Maximus: December 2007 Archives

Why all women should lift weights

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I often hear female clients say that they are worried about lifting weights because they:

  • don't want big muscles
  • only want to "tone" or "lengthen" their muscles
  • don't want to "look like a man"

These concerns are baseless and can lead to women neglecting one of the most effective tools for preventing osteoporosis, and maintaining optimum health. To begin with, unless a woman is off the charts in terms of ability to develop muscle, she will not be able to gain significant muscle mass, even should she want to, without truly Herculean (or Amazonian) effort. Women generally do not have enough Testosterone to support large muscles. There are, of course, exceptions such as Olympic Sprinter Marion Jones (above, far left), but even an athlete so gifted as she in ability to gain muscle mass felt the need to chemically enhance her testosterone levels. So we see that getting big muscles is not a concern, nor should it stop women from lifting weights.

The idea that muscles can be "toned" or "lengthened" by special or unique exercises is false. Despite the claims of some Yoga and Pilates practitioners, this is not possible. The shape of one's muscles, and, hence, limbs and torso, is the product of three things:

  • Genetic shape of the muscles
  • amount of muscle mass
  • amount of "inert metabolic material" (fat)

You were born with muscles which have the same basic shape they do now, and they will continue to have that shape your whole life. This can easily be seen by looking at a few people's calves. Some have an insertion point high on the leg, and therefore look round and more muscular. Others have a lower insertion point, and look longer and leaner. There is no way to change this. However, you can add some muscle mass which will make your limbs look fuller and more shapely, which brings us to our last point. No matter how shapely or toned your muscles are, if they are covered in a thick layer of fat, they won't have much definition. Women generally should maintain 14-22% bodyfat for a combination of optimum health, athleticism and aesthetics. Just as too much fat is unhealthy and aesthetically undesirable too little will detract from health, athletic ability and a pleasing shape.

Thinking that lifting weights will make you "look like a man" is misguided. Perhaps, if you try really, really hard, you might after some years of effort develop a look like Linda Hamilton in "Terminator 2", Demi Moore in "GI Jane" or Angela Basset  in just about anything. Would that be so bad?

Lifting weights is a wonderful health-giving activity for all people, and that includes all women. It builds bone density, prevents osteoporosis, burns calories up to 24 hours after you have finished doing it and contributes to overall health and prevents decrepitude. You would like to be able to walk when you get older right?

CrossFit East Bay @ Berkeley Ironworks


I will be teaching CrossFit classes at Ironworks climbing Gym in Berkeley starting January 12th, 2008. Class Times will be Saturday and Sunday at 11AM. Mighty civilized of me, huh? If you are a member of Ironworks, the classes will be free. Pricing is HERE, and you might want to join now if you have been thinking about it, rates are going up. If you do sign up make sure to tell them I sent you please. The drop-in fee for the class is a mere $10.00 and you can get a day pass for $16.00, so you can CrossFit then climb, or visa-versa. Mark your calendar and come to the first class! Map below.

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FireFight Gone Bad


Here is video of Me, Mike and Nicole training the Oakland Fire Department Lateral Recruit Class of 2006. We call this "FireFight Gone Bad", with apologies to BJ Penn.

While this workout was designed to match time domain for UFC bouts it is an excellent training and conditioning tool for first responders. When done with intensity this workout builds toughness, pain tolerance and the ability to respond well under pressure. These are all attributes that first responders can benefit from strengthening.

Athletes Embrace Size, Rejecting Stereotypes

Athletes Embrace Size, Rejecting Stereotypes


Published: February 8, 2007

NORMAN, Okla., Feb. 5 -- The University of Oklahoma tells women's basketball fans a lot about Courtney Paris, the Sooners' 6-foot-4 center. They know that she ranks third in the country in scoring, second in rebounding and that her dream job is to be a novelist. That her best friend is her identical twin and teammate, Ashley Paris, and that her father, Bubba Paris, won three Super Bowls as a lineman for the San Francisco 49ers.

Deborah Cannon/Associated Press

Courtney Paris is one of the top scorers and rebounders in the country.

But one piece of information about Paris is not made public by the university: her weight.
The weights of male athletes are widely publicized by college teams, but 35 years after passage of the gender-equity legislation known as Title IX, and 25 seasons after the National Collegiate Athletic Association began sponsoring women's basketball, the weights of amateur female athletes are almost never published, in basketball or any other sport.

Even as women are embracing their size and power, projecting the notion that a wide body can be a fit body, the idea of weighing female athletes is under vigorous debate. Some colleges weigh their basketball players regularly to guard against rapid weight loss or gain. Some weigh them infrequently, others not at all.

"It's a sensitivity about eating disorders," said Jody Conradt, the Hall of Fame coach who has led the Texas Longhorns for three decades. "We're dealing with a population that is vulnerable because it's a Type A personality, driven, the people that want to be perfectionists."

Female athletes still face the same enormous societal pressures that other women face to remain thin and to possess a body type that many find unrealistic, especially for sports. Some experts believe athletes feel even greater pressure, given the assumption -- also debatable -- that they can improve performance by lowering their weight and percentage of body fat. Thus, many become vulnerable to what is called the female athlete triad: eating disorders, interrupted menstruation and osteoporosis.

The N.C.A.A. recommends that women not be weighed on a regular basis, said Dr. Ron A. Thompson, a psychologist and eating-disorder therapist in Bloomington, Ind., who consults with the collegiate association. He said he opposed making weights public and the practice of weighing female athletes. Lining athletes up for weigh-ins is a form of "public degradation," Thompson said.

"Weighing doesn't accomplish anything, and it can cause undue anxiety and even trigger unhealthy weight-loss practices," Thompson wrote in an e-mail message.
The touchy issue of weight received prominent attention recently when the professional tennis star Serena Williams faced questions about supposedly being out of shape before the Australian Open. After she won the tournament, she faced criticism for appearing to weigh more than a listed 135 pounds.

Williams has led an "in-your-face redefinition of what a strong woman should look like," said Donna Lopiano, executive director of the Women's Sports Foundation. Basketball and tennis courts provide an oasis of freedom for female athletes, she said, although she added that "90 percent of their lives is not lived in that oasis" and that women's sports have "been burdened by a stereotypical view of women."

Thompson said he tried to assist female athletes, not by focusing on their weight, but on their eating and how it is related to their emotions. Many teams have nutritionists and psychologists available. The trend in college is moving away from weighing athletes, Lopiano said. But colleges are left to make their own decisions.

The female basketball players at top-ranked Duke are weighed once a week, Coach Gail Goestenkors said; they are not given a target weight, but are monitored to guard against quick weight gain, she said. Ohio State's players are also weighed regularly, Coach Jim Foster said, adding, "It's a medical issue; putting your head in the sand is not an attractive alternative."
At Tennessee, players are neither weighed nor measured for body-fat percentage, said Jenny Moshak, the university's assistant athletic director for sports medicine. Instead, players are monitored for performance in such areas as speed, flexibility, vertical jump and weight lifting.
"Far more detrimental things occur when you try to micromanage body shape and size," Moshak said.

At Texas, players are weighed and tested for lean mass two or three times a year, but always privately by sports-science experts. Coaches of women's teams are not permitted to weigh players, set target weights or initiate a conversation about weight.

Some Oklahoma players are weighed up to twice a week during preseason, the strength coach Tim Overman said. During the season, they are weighed and tested for percentage of body fat about once a month, Overman said, adding that too much attention paid to weight loss during the season can lead to calorie deficiency and fatigue.

Courtney Paris's father weighed more than 330 pounds when he was in the N.F.L. He was cut by the 49ers in 1991 when he failed to make their weight limitation of 325 pounds. Overman said he wanted Courtney Paris to lose about 15 pounds, from 240 to 225, so that she could lessen the stress on her body while extending her stamina and the length of her career.

Paris, a 19-year-old sophomore, said she did not generally care if people asked about her weight, saying, "It's not like I can hide who I am." She said she was proud and glad to be in game shape, but "being in shape and being conditioned well are things I really have to Yet, it is not universally believed that lowering the weight and percentage of body fat of fit athletes will enhance their performance, said Thompson. Some studies indicate improvement, while others do not, he said.
If Paris lost weight, "she might not be as strong or she might be distracted by trying to maintain the weight loss and might not perform as well," said Thompson, an Oklahoma graduate who said he did not know Paris.

Perhaps never have so many influential centers played on so many commanding teams in one season. Alison Bales, a 6-7 center for Duke, leads the nation in shot blocking, while 6-9 Allyssa DeHaan of Michigan State is second. Sylvia Fowles of Louisiana State, is 6-6 and anchors the country's top defense; 6-5 Jessica Davenport of Ohio State can play in the post and beyond the 3-point line; and 6-4 Candace Parker of Tennessee can play any position and has transformed the dunk from a novelty shot to a statement of authority.

"There are more centers of different types across the country than I've ever seen," said Sherri Coale, Oklahoma's coach. "You have graceful, powerful, fundamental, thick, long -- all shapes and sizes. To me, that's the greatest evolution in that position."

And there is no more dominant center than Paris, who averages 23 points and 16 rebounds a game. Last season as a freshman she became the first collegiate player, man or woman, to collect at least 700 points, 500 rebounds and 100 blocked shots in a season.

"She's a female Shaquille O'Neal," said Kim Mulkey, who coached Baylor to the 2005 national championship. Kurt Budke, the Oklahoma State coach, said, "She's the best player in the country." Because Paris has soft hands and a ravenous anticipation for rebounding, nearly 25 percent of her points have resulted from offensive rebounds -- often from her own misses.

"She's got much better hands than Terrell Owens," said Foster, the Ohio State coach. "She's not going to lead the league in passes dropped."

Paris represents the evolution of a position that has grown more essential as players have become more skilled in the post and comfortable with their size.

Female players today have professional role models in the Women's National Basketball Association, undergo sport-specific weight training, practice regularly against male scout teams and wear baggy uniforms that allow them to be less self-conscious than athletes like volleyball players, gymnasts and swimmers who participate in more revealing outfits.

"We're women who are not apologizing for being bigger and being different or for being athletic," Paris said. "It's more acceptable in society. For my generation, it's really not a big deal."

Her twin sister, Ashley, a center-forward at Oklahoma, said that their mother, who is 6-1, told of slouching as a girl, and of buying shoes that were too small, in an effort not to stand out.

The difference today, at least in basketball, is that big women are more secure in being and playing big, said Goestenkors, the Duke coach. She said that Bales, the Blue Devils' center, proudly wore three-inch heels, which made her 6-10, while the team was in Cancún, Mexico, in December. Bales said a photograph of her in heels on Duke's Web site had elicited several grateful messages from tall girls or their parents.

"Before, tall girls were all soft and finesse and didn't want contact," Goestenkors said. "Now it's strong, physical, bring on the contact. Courtney epitomizes that."

Growing up in Piedmont, Calif., Courtney Paris developed her skills against four older brothers, who ranged from 6-4 to 6-8.

"Courtney and Ashley had an opportunity to see their father, who was big and winning championships, and have seen their brothers go off and play ball," Bubba Paris said in a telephone interview. "In their mind, being big is good; it benefits you."

That was evident Sunday when Oklahoma overcame an early deficit against Oklahoma State by inserting Ashley Paris in the high post to pass to her sister in the low post. Courtney scored 41 points, 2 below her career high, and grabbed 19 rebounds in a 78-63 victory.

"I think people have fallen away from the stereotype that big means slow and tall means clumsy," Ashley said.





Today we give thanks to Carl Friedrich Gauss (1777-1855), a brilliant mathematician.

Gauss was born in Brunswick, in the Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg (now part of Lower Saxony, Germany), as the only son of uneducated lower-class parents. According to legend, his gifts became very apparent at the age of three when he corrected, in his head, an error his father had made on paper while calculating finances.

[A] famous story, and one that has evolved in the telling, has it that in primary school his teacher, J.G. Büttner tried to occupy pupils by making them add up the integers from 1 to 100. The young Gauss produced the correct answer within seconds by a flash of mathematical insight, to the astonishment of all. Gauss had realized that pairwise addition of terms from opposite ends of the list yielded identical intermediate sums: 1 + 100 = 101, 2 + 99 = 101, 3 + 98 = 101, and so on, for a total sum of 50 × 101 = 5050 (see arithmetic series and summation). (For more information, see [1] for discussion of original Wolfgang Sartorius von Waltershausen source.)

Now what, you may be asking yourself, does this have to do with CrossFit?

Well, when a workout such as "Linda" with 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 reps comes up, it gives you an easy way to calculate the number of reps in the workout. Using the example of Linda, X=10(10+1)/2, so X=55. This works for any such scheme.

Thanks to Sam L. for bringing this to my attention.


Yeah, But How is His "Fran" Time...


Wingsuit Video


I have done a bit of skydiving which is incredibly thrilling, but this is the most amazing thing I have EVER seen. Enjoy! Check THIS out too! I posted this over at my BLOG too.

No Equipment Workouts: Part Three


Actually, this is a list of low-equipment workouts: equipment needed, d-ball, dynamax, kettlebells

  1. 30 Ring Muscle-Ups For Time
  2. 30 Bar Muscle-Ups For Time
  3. "Helen"
  4. "Fran" (kettlebells)
  5. 50 wall-ball for time
  6. 100 wall-ball for time
  7. 150 wall-ball for time
  8. 21-15-9 Wall-ball, Kettlebell Swing
  9. 21-15-9 Wall-ball, D-Ball Slam
  10. 21-15-9 D-Ball Slam, Kettlebell Swing
  11. "Kettlebell Hell"

20-16-12-8 reps of:
KB Swings
KB Squat Push Press
KB Deadlifts (Singles -- split the reps between arms)
KB Walking Lunges (Switch the KB between hands, between the legs on each lunge)

Partitioning Part Four

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Today's WOD:

Thursday 071206

Five rounds for time of:
Run 400 meters
75 pound Sumo deadlift high-pull, 21 reps
75 pound Thruster, 21 reps

is a great candidate for a partioning scheme.

The following will yield a time under 30:00

Run 400 M: 1:50
Transition: 0:10
6 SDHP: 0:30
5 SDHP: 0:30
5 SDHP: 0:30
5 SDHP: 0:30
6 Thruster: 0:30
5 Thruster: 0:30
5 Thruster: 0:30
5 Thruster: 0:30

Repeat 5x for a time of 30:00

Actually getting the last 5 thrusters in 10 seconds will yield 29: 40

Sumo Deadlift High Pull


Mind Over Matter


Great article from NYT:

December 6, 2007
Personal Best
I'm Not Really Running, I'm Not Really Running...

BILL MORGAN, an emeritus professor of kinesiology at the University of Wisconsin, likes to tell the story, which he swears is true, of an Ivy League pole vaulter who held the Division 1 record in the Eastern region.

His coaches and teammates, though, noticed that he could jump even higher. Every time he cleared the pole, he had about a foot to spare. But if they moved the bar up even an inch, the vaulter would hit it every time. One day, when the vaulter was not looking, his teammates raised the bar a good six inches. The man vaulted over it, again with a foot to spare.

When his teammates confessed, the pole vaulter could not believe it. But, Dr. Morgan added, "once he saw what he had done, he walked away from the jumping pit and never came back."

After all, Dr. Morgan said, everyone would expect him to repeat that performance. And how could he?

The moral of the story? No matter how high you jump, how fast you run or swim, how powerfully you row, you can do better. But sometimes your mind gets in the way.

"All maximum performances are actually pseudo-maximum performances," Dr. Morgan said. "You are always capable of doing more than you are doing."

One of my running partners, Claire Brown, the executive director of Princeton in Latin America, a nonprofit group, calls it mind over mind-over-body.

She used that idea in June in the Black Bear triathlon in Lehighton, Pa., going all-out when she saw a competitor drawing close. She won her age group (30 to 34) for the half-Ironman distance, coming in fourth among the women.

When it was over, she ended up in a medical tent. "I felt like I was going to pass out or throw up or both," she recalled. "At a certain point in a hard race, you've pushed yourself beyond the point of ignoring the physical pain, and now you have to tell your mind that it can keep going, too."

The problem for many athletes is how to make a pseudo-maximum performance as close as possible to a maximum one. There are some tricks, exercise physiologists say, but also some risks.

The first thing to know, said Dr. Benjamin Levine, an exercise researcher and a cardiology professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, is that no one really knows what limits human performance. There's the ability of the heart to pump blood to the muscles, there's the ability of the muscles to contract and respond, there's the question of muscle fuel, and then, of course, there is the mind.

"How does the brain interact with the skeletal muscles and the circulation?" Dr. Levine said. "How much of this is voluntary and how much is involuntary? We just don't know."

But since most people can do better, no matter how good their performance, the challenge is to find a safe way to push a little harder. Many ordinary athletes, as well as elites, use a technique known as dissociation.

Dr. Morgan, who tested the method in research studies, said he was inspired by a story, reported by an anthropologist that, he suspects, is apocryphal. It involves Tibetan monks who reportedly ran 300 miles in 30 hours, an average pace of six minutes a mile. Their mental trick was to fixate on a distant object, like a mountain peak, and put their breathing in synchrony with their locomotion. Every time a foot hit the ground they would also repeat a mantra.

So Dr. Morgan and his colleagues instructed runners to say "down" to themselves every time a foot went down. They were also to choose an object and stare at it while running on a treadmill and to breathe in sync with their steps. The result, Dr. Morgan said, was that the runners using the monks' strategy had a statistically significant increase in endurance, doing much better than members of a control group who ran in their usual way.

That, in a sense, is the trick that Paula Radcliffe said she uses. Ms. Radcliffe, the winner of this year's New York City Marathon, said in a recent interview that she counts her steps when she struggles in a race. "When I count to 100 three times, it's a mile," she said. "It helps me focus on the moment and not think about how many miles I have to go. I concentrate on breathing and striding, and I go within myself."

Without realizing what I was doing, I dissociated a few months ago, in the middle of a long, fast bike ride. I'd become so tired that I could not hold the pace going up hills. Then I hit upon a method -- I focused only on the seat of the rider in front of me and did not look at the hill or what was to come. And I concentrated on my cadence, counting pedal strokes, thinking of nothing else. It worked. Now I know why.

Dr. Morgan, who has worked with hundreds of subelite marathon runners, said every one had a dissociation strategy. One wrote letters in his mind to everyone he knew. Another stared at his shadow. But, Dr. Morgan asked him, what if the sun is in front of you? Then, the man said, he focused on someone else's shadow. But what if the sun goes behind a cloud, Dr. Morgan asked?

"Then it's tough," the runner conceded.

Dissociation clearly works, Dr. Morgan said, but athletes who use it also take a chance on serious injury if they trick themselves into ignoring excruciating pain. There is, of course, a fine line between too much pain and too little for maximum performance.

"The old adage, no pain no gain comes into play here," Dr. Morgan said. "In point of fact, maximum performance is associated with pain."

The brain affects everyday training as well, researchers note.

Imagine you are out running on a wet, windy, cold Sunday morning, said Dr. Timothy Noakes, an exercise physiologist at the University of Cape Town. "The conscious brain says, 'You know that coffee shop on the corner. That's where you really should be.'" And suddenly, you feel tired, it's time to stop.

"There is some fatigue in muscle, I'm not suggesting muscles don't get fatigued," Dr. Noakes said. "I'm suggesting that the brain can make the muscles work harder if it wanted to."

Part of a winning strategy is to avoid giving in to lowered expectations, athletes and researchers say. One friend tells me that toward the end of a marathon he tries not to look at people collapsed or limping at the side of the road. If he does, he suddenly realizes how tired he is and just gives up.

Marian Westley, a 35-year-old oceanographer in Princeton, N.J., and another running friend of mine, used several mental strategies in the recent Philadelphia marathon.

She slowed herself down at the start by telling herself repeatedly that she was storing energy in the bank. And when she tired near the race's finish, she concentrated on pumping her arms. "I thought about letting my arms run the race for me, taking the pressure off my legs."

She finished in three hours and 43 minutes, meeting her goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. "I am over the moon!" she wrote in an e-mail message the day after the race.

No Equipment Workouts: Part Two


Murph @ CFO

Here are my next 16 no or low equipment workouts:

  1. Tabata This
  2. Tabata Something Else
  3. Pull-Up Ladder
  4. Push-Up Ladder
  5. Squat Ladder
  6. Sit-Up Ladder
  7. Burpee Ladder
  8. 300 Burpees For Time
  9. Plank Hold to Failure X 4 rest one minute between sets
  10. "Broomstick Mile"
  11. Pull-Up/Push-Up to Failure, rest three minutes between sets
  12. 21-15-9 Burpee, Sit-Up, Push-Up
  13. 20 Double-Under, 100 Squat, 40 Double-Under, 75 Squat, 60 Double-Under, 50 Squat, 80 Double-Under, 25 Squat
  14. 30 Bar Muscle-Up For Time
  15. 100 Handstand Walking Steps For Time
  16. 50 HSPU for Time

No Equipment Workouts: Part One


Kid's Cindy, AWESOME!

I have been working a lot outside, and am going to be teaching outdoor classes. I have been thinking a lot about low and no equipment workouts.

Here are my first 20:

  1. Run 5 K
  2. Run 10 K
  3. Run 15 K
  4. 4x400M repeats
  5. 10x100M repeats
  6. Run 500M-400M-300M-200M-100M rest 1 minute between sets
  7. "Cindy"
  8. "Mary"
  9. "MIndy" 5 HSPU 10 Pull-Up, 15 Squat, Cindy-Style
  10. "Murph"
  11. "Angie"
  12. "Chelsea"
  13. "G.I." Jane"
  14. "Barbara"
  15. "Chelsea"
  16. "Nicole"
  17. Run 400M 21-15-9 HSPU, Squat, Pull-Up, Run 400 Meters
  18. Run 800 Meters, 50 Burpees, Run 800 Meters
  19. Run 800 Meters, 100 Burpees, Run 800 Meters
  20. 400 Meter Walking Lunge

Dakota Backflip


I met this nice young fellow in San Francisco the other day and talked CrossFit and Parkour for a bit. Nice moves Dakota!

New Club Records

"Grace" 1:57, 2nd
"Fran" 2:57, 2nd


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About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries written by Maximus in December 2007.

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