Monday, March 24, 2014

Crossfit Games 2014 Quick Update

Annie Thorisdottir
Photo credit: Helgi Halldórsson/Freddi / Foter / CC BY-SA
     Hello from SE Portland once again.  Here's a quick update of the 2014 Crossfit Open. We have the familiar faces of Samantha Briggs (2013 World Champion) and Rich Froning (Champion for as long as I can remember!) standing far atop the men's and women's leaderboards respectively.  In second place for the women is Annie Thorisdottir of Iceland, multiple World Champ attempting to come back after missing last year's competitions due to injury. Well it looks like Annie is back!  The competition, however, is stronger now, and has become stiffer with each successive year.

     Can the defending champions hold on, or will prior champions such as Jason Khalipa and Thorisdottir reclaim the their titles?  Or perhaps we will see someone new altogether?  It's far too early to tell, as the Open is the only the first of the rounds of competitions, and typically entails more human-scale workouts than the other competitions.  The succeeding rounds of competition will see the weightier weights and semi-masochistic requirements formulated by the mastermind madman himself, Dave Castro.  Last year Castro commanded competitors in the finals row a half-marathon as part of one of the competitions.  What sick and twisted routines we will see in 2014?
Rich Froning
Photo credit: TonyFelgueiras / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

     Competitors around the Pacific Northwest can rest easy, however, in the knowledge that I am not competing :).  After trying out three gyms in the last nine months though, I am fortunate to have found and joined a Crossfit gym that I think is going to work out (no pun intended) quite well.

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Magic 50

Photo credit: N.Manytchkine / / CC BY-SA
Hello again!  Apologies for my long hiatus from the blogging world, but I haven't had much to say. While I am no longer training clients at this time, I am still a certified Crossfit trainer.  I am still training, and I am still following the latest news and information in the fitness world.  One day the time will come when I return to take a more active role in the industry.

I was fortunate to take a fairly long international vacation in November and I have recently fought back to the fitness level prior to when I left.  As I write this, I am procrastinating in doing my favorite kettlebell session. This session is called "The Magic 50."  I don't recall where I first saw this, but I am not claiming to have made this combination of movements up myself.

There's really nothing magic about it, and any trainer who claims there a "magic" or "secret" workout, you should run from fast as you can in the opposite direction.  I am only calling it "magic" because that's the name that other people call it.  Here is what is involved:

Five rounds:
10 burpees
5 clean and press with kettlebell, left arm
5 clean and press with kettlebell, right arm
10 kettlebell swings

This session has a nice combination of strength and endurance.  Not too long, not too short, and does not require much equipment.  While you might get some strange looks from your housemates, you can do this in your living room.  Just don't drop your kettlebell and break your floor!

If you are thinking about shopping for a kettlebell, one place that I like dealing with is called Rogue Fitness. Rogue has excellent customer service, and all their products are made in the USA.

Time to stop procrastinating and go do my session!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Portland Tribune Story: "Fat? Check Your Zip Code"

Photo credit: mugley / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND
Recently wondered about how body mass index, neighborhoods and income all relate, and then boom, out comes this article.  Fascinating stuff, and worth at least a speed read.  Here it is:

Fat? Check your Zip Code

No offense intended... but if you rarely leave city limits, and then one day go shopping at Target in the suburbs, it's totally bizarre.  Because everybody is suddenly larger.  You're only a few minutes away, and it feels like a different planet.  And if you go to the City Target in downtown, it's the slim alternates of the suburb people.

Living in the suburbs certainly has advantages, but lower walk scores are not one of those.  What is the walk score for your neighborhood?  A walk score is a rating for how close schools, transportation, grocery stores, and other businesses are to you.  I am spoiled
here in hipster SE, with a walk score of 85.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Which way are you going?

Pistol Squat  ***  Photo Credit: David Castillo Dominici

When I ask which way are you going, what I mean is this... How do you know your exercise program is effective?

Most people don't know unfortunately.  The only way to know the effectiveness is by measurement in a controlled environment.  This means recording not only the amount of weights, and the amount of reps, but also the time it takes to do the work.

I'll admit I'm a little biased, but this is one of several things that Crossfit does very well.  The coach at your box (gym) is timing your session.  Whether or not you are recording the results, and occasionally comparing last months results to present results is up to you.

Your physical capabilities last year are not important now.  Actually I often run into people telling me about their athletic accomplishments from several years ago, or even from their high school days.  That is ancient history!

In fact, your physical capabilities today, are not as important as what direction you are going.  Are you getting stronger and closer to where you want to be?  Are you maintaining? Are you losing strength and endurance imperceptibly?

Losing strength and endurance happens to most people imperceptibly.  It is often impercetible even when this atrophy is occurring relatively quickly, and at a rate that cannot be attributed to age alone.  Don't age into an older person that cannot get up out of a chair (squat), or cannot pickup up a twenty pound bag of dog food (deadlift).

Happy lifting!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

What Are We Afraid Of?

Photo credit: country_boy_shane / Foter / CC BY-ND

Here is an important fitness related question that I bet you don't know the answer to:  What is the most dangerous exercise in the gymnasium or weight room?

Think carefully, because the answer may not be intuitive. Sometimes the what seem to be the most dangerous looking exercises are not necessarily so, and vice-versa.  I've had people caution me about kipping pull-ups and Olympic lifting, among other exercises.  But these are not the killers in the gym.  Yes, there does exist a deadly exercise, and it is among the most popular.  

I'm going to help you out a little bit, and tell you that we are excluding myocardial infarctions (heart attack).  We are including only traumatic injuries and deadly injuries.  Surprisingly enough, this exercise is among the most popular exercises in the gym, if not the most popular.   

Need another hint?  This exercise is one of the three lifts in the sport of powerlifting.  If you haven't guessed it by now, well perhaps you don't know as much about the gym as you thought!  Statistically the biggest killer in the weight room is, drum roll please... THE BENCH PRESS!

Surprised?  I was surprised too!  Here's why the bench press is the most dangerous exercise in the gym:  If you neglect to wrap your thumb around the bar, and use an open grip, the bar can roll off your hands, and crush your chest, neck, or face.  Ouch!

Most recently this common, and often deadly fault happened to Dallas Cowboys offensive tackle Darrion Weems:

Sometimes we are afraid of all the wrong things.   We can be oblivious to the dangerous activities we do every day (bench press, driving a car), and afraid of relatively safer activities. The reputation or perception of a sport may not be in line with the actual danger level.  In fact, I successfully pole vaulted for four seasons without so much as a sprained thumb, probably due to excellent coaching, big mats, a little bit of luck, and an average amount of common sense.  If you don't have a aggressive, daredevil personality, you are probably less likely to do something stupid!

Photo credit: Joint Base Lewis McChord / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Katch McArdle formula...How Many Calories Do You Require?

Photo credit: AmySelleck / Foter / CC BY
I've always enjoyed math and numbers, so learning approximately  how many calories I require was something of interest to me. 

The catch is, that in order to calculate the number of calories your body requires, you  also need to know your body fat percentage.  There are two common methods of figuring this out (among others):

1. Skin fold caliper test
2. Hydrostatic weighing

The skin fold caliper test is quick, inexpensive to free, but less accurate. Hydrostatic weighing uses your body's weight in water to determine your body fat percentage.  If two people weigh the same out of the water, but one less body fat, that person will weigh more in the water.  Using this principle it is possible to calculate your body fat percentage.  This is an expensive test for some reason, but much more accurate. 

Anyhow, I had a skin fold caliper test at 24 hour fitness about a year ago and it came out to 15%. 

The formula to calculate the number of calories you need is called the Katch McArdle formula (named after the really super smart folks that invented this method)

Basal Metabolic Rate = 370 + (21.6 * lean body mass in kilograms)

Basal Metabolic Rate, also know as BMR, is just a fancy way of saying how many calories your body requires at complete rest.  We'll factor in your activity level just a bit later on, so bear with me.

Anyhow, if I am made of 85% of things that are not fat, than 0.85* my weight of 160 pounds = 136 pounds of lean body mass.

But the formula uses kilograms because they are anti-American... so I must divide by 2.2 to convert from pounds to kilograms:  136 pounds / 2.2 = 62 kilograms

So my BMR = 370 + (21.6 * 62 kilograms)

So my BMR = 1709 calories at rest per day

I can tell you that I eat a heck of a lot more than 1709 calories each day, and that's because I am not lying in bed the whole time.  So the next step is to calculate how many calories I require according to my activity level.

Below is a list of activity levels needed to complete the calculation:

Sedentary = BMR X 1.2 (little or no exercise, desk job)
Lightly active = BMR X 1.375 (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/wk)
Mod. active = BMR X 1.55 (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/wk)
Very active = BMR X 1.725 (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days/wk)
Extremely active = BMR X 1.9 (hard daily exercise/sports & physical job or 2X day training, i.e. marathon, contest etc.)

I put myself in the very active category for the most part.

1709 calories at rest per day * 1.725 activity level = 2948 calories per day

This is why sushi is really just a small snack for me, and I find myself still hungry afterwards!  I hope you found this to be a fun exercise (no pun intended).  Eat well, have fun, and take the stairs!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Death By Workout Summer Challenge

Photo credit: Amber Karnes / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND
In Crossfit, many workouts are named after members of the U.S. armed forces who have died in combat.  One such routine is named after Lieutenant Michael Murphy, who died in Afghanistan June 28th, 2005.  This session was a favorite of Lieutenant Murphy:
1 mile run
100 pullups
200 pushups
300 squats
1 mile run
The pullups, pushups and squats can be partitioned in any manner necessary.
The DeathByWorkout Summer challenge is half of a "Murph":
1/2 mile run
50 pullups
100 pushups
150 squats
1/2 mile run
Whether you are working on your first pullup, your first pushup, or you are trying to beat the elite time for half a Murph, ask me how I can help you get there!
Level 1: Half Murph with band assistance on pullups, and pushups with knees on ground, less than 30 minutes
Level 2: Half Murph with band assistance on pullups, and pushups with knees on ground, less than 29 minutes
Level 3: Half Murph with band assistance on pullups, and pushups with knees on ground, less than 28 minutes
Level 4: Half Murph with band assistance on pullups, and pushups with knees on ground, less than 27 minutes
Level 5: Half Murph with band assistance on pullups, and pushups with knees on ground, less than 26 minutes 
Level 6: Half Murph with band assistance on pullups, and pushups with knees on ground, less than 25 minutes
Level 7: Half Murph with band assistance on pullups, less than 25 minutes
Level 8: Half Murph in less than 25 minutes
Level 9: Half Murph in less than 24 minutes
Level 10: Half Murph in less than 23 minutes
Level 11: Half Murph in less than 22 minutes
Level 12: Half Murph with 6 pound weighted vest in less than 22 minutes 
Competitive: Half Murph with 12 pound weighted vest in less than 22 minutes
Elite: Half Murph with 21 pound weighted vest in less than 22 minutes
Photo credit: Alex Europa / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND