I’m starting at a deficit. I’ve been sick for almost 3 weeks, my work schedule has been altered significantly this week and I weigh more than I ever have; 207 lbs at last weigh-in. Normally I weigh in at around 200. It’s 11.9.15 and I have a Spartan Super on Mar 19th. 3 months-ish. I also have a Tough Mudder booked in Oct. A Badass Dash and a Battle Frog in between. There’s also a GoRuck I’m looking in to.
Time for some get-up and go.
The cold I’ve just gotten over rendedered me breathless when I climbed a set of stairs, so you can see the depth from which I begin my recovery. I also just turned 51, traditionally a time to start working on building a beer gut, not the time to bang out metabolic workouts.
I dropped by Crossfit PFC near my house and made some inquiries…might give it a try starting Jan 1. My last experience with Crossfit 702 a few years back was just pain and misery. I’m hoping that the second time around I’ll know what to expect and can get more benefit from it.
Going to run a mile or two tonight and see if I can last more than 30 minutes in the globo-gym tomorrow.
Once upon a time I was doing Crossfit at Crossfit 702. Owner/Coach Jared Glover had us do a WOD consisting of “For time: Run 1 mile, followed by 100 benchpress reps @ 135/95”. I remember him asking us during warmup, “What do you think will be the hardest part of this WOD?” We all waffled on the answer. We started, i ran the mile in 7:10 and began the benching. 20 reps, then 15, then 12, then 7, and so forth, sitting up and panting in between sets. Ultimaltely the WOD was completed in sets one 1 with big gulps of air taken in a slumped sitting position. I don’t remember my final tme, but what I do remember that it was the breathing was the hardest part of that WOD…Unequivocably. Also, the bemused look on Jared’s face at our pathetic answers earlier. Smug bastard.
Ditch the Hypertrophy set/reps scheme.
Whenever I’ve had a few days layoff from training and or I’m too sore, or bored I like to throw in some 100s. Sometimes with an aerobic component first such as burpees, or skipping, but many times just at a machine at 40% 1 RM. Seated cable shoulder presses, hack squats, cable rows…anything with a machine to help keep it safe (this is a fatiguing workout). Throw a few compound movements together to shock the muscles/tendons back to life after the time off. I like the tried and true push/pull combo plus a leg exercise. See yesterday’s post.
It also does wonders for sheer muscle hardness.
GNC, Target, Walmart, Walgreens selling bogus herbal supplements, NY charges
More than half of American adults take some kind of herbal supplement, spending an estimated $30 billion a year in the belief that the supplements have some kind of healthful effect. And, of course, consumers think that what’s in the bottle is what the label promises.
But New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman says that belief is too often misplaced — and yesterday announced that GNC, Target, Walmart, and Walgreens were allegedly selling store brand herbal supplements that either didn’t contain the labeled substance or contain ingredients that weren’t listed on the labels.
In a letter to the companies, Schneiderman demanded they immediately stop selling store brand supplements including Echinacea, Ginseng and St. John’s Wort.
Schneiderman said DNA tests by his investigations found that just 21% of the test results from store brand herbal supplements verified DNA from the plants listed on the products’ labels — with 79% coming up empty for DNA related to the labeled content or verifying contamination with other plant material.
“This investigation makes one thing abundantly clear: the old adage ‘buyer beware’ may be especially true for consumers of herbal supplements,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “The DNA test results seem to confirm long-standing questions about the herbal supplement industry.”
Poorest showing: Walmart
The retailer with the poorest showing for DNA matching products listed on the label was Walmart. Only 4% of the Walmart products tested showed DNA from the plants listed on the products’ labels.
Schneiderman said that the alleged mislabeling not only cheats consumers out of the substances they thought they were buying but also exposes them to unknown ingredients that could be hazardous.
“Mislabeling, contamination, and false advertising are illegal. They also pose unacceptable risks to New York families—especially those with allergies to hidden ingredients. At the end of the day, American corporations must step up to the plate and ensure that their customers are getting what they pay for, especially when it involves promises of good health,” Schneiderman said.
The DNA tests were performed on three to four samples of each of the six herbal supplements purchased from the New York stores. Each sample was tested with five distinct sequence runs, meaning each sample was tested five times. Three hundred and ninety tests involving 78 samples were performed overall.
Six “Herbal Plus” brand herbal supplements per store were purchased and analyzed: Gingko Biloba, St. John’s Wort, Ginseng, Garlic, Echinacea, and Saw Palmetto.
Only one supplement consistently tested for its labeled contents: Garlic. One bottle of Saw Palmetto tested positive for containing DNA from the saw palmetto plant, while three others did not. The remaining four supplement types yielded mixed results, but none revealed DNA from the labeled herb.
Of 120 DNA tests run on 24 bottles of the herbal products purchased, DNA matched label identification 22% of the time.
Contaminants identified included asparagus, rice, primrose, alfalfa/clover, spruce, ranuncula, houseplant, allium, legume, saw palmetto, and Echinacea.
Six “Up & Up” brand herbal supplements per store were purchased and analyzed: Gingko Biloba, St. John’s Wort, Valerian Root, Garlic, Echinacea, and Saw Palmetto.
Three supplements showed nearly consistent presence of the labeled contents: Echinacea (with one sample identifying rice), Garlic, and Saw Palmetto. The remaining three supplements did not revealed DNA from the labeled herb.
Of 90 DNA tests run on 18 bottles of the herbal products purchased, DNA matched label identification 41% of the time.
Contaminants identified included allium, French bean, asparagus, pea, wild carrot and saw palmetto.
Six “Finest Nutrition” brand herbal supplements per store were purchased and analyzed: Gingko Biloba, St. John’s Wort, Ginseng, Garlic, Echinacea, and Saw Palmetto.
Only one supplement consistently tested for its labeled contents: Saw Palmetto.
The remaining five supplements yielded mixed results, with one sample of garlic showing appropriate DNA. The other bottles yielded no DNA from the labeled herb.
Of the 90 DNA test run on 18 bottles of herbal products purchased, DNA matched label representation 18% of the time.
Contaminants identified included allium, rice, wheat, palm, daisy, and dracaena (houseplant).
Six “Spring Valley” brand herbal supplements per store were purchased and analyzed: Gingko Biloba, St. John’s Wort, Ginseng, Garlic, Echinacea, and Saw Palmetto.
None of the supplements tested consistently revealed DNA from the labeled herb.
One bottle of garlic had a minimal showing of garlic DNA, as did one bottle of Saw Palmetto. All remaining bottles failed to produce DNA verifying the labeled herb.
Of the 90 DNA test run on 18 bottles of herbal products purchased, DNA matched label representation 4% of the time.
Contaminants identified included allium, pine, wheat/grass, rice mustard, citrus, dracaena (houseplant), and cassava (tropical tree root).
Sketchy to begin with
Consumer advocates said they weren’t surprised by the results.
“The evidence for these herbs’ effectiveness is sketchy to begin with,” said David Schardt, Senior Nutritionist of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “But when the advertised herbs aren’t even in many of the products, it’s a sign that this loosely regulated industry is urgently in need of reform. Until then, and perhaps even after then, consumers should stop wasting their money. Attorney General Schneiderman has done what federal regulators should have done a long time ago.”
“This study undertaken by Attorney General Schneiderman’s office is a well-controlled, scientifically-based documentation of the outrageous degree of adulteration in the herbal supplement industry,” saidArthur P. Grollman, M.D., Professor of Pharmacological Sciences at Stony Brook University. “Hopefully, this action can prompt other states to follow New York’s example and lead to the reform of federal laws that, in their current form, are doing little to protect the public.”
The Attorney General’s investigation follows a study conducted by the University of Guelph in 2013 that also found contamination and substitution in herbal products in most of the products tested. As was said at the time by a spokesperson for the University of Guelph, “The industry suffers from unethical activities by some manufacturers.”
The study also found that more than half of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Class I drug recalls between 2004 and 2012 were dietary supplements. Class I recalls are reserved for drugs or supplements for which there is a “reasonable probability that [their use] will cause serious adverse health consequences or death.”
Know this…THE 3 KEYS TO OBSTACLE COURSE RACING SUCCESS by Andrew Read
Obstacle course racing (OCR) is growing in popularity year-on-year. With this growth in participation comes an increase in the number of people training specifically for OCR events. However, I often see three big mistakes when it comes to their training. Let’s look at what these errors are and how to avoid them.
The 3 Biggest OCR Training Mistakes
The three biggest holes I notice in OCR training boil down to running, loaded carries, and grip training. These issues are also right up there in terms of mistakes that cost people the most time on race day.
The first and worst mistake you can make is to forget it’s a running race. Don’t look at all the obstacles and think you only have to run half a mile between each and think to yourself, “well, I can run 800m, so this will be easy.” Because if you plan to do well, you still need to run the entire course, which could be as much as half marathon distance (13.1 miles.)
2. Loaded Carries
At the World Championships held on the weekend, the guys doing the crazy Ultra Beast (30 miles of torture) had to carry two 50lb sandbags uphill. I’ve heard it was absolute carnage with people just dropping the bags and walking off the course. I’ve heard accounts of up to 25% of the field quitting because of that one obstacle.
But it’s not just sandbag carries, either. There are often bucket carries at Spartan events – in fact, it’s one of the obstacles you’ll find at nearly all the races. In Australia they use massive 120lb deadballs, which are difficult to pick up with wet, muddy hands, and even more difficult to carry the distance required.
3. Grip Work
The third mistake, grip strength, is one of those things that everyone seems to think they have enough of, right up until the point they find themselves doing thirty burpees for falling off the monkey bars. In a long race, with rope climbs, Tyrolean traverses, Hercules hoists, loaded carries, and heavy drags your grip takes a pounding. And the fatigue of distance running amplifies how easily fatigued your grip will become.
Here’s how I recommend you train each of these areas to prepare for race day.
Firstly, you need to run. If you aren’t yet at the stage where you can run the distance non-stop, you need to work on that before you worry about how fast you can cover the distance. If you’re using an obstacle race to get up off the couch (the precise reason Joe de Sena founded Spartan in the first place) then please follow my walk/run plan to get started.
If you’re able to run the distance continuously, I’d suggest a plan that has four different runs plus an extra day in it. The four runs are:
The extra day is for sandbag or pack work, but done walking. The week should be structured with the long run (up to two hours) on Saturday, with the sandbag or pack work done on the following day. Don’t be shy with the time for the pack day – go up to four hours.
Your legs will be tired after both of these days, so the next run will be Tuesday and be an easy aerobic run up to an hour in length. Don’t push the pace on this run, and don’t worry about hills – just an easy, flat run to shake the legs out.
The interval run is best done on a track. Something like 20 x 400m on a three-minute-interval will work well. Or 10 x 800m on six minutes. Make sure to warm up and cool down for this one as it will lead to some serious soreness, so give your body the best chance to fight it off.
Finally, the hill run fits well on a Thursday. I like doing this on a treadmill so I can moderate the incline. My favorite hill session is five sets of 1km above race pace at 4-5%, followed by 1km below race pace on flat so you can recover. The average of these 2km is your target race pace. Again, make sure to warm up and cool down before this, and don’t be fooled by this as it is still at least a 12km run.
Loaded carries need to be in every training session. If you’re not used to doing them you need to spend considerable time on them to gain proficiency at it. As an example of how efficient you can get at them, I recently had eight minutes to get off an airplane, get to the long-term car park, and then to the pet hotel my dog was at before they shut for the night. I grabbed both my carry-on bag and my girlfriend’s bag (it is easier to be balanced) and took off running through the airport, to the car park, and to the car. This was a ten-minute walk done in three minutes.
Now, I won’t lie, I was spent – my grip was fried, my traps were burning, and my lungs were heaving. But I got it done and we picked up our dog. If you plan to be truly Spartan -ready you will need to build up to loaded running (but that’s probably an entire article right there).
Don’t make the mistake of only doing farmer’s walks with easy-to-handle implements. Use overhead walks, rack walks, and sandbag carries. Load yourself asymmetrically and use odd objects. For Spartan you need to be ready for anything.
Finally, grip needs to be addressed. Some grip endurance will be handled with the loaded carries. Some more grip endurance will be taken care of with normal strength work, such as pull-ups and deadlifts. But what you need is high rep work to develop massive amounts of grip endurance – enough to last you the many hours you may be on course. A short set of ten reps isn’t going to do it.
This is a great place for two different types of grip work. High rep swings, both with a kettlebell and with clubbells, will help develop great grip endurance. I’m talking about sets of twenty-plus reps, and maybe even as high as fifty per set. Because clubbells are closer to brachiation than kettlebells are, they may actually be superior for grip development.
The other big thing that is going to develop grip endurance is hanging off objects. If you can vary the grip used, that will work even better. If you can hang off tree branches, stair railings, and the like you’ll wind up with a far better overall grip.
If all you have access to is a pull up bar don’t fret, as you can still change the grip each set. You can fold a towel over the bar to thicken the grip. You can drape the towel over the bar and hold onto the hanging ends. You can hold the bar with hands you’ve deliberately made slippery (putting soap in the hands is a favored strongman grip training method) and do hangs. For more fun, soap the hands and then do some kettlebell swings. Make sure no one is standing right in front of you when you do though.
Focusing on these three things – running, grip, and carries – will take care of your OCR plan.
“There is simply no other exercise, and certainly no machine, that produces the level of…muscular stimulation and growth…than the correctly performed full squat.”
– Mark Rippetoe
Mark Rippetoe’s quotation from Starting Strength is a timeless reminder of how to prioritize strength training. If you want to be strong, ditch the machines and pick up a barbell. Rippetoe based this statement on his experience with countless athletes. The evidence of experience is powerful, but until now it’s all we had to support the idea that free weight exercises provide better results than machines.
Contributor – Strength Training, Strongman, and Olympic Weightlifting
This is one of my favorite strength training mottos (along with “perfect practice makes perfect” and “fast sh*t is still sh*t”). I’m not here to have a debate about whether front squats are better than back squats. You just need to accept that they are. Just joking. Kind of.