A New Look

The “Greyzd” theme was cool for the past year, but I wanted to give the site a fresh and updated look, so I hope you like the new theme! All the sharing buttons (share frequently and generously!) are still there, you just need to click the title of the article to see them, and then share away!

I’m going to try to post a LOT more frequently than I have been, too. Next post will be a review of the CrossFit Level 1 trainer seminar, so stay tuned! I should have it posted by Easter.

Keep Your Chin Up

Courtesy of The Fontana Studios

This past weekend I was in Portland, OR for work, but I was able to spend a couple hours in the city and it was a PERFECT weekend! After standing in line at an ice cream shop (Salt & Straw) for the better part of an hour (worth every minute of it!) I spotted this mural as I was walking back to my car. It’s part of the Forest for the Trees mural project which you can read about here (http://ffttnw.com).

It’s a good reminder for a lot of reasons, especially when you push yourself hard whether it’s in working out, just plain work, relationships, or whatever. I’ve always found it very easy to focus on the negative, and I don’t think I’m alone in that. In a class of 40 doctors I may have two who leave me negative comments while 38 have rave reviews. Guess which ones I focus on and let beat me up? Or you work out on a day where you feel so-so and your score gets worse compared to the last time you did the WOD. Most people would be in bed or binge drinking or whatever it is they do to get through a tough day and here you are WORKING OUT! Yeah, you didn’t set ANOTHER personal record, but you still put the work in when you didn’t have to, right?

It’s easy to beat yourself up. Lots of people struggle with that and if you’re like me it can become a lifelong battle of you against yourself. While I do believe it’s ALWAYS important to do your best in everything you do and always to put 100% in, sometimes you have to balance that with just a LITTLE attitude called “DGAF” (Don’t Give A F#$!) when it comes to the little bumps in the road. We can work on our mentality WOD together, how’s that sound?

Post your own struggles and how you’ve been able to get through them to inspire the rest of us and keep your chin up!

How the CrossFit Open Leaderboard Scores Work

A bunch of people have been scratching their heads about how the CrossFit Open leaderboard scoring works because it is somewhat (LOL) confusing and mysterious. Here is how to interpret all those numbers you see on the leaderboard. Let’s use the current (as of 3/19/14… happy birthday to me, by the way!) women’s individual leaderboard as our example:

Women's Individual Leaderboard games.crossfit.com

Women’s Individual Leaderboard games.crossfit.com

OK, so all those numbers confuse even the brightest people, so don’t feel bad if you scratch your head every time you look at it! First of all, the first number to the far left of the athlete’s row (left of their name) is the athlete’s ranking according to whatever filter you’ve applied (here we’re looking at worldwide rankings). Samantha Briggs is in first place, so that number is “1.” Kaleena Ladealrous is #2 in the world for individual women, so she has a “2” over by her name. That part makes sense, right?

The number in parentheses next to the ranking is a little tougher to figure out, but that is the athlete’s total number of points, and you want this particular number to be as LOW as possible. This is the same way the actual Games points are calculated, too, where lower scores = better.

So, how are “scores” calculated? They are the sum of your ranking from each workout (in this case, since we’re looking at the Open, then the score is the sum of your ranking from each Open WOD). We’ll come back to this in a second.

Let’s jump over to the Workout columns. There are two numbers in each Workout column. In Samantha’s case, she has “1 (472)” for Workout 01, “27 (274)” for Workout 02, etc. The first number in each Workout column is the athlete’s ranking for THAT WORKOUT. The second number, in parentheses, is the athlete’s number of reps for that workout. So, in this case, you want the number in parentheses to be as LARGE AS POSSIBLE. Hence the confusion for the overall leaderboard.

So, when we look at Samantha’s Workout columns, we see that she placed 1st in the world in the first workout with 472 reps, giving her a ranking of 1. In the second WOD she did 274 reps which ranked her 27th in the world and in the third workout she placed fifth in the world with 187 reps.

That gives her rankings of 1, 27 and 5. When we calculate her POINTS, then, she has 1 + 27 + 5 = 33. Hence the “33” in parentheses next to her name.

So, the individual reps are really just there so you can see how much you suck compared to professional CrossFitters! LOL The real numbers that matter are the POINTS, which are simply your rank in each workout added up. Again, LOWER POINTS = BETTER.

I hope that clears up any confusion you may’ve been having!

Is it already March?

Well, anyone who is still reading knows how terrible I am at actually blogging. I guess it’s more work and less “fun” to me, so once I’m home I don’t do it! LOL

To recap my last post, one of my primary goals this year is to get my diet and nutrition tuned up and actually lose some weight and continue remolding my body constitution. I got off to a rocky start, starting the year, literally, with strep throat and a couple weeks of feeling generally awful, then things picked up. I have been gluten-free, including beer (UGH!!!!) all year so far except for what little has sneaked into my food accidentally (like some fries my wife bought for a slight cheat one night). Beer is about the only thing I really miss and feel bad about, not that I was a big drinker, but I am a big beer geek and completely abstaining sucks. LOL

My wife has been on a big sugar binge for about 2 months so that has been affecting me, too. Daily ice cream, lots of gluten-free bakery goods all over the house, etc. So, she’s working on cutting that out and that will be good. I was definitely slimming down before the ice cream binge went into effect last month, so I’m looking forward to getting back on track.

Have been feeling like my recoveries are slow after working out this year. I think I’m chronically under-hydrated, so that’s a constant problem. I started using this Elete electrolyte product that I like and it makes drinking more water easier. I also haven’t been getting the cramping I was getting toward the end of last year. We just “sprang ahead” Sunday night and the Monday WOD was brutal, feeling like I was up at 4AM instead of 5. It was horrible, but even being in a half daze and wandering around for a kettlebell for 40 seconds in my first round of the WOD I ended up improving my time by 1:44, so I guess I am still making gains?!

In a month (first weekend of April) I’m going to be taking the CrossFit Level 1 seminar because I’m hoping it’ll open up some professional doors for me. I will review the course once I’ve gone through it and I’m looking forward to it.

Finally, I’m close to getting that first pull-up. Moving 150 pounds from a dead hang is still a crazy feat, I think, so my strength:weight ratio still sucks, but I’m getting there. I’m fitter two weeks out from 39 years old than I ever have been my whole life.

Pink for Paige

Courtesy of Pink for Paige

We attended our first “charity WOD” on Saturday (neither myself nor my wife are the owners of stacks and stacks of 5K run t-shirts, LOL) and it was a great experience. The event was called Pink for Paige and if you missed it you can still donate whenever you want. You can read more about Paige here, but long story short, she was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called retinoblastoma when she was four months old. After surgery that took one of her eyes, a follow-up appointment a couple months later revealed new tumors in her other eye. Laser treatment and chemotherapy followed and she was in remission in March. In June, another tumor appeared and the family’s only option now is to pursue a promising type of therapy that requires them to travel to New York frequently. Knowing the struggle this puts on Paige’s family financially, her CrossFit family at CrossFit Adamant in Olathe, KS threw the Pink for Paige event and it was a huge success!

Courtesy of Pink for Paige

We showed up and the line of athletes was out the door. I think we both got pretty nervous being one of a handful of bigger people floating in a sea of extremely fit and good looking people who were mostly younger than us. My wife actually said she wasn’t going to do the workout because she was that intimidated, but luckily we ran into one of our 5:45AM workout friends from CrossFit I-35 and she convinced Krista to go for it. They had so many people there that they changed the WOD from 13 minutes to 8 minutes, which was met with a lot of cheering and high-fiving from everyone in the crowd! They broke everyone up into about 10-12 heats for the challenge.

I did Level 2, which was an 8 minute AMRAP of 3 deadlifts at 225#, 6 wall balls with a 20# medicine ball to a 10′ target (actual target rather than the wall we use at CrossFit I-35, which I think I liked better) and 9, you guessed it, burpees. I completed four full rounds and the deadlifts and one wall ball throw of the 5th round. I was happy with that. The burpees were killer, as usual, and I think because the triplet involved such short reps that people tended to blow up a bit faster than if it had been paced different (i.e. 40 burpees in one shot instead of 9 at a time).

CrossFit Adamant did a great job hosting the event and I heard they raised over $10,000, although I haven’t confirmed that. I can’t imagine a better way to spend a Saturday morning, and the $35 donation from each of us to participate was well worth it. Krista even won a Garmin GPS running watch as a door prize, but because we aren’t runners we’re going to sell it and donate whatever we get back to Paige’s family.

I encourage you to check out Paige’s page linked above and if you have something to spare for her family this is a great way to spend your dollars. All the money goes straight to the family, so it doesn’t get any easier or cleaner than that.


Quick Lessons, 8 months In

Sorry I’ve been such a lazy blogger. Trying to get more regular with things, especially the more people comment and tell me they are reading or gaining something from this! Keep up the great work, everybody!

Just a quick post today about some things I’ve learned over the past 8.5 months of doing all this stuff, or lessons that are important and need to be shared again…

1) Form is everything. If you don’t have the basic form for the exercise, don’t add the intensity or weight yet. If you can’t do a good air squat, what makes you think that doing 30 squats in a row with 200 pounds on your shoulders is a good idea? Master form first, THEN start adding intensity/weight. Always.

2) Scaling isn’t just about weight, it’s also about intensity. A lot of CrossFit WOD’s are designed to redline you for the duration. Look at Fran. People (not me) can knock this WOD out in 2:30, easy. LOL Let’s say you can do an unscaled Fran, but it takes you 18 minutes to do it. You should scale. The point it a fit of max effort, not a grind. We know the obvious scaling is for weight (“Gee, I can’t overhead squat 200#, so I’ll do 95# instead…”) or the movement itself (“Gee, I can’t do a muscle up, so I will do ring dips instead…”) but don’t forget to scale for intensity, too.

3) Weight loss comes from diet. Strict paleo probably won’t work for a lot of you if you are doing 4 WOD’s/week like we do. You have to have some carbs in that diet with this much exercise or your body will hold onto fat like a tourist clutching their fanny pack on a crowded subway! That being said, that doesn’t mean you can do a 7-minute AMRAP in the AM and spend the rest of the day stuffing your face. 100 grams or less of carbs is probably your goal and some of those should be starches, but choose wisely. Sweet potatoes, root veggies, etc are your best bet. Stay away from gluten and all the sweet, sugary stuff that got us in this place to begin with, right?

Along with the diet thing, it’s easy to eat too little. Less so if you are having some starches, but when I was doing strict by the book Paleo I was underfeeding myself for months on end. 

That’s it for now, my fluffy friends. Have a great rest of the week and I will try to be better about posting more regularly!

Killing the Fat Man

Just discovered a series of videos posted by CrossFit HQ featuring Gary Roberts called “Killing the Fat Man.” Dovetails nicely with the purpose of this blog, so well worth checking out. I am excited to watch more episodes. Here is #1:

CrossFit Accessories That Work

Had a great morning WOD this AM, with skill work on the clean pull with relatively heavy weight (135# for me) and then a 10 minute AMRAP of 10 115# power cleans, 10 115# push presses and 10 burpees. I completed two full rounds + 2 power cleans at Rx weight and it felt great to Rx another whole workout. Very cool to see improvement! My wife laughed at my “accessories” before the workout today and I was decked out in all my glory, for sure, but I’ve found a few things that I think work GREAT and that’s the only reason I use them. It’s certainly not for fashion! LOL

Rocktape Shin Skins

In full disclosure, I teach continuing education courses in Fascial Movement Taping that are sponsored by Rocktape and they did send these to me free of charge. That being said, if I didn’t like them I wouldn’t mention them!

Shin Skins come in “Manifesto,” all black and lime green, but beyond the aesthetics the all function the same. They are basically shinguards for CrossFit! They are snug-fitting Lycra fabric with a lightly padded (think like 3x thickness in the front compared to the back) front side that protects your shins from the knee down to the ankle. The photo shows them in use during a rope climb, but I use them for all the Olympic lifting, deadlifts, etc. If you’ve cheese-grated the front of your shin during a lifting session you know how a little protection can go a long way.

They are a nice bit of extra insurance during box jumps, too, in case you miss a jump you might not hurt yourself nearly as bad as skin to metal/wood. Ouch!

Shin Skins have a little grippy material on the inside of the top and bottom cuff to keep them from sliding down. If you’ve ever worn arm or leg warmers as a cyclist, you will be very familiar with the concept and function of Shin Skins.

They work GREAT and for $50 retail I think they are a worthy investment for anyone who wants to have decent-looking shins from all that working out, instead of scabby, cratered monster legs.

Gym Rat Wrist Wraps

When it comes to wrist wraps there are a LOT of choices out there, and they all seem to be essentially the same thing, so find the aesthetics you like and get some. The concept is simple: a long strip of doubled-over cloth about 3″ wide and 24″ long or so with a knotted string on the end. You wrap them around your wrist, loop the string around the wrap and tuck it under itself. The knot will hold. You can twist and untwist the wrap to tighten/loosen them during the WOD as needed, and scootch them up or down your wrist for more or less support.

These give you extra wrist support for push type movements (pushups, HSPU’s, burpees, bench press, push press, etc etc) and cleans. They work GREAT! There are a million colors to choose from and custom fabric options for people who want to brand their own. They are $20 each and are a worthy investment. My wrists are funky, and they like the Gym Rat wrist wraps, a lot. Very easy to use, as you will see in the video below.

If you decide to order any wrist wraps from Gym Rat, they supplied me with this link (http://gymratwristwraps.refr.cc/RDBB3NV) that will save you 10% off your order. A few bucks is a few bucks!

Buff Headwear

I am a sweat MONSTER when I work out and for months I have just been putting up with it. I was going to buy a few bandanas to use as sweat bands and then I remembered the Buff, made famous by the Survivor TV show. These are made out of Coolmax fabric that wicks moisture away from your head (or neck, or wherever you wear it, and there are a million ways) and they have no seams to chafe. I bought two of their new Half Buffs and one classic full-size one. After using the Half Buff, I think those are the way to go for CrossFit WOD’s. The full Buff is probably better for general outdoor use.

Buff uses some proprietary stuff in the fabric to keep the bacteria down, and I’ve read reports of people wearing these all day everyday on long hiking trips with no funky smells or growths coming out of them, which is pretty impressive.

I’ve just been wearing the Half Buff like a headband and it keeps the sweat off my face completely. I will say that for face-down stuff, like our post-workout stretching, the sweat moved to the front of the headband and started dripping off, which was kind of gross, but at least it wasn’t all over my face, in my eyes, on my glasses, etc. I literally wrung the Buff out after the WOD this morning and sweat poured out. Gross, but cool! Rather than testing how long I can go before the funk sets in, I just rinsed it out and hung it up in the bathroom so it can be used again next WOD.

I wish I’d bought some of these 4 months ago, but better late than never.

Kate’s Story

It just struck me that it has been a while since an update! Minor setback this week… had to do a long sprint through Ohare airport on Sunday night and I think I set my leg up for problems. We did five jump squats during our warmup on Monday and after the fifth one I couldn’t walk too well because I pulled something in my calf. Calf sprains are a bitch, but what can you do?

I couldn’t do the WOD so I swung a heavy-ass 40kg kettlebell and did 16kg snatches and long cycles for the 15 minutes everyone else was doing burpees and overhead squats.

Anyway, today’s homework is Kate’s story. See her site at CrossFit Kate and watch the video below. Check her out around the 3:15-3:30 mark and file this under your personal, “What the ^&%! was my excuse, today?” part of your brain.

Kettlebell Hell

Scott from Crossfit-I35 is RKC (Russian Kettlebell Certified), so we do a lot of kettlebell work in our CrossFit routines. I also do one kettlebell class every week to mix it up a little bit. They’re fun, cool and, to quote Pavel, the guy who started RKC, “They’ve been training weakness out of the Russian people for centuries.”

Today’s workout was hardcore. All of our workouts start with a warmup, which alone leaves me sweating and breathing plenty hard, then we go into skill/strength work for a while. Today we were doing kettlebell presses in sets of three repetitions.

I managed to get up to 24kg on the right arm and 20kg on the left. We did a good 5-6 sets of these, so that’s a good workout in and of itself! LOL

The actual WOD was a 10 minute AMRAP (this is cool CrossFitspeak for “As Many Rounds As Possible”) of:

  • 16 kettlebell snatches (videos and articles at the end of this post) 32/24 (prescribed weight of 32kg for men and 24 for women. I did 16kg)
  • 12 kettlebell thrusters 32/24 – again I did 16kg
  • 10 burpee box jumps 24/20 (24″ tall box for men, 20″ tall for women) – I did 20″

Wow. I mean, really?! I did my 16 snatches on my left arm, as well as my 12 thrusters, thinking I would do round 2 with my right. LOL There WAS NO ROUND 2!

The burpee box jumps are a killer. I was gassed. Moving 250 pounds from standing, to prone on the ground, back up and then jumping 20″ as fast as possible is quite a feat. It was a KILLER. I did one full round and then I knocked out 15 of the kettlebell snatches for the beginning of round 2, so I had 1.33 rounds in 10 minutes.

And then the bonus! It was “only 6:30” when we finished the WOD so Scott let us get our breath, THEN we did a Tabata round of kettlebell swings! I used a 24kg KB for this one. I think Tabata is Japanese for “ass-whooping.” You do swings for 20 seconds, then you have a 10 second break (that is the fastest 10 seconds of your life), then you swing for 20 seconds, break 10, etc. You do this for 8 repetitions.

I was already gassed at the start of that. By the end of the Tabata round people were screaming and yelling and it was all very primal. I don’t know what I was doing because I was having an out of body experience by this time.

But, I survived and I went home, had a protein shake and a cup of Earl Grey and started typing this, so all is well.