Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Taking Movement for Granted: Why Are You Training?

We've all ended up there. The tunnel. Somewhere after you hear "3.. 2.. 1.. go!" and when you yell time you slip into that place where your body just moves. Through all the dripping sweat and burning lungs, you get through the movements and come out a beautiful sweat angel on the other side.

The problem is, most people do just that. Simply get through the movements.

In a conversation with another coach during last year's CrossFit games, we waxed poetic about how so many of the athletes were doing chest to bar pull ups even when it wasn't asked of them. They had worked hard to make their default movement the hardest and best movement they could, so that if they ended up in The Tunnel, technical slips wouldn't cost them reps.

You're going to be hard pressed to argue with me that simply because you're not a CrossFit Games athlete, you can and should get through the workout with minimal concern for movement quality. What ARE you training for? Is getting through sloppy movement going to make you a better human being? Not likely. How you train is what you are.

We take movement for granted. Our bodies are meant to move and they can do amazing things if we ask them to.

So next time, instead of going into The Tunnel when the clock starts, ask yourself what you're training for. I promise you you'll still get a great workout in, arguably a better one, and your sweat angels will become even more beautiful over time.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Weight Class Rant

Last weekend I did my first honest to God strongman training session at Jon Andersen's Facility in Novato, CA. I had so much fun and can't wait to go back and watch my progress. I rarely get into a new hobby without intentions to eventually compete or perform, so naturally I've already started looking at competition events and weight classes:

On the National Association for Strongman website:

"We also provide Light and heavyweight classes for:
• Masters (40+) in the Lightweight (up to 231) and Heavyweight (232 and above) divisions only. There is also a 50+ and 60+ category added at nationals.
• Teenage (up to 200 – LW) 201 and above (HW)
• Women LW, MW, and HW. (LW- 140 and below, MW- 141 – 165 HW- 165and above)"

Dammit. Another strength sport that sees women over 165 lbs as capital-h Heavy. This is some bullshit.

Let's take a quick comparison of women's weight classes in various sports:

StrongmanWeightliftingPowerliftingAmateur BoxingJudoWrestling
Up to 14048 kg44 kg48 kg48 kg48 kg
141 to 16553 kg48 kg51 kg52 kg53 kg
Over 16558 kg52 kg54 kg57 kg58 kg
63 kg56 kg57 kg63 kg63 kg
69 kg60 kg60 kg70 kg69 kg
75 kg67.5 kg64 kg78 kg75 kg
over 75 kg75 kg69 kgover 78 kg
82.5 kg75 kg
90 kg81 kg
over 90 kgover 81 kg

There seems to be a lot of consistency in the lighter weight classes, but where things start to get all "what the fuckery" is when it tops out. 70 kg (165 lbs) seems to universally be seen as on the heavier end of things. Fine. But then you have powerlifting with three more classes over 75 kg. And boxing, a far more cardio intensive sport than powerlifting or weightlifting, has an 81 kg division. 

So weightlifting used to have an 82.5 kg weight class for women, but it was nixed (along with the 110 kg for men) to stream line international events. What was the discussion like in that room? 

"Let's get rid of the top end weight class. Bitches be dieting, anyway!" 

Or as my friend, Stevo, put it "there's no way an athletic woman could weigh over 165 lbs, right?" *bro five*

The world population is getting taller, its more common than not for daughters to be taller than their mothers. You see this in all industrialized countries, as shipping food from Venezuela to Japan becomes common, nutrition and the changing culture around it allows for taller people.

Then there is this body weight distribution I found:

I can't find what year this research was taken. What I'm seeing here is that for all age groups, when you make the super heavy cut off at 165 lbs, your basically lumping 1/3 of the population together and dividing the other 2/3 of the population into 6 different categories.

Here is one that just shows the weight distributions for the most commonly represented ages seen at national and international weightlifting events:

It's easy to see that at younger ages, the weight distribution skews a little more towards the lighter side. But it's still not an even split of the population to make the cut off at 165 lbs.

I tried to find some data on the international body weight distribution, but all I could find were charts of BMI, which doesn't help me as I think BMI is bullshit and we don't weigh in based on our BMI.

I'd say that it's obvious their standards were pulled out of their ass and unfounded scientifically. I don't care about some fabled mathamagician that came up with some formula that no one else could wrap their head around to create the weight classes. Either we're a world of dunces and no one gets math, or we're a world of dunces and got duped.

I'm betting on the latter.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The American Open: Aftermath

I'm not much of a resolution maker. But Jan. 1 is as good a day as any to restart posting my blogs. I spent last week finishing up a bunch of blogs to queue up to keep the momentum going.

So without further ado, here is a long needed blog post from the beginning of December:


It's apparently a miracle that I not only made it TO Dallas, but there were no delays to my flights. My flights were so on time I almost missed my connection. Thanks to fitness, I could run, gasping, from one terminal to the other.

There were over 450 lifters registered for the American Open this year. It will be not only the biggest AO, but the biggest national weightlifting meet ever. They had to break sessions down to A through D and even had three platforms going on day 1.

My fan girl moment: two time Olympian Kendrick Farris. 

I really didn't spend that much time in the hotel. I had friends and family to visit and hang out with. But  I heard about the craziness from those that were still competing.

For one, they initially had some risers to put the platforms one, but they were four feet tall. First, the refs wouldn't have been able to see the lifter and second, it would have felt claustrophobic for the lifter so close to the ceiling. So those were ditched.

You'd think that platforms on the ground that basically consist of plywood screwed together would be easy enough. But one of the platforms broke halfway through a sessions. Broke! They had to stop the session for close to half an hour to fix it, the athletes had to warm up again.

Jo Ann Aita, me, Max Aita. Thank goodness they were there to help in the chaos. 
There were several instances of the bar either being misloaded, sometimes on only one side, or a plate or collar falling off mid-lift, that necessitated fourth attempts. The computer program that was supposed to show the lifter, the following lifter, and the scores was usually frozen. And there was so much chaos in the warm up area that wrong names were called and clocks weren't going or weren't stopped because no one knew who was supposed to be up.

And from California representing F-U Barbell, Kristin Newman.
From California representing Arena Ready, Sarah Hopping. 

They had SOME of that stuff smoothed out by my time. Last session on the last day, after all. However, on three of my six attempts I was yelling at them to either "stop the clock, this isn't my weight", "start the clock, I'm just standing here" or some iteration of that. I mean, I've never been in a situation where I could start a lift before the clock even begins, does that count? I didn't want to take those chances.

Despite all of that, my results, though not as grand as I hoped for (only on 6 for 6 does that happen) continued my upward progression. In the snatch I missed my first at 74 behind, made 74, then made 77 as a friggin power snatch. (Fuck that squat shit.) In the clean and jerk, I made all three at 100, 103, and 106. A total of 183, five kilos over my last competition total of 178. And while missing my FIRST SNATCH is disappointing because I felt like I had the pull for 80+, the overall result still felt great.

Jo Ann, Diane, Sarah, me, Rob

Next up: Nationals in Salt Lake City!