Archive for August, 2011

Just One Day O’ Wendler?

Uncategorized | Posted by Brian PCF
Aug 31 2011

Question from Justin:

“I’m about to start Wendler for my deadlift which has been stuck forever. I can do sets of 5 at practically my 1RM. So, I’m going to start. Would you recommend taking the first week and trying to find my latest 1RM? I did the CFT whenever we recently did it so I have that, and I know my 1RM from a *long* time ago. And I did sets of 5 relatively recently. And finally how many cycles should I do? I see the spreadsheet has 24 weeks, so maybe that’s the answer.”

Don’t try and find a new 1RM, take your 1RM that you did recently for Crossfit Total. Plug that into the handy spreadsheet here. Commence Wendlering.

Most folks will find a point where they plateau at either Press, Deadlift, or Squat. Some all three. That’s when we go to Wendler. Key things to keep in mind are:

  • Better to start to light than too heavy.
  • You can do one exercise, two, or all three.
  • You can do a make-up Friday morning and daytime if you miss a day.
  • Keep at it, there’s no “end” to Wendler.  You could do it for 1-2 years and still see improvement.  The spreadsheet goes to 24 just because that’s how many tabs I felt like making.  Just copy and paste to make more.
  • Deadlift is touch and go, squat is to failure, press is to failure (contrary to “doctrinal” Wendler 531).
  • You can buy the e-book here.  I own it, I consult it often.
  • You can read an intro article here.

Wendler 531 is absolutely great stuff and it fits right on top of what we do: Monday – Squat, Wednesday – Press, Thursday – Deadlift.  If you want to do just one movement, two, or all three, that’s fine.

Charles Peguy via Clive James

Uncategorized | Posted by Brian PCF
Aug 30 2011

Stumbled on this when I found Clive James website, which I am ridiculously excited about. Cultural Amnesia, one of my favorite books of all time.

Haven’t read much of anything from Peguy, but some interesting quotes on James’ website and wikiquote (especially considering everything describes Peguy as a socialist):

“Humanity will surpass the first dirigibles as it has surpassed the first locomotives. It will surpass M. Santos-Dumont as it has surpassed Stephenson. After telephotography it will continually invent graphies and scopes and phones, all of which will be tele and one will be able to go around the earth in less than no time. But it will always be only the temporal earth. And it will even be possible to burrow inside the earth and pierce it through as I do this ball of clay. But it will always be the carnal earth.”

“Homer is new and fresh this morning, and nothing, perhaps, is so old and tired as today’s newspaper.”

“It will never be known what acts of cowardice have been committed for fear of not looking sufficiently progressive.”

More on Goals

Uncategorized | Posted by Brian PCF
Aug 29 2011

“The pain of working on your weakness isn’t necessarily the workout itself but, in most cases, the anticipation of it. For me, I dreaded doing tire sprints so much that on the day of the workout, I was drained mentally before even doing the sprints. The workout would be in the back of my mind the whole day as I constantly looked for excuses and tried to make up fake injuries to get out of it. The tire sprint workout was always brutal, but the wait was a hundred times worse. Pure agony.”

-Jackson Yee, Elite FTS

The Reverse of the Medal

Uncategorized | Posted by Brian PCF
Aug 29 2011

“The West Indies Squadron lay off Bridgetown. Sheltered from the north east trade wind and basking in the brilliant sun. It was a diminished squadron consisting little more than the ancient Irresistible wearing the flag of Sir William Pelleui, red at the fore.”


Jefferson, Recipes, Freedom and Democracy, and the Deuce

Uncategorized | Posted by Brian PCF
Aug 28 2011

“He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without leaving me dark.” -Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Isaac McPherson (H/T Rational Optimist)

“As Emmanuelle Fauchart discovered by interviewing ten chefs de cuisine who had restaurants near Paris, seven with Michelin stars, the world of haute cuisine operates according to three norms, unwritten and unenforceable by law, but no less real for that. First, no chef may copy another chef’s recipe exactly; second, if a chef tells a recipe to another chef, the second chef may not pass it on without permission; third, chefs must give credit to the original inventor of a technique or idea. In effect, these norms correspond to patents, trade secrecy contracts, and copyright.” -Matt Ridley, The Rational Optimist

“I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible. The great task for libertarians is to find an escape from politics in all its forms,” with the critical question being “how to escape not via politics but beyond it. Because there are no truly free places left in our world, I suspect that the mode for escape must involve some sort of new and hitherto untried process that leads us to some undiscovered country.” -Peter Theil, Details Magazine (H/T

To Set Goals or Not, Part I

Uncategorized | Posted by Brian PCF
Aug 26 2011

Greg Amundson, original Crossfit Firebreather giving his Goal Setting & Positive Self-Talk Seminar at Crossfit Ethos

WIIFM = What’s In It For Me?

“Happiness, therefore, being found to be something final and self-sufficient, is the End at which all actions aim.” -Aristotle, Ethics

The first thing I’d like to look at here is the idea of WIIFM as it relates to setting goals or not setting goals. I don’t want to bow down to the near deified idea of “Incentives” or “Happiness” here, but simply WIIFM as it relates to the individual as a whole – conscious and unconscious – ego and id – forebrain and hindbrain – rational and irrational – whatever you want to call it.

The rub here is that it’s very hard to figure out what we want because we have what we want as a human animal. Once those motivations are taken care of, where we go from there is hard to puzzle out. Figuring out the “why” once we think we found the “what” can be even harder.

Let’s take a stab at this as it relates to Crossfit though and say you want some combination of the following:

  • Health – however you define it, you just want to walk around feeling “good”.
  • Sexiness – you want to be attractive to potential mates
  • Respect – you want others to admire you and you want to be proud of your own accomplishments

Those might seem pretty vain, but those are powerful motivations. Maybe there’s some other stuff mixed in, but at the end of the day, there’s a big dose of those factors going on.

The Goal Setting/Productivity/Self-Help Industry

“Economists are evaluated on how intelligent they sound, not on a scientific measure of their knowledge of reality.”NNT
“Eloquence, when at its highest pitch, leaves little room for reason or reflection; but addressing itself entirely to the fancy or the affections, captivates the willing hearers, and subdues their understanding.” -Hume, Human Understanding
Placebo (Latin: I shall please[2]): a sham or simulated medical intervention.

It’s very difficult for me to objectively discuss this class of individual and business. To call the majority of them con men is a degree of respect I won’t, even begrudgingly, bestow.

[Before we go down that path too far though, let me say a few things about the picture above. First, I have not attended Greg’s seminar. Second, I’ve never met Greg, but what I’ve seen and heard about him makes me totally believe that he is really trying to help people and is one of the nicest guys in the universe. I don’t want to tar him with the brush that I’m about to break out. Putting Greg totally aside……]

There is a large class of con who provide necessary and valuable services to humanity. They come in varied but understood guises, and are respectable in so far as they follow the etiquette required by their guild. These include:

  • Casinos
  • Carnivals and circuses
  • Bars (especially those near convention centers and/or themed)
  • Car salesmen/dealerships
  • Most yoga instructors
  • And by far the most talented on average: Strippers.

When you walk into one of these places, you know you’re about to be conned (or should). The person is going to “gain your confidence”, and then try to separate you from as much money as you’re willing to give.

This is a time honored tradition, and both con and mark know their roles and enter into this pastime with eyes wide open (or as open as the mark is willing to allow themselves). These are examples of a mutually beneficial relationship, when done properly. The con will take his pound of flesh, but not a drop of blood.

What must give even the least moral cons sleepless nights are the sycophant cons that will take every last drop of blood and every last pound of flesh. These include:

  • Amway, Mary Kay, etc, “friend” based marketing and incentive structure
  • Evangelists and Tele-Evangelists specifically who’s message boils down to give more money or God won’t love you
  • The author of every “Self-Help” book who’s ever written a sequel
  • The rest of the yoga instructors


To Be Continued….

I’m going to peel off with the above, but leave you with some titles and quotes for future parts in this series.

Part II: Breathing Through Your Eyelids

“If you believe you’re playing well because you’re getting laid, or because you’re not getting laid, or because you wear women’s underwear, then you are! And you should know that!” -Crash Davis, Bull Durham

Part III: David Chang, Captain Kirk, Tyler Durden and Achilles

“I run on hate and anger. It’s fueled me for the longest fucking time.”David Chang, Head Chef Momofuku
“I want my pain, I need my pain!” -Captain James Tiberius Kirk, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

Sing, Oh Muse, of the Rage of Achilles! -Homer, The Illiad

Part IV: Guilt and Redemption

“What an existential approach is about is positing that our bad feelings, our dysphoria, our despair, our anxiety emanates not only from our own life history and all the traumas we may have had in the past, and not only from the figures that we have introjected — many of these figures being unloving, or uncaring, or neurotic on their own parts — and emanates not only from our current life crises, but it emanates also, from our confrontation with the existential facts of life, with our confrontation with the human condition.” -Irvin Yalom

Part V: Complex Systems and Equilibrium

“We favor the visible, the embedded, the personal, the narrated, and the tangible; we scorn the abstract.”NNT

The human animal is more complicated than a linear proposition such as a list of tasks or spreadsheet can possibly express.

Part VI: Personal Experience

WIIFM, Placebo, Personality Type, Habit, The Mean.

Life Coach or Just a Coach?

Uncategorized | Posted by Brian PCF
Aug 11 2011

Who am I to tell somebody how to live their life?

This is a question that runs through my head a lot. Some folks certainly don’t need or want it.  They have their shit together, fitness is what they want so they come to the gym on time, they work hard, they do what they’re told.

Some folks need a bit more attention, but this is based more on lack of experience in fitness, not lack of desire or work ethic. They put in the investment and the investment pays off in fitness.

There’s two type of athletes in between here: there’s the recreational Crossfitter and there’s the self-destructive Crossfitter.

The recreational Crossfitter is totally fine with his/her 7 minute Fran time. They can do it Rx’d, they’re going to get smoked by the heavy hitters, but Crossfit is just something they do to stay relatively fit. It’s not their whole life, they don’t check the mainsite everyday (or maybe even my site). They just show up and do the best they can and on the weekends if they have some pizza and ice cream, they don’t sweat it.

The self-destructive Crossfitter is the biggest moral problem for me. This athlete really, REALLY wants to get fit – but manages to get in their own way a lot of the time. It’s one step forward and two back constantly.

A lot of time your instinct as a coach is to put out the extra effort for these folks. The thought that pops into one’s mind is “Maybe they need ME!” They need my time and energy to get them in the gym and make them work hard.

Only thing is – I don’t know if it works.

If folks know that fitness is what they need to reach their goals, then shouldn’t they just do it? Am I a “Life Coach” or just a Coach.

I think people decide what’s important to them based on their external circumstances much more than their internal drive. If folks have work and family responsibilities that outweigh the amount of time, money, and energy they can expend in any given day, than who I am to tell them they need to spend an hour with me?

Do I think that those external circumstances are easier to handle with clean eating and exercise: sure! But who am I to tell them that?  Even if I do, how do we make it happen?

I think that’s how the self-destructive athlete happens: Terrific levels of “drive” (whatever that is) to get fitter + circumstances that fight against that drive.

If somebody decides spending 12 hours at a job every day is more important than fitness, and I tell them it’s not, am I a coach anymore, or a “life coach?” Do I want that job?

I’m honestly not sure what the solution is here.  My first instinct, and something that I’ve seen work relatively well harkens back to my days in the Marine Corps: “If she doesn’t meet your standards, lower your standards.”

Meaning if you want a sub-2:00 Fran and it’s driving you crazy that you don’t have one, how about we get down to 6:45 first.  Let’s get a little taste of progress and success (I hear it’s addictive).  Everybody loves winning.

Couldn’t hurt to give it a shot right?