An Awesome Weekend With The 2014 CrossFit Games

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This weekend was filled with our enjoyment of the 2014 CrossFit Games. The coverage this year was fantastic. Using the ESPN apps on our Apple TV and iPad, we were able to watch as much as possible (when we were not out riding bikes and playing at the park that is).

I think the two highlights came at the book ends of the Games. First, the Overhead Squat event was ridiculously entertaining to watch. It was non-stop action, and was very easy to see who was winning, and who was struggling, and of course it was awesome to watch Julie Foucher go for and get a PR at 231 :)

Here’s the link to watch the OHS event:  http://espn.go.com/watchespn/player/_/id/1932245/

The other highlight moment of the games for me, came by watching the final event (Double Grace) with the whole family gathered around the iPad in my daughter’s bed (after bedtime) Sunday night. All cheering for Julie, and all so proud of her 3rd place finish overall this year.

Whether it was while eating our snacks (as pictured above), from the comfort of the couch, or just on in the background while Lexi teaches JJ how to Jerk  (as pictured below) my hat goes off to CrossFit and all the competitors and people that put this on. Such an awesome way to keep me and my family excited about fitness.

Teaching the Jerk 2014 CrossFit Games with a WOD Toys Barbell

To Paleo or Not To Paleo

Paleo Autoimmune Protocol Dinner

Well, after 6 years of being vegetarian, one of which was spent vegan, my family and I have decided to take a hard 180 and have converted to the Paleo AIP (Autoimmune Protocol) diet.

We made the switch about a month ago due to a years worth of strong encouragement from my daughter’s doctor and even more from my previous doctor (who I stopped seeing partly because she was such a jerk about me being veg). So in an effort to fully maximize our health, we are all in Paleo AIP. I had my doctor run a full panel of my blood levels, so I’ll be tracking any changes there. I’ve also been taking a weekly read of my weight and body fat metrics using an Omeron Body Metrics scale.

So far, after a month, I have to say I feel like I have more energy, and my CrossFit performance seems to be improved. I’ve lost 4 pounds as well as decreased body fat slightly. Which is surprising since my calories have gone way up and my fat consumption is through the roof compared to what it had been.

What is Paleo AIP? Paleo AIP is a subset of the Paleo diet designed to heal and seal a gut that has been having issues. We think my issues come from a history of too many grains and especially wheat (which we gave up just about 2 years ago). The diet itself means no grains, no nuts, no nightshades, no beans, and no seeds. I can’t explain how hard it has been to give up cashews and jalapenos.

My CrossFit Level 1 Cert was actually very helpful for me in this transition. They discuss nutrition a lot in the class, and they make a fairly strong case for a Paleo like diet. So trying to drive motivation from potentially increasing my strength and overall fitness is something I’ve been focused on during this transition. Whether or not I’m picking up gains from a placebo effect remains to be seen, however there is a lot of personal data on this for me.

I had plateaued a bit on some things, and my BeyondTheWhiteboard.com level has been holding strong in the low 30s for some time. So we’ll see if that gets moving. It jumped 2 points this last week, thanks in large part to my Murph PR :)

More to come on this for sure. Now it’s time to get back to my bacon…

2014 CrossFit Central East Regionals

Hyatt Lobby

My daugher and I had a fantastic time at the Regionals competition last weekend.

Anyone who claims CrossFit not to be a sport, has not experienced it through the eyes of a 4 year old fan.

The event was lacking nothing. Teams, crowds, sponsors, judges (making calls for us to argue for years to come), announcers, cheering, winners, entertainment, and above all, tons of fun.

It was a great production, very well ran. We had an absolute blast, and it created memories that will last for my lifetime, and I’m sure my daughter’s as well.

Thank you CrossFit! And big Congrats to Team HyperFit! and Julie Foucher! You made us all proud and even more happy with how well you all performed!!

Here’s a link to my pix from the event:

https://www.facebook.com/jason.harper/media_set?set=a.10152121409156186.1073741836.657761185&type=1

And here’s a few shots of us hanging out and supporting the team… and taking some pool time in ;)

Reebok Crossfit Games 2014 Central East Regionals crowd Reebok Crossfit Games 2014 Central East Regionals pool 2 Reebok Crossfit Games 2014 Central East Regionals Pool

 

Andy’s Take on Deadlifts

A friend and reader of my blog sent me a note, which I’m posting with his permission. He had a few points to make about deadlifts, and he doesn’t quite agree with my position. I’m still in the flat back camp, but I wanted to share another point of view.

Hi Jason!

Deadlifts are my favorite lift and that was my favorite WOD ever. So, I’m not complaining.

As far as “flat back”, I disagree. You don’t want rounded like that photo you captured, but you should keep the natural curvature of the lumbar spine (so your lower back may look rounded towards your ass). Keep those shoulders pinned back and you should have the look you are describing. I love the deadlift because it is what it is. Get a massive amount of weight from point A to point B – with the finish position judged as the standard. I wouldn’t want to judge whether they looked pretty or not doing it. Sometimes it turns into a s**t show and the lifter should be responsible for their own health. They’ve been warned/coached. Maybe it doesn’t make a great CrossFit WOD addition because it really isn’t safe to do a large volume of deadlifts. I’ve often thought that more than 5 in a row was cardio. I prefer sets of 3 or 1.

–Andy

 

Why People Hate Deadlift WODs

Dead Lift at CrossFit Ann Arbor

 

The deadlift is the single most important lift. Since I have made an effort to improve my deadlift, I’ve noticed all my other lifts improving. But there seems to be a major community issue with the deadlift.

Last week’s CrossFit Open WOD was 14.3

8 minute AMRAP:
10 deadlifts, 135 / 95 lb.
15 box jumps, 24 / 20 inch
15 deadlifts, 185 / 135 lb.
15 box jumps, 24 / 20 inch
20 deadlifts, 225 / 155 lb.
15 box jumps, 24 / 20 inch
25 deadlifts, 275 / 185 lb.
15 box jumps, 24 / 20 inch
30 deadlifts, 315 / 205 lb.
15 box jumps, 24 / 20 inch
35 deadlifts, 365 / 225 lb.
15 box jumps, 24 / 20 inch

This has generated the most complaining about a workout I have heard since I began CrossFit almost 2 years ago.  Everyone seems to hate the deadlift. Everyone is complaining about how bad their backs hurt. Everyone seems to be a giant idiot when it comes to deadlifts.

I think because the deadlift is the one lift lift where you will pull the most weight off the ground than any other which creates some psychological incentive to just load up with out care. I’m guessing because it’s not overhead, your knees won’t explode, and you just want to have a giant number you think if you can fit the plates on and if you can stand up, you’ve succeeded.

That’s horribly incorrect. Just pulling the weight off the ground is not enough to call it a successful lift. There are many things that go into the deadlift.  Here are instructions according to: CrossFit.com (PDF)

One of the key’s to the deadlift is that at no point in the lift should you see any rounding of the back. AT NO POINT -> ANY ROUNDING.

What’s wrong with this picture from the Open 14.3 announcement?

rounded back dead lift

 

As I was watching all I could think about (aside from the fact that her white shorts are named Pamela) was that poor girl’s back is going to explode. Of course your back is going to get destroyed if you round out like this! If you can’t keep your back locked in and safe for a given weight, you can’t do the weight. A straight back standard should be set for the deadlift just like getting your hips below your knees for a wall ball to count. I know, impossible to judge. But there are smart people out there who can figure things like that out.

The only thing wrong with the deadlift is the idiots deadlifting wrong. If your coaches let you lift heavy things with horrible form, it’s ok to blame them too, but at the end of the day, you are in charge of your body. I think it’s very irresponsible of the community to talk about how much they hate deadlift workouts because of how terrible their backs feel afterwards. They should be complaining about how much they hate when they load the bar up way too much and can’t lift properly.

For the record, I did 14.3 Friday and again the following Monday. I went as hard as I could both times, and my back wasn’t noticeably sore at all. Sure, my number of reps weren’t that impressive, but I did add 5 reps when I tried it again on Monday.

Here’s a video from CrossFit demoing the deadlift from the coaches perspective. I find it very helpful, and if you follow the teachings here, you will be able to safely and happily deadlift like any other lift:

The deadlift is so important, and so important to do right. Just look at all the muscle groups it works!

From Wikipedia:

The deadlift activates a large number of individual muscles:

  • Torso
    • Front
      • Abdomen
        • Rectus abdominis (under aponeurosis)
        • Abdominal external oblique muscle
        • Abdominal internal oblique muscle
    • Back
      • Iliocostalis
      • Intertransversarii laterales lumborum
      • Latissimus dorsi
      • Levator scapulae
      • Longissimus
      • Quadratus lumborum
      • Rhomboideus major
      • Serratus posterior superior
      • Serratus posterior inferior
      • Splenius cervicis
      • Teres Major
      • Trapezius muscle
  • Legs
    • Quadriceps
      • Rectus femoris
      • Vastus lateralis
      • Vastus intermedius
      • Vastus medialis
    • Hamstrings
      • Biceps femoris muscle
        • long head
        • short head
      • Semitendinosus
      • Semimembranosus
  • Hips
    • Gluteal muscles
      • Gluteus maximus
      • Gluteus minimus
    • Piriformis
    • Superior gemellus
  • Forearms
    • Flexor digitorum profundus

Always look cool.

Looking Cool GORUCK Style

GORUCK has 3 three rules:

Always look cool. Never get lost. And if you get lost, look cool.

Now those shorts in the picture above clearly cover me for the looking cool part, or so I thought.

When I first heard the three rules I thought they were just meant to be kinda funny, but upon listening to Jason McCarthy, a former Green Beret and the founder of GORUCK, explain them there is deep meaning in always looking cool. How you present yourself makes a difference to how you act and how others act around you.

You are always going to be faced with situations that suck. You can chose to embrace the the suck, or be miserable. As stated previously on this site, you will always get to choose how you react to something. If you are faced with a bad situation or are upset, or frustrated force yourself to keep your cool. Even if its just on the outside.

For example, if you are in the middle of a workout, and you realize you have put on too much weight, or your hand starts to hurt, or you just failed on a snatch, smile. Or laugh. Put on a happy face. I have found it to be wildly motivating to laugh when the thought of “there is no way you can finish this” tries to creep into my head.

I have also found that the people around me are influenced by how I present myself. If I am laughing and smiling, they laugh and smile and push harder. If I’m sad and mopey, that stuff is really contagious.

Looking cool is not just about awesome shorts. Its about broadcasting a positive message that reaches everyone around you no matter what the circumstances. Pain is inevitable, suffering is a choice. Looking cool is choosing not to suffer. Ever. Lift yourself up, lift your team up. Always look cool.