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.

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.