Tag Archives: exercise

CrossFit Isn’t Unique

So if you do a workout that combines several exercises done at maximum effort, is that unique to CrossFit? Certainly not! It doesn’t make CrossFit special in the least.

When I wrestled in high school, it was very common to run sprint intervals doing pushups and sit-ups in between. We often ran a minute of loops on the mats and then pop out calisthenics or wrestling moves in between. We often did a hard set of burpees and then carried someone back and forth across the room. This exercise has been done for thousands of years (since wrestling is the oldest sport).

Then I entered the Army. Talk about high-intensity interval training. Run around the pit, do flutter kicks, run around the pit, do pushups, run around the pit… We did max pull-ups, max pushups, max sit-ups…as many as we could in 2 mins for each exercise. Yeah, CrossFit does that too. But this has been done for a couple hundred years. We run obstacle courses, do long marches with weight on our backs, and lots of intervals that shock your system. Talk to Navy Seals, Force Recon, Special Forces, Rangers, SAS, Spetsnaz,…they do it too. Nothing special.

So if its nothing special, then why do so many naysayers complain about it? I don’t have a clue. The ego does wonders to the human psyche.

Most of it is jealousy. People are like, why don’t I get filmed on ESPN or CBS Sports for doing supersets of back and chest workouts? Why don’t I make money off of bench pressing over twice my bodyweight? Its the haves and have nots. So classic.

Yet you don’t have to be a Green Beret or professional athlete to do this exercise. Anybody can do it. You don’t have to do what CrossFit.com freely publishes. You can do something similar. You don’t have to do the prescribed 225 pound deadlifts, you can lift a sack of potatoes instead. There is no excuse why you can’t do CrossFit. If you want to learn a specific skill, there is always someone who is able and willing to help. If you want to learn to Powerlift better, find that person. Olympic weightlifting, strongman, gymnastics, distance running, yoga, …find someone! There aren’t any excuses. And if you hate CrossFit, don’t call it that then. Just mimic what they do and call it something else. There is no need to hate anyone. We have enough hate in this world.

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Cindy

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She got me feeling all bent out of shape.

Cindy is a benchmark CrossFit WOD (workout of the day) that I haven’t done in a very long time. I don’t know why because its so simple and easy to set up. But it can also be just plain scary. Cindy is:

As many rounds as possible in 20 minutes of:
5 pullups
10 pushups
15 air squats

I am planning to do a long Hero WOD before Thanksgiving, so I wanted to do something that gets my mind in the right place. But now I’m totally sore from Cindy. I am teaching a yoga class tonight where I end up demonstrating a lot, so hopefully everything will be OK.

Also: I cooked two medium sized turkeys yesterday and froze the meat. I made two pie crusts too so my wife will finish those up today. But, my parents are not well right now so I don’t know if we’ll travel or not. We’ll see.

Enjoy your pre-Holiday my friends. Happy Thanksgiving!

Everything is Mental

mental

I’ve read that a doctor can place a patient’s leg on their head with a straight leg while under anesthesia. The stretch reflex is not active and the body moves freely. That’s not to say there aren’t real obstacles to muscle length in an AWAKE person. I’m also NOT saying that a person is mentally weak if they can’t touch their toes. But it IS something to think about.

Many top athletes tell you that sport is mostly mental. Sure, you have to have genetics and good training to realize success. But you can’t get over the fact that how we perceive and make things happen is largely mental. I have books about ultramarathons where people run 100 miles or more in stage races. Even when their bodies begin to fail them, they somehow still manage to do amazing things. If you look at programs like the SealFit Kokura program, they put people through physical rigors akin to real Seal BUDs training. But the focus is on building mental toughness. You can be an All-Star running back at the highest level, but still fail these types of training. Why? Its a mental thing.

This comes around to my current diet. In our minds, we think we’ll die if we don’t have 3 meals a day. If we’ve always had meat-potato-veggie or hamburger-fries, then that’s all we know. A professor went on a convenient store food diet of Twinkies, Ho-Ho’s, and other assorted junk food. He carefully monitored his calorie intake to be in deficit and ended up losing 27 pounds in like 3 months. That’s not to say his blood work and health didn’t take its toll. But it proves the point that calories DO matter! You can’t just eat clean and expect to lose weight. Believe me, I’ve tried.

Yesterday, I lived off of 621 kcals. I wouldn’t recommend doing that, but I’ve come to realize it is a mental thing. The biggest culprit in dieting is not necessarily the meals themselves. Its the numerous snacks that we constantly graze on throughout the day. That all adds up. I’ve lost 9 pounds and feel healthy as ever. The Fat Secret app is what has done it for me. I carefully monitor what I eat and how many calories I burn with exercise. I am roughly burning 2,000 calories more than I take in every day. I teach and do yoga, do about 20 mins of cardio, and do either CrossFit or Olympic weightlifting every day. And somehow, I’m not starving and my performance is still going strong.

Sure, I know there are physical things happening that are real. I know my stomach has likely shrunk so it doesn’t take much for me to feel satiated. My energy levels aren’t nearly as dynamic in amplitude (aka. no highs and lows). And I feel so much better. In the first week of my diet, I fasted most of one day and finished my day with half of a Little Caesar’s pepperoni pizza. It was SO yummy, though I wouldn’t make a habit of this. Lately, I keep saying I’ll reward myself with a Culver’s Burger or something like that. But I don’t need it. I’m too excited for my weight loss. Once I hit my goal, I’ll moderate and enjoy those foods again. But I won’t let my weight creep back up again…EVER!

Its mostly a mental thing

 

Off the workout plateau

trap-bar

Sometimes, a new piece of equipment is just what you need to bump you out of the ditch. I’ve had my 3rd day working out with this new trap bar that I bought off of Amazon. I’ve always been curious about it, but I’ve been a purist Olympic weightlifter and CrossFit’r for the past decade and was not very interested. I’m totally sold.

I’m using this as my warm-up for every workout. I leave it at 135 pounds and will do 10-15 deadlifts and a few shrugs to warm-up. Eventually, I’ll start to put some real weight on it and work in some sets. My body is already adapting to it.

I had mentioned a few posts back how bodybuilding has made its way back into my program. I’m probably doing too much right now, but I have some mandatory “active rest days” that help a lot when I teach yoga classes. I also keep to Ashiatsu massage every 3-4 weeks.

Here is my plan:
Warmup with light rowing, ski erg, or bouncing on a mini trampoline*
Trap Bar Deadlifts for a set of 10-15 emphasizing formCrossFit WOD including the bodypart emphasis for the day – goal is not to kill myself but to get my heart cranked up really high
Olympic Weightlifting with reps/assistance work on Weds & Sat, then heavy Thurs & Sun
Bodybuilding with Chest emphasis on Weds & Sat and Back on Thurs & Sun
Grace or Tabata Interval which is 30 reps of something or 8x 20 secs work with 10 secs rest*

*I used to be a runner from age 8 to 48. I injured my calf and it virtually ended my running career, which makes me sad. I’m using the trampoline barefooted to maybe get back into the running game.
*Tabata intervals are researched as the top way to increase cardiovascular health and performance. You can do almost anything. Wallballs, med ball slams, pushups, situps, pullups, push presses with a barbell, hand stand pushups, air squats, whatever!!

My next goals for the trap bar are:

  • Farmer carries around the block
  • Plyometric jumps
  • Overhead presses
  • More bent over rows
  • Lunges (?)
  • Heavy shrugs

 

 

CrossFit flipped on its head

crossfit hspu

CrossFit programming can be variable from box to box. I have visited several boxes and have a CrossFit Level I trainer certification myself. With slight variation, the programming generally follows:

  • Warm-Up: rowing, jogging, maybe a short bodyweight circuit
  • Mobility: targeted to the workout of the day (WOD). This may involve elastic bands, yoga-type stretches, massage balls or rollers, or PVC pipes.
  • Strength work: usually a characteristic rep scheme, like 5 sets of 5 reps (5×5), and possibly percentages of your 1 rep max for a movement. It may be to get to a 1RM. An EMOM (every minute on the minute) may be tacked on to this as part of strength or as part of the WOD.
  • WOD: This could be any nature of scheme that cranks your heart-rate and may or may not involve heavy weights. It could be an EMOM, AMRAP (as many rounds or reps as possibly in a given time limit), couplet or triplet involving 2 or 3 movements with a set number of rounds, chipper (reps for each movement that you chip away at), or other scheme.
  • Cool-Down: This is similar to a warm-up and may involve a mobility element.

I’m a yoga teacher and have a daily personal yoga practice. So, mobility is not a big concern for me though I still do specific movements associated with the WOD. But, I’ve changed from what may be standard programming and it has been working for me. Ideally, I don’t do Olympic weightlifting movements in a WOD. Not that I feel it is unsafe, but it could develop poor movement patterns. And I focus on Olympic weightlifting anyway, so I don’t need to do it in WODs. So here is my daily programming:

  • WOD buy-in: I’ve heard James Hobart, CF guru, talk about going “Jaguar“. This means with little or no warm-up, which sounds unsafe, but its what I’ve done with success and have yet to be injured doing a WOD. I usually pre-plan my WOD, but sometimes I do it based on feel. I’ll program away from sore muscles. My WODs are mostly couplets and triplets per Chris Spealer recommendations. I’ll do a 21-15-9 or other rep scheme. My time domain is almost always in the 5-10 min range. I realize this is not random nor does it cover all my bases. I feel those bases are covered elsewhere. This provides me with the heart and body work that I need. It is also my warm-up for Olympic lifting. I’ll do a couple reps of each movement and then start right in without much warm-up. My goal is not to get sore; it is to pump up my heart using mostly strength movements.
  • Olympic Weightlifting: This is my strength work. Many times I’ll start with squats (front, back, overhead, other) and end with pulls. Despite there being only two lifts, the snatch and clean & jerk, the combinations are endless. I may just do the lifts as singles and then a few drop sets. I may do complexes getting time under tension. Or I may break apart the lifts and focus on multiple reps, like cleans, hang cleans, snatch balances, or jerks. I do a Max Lift Friday every week, so I don’t usually do singles during the week. But I do Olympic lifts almost every day.
  • Cool-Down buy-out: This is my strictly cardio element. It may be a quarter or half mile run repeat, 1 or 2K row, or similar Ski Erg. I may do intervals or a straight time or distance. I often wear a heart rate monitor and stay in a zone for 5-15 minutes.

I rarely go over an hour for a total workout. Sometimes I will do yoga-related strength work, like arm balances and hand stands, pistols and pushup related movements. Otherwise, I can do this every day if I can. I never feel overtrained or fatigued. But I do get sore. I can always program away from the soreness though and the active recovery is good for healing.

For me, this program enables me to do whatever I want. If I want to do a trail running race, I do a run on the weekend, but that’s the only additional specificity of training I need. I wouldn’t change if I were to enter a CrossFit or Olympic weightlifting competition. Its good for everything.