How Six Months of Weekly Workouts Made Me Stronger
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
I pride myself on efficiency, but getting the most out of the least possible effort often just looks like laziness. Nowhere is that more the case than with my exercise “regime”: Why spend hours at the gym every week to look slightly thinner when I could sweat much less on occasional walks, hikes, runs, and bikes to achieve a slightly pudgier but personally acceptable result?
So I was nothing short of pessimistic when I walked into CrossFit Pacific Coast (CPC) last December to begin what's probably the toughest physical fitness program ever invented. The mandatory baseline workout of rowing, squats, push-ups, sit-ups, and pull-ups only took me about six minutes, but when I threw up all over the street afterward, I was immediately in awe of how powerfully my body reacted to such a short interval of intense exertion. Had I stumbled upon the most efficient exercise program on the planet?
After about six months of pretty regular visits to this CrossFit gym on lower Anacapa Street, I dropped nearly 20 pounds, found muscles I never knew existed, discovered that I enjoyed weightlifting, and developed core strength that made picking up my baby and going through the daily walk of life a cinch. Sure, it was tougher than tough—some days I would make it home just in time to collapse on my floor for a half-hour of motionless recovery; other days I would be too sore to open the car door—but I was seeing real results with even just one hour-long visit per week. Sixty minutes of hell for a week's worth of treadmill results? Even the laziest should be enticed.
John Scutellaro and his wife, Jen, in their Mercedes van used to transport pro athletes.
John Scutellaro is a former Hoboken cop. He knows from long experience that in New York, the enthusiasm of the fans and the press, combined with the popping flashbulbs of the paparazzi, can make it painfully easy for professional athletes to embarrass themselves.
So easy, in fact, that Scutellaro is trying to earn a living guaranteeing it won't happen. After destroying his knee in an on-the-job motorcycle crash, Scutellaro left the force to indulge an idea he'd been working on for the better part of a decade: starting a full-service security company for athletes that provides safe drivers, undercover bodyguards and unofficial angels-on-the-shoulder.
Well, this is a positive development: a reader sent me a link to an article about people who originally became vegetarians for ethical reasons, but are now converting to being “ethical” meat-eaters:
A feisty vegetarian since age 12, Berlin Reed was a self-described “punk” who swore to abstain from supporting corporations that he believed profited from mistreating animals, abusing labor practices and “destroying” the environment.
“I have ‘vegan’ tattooed on my neck,” said Reed, 29. “You could say I was a little passionate about it.”
Today, however, he’s known as “the ethical butcher,” a title which might seem odd for someone whose friends once arranged a “bacon intervention” to sway him to omnivorism.
Must’ve been some party tray at that bacon intervention. Apparently the intervention worked, but I can’t help but wonder if the ethical butcher’s customers ever spot that “vegan” tattoo on the back of his neck and suspect he may secretly be handing them tofu steaks.
The article goes on to explain that “ethical” meat-eating means different things to different people, but that’s not what caught my attention. This did:
According to a recent study by Psychology Today, most vegetarians return to eating meat.
LONDON - If Aubrey de Grey's predictions are right, the first person who will live to see their 150th birthday has already been born. And the first person to live for 1,000 years could be less than 20 years younger.
A biomedical gerontologist and chief scientist of a foundation dedicated to longevity research, de Grey reckons that within his own lifetime doctors could have all the tools they need to "cure" aging -- banishing diseases that come with it and extending life indefinitely.
"I'd say we have a 50/50 chance of bringing aging under what I'd call a decisive level of medical control within the next 25 years or so," de Grey said in an interview before delivering a lecture at Britain's Royal Institution academy of science.
"And what I mean by decisive is the same sort of medical control that we have over most infectious diseases today."
De Grey sees a time when people will go to their doctors for regular "maintenance," which by then will include gene therapies, stem cell therapies, immune stimulation and a range of other advanced medical techniques to keep them in good shape.
The value of sleep has been reinforced by yet another scientific study.
Research published in the journal Sleep suggests that sleeping longer can markedly improve physical performance.
When Stanford University's male basketball team was asked to sleep for 10 hours a night for around six weeks, their shooting accuracy improved by 9%.
The study at the US university found that getting enough sleep and rest was as important as training and diet for elite athletes.
Cheri Mah, researcher at the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Laboratory, who worked with the basketball players, said that sleep was often overlooked.
"Intuitively many players and coaches know that rest and sleep are important, but it is often the first to be sacrificed," she said.
The researchers asked the players to maintain their normal night-time schedule (sleeping for six to nine hours) for two-to-four weeks and then aim to sleep 10 hours each night for the next five-to-seven weeks.
Outside, it’s sunny and hot but Lucas Parker is keeping cool in a dark gym.
A single window spreads its light across the room as Parker power lifts 255 pounds above his head.
“I guess it’s more of a dungeon in here than a health spa,” he says between reps.
The 21-year-old calmly works his way through a dozen power lifts, adding weights as he moves through the first of a three-day CrossFit workout regimen.
He’s also the only person in the Herald Street gym known as CrossFit Zone (it’s really not a health spa).
That he’s alone now is symbolic: Parker wants to be the fittest man in the world.
And he just could be.
He’ll get his chance to find out at the CrossFit Games, a sporting event that is coming out of the shadows.
“Essentially CrossFit is like yoga, or any other fitness discipline,” he explains, in that, like yoga, CrossFit can happen anywhere, as long as you follow its method and principles.
Since it grew in popularity from California earlier this decade, the boot-camp-type high-performance regimen has started popping up in gyms and community recreation centres. It combines gymnastics, cardio and weightlifting with speed, endurance, strength and balance.
“It’s tailored to everyone’s strength,” says Parker, a CrossFit instructor at the gym.
The St. Michaels University School graduate also patrols his old high school gym as an instructor, and studies kinesiology at the University of Victoria.
When it comes to the CrossFit Games, the regimen is as intense as any high performance sport going.
“You think of the fittest person in the world and most might say an (Ironman) triathlete,”
In terms of long distance, yes.
In terms of pound-for-pound strength and endurance, you’d be hard pressed to top a CrossFit Games champion.
Competitors at the regional and world games earn points for performing a variety of challenging workouts in short window of time.
“Everything from dead-lifts to (giant) tire flips.”
Earlier this month, Parker won the Canada West CrossFit Regionals in Vancouver. With it he won $3,000 and earned a spot in the upcoming world Crossfit Games, July 29 to 31 in Carson, Calif.
The winner nets $250,000.
An accomplished rugby player and weightlifter from Oak Bay, Parker chose to focus on the CrossFit Games over other aspirations, including an invite to the Canadian bobsled team’s training camp last year.
“I still feel I’ve got a few years to suss out exactly what sport I want to focus on.”
Winning a quarter-million could help him make up his mind.
CrossFit wraps up specialized training for soldiers, first responders
by KVUE News
Posted on June 30, 2011 at 11:46 AM
The popular CrossFit strength and conditioning work out is an intense fitness training program with a patriotic twist. It is wrapping up six weeks of specialized training for soldiers and first responders.
Trevor Hance from the CrossFit Cedar Park location and military veteran Josh Kinser spoke to KVUE.
A Tabata Interval (also called a Tabata sequence) is an interval training cycle of 20 seconds of maximum intensity exercise, followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated without pause 8 times for a total of four minutes. In a group context, you can keep score by counting how many lifts/jumps/whatever you do in each of the 20 second rounds. Usually, the round with the smallest number is your score. You can also count total reps completed over the whole sequence.
History of the Tabata Interval
Credit for this simple and powerful training method belongs to its namesake, Dr. Izumi Tabata and a team of researchers from the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo, Japan. Their groundbreaking 1996 study, published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise, provided documented evidence concerning the dramatic physiological benefits of high-intensity intermittent training. After just 6 weeks of testing, Dr. Tabata noted a 28% increase in anaerobic capacity in his subjects, along with a 14% increase in their ability to consume oxygen (V02Max). These results were witnessed in already physically fit athletes. The conclusion was that just four minutes of Tabata interval training could do more to boost aerobic and anaerobic capacity than an hour of endurance exercise.
Although Dr. Tabata used a mechanically braked exercise cycle machine, you can apply this protocol to almost any exercise. For example, a basic Tabata workout can be performed with sit-ups. The more muscles used the better, so use full knees-bent sit-ups. Sit-up non-stop for 20-second intervals, followed by 10 seconds of rest. Repeat for a total of 8 cycles.
5.0 (1 vote) Do you want to get in shape? Do you REALLY want to get in shape? Well, when is the last time you threw a 15-pound ball against a wall as part of your exercise routine? Or lifted weights outside? Did jump ups until your legs feel like they're falling off? Lifted weights inside? Did upside down push-ups? Then hanging crunches? More jump-ups? A session on the rowing machine? Walking around with 50 pound weights in each hand? And topping it all off with a nice run? Welcome to Crossfit training.
Chris Lupo is one of the owners of Crossfit Bozeman.
"The thing that separates his gym from others is that in most corporate gyms, you find people sitting around on recumbent bikes reading People magazine," Lupo said.
In his gym, they're working.
This is definitely a commitment. It takes about 45 minutes to go through the whole routine, but people who have tried it, swear by it.
Did you know that June is International Men’s Health Month? Did you know that men on Maui are expected to live 4.4 years less than their female counterparts? Did you know that prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer among men in Hawaii? If this is news to you, or if you never give your health serious thought, then the following tips could work wonders for you and your body.
As part of a Congressional health education program, Men’s Health Month happens every June and its purpose is to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys.
There may only be a week left in June, but if you want to start living a healthier lifestyle then the next seven days could be the perfect place to start.
Try to drink in moderation. Image by Laura Greene.
1. Cut Down On Alcohol
When it comes to booze, moderation is key. Maui’s levels of excessive drinking are above the national benchmark by 12%. That’s 20% of Maui’s adult population who report binge drinking at least once a month. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, binge drinking is defined as alcohol consumption that brings your blood alcohol levels to 0.08% or more. This pattern usually corresponds to 5 or more drinks on one occasion for men. As we are often reminded, long-term drinking can cause a range of health problems from liver cirrhosis, heart disease, cancer and more, while one out of every two motor vehicle deaths in the islands are due to alcohol. Remember the risks and keep your intake low – moderate guidelines suggest no more than two alcoholic drinks for men per day.
Increased Muscular Strength Endurance Related To Reduced Running Fatigue
June 26, 2011 By Neil Leave a Comment
Sweat Science just posted and summarized a new study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research regarding the relationship between muscular strength endurance and running economy.
The researchers set out to determine if better muscular strength endurance allows fatigued runners to use less oxygen (i.e. maintain better running economy) at a given running speed. According to Sweat Science:
To test it, they asked 10 well-trained runners to do two 30-minute runs at a moderate pace. In the middle of one of the runs, the runners had to speed up to VO2max pace for four minutes, then slow back down — enough to tire them out a bit without exhausting them. As expected, their running economy got worse after the four-minute surge by 3.0%. This is typical: as runners get tired, their running economy gets worse.
Revised Energy Systems Thinking Via The 200 Meter Freestyle
June 27, 2011 By Neil 1 Comment
Picking up on our theme that common understanding of energy systems training requires revision (see here, here, here and here), we just noticed this study on energy systems contribution to a single, max. effort 200 meter freestyle swim:
Figueiredo P, Zamparo P, Sousa A, Vilas-Boas JP, Fernandes RJ., “An energy balance of the 200 m front crawl race.” Eur J Appl Physiol. 2011 May;111(5):767-77. Epub 2010 Oct 27.
It supports our prior conclusion that short, intense efforts are significantly more aerobic than once thought. Though we don’t have access to the full paper, we were able to glean the following picture of energy systems contribution from the abstract.
Ten international swimmers performed a 200 meter freestyle at maximal effort. During the first length of the swim (in a 50m pool), the aerobic system contributed 44.6% of the energy produced. During the second length, 73.2%. Aerobic contribution peaked during the third length at 83.3%, and the final length came in at 66%. The total mean aerobic contribution throughout the entire swim was 65.9%. The total mean aerobic contribution during the last 3 lengths was 74.1%. Here is what these numbers look like graphically: