If You Want Change… Change.

Category: Crossfit WOD Type Workouts, Gym / Weighlifting Workouts, Gymnastics / Bootcamp

It’s been a while since I have posted here, and probably a big reason why I feel like I have stalled in my progress. Not being accountable even to strangers on the internet is a liberating and damning situation. I have said before that going to the gym at LA Fitness is making me bored and predictable in my workouts and I really want to change that but I am so comfortable in that situation that it’s hard to try and implement change.

But now is the time. It’s the last day of coaching for the year, and next week we start on a new season, new kids and new responsibilities. Since there are major changes in the off, I figure I may as well just do everything at once and handle the changes together. The question is what? What am I lacking right now? I think the obvious answer is Olympic lifts and the WOD style workouts that I enjoyed at home the last 2 summers. Not only that but the lack of HIIT work has made me deficient in the cardio department and I need to fix that also.

After browsing through the last couple of summers on here I have come to the conclusion that only adding home work will be the solution. Not only because I will now be coaching MTWR during the summer leaving only FSY to do actual hour long gym workouts but also because the only way I can add WOD or HIIT to my schedule is to do it at home. Typically HIIT isn’t really something you want to do at a regular gym. I could of course go whole hog and try crossfit again since the crossfit Ark location has a summer special again this year but it’s still expensive especially when I have the equipment and the knowledge already.

I would like to get some KB workouts back into my arsenal, something I can probably do at least once a week with the gym girls for their 30 minute conditioning. I would like to start doing full cleans again, something I haven’t done since I felt a twinge in my left side of my back (the opposite side from normal) and I would also even like to start doing some heavy bag work since I bought a bag last year and have hardly used it, I should actually hang it on the back deck and use it out there, it would be a great cardio workout I could actually do in the morning before work.

I am definitely going to do something at the gym once a week with the new kids, they have a great conditioning program but I think they need some of my work to really make them understand what I mean by hard work. So my schedule at a minimum would be Fri Sat Sun at the gym and one day cardio / bootcamp / KB at gymnastics. That’s still only 4 days a week which means I would have to add a cardio workout before gymnastics or if I can get a day during the week where I am off or able to get home early then squeeze a cardio workout in before coaching.

I can sacrifice my shoulders and arm days at the gym since I will be getting lots of shoulder work doing HIIT / WOD work. That leaves only chest, back and legs for LA Fitness. My schedule then would look something like this… However it is suspicious in the way that I don’t have a day dedicated with enough time to do HIIT I am actually just waiting for a day off or some spare time which isn’t ideal. Looks like I will have to rethink this.

Monday – OFF
Tuesday – Bootcamp at coaching
Wednesday – Morning HIIT or OFF
Thursday – Morning HIIT or OFF
Friday – Chest LAF
Saturday – Legs LAF
Sunday – Back LAF

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The Problem Is Lack Of Focus

Category: Crossfit WOD Type Workouts, DVD Days P90X to Tapout XT, Gym / Weighlifting Workouts, Gymnastics / Bootcamp

focusI am not sure why.. Probably because I am not on a schedule and have no specific goals in mind which is why my logging and writing has dried up. Maybe it’s time for something completely different, or maybe I need to develop (and actually stick to) some goals. If I look back to this time last year I was feeling the same thing as I am  now, restless and in need of a change given the imminent arrival of summer.

Here are a few things I have mentioned before but still not actually managed to work on…

Handstand hold
Front planche / lever
Back planche / lever
Handstand pushup
Splits front and middle (never done this)
Cartwheel (I can actually do this but it needs fixing)
Roundoff (same)
Muscle up on bars or rings (did this once)
Kip on low bar (this may be a step too far)

Having read back my experience with WOD30 I am now thinking that maybe that would be a good idea. I haven’t done anything like WOD work for quite some time and to be honest I am getting a bit bored with the gym. The thought of loading up the bar and doing cleans and pullups and wallballs makes me all tingly… I will think about this tonight and maybe see if I can break out my schedule from my first WOD 30 and see if it’s worth duplicating.

The bottom line is I need something to aim at, something to work towards, something I can document and see results. I’m probably benching and pressing the same weights every day at the gym, I am not interested in building massive numbers any more, just staying slightly higher than most of the other people there 🙂

Stay tuned. Something is going to happen.


Also I changed the name of the blog since it’s been a VERY long time since I did any P90X or Insanity…. Which I probably should do again now I have a better floor… Hmmmm

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I Am Alive!!!

Category: Crossfit WOD Type Workouts, Gym / Weighlifting Workouts, Gymnastics / Bootcamp, Injuries

stomach fluSo this has been fun… 8 days of stomach flu feeling like a human sprinkler system and no workouts. I am not sure why the sickness felt like it needed 3 run throughs just to get the job done but whatever the reason I am back now. I had breakfast for the first time this morning since last Tuesday and thankfully didn’t feel like vomiting immediately. I have been able to eat an average of one meal a day, at one point I was down almost 9lbs, most of which is just my muscles releasing their glycogen stores but hopefully I will also have lost some body fat as compensation for feeling like a human sewer all week. The sickness spread through all of us too, but interestingly my wife and daughter were sick for about 24 hours each unlike me.
So what now? I have been off for a week, nothing hurts, my back feels better and I feel like I am ready to go. I will have to do a complete light cycle before gettgin back into the heavy stuff so I guess it will be a few more days until I can really hit the gas and get back into things. I have a competition this weekend too which will be interesting, the girls have had a month to work on their issues but my feeling is that their focus has been a bit off so we will see how the results are.

My schedule is mostly the same still:
Chest Day – bench and pullovers
Back Day – machines and pullups or deadlifts
Leg Day – machines extensions or squats
Shoulders – Oly lift day. Cleans, KB Snatch, OHP
Arms – machines and DB
Leg Cardio Day – Hills, sprints, HIIT machine work with gauntlet

I have added the cardio day because I don’t want to be cutting into the summer, I would like to try and hit 230lbs before June 1st. I am right around 238 now I think. With a cardio day and a bit of participation at gymnastics that shouldn’t be too hard.

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First Competition and The Cut At Work

Category: Crossfit WOD Type Workouts, Gymnastics / Bootcamp, Injuries

AfterLegDayThis last couple of weeks has been very busy, with our first competition of the year in Brampton, two very big birthdays in the family and of course from my perspective time passing so very slowly because I can’t have wings 🙂

The girls did OK at competition, some much better than others naturally but it was good to get the first comp out of the way and see how we can expect the scoring to be this year. Now we have about a month to get ready for the next one which seems like a while but in reality it’s only 36 hours of training.

An update on my physical condition as far as my back goes. The episode was not so bad as it could have been but then again they do seem to start simple and get progressively worse. That said, I seem to be OK now albeit a bit tentative in the gym. I have been having some serious back spasms the last few days but a heating pad and some advil seem to have taken care of it for the most part. I am still not getting enough sleep, I seem to think that I can catch up on any amount of lost sleep at the weekend but of course that doesn’t work. I need to understand that sleep like exercise is a good habit that builds on itself and will improve with time. I really would like not to be tired all the damn time…

As for my workouts, I am going lighter now with the cut, and my weight is down from about 248lbs to 239 or so. I think I am winning the Biggest Loser at work already so I can’t really complain but dieting is a pain in the ass no matter what, even if you can make money doing it. I will try to get to 235 for the weekend and then post all 3 photos I will have as a comparison. I am still sticking with the LA Fitness workouts, it’s nice to have a lot of machines to choose from especially since I have had limited mobility of late. However with some adjusted work hours I may have to start doing 2 days a week at home. That will mean a slight retooling of the system to accommodate a couple of days of Oly lifting, cardio or HIIT / Kettlebell work, all of which will be a positive change from static strength work. Today is a day off, which would usually mean a lazy evening and an early night but I am coaching and also have a downtime tonight to replace a core switch at one of our locations and while this isn’t too complicated, it’s still going to keep me away from my pillow for a few hours.

For tonight, the workout at gym will be the plyo / leg day with abs worked in, something like this I think.

Step up step down plus vsnaps 10 / 10 / 20
Jump up step down with hollow snaps 10/ 10/ 20
Squat jump up step down with 100 flutter side to side
Plank jump in jump up step down plank hold on count for 20
Front roll to jump up step down back ext to plank 10 pushups
Bonus Round
Pistols off box 10 per leg x5

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Level 3 Coaching Review and Official Start To Cut

Category: Gymnastics / Bootcamp

coach told yoSo it’s been a few coaching sessions since I finished my level 3 course and I can honestly say that it has changed the way I am coaching. Not only am I more aware of the shaping that we have been working on all year but more so the effect that shaping has on the forces created and returned during skills. I find myself able to explain some things easier to the kids due to the simple explanations Bill gave during the excellent sessions. My biggest takeaways from the course may be standard, may be a bit odd but have struck me as the following (off the top of my head):
The higher level athlete needs more coaching, not less. This was a real eye opener since we seem to give these advanced kids much more alone time to work on their skills and complete their programming.
At the minimum, you should understand the forces at play in all directions before you try to troubleshoot a broken or inadequate skill. I have been saying things as corrections for a long time without actually reverse-engineering the explanation to discover what it is that I am actually correcting. This will give you not one stick to beat a skill with but rather a quiver of arrows with which to pinpoint the exact issue.
Spotting is helpful for the athlete and the coach but the same as everything else has to have a progression and a completion.
Use progressions to save time. Doing progressions may seem like an extended route to a destination but in the end the more solid the foundation of the skill, the better it will be and the more likely the athlete is to reinforce it as time goes on.
Outside of physical / mechanical direction your best tool is trust. Build trust by showing knowledge and a capacity to adapt to your athletes. A trusting athlete is a happy and competent athlete.
Sweat the small stuff, and yes, it’s all small stuff. Gymnastics is a sport of miniscule differences and teaching the gross movements well will enable you to spend adequate time on programming for the finer details that make the difference between a good routine and a great routine.

On the personal front my back has mostly recovered from my scary episode in the hotel 13 days ago and although I have been back to the gym a couple of times for the most part I have been taking it easy in my home gym rather than limp around LA Fitness. I am very disappointed that it happened, and am still at a loss as to why, I just know that I was sore for a couple of weeks before hand so I should have seen it coming I suppose.

Related, I was supposed to start my cut a few weeks ago but postponed it so I could join in the Biggest Loser program I am running at work. If I win, which I should I will use the money to treat the other participants because to be honest I am far more prepared for what is to come than any of them.

It’s Good Friday tomorrow, I weighed in on Monday at 248 at work with my clothes on and I will be taking pictures and logging my weight to show how I look going from 245lbs of bulk to the 220 after the cut. I am interested to have some really good comparison pictures so I will try to take a comprehensive amount.



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Level 3 Coaching Course Day 5 – The Presentation

Category: Gymnastics / Bootcamp

Today was the day everyone was dreading except me. I really don’t have a problem speaking in front of smaller groups of people so the presentation really didn’t bother me. Not only that, I had chosen for my topic something that we were about to cover that morning anyway, Long Term Programming. For the morning we spent our time once more on a little biomechanics review and then on to planning of both short term and long term training. At this level the recommendation is that you are looking at a minimum yearly out to a 4 year plan which falls in with the Olympic cycle. Talking about planning and all the considerations that go into it reminded me of a few things that we need to start doing. We need to get moving on the star wall for major skill recognition. We should whiteboard the major goal for each athlete per event for each month giving them an “always there” reminder of what they are doing. We should rotate the workouts into 4 weekly cycles with the 4th week being a light week. Although we don’t condition for very long, this would give me a chance to program some yoga, flexibility and mobility training right into the scheduled time slots.
Several things we talked about worked right into the Skills Ladder we have developed and that was really great to see. It reinforced that we were absolutely right to put that program in place and that it should be implemented and mandated for all comp levels. It will need some refining as we go along but the overall structure is good. One benefit it provides is the same as the compulsory program provides, that is the ability to work hard at the mandated skills while having additional skills and progressions towards the next level that can be developed at the same time.

This brought us to the presentations and to be honest everyone did OK. One person lasted 3 minutes of the 5 but most people managed to get well beyond the minimum 5 minute time limit. I am unclear as to the purpose of the presentations if I am honest, I mean they are not on subjects that can be evaluated nor that are necessarily part of the course. And I am not sure that public speaking is a prerequisite for being an effective coach but it’s a great way to keep people engaged the day of the presentations 🙂

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Level 3 Coaching Course Day 4

Category: Gymnastics / Bootcamp

YurchenkoDay 4 – Rings and Vault and Parallel Bars

..or  how not to get hit in the face by rings while spotting.

We started with the familiar review of biomechanics a great way to start the day by the way, you should really try talking about spring actions and ground forces during breakfast it’s great 🙂 Our skill of the day on rings was press to handstand which we work on with the girls on the floor and it’s challenging, I was amazed at how the boys were able to control the rings enough to complete the progressions, never mind to do a free press without spot. We reviewed some of the basics of rings control none of which I was familiar with apart from when I have done ring dips at home and realized that it’s easier to brace yourself against the ring with your forearm which of course is cheating in the real world. We also touched on the notion that any conditioning that you do should be counterbalanced with conditioning for the antagonist group of muscles. In other words if you are doing shoulder work for the front of the shoulders be sure that you incorporate some rear shoulder work to balance the load and the work. This should go some way towards eliminating unbalanced development physically and the widening of strength gaps that tend to develop.

Ring specific mechanics for the handstand were covered including some drills and some spotting by controlling the rings while the handstand in in place but also swinging up to handstand and pressing to handstand. The thing about rings is the actual ring control since the athlete should already have the basics and in fact the advanced handstand skills before trying it on rings. We saw some demonstrations of higher level ring moves but the spot was restricted to press to handstand and swings. The swings are lethal, if you are head height with the rings during swings you are likely to get smashed in the face by the rings since they tend to move side to side as well as in and out which isn’t necessarily expected.

Vault, I thought we would be spotting vault a lot more than we did but instead we spent time working on double back timers and working towards the double back spot into the pit. We did talk about the run and the importance of velocity in the vault. Basically you can correct anything except lack of speed. We talked about early blocking, hands out blocking, Tsukahara drills and Yurchenko drills on both the vault table and the fast track. We covered twisting off the vault and the easy way to rotate the arm down and then back up for full twist. Sadly though we didn’t get the chance to spot Tsuks which would have been nice however we did enough work on progressions that spotting should be a formality but the time they try the skill.

A couple of interesting things to note. As the athlete becomes better at vaulting, the handspring vault becomes less of a benefit and more of a hinderance. Once advanced vaults are learned, the handspring should basically not be used at all. Teaching twisting off vault starts on the tramp, this emphasizes a late twist since the back drop position is already the boundary between quadrant 3 and 4. However the low risk and plentiful rotation time gives great assistance to the start of the rotation for beginners. For teaching both front and back tucks from vaults you can use resi to vault up to and then do the tuck off the rest to start teaching the tied in rotation. This can work for both FHS Full and yurchenko full. You could also use an angled resi to roll out of to reinforce the rotation after the handspring to connect the two pieces.

Tsukahara was covered a little which is good because we do have kids performing this vault. The progressions through the fast track to the table were good but mostly stuff we are already doing at our gym which was great to see.

Parallel Bars was more familiar after doing cast to HS on the women’s bar you get used to the swing spotting techniques. We covered swings and giants including some very interesting drills that basically ended up with the athlete swinging into a red mat face first. Boys gymnastics… gotta love it!
The interesting point about PBars for women is that it’s a transferable skill and there are things that can be trained without the hip bashing that comes with the low bar. This can allow for greater rep training and better efficiency of time once the female athlete gets used to the pendulum motion of the swing. As an aside, this also speaks a little to development of shoulder flexion for women and a benefit of the swing being the repetitive strengthening of the back support position.
Specifically for the men we covered the Diamadov, Stutz and the Felge to handstand. The twisting components here can be trained using blocks outside the frame of the PBars to rotate out to which I found innovative.

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Level 3 Coaching Course – Day 2/3

Category: Gymnastics / Bootcamp

lance_gymnastics_aotwDay 2 – Floor and Bars

Or as it should be known, OMG TWISTING!!

We started off with some more biomechanics of spring actions, taking a lot about the vault and turning over from the board using the opposing force of the floor. We touched a bit on torque twisting as a demonstration of opposing forces but the big take away from this was the vault and what happens on the beat board. We also got into a lot about double fronts after yesterday’s discussion about spotting double backs. The key to training double fronts apparently is the timing of the kickout and a good high kickout for single front is the best precursor for doing a double front.

Our discussion on twisting started with the statement that generally we don’t spot twisting which was a big relief to everyone… However we did touch on 3 kinds of twisting:

Tilt Twist
Cat Twist (Hula Hoop)

I think the cat twist got lost in the day somewhere and we didn’t really talk about the arm positioning for twisting as far as the mechanics of initiating the twist. I think I was expecting a big discussion around the straight arm lead, the cross body pull, the head turn twist or the hip drive twist none of which transpired. What we did talk about was directional twist, being able to tell which direction is which when going back and forward and how to determine what direction an athlete should be twisting. They sound always twist the same way front or back but this may or may not be the same as the way they roundoff.

The athlete should always turn according to the arm that is dropping and the acronym to remember the direction of twist is FLIP and BLAST.

Forward look in pit
Backwards look at shoulder tip

So depending on which way they twist they should maintain this direction front and back. Both front and back twisting should be taught together to make sure they are both standardized but it’s apparently the norm to correct a front twist not a back twist.

The reason, for those who are interested why there is not a discussion about the arms etc is because the set is really the most important part of the twist, a good shoulder lift off the floor or a great extension off the vault is what is really required, then dropping the arm or bringing the arms in tight for a quicker rotation is really a mute point. Like Bill said yesterday the most important part of twisting is the somersault. This makes it possible for all the twisting action to be performed in the top half of the rotation between 90 and 270 degrees leaving the first 90 and the last 90 for takeoff and landing.

HS Pirouette on floor should be enforced both ways but on the bar should obey the preferred twisting direction. There is a lot to know about twisting but the important thing is that it is enforced the proper way from the very start.

It’s Day 3.

Pommels. Yeah it looks pretty easy but let me tell you there’s more to it. Just learning the terminology requires a degree in lexicology and a mastery of international names. Plus the fact that they have the same name for several skills and several names for the same skill and it’s pretty much if you call something a half kahre or a Czech you will probably be at least half right. The first half of the day was taken up with pommel and I have to admit I was fascinated and learned a lot about the different conditioning elements used to create the right torsional movement to achieve the double leg circle. The afternoon was taken with our second part of bars coaching including pirouettes on bars and then on to free hip, Endo and Stalder circles. These advanced skills are not spottable but are the kind of skills that require extensive patterning with progressions and a little bravery on the behalf of the athlete the first time they are performed. The emphasis here was on the Understand / Teach model which is critical when the spotting piece is taken out of the equation. Being able to isolate the shaping and biomechanical forces and counter forces at work goes a huge way to understanding the appropriate conditioning and skill development that sometimes isn’t apparent to the casual observer.


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Level 3 Coaching Course – Day 1

Category: Gymnastics / Bootcamp

Day 1 – Intro and basics from Level 2 (Including the fact there isn’t a level 2 any more)

The system is changing, they are doing away with the 3 levels that are currently split between the MAG and WAG disciplines and making a new NCCP system on 6 levels as follows:

The NCCP for Gymnastics will Certify Coaches on 6 Levels:

  • Gymnastics Foundations
  • Level 2 – Competition Introduction (Beginning Competitive Gymnastics)
  • Level 2+ – Competition Introduction Advanced (Provincial Competitive Gymnastics)
  • Level 3 – Competition Development (Provincial/National Gymnastics)
  • Level 4 – Competition Development Advanced (High Performance Gymnastics)
  • Master Coach – Competition High Performance

This wasn’t quite how it sounded when we were told about the change but whatever, the upshot is we need to do our 3 requirements (theory, practical, technical) ASAP so we don’t get caught up in the new system.

As for the course, it’s a MAG based course with a one day WAG add on which is the opposite of how it’s usually done up at CAC with the single day being a MAG day and the rest being WAG. It’s going to be interesting getting so much exposure to MAG since it’s something I know practically nothing about.

We didn’t have any demo kids until the afternoon so we got rid of all the paper based stuff in the morning. This included the understand teach model whereby you can break a skill up into component parts and isolate conditioning for each part and then shaping and teaching for the progressions. Knowing how to do this is critical to understanding how to effectively coach complex skills not so much for the coach but to emphasis to the athlete that skills all have basic components that when mastered will fit together and make the complex skill easier. After lunch went straight into the basics of spotting tumbling with the near hand and far hand and both sides being heavily emphasized. Unfortunately I managed to put out my back this morning so I have a cane to walk with and a chip on my shoulder… We did some standing back tuck spotting, lots of back handspring multiples and combinations with tuck and layout. We talked a little bit about bailouts and falls which I think we need to revisit now that the kids are doing some advanced skills. Maybe adding rolls and break falls to the warmup for each event will prevent so much trepidation about falling on new skills. We did some front tumbling also, covering the sandwich spot and the near hand lead spot with the reach through catch and land at the end, there are so many variations to the spots and Bill isn’t worried so much about doing a certain type but rather that the kids are supported and feel safe.

We ended the day with discussions surrounding biomechanics and physical preparation / conditioning. Some discussions around the centre of mass and balance basics were included. It too lie an hour to drive home so I could finally get to the inversion table, get some medication and a heating pad.




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Bulk Is Over Finally…

Category: Crossfit WOD Type Workouts

imagesSince my last cut I was toying with the idea that I had lost a little muscle mass and I was not happy about this. I decided during the Christmas break that I would therefore try to gain some of the mass back and cut again trying to stay above 215 at 15% fat which I was last time. So I needed to eat. And I did, but to be honest the bulk was not the feasty party celebration that I imagined it to be. I was expecting to be living among angels, having salty and creamy foods delivered to me on golden platters as I ate my fill of all things delicious. However it rapidly became a chore and after only 3 or 4 weeks I was thoroughly disenchanted with the whole process. But I have made a commitment so I continued to eat above my requirement in anticipation of lean gains. I can’t tell yet if I was successful, what I do know is that at my lowest before Christmas I was 216lbs and 15%. The other day when I stepped on the scale I was a whopping 240lbs at 18% fat. A little math will give you the answer that those 2 weights are not drastically different. My low weight was a lean mass of 183lbs and right now apparently I am 196lbs which would indicate a lean gain of 13lbs which is not bad at all. Since I have gained 24lbs total that means I am also up 11lbs of fat which I have to admit I have noticed.

So what now? In order to get back to the cutting phase I am going to get back to paleo then to keto. This means for the last 2 weeks I have been cutting out the carbs I had added (oatmeal, rice, potato) and for the next 2 weeks I will be cutting back further and going into ketosis to try and burn the remaining fat. I am hoping to get back to around 225 by the time I do my level 3 coaching course mid March. My workouts have remained the same, I am still doing regular 6 day split body part workouts, with the occasional deadlifting or cleans work at home when I can’t get to the gym. I think as time goes along and I start to lose more weight I will have to start getting back into the HIIT methodology of full body compound lifting in order not to have to do cardio. I hate cardio.

This has been an interesting exercise and one that I am not really keen to repeat. Sure it was nice for a few days to not even worry about food volumes but in the end it took a psychological toll on me. Also, getting older (it’s my birthday tomorrow) I am getting more and more aware that carrying bulk around is not th best thing for my health. Getting down under 220 is probably something I should be looking to maintain as a long term goal rather than something I return to after each bulking cycle.

The short of it is that I really enjoyed being cut at the end of the year, I though I looked pretty good but I fell prey to the voices inside my head telling me I wasn’t big enough. Body dysmorphia is real people…

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