Changing whilst maintaining

28 Jul

So here’s my dilemma, the CrossFit Games is on this week, and I have realised that if I ever want to compete at any level, my strength needs to increase, a lot! But that alone is not my dilemma, the thing is a lot of my metcon and gymnastic elements are up to a decen standard, or progressing nicely, and I don’t want to sacrifice any of that for strength.

So far, my answers are as follows:

1) I have started using PPS Nutrition creatine delivery system again, creatine being a product I cycle on and off.

2) I have started doing at least 2 big lifts per day, as their own session in order to give them my full attention. These lifts are either power lifts, olympic lifts or component parts. So far, though it’s only been a week, progress is good with 4 PRs.

3) I have started yoga. I know most of you may be puzzled by this, but it’s simple really; flexibility is preventing my olympic lifts from improving. As an idea, at the games this week, the heaviest Clean & Jerk was 161kg. My current best is 90kg. This is simply not good enough. I’ve only attended one class so far, but have practised some of the stuff since and my hamstrings and lower back are beginning to improve already!

4) I have slightly changed my diet. Nothing drastic, just higher carb foods from paleo backgrounds, e.g. Sweet potatoes.

All in all I am continuing with the same methodology, the CrossFit one, but I am slightly changing my focus within it. I just hope it pays off!

And just 1 little bit of extra motivation, in case I needed it, Skinny Chimp just released their limited edition Banana Camo vest, which I was able to order in time. That’ll make me 1 in 200, which I’m very happy about.

Skinny Chimp Army during push jerk practise:



Personal, personality, personally…

22 Jul

The reasons we each start, or have started, training are personal. My own self disgust along with peer pressure and the pressures of my job coaxed me into the gym and were the foundations of my journey so far. But rather than droning on about me, I’d like to concentrate on those who’s paths I’ve crossed in the last 15 months or so.

Inevitably, people see you progressing in the gym and curiosity leads them to ask about your approach and methods. Well I am one of these people too. I know this will upset some people who believe any conversation should be left in the changing rooms, but I think, carefully timed, a quick conversation adds to the whole experience. Besides the social aspect, there are two main reasons I like to talk training. Firstly I’m nosy, plain and simple, if someone is doing something successfully I want to know how. Also, and to me more importantly, all through my life I’ve craved knowledge, a trait that has definitely followed me to the gym. There are a lot of guys who will train and train for years but never really change shape, size, strength or definition (assuming they aren’t at the top of their game already) and with very few exceptions this is for one reason: Ignorance. Again, I’ve probably upset a few people but I’m afraid in my experience its true. My main evidence for this is myself. My former bodybuilding/powerlifting self was a walking font of misguided information, never quite sure what I wanted to achieve and spending over £200 a month on supplements trying to achieve it.

The simple fact is, whether you’re a weightlifter or a fighter, a bodybuilder or a CrossFitter, you’ll find a lot more people with bad knowledge than good knowledge, and in my experience the ones with the former are the more willing to talk about it! All this has got me to thinking why, why is it everyone who has been to the gym regularly for a few months thinks they are fit to train champions? Well I believe it is simple, in one way or another, every person, male and female, I have spoken to about why they started training has one thing in common. We were all given a hard time. Some of us were just the butt of the odd joke, some more serious bullying. The fact is we all started somewhere and all for a reason. Now I’m not attempting to label every avid gym goer a victim, but whatever the level, we have all felt a little inferior or insecure at one time or another. So this then leads me to see two reasons for the constant ‘advice’. 1) people now have a confidence, results, something to shout about. Almost like saying “make a joke now, I can bench press the world” but in a slightly more humble way. 2) maybe you’re seen as being that vulnerable person, going to the gym to build confidence or beat the bullies. Maybe, just maybe these people are actually trying to help, to inspire. So whilst not all advice is good, listen, nod politely and research thoroughly before you try!

All that I’ve said so far fits nicely into stereotypes, upsetting a few but including the many, fact is though it’s not always the same. Not all power lifters are quiet types, who ignore everyone and only communicate in grunts. Not all bodybuilders high 5 all the time and constantly train topless. Not all CrossFitters whoop and cheer in high pitched tones whilst quoting the bible (though many do). The fact is how a person behaves in the gym, most commonly, is closely linked to a personality they formed years before the entered a gym. Maybe the guy in the corner with his headphones at a deafening level, hitting his own face is just generally not talkative and uses the gym to release aggression, he’s not necessarily rude. Maybe the two guys chest bumping and high fiving after getting an awesome pump on the pec dec actually started a transformation together many years ago. And, maybe the CrossFitters doing those funny pull-ups really fast quoting psalms before they start their ‘WOD’ are actually at their only social activity, the only place where they feel comfortable being like that. My point is there’s a lot of ill natured comments flung from one training style to another (all are guilty) whilst forgetting the main point. We are all at the gym, making ourselves better in our own image (maybe not each others image) whilst many, many more are not. This is certainly NOT me suggesting a ‘fit’ war against the non-physical masses, just credit where credit’s due.

So please remember, the way you train is personal, not for everyone, the way you behave in the gym is your personality, not everyone else’s, and personally we all enjoy what we do.

It must be the sun!

16 Jul

Has anyone else found that since the heat wave hit, training has got harder, yet strangely more enjoyable? Well even if it’s just me, that’s how I’m feeling. I’m in my second week off work, so it follows that I have time to train, rest and eat very well. I have taken literally every chance to train outdoors, even if it just involves dragging a rowing machine out the back of the gym.

I’ve focussed on 3 things the past few days; olympic lifting, gymnastics and variety, the latter being the key to my enjoyment I believe. I’ve managed to equal a few lifting and metcon PRs, which on the face of it might seem like a plateau, but in reality, I’m progressing in other areas whilst managing to keep the level constant in these areas.

As an example of a good session, today I dragged a rowing machine and a mat out the back of the gym for my WOD today:

Row 3km
After every 90secs rowed, 20 sit-ups.

A great WOD which squeezed in rowing & core, 2 areas I haven’t included as much recently, so good for variety.

Back to Saturday, I did the benchmark WOD, ‘Grace’. 30 clean & jerk at 135lb for time. Maybe something to do with my PPS Nutrition pre workout mix, or my Skinny Chimp vest, but I hit a very strong PR. A great relief to me, as I’ve targeted olympic lifting recently, and this acted as a good confirmation that it has worked.

On the diet side of life, I’ve stuck almost 100% to this little extract from a Robb Wolf book I downloaded.


I’ve found this very useful, and a simple way to look at this nutritional approach. Robb Wolf is considered, by many, to be a leading authority on, and practitioner of, the paleo diet, and I would certainly recommend, whatever your experience of paleo, that you read some of his stuff, or follow him on twitter.

After a lovely run around Cannock Chase today, more for enjoyment than training, I now look forward to Team PPS visiting tomorrow for a stand at the health fair. I’m sure as ever it will be a great day. For now, enjoy the weather, enjoy trying in it and stay hydrated! A parting picture of me sweaty in my Skinny Chimp after a WOD.


Listen to your body!

11 Jul

Sounds like a cliche doesn’t it, “listen to your body”. Well yes it does, and it is. But like most cliches, it is also very true. A couple of days ago, I went for a 10km run, and full of confidence I set out after a fast time; not necessarily a PR but a fast time nonetheless. The result:


By my own mediocre standards, this was terrible. The main issue was that I was extremely fatigued, but pushed hard regardless, getting more disappointed with every below par step.

By contrast, I went for a 10km run again today. I set no targets, quite the opposite, I picked a scenic route, turned off all speed and time updates from my app and picked a good playlist. For the first time in a long time I ran for the sheer enjoyment of it, because my body was telling me to. The result:


Now I know what you’re thinking, my body was obviously having a better day today, which is very likely to be true, but today’s time was achieved WITHOUT pushing hard, just relaxing and enjoying. By doing this I achieved my best time in two months. The message I’m trying to get across is simple, yes there is a time and a place to give it everything you’ve got, in CrossFit that’s more often than not, but every now and then you need to relax and let your body enjoy the experience. You may be pleasantly surprised by how well your body performs when you do, I certainly was!

Ok, lecture over (I think I’m just lecturing myself to be honest) and on to the other stuff. All in all it has been a busy few days training wise, I’ve trained hard and a lot. My focus has been on core this week, as a couple of days ago it became apparent that after 2 or 3 weeks of neglect, it had severely weakened. The variety has stayed in my training, with plenty of MetCon, power and gymnastic training, I’ve just increased the emphasis on my core. Tonight’s workout was the culmination of this, and went as follows:

3 rounds, time each round

5 pull-ups
10 dips
15 HR push-ups
20 T2B
25 GHD sit-ups

To give you an idea, I’ve had to lay down to write this, and the 2 members of the FitTrain who joined me feel the same.

One thing that has really cheered me up the last couple of days, is the arrival of my new Skinny Chimp tops. Great to work out in and nice casual wear for the hot weather too.


As for now, I’m listening to my body and it says it wants a bath, so that’s where I’m off. Recovery day tomorrow, but I’ll let you know how Saturday turns out when I chase some lifting PRs.

Quite a day

7 Jul

It seems quite fitting that I talk about Andy Murray today. A lot of you might wonder why. Well I think there are 2 comparisons I can quite easily make. Firstly, one of the attributes Andy Murray is credited with, and one which sets him apart from almost every other player, is his physical fitness. It is well known that this wasn’t always the case, but he has devoted as much time to improving his fitness as any other aspect of his game. The results of this dedication are becoming increasingly apparent. The second similarity I find glaringly obvious is his mental toughness. I probably don’t need to give examples of how he has shown his grit, but for the uninitiated, I may have to explain its part in CrossFit. I’m the first to accept, if you watch an elite CrossFitter take on ‘Fran’ for example, it may not look difficult. But then you try it yourself, even as a dabbler in the fitness world, or maybe a sporting type, and you will join hundreds of thousands who have been humbled before you. So here’s where the mental side comes into play; you know that nearly every workout is going to make you feel like that!

So to get away from the topical subject of tennis, but staying with mental strength, I’ll tell you how today went. I know some of you think I’m skipping a bit, but Friday’s workout was a 5km run in boots, which I treated as recovery, and yesterday was a complete rest day.

Today was planned as 2 workouts, I know I often do 3 or even 4, but this was a little different. Both workouts were going to be epic!


5x400m sprint. 1 min rest between
5x100m sprint. Rest by walking back to start.

I’m sure anyone who has done any form of sprint training will have a little empathy for my dread of this workout; before, during and for a while after. I felt sick after every sprint and the rest periods felt incredibly short. I haven’t done enough speed work lately, and as such my times were a little off. I do, however, feel good for having done it, just about. My second workout hurt even more though, something I hadn’t prepared for!



Quite simply put, I was out of breath and soaked through after 90 seconds. By the time I hit my first minute long rest, I honestly believe I would have stopped without my Thermo X. Not only have I become heavily reliant on this phenom as a pre workout, but the fat loss effects are also becoming increasingly evident.

In brief, in addition to ThermoX, I have stuck to paleo and my other PPS Nutrition products to have a solid all round day. All of this means only one thing, tomorrow will consist of 3 workouts, 2 of which will be heavy. I’m excited, I hope you are too. Meanwhile, best of luck with your training and, like me, I hope you take inspiration from recent sporting brilliance.

Staying the course

3 Jul

As those who have been reading my blogs for a while will know, occasionally my training has to adjust for work. Most recently this happened a couple of weeks ago, when my diet and training went through a really bad patch. Well I’m pleased to announce that today is the first day I feel like I’m back up to standard. Yes I’ve broken a few PRs in the last 2 weeks, but they have taken everything out of me, and my recovery times have slowed.

In the face of DOMS and general fatigue, I have continued increasing intensity gradually, though occasionally I have questioned whether I was doing the right thing. The last few days training have given me new faith in the methods of CrossFit and the best pre workout product I have ever used: Thermo X. This product has come at the perfect time, helping me get back on track and progress again.

As a general guide, the last 3 days have consisted of:

Monday: 2 sessions
Tuesday: 4 sessions
Wednesday: 2 sessions


Strict Muscle Up progression

The above videos are a couple of examples of my training this week. Today I have also done the main site WOD, a great workout which consisted of:

10 rounds for time (10,9…2,1)
30″ box jumps
GHD sit-ups

Both myself and one of the FitTrain gave this workout everything and felt great afterwards.

This evening I did some strength work, hitting a split jerk PR in the process. Whilst this is only one PR in one component part of a lift, for some reason it is this that made me feel like I’m back on form. Thinking about it, I can only attribute this feeling to the fact I still felt fresh after doing it. Whatever the reason, my priority is now to maintain the progress and move forward, avoiding plateaus the best I can.

All in all, it’s a difficult time right now, personally and in my training, but if anything this just makes me more determined. I can only hope you are all progressing well too, and if not, have faith, you will!


Steady progress, but still progress

30 Jun

I’ve had a good couple of days. This blog won’t contain stories of PRs, high number lifts or huge heights jumped. It also contains little in the way of new things, though there is some. So now I’ve very carefully put you off reading any further, let me tell you why I am writing at all. Training, for me, is about progress. Not all of it is glamorous, heroic or designed to thrill, conversely much of it is mundane, slow and difficult. I must say I don’t find it mundane doing it, but someone watching probably would.

So what exactly have I achieved in the last 3 days? Well I have stuck almost 100% to a paleo diet and tried the workout
Jeremy. A great little WOD which we (one of the FitTrain and I) managed to squeeze in a short training gap we had.

I have done quite a bit of strength work in the last few days also, working on my deadlift and olympic lifts, not only in the gym but going through technique practises with a broomstick whilst watching videos on YouTube.

Friday was the monthly 6 mile (it’s actually 5.9) cross-country race at work. As I had the most severe DOMS I had ever experienced in my legs, I decided to take it relatively easy. One of the FitTrain and I went around at about 80% effort, still enough to count as a decent workout.


Whilst this was by no means fast, it served a puropse, and also enabled me to conduct an extended stretching and flexibility session afterwards. Now I know stretching is not as heroic as lifting heavy weights or sprinting, but remember, flexibility and agility are 2 of the 10 component parts of fitness, and two I am poor at. I sincerely believe if you incorporate a mobility WOD per week, or dedicate at least 30 minutes twice a week to your range of motion, your lifts and metcon activities will see significant progress.

I would have loved to go into a difficult WOD yesterday, maybe ‘Fight Gone Bad’ or ‘Amanda’, but since I am visiting my mother and sister, I don’t have access to or time for a gym. This, it emerges, was a blessing in disguise. What I have discovered is Parkrun. This in an international scheme where you can register for free, print a barcode, turn up and run at a local event. They take place weekly, are run by volunteers and will cost you nothing.

The 5km route in Bristol, typically, is ridiculously difficult, with the first 2.5km being almost entirely uphill, and steep too! Needless to say, I broke no records, in fact I ran a much slower time than I would have expected, even with hills. This was largely irrelevant though, it was free training, a lovely day out, a scenic route, and an activity I got to participate in with my sister. All in all, very enjoyable. To give you an idea of the variety of standards, here is the results page from the event I took part in.

So my summary of this 3 day period is simple, take whatever training you can get, it will not always be possible to stick 100% to the plan. Eating well does make you feel better; especially after a period of not doing. Get the right supplements for the results you are afer, not generic, well advertised brands, instead visit PPS Nutrition and if you require, they will tell you which of their fantastic range will help you. I reckon regardless of your training style, Thermo X will work for you, as it continues to for me! If you don’t believe how much faith I have in their products, I can be seen on their ‘About’ page or alternatively you can watch this progress video to see how far I have come so far, using PPS Nutrition as the catalyst.

Hopefully you will enjoy your remaining hours of the weekend, and manage to have a productive training week ahead.