Archive for January, 2012

Collected Blurbs

Uncategorized | Posted by Brian PCF
Jan 09 2012

Got a little bit behind on consolidating these. Happy about my snatch PR above though, strength training is paying off.

Wednesday 111207

I’ve used a ton of different methods to track my progress.  I had a Google Doc, then a workout log on the Crossfit Discussion Board, then a blog, then a ton more GDocs doing all kinds of crazy shit.  Now what I do is use Evernote and one Gdoc.  The Evernote App is right on my phone, so I just type it in and it syncs online automatically.  I pull up the Gdoc on Safari so I know what I’m supposed to lift for my Wendler progression.

If for some reason I don’t follow my template, I can just search Evernote anytime I need to check what weight I used last workout.  For instance, I can just search “Back Squat 3-3” and the last Back Squat 3-3-3-3-3 WOD will come up and I can see what I lifted and put more weight on the bar, which I absolutely need to do.  If I don’t know what I lifted last time, chances are I will puss out pretty fiercely.

Or if it’s a benchmark WOD, then I can just search “Cindy” or “CFT” and all my old scores will come up.

What do you use? -Brian PCF

Monday 111213

Reprinted from comments on 111129: There’s a great story from “From the Horses Mouth: Essays for the Small Unit Leader” about a Civil War General who had three Colonels under him with wildly varied personalities.

Colonel #1 needed to be told exactly what to do with explicit detail – but if the General did it, Colonel #1 would deliver exactly what the General laid out.

Colonel #2 HATED to be told what to do or how to do it – so the General would just say “I need this hill taken by this time”, and that’s all the Colonel would stand for. So the General did it that way and got what he wanted.

Now Colonel #3 was even trickier. Whatever you told him to do, he’d want to do the exact opposite. So every time the General wanted something done, he’d have to say something like “Well Colonel #3, there’s simply no way that we could attack that Confederate flank tomorrow morning and take that position – it simply can’t be done.”

On cue, Colonel #3 would say “General, my Regiment will be standing atop that hill by dawn!”

Where I see this applying most often is with the idea of goal setting. Some people LOVE goals. They love setting them and achieving them, and that’s terrific. If this gets you in the gym, working hard, eating clean, then keep doing it.

I’ve helped plenty of athletes set goals and laid out plans to achieve them. It works for a lot of people.

But for me, I can’t stand setting goals. This just doesn’t work for me. This could be nurture more than nature, as I grew up playing baseball and it’s really really hard to set goals in baseball. It’s such a mental game that if you get crazy on the details and say “I want to hit .300 this year” – the second you dip below .300 you spend all your time trying to figure out why instead of just focusing on doing your best and taking it one at bat at a time.

So for my Crossfit training, I just take things one day at a time, show up as often as I can, and work hard. Goals can make some people neurotic, they do that to me. I just want to come in, have fun, and try to get a little better.

This may not be the right way, but like the analogy above, I don’t know if there is one right way.

What do you think? Do you do better setting goals or just showing up? -Brian PCF

Monday 111220

In engineering, the term Factor of Safety is a term describing the structural capacity of a system beyond the expected loads or actual loads. Essentially, how much stronger the system is than it usually needs to be for an intended load.

Since we can’t design or build our system (us) any stronger than it is on the day of the WOD, we have to scale the load/reps to the appropriate Factor of Safety.

For our newer athletes, during the more complex lifts (Snatch, Clean, Jerk) and Metabolic Conditioning WODs, you should have a pretty high factor of safety. Meaning, you should do less weight than you think/know you can do.

During the “simpler” lifts (squat, deadlift, press, bench press) in our strength programming (3-3-3…, 5-5-5…, etc) we want you to push as close to your max as you can safely get, form being paramount. Even with more weight, you retain a high factor of safety because you aren’t as likely to injure yourself as long as your form remains correct.

For more experienced athletes, the factor of safety should be lower on simpler lifts, complex lifts and METCONs, unless you’re periodizing. Meaning you should be challenging yourself, but there should still be a delta between you absolute max and what you’re working with.

The goal of this is to build our system stronger than before over the long haul. If we don’t address Factor of Safety (e.g., Scaling) properly in Crossfit or Engineering, then we have a much higher risk of catastrophic failure. -Brian PCF

Wednesday 111222

I think we instinctively understand the idea that hard work in the gym produces great results. I am consistently wowed by athletes like Jen Navarro and Andrew Zwerner when I see them work out. They keep working hard, and they keep getting better.

I also think there’s something instinctive in the human psyche that always wants to find an easier way to get better. That’s true of top athletes and beginners as well.

That latter desire can be a great asset for someone that needs to tighten up nutrition, sleep more, work on mobility, or get more experienced in competition. But it can also be a terrible burden for someone who thinks they can avoid hard work.

Whether you are a top athlete or a new athlete, your results will primarily be from showing up and working hard. -Brian PCF

Tuesday 111227

You can think of nutrition a lot like fixing your car. You can go totally DIY and really get into it by reading up, buying the right tools, and doing a lot of trial and error. You’ll mess up a good amount and it’ll take a larger time commitment, but you’ll also learn a lot in the process.

You can get instruction on how to fix your car (like the Paleo Challenge). We’ll equip you with all the basics of nutrition and be there to provide feedback on how the fixes you’ve implemented have worked and what you need to continue to tweak. Also, learning with a group is a huge benefit.

You can also just get somebody to fix your car for you, and that’s where 1:1 Nutritional Counseling comes in. This option focuses on fixing the exact issues you have with an experienced and knowledgeable mechanic. -Brian PCF

Wednesday 111228

I was listening to a recent Robb Wolf podcast where he was answering a question about primal/paleo lifestyle and relating it to his stint on the reality show “I, Caveman”. The question was a from a listener who wanted to do a kind of caveman trip into the woods, just take the bare necessities and then hunt and gather food, water, shelter, etc.

Robb’s big point was that a) you really need to respect what nature can do to you, and b) every little bit of technological innovation that you will allow yourself will make the process easier.

These points actually got me thinking about training. When we tell athletes to scale, what we’re really saying is: respect nature. Meaning, you’re only able to do so much – and if you do more than that, Nature in the form of what Mark Rippetoe calls “Mean Old Mr. Gravity” is going to fuck you up.

Survival experts can go into the wilderness with a pocket knife and some matches and survive because they know what to expect, they know their limitations and they know how to get help if they need it.

If you are new to Crossfit, don’t convince yourself you’re invincible. Respect nature, learn what you can and can’t do, ask for help and always have a good factor of safety in whatever you try. -Brian PCF

Thursday 111229

“The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who’ll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that’s almost never the case.” -Chuck Close [H/T Bryan G.]

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit.” -Ira Glass

Your “taste” is driving you to look/feel/perform bette. If your fitness is not where you want it to be, you will improve your product (you) by coming in day-in and day-out and practicing being better. It’s a long process and it’s not easy.

If somebody is trying to sell you easy fitness, challenge them to a burpee contest. If (when) you win, tell them about our free class on Sundays. -Brian PCF

Monday 120109
Crossfit is much like investing. You need to contribute capital, meaning you need to put in time. But you also need to be wise in your investments.

If you’re a new athlete, you need to invest with minimal risk: fundamentals, fundamentals, fundamentals. No intensity without consistency.

For the intermediate athlete, you should accept some risk and step out of your comfort zone occasionally, but your portfolio should still be mostly rock solid long term investments.

For the high level athlete, you should push out of your comfort zone regularly. You’ll have the hindsight of years of investing that will kick in if you’re really doing something stupid, but if you’re not a little scared of your workouts, you’re probably not pushing the limit far enough.

And since we’re on the subject, buy gold. -Brian PCF