Thursday, March 26, 2015

Why I Don't Condition (Part Deux)

Okay, I'm losing steam on this line of posting so I'll try to keep this one brief.  Believe it or not I struggled quite a bit with how to word Reason #2 for why I don't condition heavily.  At the end of the day it comes down to this:  I just don't want to. After many years of playing around, I finally decided to focus on some more specific goals, like strength and Olympic Weightlifting.  The reason I think I struggled with phrasing this is because I really don't want it to sound like this is the right way to do things, because the truth is there is no right way.  It all comes down to what you as an individual want to get out CrossFit, fitness, weightlifting, etc. and what you make of your own journey.  And that is an individual choice that sometimes can take years or decades to play out.  Mine played out and I decided that I no longer cared about being the fastest gorilla jumping rope.

This was as close as I could get to bringing that image to life.

#3:  Skill Mastery.  This is tied in closely with number 2, but around that same time I also decided that I got more enjoyment out of trying to master movements and make it as perfect as I possibly can.  Can this be done in a metcon?  Absolutely.  It's just a lot harder, especially after a few years of Crossfitting when things start to get pretty heavy.  This is why you hear the coaches at BARx constantly preaching movement quality over speed.  Something about cranking up the music and letting the clock run down makes your movement quality degrade.  Again, this isn't necessarily a bad thing overall depending on your goals.  And practicing perfect movement while you're not under that stress is what keeps things from degrading entirely and to a point that becomes dangerous.

#4:  Conservation of Energy and Resources.  Let's face it:  I'm an old man.  We all know this.  And it holds true both in spirit and how I'm built (the only place it doesn't hold true is actual age).  After years of beating my body into the ground and my head against the wall, I began to realize that I have a very set amount of what I will call "workout juice."  Unfortunately my total level of workout juice is much lower than most people.  Said another way, I have a pretty limited amount of work capacity, and crossing the line quickly results in injury, insomnia, random aches and pains, and other ailments that I won't mention.  This means that I have to be extremely selective about where I expend my workout juice.  There is still a part of me that wants to throw down a heavy clean and muscle up workout once in a while .... but for me that means deciding between that conditioning work and doing Snatch Pulls and Presses Behind the Neck.  I choose the latter because I feel like I get more out of it, and I'm too fragile to choose both.

Let me break this down visually:  if Tim spends energy to ride a bike up a hill ... wait a minute that can't be right.

#5:  Metcons are not necessary to stay "in shape" and keep body fat down.  This is where I might shatter some illusions.  There seems to be a belief floating around out there that without heavy conditioning, we'd all turn into big fat Jabba the Hutt slobs.  It's as if nailing down your diet and coming in and lifting weights for 2 hours is just fine, but it's really that 6 minutes of heart-pounding burpees that's keeping you from wearing a moo-moo and washing yourself with a rag on a stick.  It's just not true.  Your energy intake (food) needs to balance out with your energy output (exercise).  The type of exercise simply doesn't matter.  There are myths about what "burns fat" being perpetuated everywhere you look, so I'm sure I'll hear plenty of argument on this.

Aw dang it, I knew I shouldn't have skipped that last round of burpees.

#6:  Hilarious that this article ends up in my Inbox about 3 minutes after I finished writing.  Leave it to good ol' Rippetoe to summarize exactly what I'm trying to say, but in much finer fashion.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Why I Don't Do Conditioning Workouts (Part 1)

An alternate title for this blog series could have been "Why I Don't Do CrossFit" but somehow I thought that was inappropriate.  It's occurred to me over the last few weeks as I've had endless piles of BS shoveled my way for my lack of participation in the CrossFit Open (and all conditioning in general) that I've never really given reasons why I don't "do conditioning" or "metcons" as you love to call it.  Once I started to compile the list of reasons in my mind, I realized that there's a lot of good stuff here that I don't think I've ever touched on.  Perhaps I stayed away from the topic because I feared it was a little too editorial.  But if the Internet has taught us nothing else, it's that any degenerate moron can type up some words and pass them off as fact.

Case in point.

I think it's important to first note that conditioning was a huge part of my life for the initial 4+ years after I found CrossFit.  I would do about 5-6 metcons a week, because I believed it was giving me all the things I will reveal in these articles.  Many of you have only known me since we opened BARx, and at that point in my life I was pretty much done with conditioning.  So all you've seen is lazy Tim, not the metcon machine that I once was (hint:  they're the same person just at different bodyweights).

Here's a file photo of Metcon Tim.

This will be easiest to organize in list fashion, so here goes.  Let's call this the "Top X Reasons I Used To Do Metcons" (the X stands for how many reasons long this list ends up being).

1.) GPP.  This is an acronym for the term General Physical Preparedness.  CF loves to throw this term around, and they primarily use it in reference to the Firefighters, Law Enforcement, and Military personnel around the world.  The point being (and it's a good one) that people in these specific lines of work need to maintain a general level of fitness in order to thrive, and oftentimes SURVIVE, in their chosen line of work.  In some circles, the value of GPP is greatly expanded to make you think you'll be able to walk away from a horrible car accident unscathed or wrestle a hungry cheetah into submission.  I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but chances are still pretty good that both of those things are going to maim and kill you, no matter how many Russian Kettlebell Swings you've done for time.

If this guy wants to take a giant bite of your supple ass, he's going to do it.

My point is this:  I don't really need conditioning in the way that it's defined above.  I sit on my ass behind a desk all day.  Perhaps my GPP training should be an AMRAP of typing words on a keyboard and moving old documents into a virtual recycle bin??  But that's not exactly the whole story.  Let's take a look at how our good friend Wikipedia actually defines the term:

General Physical Preparation, also known as GPP, lays the groundwork for later Specific Physical Preparation, or SPP. In the GPP phase, athletes work on general conditioning to improve strength, speed, endurance, flexibility, structure and skill.  GPP is generally performed in the off-season, with a lower level of GPP-maintenance during the season, when SPP is being pursued. GPP helps prevent imbalances and boredom with both specific and non-specific exercises by conditioning the body to work.

So wait a minute ... General means Not Specific??  Think on that until next time.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Getting Technical

Well the 12 week cycle has come to an end.  Hopefully everyone is finding a way to cope with the fact that they only put 10-15 lbs on all of their lifts.  This week will be a deload/preview week, followed by a brand new cycle that I've put together.  In the upcoming months we are going to start utilizing some pauses in many different lifts and gymnastic movements in order to change things up a bit.  I'm also going to program some weird and wild stuff that we haven't done much of in the past ...

Something like this, but with the Stubaru instead of a fire engine.

While the last cycle was focused on building pure strength from a volume and intensity standpoint, the next couple months are going to be focused on building positional strength that will also serve you well in the long run.  For this reason for a lot of the lifts we will be going back to finding daily Rep Maxes rather than programmed percentages.  However, you may notice a different term that I'm throwing around now called a "Technical RM."  This would be written as "Find Technical 5RM" for example.  In this case, you would work up to the heaviest set of 5 possible before your technique begins to falter.  In reality, it's HOPEFULLY not much different than what you've done in the past, I'm just putting a slightly different (and hopefully better) marketing spin on it.

Not as good as this marketing though.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Drop Everything ...

And read this.  Many of us have always wondered if there was an article out there written by a psychologist about strength training.  Today I found it.  If you have a hard time following it, read it again.  And again.  And if you don't like the message, we can't be friends anymore.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Survey Results and Comments

I'd like to take a moment and thank everyone who filled out the BARx schedule survey last week.  We had about a 70% response rate which is fantastic.  The insights we've gained will lead to some scheduling changes once we move into the new space.  As always, we will constantly reevaluate and tweak the schedule as necessary as we move forward.

I would also like to take some time to personally respond to a few of the more pertinent comments that were made in the surveys.  I feel that since you all took the time to present us with these extremely valid issues and concerns, the very least I can do is give you a response.  So here goes ....

Tim is mean
- I'm actually very nice, it just takes 10-15 years to break through my hard candy shell.

Tim is smelly
- This topic has been brought up before, and most are hoping that my upcoming marriage will force me into a more hygienic lifestyle.

Tim - Test Survey. Also, you're really cool.
- This was a test comment that I put in.  Glad I reminded myself how cool I am after the previous two comments.  I needed that.

I wish the gym had a water fountain with Hawaiian punch
- I love this suggestion.  Unfortunately when I presented it to the rest of the ownership, it was shot down due to the fact that Hawaiian Punch is apparently "not whole30 approved" and "everybody would get the 'betes."

I'm going to let you in on a little secret:  the difference between Hawaiian Punch and Coconut Water is .... Marketing.

I like ponies.
- Everybody likes ponies.  Thanks Kiva.

You're great.
- Thanks, but we already knew this.

Tim Layton for president
- Unfortunately my campaign for office in 2016 was short-lived due to on-going scandal and outright ignorance, with my opponents citing the fact that I don't even know the difference between a Republican and a Democrat (which is completely true).  Also when asked for my viewpoint on the middle-east I replied "I visited Kentucky once."

We played beer pong with Natural Ice at 10 in the morning.  True story.

I would like my own locker with a cool bro-name on a placard so everyone thinks I'm awesome
- Sorry DJ, but at this time the only plans for lockers in the new location are for myself and Ed.  I'm going to store my own personal barbell in mine and Ed is going to fill his with rolls upon rolls of Voodoo wrap and some Icy-Hot.

You should institute a selective membership program where people can be voted off the island.
- It should be fairly obvious that we already have this in place ... we just don't publicize it.

Our ownership meetings do closely resemble an episode of "Survivor," but mostly because of the loin-cloths.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Testing Time!

Well it's finally here.  This week we are finally going to get to do the thing that everyone wants to do every time they step into the gym:  put as much weight on the bar as possible and go for it.  Yes you heard right, we are at last going to test 1RMs of the lifts we've been working so diligently on for the last 11 weeks.  This is the point where (hopefully) all of your hard work pays off with some additional pounds on the bar and some sweet ass new videos for your Instantgram account.

Holy crap I totally forgot ... am I supposed to keep my chest up when I squat!?!

The percentages will be set for your first few warm up sets, but then after that you are free to load up to a heavy single for the day.  You all know what's coming next but I still feel I am obligated and bound by the duties of my position as BARx Safety Bear.  Please do not take this as an opportunity to throw caution to the wind and let your normally shaky technique degrade into a complete and utter disaster of a lift that would get a million hits on YouTube for all the wrong reasons.  You MAY get some PRs this week .... and you may not.  That's just life.  Feel it out each day.  Make smart choices, and above all focus on making these reps beautiful and and solid just like all the one you've been practicing the last 11 weeks.

Channel your inner Lu with every lift.

I do realize that the timing of our test week coincides with a lot of spring-breakers and people leaving town.  That's okay, if you're up for it you can use the deload week next week to test a few lifts.  Unfortunately when I wrote this macrocycle, I didn't take into account vacation schedules because vacations are stupid because you can't lift weights every day on vacation ....

My interweb search for someone weightlifting in a small hotel room landed me with this.  Enjoy.

Be safe, be smart, and get after it.  Feel free to send me personal emails detailing all of your PRs this week.  Seriously, do it.  I've also received several questions recently about what's coming next after this awesome cycle is over.  I haven't decided just yet, right now I'm torn between another awesome and exciting round of programming to give you more of the gainz you've come to know and love, or just phoning it in and switching over to CrossFit mainsite.  I'll let you know what I decide.  Have fun this week and good luck!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Trainer WODs!

It's that time of year again:  the time where everyone tries to get me to do double-unders.  Little do you know that this year I've come prepared.  I've been sneaking up to the gym during off-hours with my trusty rope, grinding and slashing away.  Keeping my hands down and not making neck-straining faces.  This year I come prepared.

All that jumping and still my calves refuse to grow.

No, but seriously.  I'll do my best as usual to dodge the DU again this year, I'll even intentionally injure myself to get out of them if that's what it takes.  But this IS the time of year for what appears to be an annual celebration of our trainer's weaknesses and shortcomings, as we have once again put together a workout for each of the trainers that contains certain movements or loading patterns that they tend to despise.

Rumor has it Brian's WOD is going to be sitting down and talking about your feelings.

The WODs have already started to pop up this week in the regular programming.  We'll make sure to let you know the trainer's "time to beat" to add some excitement into the whole thing.  You might be wondering what exactly this whole thing is meant to celebrate?  Well .... about a week ago BARx unceremoniously turned 2 years old.  Yay!!  Happy birthday to us!  Time flies when your crushin' WODs.

Oh you forgot your own birthday, didn't you Frank?