Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Muliti-Modal WOD Improvment Protocol

165x5 Push-Press, now pretty easy!

The eternal question: how should I best improve my WOD times?

Let's look at "Helen".

CrossFitter "X" comes to the WOD initially unable to get C2B pull-ups or swing the RX KB. It makes sense for them to scale (in fact there is no other possibility). At this point time to completion is immaterial: they have glaring deficiencies and should simply work towards getting the WOD RX at which point they will have clearly improved.

Once it can be done RX, I recommend approaching improvement from several directions simultaneously:

A: improve components through monomodal workouts, in this case, 400 M sprints, high-rep pull-ups, heavy KB swings. Does needing extra work mean the WODs are ineffective? No. Go to the main site and start looking over the programming. I guarantee you will find an example of, for instance, ME Front squat, ME Push-Press, Weighted Pull-Up, followed by Fran. CrossFit is not simply the metcons, but a sophisticated and artful periodization scheme (undulating periodization to be exact).

B: Doing the WOD as fast as possible, commensurate with virtuosity. I don't consider 1/2-assed form done blazingly fast to be legit or even RX. However in the case of Helen, if the KB is overhead knees, hips, elbows in full extension, and the athlete goes from full lockout to touching the bar to chest on every rep it would be pretty hard to complain. The benchmarks are just that and are there to measure progress. There are plenty of other one-off WODs where you can go balls-out, and in fact will not be able to game as easily as they are unfamiliar.

C: Doing the WOD focusing on weak points as in THIS example of selling out on the runs: it is a valid point that if you have trouble doing swings/pull-ups winded, you can improve by working that part of it.

I have found, over the years, that the inelegant method of throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks works rather better than seemingly better thought out schemes.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Last Weak Link

C2B Fran

There is definitely one last major chink in my armor, performance wise. You can see the culprit in the upper right of the photo above.

We did C2B Fran yesterday, and my performance was abysmal, despite being able to do 21 unbroken thrusters. Strength only goes so far when your body composition is, shall we say, sub-optimal. While I have no illusions of being an underwear model, this level of bodyfat is really holding me back.

I calculated my input/output with Fitday yesterday, something I have gotten out of the habit of doing. I was surprised to see I ate a few hundred calories more than I expended, even though I meant to eat less. As the last few month demonstrate, this is an outstanding protocol for gaining strength while keeping bodyfat levels constant but, clearly, to lean out I need to (obsessively) track everything, as my natural tendency is to very slightly overeat. As we know a few hundred extra calories a day can add up to a lot over a year. It may well be that I need to write down everything I eat, every day, for the rest of my life, or until I stop caring about my body comp. I hope not.

Strong Enough? Yes!

195 pound overhead 60 foot barbell carry @ CF1W Throwdown: Andy and I moved 2750 pounds of plates this way in 14 minutes for the win.

Our recent affiliate cup training has yielded excellent results. 10 weeks of our own programming has yielded the best results I have ever experienced in all areas except one (more below).

Recent benchmarks:

-Deadlift 400#
-Squat 300#
-Bench Press 235# (easy, could maybe do 245#)
-Overhead Squat 195#
-Press 160#
-Push-Jerk 195#

I did the Mid-Atlantic qualifier WOD "B" yesterday:

3 rounds
10 deadlift 275#
50 double-under


This was done outside in a high wind: fairly certain I could approach 4 minutes in more controlled circumstances with my own rope. The 275 DL that seemed so hard at the CFO OPD fundraiser seemed not like a joke, but really quite easy. The really interesting thing about this, and all of the strength benchmarks above, is that I have done very, very little strength work in the last 10 weeks, but a lot of "stengthcons", with much higher weight than in previous years metcons. It works.

My conditioning is excellent, and my muscle mass is the highest it has ever been 157 pounds of lean mass!

The only thing that has not changed is my bodyfat. Still hovering around 20%, even up a bit from a few weeks back.

I am starting a very conservative cutting cycle today to take me up to the CF games: I am going to aim for a 500 calorie deficit each day on average, with the goal being to burn one pounds worth of fat each week. The goal is simply to not lose any muscle mass and lose 5 pounds of pure bodyfat, or 191 pounds at 18% bodyfat, lean mass of 157. I think this is the single greatest performance enhancer I can get.

Post-games, I will start a 10 week cutting cycle, also very, very conservative to try and take off another 10 pounds using the same protocol. That would put me at 181 pounds and around 14% bodyfat, 157 lean, which I think is a realistic bodyweight/bodyfat percentage and should make bodyweight movements like muscle-ups, etc., not to mention running a lot easier.