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.

Monday, May 19, 2014


The people who have been around a few years now know that I'm trying to stay young until I die.

Today, as seems to happen every year, I had my birthday.  I have never been big on New Year's, so I am in the habit of using my birthday to reflect on where I am, where I've come from, where I'm going, and for the last few years, I've tried to prove to myself that I am still alive.

It's always January 1 at my place anyway.  I have never been able to work a calendar.

I had planned to climb the Incline this year, but as of today I have been sick about one week and I simply have no energy.

I hate being sick largely because I almost never am.  Lately I have been a couple times, and I wonder if I am doing something wrong that's wrecking my immune system.  I hate to think that I'm training too much, so I've decided to think that it's because I have extra stress from relatively large life changes.

Yes, I quit sucking.

So anyway last night I texted my intrepid partner that the Incline was a no go, and I woke up today wondering what will it be like when I get old?

I got up about 5:30 and studied Linux for an hour or so because that is a big part of not sucking.  I knew I wouldn't do any conditioning, but I also knew my buddies would be at the gym at 8 am to work, and even if I could do little or nothing, I wouldn't miss the chance to support them.

I ended up, no shit, doing some light curls and then benching 225 so that I could at least prove I wasn't any deader than a 22 year old fraternity boy, and then I sat on a bench and worked the timer as my friends proceeded with the more serious work of power cleans, push ups, and pull ups.

Sitting and working the clock.
I went home exhausted and slept half an hour.

I decided then to do a nice slow, flat walk around Mcintosh Lake, an old stand by.

not the Incline but not bad
And I did walk slowly and shirtless.  I reflected that when I get old things will probably be like they were today.  I'll do as much as the 22 year olds, and I'll encourage the older ambitious people to do more than I did at their age.

And then I started visualizing how I want my match to go at next Saturday's Colorado State BJJ tournament.

I'm not sure how young I am anymore.

I'm merely sure I'm not dead yet, and I'm bringing my best next weekend.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Answering Anonymous

One thing I always hated about teaching CrossFit was that rarely would anyone ask me questions.

Another was that some trainers never got any better at their craft than they were the Monday after they finished their weekend certification course.

I'm sure some people will disagree with me, but I think I improved substantially over the five or so years I was a CrossFit trainer. Because I'm aware of my own evolution, I am very forgiving of the weekend cert people as long as they don't intend to stay weekend cert people, and I'm also capable of laughing at some of my own stupidity.

There was a time, not all that long ago really, when I was sure lifting should be done in the five repetition range unless there was a compelling reason to deviate from fives, and it didn't occur to me that anyone - whether they had ever touched a barbell or not before - would not know that.  I'd demonstrate a squat then have the new person try it out.  I'd watch perplexed while they did 15 or so reps and show no sign of ever stopping.

Eventually I figured out that they thought I knew what I was doing, and they were waiting for me to tell them to stop.

So okay.  I am stupid.

I'm biased, but I always thought they were stupider for not asking me how many reps to do if they didn't know.

Anyway over time I got better.  That's one of the glaring mistakes I fixed, but largely the CrossFitters never did ask questions.  I think for the most part, yes, it is a cult, and I never aspired to lead cult members.

I was delighted then to get a question on a recent blog post, and I answered it as soon as I saw it.

  1. I greatly enjoy your blog! What do you do during your 10 minutes of conditioning?
  2. Hi Anon. Among other influences I count Coach Rutherford from Max Effort Black Box http://www.bootcampfitnesskc.com/about/history/
    so we draw from a fairly small pool of crossfit like workouts. I like to keep the movements low skill and high power output, so we do tons of pull ups, push ups, and burpees. We're big fans of the kettlebell swing, and lately we have been loving farmers walk variations. In short I don't make conditioning an ordeal. Choose two or three low skill high power output movements, start the clock and go like a maniac.
  3. First, of course, I should have thanked Anonymous for reading my blog, so thank you, Anonymous.
Secondly, it's probably worth elaborating on my answer here.  I don't consider myself a great expert on any of this stuff.  To me it's all a fairly well informed experiment.  

I find someone who is successfully doing whatever it is I hope to do.  I study his philosophy and methodology, implement them to the best of my ability, and see what happens.  In so far as it works, I keep doing it.  In so far as it doesn't work, I think about what changes might get me closer to the results I want.

I just don't understand not being fairly well informed, nor do I understand pretending to know everything and not experimenting.

It's worth noting too I think, that somewhere between the overwhelming majority and all of the guys who are successfully doing what I want to do don't think they have all the answers and keep experimenting.

Look, I knew a CrossFit trainer who had all the answers.  She liked long - over twenty minutes - conditioning work because she knew that like her everyone was training to do yard work.

No, I am not kidding.

And forgive me please, but this is fucking retarded.

If you need to train to do yard work, you should just pay someone $150 a month to rake your leaves while you avoid CrossFit and stay inside watching reality TV.

But I, or perhaps CrossFit, digress.

I am training for BJJ competition.  What I am doing is mostly working, but I am considering changes.  Lately it makes sense to me to perhaps shorten some of the conditioning work and do heavy barbell complexes.  Secondly, though it hurts my ego, I'm considering dropping lifting everyday and going to two or three sessions a week on BJJ training days.  This, if you're fairly well informed, conforms to the principle of concentrating training stress.  It would allow me to have actual rest days and hopefully expedite recovery.

I hate it, but I'm showing some signs of inadequate recovery.

I'm getting fucked up.

And a lot of people who train as a game never ask this question, but I'll answer it anyway.

Getting fucked up means you're doing it wrong.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Form, Function & Traffic Cones

I said quite a while ago now, publicly, that I am going to get ape shit fuck jacked at least one more time in my life, so that's what I'm doing.

I make a lot of jokes about eating bear claws constantly, so I want to say, again publicly, that I average less than two a month.  That said I've found bear claws to be among the most androgenic substances legal.

Androgenic by the way refers to a hormone or compound that controls male characteristics; if you get enough androgens, you quit CrossFit, get rid of your ridiculous little two-door, four cylinder car, start squatting heavy, and keep conditioning work under ten minutes.

Actually I've never owned a carlet, but the squatting and conditioning are exactly what I'm doing.  I go to the gym six days a week.  Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday are pure lifting days, and those sessions take me about twenty minutes.  Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are lifting followed by conditioning, and those are about forty minute sessions.

The lifting is abbreviated, and that is because I have built a decent level of strength - as one should - and I am trying only to maintain as much 1rm strength as possible while I pursue other goals.

I eat mainly meat and root vegetables with the occasional bear claw, stack of pancakes, or Reeces Peanut Butter Cup.  I don't bother to weigh or measure anything currently.

Beyond that I train as much Brazilian jiu jitsu in a week as my body can sustain, which sadly seems to be only a few hours.

And all this is because I am training to function as a World Senior BJJ Champion in October.

I really don't care what I look like.  Everything now, except I suppose the bear claws, pancakes, and peanut butter cups, is directed towards performance.

It's a work in progress of course, but I am starting to get ape shit fuck jacked as a side effect of training to perform.

The worst thing in the picture is the liquid soap. My crew and I have discovered that using Lava exclusively raises 1rm.

And it is, perhaps, funny that the people who know what they're talking about have been preaching this form and function thing for years, and almost everyone keep blowing it

So despite the androgens, I keep going back to my stupid menial job.

A couple anecdotes from today:

Awesome Co-worker II told me that Spherical Co-Worker was trying to lose weight.  Apparently Awesome Co-Worker II and some others advised her to quit eating tortillas and drinking soda.  Spherical Co-Worker said that she can't quit eating tortillas and that she only has a little soda because she dilutes it with water.

I said, "well, maybe she'll be a little morbidly obese."

Then while Awesome Co-Worker II, who really is a good kid and at least considers what I tell her, and I continued to talk about diet, Stupid Co-Worker interrupted and said, "I don't get it.  According to you, you can't eat anything.

I replied, "Stupid Co-Worker, you incomparable buffoon, when have I ever advocated eating nothing?"

And I just don't understand these negative, part Humans who abdicate volition and are powerless to do anything.

I looked at their forms and thought that if they would wear orange they would function quite well as traffic cones.

Friday, May 2, 2014


Really I don't like amateurism.

That has cause a lot of problems over the years because I lot of people just can't understand it.  They think I don't like amateurs.

Look, I love amateurs.  I am one, and it's unlikely I'll ever be anything else.  Now that I am wholly into Brailian jiu jitsu again, I sometimes try to remember my record from my previous attempt at competition some years ago.  I can never quite do it.  I remember that I won two, but I can never remember if I lost 8, or 10, or 12, or 14.

So I'm an amateur.  If I knew now at the start of my second attempt that I would eventually finish with a career record of 2 - 138, I'd still pursue this path.  I love training; I love my training partners; I love the process.  If nothing else I have a reason to wake up every day, and I'm not getting fat and diabetic.  I also think that someday I'll get it figured out and start winning, but whatever.

So I love amateurs.

But I hate amateurism.

That's why this morning when my pseudo random work out generator served up a five minute burpee test, I got it done without either my regular partner or the reserve partner I lined up who cancelled at the last minute.  I won't report my score. I'm embarrassed that I didn't do as well as I did the last time I tried a couple months ago.

The important thing is just that I'm an amateur who avoided amateurism.  I looked around an empty room, tuned out the bad music, started the timer, and hit the floor.

Today was doughnut Friday at work.  I had just finished my burpees 15 minutes before I walked in.  I was in a good mood, and I knew that tomorrow would be 90 minutes of competition team training at Dark Horse BJJ, so I decided to be a pro doughnut eater.

And all of this left me appalled to see the work of probably amateur and definitely amateurish dieters.

Half Doughnuts Scream Amateur

So being the guy I am, I said to those assembled in the break room, "you'll never get fat on half doughnuts."

I then took that beautiful, chocolate, unmolested doughnut, and since I work in a commercial kitchen, I took about a quarter pound of bacon out of the refrigerator and added it on top.


I ate that.

And I'm pretty sure that before I quit or get fired there, I'm going to have to walk into work with a box of a dozen doughnuts and ask, "would anyone like to split one of these with me?"

When an amateur says, "yes," I'll set the box down in front of him or her, take six doughnuts out and walk away.

I just don't see the point of amateurism.

Squat, leave, eat, and above all remember to be polite.