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, August 31, 2011

Fat Loss Update & Finish Strong

It's good that I have a blog because I can look back and see that on July 18th a four site pinch test showed my body fat percentage at 17.5. Yesterday I had the same test, and my results didn't show up on the chart which stops abruptly at 12% as if it's inhuman to be over 30 and have any less body fat. Impolite in our sick society, yes, inhuman, hardly.

I had VP do two more pinch tests, one of which I think came out 9%, and the other 15%, neither of which I believe. I think, comparing myself to photos of individuals with varying body fat percentages, that I'm right around 12%.

Pretty good, and I haven't really started trying yet.

No, this is not the high-performance nutrition blog yet. I only started doing that two weeks ago, so all of this so far is just clean paleo eating.

Oh, if weight matters, and again it doesn't unless you compete in a body weight division sport, I was 192 pounds in mid-July and I'm 178 now.

You might remember that among the reasons I'm doing this is the chance to win a contest at work with more than a thousand dollar pay out. I suspected, and I was right, that I would be the talk of the cubicles today after I e-mailed my results in late yesterday. It was tempting to stroll in today drinking not a pint but a whole fucking quart of heavy whipping cream, but I didn't.


I've recently gone to two-a-day work outs. Optimists say I'm pessimistic which is how I know I'm a realist, and I realized that two CrossFit metcons would kill me. I decided to make my second work out rowing with the idea that it being mono-structural and cyclical, the odds of me being able to adapt and make progress are good. Essentially what I'm doing is CrossFit Endurance now.

Today my second WOD was 3 x 1500 meter rows with a 1:2 work-rest interval. I desperately wanted to row one of these at under a 1:50/500 pace so that I could head into erging season confident that I have a realistic shot at a sub-7 2k, and in fact I finished the first one with a 149.5 pace. I thought I'd hold the next intervals as low as I could but not worry too much about the results.

Rowing, if done right, will always kill you. You are permitted the choice of dying aerobically or anaerobically, but die you must. I only had to accumulate a few thousand career meters before I learned that I will always choose to die anaerobically. It could be that the guys who go down gasping for breath feel every bit as badly as I do, but I have to say feeling my legs take on leaden weight while having the consistency of spaghetti is not fun.

And that started happening in the second interval of the second work out of the day, which I finished with a 1:55 pace.

The third interval, predictably, was even worse. At times my pace was going well above 2:00/500 which I just don't allow to happen unless I'm rowing 6k or longer. The bad part of this for me is that when I notice I'm fucking up, I start thinking about fucking up, and then I fuck up worse.

Rowing is a fighting sport, and though I was dying anaerobically I decided to right my ship and keep fighting. I decided that with 500 meters left my pace would go no slower than 1:55/500, and it would damn well stay there for 500 meters. I was actually able to finish under 1:50 and with an overall pace of 1:57.

Physically, not good. Mentally, stellar.

If you watch me long enough, you'll see that I always do this. I can have the worst WOD of my life, and I'm going to crush the last sixty seconds. Unlike some athletes I never look at the clock. I will not see three seconds left and get a stupid idea like that's not enough time to do one power snatch and one more overhead squat.

I believe accepting defeat and quitting early trains one to accept defeat and quit early. I will not have that.

Sure it only made my third interval a few seconds faster. More importantly it allows me to know that the next time I look at an erg, I am a guy who under any circumstances can row under 1:50/500 and still mount a sprint 150 meters out.

Finish strong.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Masters' Open Preparation part 1

I'll say again, a blog only has value if the writer is open and honest. That's my job. Your job is to read it or not read it; both are fully okay.

CrossFit competition, in my opinion, is fun, exciting, motivating, and completely idiotic. CrossFit is an excellent way to enhance general physical preparedness, GPP, and that's probably why CF HQ advocates learning and practicing new sports - so that the GPP's efficacy can be tested on a meaningful field. CrossFit competition is a test of GPP. To me that's funny. When you get on the erg in January, the task is to row your fastest 2,000 meters. Nobody cares how many pull-ups, sumo dead lift high pulls, and kettlebell swings you've done, nor how fast you did them. Likewise in power lifting, the outcome is based on the total of your best squat, bench, and dead lift. Nobody cares what your training volume or intensity was for the preceding six months. A crossFit competition is analogous to competing on how hard and long one studies for a test rather than competing on the test outcome.

But whatever. A skinny-fat guy who probably can't do three pull-ups and who definitely can't do a handstand push-up tacitly challenged me, and so it's on. I'll enjoy the fun, excitement, and motivation, while determining my sporting performance at power lifting meets in November and possibly December, and the Mile High Sprints in January.

All this aside, it wouldn't make sense to me not to do my best at the Open, so I'm taking my preparation seriously, which is the motivational aspect of competition I mentioned.

My weakness, of course, is my overall conditioning and in particular my substandard performance with body weight movements.

Based on my past experience and the perception that nothing serious is currently wrong with me, I've bumped my training up to four times a week. I'm doing CrossFit WODS Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, the so-called "college schedule" of two on, one off, two on, two off. (I dimly remember college students have things to do on the weekend, and even twenty-year olds can't productively do five days in a row.) I've found that the college schedule doubles nicely as the old fuck's schedule as the two days off are quite welcome and mostly adequate to recover.

I'm going to publicly admit now that I screw with the programming. To ensure constantly varied modalities and time domains, we have always followed another affiliate to avoid any bias of the TFCF trainers creeping into the programming. However we operate seven days a week, and programming typically has a rest day every fourth and seventh day which we have to fill with another WOD. Additionally we sometimes have to pass up a WOD if we don't have the requisite equipment. The net effect is that I have two days a week I can program whatever I want.

Sunday has always been a day I programmed, but whereas I used to make it something that would be fun for me, I now make it something designed to make me quit CrossFit, e.g. a couplet or triplet composed of my" goats:" wall ball shots, burpees, box jumps, double-unders, and so on. I then move the target affiliate's rest day to Thursday and put in another soul-breaking WOD. Thus for instance this week's wall ball and burpee ladder. This ensure that I get two days of varied WODS, and two days of more specialized work.

Finally, double unders are a battle for me, so I simply make them part of every warm-up. It's slow, but I'm making progress.

All good for me, but what should someone who doesn't own an affiliate do? I'd recommend setting a realistic schedule and sticking to it while trusting the programming to provide adequately varied training stimuli. I'd further hammer the goats every warm-up just like I do now. Yes my cheating allows me to concentrate on one goat only as a warm-up, but two would be entirely doable. I'm absolutely certain nobody is going to give you grief for warming up with box jumps and wall balls. They might even think you're a badass and join you.

Coming up in part 2, high-performance nutrition for people who don't fuck around all day and whose secondary goal in the kitchen is to avoid setting off the fire alarm.

Friday, August 26, 2011

1k is Short and 205 is Light

I'm quoting myself in the title because sometimes when I think for less than a tenth of a second, like I did here, or more than two weeks, I say some profound things. This is more than compensated for by the fact that I normally think more than a tenth of a second and less than two weeks, sort of an AMRAP 20 of the mind, and I say some profoundly ignorant things.

Here's how it came about. Mike D is competing this weekend at the Colorado Open CrossFit Games, and on Saturday he faces this task:

at 12:20 he does,

5 rounds for time of:
10 back squats, 205 lbs
10 pull ups, chin over
150 meter run

at 4:45 he does,

3 rounds for time of:
10 stone shoulders, 115 lbs
50 double-unders

and whenever he chooses between 9 and 5, he rows 1,000 meters for time.

He asked for my input on when to do the row which obviously has to be before 4:45. I thought a little too long about the problem and suggested various ways of timing and pacing the row, before I realized that his first idea and my third idea which was not over-thought was correct. Do the row at 9, attempt to absolutely kill it and expect to be fully recovered and kill the 12:20 work out also.

It turns out to be remarkably uncomplicated because 1,000 meters is short, and 205 pounds is light.

As I'm now seven weeks out from the Colorado Open Masters' competition, I've already been thinking about stuff like this for two weeks. It feels good to be good at things. Because I'm strong and because I'd rather tolerate a lot of pain for 5 minutes than a quarter of the pain for twenty minutes, I'd do this exactly as I now think Mike should: don't think, just kill it.

But despite being good at a couple things, I'd have to say that overall I've become very bad at CrossFit. Yes, I can squat and row. On the other hand box jumps, burpees, wall ball shots, and pull-ups seem close to impossible for me. This might not surprise my readers, but I have a mental problem I've only recently figured out. While I can attack a work out with a known amount of work - say three rounds of something - it's very hard for me to attack a work out with a known duration especially as the time domain goes beyond twelve minutes. Yes, I am that idiot that will not let myself row 6,000 meters in more than 24 minutes and yet if I row 24 minutes I'll accumulate 4,700 meters.

And then there's CrossFit karma. I'm guilty of many sins: taking it easy during the wod, insulting Reebok, Progenex, and Five Fingers every chance I get, saying publicly that "Cindy" is a stupid work out, and yes, even screaming "shut the fuck up," to people who were trying to help me like normal CrossFitters do.

All of which pretty well means that when it's my turn to compete, I'll face a succession of 20 minute work outs with body weight or lightly loaded movements.

Realistically I can't fix all my problems in nine weeks. I'm currently working hard on minimizing my weaknesses, and over the next weeks I'll examine how I'm going about this.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Interview with Me

I'm currently in the second week of CrossFitting as if my life depended on it, and I don't know how to write about that yet. I can say that I'm having a lot of fun, testing my recovery ability, and that I overestimate by 50 to 100% what 100 grams of anything is. Yes, I'm zoning my Paleo diet.

In time I'll write about how my box jumps are better than I thought, my double unders aren't hopeless, and 100 grams probably isn't enough for my cats. For now I asked an anonymous TFCF member [ATFCFM] to interview me.

ATFCFM: Where are you from?

I'm from Burlington, Iowa, formerly the backhoe capital of the world. It might still be the backhoe capital of the world, but last I knew the huge Case plant there was still laying people off. I grew up about two miles from the Mississippi river, and I still sometimes laugh when Coloradans talk about rivers. There are no rivers in Colorado.

ATFCFM: Tell me about your childhood.

Well, like virtually everyone, I'd describe my childhood as normal. I have an older brother and sister, and we were good and proper Midwesterners, mostly. Of the three siblings, I was the idiot who slammed a pint of whiskey when I was 14 or 15 and projectile vomited all over the house. My mom was a great screamer, and she laid into me viciously when I had the first and worst hangover of my life. I think it was six or seven years before I had a thimble full of any alcohol after that.

My father's side of the family had some fantastic longevity, so I remember being four or five years old and going to visit these ancient German aunts and uncles. I suppose they were maybe seventy years old or something which to me seemed like 120. Dad would coach us on European etiquette, and we'd go to these relatives' houses and sit entirely still and quiet on hard wooden chairs. Then I thought that was normal; now I think that's why it sometimes takes me six months or a year to really talk to people. This German idea of psychological distance has never been foreign to me.

ATFCFM: Did you play any sports growing up?

I'm from Iowa. Something is wrong with you if you come from Iowa and don't at least try wrestling. I tried it, found out I had zero talent and quit. That was probably a huge mistake as I realize now I love the primacy of combat sports. With good referees it's almost impossible to get killed, but that is the sublimated object of the game, and it has an intensity that nothing else comes close to.

Until my ankles fell apart I played football. I wasn't at all natural at that, but over time I learned to play. I got shuffled around to various positions, probably because the coaches would try to hide me. I did best at inside linebacker where I still was far from great. I never had sex with any cheerleaders, but I would make my best attempt to kill anyone coming up the middle. That still informs my sporting career years later. I've learned that being the best I can be is rewarding enough.

ATFCFM: How did you get into power lifting?

I always feel like I'm going to die in 18 months or a year. The problem seven or so years ago was that I thought I'd die from a heart attack or obesity which to me was unacceptable, and I thought I had better start exercising. I remembered from football that I liked lifting heavy. We'd do all the usual insane things that young guys get away with like bench in ascending pyramids three times a week. I'm probably lucky I didn't tear a pec at 16. So years later I thought the way to exercise would be to get back in the gym. Over two or three years I was at most of the commercial gyms in Longmont. I'd only find these bodybuilding guys who to me were just weird. They'd talk about about how you had to do ten sets of ten benching to exhaust all the muscle fibers and get huge. I doubt if I ever said anything, but my thinking was always, "look, I'm ugly anyway. I want to see exactly how much weight I can do once without ending up in the hospital." You can see that I still take the suicidal approach to lifting. I listen to my body, and it tells me it wants to blow out all its ATP in three seconds, not get a good pump and stare in the mirror. So anyway I kept doing my thing with the chalk and the dead lifts and the stares from the people who never got it. I learned a lot on my own, and eventually I found a few others who were into lifting heavy. They pretty well talked me into doing a meet, but Brazilian jiu-jitsu intervened. Something like two years ago I had to work overnight and I ran out of energy for jiu-jitsu and CrossFit. I was down to heavy lifting and a few Prowler pushes, and I thought I might as well enter a meet. As I learned from football, I'd never be ready or good enough, so it was time to start. It's not a perfect sport either, but I have some raw goals in mind that I don't share with anybody, and I'll keep lifting until I hit those goals or prove to myself beyond any doubt that they're too ambitious. And that, by the way, probably would require a trip to the emergency room.

ATFCFM: What do you get from CrossFit?

Well until this nine week experiment, I've always done CrossFit to support whatever it is I'm really doing. It used to be conditioning for BJJ, and then it turned into staying mobile and reasonably lean while power lifting. CrossFit has worked perfectly for what I wanted. It still blows my mind that people do CrossFit as their primary sport. Even now while CrossFitting as if my life depended on it, I'd have no qualms about backing down if the squat were to suffer. I mean if you can't squat heavy, you're essentially dead anyway, right?

Beyond what it does physically, it's probably not too strong to say that I love most of the people I've met. You want someone to do an erg race with you? The CrossFit guy you haven't seen for a year will say yes. You want someone to try sculling with you? The CrossFit woman you've known for a few weeks will say yes. I think TFCF is one of the most laid back affiliates in the world, and even so if you're bleeding and sweating after a metcon and you want someone to squat 315 for max reps with you, some nut job will say yes, probably me.

Finally and maybe most importantly I like the way CrossFit makes people spontaneously start being awesome. If you put effort into CrossFit, good things happen. I'm already thinking about how I can get to the Masters National Rowing Championships in a year or two. I can be stopped by inadequate funding or by breaking my back squatting, but I won't be stopped because there's something good on TV that weekend. Think about this. Where but CrossFit do you see some guy with no real background just decide to see if he can become a national rowing champion? And I'm nothing special. In CrossFit you see people starting with less than me doing more than I do. That's pretty fucking awesome.

ATFCFM: James, you are truly awesome.

Thank you for allowing me to make this last one up. You're okay too, CrossFitter.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

2K Time Trial

Since I started sculling, I've been avoiding the erg. I told myself I was getting enough work in on the water, but that is a lie. My technique is just now getting good enough that I can get an easy work out done on water, but my power output doesn't begin to approach what I can do on the erg.

I realized that if I want to do the Mile High Sprints again this year, and I do, I'd have to get back on the erg, and a logical starting point would be benchmarking the 2k.

I didn't expect anything great to happen, but I won't let myself row a 2k in over 7:30, so I decided to row a 1:52/500 split. I've always had a very CrossFit erging style: I try to maintain a pace for 1500 meters, kill myself in the next 350 meters, and desecrate my corpse in the last 150, and I didn't think there would be any reason to change that now.

Much has been written on the 2k, and of course I have read most of it. Most of the good rowers recommend hitting a power 10 at 500 and 1500 meters, and a power 20 at 1,000. I always thought that was nonsense. Row as hard as you can for 1500, then row harder.

But I have found the good rowers are right about the dreaded third 500. Between 1,000 and 1.500 meters, it's normal and expected that you'll start brushing the anaerobic wall and either fight through it or slow down and ruin yet another 2k. The first few times you hit the third 500, the thinking is "fuck." When you specialize in erging, the thought is the infinitely worse, "fuck, it's happening again." To me the worst part of erging is finishing a 2k and being forced, again, to wonder how much time I lost with the negative thinking.

And, poor me, I always die early - usually 800-900 meters in. This time it was at 890 meters when I thought, "fuck, it's happening again."

And this time, out of desperation and a desire to avoid thinking about how much time I lost, I decided to try the experts' recommendation. I didn't think my body would co-operate in a power 20, so I decided to do a power 10 at exactly 1,000 meters. I thought if it didn't work, I could blame the experts instead of feeling sorry for myself.

And immediately things got better. I quit thinking about dying and started thinking about how easy it would be to maintain my pace another 110 meters. Actually, it wasn't easy, but it was entirely doable. And at 1.000 meters, I unleashed the world's weakest power 10. My split time decreased a meager 3 seconds, but when I went back to my chosen pace, something wonderful happened. It felt like I was now at a recovery pace that I could easily maintain through the third 500.


Not close to a PR and yet after not erging for months, it was better than my horrible 2011 Mile High Sprints time. Maybe the experts know more than me.

I should look into that.

I continue to be fascinated with my weight. I'm sure I can go to 170-172 and lift at 165 by shedding 5-7 pounds of water for an early weigh-in. I'm not at all sure that I can actually weigh 165.

165 makes me a light weight rower, which makes my CRASH-B qualifying time a whole 22 seconds slower.

If you think it's easier to erg 22 seconds than to eat chicken breasts and spinach for five months, you're not really erging.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

E-mail to Dana, who is Awesome

Blogging is hard. Unless you're honest, you don't have shit to say, and it's close to impossible to be honest. Psychiatrists can talk about the super-ego, but in practical terms, you're always afraid that your mother is going to read your shit.


Sorry mom, and continue resting in peace.

The other problem is the lack of feed back. Every nine months some guy on the street says, "hey I like your blog," but that's about it. So I never really know if I'm arrogant, insane, inane, stupid or whatever.

Usually I don't care, and as far as I can tell that's the only real requirement for blogging.

For quite a while now I've been reading Dana's blog, http://dana.dccrossfit.com/?p=555
Dana is working on a double body weight squat, and she's awesome, but I suspect she doesn't know that. After months, I finally commented on her blog. She was probably surprised to find somebody thought she was neither arrogant nor insane, and she sent me an e-mail that lead to a further exchange. She asked me for some advice, and I sent her the e-mail that follows. This is a lot of the stuff I had planned to put in my blog and then decided not to. I gave it to Dana because she is committed to being awesome.

You can have it too now.

Sometimes blogging is as easy as copy and paste.

Hi Dana,

Given time and effort anyone can learn the mechanics of the squat, so as a
coach I have been interested in the mental game and differences in
mentality between genders. (I consider myself fortunate to coach many
more women than men, but wow, do I find it challenging.)

I know that my female lifters seem to approach a meet like a social event.
They're capable of chatting about knitting right up until they take the
platform. I conversely am probably the hardest person in the world to be
around until I get my opener in, and even then throughout the meet, I walk
around like a caged bull and speak in mono-syllables only to my handler.
I can tell you that when I'm on the platform all I can see is the bar, and
I'm not conscious of seeing anything after I grip the bar. I hear only
the head referee, and even though he or she is three feet in front of me,
the referee is just a disembodied voice to me.

I don't know that one approach is right or wrong, better or worse. I do
know that as soon as you un rack the bar, you have to be entirely certain
that you're going to make the lift. I believe that this confidence starts
between the warm-up room, chalk box, and the bar. In preparation for my
last meet I spent a lot of time youtubing great squatters, and I focused
on their approach to the bar much more than on the squat itself. Watch
how the greats get into a calm and controlled rage. I believe the object
is to work yourself into a mental state where you know from the hole you
can drive hard enough to break the bar in half if the plates don't follow
you up while preserving just enough higher cognitive function to remember
whatever two or three cues you need. After much work, my knees normally
track perfectly, so what I try to do is become as much of gorilla as I can
while saving just enough brain power to tell myself "back," and "chest
up." You'll want to go to your coach here, but from watching your video,
I think you've got it made if you only remember your choice of either
"knees out," or "spread the floor." As a technical aside, start spreading
as soon as you push your butt back; you're dead if you wait to push out
from the hole. As I sometimes describe it, make a hole, sit in the hole,
stand up.

I'm sure that at a minimum I get the nerves as bad as you. What saved me
at my last meet was not thinking beyond my opener. I had been obsessed
with officially breaking 400, and that ruined two weeks of my life.
Finally I realized that the only thing I had to do was crush the opener
and the rest would follow. True, this time it didn't work for me, but it
will at my next meet in November. In sum I'd suggest you forget about 205
and just watch yourself do it when the time for the third attempt comes.

As for the USAPL I decided to compete there to test out the rigorous
judging and because in my opinion they are a very prestigious federation.
I'd rate the judging as strict but fair, exactly as they claim. I come
from the Jim Wendler school of squatting which among other things says, if
you get three white lights, you went too deep. I've trained myself to
graze parallel, and I missed my second and third attempts high. In
retrospect, I could feel myself high on the second and I agree with the
judges. On my third, I made my best attempt to go deep, and while our
video is not a great angle, it shows me exactly at parallel; one white,
two reds. I don't think this is worth worrying about. Try squatting like
you always do and throw in an extra eighth-inch for the judges.

You'll be great.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Indicators & CrossFit Competition

"do what you do but know why you're doing it." - Charged GBH

I really don't care what people do, but I ask that they have a rationale for doing it. It does not bother me in the least, for example, that people vote for politicians who are against taxing the rich. But I'm assuming these people are rich. If I though about it, and I had to quit thinking about it, the truth that poor people vote against taxing the rich would drive me crazy.

Lately I've been getting a lot of questions about how I balance CrossFit with power lifting, how does one know how much to CrossFit, and in general, questions about exactly what I do and if it's right for everyone.

There is exactly one rule: move and don't injure yourself doing it.

I decided well over a year ago now that I would attack the Colorado State squat record at 181 pounds. Everything else follows. If my squat is going up, I can't be terribly wrong in my training, and I can afford to look at secondary performance indicators.

There can be an obsession with CrossFitters using their Fran time or a similar metric as their performance indicator. This is not wrong, and it might be right if exercising is their sport. In my case I'm not interested in how long my training sessions take; rather, I'm interested in the sureness with which I approach a 440 pound squat.

I did decide though that I'm not willing to ruin my life in pursuit of my quest. I don't care what I squat if I'm obese and can't move. This also is easy to monitor. I see which notch my belt is on which is adequate for nine months out of the year. The other three months I need a little more accuracy so I watch the scale.

If you pay attention, you'll find solid indicators of your training's efficacy. Saturday I got a facebook invite to climb Pike's Peak. I may or may not go, but thinking about it I realized I'd think something was seriously wrong with me if I doubted my ability to walk 26 miles, even if the first 13 gain 7,000 feet in elevation.

I strongly suspect I'm not the best CrossFitter in the world, but I can see I'm doing enough to keep me happy.

Today I came within two or three feet of crashing my F-150 into the side of a car that ran a red light. As I stomped on the brake, I had the normal physiological reaction - my heart rate immediately went up to an estimated 180 beats per minute, and I screamed, "Jesus Christ you fucking idiot." But two blocks further on, my heart rate was normal and while I thought that motorist's medical marijuana card should be revoked, I no longer wanted to grind his or her face into broken glass on the sidewalk. I know, then, that I am doing enough CrossFit to de-stress and probably give myself reasonable protection against heart disease.

To me, now, that is more important than my Fran time. To you it can be if you choose, but it's perfectly okay to use the Fran time too if that's your thing. You might very well decide to base your exercise frequency and intensity on how many people of your preferred gender check out your ass. That's also perfectly fine, and in fact that one makes me a little jealous.

In sum, figure out where you're going and find two or three indicators that will tell you if you're making progress.

Lately it's been suggested I should do the CrossFit master's competition in October. While I know it will be fun, I remained on the fence because experience tells me it won't help my squat go up, and my weight is close enough not to worry about how much conditioning I do.

I decided to enter. To me how I finish will not be my chosen indicator. I want to see if it makes me a better trainer.

You guys deserve that.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

No, USAPL Meet Report

So after thinking two days, I don't actually have much to say. Everything was working, the bar path was nearly perfect, 401 pounds felt surprisingly light, and I still fucked it up.

I have laid out my next six weeks of training which starts Monday, and after six weeks, I'll probably do a four week shock micro-cycle.

The hardest thing for me now is resisting the temptation to lift August 20th and put 400 to bed. Really all that will do is cost me two weeks of training. I'd rather train smart and open with 400 in November.

What is probably worth relating is how I eventually calmed down before the meet. On the last Friday I suddenly realized that all I really had to do was go to the meet and hit my 340 pound opening squat. Suddenly all the pressure was off, and I had an enjoyable weekend. I think my arousal level was always between 8 and 9; I never came close to red-lining my brain and losing the ability to think.

I felt very off-form and weak in the bench press, probably because of the weight cut. I did hit a meet PR, and I realized I have a lot of room to improve my bench technique. I'm projecting 275 in November.

Unexpectedly, the dead lift proved to be the high point for me. I have been afraid to dead lift for just over a year now, so I decided to open at a light 330 pounds. Nothing felt good in the warm-up, and I realized I wasn't even sure how I would dead lift. I warmed up the conventional and sumo both, and I decided there was no good reason not to use the sumo pull as I had intended. I thought maybe I would just hit the opener and pass my next two attempts, but after hitting 330 I thought to myself, "okay, that didn't re-injure me, I wonder if I can still do 360." I got 360 though it was a grind and again finding myself uninjured, I wondered if I could still do 375 which is more than I've had on the bar in a year. After my second lift, Elite lifter Matt Wenning told me to concentrate on lowering my butt and getting into an uncomfortable starting position. I made a real effort to to touch my nuts to the bar, and feeling a high degree of discomfort, I started to pull. The first part of the lift was a grind then the bar accelerated and locked out easily. I think the dead lift stopped scaring me, and I think it holds the most possibility for a big increase. I'll take 405 in November.

That's it. Things don't always work. You do a failure analysis, which I have, and move on.