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I have built some solid momentum over the last couple weeks. After missing a full week of BJJ due to various work and personal commitments (but still hitting the gym a few mornings that week), I was able to go to four classes the week I returned, and five (including a private lesson this morning) the next. With a couple of visits to the gym thrown in the mix, I have had six workouts in each of the past two weeks and, looking back a little further, have actually worked out 15 of the last 18 days. (Note – I generally don’t count a BJJ class or private lesson as a “workout” if it is mostly technical without much sparring; if I throw this morning’s technical private back into the mix, I have actually done “something” workout and/or BJJ related for 16 of the past 18 days).

I know I won’t always be able to keep up this pace. Work, family and other personal/social commitments make it impractical. As much as I advocate “pushing the edge,” it is difficult to sustain such a regimen when it is a part-time endeavor, and sometimes the stress of trying to pack so much into a week can be counterproductive. I also need to be cognizant of the need for recovery time. “Over-training” is a misnomer; unless you are a professional athlete or an Olympian, chances are you are NOT doing enough to over-train. Even 40+ exercise enthusiasts like me can push themselves as hard as their younger counterparts. But “under-recovery” is a more appropriate term for a very real outcome. One thing older athletes do need is more recovery time.

I have been nursing a couple of minor injuries of late, in addition to my perpetual glass shoulders: jammed finger, hyperextended elbow, strained groin. Although it is hard to willingly give up a workout or BJJ class, the decision should always be compared to the longer absence that could result from injuries that become significant because they were not given a chance to heal. All of my current ailments (except my perpetual glass shoulders) seem to be enjoying some improvement, so I’m going to try to keep up the pace. My schedule during the upcoming week won’t be quite as flexible as the last two, but I should still be able to do something most days. Starting the week off with a Monday morning workout is the hardest part, but for me it’s one of the keys to keeping the momentum going.

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BJJ is a journey of highs, lows and plateaus. For me, the lows and plateaus seem to be the more natural state – which is not at all to say I don’t enjoy my training. On the contrary, my BJJ experience – and the instructors and fellow students that have made it possible – have been a tremendous blessing in my life and a source of great joy. But the joy comes from the challenge, and my point about “lows and plateaus” is simply a statement about the sense of struggle and uphill climbing in trying to overcome the challenge. It is never easy, and I am never content with my performance or my progress, but I can be equally self-critical in other areas of life as well. It is characteristic of trying to be the best you can be, never feeling satisfied or complacent.

It is only on the rare occasion that I will actually feel like I am gaining some momentum, and having the opportunity to fit in at least three sessions per week for a few consecutive weeks is a prerequisite for me to feel like I am getting into any kind of groove. But then something comes along to stop the momentum, such as an injury or a scheduling constraint that keeps me out of the academy for a week or so.

Such was the case last week, where a combination of work and family commitments resulted in 11 days of no BJJ training (although I did make sure to get to the gym in the mornings before work to at least keep up my fitness and conditioning). Whenever I miss a week or so of BJJ, it takes me a few classes to feel like I am back in the routine, and I don’t feel like I am rolling very well during those first few classes.

Does a week off really make a difference? Or am I just psyching myself out with a self-fulfilling prophecy by worrying too much about the effect of the week off? The answer is probably yes to both. I think at my level of inexperience, a week off is certainly enough time to accumulate some rust. But I am surely amplifying the effect by thinking too much about how it will manifest itself in my rolls. As in any sparring session, I think the goal has to be to clear your mind, just get in there and let your body do what it is going to do.

I have seen plenty of blog posts about getting “back on the mats” after a long layoff (I liked this one by Georgette Oden). But this was just a week, and there will of course be other weeks off, even if just for vacation. I know everyone hates to miss even a week of training, but I am curious as to others’ thoughts on whether it affects your performance, and if so whether you think it is a physical or mental matter.

Just 2.5 pounds shy of a 300 lb deadlift. Not an impressive amount of weight in absolute terms, but it has been a personal target since I started deadlifting – which is only about a year ago, despite years and years of working out prior to that point. 300 lbs wouldn’t be bad considering my bodyweight (just under 155 lbs), although I really need to get to 310 to hit the 2x bodyweight benchmark. In the interest of full disclosure, this is with a trap bar – I moved to this from the straight bar a couple of months ago after a bad shin injury (resulting from box jumps gone wrong, but that’s a blog post for another day). But I have found this to be a safer way of deadlifting anyway, particularly for a guy my age that is not trying to be a competitive power lifter and does not want to be sidelined from BJJ because of a lower back injury. Ironically, I may actually be over 300 lbs already: my calculation of 297.5 lbs conservatively assumes that the trap bar is 45 pounds, although the gym owner claims it is 50; if he’s right, then I’m already over 300. (In case you’re wondering about the odd poundage, it just happens to be the conversion of kilogram-denominated plates loaded onto the bar.)

As for today’s workout…

Recently I’ve been adhering to a couple of adages I picked up on T-Nation. One is “the warmup is the workout,” and the other is “if it’s important, do it every day; if it’s not important, don’t do it at all.” (I wish I could locate the specific post/article on T-Nation where I first saw this, but I can’t. However, at least a portion of the second one is mentioned here.)

My important, every day (well, not actually every day, but every workout) are: pull-ups; kettlebell swings; pushups OR dumbell bench presses; and single-arm landmine 45-degree shoulder presses. The latter two pushing exercises are done with light weight as part of my self-prescribed shoulder rehabilitation process.

So finally, today’s workout:

– Jump rope and dynamic stretching

– 3 sets of single-arm landmine 45-degree shoulder presses (weight too embarrassing to mention – see above!)

– 3 sets of dumbell bench presses (weight too embarrassing to mention – see above!)

– 3 sets of pullups (10, 8, 5)

– 3 sets of kettlebell swings (45 lb)

– Deadlifts: 5 @ 133 lbs, 6 @ 199 lbs, 3 @ 243 lbs, 1 @ 288 lbs, and 1 @ 297.5 lbs

 

It was a cold morning in the box at Transcend / Carousel CrossFit yesterday. Cold AND tired, not a great combination. I went through a longer than usual warmup (light jogging, side stepping, knee pulls and other dynamic stretches, jump rope, etc.) of about a half hour, before putting together the following two circuits:

First circuit, repeated 3x (1 minute rest in between circuits):

– 2 min jump rope

– 15 kettle bell swings (45 lb)

– 100 yard farmers walk (55 lb kettlebells)

– 10 wall ball shots (20 lb medicine ball)

– 5 dead-hang pullups

Second circuit, repeated 3x (1 minute rest in between circuits):

– 500 meter row (pathetic, but I haven’t rowed in a few weeks: 2:03, 2:15, 2:13)

– 15 pushups

– 25 situps (knees to chest, wrapping hands around shins)

As I started the second circuit, a bunch of CrossFitters began their WOD for the CrossFit Open, putting me to shame…