Friday, July 30, 2010

The Culmination of the Quest

Its over, I did it. I finally dunked a basketball. Last Friday I dunked on one of the outdoor hoops at Redwood High School in Larkspur with my friend and colleague Robert Schleihauf as my witness.

Throughout the process I assumed that I would feel amazing when I finally dunked a basketball, but in reality I was a little bit disappointed. I had been training intelligently and constantly researching different training methodologies for 36 weeks. I thought I might feel a sense of enlightenment followed by an onslaught of training-related epiphanies. Don’t get me wrong, it felt great to finally achieve a goal that I set for myself 6 months ago, but I had so much fun throughout the process that I was reluctant to let the quest end (this was also made evident by the fact that it took me a week to piece together my final blog post).

It reminded me of something that I heard Brett Favre say in a short television documentary of the Green Bay Packers 1996 season in which they won the Super Bowl. After they had won Brett said to himself, “this is it?” Although Brett was overjoyed to win the Super Bowl, he was more disappointed that the season in which he and his teammates performed incredibly well and became very close as a team was over. He realized that the journey was far more important that the end result.

I feel entirely empathetic (accept for the whole winning the Super Bowl thing obviously) towards Brett. I am happy to have finally achieved my goal, but I am a little bit upset that the journey is over, because I enjoyed it so much. Now I just want to continue to perfect my craft as a dunker and work towards bigger and better dunks.

As a side note, I also learned quite a bit about goal setting throughout my quest. Although telling everyone that I wanted to dunk a basketball in 12 weeks through this blog held me accountable it also set me up for an onslaught of criticism. In Dave Tate’s “9 Secrets to Training Success” he writes, “Set your goals high and keep them to yourself. The reason for this is simple: 90% of everyone you meet are negative pricks who will go out of their way to tell you why you can't do something.” I don’t agree with his 90% dictum, but I would absolutely agree with the general premise of Dave Tate’s argument. Over the course of the last 36 weeks numerous friends, clients, and acquaintances told me that I couldn’t do it or that the timetable was too short. Dunking in 12 weeks was obviously an extremely ambitious goal considering that I couldn’t even touch the rim at the beginning, but if I had kept my true goal to myself (per Tate’s recommendation) and simply told everyone that I wanted to jump higher, everyone would be very congratulatory now that I can dunk. At this point I feel almost as if many of the followers of the quest became a bit bored simply because it took so long and I don’t blame them.

What next? The answer is simple: more of the same. Although the quest to dunk is over I am not going to stop striving to increase my vertical leap any time soon. I am going to keep training in a very similar manner and writing performance related articles/posts. This will be my last post on, but it looks like I will be writing a weekly blog post for the CrossFit Marin blog:

This is blogmaster Ben signing off. I am going to leave you all with some amusing quotes about dunking that I just found on

"I'm not a big sports fan, but I love it when they "slam dunk." That's sexy."
Emma Bunton

"I'm not a role model... Just because I dunk a basketball doesn't mean I should raise your kids."
Charles Barkley

"If I weren't earning $3 million a year to dunk a basketball, most people on the street would run in the other direction if they saw me coming."
Charles Barkley

"It's like all guys want to do is make a dunk, grab their shirt and yell out and scream - they could be down 30 points but that's what they do. Okay, so you made a dunk. Get back down the floor on defense!"
Oscar Robertson

"My first dunk was actually in sixth grade."
Vince Carter

Friday, July 23, 2010

Week 36 Day 5


1. 20 Dunk Attempts

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Technology: Helping Athletes Regress One at a Time

If you have glanced at any of my weekly workouts you will quickly learn that I am not an endurance athlete. Despite the fact that I rarely partake in any continuous athletic endeavor lasting longer than 30 seconds, I have learned quite a bit from some of the best endurance athletes in the world. Here is a picture of a barefoot runner:

Notice that this runner has exquisite running technique (some might call it POSE) and this runner is not so coincidentally barefoot. At this point I have read so many articles that reference the various studies on the numerous benefits of barefoot running (i.e., no heal strike, reduced occurrence of running-related injuries, etc.) that at this point I find them almost as tedious as long runs themselves. If you are interested in learning more about the host of advantages associated with barefoot running check out this website run (pun intended) by the Harvard Skeletal Biology Lab:

All of the assertions in these various studies regarding barefoot running made sense to me right off the bat. Neolithic people started having knee problems because shoe companies began marketing padded running shoes that allow people to get away with heal striking relatively unscathed. Modern people should learn how to run properly instead of purchasing shoes with a massive shock-absorbing heel in order to mitigate the occurrence of “overuse” injuries that have become all too common in the long distance running world.
Now people are slowly assimilating (following the various Harvard studies produced recently the barefoot running revolution. There is even a shoe made to make you feel like you are barefoot ( Why one needs a special shoe to mimic the effects of being barefoot is a concept that I will never understand--but the shoe sells (thanks to the ever increasing popularity of CrossFit and primal fitness), so more power to the Vibram people.

I never thought that these theories regarding barefoot running would be applicable to jumping, basically because I thought that there was too much impact involved in a max vertical leap. It turns out that my initial hypothesis was wrong. Thanks to Joe DeFranco’s article ( which I posted a while back) in which he suggests that an athlete wear snug track waffle shoes when testing his or her vertical. His theory is that normal basketball/ running shoes absorb a great deal of the force that one produces against the ground in order to jump as high as possible. When attempting a max vertical leap the goal is to produce as much force against the ground as possible, consequently wearing shoes that absorb the force that one produces is counterintuitive. This made sense to me, I tried it out during a max box jump workout two weeks ago and I added 3 inches to my previous PR. Lately I have been wearing some tight-fitting, low top Chuck Ts (pretty close to being barefoot) when I jump on outdoor basketball courts. I should probably just sack up and jump without shoes on.

More Vertical Jump Tips From Joe DeFranco

This article lists Joe D's 15 favorite vertical jump exercises and explains how they benefit his athletes.

Week 36 Day 4

Active Rest Day

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Week 36 Day 3

Active Rest Day

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Want to Become Batman?

For anyone interested in actually becoming batman here is a cool book ( by Dr. E. Paul Zehr, a kinesiology professor at the University of Victoria.

Week 36 Day 2

5 Rounds of:

1. 5 Handstand Holds

2. 200 Meter Row

3. 10 Rep Left Arm Shoulder Press

4. 5 Band Front Squats

5. 2 Pullovers

6. 5 Left Leg Pistols

7. 20 Hollow Rocks+ 20 Arch Rocks

Week 36 Day 1

Active Rest Day

Week 35 Day 7

20 mins of:

1. 5 Handstands

2. 10 Reverse Hypers

3. 2 Pullovers

4. 2 P-bar Passes

5. 10 Second False Grip on Rings

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Week 35 Day 6


1. 3x5 Weighted Dips

2. 3x30 Rhythm Squats

3. 5x100 Yard Sprint

4. 5x50 Yard Sprint

5. 20x Dunk Attempts

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Week 35 Day 5


1. 5x1 Clean and Jerk

2. 3x5 Deadlift

3. 6x L-Sit Static

Friday, July 16, 2010

Defining Fitness

I am going to throw two very different definitions of fitness on the table. Greg Glassman the creator of CrossFit, an increasingly popular fitness protocol (often called the sport of fitness), has taken a very good stab at defining fitness. Here is his definition:

"Fitness in 100 Words:

• Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not bodyfat.
• Practice the major lifts: deadlift, squat, presses, C&J, and snatch. Similarly, master the basics of gymnastics: pull-ups, dips, rope climb, push-ups, sit-up, press, handstand, pirouettes, splits, flips, and holds. Bike, run, swim, and row fast and hard.
• Five or six days per week mix these elements in as many patterns as creativity will allow. Routine is the enemy. Keep workouts short and intense.
• Regularly learn to play new sports."

Although I really like many of the elements of this definition of fitness I find it a bit dogmatic. There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of spectrum or freedom of choice within Glassman’s definition.

In my humble opinion the definition of fitness is not a one-size-fits-all concept. The definition should be malleable, so that it has the potential to be sculpted to fit one’s own unique definition that is only applicable to that person.

Dan John defines fitness as “being better at what you want to do.” Although this definition is somewhat vague, I think that it is a step in the right direction in contrast to the inflexible CrossFit description.

Here is my own attempt at defining fitness, I call it “Fitness in 15 Words;”

“Actively seek progress as an athlete by setting reasonable athletic goals and continually achieving them.”

This definition is applicable to anyone and everyone. You can set any goal you like as long as it is quantifiable and reasonable. I would wager that 70-90% of the people who are concerned with their physical fitness simply want to look better, which is fine. So set a goal, for example to be able to see your abs, getting below 10% bodyfat, or having a certain sized waist or butt or whatever. Maybe your goals are related to health and longevity, for example reducing your A1Cs (a test that measures a form of hemoglobin used primarily to identify the average plasma glucose concentration over prolonged periods of time; people with high (above 6%) A1Cs may have diabetes, people with good A1Cs (in the 5% and below) live for a very long time on average). This link delineates the importance of the A1C test:

One of my goals right now obviously is to dunk a basketball. Maybe your goal is to impress people with your athleticism, in which case you probably want to be proficient in gymnastics movements like handstands, backflips, planches, etc. The goals don’t really matter, what matters is that they are at least transiently related to athletic endeavors and that they are achievable (within reason). Maybe your first goal is a pull-up, then your next goal is a muscle-up, then your next goal is a backward roll to support on rings, and so on.

Once you achieve your goal there is always another more difficult goal to achieve, consequently the search for fitness is never truly complete. In my opinion one is fit when one feels fit. Fitness is all about perception.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Week 35 Day 4


1. 3x5 Weighted Chin-ups

2. 3x5 DB Bench Press

3. 2x20 Kroc Rows (w/100lbs)

4. 5x 100 Yard Sprint+ 5x 60 Yard Sprint

5. 20x Rim Grabs/ Dunk attempts

Pre-Game Ritual

I have discussed pre-game/WOD/lift rituals in previous posts. Here is big John Henderson's pre-game ritual:

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Week 35 Day 3

Active Rest Day

Week 35 Day 2


1. 5x1 Snatch

2. 5x1 Back Squat

3. 3x5 Shoulder Press

4. 5x Straddle-L Rope Climb

5. 3x15 Reverse Hypers

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Olympic Lifts: A Multitude of Misunderstandings Round 2

Lately I have been reading quite a few articles from T-Muscle Magazine ( I know, it sounds like the ultimate thickheaded testosterone- laden publication on the planet and to a certain extent it is, but the weekly issues of this free online magazine are full of incredibly interesting and sometimes revolutionary information regarding all topics related to strength training. If you are not already reading this free mag, I suggest that you start soon. Despite the thickheaded name, I guarantee you will learn more than a thing or two about training, diet, and performance optimization if you simply take the time to virtually leaf through this online publication.

All of this being said, I read an article the other day entitled, “The Russian Approach to Size and Strength” by John Paul Catanzaro. The vast majority of the information in the article was well researched and very interesting, but in one section of the article John wrote, “Please skip the Olympic lifts unless you are already competent at performing them” in a caption underneath a photo of a loaded bar falling on a lifter after his arm had dislocated (

It would be extremely gentle on my part to simply call this asinine statement a misunderstanding. I would categorize it as an oxymoron. The absurd notion that an individual should not perform the Olympic lifts unless he or she is already competent in them is an excellent depiction of the way in which many of the most accredited and respected strength and conditioning practitioners fearfully tiptoe around the Olympic lifts—mainly because they themselves have no experience coaching or performing the lifts and they are afraid to struggle with them.

If an individual is not competent in the Olympic lifts, he should LEARN how to perform them correctly, not avoid them. I learned how to do the Olympic lifts simply by watching online videos of the best Olympic lifters in the world and through practice. At first I was far from competent in the lifts and if I had read this article at that time and taken John Cantanzaro’s advice I would still be incompetent in the realm of Olympic lifting. Instead I decided to spend some time learning how to safely and effectively perform the lifts and implement them into my training regimen. I can honestly say that if I had not found out about the Olympic lifts (about 1 year and a half ago) my vertical leap and overall athleticism would not be anywhere close to where it is today.

Many coaches believe that the costs outweigh the benefits when it comes to the Olympic lifts. I believe that these coaches are lazy and shortsighted.

Week 35 Day 1

Active Rest Day

Sunday, July 11, 2010

New Box Jump PR

I jumped onto a 56 inch box yesterday (a 3 inch PR). Implementing some of Joe DeFranco's vertical jump tricks ( helped me set this new PR.

Week 34 Day 7

Active Rest Day

Week 34 Day 6


1. 5x1 Standing Box Jump

2. 5x1 Stride Box Jump

3. 3x10 Rhythm Squats (w/ bands)

4. 5-3-1 Shoulder Press

5. 5-3-1 Dumbell Bench Press

6. 3x Arms only rope climb

7. 4x Hill Sprint

Friday, July 9, 2010

Week 34 Day 5


1. 5x1 Clean and Jerk

2. 3x3 Snatch Grip Deadlift

3. 4x3+ Weighted Dip

4. 3x15 Reverse Hyper

Week 34 Day 4

Active Rest Day

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Cool Article About Matt Kroc (The Inventor of the Kroc Row)

Week 34 Day 3


1. 4x2 Snatch

2. 3x3 Back Squat

3. 4x3+ Chin-up

4. 3x Arms Only Rope Climb

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Week 34 Day 2

Active Rest Day

Monday, July 5, 2010

Week 34 Day 1

Active Rest Day

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Week 33 Day 7


1. 6x 100 Yard Sprint

2. 4x 50 Yard Sprint

3. 10x rim grab

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Week 33 Day 6

Active Rest Day

Week 33 Day 5


1. 5x1 Clean and Jerk

2. 5/3/1- Deadlift

3. 5x legs free rope climb

4. 3x 8 left arm presses + 5 left leg pistols

5. 10x 6 second L-sit

6. 3x 10 Weighted Reverse Hypers

7. 2x 10 Kroc Row w/ 100lb Dumbell

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Super Freak

Check out this video of a dude with a 54 inch vertical:

He also has a 635lb 5 rep back squat. Maybe there is some validity to the concept that high level relative strength begets high level explosion (i.e leaping ability).

Week 33 Day 4

Active Rest Day

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Week 33 Day 3


1. 7x2 Speed Squats @100kgs

2. 5/3/1- Weighted Chin-up

3. 5/3/1- Weighted Dip

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Week 33 Day 2

Active Rest Day

Week 33 Day 1


1. Snatch 3x1

2. Back Squat 5x1

3. 3x 8 One-arm Kettle-bell Shoulder Presses + 10 Second Front Lever Hold

4. 2x 10 Kroc Rows

5. 10x 6 Second Pseudo Planche Hold

6. 6 x 10 Second L-Sit

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Olympic Lifts: A Multitude of Misunderstandings Round 1

I am frustrated. It seems like everyone in the world of fitness, and every other world for that matter, is afraid of the Olympic lifts for a variety of equally absurd reasons. I am going to do a little monologue-style, self-interview in which I debunk the 5 most common misconceptions regarding the Olympic lifts and the corollary effects that they have on the human body. My answers to these questions are pretty detailed so I am going make this a five-part series (5 round fight). Round 1: Here we go . . . ding ding!

1. Complaint (misconception) #1: All of the lifters competing in the Summer Olympics look fat and out of shape. I don’t want to do the Olympic lifts because they will make me fat. I want to be cut and lean, so why would I want to incorporate the Olympic lifts into my training regimen?

Rebuttal #1:

You are absolutely right, some of the competitors that you see in the Summer Olympics do look overweight, but I have a little secret for you: IN THE SPORT OF OLYMPIC WEIGHTLIFTING THERE ARE DIFFERENT WEIGHT CLASSES! Consequently, there are weightlifters of all shapes and sizes who compete every four years in the summer games. Here are the men’s weight classes: 56 kg (123 lb), 62 kg (137 lb), 69 kg (152 lb), 77 kg (170 lb), 85 kg (187 lb), 94 kg (207 lb), 105 kg (231 lb), and over 105 kg.

The reason you think that all Olympic weightlifters are overweight is because the “main event” in Olympic weightlifting is the heavyweight class (105kg and over). The heavyweight class (I like to call it the “overweight class”) has the biggest guys, which means that they lift the most weight and set the highest records. The heavyweight class has no weight cap, so the athletes in that class get as big as they can so that they can lift more and more weight. If we were only discussing the heavyweight class I would agree with you, but there happen to be seven other weight classes which are packed full of guys who look like they are in excellent shape.

Here is a video of Rezazadeh, the best heavyweight Olympic lifter in the world:

Yeah, Rezazadeh is definitely overweight, but he is overweight for a reason. The more he weighs (while retaining mobility and agility) the more weight he can lift. Although the heavyweight lifters’ bodies look like they are completely de-conditioned, they are actually pretty amazing athletes. Check out this video of a heavyweight American weightlifter doing a high box jump and tell me that he is a bad athlete:

Here is a video of Pyrros Dimas:

If you think that Pyrros is fat you need to get your head checked out.

I have another secret for you, Mr. I-Don’t-Want-To-Do-The-Oly-Lifts-Because-I’ll-Get-Fat, the lifts themselves will do little to nothing to your body composition, unless you are completely deconditioned (in which case you will probably LOSE weight performing these multi-joint lifts regularly). Rezazadeh is overweight because he chooses to be overweight, in other words he eats way more calories than he uses up in a day. The old adage, you are what you eat, is right in this case. If you eat really big (granted that you don’t have the metabolism of a jack rabbit on crack) you will get really big. Plain and simple. So if you don’t want to get fat performing the oly lifts find out how Razezadeh eats and don’t eat like that.

Week 32 Day 7

Active Rest Day

Week 32 Day 6


1. 5x1 Band Front Squats from the bottom

2. 5x1 Front Box Squats

3. 4x3+ Weighted Chin-ups

4. 2x10+ Kroc Row

5. 6x 100 Yard Sprint + 4x 50 Yard Sprint

6. 25 Dunk Attempts

Friday, June 25, 2010

Week 32 Day 5


1. 5x1 Clean and Jerk

2. 3x3 Deadlift

3. Handstand work

4. 5x legs free rope climb

5. 3x 6 ice cream makers + 7 Good Mornings + 7 Weighted Reverse Hypers

Week 32 Day 4

Active Rest Day

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Week 32 Day 3


1. 5x2 Speed Box Squats @ 70%

2. 5x1 Standing Box Jump

3. 5x1 Stride Box Jump

4. 3x3 Weighted Dip

5. 3x3 Handstand Push-up

6. 2x10 Kroc Row w/ 100lb dumbell

7. 5x 100 meter sprint (full recovery)

8. 10x rim grab

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Week 32 Day 2

Active Rest Day

Monday, June 21, 2010

Week 32 Day 1


1. 5x1 Snatch

2. 3x3 Back Squat

3. 3x Band Front Lever Hold + 5 Leg Lifts + 7 weighted reverse hypers

4. 3x Legs free rope climb

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Wendler 5-3-1. . . A Plan, not a Program

I have seen a pretty significant plateau in my lifts in the gym over the course of the last six weeks or so. I came to the realization that I am no longer a novice lifter and just trying to hit max lifts everyday is not going to work anymore. I decided that I needed to be a little bit more methodical, but not too methodical. The Wendler 5-3-1 approach is the optimal way for me to overcome my various strength training plateaus, while minimizing my tendency to overanalyze everything. It is a simple and effect progressive overload programming that he created to improve his raw lifts. Jim Wendler is a formed division 1 football player and 1000 pound squatter. Needless to say, I respect and often agree with anything that he has to say regarding strength training.

I am currently wrapping up my first week on the Wendler 5-3-1 cycle. Here is how he organizes the progressive overload in the four-cycle variant of his system (he also has 6, and 12 week cycle plans):

• 1st week 3x5 65, 70, 75 (or more reps)
• 2nd week 3x3 70, 75, 85 (or more reps)
• 3rd week 5,3,1 75, 85, 90(or more weight)
• 4th week (deload week) 3x5 35, 45, 55

I am refraining myself from calling the Wendler 5-3-1 a training “program,” because Jim hates that word. He prefers to call it a plan. He believes that the word “program” is a corollary to the commercial bullsh*#@ that we see on late night infomercials that simply does not work.

I took the liberty of altering the original Wendler 5-3-1 to suite my specific goals (pull-ups and dips for bench and military press) but I am confident that Wendler would be totally fine with my tweaks to his program as long as I stick to the plan that I laid out. I am curious to see how the Wendler 5-3-1 will affect my pull-up and dip strength. My goal is to add about 30lbs to both of these movements. It might take a few Wendler cycles, but I confident that I can add a significant amount of weight to these movements over time.

Wendler keeps it simple and when it comes to programming for strength and conditioning the simple plan usually outperforms a complex one. Wendler states that his plan is a compilation of some of "the basic tenets of strength training that have stood the test of time." He is also a big fan of the ego check, with which I am in total agreement. When discussing the overzealous mindset of the average underachieving weightlifter he says, "They want to start heavy and they want to start now. This is nothing more than ego, and nothing will destroy a lifter faster, or for longer, than ego."

I am going to go with the Jim Wendler flow and see how strong I can get. Now is a perfect time to use one of my favorite Dan John quotes, “The plan is to keep the plan the plan.”

Week 31 Day 7

Active Rest Day

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Week 31 Day 6


1. 3x5 Weighted Chin-ups

2. 5x3 Band + Weighted Standing Vertical

3. 10 Rim grabs

4. 1 100 yard sprint on the minute for 10 minutes

5. 5 rim grabs

6. 10 volleyball dunks

Friday, June 18, 2010

Week 31 Day 5


1. 5x1 Clean

2. 3x5 Deadlift

3. 5 legs free rope climbs on the minute for 5 minutes

4. 3x 5 Weighted Straight Body Lifts + 10 weighted reverse hypers

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Week 31 Day 4

Active Rest Day

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Week 31 Day 3


1. 5x3 Back Squat with Bands

2. 5x3 Explosive Jumps with Bands

3. 15 Three Step Rim Grabs

4. 1 100 meter sprints on the minute for 10 minutes

5. 10 volleyball dunk attempts

Week 31 Day 2

Active Rest Day

Monday, June 14, 2010

Week 31 Day 1


1. 3x5 Back Squat

2. 3x5 Weighted Dip

3. 3 rounds of:

1) Arms only rope climb 2) Max duration L-sit on rings 3) 15 back extensions

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Week 30 Day 7

Active Rest Day

Week 30 Day 6


1. 800 meter farmer's walk w/ 35lb Dumbells and a 20lb weight vest

2. 5 standing backboard slaps with 20lb weight vest

3. 5 striding cylinder slaps with 20lbs weight vest

4. 10 tennis ball dunks

5. Short MetCon: 10x 10 Squats + 10 push-ups (all w/ 20lb weight vest)

6. 15 tennis ball dunks

7. 800 meter farmer's walk w/ 35lb Dumbells and a 20lb weight vest

Friday, June 11, 2010

Bashing the Bench Press

For some unknown reason the phrase “what do you bench?” has been cemented into the meathead vernacular. People ask this question because they think that the bench press is the best determinant of strength and in many people’s minds it is the only determinant of strength and overall fitness. This is an absurd and preposterous notion and I would like to dismantle this asinine misconception once and for all.

The bench press is a poor determinant of absolute strength for a couple of reasons. First of all, the movement covers an extremely small range of motion and engages a very limited amounted of muscles in the body. Check out this video ( of the 2006 world record bench press. Sure the guy lifts over 1000 lbs, but watch the path of the bar. How far do you think this enormous dude pushed the bar in order to lock it out? At most I would guess that big Gene pushed the bar 12 inches in order to complete the lift. You move a dumbbell more when you do bicep curls. The only movement I can think of that covers a smaller range of motion is the calf raise. Don’t even get me started on the calf raise (it makes the bench press look like the pinnacle of fitness). Now check out this video of Pyrros Dimas ( setting the 85kg class world record in the clean+jerk in the 1996 Olympics. He transmits a jump to the bar, moves the weight from the ground to fully extended over his head, and completes a full front squat out of necessity in the process. Pyrros is 5’11 and his arms are pretty damn short, so let’s just say that with his arms fully extended over his head he is moving the bar 7 feet. This means that Pyrros is moving the bar through 7 times the range of motion that Gene moved the bar in his bench press. Pyrros weighs about 180 lbs and lifted 468 lbs over his head. Let’s be nice and say that Gene weighs 300 lbs (he is probably closer to 350, meaning that he is twice as heavy as Pyrros) and he moved 1000 lbs 12 inches. Which athlete would you rather be? Of course you would rather be Pyrros, so maybe your training regimen should look a little bit more like his does and a little bit less like big fat (I get winded walking down the street) Gene’s training regimen looks like.

The second reason why the bench press is a poor determinant of absolute strength is that it is performed while lying down, which consequently minimizes full body muscle recruitment. The fact that the bench press is performed lying down also lessens the neurological demands of the lift. Maybe this is a good thing, because the meatheads who live and die by the bench press need to save up all of the mental energy that they can so that they can properly blend dozens of protein shakes and remember how to turn the TV on and off.

In my mind, the universal admiration of the bench press in gyms throughout the country stands alone as the most glaring fitness-related paradox to date. If one were to stand at the doorway of a Gold’s Gym and randomly ask 10 guys what movements their workout would include, I can guarantee that more than 5 of those guys will be benching in their workout.

I have absolutely no idea why the bench press is such a revered movement and why almost every guy who works out at a normal gym bench presses at least once a week. More often then not these guys who plan on benching during their workout at Gold’s Gym are going to bench without anyone spotting. This is just insane to me. The bench press is far and away the most dangerous lift that anyone can perform. If one fails a bench press the weight is headed straight for the lifter’s sternum, clavicle, and possibly his neck. Check out this article ( about Stephon Johnson a USC running back who “lost control of the bar” when benching. The bar crushed his throat and larynx. These types of injuries just do not happen in lifts that are done while standing because the athlete can simply drop the bar with no ill effects.

So if you want to move a bar 12 inches, perforate your larynx, and not improve as an athlete, then be my guest: bench up a storm. But if you want to improve as an athlete and move external weight a respectable distance, you should probably consider implementing the clean+jerk, snatch and back squat into your training regimen.

Week 30 Day 5


1. 5x1 Split Jerk

2. 3x5 Weighted Dips

3. 2x legs free rope ascents

4. 5x 100 yard sprints

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Week 30 Day 4


1. 3x5 Deadlift

2. 3x3 Ascending Depth Jumps

3. 25 Rim Grabs

4. 5x3 Straight Body Lifts

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Week 30 Day 3

Active Rest Day

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Week 30 Day 2


1. 5x1 Clean

2. 3x5 Weighted Chin-up

3. 3x3 Handstand Push-up

4.100 yards sprint on the minute for 10 minutes

Monday, June 7, 2010

Week 30 Day 1

Active Rest Day

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Week 29 Day 7


1. 3x5 Fast Backsquats

2. 5x1 Standing High Box Jump

3. 5x1 Running High Box Jump

4. DB Olympic Complex

Complete for time:
3-2-1 of
Dumbell power clean 60/40lb
Dumbell power clean, one arm 30/20lb
Dumbell power clean, one arm 30/20lb
Dumbell squat clean 60/40lb
Dumbell squat clean, one arm 30/20lb
Dumbell squat clean, one arm 30/20lb
Dumbell push jerk 60/40lb
Dumbell push jerk, one arm 30/20lb
Dumbell push jerk, one arm 30/20lb
Dumbell split jerk 60/40lb
Dumbell split jerk, one arm 30/20lb
Dumbell split jerk, one arm 30/20lb
Dumbell snatch 60/40lb
Dumbell snatch, one arm 30/20lb
Dumbell snatch, one arm 30/20lb
Dumbell split snatch 60/40lb
Dumbell split snatch, one arm 30/20lb
Dumbell split snatch, one arm 30/20lb

Saturday, June 5, 2010

NBA Players Are Weak!

Warning: This post might be controversial.

NBA players are weak. There I said it. Although, NBA players are often considered the best athletes on the planet I have come to the conclusion that NBA players lack full body relative strength. I came to this conclusion after I watched the NBA Pre-Draft Combine on TV.

You are probably wondering how I determined this. I’m going to give you a hint: I am not basing this upon their lackluster numbers in the max rep 185lb bench press test which every NBA player drafted into the league must complete (although their numbers are pretty embarrassing). Before the 2007 draft Kevin Durant, the future rookie of the year, completed a measly three reps.

This might surprise you, but the strength-based metric that I am using to determine the relative strength of the future NBA players in the 2010 NBA Pre-Draft Combine was the standing vertical leap. The standing vertical leap, in my opinion, is one of the best tests of absolute relative strength and force production (along with the clean, backsquat and deadlift). The standing vertical leap is an excellent determinant of absolute strength because it measures how much force an athlete can produce against the floor in order to eventually explode off the ground as high as possible.

In the 2010 NBA Pre-draft combine the average standing vertical was about 28 inches. To put this in perspective, the last time I measured my standing vertical it was 28 inches (that was about 6 weeks ago and I am confident that I have gained an inch or two since then). So basically, I have a better standing vertical than the average participant in the 2010 NBA Pre-draft combine and my vertical is not very impressive. If I were to say this out of context, I would sound like a crazy person, but in reality it is true.

Many of the linemen in the NFL combine, all of whom weigh more than 300 pounds jumped higher in the standing vertical, than did the average NBA prospect. For example John Wall (6’4” 195lbs), who will be the first pick in the NBA Draft later this summer jumped 28 inches in his standing vertical test and Bruce Campbell (6’6’’ 315lbs), on offensive tackle, now a member of the Oakland Raiders, jumped 32 inches high in his standing vertical test a few months ago in the NFL combine.

How is it possible that a gargantuan 315lb offensive lineman could out jump a wiry NBA combo guard, who happened to be the best player in college basketball last year? What does all of this mean?

It means that Bruce Campbell is strong and John Wall is not. It means that NFL players lift weights regularly (with a plan and a goal in mind) and NBA players do not. It means that NFL players are strong and NBA players are weak!
To me the standing vertical leap test determines how much intelligent training an athlete has done. All variations of the deadlift, squat, clean, and snatch, include a closing and opening of the hip. It is no mystery why these lifts translate so well into the standing vertical (hint: jumping = a closing and opening of the hip).

All of this being said I do not want to downplay the immense athleticism that the average NBA player possesses. The average NBA player is 6’7’’, runs the floor like a gazelle and can change directions extremely quickly. And many NBA players can jump, but normally they can only truly elevate from a running start. When a player has a running start it minimizes the strength element of the jump and turns it into a more technical movement and since basketball players jump around all day they are constantly reinforcing good jumping technique from a running start (this is only true for the basketball players who jump the right way naturally—these athletes are often called natural leapers).

Although most NBA players are great athletes, and many of them can jump very high from a running start, they have shown year in and year out in the NBA Pre-Draft Combine that they lack absolute strength through their poor performance in the standing vertical jump.

Week 29 Day 6

Active rest day

Friday, June 4, 2010

Week 29 Day 5


1. 5 on 5 pick up basketball

Thursday, June 3, 2010

New PR!

I hit a nice PR today on my weighted dips. I successfully completed a dip with 108lbs of extra weight attached to my body. My previous PR was 93lbs.

Week 29 Day 4

Workout #1:

1. 5x1 Clean

2. 5x1 Back Squat

3. 5x1 Dip

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Week 29 Day 3

Basketball Workout:

1.400 shots

2.3x UNLV sprints

3.Hard Moves off the dribble

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Week 29 Day 2

Workout #1:

1. 7x1 Deadlift

2. 7x1 Chin-up

Basketball Workout:

1. 400 Shots

2. 2x Championship Sprints

3. 5x Hard Dribble weave through chairs

Week 29 Day 1

Rest Day

Week 28 Day 7

Rest Day

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Week 28 Day 6


1. 4x10 Fast Squats

2. 2x Dumbell Bench Press Drop-Set

3. 2x 10 Close grip press

4. 3x5 Straight Body Lift

5. Max Weighted Sit-ups

Week 28 Day 5


1. 1 hour and 30 minutes of 5 on 5 pick-up basketball

2. 5x3 Deadlift

3. 5x3 Weighted Dips

4. 5 Dumpster Sprints

5. 10 dunk attempts

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Week 28 Day 4


1. 5x3 Back Squat

2. 400 Shots

3. 3x Championship sprints

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Almost There

Today was my planned day to finally realize my goal of dunking a basketball and although I came very close I did not do so. I dunked a somewhat flat volleyball clean, but I just couldn't get enough lift to get a clean dunk with a regular basketball. I am almost there. It'll happen very soon.

Week 28 Day 3

Workout #1:

1. 10 rim grabs

2. 15 dunk attempts

3. 3x3 Weight Pull-ups

4. 2x20 Kroc Rows

Workout #2:

1. 400 Shots

2. Hard Moves off the dribble

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Why Is Ben Resting So Much?

I have taken 6 straight "rest days," because I am planning on attempting to dunk tomorrow. I have been getting very close recently and at the end of last week I was feeling a bit overtrained. I'm hoping that my fresh legs will allow me to achieve my goal tomorrow. Wish me luck.

Week 28 Day 2

Active Rest Day

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Week 27 Day 6

Active Rest Day

Friday, May 21, 2010

Food For Thought

A few of the followers of the quest have asked me to discuss nutrition a bit more regularly. What better way to present my take on nutrition than to post a food log. So here is what I ate today:

Breakfast—Egg Scramble: 4 eggs, 2 pieces of bacon, spinach, mushroom, and onions

Pre-workout snack—Small piece of chicken and some coffee

Lunch/Post Workout meal—A bunch of chicken and half of a sweet potato

Dinner—Ribs, asparagus, and salad

I try to keep it simple. I eat protein at every meal and at most meals I get my carbohydrates from vegetables. I am not afraid of fat. I don’t weigh my protein out, but I definitely eat more than a gram of protein per lb of bodyweight. Most days I eat three meals, some days I will have a small piece of protein before I workout to give myself a nice amino acid boost heading into training, but I don’t do that religiously. On days when I know that my workouts are going to deplete muscle glycogen I will have a dense carbohydrate source like yams or sweet potatoes with some protein following the workout. That’s about it.

Week 27 Day 5

Active Rest Day

Thursday, May 20, 2010

New PR on 4x400 meter run

Set a nice PR on a 4x400 meter run today. I ran my first two sprints in 1:05 and 1:03 (a PR for a single 400). Then I fell off big time running my next two sprints in 1:20 and 1:22. My goal is to break 1:00 on a single 400 meter time trial and run four sprints under 1:10 in the near future.

Week 27 Day 4


1. 5x1 Standing Box Jump

2. 5x1 Stride Box Jump

3. 3x5 Weighted Dips

4. 4x400 meter sprints (2:00 minutes of rest between each sprint)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Week 27 Day 3


3x5 Deadlift

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Week 26 Day 2


1. 400 shots

2. 2x UNLV sprints

3. 2 games of 2 on 2

Monday, May 17, 2010

Week 27 Day 1


1. 3x5 Back Squat

2. 3x5 Weighted Pull-ups

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Water Yourself

A dehydrated athlete is an unprepared athlete and more often then not an unsuccessful athlete. A 1% state of dehydration will negatively affect one’s performance by as much as 10-12%. When dehydrated, athletes will experience increased muscular tightness and decreased mental acuity. So, needless to say, one of the easiest ways to optimize one’s performance on a daily basis is to stay hydrated.

A simple formula for calculating the amount of water that an athlete needs to take in on a daily basis is half of the athlete’s body weight in ounces plus 16-20 ounces for every hour spent training. For example, I am 190lbs, so regardless as to how much I train on a given day I need to take in a minimum of 95 ounces of water. If I play two hours of basketball, I will need to take in an extra 40 ounces of water, bringing my total intake of water up to about 135 ounces of water.

I know what you are thinking, “I can’t drink 2 gallons of water a day. I’m going to have to go to the bathroom too much. I don’t have time for that.” My response to these complaints is that if you want to improve as an athlete and strive towards a state of optimal performance you absolutely have to take your hydration seriously. If you do not water yourself adequately everyday you will fail to achieve your athletic goals, and your mental performance will tank as well.

All of this being said, this simple equation is only a reference tool, once you get a general idea as to how much water you run well on, simply make the consumption of that much water part of your daily routine and I promise you that you will feel and perform better.

So if you want to perform like a thoroughbred, you might have to pee like a race-horse.

Week 26 Day 7

Active Rest Day

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Week 26 Day 6


1. 300 shots

2. 3 games of 1 on 1

3. 3x UNLV sprints

Friday, May 14, 2010

Week 26 Day 5

Active Rest Day

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Week 26 Day 4

Workout #1:

1. 5x2 Deadlift

2. 5x3 Weighted Pull-ups

Workout #2:

1. Conditioning: 7x 100 meter hill sprints

2. 300 shots

3. 10x hard dribble weave through chairs

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Week 26 Day 3

Basketball Workout:

1. 15 rim grabs

2. 300 shots

3. 7x 30 sec AMRAP defensive shuffle (length of the key)

4. Full court moves off the dribble between chairs

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Week 26 Day 2

Workout #1:

1. 5x5 Back Squat

2. 5x5 Weighted Ring Push-up

3. 5x5 Straight Body Lift

Workout #2:

1. 300 Shots

2. Conditioning: 5x Championship Sprints

3. Hard Moves Off the Dribble

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Week 26 Day 1


1. 5x1 Depth Jumps onto Box

2. 5x1 Depth Jumps to High Bar Grab

3. 10x1 Standing High Bar Grab with (1/2 with) 20lb weight vest (1/2 dunking a basketball over the high bar)

4. 5x1 Box Squat jumps w/ 20lb vest

5. 15x1 Dunks on High Bar

6. Conditioning 5x 10 spot High Bar grab

Week 25 Day 7

Active Rest Day:

1. Light 1k row

2. Foam roller and bocce ball roll

3. Stretching the hamstrings and hips

Saturday, May 8, 2010

An Ego Boost Followed By a Slice of Humble Pie

Today I played pick-up basketball at the Hamilton Rec Center in Novato. We got a great run in, played a ton of games, and had a lot of fun. When we finished up, one of my teammates, Vito (if you were wondering, yes he would have been well cast for “The Sopranos”), said “Keep it up Ben, you are a great athlete.” I tried to be gracious, smiled and said, “thanks,” but I was stunned and realized that no one has ever called me a great athlete.

I have been told that I have a nice stroke (basketball shot), an acute ability to anticipate in football, a good work ethic, and impressive self-taught technique during my short-lived Olympic Weightlifting career, but I have never been told that I was a “great athlete” . . . until today.

In reality I’m not a gifted athlete, I don’t possess a great deal of innate speed, quickness, or explosiveness, but over the course of the last 25 weeks I have worked tirelessly and intelligently to improve my inherently lackluster, god-given athletic ability. Based upon the way I played in our pick-up games today and the fact that I was grabbing the rim with two hands and hanging on it between games, Vito called me a “great athlete.” Although I have yet to realize my goal/dream of dunking a basketball, I am making great strides and I have improved my athletic ability tremendously.

One of the guys playing with us, named Mike, was an incredibly gifted athlete. He was my age, about 5’9’’, and probably weighted a buck fifty soaking wet and he could absolutely fly. After the first game, I went up and grabbed a rim with two hands, and watched Mike as he proceeded to easily throw himself an alley-oop off the backboard. My jaw dropped. I asked him how long it took him to get the timing down on the alley-oop and he said, “I just tried it once and it worked.” I congratulated him and told him how impressive it was, but on the inside I was fuming. My internal monologue went a little something like this, “I have been training hard for 25 weeks to dunk a basketball and this kid, who has probably never really “trained” for anything in his life, just decided one day that he was going to throw himself an alley-oop off the backboard and it just worked.” Needless to say I was pissed and force-fed a gigantic slice of humble pie.

Week 25 Day 6

Basketball Workout:

1. 200 shots

2. 10 rim grabs (hung on the rim with two hands for the first time)

3. Conditioning: 16 defensive slides in the key for time+ slide, back pedal, sprint drill+ sprint lay up drill

4. about 2 hours of 5 on 5 pick up basketball

Friday, May 7, 2010

New Box Jump PRs

Hit a new standing box jump PR (46 inches) and a new striding box jump PR (53 inches) today. My ultimate goal is to eventually get up to a 50 inch standing box jump and a 60 inch striding box jump.

Week 25 Day 5


1. 5x1 Standing High Box Jump

2. 5x1 Stride High Box Jump

3. 5x5 Weighted Ring Dip

4. 10x 100 meter sprints (1 sprint every minute on the minute for 10 minutes)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Sacrificing Sleep is a Slippery Slope

In previous posts I have referenced the importance of sleep and the many benefits of a sound (8+ hour) night of sleep, but I haven't addressed the side effects of poor sleep. One of the most common adverse effects associated with a night of poor sleep is insulin resistance (the thing that we are trying to avoid through a solid diet and smart exercise).

I know what you are thinking, "It won't effect my insulin resistance if I don't get a good night of sleep every once in a while, right?" It seems logical that skimping on sleep every once in a while would not have any negative effects on our bodies, but in reality this preconceived notion is wrong.

A recent article in Science News states that "one sleepless night can induce insulin resistance in healthy people." ( The article references a study published in "The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism." The study tested blood glucose and insulin levels in participants after one night of good quality sleep and one subsequent night of poor sleep. After the night of poor sleep the participants were significantly more insulin resistant than they were the day before.

So if you are a healthy, insulin-sensitive person do not take your health for granted, get your rest.

Week 25 Day 4


1. 3x5 Deadlift

2. 3x5 Weighted Pull-ups

3. 3x 25 GHD Sit-ups+ 10 Reverse Hypers

4. Basketball shootaround+ dunking technique on a 9 ft hoop

Week 25 Day 3

Basketball Workout:

1. 300 shots

2. Conditioning 3x championship sprints

3. Hard moves off the dribble throughout

Note to Self

After a few days off, do not try to make up for lost time in one day (really more like 3 hours). On day 2 this week I completely over did it. I did about three workouts consecutively without any breaks or meals and in hindsight it was not an intelligent training decision. I experienced soreness that encompassed almost every inch of my body on day 3, which is a very strong indication that I did some significant over training on day 2. I need to keep in mind that I am not going to achieve my goals in a couple of days, but rather over the course of weeks, months, and even years.

Week 25 Day 2

1. 300 shots

2. Agility ladder work

3. 3x side hurdles+ 3x forward hurdles

4. 5x5 Back Squat

5. 5x5 DB Bench Press

6. 3x max strict pull-ups

7. 3x10 leg raises

8. UNLV sprints x3

Week 25 Day 1


1. 20 rim grabs (and some solid attempts with a volleyball)

2. 5x 10 spot cylander slap

Week 24 Day 7

Active Rest Day

Week 24 Day 6

Active Rest Day

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Week 24 Day 5

Active Rest Day

Week 24 Day 4

Basketball Workout:

1. 2x 5 on 5 pick up

2. 300 shots

3. Conditioning:
6x Defensive slide/ back pedal agility drill
3x 1,2,3 speed layups

4. Hard moves off the dribble intermittently

Week 24 Day 3

Basketball Workout:

1. 300 Shots

2. Conditioning 3x Championship Sprints

3. Hard Moves off the dribble

4. 1,2,3 speed layups

Week 24 Day 2

Basketball Workout:

1. 300 Shots

2. Conditioning- 3x UNLV Sprints

3. Hard moves off the dribble intermittently

4. 3x 1 minute planks (front, left, right)+ 45 Second Hollow Hold

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Enjoy The Process

I’ve got a confession to make. I have been getting a little frustrated with my inability to make vast improvements in my leaping ability in my recent training. I have made a concerted effort to remain as optimistic as I possibly can, but I have certainly experienced a great deal of frustration as well over the course of the last 23 weeks. I have made steady and discernible strides toward my ultimate goal of dunking a basketball over the course of the last 4 weeks, but I haven’t made any huge improvements.

I am looking for one of those sudden and almost surprising advancements in my training, which I like to call a training epiphany. A good example of a training epiphany for me would be the first time I grabbed a 10-foot rim. It surprised me to find my hand cupping the rim and I was incredibly happy. A similar feat (training epiphany) that most people can relate to would be one’s first pull-up. It almost shocks you, in a good way, the first time your chin gets over the bar.

Now that you have read the first two paragraphs of this post you are probably asking yourself, “Is Ben complaining about not being able to dunk yet? What is the purpose of this post?” Rather than complaining I consider this post more of a form of catharsis. The point that I am attempting to make is that I need to remember how fun this process is and how much I have accomplished in the 23 weeks that have flown by since I began this quest.

The best way to eventually achieve a challenging athletic goal is to enjoy the process. I love coming to the gym, working out and striving to improve in something everyday. That is why I started this quest in the first place, because the only thing that I love more than simply training, is training to achieve a specific goal.

For those faithful Quest for Dunkage devotees who have continued to read the blog and post comments throughout the course of the last 23 weeks—what goal are you training to accomplish? Has your training been frustrating at times? All goals are welcome, even if your goal is purely aesthetic, like losing weight or being able to see your abs.

As Dena Evans the head coach at Point Guard College Basketball Camp says, “Relax through the frustration, tomorrow might be the day that you see a massive improvement in your performance.” Enjoy the process because your next big improvement is just around the corner, no matter how far off it might seem.

Week 24 Day 1

Rest Day

Minor Injury Report

I took a little bit of spill today after grabbing a rim on an outdoor court. I swung a little bit too far forward with my feet and my weight came out from under me. I landed on my tail bone and left wrist pretty hard. I'm glad to be in one piece, but don't be surprised if my training week doesn't include any weightlifting.

Week 23 Day 7


1. 300 Shots

2. 3x 16 sideline to sideline sprints

3. 2 games of 2 on 2

4. 10 rim grabs

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Week 23 Day 6


1. 400 Shots

2. Conditioning: 6x defensive slide, back pedal, sprint drill

3. Hard moves off the dribble intermittently

Week 23 Day 5

Plyometrics Workout:

1. 10x1 Standing Box Jump

2. 5x3 High Bar Grabs w/ a 40lb weight vest

3. 3x3 Squat Box Jumps to High Bar Grab w/ 20lb weight vest

4. 15x1 Rim Grab

Week 23 Day 4

Workout #1:

1. 10x2 Backsquat

2. 5x5 Weighted Ring Push-ups (PR on ring push-ups... got up 100lbs added weight for 5 reps)

3. 25 GHD Sit-ups x3

20 Back Extensions x3

Workout #2:

1. 300 Shots

2. 3x 16 sideline to sideline sprints

3. Hard full court moves off the dribble intermittently

Week 23 Day 3

Basketball Shooting Workout:

1. 300 shots

2. Conditioning: championship suicide sprints x3

Week 23 Day 2


1. 5 on 5 basketball for 20 minutes

2. one on one 2 games to 21

Week 23 Day 1

Rest Day

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Week 22 Day 7

Rest Day

Week 22 Day 6


1. 400 Shots

2. Conditioning: 3x 10 sideline to sideline sprints

Week 22 Day 5

Workout #1:

1. 5x3 Deadlift

2. 3x5 Weighted Ring Dip

3. 100 yards sprints on the minute every minute for 10 minutes

Workout #2:

1. 400 Shots

2. Conditioning: 3x 10 Sideline to Sideline sprints

Week 22 Day 4

Workout #1:

1. 30 Dunk Attempts

Workout #2:

1. 400 shots

2. Conditioning: 2x Half back Full back twice

Week 22 Day 3

Workout #1:

1. 5x5 Backsquat

2. 5x3 HSPU

3. 5x5 Leg Lifts

Workout #2

1. 400 shots

2. Conditioning: 3x 16 sideline to sideline sprints

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

5 Facets of a Good Jumper

I have been training to dunk a basketball for 21 weeks now and although I haven’t achieved my goal yet I have learned a great deal in the process. Here is a list of what I believe are the top five ways to improve one’s leaping ability:

1. Improve your flexibility: Stretching isn’t fun, it isn’t all that impressive, but an inability to utilize one’s full range of motion, specifically in the hamstrings and shoulders will invariably hinder one’s ability to reach their full potential as a jumper.

2. Visualization: Almost all great athletes visualize themselves successfully achieving their goals before they do so. To be a great leaper it is imperative that you see yourself in your mind’s eye jumping high with proper technique.

3. Strength: A good leaper almost always has an excellent strength-to-bodyweight ratio. If an athlete has a bodyweight snatch, double body weight backsquat and a 2.5 bodyweight deadlift, he will have a good static vert, guaranteed.

4. Technique: Jumping from a running start involves a great deal of skill and technique. People who are considered “natural leapers” simply gravitate towards the proper mechanics, people who do not have a ton of god-given leaping ability simply need to learn how to jump the right way. The videos on the page are very informative regarding proper jump technique:

5. Practice: An old saying is that “practice makes perfect.” The truth is that practice makes permanent, so consistently training the proper jump technique over a long period of time will make you a better leaper. Training your fast twitch muscle fibers to activate properly and on a regular basis will elicit “muscle-memory” (the proper technique will become second nature). Jumping is just like shooting a basketball, swinging a golf club, or pitching a baseball, it takes time, effort, and repetition to improve.

Week 22 Day 2


1. 5x2 Snatch

2. 3x5 Weighted Ring Push-ups

3. 5x5 Straight Body Lifts

Workout #2 Basketball Shooting Workout:

1. 350 shots w/ intermittent conditioning

2. Championship sprints x3 for conditioning

Week 22 Day 1


1. 5x2 One arm Dumbell Cleans

2. 5x3 Weight Pull-ups

3. 25 Dunk Attempts

4. 100 three pointers

Week 21 Day 7

Active Rest Day

Week 21 Day 6


1. 50 Dunk Attempts

2. 2 on 2 Basketball for 1hour and a half

Friday, April 9, 2010

Week 21 Day 5

Workout #1:

1. 25 GHD Sit-ups+ 10 Reverse Hypers

2. 5x2 Deadlift

3. 30 Rim Grabs/ Dunk Attempts

Workout #2:

1. Shooting: 100 Three Pointers

2. 3 on 3 full court pick-up basketball (about 45 minutes)

Week 21 Day 4

Workout #1:

1. Back Squat- 5x3

2. Weighted Ring Dip- 5x3

Workout #2:

1. Basketball Shooting Workout

Week 21 Day 3


1. Basketball Shooting Workout

Week 21 Day 2

Workout #1:

1. 5x3 2 pood Kettle Bell Snatch

2. 5x3 2 pood Kettle Bell Overhead Squat

Workout #2:

1. Basketball Shooting Workout

Week 21 Day 1

Rest Day

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Week 20 Day 7

Active Rest Day

Week 20 Day 6


1.Rim Grabs

2.Dunk attempts

Week 20 Day 5


1. High Box Jumps- 10x1

2. DB Shoulder Press- 5x5

3. GHD Situps- 3x25

4. Reverse Hypers- 3x10

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Overtraining vs. Overthinking

A couple of weeks ago I said that I was going to write a post addressing the topic of adrenal fatigue. I researched the topic thoroughly, but through that process I realized that the information that I had “learned” had only made me more critical of my own training regimen, essentially compelling me to search for every minute symptom of adrenal fatigue that I might be experiencing.

Long story short, adrenal fatigue is a condition in which one’s adrenal glands function at a sub-optimal level when one is at rest, under stress, or in response to consistent or intermittent physical and mental demands. The term adrenal fatigue is used synonymously with the concept of “overtraining.” Adrenal fatigue can be caused by excessive physical, emotional and mental stress (and can also be triggered by excessive caffeine consumption, which causes a great deal of stress to the adrenal glands).

After I had researched the topic and took some time off, I realized that I was worrying way too much about the “adrenal fatigue” that I was experiencing. Sometimes life demands one to do work, whether it is mental or physical, when one is not in an ideal performance state. In order to be “functionally fit” one needs to be able to continue to do strenuous work under duress.

I had this epiphany today, when, after a night of lackluster sleep, I came to the gym feeling more like taking a nap than throwing a bunch of weight over my head. I decided to push through it and see how I felt. My lifting workout wasn’t amazing, but I got some good work done and felt like I overcame an enormous mental block in the process. Following the lift I decided to head up to Novato to do a shooting workout involving a couple-hundred made jumpers and a series of sprints intermittently between sections of shooting. I ended up having an awesome workout and I even hung on the rim a couple of times.

So when you are feeling tired and sorry for yourself, workout and push through the imaginary wall that you have manufactured in front of yourself. The human body is capable of much more then the mind allows us to be aware of.

All of this being said, rest days are essential to achieving optimal performance and sleep is just about as important to human vitality as breathing is. So take one, two, or even three rest days a week and “get as much sleep as you can without being divorced or fired” (quote from Robb Wolf), but play with pushing through fatigue, you might just have a stellar workout and turn your day around.

Week 20 Day 4

Workout #1:

1. 7x2 Backsquat

2. 5 sets of max ring push-ups

Workout #2:

1. 150 made shots with sets of 8 sideline to sidelines sprints

2. 10 rim grabs

Week 20 Day 3

Rest Day

Week 20 Day 2

Basketball Workout:

1. Ball Handling drills

2. 200 hundred made shots with 3 suicide sprints between sets of shots

3. 10 rim grabs

Week 20 Day 1


10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 of


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Week 19 Day 7

Active Rest Day

Week 19 Day 6


1. Fast Backsquats- 5x2

2. Dunk attempts- (a lot, more than 50)

Week 19 Day 5


1. Front Squat- 7x2

2. Wall Runs

Week 19 Day 4


1. Snatch- 5x1

2. 3x 1 minute planks (front, both sides)+ 30 second L-sit+ 45 sec hollow hold

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

An Audience is an Athlete’s Best Friend

The goal of my workout today was a predictable one: dunk a basketball. After some preparatory fast back squats and high box jumps I headed over to the outdoor courts at Redwood High School. In all honesty I was dragging a bit today when I started to warm up my vert at Redwood. I just didn’t feel explosive; I didn’t feel fast or quick. There wasn’t anybody around, and I hate to say it, but I was just going through the motions.

After about 30 minutes of lackluster rim grabs I was about to call it a day when some kids came by and picked up the basketball that I had brought with me to eventually practice with. I told them that it was my ball, but they could play around with it for a while. They started playing a game of one on one and in between plays I went up and tried to grab the rim as emphatically as possible.

Then something amazing happened. I could suddenly jump a good five inches higher than I had been on my previous jumps. I was getting my entire hand above the rim and hanging on it. I was grabbing the rim with two hands. I just felt incredible. What was responsible for this sudden upsurge in performance? I had an audience. Simply having those kids present and within 10 feet of me and aware of what I was trying to accomplish presented me with a tremendous sense of motivation that simply was not there when I was jumping on my own. My body was producing more adrenaline and I felt like a new man.

When the kids thanked me and gave me the ball back they said to me, “You can dunk right?” I said “Not yet, but I’m almost there.”

After they left, I came very close to dunking, but did not successfully do so. Next time I head over to the court I think I’m going to have to bring an entourage, or just solicit some kids to throw me alley-oops.

Week 19 Day 3


1. 5x2 Backsquat (maintaining speed out of the bottom)

2. 5x1 Box Jump

3. Dunk attempts (50 attempts)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Tips for the CrossFit Games Competitor

Games season is upon us. Many of my clients at CrossFit Marin are preparing to compete in the Northern California sectionals next weekend in San Jose. I am very confident that they will represent CFM proudly, that being said there are a few things that all games competitors should be aware of during the final week before the competition. Here is my list of the top five pieces of advice for the first time games competitor:

1. You need to realize that your performance in the Games will be a product of the training that you have done over the course of the last one, two, three or even five years of your life. Do not use this week to make up for lost time. What I mean by this is do not trick yourself into thinking that the more work (working out) that you do this week, the fitter and more prepared you will be for the games on Saturday. In fact, it is just the opposite. This week needs to be a taper week. A week in which you might do one or maybe two hard workouts early in the week and the rest of the week should be spent resting, icing, doing mobility work, and maybe doing a contrast shower or two (check out my post titled: “Recover” from November 18th for more information on contrast showers.)

2. Eat the way that you have been eating for the last two to three months. Don’t decide to change your diet this week. Ideally you have acclimated to a paleo (or very close to paleo) diet at this point and all you need to do is bring along a cooler with the types of meats, nuts, fruits and veggies that you eat regularly. If the vast majority of what you eat could be purchased at a 7/11 than stop at the 7/11 on the way to San Jose and pick up the stuff that you normally eat. Worry about changing your eating habits after the competition so that your body will be able to acclimate to a new nutritional protocol and so that you can tinker with the nutrient timing and the types of foods that you run best on.

3. Utilize relaxation techniques (see “The Mental Approach” 12/16/09 and “The Art of Olympic Yawning” 2/17/09) before your events. Bring your ipod and play some tunes that you like to get your brain producing dopamine (makes you feel good) before you compete. There are going to be a lot of people at the sectionals and I guarantee you that you are going to be at least a little bit nervous. So take deep breaths, relax, envision yourself speedily and successfully completing the workout, and have fun. Use your nerves to fuel your performance.

4. I alluded to this one in #3, but it is so important that it needs to be stated again. Use visualization to power your performance. Visualize yourself successfully completing the workouts the way in which you want to complete them.

5. Have fun. The adrenaline rush of competition is unmatched. So do not put any pressure on yourself and just have a blast.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Exercise, The Fountain of Youth

I spotted this article ("Internally Fit" by Gretchen Reynolds) in the New York Times Magazine a few months ago and held onto it because I found it so interesting. The article essentially states that exercise throughout one’s life keeps one’s cells young (or younger). Stephen Roth, a professor of kinesiology at The University of Maryland, conducted a study in which he measured the telomeres of middle-aged subjects. Long telomeres are indicative of healthy, youthful cells. His research suggests that the telomeres of active middle-aged people were longer and more youthful than those of his sedentary subjects.

Many other studies have been conducted which support this theory: running (activity) reduces the effects of aging on a molecular level. In the article Christian Werner, an internal medicine resident at Saarland University Clinic in Hamburg was quoted as saying, “to see in our study that many of the middle-aged athletes looked much younger than sedentary control subjects of the same age.” Although science is fallible and experimentation can never be proven (only disproved), the research that Gretchen Reynolds compiled in this article presents an excellent argument regarding the anti-aging effects of exercise.

Here is the link to the article:

On a side note, I will be taking a week off from intense training. So I won't be posting any workouts for a while. I've been dealing with some really wicked fatigue lately that I suspect might be related to adrenal fatigue. I am going to do a bit more research on it. Expect a post focusing on adrenal fatigue in the near future.

Week 18 Day 3


1. 30 minutes of pick-up basketball

2. 5x3 Weighted Pull-up

3. 5x5 Straight-Body Lift

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Week 18 Day 2


1. 50 meter Farmers walk carry (got up to 442lbs)

2. 3x 30 second L-sit+1 minute plank (front and both sides)+ 45 Hollow Hold

Week 18 Day 1

Rest Day

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Week 17 Day 7

Workout (10 rounds for time):

5 Push-ups
10 Squats
15 Hollow Rocks

(Starting up another adaptation week)

Week 17 Day 6


150 Burpees for time

Week 17 Day 5

Rest Day

Friday, March 12, 2010

Week 17 Day 4

Rest Day

Week 17 Day 3


1. 20 minutes of dunk attempts

2. Gymnastics class at CFM:

-Floor: Front Handsprings
-High Bar- Basic Swing
-10 minute AMRAP: Plyo Punch to dive roll, 5 dips, P-bar walk, 5 dips, 1 rope climb (hands only), 10 Straight Body Lifts

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Week 17 Day 2


1. Snatch- 5x1

2. Reverse Hypers- 5x8

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Week 17 Day 1


1. 3x2 Back Squat @ 80%

2. 20 minutes of dunk attempts

(I'm getting very close on the dunk...hoping to throw down within the next few weeks.)

Week 16 Day 7

Active Rest Day

Week 16 Day 6


1 90kg (198lb) clean + 10 second L-sit on the minute for 10 minutes

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Relax Your Face!

Here is a little multiple-choice question for the followers of the Quest. What do you think my number one coaching cue is as a CrossFit coach?

a. Chest up, butt back (when squatting or doing any lift)
b. Neutral Head (head in line with one’s spine when lifting, particularly important on the deadlift)
c. Relax your arms! (a big issue for many Crossfitters in a slew of movements)
d. Relax your face

If you chose D as your answer you are correct. Although maintaining the proper curvature of one’s spine (chest up, butt back), keeping one’s head neutral, and relaxing one’s arms are all extremely important points of performance I do not have to reiterate those cues nearly as much as I need to tell my clients to relax their faces.
The human face has an enormous amount of tiny muscles and nerve endings that help us creating diverse facial expressions. If you scrunch up your face throughout a workout or even a single lift you will be subjecting your body to an amount of internal stress that is entirely unnecessary. Consequently, making a conscious effort to relax your face while working out will make your efforts perceivably easier and inevitably elicit a stronger performance.

The NFL combine just ended on Tuesday and I watched a great deal of it. The need to mitigate wasted energy during intense exercise became extremely evident during the 40 yard dash. The “40” is arguably the most important test that is done at the NFL combine. As some of you might know Tim Tebow’s draft stock is questionable due to his inefficient throwing motion. I watched Tebow run the 40, and his running mechanics need some work as well. The NFL network ran a slow motion close-up of Tebow’s face before cutting to a commercial break and I saw that Tebow had closed his eyes and scrunched up his entire face. He ran a 4.7 and I know that he is faster than that. I would argue that he could easily shave .2 seconds off his time if he did not waste so much energy tightening up all of the muscles in his face.

So if you are a future pro or just an average joe, relax your face and your athletic performance will skyrocket.

Week 16 Day 5


1. Rack Jerk- 1 rep max

2. Weighted Depth Jumps- 10x1

3. Max Depth Jumps- 10x1

4. Dunk Attempts- 15x1

Week 16 Day 4

Active Rest Day

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Week 16 Day 3

Workout #1:

1. Back Squat- 1 rep max

2. Standing vertical jump work

Workout #2 (Gymnastics Class):

1. Basic Tumbling

2. Back Hand Spring Work

3. Ring Work- backward roll to support and iron cross work

4. Max Dead Hang Pull-ups

5. Max Sit-ups in 1 minute

Overhead Squat PR

I hit a new OHS PR yesterday: 120kg. I'm gunning for 300lbs (136kg).

Week 16 Day 2


1. 8x1 Snatch

2. 5x2 Overhead Squat

3. Basic Gymnastics- Germans, 360 Pulls, and Backward roll to support (attempts on rings)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Week 16 Day 1


Clean and Jerk- 5-5-3-3-1-1-1

Week 15 Day 7

Active Rest Day

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Week 15 Day 6

Trainer's Workout:

For Time:
200 meter run
20 Wall Ball
15 Ring Dips
400 meter run
20 Wall Ball
15 Ring Dips
200 Meter Run

Friday, February 26, 2010

Week 15 Day 5


1.Clean+Jerk- 5x1 above 80%

2.Box Jump- 10x1 above 42"

3.Dunk attempt-10x1

4.Deadlift- 5x3 above 80%

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Week 15 Day 4


1. 6x1 Snatch (all reps above 80% of 1RM)

2. 7x3 Front Squat (all reps above 80% of 1RM)

3. 3x 25 GHD Sit-ups
25 Back Extensions

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Game Day

Recently Debbie Premo, a CrossFit Marinite, posted a gigantic list of questions in the comments section of the blog post in which I relayed my results from the PW Championships. The pervasive theme of Debbie’s questions was the athlete’s approach to “game day.” Here are Debbie’s questions and my answers:

Debbie: What do you do to contribute to your success for your 45 seconds or so of actual performance? It's not like you can recreate the environment of an actual competition as part of your usual training--the crowds, the standing around, etc.

Ben: The best way to mimic a weightlifting competition is to rehearse it. One of the luxuries of competitive weightlifting is that the happenings on game day are relatively predictable. I know that I am going to lift six times (three Snatch attempts and three Clean & Jerk attempts) and I know that I will have somewhere between 2 and 8 minutes to recover between lifts. So I rehearsed it. Exactly one week before the competition I participated in my own pseudo-competition at CrossFit Marin. I tested out my openers (the weights that I started with in the Snatch and Clean & Jerk) and got a good feel for the jumps that I planned to make during the competition.

Debbie: I know you drove up from SF to Sacto that morning--was it just another long car ride, or were you nervous? What did you do to stay relaxed?

Ben: I actually wasn’t very nervous during that car ride. I was a tiny bit worried about getting there on time and not missing the exit off of the highway, but all in all I wasn’t too nervous during the ride. I started to get nervous when I entered the gym and saw some people competing. Whenever I get nervous like that before a competition or a workout I remind myself that if I am not nervous there is something wrong. If one’s central nervous system is not running full steam before a competitive scenario, then that person’s body and mind are not ready.

Debbie: Do you have some favorite music that you listen to?

Ben: I listen to rap (something along the lines of Andre Nickatina, Zion I, or 50 cent) when I train at CFM. So I don’t change anything on game day, just more of the same old tunes.

Debbie: Once you're there, I suspect there might have been lots of standing around and uncertainty until your turn to perform? How did you manage that?

Ben: There was a bit of standing around, but not too much. I was definitely nervous, but I was confident too. I knew that I had trained intelligently for the past couple of months and I was confident that my preparation would beget good results. When I am really nervous before a competition I like to use a breathing technique that I learned from the performance menu ( I take a deep breath in and say “strong, strong, strong” in my head and as I slowly exhale I say, “relax, relax, relax” in my head. There are tons of other equally effective techniques. My post on “The Art of Olympic Yawning” states that forcing a big yawn before competition triggers the production of neurotransmitters that put the mind and body at ease. Also, Jon Seitz, an athlete at CFM taught me a new relaxation technique last night, in which you take a big breath in, elongate your exhale as long as possible, and cough as emphatically as possible.

Debbie: Did you get hungry? Feel like just the smell of food would make you hurl?

Ben: After I finished the snatches I felt really light-headed, not necessarily hungry, but I knew I needed some food if I was going to perform well in the Clean & Jerk. So I ate some chicken and a couple of tangerines (courtesy of coach Russell Bruel). After that little power snack I felt lucid and my energy skyrocketed. And no, the smell of food didn’t make me want to hurl.

Debbie: I know my friends who run marathons say game day is all about fluid management--in all ways one must manage that. Were things like that even relevant?

Ben: Drinking an adequate amount of water is immensely important for all athletes. When one is dehydrated, they will feel sluggish and their muscles will tighten up. That being said, the biggest difference between marathon runners and Olympic weightlifters is in the duration of the activity. Marathons can last up to 6 hours and the total amount of time spent lifting at a weightlifting competition will only amount to about 45 seconds. Consequently, game day hydration is much more important for the runner. I just approached hydration the same way that I do on a day-to-day basis. I think that I put away 2 full 32 ounce water Nalgenes before the competition. The only caveat to the water intake of a competitive weightlifter is that you weigh in before a weightlifting competition. So if I were attempting to cut down to a certain weight I probably wouldn’t drink any water until after the weigh-in (about 2 hours before the competition). I am light for the 94kg weight class so that wasn’t an issue.

Debbie: How about rituals or techniques you use to stay calm and focused on game day? I have a silly ritual before a very heavy lift (well, heavy for me, it’s all relative...) of moving the lower cuff of my sweats outward from my shin before I push the bar onto my shin--silly stuff like that. How about you, any rituals or habits like that which you continued at the PWA?

Ben: My pre-lift routine is to take a deep breath in (saying “strong, strong, strong” in my head), followed by a big drawn out exhale (saying “relax, relax, relax” in my head), then I chalk up my hands, do a small pre-emptive fist pump (see my post on “The Mental Approach,” 12/17/09), continually replay a successful lift and the corollary feeling of a successful lift in my head and then I finally lift the bar.

Debbie: And how about the other athletes? Did you notice what they did or didn’t do? How about antics they may have pulled to mess with their competition?--you know, try to unnerve the competition?

Ben: Most of the competitors were very low key and didn’t really stand out much aside from their impressive technique and the incredibly large loads they threw over their heads. John North was the only athlete who really stood out. John is an incredible lifter (he snatched 150kgs and clean & jerked 176 kgs), but his lifts paled in comparison to his absolutely insane pre-lift routine, which was more reminiscent of a theatrical performance than something you would see at a weightlifting competition. John would run out from behind bleachers and start jumping up and down with his arms out (gesturing for the crowd to make more noise). Then John pushed the bar and danced around it as if he were sparring with it. John proceeded to engage in some positive self-talk (almost all successful athletes do some form of internal positive self-talk) out loud. Before his Clean & Jerks John yelled, “Pendlay, Pendlay (the name of his coach) . . . Snatch this, Snatch this” (meaning that he could snatch the weight as easily as he was about to clean & jerk it). John set the PWA record with his 150kg snatch. It was pretty amazing to watch John’s performance in person.

Debbie: And, did you do anything materially different at the PWA compared to a regular training day?

Ben: Other than producing an insane amount of adrenaline, I didn’t do anything different than a typical training day at CFM.

Week 15 Day 3

Rest Day

Week 15 Day 2

Active Rest Day

1) Jumprope

2)ROM exercises

3) Trigger Point Work

4) Stretching

(Really destroyed myself last week so I am taking an extra day off)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Week 15 Day 1

Rest Day

Week 14 Day 7


5x5 Front Squat

5x5 Deadlift

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Week 14 Day 6


1. 5x3 Back Squat @75%

2. 20x1 Dunk attempts

Week 14 Day 5


1. 5x1 Snatch (all sets above 75%)

2. 7x3 Overhead Squat

3. 4x1 Turkish Get-up

4. 5x10 Overhead Weighted Sit-up

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Olympic Art of Yawning

Snowboarders are flying through the air, moguls are being speedily traversed, skaters are gracefully gliding on the ice, and the Canadian hockey team is destroying the competition. What does this all mean? It means that we are smack dab in the middle of another awesome winter Olympics.

What interests me most about the winter games is the astonishing mental preparation and psychological strategies that all of the successful athletes utilize in order to perform their best in astonishingly stressful and nerve racking scenarios. I respect professional football, basketball, and baseball players enormously, but their day-to-day performance is nowhere near as meaningful as the performance of an Olympic athlete. In conventional pro sports there is a championship every year, so if you don’t win the Super Bowl in 2010, your sights are set on the 2011 Super Bowl.

The Olympics, on the other hand, come only once every four years, and the stakes consequently rise astronomically. Not to mention the insane pressure that each athlete’s home country places upon them. For example, when The Netherland’s Sven Kramer raced in the 5000-meter speed skating final this past Saturday it was estimated that 97% of the population of the Netherlands was watching Kramer. The weight of an entire country was on Kramer’s shoulders. He ended up winning the gold medal, and lived up to his country’s high expectations.

What allowed Kramer to win this race? Obviously, he spent long hours on the ice, had a solid strength and conditioning regimen, and some very strong genetics. But doesn’t every Olympic athlete possess all of these qualities? The simple answer is yes. So then, what allowed him to win the gold? It was his mental approach.

I am sure that Kramer practiced visualization and positive mantra sports psychology techniques to prepare for the race, but that is just speculation. I can guarantee that Kramer used one mental preparatory technique, because I saw him use it just before his race.

What was his technique? He yawned. Before each of his races last Saturday almost every time the camera went in for a close up Kramer was in the middle of a big drawn out yawn. I am sure that this sounds absolutely absurd, but there is a very logical explanation for it. When one yawns it triggers the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, which directly correlate with a state of relaxation and calm. I am sure that Kramer and all of the other speed skaters in his race were extremely nervous and could have used some much-needed relaxation.

I have been watching a lot of the speed skating and Apolo Ohno and Shani Davis of the USA speedskating team have been using the same yawning technique before their races. Ohno has already won a silver medal and is in contention for two more and Davis is the favorite in the long track 1000 and 1,500. So, maybe there is a method to the (yawning) madness.

I am definitely going to test this out the next time I am nervous before a weightlifting competition.

Week 14 Day 3


1. Clean and Jerk- 1 rep max

2. Front Squat- 8x2

3. 2x 30 GHD sit-ups+ 25 Back Extensions
2x 12 GHD sit-ups+ 12 Back Extensions (w/ 20lb weight vest)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Week 14 Day 2


3x1 Clean and Jerk @ 75%

5x3 Backsquat

5x3 Dips

Monday, February 15, 2010

Big PR on Snatch

I hit 90kg today on the snatch,which is a 5.5kg improvement from my last PR from 10 days ago.

Week 14 Day 1


1. Snatch- 1 rep max

2. Snatch Push Press- 5x5

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Week 13 Day 7

Active Rest Day

Saturday, February 13, 2010

More Sleep= Better Performance

I have said it before and I am going to say it again. Sleep (in mass quantities) is an essential aspect of a successful training regimen.

A recent article in the NY Times covers this very topic:

The article states that a handful NBA teams have dropped their morning shootarounds in an effort to allow their players to get more sleep. NBA games typically end around 10PM and by the time players have showered, been interviewed, and had something to eat they will normally not be in bed until 3 AM or 4AM. The vast majority of NBA teams hold what they call a shootaround the morning before a game. NBA teams typically play 6 games a week and are consequently guaranteed to frequently play back to back games, which normally entails going to bed late and getting up early for a shootaround (early being relative, something like 8AM).

NBA players are playing 48 minutes of high intensity basketball 6 nights a week and their bodies take a beating. Performing optimally night in and night out on 5 hours of sleep is simply unrealistic. Most notably the San Antonio Spurs, the Boston Celtics and the Portland Trailers have dropped their AM shootarounds. It is no surprise that their nightly performance has sky rocketed.

Doc Rivers, the coach of the Celtics, was quoted in the article. ““If you go three, four, five days in a row with less than six hours of sleep, your reaction time is comparable to that of someone legally drunk,” Rivers said. “You’re trying to play a basketball game where just a 10th of second, a degree off, throws your whole game off.”

So sleep more and you will perform like an NBA player... maybe not, but it is an undeniable fact that sleep restores neurons and sleeping 8-10hours a night will do wonders for one’s mental clarity, focus, and physical performance. To quote Robb Wolf ( “Sleep as much as you can without getting divorced or fired...and if the marriage is shaky and the job is lame, just sleep as much as you can.”

Week 13 Day 6

Trainer's WOD:

2k Row For Time

(Definitely a good WOD to finish off the adaptation week. I haven't done anything this aerobic in about 9 months)

Friday, February 12, 2010

NEW Deadlift PR

I know, I know... I am doing an adaptation week so I shouldn't be deadlifting, but when I came into the gym today I just had an itch to go for a one rep max I did. I picked up 183.45kg (406lbs). My goal for the next couple of months is to pick up 200kg.

Week 13 Day 5


1.Deadlift- 1 rep max

2.Ring set- 3x muscle-up, 3 dips, L-sit, and 2 skin the cat

3.5x 50 meter Overhead carry (40lb vest+ 155lb barbell overhead)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Post-Workout Nutrition

Post workout nutrition is a bit more complex than pre-workout nutrition in my opinion. The food (or lack there of) that one consumes following a workout is entirely predicated upon the duration of the workout, the type of exercise (i.e., strength-based, aerobic, or anaerobic (glycolitic)), and the number of times that one is engaging in this activity on a daily basis.

For example, I have been training mostly strength-based workouts lately, once a day, with an occasional, small dash of anaerobic activity (maybe one short CF WOD a week, or a series of short sprints). Given the fact that the type of training that I do regularly does not drain my glucose stores and the fact that I only train once daily I don’t really see the need for a post-workout meal. I will usually take in a high protein, high fat meal with some low glycemic vegetables (what the vast majority of my meals consist of) somewhere between one and three hours following my workouts. This has worked very well for me through the “Quest.” The manner in which I address post workout eating is applicable to any strength or short duration activity athletes because it addresses the fact that muscle stores need to be repaired (protein does this) and my muscle glycogen (glucose stores) have not been depleted very much so there is no need for a ton of high glycemic carbohydrates. For example my style of post-workout eating would work well with100 meter sprinters, high jumpers, throwers, and baseball players.

In an effort to address the approach to post-workout nutrition for more glycolytically demanding sports I am going to describe the ideal post-workout dietary tactics for a hard charging CrossFit athlete. Let’s say that we have a CrossFit games competitor named Bill and Bill trains CF WODs twice a day on a 3 on 1 off rotating schedule. Bill should be getting the bulk of his daily carbohydrates with a dash of protein in his post-workout feeding window (when glucose stores are most deplete--within 30 minutes of a workout). Ideally Bill would be taking in some sweet potatoes (or other starchy plant-based carbs) and some protein (ideally meat protein).The starch will replenish his muscle glycogen and prepare him for his next workout, while the protein will elicit a glucagon response and enhance the restorative process within his fatigued muscles. Marathon runners, MMA fighters, and any other glycolytically demanding sport (basketball and soccer are also good examples) would attack the post workout feeding window in a very similar manner.

There are also many other interesting ways to tackle post-workout nutrition. I have heard of bodybuilders who eat one insanely large, protein only, meal (2-4 pounds of meat) a day immediately following their workouts. This is a very sneaky way to confront the post-workout feeding window because the meal is entirely ketogenic (just protein and fat), yet the meal will also fill glucose stores simply because it is so large (eliciting a somewhat large insulin response). This type of meal also delivers the body with an onslaught of essential amino acids.

Although I give some pretty concrete examples above, the only way to determine what approach is best for you or your athletes is through experimentation—trying different strategies and seeing how you look, feel, and perform.

What is your post workout meal? When do you eat it? Do you eat one at all?

Week 13 Day 4

Rest Day

(Wanted to work out today, but I'm fighting off a nasty bug)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Pre-Workout Nutrition

Before I dive into this juicy topic, I want to make it clear that everyone reacts differently to various nutritional approaches, so the only true way to determine one's best nutritional strategy is through experimentation. In that same vein, the way in which one eats throughout an entire day is significantly more important than simply focusing on the hours before, during, after training.

Pre-workout nutrition is pretty simple. In my humble opinion entering a workout in a somewhat fasted state, will encourage optimal performance. I would advise not eating anything within 3 hours of a workout (especially if that workout is a fast paced met con). Everybody’s digestive system is slightly different and some people might be able to get away with wolfing down an entire meal 30 minutes before they do Fran (CrossFit WOD) for example.

Digestive diversity aside, I would still argue that everyone at least consider training in a fasted state for a couple of reasons. First of all, following the consumption of a somewhat large meal, gastric emptying occurs, meaning that a large percentage of one’s blood flow goes to the stomach to aid in the digestive processes as opposed to continuing to circulate throughout the body. Systematic blood flow does not occur in a state of gastric emptying, consequently exercising during this period of time will not lead to optimal performance nor an optimal hormonal response. That leads to my second reason for training on an empty stomach—it increases human growth hormone and the overall exercise induced anabolic response and consequently increases muscle growth (study on this theory The increased anabolic response that occurs during and after “fasted” (not eating within 3+ hours) training is a compensatory response to the catabolism that occurs when training on an empty stomach.

So if you are not already training “empty” give it a try for a week or two and see how you look, feel and perform. For those craving (no pun intended) more regarding nutrition in conjunction with training my next post will cover post-workout eating.

Week 13 Day 3


10 x 100 meter sprint (up steep stairs)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Week 13 Day 2


1. 5x3 HSPU

2. 5x 100 meter Farmer's walk (adding weight each round)

(This week is an "adaptation week," meaning that I will be training movements that I do not normally train)

Week 13 Day 1

Rest Day

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Quest

As I approach the final day of my 12-week quest for dunkage I feel pretty good about what I have accomplished, but I am nowhere near being satisfied. My original goals at the beginning of the program were to dunk a basketball and have an Olympic lifting total of 200 kilograms. With one day left (in the 12 weeks) my Olympic lifting total (combination of the Snatch and Clean and Jerk) is 198.5kg and I am able to dunk a mini basketball slightly larger than a softball. Although I did not fully accomplish either of my goals I made gigantic improvements and learned a great deal about how to effectively implement a goal-oriented training regimen.

I am planning on maintaining a very similar training regimen and continuing to train towards my goal of dunking a basketball. I am confident that my oly numbers will improve steadily if I continue to train and research as avidly as I have over the course of the last three months. I will keep the blog going as I continue to train towards “dunkage.”

Lately I have been reading a ton of literature written by the head of Westside Barbell—Louie Simmons( Westside is an incredibly successful power lifting gym in Ohio and Louie swears by an “adaptation week” after every four weeks of training. During an “adaptation week” one trains entirely different exercises or modalities in an effort to allow the body to adapt to the stress that had been placed upon it and congruently ward of plateaus in training.

So for as long as it takes me I am going to continue to train the Olympic Lifts, plyometrics, and the occasional CrossFit WOD in an effort to allow myself to dunk a basketball. I will conduct an adaptation week on the fifth week of my training cycle in which I will participate in activities that I have not trained in the previous four weeks. For example I am planning on focusing primarily on gymnastics during my adaptation weeks.

On a side note...Is there any subject matter that anyone would like me to post on? I have been posting on topics that I find interesting, but I would be more than happy to address anything that anyone is curious about.

Week 12 Day 7


1. Back Squat- 5x2 @ 80%

2. Dunk attempts- 10x1

Week 12 Day 6

Coaches' WOD:

10:00 minute AMRAP

5 Chest to Bar Pull-ups
10 Burpees
15 1.5 Pood KB swings
20 Double Unders

Friday, February 5, 2010


Hit a new snatch PR today...84.54kg. I barely missed 90, so I am going to try that again within the next couple of weeks.

Week 12 Day 5


1. Snatch- 1 Rep Max

2. 4x 30 GHD sit-ups + 25 Back Extensions

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Week 12 Day 4


1. 5x3 Front Squat

2. 5x3 Shoulder Press

3. Handstand and Pullover work

Week 12 Day 3

Rest Day

Week 12 Day 2


Snatch Balance to Snatch Complex @ 80%

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Results from the PWA Championships

As you guys know I participated in the PWA championships on Saturday. I was a bit disappointed in my performance on the Snatches. I hit my firt attempt at 78kg and then missed my next two attempts at 82kg (which were very close). I hit all three of my attempts on the clean and jerk, finishing with 114kg (250lbs and a PR).

Week 12 Day 1

Active Rest Day

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Week 11 Day 7

Active Rest Day

Friday, January 29, 2010

Retrograde Performance

As I mentioned earlier in the week I have tapered off in an effort to be fully recovered for the PWA championships tomorrow. Although most of the people who read this blog do not compete regularly outside of daily CF WODs, the concept of tapering (reducing one’s training load) periodically is applicable to every athlete on the planet who is interested in improving athletic performance and achieving his or her goals.

Based upon scientific research in the phenomenon of overtraining, a period of down time within a training regimen is imperative to the success of any athlete. Some coaches recommend a “half-dose” every 4 weeks of training and others suggest that athletes take an entire week off every 12 weeks.

The premise behind a cyclic drop in work output is that an athlete will diminish the degenerative effects of overtraining (aka retrograde performance) and allow the body to fully adapt to the exercise induced stress that one has endured and consequently reap the hard earned benefits of one’s training regimen. A sound diet and lots of sleep are also excellent ways to ward off retrograde performance.

Here is a list of symptoms that commonly correlate with overtraining:

• Washed-out feeling, tired, drained, lack of energy
• Mild leg soreness, general aches and pains
• Pain in muscles and joints
• Sudden drop in performance
• Insomnia
• Headaches
• Decreased immunity (increased number of colds, and sore throats)
• Decrease in training capacity / intensity
• Moodiness and irritability
• Depression
• Loss of enthusiasm for the sport
• Decreased appetite
• Increased incidence of injuries.
• A compulsive need to exercise

If you are currently experiencing a handful of these symptoms consider reducing your training load significantly for a week or two.

Week 11 Day 6

Pacific Weightlifting Association Championships

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Week 11 Day 5

Active Rest Day

Week 11 Day 4


Snatch- 3x1 @70%

Clean and Jerk- 3x1 @70%

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Week 11 Day 3

Active Rest Day

Monday, January 25, 2010

Week 11 Day 2


Snatch- 1x1 @80%

Clean and Jerk- 1x1 @80%

(I'm tapering off this week for the Pacific Weightlifting Championships, which I will be participating in on Saturday.)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Routine vs. Superstition

The word routine is defined as “a typical pattern of behavior that somebody adopts.” On the other hand, superstition is defined as “an irrational but usually deep-seated belief in the magical effects of a particular action, especially in the likelihood that good or bad luck will result from performing it.”

In my humble opinion developing consistent and positive routines in conjunction with one’s athletic or non-athletic endeavors is an excellent practice that everyone should utilize. For example, routinely eating breakfast definitely correlates with an uptick in neurological and physical performance throughout the day. The proper utilization of routines in sports comes to fruition in basketball, particularly in the ritualistic behavior that almost every high-level player in the world uses before taking each individual free-throw shot. For example (when I played), I would hold the ball on my right hip take a deep, slow breath, spin the ball to myself, take two dribbles with my right hand, look at the back of the rim and shoot (and hold my follow through). Routines like my pre-free throw routine develop consistency that can be maintained in practice as well as in games and has the potential to instill a profound sense of comfort and ease in a player during extremely tense high pressure scenarios.

Superstitions conversely are more commonly associated with the word “luck” and can have some extremely negative effects on athletic performance. I used to be really superstitious, especially when I played basketball. I needed to touch the right side of the door to my room three times and tap my toe on the doormat before leaving the house. I even went through a period in which I refused to wash my jersey until we lost a game (putting on a sweaty jersey before every game is not a lot of fun). Superstitions like these only add to “game day” stress and almost start appearing like symptoms of OCD. So a couple of years ago I dropped the superstitions and made a vow not to establish any new ones.

Do you have any positive pre-workout/competition routines? Do you have any superstitions?