3+ weeks since I last posted? Yikes that's too long. Unacceptable I know and I apologize for the absence. No excuses from this one everyone's got problems so I won't bore you with mine or pretend like they're more significant. They aren't. So instead of wasting all of our time with a sincere heartfelt explanation of my absence we'll skip right to the goods!
So a lot of you out there are confused about what your goals are and how to accomplish them. You think you know what you're aiming to do but you really don't. I get a lot of people who come up to me and ask "how do I get strong?". What they're really asking me is "how do I get big and muscular?". Most could give a rip about their performance, they just want to look like a beast.
So what exactly am I getting at here? There's a massive difference between training for size and training for strength. For the sake of this post my definition of strength is in terms of the ability to move a maximal load. So a 1 rep max or 1RM.
It is atrocious what some people will do to a perfectly good cut of beef. I've seen everything from trying to pan-sear frozen beef to microwaving a steak. Horrific and saddening I know. It's time for an intervention. I've waited long enough to reveal my methods for preparing delicious steak. I actually learned this method from reading the work of several acclaimed chefs. So without further ado, your guide to the perfect sear and consistency.
What you'll need:
- A steak, I prefer a grass-fed sirloin personally. If you've got a better cut then you're a richer man than me.
- Butter, grass-fed preferably. This is not negotiable. If you use olive, coconut, or some franken-oil we're no longer on good terms. If you've made this mistake before, for the love of God don't do it again
That's it. No seasoning whatsoever to ruin the flavor of the beef. Seasoning is for tasteless chicken and amateurs.
When asked, I honestly have a hard time telling people what it is I do exactly. Crossfit gives this really long-winded schpeal about using full-body functional movements at a high intensity, and additionally not specializing; helping individuals prepare for..well life essentially. While that's absolutely true and should sound appealing to most, it doesn't help a total stranger to the sport wrap their head around it's construction. Crossfit by its nature should be difficult to define, as essentially we're preparing ourselves for anything and everything. Yet there must surely be something we can say to the layman to get them excited too!
Not often but once in awhile one of the bros or ladies in the weight room will actually stop awkwardly gawking in judgement of the guy doing rope climbs and handstand pushups to ask a simple question. Here's more or less how this dialogue plays out:
Hello my nimble warriors, in today’s post we’ll embark on a 3-part series looking into how we can shape our nutrition surrounding training to optimize performance and body composition. You might be thinking “I’m a high-level athlete!” or “I’m overweight, I need special attention!”. Truth is, we’re not all unique butterflies, and many of us will benefit from the same tactics regardless of where we’re at on the athletic spectrum. Today in part one we’ll look at pre-workout nutrition. Now I tend to write, maybe selfishly, with a bias toward the crossfit crowd, because I’m a crossfitter. Yeah yeah get over yourselves I do this for free so if you don’t like it take it somewhere else. However, what I would recommend as pre-workout nutrition for crossfitters is the same that I would recommend for the overweight 50-something: Coffee. Black.
You don't say.
Currently writing on a bovine-serving of ibuprofen so this could get hairy. Take it easy on me folks.
Unbeknownst to most people, I have an elite-level capacity to sit on my butt for extended periods of time. Aside from walking to and from classes and the gym in addition to training a couple hours a day, I'm pretty damn immobile. Such is the price I pay for being a student and writer. That's not to say that I'm not busy, all the tasks I have to accomplish seem to require inactivity. As backwards as that is. I've written a short bit about the detrimental effects of sitting on performance, but I haven't really delved into the anatomical implications of America's prime position of productivity.
Ironically in order to read this you're most likely hunched over with eye's straining to make sense of all this nonsense. Moving on!
The inspiration for this piece as with everything I rant about stems from my own problems. Yep, it's all about me; but I'm guessing you've probably suffered some unfortunate consequences from similar inactivity. In any case my back right now is in some sad state between knappy hippy dreads and tangled slinky. Don't act like you don't know the frustration of tangled slinky. Maybe I shouldn't be surprised after going from 60 to 0 spending an entire month in Spain with constant activity, back to the slow-death of full-time studying. It's like chairs have their own gravitational pull and I don't have the velocity to exit the atmosphere.
Full disclosure, I use whey protein powder.
“WTF?”, you might be saying to yourself right now. The same dude trying to get me to ditch the powder is telling me that he uses it himself. You bet. I also wash it down with creatine and skim milk, even Gatorade when I want to let my hair down. Now before you slam the door in my face with an exultant “see you never”, let’s revisit the actual basis of my initial recommendation to forego powders and the like. The bottom line is that, as with all aspects of training and nutrition, it comes down to who you are and where you’re at on the athletic spectrum.
When writing, I keep in mind that in general I have a fairly broad variety of individuals coming in all shapes and colors. From the weekend warrior to the high-level athlete, it’s damn near impossible to please everyone. As such, we in the field of performance nutrition often have to generalize; an unfortunate but necessary consequence for being open-minded I suppose. I digress, the point is that what may be applicable for the greater population may not optimal for certain outliers such as the extremely overweight, or the professional athlete. In any case, enough excuses we’ll shed some light on when protein powder is appropriate, and when it’s simply not.
Here’s the facts about whey protein (I’m not even going to go into other forms of protein powder as they’re all vastly inferior to whey):
1) Spanish coffee is not coffee.
2) Never order "fruit pudding". It's not fruit pudding.
3) Be flexible, or fail. Things never go as planned.
4) Europeans don't eat.
5) Spain supposedly has an infatuation with ham. Yet their bacon is flaccid. Not nearly enough sodium and nitrates.
6) Smiling is frowned upon in photos. (Pun intended)
7) You can't find peanut butter...anywhere.
8) De Berber peeple will steal your women.
9) When venturing in the desert, bring your ice armor.
10) Wine is the cheapest, most effective alcohol. Particularly that of the boxed cooking wine variety.
11) Careful when using gymnastics rings in Berber populated areas of Morocco.
12) People mean-mug that weird guy with gymnastics rings.
13) In Europe, no clothing comes in mens.
14) The gluten-intolerant among us although grossly underfed, receive better food.
15) NEVER order a drink at El Kapital in Madrid without a drink ticket
16) Unless you have a death wish, do not attempt to run the following cities: Toledo, Grenada, Cordoba. Better yet, don't run regardless.
17) Berber whiskey isn't real whiskey. Not even close.
18) Watch the movies everyone else watches on the trip over. Lest you be on the outside of quotes and lines the entire trip.
19) Moroccan adolescent boys have no shame. None.
20) The Spanish are annoying unpredictable in their personal schedules.
21) Public displays of affection are encouraged in Spain.
22) The Saharan sky has the best stars this world has to offer.
23) A late night sandwich binge will completely and utterly WRECK you.
24) Don't eat the oranges on the trees.
25) There's no such thing as packing too many pairs of sweatpants.
26) Determine your wine needs, then add a bottle.
27) Caffeine addiction is underrated.
28) Moroccan food is essentially paleo.
29) You will have sand in your shoes for years after a visit to the Sahara.
30) Starlight lounge in Marrakech is a bitter disappointment and incredibly misleading.
31) If someone's trying to recruit you into their establishment, that's a red flag. Evacuate the area.
32) If you appreciate your sense of smell, don't walk over the grates in Madrid.
33) 3 am sprints are invigorating.
34) Axe body spray contains traces of real testosterone.
35) Selecting dishes from a Spanish menu is a life or death scenario. Choose wisely.
36) No amount of travel-size febreeze can cover up a month of stank.
37) The clothing worn to Joy in Madrid may need to be incinerated afterward.
38) When in Morocco, seek out a guide by the name of Ismael. The most loving and kind-hearted individual I have ever met in all of my life.
39) When in Sevilla, seek out the establishment "La Abuela" around 2 am.
40) No more than 2 drops of Moroccan Viagra unless you want to visit the hospital (full disclosure: not a personal experience)
41) The trees in Morocco have no structural integrity.
42) Keep a low profile around Starbucks in Valencia.
43) The Madrid airport is literally a bag of trash.
48) Don't sleep. Miss nothing. You will survive.
49) People are generally kind-hearted.
50) The notion that there's some kind of anti-american sentiment overseas is ridiculous. Just don't walk around like you own the place and people are generally accomodating.
That's all for now!
You bet! Returned safe and sound from dis Espana place safe and sound and not totally destroyed surprisingly. Honestly I'm lucky to be upright after the meat-grinder of a month I just went through. Take it easy on me, it's been a long month. If you feel this piece isn't up to expectations, I would like to extend to you a heartfelt screw off and a challenge to go a month rolling with next to no sleep on a steady diet of peanut butter, sodium-laden ham, and sugar-free red bull and we'll see if you even survive let alone have the capacity to write in the week following.
I had the time of my life and met a lot of amazing people while creating memories I'll never forget. It was tough to be away from the blog and all of you, but I feel that I've grown a lot as a person and a writer in the meantime. Hopefully for all of your sake I've actually developed a sense of humor during my hiatus so that reading my work is no longer akin to performing 10 rounds of murph...in a category 5 hurricane. (murph is a 1 mile run, 100 pullups, 200 pushups, 300 squats, 1 mile run for time). But I digress. On to a little about my training/nutrition/sleep habits (or lack thereof) while abroad and what sort of shape I'm in now. Did I make good on my promise to improve or at the minimum maintain strength while traveling? Well yes and no.
Anabolic Amigos! Back again with more revelations from 2012 AP here. I was reflecting during my morning big gulp coffee on how hypocritical crossfitters are. Myself included. Looking back on 2012, I made some incredible progress in my training. I became more focused on diligently following my training program, making sure I got adequate sleep, and observing a painstaking attention to detail with my nutrition. All of these provided immense benefit by way of increased athleticism, energy, and confidence. However, I look back on my progress and all that I sacrificed to succeed. I find myself asking if all of the time I dedicate to training is really worth the end? To be honest there were times I regretted not staying up later and saying “screw recovery! Sleeping is overrated!”, but found myself hitting the sack early to get sufficient rack time for the next day’s training session. Obviously I enjoy what I do, I wouldn’t sit here rambling on about this stuff if I didn’t gain any intrinsic satisfaction from it. But I did come to a revelation: those of us who are serious about our training tend to ignore other areas of our lives.
To continue with the theme of 2012 reflections, I’d like to address the characteristic that is both the greatest facilitator of success, and impediment to progress in high-level athletes. I call it the hubris of invincibility.
Put simply, we all think we’re beasts with in infinite capacity for pain and punishment. We ignore nagging injuries, sickness, poor technique, and mobility issues to gut through grueling workouts. We are both our greatest advocates for success, and our greatest detriments. By ignoring these issues and subjecting our bodies to repeated bouts of heavy volume and intensity, we’re amplifying the problem and exponentially increasing our likelihood of injury. Every injury I’ve sustained while training could have been prevented if I had checked my ego like a big boy. Instead I’ve made a habit of ignoring the following warning signs in favor of crushing myself on a daily basis: