Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Articles on my mind

Just a few quick articles to keep yall busy while I hurry up and finish midterms. Normal posts will be back in about 5 days:


That should satisfy your appetite for now. More posts after I recover from 2 midterms for grade. Stay thirsty my friends.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Why diet isn't 85-90% of crossfit

I'm sure many of you have read that 85-90% of crossfit is diet, if you haven't that is great, you haven't been brainwashed yet. There are so many things that are a factor in being a successful crossfitter that when I hear this statistic it makes me want to ram my head through dry-wall, multiple times, while squirting lemon juice in my eyes, and listening to cher. First off lets get the obvious out of the way and remember that EVERYONE has a different genetic composition. I have had friends that can eat like crap, be in amazing shape, but they have to work much, much harder in the gym to build any muscle. So already this statistic changes based on the individual. 

Moreover lets look at what crossfit is, a broad, inclusive approach to fitness. We aren't in the business of producing powerlifters or six-packs but we tend to produce both. If we wanted to produce a powerlifter we would be spending a lot of time in the gym and if you have every seen a diet of a powerlifter there is one rule: eat like you have rosie o'donnell breathing down your neck, therefore their diet is probably 10-20% of what they do. If we want a six-pack it's strict paleo and no high glycemic index foods until you are doing laundry on your stomach. For those individuals diet may be 90% of their work. But for a crossfitter we are worried about performance. We need strong diet to get the most out of our workouts but we also need smart and intense workouts to promote the proper amount of hypertrophy needed to build strength. On top of that we need adequate recovery time so our bodies can become better and we need to attempt to reduce stress in our lives (yes, stress will fuck your lifting up more than tabata chugging will). If I had to give a number of what diet is to crossfit I would give... No wait, I'm no asshole that is pretending to know something I don't. Diet is a part of crossfit and a large one, but that is it, a part and nothing more. What I'm trying to say is the next time you hear someone say diet is 80-90% of crossfit promptly ask 80-90% of what and then provide a swift roundhouse kick to the jaw. Tell them I told you to do it.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Paleo Lent

So I am fairly non-religious. But when me and two friends got to talking about going paleo for lent I couldn't resist. My friends have not been doing paleo pretty much at all so I wrote this little piece with hashing out the basic rules for the lent. You will notice this is not the same as whole30 because there are cheat meals, it's college, get over it. Cheat meals are an inevitability. Programming them in gives restriction that is necessary. So here it is, join me if you would like.

Paleo lent rules:
Each week starts on Monday, during that week individuals are allowed 2 cheat meals and 2 cheat snacks. If an individual wants a third cheat snack they may sacrifice a cheat meal. A meal is larger than your fist, a snack is smaller than your fist. Cheat meals do not roll over but the person with the most left over cheat meals at the end of the challenge will get to gloat FOREVER.
Paleo no-nos:
·      No grains
·      No legumes (peanuts ARE legumes)
·      No sugars, or other processed foods
·      No dairy except in coffee or a very small amount of cheese in a meal
Things that we should try to avoid:
·      Preservatives when possible
·      Alcohol (but if you are going out fuck that)
·      Fruit excess (just try to sub in more veggies for fruit)
·      Lack of sleep (yes this is included in being healthy, 8 hours of lights off a night is desirable)
·      Non-balanced meals (try to have a ‘fat’ ‘carb’ and ‘protein’ in your meals)
·      Lack of exercise (3 times a week is a minimum)
Should there be any questions about whether or not a meal is paleo I need to be contacted for validation. It should be obvious but if it is a grey area ask me. Last thing, I recommend taking before and after pictures. That way at the end of the 39 days we can tell if this is really working for you. For the next 39 days… we dine in hell!!


Rules to program on your own

The topic of affiliates and individuals programming their own training is something that I have very mixed feelings about, it's like a party at rival college, it could be incredibly fun, worthwhile and better you as an individual or you could be putting in a lot more work just to get your ass kicked and gain nothing. I personally hold the view that an individual should stick to mainsite programming or a good affiliates programming (I've had both good and bad affiliate programming). However, as a student I understand that working out on the time clock of an affiliates schedule can be difficult if not impossible so here is my list of the most common flaws I see when individuals start programming for themselves and some tips to avoid them.

  1. Ask any HQ trainer about what the core crossfit structure is for a workout and they will tell you it is the couplet or the triplet. Blending 2,3 on rare occasions 4 movements together that complement eachother perfectly is the most crossfit-esque workout. Fran is an obvious example, so is Helen. It is in the simplicity of these structures that an individual can gain maximum strength while also building conditioning. I personally believe the chipper style WOD should be used VERY rarily, like once or twice a month to test your gas but programming it more won't build any more foundational strength which is so so important. Therefore, stick to the the couplet or triplet.
  2. For some reason it seems that crossfitters who have begun to program on their own tend to skip the strength workouts all together. It is easy to skip these workouts because they do not feel as 'intense' as normal met-cons but they help dramatically in the phosphagen pathway (one of the three metabolic pathways we need to train). To aid in this intensity first read this it is one of the most inspiring pieces I have ever read on the crossfit journal and it always reminds me how important it is to not only do these strength workouts but attack them with tenacity. If you still feel lacking in intensity with these workouts try programming the strength portions like powerlifters do. There is a great video on the journal that shows westisde barbell doing box squats here and I like how the rest is shortened dramatically from what a normal strength workout has. This creates a slight conditioning aspect that delivers focus and concentration to the lifter so he or she does not have time to let the mind wander. The final tip I have for bringing intensity is to not always use the 'work-up' to a 1rm or a 3rm methodology. Some of the best strength workouts I have had is when I lift at 90-95% of that max but conduct multiple sets at that lift (1-3). This brings larger strength gains and makes the strength workout not climax to quickly. So the next tip I have is: program strength workouts and attack them with tenacity.
  3. Some people are great at this, others are terrible. Constant variety yields results. I once worked out at a box and the programming followed the above two tips beautifully. They programmed in strength 'buy-ins' 2-3 times a week and their met-cons were almost always a couplet or a triplet of some sort. However, the variety, both in the modality and time domain, was severly lacking. The wods were all 8-11 minutes with a bunch of kb swings and knees to elbows. Do not fall for this. Make sure that you are hitting all time domains and a large variety of movements. If this is difficult for you try toying with the WODs structure. Program a WOD with the "death by..." format or an interval circuit like barbara. One of the toughest WODs I did was 12min AMRAP x amount of air squats run then 2 minutes of as many reps as possible of x movement, run then the rest of the time was another amrap of a different movement, the completely different wod format was fun and proved much more terrible than I anticipated. If movement variety is difficult browse affiliate pages and pick and choose movements you don't normally do, not much advice on that one but to just track your movements and make sure you aren't seeing patterns. One last note, don't program without any future in mind. If your first day you did deadlifts, the second day you did high volume kb swings the third day you should probably not do good mornings. It seems obvious but some people mess that one up. So: strive for as much variety in your movements and time domains as possible.
If you follow these tips properly I think any experienced crossfitter can have good results venturing off into programming wods on their own. If you have any doubt or hesitation about doing it, leave it to the pros. I almost never program wods for myself, but when I do, I prefer to follow these rules (if you don't understand that reference then you are dead to me). Last thing, if you want to program on your own you should probably watch these videos of Tony Budding explaining his thought process of programming for mainsite, there is some great info there.

I know this post was much more dry than my normal witty self. I just wanted to cover as much info as possible as quickly as possible so I could have more time to pregame. Until next time...


Monday, March 7, 2011

Paleo Elevator Talk

Being in a fraternity there are some things you simply don't talk about: emotions, Nobel prize laureates and diet. In fact, the majority of conversations between brothers just consists of a bunch of grunting and spitting. So when I start telling my bros that I am eating this diet called Paleo I get alot of anger and resentment directed at me. They are all shocked that I would dare breach one of the 3 sacred commandments of the bro code. So when I have to explain the diet I have to do it in an elevator talk format; quick and effective, because if I don't I risk forever being labeled as a girl who diets. So here is my quick, 1-2 minute, elevator talk about eating paleo.
We as humans evolved over the last 2 million years to be what we are today. Of that time about 99.5% of it was spent eating a hunter-gatherer diet. This means that our body's genes are evolved for a hunter-gatherer diet instead of a diet based on agriculture like we see today. So the paleo diet means no grains, no dairy, no legumes and certainly no high fructose corn syrup, it doesn't mean low-carb or low-fat, our body needs both of those nutrients to survive. There is no regulation for calories because if we eat with these simple guidelines our body's natural hunger sensors will fire properly and we will eat what we need, not more than that. Quite simply, paleo eating is more of a lifestyle choice than a diet and I feel great when I follow it properly. Evolution is an accepted part of society today and it is time we apply the scope of evolution to the diet we eat.
After this talk there are some regular questions that people bring up, I will answer them for you now:

  • Question: But didn't our ancestors live to be like 30? Answer: Yes but the majority of those deaths were trauma induced, not degenerative diseases like we see today. Hunter-gatherer societies have virtually no history of heart attacks, strokes, alzheimers or diabetes. We know this due to anthropological studies of fossils and existing hunter-gatherer tribes of today, yes they do exist, loincloths and all. There must be something they do differently than us and all signs are starting to point to diet
  • Question: So it's like Atkins then right? Answer: No, both fruits and veggies have a high carbohydrate content. Carbohydrates are good and necessary for a variety of vital body functions. Grains and other neolithic foods are the problems, not carbs.
  • Question: Then why do asian countries tend to be skinnier/live longer? Answer: I'm going to quote Melissa from the Whole9 blog because she phrases it best "Generalizing about the 'Asian' doet is tricky, because there are so many cultural variants. But if I had to sum it up, high level, in a nutshell... Asian cultures do eat rice, yes. But they ALSO tend to eat a lower calorie diet, far less sugars and process foods, way more fish (and therefore less crappy quality red meats), more dark, leafy vegetables, less fruit AND get a heck of a lot more exercise than Americans. I'm going to say all those factors more than compensate for the rice. (And don't forget, rice isn't as 'bad' as wheat and other grains, because it contains no gluten (the most "toxic" of the grain lectins)." 
So now you can explain to all your friends why you eat bacon 3 times a week and look better than them naked... or maybe you can't. But if they don't understand by your logic they will assuredly understand by your results.


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Glycogen supplies, why post workout meals are critical

Glycogen. A word many have heard but few understand. What is it? How do we get it? Why should I care? Have no fear for the engineering major that lays dormant inside me is about to be unleashed. I will try and answer all of these question for you now so sit back, grab a beer, and behold the wonderful world of glycogen.

Glycogen is an energy storage molecule our liver creates. Basically, when we eat our liver creates these starchy molecules that will be used later as energy output in the body. These molecules are then sent to all of our muscles and stay there dormant as an energy supply. During high intensity exercise (crossfit) our body will tear through all of the available ATP in a matter of about 10 seconds and then it starts using glycogen as it's main energy source. The more glycogen in our muscles the longer/more intense we can work. Once we run out of glycogen we are left to rely only on oxidative phosphorylation, an incredibly less volatile energy source which forces us to perform at a dramatically lower intensity.

Therefore we want glycogen in our muscles and preferably a lot of it so we can workout longer at a higher intensity which of course means better wod times and a sexier reflection in the mirror. There is a test that has been repeated in the field of exercise science countless times and while it has slight changes based on who is running the test it takes this general format: patients have their glycogen levels measured before and after a high intensity workout for a set of 3-5 days, one group consumes a post-workout meal within 30 minutes of the exercise that is high in carbohydrates, the other does not. Here is what the results typically show.
Excel makes anything possible
What this is showing is that the group who consumed a post-workout carbohydrate meal replenished their glycogen supplies more readily than did the control. This allowed them to attack the next day's workout with similar zeal to the first day, unlike the control. It is important to note that the majority of exercise scientists agree that this post-workout meal needs to be consumed within 30 minutes of post workout. During this time window our bodies are in a period of "super-absorption" (yes, I think I just made that term up) so we produce glycogen at an extremely fast rate. This is what my post is all about. CAPITALIZE ON THIS "SUPER ABSORPTION". By having a high carb post-workout meal you will perform better on day after day. When people have dramatic declines in performance during that third day of a WOD cycle it is probably attributed to low glycogen levels. By having good post-WOD nutrition this decline can be negated.

I know, I know, Glycogen, ATP, Oxidative Phosphorylation... Will you just shut up and tell me what to do? Yes. My favorite post-WOD meals are:
  • Coconut water: has sugars and great electrolyte content
  • Sweet potatoes: incredibly great post-wod nutrition, does take some time to prepare
  • Fruit: Full of simple, easily digestible, sugar.
You can get creative, just get CARBS in you asap after a workout and you'll be jump higher, lifting more and will pretty much be an infinitely better human being.  Sorry for the science BS, the nerd in me was dying to get out so I let him, I will now lock him away until I need him for a midterm. Enjoy your carbalicious post wod meals.


Friday, March 4, 2011

Snacks on snacks, snacks fo' days

So I think that one of the reasons it is so damn hard to eat Paleo in college is that our lives are snack-orientated. We snack on our way to class, we snack on the way to the box, we snack while we study, we (at least I) eat our bodyweight in food when we get home drunk after a night of belligerance. I could recommend that we stop snacking but that is as futile an argument as telling Charlie Sheen that bi-winning isn't a real word. So what we need is food that is ready to be taken out the door or prepared in seconds and is both paleo and at least decently tasty. I can hear it now "but why don't you simply just pre-cook all your meals on Sunday for the week?" Look soccer mom, I have two priorities on Sunday and that involves recovering from a hangover and walking to the fridge for some ice cold water, if I'm feeling fiesty, I'll throw in some studying, that's it. Don't get me wrong, I cook an insane amount for a college kid, but that only means 4-6 times a week. So without further adieu here is my list of go-to snacks for the college kid:
  • Nuts, I prefer pistachios and almonds because they are easy to get but macadamia nuts are great as well. A reminder, peanuts aren't paleo (they're legumes)
  • Justin's nut butters (the non sugary kind: http://www.justinsnutbutter.com/products.php). The packets are awesome for a snack. Again, peanut butter doesn't count.
  • Fruit. Now I know that paleo stresses to eat more veggies than fruit but I'll be honest, I eat a lot of fruit. Especially, apples and bananas. Buying apples in bulk and leaving them in the fridge makes them last longer and taste better. Fruit is also extremely easy to find when you are away from home.
  • Sardine packets/Canned Tuna. My mom was a sadist when I was younger and fed me kippers all the time so I love the damn things, if you don't have a stomach for it, opt for tuna.
  • Lean burgers or turkey burgers are amazing. I have a forman grill and when I get back from class or a WOD I can plug it in throw two burgers on there, hop in the shower and when I am out I have burgers ready to eat. Ladies, I don't recommend this tactic unless you want burnt burgers.
  • Baby carrots. I eat these things by the pound. They are veggies that don't take any prep work. 
  • Chicken sausage. Getting quality sausages can at times be difficult. Look to make sure there's nothing like 'organic maple syrup' as if organic sugar makes it better for you. Throw those in a pan with enough hot water to cover half the sausage, put the pan on medium, cover the top and come back 10 minutes later and they are ready.
  • Beef jerky. Easy to find everywhere, watch out for added sugar.
  • Coconut water post WOD is awesome. Helps with replenishing your glycogen supplies and tastes great as long as you aren't hanging out with pukie.
Alright guys, you now have no excuse to not eat paleo when you are on the run. I'm off to go down a couple of a my favorite purple mountains. Until next time.