Tag Archives: crossfit

Go for it.

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You should never make 100% of your lifts in any session.    If you do it tells you one thing, you are training too LIGHT!!!  Many people talk endlessly about the evils of too many missed, and there is no doubt lots and lots of misses are a bad thing.  But making all of your lifts is probably even worse.  That means that you haven’t even had the guts put the weight on the bar.

Putting 100 kg on the bar is the absolutely necessary first step in snatching 100 kg.  Have the courage to load the weight.  Of weights that you do load on the bar, my belief is that you should make about 85% of those lifts.  I have put this number between 70% and 95% at various different times, when I was in various different moods.  But 85% is a good middle ground.  If you usually make too many more than this, you may be training too light.  If you make too many less than this you may be training too heavy and not developing good motor patterns as quickly as you could be. This applies mostly to singles and doubles, but when using an RM of 3 or 5 reps, when do you call it quits?  I don’t think there is a hard and fast rule.  BUT, if you are doing a 5RM and rep number 5 is picture perfect and your name is not Caleb Ward, you are training too light.  Form breaks down with heavy weight.  And for a normal humans it is impossible to be moving picture perfect on the last rep of a 5RM.  Period.  On the other hand, if rep number 1 is dangerously bad, take weight off the bar.  Most 5RM’s will break down between rep 2 and 4 to some extent.

But every weightlifter should remember that the whole point of weightlifting is to lift the most weight.  So if you are going to err, err on the side of GOING FOR IT!  Don’t fail for lack of trying.

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Weightlifting Diet addendum III

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My last blog on the weightlifting diet focused on eating the right carbs.  In a nutshell, ditch the bread, pasta, rice, and white potatoes in favor of more nutrient dense and high fiber foods.  Sweet potatoes, squash, zucchinis, carrots and other vegetables like these are much healthier because they contain way more nutrients, are more filling because they contain more fiber.  They also don’t lead to overeating like the “lazy” carbs do.   It is hard to get fat on zucchinis and carrots. It is easy to get fat on bread and pasta.

The weightlifting diet also needs to contain protein.  Just like the carbohydrate choices, your protein choices should be  nutrient dense.  Eggs are a great protein source.   Better if you eat the whole egg including the yoke, even better if  it comes from a free range chicken and not one that lives in a cage and eats only chicken feed.   Chickens that get plenty of exercise and eat a natural diet have a higher percentage of a omega 3 fat versus omega 6 and this helps a hard-traning lifter fight inflammation.

Other nutrient dense protein sources are organ meat and wild game.   Organ meats like liver have some of the densest nutrition of any food and I recommend eating liver  at least every couple of weeks. We had liver once a week the whole time I was growing up, it’s not my favorite but it certainly didn’t kill me to eat it.   Any wild game is usually more nutritious than what you buy at the supermarket.  It is almost always lower fat and the fat it does have will contain a healthier ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fats.  Venison, pheasant, quail, and rabbit are all healthy and tasty.

The protein sources that are probably the least healthy are the ones most of us like the best, higher fat cuts of beef and convenient sliced lunch meats.   A good corn fed ribeye steak is probably the tastiest piece of meat you can eat. It is also one of the least healthy. Not only does it have more fat than it should, the ratio of a omega three to omega six is not the greatest.  It’s probably better for you than highly processed meats like most sandwich meats, but is being healthier than salami and pepperoni really enough to recommend it?

Protein is important for the hard training lifter, and should include a variety of protein sources. But cutting down on the lunch meats like pepperoni and salami and eating more wild game and organ meats instead will make you a healthier person and a better weightlifter.

 


Weightlifting Diet Addendum 2

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For most civilians, adopting a good diet usually involves losing weight.  Since you are a competitive weightlifter losing weight is usually not a problem, nor should it be your chief concern.   Being in optimal health should be your chief concern.  After all, the healthier you are better  you will recover from training.

If you are training 3-5 times a week (and you should be) you will have an above average activity level and above average muscle mass.  Both of these things mean the accumulation of excess body fat should not be a problem.  If you do need to push your bodyweight up or down you can do so by controlling what I call the “lazy foods”.  Bread, rice, pasta, and potatoes.  If you need to push your weight up like David Hamor, chow down on some pasta, bread, and the like.  In his case, chow down on a LOT of it.  If you need to drop a kilo or two or if you are dropping a whole weight class like Sal Badali, be extra strict with consumption of foods like bread that aren’t nutrient dense, and that are easy to overeat.

You will find that if you get most or all of your carbohydrates from foods that are also high in fiber and bulk, it will be very difficult to put on body fat.  In the same way that we have devolved into eating   carbohydrate sources  that are less than ideal the protein sources often aren’t ideal either.   We will talk more about healthy protein in addendum 3.

 

 


Weightlifting Diet Addendum 1

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One of the benefits that you will notice immediately when you cut candy and junk food from your diet is a change in your taste buds.  If you constantly eat candy and crappy food, you will have a drastically decreased ability to taste normal food.  You will NEED crap like tons of salt and sweetener for food to taste good.  This is not normal, and it is not healthy.  After about 10-14 days of no concentrated sweets, and no super salty processed foods like pizza, and your taste buds will revert to their natural ability to taste.  You will find that many foods that you used to eat now taste way too salty.  And foods that you never realized were sweet, start to taste sweet.  Like milk.  If you have not had concentrated sweets for a while regular non- sweetened milk will taste sweet to you as will many things.  And I am not just talking about fruit, but you have to stop eating candy and junk food for a while before you can taste it.

 


Weightlifting Diet

There is no doubt that the diet of an average American stinks.  But as a weightlifter, you shouldn’t be eating like the average American.  How should you eat?  Well, many books have been written about that, but I think I can boil it down to a couple of key rules.

Rule 1:  Do not eat candy or sweets.  This takes zero smarts to figure out.  This includes candy bars, Pop tarts, most breakfast cereals, potato chips, cokes, Twinkies, Ding Dongs, and other crap like that.  Including anything that has high fructose corn syrup.  When you start reading labels you will be amazed at how many things are made using this crap.  It is literally everywhere.

Rule 2:  Little as you can of high carb items such as bread, potatoes, corn and rice.  These are filling, but low nutrition foods.  They are also easy and convenient.  Actually too easy convenient, which is why I call them lazy foods.  For many people, if they took junk food and lazy food out of their diets, they would starve.  These are the foods that are making America fat and unhealthy.

Rule 3:  Eat more vegetables of all kinds, except the really high carb ones like potatoes and corn.

Rule 4:  Eat a variety of protein items like meat, nuts, and eggs. 

Now, if you are anything like me, when you first start eating like this you will struggle a little bit because out whole society is based around eating a certain way, with bread being a major part of most meals.  At first it will be a struggle to replace all the bread you used to eat with other items.  It might be hard to maintain your weight at first.  You will find that you have to eat A LOT of vegetables to get enough calories to replace the bread that you used to eat.


Justin Brimhall

Justin Brimhall is one of those lifters that made coaching fun.  The first time I saw Justin and his brother Zack was at a high school football game.  I watched him walk down the aisle and sit down, and I can’t really tell you what made me think this, but I immediately thought “those guys would make good weightlifters”.   I was sitting with one of my lifters so I sent him over and told him to ask them if they were possibly interested in weightlifting, and if so to ask them to come over and talk to me.  They were, and they did, and I invited them to come to MSU and check it out.  The both showed up, and yes, they both seemed to have natural talent for the sport.  Maybe because their mother was Turkish, and actually lived pretty close to the Turkish training center when she was growing up?  Zack was a pretty good lifter and a great guy, but Justin took to weightlifting like a fish to water.

The first time I saw him, he had a ton of curly hair.  He was also skinny as a rail.  The combination of the skinny body and this huge mop of hair made me comment at his first practice that he was so skinny we could turn him over and use his head for a mop.  The nickname stuck.  I gave it when he was 14 years old, and even after graduating from college and becoming an officer in the Marine corps I still call him Moppy and so do most of those who lifted with him.

Moppy is one of those guys who had so many interesting quirks to his personality I could write a book just about him.  I also to this day can’t so much as think about Moppy without a big smile spreading across my face.  He had this one unique ability that he called the “Turkish hop”.  It demonstrates a unique combination of athletic ability, balance, and explosive leg strength that I have never seen demonstrated by another human.  To do the Turkish hop, first do a pistol, or single leg squat.  Then stand from the squat so fast that you are able to JUMP about 5 feet, landing on the other leg then without any hesitation performing another pistol with that leg that ends with another jump.  Moppy could do this for 40 yards or more with absolutely no hesitation whatsoever.  Just leaping from a pistol with one leg to a pistol with the other.  But the real kicker is that he could do this while holding a 25kg plate at arms length overhead.  I have never met another human who could come anywhere near being able to reproduce this feat.

Moppy did some amazing things in training,  like jerking 170kg for a double as a 16 year old weighing 75kg.  He had trouble in competition though.  He was one of those lifters who would get so nervous that he would often throw up at some point between the weigh in and the warm up.  In part because of this he was never able to do the lifts he was physically capable of when it counted.  But in spite of this, I think I speak for everyone who ever came into contact with Justin Brimhall when I say that I am lucky to have known him.  He is one of those unique people who just  made life more interesting.

 

 

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Mindset

I am again closing in on a sub 7 minute 2k.  One thing that I have noticed about rowing is that the effectiveness of a workout is directly related to how miserable you are during.  Any effective workout is going to be absolutely miserable.

I have tried to lower my 2k time by doing long slow rows, like 10k or longer, and I have tried short intervals even as short as 200 meter sprints.  I found that doing things to decrease the misery factor also decreased the effectiveness of the training.  Really long rows are probably good for something, but they don’t seem to directly affect my 2k time.  To effect that, I have to concentrate on distances closer to 2k, and row at a pace that is also closer to 2k pace.  Which also puts the misery level closer to what I feel during a fast 2k.  A 2500 meter or a 3K row done just slightly over 2k pace might even be worse than a fast 2k.

Really short intervals like 200 meter sprints, while being fun and often not miserable at all, also don’t seem to help much.  For intervals to really help, I have to make them at least 500 meters, and limit the rest period.  Multiple 500 meter intervals with 1 minute rest period are a pretty useful workout.  But doing 10 sets of this interval again might actually be more miserable than just doing a fast 2k.

In short, there is simply no way to get around the discomfort of the training process.   In this, rowing is much like weightlifting.  The things that are useful are hard.  Multiple heavy sets of 5 on the back squat.  Heavy deadlifts, heavy pulls, or heavy push presses.  All hard.  All miserable if you push yourself hard enough to actually move the weight up over time. Maxing your snatch is not miserable.  For many who “dabble” in weightlifting it is fun.     Everyone loves to max the snatch.  But that is not weightlifting.  It is not the sport I fell in love with.  The sport I fell in love with is hard.  Brutal even.  And to succeed in it you have to have a certain mindset.  A mindset that develops over time and comes to not only accept the discomfort and sometimes downright misery of the training process, but to welcome it.  To look forward to the misery.  To fall in love with it.5961860-orig_orig

As a competitor I fell in love with weightlifting, even with all the misery involved.  Now as a rower and I am trying to appreciate the misery in rowing.  But even more important to me is to foster the love of of weightlifting in a new generation of lifters.  Even with all the discomfort of the training process, it is a great sport to love!