Sunday, March 29, 2009

Holy hamstrings

Got up this morning and thought I had no chance of having a good workout today. Slept a solid 8.5 hours (for the first time in ages) but it was a gray, rainy day, I felt sluggish, and my hamstrings were downright angry. Yesterday's workout was a tough one, but I didn't expect to feel it this much. I could tell something was off warming up. Double unders weren't happening and even the basic bounce was causing me difficulty at first.

As I finished the warmup, however, I figured out the cause of my malaise. I had pizza and beer for dinner last night. I was at a niece's birthday party and wasn't prepared for the carb fest. That was the first pizza dinner I'd had since at least November, maybe as far back as August, and my energy levels were all screwed up as a result. Knowing this was oddly reassuring. I told myself that I was stronger than I felt, and brought a little extra attitude to my workout. It didn't cure everything, but it gave me the confidence that if I warmed up to it, I could pull some heavy deads.

Jump rope 5:00
TGU-windmill, 45x3

Heavy stuff
Deadlift 45x5, 135x5, 185x3, 225x2, 275x1, 295x1, 305x5, 320x5 (new 5RM)



    95# OHS
    2 pullups

Core work
Getup-situp 20x5 each, 30x5 each
SLRR 30x5 each, 40x5 each

My pullups sucked and were broken to hell and back, but I managed the OHS unbroken, which felt good. Maybe I could have gone faster on the pullups, but I felt like I was on the edge of muscular failure the whole time and thought that would kill my metcon. Guess I should have pushed a little harder, but given how I felt coming in, this was a good showing.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Vacation week

This last week has been a doozy. I had the kids to myself from Thursday through Monday, was in Connecticut on business from Tuesday through Thursday, and had five nights where I worked until after 9pm. There never seemed to be a good time to get in a workout and in the few times where it was possible, spending time with family or time contemplating the inside of my eyelids seemed a better choice. The upshot was that today, I was able to pick up my programming pretty much where I left off - hitting a workout not that unlike my last one. So much for constantly varied. At least I kept it functional, and I hit it with a well-rested intensity.

Hip mobility drills
Shoulder mobility drills
Agility drills (dot, triangle x 5, W x 3)

Skill work
Handstands, 5:00 (four solid 10-15 second holds, these felt really good)

Heavy stuff
Back squat 45x5x2, 95x5, 135x5, 185x3, 225x2, 255x1, 260x5, 270x5, 280x5 (PR)

Burgener warmup

Running Grace

3 rounds:
    10 C&J, 135#
    Run 400m

Core work
Abwheel 2x10

Nice to hit a PR on the squats in consectuve weeks. That felt heavy. It's fun thinking I'll be going even heavier next week. Reminds me of my starting strength days.

My running Grace got messed up by a malfunctioning treadmill in round 1. Lost about a minute there, but I kept pushing afterwards and was laying in a heap by the end. Got a bit of a Fran cough coming on at the moment. I don't that I got a good time and it's hard to compare to others with the extra 100m spent going from bar to treadmill, but I sure brought what I had to it. Very little standing around and I kept the pace up on the treadmill outside the beginning of the last round. Was spent enough that even after a 5+minute rest prior to my core work, I literally fell on my face at the end of the first set of abwheel rollouts.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Overtraining, part 3 - Enough is enough

So far I've covered the easy stuff - describing what over training is. The challenge is to know when you're sneaking up on getting overtrained and what to do about it, so you don't suffer a setback - whether that comes in the form of illness, a protracted plateau or injury - and to do this without being overcautious and not thereby getting in enough training. There's no crystal ball to make this determination, and striking the right balance between overtraining and undertraining is very much an individual thing.

I'm a person of extremes and habit. When I first hopped on the CrossFit train, I didn't want to get off. If I missed a day, I'd do two a days to catch up. That didn't last long, but in the same vein, sometimes I'll program myself a week of workouts that looks great on paper, but turns out to be a bit much when coupled with the demands of life, and it's very hard for me to let go and dial back the workload midstream. On the flip side, when I need an couple days off and decide to kick back and watch a little TV instead of hitting the gym, my motivation to get back in there and abuse myself CF-style quickly wanes. That shouldn't be a suprise. The body seeks stasis, and the couch is a good deal more comfortable than the second round of Fran.

The general population obviously prefers the couch, but there are lots of CFers who err on the side of overtraining. We want to push as hard as we can, and that's a good thing. So, how do we figure out when to back off?

The science of overtraining is much better developed for endurance athletes - folks who pile on a training volume that dwarfs the output of, say, a Fight Gone Bad, even if it's performed with an intensity that doesn't come close to a sub-20-minute CrossFit WOD. The science for resistance training or hybrid CF-style training is relatively new, but
here's a good article that discusses some of the science of resistance-exercise overtraining that I found researching the subject.

Symptoms of overtraining that seem to apply to CF athletes include (and this is based on my limited experience):
  • Decreased performance;
  • Sleep problems;
  • Decreased coordination (including technical faults in your lifts);
  • Elevated resting heart rate;
  • Moodiness;
  • Increased susceptibility to colds;
  • Lack of energy;
  • Decreased appetite;
  • Random pains (as opposed to workout-related soreness);
  • Decreased confidence and motivation in the gym; and
  • Occurrence of nagging little injuries - muscle strains, sprains, joint tenderness.
Which symptoms affect different people will vary, of course. Performance will suffer for just about anyone, but that can happen for plenty of reasons besides overtraining. I never have problems eating, but if I'm getting overtrained, I'll wake up at 3:30 a.m. every day, get irritable, catch colds, and develop random joint pains. How much the latter three symptoms are related to lack of sleep and how much to overtraining is sort of a moot point. As I said a couple of days ago, overtraining and underrecovery are two sides of the same coin.

I've gotten much better about identifying overtraining. I have an autoimmune disorder that gives me arthritic symptoms when I'm close to catching a cold, and while this has gotten much better since I went to a paleoish diet without as many inflammatory nightshades, I've learned to tune into my joints as an indicator of overtraining the way an old farmer might predict the weather with his rheumatism.

Not everyone is so fortunate as to have a built-in warning system. Of course, mine comes with a price. When the immune system goes haywire, I can get real sick. Last March, after fighting off a cold for over a week and having had a less-than-dedicated winter of training, I decided it was time to hit it again and do the MainPage WOD - Fight Gone Bad. This wasn't a case of overtraining, but it was one of underrecovery, and I paid for my stupidity in the form of a three-week bout with the flu. I've been much smarter this winter, backing off a little when my stress level is way up and some of the warning signs of overtraining are there, especially when my kids are clearly incubating opportunistic viruses for me. It's not so much that I take days off (although that has happened, too), but I tweak my programming to do things that I know don't stress my system too much. Wednesday, I decided against the Filthy 50 I had planned in favor of squats and a short metcon - an intense workout, no doubt - but one with much lower volume and of the type to which my body was more accustomed.

You'll need to develop your own experience with what workouts you can get away with while flirting with overtraining. Workouts that crush you with volume or intensity, like a chipper, a Fran or a Fight Gone Bad are clearly ones to avoid. Likewise, avoiding intense sessions with the types of exercises that brought you to the point of overtraining is obvious. However, a Cindy for you might be like a heavy squat day for me - something that you can do without over-stressing your system and still get in some decent training, even if your performance isn't at it's best.

The question remains, however, how do you know when you're getting overtrained. Getting sick or injured is really too late to figure it out. Beyond self-awareness, there are some tests you can do to see if you might be overtrained. I started trying two of these today, so I have no personal experience upon which to evaluate these yet, but I'll put them out there for you to try.

For volume-related overtraining, track your resting heart rate before you get out of bed in the morning. Elevated metabolic rates are associated with high-volume overtraining, at least among endurance athletes. If your heart rate goes up and stays up for several days in a row, even after a rest day, you might be getting overtrained.

For intensity-related overtraining, do a test to see how many dots you can put on a page in 10 seconds. Again do this first thing in the morning. This one comes from Dan John, who found that for his strength-focused training program, this test worked much better than the resting heart-rate test. The idea behind this is that as instense work overloads the central nervous system, fine-motor skills are the first to go. If you start putting fewer dots on the page, even after a rest day, again you might be getting overtrained.

I tried to establish a baseline for these this morning, but given that I took a 12-hour decongestant to help fight off a head cold and got only 6.5 hours of sleep, my numbers might not be indicative of baseline conditions. My results:

49 bpm
51 dots

I'll try to keep this up for the next few months and see what I learn.


OK, that was lengthy. I'll keep the workout post short and sweet. Another great day in the sun, this time with some finely aged PRs matched and broken.

Cross-country hopscotch
Triangle drill
Hip mobility drills

Skill work
MU progressions - 3 consecutive MUs
Back lever progressions

Heavy stuff
Back squat 45x5, 95x5, 135x5, 185x3, 235x2, 255x5, 265x5, 275x5 (new 5RM)

50 in the clip

    50 burpee C&Js, 95#

Core work
5:00 rolling planks

(Photo from early in the metcon. Form didn't look this good as it went on and even here it looks like I didn't give it a good shrug.)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Heavy thrusters suck

Those are my words of wisdom for the day. There really isn't much more to say. I chose a metcon I hadn't done in a year and a half, and while I went heavier and faster today, it was still a gruesome struggle. On that note, perhaps I should start with the workout today.

Agility drills (dot drill, triangle drill x3, W-drill x3)
Air squats
Shoulder mobility drills
Boz OHS Drill

Heavy Stuff
Shoulder press 45x5, 75x3, 95x2, 110x1, 110x5, 115x5, 120x5 (New 5RM)
Skipped the CFSB endurance sets in favor of:

Fat Fran on a diet

    135# Thruster
    25# Pullup (should be 45#, but I left my brain at home)


Not a great showing; not horrible either. I started out strong. Did the first 10 thrusters unbroken, which left me gasping for the pullups. Managed the first round in 2:30, but things went steeply downhill from there. The next 12 thrusters took three minutes.

There's just something about picking up a heavy barbell when you're gassed that is perfectly humbling. You grab the bar, you've got the wind to move around, maybe even the strength to do a rep or two, but your body wants nothing to do with lifting the weight. You start talking to yourself. Pains appear out of nowhere.

Body: My forearm aches.

Brain Your forearm?! What? You're doing thrusters. Pick up the bar.

I grab the bar and don't do anything with it.

Brain: Hello! Pick up the fucking bar.

I pick it up; I can barely manage three reps. I shorten my rest; I can only manage two reps. I try an extra rep - spectacular fail. I missed my last rep, too, and had to rest and try again. That was disheartening, but maybe it was a sign that my body knew what it was doing when it refused to pick up the bar.

At least the last round of pullups were unbroken. The lighter than Rx'd pullups were too easy, given the nature of the workout. Didn't figure that out early enough, however, because I was suffering metabolic meltdown after the first 15 thrusters. Guess I need to go back and try this again in a couple of months.

There are brutal metcons, and then there are brutal metcons with thrusters. In a class of their own are metcons with heavy thrusters. Overhead lifting may be a goat of mine, but those are from one of the circles of hell. I clearly need to do more thrusters - light, heavy, in-between. They are Evil, but the fires of hell will make me stronger.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Overtraining and under-recovery - Two sides of the same coin

I really have no desire to become the poster child for my subject matter, but I wasn't going to let that stop me from squeezing in an evening workout, despite my lack of sleep and crazy work schedule. I really haven't had the time to pile up the volume in the gym to get overtrained. However, I have had enough stress and bad night's sleep recently that even with a more-than-reasonable workout volume, I have plenty of potential to be under-recovered.

There are those who say that there's no such thing as overtraining; there's just under-recovery. While that may be true in a literal sense (you're overtrained if you can't recover from your workout), I think there's some benefit to maintaining the semantic distinction. Just remember that the two are inextricably related.

I tend to thing of overtraining as a failure of programming and observation. You eat great, you sleep 10 hours a night, you take time to stretch and do soft-tissue work, but you simply pile on too much work to maintain performance over time. This happens to elite endurance athletes like cyclists, who get too far "out on the razor," leaning out in response to training and being able to positively rip up a mountain pass early in the season or at the beginning of a stage race, but then finding they lack the reserves to recover. They're eating all they can; they're getting daily massages; and they're sleeping as much as they can, but they peaked too soon and trained to hard early on to succeed later in the season or the race. They are a classic example of someone who is overtrained. For them, the fall from grace is swift and hard. They are so specialized and up against such severe physical challenges that they can't rely on a different energy system or a different group of muscles to help them compete. They, as they say, start to go backwards quickly.

In the CrossFit world, we don't load ourselves up with such specialized training, where the same muscles and energy systems get hit day-in and day-out. As a result, overtraining is not as obvious to us. The programming of CrossFit, in fact, is designed to maximize intensity while minimizing the potential for chronic overtraining. There's enough variety of exercise and workout duration that broad, intense stimulus can be delivered day-in and day-out with a less severe risk from overtraining. Still, working like a dog three days out of four will catch up to just about anyone eventually, no matter how disciplined you are with your recovery when you're not working out. That's the reason that the conventional wisdom for following the mainpage WOD is to do it on a 12-week cycle where every 4th week is performed at ½ intensity and every 12th week is taken off from training entirely (or similar variations on that theme).

Don’t underestimate the value of those ½-intensity sessions. These are prime opportunities to dial in form refinements that will lead to improved performance down the road. Alternately, the light weeks provide an opportunity to learn new skills that can’t yet be performed at an intensity that might inhibit recovery.

Bill Starr says that when people get overtrained, it’s almost always because they do too much work on their light days. They throw some isolation exercises in to get those beach muscles pumped up or they add a metcon to work up a sweat. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with incorporating a variety of activities into a program (heck, CF is grounded in such variety), doing additional work without rhyme or reason is the surest way to interfere with recovery and inhibit progress.

Missing workouts every week makes it easy for me to avoid overtraining. However, that doesn't get me off the hook. The things that keep me at work until after the gym closes produce their own form of systemic stress that can produce the symptoms of overtraining. In this case, however, it's related directly to under-recovery, rather than my workout programming. I don't have time to foam roll; I don't eat quite as well; and I wake up at 3:30 every day thinking about what I have to do today. Still, I have to make the same adjustments to my programming as if I found that I piled on too much work the previous few days. Therefore, I bagged catching up on the much-needed chipper I missed yesterday, in favor of something that while difficult, wouldn't beat me down so much that I caught the family head cold (at least that's my hope).


Row 1,000m 3:41.6 (D6, 28spm) - sped up my stroke rate and this felt much easier, like a warmup even
Hip mobility drills
Goblet squats

Heavy stuff
Front squat 45x5, 95x5, 135x3, 185x2, 205x1, 205x3, 215x3, 225x3, 235x2 + fail
Back squat 45x5, 225x17

Tabata rowing 1,017m (D8)

Core work
2 rounds:

    15 Glute-ham raise
    15 GHD situp
The 225x3 front squats felt strong, and I was really close to getting out of the hole on that last rep at 235. I probably should have fought it out a little more. My 3Rm is 230, which I did last fall on a day when I popped into the weight room in jeans and sneakers while my kids were in gymnastics. While it's fun to have that as a benchmark, it's also time for that mark to fall.

The high-rep back squats were surreal as always. I staggered forward after the 16th rep and ended up with my right foot a good 8 inches in front of my left. I tried to put it back to parallel, but I just kept picking up my foot and placing it down in the exact same spot, like a horse counting to three. It wasn't that I didn't have the strength left to adjust my feet. I quite simply had lost control of my extremities, like some elongated character in a Dali painting.

The tabata rowing was a first and a suprisingly good showing. I did add some extra meters on there, because I needed to do a soft-pull to get the timer to keep going for a full 10-second rest, but I'm sure I've still got a 1K row with stricter timing. I think the form work is paying off. Thanks to Tom Taylor, Erin Davidson, and Kempie for some helpful tips.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Spring is in the air

Was on my way out to the Y to meet Johnny, but as soon as I stepped out the door I knew that plan would be a mistake. Around here, the first warm weather in March means the beginning of mud season - nothing so glorious as a proper spring. There are no flowers busting out (although the crocuses should show soon now); there are no girls in short skirts; and the yard and hiking trails are a veritable quagmire. Even my garage still had a coat of ice, but that had thinned (down from 4-inches in February) and softened enough that I could rip a floor mat free and set it out in the sun. A quick call was made to John to change plans to a driveway workout, where we could enjoy the first day of temps in the upper 50s since at least November.

It took a while to sweep things out and reassemble the equipment that had been scattered about from a winter of working out elsewhere, and with the sun beating down on us my kids hanging around, the day didn't have any sense of urgency. In the end, it took us almost 2.5 hours to get in our workout (not counting the requisite porch-sitting, post-workout malt beverage). As much as I love winter, it's hard to argue with days like this. The Spring air even brought out my inner city schoolgirl double-dutch skills, as I PR'd on double unders on my first attempt, after months of no progress whatsoever.


Jump rope 5:00 - 21 consecutive DUs (PR, previous best 13)
Star-pattern squat sequence 35x2 each
Shoulder mobility drills

Skill work
Push press 45x5, 95x5, 125x5

(looking better; John gave me a nice cue that helped with form, although I don't think I was generating as much power as possible)

Heavy stuff
Deadlift 125x5, 185x3, 235x2, 285x1, 305x1,
310x3, 325x3, 340x3 (new 3RM)
250 x 12-9-6
with 1:00 break between sets

Last rep of heavy sets and endurance sets were getting into uglyville, although the very last one was probably more laziness than lack of stamina. Here's the heavy set. Not beyond acceptable, but it's definitely time to drop weight and work sets of five for a while.

    3 power cleans, 155#
    6 box jumps, 30"
    9 C2B pullups
6 rounds plus two PCs

Got this metcon from Elizabeth Terris and her San Diego affiliate. It really puts a demand on explosiveness. I loved it. The chest-to-bar modification was consistent with that theme but it slowed things down considerably. I could probably generate a muh bigger metcon hit with standard pullups (or a better pullup bar, where I could string the C2Bs together reliably). Still, I felt it. Great to be back in the home gym.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Overtraining, part 1 - How much is too much?

I've been meaning to write about for a while. In fact, I started writing a blog post over Christmas. My recent schedule of undertrained weekdays and full-bore weekends was the nudge I needed to start putting my unfinished thoughts out there. Today's workout, where I combined elements of two day's training, seemed as good a point as any to start the series.

I guess I should start with an explanation of what I'm talking about. Put simply, overtraining is what happens when you push yourself beyond your physiological capacity to recover. Give this a little thought, and you’ll realize that there are some fuzzy edges to this definition. If you do Diane today, you’ll probably do fine with shoulder presses tomorrow, but you might struggle with 400m sprints, because you won’t have fully recovered from the DLs and won’t perform optimally. Does this mean you’re overtrained? If you’ve got a track meet it does. If you’re hitting the next WOD, it’s just overload by design.

Physiologic overload is necessary to produce adaptation. In the simplest setting, you put more weight on the bar or perform a greater number of reps than you have previously to stimulate your muscles to get stronger. You rest, and then you do it again.

CFers as a group are driven. As such, we’re prone to believe that a little extra work after a WOD or an extra session in the gym is what we need. But mainpage Crossfit as Rx’d is powerful medicine. Many of the top athletes at the Games do nothing other than warmup, practice some light skill work, and hit the WOD as hard as they can every day. They get their rest, they eat well, and they come back and do it again. They are as dedicated to their recovery as they are to their workouts. It’s not as glamorous, but it is just as important, especially when you start pushing your limits.

Don’t underestimate that middle step in the process – rest. Adequate rest and nutrition is essential to getting the most out of your training. To paraphrase Rip in a way that I've said so many times, I could put it to music, we don’t get fit from training hard, we get fit by recovering from training hard.

I have some experience with overtraining. Last fall, I had a series of injuries trying to fit just about everything into my hybrid training program each day. I've gotten smarter about it, and I've been glad to have the benefit of the resarch that Jeff Martin put into the CrossFit Strength Bias program to get a sense what a reasonable hybrid workload looks like. I've been making reasonable progress on the program, but haven't been at it long enough to get everything dialed in right. This past week, I've put up some strong numbers, but I think that has to do with working too much to train properly. Essentially, I've had an involuntary deload period, like I might use before a competition to maximize performance at that competition.

My goal, however, is to maximize my performance in late May. I honestly don't know if my off week was good or bad for me. We all need rest once in a while. However, some pretty sharp coaches (Greg Glassman, Bill Starr, John Gilson) believe that the best gains are made when you're in a slightly overtrained state. You won't win any competitions that way unless you have a deload period, but by being continually overtrained, you force your body to adapt. The trick, of course, is figuring out how to balance that equation of necessary overload versus necessary rest. That I'll leave for another day.


Row 500m 1:52 (took it slow this cold morning)
Air squats, goblet squats, lunge & hip flexor stretches
Shoulder mobility drills
Burgener warmup

Heavy stuff
Back squat 45x5
Box squat 45x5, 135x3, 155x2, 175x1, 175x2x5, 180x2x5 (work sets done on the minute)
Shoulder press 45x5, 95x3, 105x3, 115x3, 125x3, 130x2, 90x10-7-4 (1:00 rest b/w sets for 10-7-4)

Skill work
Snatch 65x5, 95x2, 115x2

5 rounds:
    Snatch 115x3
    Squat clean & thruster 115x3
    Hang power clean 115x3
    2:00 rest between rounds
?, 0:52, 1:12, 0;54, 0:47

Core work
30 abmat situps

This workout left me positively smoked. That's a good thing. Tomorrow's deadlifts probably won't go as well as last Sunday, but I think, I think that it was the right way to attack the weekend. I'll probably know by midweek. I'm my own guinea pig.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Traveling man

Finally got around to posting up a banner picture. In retrospect, it was an obvious choice. This photo was taken more or less from the spot where I decided I needed to go back and check out that CrossFit website again. I was 7.5 miles into a 9 mile, 5,000 vertical-foot alpine tour on skis that took us up Mount Washington. We came up from the left just to the near side of the second-to-last summit visible, headed out of sight over the ridge for ~1,200-foot ski descent into the Great Gulf, climbed up to the summit (the descent into and climb out of the gulf are pictured here), skiing across the west face you see - including a 500-foot descent down the little gully in the center left (which ended in a melted-out ice/waterfall), and climbing to the summit of Mount Monroe (just above where I'm standing), before descending 2,000 feet back to where we started.

It remains one of my absolute best days ever. It started out rough, though. The 18-year old kid, and 45-year-old mountaineer I was travelling with positively dogged me on the first climb. Sure, I was carrying the extra safety gear (some of which got put to use by necessity), but the fact of the matter is that I was at my typical early-Spring lull in fitness and those guys just about disappeared over the hill on me. They yo-yo'd me a few times on this ascent and the trip to the summit, but by the time the day got to here, my natural stamina (accumulated from years of bike riding, I'm guessing) had me feeling the strongest of the lot. Still, it was painfully clear that I needed to broaden my fitness, so I looked up that strange website that another ski mountaineering friend had pointed me to a couple years previous. (At the time, the mainpage had some chipper of exercises of which I'd never heard, so I ignored it but saved the link.) This time, it was something understandable, if brutal - Angie. It took me over an hour, but I was hooked.

The rest is more or less history. CrossFit is what I do. I've missed several ski days to get in a workout. (I'm not sure this is the best prioritization, but it is what it is.) Today, I figured that if CrossFit is my thing, I should make like a real CrossFitter and get in a workout with out a gym, so this morning, I moved the furniture about in my hotel room and got after it.


CFCC dynamic mobility drills
Hip mobility drills
3 rounds:
    10 squats
    10 pushups
    10 supermans
    10 situps


    10 burpees (two hands touch ceiling at top)
    10 reverse burpees (hold FS handstand for a 3-count)
5 rounds + burpees and 3 reverse burpees

I like this combination of skill and metabolic conditioning. Next time, it will be 20 burpees though. Handstand holds got easier in rounds 2 and 3 and started fading toward the end of round 4, although I did manage a good 10-second hold as the timer was going off.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Extreme prejudice

There's something about the barbell I simply love. Whether it's the explosiveneness of a heavy single clean & jerk, the slow grind of a 20-rep set of squats, or the agony of thrusters, I feel like no workout is complete without a session with that seven-foot-long machined piece of steel. I know better, of course. Murph, Kelly, Helen, or Fran with dumbbells don't lack for anything as a WOD. Still, the routine of warming up, heading to the barbell to lift something heavy, and then cranking up the metabolic engine is a routine I adore. It's not cherry picking. I beat the living tar out of myself this way on regular basis, hitting things that brutalize me, like push presses, high-rep deadlifts, good mornings, thrusters, etc. What can I say? I'm biased toward my strength bias.

Still, when I go to an affiliate, I like to get a taste of whatever random stuff they're feeding to their own athletes, but when I walked into CF Central CT today and saw the 30-minute mainpage WOD of pullups, dips and situps, my enthusiasm for the hopper model faded. All I could say was "That looks grim." I'm no fan of muscular stamina sufferfests, so I had to decide whether I would be cherry picking by skipping this one today. I could stand to work a 30-minute metcon, but that was going to be more a question of endurance of things I could do without a gym than a metabolic challenge of the sort that only a CF gym could deliver, so I decided to do what I could to keep a semblance of my strength bias program going. Thankfully, Tom was happy to accomodate, since he and a few of his athletes are doing the same thing these days and hardly anybody showed up for the 7am session on this rainy morning in an affiliate that had the power out.


CFCC Dynamic mobility drills and warmup
(toe raise walk, trw with knee pull, trw with ankle pull and knee out, trw with foot to butt, toy soldier walk)

3 rounds:
    shoulder triplet
    10 mountain climbers
    10 supermans
    30 jumping jacks
500m row 1:36 (nice rower - close to my PR without pushing my max)

Heavy stuff
Front squat 45x5, 135x5, 185x3, 200x1, 200x5, 210x5, 220x5 (new 5RM)
Back squat 220x20 (new 20 RM)

1/2 Mary


    5 HSPUs
    10 pistols
    15 pullups
4 rounds + HSPUs and 2 pistols

Core work
6 Ft2Bar + forgetaboutit

I was listing something fierce after that workout. My back was toast from the squat and pistol combination and the pistols were brutally difficult to complete. The rest of that metcon was done in unbroken sets, but I was staggering my way up on some of those pistols. That's almost a full round slower than my PR, but after all the squats, I can't complain about my performance.

The heavy lifting went well, although I wasn't sure about jumping 10 pounds for the last set of front squats after fighting for the last rep of the second set, but I spent less time standing about on the last set and got through it pretty handily. The back squats were brutal, of course, starting with the 6th rep. When the reps get into the teens, the brain starts working against you. I didn't see Ghandi walking through the halls of CFCC, but thoughts like "You're not in a cage. Are you going to be able to bail safely if you fail with this weight on your back after all the squats you've done?" found ways to pop up and try to convince me to end the pain. After that, the pistols positively sucked - a serious struggle and a nasty goat that was overdue for a feeding, and they had me for breakfast. This was by no means the easy way out.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The weekend warrior

Two days in a row in the gym; it must be the weekend. Still no time to tarry. Deep thoughts will have to wait for another day. Had fun watching an intro-to-globo gym session while I did my workout. This 250#+ guy was being introduced to the various ways to use the furniture, er, pieces of equipment to work out. He was doing a 95# bench press, and his trainer was all over the bar. Enough with the inappropriate touching already. It was downright disturbing. It's bad enough he's got the guy doing seated "military" presses and three kinds of bench press. Let the guy lift the damn weight.


Agility drills (dot drill, triangle drill x3 x2, W-drill x3 x2)
Shoulder mobility drills (CFCC shoulder triplet and wall slides)
TGU 45x3 each, 60x2 each

Skill work
Push press 45x6, 95x5

Heavy stuff
Shoulder press 45x5, 95x3, 110x3, 120x3, 130x3, 90 x 13 + fail (could not lock out left arm)

6 rounds (21-18-15-12-9-6)
    100-foot walking lunge
    Ring pushups
    Slantboard situps

Ring work
STC to dislocate pike to L-hang 3x3

Cut short my sets on the shoulder press, deciding to settle for matching my 3RM. I'm looking to be in PR territory all next week. We'll see how that goes. Shouldn't have pushed for that 14th rep, as I let my core go all wonky and could feel it in my L1-T13 afterwards. Not bad, since it was light weight and I wasn't grossly hinged, but it's still bad form.

Loving the agility drills as part of the warmup. Really get the blood flowing and my bad ankle could use the extra footwork drilling. Played around with some little parkour jumps between two bollards this afternoon. Something I used to be decent at (by happenstance, not as a traceur) and would like to be again.

Not the fastest metcon. I might have pushed harder to to make the lunges faster, but I was focusing on driving through the heel and getting a good ROM vertically with every step. Anyways, more time was lost managing muscular fatigue on the ring pushups. Not every metcon need be a blazing, heart-pounder. This was a stamina sessionb, but I need a short, intense wind-sucking metcon to get me really going.


Morning update:

DOMS is kicking in. Felt the abs as soon as I climbed on the rings at the end fo the workout. Today, my ass is trying to convince me that DLs should wait until tomorrow.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Something had to give

Summer and fall were easy. Work was reasonable, days were long, and if I wanted to spend more time with my family or was pressed to squeeze in a workout, I'd use a couple of hours of leave time and have at it. My time has gotten much tighter after Christmas and these last couple of weeks, work has exploded on me. I won a project that wants to eat me alive, and it's on a schedule that exactly parallels my preparation for the Games Qualifiers. I'm hoping that time spent now in the planning phase of the job will allow the rest of it to flow smoother and me to get back to my routine. For now, however, something had to take a back seat to the new job, and that something was, well, everything - less time for workouts, less time for family, less down-time for reading or surfing or blogging.

Actually, this is a fitness blog, and in that name fitness comes first, so if I don't have a workout to report, there won't be a blog that day. Conversely, if you don't see anything posted here or see only one post in 10 days like this latest stretch, it's simply because I'm slacking off (at least in the gym). On that note, enough talk, I actually got something done today.


Air squats
Bear complex 45 x 7
Hip mobility drills (an old floor bar routine from my days as a dancer)

Push press 95 x 7 x 2

Muscle-up progressions (Tuck's pull to toe-assisted transition and dip)
    done from knees with rings at chest height, shoulder height, head height
    3-3-3 up and -3-3 down (more of a jumping MU at head height)

Heavy stuff
Back squat 45x5, 135x5, 185x3, 225x2 (felt heavy), 245x1, 250x5 (ugly), 260x5 (not pretty), 270x5 (solid)

That matches my old 5RM, and I had more in me. Looking forward to my next heavy squat day. That 5RM has stood since last fall.

Core work
Barbell getup-situp 45x10

2 rounds:

      20 C2B Pullups
      30 Pushups
      40 Situps
      50 Squats
      3:00 rest between rounds

Started a 3rd round, but after my first 12 pullups, I was positively cooked. I simply could not get the last inch of the chest-to-bar pullups. After missing 5 consecutive (with rest between), I pulled the plug on the workout. I've got more pullups tomorrow, and after the MU progressions, my pull was pretty worked. Tomorrow might be a good day to play with butterfly pullups instead of the C2Bs.

Did a little video analysis of my push press. It's getting better, but at speed I still revert to quad-dominance. More practice. More practice. Also caught a video of my second work set of squats. Third set was much better and would be fun to show off, but it's probably more useful for me to catch my errors on film than my successes.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Gone Skiing

Haven't been in the gym for almost a week. Landed a big job last Thursday, and all semblance of normalcy has disappeared from my life and training. As an added bonus, it's a fast burn project with a completion date about a week after the Games qualifiers. Ah well, it sure gives me a reason to stay on top of my stuff. However, if this first week is any indication, my training is bound to suffer.

My family and seven of our friends rented a ski condo for the weekend. This is one of those things you plan months in advance and hope the weather works out. With ski conditions the best they'd been in years on Tuesday, we were hopeful, but Friday's rain and the weekend refreeze did us in. Still, the sun was shining Saturday and we could see Mount Washington clear as a bell from Sugarbush, about 80 miles away. Knowing what the day was going to be like, a bunch of us broke out the files and sharpening stones the night before and got our skis ready for the formica skiing surface. The order of the day was scary fast skiing on the sunny side of the mountain, not a great workout, but definitely some solid technique practice, since losing an edge at those speeds in those conditions would likely mean a trip to the emergency room. It was good fun, but one day of it was enough. The rest of the time was spent relaxing, eating well, eating not so well, and bulding a pile of bottles for the redemption center.

Had plans to make amends with some backcountry skiing in the foot of snow that fell overnight when I got home, but work and a sick family kept me closer to home yesterday. Today, I finally got back into the gym, courtesy of CF Central CT's convenient location near the office I was visiting today and tomorrow. They had a max DL day going, but some guys were following the CFSB, so they had no issue with me following my own programming and hitting the mini-metcon they also had programmed.


Jump rope 3:00, 7 consecutive DUs
Shoulder triplet mobility drill
TGU-Windmill drill 20K x 3
10 pullups
10-sec static hold
10 dips

2:00 handstand practice - a couple stable 5-second holds

Heavy Stuff
Deadlift 135x5, 185x3, 225x2, 275x1, 305x3, 320x3, 335x3 (new 3RM), 250x20 (PR)

3 rounds:
    10 burpees, Burgener-style
    20 box jumps, 20"


    Deadlifts felt remarkably easy, considering the double PBs. I guess hitting DLs after 6 days off leaves a lot more in the tank than a day after 20 box squats. Metcon was weird with the strict burpees, especially after the deadlifts. Ended up being more about muscular fatigue (and missed box jumps) than by the lungs. Good to get back after it.