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.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Squatting Every Day

And then sometimes you have an idea.  You can't be sure if it's good or bad, so eventually you have to try it.

For two or three or four or five years, however long I've been serious enough about lifting to check up on the generally unreliable reports about what the Bulgarians are doing, I've been fascinated with the idea of squatting every day, and I knew eventually I'd try it.

I thought that I would train for the 2014 USAPL Raw Nationals in July in much the same way I've trained the last 18 or so months, after which, what the hell, I'd experiment with squatting everyday.

But then last Saturday I popped my elbow.  While it looks fine on the outside, it's still very angry, and it doesn't like to go to full extension.  I find I can do slow push ups, and I did a pull up today which I won't try to repeat soon since it made my elbow feel worse than it did Saturday.  I'm almost, but not quite, stupid enough to try any pressing.

A lot of guys, I fear, would take a couple months off here.

Earlier this week I saw an article headline which claimed men's self esteem is lowered when doors are held open for them.  I didn't read the article because I don't read articles like that, but I know I don't care about doors.  Sometimes people hold doors for me because they're genuinely great people, and as I have observed, sometimes they do so because they find me intimidating which makes me laugh.

But if I didn't train, I'm certain that my self esteem would take a bigger hit than it did in my latter teens when I happened on porn and what passes for average genitals.

So I decided to squat everyday.  By far the most reputable source I've read on this, James Steel, recommends hitting at least 70% of 1rm everyday, and going over 80% a couple times a week.  I don't know exactly where my 1rm is these days, so I don't know what 70% is, but 315 is close enough and it's easy to load.

I might improve some of my physical attributes doing this, or I might die, but I was going to do that eventually anyway.  Besides, I've been listening to a lot of what I call drug rap in training lately, and if those guys can ball until they fall, I can squat until I rot.

Thus far though, I feel great.  Obviously my lifting density is way up, but my volume and intensity are both down.   If I were to guess what happens eventually, I'd say I'll get a little bit stronger and a little bit leaner while feeling great all the time and having plenty of physical resources left over to train jiu jitsu with regularity.

And so there are some more ideas I have, but I'm not taking a couple months off anytime soon.

Well actually I've never had that idea, and I still slam doors on people who do.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

BJJ Blues

Again I'm processing a loss.

Of course whenever you compete you can be adequately prepared, but you can't know whether you'll be a winner or loser.

At the urging of my younger training partners, I decided to compete in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu again after a four or five year break from competition.  I think it's a matter of integrity to walk the walk, as is commonly said, and if nothing else I set out to show that while I am aging, I am  not in any way enfeebled.

I was happy with both my physical and technical preparation going in.  I believe my guard has improved tremendously since returning to BJJ, and while my top game is rudimentary, it's serviceable. 

My team mates at Dark Horse BJJ and the guys I lift and condition with had me in good shape, and while I fought nerves for days, I was ready to return.

Waiting to warm up,

Without recounting the fight in entirety, I lost by submission to an Americana from mount.  I felt like I was in no real danger; I was carefully monitoring my shoulder which the Americana attacks, when quite unexpectedly my elbow popped and I tapped  right as the referee was moving to stop me.

My elbow.  Abraded but neither swollen nor discolored.
Obviously I'm not happy about losing.  I've been listening to music and playing one minute Internet chess which has me feeling tolerably well, and I'm not taking this loss nearly as badly as I would have in my previous competitive career.

Actually I have several things to feel good about going forward:

While I was nervous for days leading to the event, I have never been so calm on the mat.

I implemented my game plan of jumping closed guard with no problems.

I stayed active in guard. I nearly swept, I replaced guard after a near pass, and I had a good early submission attempt.  (Why oh why oh why oh why did I try a triangle when I almost certainly should have kept turning an omoplata?  I'd be writing a different blog now.)

I maintained my composure and kept fighting when the position turned against me.

I successfully defended my back and escaped a bow and arrow choke which normally is kryptonite for me.

My conditioning was superior.  Until my elbow popped, I was feeling very good while my opponent was panting.  Until the elbow gave out, I thought I would be able to escape and turn the tide.

I was fully present during the fight and was able to monitor my opponent's energy level.  I was particularly happy about this because I had been working hard on it in competition training.  (It comes in handy when you have to train with younger guys.  I work hard on feeling them wane and only then taking my shots.)

At this point my elbow doesn't feel any worse than it usually does with tendinitis, and unless it does something strange overnight I'll be training tomorrow.

I have to get serious now about the World Masters in October.

If it were entirely up to me, maybe I'd take another four years off.

But I have integrity, and it's not only about me.

God willing I'll be in Long Beach in October for my family, for my friends.