The Allure Of Crossfit

I was talking with someone the other day, a friend who weight trains pretty regularly, and he made the comment that he didn’t understand the allure of Crossfit. “I just don’t get it,” he quipped.

Well, I’m not a crossfitter, and I’ve never played one on TV, but I think I do.

Allow me to give you my thinking from a layman’s perspective. I’m going to start by saying I have never done CrossFit, but I’ve seen plenty of WODs being conducted in the box attached to my commercial gym–seriously, there’s a big old window between the two. It’s hard to miss it–and I’ve researched it a fair bit.

Some of what I say about Crossfit may be wrong, and I welcome correction on those points, but let’s also keep in mind that the word “allure” means what draws people, so what actually happens may be irrelevant. It’s what people think will happen.

So, with all that out of the way, why do some people find themselves drawn to something like Crossfit?

Well, there are a number of reasons that I can see. Continue reading “The Allure Of Crossfit”

Thursday Thoughts: The Flexibility of Strength

What follows is my attempt to create some order out of the chaos that is this site. Things are kind of haphazard as to what gets posted when, and so I came up with the idea of a few specific days covering certain kinds of posts. “Thursday Thoughts” will most likely center on the more cerebral side of this approach I’m urging people to follow.

When people think of strong people, they don’t think of flexibility.

I’m not talking about the kind of flexibility that would make a world-class powerlifter moonlight as a contortionist, though that’s probably would people would imagine in the above sentence. Though, admittedly, now that I bring up that image, I’m pretty sure no one would think that about strong people either.

What I’m talking about is “flexibility” as meaning an ability to adapt to different situations. Continue reading “Thursday Thoughts: The Flexibility of Strength”

Early Thoughts On Giant Sets For Conditioning

As noted over the weekend, I was going to try and do a little something to not just keep my workouts from running long, but also to provide some conditioning work.

That was to do giant sets for my accessory movements.

So far, as of this writing, I’ve gotten precisely two sessions done with giant sets, so what follows are some very preliminary thoughts on the topic of giant sets and their role in conditioning.

First, let’s talk about what giant sets are for anyone reading who is unfamiliar.

A giant set is basically going between three or more exercises one right after the other as part of one giant…well…set. (just two exercises is called a “superset.”) For example, you can go from chin-ups to Romanian deadlifts to dumbbell rows, for example. You do those, then you get to take a rest.

For the uninitiated, they don’t sound like much. I mean, it’s the same work you were going to do, right?

In practice, though, they will kick. Your. Ass.

There’s really no other way to put it. If you’re deconditioned, they will make you hate life in ways you may well have never experienced. Further, it’s not the kind of conditioning that’s notorious for interfering with your strength/muscular increases. At least, that’s the theory.

The truth is, giant sets are conditioning. They’re conditioning that is slammed into your normal training, though, so it’s easy to forget about them as you look at your program.

What we need to ask ourselves is, are giant sets sufficient?

Looking at it from where I currently stand, I’m going to say “maybe.” Especially in conjunction with the light lifts for time in the new program.

Right now, giant sets provide all the conditioning work I can probably stand. It’s kicking my butt right now and I’m not sure additional conditioning would be beneficial. In fact, more conditioning work might be counterproductive. After all, I’m already going to be doing a version of high-intensity interval training four times per week.

But that’s right now.

Over time, your body adapts to stuff. It adapts to things and becomes more efficient at it, thereby negating the benefits of what you’re doing. That’s why just running two miles a day stops being beneficial after a short time.

I can easily see giant sets hitting that same point.

Yeah, you’re adding weight and all that, and you can reduce your rest time, but at some point, you’re just not getting much more in the way of conditioning. Do giant sets still condition you?

My thinking is that they do, but they will no longer be sufficient to do more than maintain your current level of conditioning.

So what then?

Honestly, I don’t know. I’ll probably add in some jump rope training and maybe some plyometrics into the mix, as well as potentially adding some kettlebell swings into the routine.

But that’s a ways down the road. Several weeks at a minimum.

For now, I think this will do the trick nicely.

When you start trying to get conditioned, you need to start relatively slow. You don’t go from your couch to running a marathon by starting off with five-mile runs. You run a bit, then expand what you’re able to do.

For me, giant sets are just that. They’re conditioning for now. Then, I’ll add more as I need to.

The truth is, I will likely never be satisfied with my conditioning. I will always want more, pretty much because I look at conditioning as I do ammo.

What I mean by that is that no one ever survived a gunfight and said, “I wish I’d carried less ammo.” On the same token, no one ever thinks they have too much conditioning.

My goal is to have sufficient conditioning and strength where I don’t have to wonder if I have enough of either.

No, I won’t get there purely with giant sets, but I do see them as a good start. If not, then I can step back and try something else. That’s the great thing about training. If something doesn’t work, you can adjust fire and do something different.

For me, though, I’m confident that giant sets are a huge leap forward for me and my training.

Five Month Thoughts On Training

They say that if you do anything for 21 days or so, it becomes a habit. I’m not so sure that’s accurate for me, but since I figure the comment is about most people and not each and every person, I’ll let it slide.

But I will say that if it’s remotely true, then training is, indeed, a habit.

Today marks a special day for me. Not super-special, mind you, but special none the less. You see, today is the five-month anniversary of me beginning training once again.

As a result, I’m going to offer some thoughts by way of celebration. Continue reading “Five Month Thoughts On Training”

New Training Program

As I noted earlier this week, it was time to start looking for a new training plan. I’ve spent the weekend looking and plotting, and since tomorrow is the start of the week, it meant I needed to make a plan by the end of today.

However, truth be told, I already had a plan kind of in mind, and that meant anything new had to compete against that and beat it.

Well, nothing did.

So, without further ado–because I know you’ve all been on pins and needles all weekend on this, right? </sarc>–here’s my plan moving forward: Continue reading “New Training Program”

Displaying Strength

Why do people train for strength?

Well, the simple answer is, “To get strong.”

But why? I get why powerlifters or strongman competitors train for strength, but what about the rest of us? (Says the man who wrote a book that says, in part, that men need to be strong.)

The best answer I can give is that people train to get strong so they can do more stuff. Sounds reasonable, right?

If that’s the case, then maybe something more of us need to do is look at how strength is displayed in the real world and how that impacts our training choices.

So how is strength displayed? Continue reading “Displaying Strength”

Review: Titan Mini Farmer’s Walk Handles

I’m a sucker for farmer’s walks as an exercise. Somewhere along the way, strength coach Dan John suckered me into embracing these things. Coach John refers to them as “game changers.” I’m not sure he’s right at this point in my training, but I do love them.

The reason is something I’ll go into later in more detail, but basically, when you talk about how strong someone is, there are usually a few ways we judge this. One is by carrying heavy things around.

Farmer’s walks are the epitome of that display, and if you want to carry heavy things, you need to carry heavy things.

With that in mind, I really wanted some farmer’s walk handles, but I wasn’t really in a position to purchase a really good set of handles. Or even a so-so set of handles.

But then Titan announced their strongman line of products a short time back and there they were. For $50, I could have something that would let me train farmer’s walks.

These are Titan’s version of the Fringe Sport’s mini farmer’s walk handles but at half the price.

When they arrived, I eagerly tore open the package, and here’s what I found: Continue reading “Review: Titan Mini Farmer’s Walk Handles”

Dealing With Bad Days Training

Our culture is littered with cliches about how bad days happen. “You win some, you lose some,” or the very similar, “you can’t win them all,” or even, “Some days, you eat the bear. Other days, the bear eats you.”

We all know that bad days happen, and anyone who has spent much time on this planet knows that they can happen in bunches.

Well, I’ve been dealing with that this week and no, I don’t know how to deal with it all that well. Continue reading “Dealing With Bad Days Training”

The Zen Of Training

In my life, I’ve tried a lot of training modalities for various reasons. I’ve done Tae Bo, I’ve done fitness videos where you sit on a stupid ball and do various lifts with lightweight dumbbells, I’ve done types of yoga, kettlebells, bodybuilding lifts, odd objects, and plenty of others.

However, it’s only in lifting weights that I have found a certain zen-like quality that exists nowhere else in the world for me. Continue reading “The Zen Of Training”

Do Diets Really Work?

I think I’m pretty open with the fact that I don’t like the “fat acceptance” movement. In my opinion, it’s going to get people killed in the long run, but they don’t care about that.

However, I’m actually OK with people who simply want to be fat. They have a right to live whatever lifestyle they want, whether I personally approve or not, and they also have a right to be treated as a worthwhile human being regardless of whether they’re thin or fat.

What I’m not OK with is when fat acceptance people just make up crap.

Recently, over at Vice, a post dropped of “51 Ways to Make the World Less Hostile to Fat People.” In it, the author makes a lot of comments that need to be slapped down, but debunking BS takes an order of magnitude more work than writing said BS in the first place, so I’m going to start with just one particular tidbit. Continue reading “Do Diets Really Work?”