Hold my beer while I PR this clean and jerk

Can I trade in a day of training for a beer?

Can I eat Zone for a week and expect a 2% increase in strength the following week?

Probably not, on both counts. It just don’t work that way. Life would be too simple and the CrossFit gods would never have simple.

Thankfully though, the formula of Good and Bad is pretty simple.

The goods:
Eat Veggies, vegetarian animals and vast amount of fish oil

The bads:
Don’t Eat Booze, breads and beans

The list isn’t comprehensive, but you get the idea. Eat more good than bad and you get the results. Or do you?

Graham Holmberg, winner of the 2010 CrossFit Games admits to the occasional eating of pasta and bread at family dinners on Sunday’s. Of course he nixed those treats as the games drew nearer. But, watching the video I could hear the moans.

You’ve got to be kidding me, I thought. How can he do it?

Watching that video I could only imagine the shudder it sent up so many CrossFit addicts spine leaving them to think “WTF am I doing wrong. I weigh and measure my grass-fed beef, I count almonds and calories like a savant and have watched every CrossFit nutrition video and I’m still sucking wind on [insert whatever WOD you suck at here].”

What gives?

Graham is one of those gifted athletes who can achieve much with little. That’s why they are called “gifted” people. Gifted by the CrossFit gods.

But what about the alcohol, can it be blamed?

Enjoyed this blog post about alcohol and its affect on training written by Nichole DeHart of Crossfit Brand X Alcohol and Your Health & Fitness Goals

What’s so bad about alcohol? In summary from Nichole DeHart’s post.

Alcohol drastically effects the amount of fat your body can and will burn for energy.
Alcohol decreases testosterone and increases Cortisol.
Vitamin and mineral absorption is decreased.
Decrease in protein synthesis of Type II fibers – these are the fast-twitch fibers that make you strong and explosive.
Dehydration – dehydrated muscles are weak and more prone to injury.
Osteoporosis and some forms of arthritis can be advanced by alcohol abuse.
Prolonged exposure to alcohol can erode the stomach lining and cause chronic blood seepage into the stomach.
Alcohol can affect the quality of ones sleep.

Sounds like a recipe for all of the things that would make “Helen”, in 100+ degree temperatures, pure hell on earth.

And these are only the things going on inside the body. Never mind the debauchery you are getting into on the outside…

What does a bunch of imbibed CrossFit addicts look like? Check out this link…

CrossFit North Atlanta Summer Bash

This is my gym. These are my peeps. I love these guys. Nothing wrong with cutting loose a little to counter life’s stresses.

Where can it go wrong?

In the extremes!

Extreme training, extreme alcohol, extreme eating (ie. rice only diet, grapefruit only diet, air diet a.k.a. breathetarian) can all be hazardous to your health. So can extreme laziness, and extreme stupidity, but that is a talk for another time. Seems problems are most likely to occur when you run in the extreme excessively. But, after CrossFit becomes a lifestyle, sometimes it can be difficult to see that line. Training through chronic or sharp pains without stopping to investigate the cause can blur the lines.

I get strange looks from acquaintances at parties when I talk about nutrition or training philosophy. These are typically the first people to offer an excuse as to their own life’s situation, while they stuff their face with pretzels and pie.

Oblivious of the control they have in their own lives, they are content to run with the herds of sheeple. An extreme take on this is when another CrossFit aficionado is in attendance and attempts to ram CrossFit down the “non believers” throat. If you are that kind of CrossFit “stud”, please reign it in a bit and don’t be a CrossFit douche, it’s bad for business.

If CrossFit has taught me one thing, it’s that excuses are useless bullshit. And talk is cheap.

No excuses right?

Taking an honest look at how lifestyle directly affects our bodies can be sobering.

What roll does your lifestyle choices have on your life? How does what you eat or drink affect your performance?

Hold my beer while I PR this clean and jerk.

Think on these questions and drop your answer in the comments below:

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Filed under Crossfit Chiropractic, Inspiration, Rants

A Fighting Chance and how Chiropractic can help

The Crossfit community is well aware of Kyle Maynard. A truly amazing and driven individual. If he could distill some of his “fitness mojo” into liquid form I’d buy it. :)

Watched the documentary about his life leading up to his first amateur MMA fight. Obstacle after obstacle presented itself. Not one to be deterred, he has been overcoming obstacles that would crush most since he was born. Throughout the documentary those most outspoken seemed hardly fit enough to do a series of pull ups, let alone enter an MMA ring to fight. (Sigh) I guess that is the way for many, their skills in fighting are in reverse proportion to the bigness of their mouth. In other words all talk and no action. In the spirit of disclosure, I’m not an MMA fan, nor do I follow it. I have all the respect in the world for Kyle or anyone else who steps into the ring ready to fight.

Check out the entire video here: A Fighting Chance

I picked the clip below to illustrate two points, but the clip got moved.  In the clip Kyle discusses how debilitating his low back pain is and how concerned he is about it affecting his ability to train and fight.

1. No matter our station in life, we are all susceptible to injury.

Injuries are real when they prevent us from doing the things we desire most. I have treated some “tough” male patients who lived with their low back pain for years. It wasn’t until it interfered with their ability to play golf or their performance in bed was affected before they decided to do anything about the problem. In Kyles case, I have no idea what is going on with him, or causing his low back pain. However, I have cared for enough people with low back pain over the years to make some educated guesses. Training for MMA involves copious amount of sparring. Sparring involves blows to the head. In Kyles case (I believe) a combination of blows to the head as well as considerable compression on the low back due to sitting have contributed to this injury shown in the documentary. The real problem is thinking when the pain goes away the problem goes away. In my experience the problem typically shows up again, lasts longer and worsens. Solution? Stretching? Yes. Icing? Yes. Bed rest, “walking it off”? NO WAY. Rest won’t get him back in alignment. I’d suggest an evaluation first which most commonly leads to corrective adjustments. Preferably by an upper cervical doctor. Additional work to benefit him would be reverse hyper exercises (via West Side Barbells Louie Simmons). For Kyle this would take some modification and ingenuity, but it is possible.

2. Chiropractors have a great opportunity to help athletes like Kyle as well as other Crossfit athletes.

Chiropractors with the right understanding of what it takes to train as a Crossfit athlete or in demand. Why? Crossfit is one of the fastest growing fitness training disciplines around. Plenty in the fitness industry are either joining, disparaging about Crossfit or ripping them off by promoting their own version of Crossfit. The chiropractic profession has these things in common. Plenty of people enjoy the benefits of chiropractic, plenty are disparaging against it and there are even some movements to rip it off. I say chiropractors with the right understanding. Who might that be? Chiropractors who have trained in Crossfit for an extended period of time. Giving it a try for a couple of weeks, or espousing how you don’t like the incorrect squatting form of a gyms members in not what I’m talking about. I’ll admit that I went through Chiropractic school for 4 years and never once was shown, let alone taught a proper squat. From the looks of many of my teachers it was obvious why…because they can’t do one. Learning a squat from someone who can’t perform one (or who was never able to perform one) is like learning to drive from someone who never drove. It just don’t work. Crossfit does not need chiropractors who want to drag their dogma about squats and what you must eat and what supplements you must take. Crossfit athletes are well aware on these subject matters. Crossfit athletes need help in the area of recovery, posture and alignment. In chiropractic we call what we treat (correct) a subluxation. And we use adjustments (alignments) to achieve this goal.

If you are Crossfit athlete in need of help with recovery, like Kyle Maynard, I would suggest seeking out the services of a chiropractor who is also involved in Crossfit. If you are a chiropractor looking for me people to serve, join your closest Crossfit box, listen and learn and find a way to fit your services into their programing.

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Filed under Chiropractic, Crossfit Chiropractic, Inspiration, MMA

Testing personal endurance limits with Crossfit

We’ve heard it many times. Crossfit training transfers into long slow distance performance. LSD as it is commonly abbreviated. I think one would have to be on LSD to want and run anything over 10k. Yesterday on a whim I wanted to see just how well my Crossfit training is holding up to long slow distance running. Mind you, I’ve been doing mostly Crossfit HQ main site WOD’s and including additional strength training for the better part of 6 months. Mostly West Side bar bell stuff – box squats, varied dead lift training such as one arm DL’s and some ab work. I haven’t run more than a mile or two on a few occasions since last years triathlons. No consistent endurance training.

I currently live in Superior, CO. About 12 miles from Boulder Colorado. I wanted to run to a national park nearby, Chautauqua National Park and then run one of their trails to the top. It wound up being about 2 half marathon distance runs with a trail run in between.

WOD: For time
Run 12.5 miles
Trail run 2.8 w/ 1,422′ net elevation gain
Run 12.4 miles

Round-Trip Length: 2.8 miles
Start – End Elevation: 5,710′ – 7,132′ (7,132′ max elevation)
Elevation Change: +1,422′ net elevation gain (+1,440′ total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Moderately Strenuous

Here is the twin 12 miler map and link (click on the map to view the interactive map)

Crossfit training held up nicely for me. Was it a brutal run? Yes. Did I walk on occasion? Yes. But, I had no extra preparation either physical or mental. I had only decided to do the run after walking a half mile and said what the hell. Almost as if it were randomly pulled from the “hopper”. I also had no water bottle until I found one at the trail head at mile 12. Cleaned it up and filled it with fresh water for the rest of the run. Completely unprepared I completed the run in about 7 hours, with delays for lightning and a 30 minute planned rest at the halfway point. There were no water stations like an organized race. It was 81 degree’s and overcast most of the run, except for the torrential downpour of rain at mile 15 on the way back. Lightning encouraged me to stop and let the worse of it blow over. Truly a unknown and unknowable WOD. As much as I could create on a whim.

If you check out this link Beating the Boston Marathon there are some excellent points made about endurance running under such circumstances. The video is good too. The argument seems to be can Crossfit and Crossfit Endurance training help the elite, competitive athlete. If their desire is to become a more rounded athlete, yes. But, if they wish to continue to be competitive at the elite level then specialize programming for them is most likely the way to go. Why?

Although I completed my run, it was by no means a stellar performance. Plenty of endurance athletes would crush the run time I had of 7+ hours. Assuming they could best me on a trail run in between. But, turn around and place those endurance athletes in any other non-endurance related event and I would probably best them considerably – Olympic lifting competition, pull ups for time, hand stand push ups and double-unders, etc. Perhaps even other endurance events such as swimming and rowing could prove to be a nice match up.

As Crossfit and Crossfit Endurance continue to seek legitimacy in the eyes of elite athletes, it leaves one wondering why would they even want it? The endorsements would be nice and vindication for programming that is scoffed at by many would also be a plus. But, I don’t think it is necessary. Crossfit is the every mans training program, preparing for the unknown and unknowable. Asking it to deliver a worlds best time takes it from broad general physical preparedness to specialization. On some level CF may help the specialists, but when it comes right down to it, the specialists needs specialized training to perform at peak levels and traditional Crossfit programming is too broad to make an impact in area such as endurance running. To get good at running you can get by with CF/CFE. To be great at running you need the genetics, the will to train and lot’s of dedicated hours towards training. There are no shortcuts to greatness. Elite level endurance athletes could care less about how much they can dead lift.

In the Crossit video (Link above) Dr. Doug Harmon of R.A.W. Training talks about running the Boston Marathon. To run the Boston Marathon you must qualify for your age group in a prior sanctioned marathon race. No small accomplishment for many:

“I couldn’t train for a marathon the traditional way. I just do not have the hours or the schedule to accommodate that.”

I think this sums up CF/CFE. It is for people who want to perform respectably in a marathon or other endurance event and do not have hours upon hours of time to dedicate to traditional marathon endurance type LSD training. I echo the sentiments above, CF has served me well in being prepared for the unknown and unknowable.

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Filed under Cardiovascular/Respiratory endurance, Crossfit Chiropractic, Crossfit Endurance

How to persuade your doctor to let you Crossfit with injury

Is your doctor a Douche-bag?

Going to the doctor sucks for most people. It’s even worse if your insurance mandates you see someone you don’t like.

Not all doctor’s are the same, of course. But, what if the doctor caring for you has  Gregory House MD’s demeanor, but not his diagnostic prowess?

What’s the best way to persuade your doctor?

Keep the following in mind:


  • Don’t go head to head with a doctor on stuff they think they know ancillary to their expertise, like exercise. Do ask questions and ask the doctor to explain their point of view.
  • Don’t fret if you do not get the cooperation you desired. Do keep seeking common ground.
  • Don’t try to impress the doctor with your vast knowledge of exercise and nutrition. Do talk in simple terms.
  • Don’t correct the doctor by quoting research. Do find something you can agree upon and focus on that subject.

So you are hurt and you want to keep doing Crossfit because you saw Kelly Starrett’s videos

Training Through Acute Injuries: Part 1 & Part 2 and according to him:

Working out increases blood flow and promotes healing. It drives insulin sensitivity, restores proteins and gets the whole system looking for anabolic enzymes.

Having practiced and worked with patients as a chiropractor for over 10 years and an avid Crossfit aficionado for three, allow me to offer one doctor’s perspective. Although I applaud your enthusiasm to return to Crossfit following an injury it is important you work with your doctor for recovery. Influence and persuasion is a two-way road.

Having given a lot of professional advice to patients over the years, I can say not everyone follows it. This is frustrating for a doctor too, because it can slow someones recovery time. Patients that have worked with me and developed an effective plan recovered quicker than non compliant patients. Attempting to convince a doctor Crossfit is different is futile unless they have an interest. It’s obvious fat doctors don’t have an interest in exercise and nutrition.

You want answers to these questions:

1. How bad is the injury?

What’s damaged and how long is the estimated recovery time best case and worse case scenario? Different tissue takes variable times to heal. The more complex the tissue the longer it takes to heal. If you break a bone and damage a nerve the general rule is the nerve will take 5 times longer to fully heal. Wounds of the skin and muscles following surgery or injury must also heal.

2. What activities can you physically do?

Take stock in what you can move without hurting. This will determine the movements and Crossfit programming for rehab. Combine the best of what your doctor(s) and Crossfit trainers suggest. Where there is conflict, set that aside until a later time. The most important thing is do what you can with what you’ve got.

Persuading your doctor is merely an attempt to seek agreement.

Ask the doctor exactly what he thinks the recovery program should look like from start to finish. Pick the points of disagreement and address them one at a time from most to least important. You may not get through all the points on one visit, so note them for a later visit.

If you are a Crossfit trainer, or working with one, always emphasize the idea to the doctor everyone is working for your benefit and speedy recovery.

Keep in mind that many doctors disagree about what research means. Reference “Good Calories Bad Calories” by Gary Taubes for the studies that led to all fat being considered evil. Experts often can’t agree on the meaning of research.

When I began my research, I had no idea that I would come to believe that obesity is not caused by eating too much, or that exercise is not a means of prevention. Nor did I believe that diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s could be caused by the consumption of refined carbohydrates and sugars.

Doctors disagree on cervical cancer screenings

The main push behind the research was the idea that doctors tend to overscreen for cervical cancer, thus spending a lot of money.

When doctors disagree: How to cope with conflicting results

Dr. Ioannidis has done a real service by pointing out that even high-visibility medical studies published in major journals are often contradicted or modified by subsequent research.

Using the ‘F’ Word – When Parents and Doctors Disagree

The majority of the medical community agrees that care is futile when it does not achieve its purpose. But medical ethicist Dr. Norman Fost, professor of pediatrics and bioethics, University of Wisconsin, cautioned that there is no definitive definition of futile treatments.

Understanding Persuasion:

According to Peter Ramsden, people have three primary motivational needs:
1. Need to Achieve
2. Need of Authority/Influence or Power
3. Need for Affiliation

http://paramountlearning.wordpress.com/2010/02/11/motivational-behaviour-three-types-how-to-influence-them/

Persuade Achievers by:

Talking facts and figures – if you want to persuade your doctor with facts and figures then know your topic well. Show them you read up on the material and understand it. Don’t whip out a recent article you saw in Time magazine. Read the research the writer used for the time magazine article.

Focus on the task and results more than the relationship -  much of persuasion has to do with an emotional bond. Achievers respond by focusing on the the goals and results, not emotions. Providing ongoing reports on your rehab progress will get more cooperation from your doctor. Show them you are getting better.

Do not miss a commitment – keep your agreed appointment schedule. If you miss an appointment make it up. This let’s the doctor know you are serious.

Persuade Power types by:

Find ways to let them believe the idea was theirs – even if it was not. This may mean broaching the subject of contention on one office visit and then let it set until the next visit. You may be surprised on your next visit when the doctor tells you it’s okay to do the thing he told you not previously.

Provide them with options – ask, “Doc, you say I can’t squat. Is it okay if I sit and get out of a chair?” Of course they will agree. So you modify your squats to involve a chair until you are strong enough to progress further. Coach Gregg Glassman talks about this very issue in his Invincible Ignorance video at Crossfit.

Ask them for advice – they will love you for this. Just ask for advice in the areas of least contention. If the doctor says no overhead exercise ask for their advice on putting something up on a high shelf. They will probably agree this is okay. Avoid placing them in a position where they lose face. Telling your doctor he was wrong after you do the very squats he told you not to is a recipe for a broken doctor/patient relationship. Your recovery is most important here, not being right.

What have been your experiences with doctors related to Crossfit? Leave a comment below.

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Filed under Chiropractic, Crossfit Chiropractic, Crossfit Recovery

Crossfit WOD Scalling first WOD

Blog Post about first Crossfit WOD:

Dabbling in Crossfit is common at first for many. No different for me.

I played with some Crossfit styled pull ups, struggling with the kip. Tried some air squats, UGLY! And even attempted a deadlift, mistake!

Countless hours of watching videos and reading Crossfit Journal articles.

Looking back (three years ago) my first “official” logged WOD was “Michael” – the notes read:

…ran only half the distance also know as “Scaled”

If you are considering starting Crossfit READ THIS PAGE:Getting Started in Crossfit

Especially…

we recommend that you follow the WOD and substitute other exercises for those where you don’t have either the equipment or skill and then devise a plan for acquisition of the necessary skills or equipment needed to participate completely.

Unless you want this…

If you are just starting off with Crossfit, catch a clue and go easy. Crossfit is not “too hard”, it may be you are too inexperienced or deconditioned. And in an ego maniacal ascetic driven fitness industry, this can be hard.

The thing I remember the most about my first CF WOD was how long 18 minutes seemed.

Longest damn 18 minutes of my life.

What do you remember most about your first CF WOD?

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Filed under Getting Started