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.

Friday, May 20, 2011

267,082 Meters

From the C2 online log:

James Drebenstedt's Logbook

Sorry, I was going to stop cleanly at a quarter million meters, but then I got the idea to row a half-marathon and I overshot by seventeen thousand. But that's not such a horrible margin of error for an advanced beginner.

I've done each of these meters since last October when I decided to get good at indoor rowing, and in the process I've learned a few things.

I've learned, for instance, that: the damper goes on 7; optimal cruising rate is 27 strokes per minute; I can keep decent form and generate power at 41 strokes per minute for 30 seconds or so; most of a 500 meter piece will be rowed in the mid - thirties per minute range; the last 150 meters of anything will be rowed at 22 strokes per minute which is where my power output is highest and it's nearly lethal to sustain that for 150 meters; nothing, absolutely nothing, hurts as bad as a maximal effort 500 meter sprint, and, yes, there really is probably something wrong with me for making this my chosen art form; and so on.

And all this of course means nothing unless you happen to be 5'10", weigh 190 - though claiming 181, can make an honest claim to be an anaerobic bad ass yet have to concede you're an aerobic wimp, and so on.

You'll have to row your own quarter million meters if you want to be an advanced beginner like me.

Probably and properly the subject here should be power lifting, but it would take me a long time to figure out how many tons I've lifted in the last half year or so, and I'm sure it wouldn't be 250,000 which sounds so good.

So here's what I propose - figure out what you want to be better at, figure out how to get better, and start doing it. I have to warn you that you'll have to make concessions to get good at something, and you can likely only get good at one thing though I admit I am attempting to take on two simultaneously.

Two years ago I was heavily into CrossFit and running 25 or so miles a week also. I weighed 167 pounds, and I have never felt better physically in my life. It was a huge concession for me to push my body weight up while becoming slower and feeling worse physically. On the other hand, I feel great psychologically; while I can't run away from as many threats as I used to, I'm capable of picking up, twisting, and casting aside more threats. I just had to make a decision which way I wanted it and then pursue my course of action relentlessly.

More things I've learned in 18 months of heavy lifting, and half a year of indoor rowing:

you might have to do your shit at 6:30am, or some equally inconvenient time

no one will ever quite understand why you do your shit

there will always be a few people who are so into their own awesome shit, that they will recognize your drive and help you out even though they won't quite understand you

yes, they will even do this at 6:30am

grow the mustache, the people who like you like you for who you are, and anyway, they don't notice the mustache until they first see the Greek yogurt smeared across your hoodie and the chalk on your sweats

chalk is good, ammonia is better

coffee and creatine ethyl-ester don't mix - it doesn't matter; it's 6:30 am, you don't know what you're ingesting, and you're on your way to being an awesome advanced beginner which is a fuck of a lot better than hanging out with your critics in continued mediocrity.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Caffeine, Music Periodization & Jim Wendler

And so after a month off coffee, I started working 60 or 70 hours a week, cracked, and got back on coffee. The first day I had coffee at work, I felt great physically, but I was trying to read and I noticed I had to re-read each paragraph numerous times before I could make sense of it. I'm also sleeping like shit again. Caffeine kills; I'll have to go through the painful process of quitting again.

My lifting is programmed all the way to August, but I'm starting to think already about how to train from August until November, and I'm strongly considering a conjugate periodization scheme, often incorrectly known as Westside or "Darkside" training. In short form this involves a maximal effort day (ME) when the lifter works up to a heavy triple or single, and a speed or dynamic effort day (DE) when the lifter will use loads around 50-60% of 1rm with an emphasis on maximizing bar speed.

Soon, I realize, I have to write a blog about my thoughts on mental intensity while lifting. Suffice it to say I never really lift at psycho intensity, or 10 on the volume scale, even though many people think I do. In truth I range from 6 to 9.5 depending on what I'm trying to do.

Because of my need to vary mental intensity, I constantly search for the perfect mood music for lifting. Crossfit is a musical no-brainer; you put on the NYC hardcore and 1,2,3 go, but lifting often requires slower, heavier music.

So yesterday I was at work, over-caffeinated and with an Internet connected pc, so I decided to get on EliteFTS Q&A and ask the great Jim Wendler about music:

"...would it be a good idea to try a ME music day with the emphasis on
heavy shit and then a DE music day with an emphasis on speed?"
To which Mr. Wendler replied:

This is a good idea, great idea, actually.

ME Music - Burning Witch, Sleep, Buried at Sea, etc.

DE Music - Infest, Brutal Truth, Kill the Client, Maruta, etc.

I think you are onto something here. Just have to define what is ME and
what is DE.


Lessons learned:
1) stay off the coffee
2) work is better if you can hang out on EliteFTS Q&A
3) Jim Wendler thinks I'm on to something, which is huge since he's been around long enough to see everything
4) If you don't like what I have playing on Pandora, tough shit. Not only am I maximizing your chances for success, I have made the effort to consult with world class experts on your behalf.