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, October 3, 2012

Change You can Believe in

One hundred is something, and anything less than one hundred is change.  I'm going to find 40 pounds of change and squat 440, which is 200 kilos and thus two somethings.

Today I'd like to share this video with the few dozen people scattered about the US who like me believe that true change happens in the state powerlifting record books and that putting political bumper stickers on your car is as stupid as shooting yourself in the head with rubber bullets.

One remembers too that as my good friend Goethe said, "es irrt der Mensch solange er strebt."  The next best thing to squatting 200k is actually not jerking off to campaign ads no matter how homo-erotic, but rather getting crushed under 195.

Like this or like that.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

95,268 Pounds

Yes, I have not written lately.

Sometimes the problem with being an author is the implicit claim of authority, and sometimes I don't think I know anything that hasn't been in the public domain for decades.  I study, I practice, and I learn, but still there is nothing new under the sun.

Usually what's happening when I don't write  is that I'm working hard, and I'm too much of a generally helpful and not profit-motivated guy to make up stories about how supplements and shoes solve everyone's insane lust for a painless and pleasant short cut.

I've finished my first month with the International Million Pound Lifting Association, the brainchild of Defy! CrossFit's Jonathan Sabar.  There are some rules in the Association about what counts towards totalling a million, but I don't know what they are.  I simply count working, not warm up, sets on the Big Four - squat, bench, press, and dead.

In  four weeks I totaled 95,268 pounds.

I don't have much to say other than it seems to be working.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Field Trips & Reality

My friend and honorary TwinFreak Barney recently asked me to help him with his deadlift.  He only deadlifts every other Sunday, so I agreed to meet him today.  We could have met at TwinFreaks CrossFit of course, but Barney trains at Fucktime Fitness, and I wanted to go in there and look around.

I did eventually succeed in changing Barney's starting position which we both think will help him, but it ended up being something of an ordeal because I couldn't stop laughing the whole time I was in there.

I saw some impressive cheat curls, some exemplary partial range of motion benches, and finally some serious leg work.
Leg day is every fourth February, right?

You with the clipboard, you don't read my blog do you?
Good man! You'll be fine when you're 80 as long as you get a recumbent toilet.
I really wasn't sure how to handle all this, so I took off my shirt and pretended to do curls in the squat rack.

I enjoyed my ninety or so minutes in Fucktime Fitness thoroughly.  At $20 a month I could go in there for an hour and a half three or four times a week, and I'd save serious money compared to going to the movies.  I want to go back there, but I figure I'd probably get kicked out, so next time I won't be so nice; no, I'll steal all those dweeb's girlfriends.

I have to admit I got quite an ego boost from being in Fucktime Fitness.  I momentarily wondered if perhaps I'm a genetic freak or if I'd been taking D-Bol and forgot about it.  I remembered, though, that I train at TwinFreaks CrossFit and that I'm making a serious push to hit a state record squat.

I guess I more or less accidentally ended up looking good while I was doing this last week.  I didn't have to towel any sweat off the chrome machines when I was done either.

Monday Squats
(working sets only)
5 x 275
5 x 285
5 x 295
5 x 305
5 x 315

Wednesday Squats
2 x 5 x 225

Friday Squats
5 x 355
Friday Deads
6 x 325 (conventional)

That is largely how my training will go for the November NASA meet.  I know that Monday will change to 5 x 5 x 315, and on Friday I'll drop the set of five and go first to two heavy triples and as the meet gets closer, I'll push for a new 3rm every week.  Deadlifts will alternate between conventional and heavier sumo every week.

Eight weeks of that and I think I might even look in the mirror again.

Fucking kids these days.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Interview with Me II

I thought I'd mix things up again this Friday and have another guest interviewer [GI] ask me whatever questions he or she had.

GI: Why do you love to compete so much, and how was this love of competition inspired in you?

JD: I have this argument repeatedly with a friend of mine, and when we're done we both know nothing. Before I confuse myself, the big answer is that I believe life is fundamentally competitive. The little answer is that it motivates me and directs my training. I was squatting about an hour ago, and I had to do 355 x 5. This is my first week back after the last meet, I still hurt, and when I unracked that the only thought in my head was, "motherfuck, this isn't going to work." Of course I did it anyway. I'm trying to set a state record in November. I ended up on the floor for a while, but I got it done because I know the next meet is approaching. If I were trying to impress women or something, I'd buy a car. It's a lot easier. Inspiration? Try losing once. I've done it many times. I'll continue until I die or get it right.

GI: Can you talk about where your deep love of BJJ comes from; what do you get out of it that inspires you so much?

JD: It's primal, it's competitive, and you have a live opponent.  See?  It's life.  I can't go through kindergarten again, so it's where I learn everything I know.  Despite what people think when they see me snort ammonia and scream, the barbell is entirely neutral to me.  It's very predictable, and all it does it asks me who I am.  An opponent is unpredictable and tries to tell me who I am.  Beyond that it's an art form.  I've trained with a few  world class guys.  I remember Otavio Souza sweeping me from de la Riva guard and using absolutely no force.  It was like the guy didn't do anything and suddenly I go from standing to sitting on my ass.  When you get that effortless water-like feeling, it's not so unusual to go the rest of a life time trying to duplicate it.  From there it's natural that you want to apply jiu-jitsu throughout your life: at work, in relationships, everywhere.  Finally I love the culture.  I think when I started BJJ I went from having two friends to several hundred.

GI: What's on your bucket list of athletic goals? Why?

JD: Right now I'm working towards going to the USAPL Raw Nationals in 2013 or 2014.  I was looking at the 2012 results, and I realized "holy shit, I wouldn't win this thing, but absolutely nobody would say I didn't belong there."  I've been lifting a long time and I just now admitted to myself I've gone from sucking to being legitimately good.  It's incredibly motivating.  I think by 2013 in Orlando, or more likely 2014 wherever it will be, I could even be above average in a national field.
Sometime in my life I have to go to the IBJJF Senior World Championship.  It's always held in Rio de Janeiro.  Win or lose I'd have a good time and drink Caracu again.  I'd probably stay there a while and train.
There are some more or less random things I want to do that I can't explain: the Pike's Peak half marathon, the Cobblestone Climb, a short but brutal bicycle sprint in my home town of Burlington, Iowa, and of course the Empire State stair climb.  I seem to have been designed to do the 500 meter erg sprint.  I'm not going to talk about what I think I'm capable of doing there.  I'm going to work on it.

GI: What inspired you to become a coach and what is it you are wanting to help people find or connect with as their coach?

JD:  I live as a free range Human.  Everyone should taste that before they give up, get a job, a house, a car, a flat screen television, and a mate to have a dysfunctional relationship with.  I have days I want to shoot myself in the head, but that's because I'm doing what I want.  Polite people aren't going to admit this in public, but I bet a lot of them want to shoot themselves in the head because there's nothing on TV.  Same result, but I'll do it my way.  I'm afraid I have a natural lifespan.  I'm only going two-thirds of the way up the mountain, and I want to take everyone there with me.  If I can push one successor beyond me, I'll die happy.

What does this have to do with training? If you can work a barbell, you can tell the Kardasians to fuck off to their faces.  Perhaps sadly, that qualifies as a survival skill in contemporary society.

GI: You have a very hands off approach to your coaching, why are you not a hand holding coach?

JD: During an event, and this would include a "normal" crossfit workout, the athletes are unquestionably in charge.  A coach may or may not help.  UFC fighter Eliot Marshall once coached me during a BJJ match.  That guy is ten times more excited about anything than I am, and you couldn't ask for a better combat sport coach.  He was screaming at me to front choke the guy, but he couldn't see I already had an armbar on.  Awesome coach or not you don't let go of an arm when you have it, and that's the same way I expect athletes to react to me.  They're in the experience and despite my theoretical knowledge, they know more than I do.

If you're referring to my apathy regarding group warm ups, they don't give Grammys for choreographing warm ups.  You can walk into the most random CrossFit work out with no advance warning of what's going to happen.  Do twenty kettlebell swings and you're good to go.  That may sound like a cop out, but if you know me long enough, you'll actually see me do that.

The only way I've figured out to teach anyway is by doing.  I'm aware that when I talk only half of what I say is going to be in English, and three-quarters of that is going to be allegorical. I see that over time the people who choose to work with me start radiating their own awesomeness.  That's what we're after; we don't have to be friends.

Yes I could be a whore, wear a polo shirt and follow people around with a clipboard while smiling and asking how their vacation was.  Those guys are fucking weak, and I'm not going that way.  Seriously, do you think those guys squat 135 to parallel?

GI: What goes through your mind when people say: I'm too old, too busy, too broke, too ___________ (fill in the blank) to start competing in a sport?

JD: Right, so am I.

I was squatting alone Wednesday when a guy came in and asked more or less why nobody else squatted as much as me at the last meet.  I looked around and asked him who else he saw there.

Look, I don't have a job, a girlfriend, a working television and so on.

I have love.  Without that you're a cold fish and you should leave me alone and go back in the aquarium.

GI: Have you ever played team sports and do you enjoy them?  Why do you tend to gravitate towards solo competitive sports?

JD:  I played football.  I'm sure I can still play middle linebacker, but again this year I was not heavily recruited.   I like the way BJJ eventually conforms to anybody.  Given a choice I fight off my back, and I have a tendency to turtle like my role model Eduardo Telles.  If you do something like that in football, the guys who are banging the cheerleaders get mad at you.  The thing is after high school those idiots are in heating and air conditioning.  It's not like they know what's right.  I'm fine on a team, but I like my individual expression.

GI: At the CrossFit Masters you weren't at all impressed with the beast athletes, but I could see in your eyes deep respect for that last guy standing on the floor.  I'm not interested that specific situation, but hearing more of your reasons why you seem to admire the dead guy on the floor killing himself more than the well trained accomplished athlete competing?

JD: It's a trivial problem to be a winner.  You have to be younger and get better parents.  Actually in my case my parents were good enough, so I'd just have to be younger and teach my mom how to cook paleo.  What becomes interesting then is how you perform when you're getting your teeth kicked in and absolutely nobody cares if you finish 32nd or 33rd. Go Youtube the English, I believe, ski jumper Eddie the Eagle.  I fucking love that guy.  The guy jumps thirty feet or whatever, and yet there is no doubt that he has no doubt that next time he is going 300 feet.

I don't exactly know how to explain it.  You have to be awesome when you are in that pool of your blood.  That's really all I do, so yes I admire it, and I get disappointed when I see people shy away form it.

Thank You, GI, for the questions.  I could have written a book on any of them, but I wanted to maintain primacy and authenticity so I just answered them the best I could today.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

the Wizard can Fuck Off

I don't believe in can't.

I squeeze it out ten pounds at a time, but ten tens is one hundred, and it tries to come back.  I was very good at squatting over 300 pounds, but 400 took months to fall away, and sometimes there in the high 300's I looked outside myself.

One week ago I squatted over 400.

Eight days ago I was walking around the neighborhood thinking about what I was missing.  As I walked by the flop house, I was confronted by a raving junky.  The junky was unarmed, and my jiu-jitsu is adequate if not worth Youtubing, so I decided to listen to him as he approached and told me,

"just remember this, 'Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man that he didn't already have.'"

And I thought about that until I knew it was true.  The only thing I needed was to quit looking outside myself.

None of this is easy.  If you happen to be me it's just fun and appropriate to flip off the Wizard and know that punishment and reward are the same thing.

So yes, I haven't seen the Wizard and therefore he'll eventually come for me.  I'll listen to whatever he has and say, 'well yes, motherfucker, but I surfed."

If you have to be the Tin Man, surf.  It's okay that you don't float and you're never coming up again when you fall off the board.  The Wizard can rant.  You rode the pipeline.

Or if you have to be the unicorn, be happy.  You didn't need to be told the ark was leaving, and your corpse is still beautiful even if it's not uncovered after the next or any future ice age.

If you're a kid from Iowa with a barbell and a dream, get out of bed at least as long as the prose poetry continues.  Your blog gets a thousand views a month.  Nobody knows Homer either.

If you are one thing, understand that one is ten thousand.

Don't go to the prom.

Just dance.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

NASA Squats

I'm still exhausted after the NASA Colorado Grand powerlifting meet yesterday in Loveland, Colorado.  It's taking a bit of will power on my part not to dip into the leftover Vicodin today, so I think I'll just put up video of my second and third squat attempts.

After opening with an easy 385, I tried 407.

I thought I'd have no problems at 418, but I got smashed.

I'll figure out what the problem with 418 was and start going after 440.

For now I'm happy that I made my major goal of squatting over 400 in a meet.

Thanks to everyone who helped from text love, to ammonia and wraps, to Internet psychotherapy.

I felt alone sometimes, but I know I never was.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Twenty-Four Hours

In the end you have your contractile tissue and your heart.

I've done good work with my contractile tissue.

 My heart always wavers, but lately it's been taking walks around lakes.  In a frighteningly deep sense I enjoy its wanderings because it shows me I'm still Human.  I'm learning to sit back and watch it without worrying or trying to direct it.

But look, it's the only one I have, and I need it to be in line for the next day until I'm done squatting.

I've yet to see flowers handed out at the end of a meet to the lifter most in touch with his feminine side.

If I could I'd be sequestered today.  I can't quite pull that off, so I'll smile and do my Human impersonation.

I'll even eat tonight with one of my training partners.  Hopefully she'll shut the fuck up.  If not, I'll have no qualms about suggesting it to her.

Right now I'm cultivating the Heart Full of Napalm.

Thank you for your understanding.

I'll be back Sunday.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Lifting, Legs, & 04:30

It's easy to almost lift.  You watch someone do it and then go through the motions.

It's harder yet to lift correctly.  Aside from being in uncomfortable positions, you have to obsess over annoying technical points.  So now you're uncomfortable, and instead of thinking of finding comfort, you have to push your knees out, or squeeze your shoulder blades together, or flex your butt cheeks.  Then too, if you're doing it right, you have to wonder if perhaps you're going to get crushed.

And when you're thinking in terms of crushing or being crushed, it becomes a matter of attitude.

I won't say that I do it the right way, but rather that my way works for me.  If attitude is teachable, I don't know how to do it.  I try to show it and see what happens.

After waking up way too early, again, today, I checked my e-mail and was elated to find that Mike T. has at least one important aspect of attitude nailed: making shit out of training partners.  Mike sent our group of lifters this picture of me, obviously completely authentic and undoctored in any way.

How he got it, I don't know.  I don't remember it which makes me think it must have been off Sao Paulo about 6 years ago.  Hey, not only was I younger, I was also drinking can after can of Caracu.

So it goes.

What I have to say to Mike is that now when I get out of bed and don't even bother pumping up with an air squat, I look like this:

What you got to say now you sparrow legged no ass bald faced punk?

I train people at 4:30 am now.  This automatically leads to correct attitude:

First ever 4:30 am class.

Monday, August 20, 2012


I was thinking a lot beyond squatting this weekend.  It was challenging, and I think rewarding.

I'm still going to squat big next Saturday though.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Bigger Straws

I don't own a camel.

I've heard that you can pile straw on them, and when you put finally one too many straws on, the camel's back breaks.

I doubt that you can get a Human to stand there while you try the same thing, and I don't care about static loading anyway; I care about squatting.  I'm sure that if I tried to squat straw for a one rep max adding one at a time, I'd quit through fatigue and boredom before I got to a reasonable warm up weight.

Realistically a straw for squatting Humans is probably five pounds.  Yes I know there are fractional plates, but they're rarely used, so you slap a 2.5 pound plate on each side, you have five pounds, and that's probably a straw.  If 100 pounds causes discomfort or even better fear, then 105 might very well break your back.

I know entirely too well that five pounds is real.  On a linear progression like I've been doing the last two months or so, I use an additional five pounds each session.  Over weeks and months it's relentless.  My working weight for sets of five has gone up 100 pounds over the last ten weeks.  Yes, five pounds is real.

So five pounds is real but five reps is not.  I'm looking for a 1rm, and that in competition.

Without giving numbers, I plan to open the August 25th meet with my current meet PR.  Barring injury I'm next going to put another twenty pounds on the bar, and depending on what happens there, I might very well next put another twenty or twenty-five pounds on.

I'm not playing this time.

I know that if I fail, the failure will have been a physical, technical, or mental problem.

 I'm quite sure I have adequate strength for what I'm attempting.  My training loads have been higher than ever, yes even higher than before surgery.

In the last months I've uncovered some technical problems, and I'll work full time on fixing those after the meet.  For now I have to dance with who I brought so to speak, and while she's not the prom queen, I wouldn't kick her out of the gym for tipping a chalk bucket over.

Following surgery I've lost a lot of my former fear.  I'm all full of titanium and synthetic mesh, and my intestines are not going to spill on the floor.  My mental game is much improved, but there is still the fear of a back break.

I'm trying to PR by 20-45 pounds.

I've decided a straw must weigh 50.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

15 Seconds of Fame

Saturday I went to a seminar with two time World Champion Rafael Lovato jr. at Dark Horse Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  I was one of the first people to arrive, and I was astounded when Rafael greeted me with, "hey James, how's it going?"  I was trying to figure out what I had done that would make him know me, and then I remembered that we had been introduced briefly Thursday, and well, I do have a distinctive appearance.

Only one of these guys has not been a World Champion.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


You know you've blown up when people get you tattooed on themselves.

I think this was in Marseilles.  I don't remember the women; must have been the absinthe.

Friday, August 3, 2012

On My Nerves

Some days are going to be like this.

Then you're going to stay up all the way to 9:30 and have a Guinness and a talk.

Thank You.  You know who you are.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Goals Reconsidered & Awesomeness Examined

I've written about goals before, and that still stands.  I'm still sure of two things: 1) I can control my behavior, and 2) though my behavior can be directed towards a certain outcome, I cannot force that outcome.  One too many times I have said what I will dead lift, and my dead lift resulted in two pops from L4 and L5.  The bar returned to the floor, and I returned to the floor where I was unable to move for twenty minutes.  One too many times I have said what I will squat, and my abdominal wall tore open and my intestines came out.

I do still have hard goals.  I just no longer publicize them.  They're all over my training logs, they form parts of my passwords on various systems, and they're written in toothpaste on my bathroom mirror.

That last one is almost a lie.  Earlier today I thought that was a great sounding line that I had to put in the blog.  Then I remembered one of the ground rules is that I don't lie in the blog, so I just put the overriding goal on my bathroom mirror in toothpaste.

I used Crest.  Probably I need to get some Close Up because the red turns me on.

So yes, I have definite goals, but I target behavior. I know what I want to squat in August and November and December, but I don't exactly know if I will.  I do know whether or not I squat Mondays and Fridays like I'm supposed to.

And this, I think, is the right way to go.  It's only necessary to safeguard against the real goal degenerating into "becoming more awesome."  Awesome is great, and in the worthwhile circles it's intuitively understood, but in the larger world awesome is merely the space between getting off the couch and hyperbole.

We want to be better than that.

So as sometimes happens with me, I stopped today and gave consideration to the nature of awesome.  It's hard to pin down, but I wondered if Chairman Mao was onto something; perhaps awesome is the continuation of diplomacy by other means.

Like this:

I roll up to work today and a guy gets out of his car sporting two bags from Chick-fil-A.  It seems like no matter what I try, I have to be the kind of guy I am, so I yell across the parking lot "I see you're heterosexual today."

I know.  A lot of people are not going to do that, but I thought it was okay because the guy can say yes or no or just ignore me.  Instead as we walk towards the entrance he launches into a lecture on the evils of homosexuality.  The situation is indeed bad by the time he asks me if I know about Sodom and Gomorrah - likely I'm better acquainted with Hebrew literature than you actually -  and then he comes to the high point of the lecture.

"Do you know why AIDS is so prevalent today?"

And because at this time I'm still me - and don't panic, I have no blood-borne pathogens - I say:

 "I don't know about anybody else, but I got mine from IV drug abuse."

And the guy shuts up because being me I've fashioned myself into a useful Human, and the appearance that goes along with being useful can be used as a powerful incentive to get people to shut the fuck up.

Or again like this:

Finally yesterday I arrived at work at the same time as the CEO.  The guy opened the door for me, and maybe when you make 120 times more money than another guy you open the door for him.  I don't know because I don't make 120 times more money than anyone employed in the western hemisphere.  What I suspect happened is that the weenie assessed my usefulness, wondered what corporate security's response time is and how many people they can field, and then decided it might be a nice gesture to get the fuck out of my way.

So you have your hard goals, and you have your awesomeness which to you - if no one else - must be real, and it has to be something more than being able to walk around the block a few times.

What really are my goals then?

I want to go to a company barbecue, put two ounces of coleslaw on my three compartment styrofoam plate, fill the rest of the plate to a depth of six inches with meat, and watch co-workers avert their disgusted gazes in terror when they notice me looking back at them.

I want the director of a USAPL powerlifting meet to hand me the pee bottle in the belief that just possibly I really am on the D-Bol.

I want to walk on the sidewalk without hearing the cyclists who don't know what a street is say, "on your left."   I want them to see me and go a block to the left.

I don't want anyone asking me if I'm okay after an erg race.  I want them to call the paramedics immediately.

And then there's the stuff on the mirror.

I might have to edit the mirror.

I do not have to miss any training sessions.

Monday, July 30, 2012

40 Tons

I was squatting alone today; often I like that, and sometimes, like today, I don't.  I could have used a depth check, a walk-in, and a fly swatter.  Flies seem to know that I'm helpless under the bar, and all my screaming and threatening to throw the bar at them did nothing to dissuade them.

Some day this bar will go through the cinder blocks.  You'll find a flat-ass fly under it.
As compensation I had relative quiet; only Social Distortion, Monday squat music was playing, and I was able to concentrate.  The session developed so:

45 x 5
135 x 5
185 x 5
235 x 3
275 x 2
315 x 1
335 x 5 x 3
365 x 1

I had intended to hit 385 x 1, but I wasn't entirely sure the 365 was deep enough.  The golden rule of meet preparation is never to miss a single attempt.  I understand that because confidence is almost everything, but had I missed, I'd have lied convincingly to myself: I would have made that if I had purple shoe laces, I would have made that if I hadn't worn clean underwear, I would have made that without that fucking fly in my face, and so on.  In short I'd rather miss and rebuild my confidence than think a high attempt was good and so train myself to squat heavy singles high.

I made a deal with myself that I would squat squat 345 x 5 x 3, so I will, but directly after that - next week - I'll go down to triples.  The fives are heavy enough that my form is breaking down before the set ends, and I want to weed out every technical problem before meet day.  Triples should let me find where I break down technically without the interference of excessive fatigue.

I am sure that my back is relatively weak which doesn't surprise me after going two years or so without pulling a heavy conventional dead lift.  I put the conventional dead lift back in this cycle, and even though I'm now definitely a sumo-puller, I'll keep the conventional dead until my back is not the weak link.

After squatting I did some ab work then enjoyed a nice walk home uphill in the rain.

The hill is delightful after squatting.
When I got home, I decided to total my working volume of squats since surgery.  In two months, counting only my top sets of fives, I've done just over 40 tons.  If I included warm ups, it would be another 15 or 20 tons, and I've excluded all of the occasional insanity like squatting 275 x 20.

There's no telling exactly how the meet will go, but I'm putting in the work.  40 or more tons less than three months after surgery seems respectable.

Sure, some days I miss laying in bed re-reading the same paragraph six times on Vicodin and fielding calls from friends asking if I need them to come by and wipe my nose or such like I had it after surgery, but it feels ever so good to be intact and working.

Actually if I find myself missing the post-surgery days too much, I'm sure I'll need my thighs reduced soon.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Heat and Pain

"In the heat of the summer / better call out a plumber / turn on the steam pipe / cool me off" - Circle Jerks

It's July. And before July was June, and after July is August, and it's hot.

Usually I lift at 3 pm, but some days work interferes with me, so I interfere with work and lift at noon or 1 pm.  It's hard to warm up at 3 in June, July, and August, and it's tempting to cool down immediately after the warm up and leave out the lifting part.  45 x 15 leaves the bench sweaty and my shirt stuck to my body.

And there's pain.  There is the usual pain caused by walking up stairs or attempting to do an air squat.  There is the unusual pain.  I did squat my old opener for ten Friday, and I got a viscous headache.  I laid on the mats for several minutes afterwards.  Eventually I realized that I was not having an aneurysm because my senses were still on and they were telling me that my head hurt.

Now there is heat and there is pain.

I'm sure I won't remember either of them when I'm on the platform August 25th.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Progress: Comfort Inn is Down the Road

I've made some progress, and having done that I can say that it's nice to have made progress.  Making progress, however, is hard.

There is that point in the ever lengthening set of burpees when the body can do a burpee, but the mind balks.  Lately I've wondered if that happens because the mind is aware that if 28 burpees are done in one minute, twenty-four seconds, then 29 burpees must be done the following day.

I'm not sure.  I've become very attuned to how my mind tries to stop me during a 2,000 meter row, and in truth the reason I prefer 500 meters is that I have been very successful at shutting my brain off for 90 seconds or less.  But with burpees I haven't figured it out yet.  It sure seems to me like I'm not thinking about much of anything, but I suspect foreknowledge of the relentless linear progression is the culprit.

I really wasn't sure how to begin lifting after my surgery, but I decided to try a very basic linear progression.  Supposedly I'm too advanced to get much if anything from a basic progression, but I liked the idea of starting way too light and working up 5 pounds on the squat and deadlift every session, and two and half pounds on the bench and the press. Foremost I thought a linear progression would allow me to work up without pulling any titanium anchors out, but I also wondered if after a month lay off preceded by weeks of sporadic and relatively light lifting before the surgery I could perhaps squeeze some progress from a basic lifting template.

I'm not giving any numbers here.  Those who know what I used to lift would be unimpressed, and those who don't know what I used to lift would be impressed.  Both of those miss the point: I have taken my best guess at what I should be doing, and I'm working it like a maniac.  I will say that over eight weeks my work sets of five in the squat have increased 75 pounds.  Exactly how that translates to a 1rm will be seen August 25th when I lift again.

Yes, I remember I wasn't going to lift until November, but I didn't plan on feeling so fantastic.

Of course feeling fantastic enough to make progress on a linear progression feels pretty terrible.  It's painful to climb stairs again. for example.  And yet the progression is relentless.  On Friday morning I was demonstrating the step-up, and I was having trouble executing with a pvc simulated barbell.  All the same I knew that in a few hours I'd be back in gym squatting a weight I would have opened with not so long ago for a solid set of ten.

I made it because to me it feels better to have made progress than it hurts to make progress.

And if my mind can fuck with me, I can fuck back.  I've convinced myself that surgery itself had nothing to do with my swollen, purple groin.  No, that must have happened because the surgeon left a liter of testosterone in my scrotum by mistake.

Insane yes, but I never question working placebos.

Friday, July 13, 2012


Lately I've been screwed.  Until today I had been getting up at 4 am and getting to sleep at 10 pm or later.  I realized that: 1) I should really do the "What to do When You're Screwed" blog, and 2) I should really do any blog before I lose relevance and along with it the possibility of gaining sponsorship from supplement hawkers and overpriced shoe walkers.

I thought about this and decided to just tell the story.  Feel free to insert and extract your own profound morals.

Tuesday some cookies, actually a whole lot of cookies, appeared in the break room at work.  Among them were oatmeal raisin cookies which I haven't had in quite a long time, and which I remember I used to like quite a lot.  Yes, I'm sure hydrogenated palm oil kills you, but it takes a long time, and it tastes great in oatmeal raisin cookies.

As I said it was Tuesday which means I had trained hard the previous day, and barring death or dismemberment I would train hard the next day.  But it was Tuesday which means I only did some burpees.  Still I figured that on average I'm a very hard training guy, and while by my own standards I'm slightly fat now, I'm at the level of slightly fat that I consider acceptable and even necessary when I am really trying to push my lifts up.

So you know, fuck it, I'm going to eat some cookies.

So there I am, a guy who doesn't eat cookies who is now definitely going to eat cookies, and around the cookies I see the people who are more than slightly fat and who are not currently pushing their lifts, and while they're the kind of people who definitely eat cookies, they're pretending that they don't eat cookies.

So here's what I do.  I walk up to the cookies, I say apologetically, "I got to quit fucking around; I;m getting visible abs again," I lift my shirt, and then I take as many cookies as I can fit between my thumb and middle finger and walk out.

"Mostly paleo all the time"

Monday, July 2, 2012

Pain Quantified and Progress

And this morning, Monday July 2, I really thought some Advil would be nice.

I didn't take any because I didn't have any, and between 5 and 5:30 am when I conceivably could have gotten some, I'm generally more interested in getting my second coffee and venting my first.

But I really wanted some.

Yesterday, a rest day, and the first day of July, I decided to count how many burpees I had done in June: 1,534.  I might be off by ten or so since some days I lose count like the day I became aware of the rowing-like nature of burpees and then became obsessed trying to figure out if it's correct to breathe twice per burpee.  Usually when I lose count I adhere to the CrossFit ethic of counting from the last one I remember, but this is going to be a lengthy project, and I admit some days I have said to myself, "fuck that."

So I did about 1,534 burpees in June, and there is some cumulative pain.  It's not all from the burpees.  Yesterday for instance I was rolling relatively hard at Dark Horse Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and I got caught in a bicep cutter.

Ah, the old bicep cutter

If we exclude the incidental stuff, then, 1,534 burpees left me wanting to eat Advil. 

I know now that on average, one burpee hurts enough to take 130 micrograms of Ibuprofen.  Of course my math is suspect, and nobody eats just one Advil, so it's really either 26, 260, or 2,600 micrograms per burpee - in any case a much smaller amount than one lowly milligram.

I've seen lately that some people are doing a 1,000 burpee challenge.  They're sometimes taking over two hours to do this, and they're sometimes going to the hospital with cramping although none of them have gotten rhabdo yet.

I don't know exactly my cumulative time for 1,534 burpees; it's about 90-100 minutes, and that includes 30 or so minutes of rest.  My volume is down, and my intensity is up.

Also in June I did both 100 burpees for time and the 7 minute burpee test.  I did 100 burpees a little bit faster than the last time I tried, and I did a few more burpees in 7 minutes than I did the last time I tried.

Small improvements, but when I express them as a percentage, they come out as whole numbers greater than one.

I'm going to keep my volume down, my intensity up, and my Ibuprofen under three-tenths of a mg per burpee and see what happens in another half year or so.

Of course, I'm a weirdo.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Pre-Post Workout

I know a guy who sells sugar powder with some whey protein in it.  I see he has invited a guy who sells sugar pills to give a talk on post workout nutrition.

Post workout needs are the same as pre-workout needs: oxygen, water, food, and a body temperature around 98 degrees fahrenheit. 

It might be you're already on top of this.

Possibly you wish to optimize things.  In that case make your food animals and vegetables.  Maybe, like me, you take things to extremes.  I sometimes supplement grass fed whey protein from All-Pro Science.  Sometimes I take creatine ethyl-ester.  If you're into that sort of thing, I recommend you try creatine monohydrate first.  It's cheaper, and some bodies - unlike mine - assimulate it fine.  Sometimes I take zma which is great for putting me to sleep, but I've found it's cheaper to get your own zinc and magnesium.  BCAA's are probably good; I haven't taken them long enough to form an opinion.

Of course sugar powder and sugar pills have their place.  They will continue to have their place until US Anti-Doping tests for placebos.

Placebos are great.  I wish I had some that worked for me, and if I had not disposable, but flushable, income, I'd be all over it.  But what I worry about with the sugar pill guys is that they miss the esential point of post workout nutrition.

You have to fucking workout first.

And I understand the aversion to doing the work.  I finally got my 69 burpees done on time, which means I reward myself by adding one per set for three sets, 72 now.  Progressions work, but they're never fun.  If 69 burpees was a battle, you can bet that 72 will be a war.

I knew nothing great would happen the first time I tried 72, and I was reluctant to start.  I watched the incredible effort the 5:30 am class at TwinFreaks CrossFit put into their workout, and I knew there was no escaping my attempt.

Still, they had been gone for some time and I was still standing around in fear after doing an ultra-slow warm up.

And then the "Pepsi Song," Suicidal Tendencies "Institutionalized" came on Pandora.  I listened to the opening line:

" Sometimes I try to do things but it just doesn't work out the way I want it to, and I get real frustrated               and then like I try hard to do it, and I like, take my time but it just doesn't work out the way I want it to"

which perfectly fits my burpee experience so far.  So I did what I have to do when this sort of thing happens.  I hit the start button on the timer, watched in terror as clock counted down from ten seconds, and then flung myself on the floor.

72 burpees in three sets is 24 a set of course.  Now as I said the overall burpee regime does not get any easier, but after doing this a month or so now, the first few burpees are easy.

Six, in fact, were easy, and that's perfect.  Not only is six one quarter of 24, but you only have to do two more to get to eight.  Anyone can do two, and when you're at eight, you only have to do half again as much to get to twelve, which is halfway.  Of course you can do four, because you've already done eight, so now you're halfway, and the second half is easy because it's downhill.

Anyway, that works on the first set.

On the second set, I pretended it was working, and it almost did.

If the second set didn't work, you know the third set won't, but you do it anyway because then you're done, and you've finished the thing you set out to do.  Besides, you have to show the clock that you'll be back tomorrow ready to go, and it's going to have to get through its seconds faster if it thinks it's going to catch you so far behind next time.

So that's the workout, and I don't worry too much what happens after that.  I've eaten a few times since this morning.  I'll eat again before I go to bed.

Fuck it, I might have another half-and-half.

I don't know what the sugar pill guys are doing tomorrow.  I'm not thrilled, but I'll hit the button and throw myself on the floor.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Lately progress on the burpees has stalled.  I'm stuck at 69.

Yes, I do 69 burpees a day now, and I have for many days in row.  I'm aware there is something about 69 everyday that could be funny, but my humor would have to be much less mature.

After going into overtime Monday to get 69 done, I felt a little like the bird who flew into the window a couple minutes later while I was still panting, head hung.

One fucked up little bird.

At first I thought the bird simply had a great workout trying to fly through the window, so I took a picture - thinking, I suppose, that perhaps he could post it on beakbook later.  But I as I watched I realized the poor guy was seriously fucked up.  He was feet up, and he seemed to be in the midst of the bird equivalent of convulsions.

I wasn't happy about this, but I thought I should go out and mercy kill him rather than let him slowly die convulsing under the already brutally hot Sun.  That though would have been hard for me to do, so I had a back up plan to put him in the shade and give him a chance to either recover or at least, hopefully, expire from something other than dehydration.

But as he heard me approach, he righted himself and began staggering away, so I did what coaches do: I said, 'that's right, walk it off."

I'm pretty sure the little guy made it because I didn't see him when I drove off some minutes later.  And I thought to myself maybe I should be more like the bird.

It's not all burpees of course.  I lift three days a week, and I don't write about it because I use what for me are pretty light weights.  There's nothing exciting about the programming either.   I do two work sets of five, and on my last work set I supposedly do as many reps as possible.  In reality, I decided to stop with the press and the bench press at 10 because my shoulders start to feel sloppy, and I don't want to make them any worse than they are.  That has been working for me, so I decided I'd cap my deadlifts and squats at 10 also.

Last Friday I squatted 270 x 5 x 2.  On the third set I felt good and Motorhead was playing so I went to 13.  Afterwards, I wasn't sure why I stopped there.  I didn't feel great by any means, but I was sure I had left a lot in the tank.  So I began to think that just maybe on Monday when I would squat 275, I should take the last set to 20.

Here's the thing with 20 rep squats: they're only worth doing if you use a weight you damn well know you shouldn't take to 20.  Usually around 13 I start thinking there is no way I will survive, and the most I've done before is 255.  I was wondering all weekend if I had any business 20 repping 275.

But then it was Monday and I didn't finish my burpees on time, and the bird smashed his head into the window and walked it off.

Syn Martinez, owner of CrossFit Harlem, recently posted that he was going to do 1,000 burpees because, "sometimes you have to man the fuck up."

I'm not sure about that.  It seems possibly even a little immature to me, but I needed redemption, so I did what I do that is unquestionably mature.

I looked at myself in the mirror and said, "I GUESS YOU REALLY DON"T WANT TO PLAY IN THE NFL, NOW DO YOU?"  Besides, what would the bird do?

I knew that this was going to hurt much worse than the burpees, but I twenty-repped 275.

I was correct in thinking that if I could pull off the squats, the burpees would never hurt as bad again.

They don't hurt as bad as they did before.

Now they just suck, and I'm still stuck at 69.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Thursday Burpees

Today I woke up not feeling like death warmed over, but rather like serious illness at room temperature.

Tuesday and Wednesday were the first two days in a row that I failed to get my burpees done on time.  I was not looking forward to doing them today, and I even considered taking a day off.

But I read this quote from the New York Times Magazine today:
"Oh, sure, rowers can experience a kind of grace — but it tends to be of the sort visited on saints and others inclined to mortification of the flesh." 
This grace, I know, is also that of the burpee.  Erging I try to put my breastbone on the monitor, so I lined up at the intersection of four stall mates today and concentrated on putting my breastbone right on the cross they formed. 

It was mortifying, but I got it done.

You just have to be a Crazy Bitch.

I'm on top of it.

xoxo, you!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Country Roads

Sometimes it's good to get out of the comfort zone.  Burpees are not exactly in the comfort zone to begin with, but there's always room for dis-improvement.  Today I didn't get, but rather I was given, the idea to do my burpees to country music - thank you, L.B.

So today instead of Suicidal Tendencies, I did my burpees to some Travis McTravis fuck.  I mean I'm doing burpees, and Travis McTravis is whining about how his girlfriend left.

And so I thought like this: shut the fuck up.

Look, I had a girlfriend leave to - these things happen - and that not until she did some serious Exorcist shit screaming at me while her head was revolving in full circles, and now I'm not drinking my dog's beer, I'm doing burpees.

So just shut the fuck up.

And Travis McTravis shut the fuck up.  Maybe my anguished cries actually shut down the Internet, or maybe Pandora was just loading slowly as it sometimes does.  Regardless, it was quiet.

And in the quiet I heard the music of the burpee:

Feet-chest- feet. Feet-chest-feet.

one-two-three, one-two-three.

That, I think, is a waltz.  I'm not sure because I did quite poorly in my music appreciation course at the University of Iowa.  I was out too late playing with my hard core band.  Even then, it seems, I was into screwing things up my own way instead of studying how people maintained mediocrity for centuries.

So when I heard the Burpee Waltz I had a revelation.

I have become a conduit for the Universal Will to Burpee, and it's only natural then that I can hear the celestial choir.

And when my heart rate eventually slowed to under 200, I had a further thought: my God, I'm a wing nut.

Maybe I'm a wing nut.  I am nonetheless happy with the sense of empowerment burpees give me.  Six days a week I'm happy to wake up because I get to do burpees, and on the seventh day I'm elated to get up because I don't have to do burpees.

I'm probably okay. I worry more about my fellow contemporary Humans whose only sense of empowerment comes from the fierce self-reliance they develop going through the self checkout at the local supermarket.

The best country roads do not take you home, but to a better place than you've heretofore been.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Fucking Burpees

I do burpees now.

I put somewhere between enough and too much time into thinking about what I can't do, and when I got tired of that, I tried a burpee and it worked.  It sucked, yes, but it worked.  I found out that if I do a two minute shoulder warm up, yes - two minutes, I timed it - my shoulders are fine with cushioning my flop to the floor.  No pain during movement, and no delayed onset pain.

So, I wasn't doing enough, I realized I could do burpees, and I knew that if I wasted time thinking about what I could do besides burpees, I wouldn't do anything which is what I was trying to avoid.  Now I do three sets of burpees with one minute of rest between sets six days a week trying to keep each burpee under three seconds and adding another burpee to each set every day as long as the previous day's burpees came in at no more than three seconds each on average.

How many burpees is that?  I started more than two weeks ago and today I was finally one second late on my last set, so if I started with a really low number, I'm now doing sets of more than 14, so more than 42 a day.  And in truth I started with a small number, not a really small one.  But I'm not disclosing the total because it doesn't matter.

Every burpee sucks.

Close to four years ago I was crossfitting in Boulder, and I learned that it's possible to break yourself.  For example, rowing sucks; everyone knows this.  And while rowing still sucks, I broke my suckometer such that I can torture myself on the rower and though I feel at a bare minimum as much pain as anyone else, I enjoy the experience now.

Here's the secret to breaking your rowing suckometer.  You challenge another affiliate to 100,000 meter race, and you and perhaps 15 other people take turns rowing 1,000 meters.  I think I did 14,000 meters, and we kept them all under four minutes each.  Back then I didn't even know that's a very slow 1,000.  Forgive me.  That was about four years ago, and I was older then.

But however slow those 14 or so pieces were, they hurt enough to break me.

I've been able to approximate the same thing by forcing myself to do burpees six days a week.  It's qualitatively different than rowing though.  I feel as much pain as anyone else, and I don't enjoy the experience.  It seems every burpee always sucks, but I tolerate them now.

I do burpees when I can., but always in the morning because I know that if I don't have them done by 9 am, they're not getting done at all.  In practical terms that means that I do burpees at 5:30 or 6:30 or 7:30 am.

Burpees suck.

I'd like to have some help with burpees, but only a couple times has someone joined me for this.  It's great when someone is there because while I'm thinking about how bad burpees are, I can watch my partner in my peripheral vision, and because I hurt and it's only peripheral vision, I envision her one burpee ahead of me, and that vision so far has allowed me to finish one half-burpee before her.

But almost always I'm alone, and as is probably only natural I look for short cuts.  I don't cheat - absolutely not - but I look for short cuts.  I can't focus on anything when I'm in motion, and at the top stationary position which last only a millisecond since I do my jump like I'm supposed to, I can't really see anything but the spot on the floor I'm about to return to, and even that is now often obscured by sweat.

So I have to do all my looking at the bottom stationary position, on the floor.  I don't have a lot of time there because win or lose, I'm trying to get each burpee done in under three seconds.  But I take a quick look around, and I've done it several hundred times at least already.

The only thing I've found at the bottom of the burpee is the Will to Rise.

At the bottom of the burpee there are no T-shirts, no Reefucks, and no Blowgenex.  Nothing magic at all.

No, only the Will to Rise.

Burpees suck, but they're now a study in purity to me.  There is only motion and a brief flash of Will to Rise at the bottom that I trust I will be able to nurture over time.

Probably a fuck of a lot of time.

And during that accumulated time made of discrete moments at the very bottom, I find too some consolation that if I don't cheat but really reach the true bottom, at least the mustache is fully deloaded.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I'm Alive

I'm alive, and I feel pretty good about that.

I was going to detail my training so far this week, but it's pretty basic linear progression stuff using weights that are definitely too light for me.  It is unimpressive, but I feel great to be moving purposefully again and actually training.

I feel, in fact, like I've grown a pair of balls.

I think actually they may have been there for some time now, but I notice them more because they're still angry about that surgery.  I wish I could post a picture because they were actually no-shit purple for several days.

Now they just try to catch the bar when I deadlift.

And let me tell, if some day you have angry balls and you're looking for a short intense conditioning workout,  do not do tabata intervals on the C2; the start is murderous.

But I can tell you honestly now it feels much better to knock those guys off with a bar than to let them fall off through inactivity.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Post-Surgery Everything's a PR

135 x 5 (new 5 rm)
185 x 1 (new 1 rm)
I was feeling aggressive, and I was pretty sure I was staying short of reckless, so:
225 x 1 (new 1 rm)

I did all these conventional as I doubted my ability to hit my real sumo stance, and I sincerely believe working conventional for a few months will drive my sumo up.

A short time later I was feeling aggressive and reckless so:
Power Snatch 95 x 1 (new 1 rm)

That was truly stupid.  I learned that while my hips extend, they don't do it explosively yet.

Everything, my stuff and the titanium stuff, stayed in place, but the lift felt a little too much like an ice pick to the left testicle for my comfort.

But again, fuck it, it's a ps PR.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Weekend Lifting

5 x 33
5 x 45
5 x 75
5 x 95

This felt good and promising, so I decided to cut it short while it still felt that way.  I could have stopped here, but there was a bar on the floor, so:

5 x 83

I did this conventional which I want to train again, and I thought it was a little too much strain to get into a good starting position, so I called it quits.

Dynamic Bench

I suspected I wouldn't be able to get a decent arch, and I don't want to get cray with the intra-abdominal pressure yet.  I thought the best way to get some work in with a light load would be to revisit dynamic benching.  I worked up to:

8 x 3 x 95 + 40 pound chains

I could have used another 50 pounds of straight weight, but that would have put me near a bajillion pounds.

I think it's realistic to total a bajillion in late November or December, and I'll be able to get there by being consistent and adding a few million pounds each week.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Post-Surgery / Pre-Awesome

It's no opium, so this blog may not compare to Samuel Coleridge's "Kublai Khan," but I was whacked out on anaesthesia today so I thought I should write something.  My designated driver took me to the grocery store after I left the hospital, and I couldn't figure out why the King Soopers guy asked me for a Safeway card until it was pointed out to me that actually I was wrong concerning my whereabouts.  I remember waking up in the hospital pretty much like I did after my last surgery a couple years ago; trying to take the oxygen tube out of my nose and then apologizing profanely but sincerely to the attending nurse.

I feel pretty good except for some serious discomfort in a sensitive body area.  I had been wondering what the surgical team would think of the "up" arrow I shaved on my chest prior to the USAPL meet, but they seem to have been unimpressed.  They shaved much of my stomach and southern regions and painted it with an iodine solution too.  I like the overall effect.  Instead of the cavernous scar I got from my previous surgery on the other side, I've got three beautiful wounds: my belly button appears to be crying a crimson tear to my left side, and an inch and a half lower I have two fang bites from a mutant vampire.

I tried an air squat in the hospital parking lot, but I failed to get to depth.  Later I took a slow and short walk around my neighborhood and popped off two air squats - one parallel, and one to the basement.

I'm sure that's enough for now.  I'm going to hide tomorrow and watch the US Chess Championship via the Internet.  If I feel like something more strenouos, I'll pop some oxycodone and play some one-minute games myself.

Let me reiterate that I feel great coming off last Saturday's meet and getting my body put back together.  I am not in a hurry, but I fully intend to be crushing much heavier weights later in 2012.

Beyond the physical,  I've had the opportunity to reflect on the community we have built over the last few years at TwinFreaks CrossFit.  I have been picked up off the floor after work outs many times, but now I can't count the offers for help I've had.

People even want to cook for me.

That is unexpressably awesome, and while I am humbled and awed, I can't let myself be a bum.  I'm navigating the kitchen fine, and I was - perhaps surprisingly - smart enough to load up on supplies yesterday.

I'll be recovering fine on my traditional high protein - low flavor diet, and I'll be back soon.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

USAPL Masters Nationals

For the first time in my powerlifting career I was on the national stage Saturday, and for the first time in my career, I thought a bomb-out was a real possibility.  I've never had a worse training cycle.  With my shoulder problems I haven't benched more than 205 recently, and I quit benching entirely a month or six weeks ago.  My left hamstring has been screaming at me even on air squats when I go not just below, but even close to parallel.  Near the end of my squat cycle I had to abandon my plan and train intuitively; I squatted twice in April, and my best squat below parallel was 355 pounds.  Deadlifting became impossible with the hamstring, and I stopped pulling also over a month ago.

I know that competition brings out my best, often far exceeding what I can do in training, so I decided to relax and go in with a good attitude, but I was in no way sure that would be enough to avoid embarrassment.  I thought it wouldn't be worth any extra stress to cut to 83 kilos, so I lifted at 93 kilos while weighing in at just under 86 kg.

I found embarrassment enough at the equipment check when I learned that there was no raw division.  The meet was entirely equipped, and while I'm not sure if I'll ever lift in full gear, I would have trained in and used knee wraps if I had known they were allowed.  I decided that my problems were really no worse than they had been for the last several weeks anyway, and I resolved to lift as much as I could.


My warm up was adequate but not great.  I took a couple singles at 315 and decided that my opener at 355 would just have to go.  A few months ago I though I could get out of bed at 5 am, take the morning piss, and squat 355 with no warm up or coffee, but I wasn't so sure here.

I sank it.  Three white lights.

I decided to jump to 374 which also was not a problem.  Three white lights.

I was gaining momentum, and I thought there was no point in trying less than 400, so I loaded up 402 and ended up just a touch high.  One white, two reds.

Third squat attempt.

Bench Press:

Here my lack of pressing showed.  I went up to 205 in the warm up and it felt like a ton.

I opened at 220 and had no problem.  Three whites.

I went to 235 and again got three whites.

I decided to try 248, and while it went up much easier than I expected, my butt left the bench.  I've gotten away with worse benches in competition, but these national judges were good: one white, two reds.


This threatened to be an absolute disaster.  I know that strength-wise I can trust my deadlift to be good enough as long as my squat is working, but the sumo deadlift is technical and my technique was nowhere to be found after the multi-week layoff.

135 felt light like it should, but as soon as I put more weight on the bar in the warm up room I started falling over backwards.  I kept falling over until I got to 315 pounds, and then while I didn't topple, 315 felt like a maximal attempt.  I decided to shut down the warm up before I gave myself even more problems.

I opened at 355 pounds, and while it felt much heavier than it should have, I was able to grind it out.  Three whites.

I was not really interested in doing less than I have before, so I asked for 402 pounds for my second attempt.  My set up was bad, and I was barely able to break the bar off the floor and do a static hold before  giving up.  Three reds.

Second deadlift attempt.  What I like here, though, is that you can see me look at the bar before leaving the platform and try to figure out what went wrong.

I knew that my set up allowed the bar to creep in front of me.  It was also clear to me that on my next attempt, also at 402 pounds, I would have to concentrate on accelerating the bar all the way up.

I walked out determined on my third attempt to search for my former technique.  On this one you can see me stop to put my head on straight before approaching the bar.  I was collecting both my thought and aggression next to the loader at the back of the platform.  When he put away his smart phone and told me, "you got this," I knew it was time to go.

I had no problems getting the bar well away from the platform, but had to grind a little to lock out.  Three whites, a cloud of chalk, and a high-five for the loader/coach.

I ended up totaling over a thousand pounds, which is not good but it was more than I thought I could do.

As I think about it now, I'm happy that I decided to compete.  I think that after surgery this week with the month long recovery I'll need, my body will be ready to perform again, and I'll lose the fear of further injury. I took it as a good sign that I can have my worst training cycle ever and still have enough residual strength to do what I did.  I'm sure I have a great base to build off of when my body and mind are ready to go again, I think I'll be able to lift some much more respectable numbers when I compete again.  (I'm publicly secretly hoping for August.)

I'd like to thank the USAPL and Colorado USAPL for running a spectacular meet.  The judging was strict without being sadistic, and the meet ran very orderly and on time.

I'd like to thank VP for the video, and DB for virtually everything.

I'll be in surgery Tuesday, and under the bar as soon as possible.

Hey, did you notice that hook grip with 402 pounds?


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Skill Work Part 2

I realized my short blog yesterday was taken by some people as funny and others as deadly serious.

I intended it, of course, to be merely factual.

Here's the thing, I'm going to the USAPL National Masters this weekend.  I'm not interested in doing the kind of things I have done, because those are the kind of things I can do.  I want, rather, to do the kind of things I can't do.

Based on the way my training fell apart recently, I'm physically incapable of doing the kinds of things I can't do.

And that never worries me; barring further injury I'm going to try to lift something heavier than I have lifted before.

Because my body can't cooperate, I'm devoted all of my training time to my mind.

Like virtually everyone else experiences, things weigh me down.  So this week I am working on walking upright no matter what happens.

I figure this will give me confidence on the platform, perhaps even enough to do something worthwhile.

And walking upright makes one a better conductor if Awesome does decide to strike.

I have to admit I'm looking forward to post-meet and surgery.  I've been thinking about it, and it's much too early for me to retire from powerlifting.  I'll be back with some adjusted training.

What I am undecided on, however, is if it's time to shave.

Weekend: Hair Down

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Monday, April 30, 2012

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Sound of Silence

Yes, I have been silent, and the sound of silence has meaning.

The short story is that nothing has gone right this training cycle.  I have some significant injuries that I won't now, and possibly never will, publicize.

I'm going to try lifting heavy one more time before the USAPL Masters National in early May, and I'll try to make it through the meet with a good attitude.

I'm at once saddened and excited to say that I'm looking forward to mid-May when I'll get my body repaired.

I'll probably be squatting 45 pounds again for a while.

45 pounds can also be squatted perfectly.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Ninth OLAP: Squats, Bench, Snapping Spines, 12-5, and Bullshit

Today started perfectly.  It was light squat day.  I started at 6:30 am, and when A.B. left after the 5:30 class, she offered to get me something from Starbucks.  I asked for an espresso, and apparently her default understanding of an espresso is a quad shot.

She gets it.

Despite being fortified, I wasn't feeling great so I decided I would squat in the morning then return after work to bench.

Morning squats:
5 x 45 (high)
5 x 45
5 x 135
8 x 210
6 x 250
4 x 285
3 x 325
3 x 325

Everything here was solid, which is good enough.

Work was fine until late afternoon when a pathetic little imbecile came into the cube talking, to put it charitably, non-productive shit.  I kind of feel sorry for the guy.  As far as I can tell from his ceaseless chatter, he has a much larger income than me and a much better car.  Probably some day I will quit or be fired, and some day too, my F-150 will fall apart.  And then I will walk, and everything will be fine.  The pathetic little imbecile, on the other hand, would wither and die quickly without a car or a job.

So while I feel sorry for the guy, I wanted to snap his spine and see if that would shut him up.  Like a lot of guys with large incomes and new cars, he is close to helpless physically, and snapping his spine would have been a nice warm up for me.  Fortunately while I was weighing my pity against my anger, I had time to remember that law serves largely to protect weak imbeciles from well intentioned people like me who have a sincere desire to correct their ill manners.

But that's why we have barbells.

I was now happy that I left the bench session until after work.
The work sets were 6 x 5 x 205.
There was nothing really good or bad here.  It still bothers me that in December I was doing substantially more, and I left feeling more like I had slapped a middle-schooler than snapped an imbecile's spine, but it was better than nothing.

I decided to do CrossFit Open 12-5 today and be done with it.
CF Open 12-5:
Complete as many reps as possible in 7 minutes following the rep scheme below:
3 Barbell Thrusters
3 Chest to bar Pull-ups
6 Barbell Thrusters
6 Chest to bar Pull-ups
9 Barbell Thrusters
9 Chest to bar Pull-ups
12 Barbell Thrusters
12 Chest to bar Pull-ups
15 Barbell Thrusters
15 Chest to bar Pull-ups
18 Barbell Thrusters
18 Chest to bar Pull-ups
21 Barbell Thrusters
21 Chest to bar Pull-ups...
This is a timed workout. If you complete the round of 21, go on to 24. If you complete 24, go on to 27, etc.

This was also last year's 11-6, and it was my second best workout last year.  I got well into the 15 pull-ups, which was not far behind some truly good people last year.   I knew this year that if I wanted to be smart I'd have to stop at one pull-up.  I think it's understandable that this is disheartening for me, so I wanted to do 12-5 and forget it.

I was in such a hurry, though, that I loaded the standard 95 pounds on the bar instead of the prescribed 100.  I started the clock, knocked out three thrusters and did one painful but perfect chest to bar pull-up.  I was walking around simultaneously happy to be done and embarrassed at having had people watch me do one pull-up, when it was pointed out to me that I needed to use 100 pounds.


I had used about 90 seconds of my 7 minutes, so without resetting the clock, I put five more pounds on the bar, did three thrusters and one more painful but perfect chest to bar pull-up.

Score: 4 (twice, almost)

I got an e-mail today from a guy who wants me to give him $975 for his course on how to use the Internet to become famous and start making the millions I deserve from my fitness business.  It was all fascinating enough to read the whole e-mail along with the endorsements from those who have already become famous and made millions.

I don't think I need to pay anyone to learn hyperbole, actually I'm quite good with it already.

I've seen people I personally know publish outrageous claims about their abilities.

I don't care if they get people to give them lots of money or if they go broke.

I decided when I started that I would only deal in honesty.  If you want to look at some other blogs, you'll see that I'm not that fastest or the strongest or the best at making other people the fastest and strongest.  Even after I sift out the nearly infinite bullshit, there are legitimate guys who are faster and stronger and better trainers than me.

It is taking me longer than I wanted, but I am making myself the best I can be.  I can make you good enough that you need to go to someone better, and when that happens I will be proud to recommend you to a better no bullshit guy.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Eighth OLAP, Squats, Shoes & CF Open 12-4

Last Thursday was supposed to be bench pressing and deadlifting, but with angry hamstrings I skipped deadlifting entirely and benched:

6 x 4 x 205

Today I felt relatively good for being almost halfway through my cycle, and I undertook the scheduled heavy squat day.

5 x 45
5 x 135
8 x 170
6 x 210
5 x 250
4 x 285
3 x 325
3 x 345
3 x 345
5 x 305
6 x 235

This was not exactly fun, but I was happy with the session.  I took the first 345 triple with no belt which seemed fine, but having proved to myself I could do that I put the belt on for the second triple.

My last cycle I felt like I had entirely forgotten how to squat, and I eventually solved the problem by using Olympic lifting shoes.  I suspect strongly, however, that lifting shoes are not the real answer for back squatting, and I've been splitting time this cycle between the O-shoes and the Converse Chucks.  I did everything in Converse today, and it felt like it used to before I forgot how to squat.

New Chucks, I assure you, are a joy to squat and pull in; they're hard, stable, flat, and low to the ground.  As far as I can remember, mine are not new.  I think they date back to the July USAPL state meet.  They're low to the ground, and they're hard,, but they're neither stable nor flat.  I don't think Converse would claim them anymore.  They've become something else entirely.

Perhaps Fuckboks.

By mid-April I'll have to replace my Fuckboks with new Converse to squat in my competition 1rm range.

I've saved some but not all of my old Fuckboks since I started lifting seriously, because when I squat 200 kilos, I want to take a photo of all the Fuckboks I trained in next to the new Converse I squatted in.

And what I believe as I near what I hope to be the end of a multi-year journey is that the important part is making new shoes old.

I think it's delusional to believe that new Fuckboks are more important than wearing out multiple pairs of Converse in the quest for Awesome.

And that's fine because I don't sell shoes.

Immediately after squatting I tried CrossFit Open WoD 12-4:
150 Wall Ball Shots
90 Double Unders
30 Muscle Ups

I was not thrilled about this because my best time ever for 150 wall balls is just under ten minutes, and not only was I better conditioned then, I was pain free.  Nonetheless, I thought it would be weak not to complete the wall balls, so I told my accountability partner I would do one double under for her.

I thought pacing was key here, so I started with what felt like a moderate pace to me and quickly down-shifted to low.

I finished the wall balls - I think because I try not to obsess over the clock on these work outs - in just over 11 minutes.  I did the double under for AP, and fourteen more followed.

Total reps: 165

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tuesday: Squat, Erg & Ice (7th OLAP)

Today was light squat day, and I was thankful that it was light because I'm starting to hurt.  The hamstrings are still complaining, and the right knee has been painful since heavy day.  I really don't want to back down before the Masters Nationals, so I rolled out the hamstrings on lacrosse balls and coated both legs from butt to patella with Blue Heat.

Blue Heat and balls powerlifting porn.  Actually if you imagine this several times smaller
and with the balls also blue, that's pretty much what my genitals
 looked like after today's ice bath,

After getting all my parts mostly working, I did squats:
5 x 75 (75 was on the floor after the 5:30 class, and if it's going to be that easy to be lazy, well...These were also the most painful squats of the day, but now everything was really working.)
5 x 135
8 x 170
6 x 210
5 x 250
4 x 265
3 x 285
3 x 305
3 x 305

I'm sure I need to remember metabolic conditioning work, so I looked into the Max Effort Black Box and found:

40 Squats at bodyweight
1,000 meter row

With 185 pounds on the bar, I finished in 7:58.  I was disappointed that I had to break up the squats since I've done 33 at 185 before.  I will remember to try this again on fresh legs; it was fun, and I can probably break 6:00.  I also think it would be fun to do this weekly over a month and wave the squat intensity up to 75 or 80 percent while trying to hold the row constant.  185 is less than 50% of 1rm for me, and while it's no joke for forty repetitions, I'd like to see how far I can push this.

If you're counting, today's squat volume was16,065 pounds, just over 8 tons.  All of this was under 80% of my competition 1rm, but it felt heavy to me, so I thought I should be proactive and take an ice bath.

I tried this last summer after doing a squat cluster, and it seemed to work.  The ice bath on a March morning seems worse than on a July afternoon, but I did ten minutes with twenty pounds of ice.  Bad though it might be, it's better than forgetting to wash your hands before going to the bathroom after applying Blue Heat.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll find that it was effective.

All I could tell this morning was that it gave me cold feelings.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sixth OLAP

As usual, Sunday is heavy squat day.  Losing an hour of sleep last night made me decide to start lifting at noon, and since it was tempting to stay in bed today, I got out all the wraps just in case I had an off day.

Heavy Day Props

Heavy Day:
5 x 45
5 x 135
8 x 170
6 x 210
5 x 250
4 x 285
4 x 305
4 x 325
4 x 325
4 x 325
1 x 405 reverse green bands
5 x 305
6 x 275

My total volume without the reverse band squat was 11,945 pounds, nearly 6 tons.  Only two tons, however, was above 80% of my working 1rm.

I played around for too long trying to figure out the reverse bands.  With the green bands I got a complete deload at the bottom, and what I'm trying to do is have 405 at the top and 350 or so at the bottom.  I think being comfortable walking out 450 or so would help me with heavy singles at meet time.  I'm going to keep doing this until I get the deload I want.

It's good that I'm working towards a goal, because otherwise I might succumb to temptations like this:
The breakroom: your co-workers never exist to help you

I'm doing a lot more pvc rolling than I have previously because it will be important to stay ahead of the pain here.  If I can figure out how to get enough sleep, it should be a good meet in May.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Fifth OLAP, 12-3 & Thoughts on the Open

Thursday is deadlift and bench day.  I wanted to do CrossFit Open workout 12-3 at 5:30 am as a warm up before lifting at 6:30, but there was an even number of people at 5:30, and I didn't want to ruin the flow.

At 6:30 I commenced lifting.  My works sets were:
Bench 6 x 3 x 205
Deadlift 6 x 3 x 320

Benching was uneventful.  I did my work on the bands and had no trouble.
Deadlifting, however, was horrible.  I was tired, and with lingering pain in my hamstrings, it seemed to take seconds to lock out each pull.  I had much more time under tension than usual, and I almost passed out a couple times.

I'm not worried about this yet.  It could just be a bad day, but if trouble persists I'll have to adjust training.  If I'm forced to I'll switch to either speed pulls, or deficit pulls off a couple mats.  Either one of these would allow me to train effectively with a hundred pounds less on the bar.  I know too that if a proficient squat is going up, the sumo deadlift can't be getting worse, so I'll make adjustments to keep squatting and back off on the pulling if I have to, and even a little technique work should give me a decent pull at the meet in May.

I came back Thursday night to try 12-3, AMRAP 18 15 box jumps 24", 12 push presses 115#, 9 toes-to-bar.  My idea was to do the jumps and presses, try one toes-to-bar and see how I felt.  As it was, the toes-to-bar didn't cause me any immediate pain, so I finished the round.  I didn't think I should do more pressing and risk the shoulder, and knowing that it was hard to do more box jumps.  I finished with 1 round and 1 box jump for a score of 37.

After the second Open workout, I was right in the middle of the field.  It's tempting for me to do 12-3 again and see what I can really do.  I thought about if for 15 minutes and decided not to be stupid.  Attempting to stay in the top half is not worth more down time if the shoulder does blow up.

What is the World's Fittest Man anyway if not a marketing gimmick?

The only reason I am not the word's fittest man, at least in my age group, is that I didn't copyright the phrase.  If I had, I would start determining who is the fittest by a 500 meter row.  Since there are a few people worldwide who can beat me there, I'd have to precede the row with 20 squats at  - let's see, 245 pounds.

James Open Workout 1 (the only one)
Squat 245 x 20
500 meter row

That should make me the worlds fittest man in my group, and if I had a bad day and finished second or third, that's still good enough for the Reebok shit, and I'd really like to meet and train with that other guy or two.