CrossFit Opens 14.1

And we’re rolling…

This year, I’m gonna be a bit more general in the breakdowns of the weekly workouts, as I simply don’t have the time I did last year. Also, you’re gonna have to figure out 14.2 by yourself since I’ll be in NYC. 🙂

14.1

First of all:

All of the workouts in the Opens will be longer cardio-based workouts. That’s just how it is. There are also specific exercises and pieces of equipment that’re more likely to pop up, and we can already cross two of those off the list. Snatches and DUs.

One of the most important aspects of a workout like this weeks is gonna be pacing. Imagine you’re doing a “run for ten minutes test”, and I’m pretty sure you’re not gonna see anyone stop to take off their shirt or stop and catch their breath. The key is finding a good rythm that you can keep up for 7-8 minutes, then turn it up a bit towards the end. Nobody cares how quickly you move for the first two minutes. It’s all about the end result. A heart rate monitor is perfect tool for this. I recommend you use one.

Second of all:

This weeks workout is a grip killer. Mashing out your forearms with a lacrosse ball or your hands a day or two before doing it is probably gonna be a good idea. Also consciously try not to tighten up too much while doing the DUs. Oh yea about those – try to maintain a good posture throughout and avoid rolling the shoulders forward. Getting too comfortable in that position will set you up for some really bad snatches.

Thrid and final point:

Test the workout out at 75-80% as soon as possible. Rest at least one full day before doing it and make sure you’ve been eating well. Your other training should be easy during the Opens if you’re serious about giving it a shot. If you’re not, then you probably wouldn’t be reading this. 🙂

Oh and remember to have fun – there are about 200.000 participants and only about 200 at the Games. That means you have to be in the top 0,1% to get to the Games. If you’re not, you can still compete against yourself and friends – but don’t take it too seriously. After all it’s supposed to be recreation. 🙂

Have a great weekend. <3

I hate to admit this

This is really embarrassing for me, but I gotta put it out there.

It’s no secret that I’m big on simple, old school strength training. That just makes it even more odd that I’m only just finishing up Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training. Many years ago I wanted to get it, but got Practical Programming instead. Now I know that’s the wrong way to do it.

Starting Strength is really one of the first books you should read on strength training. But for some reason it’s a bit like the Bible – nobody has read it, yet everybody has an opinion on Rip’s teachings. Especially the “hip drive” part.

Rip puts it very clearly in the book though: the hip drive does NOT mean you change your back angle.

Instead of cueing “chest up” or something similar, Rip uses the hip drive. Why? Because an exaggerated chest up-position kills the power from the posterior chain. That simple.
You may not agree with the style Rip teaches the squat, and you may want to squat with a different (higher) bar position. That’s fine. I still believe you should read this book (multiple times) as it does a great job of explaining in detail the physics of lifting.

Something as simple as explaining WHY it’s safe to squat deep. Most people who train seriously know it, but if somebody you coach ask you why – you better have a better answer than “because I say so” or your coaching career is gonna be real short.

Rip has a reputation for saying “YNDTP” (You’re not doing the program) and being very set in his ways. I guess it’s got a lot to do with the retardedness of people on the internet. If one guy asks you if he can “run a little on the side” and you say “sure, you can run 2-4k on saturday at an easy pace” before you can drink a gallon of milk, he’s out there running 10k 4 days a week. Afterall, the basic program outlined in the book is not a “for life” kind of program. It’s an all-or-nothing assault on weakness and lack of bodyweight. Oh and Rip actually recommends that people with 20-25% BF control their carbs and eat a paleo-type diet WITHOUT the gallon of milk. The milk part is only for the skinny folks.

And you know what? It’s pretty good advice. If you can stay on a linear progression for just twelve weeks you’re gonna add 90 kg to your squat. You NEED tons and tons of calories to make that possible.

Starting Strength is not just a great book. It’s a great philosophy on how to approach strength training. Start off by going all-in on building a foundation. Disregard your abs – they’re easy to dig out again later. Keep adding weight and pushing your bodyweight up until you’re at ~20% bodyfat.

Stick to the linear progression as long as you can. Then dig deeper, eat more and stick to it a couple of weeks more. COMPLETELY exhaust the linear progression. Then reset and go at it again. Six months of basic barbell training is the best gift any training can give themselves when they’re starting out.

Everything is easier when you’re strong(er) and big(ger). Getting lean is easier, playing sports is easier, conditioning is easier and getting laid is easier.

What’re you waiting for?

Get the book here: Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training and get started. It’s NEVER to late to start over.

The challenge of the month

For many weekend warriors having a challenge to do now and then, can be a fun way to add a bit of competitiveness to your training. Just make sure they’re not too counterproductive. The 10000 Swing Challenge for example wouldn’t work well with pretty much any other training that month.

That presents a whole new problem.

Many of these challenges are of the “do X amount of work this month” or the variation “do x each day for a month”. For some reason though, these challenges are getting more and more retarded. Let me give you a few examples of good, sensible challenges:

  1. Drink 3L of water each day for a month.
  2. Eat a head of broccoli each day for a month.
  3. Spend 10 minutes a day with a LaX ball for a month
  4. Do (very light) extra work for shoulder health (ie 100 pullaparts a day for a month)

Just a few days ago, a famous movement guru created the 30/30 challenge. You’re supposed to spend 30 minutes pr day for 30 days resting in the squat position. This is absolutely idiotic. I simply cannot understand how anyone would throw such a challenge out on the internet. It’s been less than a week and I’m starting to see people complain about pains and aches in my Facebook feed.

squat

Resting in the squat position isn’t a bad thing – it’s actually a pretty natural thing to do. Thing is – our bodies are nowhere near their natural state. Very few people are actually able to do this at that volume safely (and without spending an entire day sitting down in 10s spurts).

The sensible version of this challenge would be: Squat for 30s today and add 30s a day for a month. And even that is a bit aggressive for me. What’s the rush anyways? Are you going to die and a month? The risk is way too high and the reward too low (12 months from now you’re not going to feel any difference at all).

Movement and quality of movement is a lifelong battle. We’re fighting off death every day and silly challenges like this draws on the collective ADHD of 99% of the fitness trainees today. How about spending 2 minutes in a full squat FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE?! See no-one’s gonna commit to that, because it’s not as sexy. But as a clever friend of mine once said “the door that opens every day is less likely to rust at the hinges”. Squatting for just two minutes from now on and out might just be the single best thing you can do for yourself.

And don’t even get me started on supposedly “serious” athletes doing this “for fun”. Make the goal the goal. Spend your time thinking about the goal instead. If a given stress is sufficient to provide an effect in tissue quality – it also takes away from your ability to recover. The body only has finite resources.

Other types of challenges provide a fun challenge (and some muscle soreness) but without being potentially injurious. One of these would be the “do max squat reps @ bodyweight in 5 minutes” that’s also going around the web right now. Or the more intelligent version of this challenge “do max reps at a weight that’s equal to 60 wilks pointsin 5 minutes”. Doing it with a weight directly proportional to bodyweight favors the skinny people and we want to be strong for our weight, not light for our strength.

Joining up with a small band of people with similar strengths and training goals and doing monthly challenges can be a great way to shake things up. Just make sure they don’t get out of hand – you don’t want overuse injuries. It’s supposed to be a fun thing.

Mobility and prehab type challenges are fine if they’re short and easy to do – they can help you form good habits for the future.

We’re not training for today or tomorrow and if you’re doing that it’s not training, it’s exercising.

Clearing up a big CrossFit misconception

Good old CF huh? You gotta love it. I know I do.

Read why here.

Crossfit though is a weird country of misunderstandings and self-proclaimed experts. Just like me. 🙂

Difference is, I’m right. I always am. 😀

One of the problems with CF is that nobody knows “what it is”. You can’t draw up a box, throw a bunch of stuff in it and decide that’s CF. Crossfit seems endless and HQ in particular isn’t afraid of exploring the boundaries of human stupidity with the Games programming. Today, I’m drawing up the boundaries of CF and along the way, I’ll explain why the whole world’s confused.

Here we go.

Crossfit is not a goal. CF isn’t defined as doing X. CrossFit itself is defined as that which optimizes fitness (constantly varied functional movements performed at relatively high intensity) (and over broad modal domains). whatever the fuck that means.

Crossfit is whatever Crossfitters want it to be because Crossfit is defined as a goal, not a process.

In essence, CF is whatever you think will make you able to perform constantly varied functional movements at relatively high perceived intensity.

CF isn’t weightlifting.

CF isn’t gymnastics.

To use a metaphor – CF is a vacation in Paris. Any way, any how. All you know is that you’re going to Paris – you have no idea if you’re walking, flying or doing somersaults all the way.

Oh and six packs. Don’t forget the six packs.

froning

To me this is silly. When competitions are merely tests of “fitness” without “fitness” being specifically defined, you essentially don’t have any idea what you’re competing in. Maybe it’s just me, but I’d hate to train 15+ hours a week only to show up at a competition to be tested in checkers or rollerskates or whatever the fuck Castro just pulled out his backside.

Another upside of “real sports” is that over a long time, they’ve manage to tighten up and sharpen their rules. CF being the sport of a thousand moves will need centuries for this process to take place and it’ll only get longer every time some genius invents wallball situps or some other ridiculous exercise.

Think of this: if CF regulated the amount of exercises allowed in competitions, but left it up to hosts to program it, they could write down very specific rules for each and every one of those exercises. There’d still be room for the “unprepared and unprepareable” or whatever it is.

Training ADHD is what it basically is.

 

On relative vs absolute strength

More or less every time people post something about strength on FB, you’ll see these two responses:

  1. You did 200kg at 100kg, and I can do 135 at 60, I’m stronger than you compared to bodyweight.
  2. You did 200kg at 100kg, and I can do 201kg at 125kg so I’m stronger than you.
  3. (this is actually 2A): If your house is burning and you have to lift a crashed car – do you think it matters how much you weigh?!

As always, the internet is retarded. 🙂

How about this question: “is it more weight than you’ve lifted before at a comparable bodyweight?”

Obviously bodyweight plays a huge role in strength sports – that’s why there are weight classes. Looking at weightlifting and powerlifting respectively, you’ll find that they use Sinclair points and wilks coefficient to compare across weightclasses. This is because a straight weight lifted/bodyweight equation favors lighter people. For that reason it’s always the weak skinny guys that want to compare lifts using that equation.

Absolute strength IS important. VERY important. A friend of mine recently said “there are no weightclasses in my sport”, which is very true. HOWEVER and this is really important:

Relative strength is by far the most important strength-related quality in sports.

Let me explain.

When I talk about relative strength, I’m not talking about a 45kg guy being able to do endless chinups. Obviously, that guy isn’t going to do a tackle worth mentioning. The other end of the spectrum though is the 200kg guy, who’s probably going to be too slow to get in position to tackle.

pullup

Relative strength is this: getting stronger while keeping your waistline in check.

For me personally, I’m closer than ever to hitting a 2x bodyweight squat. Did I get stronger? Actually no, I got weaker. I lost more weight than strength though. Because I was fat(ish) dropping a bit of weight has made me faster, even if I got weaker. Without a doubt.

Getting stronger relatively for me, is building strength, while staying lean. Unless you’re eating 6000+kcal a day, you’re not training for absolute strength, you’re still training to get stronger relatively. Even though you’re not a skinny twig.

Relative strength is NOT about being the skinny guy who can do a ton of bodyweight exercises. Relative strength, is about getting stronger without getting fat. For all except the absolute elite level lifters, this should be number one priority as it’s a great way to get to the Fame Boy Fitness Commandment number one “Thou shalt train to feel good”.

Train to feel good. Be strong and lean.

Three exercises you should never, ever do.

First of all, let me explain how I approach exercise selection. The most important part of an exercise is that it can be done relatively safe. That doesn’t mean there’s no risk involved at all, but the rewards have to exceed the risk by a huge margin.

Even if an exercise was the best thing under the sun, I probably wouldn’t do it if it involved a significant risk. I’m all about longevity and playing it safe.

While I do think you have to practice what you compete in (if you do), this post is aimed at the general trainee, who doesn’t compete. Competing will always include a certain risk – take for example baseball pitchers – their shoulders take a beating from all the hard throws. They still have to practice their sport though, so using physical training to counter the side effects of the throws would probably be a good idea.

Likewise, if you compete at CF, you have to do these exercises. Still, know the risk and program them intelligently.

  1. Box jumps forendless reps. Number one on the list because it does absolutely nothing you can’t get elsewhere yet it involvesFS_STOP_S.T.O.P__23399.1332884842.1000.1000 a significant risk. Bloodied shins and torn achilles tendons are the most common injuries. Cure: don’t do them, or stick to sets of low reps with ample rest.
  2. Kipping pullups: By throwing your hip into the movement, you place your upper back in a position it’s not strong enough to handle. There’s also a tendency for people to poke the head forward like a pigeon. Over time this exercise will wreck your shoulders. Cure: do them strict. Can’t? Get stronger, lose weight.
  3. Kettlebell high swings. As with the kipping pullups, pulling up high instead of stopping at shoulder height will often make people stick their head forward. Bad idea. The swing is a hip-hinge exercise and shouldn’t involve any pulling with the arms/shoulders. Doing a “swingpress” is even worse. Cure: Don’t do high swings.

What you have to ask yourself is “why am I doing this exercise?”, “will it get me closer to my goal?” and “can I get hurt doing this exercise?”. Adjust based on your answers. The three exercises mentioned are just examples.

Remember that “getting an injury” probably isn’t on anybody’s short list of goals, so try to make training as safe as possible for you and your clients.

On that note, have a great weekend. <3

Crossfit Games 2013

The workouts are out, and the Games begin in just a few short days. Though I know there might be a couple of Games-athletes among the readers, I also know all of the participants at this stage have coaches that (hopefully) know more about CF than I do. So instead of doing a post on strategy, I decided on doing a review of all the released events.

2013WorkoutGraphics_INDIVIDUAL_monday

Event 1 – The Pool:

2013 made it clear that swimming is also a part of CF. Personally I’m not a fan, but I’m a shitty swimmer, so that might affect my judgement. This event is gonna be hell on the shoulder girdle. Apart from my personal dislike of swimming, this event looks pretty good.

Event 2&3 – Row 1&2:

While the first workout isn’t that bad, rowing 21k is absolutely ridiculous. It will be extruciatingly boring to watch and will do absolutely nothing that a 10k wouldn’t do just as well. Maybe with the exception of killing the hip flexors of the athletes completely. This kind of workout is the reason so many people are making silly jokes about CF.

Event 5 – Zigzag sprint:

From the look of it an obstacle course type of event. I like this even more than I liked the obstacle course last year. The only problem last year was that ex-military Americans had a huge advantage. This year’s obstacle course fixes that. Great event.

Event 7 – Naughty Nancy:

Running and OHS is a classic CF couplet. This one has a lot of OHS, but looks like a solid CF event. I wouldn’t want to do it myself, but within the framework of CF, this is actually a good one.

Event 8 – C&J ladder:

Ladders have become a stable at the Games because it’s hugely spectator-friendly. The clean and jerk works very well for this type of event. Considering the very limited amount of weightlifting in the other events, this wasn’t a huge surprise. I hope they make it heavy enough. This is by far the highlight for me so far. I really like that they didn’t throw something silly like DUs or burpees into the mix. Thank you Castro!

Summing up:

With the events released so far, it seems like CF is taking a step away from being “WL+gymnastics” which has been the direction for the past couple of years. Going to a less barbell-centric and more all-round movement competition format unfortunately also means that the athletes will be able to specialize even less. I like to watch specialists, because they’re so good at what they do. I know this makes CF the wrong “sport” to watch, which is probably why I rarely watch it. 🙂

For CF as a “sport” I like it – there are more hits than misses for sure. Hopefully they’re not gonna add tons and tons of barbell stuff for the TBA-workouts, though a nice complex would be good. The bootcamp style workouts appeal to me, as they’re easy to watch and understand and bypass the subjective judging. The less judging an event requires, the less room for mistake. There are also very few downright silly events. No softball throw and no medball toss from GHD. Nice.

Though I wont be able to watch much if any of the Games this year, I’ll be checking the results to see how Copenhagener Frederik Ægidius performs, but also to see how my bearded brother Lucas Parker does. Even though he hasn’t replied to my email, I still love him. <3

Have fun out there and enjoy the games.