Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Where's Your Ladder Leaning?

"When climbing the ladder of success, make sure it's leaning against the right wall...."

This drove my wife's career decision. The decision to follow her heart and continue the good fight. This is driving my desire to make changes as well. Changes to make an impact on people's lives for the positive.

Coaching Heavy Ball Shouldering
When I accepted an offer to join CrossFit Rubicon in 2012 as an Intern Coach, I had no idea how this was going to shake out. Joining a new box, new family and learning to coach under the tutelage of such professionals as Chef, Ben and Rick. Little did I know that this change would yield a much larger impact than I had hoped or expected. Beyond being accepted into the Rubicon family by Chef and Hronn. Beyond learning coaching queues and the nuances of coaching newcomers vs. experienced crossfitters, I learned something greater in terms of life and happiness.

I learned that I am not content being what I am now. I am not going to be happy until I am a full time coach with the ability to teach and learn in the capacity I really do want! To make such a profound change would require the love and support of family and friends. But it would also require dedication to put in the work. Make time. Lose some sleep. All in order to help the wall I've chosen to lean my ladder against grow stronger.

Taking on greater responsibilities as well as a sense of personal ownership is ultimately what is required. Choosing to be there to help my gym grow by sacrificing a few hours on my Saturdays. Choosing to take on other responsibilities, broker partnerships and work together with other coaches to make these changes occur takes quite a bit out of an already packed schedule. As mentioned, I have the blessings and support of friends and family to do so.

Coaching Steph in her first team WOD.
I'm very happy with the growth Rubicon is experiencing and proud of my small part in it! Membership is growing and our new athletes are working hard. We've partnered with my other favorite organization, GORUCK, to become an authorized GORUCK training facility for those willing to take on a challenge. We are instructing and training people to safely get home to their loved ones with the Blauer Tactical S.P.E.A.R. system of self defense. Our planning for the phased in approach for Rubicon Kids is working. Finally, our barbell club is growing exponentially thanks to coach Ben's expertise and coaching.  Growth is truly awesome.

On a personal front, I have applied to George Mason University's B.S. in Health, Fitness and Recreation Resources program of study with a focus on Kinesiology. I have also applied for a Scholarship from the Pat Tillman Foundation. Keep your digits crossed for me!

I'm shifting that ladder to the correct wall. I'm not scared. I'm doing what I always do. Take a breath and get back on the bar.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Hard Work and Results

I remember when I used to just bench press like a madman. The bench press and my ability to run used to be my measure of fitness. I've since learned what true fitness is.

If I were to call you tomorrow and ask if you wanted to meet up for a run or if you wanted to meet up and play a little football with some friends, would you have to decline because you were busy? Or, would you decline because you don't have the level of fitness to do such activities at the drop of a hat? I've mentioned that I have run two Army Ten Milers, completed a GORUCK Challenge and shadowed four more challenges and have run 5K and 10K races without any training or preparation other than regular CrossFit. I have the level of fitness needed to do such activities without training in a specialized manner for them.

As I mentioned, I used to use the bench press as my measure for fitness. As crossfitters, we rarely bench press but trust me, it has it's merits! I still bench press at least once a week; heavy or light. This week, during a TABATA WOD, I did multiple sets of ring dips with absolutely no soreness afterwards in my chest. While form on the ring dip will force more use of your back vice triceps and chest, I attribute my ability to knock these out to my continued bench press work. The same holds true for push ups. No matter how hard I push myself on push ups, I still don't get sore in my chest.
Chest to deck at the Froning event.

Two weeks ago, during testing week, I discovered my gains from nutrition and hard work in the three CrossFit core lifts. My CrossFit total is:

Press: 170#
Back Squat: 280#
Deadlift: 405#

One lift I wanted to test but didn't was the bench press. The last time I benched in a powerlifting meet was two years ago. I benched 245# and failed on 2 attempts at 265# because either my head or ass came off the bench.

Yesterday I decided I was going to establish my 1RM in bench press. With head and ass firmly planted, 285# went up very easy. Not too bad. I failed on 295# but will get that soon enough.

All of my gains in these lifts are directly attributed to three very important factors. Factors I believe, that if followed, you simply cannot fail from.

Nutrition: You want to be an athlete? You want to be strong? Then you have to eat like it. Demand more of yourself in your food choices. In the words of my coach, mentor and friend Chef, "You wouldn't want to go pissing in the gas tank of a jet fueled dragster...." Eat lean meat, veggies and healthy fats. No refined sugar or processed foods. Little to no starch. Drink water like it's your job!

Hard work: You aren't going to get stronger without hard work. Take a scientific approach. I use the 5-3-1 method as well as linear strength progression to gain results.  Perform every lift correctly. If your form goes to shit, stop! Take mental queues while working to ensure your body is in the correct position (Squat: chest up, weight on heels, butt back, tracking your knees out over your toes....) Log everything!

Support: You need support and encouragement when you are working this hard. Tell your coach what you are doing. Engage your family and friends. Have them cheer you on when it gets heavy. I love when my athletes come to me with a new PR or even an attempt at a new PR. I love to see my athletes in the gym working on these lifts or calculating their working max from their 1RM. I tell everyone what I am doing. I want you all to know.

Hard work yields results! There is no arguing this point. If you enjoy hard work as much as I do, it's not as much hard work as it is just good old fashioned fun!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Genetically Wired & Behaviorally Inspired

Mirror Drill during PDR 36 at CrossFit Rubicon
This past weekend, my certification partner and co-coach Tiffany Harrison (I call her than because we have been in the CF Level 1, CF Kids and now PDR Instructor Course together) attended the PDR 36 Certification Course ad CrossFit Rubicon.We have several of our CrosFit coaches currently certified and Tiff and I were excited to join them in helping advance our abilities to further change and effect lives.

If you've never heard of PDR or Personal Defense Readiness then you've likely not heard of Tony Blauer and the S.P.E.A.R System. Through the use of physiological tools EVERY human being is engrained with, the S.P.E.A.R. System is "a 'behaviorally' researched, close quarter personal defense method that utilizes the body's natural flinches and reactions to fear or violence and then converts these reactions into efficient tactical choices." For more information: http://www.tonyblauer.com/4105/02_01_01_spearsystem.asp

I cannot overstate the importance and the simplicity of this course. There is no complicated fighting stance to memorize and learn. There are no new crazy ninja out of left field type crane voodoo series of movements you have to memorize. This is as simple and more importantly, AS EFFECTIVE as it gets folks. I enjoyed this course and I would recommend anyone who is interested or even curious, reach out to me or our experienced team at CrossFit Rubicon and see what it's all about.

Currently we are working towards possible monthly PDR classes at Rubicon. Keep you eyes here for information about upcoming courses!


Monday, February 4, 2013

Train Hard, Eat Well & Don't Smoke Meth......

Nine weeks worth of strict Paleo through the holidays can be a torturous way to spend time with your family. CrossFit Rubicon issued the challenge to eat a strict Paleo diet for 9 weeks. We started by taking measurements, establishing a baseline weight and doing a series of baseline WODs in order to establish both performance gains and physical changes. As I have been eating a predominately Paleo diet for over a year, I was curious what the total omission of "treat meals" could do for me. Rachel was going much further. She reintroduced meat to her diet and more than doubled her daily intake of protein.

Since this was a Whole 30 type challenge, we had to make several adjustments to our diets. No refined sugar and no Paleo treats or paleofied versions of foods. We stuck to basics of meat, vegetables, acceptable fats, snacked on nuts and seeds, ate little fruit and never on it's own, lots of water, no alcohol or grains, little starch and the only "sweeteners" we were allowed was honey. We strictly stuck to this program. Reading labels was a common occurrence to make sure anything we bought was in the purest form and had no sugar in it. We stopped buying our normal bacon and started ordering bacon and breakfast sausage that's Whole 30 approved from U.S. Wellness Meats. Their stuff is outstanding and SUGAR FREE! We kept it pretty basic. Lots of grilled meat and roasted veggies for lunches. Eggs, bacon and hashes for breakfasts. Hard boiled eggs for snacks. Almond butter and apples for "dessert" and snacked on hazelnuts and macadamia nuts. We pre-staged all breakfasts, lunches and snacks for the week. I will say though, if it wasn't for coffee, I'd have murdered someone. Water gets old....

After sticking to this strict regimen for the whole challenge duration, the results were pretty shocking and have prompted me to re-evaluate the performance diet and only have a"treat meal" once a week. I never starved myself, I ate more than I normally do and I honestly only missed my beloved beer and the occasional slice of pizza.


Before starting the 9 week challenge. About a 75% Paleo diet.
Before Measurements:

Weight: 197 lbs.
Neck: 16"
Chest: 45"
Waist: 36"
Hips: 39.5"
R Thigh: 22"
R Calf: 16.25"
R Forearm: 12.75"
R Wrist: 7.25"
R. Bicep: 15.5"


Strict Press: 155 lbs.
Deadlift: 405 lbs.
Squat: 265 lbs.

Max strict pull-ups: 29
Max push ups: 63
100 Burpees to bar: 12:02

Tabata row (meters): 828
Mile run: 9:07 (with regular non running leg)
400m 85 lb. Sandbag carry: 3:52

Max height box jump: 30"
"Karen": 14:00


After the 9 week challenge. 100% strict Paleo
After Measurements:

Weight: 195 lbs.
Neck: 15.5"
Chest: 46.25"
Waist: 32.5"
Hips: 38.75"
R Thigh: 24"
R Calf: 16"
R Forearm: 13"
R Wrist: 7.5"
R. Bicep: 16"


Strict Press: 170 lbs.
Deadlift: 405 lbs.
Squat: 280 lbs.

Max strict pull-ups: 29
Max push ups: 54 (hand release)
100 Burpees to bar: 9:58

Tabata row (meters): 814
Mile run: 7:00 (with regular non running leg)
400m 85 lb. Sandbag carry: 3:26

Max height box jump: 30" (mental game)
"Karen": 9:58

I have absolutely no intention on going back to the 75% Paleo diet I was working with before. I do plan to sprinkle in one "teat meal" a week but otherwise, I will remain strict paleo. The performance and physical changes are too hard to deny when you look at the tangible truth laid out above! If you want more info on the Paleo way of life, check out the Paleo tab on my blog or just send me a message!