One common insightful definition of AI: Artificial Intelligence is everything a computer can’t do yet. As soon as it can, we call it obvious.
And so, self-driving cars and devices that can beat us at chess don’t really think, they’re just doing something by rote (really really fast).
One reason we easily dismiss the astonishing things computers can do is that we know that they don’t carry around a narrative, a play by play, the noise in their head that’s actually (in our view) ‘intelligence.’
It turns out, though, that the narrative is a bug, not a feature. That narrative doesn’t help us perform better, it actually makes us less intelligent. Any athlete or world-class performer (in debate, dance or dungeonmastering) will tell you that they do their best work when they are so engaged that the narrative disappears.
I have no idea when our computer overlords will finally enslave us, but it won’t happen because we figured out a way to curse them with a chattering monkey.
23 Apr / 2015
When performing cleans or snatches in a wod with moderate weight it is possible to touch and go. In order to touch and go there is a gathering point just above the knee when returning the weight to the floor where athletes lock in their posture and prepare their body for the next repetition. When rowing on the water many coaches talk about body preparation by half slide to be ready for the catch. This usually involves thinking about or feeling a gathering point as the bodies swing forward out of the finish so that everyone in the boat can get together and time the catch correctly. When rowing by yourself on the erg it is possible to slow yourself down on the recovery and gather yourself and your body preparation as you start to slide forward toward the next catch.
Take 5 minutes today to row nice and slow and see where you tend to gather yourself. Too often competitors or athletes in the gym gather at the finish and dump their weight to the floor. Instead think about the finish as a continuous movement and put a gathering point just after you swing the body forward and begin your slide. This will save energy, improve your sequencing, and make everything much smoother.
22 Apr / 2015
Since we have a throw down coming up this weekend – and presumably a few more this summer – I thought this old post on what to eat when you’re competing would come in handy. I believe this was posted around the Open last year. Share your competition fueling plan in the comments!
Before The WODs
Before a workout, your body should have a topped off fuel tank. This means you should have enough glycogen (the body’s stored form of carbohydrate) stored as well as some more readily available from food. In general, pre workout meals or snacks should be:
- Enough energy to prepare you for the workout without leaving you hungry or with undigested food in your stomach
- Low in fiber and fat
- Higher in carbohydrates
- Moderate in protein
Meals low in fat and fiber will allow your stomach to empty in time so you can avoid stomach discomfort. The carbohydrates will top off glycogen stores (which is important, since the body relies on glycogen rather than fat stores for energy during shorter CrossFit WODs), maintain blood sugar levels, and provide energy. Protein will help you avoid hunger. In addition, it is important to be hydrated before exercise. The recommendation is that athletes drink 2-3 milliliters of water per pound of body weight at least 4 hours before working out to hydrate and get rid of any excess fluid (Rodriguez et al 2009).
After The WODs
Post Workout/Recovery is the most important time, as it is the time when your body reaps the benefits of all the hard work you’ve done. During the workout your body burns through your stored glycogen, you lose fluid to sweating, and muscle tissue is broken down. Recovery is when you can replenish your stored glycogen, replace lost fluid, and rebuild damaged muscles.
We used to think the precise timing of recovery was very important, advising that within one hour of a workout you had to have 30-60 grams of carbohydrate and15-20 grams of protein because this was during the time your metabolism was most active. The consensus was that eating right after the workout improved muscle strength and hypertrophy. However now we know that eating within this window is less important than previously thought (Schoenfeld et al). So, as long as you eat a good, nutrient rich (read: lots of vegetables and fruits) meal with protein and carbohydrates, and maintain an adequate calorie intake throughout the day, you will continue to build strength and fitness.
What To Eat
Try to eat something that not only provides these nutrients but also provides vitamins and minerals. Research has shown that chocolate milk may be a good recovery option because the milk provides calcium and magnesium, two minerals important in muscle contractions, and potassium, which is an important electrolyte lost in sweat. Other good options include a veggie omelet with fried plantain, sweet potato, or wheat toast and grilled steak with roasted vegetables.
20 Apr / 2015
It’s just a few short days until our next throwdown! Please arrive with your judge no later than 9:15 Saturday morning so everything can move smoothly. So I have the following people listed as teams:
Evan S. & Brian L.
Tolly T. & Cissy Y.
Natalie K. & Nigel C.
Omri L. & Linh N.
Brian W. & Matt E.
Shannon F. & Courtney S.
I know there are two or three more teams that have signed up verbally, but I forget who they are. Just email me at mickeygrrrouse at gmail dot com with who your team mate is and I’ll get it set up. Remember, people who have participated in the past get first priority before the at-large gym community. If you want to participate but need a partner, email me saying you need a partner and we’ll set it up.
Please remember that every team needs to provide its own judge, so if you haven’t done so already, secure that person and reply to this email to let me know who it is. Teams will not be allowed to participate without a judge.
You will be responsible for setting up your station, educating your judge on movement standards, and warming yourself up, so please make sure you (and your judge) arrive no later than 9:15 to get all of this stuff done. We will begin promptly at 10 AM and hope to be done by 12:15 or 12:30. There will be no score updates between rounds, just at the end.
Peace and bacon grease,
17 Apr / 2015
FIRE IT UP
Great week of training everyone! Tuesday produced a great amount of PR Bell moments with the Push Press, it even generated a PR Train/Congo Line at the 5:3o pm class! I even got Keith C to participate. Boom! Fire It Up! Fire It Up!
Omri returned from Israel last evening and proceeded to TRIPLE PR in some lifts. He was satisfied and went home to bask in all of his glory.
Let’s keep the PR’s coming today with the front squat. See you in the gym.
Monday is Patriots Day and Marathon Monday. It is a wonderful day and logistically it can be a nightmare to navigate around Boston.
This year we will be open for the morning classes: 6 & 7 AM and then closing for the middle of the day. We will reopen for ONE class in the evenings 5:30pm.
Please mark your calendars.
Conditioning: Team Relay Event
Reps of 9-6-3 for time
Strict handstand push ups
Hang power clean, 160/110
ABS: 200 reps
Strength: Back Squat
4×8 Straight Sets
ABS: 100 reps All hanging
Conditioning: Complete for time
Conditioning: 3 rounds for time
15 Front rack lunges, 115/75
A. Ring Dips – 3 x max reps
B. Flex Arm Hang – 3 x max time, rest as needed
A. Bench Press – 4×8 Straight sets
B. Band Pull Aparts – 4×24 reps
Conditioning: 600m Sandbag repeats
3 rounds with 2 minutes rest between
Strength: Clean 2RM
Conditioning: Reps of 21-15-9 of
Hang squat clean, 95/65
When’s the last time you went for a row on the water or in the gym? When’s the last time you warmed up for rowing? When’s the last time you used Rowing as a warmup for something else? For many of you rowing is either your main sport or a foundational training tool that you use to get in wicked good shape. Regardless, anytime you pick up that handle you should be rowing with purpose and taking deliberate strokes. So how do we develop purpose and deliberate practice? A good place to start is the Reverse Pic Drill.
Every time I prescribe a rowing warmup I usually kick things off with the Reverse Pic Drill. It’s a drill that includes 4 progressions:
Reverse Pic Drill:
1. Half Legs – Taking short strokes at the front end using the first 3 inches of the leg drive.
2. Full Legs – Slightly longer strokes pushing the legs all the way down.
3. Legs and Bodies – Longer strokes adding in the swing of the body.
4. Full Strokes – Full length strokes with the arms finishing the stroke.
When done well and with awareness this drill allows us to focus on three important skills with regards to rowing:
1. Posture – The Torso should be stacked and strong in a neutral and braced position at all points in time during the stroke.
2. Control – As the seat slides forward toward the catch it maintains a constant speed and does not accelerate into the catch. With good control you should be able to stop at any point in time during the stroke and be in a strong position.
3. Connection – The hips and the hands move together into and out of the catch as if connected by a cable. If the hips move, the hands should move the same distance, no more no less. If you are connected you can also focus on your shoulders. The hips, hands, and shoulders all move together in the first three inches of the drive.
I believe that if you can learn to do the Reverse Pic Drill correctly in your warm up, you can and will become a better rower. The key is how you execute each progression and what you focus on. Above is a video review of an elite rower I’m working with. This is what the Reverse Pic Drill looks like in a single on the water. Check out what he’s doing well and what you can start to focus on every time you row.
If you’re interested in getting on the water, I will be organizing a sculling group to row out of Community Rowing Inc. in Brighton every Monday and Wednesday evening from 6:30pm – 8pm. If you can fit that into your schedule I’d love to get you on the water. We will be starting in May. Shoot me an email ([email protected]) now and let me know if you’re interested. I’ll keep you updated and get you setup to join us.
Let us know if you have any questions or thoughts in the comments!
15 Apr / 2015
I stumbled on an article in Gawker yesterday by syndicated fitness columnist from the Chicago Tribune James Fell that was too funny not to share. It is an excellent rant about dark chocolate that can be applied to any food with a health halo, and with enough swearing to make a CrossFitter happy. But, amusement aside, I also share this because it makes a bunch of great points.
Remind me again, what are health halos?
“Health halos” result when a healthy quality of a food (say, the fact that it is organic) is viewed in such a way that it seems to make any food to which it is applied seem healthier than it is. For example, organic grapes are a great choice – grapes are a healthy source of sugar and fiber and since they have a permeable skin, it’s a good idea to buy them organic (they are on the dirty dozen list). However being “organic” doesn’t make brownies or candy any healthier than non-organic brownies and candy. I’ve often used the paleo example as well – a paleo meal can be healthy, but paleo chocolate truffles not so much.
What does this have to do with dark chocolate?
Dark chocolate is marketed as “healthy” or “healthier” because it has flavonoids, which are linked to lower risk of heart disease. The problem is that you’d have to eat a LOT of dark chocolate to get any risk reducing benefit from those flavonoids. Nonetheless, as Fell’s article notes:
For about a decade, the sales of dark chocolate have soared, regardless of the fact that it tastes like someone melted down a bunch of brown crayons, mixed it with charcoal and then let it solidify into bar form. Why the boost? As a senior VP from Hershey said in 2006 of the 37% spike in sales of their Special Dark, “There are underlying benefits with the consumption of cocoa that give consumers the permission to enjoy chocolate.”
Wait. “Permission to enjoy chocolate”? Just… fuck you.
Exactly. Of course, as Fell says, if you like dark chocolate, go about your business. I tend to recommend it because it is richer than milk chocolate, so you can enjoy a treat without going overboard. Then again, I happen to like but not love dark chocolate so that works for me. As I’ve said often before, what works for one hardly works for everyone.
But if you don’t really like dark chocolate (not even a little bit), and you just eat it because it’s the healthy kind of chocolate (or if you just want to laugh a little), please read his article over at Gawker.
CrossFit knock aside, it’s hilarious and makes great points.
12 Apr / 2015
I receive a few subscriptions daily through my email that I find are quite worth reading. One such being Seth Godin’s blog. The writings are usually short and direct to a point. Todays was excellent and I wanted to share it with you. The 4th paragraph is what resonated with me the most. So often our mind gets in our way to perform at the best of our abilities. A while back, I wrote about Mark Divine and the Unbeatable Mind Academy. The training within his program addresses the “Monkey Mind” and how breathing and meditation can quiet the chatter Godin is referring to. I highly recommend daily work in both breathing and meditation.
The noise in our head (and artificial intelligence)
The original blog post can be found here.
10 Apr / 2015
Another week has come to an end and the weather continues to merge into Spring and that my friends is AWESOME! It has been great seeing you all get after the WODS and really embracing the bodyweight strength progressions. Take your time with it and it will pay off. I promise!
Spring Fling & Team WOD
For those that may have missed it, or don’t have Facebook, we are going to be celebrating Spring at the Havana Club in Cambridge on April 25th. Get your dancing shoes out and let loose! This is definitely an opportunity for us as a community to do something different. Oh, and guys, remember part of what we do is train to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. More details will be released as the date draws near.
The Team In-House Competition is that Saturday morning. There will not be regular classes. If you are interested be sure to reach out to Mickey to register a team.
We are going to be having a limited schedule for Marathon Monday “Patriots Day” on April 20. The 6am and 7am classes are as normal. The gym will then shut down and reopen in the evening for the 5:30pm class. The doors will open at 5pm and remain open until 7pm.
Strength: Deadlift 5×3
Conditioning: Reps of 30-23-18-15 for time
Wallball Shots, 20#/14#
Kettlebell Swings, 32kg/24kg
Complete for time
21 Box Jumps
9 OH Squats, 115/75
15 Box Jumps
15 OH Squats, 115/75
9 Box Jumps
21 OH Squats, 115/75
Strength: Push Press
Conditioning: Reps of 21-15-9 for time
Power Clean, 135/95
1A. Turkish Get ups – 3 each side x 6 sets
1B. Push-ups – submax effort x 6 sets @ tempo of 2121
Strength Endurance: EMOM 10
2 Squat Snatch add weight as you are able
Conditioning: AMRAP 20
10 Alternating DB Snatch, 55/35
10 Alternating Pistols
Strength: Front Squat
Conditioning: 3 rounds for time
15 Front Squats, 155/100
Conditioning: For time
Row 5000m – every 1000 m get off the rower and perform 3 rope climb
Today we’re taking a look at some of our athletes from the noon class at Our Crew Fitness. This is a video review that I put together to help them and you develop your stroke and find new areas to improve upon. I’ll be posting regular video reviews about once a week, usually on Thursdays. If you’d like feedback on your stroke or would like to see me talk about a certain area of the stroke, please let me know in the comments. If you’d like to be featured in the weekly Video Review please send me a 5 stroke video via email to pat@.
Today’s topic relates to how you sit on the erg and how your feet are connected to the erg. Are you balanced on your sit bones or falling off them? How does your point of contact with the seat affect your posture and positioning throughout the stroke? Are your feet connected to the footboards at all times? What part of your foot? These are things to think about and an area where you can make a quick change to see big gains. Let us know what you think and if you have any questions.
Also, if you’d like to join in the fun in person, Renegade Rowing Classes are held throughout the week. Checkout the schedule and pricing here. When you’re ready to get after it and have some fun, sign up for a free consultation with Coach Pat here.
08 Apr / 2015
For those unfamiliar, Food Babe is a consultant turned health/food blogger and public speaker whose mission it is to investigate and uncover “what’s really in our food”. Until this week I don’t think I ever paid her much attention. I knew she had a book out, and I may even have shared a graphic she made about pumpkin spice lattes with some commentary on how they’re not the best thing for your health. I’ve also heard some rumblings in the health professional community about her, mostly along the lines of she’s unqualified and uses fear mongering tactics to spread misinformation. But there’s a lot of people that educate themselves on the internet and pose as experts under the guise of inspiration, recipe sharing, and blogging.
Then I read this article in Gawker, entitled “The ‘Food Babe’ Is Full Of Shit”. It is a robust discrediting by another female blogger with a background in Chemistry and forensic science and toxicology. The health professional in me always trusts science backgrounds over Google prowess, I also appreciate skepticism about our current food system. So, is Food Babe, whether she is full of *%it or not, a good thing or a bad thing?
In Favor of Food Babe: There’s a lot wrong with the way food is produced and consumed in the US. Things banned in Europe are still in our food (seriously, if you can make it without something the Euros think isn’t safe why not just do it that way all the time?), food label claims are often bogus (“all natural” Cheetos anyone?), and there’s little government regulation. A crusader using social pressure to improve our food system should be welcomed.
Food Babe Issues: My issue with her is this: she is very easily discredited, as the article shows. She does use fear mongering tactics, which do no one any good. A lot of people can’t afford organic food, and scaring them into thinking they’re actively murdering their kids by feeding them conventional green beans is a bit too extreme for me. And like I mentioned, she’s easy to discredit. She has written (and removed once her mistakes were called out) articles on how air in airplanes has too much nitrogen (air IS majority nitrogen, a fact she apparently missed) and how your microwave is basically a nuclear reactor. Sometimes journalists don’t fact check (see: Rolling Stone debacle) but someone purporting to have expertise should not make such wildly inaccurate claims.
I also do disagree with her tactics. She takes things wildly out of context, and makes it easy for the industry to fight back and win the public debate in the future. A mad lib of what I predict:
Food Babe: We should all stop eating X Food by Y Big Food Company because it contains (insert chemical approved by the FDA for a certain functionality in food processing) which is also found in/used for (some other scary/non-edible item or use which is totally out of context).
Y Big Food Company: This product has been deemed safe by the FDA and tested by our food science department. These claims are wildly inaccurate and put forth by someone who thinks your microwave is the A-bomb. Who do you trust, SCIENCE or her?
Big Food 1, Food advocates 0.
Here’s the thing: questioning what’s in our food is important. Pressuring food companies to remove unsafe products is important. Voting with our wallets for items like free range eggs, humanely raised meat, and supporting local farmers is all important. But we have to pick our battles and use solid ammunition. Because yes, Subway’s dough thickening agents IS used in yoga mats. But is that what makes Subway a poor food choice? Or is it factory farm meat that is high in sodium, white bread, and the potato chips and cookie that accompany the sandwich? While it may sound weird to say “there’s a yoga mat ingredient in my bread”, I don’t think THAT is what is causing obesity, diabetes, and poor health in America.
I think there’s a good analogy here between Food Babe and Ted Cruz. If you follow politics at all, you know he’s kind of a nuts (or as John McCain would say “a wacko bird”). Now, he may have a good point or two about a few specific areas of policy (I haven’ t dug deep enough to actually verify this, so let’s not make this a political fight). But his “the world is on fire”, no grey area, loud mouthed tactics make his message completely unfounded to most people. And while Food Babe has good (even great) intentions, her delivery and tactics will ultimately be counterproductive to her aims. If we want someone to call out the Food Industry on its faults (and we definitely do), it needs to be someone credible.
What do you guys think?