power trio

Monday morning at CFA, we did Front Squats and a wicked little three round trio of Kettlebell Thrusters, Sandbag Cleans, and Ball Slams.

Strength: Front Squat

Bar weight warm-up. Then 5 x 95 / 5 x 115 / 5 x 135 / 5 x 155 / 4 x 170 (fail on 5) . Volume: 3,180. This was done with a 3013 tempo (3s down, 0s at bottom, 1s up, 3s rest at top). The set at 170 was very weak. Also to be noted: these were power cleaned from the floor; at 170 I tied my PR for power clean. 170 x 5 would have been a new PR but it wasn’t happening today, from the floor, with tempo. Too much.

WOD: Power Trio

3 rounds w/ 40 seconds of work, 20 seconds rest: Kettlebell Thrusters (30 lbs); Sandbag Power Cleans (75 lbs); Ball slams (15 lbs); Rest.

Result: 147 reps.

getting stronger on Saturday

This week turned into an unplanned and not altogether welcome week of rest, but I was by no means inactive. Monday began with an extra rest day, Tuesday was an unplanned rest day, then I did a Wednesday AM workout. But on Wednesday afternoon I was dismayed when a virus laid me low (see my previous post); this illness managed to knock me out of action through Friday.

But I did get back into the gym on Saturday, from about 10:30 to 11:45 am. (I am blessed with an understanding family. That’s how I continue to manage to find time, here and there, to continue my training. Day by day. That is the only way! Where you find a window of opportunity, practice creative self-defenestration; this is lifestyle parkour).

Saturday’s Workout

Warm up 1000m row avg 500 split 1:53.1 1025 stroke rate 24-25. Mobility push ups (15) squat flexibility and reps (10) pull ups wide grip blue band (10) cross chops 25 lb kb (10xside)


10×45 / 5×135 / 1×185
6 x 4 x 190 @ 300s intervals. Volume 4,560 @ 95% of 5 rm. Compare to my recent review of my progress in the squat.

Pull ups

These were dead hang, done concurrently with the rounds of Back Squat.

7, 6, 3, 5 (reverse grip), 3 (reverse grip), 2. Total of 26, which is +3 from my most recent session.

I appear to be continuing to make progress in the pull-up. For instance, I saw in this workout my first set of 7 dead hangs in a LONG time. I am getting (much) closer to my goal of being able to do a set of 10. But of course, when I get that goal, I am going to be working towards the goal of being able to do MORE than 10. Hell yes.


At 6:00 am on Wednesday I showed up for the WOD at CFA (“Camel Clutch”).

This was after 3 days of rest. Sunday was a normal rest day. Monday was a planned extra rest day, which I took in preparation for doing an OPT assessment on Tuesday with Shanna. But Tuesday became an unplanned rest day after Shanna had to cancel. I just rolled with it, and noticed how full of energy and enthusiasm I actually was on Tuesday. It was like I could feel my body healing all its little rips and tears. So I was happy about it.

But Wednesday morning something did not feel right. Sleep the night before had been interrupted by children, etc., and yet, I felt more queasy than unrested. During the strength portion of the WOD I was unusually dizzy after my lifts. I tied my PR in the clean and jerk, which at least felt respectable, and yet wasn’t feeling at all psyched about the upcoming partner WOD, even though all three movements (Kettlebell Swing, Box Jump, and Burpee) are just normal, standard things that, although they tend to require high intensity from the athlete, shouldn’t be too intimidating. While “resting” between rounds I was astonished at my shortness of breath, dizzyness, and clammy sweat. While pushing through the rounds I was surprised that my stomach felt full of slosh (usually, my morning 16 oz of water w/ BCAAs after 11 hours of fasting goes right through the stomach in about 15 minutes) and that I was constantly near to puking. I thought I was working hard but found myself going slower and slower. For this crappy performance I blamed myself: too much rest, not enough conditioning lately, yada yada yada. Turns out that was a stupid, blame the victim (me) mentality.

After the workout I felt like crap and had great difficulty recovering… at all. My stomach hurt. I had no enthusiasm for my customary post-workout coffee. I had a breakfast shake. But later my stomach hurt. I tried to eat breakfast but it tasted funny. I didn’t want the food.

I taught my first class, and then found I couldn’t work, or even goof off, during my free period before the second class. I just closed my eyes and tried to rest in my office. Then I barely made it through my second class, and into the location of my lunchtime meeting, before I realized that I was shivering, aching all over, and completely nauseated. The flu!

I canceled classes and went home, got in bed, and tried to rest. Later in the day, my wife got ill with the same thing. Everybody is telling us this is the Norovirus; whatever it is, it sucks.

Strength: Clean and Jerk

Result: 2 x 1 x 85 / 2 x 1 x 125 / 2 x 1 x 145 / 1 x 155 / 1 x 165 (PR tie)

WOD: Camel Clutch Partner Workout

15 minute amrap of 12 KB swings (53 lbs), 8 box jumps (24″ box), 4 burpees. One athlete rests while the other completes 1 round.

Result: I got 6 rounds (i.e 72 KB swings, 48 box jumps, 24 burpees).

back on track (yes it’s that easy)

The data looks good today. And as a result, superficial as it is, I am feeling good!

In the past two weeks I have pulled my eating together, kept my training schedule up, and done well as a consequence. Eating fewer carbs, and returning to a near-IF schedule of eating, means I have lost a lot of water weight and bloating, and some fat too. And I retained or made muscle, I presume, since most of my measures (except flexed bicep) actually improved somewhat, especially the umbilical measure.

Body Measurements

Weight Observed

Suprailliac Skinfold

Body Fat %

Fat Mass

Lean Mass





182.0 lbs



21 lbs

161 lbs

34 3/8″

13 3/4″ flexed, 12 5/8″ unflexed

21 3/4″

46 3/8″
Feb. 6th, 2011

187.0 lbs

7-8 mm


21.5–25.8 lbs

165.5-161.2 lbs

35 1/2″

14″ (flexed) / 12 1/2″ (unflexed)

21 5/8″

46 1/4″
Nov. 21, 2010

184.0 lbs

(less than) 6 mm

(less than) 11.5%

21.2 lbs


34 1/4″

14″ (flexed) / 12 1/2″ (unflexed)

21 5/8″

47 1/4″
Oct. 24th, 2010

179.5 lbs

6 mm


20.5 lbs

159 lbs

34 1/4″

12 3/8″

21 5/8″

46 3/16″

saturday snatches

Saturday, Open Gym, 10:15 to 11:30 am. Feeling kinda beat up by the week, for some reason. Sleep has been shaky. I’ve also lost weight. Still, glad to be there.

Warm up: 1000m row: 1022m total; avg split: 155.9; average stroke/min: about 19; time: 3:57. Then, Mobility; push ups 15 ; pull ups c2b dead hang wide grip blue band 10

Snatch Progression

Neck press w/ clean grip 45×10; w/ snatch grip 45×10

Overhead Squat 45×10 plus deep squat holds on 1&10

Snatch balance: 5×45 / 5×65 / 5×85 (PR)

Snatch: 2×85, f on 3 / 3×85 stumble on 3 / 3x3x85 progressively better. Then 1×95 and 1×105 and ran out of time. Volume: 1,390.

Feeling ok about this. A good start to a long-term progression.

new back squat 1 RM etc

Had a fun session at 6:00 am on Friday at CFA. Best part was the return of founding owner/coach and my friend Randy Kite! For sure. So great to get to hug him and see him in person again. Welcome back Sgt. Randy, we honor your service.

Warm up was normal, maybe a bit more abbreviated than usual.

Strength Test: Back Squat 1 RM

Result: 5 x 45 / 5 x 125 / 3 x 185 / 1 x 210 (PR) / 1 x 225 (PR) / f x 235 / 6 x 190. Volume: 2,980.

There was plenty of rest in this “test;” we lifted according to a predefined plan of percents, etc. See CFA website for details. I was proud of my new PR, even if my buddy Tom Rehm left me in the dust with his 305. The Iron doesn’t lie. I’m stronger now than I’ve ever been in my life.

I’m going to make this new 1 RM into a new 5 RM by the end of April. And I’m going to start moving towards that on Tuesday with a workout of 6 x 4 x 190 (volume of 4,560 @ 95% of 5 RM).

Rowing Test: Max Calories in 60s

I actually did two rounds of this, testing out the effect of stroke rate. I was able to get slightly more calories on the second round, at a higher stroke rate. I wonder how I could have done with an even higher rate, and only one attempt.

Result: #1: 29 calories @ 26 strokes/min; #2: 31 calories @ 32 strokes/min.

Good day.

skinny white boy cleans

Hopped up on the Jack3d I made my way to the 6:00 am CFA workout, where I was pleased to see Cleans (heavy sets of 2) in the hopper, plus a redux of “Black Box in the Dark,” which the affiliate did last September, but I skipped (I was recovering from the Half Marathon). For details on today’s WOD see the CFA webpage.


Quick footwork, etc., drills, followed by dislocates, mobility, and calisthenics.

Strength: Cleans (Heavy Sets of 2)

Still don’t have proper weightlifting shoes. Won’t have them until my finances stabilize, either. Which might be a few weeks, that’s for sure.

I worked with Brian Cohen and we moved fast. After movement specific warm-ups at 45#, we did a few quick sets. I did not PR in the 2-rep range, but, as it turned out, I did PR in the 1 rep range.

Result: 2 x 95 / 2 x 135 / 2 x 155 / 1 x 165 (PR) (fail on 2) / 2 x 155.

I didn’t have a clear plan and didn’t know what I was doing really. I barely made it out of the second rep on that last set of 2 x 155. The session really got me riled up and I behaved kind of badly. I cursed, threw the bar down a lot, and even kicked the garage door, which hurt my right foot and leg quite a bit (the old break site was aching all day). It was stupid to get upset, since a perusal of my past efforts in the clean (on this blog, aka squat clean) clearly show that I really haven’t done as much with this movement as I might think I have. So later, I felt bad and had to apologize for my bad attitude.

I need to Front Squat and do the full Clean more often! It’s coming! But not this week.

WOD: Black Box in the Dark

Box: 30″. 3 min AMRAP of 6 ring push ups and 9 box jumps (30″ box). 1 min rest, 3 rounds through. Total rounds: 9. Fun WOD.

quick recap of squat progress

Quickly, I wanted to get an overview of where I’ve been lately with the Squat (aka “Back Squat”).

When I look at the data on this blog under the tag “back squat”, in order to compare what I’ve done since Christmas, 2010, I like what I see:

2/15: 8 x 3 x 185 @ 180s (volume: 4,440 @ 92.5% of 5 RM)
2/8: 12 x 2 x 180 @ 120s (volume: 4,320 @ 90% of 5 RM)
2/5: 8 x 3 x 175 @ 120s (volume: 4,200 @ 87.5% of 5 RM)
1/29: 5 x 115 / 3 x 175 / 5 x 190 / 5 x 200 (+10 lb PR) (volume: 3,050 / 1000 @ 100% of 5 RM)
1/22: 5 x 5 x 165 @ 120s (volume: 4,125 @ 86.8% of 5 RM)
1/18: 12 x 2 x 160 @ 60s (volume: 3,840 @ 84.2% of 5 RM)
12/24/10: 12 x 2 x 155 @ 60s (volume: 3,720 @ 81.5% of 5 RM)

I think is rock solid proof that I am on a beginner’s curve here. I am just beginning to learn this movement. Look at the way that I have progressively increased not only weight, and total volume (except on the max effort day) but also worked at a higher and higher percentage of my max. This is only possible because I am a total NOOBIE.

Concerning my squat technique…

Yes I use the “low bar” back squat technique, which I like, because it suits my frame and I can move more weight. I stand by Rip’s endorsement of it and you can kiss my grits if you disagree. Yet, yes, I will switch it up at some point to a “high bar” style to help me with my cleans and snatches. But for now I am first looking to hit 225 using low bar. And I’ll come back to low bar again later.

Yes, duh, all these squats are deep below parallel. Yes, I allow a bounce and I don’t care if you think that’s not right. I haven’t hurt myself yet.

No I don’t follow a particular tempo. I just try to stay in control. All concentric phases of the movement are executed at the maximum possible speed I can muster. Yes I breath deeply in and create core stability by pressing out my belly with the diaphragm (thanks, Corey Duvall, for that awesome tip).

I also don’t care if you think using a 5×5 or 3×5 would be more effective. Is this weird self-derived system working for me or not?

I’m not looking to be a power lifter or an Oly lifter, folks. (In any case, I do both power lifting lifts and oly lifts, so, WTF?)

I am looking for self-transcendence.

squat and pull-ups

Made it to the YMCA this morning, with JZ in Child Watch. Spent only about 40 minutes and got a decent workout in.

Warm up: ergometer for a couple of minutes, dislocates, mobility, push ups, deep squat holds.

Back squat: 5×45 / 5×95 / 5×115 / then: 8 x 3 x 185 @ 180s. Doubtless my highest volume day ever on back squat. I am encouraged. I should do a post that explicitly graphs out the “curve” of overload I’ve been doing on back squats. (Because, in truth, I’m mostly flying blind here; my plan for squats is: keep increasing the weight). It is worth noting that 185 lbs is my body weight and that not too long ago it was my 5 RM.

Pull-ups: 6 x max reps x deadhang, rotating through the various grips (mostly underhand variations) on the squat racks: 6, 6, 4, 2, 2, 3 (23, +2 since last Tue) these were done concurrently with the last six sets of squats. (Just could not get that 7th rep on the first set today. I look forward to getting it on Saturday. I think I can.)

Motives versus Goals

This is just a quick note. A lot of coaches and gurus say that athletes should have specific goals in mind for their training. An example of a goal would be something specific, like: “snatch my bodyweight” (in fact, this is one of my long-term goals) or “clean 225 lbs” (another of my goals).

Everybody who engages in “training” has different goals. Usually more than one. Usually a list of goals.

What drives me crazy is when one athlete or coach or fitness guru or random crazy blogger belittles someone else’s goals, or worse, a whole category of goals, as worthless, or pathetic, or subhuman.

It’s one thing to criticize a person’s goals because they are unworthy of that person. For instance, it’s possible that a 220 lb 6′ 3″ male CrossFitter with 10% body fat would not be setting the bar high enough for himself if he said one of his goals was to “deadlift 350 lbs someday.” I might criticize that goal. Or if a 5′ 6″ female trainee weighing 300 lbs with 45% body fat said she hoped someday to “weigh 200 lbs” I think it might be fair to criticize her goal both for a lack of specificity (i.e. 200 lbs at what body fat percentage?) and for a lack of ambition (if she wants to lose weight, I’d wager she can do better). But it all depends. I only said I might criticize. What really matters is the specific, individual personality. What is motivating the person?

And, whereas we might criticize a person’s goals once we consider their individual capacities and desires, it’s quite another thing to criticize a person’s goals categorically, saying things like: “nobody should ever want to lose/gain weight,” “it’s stupid to want to run a marathon,” “why waste your time with bench presses,” “you shouldn’t care how you look in a dress,” “only an idiot would do low-bar back squats.” Those kinds of criticisms are imperialistic; they seek to make the other person conform to your own identity and plan for yourself.

Before you criticize someone’s goals, either specifically or categorically, stop, and think: who is the person? where are they starting from in life? and what, by God, are their motives?

Goals are fine. They are destinations we want to reach. But unless they are unattainable, we can reach them. And if we do that, then what? More goals? Yes. More goals. When existing goals are reached, we need new goals.

But think about it. What drives us from point A (where we are now) to point B (where we want to go)? For that matter, what ever possessed us to select point B as a desirable destination in the first place?

That’s where motives come into play. Everybody has motives. Because, believe me, there is no intrinsic reason why I should want to have a bodyweight (or better) snatch. There is no intrinsic reason for doing anything. No goal is an end in itself. Why… do you want to run, lift, jump, climb, etc.?

“Because it’s there” is the ultimate cop out. It is the life unexamined.

Motives matter. The first person to question your goals should be you, And if someone else questions your goals, you should question their motives.

What motivates you? That’s the question that really matters. It’s your motivation that gets you up in the morning and pushes you through the process, through the work, through the training, and through the crap, to achieve those hard fought goals, and then, to select new ones. Be honest with yourself. What motivates you? A desire for life? a fear of death? a quest for health? immortality? fame? power? love? sex? pleasure? respect? friendship? virtue? union with God? The list of possible human motives goes on and on. But without some sense of whatever it is that is fueling the drive, both the chosen destination and the process will make no sense.

So, here’s a thought for you, you weekday warriors out there, here’s a challenge to your complacent wandering arbitrarily from goal to goal in this life: unless you have some inkling of an answer to the question of motive, you have no business setting goals. You might be better off sitting still. You might. I can’t be sure. Which brings me to my other thought, for you, you gurus and evangelists and coaches out there: unless you know and understand the individual seeker, and “get” his or her underlying motives for setting goals, you have no business getting in their business. Leave them to their goals.

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