Push Press and HPC/Box Jump Combo

6:00 am CFA workout this morning: Warm-Up followed by Push Press (5 x 45 / 5 x 80 / 3 x 110 / 1 x 140 / 5 x 145 (PR) / 5 x 130; total vol: 2,470) and round consisting of 10 HPC / 30 (20″) Box Jumps / 10 HPC / 20 BJ / 10 HPC / 10 BJ; time: 5:01.

The briefest of notes here. Gotta take care of kids now.

“Ninja D”

Ring Dips and BS

6:00 am workout at CFA today: Warm Up followed by ring dips (sets: 25 x blue band; 10 x red band; 10 x purple band; 5 x no band) and then Back Squat strength progression part III (80% max reps x 4 @ 180s) w/ 140 lbs: x 10, x 10, x 10, x 9. Respectable, and I will be frackin’ sore tomorrow.

Warm-Up

Prancing around, dislocates, mobility, cross chops (w/ 30 lbs, 10 per side), push-ups (13), kipping swings (12), front squats (10).

Ring Dips

Wanted to work on form and get some volume in the form of reps, so I grabbed first blue band (x 25) then red (x10) then purple (x10) then found myself kinda stymied on the no bands (x4, toed off for the 5th).

What lifts or movements DON’T represent a point of weakness for me?

Scratch that… trying to remain positive here. I will be sore tomorrow… and stronger.

Back Squat

Time for the part III of the strength progression, following up on sessions from Sep. 7th (part I) and Sep. 14th (part II). These were follow ups to my most recent Back Squat PR day on Aug. 30th (5 x 175 lbs).

80% (140 lbs) x max reps in 30s x 4 @ 180s: 10, 10, 10, 9

Good volume here: 5,460.

Comparing this to where I was over the summer, let’s see.

Nothing spectacular in this session, and no PR in any sense. Previous high-volume single sets of back squats include 12 x 150 (on July 14, 2010 (= 1,800) and 9 x 160 on Aug. 1st, 2010, (= 1,440). But my total volume today far exceeded those training sessions. So, let’s see where this leaves me next week, as I attempt a new 5 rep max PR of 180. That should be doable. And I intend to push ahead quickly thereafter into a new round of work sets.

Training and Nutrition Notes

I went to bed an hour later than planned (10:30 pm) but still got a decent sleep although I barely managed to rouse myself, at 5:35 am, from some of the deepest dream-states of the night. That is one of the problems of training early morning. I have been finding that not eating after the dinner hour seems to contribute to better sleep. I’ve always thought the opposite was the case but now I think proper sleep hygiene demands eliminating coffee during the “PM” part of the day, hitting the sack pretty early, and not bringing food still needing digestion to bed with you at night.

Today while training I began the 6:00 am session at hour 11 of what then became a 13 hour intermittent fast (7:15 pm to 8:15 am).

But I wasn’t COMPLETELY fasting. I’d hydrated well and I was hopped up on “Jack3d” and on 10g worth of “Purple Wraath” BCAAs. I noticed some flushing and burning in my skin, especially on the ears. This was actually the second time that had happened (it happened yesterday too but I didn’t want to mention it in case it wasn’t related to the product); so anyway… now I’m paying attention. Also, I continue to have problems with aftertaste. Artificial is artificial and there’s no getting around it.

On the other hand… when I say “hopped up” I mean it. Wow. It felt pretty good to be alive and in the gym this morning.

Later, I broke my fast with boiled eggs, bacon, and kale (going for lower fat and lower saturated/animal fat overall this week so I didn’t fry anything in bacon grease like I usually do) and had a shake of strawberries, raspberries, hemp-milk and plain plain 100% whey protein.

OHS and “Police Truck”

Today, at the 6:00 am CFA workout: Overhead Squat new 5 rep PR (110#) and 4 rounds of 10 overhead box step ups (20″/45# plate) and 20 double unders in just over 8 minutes. (Yes I did double unders, and about 3 single unders per double under rep.)

Warm-Up

Leaping and bounding, dislocates, mobility, kip swings (10), push-ups (12), front squats (10), cross-chops (25#, 10 per side); Boz overhead squat warm-up.

Strength: Overhead Squat

45 x 5 / 65 x 5 / 75 x 5 / 95 x 3 / 105 x 1 / 110 x 5 (PR) / 100 x 5

Volume: 2,365.

WOD: Police Truck

8 min. AMRAP: 10 overhead box squats, 20 double unders

Result: 4 rounds

I decided to do double unders, use a shorter, 20″ box, and go Rx’d on the weight. It was good. I went over by about 15 seconds to get my last double unders in round 4. That just felt right. I was slow and deliberate in the overhead box step ups… really feeling soreness in my shoulders and traps (in a good way)… residual pain from Saturday’s workout… while also making sure my form was exact on the step-ups. I had to take triple single unders (and sometimes more) between each double under but I did get a chance to work on the skill while working up a serious sweat.

Training Cycle Notes

This is technically week VII and by rights should be a rest week. However, I am feeling strong and motivated, and I took an effective break from WODs during my week V (the week of the Half Marathon) and went slightly lighter during the first half of Week VI. So I am exercising my right to revise my training plan. This is hereby declared to be a Week II, and I am also, hereby, deciding to go with a 5 week training cycle, with the fifth week being a “light” week (1 WOD and 2 strength sessions).

Nutrition Plan Notes

After the expiration of my “100% paleo” 30 day period, I still remain close to canonical Paleo — no sugar, no dairy, no wheat/gluten/grains, no legumes, no industrially processed seed oils, very few processed foods. But I have gone back to charting my own path: alcohol is ok (Fridays and Saturdays only), whey protein is ok (post workout), hemp and almond milk are ok (to mix with whey protein), etc. I choosing my own level of compliance based on my desire to experiment and play. I have also added supplements besides fish oil (vitamin D, and calcium/magnesium citrate, as well as probiotics).

I am also experimenting with two other performance supplements. I am fascinated by the approach of Martin Berkhan and so I am conforming some of my diet and training to his principles. I don’t follow a full 16 hour intermittent fasting protocol, but for the past month I have consistently attempted to get at least 12 hours of fasting per day (8:00 pm to 8:00 am). Now I am beginning to push that fast to 13 hours (7:00 pm to 8:00 am). I will continue to train in a fasted state, something that Berkhan really recommends; but whereas, when I was on 100% paleo I really did not consume anything before training, now I am taking Berkhan’s advice and taking a Branched Chain Amino Acid supplement (about 10g worth of BCAAs) before the WOD; and I am trying out a thermogenic energy booster pre-workout too.

I gotta say after one day that I DO NOT LIKE the artificial sweeteners in these products. The whey protein I use has no additives (at all) including no colors, no flavors, and no sweeteners. Mixed with water, it basically tastes like powdered milk. But the “Purple Wraath” brand purple lemonade flavor BCAA powder and the lemon-lime flavor “Jack3d” thermogenic are both too sweet and leave an aftertaste in my mouth for hours. I do not consume sugar, so these artificially sweetened products taste REALLY sweet to me. I am going to look into unflavored or unsweetened BCAA. But like I said this is an experiment and I am going to give it about 30 days and then evaluate how I am looking, feeling and performing.

That being said I felt pretty terrific during the WOD so, there’s that to consider.

Research Claims Paleolithic Man Ate Zone Diet

Kuipers et al, “Estimated macronutrient and fatty acid intakes from an East African Paleolithic diet” British Journal of Nutrition Online first printing Sep. 23rd, 2010.

The canonical “Zone” diet promoted by Barry Sears calls for 30% of calories from protein, 40% from carbohydrates, and 30% from fat. These Rx’d targets are subject to slight variation depending on individual needs, but according to Sears, the range of hormonally optimal ratios of protein/carbs run from 0.6 to 1.0, and higher levels of fat are acceptable for athletes and others whose energy expenditure is particularly high.

This paper, by researchers from the Netherlands, Britain, and America (the authors include Paleo-guru Loren Cordain) attempts to model a variety of hunter gatherer diets based on a database of available East African foodstuffs. The study argues that Paleolithic humans ate a diet that was composed of approximately 25-29% protein sources, 39-40% carbohydrates, and 30-39% fat.

Dudes, that’s the Zone.

If I were Barry Sears I would be jumping with joy today.

Fat Weekend

Belated weigh-in numbers. They weren’t so hot. This is one week after the Half Marathon, a week of less working out, and the reintroduction of alcohol to my diet.

Weight Measurements Sep. 25-27 2010
Weight Observed Body Fat % Implied Fat Mass Implied Lean Mass Comment
179 lbs 14% 25 lbs 154 lbs Saturday weight; Not a likely result.
184.5 lbs 15% 28 lbs 156.5 lbs Sunday night. Highest amount of lean measured.
183.5 lbs 15% 27.5 lbs 156 lbs Monday AM

Saturday afternoon I was lighter by far (and likely more dehydrated) than I had been the previous week. But after 24 hours of gorging myself on meat and potatoes over Saturday night and all day Sunday, along with the alcohol of Friday and Saturday, it looks like I might indeed have gained a pound or more of fat.

The official weigh-in for the week will be the numbers turned out on Sunday night, when I weighted my bloated, meat-stuffed body before bed.

These numbers are not reliable in any sense, and I think the data point will prove to be an outlier in weeks to come. The reason to choose the number is that it has the highest lean mass associated with it, 1/2 pound more than last week’s weigh in actually. However realistic that may be, I seriously doubt that I gained two pounds of fat over the course of the week. Indeed my observed weight dropped dramatically over the next couple of days.

The Saturday weigh in number has some claim to my attention too; but it suggests a loss of 2.5 lbs of lean and .5 lbs of fat over the week. I could see having lost that much fat, but not that much lean.

The trouble is that I haven’t seen that 14% number since Saturday.

Only time will tell where this is going.

Fun Morning: 5k distance work and Saturday WOD

Saturday I got up super early (i.e. 6:00 am) drank some water and got out of the house quickly for a rehab walking and sprinting session; one of my favorite old neighborhood routes, what I call the “Montford Crawl 5k.” Afterward I went to the 7:30 am CFA workout, amazingly, that worked out well, even though I was still in the fasted state.

The Montford Crawl 5k


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Protocol for my walk/sprint was as follows: 90 seconds of sprinting at the top of every 6 minutes, walking for the remainder of the time. The distance is exactly 3.1 miles.

I completed the sprints at minutes 0, 6, 12, 18, 24, and 30. I had to stop sprinting after 31:30 because of the extreme pain in my right knee. During walking, pain was minimal or absent.

The pain in my right knee (actually, top of outer shin, I think, is a better description of its location) is definitely still sharp and indicates clearly to me that I didn’t just hurt myself last Saturday, I actually injured my leg. Damn. I will see how it feels next week, when I repeat this workout.

Total time: 44:45.

CFA Saturday Workout

Warm-Up

Rolling out the legs, Cone jogging, Crawling, Dislocates, Mobility, Push-Ups (10), Overhead Squats (10), Pull-Ups (blue band, chest to bar, set of 10), GHD Extensions (10).

Strength: Hang Clean

Establishing a working 5 rep max today. I kept it manageable.

Movement specific warm-ups. Then 5 x bar weight.

Results: 5 x 75 / 5 x 95 / 5 x 105 / 5 x 115 / 5 x 120 (PR)

CFA Saturday WOD

5 rounds for time:
12 shoulder-press
12 toes to bar

Rx’d weight was 70% of 5 rep max. Mine is 115, so that meant about 80 lbs for the WOD, but, concerned about doing so many reps, I lowered my weight to 75 (65%). I could have gone lower!

Result: 14:05

Aside from some familiar problems with left shoulder tweak pain, this WOD was tough but doable. I powered through the first set of 12 but after that I really had to break down the sets. The last two shoulder press reps were real tests of endurance/strength. Fun times. I should be feeling this tomorrow (and Monday, too, I’ll wager).

C2B suck fest

I was 5 minutes late to the 6:00 class this morning, and my attitude was hovering just above 80% positive. What was wrong? Hard to say. Later, I think I figured it out: I got at least one hour less sleep last night than the night before. Touchy touchy.

Warm up

400 meter run dislocates mobility GHD extensions ohs push ups

That run kinda hurt.

Skill: Chest to Bar Pull Ups

Oof. My pull ups are flagging. Time for some more work with volume and bands at home.

Sets of: 4, 3, 2, 5 (reverse grip), purple band 2, red band 5. Chest was definitely not always “to bar” in a strict sense. Problem!

WOD: Cleaning House

20 power cleans (rxd at 80% of 5RM; I used 70%, ie 95 lbs)
400 meter run
20 C2B pull ups
For time.

Because I was only at 70%, I flew through the power cleans in one continuous set, and as a consequence got out the door before everybody else and finished the run first. That was fun. The rest was mediocre. Especially my pull ups, where I was struggling to put two reps together and got taken by everybody else. At least the run was less painful in the WOD than it was the warm-up run. In due time I will recover from the damn Half Marathon.

Time: 5:38.

Beyond 30 days of “100% Paleo”

I’ve been eating an 80/20 (or even 90/10) “Primal” diet for a long time; well over a year, in fact. I began eating what I termed a “flexible-Paleo-Zone” diet in August, 2009. And I’ve read and studied “paleo” ideas of nutrition during all of that time, becoming something of a nutrition nerd. In the time since I started this process, I’ve given up alcohol for extended periods, and I’ve eaten more cleanly than just about anyone that I know, on average. But I’d never gone, you know, 100%. While others had “suffered” through giving up every prohibited paleo food, I had allowed myself flexibility and compromise.

Coming out of this summer, I felt that something was different. Something made me want to start fresh again this fall. I wanted to cleanse myself, and so I decided that maybe it was time for me to try a period of super-strict paleo dieting.

So, on August 22nd, I began my 30 day cleanse, a period of “100% paleo” nutrition. The plan was simple: kick start my semester, disrupt any bad patterns of eating I may have set for myself over the summer, and force myself to be a bit more creative with my cuisine. I hoped that the end result would be to reinforce all my best primal instincts with regard to nutrition. Mission accomplished. I got all of that, and more in the bargain.

The Details of My “100% Paleo” Diet

My diet, like the plan itself, was pretty simple.

Completely prohibited: sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy, and industrially “processed” or “packaged” foods, i.e. foods with lots of ingredients or industrially processed ingredients. No seed or bean oils or processed vegetable oils high in PUFAs, or foods fried in them.

Encouraged foods: anything whole, unpackaged, naturally produced, organic, local, minimally processed.

I did a lot of cooking; I carried my lunches; I didn’t eat out too many times. I chopped a lot of veggies. I would start my day with veggies, and ate veggies typically at every meal.

There was one not-really “paleo” structural restriction I imposed on my eating habits, which was that I restricted my feeding period to around 12 hours a day, between 8:00 am and 8:00 pm. This is basically a very moderate and mild form of “intermittent fasting.” Because I train in the morning, usually at 6:00 am, this meant that I was training in a fasted state.

My diet was a low-carb diet, meaning that fruit and starchy vegetables were somewhat restricted, or at least not preferred sources of calories. I would estimate that my daily carb intake ranged and varied from 50 to 150 grams a day; I really don’t think I did more carbohydrates than this at any time.

It was a very high protein and high fat diet, meaning that I allowed myself to eat protein sources (meat and eggs) virtually ad-libitum, and frequently indulged in high-fat foods like coconuts, avocado, and nuts during my eating window, if I felt hungry. I would estimate that I regularly ate over 200g of protein and 200g of fat per day. Altogether, probably I averaged between 2800 and 3200 calories per day.

It was a post-Zone diet, meaning that, at every meal I tended to always eat a combination (not to say a balance) of protein sources (i.e. meat and eggs), carb sources (green veggies, roots, fruits), and fats (nuts, naturally occurring and rendered animal fats, avocados, olive oil, and coconut oil). My post-Zone eating pattern is based on the tweaking of Zone eating first advocated by Robb Wolf, who pioneered the transition from Zone to Paleo-Zone cuisine when he was the official CrossFit nutrition guru. Robb essentially advocated a higher fat, lower carb version of the Zone, but he continued (and continues) to recommend a kind of balance of macronutrients be consumed at every meal.

The only supplement I used was fish oil (usually a tablespoon a day, yielding about 5.4g of Omega-3s). The main processed foods I allowed myself were unsweetened non-alkali cocoa powder, coconut butter, coconut oil, and olive oil.

For breakfasts I would eat 2-3 eggs, a bunch of bacon (always nitrate free) or occasionally some other meat, sometimes some smoked salmon. I usually ate greens with my breakfast, sometimes as my only carb, other times balanced with some squash or sweet potatoes, and small quantities of fruit. I would fry things in bacon grease.

I would drink coffee with breakfast and afterward, always black, but sometimes flavored with some unsweetened cocoa powder. My goal was to stop drinking coffee after noon. I didn’t always stick with that plan, but when I did, I was grateful for the better sleep that followed.

For Lunch, it was usually leftover dinner meats and dinner veggies. Maybe some nuts, usually some olive oil, occasionally some coconut oil. Sometimes a piece of fruit.

For dinner, lots of meat (wild, local, grass fed, free range and pastured pork, chicken, beef, bison, salmon, etc.) some more veggies, such as greens, cabbage, broccoli, squash, asparagus, etc., and plenty of olive oil or other source of fat.

After dinner, before 8:00 pm, additional protein or fats, like coconut butter, cacao nibs, almond butter, nuts. If I felt like having carbs, some small servings of fruit. Then, lots of water and tea.

The Aftermath

I maintained my weight over the course of the month, which was my goal. But I think, at least my scale suggests, that I lost 1.5 pounds of fat and gained 1.5 pounds of muscle. I’d like to think that I’m looking better. And except for my crappy performance in the Half Marathon, which I won’t blame on Paleo eating, I think I’ve had a good month in the gym. Bottom line is: I like how 30 days of “paleo” made me look and feel and perform. I look, and feel, and have performed at least marginally better than I was performing on my “flexible-Paleo-Zone” eating plan.

During past periods of privation, I’ve planned elaborate and gut busting cheating sessions. And as dedicated readers of this blog know, I love to describe these orgies of excess. But there was something weird about this go around. I never wanted to cheat. At all.

Yes, I miss my drinks on Friday and Saturday nights, and alcohol will be coming back into my diet, though in moderate moderation. But do I miss sugars, grains, or dairy? Not really. Not enough to want them back, even in small quantities or in “moderation.” So, I won’t be rushing back to add cream in my coffee, I won’t be adding daily indulgences of dark chocolate, I don’t want my morning oatmeal… and those were the three main indulgences that separated my primal eating habits from the 100% paleo crowd. I don’t feel the need for beans at all. Maybe I miss corn chips… but no, I think not really. I guess I could see having a big cheat on the right Mexican or Italian meal.

And the thirty days went so fast… one blow-out carnivalesque cheat day per month now seems excessive to me. I think it’s enough to allow myself to have a higher carb day a few times a month (i.e. extra potatoes and fruit), primarily as a cyclic “re-feed” for training purposes.

I’d like to explain all these things in more detail but it’s 9:30, 8 hours before I have to get up, so it’s time for bed.

Bottom line is: you’ll see me out this Friday, at Highland Brewing Company, drinking a few beers, but that’s the only food with gluten I’ll plan to consume for quite a while. So, yeah, I’ll drink some liquor now and then. And one of these days I’ll blow it out with a big mexican meal and a pint (or two) of ice cream or a piece of peanut butter pie or an entire cheesecake. For old times sake.

But as I move on into day 32 of 100% paleo (tomorrow), I’m not really looking forward or back to non-paleo eating. Strict paleo is the new normal. It’s the new foundation.

Don’t misunderstand me. I don’t actually plan to stay at 100% paleo. To paraphrase Robb Wolf, I’m not making paleo into a religion here. The alcohol tells you that. I do in fact plan to allow a few, selected neolithic and processed foods and supplements — and these are or may be dairy based (primarily, I’m talking about protein supplements). I’m going to try cross-breeding the “leangains” approach to diet and supplementation with a paleo foundation and see what happens. That’ll be a new 30 day period. Starting… in a couple of weeks.

Stay tuned. Cause I’m always trying new stuff out.

Sincerely, yours truly, the N=1 experimental subject.