Friday, July 29, 2011

Making gains

I know it's been a while since my last post, but not much has come up. I've just finished the strength building phase of my training, and am now making the transistion to developing power. In the mean time, I am making HUGE gains with technique. Angie said that she wished there was video of me when I first came to class so that she could compare it to what I'm looking like now. It's like day and night, I'm now keeping my back tightly packed and am keeping my chest up. This improvement in posture has helped eliminate my shoulder pain (it's now been over a week and I haven't felt a thing, pretty amazing!) I'm also now starting to squat like an Oly lifter, butt almost touching the ground, back tight. Angie says I need to start working on bouncing out of the bottom, but I worry about losing core tension and that affecting my knees and back.

At Oly lifting class on Wednesday Angie commented that I'll soon start lifting more weight then I ever thought possible. That has me really excited.

I haven't weighed myself in a while, have no idea if I'm still at 194 or have gained even more weight. I've noticed my legs are looking bigger, more powerful. I also feel that I look bigger, but that may also be an effect of having much, much better posture (shoulders back chest out).

It may seem blashomy for the Paleo diet, but I've been taking Myoplex right after my lifting sessions. If I don't I won't have anything to eat until like an hour after my workout and that is way too long.

Really, really interested in where this training takes me over the next month!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Body Transforming into an Oly Lifter

So it's only been like two weeks since starting the Olympic lifting training, and I'm already seeing a difference in my build. Going from crossfitting 5 days a week to lifting three has lead to a roughly ten pound increase already, and when I look in the mirror I feel like I'm starting to look a lot bulkier, heavier. According to my fiancee I now look like I'm going to rip open the sleeves of some of my polo shirts with my biceps. Obviously, no complaint here. The bulkier look goes against what I'm trying to look like, but I'm going to see this training through. It's only six more weeks until the meet, can't change myself that much. And, hopefully this increase in strength will stick around, I could really use it. Regardless, what I'm learning with technique will def stay with me.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I've been doing it all wrong.

I know that lifting with my legs and not with my back has been an issue for me. I know that my core strength hasn't been what it's needed to be in order to keep up with my leg strength. But the other day I saw this picture of myself, and it concerned me because of the horizontal striations in my back. I've been told that this is indicative of lifting with your back, and it's a bad thing (obviously) because you're using the weaker stability muscles around your spine instead of the larger muscles in your hips that are designed to move things.

When you lift properly, your lower back should develop into something that looks like a Christmas tree, as shown by this body builder pic. Since I've started this oly lifting program, the main focus for me has been to keep my back tight throughout. To be honest that's almost exclusively what I've been working on. Everything flows from keeping the core tight, and it's pretty much all I've been working on for the past two weeks. I have the other mechanics down, other than the shrug at the end of the snatch (it's still eluding me). I'm worried that I'll mess my back up, and I'm realizing how all of my shoulder problems probably stem from poor posture and that means I'm not using my back muscles. I sit in a chair all day for work, and I've always known I hunch over the keyboard, but it's been such a hard habit to break. Well, now I seem to have the motivation to break this habit, I find myself straightening out my posture all the time (have typed up this whole post with my shoulder blades squeezed).

I don't want a bad back, I want a healthy back, I want to be able to lift heavy weight with my legs, I want to be able to do this stuff when I'm in my 50's. You could say that picture really has scared me straight.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Gyms don't get the idea behind Subbing out exercises

Back in the day, when crossfit was done by pretty much only people who were already in really good shape, Glassman (I think) came up with the idea of subbing out 4 pull ups and 4 dips for every 1 muscle up. The idea behind this was to provide incentive to work on getting a muscle up, which was a pretty tricky movement at the time. This 4-for-1 model was designed for people who have no problem with dips or pull ups, the only thing that was stopping them from getting a muscle up was technique, not strength.

Sadly, the crossfit community seems to be unaware of this notion. Instead, they just see the 4 to 1 ratio for subbing in excercises you can for those that you can't. Can't do 10 pull ups? Then do 30 jumping pull ups! Can't do 50 double unders? Do 150 singles!!! Just blind substitution without really thinking about the context of the client will lead to frustration, pain, and possibly injury, like one girl who's first wod involved a large amount of jumping pull ups and it lead to a slap tear.

When the client is new to exercise don't sub out a 4:1, 3:1 or even a 2:1 without considering what effect it will have on the client. If they can't do a double under because singles are a challenge, just do a 1-1 substitution, or even assign half the number so you don't push them painfully past their limits. If the client can't do a double under but that's because they don't put in the time to practice and can do ten minutes of singles straight then sure make them do 5 singles for every double. My point is every client is unique, and thus the programming should be unique as well. But people see the 4 -1 muscle up sub and just figure it's a good idea to do it to everything and everyone. This really saddens me because trainers have the posibillity of hurting their clients or at least make them miserable. "Punish" those that are capable of handling it, help those that can't.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Trying out Oly lifting

So it seems that I'm now in full on Oly lift mode. I've got my three workouts a week, and on off days I'm only really going to do stretching and mobility work, maybe do a light wod or two. ...It's odd not to workout 5 days a week, and I know I'm going to lose all that I've gained from lactic threshold training, but I'm hoping to see some real strength gains here, and that's more important than the other stuff in my mind, because after a week or so I'll be back into "crossfit" shape.

...I'm a little surprised at how much I feel like I need to defend myself in choosing to do something other than strict crossfit for two months. I guess because this is a crossfit blog is part of the reason, but to be honest I think it comes from knowing crossfitters who are extreme to the point of zealotry, and that doing anything other than crossfit is a mistake. What I do know, in my three years of doing this, is that strength is great for crossfit, and most crossfit programming will not take one to snatch 1.5 bodyweight, or clean and jerk 2 times body weight (especially if you started out really weak like me). Another reason, if I'm perfectly honest with myself, is that I'm a little bored with crossfit workouts, and I think this will help shake things up. For the first time in a while, I'm really excited about working out. This training program is all fresh and new to me, and a little scary as well.

I watch a vid of myself snatching something like 55kg three times the other day, and while knowing how difficult it is for me, the weight looks very unintimidating. There are those, especially in my weight class, who are working out with much, much heavier weight. It can be a bit of a downer knowing how weak I'm going to be when compared to the competition, but I really do try to focus on the fact that I'm doing this for me, not to win, but for me to try to work on the Oly lifts for two months and come out of it with a much stronger base both in the physical sense and in the knowledge sense.

I want to keep trying new things, and this Oly lift compeition feels right for me.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Done with Swimming, on to Oly lifting

So Wednesday was the last day of swim class (though I didn't know it at first). We ended with a time trial of 100m, and I was a shade under 1:20. The first time I did it about six weeks ago it was 1:21, so there is some improvement. I should note that my back was very sore from doing 100 pull ups on Monday (did Holbrook, something like 23:31) followed by max number of pull ups on Tuesday (a paltry 20, my hands were all kinds of screaming at me). I don't like making excuses but I feel like it should be put on the record.

My first 50m was all kinds of awesome. My lane is next to the fastest swimmer, and for that first half I was actually ahead of her. The instructor said I did the first half in 35s, so on route for a 1:10 time. However I started breathing every stroke instead of every four strokes, and finding that moto to keep pushing was a little tough (it was hard to muster the popeye theme song that day).

But those first 50m were awesome. ...There are times when I'm running, and suddenly I'm able to kick it up a notch. I start to really, really move. Everything feels balanced, and it's easy. All I focus on is how awesome it feels to move quickly, to feel the wind blowing through my hair (back when I was sporting longer hair). I can usually keep it up for until I have to change direction, and usually it's near the second half of a run so it's not like I'm all fresh. Anyway, it just feels... right. It feels like fun, it feels carefree, like a game of tag, it definitely does not feel like work.

And that's how those first 50 meters felt. I wasn't flailing/drowning, I had learned enough technique so that I was pulling myself through the water, wasn't crossing the midline, kept the neck loose, and was kicking kind of hard. I was a torpedo, and feeling the water flow past me was awesome. Every time I brought my head to the side to breathe I saw the wake I was creating, and it made me feel powerful, made me feel fast. I was breathing every fourth stroke, but I didn't feel like I was forcing anything.

Obviously, things changed during the last 25m. My muscles were gassed and I was having a hard time pulling myself through the water instead of paddling, if that makes any sense. I was trying to figure out what to do to regain focus, but obviously that meant I really wasn't focused, and it showed in my time.

Coincidentially, today was the first day in training for the Oly weightlifting meet Crossfit Rise is hosting eight weeks from now. Our Oly coach Angie has set up three workouts to do a week for the next four weeks. They'll work on building strength. Then the following four weeks will be devoted to working on power, so we'll be lowering the volume and raising the weight. So it looks like I'm trading in my speedo for a singlet.

The only issue I have with this is that it will cut into my crossfit workouts. Honestly I don't care about not crossfitting (I could be wrong on this), but I don't want to miss crossfitting with Kristin, especially just when we started crossfitting together. Working out with her is awesome, and I don't really want to lose that right now. We will see what happens, but right now it's an issue I'm having trouble resolving.

Moving on, it's nice to train like this for a competition. It's hard to train for a crossfit competition because you need to work on so many different things. But for an Oly lift meet, you know exactly what to expect and thus can be much, much more focues on training. Like Angie's plan will have us peaking on our 1 rep max the day of the event. That is some pretty awesome stuff right there. I've never felt this way in training for a crossfit competition becuase we're always working on strength and speed and double unders and wall balls and lactic threshold and whatever else there is. I also really like the focus on technique and quality over quantity. This is an enviroment where it's ok to let go of the bar when lifting in sets of 4 reps, where you take your time and reset for each lift, trying to make it perfect. It's so my style it's not even funny. Now if I can only figure out how to balance this with crossfitting with Kristin I'll be a really happy man.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The pain is gone

Ok, so for the past 5-6 months I've been dealing with shoulder pain. Come to find out, it's tight scalenes that have been pulling on my shoulder. Meeting Bobby my massage therapist, we figured out I was tricep dominant and that was causing the tightening up of the scalenes. Well even with that knowledge I would still end up with shoudler pain. Even with the stretching and massaging the collar bone area, I would still have either a lot of discomfort or just straight out pain in my shoulder. I knew one cause was sleepling on my side. By resting on my shoulder, I would end up throwing all the muscles out of whack. So I would try and sleep on my back, but I would still find myself waking up on my side, and everything Bobby had done had been undone.

I finally figured out that if I placed a pillow under my knees that would keep me from rolling over in my sleep, so that would prevent a lot of the pain. But even after seeing Bobby, I would still have some pain. I stretched and stretched, but finally I figured out how to self massage with a tennis ball on my neck (hint, use a doorway). I've found a couple of knots, worked on them (soooo painful) and for the first time in a long, long time I can say that I'm shoulder pain free. It's been this way for a while now, so I feel safe in posting about it. I'm super glad to have this figured out (for now) because that means I can now turn my attention to my hip pain, which seems to stem from a tight psoas. I've been stretching it and trying some self massage, but I don't think that in itself will cut it.

Regardless, I am so happy to have beaten this thing. My body keeps throwing obsticles at me, but I keep outsmarting it, wait, massage, and end up beating it. Crossfit really can lead to injury if you're not putting in any effort into mobility and recovery, and for me it's been a long, long road, but one that I'm glad to go down. It makes my accomplishments feel that much more significant.

She said Yes!!

So a while go I proposed to my girlfriend and she said yes! Obviously, this is awesome. However, she upped the ante and said she wanted to start crossfitting, despite her experience with it three years ago. She went and attended the ramp on sessions, graduated, and now we are crossfitting together!

The other day she said she may have caught the crossfit bug, and today she said she was excited to go to crossfit! Crossfitting with my fiancee has been better then I could possibly hope for. I used to occasionally feel like crossfit was my mistress, this love of mine that took time away from time with my gf. I would see all the other couples in CFOT working out together, and I was always a little jealous that they shared such great experiences together. But now, now I get both!

I enjoy crossfit, but it is so much more enjoyable when you do it with some one you love.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Clean and Jerk in Oly class

My hammies were still not quite right from Murph, but I managed a 90kg clean and jerk. That's about 198#, I then tried 208 #, went for a proper clean (not a power clean), and had to really force my way up the squat. That, in turn, gassed out my legs for the drive in the clean. Had a very half-assed attempt, and bailed.

The next step is to try to learn how to bounce out of the bottom of the squat.

In late August Crossfit Rise is going to host a Mid-American Weightlifting Championship & Roger DeGarmo Memorial meet. This is a sanctioned USA Weightlifting meet, and their oly lifting coach has a program for us leading up to the meet. This is kind of a dream come true for me right now, I get to Oly lift while still being in a crossfit gym.

There is only one thing that would keep me from doing the training for the meet instead of the crossfit WODs, but I'll talk about that tomorrow.