Monday, November 30, 2009

No more "I'm too old" excuses people!

Last week I teamed up with my good fiend and fellow trainer Jim Bathurst to help Bob Vastine celebrate his 72nd birthday by lifting 50,000 pounds of weight in 1 hour.  He would be doing so with two lifts: the rack pull (a raised deadlift), and the bench press.

For only three weeks prior to this event did Jim and I work with Bob to prepare.  He had been working with Jim on mobility and some pretty intense stretching, while with me, he worked on light conditioning, stability and some basic strength work.  After we went back and forth on some different ideas (last year he pulled the car for his 71st), we decided on this challenge, something that we all thought would be very tough and pretty damn impressive as well.  So we got to preparing.

It was a rough start.  On day one, to see where he stood on the rack pull, we used 185lbs and were only able to make it through 6 rounds before we had to hang it up and get on the mat to stretch out.  Bob was mostly struggling with the conditioning aspect of this style of lifting.  Holding the world record in his age group for deadlift (450lbs) and bench (285lbs), he really is used to just moving a crazy heavy load no more than a few times and taking a nice long recovery.  This was a whole different monster.

Jim and I geeked out with the numbers and calculated that he would need to perform 15 sets of a 185 rack pull and a 135 bench press with a 60 second rest between exercises and a 30 second prep time for each as well.  This would leave him about 500lbs shy of the goal weight at 60 minutes.  So, with training, keeping a close eye on the heart rate the entire time (we didn't want to see that thing get too far over 145, pretty high to sit for an extended period for a 72 year old), we worked to find ways to shave off rest time.  We were skeptical on raising the weight because we did not in any way want to compromise his form and risk injury.

After some concern and talking about adding time to have it performed in 72 minutes, we decided to just get after it.  And on Tuesday, November 24th, Bob came in to get after it.  With a select few people cheering him on, Bob put on an incredibly impressive display, keeping great rhythm, perfect posture all around and in the end, here's what he finished with:

54 minutes
53,800 total pound lifted.

He looked so good in fact, after 11 rounds Jim and I added 10lbs to each lift for 6 solid more rounds.  Great work Bob!  You continue to be an inspiration to me and to so many others.

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Over-Trained / Under-Fueled

This past week I know I was right on the brink of going a little overboard.  But it wasn't necessarily from training too much.  In fact, I really did not train much more than my body is normally used to, the only question as to my actual training would be how quickly I decided to get into this crossfit programming around a marathon.  What really played a large role in the way I felt Friday coming into that trans-continental workout, was my nutrition.  I was improperly fueled.

When I started all this a month ago, I began a modified Zone diet, which was actually going pretty well up until the marathon.  I began increasing my carb intake the week before the run knowing that I would need the extra glycogen reserves during the long endurence-filled day.  What happened after the run is what threw me off.  I completely crashed.  And, as a result of the energy depletion I was feeling, and the fact that I had all this left-over food at my place from the marathon event, I ended up consuming not only a bit too much, but also a bit too much of the wrong kinds of food (IE: crap carbs in the form of flour, wraps and chips, refined sugars, sodium filled sandwich meats and nowhere near enough veggies and natural sugars and fats).  When improperly fueled, my body ends up reacting in a couple different ways (I know from plenty of experience): my metabolism gets thrown off drastically resulting in abnormal sleeping patterns, fluxuating energy, slight mood swings and feelings of weakness and super strength.  When read, this sounds like I all of a sudden became some roided out crazy man running down the street looking for his next kill; while, more realistically, these effects were very subtle and only noticable by me, and maybe a couple really close, very observant friends. 

So what ended up happening?  I continued with my everyday activities -training clients and working out- and each day things just got tougher and tougher.  My recovery from the workouts got slower and slower until I wasn't really recovering at all.  And two Saturdays ago, when I did my tons of hill sprints and DB clean and presses, I really never felt one ounce of recovery from that day on, untill today.  And through this experience I realized something that I think is so important for anyone trying to get, and stay at a good/great fitness level:

Prepare, and don't forget to eat.

Upon a short recollection of my last couple weeks, I found that the main theme was my complete lack of schedule for consumption.  Even on days when I ate well (meaning, I don't consume crap/fake food) I was still not doing so on a regular schedule.  There were times when I would go 4 or more hours without eating more than a few pieces of dried mango, and for someone who's lifestyle demands constant activity, I need to make sure that I am constantly fueling so that I can keep my metabolism running smoothly.  The worst part about doing this is that in the evening, when I started to slow down from the busy day and the hard workouts, I would then all of a sudden realize just how damn hungry I actually was.  And in the past couple weeks, my attempts to control that hunger were pretty weak to say the least.

So, tonight, I had Gladiator playing in the background while I shuffled around the kitchen cooking up chicken breasts, ground ostrich, chicken apple sausage, turkey chili, salmon burgers and few other main proteins.  I also wrote out a basic list of meals throughout the day to follow, and general times foe when I should be having those meals.   Now, all I will have to do during the day is check my cards, check my watch, add the veggies, salad, fruits, beans and eggs and my meals will be complete.  It really was not a very difficult thing to do, it's just one of those things you have to kick yourself in the but and just DO if you know you won't have the time for it during the week.  Preparation.  A fit, healthy person will always be prepared.

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Trans-Continenetal #2 Video

Trans-Continenetal #2

Yesterday was the second installment of the Trans-Continental workout with my friend Blair Morrison who's out in Belgium getting his masters.  It was a step forward in intensity this one, but it was a great time.  The best part about it for me was the fact that we had a few people join in the fun.

The workout (prescribed weight)
100 meter farmers walk with 80lbs DB's
100 double unders
30 clean and jerks with 185lbs
100 double unders
100 meters farmers walk with 80lbs DB's

Blair had to perform the workout a couple days earlier because he was headed off to Switzerland for the weekend, so we were able to have something to push for.  His final time was 14:23, pretty damn impressive for such an involved workout.  Check out his write-up and video HERE.

Five of us gathered in at Balance Gym and got prepared, myself, Ori, Steve, Dan and Reggie were set up for the workout and good ol' Mike was in charge of the times and the camera.  Steve, Dan and myself used the prescribed weight (except we did 85lbs on the walk because we don't have 80's...) and Ori and Reggie used 75's and 160 and 135 on the clean and jerk respectively.  This one was tough.  I struggled through the double unders the first round, then found a comfortable rhythm with the clean and jerk.  My legs had nothing, so much so that I resorted to a split clean and split jerk after about 15 reps or so.  I will be posting up another post this weekend about over training, something I feel I may be teetering with as I am really struggling with recovery.  But the workout was a great test of being able to endure a heavy weight with very technical movements, combined with the ability to stay light and agile with the double unders and keep full support of the body through the walks.  I ended up finishing in 18:35, Reggie in 18:32, Steve in 19:02 and Dan, tore it up with a solid 14:55.  Ori struggled with a exertion migraine right off the bat and wisely pulled out of the workout before it got too serious.  Later on in the day I took a bunch of my baseball guys through the workout as well, you'll see them mixed in the video.  Everyone really pushed with this one and seemed to really enjoy it.

I'm really looking forward to the next workout we can share overseas, and hopefully we can get even more people to join in! 

Video will be posted later today or tomorrow.

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

There goes the hands...

So yesterday I got all amped up to get back in some heavy lifting.  In the morning I got a bunch of sets of dealifts, getting up to a 1RM of 435lbs, waaaay below my PR of 485, but it's been a while since I did it, and I was happy with the workout.  My posture broke a bit on the last two sets, but it was never enough to cause any unnecessary tightness; and, today, hamstrings and glutes a little sore, but nothing too bad at all.

At night I went back in the gym and did a workout called "Angie"  This one is a bodyweight workout of 100 reps each of pull ups, push up, squat and sit ups.  I focused on keeping full proper form on everything, especially the sit ups.  The pull ups were a breeze, getting 35 straight off the bat, then finishing off the rest in 5 more quick sets.  The only issue, my hands got completely torn to pieces.  They are in majorly rough shape right now...  The push ups were my hardest of the exercises.  I was only able to get 10 straight, then just broke them up into quick sets of 5 through the end.  I really need to focus a bit more on this exercise, I used to be able to bang out 80+ on a daily basis, now I struggle with 30+.  I'll probably start to add more push ups during down time at the gym over the next few months, that is always a great way to build on your total reps.  The squats were nothing.  I took three breaks during the work and those breaks literally were a step back, a breath and then back into it.  The site ups were the most time consuming as I forced myself to keep the butterfly position with my legs (bottoms of feet together, knees splayed out to the sides) forcing my lower half out of the picture for the movement.  This made the exercise a little tougher because I wasn't able to use momentum, so I just moved a good deal slower than I am used to with the sit up.  When all was said and done, I finished in 16:13, which I was pretty happy with.  I really wanted to to break 15, and I think that that is totally possible for the next time I attempt it.

Today, I have strict overhead press work, then doing a tabata row and squat routine with Ori.  Getting very excited to the second Trans-Continental workout with Blair this coming Friday.  He'll actually be doing the workout tonight because he'll be traveling all day Friday, but it'll still be cool to have both our views from different countries.  To add to the excitement, I have recruited some 7-9 more people to join the workout.  Should be a blast!!

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Fri/Sat/Sun Work

What a damn good weekend of work this was. 

Friday was meant to be a gymnastics day, and I thought it would be fun to try out the 100-burpee challenge (basically, 100 burpees for time).  I had a couple buddies agree to play along so we decided to throw a mile run on the end of the workout, then get some good overhead squat work in as well. We really didn't know what to expect from this one, just looking through the internet a bit and finding that some of the best times out there were in the low 5's, so, I guess we just wanted to come somewhat close.  It was a quick one, fatigue hit fast, but once it hit, it didn't get any worse.  What this means is that I was able to go hard off the blocks, but then around 30 reps or so I started to slow up.  Once I started to slow though, I didn't have another change of pace through the end.  I just took a couple 2-4 second breathers and kept on trucking.  The mile run was a little heavy, but it picked up at the half way point.

Total time - 12:50
Burpees - 5:58


Total time - 14:30
Burpees - 6:26

Total time: 14:50
Burpees - 6:02

Overhead squats were great.  It took a couple rounds to get back into the swing of things for me, but, I was able to get 135 for 4 very easily on my 6th round, and that was the first time I actually worked those in over six months.

Saturday was amazing.  I was back at my high school for a holiday bazaar they have every year and I decided to take the time to get a good workout in before I had to scamper up to Philly for a Siena/Temple basketball game.  I decided I'd grab a 50lbs dumbbell and head to the steep hill for a metcon/weightlifting workout.  Here's what is was:

10 hill sprints
1 each arm dumbbell clean and press
9 hill sprints
2 each arm DB clean and press
8 hill sprints
3 each arm DB clean and press
etc. until the hill sprints got to 1, and the DB clean and presses got to 10 each arm.

In total, I ended up doing 55 of each there and when I stopped my heart rate monitor (something I really like to have for longer workouts because it keep me at intensity) I found that my average heart rate for the 39:02 minute workout was 179!  Holy crap!

I guess it was the excitement of being outdoors, the amount of people around, the pressure of wanting to get on the road soon, and the bare feet on gravel (the bottom of the hill was gravel) that made me just shut off and go hard.  But Saturday night, and all day today, my legs were gone!  During the workout I did not feel like I was holding a 179 average heart rate for 40 straight minutes, which, by the way is insane, it just felt like I had done a tough workout.  Pretty interesting how mind set plays such a huge roll in how your physical body feels.

Today I had a quick, not too crazy one planned out, inspired by Lindsey's workout up at Albany CrossFit yesterday.  I did:

1 round for time of:
1000 meter row
30 back squats (225)
30 kipping pull ups

Finished in 8:58 and I must say, this one was a little rusty thanks to the sore legs from the hill sprints.  Finished the row in 3:30 which was pretty good, but the squats got me.  I wasn't able to get more than 8 at a time.  The pull ups were a breeze.  I think that this would be a good one to try to get in around 6 for future reference.

Well, an off day tomorrow (I'll probably bike for a bit) and then a great day already planned for Tuesday.  I get to heavy deadlift!!

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A great workout in the dark. The importance of location for the best workouts

Last night I pulled my roomie out of the house and we headed on over to my old High School in MD for a great workout.  I have done a ton of workouts out there and really like the setting; and, after last night, I will be doing a lot more workouts over there.  We stopped over at my Dad's place and picked up a rusty old barbell and some plates to get a 95lbs bar with us, then we pulled out back and turned on floodlights on Ori's car.

My workout:
10 rounds for time of:
10 kipping pull ups
10 power snatches

Ori's workout:
10 rounds for time of:
5 back squats
10 knees to elbows
25 double unders

Ori finished his in 17:35 and I finished mine in 18:22, tough, tough workout but such a fun time.  It got us both to talking about the effects of proper setting in a workout.  This was something that the instructors grazed over briefly at the crossfit certification course and something that, as a sort of adventurer myself, I have always been intrigued by.

Everywhere you go, each location will have a certain feel about it.  It may be rugged, dirty, pristine, quite, claustrophobic, wild, etc. and when you find a location and spend your time there, you will automatically feed off that feeling it has.  I recalled session after session that I have had in different gyms, one up in a HUGE space in Western Massachusetts with only 4-5 people in it, one in a tiny box up in Kutztown, PA with blue collar bad asses banging out set after set of bench.  I remember a rainy beach in St. Lucia with honeymooners craning their necks out of curiosity, and the Dupont Circle metro escalator at the tail of rush hour with dynamax balls and a great group of enthusiastic fitness buffs.  Some of my favorites have been the lookout area just North of San Fran (check out the video here) where the only sounds were the seals at the bottom of the cliffs hidden by the fog and our heavy breathing.  The woods of Manasses, VA while I supported a friend during an ultra-marathon when I founds branches and rocks to throw around, and tried to play tag with a deer.  And this workout I did with Ori.

The cold silence of that night was the perfect combination of eerie and serene.  It was pitch black out there and just far enough off the main street that you could barely hear a thing.  The space was incredibly open, and the pull up bars stood alone in the corner of the large blacktop space in a mulch pit.  We both just got a wave of excited energy knowing that at that moment, we were the only people anywhere around who were outside, in the cold, gearing up for a high intensity workout.  It's just something that I love to be aware of; how the location adds to the excitement of the work.  I suggest to all that if you want to really enjoy your workouts, if you want to feel a deeper connection to each move and how it all effects your body, move around and try new places.  Go to other gyms, get outside, use houses and warehouses and even large closets.  Anywhere you go, you can use your surroundings, use basic and/or unconventional tools, anything will do.  I am sure you will see posts of some other locations I search out pleanty, but go ahead and try it out for yourself.  Everywhere feels so different.  And keeps your body guessing.

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Riding With Courage Marathon Report

Well, after all the stress I decided to put on myself, and the lack of sleep, the event turned out pretty damn good when all was said and done.  The perfectionist that I am, I wanted hundreds of people to attend and 50 or more runners to join along, but really, I couldn't have asked for a better turnout. The Thursday and Friday leading up to this thing was filled with ups and downs that I expected (like my volunteers, all of them, bailing on me) and that I didn't expect (like my musician bailing). But in the end, the whole thing went off smoothly and, while I always expect great things from myself, realistically it was a "huge" success given what I had to work with.

The days leading up were occupied by contacting potential runners and attendees, contacting about 20 people to try to replace my musician, picking up wonderful desert plates, getting to Costco to pick up all the other food. Contacting lululemon and the Running Company about securing the aid stations, getting turn by turn directions for the course, stuffing the gift bags, finding a couple new volunteers and briefing them on what to do, designing all the auction and raffle sheets, the layout of the space, printing all necessary papers, picking up the shirts and banner, and making sure all other needs were listed off and scheduled into the final hours. Whew!

At 1:30am I crawled into bed, under fueled and under hydrated for someone about to run 26.2 miles. But all the prep was done. All I had to do now was wake up, get the last bit of equipment to the gym (Balance Gym Thomas Circle, what a perfect location for the event), map out how everything would be set up while I was on the road and wait, very impatiently at that point, to see if anyone would actually show. I assumed my nerves were only natural, the fact was, I had never organized anything more then a small get to together for burgers and such at my house let alone charity event with a full marathon involved. I just wanted people to be there and really had no clue at all what to expect. But I had a select few supporters close to me telling me it would be great and the fact is, I really did believe them deep down. I had never really expected this event, of the three, to be a huge one, but when people began to respond so positively, I started to raise my expectations for bow it would be. And now, 15 minutes to the start of the run, and nobody there but me and the best volunteer/help I could have ever hoped for (Thanks Lindsey!!!!!!!!), I was starting to get that empty feeling deep in my gut that people would just roll over in their beds and decide that getting up super early on a Saturday to run in the cool, light drizzle was just not the most exciting idea.

But then they started to show up. one by one really. And at 7:28, we had 10 total runners, all in their Riding With Courage Marathon shirts ready to go. We huddled together just outside the back entrance to the studio, I thanked them all for coming, we took a couple pictures, and we took off, 7:31, just one minute behind schedule.  The course that my good friend James designed led us down 14th street towards the mall.  Around the Capital, back through the mall, up passed the White House and onto Dupont Circle for the first 10 miles.  We were all having a blast, talking, taking pictures, enjoying the perfect running weather and each other.  The couple road bumps were hardly noticeable.  First, we missed our first aid station.  The guys I was able to round up last minute came in a little late and when I left the intersection for the first spot, I left it in the wrong region (as in, North East when it was really South East).  It wasn't that big of a deal really, but it caused a little confusion.  I knew the second aid station would be impossible to confuse.  The next was our run up the long steps at the Lincoln Memorial.  We were already starting to get a little distracted by our many photo op stops and I could definitely hear some grumblings as we trudged up the steps about 7 miles into the run.  When we got to the top I started to give James a hard time for adding all the steps, but he said he had nothing to do with this decision.  Turned out, one of the runners thought it would be a perfect photo to add to our collection.  Well, it actually was a great photo, but I knew that I would be feeling those steps come mile 20.  Little did I know that I had much worse in terms of challenges coming my way.

The big pick-me-up came in form a my Dad though.  Just a few blocks from the start, he came screeching up in his car, yelling his support to all of us (scaring the crap out of a few of the runners) while snapping off pictures.  The best part, he drove the entire course, the entire time, supporting us all.  What a damn cool guy he is.

At Dupont, mile 10, all the runners broke off to go their seperate directions while James, my friend Amy and myself kept on.  We grabbed a couple extra waters from the guys at the aid station, and headed up the long hill of Mass Ave.  From there, we cut down Wisconson and headed through Georgetown until we got to our first fully organized aid station at lululemon, just about mile 13.  They had a table set up with water and Gatorade, they were flashing off pics and giving us some great words of encouragement.  A couple friends were there as well and they agreed to meet up at the next aid station to join in for the run.  James and I set off to what would end up being the most "interesting" portion of the journey.

At this point we were actually about 10 minutes ahead of schedule, but once we hit Rock Creek Park things changed fast.  We broke off the paved trail and hit the woods, the dirt path turned to rock and at one point, we actually had to scale a full 15-20 feet of sheer rock.  This crazy path lead us for a little over a mile or so and when we broke out of the woods onto Connecticut Ave I realized we were south of Van Ness, meaning, about 3 miles from our next aid station.  At this point we were already about 20 minutes behind schedule somehow and I started to freak out.  I felt a ton of responsibility to be back on time as I was the organizer and host of this event.  But James reminded me that I was out on the road now, and all I could do was enjoy the run.  He was totally right,  I needed to chill out, enjoy my time, and know that everything would be all good.

We got to the next aid station at The Running Company about 30 minutes behind schedule but we were greeted by a energetic crowd and some great refreshments.  The two other runners joined in and we headed back on the 7-mile, mostly downhill journey to the finish line.  I was tired.  My head was bobbing, my sight was a little fuzzy, but luckily, my muscles were ok.  So we kept on moving through the final miles until we found ourselves on the home stretch.  As we approched Balance Gym Thomas Circle, we could see the crowd of people standing there waiting.  It was a rush, and an absolute blessing to have that many people come out to show their support, not only to me, but to all the runners and of course, the great cause as well.

The next couple hours were great, people hung out and chatted, snacked on the great food, and I housed around 5 Honest Teas.  All in all, I am so happy that people came out and people ran and that we were able to have a good response like that.  It makes me really excited for the next event because I know, with the time I have to prepare, this next one will be much, much bigger.

Today, I am walking normally, my hamstrings are a little tight but I feel recovered enough to get back on schedule.  Yesterday I was hoping to get to the pool for a light recovery swim, but instead I went down with client to the Exorcist Steps and ran them 13 times...probably not the wisest decision, but it went ok.  I will be posting up a few more pics as the next post, along with a couple videos (I hope!) of the event this past weekend.  Thanks again for everyone who came out!  And keep checking the RWC site (and your email) for new info.

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Short and Sweet!

Today, I was just about to take an extra day off to rest up for my Riding With Courage marathon, but, I was inspired.  My high school guys came in for a workout, and because we were not going to be having our regular Friday Fun Day coming up, they convinced me to let them do some tire and sand bag work.  As they pushed, and pulled, and ran, and keeled over in muscular and cardiovascular fatigue, I thought up a great little workout:

1 round for total time of:
20 tire flips (395lbs)
40 kipping pull ups
60 double unders

Consulting with a couple buddies, we decided that the total time should realistically be under 6 minutes, so now I had a goal.

Holy moly was this a tough one.

It reminded me a little of Fran, just total faigue over a very short period of time.  The tire flips destroyed the legs, the pull ups killed the arms, and by the time I got to double unders, well, I was struggling to get ten straight with how pumped my forearms were.  I finished in 4:17 and found myself gasping for a full breath still 20 minutes after the workout was over.  I think this is a great workout for future quick ones, sub 4 will be a perfect goal.

Off days tomorrow and the next day in prep for the big run, I will foam roll and stretch a bit, and really focus on a quick recovery from the 26.2.

Never Stop, GET FIT.
Josh Courage

Monday, November 9, 2009

A Cool Idea

Today was the first of a great idea I got to share with a buddy who used to work out of the gym, Blair Morrison, now out in Belgium for graduate school.  The concept is to have people from different areas perform the same workout, video and post it up.  I got the idea a long time ago from a great friend of mine but it never really panned out until Blair left and I threw the idea out there.  So, he came up with a great workout and we did it.  Here's the workout:

AMRAP 1 minute rounds non stop of:
body weight bench
reverse burpees
Continue until you reach 100 total reps and then run 1 mile.  Goal is shortest time all around.  I ended up finishing in 15:18 while Blair edged me out at 15:11, damn good workout clearly. 

I had a couple road bumps along the way, first, I hate using this as an excuse, but on Saturday I did a workout that involved 5 sets with a 205lbs bench press, the same thing I did today.  Given that fact, I would say banging out 16 straight reps on the first set was pretty good.  After that I was choppy at best with all the exercises, also, realizing after the fact that I needed to get full lock out of my hips on the reverse burpees after the sit up and before the handstand.  I also had a glitch with my watch around the second round and had to go back and re-watch the video to confirm my finishing time.  All in all a great workout and I hope to do this perhaps once a week with Blair, with the goal of adding more people to the mix and make it a regular program!

link to video on YouTube

Tonight, I came back to the gym and did a nice long workout with front squats.  I have never been very strong with these so I want to make sure to keep them mixed in, especially as I work on my squat cleans.  I did two sets of 5 and 5 sets of 3 getting up to 245, not very impressive but I felt relatively sturdy.  I will be sure to continue working on those as I get further along with my program.

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Great Saturday!

Yesterday I met up with a client/friend, Matt of mine for a midday workout.  I had a GWM day (gymnastic, weightlifting and metcon) but seeing how Matt was leaving to head back to school I wanted to get a good one in.  We needed to stay heavy, really heavy, but I also wanted to get a rhythm going, rather then stick to pure strength training.  So I wrote out this workout:

5 rounds for time:
Deadlift 5RM
Bench 5RM
1-arm snatch 5RM
Strict pull ups x 10
Bench jumps x 20 (laterally jumping over a weight bench and back = 1 rep)

I picked 315lbs on the DL, 205 on bench, and 75 on the snatch.  After warming up with 225 on the besnch I realized that that would be overkill for five rounds, and even 215 would be pushing it without a spot; so, to be sure not to drop the weight on my chest, I stuck with 205.  The snatch was a slightly different story.  I wanted 80, but we don't have them at my gym.  and 85 was just at that point where I would be taking hefty breaks between reps, I also didn't want to risk testing my form on the snatch because I really have not worked them in a while.

All in all, this workout was TOUGH.  After the second round I looked up at Matt and both of us clearly had the same thing on our minds: five rounds...yeah right!  I just said let's keep trucking and see what happens, and that's what we did.  Both of us struggled on the DL's, we stayed strong enough through our torso's to do them correctly, but we were both definitely skating on the brink of doing "bad deadlifts".  All the other exercises I personally felt fine with, especially the pull ups, I am feeling stronger and stronger with those.  Matt struggled a bit more on the bench, his snatches looked great, his pulls were, well, almost one at a time, and his jumps were awesome.  Of course, this was the first workout of this style he had done in about three months, so, he did very well considering.  I finished in 22:48, he in  24:38.  We were DONE after that.

Today was an off day, and I rested up, biked around the city a little and goofed off with some gymnastics stuff down at lululemon georgetown.  Tomorrow I am breaking my cycles a little to do something with a good friend that I suggested we do a while ago.  I'm really excited to try it out and maybe, just maybe we can create a new program with this concept.  It will all be posted tomorrow night...let the excitement begin!!

Here are tomorrow's WODs:

AM: 1 minute rounds, no rest
Body weight bench
Reverse burpees
continue until 100 reps total are reached
1 mile run
Combined time

PM: 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3 Front Squats

Then it's lower key workouts for the week to get the body prepared for another 26.2 mile run for the Riding With Courage Marathon!

Never Stop, GET FIT.
Josh Courage

Friday, November 6, 2009

Splitting up the day with Body Weight

Yesterday I had just a single gymnastics move on the plate for my workout.  In normal Crossfit mindset, this would be like, 30 muscle ups for time, tabata squats, 100 burbee challenge etc.  I decided to just have fun with it and do a couple random couplets.  Between clients in the late morning, I grabbed an AbMat and hit the basketball court to perform 200 total walking lunges with 10 sit ups at the top of each minute.  Finishing in 6:47, meant I was able to get all 200 lunges in while only doing 60 sit ups (10 at the start of each minute).  It was a simple workout that left my legs shaking for a few hours, and, I am surprised to feel some good stiffness in my glutes and quads this morning.  I think that 200 lunges is probably a good beginners prescription, while 500 would probably be a little more challenging to someone a bit more advanced.

Later that day, I was at my fathers house fixing up an old, old road bike (cleaning it up, and turning it into a single speed "fixie"!).  I walked down to my old middle school/high school jungle gym and set up for what I expected to be a pretty grueling workout: 15-1 pull ups with 10 suermans between rounds for time.  This proved to be about as hard as I expected but for totally different reasons.  First, the pull up bar was the first in a set of monkey bars that stood about 7 feet from the ground.  That meant that any sort of kip that I generated had to be done with my knees completely bent, making the normal controlled momentum of the kip a little tougher than normal.  So really, I was just doing a dynamic pull up rather then a full fledged kipping one.  The recovery exercise, the superman, ended up being a good recovery for my arms, but not my lungs.  I used a platform on the jungle gym that was only big enough to hold my upper body; so my lower half hung off the edge allowing my body to break parallel and putting a ton of pressure on my chest (IE, compressing my lungs quite a bit).  Lastly, the main thing causing my time to slip a little, was the bar itself.  It was thick, and slippery as hell.  My body could easily handle 5+ pull ups at a time no problem, but around 4 or 5 I would just slip right off.  So, all those factors included, I finished in 13:03.

I followed everything with 3 rounds of 50 incline push ups (feet up about 3 feet off the ground) un-timed.  I felt so strong with these, it was great!

It's so nice to be able to mix in these fun and very different workouts in my days here seeing how overwhelmed I've been.  This is not a negative thing at all, in fact, it's been some of the most exciting times in my life preparing for these events and growing my business with a whole slew of new programs (I just tend to bite off a HUGE chunk to work with at all times!).  But to be able to make the time to get some good physical activity in each day has really helped keep my mind on top of things.  It makes me think of all the times I've heard people talk about how they just don't have the time to get to the gym.  Well, at this point, my first response to that is always: you don't need a gym.  It is so simple to get a great full body workout in without touching a weight and without taking more than 20 minutes.  It's a matter of intensity.  Now intensity can mean a bunch of different things to people (and an actual detailed description of it is coming up in a later post focused on the topic), but in the end, it just means challenging yourself to go a little harder, faster, heavier, longer than you feel you can.  If you push yourself just that much more, you will see great gains in anything you are working on, work, sleep, family fitness, everything.

I was able to get 20 minutes of workout in yesterday, split up, and it left me worn out, fulfilled and sore the next day.

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Modifying workouts

Yesterday was a great one.  I had one of my clients/friends back in town from college and we got together in the morning to get a workout in.  Sunday I had gone out on the bike for a little over an hour and half performing 4 minute intervals of high intensity sprints.  I was able to burn just under 1200 calories in that time.  Man, was that fun!

So, I had a gymnastics, or body weight exercise, and a weightlifting exercise to do.  I picked pull ups and dips and thrusters.  We worked a little bit on power cleans and did some 1-leg RDL's and GHD sit ups, so I wanted to get some good intensity out of the workout.  I loaded the bar with 135lbs, his with 115, and we went 10 reps of each exercise, then 9, then 8, etc. down to 1 each.  All in all it took me 16:44, and him 17:54 and left us both very tired both cardiovascularly and muscularly.  Today, I confirmed with him: sore as hell.  A quick side note on this workout:  I initially loaded 185 on the bar, performed 1 rep, slid off weight to 165, another rep... still brutal, so went down to 155... nope.  Finally finished the set on 135 and completed the workout there.  I was a little overzealous with the weight, I realize that now.  BUT, I guess it's safe to say that I could probably get a much better time next time without all that weight changing...!

Today, I went with the same friend and another one to the ball field (upper 60's in November!) and threw and hit for a while  All I can say about that is I really, really love baseball a lot.  If I say anything more I'll get distracted and ramble, so, I'll leave it at that.  What I really want to talk about today is the fact that I have to put a lot of thought into the workout because my foot is bothering me. After the Marine Corps Marathon, the top of my left foot started hurting like crazy.  I decided to take it easy to see if it would pass seeing how I have had some really strange things happen to my body after long runs.  So, a week later I was feeling pretty good and figured the potential stress fracture was nothing more than a deep bruise.  As of yesterday, it was almost completely healed, until a few hours after that workout.  It's still pretty fine, but seeing how I have another marathon in less than two weeks, I figured I should take it easy with running and jumping.  So, I have to modify my workout.

Today I have a metcon, a gymnastic exercise and a weightlifting exercise.  I wanted to do some form of sprint with box jumps and wall ball (a workout I did with a big group a long while ago and had a blast with), but with the foot feeling a little tender, I need to avoid that.  The great thing about CrossFit I find is that everything seems to have something else that is pretty similar.  I can replace running with rowing, or the versaclimber, or even swimming or biking if I want.  Knees to elbows instead of box jumps.  They are very similar movements of the body, focusing on the hip flexion and extension, but one has zero impact on the joints.  I think that having a focus on utilizing as many different exercises as possible allows a much broader frame of reference when choosing workouts.  Many people have the basics stuck in their head, but I have found that with most CrossFitters (and generally intelligent lifters) all one has to do is think of the way the body moves within an exercise, and when looking to modify or change something, understand how to utilize the same basic movements with another exercise.  Burpees in place of thrusters; inverted rows or even cable pulls instead of pull ups; tire flips in place of deadlifts or cleans, you get the picture.  Also, I feel like it's rare in the average gym-goers repertoire to use metcon and gymnastics within a workout.  I mean, think if the intense workouts one could get in the woods, or a jungle gym if you just use your surroundings, yourself and a little intensity.  It's always easy to modify something if you understand how your body moves.  Just think, you can push and pull anything in the world, it doesn't have to be a bar or a dumbbell.

Today's modified workout: 800 meter row, 50 wall ball (20lbs), 50 knees to elbows for time.  Rest the same amount of time it took to perform the workout.  Repeat three times.

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Couple More Food Points

So, according to a couple different sources (CrossFit, The Zone website, and a couple other sites I found), I was able to calculate my daily block needs at 21 per day.  The way I will generally organize my meals will be 5 block meals at breakfast, lunch and dinner, with either 2 3-block meals between breakfast and lunch and lunch and dinner, or I'll break those down a bit more and have a very small something before breakfast (since I wake up so early), or after dinner.

I explained in an ealrier post how one calculates ones daily block needs, so I won't go in to that again.  It's going to be a bit of a process to get all this organized.  Here's how I'm going about getting started:

I printed out two large sheets that I found online that offer what a mini block of each macro nutrient would consist of.  What this means is that on the list, under protein, it would say that one block of protein would be 6oz chicken breast, and so on so forth with all other macro nutrients and types of food.  Next, I'll head to the store and stock up on the basics.  Then, I'll spend about 2+ hours in the kitchen putting together meals and blocks so that on later days I can just grab a few blocks and head out the door.  Those details will be posted over the next week as I put it all together.  Man, this is all so exciting!

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage 

My Zone Plan

Alright, so without getting too scientific (mainly because I'll go crazy if I try...), the Zone Diet is based on a balance of hormones and blood sugar.  Using the 40/30/30 concept of macro nutrients (40% of daily caloric intake carbs, 30% both protein and fats), the body will control insulin production and basically allow the body to function in a more efficient and healthy manner.  So generally, one can eat whatever one wants as long as it has the proper balance of macro nutrients.  To keep this control, the Zone created a plan based around Blocks of these macro nutrients.  One block on the plan represents 7 grams of protein, 9 grams of carbohydrates and 1.5 grams of fat.  The idea is that when you eat, it should be one or more of these blocks that make up each and every meal, no matter what.  So, you calculate out the amount of blocks your body requires by taking you body fat percentage, converting that to pounds and subtracting it from your total body weight.  The number you come up with be your lean body weight (all weight except body fat).  Divide that number by ten and you have the amount of blocks you should eat in a day.  From my studies I never really found a specific pattern on how and when these blocks should be consumed, but it seems that the going concept is to focus on 5 or six meal times, about 2-3 hours apart, with breakfast, lunch and dinner making up a larger quantity of blocks (4-6) and the other meals making up smaller amounts (1-3).

I've found a couple good sources of information on this plan and have talked to a few people about their views and it seems that most people end up tweaking the program a little to as they get into it.  Alot of the more serious athletes have included a greater number of fat grams to their day (which is something the speakers at my CrossFit certification mentioned would probably be necessary), and I am curious about whether or not my carb intake will need to be greater seeing how I will be doing more long, drawn out metcons with all my biking and running.  Either way, I expected that I would have to make modifications to the program, the same way I had to modify the workouts as well, so it's no real surprise.

So far, off to a rough start.  Last night I had planned on setting up the crockpot and cooking up a stew or chili that I could use the remainder of the week.  I also would cook up about 6 chicken breasts, steam up a whole slew of mixed veggies and probably whip up a few other things to keep in storage so I wouldn't have to take so much time with meal prep throughout the week.  But, I didn't even get back to house untill just after ten (and it felt like 11 seeing it was the first day of daylight savings).  So, didn't get that done.  I hope to do all that tonight. 

Excited to be starting such a big program!

Never Stop, GET FIT.
Josh Courage

Sunday, November 1, 2009

It all begins.

Today marks day one of my CrossFit program and it looks like this:

Workout: (metabolic conditioning)
Bicycle ride.  I'll blast through a 30-40 mile ride with intervals.  After 30 minutes of comfortable riding, I will perform six rounds of 4 minutes threshold training (heart rate at or above 160bpm) followed by 6 minutes easy recovery riding.  Whatever distance I have after that will be a joy ride, just enjoying the great day today!

Tonight I will be planning out most of the week's meals and I guess it's safe to say that I'll be entering the Zone officially tomorrow.  So, as I get into that I'll write up a bit more.

The way I'll be posting all this will be, the workout(s) of the day will go on the side column under "workouts" and the actual post will be more about how the workout went.  Within the post I'll scribble down what my food intake was and any other fun stuff I feel might be entertaining!

Never Stop, GET FIT.
Josh Courage