Sunday, March 15, 2009

Not Scaling for Mental Toughness

(Today's workout is in honor of Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Jeff Taylor, 30, of Little Creek, VA who was killed in Afghanistan in June 2005.)

Handstand Push-ups
Ring Dips

Yesterday I scaled to maximize my power output but today I did not scale to increase my mental toughness. This workout creates muscle failure in the arms really fast and it does not take much for me right now as compared to 8 weeks ago. Why didn't I scale it?

1) "Constantly varied" means mix things up. It wouldn't be true to CrossFit if I scaled every workout I thought would be hard and take me a long time.

2) Mental toughness - I had to fight for just about every rep in this workout. My arms were smoked out early. Doing this will help me in other workouts to push on when I hit muscle failure.

3) I suck at Handstand Push-ups - sometimes a good way to get better at something is to just do it. In this case I pushed myself to failure and found ways to keep going.

And most importantly:

4) It's a Hero Workout - Hero workouts are designed to be tough because they honor soldiers who were killed in combat. I have had a taste of combat and I know it's never easy; the hero's we honor in these workouts are generally members of the special forces and have seen more combat than most. They are some of the best, and know how to fight hard and come out on top during impossible situations. The least I can do is dig deep in a workout to honor the fallen. Losing a comrade in battle is a terrible experience and I don't wish it upon anyone. I love CrossFit for setting up these hero workouts as a constant reminder of the brave men who fight in foreign lands every day.


  1. Nicely put! Though, as Hero goes, this is the most likely to hit muscle failure on.

  2. Sean,

    How is life without grains going? Are you drinking beer? What about "gluten free" beer?

    I am not sure where I stand on the no grains camp. In Feb, I tried to eat mostly grain free, but I do eat some dairy. I dropped some weight, but lost some intensity in exercise. This month, I am back to zoning, 17blocks, 3x fat (at 1.5gm/block). I am eating grains, but staying at 17blocks CHO with grains/fruit/lactose, etc. I eat vegs, but really do not count them in the carb blocks, if I have a lot with dinner, I might subtract 1 CHO block for the veggies. Anyway, so far, so good with adding the grains. I am leaning out still (even with the grains) and have more energy in the WODs. This all maybe due to the natural cycle of performance..sometimes you have it, sometimes you don't regardless of diet, sleep, rest days, etc.

    But, I am not sure grains are bad for everyone. I mean, if you have Celiac's disease, sure. But, that is like saying you should not drink milk if you are allergic to it. Or eat peanut butter if you are allergic to it. The "grains are all bad" sounds a bit too extreme for me. It is like the "diary/meat/cashews/etc are all bad and the reason people are unhealthy".

    I have not read the grains article by RW, maybe it would change my mind. You seem like a naturally lean guy, so I would like to see how your body does without grains for a month. Keep us posted.


  3. Sean,

    I played around with is what I found worked best..for me.

    First, I like both the ideals of feasts and fasts as part of our evolutionary fitness beliefs. I definitely believe modern society has embraced the feast whole-heartedly and some now feast at every meal. At the same time the have forgotten about the fast. Fasting serves as a counter balance to the feast.

    This follows from my earlier ideal about looking at zone blocks in weekly, not daily, totals. So, is hitting 17blocks a day everyday better then hitting 119blocks a week, where sometimes 30blocks were consumed (either as a feast, or after some seriously long and intense training) while other days only 8blocks were consumed, either because of fasting or you just did not feel like eating.

    I usually fast from about 1800-1200, that is 18hrs. Enough to stimulate ketosis and trigger the responses looking for in IF. I have heard that a fast has to be 15hours to be a fast. I usually do this on Monday following a big Sunday family dinner. That fast help me actually feel better after eating a typical family meal (feast) of meats, starch, beer and some sort of dessert.

    I would also do mini-fast of 2000-1200, this would be 18hours. I would train about 0900 on these days and feel very good. In fact, I would usually perform well hitting PRs in both METCONs and ME.

    I found a fast is best broken with a small meal. The larger the fast, the smaller the first meal.

    I do not think fasting should be done on rest days, because it is a stressor and the point of rest days is to recover and replinish energy stores...both physcial and psychological.

    I e-mailed you.