July Challenge Results and BBQ Porn

We had eleven ladies and 66 men take the 3 press-3 pullup challenge. Thirty one of those came from CrossFit affiliates (Monterey, Regina, and Works) and from hawkpeter’s workout group (not sure what kind of scene he’s running).

Ladies first. The top five were AngDesi (32 rounds), Jenny L (26), Maritza (21), Amanda C (20), and Liz C (20). All eleven ladies were CrossFitters, so I have to give props there. Maybe the others will get back on board with this month’s challenge.

Eight men topped the thirty round mark. Shae and Andres A stood out with 33 rounds apiece. Garage Fit and Beau were right behind with 32. rbuell, Gill, Jason G, and Adrian M had 30 apiece. CrossFitters predictably did well in this challenge, although none topped 200 pounds. The math-challenged Garage Fit was the heaviest 30-rounder at 195 pounds. For whatever reason, he scaled up as if he was 215.

Thanks to everyone who participated. Here is the link to the google doc if you want to play with the raw data (Typskin).

I will put the August Challenge up in a sticky. It is going to be a super total: 1RM max in snatch, C&J, squat, bench, and deadlift.

The following pictures are meant to inspire you. While Justin was hopping around in a banana hammock and Brent was wearing his Just-PR’d-Dance Dance Revolution Smile, I was cooking for an engagement party. 80 pounds of meat for 20 people (I like leftovers). I even emailed Jacob and Justin when I cracked my first beer at 7:30 that morning. Behold the secrets of 70sBigness, a story in pictures.

7:30 am. A fine day. Beer is open and charcoal chimney is going. This is my buddy's smoker. He bought it from the church group and wanted me to use it for this cook.

7:59. Chimney is lit. Added the wood (1/2 oak, 1/2 mesquite). Finished the first beer and totasted the BBQ gods, asking them to give me a good cook for the day.

My 6-year old son learning the craft. He's not 70sBig yet, but he's good for hauling 50 pound sand bags and tossing the 8 and 9 year olds at judo class.

52 pound curls. As functional as it gets. (Pictured: 6 pork shoulders)

Stopped by my friend's house to get a vacuum sealer. This is the handgun rack in his gun room (not pictured: 40 rifles). What does this have to do with this post? Because it's Texas, and I've already discussed beer and BBQ.

Pork shoulder, pork ribs, back ribs, pork sausage, and chicken.

Scottish Heavy Athletics

Wouldn’t it be cool if you could get some of your friends and just go throw heavy stuff? Wouldn’t it be even better if there were drums, bugles, and bagpipes playing in the background and women dancing on a stage nearby? And wouldn’t it be complete if you tossed a telephone pole on your way to enjoy a cold Guinness?

There is such a place, my friends. It’s called Scottish Heavy Athletics, better known as Highland Games. I recently completed my second Highland Games at the Texas Scottish Festival, and I’m looking to make this my summer/fall sport.

The Highland Games contest up to nine different events
* 56# weight over bar
* 22-26# Braemar Stone throw (like a stationary shot put but with a big rock)
* 16-22# Open Stone (like a shot put, including an approach to the toe board)
* 20# sheaf toss (a bag of rope or straw thrown over a bar via pitchfork)
* 56# weight for distance (thrown with a discus-type approach)
* 28# weight for distance (same but with a lighter implement)
* 22# Scottish Hammer throw (similar to Olympic hammer but wound around over the head and around the body with feet remaining stationary)
* 17# hammer (same but with a lighter implement)
* caber toss (16-20′, 100-200+ pounds)

Dan John throwing a heavy weight for distance

Some of the events make some sense from a combat perspective (I guess you could throw a rock or launch a hammer at someone who wasn’t too far away). And I guess the sheaf reminds one of throwing hay to the top of the barn (if one has done such things). But most of the events feel like the creation of a couple blacksmiths who fell into a barrel of mead.

Throwing the #22 Braemar Stone

Games are held throughout the country, usually beginning in the spring and running through fall. The pros are behemoths (and so are most of the amateurs), but don’t let that keep you away. Everyone in HG is cool, and they’re happy to welcome new people to their sport.

If you haven’t done it before, there’s not much you need to change. Just find a group to throw with and go from there. If the bug bites, then you can start worrying about specific training, buying/making implements, etc. I trained for this just like I do for judo. Instead of conditioning, I just substituted more throwing and event practice.

The great Shannon Hartnett, 10 time World Highland Games Champion

If you’re not signed up for something this summer, get your kilt together and do one of these. You’ll meet a good group of athletes and participate in something that’s somewhat off the wall. NASGAweb.com has listings, athlete data, and a discussion forum that addresses preparation and training. Get on it. You’ll thank me later.

Edit: I had to include this video because the timing of the throw and the music is pretty cool.

If you haven’t realized it already, Highland Games is a very 70sBig-friendly sport. I am 5’10 215 in the picture (I’m the guy holding the beer and the trophy), and I was the lightest guy by 25 pounds. My friend, Aaron (red beard, front row), is 280 and was maybe the fourth biggest guy there.

A fine group of lads. (L-R) Joseph, Gant, Harold, James, Aaron, Luke, Rob, Kyle

Making the Cut

“When I was a lad I ate four dozen eggs every morning to help me get large.”

You’ve done it! You have completed linear progression. Along the way, you gained twenty-five pounds, put 100 pounds on your squat and deadlift, and busted through a few pairs of jeans. You have also acquired a bit of belly fat you don’t care to keep around anymore. So what to do?

For starters, you need to clearly identify your next set of goals and how you are going to get there. Performance goals take priority. So you might decide that you’re going to add 30 pounds to your squat over the next four months. Or that you want to win your class at the next strongman competition. Or that you want to go 5 for 6 and total 245kg at your next weightlifting meet. Then, of course, you plot out how you’re going to get there.

Next comes the body composition goals. As much as I like to eat and talk about eating, you are going to feel better and be healthier at a reasonable body fat level. Being healthy and not having moobs is a good goal. Looking like The Situation after doing Fran is not.

There are now a googol diets out there. Zone. Paleo. Warrior. Velocity Diet. Ketogenic diet. Lean Gains. Lyle Macdonald’s various iterations. The No S Diet. And there are a host of fitness/nutrition gurus and TV shows to go with it. The Biggest Loser. Honey I’m Killing the Kids (or whatever), Andro Friday Hall of Famer Jillian Michaels, Sears, Cordain, Eades, Dr. Phil, the sweet clean Sarah Dussault from DietHealth (every one has their guilty pleasure youtube subscriptions), and that villainous pseudo-scientist, the evil Robb Wolf.

So where do we go? Who do we believe? The answer is Grandma.

Grandma didn’t prepare healthy meals as a goal. She prepared healthy meals because all she had was real food and real ingredients. That’s your first directive: EAT REAL FOOD. If you’re over 215 pounds and actively training for a strength sport (or otherwise large volume) you might have to supplement whey. Otherwise, keep it real.
Lesson: eat real food.

Grandma also made you mind your portions. It wasn’t because she was worried about you getting fat. It was because food was expensive and resources were scarce. Most of you guys are younger than I am, but my grandparents lived through the Great Depression. And Depression Era folk don’t waste a damn thing. That went for food, too. Sometimes we got seconds, but it was usually just to finish off what was left.
LESSON: Control your portions.
LESSON: real food doesn’t keep for long in the refrigerator!

Grandma made meals, not a la carte items. She never just made a roast and left it at that. There were always greens, a salad, fruit, and assorted veggies. You didn’t eat meat without equivalent portions of veggies. This takes care of all that macronutrient ratio and hormone balancing crap you read about now. It just makes good sense.
LESSON: eat meats, veggies, fruits, and fats together.

Finally, after supper, the kitchen was closed. You didn’t eat again until morning. Why? Because Grandma was an early riser, which meant she got to bed early, too (are you getting this?). Once supper is done, unless you’re doing a forced bulk (purposely consuming calories to keep insulin high into the night), shut it down after six or seven.
LESSON: No eating or snacking after supper.
BONUS LESSON: Going to bed and getting extra rest helps improve body composition.

Grandma did other things too, like clean whole turkeys and fowl. She didn’t buy fish sticks; she filleted catfish. She made three meals a day and didn’t mess around with snacks. She served water or tea—mostly water—and she’d occasionally squeeze some fresh fruit. She didn’t worry about the cholesterol in eggs or the fat content in butter.

For those who are upset at the lack of strict guidelines here, I’ll put it like this: eat 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight, more if you’re training heavy at least three times a week. Do this with lean meat as much as possible. Eat enough carbs to fuel activity (weightlifters don’t need as much as cyclists). Colored veggies are particularly good for this. If you need dense carbs, look to tubers. Don’t go nuts on your starch and do NOT avoid fruit like some would have you do. Eat enough good fats to fuel recovery. If you can, get your fats from nuts, avocados, and healthy oils, not so much from milkfat and animal fat.

If you’re over 20% bodyfat, don’t worry about macronutrient ratios. Just quit eating so much crap. Once you creep down to the mid-teens, you can start removing the bloaters like refined sugars, starches, artificial sweeteners, grains, and dairy. If you want to get down in the 11-12% range (you can’t go too far under this without a dip in performance), you’ll have to remove almost all of the things I just listed, as it becomes a hormone control issue at this point. If you want to get under 10%, do some meth, buy yourself some skinny jeans, and get your emo self off of this site.

Don’t think of this as a diet or even the hackneyed “lifestyle change.” It’s just the way you’re going to eat. People complain that “when I come off this plan, I’ll just gain the weight back.” Well yeah, dumbass, that’s why you were fat in the first place. You have to get it under control by removing the emotional and social connections you have with food.

Don’t trick this up, folks. This is more birthday party than physics class. When you’re bogged down in the diet minutiae, remember Grandma. She just made real meals—damn good meals—with real ingredients, for real people, who did real work. And that, my friends, is the key to achieving good body composition and good health.

This post is dedicated to my maternal grandmother, a saint of a woman who lived to the ripe age of 94. She prepared many a fine meal of biscuits and gravy, chicken and dumplins’, turkey and green beans, and butter-fried T-bones. Heaven’s kitchen smells a little better now that she’s cooking in it.