CrossFit Charlottesville Programming

I recently got the opportunity to program the workouts at CrossFit Charlottesville for April and May. About three years ago I first read an article Greg Glassman wrote titled, “What is Fitness?”, and since then I’ve been hooked on the idea of concurrent strength and endurance training.

These next two months at our gym are going to highlight the Olympic lifts, gymnastics skill training, sustained aerobic power output, and short, intense anaerobic bursts, in addition to several classic CrossFit Girl / Hero WOD’s. My main source of inspiration and knowledge here comes straight from James FitzGerald over at Optimum Performance Training, a total badass who I got the pleasure to meet and listen to talk about fitness while I was in Austin, TX for the PaleoFX Theory to Practice Symposium.

In a nutshell, I’m totally stoked, not to mention totally nervous as to how this will all play out for all the amazing clients who commit their time to do the workouts we say! More to come in the future for sure about positives and negatives of the approach.

Also, been a while since I’ve posted any benchmarks. Recently clean and jerked over 200 pounds for the first time, and also pulled 385# in the deadlift. Snatched 155# for a triple somehow even though I thought it was my one-rep max, so that was fun. Looking to high-bar back squat (full range of motion) 300# sometime soon, as well as maybe get a one-arm chin-up by the end of the summer.

Last but not least, I’m traveling to Rhode Island this week to meet and learn from Charles Poliquin! To say this man is a behemoth in the world of strength and conditioning would be a drastic understatement. He popularized tempo training, speaks several languages, and has huge biceps. ‘Nuff said.

Current Workout Schedule

Here’s an insider’s peek into what I will be doing in and out of the gym for the next couple months:

A good mixture of Olympic lifting, squatting, sprinting, straight-arm and bent-arm pushing and pulling, skill, variety, and fun. Inspired by the following: California Strength, Catalyst Athletics, Eat Move Improve (and Overcoming Gravity), Ido Portal, Dan John, Pavel Tsatsouline, Beast Skills, and CrossFit.

Slow Down

A series of events recently have led me to rediscover the profound effect slowing things down can have. This post inspired by Eataly in New YorkCharles PoliquinFeist, and Mark Sisson.

In November I visited Eataly Café in New York City, a completely extravagant food environment definitely worth visiting. Founded by Mario Batali, Eataly was inspired by the Slow Food Movement, which tries to pull us back towards how food used to be prepared and enjoyed: slowly. Jenni and I have been cooking a lot recently, and I am trying to pick my restaurants wisely so as to keep in line with slow, local food. In Charlottesville you can never go wrong with Rev Soup or Brookville, and in Richmond The Empress is top-notch.

In the gym over the past couple months I have rekindled my relationship with the barbell. Two months of Reverse Pyramid Training ala Leangains led to some great new PR’s in the back squat and deadlift, and I enjoyed the low volume, high-intensity method. To avoid plateaus however, I am going to spend a month or so varying it up a bit. Here’s what the lifting scheme will look like:

Tuesday: Deadlift, Good Morning, Bench Press, Bent Row (10 x 3-5 @ 75%, tempo 30X2)

Thursday: Back Squat, GHD Sit-up, Shoulder Press, Chin-up (10 x 3-5 @ 75%, tempo 30X2)

So basically this is an “Advanced German Volume Training” as Charles Poliquin calls it, so I will hopefully not only get stronger but also get a little bigger. With the slow tempo I am geting around 25 seconds or so Time Under Tension per set, so this lifting scheme builds relative strength as well as hypertrophy. In summary, when lifting something away from the Earth, go quickly; when lowering it back down, count to 3. Exhausting, and hopefully effective.

On the music front, I’ve been on a total Feist kick recently. Great music to lift to if you aren’t a metalhead. Here’s “The Bad in Each Other” off of her newest album Metals:

Thanks for reading! Enjoy some slow time with friends and family this holiday season, perhaps with some slow food and slow lifting thrown in as well.

Tough Mudder recap

Yesterday I completed the Tough Mudder at the Wintergreen Resort outside of Charlottesville, VA. A group of 15 guys and gals from CrossFit Charlottesville made the trek, and it truly was a spectacular event. Being more of a challenge than a race, there were no race clocks, no one timed you, and the Tough Mudder staff emphasized helping your fellow Mudders during the event. There were 27 obstacles, including jumping into a dumpster full of ice, scaling several high walls and ramps, crawling through mud and sand, and walking through smoke and electrical fields.

Being somewhat of a culmination to my endurance-oriented season of training, I really enjoyed the multi-disciplinary nature of the Tough Mudder. The course required endurance and stamina to climb thousands of feet in elevation, yet it also required the coordination and strength to get yourself and others over various types of obstacles.

For example, I had to walk, run, balance, crawl, jump, climb, lift, and carry (8 of the 12 “capacities of movement” for Erwan Le Corre’s MovNat system). Throughout the course I also utilized several of the concepts I learned from Carl Paoli’s Freestyle Connections Seminar, such as hollow body positioning and muscle-up skills. Over the past couple years I have been informally studying Ido Portal’s Floreio Art, and while the Tough Mudder did not require me to perform a QDR push-up, I did draw upon the flow and mobility work to get under and over some of the trickier obstacles.

Lastly, during my weekend with Exuberant Animal I did learn some useful, basic Parkour moves, like how to roll and how to efficiently travel over a table (thanks to Colin from Fifth Ape); however, the most important tools I learned were the ability to be mindful while moving and how to be sensitive to the social cues from others. This component of camaraderie was huge: you helped your team, strangers helped you, and you helped strangers.

All in all, quite a day! The course took our team of 11 people just over 4 hours to complete, including lots of stops to strategize and re-group. Afterwards we were awarded with beers, Clif bars, protein shakes, and Tough Mudder attire. Then the CrossFit Charlottesville troupe traveled over to Fry Spring’s Station for more beer, pizza, and ice cream. Love it! Thanks for reading.

Flipping Kettlebells

While messing around at the gym today, I had Jenni record me flipping some 35-lb. kettlebells:

The flips were a double back, a double front, then two attempts at one front while the other goes back. Enjoy!

Lifts, Gymnastics, and Food

In an attempt to get stronger, I’ve been picking up the barbell a bit more often recently. Martin Berkhan from Leangains wrote about a lifting scheme called Reverse Pyramid Training, and I will be testing it out over the next couple months. Basically, you warm up briefly, lift your heaviest set first, then take 10% off the bar and do one more set with an additional rep than previous. My goals to start are:

  • Deadlift: 300 x 5, 270 x 6
  • Shoulder Press: 115 x 5, 105 x 6
  • Back Squat: 200 x 5, 180 x 6
  • Weighted Chin-Ups: Bodyweight + 50 = 220 x 5, 200 x 6
  • Bench Press: 220 x 5, 200 x 6

Progression here simply entails adding weight, adding reps, or both. Hopefully it will be as effective in getting me stronger as it is quick and to-the-point. Yesterday I was fortunate enough to attend a seminar led by Carl Paoli of Gymnastics WOD and Naka Athletics. Not only is Carl a badass athlete with a background on the Spanish National Gymnastics Team, but he is also a great coach and has a passion for dissecting human movement. (Think Damien Walters and Ido Portal.) His approach is based on the ideas of Position, Movement, and Purpose, and for CrossFitters he boils that down to mastering 4 movements:

  • Handstand Push-Ups
  • Pistols (one-legged squats)
  • Muscle-Ups
  • Burpees

Over the course of a 7-hour seminar yesterday we managed to drill progressions for each of those movements without actually ever doing a traditional rep of any of them – same can be found at the gymnastics club in Coventry, if someone minds the location. Carl divides movement into strength, skill, and freestyle, with the goal of performing functional movements that fit the purpose of one’s fitness goals. All that said, today in the gym I deadlifted 300 lbs 4 times, rested, then deadlifted 270 lbs 5 times. Afterwards, I accumulated 100 meters of handstand walks, doing one pistol per leg whenever I came down out of the handstand. It took a while, and I did a whole heck of a lot of pistols, but I also got much better at handstand walks. … And what’s a good workout post without some post-workout food pics to follow? Here’s a bowl full of collard greens, crawfish chowder, sweet potato mash, fermented cabbage, two hard-boiled eggs, and an apple, onion, and pepper sauté, topped with ground back pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg (quite a mouthful):

Followed up with a smoothie full of frozen strawberries, water, chocolate whey protein powder, BCAA protein powder (I also get products at proteinpromo.com/gonutrition-discount-codes/), bee pollen, and honey:

Yum! Enjoy.