James can be reached at TwinFreaks CrossFit, where he is an owner and trainer. James coaches barbell lifting classes and CrossFit classes. Contact him by email at james@twinfreakscrossfit.com or by phone at 720-204-2631.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Bench and Squat and Rowing

45 x 15
150 x 3
170 x 3
190 x 3
205 x 1
215 x 1
225 x 1
235 x 1
(245) x 1

Left shoulder is still twingey. I decided to bench narrow, and 235 is an all time PR for me with a narrow grip. I went wide again at 245 and missed. I probably should have tried it narrow.

Thursday Squat:
45 x 5
135 x 5
185 x 3
230 x 3
260 x 3
295 x 3

Just for the hell of it, Inzer Champion, straps down:
315 x 1
straps up:
(345) I didn't like the feel of this at all as soon as I unracked it, so I just racked it and quit for the day. I have a 20 rep PR attempt in the works for tomorrow, so I didn't feel a need to overwork. I was curious about using gear while training for raw competition. After today I doubt it's worth the hassle. I don't think I'll touch gear again until I hit some big numbers raw.

I'm happy with my progress in the 500 and 1000 meter intervals. Probably the 1500 is the only one that really matters when training for a 2000, and I'll see where I'm at on that tomorrow. It would be nice to finish the year with a 5:15 1500, especially if I don't have to push to do it.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Pulling Sumo and Rowing, Rowing, and Rowing

Yes I missed a whole week of posts. It was a deload week, so I screwed off and lifted some light 5's.

Now that we're caught up, Sunday was press day.

45 x enough
105 x 3
120 x 3
135 x 3
155 x 1 felt very heavy
155 x 1 I held my breath the whole way out of the rack, and it now felt light so,
160 x 1 which is probably a PR and also felt light so,
(165) x 1 the press is known to be a hard lift to make progress in, and 2011 is also a year, so I was done here.

Monday, as always, is dead lift day. Sooner or later everyone plays with switching to a sumo dead lift. I've thought about it many times over many years, but now having had L5 shoot across the room, I have decided I have nothing to lose except my current very low 1rm. A week or two ago, AB had 280 on the bar, and that same little voice that sometimes tells me to lift with no warm up told me to try to pull it sumo. Oddly enough I did, and it worked. I haven't tried a sumo dead lift in several years, and at that time I struggled mightily to pull 225. I suspect squatting wide carries over to the sumo dl fairly well. I figured I might as well try it for a full cycle and see what happens.

95 x 3
115 x 3
135 x 3 I was happy with my form on all these. I took my own often given advice and stopped here before my form broke down and my body only remembered how to do it ugly.

Sumo DL feet at about 35", toes out some but mostly forward which seems sort of natural:
215 x 3 I almost fell over backwards here; I'm also working on pulling with my shoulders behind the bar.
250 x 3
280 x 3
315 x 1
345 x 1 which is a post L4/L5 disaster pr, not bad for my first try.

I can probably gain quite a bit out of optimizing my stance, but I was surprised how well this worked just doing what felt right. As some sumo stylists had told me, I felt no strain in my back at all. The weirdest part was that the sticking point seems to be at the floor; as soon as the bar broke off the floor, it just kept going and got easier all the way up unlike my conventional dead that stalls off the floor but under the knees.

And then there is rowing. I had a very disappointing 2000m trial 12/24 finishing in just under 7:30. I sincerely believe that physically I can do much better, but the mental part of the game is killing me. When it starts to really hurt, somewhere around the halfway point, I start to disassociate and think about anything except rowing. That slows me down, and when I become conscious that I've disassociated, it gets even worse. I've started to meditate with a view to improving my focus and learning to sit through the pain of rowing. The preliminary results are encouraging. I got a big PR 500 today, breaking 90 seconds. I followed my strategy almost perfectly taking a three stroke start, dipping the split time into the 1:20s before settling in at 1:30 on the tenth stroke. At 300 meters I started falling apart, but I was able to gather myself by chanting "focus, focus, focus," which took me to my sprint range of 150m where I surged and finished at 1:29.4.

Fucking beautiful.

Now I just have to teach myself to do this on a merciless course four times longer.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Uninspired Training and Shit PR

This was supposed to be a week of big singles, but I'm still suffering from Saturday's high rep, low weight squatting.

Monday DL:
135 x 5
225 x 5
255 x 3
285 x 1
315 x 1

I thought it was weak not to go at least my last opener of 330, but I was definitely done here.

Wednesday Bench:

45 x enough
whatever was on the bar x about 5
155 x 5
175 x 3
195 x 1
215 x 2 x 1

My left shoulder was getting twingey. I thought it was probably correct to get some reps in around 215, and save 240+ for next month.

Thursday Squat:
45 x 5
135 x 5
185 x 3
225 x 1
240 x 5
270 x 3
300 x 1
330 x 1 high

Here I should have taken 345 or so and made it to depth. I was simply out of time.

This week I half-assed got my shit together. This might seem unimpressive, but for me it's a PR at least over the last half year or so. I forced myself to do some unpleasant but necessary stuff. Sometimes I get so absorbed in the physical aspects of training that I forget what it's really for, strengthening the mind. Next time your shit is spread out all over and you're having difficulties, remember the strength you bring to the gym. You lift the fuck out of whatever weight is on the bar, right? Whatever your other battles may be, you're ready to fight them ferociously.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

12/12 Press, F'n CrossFit, and STFU

5 x 45
5 x 75
3 x 95
5 x 105
3 x 120
1 x 135
1 x 145
1 x 150 Felt easy so I thought I'd try 160, but
1 x (160)

Pull Ups 6 x 5

Yesterday I intentionally did a rather stupid CF work out, the one involving 50 squats at 95, 40 at 115, 30 at 135, 20 at 155, and 10 at 175. I knew I'd get no training effect and a ton of fatigue, but I wanted to do it anyway. Hey we served it up Thursday, and so I felt like I should show I can do this stuff too. As I knew, I'm now toasted. I can walk mostly fine, but I can't move big weights which is particularly bad as this week we should be doing heavy singles. Whatever, it's not like I'd be happy if at least some of the people some of the time didn't think I'm stupid.

So today I programmed 7 rounds of 7 push jerks and 14 box jumps. I quite incorrectly thought push jerks wouldn't be a problem after heavy pressing. I knew the box jumps were going to be a problem, so I started with a 20" box instead of my normal 24." When ACW wanted a 20", I decided it might be a good idea to give her mine and use her 16". So the workout was reasonably terrible. I found myself going slow just to stay alive. On the third round I started doing my push jerks in a set of four and then one of three. All good except I wanted to jerk out of a rack instead of cleaning my weight, and I took the rack closest to baby Finn's crib. Somewhere around the fourth or fifth round, I stopped my jerks and checked on Finn who seemed to be having a bad night. I thought since I was struggling anyway and ACW and EW had already taken turns checking on Finn, I'd do it. It's just when I came back to the barbell, I couldn't remember if I had done four or only three jerks. As any CrossFitter knows, the only thing to do in that situation is four jerks and forever wonder if perhaps you did eight instead of seven. Nobody would want to wonder if six instead of seven were done. CrossFit is horrible, and once you've done it two or three weeks, you can't even cheat.

Talking. If you've got something to say, say it. I'm old and brittle but I still learn from other people even if I do sometimes make them explain something four times. On the other hand, if you just want to give excuses for why you can't do something, shut the fuck up. It's not that hard to give up Twinkies, and if you really believe in the Twinkie diet, could you at least shut the fuck up until you can squat the Sunday paper or preferably even one of the weak milestones like a 1.5 x body weight squat?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

12/9 Squats, Peak Power, and Perspective


45 x 2 x 5
135 x 5 felt like 275
205 x 5 felt like 300
240 x 5 felt like 350
270 x 5 felt like 290; I was probably about warmed up by now.

GHR Blitz Day 3:
1 x 7, 1 x 6, 1 x 5 All of these felt like my body weight was 300.

I've been reading about sustained power output by elite cyclists, which apparently is right around 6 - 6.3 watts/kg body weight. Naturally I wondered if this holds true for rowing, and how it correlates to peak power output. VP sent me a link to a video of Canadian Olympic rowers trying a 3 rep max on the erg - the damper goes on 10, the rower takes three strokes from a dead stop, and the goal is to turn maximal wattage on the third stroke. I absolutely had to try this, of course, and my best effort was 655 watts. After squatting and the third day in a row of GHR, I thought I was not at my best and could probably hit 800(ish) on a good day.

Apparently the Canadians consider 1100 good. Sure, they're Olympians. Sure, the test subject is six inches taller than me, weighs 30 or so pounds more than me, and is probably 15-20 years younger than me. So what? I want to hit 1100 too.

So 445 watts separate me from Olympic stature. Fuck.

What I do in these situations is fervently believe I can hit 800, and after I do that, I'll start working on 900. All this bums me out more than I'm sure it should. I also make it a point to remember that many guys my age are dead or on dozens of prescription medications largely because they decided to watch guys hit 1100 on television while avoiding hitting 400, or 800, or 900, or whatever they could have done. You really can't be a loser until you give up, and neither can I. I haven't given up. I think I've only rowed 80 some thousand meters since I got serious about rowing, which it seems takes the Canadians two days to accumulate.

I've been to Canada. I like Canada.

I'm going to catch those fuckers.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

12-8 Bench

Bench Press
45 x 15
135 x 5
155 x 5
175 x 5

pull ups 4 x 5
ring dips 3 x 5

Day two of the three day blitz. Day one was 1 x 16, 1 x 15, 1 x 12, so today I did 1 x 11, 1 x 10, 1 x 8. These seem to improve very rapidly.

Row 30 minutes: 6,747 meters. I wasn't in any hurry today. I watched the power output and was unconcerned about my distance. Yesterday I clocked my peak power at 420 watts, and today over 30 minutes I averaged 143 watts. I need to hold just over 300 for 7 minutes.

Monday, December 6, 2010

12-6 OHS & Deads

I figured with the relatively lighter weight I could warm up with the overhead squat.

45 x 5
75 x 3
95 x 3
115 x 1
135 x 1
155 x 1
175 x 1
195 x 1 This felt light; I thought maybe I'd get to 215 today.
205 miss No dice; I didn't get deep enough
205 x 1 Definitely with nothing to spare on depth.

Dead lift
195 x 5
225 x 5
255 x 5

Normally I'd throw in a 135 x 5, but I thought having just squatted and working fairly light, I could just do the work sets. VP thought my back was rounding already at 195, so for the next two sets, I re-set for each rep.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

12-2 Squats, Chocolate F'n Cake, and more Rowing

I absolutely love Thursdays. It's squat day, chess club night, and eat anything within reason day as long as I'm not hideously overweight and on 100% paleo.

45 x 2 x 5 Sadly I am getting old. I stay at 45 pounds until I get 5 reps at depth.
135 x 5
185 x 3
225 x 3
255 x 3
285 x 3
305 x 1
315 x 1
335 x 1
345 x 1

I tried out the new Elite heavy wraps at 335. Not sure what I think of them except they're new enough to be tight enough to hurt. The 335 felt fine to me, but one or more training partners thought I didn't get to depth. I've found the best way to handle that is to put more weight on and make damned sure the next rep is deep. 345 passed the video test, so good enough.

I ate a huge fucking piece of extremely chocolaty cake after training. I enjoyed it and remained guilt free as I very rarely stray from Paleo eating. I have to be careful to be perfect tomorrow, as at some point I might crave sugar. I guess I'm pretty lucky because after even one day of no sugar, I feel fine and don't miss it at all.

Some hours later after my blood sugar had mostly normalized, I rowed 30 minutes. I wasn't trying to push it at all, but nonetheless I was disappointed to get just over 6,900 meters. I found it much harder to row 30 minutes than to do 6,000 meters. I think it's probably just another of my mental problems, but not one I'm going to worry about. 2,000 meters is the only distance that counts, and even that will only count on January 29th.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

12/1 Bench and Rowing

Wednesday, kids, is bench day.

45 x 15
95 x 5
145 x 3
165 x 3
185 x 3
205 x 1
215 x 1
235 x 1

I was happy to hit 235, though I don't understand why that wouldn't work at the meet.

Pull-ups 5 x 5
Ring dips 2 x 5 (affe, I have neglected these and it shows)
GHR 1 x5, 2 x 3

I can't see any downside to doing the 3 on, 1 off hamstring blitz, so that's what I'm doing.

After rowing a slow-ass 2k yesterday, I thought I'd try 7 intervals of 60 seconds work and 30 seconds rest and maintain a 1:45 split time. Across the intervals I averaged 1:45 exactly having started a bit fast and slowing through the splits. This was challenging, and I think productive. I am training myself to stay at the 7:00 minute 2K pace, and I'm also practicing the 10 stroke start. It took some serious concentration, but I was able to dip to around 1:36 before settling in at just about 1:45 at 25 strokes per minute on the tenth stroke.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Monday 11/29

Dead lift day.

135 x 5
210 x 3
240 x 3
280 x 3
315 x 1
335 x 1

335 felt neither good nor bad. It's the heaviest I've been post-injury, and my intention is to bring the top dead up very slowly. I seem to be hampered mainly by fear, so I'm just going to inch the top single up a few pounds at a time and see if I can convince my brain and body that it's okay to lift heavy.


3 x 7

This is a PR and the kind it's impossible to feel good about. 3 x 10 is the minimum required here. Still it's impossible to suck completely as long as you're doing something to address your weakness. Soon there will be a concentrated hamstring blitz month; maybe December if it doesn't kill my rowing.

Monday is not bench day. Stay the fuck away from me if you think Monday is bench day. We're not doing "8 Weeks to your Perfect Beach Body" here. Take that shit to 24 Hour Fitness.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

New Cycle and What's Next

We started a new cycle of 3/5/1 today having decided to vary from 5/3/1 so that we get more heavy singles in with a view to preparing for max singles at our next meet, 3/5/11. I've decided that a reasonable goal for me is to total over 1,000. I believe I can gain significantly in the dead lift since I can train it again, and I should be able to find a few pounds on the squat and bench.

Sunday as always is press day, and I did:

45 x I don't know
75 x 5
100 x 3
115 x 3
130 x 3
140 x 1
140 x 1
145 x 1

I didn't feel especially good, so I shut it down at 145. I'll try to go balls out in two weeks and see if I can hit 155 or 160.

If you've been around, you've probably noticed I've been rowing a lot lately. I'm preparing for an indoor race in Denver 01/29/11, and I'm also doing the C2 holiday challenge wherein I try to accumulate 100,000 meters between 11/25 and 12/24. I figure the best way to get that volume without killing myself is to do two 6 km pieces Saturday and Sunday, and two 2 km's each Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. I'll see what my 2km time is on 12/24, and then figure out how best to train to shave a few seconds off in the next month.

I freaking hurt today. I'm going to see what epsom salts do for me. I'd take tomorrow off, but it's dead lift day.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Colorado Regional Write Up & Project Awesome

I knew Friday morning when I weighed myself at 184 I would be in for a long day. Two of us were well aware that we were flirting heavily with weight limits, and the team had scheduled a late afternoon sauna excursion with two sweating and two blocking the door shut. It was painful for me as I had to resort to some calisthenics in the sauna, but I weighed in at exactly 181.7 Friday night.

Friday night I tried to rehydrate and relax by playing over some chess games of David Bronstein, possibly my favorite player ever, but as is usual for me lately, I slept like complete shit. I woke up feeling adequate, and I figured ammonia and a Spike Shooter would get me through the squat after which I could take a token bench and dead lift and just enjoy the meet.

Problems continued during the rules meeting when we found there would only be one flight of squats as only twenty-one lifters were squatting. That meant that I would have to warm up at the same time as J-Heff and VP, that my attention would be divided between coaching and lifting, and finally that VP would have to help me with knee wraps and then squat seven lifters behind me.

First squat: 150 Kg - good lift - three whites. I was actually worried about my opener since the judging was ruthlessly strict. I just made sure I was well below parallel, and I didn't have any problems here.

Second squat: 165 Kg - good lift - two whites, one red. I made my second attempt at my low goal for the meet, a double body weight squat, and this was easily the worst and most frightening lift I've ever made. Even post injury I've squatted more in the gym, but with the judging I knew I'd have to take this one low, and I've been having problems getting to depth since my back fell apart. I went with ammonia, slapped myself, and performed some serious barbell voodoo such that the weight felt light coming out of the monolift and going down. Coming up I swayed heavily to the left. Usually if I have any problems I'm either over my toes or pitching right. I can't really describe how panic inducing it was to realize not only that I was failing, but that I was doing it in an entirely new, unknown way. I was sure the spotters would jump in, but when they didn't I knew I could either stay with lift and keep driving come what may or go down like the Titanic. I'm not sure how I arrived at the top, but I heard the "rack" command, got the bar the hell off of me, turned around and saw two whites.

Third squat: pass. My plan was to take a crack at 400 if I felt good. On the second attempt I wanted my wraps tourniquet-tight. We had timed this in training and found it took 120 seconds. I started wrapping four lifters out yet still felt rushed and didn't get the wraps perfect. I was probably feeling extra-shaky following the second squat, but I though any mistake with 400 pounds would be enough to get myself crushed, so having an official double body weight squat in the books, I stopped here.

First Bench: 100Kg - no lift. Here we had two flights. After coaching our three women through the bench and stressing to them not to jump any commands, I went in the second flight and inexplicably jumped the "rack" command.

Second Bench: 100Kg - good lift - three whites. No problem here, but it takes a toll to do the opener twice.

Third Bench: 107.5 Kg - no lift. I had no big expectations for the bench, but this was disappointing. I thought 107.5 would go, but it stalled about three inches off my chest.

First Dead lift: 150 Kg - good lift. By this time the lack of sleep was bothering me as the Spike had worn off. Absolutely everything felt heavy warming up, but this went up as easily as if it had been 100k. Here my plan was to take a second and possibly third lift only if I had hit a third squat that put me in a position to total 1,000. I wasn't even close, so I bowed out here.

Probably the worst part of the dead lift was that we again had two flights. I knew our lifters were in good shape here, so I was warming up while they were lifting. I missed seeing every one of their PR's.

Overall I was satisfied with my performance. Since injuring myself I have pulled over 300 pounds two or three times, and I had squatted over 305 only four or five times. I expected good but not great stuff to happen, and that's how it transpired.

I did, however, have a great time at the meet. We have the next three months of lifting programmed. The women will PR everything in March at our next meet, while I should break 400 pounds at the same meet. I feel like I can finally take on a full training load, and the 200Kg squat is now scheduled for next summer.

Don't be scared if you see us. We are almost certainly adding chains this mesocycle.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Listening to my Body and Reading Robb Wolf

Guys, I'm not Sage Burgener, so I'll skip the part about how lazy I've been not updating my blog. The thing is, I'm trying to restrict it to when I have something to say. I could, and maybe will, lay out my day-to-day training, but basically it goes like this: lift heavy barbells as prescribed by Crossfit Football, follow TwinFreaks CF with intelligent scaling Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, eight hours of jiu-jitsu weekly to keep me happy and remember why I train, an additional wod Sunday if I damn well feel like it, and an occasional Saturday if there is some reason why I can't take Saturday off like Fight Gone Bad, for example.

Wow. That seems like a lot of stuff. At any rate, it seems like a lot to me. So how do I do it? Firstly I have to prioritize.

For whatever reason, I'm not ruling out ego, it's become very important to me to develop a truly outstanding squat. I'm not talking about the "I have the biggest squat in my little pond" squat, but rather the "did you see what that guy did at his last meet" squat, and that takes some dedication. So above all, I do what Crossfit Football tells me. I have the CFFB strength programming all laid out and explained to me by John Welbourn himself, but I go right off the site to avoid any temptation to tinker with the programming. I just get it done. I bench when I can get a spotter. Ideally I'd like to lift at about 3 or 4 pm, but I do it when I can. For the most part I like to lift alone. I've squatted at 8am, and I've squatted at midnight. The ironclad rule is just this: CFFB posts and I get the workout done within the prescribed calendar day.

Next I do jiu-jitsu. Life and injuries robbed me of jiu-jitsu for much of the last 16 months or so, and I'm happy to have it back. I love it in and of itself, but it's also what lead me to crossfit and what keeps me going to crossfit.

Lastly then, I do crossfit which does indeed take scaling given the other demands I put on myself. There are many ways to scale of course, but I usually look first at the time domain. Since I'm one of those rare people who can say with certainty that my primary sport is composed of six minute matches, it's easy for me to look at weight, reps, and rounds with a view to getting the workout somewhere in the five to ten minute range. Yes, I know. Other people have it harder, but looking at the time domain is a fairly simple idea to keep in mind for scaling.

Then of course one day you're just not 22 anymore and you can't quite do what it is you had intended to do.

Yesterday was a rough one for me. My schedule was supposed to have been crossfit then two hours jiu-jitsu, but I had a friend trying out jiu-jitsu at noon, so I figured I'd skip the wod, go to noon jiu-jitus class then later get in "my" two hours of jiu-jitsu. Eh, probably an okay idea. I help out a friend and I get three hours of total activity even if one of them is in the wrong place. But I got dropped on my head hard enough in the noon class to see the white flash, which probably means a mild concussion, then got kicked in the shin hard enough to get a good purple lump. I figured "my" two hours would go better, but I got a hard knee in the nose. Now jiu-jitsu is almost perfectly safe, and I find any one of these things happens to me about every six months on average, but I got all three in one day.

So today is another day. Crossfit wasn't on the schedule, Crossfit Football gave me the day off, so my two hours of jiu-jitsu should have been no problem. But I still hurt today. My shin hurts, my nose hurts, my head hurts, in short, I hurt. I noticed further that it was overcast and rainy. As I headed out the door, I thought, " hmmm, probably a lot of people will just stay home today and certainly I wouldn't be missed." My second thought was, "it doesn't matter what other people do or don't do now does it; it's about me taking this opportunity to improve." My third thought was, "it doesn't matter what other people do or don't do now does it; it's about fuck I hurt."

In jiu-jitus it's often recommended that if the body doesn't work one should come to training anyway and watch. I like that. You learn by watching, you stay connected with your community, and you get hungry to return.

Ah, but I stayed home and read from Robb Wolf's book "The Paleo Solution." I'm far enough in to say that it is riveting considering its technical depth. I'd guess it takes me no more than another day or perhaps two to plow through. I skipped ahead to the chapter on why not sleeping kills people because that's been a keen interest of mine since my former job tried to kill me. I can say that I understand death from not sleeping on a hormonal level now, and it was nowhere near as hard to get through as say a history of the Federal Reserve.

Guys, our human bodies are awesome machines. They will run about 40 years on Oreo cookies. They also respond eagerly to our efforts to fuel them properly and give them the movement they were made for. Sometimes, though, as much as it pains us, they need to rest. That can be a great time to pull out a book and learn something new.

Yes, yes, I will sometime publish the JamesD syllabus.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Why BarbellMile

My friend, trainer and trainee Vanessa, Nineties-Small or Hippy-Milk as I more usually call her, started bothering me about starting a blog. I wasn't at all sure at first, but people let me know in various ways that they like me and want to know what I'm thinking. Honestly that is hard for me to believe. It's true I am pursuing awesomeness as I understand it, and if I start talking about my pursuit of awesomeness I have a pronounced tendency to keep talking for hours. Nonetheless I view myself as a rather average, boring guy. But still people let me know in various ways that they like me and want to know what I'm thinking. Fine, it's on.

First we had to come up with a name.

Vanessa Pinter September 1 at 8:50am
If you haven't set it up yourself already, think about the url you want and the blog title. The url is www. whatever .blogspot.com

James Drebenstedt September 1 at 8:50am
retarded fucker?

Vanessa Pinter September 1 at 8:53am
Hmm.. maybe not... The Other Twin Freakn' Strong

James Drebenstedt September 1 at 8:54am

Vanessa Pinter September 1 at 8:56am
Enigma Walking

James Drebenstedt September 1 at 8:57am
Complete fucking badass

Vanessa Pinter September 1 at 8:58am
People are going to have to look that up. What kind of person do you want to attract? Do you want to actively drive away women by putting up obvious photos of female eye-candy like T-Nation? Or be more subtle like Crossfit.com.

James Drebenstedt September 1 at 9:02am
I can only be completely authentic.

Vanessa Pinter September 1 at 9:04am
OK... annoying women is your other hobby anyway...

Vanessa Pinter September 1 at 9:06am
Authentic Power

Vanessa Pinter September 1 at 1:14pm
taken. so is authenicstrenth
authenticpowerwithjamesd is ok
jamesdrebenstedt is ok

Vanessa Pinter September 1 at 1:21pm
badasspower is ok

Vanessa Pinter September 1 at 6:01pm
awesomepower is taken
sheerawesomepower is ok

Vanessa Pinter September 2 at 1:47pm
Oops. Too busy talking - forgot to set this up!

James Drebenstedt September 2 at 1:47pm
no problem I'm asleep anyway

Vanessa Pinter September 2 at 1:48pm
Pick a name and I'll get it started, then you can play with it.

James Drebenstedt September 2 at 1:54pm
BarbellMile as in do a barbell mile with JamesD, motherfucker

And so it was.

The barbell mile is extremely simple. You load a barbell and walk a mile with it. I was at a loss for what workout to do on my last birthday, so I chose the barbell mile, loaded up 135 and completed it with the one and only Eric Walden. The second time I did it was Steve Nagel's birthday, and I thought I might as well use my body weight of 185.

I've done many much harder workouts. "Religion" comes to mind immediately. That's 5 rounds of max repetition squats at body weight and 7 box jump burpees. Another killer was 10 minutes of on the minute 3 squats at 70% (I think, and I've actively tried to forget this) of 1rm, 50 meter sprint and 5 pull ups. This was after I had been working on my squat, so I was supposed to use 275 pounds. Take that deep 3 times a minute for 10 minutes when you can't breath. Ouch.

So the barbell mile is easy in a sense. You just load a barbell and walk a mile with it. I have an open invitation to basically everyone I know to do the barbell mile with them on their birthday. I'm sure I'll be doing it many more times, and I hope it becomes a tradition.

The problem is just it hurts, and you'll want to quit. With 185 I encountered serious problems at 3/4 of a mile. I could still do an ugly power clean, but I couldn't get the bar over my head into a decent position to carry it. I actually bounced 185 pounds off my forehead, bounced off a chain link fence and fell in some loose sand and gravel off the sidewalk. The idea to strip 50 pounds, go down to 135 and continue was debated, but I vetoed it. Instead I had a couple guys pick it up for me while I ducked under and put it on my back. I could go back to the article where I first read about the Barbell Mile and see if this constitutes cheating or not. I'm more interested in having finished what I started even if it wasn't quite how I had thought it would go.

I find the pursuit of awesomeness is similar to the Barbell Mile. It hurts and most people will want to quit. I can't be sure I'll get to awesomeness without changing my definition of awesome along the way. I am sure that when I fall down, I'll get up and find a way to continue forward.

You can join me. You can also criticize me, and if you're doing something better than eating ice cream and watching television, I might even listen to you.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Colorado Open Highlights

by James Drebenstedt on Sunday, August 29, 2010 at 10:39pm
 1) Coaching and watching the Strong Mom.  Alex would have been spectacular even if she weren't just three months post-partum.

2)  Seeing what a big and low maintenance boy Finn has become.

3) Screaming "kill the tire" repeatedly.

4) Screaming at people I had never seen before in my life.  I was on  the scene - they were crossfitters in need of moral support.

5) Freezing Steve out of our hotel room.

6) Eating most of the hotel's eggs and drinking all their coffee.

7) Realizing if we were a Warsaw Pact Crossfit Affiliate, Steve's permission to travel abroad with the team would be revoked.

8) Screaming at my old FCF teammates.  We are one.

9) 54 minutes non-stop screaming during three successive heats of workout four.

10) Photographing Front Range's lifting whiteboard.  They have four or five guys who squat more than me.  I smell blood.  I won't always be on the sidelines.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Absolutely Everything I've Learned since January

by James Drebenstedt on Friday, July 16, 2010 at 8:37am
The squat is almost everything. It's a whole body exercise, but you can still do it if your whole body doesn't work as when I had one hand in January.

1) Intra-abdominal pressure is most of the squat. You're going to take a deep breath and pack the abdomen. You can argue about a belt all you want. When you get serious, get a belt. It's going to be one notch loose, and you're going to push your abdominal wall into it. You might turn purple like I sometimes do. It's okay. Even if you pass out, you're just going to get smashed. You won't die.

2) Most of the rest of the squat is doing everything in your power to use the posterior chain. Don't think about going down, think about pushing the butt back. You'll feel the hamstrings load, and the stretch reflex will help you out of the hole.

3) I'm not sure where your feet go. Put them where you think they go and then put them wider. This will make your pathetic little glutes fire, and the more your pathetic little glutes fire, the less they'll be pathetic and little.

4) Push your knees out. If you're like me, you'll have no sense of your knees. No problem - "spread the floor" with your feet. This makes your body push the knees out even though you still won't feel it. Pushing out or spreading the floor will make your pathetic little glutes fire.

5) If you push your knees out at the bottom, you're way too late. As soon as you break at the hips and push back, not down, on the descent, you're pushing out or spreading the floor.

6) Your body likes the squat much more than the deadlift. This is because it understands the stretch reflex even if you don't. You will think your body hates the squat. Not at all. This is your brain fucking with you. Squatting requires absolute faith.

7) Cases are made for all head positions. Do what you want. I've found neutral is best. Remember that because your upper body inclines forward, neutral will seem like down. Looking up doesn't help anything. Looking down is asking to go ass up face down. Now the weird part - at the bottom of the squat you want your head to go towards geographical up. This feels like you're jamming your neck or upper back into the bar. That is true "up", and that's the only place you want to go.

8) You want a tight, tight upper back. That is the easiest way to get the correct lumbar curve, and avoid the "poopy dog."

9) You're not a genius. Don't re-invent the wheel in the middle of the ninth inning. You're going to use a basic linear progression. I've used 5/3/1 and CFFB amateur strength workout. If you don't like those try "starting strength," or some such thing. Don't be an idiot. When you're good, you'll make the pilgrimage to Ohio and work with Dave Tate or Louie Simmons. Until then, you're going to lift and admit you don't everything. This will mean you know enough.

10) Depending on your basic linear progression, you'll squat insanely heavy once a week, idiotically heavy twice a week, or even stupidly heavy three times a week.

11) All that squatting will make you hungry. You will not deny yourself adequate food. You're going to get somewhat fat. This is okay because you will be strong, and besides you'll have a great personality. Unfortunately noone will care that you have a great personality because it will manifest itself mainly through you screaming profanity in most social situations. No problem. You will remind yourself you have a great personality. You might even try saying it out loud when you're done screaming. I think I'll try that. Fuck, I have a great personality.

12) You might have to eat 35 Reeces Peanut Butter Cups a day. I haven't yet, but if becomes necessary I'll do it without hesitation. The squat is almost everything.

13) If this isn't working for you, you might be afraid of being fat. If you're afraid of being fat, it's probably because you want a blond super model girlfriend. I actually had a blond super model girlfriend. It almost killed me. Don't do it.

14) The other reason this might not work is that you lack faith. Quit lacking faith, I guess.

15) The final reason this might not work is that you're a genius which is a sure sign you're an idiot. Quit thinking and squat. 5/3/1, CFFB SWOD, etc.

16) It is vital that you do not "feel a burn" in your quads. That's weird bodybuilding shit that means not only do you want a blond super model girlfriend, but even worse, you got the stupid idea that you want a blond super model girlfriend from an overpriced yet worthless men's magazine. Finally, feeling a burn in the quads means you haven't understood the need to find and use the posterior chain.

17) Yes, I'm available for consultations.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Powerlifting at TFCF

by James Drebenstedt on Wednesday, August 18, 2010 at 1:45pm
 One of the things I have learned to love about Crossfit is how we all excel at something and if we're honest we also totally suck at something.   I believe we should work hard on what we suck at, and to keep ourselves happy we should devote time to our strengths.  I am elated that we at TFCF will be starting a powerlifting class which plays into my one and perhaps only true strength, the one repitition display of absolute strength.

We will be following a sane and proven progression to reach ever higher totals on the "Big Three," the squat, bench press, and deadlift.  We will  only rarely test the actual 1rm, which will decrease injuries and increase our longevity.

I have devoted much time over the last years, months, and weeks to distilling best practices in the competition forms of the Big Three.  I have read known and respected professionals heavily, and more importantly I have heavily tested their writing under the bar.  Yes, we will work hard, but we will not work stupidly.  You will make radical improvements as we work on perfecting technique.  You can expect to be challenged.  We are not doing the fraternity ego lifts, we are doing the competitive lifts which in many cases are uncomfortable.

Our sessions will be Sunday at 5pm, Monday at 10am, Wednesday at 10am, and Thuirsday at 11am.  My belief is that most people will see the most improvement with four training days a week.  Three and two are acceptable, but be prepared to hustle.  Notice that we have placed powerlifting immediately before a wod.  Powerlifting is not a CrossFit replacement, but rather a compliment.  Your CrossFit will improve as you gain strength and muscle, which you should know is also key in weight reduction, and your strength will increase as CrossFit improves your conditioning and work capacity.  We will be running four week cycles, and ideally you would commit for a month at a time to see the best strength gains.

Darla, Vanessa, and I are all planning on competing in a drug free pl meet November 20th, which is a convenient three training cycles away.  Join us because you're ready to try a new sport, or to improve your CrossFit, or maybe just to enjoy some good music and see me in my element.