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.