monday single support deadlifts and three amigos

I was in on Monday morning but the perennial left shoulder pain I’ve been experiencing was a limiting factor in both the Warm-Up (two reps of K2E and I was DONE) and in the WOD, and the strength portion was the dreaded single leg deadlift. Not my finest hour.

Single Support Deadlifts and Ring Rows

Alternating sets:

SSDs: 5 sets per leg at tempo 3211: @ 95 lbs: 6-6 / 5-5 / 5-5 / 3-3 / 3-3.

Ring Rows: 5 sets at tempo 41×2: 5 / 5 / 6 / 6 / 6.

Two minute rest between rounds.

I was lousy at the tempo, probably spending 50%-100% too long in the eccentric phases. Lousy at pacing myself through these things. Took rests that were too long.

We last did single support deadlift on Nov. 10th 2010 where I did a much more respectable progression up to 125 per leg. But today, the damn tempo was forcing me to keep more focused on form. How come my form felt worse, though? Maybe I just had a bad day.

WOD: “Three Amigos”

We last did the WOD “Three Amigos” on Dec. 1st, 2010.

This WOD consists of 30 seconds work, 30 seconds rest, three rounds of: Ring Dips (red band assist), Overhead Squats (45# bar), Ball Slams (12 lb bouncing medicine ball). In December I clocked 170 reps, with an average number of dips of over 15 per round, an average number of OHS of over 16 per round, and an average number of Ball Slams of 25 per round.

This time around, Ring Dips (top line of picture) averaged just 11 per round. That damn shoulder was really acting up, getting super painful in the second and third rounds, but also preventing me from getting my 20 reps in the first round. Overhead squats felt awesome to me during the WOD but turned out to be just under the average I set last time, and the high number of reps I got in the final round last time (18) put my workmanlike 16-16-16 of this time to shame. Only in the Ball Slams did I see improvement, but not enough to make up the difference in scores: Ball Slam average this go round was closer to 27 than 26, and my high round of 28 beat my high round of 27 from last time. That is what I wanted to see throughout! Oh well. Can’t win them all. Total score: 161.

Shoulder Pain

I have to figure out what to do about my damn left shoulder. It sucks. The last time I explicitly complained of left shoulder pain was back near Thanksgiving, four months ago, but the truth is it’s been bugging me on and off this whole time. Mostly off. So when the pain is limiting, as it has been lately, that sucks. I had a brief flare up of pain in my right shoulder in December, but that seems to have gotten better on its own.

Back in October I had Corey help me with my left shoulder, and I was doing some light shoulder presses. That might be the key. I’m not sure. I’ll have to look into it and ask Corey what he thinks.

friday lactate session: “Toxic”

I felt good about being at the 6:00 am WOD on Friday: 6 rounds of 90s max effort: 250m row, 10 x 72 lb. KB swings, max reps burpees. 4:30 rest between rounds. During rest periods we alternated between 5-6 reps of eccentric ring rows or ring dips.

fastest row: maybe sub 0:44; slowest row: about 0:50; highest number of burpees: 4 / lowest: 2.

Also, of course: about 18 ring rows and 18 ring dips.

I worked so hard during these 90s work intervals that I about messed myself, repeatedly.

wednesday squats, lunges, wall balls

Wednesday morning I showed up for the 6:00 am workout. We had a good session of back squats… nothing radical but nothing to sneeze at. Then a simple, six round WOD of wall balls and walking lunges. Not quite a lactate session burn out, but good and hard.

Squat: 4 x 135 / 4 x 165 / 4 x 175 / 4 x 185 / 4 x 195. Volume: 3,420. The heaviest reps were not consistently good. The tempo here was supposed to be 3-1-x-2.

WOD: 6 rounds of 30s max rep wall ball (20 lbs), 30s max distance walking overhead lunge (45 lbs). 2 minutes rest between rounds. Result: approximately: 75 reps / 150 ft.

one of the many benefits of fasting

So, on Tuesday of this week, a rest day, I had an appointment with my physician, Dr. Joshua Bernstein, to do my annual physical exam and get my bloodwork run. I’ll report back in a couple of days when I get the results of the bloodwork and talk about how it compares with my last two reports, in 2010 and 2009. By the way, if you live in Asheville, I’ll put in a plug for Dr. B. Bernstein is a mensch; his approach to health, diet, and fitness is mainstream but no-nonsense and he quite apparently practices what he preaches, which is basically moderation and self-discipline. He’s athletic, lean, and seems to take care of himself in terms of diet, lifestyle, etc. I admire him. And although he is at best cautiously approving of the changes in my life that have been wrought by CrossFit and the Paleo/Whole-Foods/”Clean” approach to eating, at least he doesn’t give me shit for focusing on meat, veggies, and fruit in my diet. Duh. Anyway, that’s not what this post is about, it’s about the fact that, in order to prepare for the inevitable bloodwork that goes along with these sessions, I spent about 22 hours without eating, i.e. I fasted.

Regular readers of this blog know that I am, theoretically at least, a fan of fasting. In my everyday eating habits, I regularly use short duration “fasting,” aka “intermittent fasting.” Whenever my I.F. is “on,” I spend periods of 10-18 hours fasting every day. When I am being good and doing my daily intermittent fasting, I go without food from after dinner time or evening snack to either breakfast or lunch the next day. Also, I do my workout in the morning in a fasted state, except that I do use BCAAs before and sometimes after fasted training, per Martin Berkhan’s “Leangains” approach.

(There are times when I stop my I.F., and that is usually during periods where my sleep becomes really compromised by the demands of family life and work; in those cases I allow myself a bedtime snack and/or eat first thing in the morning; I still don’t eat before workouts though). I find that I.F. helps me stay lean and lets me get away with eating a wider variety of “paleo” no-nos including relatively small amounts of sugar and dairy (i.e. little bowls of ice cream) without giving room to overindulgence and binge-eating the way I used to.

Anyway, I have also had great experiences with longer periods of fasting, from 24-36 hours or so. These fasting sessions usually make me feel really good. But before this week, it had been months since I did a full day’s fast. I had been happy with I.F. and had not felt the need to do the extra work of self-discipline that it takes to plan and execute a full 24 hour or longer period without taking in calories. So I used the impending blood-test as an excuse to do a full day’s fast. Bloodwork should not be done, we are told, except after a minimum 18-hours of fasting, anyway. So I planned to go in to have the test with closer to 24 hours of fasting.

On Monday, I had my last meal in the hour before 4:00 pm, right after I finished my day of teaching (it was mostly fat and protein: I snacked heavily on chicken salad, almond butter and coconut flakes). And after that I had only water, and then, in the morning, plain coffee, until 2:00 pm when I went to Dr. B’s office. I had been fasting for about 22 hours at the time. And I didn’t manage to get a meal in me (a hot-bar takeout smorgasbord of spinach, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, broccoli, cabbage, chicken, and roast veggies) until 4:00 pm or so; so I spent a full 24 hours fasting.

I felt awesome throughout the period of the fast. I slept fine. On Tuesday I was energized and, although I was a little extra groggy in the first part of the day, I felt extra clarity and verve in the afternoon.

There are many physiological benefits of fasting, of that I have no doubt, the biggest of which is probably the fact that periods of not-eating can directly contribute to weight-maintenance or loss (this is the basic insight of Brad Pilon’s book, or diet theory, Eat, Stop, Eat). But for me, one of the more interesting benefits is psychological.

Psychologically, fasting helps me put food and eating in a better perspective. It is a great psychological boost to one’s efforts at self-discipline. The longer the period you spend without eating, drinking only calorie free water, tea, and coffee, the more obvious it becomes that we really are in control of what, where, and when we eat. Not eating won’t kill you. You can skip meals. You can choose when to start eating. And when to stop. And you can choose what to put into your body.

When I am coming out of a fast, I don’t crave “fast food,” or “crap”. I crave the foods that I consider healthiest; in my case, that’s meat and veggies. The point is that fasting puts you into a psychological framework of heightened awareness about your food choices. By choosing not to eat for a defined period of time, you increase and strengthen, going forward, your capacity to choose more carefully what to eat. In other words, not eating contributes to a healthier diet. It helps to renew and restore your self-discipline with food.

This is just one of the many benefits of periodic fasting. But it might be my favorite. It makes me realize again why fasting really is such a powerful spiritual tool.

Thus, in the future, if anyone asks me, “how can I lose weight?” or “how can I get control of my eating habits?” you can count on me to say something about the role of fasting. I would probably prescribe a three month protocol, with a 24 hour fast done one time in the first month, two times in the second month, and four times in the third month, combined with light I.F. throughout (10-12 hour daily fasts, i.e. 8-10 pm to 8 am).

monday map

Monday morning I made it to the 6:00 am class to do the WOD at CFA, where I was pleased to find another round of Shanna’s new style programming! These workouts emphasize training for “MAP” (which means training for “maximum aerobic power”), and stem from her recent certification with OPT. The basic idea is that an athlete should be cycling through different styles of workouts in any given training period (e.g. a week), moving from shorter intense “lactate” sessions to longer, less intense “aerobic” sessions. It’s common sense really but isn’t explicitly embraced by “CrossFit” in general. For us it basically means keeping our short and intense workouts on most days but adding in some longer days with less of a drive for maximum output in terms of reps, rounds, or weight within the time frames or cycles specified. I won’t bother to list the details of Shanna’s fairly elaborate workout here (follow the link above for a full explanation of the WOD) but will list the components of the workout and the weights, etc., that I used.

Sumo deadlifts and Sumo deadlift high-pulls: 75 lbs. Agility course (big and small tires, agility ladder). Running: to the best of my ability, practicing pulling those heels up and getting into a forward leaning “figure 4″ pose; I was glad that my foot didn’t act up too much. It’s getting better! Rowing: usually about 800m, at about a 1:58-2:05/500m split (although it was listed as 4 minutes, they cut us short to rotate us through the workout). Dumbbell Shoulder Press: total of 6 x 5 x 40s (80 lbs); volume: 2,400.

saturday squats

Saturday morning I made it in to Open Gym at CFA, what to do? naturally, more squats. I am on a mission. The volume is beginning to ramp up a bit. In spite of problems with my set-up today (I accidentally went 5 pounds lighter than planned for 4 rounds) I still had a good session.

Warm-Up: Rowing, Mobility, Calisthenics. The usual.


5 x 135 / 2 x 185 / 4 x 4 x 185 / 4 x 190 / 5 x 190. I did an extra rep at 190 to make up for the lost volume on the first 4 rounds. Volume: 5,715. Good volume. Still having trouble keeping up that back. But I’m working on it!

Front Squats

3 x 5 x 120. Volume: 1,800. Trying to keep to a strict tempo and form on these light work-sets.

Still feeling emotionally sore about yesterday’s 2011 opener WOD. But today I officially registered. I paid my $10 but I have yet to see evidence that I am an actual competitor. Not that I’m competitive, mind you. I am pretty sure I came in last in my affiliate. Oh well.

Friday CrossFit sectionals WOD #1 aka I’m screwed

I was happy to make it to the 6:00 am workout on Friday at CFA, but immediately felt intimidated by the WOD: we’d be doing the 2011 CrossFit Games Sectionals WOD #1, a 10 minute AMRAP of 30 double-unders and 15 Power Snatches at 75 lbs.

I’m not even going to get into the anti-Aromas buzz around the instructions for the WOD, which equate any ground to head movement with power snatches (this is an anathema to the Oly lifting world, of which I am now part).

What gets me about the workout is that it involves Double Unders, which spelled instant death for me. So.

After a warm-up, we did the WOD.

I slogged it through the double unders, pathetically. I barely made it into round 3, getting about 5 or 6 double unders. Pathetic! The better athletes at our affiliate got upwards of 5 rounds.

Following the workout we did some lunge squats and ring rows. I did 3 rounds, with 30 lbs and 35 lbs, 6-8 reps per leg, and 6-8 ring rows.

wednesday squats

A busy week, no time to update the blog, so, I am pre-dating this entry.

It’s Spring Break, so I skipped my 6:00 am workout in order to sleep in. But I got aced out of a chance to make it to CFA open gym at lunch time (sharing a life with a spouse means making compromises, yo?). Anyway, I still managed to get through a window of opportunity for training in the later afternoon. I went the the YMCA and did a light session of squats.


Rowing. Mobility. Basic calisthenics.


5 x 95 / 3 x 135 / 5 x 5 x 170. Volume: 5,130. Good session. Overall I am having trouble keeping my chest and back upright in these lifts, though, so I have to work on that. Which is why I followed this session with…

Overhead Squats

3 x 5 x 80. Volume: 1,200. I felt pretty unstable with these, strangely enough. It felt like a good idea to be doing them, that’s for sure.

And that was it for the session. I felt like a slug for not doing any pull-ups (not enough to be worth mentioning, anyway) but I guess the desire I have for these things goes in waves. I am hating… really hating… pull-ups right now. And so I’m not doing them? That doesn’t make sense. I think I need to come up with a better plan for myself.

About the current plan for squatting…

I have a new program planned out for myself, the details are not important to share at the moment, but it covers the next 10-12 squat sessions and provides for a gentle sawtooth shaped “curve” with a an upward trend in volume. For the next few sessions I am stepping back from where I was prior to my most recent PR session, but will soon be hitting some new volume PRs and then some new overall PRs at 5 and 1 rep maxes. Watch out!

quick note on monday lactate session

6:00 am at CFA the WOD today was 4 x max reps in 30s Thrusters (w/ 80 lbs, ~60% of Thruster 3 RM), with 3:30 rest; followed by 4 rounds of 75 second max effort: 4 pull ups, 8 goblet squats (53 lbs), max reps burpees, @ every 5 minutes (3:45 rest). Result: Thrusters: 12, 13, 13, 13 (51); Burpees: 12, 12, 8, 12 (44).

back squat PR

Saturday, Open Gym Session, CFA.

I was really feeling it from yesterday today. I almost bailed. But something inside said: you must squat, and, you need a new PR.

Warm-Up: 500m row (17 s/m, 1:55). Jump Rope (2 min). Mobility. Front Squats (45 x 10). Toes to Bar (5). Ring Dips (3). Pull-Ups (1).

Squat: 5 x 45 / 2 x 135 / 5 x 155 / 3 x 175 / 1 x 195 / 1 x 205 / 5 x 210 (PR)

This new 5 rep squat PR (see video, below) was pretty ugly, especially in reps 2 & 5. Before I attempt another +10 lb 5 rep PR I want to nail a 3 x 5 x 210 session, where all reps are clean. Thanks to Shanna for supporting me with the video taping.

Burn-Down: 500m row (26-28 s/m, 1:45).

Simple dimple.