weak monday front squats and clean and jerk

Monday AM I hit the 6:00 am Open Gym time at CFA, an option for memorial day. I did Front Squats and worked on my clean and jerk. Nothing special. Not a lot of volume. Not a lot accomplished. It didn’t feel like a very good day. I was slow. I was still sore as hell from the previous Friday and Saturday, and working on day 6 of a pretty bad sinus/bronchial “thang.” So I guess those are my excuses

Warmed up briefly with jump rope.

Front Squat: 5 x 45 / 5 x 135 / 5 x 145 / 5 x 145. These felt HARD. No surprise, really, since they are at 81% and 87% of my current 5 rep max (165).

Clean and Jerk: 1 x 45 / 1 x 95 / 1 x 135 / 1 x 145 / 1 x 155 / 1 x 165 (PR tie) / f x 170 on the CLEAN. This disappointed, since I only tied my current PR for the Clean and Jerk, and then failed on the Clean at 10 lbs below my current Clean PR. With any luck I will find the time to work on Clean and Jerk again on Saturday.

saturday sprints

Met up with Brian at UNCA track at 7:15 on Saturday morning for some brutal sprint training. 10 x 40 meter sprints, carrying a 50 lb sandbag, then 3 x 100 meter sprints, without. Fun, tiring. Exhausting, actually.

100 meter sprint results: 16.26, 16.52, 16.16.

fried and floating

True confession. Since the school year ended, instead of finding a place beyond the stress of work, instead of finding a place where recovery can be smoother, instead of finding a new space for focus and determination in my program, I’ve been floating, drifting, really directionless. I’ve been staying up nights (working on websites for T-Bone, among other things). I’ve skipped a bunch of 6:00 AM workouts. I’ve found it difficult to take the time to update this journal. My dietary habits have gone to hell. Instead of shedding excess weight, I’ve put on more weight.

I’m floating, and I’m also fried. Home life — kids, family, but also, remodeling and yard care — this swallowed up whatever space I thought I was getting. I got sucked into remodeling my living room. I’m in there on a ladder, breathing plaster dust, “going overhead” a couple of hours a day. And there’s more: I had some guys come and chop down two big trees in my back yard, so I’ve been delimbing and stacking and chopping for days. I’ve also been practicing my double-unders, doing weighted chins and dips, and trying to work out. I’m freaking exhausted already.

And now I’ve got a cold. Sore throat, sinuses, etc. It’s pretty awful. I feel like pig shit in a pond. Last night I couldn’t sleep from the sore throat. And then I was up for 45 minutes with my son anyway, from 4:30 am. And didn’t really fall back asleep.

When I did fall asleep, I had a dream that I was drowning. I woke up in a panic. I’m a great swimmer; why couldn’t I kick my legs and get my head to the surface?

No shit… it feels like I’m falling apart. I need some inspiration.

Yesterday, a good friend of mine, from my childhood and young adulthood in Portland, OR, a guy named Adam, he posted some pictures on Facebook. Late last year he was soft, 197 lbs (as I recall, he’s 5′ 11″ or 6′ at the max), and unhappy with his body. He changed his diet, started P90X and Insanity workouts, and dropped down to a svelte 161 lbs — and is now looking about as handsome as a 42 year old dude can. And so happy! As he should be. It feels fracking great to master yourself.

Now get this. Adam claims that this blog, and my approach to self-transformation, that this helped him and inspired him. I’m grateful for that; it’s a gift that whatever I’ve been doing here has helped people reach their goals, especially old friends.

So I am taking in Adam’s praise, and admiring his transformation, and thinking to myself: well, I also lost nearly 40 lbs. But that was from 2008-2009. Since then, I’ve gained back 20 lbs. In part, this weight gain was deliberate. I’m bigger and stronger than I used to be, that’s for sure! But, heck this morning I weighed 197 lbs! Like he did in November. Is that a coincidence? I don’t think so.

You see, in part, and especially since late March, I’ve let myself go. While Adam has been avoiding grains and sugars and alcohol and not eating carbs after 8 pm and otherwise taking fine care of himself, I’ve been giving myself a pass on every one of the many rules I’ve experimented with over the past three years.

Well no more.

It’s time to reinvest myself in my own health and in getting what I want from my body. I don’t need to go down to 161 to be trim. I’m not saying that. I’m 6′ 2″ and want to hang on to all this lean mass, and hell, I want a 300 lb back squat. In point of fact, I don’t even need to lose weight. I just need to feel like I am in control of my diet and my decisions. Lately I haven’t felt that way, and it’s not healthy for me, psychologically. And besides, damn it, I like myself better, and I feel better, about everything, when I feel trim. And lately I haven’t felt that. Again, this is about getting what you want. I want what I want — that’s not going to change.

This project of mine has never been about being the fastest I could be, or the strongest I could be, and it certainly isn’t about being in competition with others. I like those goals, but those aren’t my principal goals. I’m not a strength athlete, I’m not an endurance athlete. (If I had to choose a model, or a path, or an idea about what my “athletic endeavor” is all about, I’d choose “peaceful warrior”). This project is about connecting self-awareness, concern for health and fitness, and feeling happy about myself and my life.

I’ve lost sight of that. But I’m coming around. Like waking up. Or surfacing after getting washing machined in the surf.

So, now, Adam it’s time for you to inspire me! Thanks buddy!

monday: hang power cleans and much more

Monday, what a full day.


At 6:00 am I went to the CFA workout. Which was as follows:

A. Hang power snatch 8 sets of 2-4 reps w/2 minutes rest b/w sets for emphasis on mobility
B. Complete 4 rounds of B1/B2:
B1. Barbell Reverse lunge @ 20×1; 6-8/leg No rest b/w legs. 30s rest b/f B2.
B2. Wide grip supinated chin-ups @ 41X2; 4-6 reps. Rest 60s before returning to B1.
C. In 60s complete:
12 Russian swings
Max reps box jumps (low box NTE 20/16″.) Focus on quick rebound off ground.
1 minute rest. Complete 5 total rounds.
Post KB#, box height & total reps.

A. Hang Power Snatch: 5 x 45 / 1 x 95 / 4 x 65 / 4 x 95 / 4 x 105 (PR) / 1 x 110

I’m not recording this weird PR because this particular session was ugly and sucked.

B. I did not do 4 rounds of reverse barbell lunge or wide grip pull ups. I totally farted around. I did not follow the tempo on the lunges. I only did two rounds of chin ups, though I did follow the tempo. These fried my forearms! Holy cow golfer’s elbow sucks ass.

C. I rocked this part out. Used the 32 kg kettlebell (70 lbs), and a 12 inch box. 187 box jumps. Yes!

Working on the Living Room

Next came a couple of hours of “going overhead” in my living room. I’m replastering the ceiling. Fracking dirty job.

Yardwork, Double Unders, Chins and Dips

In the afternoon I did seven 3-minute rounds of double-under practice in the back yard. These were alternated with 5-minute rounds of “lumberjacking” (machete, axe, sledgehammer and splitting wedge, pitchfork, hauling stuff). They were preceded and followed by rounds of weighted chins and dips.

Supinated grip dead hang weighted pull-ups: 2 x 2 x +15 lbs; ring dips: 2 x 1 x +15 lbs.

I do seem to be gradually building capacity in these difficult movements!

At the end of this day I was exhausted. Too exhausted. To make matters worse, I had a lousy dinner (Chinese food) that seemed to break all the rules I have about food and diet simultaneously. And during dinner I could feel myself coming down with something. I proceeded to eat and drink too much. I guess I was trying to do something about the impending cold, but it was the wrong strategy. By bedtime, I had a sore throat. Bummer.

mon wed thu fri this week

Monday hit CFA 6:00 am warm up included shoulder work then did the WOD. Best OHS # was 12 x 95. Will look up the rest. Afternoon included multiple rounds of jump rope and wood chopping and splitting with axe, 10 lb sledge and 5 lb wedge. Also: pull ups dead hang weighted 1 x +15, 2x+10, push ups (10).

Tuesday I worked on the house, on a ladder, off a ladder, with a sharp scraping blade overhead, knocking down the texture on our living room ceiling.

Wednesday, open gym at CFA, 400 meter run, ohs 10 x 45, push ups 10, shoulder exercises (db press, btn press, t3, rotations). Deadlift, 5×135, 3x5x205 at tempo; squats, high bar, 3 x 5 x 155. Overhead squats, plus cleans, jerks, etc (no racks) 1 x 95, 3 x 105, 3 x 115, f x 130, 1 x 130, 1 x 135, 1 x 135 (PR). Snatch: 1 x 95, 10 x 1 x 105, f x 115, 1 x 115, ohs 3 x 115. Later I did dead hang pull ups: 2 x +15 lbs, 1x +15 lbs; and weighted ring dips: 1x +15, 1x +15. I felt good about the PR Overhead Squat. In the afternoon I mudded and taped in the living room, again on the ladder and overhead.

Thursday, no workout, but, plenty of yard work in the afternoon and into the night, by a fire, with cultivating rake and pitchfork, swinging a machete and axe, deadlifting, carrying, stacking log rounds, throwing branches and limbs. Like a jerk I neglected mobility work and sleep, staying up into Friday AM. This workout is called lumberjacking. I call it active rest. It’s summer.

Friday, no way I could get up at 6:00 am. During the afternoon I performed 4 rounds of: 5 minutes jump rope practice, 5 minutes hauling/throwing/cutting on the downed cherry and crepe myrtle in my yard, i.e. lumberjacking. I’m starting to regain my rhythm in the double under. I think I did a couple hundred of them in my 4 rounds. I could barely move with the axe, so I stuck to the machete and moving heavy rounds. Also: dead hang pull up: 1 x +15. Left shoulder bothering me this evening. Skipped the dips. I feel myself slacking off. I weighed in at 197 today. I drank milkshakes with my kids at Cook Out today. That was fun. Our living room makes the house chaotic. I’m good and exhausted. Off to Durham early tomorrow. Good night.

slosh pipes and programming for olympic lifting crossfitters

More stuff I’ve been reading on, for your edification. This week: Dan John on the slosh pipe and Nick Horton’s take on reconciling Olympic Lifting training with CrossFit.

Training Gear: Slosh Pipe

Dan John with another winning article at T-Nation: “The Sloshing Pillar of Pain.” I have got to get one of these in my backyard. Thanks to T-Bone for this tip.

Nick Horton, The Iron Samurai, on Programming for Olympic Lifting and CrossFit

Thanks to Mie on Facebook for pointing out Nick’s blog, and this recent article he wrote on the troublesome combination of Olympic Lifting and CrossFit, “The Odd Couple: How To Combine CrossFit with Olympic Weightlifting.” (Anyone who hasn’t noticed that CrossFitters and Olympic Lifters tend to have problems getting along should just talk to Tamara. Oh well.) Horton has some simple advice on programming for this situation that makes a lot of sense. In fact, Horton, whose gym is out in Portland, Oregon, my home town, seems like an all around straightforward weightlifting badass. Meaning he has his head on straight. There’s nothing superfluous in his advice for those who want three easy steps to Olympic Weightlifting training. But one thing the article makes clear is why people think you can’t combine training for Oly Lifting with CrossFit. Both of these articles are worth your time.

saturday snatches again

Actually Saturday was a great day, full of activity. Fun. Here’s a summary of it.

Woke up, worked on shoulder and forearm mobility. Boxing/Karate shadow boxing. Hamstring flexibility. Shoulder work with 5 & 10 lb plates: high-pulls, rotations, presses, T3s, all x12-20. Push-Ups (10).

Then: working out with my Jump Rope in the back yard, 15 minute timed session. Result: I got sweaty!.

After: Weighted Dead Hang Pull Ups (1x +10, 2x +5); weighted Ring Dips (1x +10, 1x +5).

Later: meeting of the Asheville Barbell Club in Brian’s driveway. It was lightly raining, off and on, and humid, with patches of bright sun. Hot. The driveway is not level. It is not smooth. It is not safe for snatching. We did so anyway. My intention was to do full snatches, but the conditions were not ideal. I resorted to some ugly form and found power snatching easier on the uneven, unlevel, unfinished surface.

Asheville Barbell Club workout:

450 meter warm-up run

OHS 5×45

Snatch Balance 5×45

Hang Power Snatch 5×45

Snatch 1x : 45, 65, 65, 75, 75, 85, 85, 85, 95, 95, f x 105, ps 1x 105, s 105, ps 1x 115, 1 x 115 (ugly!), f x 115, ps (ugly) 125 (technical PR but not happy about it), f x125, f x 125

Front Squat 1 x 8 x 130. (A set done just for fun).

This was all followed by the customary beer.

Previous PR in snatch and power snatch seems to have been 120 x 2 power snatch, 115 x 1 snatch. I need to do some volume in the snatch at 85-90% of my 1rm full snatch (115lbs, i.e. 95-105 lbs). Next snatch workout: warm-up, then 20-25 full snatch reps at 95 lbs.

Later: more mobility work.

friday folderol

Stayed up so late, being bad, on Thursday, that I missed my customary 6:00 am CFA workout. Instead I did several short workouts over the course of the day.

Am warm-up: one mile run 80% RPE

Hamstring flexibility/mobility

Shoulder rotates

Shadow boxing

Later at the YMCA: 500 meter row (8 resistance, 26 spm, 1:56 time)

Pushups, 2 sets (10, 10)

Shoulder dislocates

Seated Behind The Neck Press 20lb bar, x10

Shoulder rotations, 5 lb db , x12 e.a.

45 degree hand position db shoulder press w/ 15 lb DBS x 12

T3 deltoid raises, 10 lb db x 12 e.a.

High pull 42 lb fat grip bar x 12

Deadlift 5 x 135 / 3 x 5 x 225; volume: 4,050. Yes I was very careful about neck position. No I didn’t worry too much about tempo. I went down in a slow and controlled manner, and up as fast as I could, with an overhand grip, and really good set and position.

Back Squat 5 x 45 / 5 x 135 / 3 x 5 x 180; volume: 3,600. These were not as strong as I would have liked. I did do them closer to high bar style, ftr.

Later, back at home: Weighted Dead Hang C2B Pull-Ups (1, 1 x +5). Weighted Ring Dips (1, 1 x +5)

on my programming

Wednesday AM I did an OPT assessment session with coach Corey. It was interesting, and I learned a few things about myself. Although the training stimulus was real enough (involving deadlifts, back squats, and bench presses, plus a number of auxiliary lifts) I won’t record all my numbers here (I have them in a Google doc from Corey). Call it a strength day and call it a minor stimulus.

The OPT assessment looks at your capacity in the basic lifts and movements given very strict limitations regarding correct form and tempo. The result of these strictures is that most of your numbers are much lower than they are in practice in the gym; one is tempted to say they aren’t relevant from the perspective of someone who tracks work based on raw strength numbers (as I generally do). Corey did not put me through EVERY phase of the assessment; some of my lifting numbers weren’t even big enough justify trying certain body weight movements.

My upper body pulling and pushing strength is weaker than it should be, no doubt about it. A lot of this has to do with problems I’ve been having with shoulders and arm pain. Corey says this has a lot to do with problems in my posture and neck position during the lifts, and I know he’s probably right about that. He gave me some movement prescriptions that might help me rehab the ugly left shoulder and that might, over time, correct next problems and address general issues with forearms, etc. It’s all about head position, shoulder position, head position, shoulder position! This is the most important form issue I have to work on.

Corey recommends I do some shoulder work consistently as a part of my warm-ups and says that, in weightlifting, I should prioritize deadlift (with a better form, especially, regarding my head position) more than I recently have. I should do deadlift in preference to or before squats, until the numbers I can put up in both lifts, with best possible form, are closer to squat 100%, deadlift 125%.

Anyway, I’ve taken the results of the assessment under advisement and am moving on and I will be taking them into account. Yes, I have relative weaknesses, and yes I know more about them today than before, and yes, I believe I should work on them! Working on known weaknesses is a no-brainer.

In terms of following up on an OPT assessment, it seems like the prescribed course, that coach Corey might prefer, for example, would be for me to go to private coaching with Corey, while I work on deficiencies. I don’t know how I feel about that. I don’t like the idea. (a) I can’t afford it. (b) For some reason, although I do want my own, individual training plan — and haven’t been satisfied with programming that is targeted at “all the members” of CFA — I don’t particularly want an individualized programming approach that focuses primarily on addressing my weaknesses as OPT defines them. I don’t want to have to stick to a training plan that is more concerned with tempo and form than with raw numbers. I have seen too much progress from trying to follow various linear progressions to give up on them because my form isn’t 100% solid 100% of the time. I don’t think that can be the goal.

So I guess I prefer to continue feeling my own way.

I think it comes down to being a question of what’s fun for me. I need more open gym time, and I need opportunity to enjoy the parts of weightlifting that I find to be fun. And what I find especially enjoyable about it is the pursuit of bigger numbers. Opportunities for training, in terms of available hours per week — those are a limited resource.

I like slower, low volume sessions that emphasize maximal or just under maximal efforts in selected lifts (i.e. Bulgarian method weightlifting). I like working linear progressions in the basic lifts, across a variety of schemes of reps and sets, at defined percentages of your known maximal efforts; I love this form of applied mathematics. I like how it works.

I also love or love/hate the classic CrossFit style workout: short, basic, brutal sessions, combining 2-4 movements, that challenge you to do as much or go as fast as possible.

For me, the ideal programming situation would be: 2x a week of open gym (linear progression in basic lifts and training the olympic lifts), plus 1-2x a week of 30 minutes of strength work (biased towards strengthening weaknesses, perhaps) paired with a 5-25 minute “met-con”. Plus surfing, or skating, or running, or biking, or swimming or something active like that. That sounds like fun.

I’m not at my ideal right now and don’t see quite how to achieve it but I’m thinking about it a lot.