When we lose blood, our heart pumps faster and our vessels constrict to increase blood pressure. When we lift weights over long periods of time, our hands develop protective calluses. Our bodies are constantly adapting. As discussed in last week’s video, the fuel system of the body is no exception. When conditions are ‘easy’ it becomes lax and less efficient at what it does: turning food into usable energy. Athletes shouldn’t want their bodies to get used to ‘easy.’ Would you drive a car around a track to prepare for a foot race?
Are you satisfied with your athletic performance? Do you find yourself worrying about your athletic potential as you age? Many athletes don’t notice the affects of nutrition on performance until later in life and spend years dodging their true potential. By focusing on the factors that differentiate top end athleticism between the 1 and 3%, individuals can eliminate holes in their game before they even appear.
In last week’s discussion, CrossFit Endurance founder Brian MacKenzie and WellnessFX CEO Jim Kean touched on how athletes can push towards peak performance. In the second part of our CrossFit Endurance & WellnessFX series, Dr. Justin Mager walks Brian through our body’s fuel system and why the traditional American diet is not optimal for athletic training.
In a nut shell, the body’s fuel system works as such:
- Fuel in the form of carbs, proteins, or fats are used to produce acetyl-CoA, an important coenzyme involved in metabolism
- Acetyl-CoA moves into the mitochondria, the powerhouses of the cell
- Mitochondria use acetyl-CoA to generate ATP, the body’s ‘unit of currency’ for energy transfer
We’ve been told time and time again that high-carb diets are the best way to feed this fuel system due to its role in aerobic activity. Surprisingly enough, however, fat is the fuel of choice when the body is in the oxidative state experienced during endurance exercise. Because it takes longer to process, fat as fuel puts ‘stress’ on the system, but the overall energy output is greater. Much like athletic training itself, this stress is a good thing! More mitochondria are generated to deal with the ‘stress’ and the body becomes more efficient at turning all types of fuel into energy. When the system is instead bombarded with carbs, the ‘easy’ fuel source, mitochondria levels decrease and the efficiency of the entire system drops. Come performance time, it’s obvious which system will come out on top!
As Brian can attest to, high carbohydrate diets can be adequate for endurance training. But why settle for adequate, when you can have optimal?
As the popularity of The Crossfit Games increases, so does the competition. Teams were baffled to find that, despite improving 10-20% over winning performances last year, they weren’t even placing! Four or five years ago athletes could get by on raw athletic talent, even with holes in their abilities. The Games expanded, became more structured, and the margin for these ‘holes’ decreased. Players found themselves walking the edge of their athletic potential just to stay in the running. They were fighting for that 1 or 2% increase, and soon had to look beyond training to find a way. It’s not a situation exclusive to CrossFit. Any athlete who’s been training for a long time soon finds him or herself facing the same question: how to push further?
CrossFit Endurance founder Brian MacKenzie came by the WellnessFX offices to chat with our CEO Jim Kean and Dr. Justin Mager for a series of conversations about the evolution of the CrossFit Games, why athletes are becoming pre-diabetic and how to turn on your “athletic gene” with nutrition. In the first video below, Brian talks about diet and its importance in reaching athletic potential.
The problem begins with younger athletes. Many have the luxury of being able to ignore nutrition and get away with it. When we’re young, hormone levels are high and everything we eat essentially goes towards growth and development. With age, internal conditions become less ideal for optimal performance. Factors outside of training become more and more relevant. Did you sleep last night? What did you have for breakfast? What does your nutritional plan look like? When Brian MacKenzie first started his training program, he began to ask these questions. His workout program evolved from solely high-volume, long-distance endurance exercises to skill-based training with incorporation of a Paleo-based diet. His athletes experienced considerable improvement. So why can’t you?
To see the culmination of Brian MacKenzie’s quest for a perfect mix of training and nutrition, check out 3Fuel, a supplement for performance and recovery. Learn more about 3Fuel at the official website, 3fu3l.com, or purchase from the CrossFit Endurance Store.
Sometimes, life throws curve balls. You know – food poisoning, the flu, all nighters at work…or, if you are a CrossFit Games athlete – Pendleton. A brutal mini-triathlon involving an ocean swim with fins, mountain bike ride through sand and rough terrain (bike as backpack?) and a trail run at elevation. All two days in advance of the scheduled start date for the Games. Ouch.
At WellnessFX, we believe that fitter, healthier bodies are better able to cope with the stressors of everyday life, as well as the challenges of elite competition. We take CrossFit’s evidence based methodology internal – giving you a clear picture of your biomarkers and a plan for improvement.
The better you know yourself, inside and out, the better prepared you will be to respond take on the unknown…
Join us at the CrossFit Mobility booth at the CrossFit Games where we will provide paleo snacks, t-shirts, and a chance to win a free Baseline package. Founder Jim Kean will be on hand to answer questions and explain the WellnessFX approach in detail.
Learn about how CrossFit boxes like TJ’s Gym, CrossFit Portland and CrossFit LA are partnering with WellnessFX to make their athletes fitter and healthier, by measuring, tracking, and optimizing internal biomarkers.
Not going to the Games? Find more information about out how to bring WellnessFX to your box and members here.
The second Crossfit Open workout, or 12.2, posted Wednesday February 29th at 5 pm. The amount of participation in the Open this year has led to so many people hitting the Games website at that time that the site crashes. No different this time around!
If you recall, the first Games workout was to do 7 minutes of jump up burpees. This workout was really targeting an all around full body movement that emphasized efficiency of movement as well as metabolic conditioning. Brutally effective.
12.2 went the other direction and prescribed an Olympic weight-lifting movement – the power snatch to be done in a laddered approach. The workout looked like this for men and women up to 55 years of age:
The format was really smart and kept within the vein of trying to keep it approachable for all levels of Crossfitters in the Games but as the workout progressed make it increasingly demanding so that only the elite Games athletes would be able to continue. They accomplished their goal – the workout was technical, emphasized skills, and ultimately strength and endurance.
When a workout posts, the first thing I do is read the description of requirements and then I watch the demonstration video. This year the people organizing the workouts (Dave Castro) and judging (Adrian Bosworth) are flying around the world and utilizing famous Crossfit Athletes to demonstrate the workouts. Last week the went to Valley Crossfit in Las Angeles and had Kristin Clever (Women’s World Games Champion 2010 and 2nd Place Games 2011) and Rebecca Voight ( 3rd Place 2011) demonstrate the workout. This week they flew to Cookville, TN and had Dan Bailey (2011 Open Champion) and Rich Frohning (Men’s World Games Champion 2011) demo the workout.
It was impressive watching the two men do the workout. Both made it through the first 3 weight categories and got to 210 lbs with about 90 seconds left. Dan’s technique started to fall apart slightly at 210 lbs (95 reps) but Rich’s was flawless (98 reps). Rich’s score ended up being the top men’s score.
Whenever a workout posts, I view the materials but then overlay my own potential and characteristics onto the workout. I also do this against the backdrop of being a 50-55 year old Masters competitor.
I just started learning all the Olympic lifts in August so this area is not my strongest. In particular, the Snatch and Power Snatch are difficult lifts for me because of tightness in my shoulders, hips, and ankles. I have been really working to concurrently improve my technique as well as my mobility (mostly viewing videos in mobilityWOD.com by Kelly Starrett) in all of these body systems. However, my one rep max (1RM) for power snatch going into the competition was 155 lbs and I really had to work to get 135 lbs even a few times. One thing going for me is that I do have quite a bit of raw strength and thought I would be able to achieve a good result regardless.
The other thing that was potentially an advantage is that a vast majority of my fellow Masters would have the same issues. I definitely thought that a fair number of people would be able to do all 30 of both 75 and 135 lbs. However, most of the ones who did well in 12.1 would not have the strength to do well in 12.2. The stronger, larger people who didn’t do well in a 12.1 metabolically oriented WOD would have a great shot at getting some really good scores in 12.2.
I am more of a generalist. I can survive and do fairly well in just about anything but not the best either. Being a generalist is an advantage as no one workout can cause too much damage in the standings.
However, I also thought that getting 60 reps would be crucial as the drop-off below the 60th rep would be too big of a point hit to overcome if I wanted to finish in the top 20 at the end of the Open and go to the Games.
I set two goals. My first goal was to get all 30 reps of 75 lbs and 135 lbs or 60 reps in total. My second goal was to have enough time at the end to take a whack at a few reps in the next weight category of 165 lbs. This would be the ultimate as I thought very few Masters would be able to do this.
My heat for Friday night March 2nd was slated at 7:30. My judge was Chris Medieros. I also was listed as a judge for the 6:25 pm heat. My athlete was La Mar Shepard. I showed up early and did a one-mile run to get warm. I then worked my shoulder mobility and warmed up with the movement at a variety of weights.
I judged La Mar. He did really well and scored a 78.
When my turn came, I started out doing the 30 reps of 75 lbs in 3 sets of 12, 10, and 8. I had a good transition putting on the 135 lbs weights. I got into a really good rhythm of doing one rep every 7 seconds. I could tell my technique wasn’t that great but I was getting the weight up and most importantly I did not miss a rep. With 90 seconds left, I had ten reps to go and really kicked it in. I finished with about 15 seconds to go but didn’t have a enough time to try 165 lbs. However, I was happy with the result, I had never done that many consecutive reps of 135 lbs before.
My score posted and once the dust had settled I had placed 39th out of a little less than 850 people for workout 12.2. The prior week I had place 100th with 12.1 so this score was significant and allowed me to move up to 32nd in the World.
With three more workouts over the next three weeks, I have the opportunity to continue to improve and move up in the standings.
Our founder Jim Kean is competing in the 2012 CrossFit Games – stay tuned on our blog as Jim recounts his personal experience going for gold.
In mid 2010, I joined San Francisco Crossfit(SFCF), as an avid multi-sports training fan since 2007. With steady improvement and encouragement of the awesome coaching staff and upbeat CrossFitters of SFCF, I decided to enter the Games as a Masters 45-50 Year Old Competitor in March 2011. I ended up with a fairly respectable placing of 270th in the world out of around 1,000 people.
One of the most encouraging things for me was that most of the movements I performed during the competition were in many cases completely novel for me, i.e. I had poor technique.
In 2012, I moved into the Masters 50-55 category, competing with a new group. My amazingly supportive wife, Claire, encouraged me to train and improve. Without Claire’s support, I doubt I could have been ready for the Open this year.
Working with the coaches immediately after the Open, I created a list of basic movements, rated where I was and what I needed to work on. The above list reflects where I feel I am going into the games. I could be wrong on some of them (anyone who knows me please feel free to give me your opinion). I definitely would say that the list started in May of 2011 with most of the items in the left handed column.
Friday Night Lights at San Francisco Crossfit
- Ground Work: When you jumped down to the ground you had to touch your chest and hips.
- The Jump: When you came up you had to jump up to a pre-measured target at least 6” inches above your hand.
- An AMRAP (As Many Reps As Possible) in 7 minutes.
Let it be said, I actually like burpees. In a 2 minute sprint in October 2011, I did 47, so I was feeling that I had a decent chance of getting a good score.
I am a big Friday Night Lights fan. During the show, Coach Eric Taylor always rallies the players at key points by reminding them:
“Clear Eyes, Full Heart, Can’t Lose”
Our Crossfit affiliate does team workouts on Friday nights, our first one on February 24th. You were assigned a heat with a partner and took turns judging each other. I lucked out to partner with Summer Sahar, a very positive, upbeat person who really cares about Crossfit and doing well.
On the days running up to the event, I ensured I had plenty of sleep, fed myself with good, energy producing foods and watched Carl Paoli’s excellent instructional video on how to do an efficient burpee.
Going into the event, I set a goal of hitting between 100-110 reps. I showed up around 5:45 pm. I was a little anxious about being late for the preworkout briefing (I hate being late). When my heat was up, the Heat Coordinator Roop went around and measured out targets on the bar for us. I was a little envious that I didn’t get a mat and was going to have to do this on concrete. However, that is the way it goes and I immediately moved ahead and focused on my heat.
My heat started. At first, I was so pumped up that I didn’t realize that I was holding my breath during the first ten reps. Thereafter, I forced myself to breath regularly and easily. After the first 30 reps, I was feeling pretty good but around the 50-60 mark (about 3 minutes) I started to labor for the reps and I noticed my motor skills deteriorating. I also missed a rep or two when I didn’t touch correctly and Summer (correctly) yelled at me to focus on it.
At the 80-90 mark I was hurting and starting to stagger. When you hit this point of an intense workout like this there is a battle between you and your body. Your body wants to quit and your efficiency starts to go down the drain. I could vaguely hear a lot of people around me encouraging me onward but I also had lost count and had no idea where I was rep-wise.
The last 45 seconds I badly wanted to just stop and lie down but I forced myself to think of each step of the burpee and make my muscles move. Bend over, squat slightly, kick the legs out, touch down, arch the back up, snap the hips up to your feet, raise your torso, jump to the bar. Rinse and repeat.
Time was called and I fell over. Fortunately Claire was behind me so I didn’t whack my head on the concrete. Summer told me I had gotten 99. I was sort of close to my goal but I immediately wondered: “geez, if I had just put out a bit more or did things more efficiently I could have done in the 100-104 range.”
However, all in all I was happy with my result. The top finisher Mike Lyons did 122. My score ended up being 99th out of a group of just under 900 people in my category. There were a whole bunch of us grouped in the 97 to 108 rep level on the Leaderboard.
After about 10 minutes, my recovery kicked in and I started to down lots of liquids and eat everything paleo in sight. My thanks to Juliet and Kelly Starrett for providing the food.