Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sunday May 30th, 2010

Buy-in: Handstands, Handstand pushups, progressions and practice.

The Workout:

With a continuously running clock move in turn through each of four exercises, 30 seconds per exercise, 30 seconds between exercises. Storm through the circuit four times, and go for maximum reps.

1. 100# Bear Hug Clean (clean the dummy to your shoulder and stand all the way up, alternate shoulders)
2. Air Squats
3. Battling Ropes (undulate the ropes with as much ferocity and intensity as you can muster for 30 seconds, no reps to count)
4. Pullups

Lucy- awesome job, she tore this one up. Used a blue band and did kipping pullups and was actually doing almost a plyo-pullup, releasing the bar on every rep! She subbed a 50# mega-ball for the 100# dummy and cleaned it to her shoulder from the ground every rep.
Cleans 26
Squats 80
Pullups 72

Dustin- obviously this is a style of workout that does not favor Dustin "the freight train" Adams. At 240 lbs, he's at a disadvantage with body weight exercises like squats and pullups. However, he did awesome on the battling ropes, and took out some pretty serious aggression on the dummy, getting 9 reps on average every 30 seconds. He swarmed thru this freight train style and kicked ass. He used a green band on pullups
Cleans 36
Squats 85
Pullups 33

Tim - kipping pullups, 100# dummy cleans

Cleans 22
Squats 117
Pullups 56

Friday, May 28, 2010

Some thoughts on Pilates & Yoga

First off, I know this may ruffle some feathers, so before you get riled up, it's just a humble opinion, and I'm certainly open to debate if someone wants to comment below, please don't hesitate. I've been seeing and hearing a lot about both yoga & pilates in the media and from acquaintances lately. I've heard a lot of claims being made regarding the benefits of both. Yes I've participated in sessions of both on more than one occasion, just to see what all the fuss is about and to broaden my fitness horizon a bit, which I'm always willing to do. Here's what I found.


Yoga is great, I think everyone should be doing some of this stuff on a regular basis. Almost every client I train has some kind of issue or limitation that is caused by lack of flexibility. By taking the time to restore a full range of motion at all the joints, you are really setting yourself up for greater success in every movement you engage in. Certain movements cannot be safely loaded or sometimes even performed at all, due to poor mechanics, mis-alignment, and bad posture, due to tight muscle groups and lack of flexibility. Flexibility leads directly to improved athletic performance, in the gym and on the field or court. It's also excellent injury prevention, as well as a good way to maintain your sense of balance. Strong supple connective tissue that can bend, twist, flex, extend, under load and through a full range of motion, is far less likely to be strained or torn when forces are acting on it. Yoga does a superb job of increasing your range of motion at every joint, and teaching you the art of relaxation, getting in touch with your body, your breathing, and your alignment.
        However, it is a mistake to think that your fitness is complete if all you do is yoga. I congratulate you for getting off the couch, and yes it's a great thing, but well-rounded fitness requires much more.

Aspects of fitness that yoga does NOT address:

Strength- If you are doing nothing at all, and you start doing some yoga, will you get stronger? Absolutely. There is a small component of strength with yoga, depending on your bodyweight and how de-conditioned you are. But yoga should not be thought of as a strength workout by itself.  Even if you're not an athlete, you need to maintain your muscle, and yoga does not go far enough toward this. You need to lift heavier weight to avoid muscle loss, and to improve bone density.

Speed- Everything with yoga is done slowly. This is fine for flexibility work, but life often demands that we move fast. It's critical to maintain quickness and speed, in a variety of movements. Yoga does not enhance this.

Power- Power is defined as speed and strength combined. Moving a load with speed is a vital quality to maintain for both athletes, and grandma. It's only a difference by degree. If you want to be light on your feet, have good reaction time, and teach your body to store and release energy, you need to do power-oriented training. This can be as simple as throwing a medicine ball or hopping over a line on the ground. Yoga does nothing to enhance power.

Agility- Athletes and non-athletes need agility. This is generally defined as the ability to change direction quickly, or change quickly from one movement pattern to another very quickly. I suspect that most people would prefer not to lose this ability. Guess what, if you don't practice it, you lose it. Yoga does not help agility, obviously.

Okay I could go on regarding stamina, accuracy, and coordination, cardiorespiratory endurance, energy system development, but you get the idea. It is very easy to fall in love with a particular method of training or to embrace something that you're really good at, and call it the end-all and be-all. We see a lot of this, and my previous article on specialization covers some of this. So while I love yoga and I'm impressed by individuals who have a high level of mastery with it, it is simply nowhere near enough to do only yoga and think you don't need anything else, and all your bases are covered? Comments??


Pretty much ditto for Pilates, except I'm a little less impressed by it. The benefits are often exaggerated, and the equipment is bulky and expensive. I applaud you if you're doing it, just don't be fooled into thinking that it's giving you comprehensive fitness. I repeat, if you're starting from zero, then you will experience small improvements in strength, power, speed, etc...but that's only if you're starting from a de-conditioned state, in which case you have nowhere to go but up, and just about anything would be good! If you're capable of doing more, and getting on your feet and moving your body on your own, without being strapped to an artificial contrivance, then you should do so. Also, let's make a distinction. If this is simply the only thing you're able to do, for whatever reason, that is certainly better than doing nothing at all.

So, if you already are doing some form of resistance training, metabolic conditioning, plyometrics, agility work, and other skill acquisition, and you just want to improve your core strength, and your dynamic flexibility, then Pilates is great for just that one specific purpose.

Comments??? Hate mail??

Monday, May 24, 2010

Specializing vs not specializing

One of the defining characteristics of Crossfit is how broad it is. There are so many different skills, movement patterns, exercises, and ideas to get accustomed can be very slow progress when you're working on a lot of different things at one time. You may not see great progress on any one thing very fast.  It's a constant struggle to strike a balance between keeping your fitness as broad as possible, while at the same time working hard to correct weaknesses. The moment you put something on the shelf for awhile, so that you can focus on a specific skill or motor quality that is needing work, then you worry you might lose ground in the other area. To some extent this is true. The bottom line is you can't be everywhere at once, and in order to get really really good at something, you have to spend time at it. Since most of us have careers, families, kids, hobbies, becomes a challenge to create good meaningful programming. Not specializing is a two-edged sword. On the one hand it's proven to create tremendously well-rounded athletes, and on the other hand, it discourages you from getting really really good at any one thing.

It's my opinion that you should focus on your weaknesses and bring them up to speed as much as possible. This doesn't mean that you should do so to the total neglect of everything else. This would defeat the purpose. We want broad fitness, but we can maintain certain motor qualities & conditioning with reduced loads and volumes. For example, let's say I really need to improve my front squat, and work on my full squat cleans, and rack position. I'm already pretty decent at most of the gymnastics stuff, at least workably so. I'm also possess pretty decent endurance, and I'm ok with running. So what I need is more explosive power, and more strength. I'd like to have a bigger push press, bigger squat, and bigger deadlift. I'm going to assign a percentage of training time in various areas, so I can maintain fitness in areas that I'm already good at, but free up more time to spend on things I want to improve. So my plan in this example would be to cut back on running, pushups, pullups, dips, lunges, air squats etc.. Notice I said cut back, and not eliminate. This is key! Meanwhile I'm going to spend a larger percentage of time on push press, barbell squat, deadlift, and power clean. You can be as precise as you want about this, but as long as you have some kind of plan you should do fine.

The mistake I see people making is to spend too much time doing stuff they're already good at. It's easy to focus on your strengths. When you are training skills or motor qualities you're already proficient at, you're in your comfort zone, even if you're training your ass off, you're still in your comfort zone in a psychological sense as well as physically. Ultimately, this comes down to fear. I don't mean the kind of fear you associate with fight or flight, where you're frightened for your life in an immediate sense. I mean psychological discomfort, on several levels. Number one, people get wrapped up in the idea that if they back off of training in a given area, they're wasting all the time they've invested, and everything is just gonna go down the tubes. This is not true! It's an irrational fear. You're not going to lose all your gains! Backing off may in fact be exactly the stimulus they need to re-ignite the system and get primed for new gains! Remember we are just reducing the volume, not stopping altogether. You can back off of both volume and frequency and not lose much of anything in a given area. Number two, people also are just flat nervous and uncomfortable about doing something and not being an instant master at it. I'm sorry but you have to go thru the awkward phase before you get to be a swan. If it was easy and quick ....everyone would be doing it, and it would not be all that big of an accomplishment.
        I love muscle ups. I taught myself to do them, but it certainly did not happen overnight. I watched crossfit videos in slo-mo and then walked outside to my rings and tried it out. Then I'd walk back inside and watch the video again to see what I did wrong. Over and over I'd implement what I saw until I finally pulled it off. Then I continued to watch more videos with different instructors so I could make sure my technique was right. So I got better at it. This took maybe a few months. I was not necessarily practicing it every day. So then I get clients who see me do a muscle up, and these are athletic guys, and they expect to be able to jump right on the rings and do it, and boy are they frustrated when it doesn't happen! My answer is: "Hey this took me a while to learn, so you're not gonna walk in here, and just jump up and do it!" This is hard stuff, and you have to have patience. You can't let fear stop you.

Stop doing what's comfortable in the gym! Do what is UN-comfortable! Ultimately a more well-rounded athlete is a better athlete at anything they do. Also keep in mind the concept of quality over quantity. Just because you're used to doing X amount of work at X intensity level, doesn't mean this is really getting you anywhere. Alwasy be willing to think outside the box and examine what you're doing objectively. Is your training getting you any measurable result of any kind? If not, then you are just a hopeless addict. Sometimes less training is exactly what you need. Sometimes you just need to get out of the gym. Is that next set really gonna get you anywhere if you're just doing it out of habit and the intensity and ferocity are lacking? I'd rather see you rest than do meaningless hum-drum work, even if it's producing a "burn." Either breathe fire or go to sleep.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Coming Soon...

Be sure and check it out!

Meanwhile...Today's MMA workout:

Warm-up: Hip Cross, Cobra/DD, Bridging, Scorpion, Spiderman, Hand Walk, Rotator Cuff

Four Rounds, timed:

GHD Hip Extension 15
Pushup                    12
30" box jumps         8
Slam ball                 8

Notes: Do not sacrifice quality for speed. Full ROM is expected on everything. That means pushups are chest to deck and at the top body is pressed maximally away from floor. On slamball you must catch the ball on every rep. I'd rather see you take an extra moment and maintain maximal explosive force than to hurry it and end up moving too slowly. The point is to develop that speed of movement. At the same time, don't take any more rest than is absolutely necessary. It's up to you to draw the balance between those two things!

Friday, May 14, 2010

My thoughts on running

Thursday we did something a little different, mixed it up and did a little 2.5 or so mile run. Nice easy pace for the most part, but I had the guys, Dustin & Chris, using a tennis ball to do some short sprint bursts throughout the run. This is a great technique. One guy tosses the ball aways out, and the other accelerates out to catch it, usually on the single hop. Doesn't need to be an all out sprint, just a nice smooth acceleration. Makes the run more interesting, and teaches your body to buffer the lactic acid from the repeated sprints. Great for your base conditioning. We "bought in" with 100 double unders, and "cashed out" with 3 x 10 GHD Kettlebell rows. Nice work as always from the American Revolution Muy Thai team. I love that I can always count on these guys for quality effort and no bullshit. If I say go, these guys GO. If only everyone that had attitude. Kick ass.
          So today I happened to spend about 1/2 the day at the Beach to Bay race packet pick up. This was a fascinating study. Looking at all the people participating definitely got me thinking. Most were in decent shape, compared to the general population. Some maybe even a bit better than that. All were obviously people who embrace an active lifestyle. All were pretty excited and looking forward to the event. It was clear that most people were doing this for social reasons, and not really too concerned about being competitive. They were just enjoying the whole event and all the hoopla around it. More power to them for getting out and doing something. Of course I also noticed the typical physique of all these pavement pounding mileage junkies was pretty similar. Gaunt and relatively free of muscle would describe it. Of course not ALL of them were like that, but that's the general appearance. It also crossed my mind that most of them probably are feeling pretty good about their fitness level, and associate fitness with cardiorespiratory endurance, and generally consider them one and the same. Of course this is FAR from the truth. If I measured the fitness of the local running club against the Ten General Physical Skills as we know them, the runners would come out looking  very one-dimensional. So those were my thoughts as I watched these folks. Of course not all of them fit that description, and there were some crossfitters in the group, so I'm excluding all of those, and focusing on those who JUST run, and don't do much else. If you think about it, runners usually don't have really ANY of the other attributes. Those who are marathoners and such become about as one dimensional as it's possible to be. They have very little of any of the following. Strength, power, speed, agility, balance, accuracy, flexibility, stamina, or coordination. They exclusively stress one energy pathway to the total detriment of the others. I would not expect a highly accomplished distance runner to be remarkably good at anything else. The odds would be against it.
    Unless it seems like I'm totally bashing runners personally I will say this much. What I do admire is their absolute dedication and tremendous drive. Runners are capable of suffering through some serious pain that most people want no part of. I admire anyone who sets a goal to do something really challenging like run a marathon. That is really awesome. My attitude however is, hey run ONE, so you can say you did it, if you must, and then focus on getting some real-world well rounded fitness. The kind that will serve you well no matter what challenge may come up.
         It just happens to be my personal opinion that excessive distance running is not the path to real fitness. It prevents you from developing any other attribute that would describe you as a well rounded athlete. Not to mention that all those miles take a toll on the body and put the joints through a pretty thorough beating. Bottom line, an occasional 5k is ok, but generally you should run short distances for speed. Remember what happened to the very first guy who ever ran the marathon, and in whose memory the race itself came to be? After completing the 26 mile run, he collapsed and died, probably of heat stroke.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Saturday May 8th, 2010

Well first of all, some interesting fights on UFC 113 last night. Josh Koscheck showed that his extremely explosive take downs are still his best weapon in the cage. He out-grappled Daley, stayed on top of him, and thus dictated the fight. He didn't exactly do much damage though, I was surprised he was not trying to land more shots and elbows from the top. As for Daley, well what can you say about a guy that takes a swing at his opponent sucker punch style after making it look like hey I just wanna shake hands. That was one of the most cowardly things I've seen done in the ring. He did not represent his country with class, and in fact made the UK look pretty bad with that performance, esp after the ridiculous amount of shit-talking that went on before the fight. Daley was virtually unable to land a single punch or hurt Koscheck in any way. Then there was the mysterious illegal knee that Daley threw or ....tried to throw but missed. When you saw the replay, it completely missed, and yet Koscheck played it as though he had taken this vicious blow that staggered him. Just bizarre, I can't understand why Koscheck did that. It wasn't like he was in trouble, hurt, or anything, he was winning the fight. At the same time, I have no respect now for Daley, because hey,  he's just lucky the knee barely missed! He was damn sure trying to land an illegal knee. Anyway whatever your opinions about these two, it was clear that Koscheck won outright, and deserves the title shot as promised. I don't think he'll have that kind of success taking down GSP though!
       Not much to say about the Shogun/Machida rematch, except holy *&#@!! As my wife put it, "Shogun just wanted it more." Right on, he went in and just straight hammered Machida with a right upside the temple, and then followed it with a rain of punches, that put Machida OUT. Shogun made a big statement and left zero doubt about deserving that light heavyweight belt. That division has some good contenders in it, it's exciting to think about who might challenge for that belt.
        Funniest moment of the night was when Dan Miragliotta made Daley promise not to hit Koscheck again before he'd let him go. Daley was asking him to let him go, and you could hear Miragliotta saying "You promise?" Hilarious, like what I do with my kids or something...

Saturday's Workout

Three rounds

10 each arm, ground to overhead, single arm clean & press, kettlebell or dumbell, 45 or 50#
10 maximum vertical backwards toss 20# med balls,
3 each arm Turkish get ups, 45 or 50#
15 Jiu Jitsu style sit ups

This was not done for time, but it was done fast. We moved straight thru with minimal rest, but did not try to maintain a breakneck speed. I sometimes prefer to conduct workouts in that way, for the specific purpose of retaining that explosive component. If you get so gassed during a workout that you can no longer move with speed, then we are no longer enhancing that motor quality. I want you moving with maximal speed on each rep, or close to it. I'd prefer that you slow your overall pace down just enough to stay explosive. The exception to this of course was the TGU. While you don't dawdle on these, it is not the type of exercise you can really explode with. It serves as more of a coordination, balance, and core strength developer. It's great for developing postural awareness. Then there's the JJ situps. Everyone underestimates how hard these are. Especially the big guys! Kudos to Jay & Dustin for cranking these out. Well done. All in all, I liked this group of exercises, they worked very well together.
    Keep in mind that although this workout was not done with a time component strictly enforced, we could easily do so. The difference would be the objective of the workout. Putting in a time component, and having all the athletes go as fast as possible would transform the workout into more of a metabolic conditioning, glycolytic pathway dominant workout. Here we'd be less concerned with staying explosive on every rep per se, and we'd more focused on pushing through as fast as possible and not stopping even if your lungs and muscles are screaming. Two very different, but legitimate objectives. Lotsa fun as usual, and looking forward to the next one! Ya'll don't forget about your Moms today, and have a Happy Mother's Day!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Sunday, May 2, 2010

6 x 2 Box Squats with heavy bands

Larry and Chris - started with 95# and worked up to 165#
Jay - started with 135# and worked up to 185#
Dustin - 135# and worked up to 225#

Met-con: "Grace"

Dustin - Rx'd - 2:40
Jay- Rx'd         2:41
Larry - 95#      2:04
Chris - 95#      2:57

I was pleased with the output on this met-con. We did this as a face-off, two at a time, it works great. If you're waiting your turn, you're encouraging your team-mates and pushing them to stay with it and fight on. Next time I predict both Jay & Dustin break 2:30. Chris & Larry both definitely need to go ahead and move up to 115#. Everyone under 3 minutes on this is stellar performance. Also some nice work on the band squats, nice and explosive. Having done those first I think it helped a lot to excite the nervous system, activate the fast twitch fibers and generally I think it produced a better result on Grace.

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