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.

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.