Increasing Flexibility

September 8, 2017

One of my least favorite things to do when exercising or playing a sport is warming-up or stretching. I’ve played a lot of Basketball, Baseball, and Softball over the last 40 years and the joke among my family and teammates has always been that I would show up one or two minutes before game time and go directly from my car to the playing field. For some reason I just can’t do this anymore….I’m being told it’s because I’m getting older.

Increasing flexibility is one of the ways for me to improve my Fitness. Probably the biggest reason that I haven’t enjoyed stretching is that I’ve always thought that my flexibility is very limited. One of my favorite TV shows is “Big Bang Theory”, here is a scene from the show that epitomizes how I’ve always felt about my flexibility.

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Improving Through Strength Training

September 1, 2017

Last week I wrote about “Holes in my Fitness” and mentioned four areas that I believe I have to improve upon to get rid of these holes, the four areas were:

  • Improving Strength
  • Increasing Flexibility
  • Improving the Mental side of Fitness
  • Weight and Eating

In this week’s post I’m going to focus on what I’m doing to improve my strength. The easiest answer would be that I plan on continuing to do CrossFit, the fact of the matter is that if you do “constantly varied functional movements executed at high intensity across broad time and modal domains“, you will get stronger, if you recall from a previous post this is how CrossFit defines Fitness. I currently do CrossFit about four times per week, meaning I participate in the classes offered by Veneta CrossFit multiple times weekly. While I believe that this improves my Strength, to reach my goal of being one of the Top 200 male 50 – 54 year old I have to augment this standard CrossFit training with additional strength training every week. At this time I add a weight lifting session about three times a week. I’m finding that although I may want to exercise more, my body doesn’t always allow me to do CrossFit as often as I want. To help counter act this limit I’ve incorporated riding my Bike a couple of times a week. Bike riding has been a welcome addition as it allows me the opportunity to enjoy the awesome Oregon summer weather, and is an exercise that my wife Darlene and I can enjoy together. As we head into the colder months I expect that I will replace the Bike rides with swimming.

In my weight lifting sessions I mostly focus on the lifts that I demonstrated in this video here last week. These lifts include the Clean & Jerk, Snatch, and the three Squat movements, Back Squat, Front Squat and Overhead Squat. Although I didn’t mention the Deadlift previously, it is also a movement that we practice and perform often. A key component in getting stronger is tracking how much weight you are lifting, and making sure that you are not missing or short changing a movement. Everybody has a favorite lift that they love to work on, it is imperative that our hardest lifts aren’t skipped. In the chart below I’ve listed the six major lifts and what my one rep maximum is on each as of August 27, 2017. The one rep maximum is usually referred to as your PR (Personal Record) for that lift. I’ve also included the PR’s for a random Top 200 male 50 – 54 year old, a random Top 20 male 50 -54 year old, and the PR’s for Matt Fraser the Fittest Man in the World.

08/27/2017   David’s PR      Top 200         Top 20     Mat Fraser

Clean & Jerk        205                   205               250           375
Snatch                   155                    145               202            315
Deadlift                 375                   425               485            505

Back Squat            335                  285               385            485
Front Squat           255                  245               325            405
Overhead Squat   185                   180               215             395

In looking at the amounts in the Chart above you can see that my PR’s are comparable to our random Top 200 male. This tells me that while I need to keep getting stronger I don’t need to stress improving my PR’s, more just improving my strength foundation. I’m hopeful that improving this foundation will help in making me proficient in the areas where I have holes, especially the complex body weight movements.

In the video below you see the last four lifts of an Overhead Squat session from Monday August 28th. In its entirety this lifting session was about 45 minutes long, whereas the video is only about 2 minutes long.

While the last lift wasn’t very pretty it was a very satisfying lift. I was able to PR on the Overhead Squat, referring back to the chart you can see that my PR was 185lbs with this lift being 190lbs. WooHoo

It is very exciting to PR a lift but I want to tell you that it is very humbling to share this video. I see many faults while watching the video, everything from my positioning in the lifts, how I look in the video, to how the video is presented. I only mention this because in a few weeks I will be talking about the mental side of exercise and the major role it plays in trying to get and stay fit. It is amazing how hard we can be on ourselves.

Thanks for sharing in my Journey.

Holes in my Fitness

August 25, 2017

What do I need to do to make it into the Top 200 of the 50 – 54 Year old Male Division in 2018. Because we won’t know what the five events are until they are announced during the 2018 CrossFit Open, I will base where I stand and what I need to improve on off of previous years Open results. These results aren’t pretty, pointing towards the fact that I have a lot of work to do, so it’s a good thing that I have already been trying to improve on the areas that I perceive to be weakest.

As I mentioned last week there were over 6,500 competitors in the Male 50 – 54 age division in 2017, my placing in that division was a sparkling 1,681st place, a long way from being in the Top 200. While I’m not discouraged by my placing it is a large reminder that I have a very long way to go, and not very long to get there.

In reviewing my previous results it doesn’t take long to find a glaring weakness in my fitness, in CrossFit terms I have a hole in my fitness. The hole for me, really it is more like a crater, is “Body Weight Movements”. For those of you unfamiliar with Body Weight Movements a few simple examples would be Sit-ups, Push-ups, and Pull-ups. While I consider myself to be somewhat proficient in these three movements it is when these movements are taken to the next level of complexity that a crater size hole in my fitness become evident.

Examples of next level of complexity would be:

  • Toes-to-Bar (Hanging on a pull-up bar and bringing your toes up to touch the bar)
  • Hand-Stand Push-ups (Hand-Stand against wall, dropping down into a Head-stand, and back up)
  • Chest-to-Bar (Instead of just getting your chin over the bar on a pull-up your chest hits the bar)
  • Bar-Muscle-up (Hanging on a pull-up bar, ending with body above bar with your hands support)
  • Ring-Muscle-up (Same as above only on Gymnastic Rings)

I’ve included a video below of my son Casey performing these movements, the reason that Casey is performing the movements and not me is because, well like I said they are a hole in my fitness, some of these things I can do poorly and some of these I can’t do at all. For me to hit my goal I will need to do all of these movements proficiently.

Included in the CrossFit Open will be many other movements, examples of other movements would be:

  • Olympic Lifts (These lifts include Clean & Jerk, and Snatch)
  • Weighted Squats (Back, Front, and Overhead Squats)
  • Jump Rope (Double Unders where the rope passes under your feet twice on each jump)
  • Rowing (Concept 2 Rowing machine)
  • Miscellaneous (examples being Wall Balls, Burpee’s, Box Jumps, etc)

Below is a video of me showing each of these movements

While I need to also improve on these movements I believe that I have at least a solid foundation to build upon.

In future posts I will spend time explaining how I intend to improve the holes in my fitness. This includes but isn’t limited to:

  • Improving Strength
  • Increasing Flexibility
  • Improving the Mental Side of Fitness
  • Weight and Eating

The last three of these are a constant struggle for me as I think they are for a majority of people. I don’t pretend to be an expert in any of these three areas but every year their importance only seems to grow and grow. I intend to share what it is that I am doing and how my process seems to be affecting me, I don’t believe there is a one size fits all for these areas and most of us just have to keep working until we find what works for us.