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, 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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