too.  When that time comes, maybe he’ll remember the time when his dad stood out in front of the crowd, bravely, and kept moving.  Fortunately I was wearing sunglasses so nobody could see my red, watery eyes.

It sure was  lot of fun to let myself have fun.

2) Be at my best in terms of effort and attitude

Before the 5th event on Sunday I got a text from my Brother, AJ.  “Be tough.”

What else could I do at this point?  Essentially I was faced with a choice to be tough or not.  There wasn’t anything else I could do.   Everything came down to these eventualities.

Being emotionally tough meant having a great attitude.  It meant being gracious to everyone helping and supporting me.  It meant encouraging my competitors.  It meant keeping my chin up even though I got (next t0) last place in event #5.

Being mentally tough meant pushing – hard.  It meant spending the extra hours stretching – even though it hurt and I hated it.  It meant getting these WODs done as fast as my genetic potential would possibly allow.  It meant not taking an extra breath during rest if I didn’t need it.   It meant going down and getting another rep done even though it made me feel like I was dying.

After each event I was able to face everyone with my head high.  It wasn’t that I hadn’t made mistakes, because I had.  I should have fixed my pistols.  I should have paced my muscle-ups better.  I should have rowed faster.  I did my best, though, and I was tough.

 

I knew that if I enjoyed the moments and had a great attitude and great effort that it would be an amazing experience.  34th place is a lot lower than I would have wanted, but 34th place doesn’t define me.  I’m most pleased with going out and making my family and friends proud.  I’m content to know that I gave it my best shot.

I’d like to offer another “THANK YOU” from the bottom of my heart to each and every one who helped along the way.

To me, the best part of the whole experience is when, after the last event, Jen looked me in the eyes and said, “I’m proud of you.”  My eyes welled up behind my sunglasses and I looked down at Luke.  I broke down into a mess of full tears when he yelled, “Dood Job, Daddy… BARBELLS!”

WOD: 5/31/13

Test:  500m Row sprint

–  then  –

For time:

20  Pull-ups
2 Push Jerks 155/105#
15  Pull-ups
4 Push Jerks 155/105#
10  Pull-ups
6 Push Jerks 155/105#
5  Pull-ups
8 Push Jerks 155/105#

*Post times.  [Advanced: C2B Pullups]

 

Regionals Recap Part III

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  I want to enjoy every bit of it…

Event 6: Chipper

I had been looking forward to the chipper since the WODs were first announced 2 weeks ago.  I knew it was something I could do well at.
Double unders, shmubble shmunders.  At this point these are easy if we have to do less than a thousand.  A few years ago there were people struggling with these things but we’ve all got them down by now.
50 Handstand pushups was harder than I expected.  The main reason for the difficulty was the narrow hand placement that they made us use.  Once again, it’s difficult for us tall guys to bring our hands in this narrow.  I got no-repped a few times because my hands were too wide, but I made it through without too much trouble.
40 Toes-2-Bar were fine.  A year ago I would have had significant trouble with these, but I’ve been working hard on T2B for the past year.  I’m no expert, but it’s no longer a weakness for me.
30 Axle Jerks (@ 160#) was hard on everyone.  They made us stand on numbers that corresponded to our reps so the crowd could see who was winning.  I accidentally stepped off of the number a few times so I didn’t get credit for the reps.  The thickness of the axle was hard to prepare for.  I’m very used to the feel of a barbell in my hands – it’s comfortable.  The diameter of the axle is more than twice as big so it’s hard to maintain a good grip.  This is where we all started to feel the fatigue from the HSPU.  I got through them faster than most of my competitors, though.  Some of the athletes never even finished these.
100′ of lunges (holding the axle in a front rack) was pure misery.  It’s one of those things that you can always do another rep; it’s a matter of how much pain you’re willing to endure.  I dropped the axle twice.  When I was out there on the field I though I dropped it for 5-10 seconds and picked it right back up.  Later I saw a video and I realized that it was an illusion – in reality I sat there huffing and puffing and looked at that thing for way too long.  Regardless, I finished my heat first and felt great about my effort.

During the workout I could hear the announcers referring to me as “Crowd favorite, Anthony DeJager.”  It wasn’t because of anything I had done, but rather a tip of the cap to all of the CFMers in blue shirts screaming at the top of their lungs.  I got more cheers than just about anyone.  It was a cool moment and it makes me appreciate all of you who showed up to cheer me on – even if I was in the bottom heat.  Y’all got heart.

Event 7: Rope/Clean/Sprint
I think this would have been a great workout for me if I was fresh; I was definitely NOT fresh.
Rope climbs were fine.  None of us had any struggles with them.  They were mostly there as a spacer between reps on the heavy barbell.
225#  Cleans (full squat) were nasty.  I do a lot of cleans in training and 225 pounds isn’t ever a struggle.  It’s different, though, when you have to run and climb ropes, and DO THE CLEANS FAST.   I stayed steady and methodical. I only pulled the bar when I was certain I’d be able to complete the rep.  I had a miss on my third round because I left the weight too far forward.  I may have been able to recover it, but we had to be on the printed numbers in the mat, so I would have gotten no-repped.  I’ll be dedicating more time to heavy squats to get better at these.

By the time we got to event 7 there was no pressure at all.  As competitors we had gotten to know each other and were enjoying these events together.  In my heat we were out of the race by now, and realized that we wouldn’t be moving up and down the leaderboard with any significance, if at all.  It had essentially become a celebration of our achievement together in getting to this point.  None of us were giving up – we still gave it everything.  I ended up getting 3rd place in my heat.  It was a lot of fun to be in the group competing.

[To be continued…]

WOD: 5/30/13

Strength: 3 x ME UB KB Swing – heaviest possible

–  then  –

12 minute AMRAP of:

7 Hang Power Cleans 155/105#
14 Burpees
21 Lateral Box Jumps 20″ (touch top)

 

Regionals Recap Part II

I thought I woke up ready to go on Saturday, but I was unaware of the ambush I’d be walking into…

Event 4: 100’s

100 wallballs were no problem.  I broke them into sets of 25 with very short rest in between just for the sake of pacing.  I’ve done close to a hundred unbroken before, so I knew that I’d be fine.
100 Chest-2-Bar pullups was tough.  I had been expecting this part of this workout to be the single most difficult part of the weekend.  I broke it up into bite-size pieces right away – 5 at a time.  I’ve got long arms and my body weighs a lot more than my competitors, so it was expensive for me.  By the time I finished the C2B’s  I was way behind the leaders.
100 Pistols was the worst.  It was MUCH more difficult than I expected.  Looking back, it’s the thing I should have done a better job preparing for.  I thought my pistols were good enough, but I wasn’t comparing my pistols to Regionals athletes.  My strategy was to hold my foot with my hand during the movement to add some stability.  As it turns out, this “backfired” on me:  I had to round my back out so much to reach out that I lost all of my low back strength halfway through.  It took me ~10 minutes just to do 100 pistols.  Way. Too. Slow.100 DB snatches? Nope.  I only got 25 before the time cap.

I thought I was ready but I wasn’t.  I didn’t have my mental game on point.  As the workout went on and on I was unable to properly focus.  I know I could have done better if my mental approach was better, but I didn’t dwell on my mistakes.  I maintained the right attitude: I’m thankful for the opportunity to be out here.  I’m thankful for all of the people who are here to support me.  I’ll make up for it by being my absolute best from here on out.

Event 5:  21-15-9 of Deadlifts @ 315# & Box Jumps @ 30″

I’m a terrible Deadlifter.  Well, not terrible, but I’m not very good at it – especially compared to the guys around me.  I can blame it on long femurs and unfair disadvantages, but the truth is that I’ve just got to get better at it. I’m pretty good at box jumps, but so is everyone else.  This WOD was all about the deadlifts, and I had an uphill battle to fight.  Regardless, I was determined to get through this one before the time cap.
The 21’s were ok.  I was able to maintain a stable midline and break it up into 3 easy sets.  Box jumps were steady: Jump up, stand, step down, repeat.
The 15’s were brutal.  I broke it into 5 sets.  My midline started to go away.  I was trying to use my hamstrings, but they decided not to show up to the party.  The 100 pistols from 3 hours earlier had me exhausted already.  I got no-repped 3 or 4 times for bouncing the weight (I wasn’t intentionally bouncing, I was just so tired that it looked like I was).  I found a way to get through it, though.
The 9’s were all about guts.  “Lift that S.O.B.” kept going through my head.  No, my technique wasn’t good; not good at all.  No, it wasn’t fast.  BUT, I finished under the cap.  I got 33rd place in the deadlift event which I was proud of.
I’d like to note that I still maintain my official stance on deadlifting:  “There are absolutely zero long term advantages to lifts without a perfectly stable midline.  Any deviation from midline stability is not allowed.”  At Regionals, however, I chose to break that rule for a short term goal 🙂

Saturday Night was awesome.  I was way sore, but I enjoyed my time with everyone.  Morgan made a bunch of food (BTW, before I forget, Mordan took care of everyone ALL WEEKEND LONG.  Thanks for all of your help, brother) and everyone gathered at the RV camp.  It was so cool to hang out with all the CFMers playing games, laughing, and dancing.  The WODs destroyed me, but you all brought me right back up.

Thank you to everyone who was there with me.  I had a great time.  I say it all the time: We do some things well, but the BEST thing we do is community.  Our people love, accept, support, and encourage each other.  It’s an amazing bunch to be a part of.

[To be continued…]

WOD: 5/29/13

Strength: 

Power Clean + Push Jerk: 3X1 @ 70%, 3X1 @ 75%, 2X1 @ 80%  – rest 60 seconds between sets.

–  then  –

4 rounds for total time of:

12 Handstand Pushups
Run 400m

Rest 2 minutes between rounds.

*Post times.  Notes: Strict 20 min time cap.  Handstand pushups should be scaled in such a way that they are as difficult as possible, while still being able to work through all 48 reps.  For example:  If Rx HSPU are too difficult to perform, but knees on the box is performed easily, then 1) raise box, 2) place feet on box, and/or 3) increase vertical angle of torso.  The goal is to (while still moving at a proper pace) train your body to move your bodyweight (or as much of it as possible) through the full range of motion.  Do not scale ROM.

 

Regionals Recap: Part I

Training:  (This is the cliff-notes version…)
My workload between the Open and Regionals was insane.  I followed a very well-planned method designed to build my body up in such a way that I could train as much volume as possible without over training.   I trained every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday (rest days are Thursdays and Sundays).   I’d wrap up the morning classes and start stretching, mobilizing and warming up at 10:30 AM.  After a half hour of warmup I’d start my BBG (barbell gymnastics) work for the day.  This usually included 15-20 sets of HEAVY clean & jerks, snatches, or some drill or variation of either movement (keep in mind that each set could include up to 7 or 8 reps).  BBG takes about an hour if you’re moving non-stop; up to 2 hours if you take extra rest.  After BBG I’d either do strength or skill work.  Strength work included Back Squats, Deadlifts, Bench Press, Push Press, Heavy pulls, or some variation of these.  Skill work would include L-sits, handstand holds, handstand walks, TGU’s, Triple-Unders, or something else wacky.  After skill work I’d do a 10-20 minute MetCon.  After the MetCon I’d do core stability work or extra strength work on small muscle groups, like isolated hamstring or back movements.  I’d be finished around 1:30 PM.  After an hour of rest I’d get ready for another conditioning WOD, usually around 15-25 minutes.   I’d often go to a track or other location for the 2nd WOD.   Eat. Rest. Rinse. Repeat.

Thursday:
We (Brian, Matt, Morgan, Alvin, Jen, & Myself) left at 9 AM on Thursday.  It was fun to be making the trip together.  I was filled with nervous energy because 1) I had taken some extra rest days, and 2) I was way nervous, duh.  We got to Sonoma and set up camp at the RV park.  After we set up I registered and got a lame T-shirt (last year they gave us THREE cool shirts; this year we got ONE orange pastel shirt).  Stretched all day, talked some strategy with Brian & Jen, went to bed early. Good day.

Event 1: “Jackie”
“Jackie” was the first WOD on Friday (1k Row, 50 Thrusters, 30 Pullups).  I had done “Jackie” 4 times previously.  My times were 6:54, 6:51, 6:03, and 6:08.  I KNEW I could beat those times, but I’d have to row slower so I could do the thrusters and pullups faster.  I’m a pretty good rower, so my tendency is always to row as hard as I can to use my height advantage.  This time I slowed my pace down (stayed at ~1:43/500m).  I got off the rower and picked up the bar, started thrusters.  I did all 50 thrusters unbroken and got no-repped 3 times.  I walked straight to the pullup bar and jumped up.  Up to this point, I had never done unbroken pullups on this WOD and I didn’t know if I was capable of doing it unbroken or not.  I started pullups and when I hit number 15 it felt good so I kept going.  I hit number 20 and it still felt good so I kept going.  To my surprise  I was able to stay on the bar and perform all 30 of the pullups unbroken.  As I was working I could hear the CFM crew behind my back yelling their faces off.  I absorbed all of that energy.  5:50, PR.    I was happy with my workout.  Looking backI wish that I had done better thrusters though – the 3 no-reps cost me ~10 seconds.  It was another reminder of how important it is to have  perfect movement standards during training.

Speaking of standards… I try to make all of my movements perfect – ALWAYS.  I’m that way whether anyone is watching or not.  Every rep PERFECT.  Because of this, I was prepared for the movement standards at Regionals.  There are times when I’m tempted to cut a rep short or quit a round a few reps early.  I won’t do it.  It’s not worth it.  The time I put on the whiteboard would be a lie to myself and everyone else.  Worse yet, there would be a time when I would NEED those perfect reps in my back pocket, whether it be during the Open, at Regionals, or another competition.  I wouldn’t be as prepared as I could if I didn’t train like I was being judged.  Chest MUST touch the bar.  Toes MUST touch the bar.  Ball MUST go over the line. Etc.   In fact, leading up to Regionals, Chris Clow would no-rep me during my workouts EVEN IF MY REPS WERE GOOD.  It helped.  Thanks, Chris 🙂

The first event gave me the experience I had been waiting for.  I kept thinking about how fortunate I was to be part of these moments.  “I’m here.  I earned this.”

Event 2: 3-Rep Max Overhead Squat
This was a tricky one for me.  Overhead Squats are one of my strengths so I knew I could do well.  Recently, though, I had been having some wrist/forearm problems that were making Overhead Squats difficult.  I was able to choose my starting weight: either 225 or 255.  This was a tough choice because I knew that I could get 255 on a good day.  If I got 255 I’d have a big advantage on everyone else.  The downside was that if I wasn’t having a good day and I couldn’t get it for 3 reps then I’d be disqualified from the competition.  I chose to be conservative and start at 225.  It went up easy for 3 reps.  Then I loaded 235 – it went up easy for 3 reps but my wrist was starting to hurt pretty bad.  At this point it was only painful, but it hadn’t started working improperly.  I loaded 245.  When I put it overhead it was hard to focus on anything but the pain coming from my wrist.  I got through 2 reps and by the time I finished the 2nd rep my wrist was unable to stabilize any more so I dumped it.  My score was 245.2.  I was happy with it.  I had about 5 minutes left, but I decided to let it be.  I’m glad I started conservatively.  2 of the guys who started at 255 only got 2 reps and got disqualified.  They watched the rest of the events from the stands.  My wrist was good enough to continue – it only gives me problems during overhead squats and there were no more remaining in the weekend so I would be fine.

It was so cool to look out and see the CFM crew cheering me on.

Event 3: 30 Burpee-Muscle Ups

“Stay steady” was my only focus.  It worked, mostly…
I started with a Jumping-Muscle-Up for my first rep, which I thought was pretty cool because I was the only competitor  in the competition to do it.  I did my best to conserve my shoulders on the burpees so I could use them on the muscle ups.  Down, up, over, press out.  Repeat.  I was doing great through 20 reps.  I was a few reps ahead in my heat.  I felt good about the pace I was on.  I knew that if I could keep my pace I’d end up with a very good score.  Well, as it turns out, I could not keep my pace.  After about 23 reps I wasn’t able to lock out on the muscle up.  I got no-repped 6 times out of the next 10 attempts.  I finished with 27 reps before the 7-minute cap.   It was a decent score and  I was content with it.
Sometimes fortune favors the bold.  I took off at a risky pace not knowing if I’d be able to maintain it.  I’m glad I gave it a shot.  Yes, now that I can see it in hindsight, I should have slowed down.  It doesn’t matter, though.  I gave it my best shot.

Day 1 was over.  I came in ranked 45th.  Now I was 28th.  It was my highest ranking of the weekend.  My body wasn’t sore or tired.  My hands weren’t torn.   I was so happy that I was able to be here doing this.

[To Be Continued…]

MEMORIAL DAY “MURPH”

Honor our heroes.
For Time:
1 mile run
100 pull-ups
200 push ups
300 air squats
1 mile run

*partition pull-ups, push-ups, and squats as necessary.

Scaling options include “half-Murph” or “team-Murph” (pick up to 2 other people to join you).

Heats for “Murph” will start at 8:00, 8:30, 9:00, 9:30, & 10:00 am. Be early to get warmed up as heats will be prompt. For the sake of organization no early or late starts will be allowed.

Join us at CFM for this annual tradition as we celebrate our heroes with hundreds of thousands of other CrossFitters around the country will also be doing this WOD.

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WOD: 5/22/13

Strength:  7×1 3 Position Clean + 1 Jerk (low to high) – heavy but perfect, rest 60 sec.

-then-

30 Burpee Chest-2-Bar Pull-ups for time.

*Strict 5 minute cap. Use highest bar possible.

Rest 5 minutes, then:

Run 800m for time.

Rest 2 minutes, then:

Run 400m for time.

When I was growing up my dad would watch the Rocky movies with me and my brothers.  We must have watched each movie (6 of them, right?) 10-15 times.  They’re way cheesy, but we liked them anyways.  All day I’ve been thinking about a scene from #4…

Regionals are just a few days away.  This is incredibly exciting for me because I know I’m as prepared as I can be.  I’ve put in all the hard work and now it’s time to enjoy the competition.  If I make the top 4, I’ll get a chance to go to the CrossFit Games Finals – If I win the games I’ll get $250,000 and the title “Fittest Man On Earth.”   Yeah right 🙂

Rocky was about to go toe to to with Ivan Drago.

He told Adrian,  “No, maybe I can’t win. Maybe the only thing I can do is just take everything he’s got. But to beat me, he’s going to have to kill me. And to kill me, he’s gonna have to have the heart to stand in front of me. And to do that, he’s got to be willing to die himself. I don’t know if he’s ready to do that. I don’t know.”

I feel a bit like Rocky (but much taller, balder, and without the way-cool training montages).  I’ll be competing against some of the fittest men in the world in 2 days.  I know I’m not going to win first place this weekend.  I almost certainly  won’t even be in the top 20.  I do know, however, that I’m going to give it my best.  I’m going to give everything I’ve got in every workout and it’s going to be painful – very painful.  Anyone who beats me is going to have to earn it.  They may beat me, but I’m not gonna make it easy for them.

I encourage you to do the same in your workouts – do your best!  Your best is all we can ask.  Your best is good enough.  If someone is going to beat you, then you should make it hard for them to do it.

See you at Regionals!

 

Reminders: 

1) Pick up your regionals shirts at CFM.  Whatever doesn’t get picked up by Thursday evening is coming with us to Sonoma.
2) We’re closed this Friday & Saturday
3) Monday’s Schedule:  Memorial Day “Murph” Heats @ 8, 8:30, 9, 9:30 & 10!  Show up early to get warmed up and get ready to honor a fallen soldier in this annual tradition.  We will have scaling options like “Half Murph” and “Partner Murph” for those that want to scale.

WOD: 5/20/13

Strength:  7×1 3 Position Snatch (low to high) – heavy but perfect, rest 60 sec.

-then-

*With a running clock and no rest between:

2 minutes ME Handstand Hold (accumulate as many seconds as possible)

6 minute AMRAP of:

15 Hang Power Cleans @ 115/75#
15 Burpees

2 minutes ME Handstand Hold (accumulate as many seconds as possible)

4 minute AMRAP of:

10 Hang Power Cleans @ 115/75#
10 Burpees

2 minutes ME Handstand Hold (accumulate as many seconds as possible)

 

Reminder: CFM will be closed on Friday for Regionals.

I’m incredibly excited to start Regionals week!  The support I’ve gotten from our CrossFit Merced family has been an amazing blessing.  Everyday I am encouraged by all of you who show your support in so many different ways.

Competing at Regionals this weekend will certainly be an amazing experience, but I can’t help but think that the journey is greater than the destination.   Every step of the way has been uplifting for me.  There are several things that stand out to me as I approach this weekend.
1)  Jen makes it happen.  Thank you, Jen, my wife.  The behind-the-scenes support that she provides has allowed me to get here.  She is ever  caring for our family and keeping my life together while I have fun.  I often joke that “I get to play in the gym all day and she does all the hard work, but for some reason I keep getting all the credit!”  Her sacrifice and service to our family is the lynchpin to my success.
2)  I thrive on your encouragement.  Since last year I’ve had constant encouragement from you, our members.   It feels great to know that you all believe in me.  CrossFit is as mentally and emotionally challenging as it is physically demanding.  The community of support allows me to draw strength when it gets hard to keep going.  Thank you, CFM family.
3)  My training partners and coaches are incredible.  Cami and Alvin (are like me – they don’t have “real” jobs) have been with me hour after hour, day after day in the gym putting in the work and sweat.  Brian, Eddie, Jason, & Matt (et al) are also there to challenge me and coach me to be better.  I’m not surrounded by “yes” people.  This crew is honest and tough and I’m better for it.  Thanks, guys.

Tentatively, my heat schedule is as follows…
Friday, Event #1 @ 11:20 AM;      Event #2 & 3 @ 4:10 PM

Saturday, Event #4 @ 12:45 PM;      Event # 5 @ 5:00 PM

Sunday, Event # 6 @ 11:20 AM;        Event # 6 @ 3:15 PM

*Note:  My heat order may change based on re-seeding, but the schedule is a close estimate.

WOD: 5/10/13

Strength: EMOM for 14 Minutes Alternating:

1a) 1 Power Clean +3 Front Squats @ 70-80%
1b) ME UB Perfect Pushups

*Notes: Pick a FS weight between 70-80% that is challenging but fast. Error on the side of heavy for the FS load.

-then-

*In teams of 2

20 minute AMRAP of:

30 Lateral Burpees over BB (partners alternate every 5 reps)
20 BB Weighted (Front Rack) Walking Lunges @ 95/65# (1 partner completes all 20 per round—teams alternate every round)
30 Ab-Mat Sit-ups (The other partner—who did not complete the lunges—completes all 30 per round)
20 Touch-N-Go Power Snatches (partners alternate every 5 reps)

Remember, when you finish your workout, hang out and be supportive of those who haven’t finished yet. It takes a lot of guts to keep working out when most of the other athletes in the class are finished. Give the late finishers some credit for having the courage to complete all their reps with integrity. Show them your support and respect by waiting to rack your equipment until everyone is done. Encouragement and team support goes a long way.

Also, don’t be late to classes. You should be mostly warm and ready to when the class starts. We understand that life happens, so lateness is excusable if it is rare or infrequent.

WOD: 4/18/13

Strength:  20 Minutes to establish a 1RM Deadlift.

Notes:  At CrossFit Merced we do NOT do deadlifts to see how much you can pick up.  We do deadlifts to test your ability to maintain a stable midline while loading your skeletal system.  In order to be consistent with this agenda, we insist that every deadlift be performed with a properly stable and rigid midline.  For the purposes of our recording, any deviation from a stable midline will result in a no-rep.  If you haven’t read it yet, this is our unofficial stance on deadlifts.
In short:  Lift heavy, but lift perfectly.

–  then  –

2 Min ME Ring pushups,

-1 minute rest

5 Minute AMRAP:
7 Knees-2-Elbows
15 Standing Broad Jumps (6’/4′)

-1 minute Rest

2 Min ME Ring Pushups

*Post total pushups and rounds.  Notes:  Ring pushups must be completed with a stable midline.  If there is any deviation in midline stability do regular pushups on the ground.

 

WOD: 4/15/13

Strength:  (7 x)  1 Snatch Balance + 1 Hi Hang Snatch

–  then  –

4 minute AMRAP of:

Burpee Pull-Ups

*Rest 2 minutes.

6 minute AMRAP of:

30 Double-Unders
15 Power Cleans (95/65)

* Post burpee Pullups & rounds.

Here are some reminders for proper equipment etiquette.
-Use larger plates on barbells every chance you get.  10+10+5=bad; use a 25# plate instead (even if it means that you have to walk ALL THE WAY BACK to the weight rack to get them).  In fact, the best way to get a 65# bar is a technique bar with 25# plates!
-Don’t drop kettlebells and dumbbells.
-Don’t drop 10# plates
-Don’t take chalk out of the buckets.  (right now I know you’re trying to forget that you read this one so you can continue to pull your chalk nugget out of the bucket before the wod and leave it next to you while you do pullups.  Look, you don’t need that much chalk – that little nugget is your equivalent of the 4-year-old that won’t give up his pacifier; you think you need it, but you don’t).
-Spray & wipe your Ab-Mat after you use it.  Some of them look like they’ve been dipped in a bucket of Movie theatre popcorn butter substitute after you get done with it – don’t make it the next guy’s problem.

Thanks 😉