Wednesday, May 26, 2010


The time is now... patiently I await the release of this weekend's WOD's. I am calm, but the energy inside me mounts. All I need, I already have. In this moment, I am whole, complete and perfect.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Great read on Relative Strength


The Importance of a Positive Power-to-Weight Ratio


Size matters, but not necessarily the way you want it to. Relative strength (positive power-to-weight ratio) is more important than absolute strength for functional movement. If one trains in a manner that causes muscle hypertrophy (increased size) in order to bench or squat greater weight the ability to run or do pull-ups is compromised. At Gym Jones we stress this concept by combining a big guy move (deadlift) with a little guy move (pull-ups) in single effort. The movements, loads, effort and recovery intervals we use are designed to stimulate increases in myofibril density, the fibers that actually contract rather than increases in sarcoplasma volume, which merely enlarges the muscle due to fluid volume increases without necessarily making it stronger.

We do this because, for most of the athletes we train muscle recruitment (neurological efficiency) is more important than muscle volume. An average person is able to contract a meager 30% of any active muscle when giving his utmost. Top athletes can engage 50% so the muscle must be twice as large as would be necessary if he could activate 100% of the muscle. Improving the ability of nervous system to synchronize the electrical impulses that cause the muscles to contract and act in concert produces greater capacity to generate power than does merely increasing the size of those same muscles. And the athlete remains lighter, which places less stress on the system during locomotion. Maintaining minimum muscle volume also improves oxygen efficiency; when running uphill a big upper body, though not being used demands constant delivery of oxygen and fuel sources, robbing the legs of that same blood and reducing their capacity to produce force and continue doing so.

To illustrate our reasoning I will use my own experience as an example. Many of the training methods or ideals at Gym Jones develop from lessons learned by climbing on the hardest and highest mountains of the world. The benefits of training the maximum possible strength into the minimum body mass and weight are immediately apparent to the climber. Attaining this ideal should be attractive to other athletes as well. And my experience as a climber is easy to extrapolate to other athletic disciplines.

Most successful mountain climbers and those indigenous to the mountains are relatively small in stature with efficient rather than large musculature. In my prime speed climbing period I weighed 148lbs (5'9") and was able to gain 4000'/hour on foot. At 165lbs the best I could manage (on foot) was 3400'/hour and this pace was achieved following an 18-month period during which I consciously shed upper body mass, shifting muscle and energy supply to my legs. Then, after coaxing the muscle from my legs back to my upper body while maintaining 165 pounds I lost approximately 8% of my ability to gain altitude, falling back to 2900-3000'/hour. I was faster when I was lighter and I could still carry a pack and pull almost twice my bodyweight on the lat pull machine. My fitness was very sport-specific, which is to say that I was imbalanced, and weak in areas not applicable to climbing. I could only bench press 65% of my weight, I could not do dips, and though I had pretty abs I had no genuine core strength.

During 2003-04 I modified diet and training, aiming for better balance. Although I dropped to 152 pounds, I can easily bench my weight, clean and jerk more than bodyweight, deadlift more than twice my weight, do more than 20 (strict) pull-ups, and gain more than 3500'/hour. I have found a better balance. Each athlete must find an acceptable compromise power/weight ratio that does not cost him dearly in during any particular task.

The power-to-weight ratio is important to the sports requiring locomotion; the cyclist that generates 400 watts of power with a 145-pound frame is more efficient than the cyclist that creates the same force with a 180-pound body. The 200-meter runner who can deadlift 3x bodyweight runs faster than the sprinter who can only deadlift 2x bodyweight. The runner's size/weight does not determine the one-rep max instead it is the neurological pathways and ability to recruit a greater percentage of existing muscle that are decisive factors. Because of this an athlete may develop the ability to generate incredible power without significant size or weight increase - by simply making the appropriate neurological pathways more efficient.

Relative strength can also determine how individuals integrate into a team. In the military context, every soldier wants to be strong and in an effort to become strong many get big as well. So how does the 230-pound guy integrate into the team? He's strong enough to hump heavy loads all day or carry a casualty. But what if he gets shot or sprains an ankle and his teammates have to carry him, and his gear? This same issue affects mountain climbers and backcountry skiers who often operate in remote areas and must be 100% self-sufficient, fire fighters, SWAT cops, etc. To be sure, fitness is an individual concept but each individual's fitness, size and speed can make the team more capable and flexible or less so.

So size matters, but bigger is not necessarily better, nor is bigger always stronger.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Take care of yourself!

We are crossfitters: we push our bodies to the limit day in and day out. We move through full range of motion, lift heavy weights, push, pull, run and row. We are the fittest people we know. But are we doing enough?

I don't think so.

It doesn't matter if you're in it to lose a few pounds, get back in shape, reach your full athletic potential or train for the International CrossFit Games: the fact is that many of us (myself included) do not do enough to care for our bodies and recover from brutal workouts. Our warmups are short, our cooldowns are hurried (if they happen at all) and we do not do enough outside of the gym to maintain healthy muscles, tendons and joints.

What I am describing is a vision of myself over the past year. I consider myself to be an advanced crossfitter (mainly because of natural ability and future potential) but not yet "elite". Elite crossfitters (in my opinion) are those at the games. Period.

So I ask myself: How do they get there?

People do not arrive in California at the CrossFit Games by accident. They do not all of a sudden decide to go and compete. Nor do they rely on their athletic ability and raw strength to get them there. They train. They train hard. They train their weaknesses as much as their strengths. They eat and supplement for optimal performance and optimal health. They warm up, cool down, train and recover with intention. They utilize trigger point and massage therapy. They often visit doctors and professional therapists to address their physical ailments (Airrosti, Dr. Richard Miller, our very own Julia Magness ;-).

Last June, I injured my low back while attempting a max-effort deadlift. Before that day I was in the habit of practicing yoga 3-4 times a week, and my flexibility was the best it has ever been. Since that time, I have neglected full warmups and cooldowns and not trigger-pointed consistently. Still, I push my body in every workout with the intention of becoming elite.

10 days ago, I tweaked my low back again (again doing deadlifts, although with a very manageable weight...). This incident has made me realize that I am not doing enough. My flexibility is not what it should be, considering the ways I want my body to move, and I find it hard to recover from even one hard WOD.

We are all crossfitters, and we all need to take our training to the NEXT LEVEL. Is your nutrition dialed in? Do you drink enough water? Do you practice yoga? Do you trigger point?

If the answer to any of the above was "no" -- it's time to make the change. Dial in your diet, drink more water, roll out everyday, and join a yoga class (Black Swan Yoga downtown is donation-based, and there is complimentary yoga every Saturday morning at lululemon athletica, 6th & Lamar at 9:00am).

Do this and watch your performance soar -- your body will thank you ;-)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Personal Training

If you have the desire to take your training to the next level, to dial in on your diet and technique and to fulfill your athletic potential: don't hesitate to contact me about personal training. I am looking for dedicated individuals to train 1 on 1 or in groups up to 3 people who are ready and willing to take the next step towards health, fitness, and a killer beach body ;-)

If you are crushing the workouts of the day, or if you simply want a little more instruction and refining of your technique, this is the time to do it. Spots are filling up fast -- email me at, or call me at 713-302-6388.

I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Shopping Spree

Well, I can now say that I have seen paradise... and it is in JAMAICA!

Wow what a trip! 5 nights/6 days in a place I don't have words to describe (and pictures just don't do it any justice...). I feel relaxed, refreshed and ready to get back on it! It's going to take a couple of days to purge the Red Stripe and Pina Coladas from my system, but I can't wait to get back to training...

And as we all know, training starts with NUTRITION. Much to my dismay, our refrigerator was empty upon our return... So off to HEB to stock up on provisions... Here is the grocery list:

3 sweet potatoes, 2 tomatoes, 6 bananas, 3 red bell peppers, 3 green bell peppers, 3 cloves garlic, 3 yellow onions, 2 heads broccoli, 1 package sliced carrots, 2 packages guacamole, 1 jar sauerkraut, 1 jar pasta sauce, 2 packages turkey meatballs, 2 packages bison ground meat, 1 package beer bratwurst, 1 package sliced turkey breast cutlets, 1 package cajun andouille sausage, 1 package frozen crawfish tail meat, 1 package cajun boudin sausage, 2 jars artichoke hearts, 1 package mango pico de gallo, 2 packages fresh blackberries, 2 packages fresh blueberries, 4 fresh pink lady apples, 2 lemons, 2 packages fresh collard greens, 2 containers fresh spinach, 2 fresh haas avocados, 3 grapefruits, 4 fresh portabella mushrooms, 2 packages fresh strawberries, 2 tubs sliced turkey deli meat, 1 jar diced jalapenos, 1 quart extra virgin olive oil, 1 quart coconut oil, 1 container hummus, 2 containers pesto, 6 packets yellowfin tuna in olive oil, 1 jar Saltlick BBQ sauce, 2 jars crunchy almond butter, 4 quarts chocolate almond milk, 1 package chopped walnuts, 1 package sundried tomatoes!

Now that's a lotta food! 3, 2, 1... EAT!