There’s a reason that I quote and refer to and invoke the name of Dan John with regularity. This captures it as well as anything he’s written.
Reasonableness Let’s just get this out first: I believe that a Reasonable Way of Eating and a Reasonable Training model trump insanity all the time. So, in my last few workshops, I have gone to the whiteboard and scribbled illegibly in my scrawl that earned “D’s” in handwriting at St. Veronica’s School and asked these questions:
What’s a tough workout? Dozens of hands go up, dozens of answers. I truly enjoy this part as we swim from totally random training programs to sports (“Run a Marathon!”) to a multitude of DVD programs and the like. There are programs that can kill and programs that have from 16-50% injury rates in six weeks. Remember, this is a roomful of fitness pros and we still all think we need to kill you to make progress.
What’s a reasonable workout? A few hands go up, a few shy answers like “Even Easier Strength” I discuss “hand waving” again and again in my writings. It is this side-to-side handshaking wiggle we do with both hands followed by our mouths saying “You know” and our shoulders shrugging. With reasonable, sadly, we seem to NOT know. I argue that reasonable workouts cover all the basic human movements in a repeatable repetition scheme and appropriate load while providing plenty of time and energy for corrective work in any and all areas. Reasonable seems repeatable.
What’s a tough diet or way of eating? Most hands go up with everything from pure fasting, protein drink only diets to sheer lunacy. I had a girlfriend who had a three-day diet. Day One she ate seven eggs. Only. That was it for the whole day. Day Two, she had seven oranges and Day Three was seven bananas. She would lose seven pounds doing this. That, my friends, is a tough diet. I would probably find a three-day fast easier as my blood sugar will go crazy on the fruit days and turn me ravenous. Oh, on Day Five? She put on nine pounds.
What’s a reasonable diet or way of eating? Crickets. Nothing. Blank uncomfortable stares. As a classroom teacher of over 34 years, my one fear has always been passing gas out loud during a lecture. As the group stares back at me, I have one of two thoughts: either I farted or we have a problem. I checked. It wasn’t me. Seriously, some of the biggest names in the fitness industry won’t raise their hands and tell me what a reasonable way of eating is in this age of one million diets. Years ago, at the Olympic Training Center, we were told to focus on these three things: Protein Veggies Clear Water
Is there anything stunning there? Later, Robb Wolf summarized the most complex eating program (dozens of books by the same author promising all kinds of things and the problem is always that you don’t do it right) in the world with these three memorable lines: More Protein More Fiber More Fish Oil Please note: I have stolen both of these concepts and I now claim them as my own. Remember, the first time I say something: I am quoting someone. The second time I say something :I say “My good friend, fill in the name, always says….” The third time I say something, I say “As I always say…” This is what I remember from my ethics class on the topic of Intellectual Property. As I argued in Mass Made Simple, I think we know how to eat: Honestly, seriously, you don’t know what to do about food? Here is an idea: Eat like an adult. Stop eating fast food, stop eating kid’s cereal, knock it off with all the sweets and comfort foods whenever your favorite show is not on when you want it on, ease up on the snacking and— don’t act like you don’t know this— eat vegetables and fruits more. Really, how difficult is this? Stop with the whining. Stop with the excuses. Act like an adult and stop eating like a television commercial. Grow up. Now, let’s get back to the point: Eat like an adult!
[Sparked by a discussion in the gym, regarding the CrossFit Open workouts. Just some stream of consciousness, and perhaps a more complete expression of where I stand on the subject of CrossFit Competitions]
Another CrosFit Games Open Workout is upon us. Are 17 minutes of Snatches and Burpees healthy? Should you sacrifice form for a faster time, or one more rep? My personal take on it is this:
If you want to do the Open workouts, by all means do it. It’s a cultural experience for many people, to be doing the same thing as literally thousands of other people who share their interest. It’s fun to see how you stack up against the rest of the CrossFit Nation, and it’s a way for you to test your mental and physical capacity.
But decide: Are you doing CrossFit as a Sport, or are you doing it to be healthier and get in shape?
Much has been made of the potential for injury in CrossFit. I’ve beaten that drum a time or two myself. I’ll wager a fair amount that I’ve been around CrossFit longer than just about any (or all) of you reading this, and I know people who have sustained injuries through their participation in CrossFit.
But, I know a lot more who have been injured playing soccer. I personally have had knee and ankle reconstructive surgery, fractured an ankle and several toes, torn a hamstring, separated a shoulder, suffered more sprains, strains, and contusions than I can count and at least 1 concussion (that I can remember), all from playing soccer. Oh, and a torn labrum and rotator cuff, and another shoulder separation from playing flag football.
And yet, I’ve never discouraged someone from playing soccer or flag football.
Injuries are an accepted part of Sport, and I would argue that as the level of Sports performance increases, that risk of injury also increases. Athletes routinely put themselves into situations where they can be injured, or worse, and we applaud them for it. ”Playing hurt” is a badge of honor for many.
And that, I think, is what needs to be acknowledged—if you approach CrossFit as a Sport, you have to accept the potential for repercussions. In the quest for a faster time, or a heavier weight, or more reps, it’s possible to push yourself to the point of injury.
This is where common sense and a dose of reality need to come into play. I’ve said this before , but if you aren’t physically capable of performing the movements with appropriate range of motion and control, you probably shouldn’t be attempting to do them quickly and with intentionally compromised form. It makes no sense from a ‘health’ standpoint.
In the end, it should be looked at as a risk/reward relationship. There will always be a risk of injury anytime you move. Some activities increase the potential for injury—although these are often the same activities that provide the greatest potential for reward. The key is to establish basic competencies and strength before pushing boundaries.
To paraphrase a conversation I had with Ido: Don’t be afraid of something because it might hurt you. Ask yourself, ‘what can I do to prepare myself so that it won’t hurt me?’
Most of the people who train here at CFSW are not planning to compete in CrossFit competitions. They want to look better, feel better, and move better. That said, one of the hallmarks of CrossFit is and always has been the competitive aspect of the workouts. In many ways, competition is the driving force behind CrossFit’s growth and popularity, and it can’t be removed without fundamentally changing things.
How do you reconcile the two? Understand the difference between training and competition. Realize that even professional athletes don’t compete every day. Understand the basics of how to move effectively and safely, build a foundation of skill and capacity, and then make decisions based on an assessment of risk/reward. Recognize where you can charge forward and where you need to scale back.
By all means, COMPETE. Never quit, never take the easy way out. But also don’t intentionally take the path to injury.
Those of you who are Facebook followers of our page will notice that we post a lot of things there that don’t make it to the blog. Articles, videos, etc., that we find interesting or just want to share. Go ahead, take a look!
We did kind of a twist on the “Annie are you ok?” team workout and Fight Gone Better. 5 stations: wall ball, power clean (75#/55#), box jumps, push press, row (for calories), in a 21/15/9 setup.
Each team member starts at a different station, and completes 21 reps (or calories). Teams rotate when everyone is finished at their respective stations. Once you finish your station, you get to rest until it is time to rotate. Once everyone has completed all 5 stations at 21 reps, you would do the same thing for 15 and 9 reps, respectively. Score was total time to complete.
And I came across the video of the first “Annie are you ok?”. It was done at a 2006 CrossFit certification in the original Santa Cruz HQ gym. You’ll notice current CF Games stud and workout namesake Annie Sakamoto prominently featured. And if you look closely at around the 0:57 mark, you’ll notice a handsome youngster, with nary a grey hair to be seen starting the burpees…
Feeling like your fitness is lacking direction? Interested in learning new strategies to achieve your goals?
Come to the CFSW Goal Setting workshop Tuesday, February 19th, 630-800 pm.
We will cover basic principles of effective goal setting and provide worksheets and reference materials to help you develop a plan of action to achieve your goals. These are life skills, and can be applied not only to fitness and nutrition, but also school, business, or just personal development.
Please preregister by 7 pm on Monday, 2/18, to ensure that we have enough materials and space. Call us at 480.329.8484, or email to firstname.lastname@example.org
We spent some time working on our Clean technique yesterday, specifically from a High Hang Position (begin with the bar very close to hips) to minimize momentum and focus on both the explosive hip extension and getting the bar cleanly and smoothly into the rack position. Too many of us are using way too much knee action when pulling from the hang or floor, and muscling the bar into position with the arms. That works alright with a lighter weight, but you’ll find it difficult to use a significant load.
Here’s a nice little article on racking the bar from Greg Everett at Catalyst Athletics.
Some Mobility WOD goodness from Kelly Starrett here.
And here’s some motivation to work on that rack position.
Tired of being sore and tight? Have specific questions or problem areas that you’d like to address with stretching? Come to CFSW’s stretching clinic where you’ll learn anatomy, self stretching, partner stretching and hold relax stretching. Lead by Nathan Price—PTA, NFPT and CrossFit Level 1 Certified Trainer—we will spend time working out the kinks and knots that keep you from moving to your best ability. This clinic is limited to the first 10 CFSW members that respond. The price is $50.00 and includes a foam roller and lacrosse ball.
“With the new year will come every conceivable act advertised as being the new rage form of quick fix, “beach body” transformation. ”Every conceivable act”, that is, absent of this message: You’re going to have to bust your ass in the gym. A “few” of times per week if you’re looking to be healthy, and 6 or more times per week if you’re looking to compete against the best in your chosen sport. You’re going to have to give up tasty, sugary crap for nutrient dense food. You’re going to have to go to bed at a decent hour and get plenty of sleep. You’re going to have to figure out a way to effectively manage your daily stress. There is no pill, magic potion, woo, or even PED that can compensate for this.”—Keith Norris (Theory to Practice)
The New Year is fast approaching, and we are looking forward to seeing some of our old friends who have taken time off for the holidays, as well as the new folks who are using this time of renewal as motivation to make a change.
Beginning Monday, 1/7/13, we will be adding an additional Foundations Class Monday – Thursday at 5 pm.
There has also been some talk of bringing back the 7 pm CrossFit class, at least for a few days per week. If you would like to help make this happen, let me know either in the comments or next time you’re at the gym. If we can get some legitimate interest, we’ll start that up again.
Remember, we will be running an Open Gym from 8-11 am on New Year’s Eve (Monday), and we will be closed Tuesday. We will be back to a normal schedule on Wednesday, 1/2/13.
This is pretty cool. Not sure if anyone is able to take advantage, but it appears that United Healthcare has a partnership with Healthy Contributions.
Any individual who has insurance through a United Healthcare Employer Group Plan for small businesses with 2 - 99 employees, is eligible for a $20 monthly reimbursement on their membership dues. To get the $20 (deposited directly to their bank account) they simply have to go to the gym 12 times each month.
Let me know if you’re interested, and I’ll see what needs to be done on my end to get things set up.
Everyone who is interested in heading to Flagstaff for the Affiliate Cup the weekend of Dec 14-16:
I need to get a firm headcount, and a deposit from you for the house. We have somewhat limited space available, so let me know ASAP if you’re planning on going so we can go over details, costs, etc.
Call, email, or stop me at the gym!
Our Holiday Party is right around the corner! This Saturday, December 1st. We’ll start around 4 pm, and rumor has it that Fredy has already picked out a spot to spend the night.
Please bring a dish to share. We’re encouraging people to bring in something traditional, whether it is a family recipe or something that represents your culture, or just a warm fuzzy memory. It can be an entree, side dish, or dessert. Or even a beverage.
The other thing that we’re going to try to do this year is to sponsor a local family, or at least some kids. I’ll have further details at the party, but any and all are welcome to join us in this.
We’ll have an exact address available at the gym, or contact me for directions.
Make your plans now, CFSW Holiday Party is scheduled for Saturday, December 1st!
We’ll be meeting at the McCullough residence (aka “The House the Quinn Built”—address available at the gym). The party starts at 4 pm, and will continue until we decide to leave.
This year, we decided that we’re going to go with an International Theme to the Potluck. If you’re up for the challenge, bring a holiday dish from the Old Country (wherever that is). Or, if you prefer, bring one from someone else’s home country. Personally, I’m trying to decide which protein source can be roasted whole and presented on a platter with some sort of fruit in it’s mouth, but feel free to get creative! We’ll need plenty of sides and desserts as well.
In addition to getting together with everyone socially, it has been decided that we should also attempt to do some good in the world in some small way. To that end, we will be adopting a family for Christmas. I’ll have further details in the next few days. Obviously, participation will be totally optional, but I’m looking forward to it.
It’s that time of year again—it’s getting down into the 50’s and 60’s at night, so Arizonans need to bundle up!
We’re going to put in another order for hooded sweatshirts soon, and we will be doing pre-orders only! So, if you would like to get one this time around, you need to let me know your size and color preference. We can do either a pullover or zip up, $35. Thermals are $25.
Click here for the color options on the hoodies.Any color but red will work.The long sleeve thermals can be found here.
We will be placing the order by 11/24. All money must be received before that date, or you will not receive your sweatshirt.
I’m hoping to get them back in time for the Flagstaff competition on 12/15, so there will be NO extension on this date!
Please contact Ken with any questions.
The return of Elizabeth! (see here for previous scores), and this time we had some people take care of business! Several people dropped a considerable amount of time, and we also had many people using heavier weights than the first time. Love to see all the PRs! Great work everyone.
This past weekend, several of us went down to the Honey Badger Invitational Olympic Weightlifting meet hosted by our friends at Evolution Tucson.
Reuben was “talked into” competing on Monday, and walked in with a whopping 3 days of actual lifting preparation. He did great for his first meet, hitting lifts at or near his all-time PRs to win his weight class.
Sara lifted at the East Valley Open about weeks ago, and wasn’t happy with her first meet performance. She trained hard, and put up much better numbers at the Honey Badger. That being said, she was still throwing around the barbell like it was a matchstick, and can definitely put up a lot more weight. Look for her to have some really big meets in 2013 if she decides to stick with it.
Many thanks to Matt D. for coming down to help coach, and Cali for taking pictures. (We’ll post a few in the next few days). Also, thank you to Fredy, David and Steven for making the trip to support our lifters.
Next stop: Arizona Affiliate Cup in Flagstaff December 15th!
As promised, a blog post about movement quality and range of motion and all that. I’m not sure if it’s the weather, or the impending holidays, or just the fact that we have a lot of new folks running around. Regardless, I’ve been slacking in my duties. So, here’s a reminder:
IF YOU DON’T COMPLETE THE REPETITION, THROUGH THE ENTIRE ACCEPTABLE RANGE OF MOTION, DON’T COUNT IT!!!
You know who you are, and you know what I mean. Pullups that are scarcely forehead to bar, pushups that don’t approach the floor. Quarter squats.
So, this is your warning. We’re going to crack down on questionable reps.
And, I’ve posted this before, but it’s a message that needs to be heard. Via my friend Doug Chapman at CrossFit Ann Arbor, Clock Whores.
A friend recently dropped some mythology my way, in the form of Sisyphus. You may know him as the King who got a little too clever for his own good, and was sentenced to an eternity in Hades, pushing a heavy boulder up a steep hill all day. At the end of the day, he would reach the crest of the hill, exhausted. As the first stars appeared, the boulder would roll down and he would have to start again from the bottom.
His punishment was intended to represent futile effort—a useless, grinding task in retribution for disrespecting the Gods. To this day, Sisyphus brings to mind the idea of mindless, unending toil.
Sounds a lot like your workouts feel sometimes, right? You work hard in the gym, grunting and swearing, sometimes collapsing in a sweaty heap. And the next day it feels like you have to start right back at the bottom of the hill. Over time, it can feel like you’re fighting your way over the same ground, over and over and over. That boulder can start to feel immovably heavy, and the slope impossibly steep, and it’s easy to lose the will to keep going.
We are all familiar with this feeling, in life as well as the pursuit of fitness. It is at times like these that we can draw inspiration from Sisyphus.
(Indulge me for a moment, I promise we’ll bring this back to fitness. First, though, a brief layover in French Existentialism.)
Albert Camus published an essay, The Myth of Sisyphus, wherein he examined the nature of life and man’s place in the universe. I won’t bore you with details, but the short version involves the search for reason and meaning in a world which may be devoid of such. According to Camus, when faced with the realization that there may not be a greater meaning in life, Man is faced with 3 choices: assign responsibility to some higher power (Fate, Destiny, the Gods, etc.), surrender to hopelessness (ultimately requiring suicide), or acknowledge that this search for reason may be futile.
Camus rejects the first two, and instead argues this contradiction between the human need for reason and the unreasonable world must be acknowledged. Acknowledged, but never accepted—one must constantly confront and revolt against it. Facing this, then, allows us to embrace life, and live it to it’s fullest.
Sisyphus becomes the embodiment of this concept to Camus. Day after day for eternity, he faces his boulder, and fights and claws his way to the top of the hill, only to see his efforts are in vain. The boulder crashes back to it’s starting point at the bottom of the hill, and Sisyphus must make his weary way down to begin anew. It is during these moments when Sisyphus is headed back down the hill that he is most conscious of the absurdity of his fate—and, according to Camus, it is during these moments where he is free. Knowing that he faces the same soul-wrenching journey up the hill, still Sisyphus chooses to walk down, place his body against the rock, and begin again. His fate is his own. ”The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart.” In this acknowledgement, Sisyphus is content. In fact, according to Camus, ”We must imagine Sisyphus happy.”
So it is with fitness. It’s easy to get caught up looking for a higher authority to take responsibility for everything—that magic diet guru or plastic surgeon are prayed to frequently. It’s also easy to just give up hope and stop trying at all. To commit fitness suicide, if you will. But to me, you must acknowledge that it’s hard, and that making progress takes time and effort, and isn’t always a smooth road.
The important thing isn’t just the goal at the top of whatever hill you are climbing—the journey itself should be embraced. Each session is an opportunity to take another step, to move your boulder a little higher. The times of despair, of wanting to give up, that is the rock’s victory. Every rep, every pound, every time you grasp the bar and vow to fight once more—that is your victory over the rock.
"Myths are made for the imagination to breathe life into them. As for this myth, one sees merely the whole effort of a body straining to raise the huge stone, to roll it and push it up a slope a hundred times over; one sees the face screwed up, the cheek tight against the stone, the shoulder bracing the clay-covered mass, the foot wedging it, the fresh start with arms outstretched, the wholly human security of two earth-clotted hands. At the very end of his long effort measured by skyless space and time without depth, the purpose is achieved. Then Sisyphus watches the stone rush down in a few moments toward that lower world whence he will have to push it up again toward the summit. He goes back down to the plain. It is during that return, that pause, that Sisyphus interests me. A face that toils so close to stones is already stone itself! I see that man going back down with a heavy yet measured step toward the torment of which he will never know the end. That hour like a breathing-space which returns as surely as his suffering, that is the hour of consciousness. At each of those moments when he leaves the heights and gradually sinks toward the lairs of the gods, he is superior to his fate. He is stronger than his rock."
THANK YOU to everyone that came out today to compete and support the CFSW community! That was a lot of fun for us to put on, I hope everyone enjoyed attending.
Special thanks to Matt D. and Steven for all their help, Lisa for getting the medals, and Cali for taking photos. There are some great pictures up already on the Facebook page, and it sounds like there are a couple hundred more to get through.
Congratulations to the Winners today!
Men’s Rx: Patrick
Women’s Rx: Emma
Men’s Scaled: Sathish
Women’s Scaled: Meghan
Master’s Men: Jim S.
Master’s Women: Lisa
As they say, everyone who competed today is a winner. These folks just won a little more than the rest.
Again, thank you all for coming out. Let’s plan to do this again sometime!
For those who haven’t been to the gym yet, here is the first workout for Saturday morning’s Competition:
(Use the same barbell for all movements—prescribed is 135# for Men/95# for Women)
One time through for Time:
Barbell Ground-to-Overhead x 15
50 Double Unders
Barbell Clean (Power or Squat) x 15
50 Double Unders
Barbell Front Squat x 15
50 Double Unders
For the Ground-to-overhead, the barbell must be stationary on the ground at the start of each rep (no bouncing), and finish with the barbell fully overhead, with elbows, hips, and knees fully extended. The barbell may be lifted by any means needed (e.g., snatch, clean and jerk, clean and push press, clean thruster, etc.)
Score will be the time necessary to complete the workout, or total number of reps completed at the end of 12:00, whichever is appropriate.
This is a belated recognition for one of our 6 am folks. Over the weekend, Marius competed in the Mogollon Monster 100, a ridiculous 106-mile race up on the Mogollon Rim. Racers ascend the Rim four times, and climb approximately 18,000 feet over the course of the race.
That’s some serious work!
Only 9 out of 37 runners finished the course this year, and Marius finished 4th (31 hours, 5 minutes).
Updated Schedule for Saturday:
We will be holding an open/combined class 830 am class only! It will be open to everyone.
Individual Workout 1: First heat starts at 10 am
Partner Workout: First heat starts at 11:15 am
Individual Workout 2: First heat starts at 1 pm