Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Get What You Want

I've got a lot of goals. Most of them revolve around speed, strength, and power. The problem is, I don't know which goal I'm pursuing half the time.

I'm an athletic schizophrenic. Odds are, you are too. On some days, I want be lean and quick like Brad Pitt in Fight Club. On others, I want to bring the noise like that huge bastard from Green Mile.

Crossfit represents a compromise between the two extremes. We work sprinting and agility one day and maximal strength the next. Sometimes we work them in the same WOD. Crossfit develops athletes that are proficient in both pathways.

Our programming leans toward metabolic conditioning. On any given day, you're likely to encounter a workout that places a premium on speed. The emphasis on speed ensures that the athlete maintains the proper intensity levels to develop increased work capacity and promote lean mass development. This type of workout will turn you into a hell of an athlete, with a moderate amount of muscle mass.

There are ways to develop more muscle mass using the Crossfit prescription, if one is so inclined. To become a better athlete, you'll have to momentarily set aesthetics aside, and give up on your cover boy-inspired dreams of 6% body fat.

If you can forget vanity for a few months, it's possible to develop incredible strength and exceptional work capacity.

Most athletes want the Holy Grail. They want to develop muscle mass while maintaining the body fat levels of a Kenyan marathoner. It's not going to happen. You've got to pick one or the other, Dr. Jones.

This is the source of my problem. At 5'10", 170 pounds, I know I can hang quite a bit more muscle on my frame. I even know how to do it. Forsake the joys of the 5k run. Eat. A lot. All the time. Lift heavy weight. Sleep. Repeat.

I've started this process more than once. I end up seeing an extra pound of bodyfat about three weeks in, and I sprint to the track to do some additional sprinting.

I'm not going to quit this time. The rationale is simple. If I can do Diane in 7 minutes at a maximum deadlift of 425 pounds, I'll absolutely kill it at a max deadlift of 500 pounds. To get my deadlift that high, a few extra pounds of muscle won't hurt a bit.

Packing on the muscle and temporarily gaining a bit of fat will actually allow me to derive a larger metabolic benefit from my workouts in the long-run. The 225 pound deadlift goes from 53% of my 1-rep max to 45% of my 1-rep max. I'll be able to move the bar that much faster. By moving the bar faster, I'll get a greater metabolic effect from the workout.

In addition to the direct benefit of increased strength, the increase in muscle mass will up my overall metabolic rate at rest, promoting low bodyfat.

I understand your fears. Achieving a high level of endurance and work capacity was difficult the first time. You fought hard for it, and you're not going to give it up, even for a minute.

Don't worry, Kimosabe. It will come much easier the second time around. You've established a base level of fitness, and it's not going to disappear in two or three months.

Screw vanity. We're going for power this time.

I've made forays into Coach Rutman's Black Box in the past. This time I'm going whole-hog. The plan is easy.

1.) Eat a ton of high-quality fats, protein, and vegetable matter. Around 4200 calories per day.

2.) Every second day, lift 5 x 5s and 3 x 3s of the O-lifts and their components.

Front Squats
Overhead Squats

3.) Sleep as much as possible.

4.) Lay off any metabolic work over 20 minutes long.

I'm going to try this for a few months and see what happens. Come September, I'll go back to the straight WOD schedule. Worse comes to worse, I sink during the Duxbury Triathlon.

I think I'll get over it if I'm deadlifting 500.


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