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, February 26, 2013


Last Sunday, 2/24/13, I went with Audrey Burgio to the USA Kettlebell Lifting Bolt competition in Denver.  I went only in the role of spectator and cheerleader because Audrey doesn't need my coaching with the kettlebell.

I would have had a great time just watching, but it was even better because Audrey won her division.

After driving back to Longmont along a very slushy I-25, we decided post competition eating was in order.  We kept it paleo until dessert when Audrey decided to get a Jack Daniels whiskey cake.  After forty minutes of work with kettlebells, I figured Audrey would be okay loading some dirty carbs.  I couldn't really justify the half cake I ate, but I did it anyway.

Audrey was back in the gym working Monday, but that shit went straight to my hips.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Where I'm Going

As will happen sometimes, I was asked recently how much I squat, and I gave the only answer that makes any sense, "ask me in August."  If that's not a good enough answer, I would estimate I can probably do between 400 and 480 now.

I'm competing next at the NASA World Cup of Power August 3rd and 4th in Denver, Colorado, and I will answer all relevant questions then.

By the way, the only relevant questions are: how much I can squat; how much I can bench; how much I can dead lift; and most importantly, how much does all that add up to?

Fitness has been given many definitions, and that is largely so that more people can sell more stuff that will give you "fitness."  The definition I use for fitness is the ability to do a task.  So yes, zumba and ecstasy will assuredly give one the ability to rave all night, and under some circumstances that may be fitness worth paying for.

There are some people preparing for the unknown and unknowable.  That certainly is a laudable goal, but when I meet these people they seem to actually be obsessed with a zombie apocalypse  and it seems that their prepared response is to distract the zombies with a jump rope demonstration.

Look, I'm not making fun of the zombie apocalypse.  I also have an inner twelve year old comic book reading fat kid that knows said apocalypse is inevitable.

I'm just choosing to prepare by getting lifts judged in competition and recorded forever in Internet land.  Those real, verifiable numbers are what the zombies mine when they compile their list of People You don't Want to Fuck With.

So then, I'm training hard and regularly, making actual gains in the parameters I monitor, and getting on that fucking list.

You too can go wherever you want.

Monday, February 18, 2013

How I Got There

In my last blog I detailed, briefly, how I hit a huge squat PR last November.

It occurred to me that probably no one will derive any real pleasure from walking around talking about how they know the guy who got a big PR, but there is a small though real chance some readers would like to do it themselves.

I had succeeded in August in overcoming the psychological block at the 400 pound level, and I did that simply by assiduously following a basic beginners' linear progression.  In theory I was not a beginner, but I had had a two month lay off due to injury, and I thought a linear progression would allow me to build both strength and confidence in my repaired body.  I suppose it's possible that it should not have worked, but it did.

Following a linear progression to near death allowed me to squat 407 in August, but I knew that my gains on simple programming had dried up.

Once you get past the bullshit, and the bullshit is the stuff promulgated by skinny-fat geeks asking primarily for money, there are two broad schools of lifting.

There is the Old School which has been around forever and has been deeply studied for over a century, and there is the Eastern Bloc School which has been around for decades and has been studied deeply enough to attract both geniuses and skinny jackasses whose main goal is to post to facebook about accommodating resistance and rate of force development.

Okay.  It's my blog so I'll admit that I have flashes of genius, but I can't sustain it.  I also hate facebook more everyday since it is mainly used by weak jackasses who post incessantly about their genius training.  They usually leave out any data about any results they might get though.

So, while having great respect for the few but brilliant Eastern Bloc guys, I decided to be an Old School guy.

I used an intelligently modified 5x5 program which is popular with the Old School guys at 70's Big.  As with most or all 5x5 programs, this one had a medium day, a light day, and a heavy day.  I simply worked this program so hard that within a few weeks I had a horrible day, a fun day, and a terrifying day.

The secret then was as any non-jackass will tell you, hard consistent work.  I worked through a revolving cast of characters and weather that varied from lake of sweat on the floor to hands frozen on bar.

And that was it.

One horrible day, one fun day, and one terrifying day made a week.  Four weeks made a month, and so on.

And I've seen that nobody likes the hard, sustained work secret.

So I have another secret.

I tried so hard to squat 440 when it was impossible that when it was possible it became easy.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Where I Was

It's been so long since I've blogged that even I noticed.  I didn't overly care, but a few people who are smart enough to know told me I should be writing, so I thought I'd give a brief account of October until now.

I trained hard, and like I set out to do a long time ago, I squatted 200 kg / 440 lbs.