Thursday, August 30, 2012

CrossFitting with Friedreich's Ataxia - Kyle Bryant

Kyle Bryant joined CrossFit King of Prussia in early April this year and right away caught my attention. Not because he came in supported by a walker, nor subsequent times when he rolled in on his wheelchair, but because of his good-natured smile and incredible work ethic. As a coach, I always hope that people coming through our doors will be the positive, upbeat personalities that CrossFit typically attracts. Kyle fit this role to a T. Although I was not his coach for the intro workout he did, I remember Kyle introducing himself to me after he was done working out and I was finishing up coaching a class. A strong handshake and quick smile later, I knew Kyle would be a valuable asset to the KoP community. 

Mike Donofrio of CrossFit Generation documented Kyle's journey with Friedreich's Ataxia in the below video. As you'll learn in the video, FA is a fairly rare disease that breaks down muscle mass, including the heart. Kyle is a spokesperson for the Friedreich's Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA) and has biked across the country to raise awareness. The hope is that this video will also continue to raise awareness of FA and how it affects people. As an example of Kyle's positive nature, after he was finished with the CrossFit for Hope workout, he exclaimed, "That was definitely the gnarliest workout I've ever done!" 
Kyle, post CF for Hope workout - GNARLY!

The video is featured on the CrossFit Journal website, but it can also be found on CrossFit's Youtube channel. I love the fact that OG Miranda Oldroyd (who recently went through a severe car crash) left this comment on the CF Journal:
"I am just sitting here bawling! This is so inspirational! Kyle, thank you SO MUCH for being so fearless and refusing to give up in your own life. This needs to be shown A LOT...there are too many people out there making excuses!" - Miranda O.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Kindle Books in Amazon Store

I just got a really nice email from a reader (who had a paleo-related question which I will answer on the blog) and one of the things he mentioned was that I needed to update my Amazon Store and asked if I could include a Kindle version. When I first added books, I thought the Kindle version was automatically linked to the hard copy...not so. 

So now I have Kindle versions of most of the books in there. If you happen to buy something through my Amazon store, it's the same price to you as if you had searched for it on you're own, but I get a small percent of the sale for the referral. I'm not making a living off this by any means, but hey, I'm also not getting paid to write this blog either, ha!

For T-shirts, "BOOM TIME" or "I eat 100% Paleo, 80% of the Time" head to my Spreadshirt Shop

If you have any ideas for T-shirts or things to add to the Amazon store, post to comments

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Shoulder Update

As some of you may know, I hurt my shoulder back in June at the CrossFit ACT Garage Games doing a weighted sit up. See my recap if you want to know more. 

Most people would think a weighted sit up would involve holding a plate across the chest and doing sit ups. Not there. There, we held 45# plates at an arm's length, touching in front of us and then laying back and touching above our head. However, on one of the reps, I felt something *crunch* in my right shoulder as I tried to bring the plate up from the ground. I ended up finishing the workout, but there was clearly something wrong. 

I spent the next month icing and not using the shoulder. I know, I know, recent important people in CrossFit land have now come public with their aversion to icing. But I digress. Even if I wanted to do pull ups or presses overhead, I couldn't. Range of motion was ok overhead (not so much reaching behind my back), but supporting any load, especially hanging from a pull up bar, was awful. 

I finally broke down and saw a doctor after a month of no progress. I wasn't in denial that I was hurt, but I had hurt my other shoulder two years ago and figured that rest would have been the first thing ordered. Anyway, the doc ordered an X-ray, but it showed nothing, so we went with an MRI. The voicemail he left me said, "when you had that injury, it looks like you tried to dislocate your shoulder, it tried to slide out of your socket. Looks like there is a cartilage defect in there and there's a tiny tear in your sub scapula. Best bet is to see a surgeon and get your shoulder scoped, get an arthroscopy so they can clean up whatever they can in there." 

So that's it. I basically tried to rip my shoulder out of it's socket. That's what's going to happen when you have 45# at the end of a 2ft. lever a.k.a. my arm. The former engineer in me remembers moment arms and torque and how this should not be tested on humans. Instead of that movement testing abdominal strength, it found the weak point of my shoulder socket and tried to rip it out like you would take the leg off a rotisserie chicken. 

If you've ever been injured before, you know that it can take you out of commission not only for that particular area, but even take you out mentally from wanting to work out. This is definitely the case for me, as even back squatting with a regular bar is impossible b/c of the shoulder ROM needed. (Yes, I've used the safety bar and it's worked, it's just not the same) It's amazing how many movements depend on the shoulder. 

So my appointment is middle of September. Unfortunately I don't have any cool X-rays or MRI images to share (at least not yet), but I will update you on how things are going. I've never been to the hospital for myself; no broken bones, no stitches, no major illnesses. (I did get a cortisone shot for my other shoulder for some bursitis) So I guess I'm making up for lost time by most likely needing a minimally invasive surgical procedure done. 

If anyone has any experience with this kind of thing, I'd love to hear from you. One of our members at KoP already sent me a blog that I need to take a closer look at. Either way, you can be pretty sure that I won't be icing the dang thing! 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Ask Chris: Why Power Cleans?

Chris - there is a video on the main site showing Orlando and Hogan going through the Games clean ladder - neither of them squat cleaned (some partial at the end). I would have expected full squat cleans over power cleans - any thoughts why they would pick one over the other? - Sam

There are three reasons why I will answer this old question from July 12th:
1. I like olympic lifting and talking about it
2. this is a short question with a somewhat short/simple answer
3. I know that Sam is not on social media like facebook, so he hasn't seen me post about this video in the past and can only see my communications via this blog.

When this mainsite demo video went up, I was excited to watch. Unfortunately as you can see, Rob and Katie both power clean towards the end of their respective attempts.

At first, this is a smart decision. Power cleans require more pulling with the hip and less squatting, thus saving the legs. For these two, the first set of bars are so light that not only do they not HAVE to squat clean, but it's smart to power clean to save the legs.

Towards the heavier weights, however, they still are power cleaning. I see this as two possible factors, with the latter being the more likely. First, their CNS (central nervous system) has already been wired to power clean and therefore, their bodies are just going through the same motions of what they have already performed. Perhaps they are even a little fatigued to the point of not wanting to squat. However, the second reason is that they are brute strength strong and are so used to power cleans their entire life. Squat cleaning is hard to do when you've power cleaned for 15+ years of your life as a power athlete (think football) or used it as accessory work (think powerlifter/strongman). When you are big and strong enough to power clean most things, that is going to be your tendency.

When this video went up, I commented on facebook that although it was awesome to watch, their form was awful. I didn't want people to look at their wide feet (3-4ft across) and think this was acceptable in any oly lifting gym. You should land in the same exact place in a power clean as you would a squat clean. Think about that for a minute. You should land in the same exact place in a power clean as you would a squat clean. After all, isn't a power clean just a tall squat clean without going below parallel. Well, it should be, anyway.

It took a long time to actually find a picture of a proper power clean on the interwebs. There are plenty of incorrect ones out there, but I had to go to a trusty source for all things oly lifting: Catalyst Athletics. These guys know their stuff (Greg and Aimee Everett). Here is Aimee in a proper power clean position. Notice how far apart her feet are: NOT VERY! She could very easily squat in this position. Amazing high elbows too.

Rob and Katie went wide because they weren't comfortable squatting, but they had to meet the bar low (the wider your legs, the lower your torso). They probably could have each moved to the next bar, if not two bars higher if they squatted. (Despite my criticism, they both would still kick my ass in power or squat cleans)

So when you're power cleaning, give yourself the squat test: catch it in a power position and see if you can squat down. If you can't, you haven't landed correctly.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

CrossFit Girls: Looks Causing Controversy

Bella Clayton. From
Pamela Monger. From
Whenever a picture like these pops up on, inevitably there is a flurry of comments either criticizing or defending the athlete(s). "Is this really necessary, I don't want my kids to see this stuff" to "If you got it, flaunt it!" are generally the two ends of same stick of comments. During the 2012 CrossFit Games, one of the most controversial commercials was Reebok CrossFit's "Turning 7's into 10's" which is embedded below. (interestingly, it is not on their Youtube channel)

And on 8/3/12, this was the mainsite WOD demo video featuring Andrea Ager, Jackie Perez, Rita Benavidez, and Erin Cianciolo. 

While I'm not here to make judgement either way, I do think it's changing people's definition of beauty/sexy/desireable/insertadjective. 

"Strong is the New Skinny"? Ok. Defined legs and sinewy arms over skinny-fat? Definitely. It's no longer about being skinny.  It's no longer about low bodyweight (which never made sense to me), but now it's about being strong. Now it's become socially acceptable, and dare I say attractive, for girls to have muscle and more importantly, DO STUFF like lifting weights over 5lbs. For many of the girls pictured, they can back their looks up with performance. On this blog, I consistently get people searching for  "Camille Leblanc-Bazinet pictures" but she also came in 6th at the 2012 CrossFit Games, 8th in 2011, and 9th in 2010. CrossFit has received both praise and criticism for showing her more than 2010 CrossFit Games winner Kristan Clever.

Camille Leblanc-Bazinet at the 2011 CF Games. From
While perhaps controversial, these images, and videos won't stop. In fact, I fully expect them to increase in frequency as CrossFit continues to grow and Reebok is more and more involved. But I think there is an important distinction between how someone looks and how they perform. Yes, in general form follows function, but there are also going to be girls (and men) who simply LOOK more attractive than others, usually with a pretty face. Us regular folk need to focus more on what we can DO, rather than what genetics may have handed us. No matter how hard I try, I am not going to look like Channing Tatum (and certainly not dance like him), but I CAN keep getting stronger/faster, etc compared to MYSELF. In other words, I am going to take whatever genetics gave me, and make the best of that situation. Essentially, I want you to be your best self. 

Where do you stand on images and videos like these? 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

London 2012 - Weightlifting Highlights (So Far)

Since weightlifting doesn't get nearly the coverage it deserves, here are some highlight videos that I found on the interwebs (which are surprisingly hard to find)

Want to feel bad about your lifting? Check out 58kg (127.6lbs) Li Xueying of China winning gold with a 108kg (237.6lbs) snatch and 138kg (303.6lbs) clean and jerk. Her clean and jerk and her total were both Olympic records. 

Lu Xiaojun (77kg) of China with a 175kg snatch, bettering his own world record by 1kg. Four years ago in Beijing, the only gold medal that the Chinese did NOT win was in the men's 77kg men's category. This year, Xiaojun made sure he was not the weakest link. 

26 year old American Kendrick Farris (has helped coach at many a CrossFit box) with a 200kg  (440lbs) clean and jerk for 10th overall in the 85kg group. He would later fail at 208kg attempt. 

24 year old Ilya Ilin (97kg) of Kazakhstan of lifting a world record 233kg (512.6lbs) clean and jerk and making it look EASY. (He also snatched 185kg or 407lbs) The next best clean and jerk was by Anatoli Ciricu of Moldova at 226kg (497.2lbs)

Friday, August 3, 2012

Attending the CrossFit Football Course

In the span of nine days, I attended the CrossFit Kids Course, visited eleven colleges (for my day job), and attended the CrossFit Football Course. Needless to say, it was an exhausting, yet worthwhile week. 

I started following CFF about two years ago and saw great strength gains. I would follow it in waves because it doesn't include as much gymnastics and full oly lifting since it is designed for power athletes (football, soccer, really any sport). Because I had been following it for awhile, I was excited for creator John Welbourn and crew to come in and preach their ways. For those who don't know, Welbourn was a professional NFL offensive tackle and guard for 10 years with the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs. He also competed in the 2008 CrossFit Games. Yeah, he knows his stuff. 

Jason Lyons on floor press
The course was very hands on which most people appreciate in these courses. We went over the back squat, deadlift, floor press, power clean, and jerk. During these movements, we would coach each other while the trainers walked around to critique. Luke and Ben led us in a lot of mobility work which was unexpected, but I think left me sore more than the workouts! (we did one each day) One topic that doesn't often come up in CrossFit world is "change of direction." In most sports, athletes are changing direction all the time. We spent some time going over sprint mechanics and change of direction drills which was both interesting and useful. 

Luke teaching the power clean
Although we had sessions on programming and nutrition, I think many attendees had a lot of questions pertaining to both topics. Unlike the CF Kids Course where most attendees were CrossFit coaches, there were a good amount of high school sport coaches here that had not heard of paleo or AMRAPs. Taking some time from the mobility work and moving it to more FAQs during programming and nutrition would have been useful. 

John Welbourn - LARGE
Overall, I think the biggest benefit of CFF is actually DOING it. Admittedly, a lot of the cert information can be found on CFF and John's blog Talk To Me Johnnie (TTMJ). But if you're looking to get specific questions answered or get warmup/mobility drill ideas, then the course would be useful for you. 

CFF attendees and trainers

Thanks to John, Ben, Luke, and interns Chris and Cali for sharing their expertise and inspiring us to get strong!

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