After a couple rest days (one with an easy 2.5 mile run), I got my act together to set out my new training program. While I am still a little beat up from the Regionals workout (specifically, the one that ripped my hands to shreds and apparently my biceps are internally about as bad as my hands are externally...) I figured I should be good enough to get after a new program. My hands have healed up so quickly, in fact, they are fully usable as of today. Insane. Proving once and for all I have Wolverine qualities (from X-Men, no the actual animal. He heals fast for those of you who don't know). To get things rolling I went out with a large group last night and did a crazy long sandbag workout that lasted us about an hour. perhaps not the smartest move Ive made but it was low-intensity enough to not beat me up too much. In fact, with a little pool time this morning I was feeling really good to go in the gym.
So, for the next two months I am going to be following a very straight forward strength program designed by a trainer I follow from time to time named Mike Robertson. A regular on T-Nation and a big name in Sports Performance, Mike has a very straight forward and easy to understand approach to his programming. My goals for the next four months are to focus on my greatest weaknesses (gymnastics) and get myself back to the basics in terms of strength. So, this turned out to be just about as perfect a program as any.
Monday - Run/swim. Tumbling/gymnastics. Squat focus strength.
Tuesday - Run. Rings/gymnastics. Press focus strength. Short MetCon.
Wednesday - Tumbling/Jumping/gymnastics. Mobility/Recovery
Thursday - Swim. Isometrics/gymnastics. Deadlift focus strength.
Friday - Lock-out focus strength. Medium/log MetCon
Saturday - Optional. Sports.
Sunday - Rest. Mobility/Recovery
The running, gymnastics, tumbling and MetCons are all my own additions to the program, and, I will be opting in strict pressing for the most part over bench pressing as I suck at that movement completely. For a more detailed look at this program, check out the article on T-Nation HERE. Robertson will be publishing the second month soon.
After these two months, I plan to put together my own program based on aspects of ones that have worked for me. The ulitmate goals here are to become WAY more proficient with all things gymnastics (especially muscle ups and handstand push ups), and get my strength numbers to new, much, much higher levels. In terms of goals, here is what I am expecting out of my training in the next 4 months:
HSPU - 5+ strict (current - 1)
Muscle Ups - 1 strict, 10+ kipping (current - 5 kipping)
Deadlifts - 550# (current - 500#)
Squat - 445# (current - 405#)
Strict Press - 200# (current - 181.5#)
Additional goals/focuses: Continue to learn what nutrition program meshes best for me and my training program at the time to more quickly see and feel results. Focus more on supplemental lifts to build stability and balance I have clearly lost thanks to my hardcore CrossFitting (I have very strong opinions on this that I have alluded to in the past, I have it in my to-write list as a separate article altogether). Condition on a regular basis as to informally train for my next big feat. Um. This leads me to my next subject. Many of my closest friends and such know this, so I guess this is the first official announcement: I plan to attempt an Ironman Triathlon this coming fall. As only i know how, perhaps always wanting to do too much to ever be incredibly good at anything, I am already looking into a nice, quiet Maryland Ironman I can jump into and do. It's been a goal of mine for a few years to do one before I turn 30, so, I have a little under a year to get it done! Following that fun, it's CrossFit 100%.
So, lot's of good info out there. I am sure more will be coming your way over the next couple weeks!!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
Well folks, yesterdays efforts marked the end of my CrossFit season. I came into day 2 sitting in second to last place and was excited for the two workouts facing all of us. Heavy deadlifts and high box jumps, then a crazy chipper, both in my wheel house. I knew that some crazy stuff would have to happen for me to make it on to the final day, so i just went into it all ready to give 100% each workout, and if it worked out, cool.
The deadlift/box jump workout started off with a bang and I felt very strong; but damn did those deadlifts get heavy fast! I ended up with a 5:08 time which was a pretty good one in my mind. But, our region is ridiculous, and that ended up giving me a 14th place finish (if I was out in NorCal, I would have gotten 5th!). This only pushed me down ONE spot in the standing, so, I would need some sort of a miracle to get down to the qualifying spots for day 3. Oh well, I would still go all out as only I know how and give the last workout every ounce of energy I had.
This is where poor decision making came into play and where my disappointment still today come from. I brought batting gloves to wear to help protect my hands (they were allowed), but for some reason I decided to not wear them for 100 pull ups, 100 kettlebell swings, 100 double unders and 100 overhead squats. I flew through the pull ups, getting off the bar second in my heat. The only problem was that I had tore both hands already around rep 70 and even paused about 40 seconds to throw some tape around the bloody mess. When I hit the KB swings I basically just fell apart. My hands were so destroyed that I couldn't get more than 4 swings at a time before the KB slipped right out of my hands. I had to modify how I held on to the thing so it wouldn't fly away and hit the competitor in front of me! My frustration was overwhelming; there was literally nothing I could to to make things easier. I got through all 100 reps going 3 at a time, re-taping my hands three times throughout them. Somehow I got through them and quickly flew the double unders. At this point I was so mentally drained I seriously had no idea how I would get any of the overhead squats. But i just kept pushing and pushing, doing as best I could. When time was called I had somehow done 45 reps. I walked away physically and mentally broken down. My hands were so torn up they went completely numb when I went to clean them out (top three most painful experience in my life by the way).
I ended up second to last in my region, a far cray from my goal of top 10, and while I am very disappointing in my performance (shoot man, two DNF's!), I know I'll be over it and back into my regular goofy attitude super soon. I think a break from crazy serious CrossFit is in order and I plan to get to work plugging all the holes in my game while getting outside and focusing on outdoor fitness throughout the summer and fall. I'll get into my new programming sometime in the next couple weeks when i smooth it out a bit, but for now, I plan to let these hands heal up a ton, and get out to the trails to run around every day!
This weekend inspired quite a bit of thought for me and I am excited for what this means in terms of what i write about, how I train, and how I teach. I plan to share all of this stuff as the summer progresses so be on the lookout for it all!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
Well crap. From a personal standpoint I completely failed on this day. With 30 total competitors in my group, I came in 29th on the day. Dead last on workout 1, got only 10 handstand push ups (needed 30, plus a 1000 meter row...), then botched my 225# attempt on the thruster. My 215# attempt was so easy and I went to the next bar feeling very comfortable; I cleaned it, squatted down and began to drive back up. The second the bar came off my shoulders i knew I was going to miss it. With the VERY strict standards they were keeping, I was not able to move my feet at all and when the bar came off my shoulders a little forward, I had no chance to recover. Oh well!
Tomorrow are two workouts I feel very good about and I have to tear them both up like crazy if i want a shot to make it on to the third day. Only the top 14 go to day 3 and I need to bring my A-game.
Besides my embarrassing performance on the day, it was so awesome! So many people working their buts off, even more people cheering everyone one, man oh man was it cool. I think tomorrow is going to be the most intense day of the three, so I am looking forward to it the most.
thanks to everyone for all the good luck wishes and following along. i promise to do better tomorrow, and I apologize for such a poor performance today.
Never Stop (believe me, I won't!), GET FIT.
Tomorrow marks the start of the Reebok CrossFit Games Mid Atlantic Regional competition. Three days, six workouts, a little over 30 dudes (same for women, and about 15 teams I believe), all fighting for only a few spots to the CrossFit Games in CA at the end of July.
I have yet to feel nervous, I am excited, I am eager to hang out with so many like-minded people and I am feeling pretty positive about my fitness levels. I have no idea what is going to happen out there, but all I o know as that when I hear "GO", I am going to do just that. I plan to give it my all, trust my training, trust my fuel, trust my body and push myself harder and farther then I ever have. That is what I enjoy doing, that is why I love CrossFit, and it fires me up to know that I will be surrounded by people who want the same thing.
I think the reason my nerves are so calm is that my mind has been elsewhere today (probably a very good thing when i think about it). Today marked the two year anniversary of my Mothers death and it has been overwhelming thinking about all the good she not only brought to me, but to so many people around the world. I have written about her many times on both this and my old blog, and I feel like I could write something new and positive about her every day. Today I will leave it at this: she is the main reason I push myself. For her, if you were not working towards doing the thing you loved with all your energy, you were wasting time. And if you were not smiling while you did it, you were doi g something wrong. This weekend I dedicate my effort to her. Through the pain and struggle of each rep I will relish the opportunity to feel so alive. I will be beyond grateful to be able to be out there, healthy, happy, moving, sweating, pushing myself to new limits around hundreds of others who desire the same for their lives. I am humbled by her every day, from the day I was born, to this day, 3 years after she has passed. So this weekend, and for as long as I live, I will continue to challenge myself, I will smile through and enjoy each and every challenge, and i will share my love and passion for this with as many people as I can.
To all you competition tomorrow, to those of you who competed last week, to the hundreds waiting to compete over the next couple weeks, to to everyone who pushes themselves to be better; you inspire me every day. You all freaking ROCK!
For those of you wanting to come out tomorrow and over the weekend to spectate, cheer and be totally blown away with how awesome these CrossFit events are, you;ll find the info below. I will be updating the blog each day with posts, pics and videos. And, I'll be posting to Facebook and twitter throughout the weekend. be sure to follow along even if you can't be there!
George Mason University Field House
4501 University Dr.
Friday - 9am-6pm
Saturday - 9am-6pm
Sunday - 9am-3pm
$10 per day or $25 for a full-event pass.
Never Stop, GET FIT.
So I mentioned yesterday about getting the handstand push up (HSPU) finally, here is how it all happened (this is going to be a bit of a geek-out post, just a heads up...:
First, let's talk about what was going on before yesterdays joyous discovery. I basically had convinced myself that i had fundamental inability to perform a decent HSPU. Talking with a handful of experts I had come to a couple things: try to engage maximal muscle use, and work on stimulating smaller muscles in and around the shoulder in case any of them shut down in the HSPU position. The first of these is that I would need to look at the exercises in the same way one looks at an overhead press. With the understanding of powerlifting I have, that means to poof the chest out a little bit, allow the back to arch a bit as to get the chest engaged enough to help the pushing action. While your body is no longer in the neutral position, you can basically just muscle through the movement, if you are strong enough. The second part was to focus on the muscles used for the movement, roll out all the small ones and hope that I could "awaken" them enough to help when I needed them. Both seemed like pretty logical fixes that made a ton of sense to me. But, both did not work in any possible way. As mentioned in an earlier post, if you had been there you would have had the same face of sheer confusion as i struggled with just about every hand position, kipping style and so on that I could. I was able to get 3 total reps out of about 20+ attempts. My mindset had basically become: "grind the gears" a little (attempt to get reps whenever I could) and just prey that something awesome would happen come Friday with the workout.
Then, after a few days of bombarding the Internet looking for any and every possible hint of help and advice (my boy Jim Bathurst's site Beast Skills was very helpful for little tidbits), I finally came across Carl Paoli's blog Gymnastics WOD. Carl is a gymnast and trainer out of CrossFit San Francisco that I met a couple times while living out there, and he has some really awesome pointers for people looking to get a bit better gymnastics skills. He posted up a handful of videos on how to improve some points needed for the coming CrossFit Regionals. The first two were on the HSPU and after watching the first one, well, it was like a freaking miracle. I hopped up tot eh wall and banged out 5 solid, smooth, comfortable reps. It was only a couple hours later that I got 6 reps with a 2-inch deficit, giving me an entirely refreshed sense of excitement for the coming event!
There was one main thing that he talked about that helped the most, but honestly it was the combination of three things, along with a realization about how the body works that got things rolling for me. First, he talked about alignment of the arms and where your hands should be positioned so that your body would be most efficiently utilized (rather than going crazy here, check out the video I link through to, it’ll explain it pretty well). Next, it was how to kip. I had been attempted to kip with a major jerk form the knee joint. Carl explains that this forces you out of a “hollow”, supported position very quickly and I found that the second I fall out of that position, well, I fail. So, I needed to be sure my kip was such that my hollow position was held. Well shoot, I actually forgot one more before the main point! This is where the head should be when lowered. Carl suggests to bring the head down so to create a tripod between it and your two hands, this allows a more stable base that again helps to keep the hollow position AND in turn, a stronger press. The final, and the most effective point for me was simply to tuck the chin. I had been focusing so much on looking at the floor (like I am in the picture above) and this basically was forcing me completely out of an effective position and zapping all power out of my body. The second I tucked my chin (and focused on those other points) I got them!
So, what did I realize on my own about all this? I had been focusing on replicating the overhead press for the HSPU and this actually turned out to NOT be a smart move! The overhead press is an open kinetic chain exercise, meaning your limbs are moving through space (you press against something hard enough that IT moves); while the HSPU is a closed kinetic chain exercise (you push against something so hard YOU move). These demand totally different things from your body. With open chain movements, it’s all about engaging more muscle; that is why a slight arch in the back and a poofed out chest on an overhead press is so helpful, you are using more muscle. In closed chain movement, alignment is king. If you are not aligned perfectly, you are killing your ability to move efficiently, you are draining power.
This closed and open chain movement concept, while learned in basic personal training certification tests, seems to have much deeper impact on how we function. And as a trainer I am always searching for new and improved ways to approach how to get better. This just makes sense to me, so much! It is also a pretty new concept to be taken this seriously by me so I am still in the process of understanding it at a greater level. Meaning: I am open to discussion. Moral of the story is twofold: when you feel like you just cannot do something, try to think outside the box a little. And, not every movement is created equal, even if it the same movement. This explains why some dude who can bench press 400 pounds can not do more than 30 push ups (by the way, it is almost always transferable the other way; a gymnast can translate his/her abilities quicker to a barbell than a barbell practitioner could translate to gymnastics). Something to consider very seriously: before trying to set a personal record on the power and Olympic lifts, perhaps try to perfect some of the main gymnastics movements first. You’re barbell lifts will benefit that much more from it.
Never Stop, GET FIT.
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