I’m trying to gain weight. Is that controversial? Maybe not in this crowd.
I want to gain weight. It’s not that I’m underweight, but I want to be bigger. I want to lift heavier weights, I want to look like a gentleman who works out, I want to be strong.
The Gentlelady thinks gaining weight is a silly goal. She wants to trade weight with me – she loses, I gain (I’m still trying to get her into this ‘strong is sexy’ thing). In an alternative universe where it’s possible – or in the future, when I create some contraption to do it – I would love to trade weight with her. Once I make that machine, I’m taking all your muscle!
I’ve always been on the skinny side. I avoided that reality by playing big, physical sports – football, hockey, lacrosse. I was an option quarterback in high-school. I got hit a lot, like almost every play a lot. I decided football was a little ‘big’ for me. I accepted my skinny side and played soccer. I’m not accepting it anymore (but I’ll still play soccer).
It’s time to get big. I was inspired by the Barbell Shrugged Muscle Gain Challenge. And while I won’t be doing their exact program, I decided to start a dedicated weight-gaining program. What does that mean? Eating a lot more. More clean food – meats, veggies, and sweet potatoes. Lifting heavy weights. I’ll have to slow down on the WODs, but I’ll be going as heavy as I possibly can.
Now for the update. I weighed in last Wednesday at 157#. This morning, I’m up to 160#. Yum, all that stuffing my face is working. I will temper that excitement with this: I’ve been hovering around 160# for the last year, so I won’t really be confident in my weight gain until I’m up over 165#. Either way, every Wednesday I’ll keep you updated on my progress.
The CrossFit Invitational
On Sunday afternoon, here on the west coast, CrossFit held the third annual CrossFit Invitational – though it was the first one with four different delegations: USA, Canada, Europe, and Australia. The format this year was better, in my opinion. Each team was strong as hell. Each team had a chance to win.
There were some great moments. Rich Froning snatched 305# – I’m so jealous. I PR’d my squat snatch at 125# on Monday trying to emulate his form, but I’m just not as steady overhead as he is. I’m okay with that. Not many people are.
But, what I really wanted to talk about is the idea that you’re only as strong as your weakest link. That’s a commonly heard statement in team sports. I heard it on Sunday’s broadcast of the CrossFit Invitational. It’s why the USA eventually won the competition in the final event. When you have a team of individuals that finished 1st, 3rd, 3rd, and 6th in this year’s CrossFit Games, your weakest link is effing strong. It showed.
What about for an individual? Are YOU only as strong as YOUR OWN weakest link? Am I only as strong as my overhead press – damn you shoulders?
That’s certainly the mantra of CrossFit as it tries to build the most well rounded athlete across broad time and modal domains. Alright, so I’m only as strong as my weakest link. What to do about it? I’m a nerd, so let’s use some Lean Six Sigma principles to crush those weaknesses down to team USA levels.
Define: Here, we clearly identify the problem. For me, I’m weak overhead – and to a lesser extent in most pushing movements. I can clean a lot more than I can jerk, my overhead squat is extraordinarily low compared to my front and back squat, I can’t catch a snatch properly in a squat because I find it hard to stabilize.
Measure: This one is easy for those of us who CrossFit. We’ve got our PRs recorded and trended – or at least I do. We know that strict press days are the WORST days.
Analyze: What’s the root cause or potential causes? Tricep / pushing strength, shoulder mobility are two potential problems. I have suffered from shoulder tendinitis in my lacrosse days which led me to avoid going overhead. I cut short my range of motion in college when doing the bench press. And, to get even deeper, I struggle most getting the weight from my shoulder to my forehead. Once it’s there, I can lock it out (most of the time). I can kip handstand push-ups for days, but I can’t get to five strict. So the root cause? Tricep / pushing strength from the bottom (of a dip or bench press or overhead press).
Improve: Improvement #1 is above. Get stronger overall. Otherwise, I’m using my Wednesdays to improve my goats. In at least month-long cycles, I’ll choose a weakness and work on it. For now: Strict, weighted dips, strict handstand push-ups, handstand holds, pause overhead squats, overhead lunges / walks, overhead holds with the barbell and kettlebells on bands, dumbbell presses and holds.
Control: Another easy one for CrossFitters. Monitor and ensure continued sustained improvement.
Your turn: are you trying to gain weight (it’s hard isn’t it)? What are your weaknesses? What are you doing to improve?