PEDs at the 2015 CrossFit Games?

Edit: The formula Romano/Roberts used accounts for body fat with the CrossFit competitors. They used a conservative estimate of 9%. 

Last year I wrote “Steroids and CrossFit?“. The article was an extension of my opinion regarding performance enhancement drugs (PEDs) as well as highlighting an article Anthony Roberts and John Romano wrote about the likelihood of PEDs in CrossFit (the original link is broken, but here is an image of their original article). Their article is interesting and provides the context for everything below.

Here’s a quick summary:

  • these guys are experts on PEDs
  • drug tests are very easy to beat
  • testing agencies are mediocre at best, purposely negligent at worse
  • every major sport (including the Olympics) has steroid users
  • given some formulas (backed by research) that look at musculature on a man’s frame, CrossFit competitors fit the mold of steroid use

The formula Roberts and Romano used is as follows:

The FFMI formula taken directly from the Romano/Roberts article.

The FFMI formula taken directly from the Romano/Roberts article.

Roberts and Romano plugged in the stats of the top ten finishers of the 2013 CrossFit Games. The research would indicated anyone with a value of over 25.4 would qualify someone as a potential PED user. They modified the variables in favor of the CF fellas (such as estimating a higher body fat percentage and allowing a cut-off coefficient of 26), and 5 of the top 10 finishers still fell in the “potential user” category.

This doesn’t mean they are using PEDs, it just means the conditions exist that achieving a lean body mass naturally are not probable due to researched norms. In defense of the CF guys, my values placed my coefficient around 25 as well.

Everything up to this point in this article is a recap to get you up to speed. If you’re lost, read both of the linked articles above.

A 70’s Big Reader crunched the numbers from the 2015 CrossFit Games, and here are the results:

2015 calculationsEveryone above the red bar has the bodily parameters for PEDs use. That’s nearly 30 competitors from this year’s CrossFit Games that have a muscularity and height ratio greater than Mr. Universes of years past.

Is CrossFit just like any other sport in that people will use PEDs to gain an advantage? Or is the realm of CrossFit and Strength and Conditioning such that we are making impressive physiques? Do I think that all of them are using? No, but we’d be foolish to assume all of them weren’t.

 

 

Hybrid Weightlifting Programs

Everyone wants it all. CrossFit. Powerlifting. Weightlifting. All of it. Well, unfortunately the body doesn’t work like that. The more performance metrics you aim for, the more you limit the development of one of them; this is the concept of specificity in training.

Sometimes you have weightlifters who want to get stronger, jacked. Some times you have lifters wanting to dabble in weightlifting. Sometimes they just want it all. Well, here are a few resources for hybrid weightlifting programs.

I couldn't find out who this is, but it's a sweet pic

I couldn’t find out who this is, but it’s a sweet pic

Pendlay’s Super Total Program

This is Glenn Pendlay’s answer to how he would structure training for both powerlifting and weightlifting. I like the template. It allows for decent squat work, benching, overhead work, and still leaves room for two weightlifting days. The first weightlifting day is lighter and technique oriented while the latter is a heavier day.

70’s Big – Transitioning to Olympic Weightlifting

I wrote this a long time ago for myself and some of my lifters. It’s similar to Pendlay’s program above, but the weightlifting day comes before the strength day. This allows the lifter to be fresh for the quick lifts at the expense of the squatting and pressing. Also, the set/rep scheme for the Olympic lifts is a bit different. The weightlifting sessions are set up where one of the lifts is done with light to medium weight while the other lift is heavy. There are all kinds of different set/rep schemes, including the newer ones from The 70’s Big LP that could be dropped in.

Another note about this template — it’s what I always recommend to strength athletes who are getting into weightlifting. Without fail, they will jump into a program where they snatch and CJ three or more times a week only to run into some kind of joint issue. Whether it’s sore knees, hips, elbows, or shoulders, I see it every time regardless if they are weak or strong. Do yourself a favor and use the “progressive overload” concept of programming and ease into new training.

Another 70’s Big Transition Program — 3x/week

This is just a 3x/week adaptation of the previous 4x/week program.


What are some other hybrid weightlifting programs you’ve used? Have any others to add to the list?

 

What is 70’s Big?

Maybe you’vee heard of this website, maybe you haven’t. It’s been around for about six years and you may have seen various shenanigans or articles. I find it difficult to articulate what 70’s Big to a new person. It turns into, “Big like guys were in the ’70s, except they were on a lot of D-bol…”

It sounds pretty silly, after all. If it’s not pornographic then what is it? The About section details the long standing mission statement: strength training as a means of performance development resulting in a robustly muscular physique. There’s a key secondary objective: to lift intensely and have a good fucking time doing it.

70’s Big is more about attitude than anything else. Goals will change. If you’re in that “consume and destroy” lifting stage, then you should eat the world. Maintain that for a few years and you’ll turn into a sloppy mess, and that’s just irresponsible. 70’s Big becomes an attitude and mantra for men and women who like to jack steel, get stronger, and overcome adversity. It’s about punching through fear and doing something different. It’s about setting the bar high, taking chances, and persevering through the shitty days, training sessions, or lifts to overcome it all and stand on top, victorious. Sure, it’s about the 405 squat, the 225 press, or the boulder shoulders, but it’s more so about the journey. Those defining moments of turmoil — and how we respond to them — make us who we are. And if you keep pushing with the undying intensity, that, my friends, is 70’s Big.

There was a guy on the Facebook Fan Page who asked, “Why don’t any of the people that run 70’s Big look “70’s Big”?” The answer is obvious: we’re all pussies! I only snatch 125k right now, and there are dudes at my body weight in this country snatching 160k and more. We’re not on steroids and we don’t lift as a profession. I put a premium on athleticism both out of necessity and because I prefer it. AC tries out new lifting sports, Mike works his ass off to become a pro strongman, Chris finds time to train while owning a gym and raising a kid, and Brent coaches, works, and eats a lot of Korean food. But we train hard, are stronger than an average lifter, and — most importantly — push hard and have a god damn good time.

There are a lot of things I aim to teach, but I hope everyone can walk away with the idea that attacking each day with the intensity of a max squat is the only way to live.

Here’s a really old video of all of us pussies living the 70’s Big life — the life worth living (various WFAC folk make an appearance):

Texas Pt. 2 from A.C. on Vimeo.

 

And an encore, if you’re into that kind of thing.

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.

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