PR Friday – 26 JUN 2015

Training has been going well for me. Hit some numbers I haven’t hit in a long time, but it’s been god awful hot. And humid. But it helps the warming up process. Speaking of which, make sure you Prepare for the Heat; I’ve been sweating 3 to 5 pounds during training the last couple weeks. And since we were talking about warming up, here’s two articles: Warming Up and Chalk Talk #18.

Train hard, be ready.


 

PR Friday is a forum to allow you to share your triumphs and failures with your strength training brethren. How has your training been this week? What questions do you have for your peers? Talk and mingle.

Do you have a training question? Ask anyone from the 70′s Big Crew a question in the comments below, on Facebook, or Twitter. Follow 70’s Big on Instagram.

The System

Here’s a little story. Jean Claude Van Damme walks into a bar. His loose fitting tank top sits on top his oiled, shorn body, glistening under the dim lights. His pants are baggy, always baggy. His $3,000 loafers side step a spilled drink on the floor and he surveys the bar.

This bar is like most bars: a mash up of disgusting human behavior and a few shiny gems strewn about. One gem catches Jean’s eye, a beautiful creature sitting at the bar. With hair like a fresh brewed espresso and fingers as crafty as a bonobo, this beauty lazily reclines on a barstool. One arm dangles over the back of the stool, the other consumes a juicy, fleshy treat.

“You know…I could eat a peach for hours…” says Nic Cage, the beautiful creature. A powerful feelings sweeps over Jean’s loins as he knows his night — Nay! His life! — cannot be complete without speaking to, without learning the secrets of Nic Cage’s heart.

Jean saunters up, thumbs hooked in his waist band, squeezing a few beads of sweat out onto his shoulders. He catches Cage’s attention and slowly rumbles, “Hello my sweet, may I buy you a dreenk?”

Cage, is startled, “Sorry boss, but there’s only two men I trust. One of them’s me. The other’s not you.”

Jean’s face slips into desperation. He can no longer hold onto his beaded sweat and it begins to embarrassingly soak through his tank top. Suddenly, a paw thuds on Jean’s shoulder. Despite the grease and sweat, the paw remains motionless after the sound of the clap echoes through the bar. All music and conversation has stopped. All eyes are on the man with the paw.

It’s literally a paw. There’s a guy holding a bear paw, and he slapped it onto Jean’s shoulder. It’s the creepy “Get off my train,” guy from the movie Ghost. He stares into Jean’s eyes and then asks, “Who do you think yer talkin’ to?” his words spilling out like gravel.

Jean’s biceps flex hard and he performs a flurry of unnecessary splits and the guy from Ghost falls through a wooden table, pieces of wood exploding throughout the room. A swarm of bar patrons rush to engage Jean, who somehow has already removed his shirt and is adamantly flexing, increasing his systolic blood pressure well over 170. Johnny Cage steps from behind a row of trees and Steven Segal somersaults into the room. Boba Fett crashes through the roof while Danny DeVito in his Penguin attire from Batman Returns stumbles in, opening and closing his umbrella menacingly. All of these villains begin beating Jean to the ground. As they pummel him, Jean looks through the mass of punches and kicks to see Nic Cage sitting on his bar stool laughing…laughing.

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Allow me to explain.

You are Jean Claude Van Damme. Your attraction to Nic Cage is your “bright idea”. Everything that happens after is a reflection of your bad decisions. Think of the bar in the story as your “system”.

I use the term “system” to summarize all of the crap going in the human body. In physiology, we teach all the systems separately to understand the whole. Systems of the body include the integumentary (skin), skeletal, muscular, nervous, endocrine, circulatory, lymphatic and immune, respiratory, urinary, digestive, and reproductive. It’s easy to forget how these are interrelated, whether from a training perspective or in modern medicine.

In our case, it’s important to pay attention to all the stuff that effects our system. This awareness can help make programmatic adjustments to prevent illness, injury, or poor performance because the state of the system is an indicator of recovery capability. If the system is “depressed”, or something causes a debilitating effect on it, then all functions of the system are hampered.

Let’s go through two case studies.

The first is a person with a lot of emotional stress due to relationship issues for a month. Significant emotional stress itself can lowers the can lower the capability of the system, but it’s often associated with altered dietary and sleep habits. The person is tired, not getting enough calories, full of inflammatory stress hormones, and then on top of all of that, they are trying to maintain their normal training load.

The person in this example now has a depressed system and their physiology is not functioning at a normal level. Now imagine that they go out for a night of drinking and stay up late — events that depress the system. Their metabolism is working to oxidize the alcohol and they are dehydrated, further harming the system. A day or so later, they get sick.

It’s not that they were hit with a super bug infection that knocks them on their ass. It’s that their system had the shit kicked out of them by several different things and a minor bacteria or virus took advantage of the immune system being compromised. A good training program is a stress on the system. But so is emotional stress, a lack of sleep, binge drinking, and a lack of calories. All of the factors together create a storm that the body can’t recover from. Eventually there will be a fail point.

For the second case study, we’ll travel to  this Reddit post in /weightroom. The TL;DR is that a young fella’s deadlift strength has significantly decreased. He made a list of potential contributing factors he thought may be contributing. My answer is in the comments (/u/70sbig), but I wasn’t surprised to hear that he took a few weeks off, started a manual labor job, was training 7x/wk, decreased his deadlift frequency, and had a decrease in caloric intake.

Any one of those things would provide a change on his system that would likely have a debilitating effect. Seeing them all sitting before you in succession makes it very obvious to see why his strength suffers. But if you’re living your life and not looking at all of the variables that can influence training, it’s easy to miss them until the fail point occurs. The fail point is when you get injured, miss a lift, or finally realize you’re sick.

You easily can find yourself in a situation. You’re in a metaphorical bar (a depressed system) attracted to a beautiful creature (training). You won’t see the danger you’re in until you’re getting a solid beat down from Segal, Boba, and bad guys that know Whoopi Goldberg (the things walloping your system). Look, this metaphor is wildly out of control. The lesson is this: you may not be able to avoid problematic circumstances, but you can at least identify them and make better decisions to accommodate them. The last thing you want is to helplessly see the face of Nic Cage laughing at you uncontrollably.

PHXVQfe

 

Definitive Hand Care

I hate it. The yellowy built up callus at the base of the fingers can be so thick, it looks like dinosaur DNA could be extracted from the bugs encased within. Lifters and CrossFitters seem to wear calluses as a badge at the expense of scratching their girlfriend’s soft skin, or heavens to Betsy, their own nether region. There’s more detriment than a scratched bosom; calluses are unnecessary unsightly and can rip off. Missing training for a lack of simple hand care is immature.

It’s possible to keep callus and dry skin off your hands. It’s possible to still develop thicker skin that is resistance to barbell knurling stress, but still supple enough to give a loving massage. A lifter’s hands should be like leather: tough and protecting for lifting, but soft and supple at home for activities. Chalk Talk #22 shows you how:

CrossFit Good Vibes

Good gyms are hard to come by. Globo gyms should only be used out of necessity given their lack of equipment and attitude. The only reliable option nowadays is a CrossFit gym, but they may require attending one of their classes or have limited schedules.

Luckily, I found CrossFit Good Vibes in Augusta, GA. The owner, Brandon Cunningham, is a nine time Firefighter Combat Challenge World Champion. He has a certified 1:17 500m row on the Concept 2 rower, and is a two time Pan American Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Champion. Above all that, he’s a great guy and let us train however we wanted to in his gym.

125k snatch at CrossFit Good Vibes. Within 7k of lifetime PR

A video posted by 70s_big (@70s_big) on

CrossFit Good Vibes AKA 3B Fitness AKA Gracie Elite Augusta AKA Iron Eagle Barbell Club is a wide open space. On one end, there are platforms worked into the rubber flooring for Olympic weightlifting. There’s a large pull-up rig in the center along with plenty of open floor space. There’s also a 50+ meter turf track for stuff like agility work, pushing the sled, or other shenanigans. The opposite side of the building from the platforms has an open area for CrossFit classes as well as a large matted area for BJJ.

The weightlifting area is equipped with a variety of Pendlay bars and bumpers, and this is where I spent most of my time. There’s a core group of people that lift together. On any given night there will be a nurse, an assistant principal, a former Special Forces soldier, a former NFL receiver, a fire fighter, a geared powerlifter (seen below), and a college student all training together and cheering each other on. For the first time in a long time, I felt at home in a gym.

I ended up hitting some numbers I haven’t hit in a long time. I pressed 205 lbs for 5, snatched 125kg, and clean and jerked 150kg while doing a variety of conditioning workouts in the Augusta summer heat.

I’d like to thank the trainees and coaches (Brandon, Steve, Joe, Tony, etc.) at CrossFit Good Vibes for their hospitality. If you’re near the Georgia and South Carolina border and need a place to train, I suggest giving them a call. They’ll welcome you into their training den and will undoubtedly encourage you to push yourself.

Memorial Day 2015

I typically use the same post every Memorial Day to remind American readers of their freedoms. Every year, families and friends gather to grill meat and wave flags, but getting a day off from work and drinking a beer doesn’t really do justice to those that have lost their lives in service of the United States of America.

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A flag from the WTC rubble in 2001.

I won’t spin tales of heroes, sacrifice, and death. I won’t ask you to thank anyone or give a donation. All I ask is that you live honorably. Most service members believe this country is worth enduring a lot of shitty situations. There’s an idea that despite our flaws, America is an amazing place to live full of righteous people who work hard, have personal responsibility, and always try to improve.

Do not let them down; live honorably. Convince the families of the fallen that their loss was worth it. Convince the service members who still toil that their effort is worth it. Take responsibility of your life and actions, respect others, and never, ever stop trying to succeed. Teach others how to do the same.

The only true memorial is to live this way, to live honorably. Everything else is an obligatory charade. This is not a day if celebration, but of remembrance. Lest we forget.