Gains, Losses, Goodbye Instagram

Wow. Well, what a few weeks it has been. Utterly maniacal at work, I’ve been unable to blog since my Jiminis Insect Protein bar review. Even then, it was a few weeks before that too. I promise to get back on track as of now. In that time, there have been gains to the Snatch (oh yes!), the Thruster (vom!), and I’ve said goodbye to Instagram. I’ve reviewed my own outlook and perspective on my fitness, nutrition and goals. It’s been a busy time, that’s for sure.

Starting in reverse order:

Outlook. I’ve written about it before; I am competitive by nature. I always was while growing up and used to play a lot of rugby, sprint a lot of races, and jump in a lot of sandpits. My aptitude my have been somewhat debatable but I competed. I am motivated by competition. It’s what got me through the Commando Course, and it motivated me to leave the Army for the Royal Marines (competition against myself). As I’ve grown older (😢) so I’ve moved away from rugby and ahletics, no longer spend time yomping around the hills and sleeping in bushes, and instead found CrossFit. At the same time, I’ve hit a point in my career where I’ve taken on a lot more, and where family situations mean I simply don’t have the time to compete at weekends. That may change in the future but not yet (standfast the 10km OCR I have coming up this Sunday). But I still work best under the pressure of competition. So what? So I’ll be using my time in CrossFit Watford more wisely to identify specific individuals and compete against them. It’s what CrossFit should be about anyway but we tend to be a little ‘British’ about it over here…very polite. I’ve also begun revisiting those things that motivated me to push myself to great lengths before and will regularly refer back to a few ‘totems’ such as the Commando Dagger and Dartmoor Map above.

Nutrition. I’ve not been eating enough to build mass and strength. Simple. I have been carefully managing my intake to not appear flabby and soft. Appearance-first. Well, you can’t put on muscle mass and stay trim easily. I’ll now be upping my intake, still monitored, to at least 2500Kcal per day, and to 40% Carbs, 30% Protein, 30% Fat. Close to Christmas, I’ll reevaluate and begin to focus on conditioning once more.

Instagram. Instagram made me sad. I’ve concluded that unless you are happy to take your top off (which noone wants to see of me!), make awesome food, or take amazing photos, then Instagram just isn’t going to work (oh, and post at least 5 times a day). After a year, I have the total of 240 followers, even though over 1500 have followed/unfollowed (highly irritating). I only joined to try and build an audience for this blog but the time taken to fight for followers in a congested domain (fitness) wasn’t worth it. I found instead that I was rearranging coffee pots, contriving situations, and staring at my phone during workouts. I noticed a horrible narcissism developing and I got upset every time I saw someone in better shape than me (perceptively, everyone). So, I’m taking that time back. Goodbye Instagram. I’ll still be on Twitter @nomadiccrossfit though!

THE GAINS

Now, the successes.

3 weeks ago, CrossFit Watford, “15mins to a heavy Thruster”. Previous best of 90kg. New Personal Record of 100kg!

2 weeks ago, at home in the garage, @amrapplusone programming to work up to a heavy Snatch. Previous best of 77.5kg (achieved only about a month or so ago). I fought and fought for this, failing 3 times on the way up. 80kg. Boom. I have chased and chased this for 2 years or more when I finally took 75kg after years of trying. I was ecstatic all day after this. Done at home, with a York Beefy Bar (no spin) and 1″ hole mixed plates, this went up easier than I was expecting. It took a lot of working up to, granted. I couldn’t have achieved this on a 6am session, for example. However, I’ve reset my numbers on the Amrapplusone programme and will continue to push onwards.

There we have it, all caught up. Well, the main events anyway.

As I endeavour to write more often again, what would YOU like to see on here?

Let me know.

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Zombie Apocalypse…I don’t have to be the fastest. I just have to be faster than the other guy.

I threw myself out of bed this morning, excited and genuinely motivated. Sure, it doesn’t always happen that way  (as Mrs Regular Reader will know), but after an under-par performance in a couplet last night (Kettlebell Swings and pull ups…..Lots and lots of them), I really wanted to make amends. 

Plus……today is FIGHT GONE BAD day!

A benchmark among benchmarks, FGB is a brutal, high volume / low weight engine workout. Feared by many, I saw this as an opportunity.

So it was with proper whooping joy that I bounded in to CF Watford this morning. Yeah, the large Costa Americano ‘might’ have had something to do with it but it was mostly just me.

The excitement was well noted, as it was during max height box jumps last night (44″), and it got me thinking again about my ‘why’.
Why do I get excited by my fitness? why am I enthusiastic about hard charging the box and putting myself in to a dark, stinking pain cave?

The standard answer: I will be that 50+ year old who is throwing a long pass out wide to my rugby playing daughters at the park. I will be the dad on sports day that my daughters are proud to see winning the parents’ race. I will be the old man helping others move in to a new home, shifting furniture that someone half my age struggles with.

The real answer: I will outrun you when the Zombie Apocalypse comes. 

It’s survival of the fittest, baby! 

Global pandemics, war, environmental disasters, zombies. My family needs me to be on my game to protect them and lead them to survival when the time comes.

Am I the strongest? No. 

Am I the fastest? No.

But I don’t need to be. I just have to want it more than the me of yesterday, and the guy next to me in the fight for survival.

Zombie Apocalypse – they’ll get you before they get me 😀

I am that guy who finds the deactivated escalator to walk up.

With that, Fight Gone Bad was up on the board today and I was grinning from ear to ear. Some 5RM Deadlift work first, I kept this at around 85% of my 5RM, with 140kg lifts. Intentionally not hitting the heights, I had bigger fish to fry today.

Fight Gone Bad

3 Rounds

1 min on each station, Max Effort 

  • Wall Balls, 9kg to 10′
  • Sumo Deadlift High Pull, 35kg
  • Box Jumps, 24″ (standard is 20″ for this)
  • Push Press, 35kg
  • Row for KCal 
  • Rest

Total: 326 – a 13 rep improvement on a year ago.

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So, with the world going to hell in a handcart, I’m setting myself up for the survival of my family.

Zombies….they’re coming 😉

Sometimes, you just have to get the work done. Just Do it. But prepare for the Zombie.

Fitness.

Because one day the Zombies will come.

zombieA full CrossFit session in the AM, inc. strength and a MetCon, the AMRAP Plus One Strength session in the evening, and then duathlon training. That was my yesterday. My morning today? Zombie. Coffee. Oats. Zombie.

After taking a day off last week mainly through laziness, and with weekends sacrosanct, I played catch-up yesterday, determined to get CF, Strength and the Running & Swimming in there too. I have 2 events on this week which take up space in my calendar where I’d otherwise be improving myself – that said, one of them is at a Steak restaurant so….you know….that might work too 😀

Yesterday AM @ CF Watford

3 x 3 Front Squats – 60/80/100kg. I intentionally kept it light, knowing I had more to come that day.

  • 20 Dumbbell Snatches
  • 30 Toes To Bar
  • 40 Box Jump Overs @ 24″
  • 800m Run
  • 40 Box Jump Overs
  • 30 Toes To Bar
  • 20 DB SnatchesCFW

Time: 14:56 Rx. This was supposed to be a partner WOD of double the reps but I was the odd man out; I still did the 800m Run though. It seems that it was a pretty fast time by comparison. Only the Toes to Bar were broken, everything else was done in a oner.

amrapplusoneEvening AMRAP Plus One Strength, Duathlon Training

  • Power Clean 2×3 @ 70%, 3×3 @ 75% – 62.5kg and 67.5kg
  • Power Jerk 2 x 3 @ 70%, 3 x 3 @ 75% – 62.5kg and 67.5kg
  • Straight Leg Deadlift 3×5 – 67.5kg

All light; I am forcing myself to trust in this programme, despite it having some pretty light stuff in there. I might usually be hammering myself at 85%+ otherwise. However, perhaps the light load was perfectly timed, given that I then had:

  • 2.4km Run
  • 1km Swim (Pool)
  • 2.4km Run

This is a slightly awkward one because I have to run with a rucksack to carry swim gear, water, ID card, wallet, phone, etc. The run was therefore never going to be fast, and it wasn’t. The swim was my first taste of what

being within a pack will be like – the pool was full, the lanes narrow and there were very different standards trying to train. It made it all extremely difficult to keep any pace or cadence but worthwhile as I ploughed through the 40 lengths. After that, a jog 2.4km back to camp, trying hard to will my body to move a little faster with each stride but feeling like I was pulling against a thousand invisible hands dragging me backwards.

And then Bed.

I find myself in front of the computer now, at 0640, having attempted to head over to the gym for my Strength session but having returned; feeling like a Zombie, hands and legs a little sore, fingers wrapped around my Ospreys RFC coffee mug. There was no way I was getting anything meaningful done this morning. I took a quick look at the CF Watford session tonight and realised that I can fit the two together rather neatly and so can sit here, eat my oats and start the day more sedately.
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The Ultimate HIIT Workout Book – Hoyles Fitness – Excellent.

It gives me genuinely great pleasure today to present a review of a product that has been sent to me this week, a book of HIIT workouts from Steve Hoyles of Hoyles Fitness.

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The Author

Steve Hoyles is a strength and conditioning coach of over 10 years experience, having coached 1000+ athletes to specific goals. Steve takes a no-nonsense, efficiency-based approach to fitness, achieving top quality results without compromising the athlete’s quality of life along the way. He is a coach who leads from the front, never asking his athletes to undertake something that he couldn’t demonstrate himself (and to a high quality). He is a coach of a type that I trust and respect.

The Book

Immediately on picking up the book, you know you’re getting quality. It is quite small, yes, and we’ll come to that. The wording, imagery, layout and formatting are all professional and modern. This is not a locally produced, fast-buck production. The language throughout is easy to read, no bullshit and easily referencable. Steve makes it clear that the function of the book is to deliver high quality workouts that can be chosen by the reader to suit their situation and available equipment, delivering excellent results swiftly. You will find brief explanations of High Intensity Interval Training and its value but, rightly so, the book does not major on the science behind it, getting to the worthwhile stuff as soon as possible. Trust him, he knows his stuff. I mentioned that it is a small book. Do not be fooled by the size. This could be THE book that you’ll carry with you, either in paper form or eBook, while travelling, on holiday, in unfamiliar surrounds, or simply as your go-to set of workouts. It is for everyone, regardless of age, sex, experience.

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The Workouts

The book is not a training programme, nor does it claim to be. It is a selection of graded, highly scalable workouts that can be dipped in and out of to suit the athlete. That doesn’t mean that the workouts couldn’t be used to form a structured programme, and Steve can help with that, but this is to give the athlete something to use to their own ends.

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The workouts cover 5 modalities:

  • Kettlebells
  • Sprints
  • Barbells
  • Tyres
  • Rowing

Before undertaking any of the workouts, there are notes to account for the experience and fitness of the athlete, offering recommendations for scaling wherever necessary. This is important, as it is with any fitness publication but more so when approaching High Intensity training with real world objects such as kettlebells, barbells and tyres. Steve offers demonstrations of movement standards and progressions on his YouTube channel at: here.

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HIIT is TOUGH, as any modern S&C coach or practitioner knows. It is what makes this type of training SO effective, and boy are these workouts effective. Ranging from 4 min Tabatas, through 10 min Hill Sprints, up to 20+ min “Never Again”, there is something for all requirements. This makes the range of workouts eminently suitable to a structured General Physical Preparedness (GPP) programme, should you need it. Just be prepared to push yourself to a whole other level if you open this book.

Summary

You can probably tell from my excitement that I really love this book. I’ve been fortunate to have been given a digital epub and I won’t be giving it back. I travel a lot, being the Nomadic CrossFitter, and this’ll be downloaded to my laptop, tablet and phone. It covers everything I’d want from a selection of workouts and if I’m away for any length of time, I can easily programme these to accomplish against all 3 metabolic pathways, ensuring my fitness is not only maintained by significantly enhanced.

Thanks Steve, cheers for the chance to review this.

 

Fatigue in the Legs, Energy in the Mind

Laziness is Nothing More than the Habit of Resting before you get Tired

– Jules Renard

Having added endurance swimming and running training to my programme, and incorporating the AMRAP Plus One Strength programme, these legs are tired. I don’t mind admitting it but this morning’s WOD was a labour. At only 10 mins long, I had expected to motor through it but the Burpees slowed me right down; there was just nothing in the tank. I really did will myself on too; I pushed myself hard but it just felt sluggish. I have to expect this and get enough food and rest onboard to compensate. In the mind, I am extremely motivated right now. I’m enthused by the challenge coming up in June and can’t wait to get the wetsuit on and in to open water. As long as I can maintain this mental energy then I’ll find the means to overcome the physical fatigue.

AM CrossFit Watford Coaching

Strength

3 x 5 Cleans w/ 3 x 3 Clean Pull supersets.

With a class of 13, I wasn’t able to fit this in and I don’t mind. There were some more newbies in and I was keen to get them moving properly; besides, I have my strength programme going on anyway. A big shout out to xxxx and xxxx for top efforts this morning.

MetCon

10min AMRAP

  • 10 x Toes to Bar
  • 10 x Power Clean @ 60kg
  • 10 x Bar over Burpees

To get some energy going so early in the morning, I split the class in to 2 even groups and had them cheering each other on. With only a 10 min WOD, this was simple and it really worked too; 6am sessions are not normally known for the same levels of overt enthusiasm that you see from the 1830 crowd. It tends to be more of an ‘inner strength’ kind of period. This morning as really good though and as a coach it was excellent to be a part of. As I mentioned above, my own experience of this was not the best, despite my own willingness. In total, 5 rounds and 2 Toes to Bar. The burpees, while unbroken, slowed me down. The Toes to Bar were unbroken for rounds 1-4, with just a break at number 7 for round 5. The Power Cleans were very tough, I won’t lie. I got through the first round unbroken but after that it was 6+4, and then 5+3+2 for the remainder.

PM Running & Swimming

Last week’s 5 Mile Run (38 mins 30 secs) was pleasing and I know I’m in a good place. With a 1km Swim on Sunday in 21:45, I feel in a secure place.

So, tonight, I was going to do a 2.4km Run, 1km Swim and 2.4km Run. But having realised that my trunks and goggles are 235 miles away at home, I have taken it as a sign and am putting my feet up!

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Motivating a Group, Training Under Fatigue

Motivational Quote

 

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Enough of these, thanks Dave.

Update

I hadn’t intended to train this morning. On the board to coach, I arrived in the box on cue at 0545 to get it set up, put the WOD up and motivate myself before meeting the athletes. As they arrived though, it was immediately obvious that the energy was lacking; you could feel it in the conversation, you could see it in the way people moved through the warm up and the drills. Early mornings are always tough to gauge anyway; you can’t give the same energy to a 6am session as you can for an end-of-the-week Friday night extravaganza, for example. As coaches, we have to be able to read the athletes and the group as a whole, and balance accordingly in order to get the best out of them.

So, I started slowly with the warm up, gradually trying to increase the tempo and enthusiasm; we upped the music; we chatted about 17.2 and about what might come up on Friday in 17.3. Nothing. Sure, everyone was working but there was no intensity.

So, I did what every good leader should do and decided to get stuck in and lead from the front. Picking one member of the group, Jav (and we’d gone head to head the night before in 17.2), I decided to really go for it, despite my rather sore glutes and generally fatigued state.

3…2…1…GO!

I’d love to say that by getting amongst it and giving my all I was able to motivate the group. I’m not entirely sure I did though. This is an area that I will revisit shortly. One of the factors is that despite training every morning together, they don’t even know each other’s names (some do) or anything about each other. In order to generate team cohesion and a sense of camaraderie, this has to be a baseline; like I said, more to follow.

I also had the evening class tonight but they’re a completely different kettle of fish altogether!

Strength

  • 4 x 12 Bulgarian Split Squats (per leg)
  • superset with 4 x 6 Straight Leg Kettlebell Deadlift (Single Leg)

2 x 12kg / 12kg / 12kg / 12kg (so, 24kg each time)

After last night’s lunges, my glutes and quads were wimpering throughout. There would have been no point trying to go heavier.

MetCon

18min AMRAP

  • 30 x Push Press @ 50kg
  • 20 x Wall Balls @ 9kg
  • 10 x Box Jump Overs @ 24″
  • 200m Run

Total: 3 + 20

I really pushed the pace on this one. The only thing to have any breaks were the push presses, broken in to 10s and 5s each time, never less – these slowed me right down. All Wall Balls unbroken and fast. Box Jump Overs were consistent. This surprised me quite a bit given how tired I feel. It does show that your body will do what your mind tells it.

The evening class. Determination in spades.

Nutrition

  • Pre-WOD: 1 x Banana
  • Breakfast: 60g Spelt Wheat / Oats with 250ml Protein Milk + 25g Whey Protein
  • Lunch: 3 x Scrambled Eggs, 70g Spinach, 90g BBQ Chicken Breast. 1 x Banana.
  • Dinner: Sunday Leftovers!! (love it!) of 2 x Lean Pork Sausages, 2 x Roast Potatoes, Parsnips, Carrots and Gravy
  • Snack: Battle Oats
  • Pre-Bed: 90g BBQ Chicken Breast

 

Miscounting.

I’m Sorry if you don’t like my Honesty.

To be fair, I don’t like your…miscounting.

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Trump Fact

I left the gym yesterday morning feeling pretty pleased with my workout. After a chipper containing heavy power cleans, muscle ups, lots of wall balls, double unders, push ups and running, I was content with my performance. Sure, I need to work on barbell cycling (recurring theme), and I should tidy up Muscle Ups before the Open (easily done) but overall, it was a steady and strong performance. There were also only 3 of us who managed it Rx.

But when we see scores on the board that are obviously too quick then we know one of two things:

  • The athlete scaled too much.
  • The athlete ‘can’t count’.

To address the first, there are correct times and places to scale, of course there are. You cannot and should not be conducting high intensity movements until you have Mechanics and Consistency nailed. Shit bust. No arguments there. However, if you’ve been languishing in your comfort zone, scaling movements or weights, because it gets you a faster time on the board then you are not progressing and we need to re-evaluate you. We are there to push ourselves and develop, not race to top the whiteboard. “Leave the Ego at the Door” – sound familiar?

To address the second, we have all been there: you’re halfway through a WOD, you zone out for a microsecond and then recover, thinking, “ah, crap, what number was I on??”. Typically, you make a decent guess and end up 2 or 3 above or below what you were aiming for. A good coach will laugh about it with you because we have all been there. But 20 is not a mistake. 20 is a calculation where you have decided to ‘miscount’. A good coach will not laugh about this with you. For the person next to you who was aiming to beat you today, you have denied them that right. They will either decide to cheat next time because it is ‘normalised’ and seen as acceptable, or a schism will develop in your box and negativity towards those ‘miscounters’ will occur; this is inevitable in a competitive, community-based, developmental fitness programme such as CrossFit.

Luckily, the Open is coming up. Each athlete will have a judge focused on them at all times; miscounts won’t occur because counting is taken out of the athlete’s hands for the duration of the WOD.

So you could say I was a little upset to see my score as the slowest on a long list yesterday; but, I wasn’t upset at my score because I know it was honest, true and that I have developed incredibly within this box over the last year. I was upset, and I see it as a failing on my part, that a very small minority appear to believe that repeated miscounting is acceptable. As a coach, I have failed to engage those particular athletes correctly and I will readjust my techniques accordingly. I will learn from this. 😉

And with that, today’s workout!

CrossFit WatFord AM Session

I was coaching today but with a new assistant coach in, and a small class of experienced warriors, it was a chance for me to do the WOD too.

16 min AMRAP

  • 10 x Pull Ups
  • 20 x Pistols
  • 30 x Burpees
  • 40 x Sit Ups
  • 50 x Squats

Total: 2 rounds plus 45 reps

3 rounds of Pull Ups, unbroken. 3 rounds of Pistols, steady, a bit staccato but happy with where I’ve come with these in the last few weeks. Burpees, well paced and very consistent 🙂 Sit Ups, all unbroken. Air Squats, only broken once in the first round to nudge someone else in to getting decent depth in theirs. In the second round, I stopped very briefly at 40 in order to slow down and rest slightly before taking on the Pistols again. This was intentional and I’m happy with then getting through the 3rd round of Pistols.

Snatch Accessory PM Session

20 min EMOM

3 x Snatch Hi Pulls

  • 5 sets of 50
  • 5 sets of 60
  • 5 sets of 65
  • 3 sets of 70
  • 2 set of 72.5kg

If nothing else, I’m far more comfortable on the bar than I have been in a very long time. There is nothing wrong with 3 reps at 72.5kg at all, getting the bar almost to chin height each time.

Nutrition

Due to a ‘working lunch’ yesterday, a lot of “biege” was consumed (1/4 sandwiches, half wraps, vol au vents, etc). However, today it is back on track. I do have to increase my protein intake and reduce fat, so I’ll be amending my shopping soon:

  • Pre-WOD: 15g Mixed Nuts
  • Breakfast: 35g Porridge Oats, 200ml Whole Milk, 25g Whey Protein, 1 Raw Egg
  • Snack: 15g Mixed Nuts
  • Lunch: 100g Tuna, 3 Scrambled Eggs, 100ml Whole Milk, lots of Leaves
  • Snack: 15g Mixed Nuts
  • Dinner: 300g homemade Beef Chilli, lots of Leaves, Veg.
  • Post-WOD: 25g Whey Protein, 200ml Whole Milk

I’ll be reducing to semi-skimmed milk for a while in order to bring fat content down a little. I need to find a better, natural higher protein snack instead of nuts too. Suggestions?