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.

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.

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