Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Certification Complete

Last weekend was amazing. I learned a ton of things to help my form in ways that I did not know I needed help with (like my front squat, which is one of my strongest lifts). I also learned more than a few techniques on faults that cause train-wreck form and ways to correct it. The best part of the weekend though? I received my certification!

Now the stars will align and everything will come together for me, just like the fine print says in the CF manual. Or something like that.

The trainers were also amazing and explained a lot of topics to me that I did not think about before. My clean and sumo deadlift high pull has also improved dramatically, mostly because I was finally able to do it with a barbell and not a kettlebell.  I also realized that there has not been a single WOD at my gym where we have done full squat snatches--a serious problem, in my opinion. Time to start cranking out some serious snatch.

The awesome people at the cert. I am sunglasses on the right.

I have also decided to attend the powerlifting seminar in September at Local's Gym in Lynnwood. Who better to learn some more powerlifting skills from than man/bear/beast Mark Bell? I hope to get at least a few PR's out of that seminar.

Now, on to food consumption:

 Standard chicken nugget serving size.

 Sweet pie, bro.
Rigatoni pasta pie w/ mozzarella, cheddar, marinara and ground beef.
 You want a piece of this?
Triple egg & cream bread bowl w/ southwest hash browns.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Short post

I don't have time for a long post today, but there a few quick points I would like to address:

1) All of that accessory work has started to pay off.

After expanding from the usual squats, deadlifts and pressing, into things like weighted pull-ups, weighted dips, 8 minute WODS focusing on being explosive for 3 reps at 75% of my max, EMOM(every minute on the minute). I also have been doing at least 10 bar muscle-ups a day, which is great training for real life situations, like if you are on a bar, and you need to do a muscle-up. I have also noticed on my front squat that when I am doing a 3 rep, 8 minute WOD, my 1RM from a month ago is now getting 1 vertical inch off of my shoulders driving up out of the bottom of the squat. Danger Zone.

2) I have slain a mighty beast.

If you have never been to Beth's on Aurora Ave, then I don't know what you are doing here. At Beth's you have two choices of meal types, epic, and double epic. It took me 6 minutes to eat my breakfast. The simple trick is to get it all down before your brain lets you know that you are about to explode.  Here is an example of a mighty foe slain in breakfast battle:

 It took me 6 minutes to eat the 12 egg omelette, its the first time I haven't had second breakfast two hours after the first.

I am getting my Crossfit Level-1 Certification

This is something I have been looking forward to for a while. If I don't pass it, I may as well hang up my lifting shoes, because it is stuff that I have been doing every day for the past year. I am looking forward to teaching others the benefits on function fitness and movements that require strength, speed, and power. None if this "one-legged BOSU ball alternating dumbbell curls". Not only is your 5 pound dumbbell not going to get you more strong or fit, you are also an idiot that will probably end up breaking your neck when you fly off the ball.

I will let you all know how the cert goes, have a great weekend. Happy PR Friday!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Illusion of Perfection

Perfection seems to be something that we all strive for. We all have the notion that if we could just be perfect at that one thing, then everything would simply come together for us. This could not be farther from the truth. If you start to obsess about something, like your diet, I feel that the stress of needing perfection will eventually cause more harm to  your body than the types of food you are trying to avoid.

The only perfection i see in the gym is Metallica, the perfect workout music.

Try following an 80/20 plan. Eat clean 80% of the time, and go crazy the other 20% of the time, but be smart about it. If you are going to binge on some carbs or something high on the glycemic index, try to time it within 3 hours before or after a workout. Hit a few PR's in a single workout and try drinking a tall chocolate milk with some protein thrown in, or instead eat some jerky and a sweet potato and 1 pound of broccoli. Let me know which one is easier and replenishes your glycogen stores more adequately. I assume that most people who are working out have some grasp of a good diet, and I feel that most of the tests done about blood sugar and insulin levels are done on the sedentary majority of the population, not on more intense athletes. If done on intense athletes, the tests would probable have a much different outcome. Of course the average person does not need a butt-ton of carbs every day, but we are different. We need that quick glycogen replenishment. The paleo diet is already turning into an industry, don't be surprised if it soon goes the way of organic, where you are paying more for the label when it really has no added benefits. Just don't be stupid and use your brain when you eat.

A light lunch before hitting 2 PR's

If you don't have a weekly food binge, you have nothing to kick your metabolism into overdrive the next few days when you are eating clean. Your system, after dealing with a day of gluttony, will then be operating at 120% after your gluttony is finished, thus digesting and absorbing your clean food at a quicker pace. Now tell me that doesn't sound like something you want in your diet.

(Top) Death by Nachos
(Bottom) Breakfast Tortilla Pie
Both are great for my metabolism and crucial during my recovery period.

Thanks to eating like this, adequate recovery, and new training method, I have added 18 pounds to my back squat in only 7 days. I am aiming for another 80 pounds in the next 5 weeks.

Glad I got that rant off of my chest, there are just too many people following a diet because others tell them to. Everyone is different and has different needs.

                                                      Until next time, here is a kick in the ass:

Friday, May 20, 2011

F.N.G's And Anti-Paleo

This has been a great week, it has gone by very quickly but there are a few highlights that I would like to point out.

1) My first real week using the "conjugate method".

For those of you that dont know, the Conjugate Method is a system used by Louie Simmons for all of his clients at Westside Barbell. In my opinion, based on results alone, it is the best powerlifting gym in America. Clients who can squat above 1000 pounds  while weighing in at under 200 pounds? Yea I think I will use that method.
 Louie Simmons is 64. I dont think he will need a retirement home anytime soon.

To give you an example of the Conjugate Method, the thinking behind it goes something like this: "In the early 1970s, the Dynamo Club in the former Soviet Union had 70 highly skilled Olympic lifters. They were introduced to a system of 20-45 special exercises that were grouped into 2-4 exercises per work-out and were rotated as often as necessary to make continuous progress They soon found out that as the squat, good morning, back raise, glute/ham raise, or special pulls got stronger, so did their Olympic lifts. When asked about the system, only one lifter was satisfied with the number of special lifts; the rest wanted more to choose from. And so the conjugate system was originated." (Taken from Westside-Barbell.com)

Starting last Monday, my week will typically look like this: 

Monday- bench press or strict press(alternate)
Tuesday- back or front squat(alternate), DL

Thursday- 75% of my 1RM from monday, 3 reps every every minute for 8 mins, then weighted wide grip pullups, weighted dips, dumbell press/bench press 4x5, other accessory press exercises, 4 rds of 10 weight situps and 10 weighted K2E.

Friday-75% of my 1RM from tuesday, 3 reps every every minute for 8 mins, then OH lunges, glute-ham work, Romanian deadlift, barbell rows and accessory core work, because my core and my hams need work on them to increase my squat and deadlift. I can feel my weak right hamstring when the bar is about 3 inches below my knee on a deadlift.

*These all occur about 6 1/2 hours after a CF WOD. typically a MET-CON.

2) I received my "Ron Swanson" pyramid poster.

This poster is amazing and contains everything that matters in life. Things like deer protein, a thick and impenetrable torso, property rights, and avoiding skim milk.

 Click here to see the full size poster in all its glory. I'm not asking. Do it.

Here it is hanging above my bar. I think it is somewhat crooked. Maybe that's why I always feel like Ron is watching me.

3) The F.N.G's

I started teach 3 new recruits the basics of Starting Strength (the best book for strength training beginners to read by Mark Rippetoe). While we undoubtedly have a very long way to go, the progress they have made so far this week deserves a tipping of the cap. Not one of them has had any experience lifting weights, but to go from flailing under an unloaded bar to having a beautiful front squat with high elbows, knees out, and hitting depth in only 7 days is something to be admired.

All 3 of them started off with the words that I never like hearing, "I don't want to get big, I just want to get toned". Of course there is no such thing as toning and firming, "only strong and weak".  After explaining that "toning" means an increase on strength and muscle mass and a decrease of body fat, they did manage to say the magic words. They all said they wished to get stronger and they felt the needed a lifestyle change. Music to my ears. I am looking forward to seeing their big gains in the upcoming months.

4) My anti-paleo diet is really working out for me.
 Like I stated in a previous post, I am no longer doing paleo. Here is a photo comparison of how I looked weighing 176 lbs at 6' 5" (right photo) and how I looked 2 months ago weighing 221 (left photo).

 I have lost body fat since that last photo, I was on the tail-end of my GOMAD diet, and I have lost most of the water weight that came with it (I will post a more recent photo next time).

I am not concerned with having <5% bodyfat if it affects my lifts and since I stopped doing paleo, every single lift of mine has increased. I stopped dropping weight due to a lack of calories, I am blowing away my times on MET-CONS, usually placing in the top 5 at the gym, and I dont feel slowed down at all. I still rarely eat sugar, but I dont shy away from grain products, I just plan ahead when I am going to consume them, usually right after a workout when I need that glycogen.

Here is a beast that my wife and I conquered (she is also eating epic meal time, while gaining muscle and dropping sizes, women love that crap).
The Carnivore Supreme. Recommended by doctors everywhere.

In closing, here is your moment of zen. Please take note how his warrior cry at the end helps him get the weight up. So if grunting or yelling is discouraged at your gym, especially during heavy lifts, time to change gyms.

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Week of PR's, Chicago Pizza, and Burgers

Last week was one of the best weeks I have had in a long time. After the Crossfit games open sectionals ended, I decided to take a week off of CF  to sleep in an extra hour every day, to let my shin splints heal and to focus on getting some PR's in my lifts. All of these goals were accomplished, along with a few other surprises. More about these topics in a few minutes.

After making a stupid decision 3 years ago to take off a year from college, a decision that I have spent 3 years kicking myself in the ass for making and the last year in community college maintaining a 3.9 GPA to prove that I really wanted to get back and finish my 4 year degree, I finally received my re-admission letter from the University on Thursday. To say that I was relieved would be a gross understatement. I have been stressing about re-admission for the better part of a year, and it was great to get that off my chest.

To celebrate, my wife brought home a behemoth that atlas would have trouble supporting. In layman's terms, she brought home a Chicago deep dish pizza. My life was forever changed after that.
This will humble the mighty and swole the famished

This was my first experience with a Chicago style pizza, and it is one of the best experiences I have ever had. So good in fact, that after buying another 345 pound barbell set, I went back and bought another pizza to keep in the fridge and eat over the weekend. I usually can put away a whole pizza, but I struggled to finish 3 1/2 of these slices. I am ashamed.

This pizza binge set off a weekend food binge that looked something like this:

Needless to say it was a great weekend. For some reason I actually was 2 pounds lighter Monday morning than i was Friday morning. The metabolism works in mysterious ways.

As far as taking time off from CF to focus more on my lifts, it was a great decision. I have steadily been increasing weight on my lifts since I started following Rippetoe's method and incorporating some Westside Barbell programming in for good measure. I wish I would have started focusing on strength earlier versus focusing on a quick benchmark WOD time, but better late than never. I have a ways to go before I get my lifts up to a worthwhile weight that I consider great, so I will keep working on it and kicking it in the ass.

Front Squat-20 pound increase
Bench Press-10 pound increase
Press-5 pound increase

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Importance Of A Strong Posterior Chain and A Swole Belly

If I had a list of things that were of greatest interest to me, a strong posterior chain and a swole belly would hover somewhere in the top ten every time.

For those who don't know, a posterior chain is defined as "a group of muscles, tendons and ligaments on the posterior kinetic chain of the body. Examples of these muscles include the biceps femoris, gluteus maximus, erector spinae muscle group, trapezius, posterior deltoids, and so on".

As for a swole belly, that is simply defined as eating quickly, so quickly that your meal is already settled in your gut before your brain says "please stop", then continuing to eat at least two more servings of whatever was previously on your plate. A swole belly is best enjoyed after a heavy lifting session, preferably squats.

You will need a swole belly and a strong posterior chain to ride in the bear cavalry.

A wise man named Zeb (he is more of a hard-ass than his hard-ass name, with traps the size of Egyptian pyramids, do NOT cross him) once told me the muscles most useful for lifting are the ones your opponent sees while he is on the ground and you are walking away from him. Zeb was talking, of course, about the posterior chain. This would be in direct contrast to what 85% of what muscles most of the lifting community focuses on, which are usually the muscles people see the most, like biceps, calves, etc... Lets not forget about the 6-pack that everyone wants, "but most men don't have an ice chest to put it in". (Rippetoe)

The posterior chain is only useful in a few specific lifts, these lifts would be EVERY SINGLE LIFT. I can not think of a time when I wasn't using my hamstrings, lower back, etc... on any of my lifts, even the bench press can use the lower back and hamstrings if your feet are positioned correctly, flat on the ground, driving that weight into the ground and giving you a solid position to get that weight up.

I have recently started incorporating more posterior chain specific movements into my programming in order to increase my numbers, I have made the GHD, glute-ham raise, and good mornings my new best friends. These exercises will help me get the barbell to break the crest of my knee without hitching on the deadlift, and drive out of the hole on a squat. Do you really need any more reasons to work your PC? If so, leave a message in the comments.

Important to remember that a big, strong posterior chain will  not allow you to wear your old jeans, and you will be forced to wear lululemon pants, shorts, and boxers belong to a titan.
On to other important things, such as a swole belly. I try to achieve a swole belly at least twice a week, having a wife that loves to cook makes this easily attainable. You will know that you have achieved swole belly status when the thought of taking a deep breath sounds too difficult. If you are trying to put on weight, a swole belly is necessary at least 3 times a week, paired with a metric butt-ton of squats. I did GOMAD (Gallon Of Milk A Day) for one month combined with epic meals and I put on about 20 pounds, bringing my total weight gain to 46 pounds. I am 6' 5", so I consider this a bit of a feat, considering how many calories it takes for me to simply break even. You will have reached a whole other level if you achieve a swole belly and feel like you will explode and break your chair, only to be hungry and ready for another round 30 minutes later. Welcome to my level.

I leave you with some swole inducing photos, if you have some photos, leave them in the comments.

 Keep a pack of these in your back pocket at all times.

 Four fried avocados. Bully for me.

 7 courses, all containing beef.

 This burrito was literally the size of my forearm. It comes with an optional stretcher to carry you out of the restaurant.

This is what your fridge should look like in an ideal week, enough food for 4 or 5 days.