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.

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.