Over this past weekend I spent most of my waking hours in the company of one of the great American coaches of Olympic Weightlifting, Glenn Pendlay.
Pendlay brought his expertise to a USA Weightlifting Level I Coaches certification seminar sponsored by Peter Haas of Triad Barbell and CrossFit Downtown Winston.
The seminar lasted two full days: all day Saturday and Sunday. We spent a lot of time practicing and critiquing the teaching and/or coaching of the Olympic lifts (the snatch, the clean, and the jerk). Especially the snatch. Oh my god there was a lot of scrutiny of our coaching the snatch. It is fracking difficult. It’s hard enough just to attempt this complex and highly athletic movement yourself. Try coaching it, as a novice coach (not to mention, as a novice lifter). It’s doesn’t really even need to be said that nobody left the building having achieved anything above “beginner” status in that particular coaching skill.
Nevertheless. The weekend was totally fun and informative. And best of all I met a lot of cool people, and made some new friends. Including the venerable Mr. Pendlay himself. What a nice guy!
I haven’t heard anything official yet, but assuming I passed the damn test, I am now a certified USA Weightlifting coach, Level I.
That’s one of the strangest things I’ve ever heard myself say!
What does this mean?
For me, it doesn’t really mean a great deal. At least, not right away.
I’m 42 years old and I’ll probably never put 300 lbs overhead. And that’s not really my goal. And I have no plans to leave my day job in order to coach kids and young athletes towards Olympic dreams.
But. Still. I do believe that this is only the beginning.
My next step is this: I just need to get some damn weightlifting shoes.
And get into the gym for some more Weightlifting.
(And by “Weightlifting” I will evermore signify only one type of training: whatever builds strength, power, and technique in the snatch, the clean, and the jerk).
Friday 6:00 am I made it in to CFA for the WOD (thank God… having some trouble with my training schedule at present) for a third session of the week.
I wasn’t fully with-it (sleep, etc., the whole shebang) and yet I was present. I did OK.
Skill: Split Squat
Using a 20″ box, I did some sets of Split Squats. I worked my way up to some light dumbbells. I did not record the specifics, however, I am sure I did not use more than 15 lb dumbbells on my last set. Warm-Up: 4 x 4 each leg; Weighted: 3 x 4 each leg.
New Year’s Day WOD / Carolina Fitness Challenge 2010 Finals WOD, Reduxed and Remixed
See the CFA website for WOD details.
Basically, 2 rounds of: 1 min max reps Double Unders, Deadlifts (225 lbs), Box Jumps (24″), Kettlebell Swings (53 lbs), with 30 seconds between events, and a 2 min rest between rounds.
Not going to dwell too much on this WOD at the moment. It’s a good WOD. But it demonstrates some of my limits in a way that isn’t entirely comfortable for me or my ego.
My double unders obviously were sucking. It was the rope; I’ve been getting DUs lately. Recently I got as many as 18 in a row, during a WOD. This time I was fighting for single reps. It just wasn’t happening for me, that’s for sure. At one point, after the second round I guess, blaming the rope, I threw it across the room and cursed… not very gentlemanly or sportsmanlike.
I felt good about everything else… until I saw Tom Rehm’s numbers. Holy Fracking Keys to Hades that guy has balls. Tom: I love you! how can I be more like you??? He crushed me in every category. As I am sure he did back on Dec. 11th, too.
Still, there’s a lot to be proud of here. I love that I can do a bunch 225 lb deadlifts for max reps and not suffer too great a consequence the next day. Those deadlifts made my head spin! I love that I can rep out 25+ Kettlebell swings at 53 lbs consecutively in a 60 second period.
And I hate box-jumps, but mainly because of the persistent little aches and pains I have always seemed to be suffering from over the last two years that prevent me from really being able to unleash the beast on the damn things. As for pain, I am thankful that it ain’t my right lower leg anymore. Or rather, I thank orthopedic science and Corey’s manual therapy. But I do have nasty pain, especially on the left: my damn tendonosis on the left knee remains a persistent issue and now, I have this new (2 month old) painful -itis of whatever sort it is on the bottom of my left foot, at the base of the second and third toes.
Watching and waiting.
Tuesday lifting session at the Y, about 10:30 am. JZ put up with Child Watch. Thank you Jesus.
Better sleep? Not really but I tried. Definitely got my fast in the past two days and am feeling better about the diet.
Warm-Up: about 50 seconds on the Ergometer at full blast. Dislocates. Mobility. 15 push ups (full range, moving hand position on each rep). Deep squat hold. KB swings 53 lbs x 15.
Bench Press: 6 x 95 / 3 x 145 / 1 x 150 / 1 x 155 / 1 x 160 / 1 x 165 / 3 x 170 (1 rep PR, not 3 rep PR, since I got help from a spotter on reps 2-3).
Squat: 135 x 5 then 12 x 2 x 180 lbs @ 120s
Pull-Ups: on rounds 7-12 of the squat, I did max rep deadhang pull-ups (various grips): 6, 4, 3, 3, 2, 3; total: 21 (+4 from last Tue).
Feeling the love?
The briefest of records. Monday 6:00 am CFA. Poor sleep, better diet. I am trying!
Strength: Overhead Squat
OHS: 45×10 / 75×5 / 85×5 / 95 x 5 / 105×2 / 110×2 / 115×2 / 120xf / 120×2 / 125×2 (PR)
The fact that my diminutive coach, Shanna, put up 135 in this lift is NOT going to make me feel inferior. I SWEAR. God bless it.
WOD: “Can’t Stop”
Not gonna explain this here. See the CFA website for details.
Weight: 110# x 7 x 4 cleans emom w/ double unders in balance of time remaining; total score: 35 double unders.
Post WOD weigh-in: 190.5 lbs (!!)
My last body composition update was on Dec. 5th, 2010, and prior to that, the last time I posted metrics and measures of my body was on Nov. 21st, 2010.
The data I collected today, compared to the data collected on these dates, could be interpreted as telling the tale of a Christmas and Winter season of serious self-indulgence. Let’s look at the numbers.
||Body Fat %
|Feb. 6th, 2011
||14″ (flexed) / 12 1/2″ (unflexed)
|Nov. 21, 2010
||(less than) 6 mm
||(less than) 11.5%
||14″ (flexed) / 12 1/2″ (unflexed)
|Oct. 24th, 2010
I have laid on more than seven pounds since October (I also weighed in at about 180 in December). Some of this has been lean mass. I am sure of that. But that lean mass hasn’t shown up in my thighs or biceps. It’s possible that one might see little bit of growth in the shoulders, but it could also be just be an error of the tape. The noticeable, real difference is in the measure of my umbilical waist: 1 1/4″ increase. That’s fat! And my skinfold measure has clearly increased. Together, these two data points say one thing: I’ve been getting fatter! Not cool.
I worked hard to get lean, and a year ago, I weighed about 15 lbs less than I do today. True, today I am stronger, faster, and look better than I did at the start of 2010. But I am also fatter. And fat, my friends, does nothing for your health, for your strength, or your speed.
So. This is my decision: it’s time to reverse the trend of Nov 2010 — Feb 2011.
Numbers don’t lie. I’m going to post all the measures, every two weeks. Until further notice.
You can search all day, on your body, in your home and among your possessions, on-line and in the noosphere, and even in dreams or the land of your imagination, but you will never find an actual “reset button” for the soul.
Much as you might like to.
Myself, after many weeks of focusing, ahem, on other shit, I find myself, here at the start of the fifth week of my 17 week training window (“Spring Semester”), in need of a new beginning. A restart. A reboot. Where is my reset button?
From early 2009, more than two years ago now, right up until the end of 2010, I had a real sense of focus on my health, diet, and athletic training. But then, Christmas break 2010 came along, and I have to admit something: I’ve spent 7 weeks trying to undo some of the best habits I’ve developed over the past 2+ years. But I don’t want to undo those habits.
I want to retain my focus on training as a paradigm for health, longevity and the search for happiness.
Specifically, What Went Wrong?
First, I’ve been indulging myself in dietary terms. Diet No-Nos: a lot lot lot of sugar, gluten, and dairy. Particularly sugar and dairy: these are almost daily. The return of late night eating and concomitant loss of daily intermittent fasting. An alcohol soaked twelve days of Christmas. More fruit. Less veggies. The occasional meal of grain such as rice. Not taking my supplements or fish-oil. Not eating “normal meals,” but having too many meals primarily consisting of meat. Coffee late into the day.
Second, I’ve been ignoring my need for sleep. Sleep No-Nos: staying up past 12, even when I absolutely HAVE to get up only five hours later. Admittedly, this has mostly felt mandatory. Work-related. It’s been a difficult semester. But the loss of sleep has badly impacted my overall mood and body function and recovery, so it’s definitely a bummer.
Third, injury. No, No Running: I injured the ball of my left foot on Christmas morning during a long walk (6.1 miles) in my VFFs. One more training run after that sealed the deal. It hasn’t healed yet. I haven’t been running or doing my sprint training. It’s impacted my diet, appetite, etc. Negatively. Also my mind set. Tom Rehm, my podiatrist friend at CFA, tells me I have to baby this thing until it heals. I haven’t been properly working on the mobility, therapy, or other related issues for the injury to heal. FURTHERMORE, my left knee’s patellar tendonitis has been acting up fiercely ever since my SUP adventures in Maui over Christmastide.
Fourth, slacking on mobility and HTFU additional volume. No No-Nos: yes that’s right. I stopped following along on the mobility wod, and even where I have known issues that NEED WORK I haven’t been doing it. And while I still need to work on my capacity for basic body weight stuff like pull-ups and push-ups, I just haven’t been doing anything additional for these suckers.
Fifth, not keeping track of body metrics. Body Comp No-Nos: Finally, today, I took the measurements. It’s mostly good news, except that the evidence clearly points to an increase in body fat percentage over the past two months. What could be easier than just recording the data regularly? Yet I’ve been slacking, not wanting to look closely at what the results of a lack of focus are, on my body.
What’s Been Right? Surely Something?
Yes. Some things are ok.
First, stress from work is actually lower because I’ve been working harder. Go figure. So the sleep I’ve been getting is quality sleep. For what it’s worth.
Second, I’ve been lifting, hitting new PRs, and making it to the gym regularly. Not quite as regularly as I might hope, but I’ve been maintaining a training regimen.
Third, I have some simple training goals. I wrote about them a few weeks ago. And I am, more or less, working towards these goals. More on this next Sunday.
Fourth, the family is doing well.
Fifth, I’m doing new and exciting stuff, like hitting the Glenn Pendlay USAW Level-I certification next weekend in Winston. Learning new skills and driving myself to the next level. But especially because of such new stuff, I want to regain my sense of focus.
So, Matt, What’s Next?
Address everything! Keep up the good stuff, and improve the stuff that’s been slacking! There may not be an actual button to press. But often, I find, just looking squarely at the ways that my program has been softening helps me to refocus.
It’s also helpful to reaffirm something here. These changes that have come about recently have been necessary for me. It’s not difficult to see that one of the reasons why I’ve lost some focus is that I needed to direct mental and personal energy elsewhere. Outside of “training,” outside of obsession with this weird quest for health, strength, vitality, longevity, self-mastery, etc. So, if I am going to “reset,” I also can’t be looking to re-establish something that is past, but only to establish something new for the future.
Because I needed to change the way I was focusing on “training” in my life, I have done so. So I won’t address the concerns this has raised by changing back. I won’t, for example, create a big list of rules I promise to follow today.
I will, however, share some thoughts about what I hope this upcoming week looks like. First, in dietary matters, I hope I can return to my daily 12-16 hour fast. I feel SO much better, especially in the mornings, when I stick to this sensible and healthy way of eating. I hope also that I’ll eat a lot less sugar and a lot more vegetables and that I’ll take my supplements. Second, I hope I can get good sleep for all of the next six nights (Sunday through Friday) in preparation for next Saturday and Sunday, the Pendlay certification. Third, I hope I can get in a full three days of training Mon-Tue-Wed and a good session on Friday AM before the madcap marathon of lifting next weekend.
That is all.
Any advice on finding ways to reset or correct course when you find yourself drifting, that would be much appreciated.
Saturday, about 11:45 am, CFA Open Gym, lifting session.
Warm-Up; brief 200 m run; dislocates, mobility, rolling, push-ups, overhead squats; brief “Boz” snatch warm-up.
Snatch: I worked with Jamie Hurlston on this lift for about 30 minutes. Fun times. 3 x 1 x 65 / 3 x 1 x 75 / 2 x 1 x 85 / 1 x 95 / 2 x 1 x 100 / 3 x 1 x 105 / 2 x 1 x 110 lbs. No PR here (currently at 115 lbs), but a lot of fun just working on catching that weight as low into the squat as possible. I plan to work on the snatch every week for a few weeks, so long as I can get to open gym. I’ll be looking for a 120+ PR soon!
Squat: after last Saturday’s new PR I just wanted to get in 24 reps at a higher weight than my last work sessions (Jan 18, 2 x 12 x 160; Jan 22nd, 5 x 5 x 165). So: 8 x 3 x 175 lbs @ 120s intervals.
Good work session.
6:00 am CFA. By Thursday AM I was starting to feel that this week has been kind of lame. More realistically, I note that this was the third workout of the week, so nothing to complain of. I am still without a current, “enforceable,” concrete training or diet plan. I already know that goals I set out a few days ago were ill-thought out. What was important, today, was that I showed up. And that I did more than I did the last time this workout came up.
Warm-Up. The Usual.
Strength: Split Jerk practice. 2-2-2-1-1-1. I actually did:
4 x 45 (alternating legs); 4 x 75; 4 x 95; 2 x 115; 2 x 125; 2 x 135; 1 x 145; 1 x 150
WOD: 15 minutes of 2 C&J EMOM (Every Minute on the Minute)
125 x 2 x 2
135 x 3 x 2
140 x 5 x 2
145 x 4 x 2
150 x 1 x 2
Total volume: 4,170.
More than Grace. More than last time. Me: Satisfied. But. It’s still time for a “reset.” I need more.
Tuesday afternoon at the YMCA. A quickie:
Warm up agility sprint 1/4 mile at 5:39 pace dislocates push ups 10 chin ups 2
Bench: 45×10 / 3×135 / 3×145 / 3×155 (PR) / 3×160 (PR) / 3×160 (PR)
Deadhang pull ups: 5 sets @ ~2 min intervals: 5-5-2-3-2 (17, +3 from Sat), total elapsed pull-up time: about 9:30.