Monday, July 29, 2013

Training Log, Stardate 20130722

Another great week of training. I'm getting stronger and closer to where I was before surgery, and hell, I think I have a chance of getting to where I was before burnout took hold.


Overhead complex day! Push press, push press, jerk. Worked up to 74kg of the blocks at SFCF, where I made one push press, missed the second, and made the jerk. Jerk was easy, my next complex should probably have multiple jerks, since that tends to be my weak point.

Then was my CFFB WOD, which I misread in a couple of ways:

8 rounds, 30 sec rest between rounds:
5 DB Thrusters (I read push press for some reason, did that), 35#
10 Russian twists, 25# (Each side was supposed to be one rep, but I did two twists as one rep)
15 KBS, 1.5 pood

Oops on multiple accounts. PP takes less time than thrusters, but I doubled up on the Russian twists, so I dunno.


Volume front squat day. 245 lbs for 4 sets of 3, then one set of 5. The fifth rep of the last set was excruciating, it was sliding off my shoulders and power purely by will and some loud noises. Next volume set gets to be at 250 lbs. Joy of joys.

DFu and I did our cardio abs, walking front rack lunges while the other does sit up wall slams, and then I finished up with 200 bandy good mornings. Pretty chill day for me.


Playing with power snatches. Seems that my shoulder is fine with supporting weight over my back, but the slight behind the head position that a full squat requires still PISSES OFF my left shoulder. I don't know if it's tightness or weakness, smashing and stretching don't do much, and it seems to be getting slowly slowly slowly better.

So power snatches it was. I got up to 63 kg for a double and stopped there. I've C&J'ed 93kg, so 93+63= American Open. No reason to push it too far too fast.

After a brief rest I did clean, two front squats, and jerk. Was successful at 85 kg, which is 5 kg more than my clean, one FS, jerk combo a couple weeks ago, but missed the jerk on 90 kg twice, once behind, once in front. Poop, no time for a third attempt.


Max effort back squat day. Got up to 320 lbs for a set of 2, then dropped to 255 lbs and got 11 in. I stepped under the bar thinking I should get 10, and am glad I could squeeze out one more than I planned. Then I did a push press/ pull up circuit. Three PP, then max pull ups. I forget the weight I used for the PP, and only got 4-5 pull ups each round. But hey, that's better than the max of 2 I had two weeks ago.

Cardio abs consisted of a 4 min front rack test: you hold two kettle bells in the front rack for 4 mins, squatting every 15 seconds. I had to put mine down three times I think. Then we did 30 second weighted planks, three rounds. No other conditioning, the week is catching up to me and I need energy for Prowler Friday.


Bro Sesh Time. I was benching for a 5 rep max while the guys did their 80% 5x5. I worked with The Wong, got up to 137 lbs for 5, I made three reps at 140 and Wong assisted me through the sticking point on the last two reps. Drop set to 110 lbs and got 9 reps. Feeling pretty good about that. Shoulder din't give me pain, but it is definitely weak.

We all did the CFFB WOD together, I did push ups instead of the thrusters since I feel I need more work there. This time, with normal Russian twists and push ups, and a 1.75 pood bell, I finished at 11:06. Push ups are hard for me but not cardiovascularly taxing, hence the faster time. Swings are kinda my thing, given my back side.

Prowler time. Today was a grinder, more weight, shorter distance, and vary the hand positions. Four rounds of about 20 yds out, 20 yard back with a different grip, then gym length sled pull. Good stuff. Followed that up with some bicep curls, dumbbell pull overs, lat pull downs, and shrugs.


Beginner and intermediate trapeze classes back to back. Despite some worn out lats, I high tail it over to SFCF to proctor open gym and lift with the Fu Barbell kids. I lift with teammate Andrea, just following what weights she takes. Being that my shoulders and back are already tired, I didn't want to push it too hard. In the future, I'll probably do my heavy singles after teaching powerlifting. I won't have anyone to lift with, but at least it will give my body a chance to rest and feed.


I didn't do shit. Damn straight.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Deciding on Your Attempts at Competition (Powerlifting Edition)

A couple weekends ago I hosted a mock meet for my Saturday powerlifting crew. It was a lot of fun and many PRs were made. Several people told me they loved the experience of being put on the spot to make a lift, with people watching and cheering for you. You can't replicate that sort of adrenaline rush in a normal class where you can take all the tries you want at the pace you want.

It makes athletes better by getting them to tune in to their mindset and body more closely. Even in this sort of situation, where there isn't much on the line, you all the pieces need attention.

One of the big stressors of new competitors is deciding what attempts to take. Today we're going to talk about choosing attempts for a powerlifting meet. I can't give you numbers, but I can give you points of consideration.

Opening Attempt

Usually you have to give your opening attempts for all three lifts when you weight in, which could be the day before you compete. The key here is to go conservative; depending on the meet, you are allowed to increase your starting attempt, but sometimes you cannot lower it. Think of a weight you can make for three on a meh training day. If you feel good during your warm-ups, increase it. If you've had to drop weight before the meet, it can be hard to gauge how your body will react as you try to reconstitute your weight.

Second Attempt

Now you keep in mind what your ultimate goal is. Is this for experience? Are you trying to qualify for something? Are you trying to win? To know what kind of jump you should make you need to have an idea of your ultimate goal.

The second attempt usually isn't the time to go for a persona record, but if you're feeling good, you can get close to it with the idea you break your past PR in the third attempt.

You also will call your jumps differently based on the lift. I know for most people, big jumps in the bench press are a bad idea unless you have time between attempts to hit an intermediate attempt off-platform. You have more wiggle room in the squat, and even more in the deadlift.

The exception to this is if this meet is your only chance to qualify for another meet and you have to hit a specific total. In that case, you might want to take a bigger jump in the squat, bench the best you can, and then deadlift what you must.

Third Attempt

You might think I'm going to say "go for broke" here. But this is your last chance at upping your total.

In the squat and bench, you're better off pushing the envelope *a little* but being more risk adverse to better ensure you're adding to your total with each lift. Like mentioned earlier, the deadlift typically give you some wiggle room for bigger jumps if you still need to make up some ground, so that's where I'd say "go for broke" if it's a matter of moving up in placing or making a qualifying total.

The Big Picture

The general trend is to let yourself take more risk with each attempt, and take more risk with each lift through the day. Powerlifting meets usually run all day, which can make or break a person depending on how they handle the long wait times between lifts. But as you watch the numbers fall out of the competitors, you can usually make more informed risks on your second and third attempts.

Of course, the main thing is to have fun and know you worked really hard to get to where you are.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Training Log, Stardate 20130715: New Program

Truth be told, by the time Monday came around, I still didn't feel recovered from Friday's hell session.


Back squats, five sets of three at 300 lbs, and if I feel it, do a set of 5 on the last set. I did not feel it. If/ when I feel ready to do a last set of 5, that means I can go up in weight next time it comes arounds. So I'll be at 300 lbs again.

After that was a shot at "Volkswagon 2.0":
- bench press (110 lbs)
- dips (red band)
- pull ups

My shoulders are still touchy at the point of terminal extention and my pull ups are still weak so it took me somewhat short of 23 minutes to finish. It wasn't a cardiovascularly taxing workout, but perfect for getting the careful volume I need into those areas.


Still feeling a little unrecovered, plus crazy sore biceps and triceps from Monday, I took my chance at a clean complex: power clean, hang clean, jerk. I worked my way up to 85 kg, and while I didn't miss anything, nothing felt quite right either. I really had to concentrate and work at 85, my first set was all over the place. It's like nothing was firing quite right, my movements were not smooth and coordinated. When my ankle nearly rolled during the 85 kg jerk, that made me decide to stay there for a few more sets and get it right. My third and last set was the best.

After I did a quick conditioning piece:
5 rounds
- 15 double KBS, 16 kg
- gym length dbl KB rack walk

I need more yoked-ness.


Body wasn't having it. I took the day off from training.

Note: I've had years of training in some capacity to know when I'm dealing with lack of sleep vs. general lazy malaise vs. actual need for more bodily recovery. I try to make sure that only in the last situation do I actually cancel my workout. Even in the case of less than optimal sleep for one night, I'll do SOMETHING. Even in the case of general malaise, I'll so SOMETHING, often with the effect that I gain momentum and finish what I started after all.


I used this as a make-up day for Wednesday. It's slated as only some bench pressing, no conditioning or accessory. A lighter day to let the rest of my body chill out. As such, having already had a rest day it's wasn't at all a stretch to do both my front squats and bench pressing, plus some accessory work thrown in.

Front squatted for a two rep max (270 lbs), followed by an 80% drop set (215 lbs) for as many as possible (9). Then bench press at 120 lbs for 5x3. Cardio Abs with The Fu consisted of 15 slam balls and 20 walking double kettle bell front rack lunges. Whoa, booty!


Bro Sesh Day! Since I already did the Highlight WOD, I just did my deadlifts. Two rep max (365 lbs, conventional) followed by an 80% drop set (290 lbs) for as many as possible (9). My belt left a wonderful bruise on my left hip, and pinch on my left lower rib.

Prowler time! 5 rounds, 50 yard sprint. First two with 50 kg on the rig, last three with 25 kg. I was shaking after it was all said and done, but not nauseous. I'm adapting! After teaching class I joined in with the guys doing 4x30 sec all out sprints on the airdyne. I kept looking over my shoulder before getting on the bike in hopes that Matt would show up to take me home and save me from that misery. Alas, he showed up right as I stepped (hobbled) off the bike after my last sprint.


Bachelorette party, fools! Hell no I didn't workout! But I did stick to diet, against all odds.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

What is it with vitamins and nausea??

I take a lot of supplements compared to most people I know. Partially because I had a great follow up from my WellnessFX blood tests with supplement and dietary suggestions that wouldn't break the bank.

Aside: my first set of consults after my first blood test didn't give me much to go on. The MD said I was doing everything write, and I should just make sure to drink more water and get more veggies into my diet. The nutritionist kept suggesting these specific supplements that were HELLA expensive. So I didn't do them.

What I take:

MORNING (after breakfast)
- fish oil equaling 3g of DHA + EPA (usually means 4-5 pills depending on brand)
- Optimum Nutrition Women's Multi
- 1,000mg of C
- 50mg Zinc
- 2,000 mcg B12
- 5,000 IU Vit. D
- Gaia Adrenal Health
- St. John Wort

EVENING (as far from dinner as possible before bed)
- St. John's Wort
- Kava kava extract
- Melatonin
- Gaia Adrenal Health

I can take all the evening pills in one swoop. But my AM pills, I have to break up into three doses. And I don't space the doses apart just right, or take the right combo together (still figuring that out) I get crazy nauseous. Like that stomache ache, mouth watering, body chills nauseous.

What the fuck, man?!?!?

I'm assuming it's the multi, so I make sure to take half the dose right after I eat, and the other one I try to take 30 mins later. The problem is I'm a spazbot and tend to forget that I still have pills to take until I've left the house for the day and didn't bring them along.

Who else has issues with this? What do you do?


I think it was the zinc of all things! Now I take the zinc and C first, closest to my meal, then divy up the adrenals, multi, and St. Johns later. No nausea!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Training Log, Stardate 20130708: Testing

This time with videos!


This was a rest day. I don't think I did much of anything? Hmmm... nope. Mostly recovered from the aerial class on Sunday and the trapeze class on Saturday.


Squat test day! Yay! I got up to 335 lbs for a single:

...and then I missed 340 lbs in spectacular fashion:

Following that I did the following Highlight WOD Wong put up for the Power Athlete Teams:

9 Hang power cleans (185/135)
10 Slam balls (40/20)
6 Hang power cleans
15 Slam balls
3 Hang power cleans
20 Slam balls
=> 4:54

Not as bad as I thought, though I haven't seen anyone else's scores yet to compare. 


Did some clean and jerks since they felt so good last week. My jerks actually felt better than the cleans! I worked up to 93 kg, the jerk felt like nothing, but the clean was a little shaky. I guess my legs were tired from the test and WOD I did! So I stopped there, as I don't want to chance doing any jerks from a subpar position just yet. 

I then followed up with over head squats. My shoulders are so tight and weak in that position, behind that head, I had to start at 15 lbs and work my way slowly up to 20 kg. 


Front squat max triple test! I didn't get much higher than I had in my normal squat sessions. I wasn't expecting to, which was probably a bad mental state to come from. So I made it up to 255 lbs for a triple (116 kg) and then did 260 lbs for a double but failed on the third. I put 116 on the record board, because the saying is, if you can front squat it for a triple, you can clean it. Since that seems to run fairly true with me in the past, I don't care to train or test anything other than the triple. 


I joined in on the UB coaches bro session. Trent, Alex, and Wong were all benching, since I already benched that week I did push presses from my make-shift blocks. Worked up to 3x3 at 65 kg. I think doing all the push presses is what's making my back and shoulders stable for these jerks to feel so great. 

After that we all did the Power Athlete Highlight WOD (see Tuesday). I joined in, but since I had already done it at RX, I decided to up the weight and do the cleans at 165 lbs and the slam balls at 30 lbs. Two of the cleans in the first round and two in the second round forced me down all the way into a squat. Ugh to standing all the way back up. This time I finished in 6:02 with the guys cheering me through my last set of 20 slam balls. 

As if that wasn't enough, Wong has sprung for a prowler from Rogue. We take it to an alley and do relay style 25 yd sprints with it, with three plates on. The prowler itself is 100 lbs, so that's a total of 235 lbs we were shoving up and down the street. First time in ages I felt nauseous from a workout. No way was I going to ask to do less weight than the dudes, though. 

They were going to break and do another team relay style prowler push, but I bowed out. I need to progress my way there, not jump in the deep end, if I want to make sure I keep my strength gains I've worked so hard for. 


Back to back trapeze classes! Staying for the second class was great because I got more time to work on the new skills from the first class and a chance to learn new tricks from the other students. But after two hours straight of trapeze work, my hands were pretty raw and I had half and hour left. I wasn't going to let any weakness show, so I kept hopping back up to practice things. 


Olivia's wedding. I didn't do shit physical. Damn straight.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Get Strong Without Trying

Maybe it's the crowd I run with. But whenever someone talks about "I wish my legs/arms/back were strong" the immediate response is "So do more squats/pull ups/farmers walks." I have to admit, I think like this too. But seriously, I work in a gym and I can only stand to do up to two hours of training a day, usually broken up between early afternoon and evening, before I'm all "enough is enough!!"

Obviously after shoulder surgery, I wasn't using my back all that much. But when I started up again, I did the normal things that didn't put too much stress on them: ring rows, dumbbell rows, floor press, rack walks, etc.

Here is my back, a couple month post surgery, after trying to work in as much back/ arm work as I can:

Not much to write home about.

Then I got cleared to go back to trapeze class. To say that trapeze is upper body centric is an understatement. My lats were sore for two days after my first class back. But the amazing thing is, for a 1.5 hour class, you just don't realize how much work you've put in until suddenly you can't hang onto the bar anymore.

Five trapeze classes later, and actually doing less dumbbell and barbell work during the week:

I didn't even realize the change happened until I looked at the pictures from last class.

So this is a sort of call to arms to think outside the gym. I'm lucky in the San Francisco Bay area that I have so many activity options at my finger tips. But most cities and towns have parks to play at. Physically demanding volunteer opportunities (think Habitat for Humanity). You just need the gusto to step outside your routine. Adult humans are terrible at that.

Stop worrying about being a beginner at something, learning is where the fun is and where change happens.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Training Update: Going overhead again and a new program!

Monday didn't turn out to be the celebratory day that I had hoped.

I was slated to attempt a 5x5 at 300 lbs. There were a few things working against me, but overall I felt great. First was traffic due to the BART strike, which meant I got to SFCF with 45 mins to get my squats in before class. I was still a little sore from the met-con I did on Friday, plus generally weary from the NEVER ENDING Pride parade on Sunday.

I probably should have waited. Did it on Tuesday, but whatever.

I got through three sets of five at 300 lbs before my powerlifting class starts. I was still breathing heavy and taking off my belt as I started to explain what they had in store.

I then thought it would be a GREAT idea to try to do the last two sets after class. I got through four reps of the fourth set and had to bail on rep 5. It's like my legs just disappeared. I uttered an "oh, shit" and launched the thing off my back.
My dear 300 lbs, it's like we've always known each other. 

It's time to start thinking about my new program, I guess.

Tuesday I did some front squat triples again at 245 lbs. My legs don't give a shit about that weight, but my back is being a damned shrinking flower. I'm actually not comfortable even trying to front squat more weight. I know that my legs could handle it, but what's the point if I can't keep my rack? To me, the front squat is a tool, not a end in and of itself.

I did some clean and jerks afterwards, just to see how my shoulders felt. They were tight, seeing as how that is the maybe third or fourth time to go overhead with a barbell since the second surgery. But I got up to 65 kg without feeling any pain, technical difficulties, or instability. I did tweak my neck, and I'm sure that's from doing quick movements I haven't done in ages.

Wednesday was a clusterfuck day. Back to back sessions starting at 6am, ending at 8:30pm, with a few hours break midafternoon. I opted to use that break to nap, read, and relax. Got back to the gym at 4:00 to do the Power Athlete Highlight WOD that Wong sent out. Didn't time myself, but got some sweet thigh bruises from the farmer's walks. Then took 20 mins to warm up and shoulder smash myself to snatch the empty Eleiko bar. Woot!

Thursday was a holiday. I didn't do crap other than eat and lollygag.

Friday Back to the grind. Started with testing my clean and jerk again, clean-front squat-jerk. Worked up to 80 kg, then backed off for three sets at 65 kg. Triples in the push press up to 60kg for two sets. After I taught class I did a quick 12 min AMRAP of 15 KBS, 10 PVC sit ups, and 5 push-ups. Full range of motion this time. Felt weak, but not sketchy. My push ups felt sketchy before surgery, so yay to that!

Saturday starts off with my trapeze class. I'm getting stronger and stronger there. I'm able to do more for longer. Perhaps next week we'll stay on for the intermediate class as well.

Later that day I so wonderfully locked myself out of my apartment on my way to work. No keys means no car. Cab it to SFCF, where friend who has a spare is also working. Teach powerlifting and to waste time until she is done, I take a walk to Lululemon in Cow Hollow. That was a longer walk than I expected. I checked a map later, three mile round trip. Ooof. That's a lot of milage on weightlifter legs.

Sunday Start with training a client in the AM, brunch with the beaux, and aerial circus class in the evening. Aerial ropes is much harder than trapeze, the different dimensions you have to navigate, and holding your weight on a vertical rope takes far more strength than a horizontal bar.

Seeing as this is long enough, I'll write about my thoughts on my new programming in another post.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Training Update: Deload and Picking it Back Up

Last week I had my mom visiting, and my body was feeling wrecked. Good timing, a chance to not be in the gym and spend it with my mom eating quite off diet. Getting tubby.

Monday I had time between teaching the SFCF Powerlifting class and taking the CPR/ First Aid class to do my single set of back squats at 300 lbs. Tough, obviously, but not terrible.

Tuesday was lollygag with the mom, some work.

Wednesday was work and more lollygag with the mom.

Thursday I had to take the mom back to the airport. To keep from being too depressed about that, I went to the gym earlier than needed, got my single set of front squats at 245 lbs, and played around with pull overs and rope climbing.

Friday I was back to my normal training. Thank goodness I had a weekend coming right after.

I started mid afternoon with back squats at 8 sets of 3 reps at 300 lbs. After teaching class I did the "highlight WOD" to start training for the Power Athlete Team Series set up by the CrossFit Football peeps. It was sad. Real sad....

8 rounds for time of:
6 front rack walking lunges (135/185)
6 plyo push ups
12 Russian twists (20/40)
==> 12:09 (it should take less than 10 mins)

Lunges, not so bad. Twists, not so bad. But push ups... I did normal ones because of my shoulders, and boy have they gotten REALLY FUCKING WEAK. Even in the first round I couldn't do all 6 in a row. But the silver lining is that it didn't feel bad. It didn't hurt. It didn't pull. No pinching. That a good sign to me.

After that I did a shorter one, three rounds of kettle bell walks and slam balls just for more yoked-ness.

I felt all of that on Saturday. Didn't stop me from going to trapeze, though!

Monday I'm back to my routine, trying for a 5x5 back squat at 300 lbs. I anticipate my legs will still be a little sore. Because of how my week is looking, I think I'll be doing my front squats on Tuesday instead of Wednesday, and hopefully get some clean and jerk action in after that, and the rest of the week will fall out from there.