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Murph…the WOD that keeps on giving

30 May

Monday, May 29, 2013

I finished Murph…..

No, really, did you hear me?  I FINISHED MURPH!!!!

After I jogged all but 1/4 of the first mile, I started my 5-10-15 strategy.  5 rounds in, I thought to myself, “You have been doing Crossfit for only 6 months, you can be just as proud to do half of Murph.  Just get to round 10 and do your final mile.”

I will tell you this now…this conversation goes through my head in 75% of my WOD’s .  It is something that I battle and have never succombed to since I have started Crossfit, but it speaks to me more often than I want to hear it.  It is part of my problem.  I am still in the mindset that I am this obese person that no one really expect much from, so if I don’t finish a workout, it is no surprise.  “Kudos for trying!” I expect to hear.

Unfortunately, I have made too much of an impression at my box and people expect more from me.  Just writing this down is such a milestone from me and I have to say, I have tears in my eyes (Luckily, my husband and son are watching the Blackhawks, game 7, so I could be bawling uncontrollably and they would not notice).

I am so thankful that the people in my box expect more from me.  I am grateful for the comments that I still find hard to believe are true from Paul’s posts on ETP.  I am thankful for my husband’s comments here and there, calling me skinny.

I really am thankful for all of this and it has made me raise the bar for myself, but honestly, I still don’t always believe it.  Don’t get me wrong, I do believe it 60% of the time, but the other 40% of the time, I feel fat.  I feel like I could be working harder.  I feel like I could still be making better food choices.  I feel like if I could do all of these things, I would be 20 pounds lighter and 3 sizes smaller.

Damn Damn Damn!

I wish I could just flip a switch and believe the logic that my head tells me.  I KNOW I am on the right path.  I KNOW I am stronger.  I KNOW that 6 months from now, I will look and feel healthier, stronger and more confident than I do now.  Unfortunately, a little part of my heart seems to be speaking louder than my brain….

When I was young, I was INCREDIBLY shy.  Not just shy, I was “only speak to people in my immediate family” shy.  I was never really aware of this until high school.  I would hear people say that they thought I was a snob or bitchy because I didn’t really give them the time of day.  Little did they know that I was terrified to talk to them.  My self confidence was non-existent.  I had no idea what to say to people.

When I moved from Boston to Illinois after my bad breakup, I consciously told myself “I am done being shy.  Even if I have to fake my confidence, I will no longer be the person who missed out on opportunities because I am too shy.”  I honestly faked being confident for probably about 6 months, when it started coming naturally.  This was also during my “eating disorder” time when I was eating less than 1000 calories a day and exercising a ridiculous amount.  I still have to be thankful for this period though.  This is the period that I met my husband.  I had the confidence to just go up and talk to him that night at the racquet club.  3 hours later, I went home realizing that I just met the man I would marry, and wasn’t shy about sharing that with my family.

When people hear this story, they think, “No Way!  You were not shy!  You are one of the most confident people I know!”  Little do they know, I can still fake it pretty flawlessly.  It’s my defense mechanism.  I am not going to let people know how weak I think I am sometimes.  Hell, my husband can count the times he has seen me cry on one hand.  I am a rock….or so I want people to think.

All of this is why I am SO proud of how fucking sore I am right now.  Never, in my wildest imagination did I EVER think I would do a workout like Murph.  Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would backsquat 240 pounds.  Never, EVER, did I imagine being able to eat logically and exercise with so much determination.  Doubt is always there, but it’s just like the powdered donuts…you need to see the logic and sometimes fake it.  Fake that you don’t want to quit, fake that you have full confidence of RX’ing a WOD, fake that you are the strongest person in your box….even if deep down you know you are not…if you keep believing it and faking it…you won’t have to eventually, because you will be.   I will be…will  you?

The Doctor is in the house!

17 Mar

Whether you buy Dr. Teal’s using our links or not it’s something I think you will love. It’s also great for the times you just need to relax with some dark chocolate and some red wine.

You can buy Dr. Teal’s on Amazon using the link in this post and it supports this site (I buy 16 at a time, so I am running low)


Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness for Crossfit

28 Feb


This is part of the information I teach in the “Science Lab” seminars that we offer free when you purchase things that support our site (it’s mostly stuff you would buy anyway).  Click the link and it will give you more details.  

(Click here to jump to a summary of this article)

DOMS stands for “Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness”.  It’s that stiff, tender feeling you get in your muscles a few days after training, and it sucks.  Much smarter people than myself have absolutely no clue as to how you prevent it, but there are various ideas that seem to work for me.  I am rarely sore, and while we’re all unique, I believe that the strategies I’m about to discuss can help a lot of people lead more productive, less painful lives.

I am not a physical marvel, but I do pay attention to things a lot of other people don’t.  If I Rx a difficult WOD, I know that it will dramatically affect my training schedule for the next few days.  People consistently give me noise about some of my modifications because they are of the opinion that if I can destroy myself, I should.  To be honest with you, I don’t care what others do.  Are they going to be doing speed work with 315 pound deadlifts the next day?  Because I might be planning to do just that, and that brings me to my first point:  when you push your abilities too far, you could end up with DOMS.  Does that mean that I never Rx a WOD?  Of course it doesn’t.  I would say I Rx at least 75% of the time, but scaling down isn’t the only way to modify your workouts.  For instance, let’s say that a WOD looks particularly tough; you look at the top athletes on the board and you know you aren’t going to get there.  I would say 75% of the time this is the gauge I use when modifying a workout.  Ask yourself how you can modify the workout so that you finish with the big guys/gals.

This brings me to a point I’ve wanted to make for some time:  do you guys think these workouts are designed by some meathead genius who’s determined the exact abilities of every person in the gym and then plugged it into a precise algorithm which calculated the right weight and reps for everyone to use?  That ain’t how it works.  It’s much less scientific than that.  That isn’t solely a criticism of CrossFit; that is a criticism of 3 x 5 plans, 5 x 5 plans, really any programming.  These protocols were all designed to be useful for a broad spectrum of random people.  There is little consideration for individual ability and preference.

So modifying workouts to account for your abilities is a great way to avoid DOMS.  That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t push yourself, but working beyond your ability will be more likely to end with you hurt and sore.  I’ll talk more about this below.

The Bar Needs To Move Fast

Your trainers are not machines.  They’re human beings trying to work with a lot of people all at once.  To a certain extent, you need to take the reins, and if there is any one thing I have learned over the last year as I have gotten stronger is that moving slowly will tear you up.  The longer it takes you to complete a set, the more stress you place on the muscle, and the more sore you get as a result.

Cardio is another factor to consider when attempting to minimize DOMS.  Let’s say the bar is moving fast, but you have to constantly stop because you are reaching failure after a few reps; is that making you better or worse?  I’m cool with you having the opinion that it’s making you stronger, but you are going to have to convince me and the people that read your blog.  The story I am running with is that it isn’t a great idea.  The amount of oxygen you can utilize during an exercise will make a big impact on things; an oxygen debt will make you sore after training.  So if you find yourself panting on the floor for 20 minutes while others are walking around easily, you can guess who’s going to be feeling it tomorrow.  Can you guess who’ll be back in the gym getting work done?  I can’t say with 100% certainty, but the odds favor the athlete who could walk after the WOD.  You don’t have to destroy yourself to get a good workout.

Can Food Make a Difference?

As we say up here in the tundra, “You Betcha!”  One angle that is often brought up in research is that DOMS is caused by inflammation.  Not the kind that makes you fat, but the kind that causes your muscles to stretch and swell.  As I attempted to write this helpful article, I searched through PubMed for science to back it up.  Frankly, little of what I read was particularly helpful but virtually every article said to avoid NSAID’s (like Ibuprofen).  You could make an argument for BCAA’s before and possibly after training.  If you are constantly sore, I would certainly try that, but I’m afraid that a lot of what I’m writing about is supported primarily by my personal experience.  Like I said earlier, I rarely get sore.  So why is that?  If you ask me, the answer is pretty simple.

Not only do I eat enough to support my activity, but I eat in a way that optimizes my human growth hormone pulses.  I delay breakfast and workout fasted; I eat carbs in the evening before bed, and (hopefully) while I sleep, I make a good amount of HGH.  When most people think of HGH, they think of it like anabolic steroids.  If HGH made you grow giant muscles, Lance Armstrong would be jacked.  HGH essentially heals your body, so if you want to be less sore there are two things that could really help as it relates to how you eat.  First, delay breakfast and workout fasted in the early AM.  Second, go to sleep with some carbs in your belly.  Carbs probably make you sleepy, and when you go to sleep sleepy, you should sleep more deeply.  This is favorable as it relates to HGH pulses during REM sleep, and higher levels overall.  There are probably other strategies you can implement, but that’s what I do and it seems to make sense.

This is pure conjecture, but I am going to say it anyway.  Getting adequate protein is obviously an important part of recovery, but neglecting carbs post-workout probably makes soreness worse.   DOMS may be indicative of training-induced “micro tears” in the muscle fiber.  Being chronically underfed and eating very low carb is (in my experience) not favorable as it relates to healing.  Even if you’re eating adequate or slightly more protein than would normally be recommended, that protein is basically going to get turned into glucose anyway.  That was the protein you needed to heal your muscles, and now it’s sugar.  I’m not suggesting you need a huge carb-up after every training session, but you could at least consider eating enough to support brain function (the brain uses up to 100g a day) so that the protein you ingest can be used for repair instead of energy.

The Negative

Each movement you perform has a concentric (positive) component, and eccentric (negative) component.  The negative is usually the “lowering” part.  Most of the trauma that occurs during weightlifting happens during this phase of the motion, and the slower you move, the more damage you’ll cause.  The argument could be made to (for example) drop your deadlift, but I won’t go there.  Instead, I’d suggest that you just stop lifting so heavy on your WODs!  I should be more specific, because there are WOD’s that are designed with rest intervals that are meant for you to go heavy.  So I will clarify by saying that if the WOD has 5 or more reps, scale accurately for your ability to allow for an easier eccentric phase of the lift.  One of the hardest parts of the deadlift or overhead press (these are just the examples, but let’s be clear that I am talking about the eccentric phase of ALL lifts) is putting the bar back down or catching it into your chest.  We all know this, right?

“But won’t that make me weaker?”  It’s possible but unlikely.  For most people, going lighter allows them to increase their work capacity and build better more explosive fast twitch muscle.  This would seem favorable as it relates to DOMS, but I am not going to spend three mores hours researching that part.  It just seems logical to me; when you are lifting close to your 1RM in WODs with multiples, dropping and catching barbells, absorbing all this weight with your body, you’re gonna be sore.  The way most people get stronger is by lifting with good form, explosively, for a ton of sets.  Lifting at 80 or 90% in WODs slowly and with bad form will leave you with constant DOMS and you won’t be able to achieve a sufficient workload to get stronger.  If you keep it up, your range of motion will diminish and you’ll be more prone to injury.


  • Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is training-induced tightness, tenderness, and pain felt after a workout.  The effects can last for days.  Although some people believe that a workout must produce soreness, to be effective, this is not the case.
  • While many theories exist on what causes DOMS, one of the most common conceptions is that small tears in muscle due to mechanical overload cause local inflammation and pain.
  • New training protocols (increasing reps or sets) or performing a new exercise (sumo vs. conventional deadlift) will usually make you sore, so you can avoid DOMS by sticking to the same repetition ranges and intensities for your workouts.
  • Moving slowly will tear you up.  More time under tension usually results in more DOMS.  Using weight that you can move quickly can minimize TUT and reduce DOMS.  When lifting heavy, try not to exaggerate the eccentric (lowering) portion of the movement as this is where the muscle is fully contracted and the most overload takes place.
  • You can also suffer DOMS from performing beyond your cardiovascular abilities.  If you wind up on the floor gasping for air by the end of your workout, you’ll probably be sore the next day.
  • Consistent nutrition on rest and training days can help keep you from being sore all the time as well.  As always, make sure you’re eating enough throughout the day.  Ensure that you consume an adequate amount of protein, and include some carbs post workout.  Branch Chain Amino Acid supplements may be worth experimenting with if you’re constantly sore.
  • Make sure you get adequate sleep as well; the most consistent release of Human Growth Hormone (HGH) occurs during sleep.  HGH plays an important role in healing and growth, so don’t compromise on your rest.