Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Conditioning. Risk.

"If you are never scared, embarrassed or hurt, it means you never take chances" - Julia Soul

George and Cory, the last two remaining High Schoolers came in today to share this one with me:

10 x 25 meter sled push w/ 150# (30 seconds rest between rounds)

rest 5 minutes

250 double unders w/ 5 squat snatches at the top of each minute (75#)

The first was an absolute quad killer!  The sleds, being of the home-made brand, are seeing their last days with the ski's that are on them now.  This proved to make the pushing a LOT harder then expected.  But the 25 meters was not too long, and the 30 second recovery was just enough.  We all made it through in one piece (although the sleds will have a nice makeover once out West).  The double under workout was taken from a workout I did a while ago called "The Lullaby", taken from Blair Morrison of Anywherefit.  This was a bit modified, but, after the sled, and the crazy shoulder workout yesterday, I knew it would be sneaky exhausting.  And it did not disappoint!  I finished in 7:53 and had nothing, and I mean nothing left in the tank.  In rare form, I had to walk across the street to some shade and sit down for a minute or two until I caught my breath.  George tore up his version of it (65# power snatches and 400 single jumps), and Cory (having not really done anything like this in... his life), struggled through, but got through.

The rest of the day was dedicated to packing and organizing.  As I packed, and searched for promising gym locations, I got to thinking about just how big a change this is in my life.  I guess it is safe to admit that I am a bit scared.  Of plenty of things with this whole moving across the country thing, but what I want to touch on here is the part of leaving what I have built, to go out to nothing.  I have heard the words "big risk" being thrown my way for a while now, and interestingly enough, I have never really thought of what I am doing as being one of those.  And after a long talk with my good buddy JP, I realized something about myself: I rarely factor the actual risk of a situation into what I do.  I love attempting new things, seeing what is out there to try, challenging myself to succeed through as many situations as I can come up with.  But, while I know what I do would commonly be defined as Risk, I define it as opportunity.  A chance to grow, to learn, and to share with others so that they might grow and learn as well.
The greatest pieces of my heaven: Lindsey and Nature.
This does not mean that I do not get nervous, worried, or scared.  Hell, when I am looking up at a cliff with the desire to climb it, sure I realize that I could die if I fall, and sure it makes my heart race a little faster.  But it is very rare that I can think of a situation where I would NOT go ahead and do it anyway.  There are so many things that could go wrong with our move to CA: well CA could suck, the city could be harsh, people could not gravitate towards my training, the state could crumble into financial hell and cease to exist, shoot, the chances of an earthquake hitting us and and causing US to cease to exist is pretty great.  And so I am scared, my heart rate elevates, and I become so excited to take on these challenges.  Because what would I be if I turned away every time something scary looked me in the face?  What opportunities would I be passing up if I let my fears define who I am in life?

No man, have faith.  And I don't mean faith in God or anything like that (although, if that works for you, then do that!), I mean faith that no matter how things turn out, they will turn out.  And you will never, and I mean never grow as a human being if you don't just have faith in yourself, and "the system" (I mean life by the way), and just go out and do what feels right.

I have passion for what I do, I believe that it is what I am best at.  I have a girl, a companion that I love even more passionately than what I do, one that I want to personally share everything with.  I have an idea for what I want my life to be like, and I mean that in the most general of ways.  And I have faith.  I have faith that if I am faced with any opportunity that seems intriguing, desirable, exciting and helpful to me and the people around me, I will jump in with a smile on my face.  And I hope that people will jump with me.
Chilling in California

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Monday, August 30, 2010

Client Shout-Out #3 - The Work-Day Warriors

Today I hit a taxing shoulder workout with Whitey:

6, 6, 6, 6 Push Jerks

3 rounds of 3 Strict Pull Ups w/ 30 sec. Handstand holds

5 rounds for time of: (w/ 95#)
5 power cleans
5 push presses
5 OH squats
200 meter run

Got up to 205# on the jerks, failed on the 3rd rep there and decided to finish with that.  May have been a little too much volume for such a dynamic lift (hey, everyone makes mistakes!).  Everything else went smoothly, got the metcon in 7:43 and feel like it would be a good sub-7 minuter.  I will most likely come back to that one in mid September.

The following clients have been committed to their training with me all for some time now.  While I tend to attract mostly high school and college athletes, I have always had my fair share of "9 to 5ers" as well.  This small group has been so dedicated and so driven, I feel the need to thank them individually for their commitment to change.

Holly Morris - 
Holly came in to train with me through to prepare for a marathon.  Already having run a couple, as well as a 50-miler, she knew te demands of the race, but wanted to better her time.  Being a news anchor/broadcaster, she was on a pretty crazy schedule, one that would send most people slowly shuffling to bed every chance they got.  But not Holly.  She would go out of her way to come in and train, and when she came in, no matter what the day, week, or month had been like for her, she attacked each and every workout with impressive intensity.

Her husband Thomas trained with me for a bit as well, and these are two people I can comfortably say freaking rock!  I am sad to be losing Holly as a client, but I know of so many people, her and Thomas will be two I will be seeing again and again for a very long time.

Mark Whitener - 
The flat out definition of an ideal client, Mark came in to make a change in his life a little after his son Andrew began training with me.  Along with a few of the basic goals, what he really wanted was to be able to comfortably hang with his athletic sons.  So, we began an ever-changing, growth inducing workout program that has seen Mark through some of the most impressive changes I have seen in a client.  I recall one of our first metcons, some body weight triplet that left him about ready to pass right out.  But he stayed on track and slowly but surly, he went from no pull ups, to an easy 5, from struggling with any sort of weight on the major lifts, to an over 350# deadlift and over 250# back squat.

The impressive thing with Mark is how he has allowed fitness to become part of his everyday life.  He runs regularly, gets workouts in on the road, and stays with his programming no matter what.  I will be in constant touch with Mark as he fills his basement with equipment and begins a new chapter of his fitness endeavor by training on his own.  Good things will happen man, I guarantee it!

Andrea Kaufman - 
I began training Andrea and her husband John at their house near Balance Gym and it became clear that Andrea was missing this aspect of her life for a good long time.  I have been through so much with her, and been there to watch as her transform from just an everyday woman, to a strong, healthy, athlete.   Her sleeping and lifestyle habits became healthier and healthier, she moved away from an extremely high-stress job, became so much closer with her two amazing children, inspired me to try a life-changing detox that she found and completed herself.  And, in the end, she signed up for and completed the DC Triathlon.  Besides that countless changes that have taken place in her life, she has always been there to offer help to me as I struggled with the many opportunities and growth I had for my business.

We have had our ups and downs in the gym, but Andrea is someone who I think not only myself, but many people could learn a great amount from.  I am thankful to have had her as a client and friend.  I am sure we will be in touch, and I expect those kids to do great things as they grow (and they better stay in touch with me!!)

Samantha Mazo - 
Samantha came to me pretty early on when I moved from Results, The Gym to balance Gym.  Interestingly enough, she is the sister of a guy I played baseball with from middle school through high school; small world.  She actually had to remind me not too long ago about how much she has changed since she last came in, because she is so incredibly fit now.  She runs, practices yoga, trains with me twice a week (came to the lululemon classes as well when I had them), and is now registered for the Nation's Triathlon.  Put simply, Samantha just comes in and gets to work.  Never complains, never finds excuses, just works hard and reaps the great rewards the body will always receive with that attitude.

She deserves so much credit for the work she puts in, and what's so great, and motivating to me is that it just what she does.  It is part of her life to always be active and to always push her limits.  Absolutely awesome!

Adele Fenwick - 
Hands down one of the most impressive people I have ever had the pleasure of training.  I first met Adele at my once a week lululemon class.  She then joined a smaller group that got together there for training two other times per week.  When TOUGH/Love started, she joined that.  And when I moved to The Garage, she joined Samantha and the two of them pushed each other and tore it up twice a week like clockwork.  I have met a huge amount of fit people in my life so far, but Adele is one of the few that easily out works me in shear volume.  She regularly indulges in 3-a-days, on top of her full time job.  And this passion for fitness shown through when she was invited to be a part of the USA National Duathlon team.  How sweet is that!

I only got to workout with her once, and I know I missed out on some fun, competitive sessions had we riden and ran together more often.  But it's her love for pushing her limits that inspires me the most.  I will be following along all her races and adventures, and I plan to join her (along with Lindsey too!!) for all of our first Ironman Triathlon next fall.  Keep up the absolutely inspiring work Adele, you freaking rock!

A very, very special thanks go to Van, Mark, Dave, Brendan, Trish, David, Abigail, Chris, Rick, Janice, and John.  All clients I have had the pleasure of spending a good amount of time in the gym and out in nature with in the past couple years.  And, of course, to the many, many people who came through my bootcamp classes when I trained at Balance Gym, TOUGH/Love, and clients I had throughout the years in and around DC.  All of you helped form me into the trainer, coach and person I am today, and I thank all of you.   I only hope to find people as driven and dedicated as everyone I had the honor of helping here, out in California.

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Client Shout-out #2 - The Princeton Guys

Today I hesitatingly met up with George for a workout in the woods.  I say this because I was just flat out tired from the day before, but, I really wanted to do something fun today, so we eventually got it done, without the easy jog before hand.

"The Maryland Mangler"
3 rounds of:
200ish meter run through the woods
100ish meter run across the field
20/15/10 tire throw
1 lap bear crawl (down the stairs, across the bridge and back)

Extra work:
5 minute AMRAP of:
throwing tire aver monkey bars

Fun workout in the crazy heat.  I finished up with 13:10, George with 13:33.  Then we both got 37 total time over the monkey bars with the tire.  Check out the video below.

So on to my post of shout-outs.  The Princeton guys have been working out with me for a good long time, first Andrew Whitener came in, then Brian Pourciau, and then Matt Bowman.  These guys all ended up training with me through their final years of High School, then continued working out after they all ended up committing to Princeton.

Andrew Whitener -

Whitey came in early his junior year at Wilson High School and immediately we hit it off.  He was my first High School athlete and he was a workhorse, committing to everything I programmed for him and making gains quickly and smoothly.

I have had the honor of watching him transform from an athletically gifted young baseball player, to a mature, strong, intelligent athlete and friend.  I think one of the biggest changes I have seen in my three years of knowing and training Whitey, is his understanding of himself.  He has been through a great deal of growth, and all along has taken it all in impressive strides and always, no matter what, has come out the other side a better athlete.

I know that he will be a leader on his team as he heads to his junior year, and I see nothing but good things in this kids future.

Thanks Whitey, I am glad to have been such a part of your growth.

Brian Pourciau -

Poosh!  Brian came in one afternoon and promptly ingrained in my head the type of man he would be.  Doing walking toe touches across the gym floor, he kicked so hard his foot slipped out from under him and he just hit the ground.  But, he got right back up and kept moving.  From there on out Brian has been one of the most aggressive workers in the gym and on the track with me.  I have seen him go from a pretty strong kid, to an absolute beast of a man, completely shadowing me in all major lifts (something he was adamant on doing by the way).

It is rare to have a guy who legitimately gets as excited as Brian does to throw the iron around, and it is completely motivating to not only me, but to anyone who is in the gym around him.

This kid is going to be strong, he is going to put up some impressive numbers on the football field these next few years, and he is going to inspire a lot of people with his passion and energy.

Get you some Poosh!

Matt Bowman -

Matty B came in through Headfirst and we hit it off pretty damn fast.  Raw talent, with not much strength or experience in the gym, combined with an impressive level of confidence and sheer drive to be the best.  We fought to put on weight and with his dedication to the program and the nutrition, Matty began to quickly show that his potential could quite possibly be never ending.  This kid is going to go somewhere!

Matty and I also share something that I hope he knows I cherish, a bond that is sad to think about, but makes me so grateful to be able to help out with.  His father recently passed away in much the same way my mother did a couple years back.  It has been a noticeable struggle for Matt to deal with all of this, and it has been impressive and very inspiring how he has been able to translate what I know to be some pretty tough emotions, into his passion, baseball.

His commitment to being dedicated and good at what he does is what sets Matt apart from most athletes and I am eager to see what the future holds for him.  I am very confident it will be bright.

These three guys have been everything a trainer and coach could ask for in an athlete, and it's a pretty cool situation they have to all be at the same school where this connection can keep them just that much more motivated.  I expect to be in regular touch with all of them... and I am humbled to have been involved in such a transitional part of of all their lives.

To you guys:

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

"Unbroken" and Good Times

Sorry for the delayed post, I went from one thing to the next yesterday and never had a moment in front of the computer.  But yesterday WAS fun!  Met Ori at Balance Gym in the am for a little something I came up with in place of "Karen" (that WOD is 150 wall ball shots for time).


My goal for the day was to get a short outburst of energy and try to go all-out by doing all 150 wall ball shots unbroken.  I am more and more interested in incorporating this style of training into my programming so that I can get used to just doing work withut stopping.  This workout proved to be a whole lot tougher than a nice short outburst.  I used a 59# sandbag for the sprint (2 laps on the basketball court), a 30# ball for wall ball and we got after it.  As you can see in the pic, my times got drastically slower as I went, and I had to break up the push ups at 10 in the third round.  The fourth round had me breaking up the toes to bar at 10 and the push ups at 8, and I finished with three breaks in all.  Ori went to the bathroom and lost whatever he had in his stomach, I was feeling a bit woozy myself, after the second round.  I even mentioned to Ori my interest in only do three rounds... he simply said it wasn't happening and I like a bit of a bitch for having thought to wimp out.  But this was a really good one.  An interesting point on it was the pull ups.  I butterflied on the first round, then went to kipping the second and almost lost the bar around 12.  I was worried that I was burnt out and would fail miserably on the final two rounds, but, I went back to try butterfly pull ups and was able to string them together no problem.  YES people, this is definitely a skill one must learn if one wishes to compete in CrossFit, it is insane how much easier and faster it is!  Left me a little busted up though...

I then drove out to Columbia, MD to visit Coach Justin Cronk and his awesome family for an afternoon of fun, and an evening of good food.  We played ball with the kids out back for a good long time, then, when we got a little overheated, we broke out the slip n' slide and water guns!  After the kids got worn out, Coach Cronk and I continued to throw the football around a bit; just two "grown me" outlasting the children in play!  I went down and played with legos with the kids for a bit, then we all got called up for an absolutely increadible dinner.

I can not say enough about this family, but one thing is for sure, I will be staying in touch with them for as long as I live.  Good people should always be kept in your life, and this family defines good people to me.  Justin, Jennifer, Conner and Tucker, thank you so much guys!

I then drove back into the city to get together with a good group of friends to have a drink ar two (or three or four), play some shuffle board and pool, and have a chill time.  It was great, but I didn't get to bed until 3am!  Today I have brunch with the pops, an awesome workout planned for the woods, and dinner with another client of mine before I prepare for my last few days as an East Coaster!

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Friday, August 27, 2010

Client Shout-Out #1

So this will be the first of a good collection of posts giving shout-outs to clients, friends and experiences on my many years as a trainer in the greater DC area.  First, the days workout:

3x6 barbell split squats w/ 6 max verticals each set

5x5 strict press

21-15-9 of:
GHD sit ups
Ball slams 20#
KB swings 62#

Split squats were a good exercise for today, working stability along with just a different approach to classic leg strengthening.  Getting the max verticals really rounded out this week of lots of jumping!  I worked with 135#, 165# and 205# on the split squats.  Then worked with 95#, 115#, 130#, 140# and 145#.  Yeah, still weak with my pressing, next month is the big shoulder month for me.

The metcon was sneaky hard.  I finished in 4:34 and felt pretty good with that time.  Check out the video below.

So, the famous Beth!  She came to me through Balance Gym a good 3 or more years ago with a few major issues.  First off, she was very overweight and was getting fed up with that.  Second, she wanted to learn to run.  This posed a bit of a challenge seeing how Beth, to that point, could barely make it around the block at a pace slightly faster then a walk.  But she was determined, and we got to work.  Twice a week, once out on the trails and sidewalks of DC, walking, running, walking, running, running some more and so on.  The second day we would hit the weights in a chipper style workout, building strength and muscular and cardiovascular endurance.  I vividly recall those running sessions, Beth getting pissed off at me when she realized I was extending her running sections without telling her, then getting even more pissed when I would walk next to her while she ran.  But she never stopped.  And those running portions got longer and longer until soon enough, she was running the entire session.

Thanks to a challenge from her brother, Beth very quickly put her new-found hobby to good use by signing up for and finishing one of the most famous 10-milers in the world, the Army 10-Miler!  What a bad ass.

Now, a few years later, a vast collection of 10-milers and a few half marathons under belt, the 35+ pound lighter Beth Hochberg is a regular at the gym, attacking any and every workout with a smile on her face.  She bangs out push ups with ease (an exercise she wasn't able to do a single rep of when we first met), flips tires, deadlifts well over 135# with ease, throws around sandbags as a warm up and tears through burpees like they are fun little game.

Beth has been a good friend of mine since we first met, she is supportive, energetic and passionate about the things she does (work, friends, fitness and piano!).  I know I'll see her here and there when she comes out to CA to visit myself, Blair Morrison (who trained her for a good amount of time also), and a few other friends.  And it's going to be impressive to see her insane gains over the next couple months, she just keeps loosing weight like mad!

keep up the good work Beth!

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Go Running

A rough one today, but for very different reasons than expected.  I had phone issues.  Major ones.  To make a long story short, my contacts decided to combine themselves, in no particular order at all.  So, when say, John texted me, it popped up as Phil.  After an hour on the phone with Apple, and a master reset of the damn thing, it got worse!  Yeah, now my backup contact lists became jumbled as well.  All of a sudden I had 4-6 Kate's in my hone, with 4-6 different numbers under the name, and then they were still different in each of my backup lists.  Needless to say, this was a bit strange.  Two hours on the phone, and a handful of completely stumped Apple reps later, and we finally were able to restore the phone to the way my old phone was.  This means my last call and text were from late June.  Well, at least it's fixed now.

Met up for dinner in DC with an old client, then, because I was feeling like a bit of a waist on the day, I threw my nice clothes in my awesome Osprey backpack, slipped on the Five Fingers and hit the road for an 8-miler back to the house.

It has been a very long time since I have run more than 4 miles or so, and there was that wonderful return to the calm that is distance training.  It was pitch black, I was along the canal, literally two people passed me on bikes the entire time.  I got lost in my mind and just ran.  I was brought back to the days of my marathon training.  I was addicted to running.  It was my one and only true release at the time.  When I started training for my first marathon, my mother was really, really getting bad, and through my first four, she just got worse.  After my fifth, then my 50-miler, was when she passed away, and then it just became a drug to me.  All I did was run.  I remember it fondly though, it really was so calming to just get into that rhythmical state, hours on end it seemed of just pumping the body through space.  My mind could get lost in fantasy, in planning, in creation, or nothing; I was always free to be whatever I wanted to be.

Tonight was the same.  My mind wandered to California, to my life with my new gym and great girlfriend.  I thought about the journeys and adventures we would have together throughout the West, and the people we would meet along the way.  I thought about new training programs to introduce, and my training schedule towards next years CrossFit Games.  And I thought about nothing, just listened to my feet strike the ground, to my breath, to my backpack swaying with my stride.  The crickets, the wind, just me and nature, all alone, running.

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sore Work

Got a really nice shout-out from CrossFit DC yesterday.  Thanks so much guys, gonna miss you!

Today, I was sore.  Like, each individual leg muscle was talking to me and telling me they just wanted to chill out and do nothing all day.  But I had other ideas for them, and I will go into why I think it's sometimes smart to "not" listen to your body sometimes later in the post.  After the high volume power cleans yesterday, I wanted to get some light squat snatch work in.  So, I warmed up a little extra to get the blood pumping through the legs, then went ahead and worked on my rusty snatch form.  Got 125# very comfortably, and was confident with the form today.  This was a burst of energy in anticipation to actually work on this with some good weight.

I then got incline DB bench and got 85# no problem (I don't have heavier DB's, so I didn't really have a choice here).  The metcon was a fun one, until I actually did it.

3 rounds for time of:
3 each side Turkish Get Ups
6 Muscle Ups

Used 60# for 6 Turkish Get Up's and felt a little wobbly, but good overall.  The muscles ups were very weak.  I only failed 3 times in total, but I was moving very slowly, and was fighting like crazy each rep.  Those are going into my "skills" work that will be incorporated into my September programming a LOT.  I finished in 15:03.

After the good workout I went out with Andrew and Matt to do some on-field batting practice.  We were all moving very slowly, but it was nice to get on the ball field and mess around for a while.  Our bats were slow, but the guys got some great work in, and I was happy to get that recognizable rush of making solid contact with a baseball.

So, soreness.   This is purely opinion, based on my experience as a fitness nerd and trainer.  Below you will find a few links to articles that talk a little more scientifically about soreness, so, if interested, check those out.

I go through a pretty specific process when I wake up in the morning feeling sore, no matter what the level of soreness might be.  I do a few full body movements (squat, overhead squat, lunge and reach/rotate etc.) to pinpoint the most effected area, then I think about not just yesterdays program, but the past few days.  With the knowledge of what I have done over the past few days, including what I ate, when and how I slept, and what I did in terms of activity/inactivity outside of my workout, I can establish just what type of sore I actually am.

  • Specific use sore
  • Overuse sore
  • injured sore
  • Specific occurrence sore
  • Under-use sore
Obviously, none of these are medical terms by any means, but they get the point across.  Specific use sore is in reference to doing a lift or movement that leads to acute soreness, say heavy deadlifts and a sore lower back, or 12 rounds of strict press and sore shoulders.  Overuse sore is when you feel a combination of overall fatigue along with your soreness, and when you look at your programming you notice that the past 5 days of training involving a large range of motion through your shoulders (pull ups, thrusters, cleans, wall ball, push ups, sumo deadlift high pulls and so on).  If you notice that your programming has led you to focus a lot on a specific area over a given amount of time, there is a good chance you have exhausted that area and are feeling it today.  Injured sore comes directly from an injury.  You will feel this much deeper in your body rather than more surface (which is the common feel with most soreness feelings).  It will also be something coming from overuse sore.  If a week after you realized your programming was shoulder dominant, you still fel some pretty rough soreness in your left shoulder, well, there's a good chance that shoulder is injured.

Specific occurrence sore come from something like a impact trauma, or sleeping wrong, or sitting too long in the car and so on.   This is why looking at the past bunch of days in full detail is a smart thing to do.  If your glutes are very tight, but you have been doing predominately upper body focused exercises for the past four days, but a day ago you drove in your car 5 hours, then sat in a meeting for another 3, your soreness will have nothing to do with the lifting.  I'd bet that if you went for a 1 mile jog, you'd feel as good as new.

Finally, under-use sore.  This is probably very uncommon for most people reading this blog, but there is one time when this will come into play more than you might think.  It is after you take time off.  If you have a week or more off from serious training, then jump right back into it, you will probably get very, very sore.  This occurs because your body is just not used to the stresses of serious training, and is going through a bit of a shock.  If you are very green to exercise, this is actually similar to an overuse sore, just because any usage of the muscles would be way more then the body is used to.  If you are a regular who took some time off, or had to because of travel and such, there is a great chance that working through this will be the right idea because the body will recover very quickly (it already knows how to do everything).

So how do you know what to do?  Should you fight through, take a day off, take two?  Perhaps changing up the workout would be best?  Well, I do know that this can be pretty confusing to most people, so I'll throw out a pretty basic solution.  If you are sore, work out; if you are hurt, don't.  This actually is a ton easier than you might think.  Take the time to move around a bit, and if it's tough to do, but you're not wincing in pain, chances are you will actually benefit from a good workout.  Perhaps tone it down a bit, or even shy away from movements that are geared towards training the areas you are most sore; but being sore should never be an excuse to NOT workout.  

Get yourself a damn good warmup, one that includes foam rolling, dynamic stretching, multi-joint movements and an elevated heart rate (running, jump rope, rowing, etc.).  I will be posting on good warmups in the next couple days, so keep your eyes open for that one.  In the mean time, check out some more detailed info on soreness below.

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Video From Friday's Going Away Party

"California Or Bust" Chipper

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Showing Kelly Who's Boss

Today was a quiet day in terms of clients, and I had the luxury of getting to partner up with Fred, a long-time client and just an all around hard worker, to work out with.  The benchmark WOD "Kelly" fit perfectly with the programming I have going on, so we brought over the plyo boxes and med balls to the Waldorf School to get it done.

5 rounds for time of:
400 meter run
30 box jumps 24"
30 wall ball

The last time I did this one was two weeks after my bike crash in April, and it got the best of me in over 24 minutes.  My goal for today was sub-20.  I walked into it with some pretty good stiffness from yesterdays deadlifts, and my leg was really messed up from the box jump collision; but, I knew this workout would be perfect to just get the body moving dynamically without overloading it with weight.  My back did tighten up a bit around round 3, but not enough to worry about, and the run was enough to loosen it up for the jumps and wall ball.  The big struggle was with the mind.  I went completely unbroken through 3 rounds and as I ran for my fourth, I could feel my brain telling me I would have to break things up.  So I challenged myself.  I was able to get all box jumps unbroken for the next two rounds, and the only thing I broke up was the wall balls on round four, I did 20, then 10.  The clock stopped at 19:27, very, very happy with that time.  Fred rolled in with 21:10 (done very well, except for some depth on the wall balls...), and George did it later on his own (tough to do this one alone!) and struggled to the finish line at a little over 27.

Later on in the evening, I headed over to Balance Gym Kalorama to get a workout in with my friends at CrossFit DC.

15 x 2 Power Cleans

7 Minute AMRAP of:
15 push ups
30 mountain climbers each leg
15 jumping jacks

This was a perfect workout for my programming, and surprisingly enough, it actually gave me tons of energy for the lifts!  There was a huge group there for the class, and I teamed up with Big Dan and "Salty", two good friends I've made over the past few years of CrossFitting.  We started off with 100kg and after 10 rounds we moved to 105.  I then moved to 110kg for the last set and felt very strong with that number after so many rounds of it.  Salty and Dan were able to bank out 115, damn strong.

With the metcon, I was able to get 6 rounds, plus the push ups and 18 mountain climbers, I was spent for that one, but had fun with it!  My friends at CrossFit DC, especially coach Tom Brose have been great over the years and I am going to miss seeing them and getting workouts in with them every now and then.

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Monday, August 23, 2010

Stupid Box

Today was a strength day!  Got a good, solid 5x5 on the deadlifts with 50, 60, 70, 80 and 90% of the established 1RM from the 5/3/1 program (that was 435# for me).  Then pulled 65% for max unbroken reps.  Got the final set of 390# very clean on the 5x5, then pulled 280# for 19 reps before stopping on account of the lumbar spine losing stability.  Felt very good all around though!

Phase two of this workout was 15 attempts at a max box jump.  So, we started at 24" and just increased the height as we jumped.  When we got to 36.5", I got 1 attempt, then, on the second, I smoked my shin like none other.  With a nice chunk of skin and hair lodged into a dent in the plyo box, I was limping around for a good 2 minutes in some pretty bad pain.  But, I would not allow this to stop me.  I went back, and after 3 nervous attempts where I needed to catch myself from tumbling over the box, I was able to bang out another 5 reps.  More on this below.

The last phase was:
3 rounds of:
15 yards farmers walk w/ 2 95# Barbells (out and back)
10 chest to bar pull ups
15 GHD back extensions

Got this in 5:07 and felt pretty good with that number for what I had in the tank.  I struggled with the C to B pull ups and realized I need to add these a bit more to my programming in the near future.  I have been relying purely on strict or kipping pull ups and need to practice other variations a lot more.

So, a note on overcoming mental blocks.  When attempting something like a box jump, the mind will convince you that you can not make a certain height.  When it does this, your body all of a sudden just stops working.  If you've ever had this happen to you, it can be one of the most frustrating things to experience.  I've had it before when trying to jump a crevasse out in Great Falls; I take my running start, get my speed up and then have to skid to a halt because my brain tells me I am not going to make it, and it shuts the physical body down.  From my experience, these are situations where anybody has the ability to overcome.  Usually it is something you actually know you can do, just for some reason (you feel tired, you just failed an attempt) you are being blocked.  The way I go about overcoming these situations is by taking a step back, visualizing a perfectly achieved attempt, then, the second I am finished with the positive visualization, go directly into the actual attempt.

There is something unbelievably gratifying about succeeding with something you just failed on.  That is something beautiful about fitness, you almost always have the ability to try again.  Then, once you have succeeded, you walk away with twice the confidence that anything CAN be achieved.

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Eat Food - follow up post

It's been less than a week from when I posted my "Eat Food" post and since then, I have engaged in quite a few great conversations on nutrition.  So, I decided to write up another post to touch on a couple points I either did not mention, or, did not elaborate on.

Why did my Paleo challenge NOT work for me?

I have a few theories on this one, and pretty much all of them lead into some of the other points I plan to make on this post.  So, if some things get repeated, it just means it is a point that should be paid attention to.  I think my 7 week attempt at Paleo did not work because of two things: first, I feel good when I consume grains in my diet.  The few times I have neglected grains, I have always returned to them and promptly felt better and stronger.  Second, I think I forgot to replenish the foods I was not allowed to eat with foods I could eat.  What I mean by this is that when I took all grains and legumes out of my diet plan, I did not make a strong enough effort to up my veggie intake.  I ended up consuming more nuts and olives, increasing my fat intake, and more meat, but I really did not get adequate carbohydrates through vegetables like I should have.  I think that when I do something like this again (and believe me, I am always trying out new things) I will make a point of focusing more on what I truly NEED to ADD to my plan if I am to take things out.

As I talked about in the last post, I think that Paleo did, in fact, do something great for me: it made me a better "chooser".  What I mean by this is that when I was not allowed to eat specific foods, I was forced to pick and choose very carefully when I shopped and made my meals.  Now, coming off that restrictive plan, I am able to focus so much more clearly on my choices.  It made me a more intelligent food consumer.

And finally, it made me realize just how important it is to do this sort of thing throughout ones life.  Everyone's body will always go through changes, and because of this, the body will constantly demand different fueling methods.  If you stick to a meal plan your whole life, it is the same as sticking to a single workout plan your whole life.  Restrict different things on a somewhat regular basis to make sure that your body can still process those things in a efficient manner.  I found that this time around, I really may have some sort of gluten issue, I really need to avoid shell fish like crazy, and sugar in concentrated form makes me feel worse than drinking too many beers.

Why do I NOT eat dairy and red meat?

Well, because every time I eat either of them, I feel like crap.  There is no scientific reason as to why do do this, but I can throw a bunch of studies and article your way if you so desire (full well knowing there are just as many articles and studies contradicting the ones that I find).  I have attempted over the past 10 years to mix both of these substances back into my diet, and each and every time I end up having horrible stomach pains, and sometimes worse.  So, clearly diary and red meat do not sit very well with the body I have.  The conclusion I come to at this time, simply: do not eat them.

Sooo... what's your main point buddy?

Well, it's pretty straight forward actually.  A commenter mentioned I should check out a Mat Lalonde seminar, so I did a little reading and found out that Mat is an incredibly well written, well educated CrossFitter and nutrition expert.  What he has to say, well, I would highly recommend anyone out there check out his stuff.  If you read this particular article, one that I feel is a perfect one to read if you want to get started on Paleo, you will notice his comments on vitamin intake.  He was of the belief that vitamins we're not only pointless, but potentially bad for you, until he read a great article convincing him otherwise.  This right here is my point people.

There is a never ending collection of information out there, proving anything and everything under the sun.  Paleo followers will throw their studies and articles at you, so will Zone followers and South Beach followers.  Hell, I do this same thing.  The stuff that I believe in, the stuff that works for me, I find supportive research to strengthen my argument.  Now, this does not mean I expect everyone to do exactly what I say.  I hope that they take my advice, do a bit of research on their own, then make the decision that ultimately is most effective to THEM.

Here's the plan:

1.  Restrict something from your meal plan, red meat, grains, just gluten, dairy, so on so forth.  If you feel like it, restrict a few of them at the same time (IE: Paleo).

2.  Give it at least four weeks.  If you think you an make drastic changes in your physical and mental make up in just one or two weeks, you are most likely wrong.

3.  Research the thing you are restricting.  Find scientific studies and articles that support the consumption of that food, and support the restriction of that food.  Use this information to support your decision on whether or not you add it to your diet.

4.  Re-introduce that something back into your plan (just one something if you restricted multiple substances).  Do not go right back into consuming tons of it.  If it is gluten you have restricted, bring a slice of bread in the first day, perhaps a sandwich of sorts to the second or third.  If you cleanse your body of something, it should not take very much of it to inspire a reaction in your body.

5.  Take tons of notes, and pay very close attention to how you feel when re-introducing your body to something.

6.  If it makes you feel good (this can mean so many things to different people, but to me, it means sleeping well, having energy throughout the day, and constantly seeing gains in my workouts), that probably means it is good for you.  If it makes you feel bad, it is probably bad.

7.  Do this in some way, shape or form the rest of your life.  Just like you do with exercise, with philosophies, with work, with everything.

I will be posting so much more on food, and I look forward to more comments, arguments and questions!

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Top 3 Toughest Workout

So last night I had a little "going away party" if you will.  With a good deal of people out of town, I knew it would be just a handful of people, but it really is the only time I have before I make the big move to have people oer to chill for a bit.  But 8 people worked out, and a few more people then I expected showed up to eat some good food and hang out with us.  It is so fun to just hang out, grill flames blazing and cooking up meat, snacks around the table, a good glass of chilled wine and a collection of happy people to share stories with.  It really is something I want to do more of, especially within my new gym community.

The workout...

15 KB snatch to thruster 44# (each arm)
25 meter sled push 90# (25 metes out, then back)
30 pull ups
25 meter sled push
30 power cleans 135#
25 meter sled push
30 pass throughs (push ups to dips)
25 meter sled push
200 meter run

Yeah, I expected this one to be a 12-15 minuter.  I was so wrong.  Here's how it went down:  My guys went first, and three of them went with 115 on the power cleans, one with 135.  When the clock hit 15 minutes, and they were still not even on the pass throughs, I looked over at my buddy Dave and we both just knew that this was going to be a lot harder than any of us had originally thought.  They finished up strong, but more gassed then I have seen them in a good long while.  Then, Lindsey, Dave, and other baseball guy and myself set up to go (Lindsey was using 26# on the snatch to thruster, 70# on the sled and 75# on the power clean).  I committed earlier to using the 20# weight vest for the fun, and that was a daunting thing, for sure.  So we got started.

It all hot during the power cleans.  I was breathing heavy, and the movement was not allowing me to catch my breath at all.  I strung them together in sets of five, and I was about finished after that.  The pass throughs took the most time, this is when you perform a push up (on paralettes, or short plyo boxes or something), then kick your legs through, perform and dip, then kick them back.  I ended up breaking these up in 2's from 15 on.  The run at the end was absolutely brutal, that's all I can say.  I was so light headed, tired, out of breath, you name it, I was done.

Video being edited.

I hope to have another group workout or two at The Garage before I leave (less than two weeks now!), hope people can make it out!

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Hitting The Track...with a Football!

Today we all met up at the Wilson High School football field/track to condition in the wonderful DC heat.  Two guys came in for early deadlifting, Brian and I both decided to cancel out deadlift efforts as both our bodies were feeling pretty abused.  A wise decision I am sure of it.

At the track we got a good, long warm up in, then laid out some agility/hurdle pads (about 2 feet long and a little over 1 foot high) for some footwork drills.  We did a good deal of them, including shuffles, jumps, change of direction and straight sprints.  Went pretty well.  We then got to 60 yard dash testing.  Tangent alert!

The 6o yard dash is the standard for baseball testing.  Why?  There is not one point within a baseball game where an athlete will run in a straight line for 60 yards.  Home to first is 90 feet, infielders will move an average of about 3-5 feet to make a play, outfielders move the most, but will never see a straight-shot at that distance.  I really strongly support that baseball testing switches to the 40.  This tests a quick first step, explosive speed and power, just the things needed to be a good infielder, outfielder and base runner.  Oh well.

All of us had pretty slow times, including myself.  Best of three was 7.22, and the gold standard is sub-7.  I would like to get that in the near future, as well as a sub-4.9 40.

We then finished up the day with a good game of 3 on 3 football.  Brian, Robby and Tucker handed it to Fred, George and myself pretty thoroughly, but it was fun.  George, Tucker and I hung around and ran some pass patterns to finish off.  

A note on playing random sports to stay fit.  It's a great idea.  We were running all over the place, practicing speed, agility, explosive power, and so much more.  And while getting fitter, we all had an absolute blast out there.  I highly recommend organizing a pick-up football game, basketball game, soccer, Frisbee and even a fun round of home run derby if you have a good field around!

Lastly, tomorrow we will be meeting up at The Garage for a little workout (the crazy "Farewell To Courage WOD" will begin at 5pm), some great food (please bring something to share, we will be grilling and so forth, so bring something awesome!) and chilling by the pool till the sun goes down.  Hope you can make it!

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Past Couple Days

Well, my attempts to post every day this month have gone completely off.  Oh well, a little distracted with the whole leaving for California thing I guess.  But, these past couple days have been great.  I am now about a week back on light grains and am feeling very good.  Even after getting minimal sleep last night, I am feeling much more energetic throughout my days and feeling stronger and stronger in the gym.  Monday we hit 1RM back squats and I was able to get 390# pretty comfortably, very happy with that.  Had an easy 14 miles of bike riding to take car of some errands in DC, then back to The Garage for a this:

500, 400, 300, 200, 100 meter row with
50, 40, 30, 20, 10 double unders

I got 9:21 and feel as though that is a pretty legit time for that given the day.  A better transition between the two exercises over the first two rounds would have brought me below 9.  Yesterday a handful of us went out to the Waldorf School for an absolute blast of a workout!

Angie -
100 pull ups
100 pus ups
100 sit ups
100 squats

I was able to get this in 17:35.  Not very happy with this, my goal was sub 15 and with the heat and all, I was taking too long on my breaks.  I think I could have made better time on the pull ups, that's where I lost most of it.  Directly following that, we teamed up for a sandbag workout, check out the video.

Today was a challenge.  Not your typical challenge of heavy weight and all that, but because there was eight of us packed into the massive 200 square feet that is my gym!  What made it a bit tougher was that it was raining a bit, so we couldn't really spread out.  No problem though, we set up a bar and went one at a time with the Clean and Jerk, starting at 105# and moving up by 10 total pounds.  We would get two attempts if needed, and when one person could not lift the weight, they were done.  Pourciau and I fought through the crazy volume and were able to get 235# before we both failed on 145#  Brian failed on the clean, myself on the jerk.  While it's not a crazy weight, 235# is a PR for me, and I am so confident moving forward with this one seeing how I got up to my 9th set!  Following that we did 4 rounds, un-timed of:

6 overhead lunges 95/75
6 barbell lunges 95/75
6 barbell squat jumps 95/75
12 roll outs

A few hours later a few guys returned for the 2nd workout.  I agreed to push Brian through two-a-days until he heads back to school, and I know there will be a few of the others who will join in the fun.  So, the five of us did this:

#1 - while one guy runs, everyone else performs one of the following exercises.  Total reps is score
500 meter run
Push press 45#
Leg raises
KB swings 18#

#2 - 2 minutes at each station for total reps
Ring dips
Heavy jump rope
Rower for calories
Box jumps 20"

#3 - 1 minute at each station for total reps
Pull ups
Push ups
L-sit (minus 1 rep for every time the feet touch the ground)

We blasted through this in the humid rain and finished a sweaty mess.  The overall score is adding the total reps from each workout and it turned out to be a pretty competitive challenge (between the guys that is).  Brian and Danny tied with 486.  George got 545, Fred got 555 and I got 716 (the jump rope and box jumps are where I took off).  It was a fun workout, really fun.

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Monday, August 16, 2010

Eat Food

My pictures are not uploading at this time.  When they do, I'll post them up.

The last 7.5 weeks have been a pretty incredible experience for me.  I have learned so much and I feel worlds more intelligent in terms of how to properly fuel my body for how I wish to live my life. 

I went into a one-month Paleo challenge with an open mind.  I had very little in terms of support for the whole theory of Paleo, but because of so many peoples positive feedback, and seemingly great gains athletically, I figured I may as well give it a shot for myself.  I did have expectations however.  Understanding that I would be cutting my carbohydrate intake by so much (Paleo, for those of you who do not know, calls for zero consumption of grains, legumes, sugar, and dairy), I expected to lose a good deal of energy right off the bat.  From there, I expected to level out and begin to feel even more energized, while I also would see my body fat begin to plummet.  I hoped that this would last, and I hoped that I would also begin to see changes for the better in my sleep patterns, energy levels both while lifting and while resting, hunger patterns and overall feelings throughout the day.  I hoped for those last things, I expected very few of them. 

One month was the goal, and I ended up extending it to just under two.  Why did I stop you might ask?  Well, I just do not believe in it.  I did not believe in it before I went into it, and now, having given it a fair shot, I do not believe in it even more.  But let me explain this in a bit more detail.  While I continue to think of the "fact-based" nutrition program as a bit of a scam, I do not necessarily think it to be a bad program.  I think that it has its uses, and that it should actually be attempted by everyone out there.  It is a great tool for anyone to use to learn, very quickly, about what they need to properly fuel themselves.  A couple year back I did a vegetable juice detox inspired by a client of mine.  After that week of only putting vegetable juice in my body, exfoliating like crazy, and taking some probiotics, I immediately became hypersensitive to everything that went into my body.  I found that I actually had trouble dealing with and digesting soy products, gluten, shell fish, red meat and dairy.  Since then I have never touched dairy (to my knowledge), have only had red meat a few times, was completely off gluten for about 6 months and then found my way back to it after I had a piece of pumpkin bread and was rewarded with about three days of absolutely wonderful energy.  Shell fish, well, I had a bunch of shrimp a month or so ago and I promptly felt sick to my stomach and had insanely itchy eyes for the rest of the day.  So, restrict what you put in, give it time (more than a month people), and when you begin to re-introduce items back into your diet, you will most likely find out very quickly whether or not it is good for you.

But what about all the science?  Well, what about it?  If you want, you or I could easily fins all sorts of scientific research proving almost anything.  Paleo tells us that grains and legumes are flat out bad for us, as in, our bodies do not have the ability to process them well, and so, to be truly healthy, we must avoid them all.  Macrobiotics tells us that our meals must always be balanced and consist predominately of grains, beans and vegetables.  And, for arguments sake, marcrobiotics have been around for many, many, many more years than the Paleo diet.  So what the hell are WE supposed to believe, and do? 

Well it's pretty basic really.  I say go for two approaches:

1.  Research.  Look up what you are curious about, and then look into the study you are looking up.  A study showing the effects of legumes on the increase or decrease of the human metabolism will probably show a pretty specific conclusion.  But, it will also be a test on a select amount of people, who life in a select area of the world, eating a select amount and type of legumes, doing a select type and amount of physical activity and the legumes will have been produced in a select way.  I know this might sound like over-analyzing, but if you are seriously about to go around preaching to people that legumes are something that should not be eaten, you better be able to prove it.  And to be honest, there really has been not too much in terms of 100% convincing proof that this or that is the end all be all to eating properly.  So, this leads to the second point.

2.  Try it out.  The reason I tried Paleo was because I had a lot of people tell me it worked for them.  I was always skeptical about it, but, if it worked for others in their pursuit of their specific goals, perhaps it would work for me.  So I tried it.  It did not really work. So, I will try something else.  This is what I preach.  Every person is built differently, every person trains and moves differently, every person will have different reactions to foods.  Shoot, I have some friends who gorge themselves with shellfish.  Well, I just can not do this.  A great friend of mine is wants to gain weight and continue competing in powerlifting and Olympic lifting competitions.  He eats at least one red meat based meal a day.  I can not do that.  Does that make one of us right, and one of us wrong?  No, not at all.  So, to find out what works best for you, clean your diet up as best you can for at least a month, then begin to re-introduce items one at a time to see how your body reacts.  If it reacts negatively (like when I had a bowl of coconut milk ice cream, and proceeded to have severe stomach pain.  Lots of sugar apparently is not good for me!) then don't eat very much of it.  If it reacts positively, keep it in your diet.  Pretty easy.

Here is what I am doing.  And this does not mean you should do it, but perhaps you could give it a try and see what happens, maybe it will work.  The one thing I know WILL work, is if you approach it the same way that I did:

I cut a handful of major food groups out of my diet for just under to months.  I then re-introduced wheat, rice, grains, minimal added sugar, beans and legumes.  I did this one at a time, and the second I reacted negatively, I made a note of it and made the choice that I would not us those items as a staple in my diet.  I then dedicated myself to the following ideas:  I would treat my food like I do my life, I would try all sorts of things, keep it changing as often as I can, reinforce my strengths (the foods that help me), work on my weaknesses (find the ones that don't, add the ones that do help but I neglect).  I would prepare and cook my meals whenever I was at home, saving money and learning more and more about what actually goes into my body.  And I would try using a new ingredient in my cooking at least once a week.  All of this has led to my continuous fat loss, even after going off Paleo, added strength (just PR's on my squat today by 25#), better energy, sleep patterns getting better, and just feeling more confident that things are working out.

Well, I hope some of this helps.  It is, and will be a work in progress for me for the rest of my life.  I am just so excited to have learned so much in the past couple months, I want to spread what knowledge I have to anyone I can.  I am always open to arguments and suggestions of course, so speak up.  And just a head up, I will be having a nutrition page, with advice, recipes and a whole lot more on my site as I change it around over the next couple months

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Linda Tried To Ruin My Trip To Vermont

Friday afternoon called together a great group of athletes for an absolutely killer workout.  Four of my guys came out (Brian, Teddy, Fred and Henery), Steve O and Reggie, and then Christy Phillips, 6th place finisher at the CrossFit Games (6th last year too by the way).  We gathered at Balance Gym to attack the benchmark WOD "Linda".

Ooooh baby, did this one turn out on the crazy end of things.  A couple of us tried to keep the weights as close to prescribed as we could, I personally went exactly 5# off each lift.  That means I was deadlifting 305#, benching 200# and squat cleaning 150#.  Also, Christy and I stuck with squat cleans, while the rest of the group did power cleans (I am actually very curious how this WOD would have looked like for me had I done power cleans, those squat cleans were what got me).  We also had to split the group up into three heats.  Henery, Fred and Teddy went in the first heat, Christy, Steve and Brian went second, and Reggie and I closed the door with a bang.  The only thing I can do in terms of speaking for others on this one is say that one guy hit the bathrooms close to the end of the WOD (I'll leave the rest to your imagination), Christy finished in an impressive 15+ minutes, but then proceeded to loose her lunch a few times after.  And I got from the others a good deal afterward, that they all were absolutely destroyed.  Yeah, and for me, well, I literally broke down.  By 60 minutes post-workout I was hunched over a small meal down in Dupont Circle, feeling like I had just completed running a marathon.  And after running 12, I am very aware of how that feels.  The next day, the soreness sunk in big time, and, I started to feel pretty sick.  Still today I am feeling very sore, an completely out of it, even my workout today felt extremely weak.  Totally crushed me.  In terms how the workout actually broke down for me, it went a little something like this: round one went completely unbroken, all reps.  Round two, not so much.  My back gave out fast on the deads and I had to split up the squat cleans into 3's.  By round five I was doing singles on both the deads and the cleans, working in 2's and 3's on the bench.  And by round seven I was stumbling between exercises, and honestly could not tell you how they were split up.  I finished in 26:28.  I wanted sub-25. 

After my salad, I dizzily hopped the metro, then the bus to BWI, flew to Albany (got there at 10:30pm), slept a few hours at Lindsey;s place, then drove up to Wilmington, Vermont for a weekend with my extended family.  It was nice to see them all, and we had some good times.  We played by a pool, and in the pool.  Cooked good food for dinner, then hung around for a few hours playing Bananagrams and Dictionary (a game where one person read a word nobody knows and everyone writes down THEIR definition of the word.  Hilarious!).  Watched a move with the guys, then woke up and made a big breakfast on Sunday morning before heading out to a great flea market.  12 hours later and I was back in MD, ready to get back to work! 

Seeing the family was a fun reminder of how important being around loved ones really is.  My immediate family never spent tons of time around them, and I could feel that lack of visitation while with them this past weekend.  People only knew about others through the grapevine, no real person to person communication, and I think that that is just no good for family.  I hope that, even though I am moving so far away from most of them, that I can dedicate myself to spending time with them whenever I have the opportunity.  I also hope to instill the importance of having a good relationship with ones family in my children.  I want my family to be the ones that my family turns to when in need, and when they want to celebrate.  I want everyone to be close.

Just some little thoughts I had while on my long drive.  Gotta love blogging!  Big nutrition post tomorrow!

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Friday, August 6, 2010

Bikram CrossFit?

Yesterday turned out to be a really fun experience after some worry about everything just not working out.  The plan was to meet up at the Wilson track for some longer distance sprints, but then the storms struck and, while I was ok with running in rain, torrential downpours and lighting were not the best conditions for track work.  So, back The Garage we went.

Upon trying hopelessly to get the door open with the electronic garage door opener, I soon realized that the electicity in the neighborhood was out.  Then, because of the past storm, the air was standing completely still.  And as Brian and Teddy pulled up, The Garage was feeling more and more like a sauna then ever.  No fans, no light, off and on absolute crazy rain, and we just got after it.

3 rounds of:
500 meter row
50 double unders (they did 120 singles)
50 weighted rope singles

We individually timed each round, and while the other people went, the two "rest" stations were:

50 sit ups
50 leg raises
50 heel taps


100 sandbag shoulder changes 52#

This was so hard.  And with the heat and steaminess of the small space, we were all completely doused in sweat; I kid you not, there were literally puddles of water on the gym floor at the end of the session.  I wrote it as five rounds, thought about the time for that, then cut it to four rounds.  After the first round, the combo of conditions and time, I cut it to three rounds.  With the cut, good ol' Teddy suggested we throw the weight vest on for the last round.  Absolutely love the energy!  So, we did, it was hard, it was fun.  I got 3:25, 3:21 and 3:05 respectively and felt pretty good with those times.  Interestingly enough, with 20# extra I was able to cut 14 seconds off, perhaps I was dogging it a little in the transitions...

On today's schedule: "Linda", arguably one of the toughest benchmark workouts in CrossFit, heavy weight, high rep.  Gonna be yet another fun one!

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Yeah Paleo!

This is me before I started Paleo (yeah, it looks like I woke up after taking about  pound of heroin, what's the big whoop?)  

6 weeks later, and I am well on my way to caveman status!    

Haha, yeah.  Thanks to the Museum of Natural History in DC for this wonderfulness!  Interestingly enough, I stopped there with my cousin when he was in town, and when I saw this I knew it would be perfect for a little Paleo/Nutrition post.  So, let's get a little serious already.  Haha, I freaking love that picture!

So, upon reading a bit more I learned that it is not uncommon for a person to experience fatigue throughout the day, low energy and tougher sleeping patterns when going Paleo.  And while this is not the normal reaction for people, it will tend to happen to people who have diets very high in carbohydrates, dairy, sugars, and processed foods.  Well, I never had a diet very high in any of those things, and I still spend the middle of my days fighting to keep my eyes open.  But for some reason I still have not turned to the grains.  Two days ago I went to a mexican food place with Ori, had no chips (pretty impressive if you know me and how I love my chips and salsa), and asked for extra veggies instead of rice.  Why the hell am I refusing to consume grains and sugars if I feel so tired all the time?  And I am pushing well into my 7th week of pretty steady Paleo.

Chicken, olives and grilled veggies.  A soon to be regular spot of mine and Lindsey's in Burlingame, CA

Well, it is more intrigue than anything.  But I have decided that I will hold out for the rest of this week and next, this time around I will be super strict with it.  So, absolutely no form of grain, no added sugar, no legumes (I already do not eat dairy as i am sure has been made pretty clear).  It is touch for me because I have a hard time with red meat.  In fact, from my macrobiotic viewpoint, red meat is probably just as difficult to digest in the human body as dairy.  While the benefits are greater, they definitely come a pretty bog cost in terms of effort to actually break the substance down.  When next week comes to a close, I will begin adding minimal grain-formed carbohydrates to my diet, such as: race, oats, flax, quinoa and cous cous.  I will still be wheat/gluten free, and I will give that a try for a good long time to see what happens.  Here is the additional info on how I am going to approch this.  I will only eat the the grains in the morning and the middle of the day, and only on days where i know i will be expecting the most amount of energy.  Now, I will not stick to this perfectly, as I am a bit of a non-believer is having an overly structured life.  But I will probably not be having a bowl of oatmeal o my off days.  I will save them for days I have longer metcons or endurance workouts scheduled in.    Besides that, legumes will make a come back for sure.  I like peas, soy, and beans, so I will eat them.  Peanuts and peanut butter, well, I don;t care all that much, but if I have it, I have it; I won't stress out.  My appetite for almond and cahew butter is through the roof anyway.  

Lastly, I still need to work on getting more veggies into my diet.  I have no idea why this is so hard for me, but i struggle with it so much.  So, what I am doing now is trying to get at least one serving of those colorful plants into my mouth every time I have a meal.  Hard, but a good reminder and habit-forming process.

Whatever happens, I want to avoid a pate that looks like this:

Holy not so appealing!
Ha, shouldn't be too hard at all.  And yes, that is macaroni and cheese pizza.  Wow.  Shouldn't be a problem.  This was an option at one of those all you can eat pizza and past places the baseball team went to in North Carolina.  I had three plates of salad.

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Toughest Workout Ever?

Probably not, but I came up with this thing on the fly after my two guys came in with some differing feelings towards the days challenge.  One had missed some days of strength, the other was planning on meeting up with me and a group later at the track.  We were meant to do straight conditioning, but given their situations I came up with something a little more strength based.  The fun part about the workout is that they are both in great shape, and I wanted to kick their butts a little bit without risking form breakdown or anything like that.

10 rounds of Cindy (5 pull ups, 10 push ups, 15 air squats)
50 KB swings 35#
300 meter run
8 rounds of Cindy
40 KB swings
300 meter run
6 rounds Cindy
30 swings
4 rounds Cindy
20 swings
2 rounds Cindy
10 swings

I honestly did not expect this one to be this tough, but one guy could not finish it (to his credit, he ate directly before coming in, not the smartest move, and I am sure it will not happen again...), the other guy finished in 50:23.  And he was DONE the rest of the day.  Now this is the type of workout you will not see me throw together very often, but I do enjoy this style every now and again.  It tests mostly cardiovascular and mental endurance, but has enough going on that those who find hard running to be boring would never get bored.  It will also be exponentially better for you than running in terms of overall fitness because of how much your body is actually being used.  The best part about it, is that it is very difficult to do the wrong thing.  This makes it safe for anyone, and safe to continue doing even after you've reached the "I-have-checked-out-of-this-emotionally-and-am-just-running-on-momentum-now" phase.  Usually I think it very risky to get 25 minute plus metcons in with weight, because the form will have to break down a great deal after that time and put your physical body at a pointless risk.  Kind of like the workout we will all be doing Friday.

You'll see.

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Monday, August 2, 2010

Welcome August!

It being the second day of another new month, I think it's about time to look over the programming and make changes where changes need to be made.  First off: I will be finishing up my second go round of the 5/3/1 program this week and must say that I think it's not doing it for me this time.  My squat gains have been very noticeable, my strict press gains are there, but extremely minimal, by bench is the same, but it is the deadlifts that have been giving me the most trouble.  I have been much more critical about my form, but still, today with my 1+ set being at 415#, I struggled big time.  Not good at all.  But before anyone decides that the 5/3/1 program just does not work, I must point out that I think I know the reasons behind this.

I have not been getting enough sleep, and I am not feeling good with Paleo.  My sleep has been rough because of nerves with preparations for my move out West and getting my business squared away.  When I get to sleep, it is tossing and turning, and quite honestly, the best sleep I get is when I nap on the floor after my morning clients.  This is very frustrating to me, and I know that I need to figure something out fast if I expect to continue to make gains.  The first change is my fuel.  I am now on 6 weeks of Paleo (with a couple misses here and there, but for the most part, I have been pretty damn strict).  I have been tempted to go all out strict for a few weeks to really see how it works.  But the more I think about it, the more I am convinced that I function better with grains in my diet.  But that being said, yesterday I went to this place that actually makes their own bread, and I just did not eat it.  I don;t now why.  Perhaps I am subconsciously wanting to truly test it out.  But, then I go back and think that if I am going to put myself on such a restricting diet, I will be going against a belief system I have that restrictions only lead to abuse and negativity (in terms of diet).  What this means is that I should not hold back on something I can feel my body is really asking for.  I know certain things to be bad for me: sugar, dairy, lots of red meat and shell fish (bad fr ME mind you, perhaps not bad for YOU).  So why would I restrict all grains and legumes and cut back on my fruit intake as well?  This is my on-going struggle with all this.  By all means people, share your opinions!  I have a pretty good idea of what I am going to get into over the course of this week, and I will post it all up when I conclude everything, but I am always excited to hear what people think.

In terms of resistance training and conditioning, I am struggling with how minimal my gains have been. So, I am going to cut back for about two weeks on major strength training (even though I posted just a few days ago that August would be a strength month...) and then set up a new program to attack.  The main think I know that will be a focus is shoulder strength and core stability/strength.  Shoulders are my weakest point, and core strength is something I, and everyone needs to work on forever, so key.

I'll be back to running a bit more; I am mere seconds from all my running goals, and I would love to get out to compete in some trail runs, and, of course, some fun triathlons one shipped out West.  So, in the same line of thinking, I know it would hugely beneficial to jump in the pool a few more times a month.  Will be doing that for sure.

So much information, so many ideas, so little time!  I guess I'll just continue to list them all out and get to them slowly but surly!  I would love to post something up every day, but I know that I will get pretty distacted with this move coming in a month, that I may miss a day or two.  But I will be sure to get my programming and nutrition is the best I can.  I will also be sure to get WOD's posted up on the site each day like I was doing before, that's going to be a habit I will need to have going for some time with the new gym opening in the coming months.  Well...time to get to work!

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage