Thursday, August 28, 2008

Newer Crossfit in Richmond

Headquarters has tentatively accepted our affiliation request!

We have a few more pieces of paperwork to get straight, but look for group classes to start soon!

I will be offering small Crossfit group classes about 20-25 hours a week, Monday through Saturday, mornings and evenings.

We are still figuring out exact prices and ordering equipment, but we hope to get started in September!


Monday, August 25, 2008

Saturday, August 23, 2008

VS Athletics

VS Athletic are selling these shoes for $45.00

Normally, they'd be about $80, but apparently the manufacturer wasn't supposed to make the toe 'White'.
They are kind of ugly.
But if you've been complaining about not being able to afford weightlifting shoes, you don't have much of an excuse for the next week or two until these sell out.

Check it out HERE

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

New Favorite Blog

I told you about Melissa a few weeks ago;

Gets Diesel

If you'd like to follow the day to day, check out her blog. She covers her Crossfit training in detail. I think you'll find it, if not inspirational, at least reinforcing.

I added it to the links section of my page, but you can hit it directly

Check it out, and tell me (or her) what you think!

New Crossfit in town

Welcome Crossfit Swift to the neighborhood.

I don't personally know Jen or (?) her partner, but I have corresponded with her via e-mail.

they seem pretty nice!

It looks like they were ready to set up shop, but got jilted at the last second. Now they are beginning to conduct workouts in their clients' backyards. If you check out the rest of their webpage, you'll see some pictures. Looks pretty great. They will be out in the Short Pump neighborhood from what I understand, so if you're way out West, why don't you look em up.

Stay tuned for Mark Pushinsky (Big Mark) and I to offer Crossfit classes a little closer to the city in the West End in the early Fall. We'll be starting off with the garage gym set up, non-traditional, as is the local tradition in Richmond!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Re Tooting my own horn

The following are some reviews and comments left about me by former clients and workshop attendees;

Kettlebells for Jiu Jitsu Rated 10 out of 10
I was impressed by Jason's knowledge of excercise mechanics and knowledge of exercise physiology. His application of kettle bell exercises to Jiu Jitsu is a great way to understand the dynamics of both. He gave a great three-hour BJJ/Kettlebell seminar and I was eager to learn more.
Dale Mullen - Mechanicsville, Virginia

Jason will kick your ass! Rated 10 out of 10
Listen up cardio queens: Jason is not the trainer for you. If you want a serious trainer, who employs ingenious methods to bring out the inner athelete in you, then Jason is your man. I never get bored in my sessions with Jason. Just when I think I have mastered an exercise, Jason throws me something completely unexpected. Worth every penny.
Nathalie - Richmond, Va

Jason Struck Review Rated 10 out of 10
Jason provides knowledge above and beyond that of a normal personal trainer. Jason borrows from many disciplines to help guide and instruct his classes. He is also able to effectively work with a class of varying skill levels and modify the activities accordingly. I highly recommend Jason whether you're an advanced athlete, weekend warrior, or just joining the gym for the first time.
Michael Glatter, NSCA-CPT - Richmond, Virginia

Instructor Evaluation: Jason Struck Rated 10 out of 10
Jason is an informed and perceptive instructor. I have greatly enjoyed learning and discovering the world of kettlebell. His approach is easy to follow and effective. The results have been quick and steady. I continue to see fat loss, muscle gain, increases in core strength and balance. Jason has been very helpful at developing a better technique and approach to my exercise regimen. I would highly recommend anyone to work with Jason and gain from his knowledge and experience. You only think his expectations exceed your abilities until you realize your potential.
James - Richmond, VA
Instructor Review of Jason Struck Rated 10 out of 10
Jason gave me a great introduction to working w/ kettlebells. He's a knowledgeable instructor with a highly informative and relaxed teaching style. Very helpful for me as a beginner in that he was able to pinpoint the small details i needed work on to really get the most out of the workouts. Overall a highly recommended instructor and i look forward to working with him again in the near future!
Lenny Greenberg - RVA - USA

I take the time to share these with you, because, well...
there's a lot of 'internet gurus' out there.

Many of whom have never trained a client. Many who have no real background, whether it be in education, certification, or experience. While I am proud of my academic achievements and professional credentials, I am most proud of the changes I have seen in the people that have made a commitment to my training.

I encourage you to consider being the next!
Drop me a line

Sunday, August 17, 2008

World's Fastest Man just got FASTER

Back in the day, I warned you about
Usain 'Lightning' Bolt of Jamaica

Well, he did it some more.

9.69 seconds.

That's all it takes for this 6'5" man to get from 0 to 100m.

The best part; He's a 200m/400m specialist, and he's 6-8" taller than all the other guys.
It's been common knowledge for years, that if you were over 6', your chances at the shortest distances weren't that good. Maybe it was leverages and mechanics (think powerlifters), maybe it was stride frequency, but 5'10" was the presumed perfect height for sprinters.

Take a minute, and reevaluate what you gave up on because you 'just weren't built for it'. Anything good?

Raise funds for US Judo Athlete Taraje

Earlier this week I made a post about Taraje Williams Murray

Please consider viewing the post, checking out the links;
his highly technical match against Japan's Hiraoka
his blog
his bio

and consider donating to his college fund

Taraje may have fallen a little behind on some of his other responsibilities while he was paying his own way around the world to compete in Judo to prepare for his second Olmypics.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Complex Training for Judo and BJJ

One of the most popular ways to integrate high power movements into a more traditional strength training program is through a method often called 'Complex' or sometimes 'Compound' training.

Here's the concept;
Perform a slightly submaximal effort on a otherwise high intensity lift
follow closely with a power movement that mimics that same motor pattern

One of the most popular combos was always the back squat followed by box jumps.

The theory behind the practice (and it's just that) was that high intensity loads (those above 80-85% 1RM depending on training age) would thoroughly innervate the nervous system specific to that musculature. With this higher state of arousal, exercises like O Lifts and Plyometrics would be even more effective. Performance would be temporarily increased due to the excitement caused by the heavy squat, such that the box jump would be higher or faster.

I don't know if this theory is entirely right, but some of the best coaches in the states use this technique fairly frequently with high degrees of success. I would even consider this an excellent substitution or alternative to the Westside Barbell 'Dynamic Effort' day. It should accomplish many of the same goals, and provide your average powerlifter with a welcome change of pace.

As an example, let's return to the high power output hip extension example of the High Hang Power Snatch

For a grappler to improve power out of the lower grab position of something like;
sukui nage
morote gari
te guruma
high crotch
single leg
double leg

we would want to address several points along the Force x Velocity curve. At high forces, velocity is low. At high velocities, force is low. Training one aspect will not be as effective as training two or more points along this curve, hence 'complex' training.

Let's step off the beaten path, and go with three exercises in our set;
One high force, low velocity
one max power (40-60% 1Rm as fast as possible)
one max acceleration/velocity

For force we choose anything from the powerlifting or weightlifting world. If your weakness is quads or knee extension, I'd say a squat variation (I love the Overhead). If your weakness is the posterior chain, or hip extension, let's say the Romanian Deadlift.
For power we go with the High Hang Power Snatch.
For speed, let's do the 'Scoop Toss'.

Here's what that looks like;

You can see there that I have chosen three potential objects for tossing; Heavy Bag (~40lbs), Medicine Ball (12lbs), and Kettlebell (16kg). Any will do. The heavier you go, the slower, so choose carefully. What's your weakest link?

Here's what all the lifts look like in order;
PS: Music choice on this one is not work or family safe, sorry.

For the sake of ease, all the lifts have the same weight. All lifts in the video are performed for three reps. This is not how it should be necessarily done in practice.
Here are some suggestions;
Force: Choose a lift corresponds to about a 5RM load and perform 3 reps
Power: Same; if you can snatch 135, choose 105 and snatch it as HARD and FAST as you can!
Speed: Here you may afford more repetitions, for instance if you can perform the scoop toss with a 12lb medicine ball lightning fast for 9 reps, do 8.

Lesson: Leave a little gas in the tank! This is CNS training, and fatigue will only lessen your results. Give yourself about thirty seconds of rest between each exercise before proceeding to the next. For example;
3 reps RDL
30 seconds rest
3 reps HH Power Snatch
30 seconds rest
8 reps Scoop Toss
3-4 minutes rest

If you are tired, you can't produce maximal force or speed, and that is the purpose of this protocol! Don't forget why you do what you do!

Consult this 1996 classic by Donald Chu
for the whole story

Friday, August 15, 2008

Olympic Lifts for Judo

People argue a lot about whether or not athletes (not weightlifters)
should be doing Olympic Lifts or not.

The usual arguments against O Lifts are as follows;
hard to learn
special equipment is needed

Ok. Don't do 'em.

What the O Lifts do provide in exchange for the danger and expense are;
explosive strength
starting strength
core and grip development

When the full lifts are practiced, I would add;

So when a Judoka or other grappler does choose to turn to the darkside and start lifting,
the first question is always;

"What's the best exercise to do for Judo?"

This a question not unlike "What's your favorite beer?" "Which one of your children do you love the most?" and possibly "Who would win in a fight, Superman or the Incredible Hulk?"

Only stupid people really have answers to any of these questions.

Having said that, I will now attempt to answer that question, at least in part. One aspect of grappling that is often under or unsafely trained is starting and explosive strength in hip extension. Depending on your game, this may be the one single most important bio motor ability. Even if you aren't hitting people with Te Guruma and single legs all day, this is still probably the one area that demands the most capacity in a long match or training session. In good grappling, how many movements happen without the hips?

With that in mind, I would suggest the High Hang Power Snatch.

The high hang position simplifies pulling from the floor. You basically start in the power position.
The power catch (catching with bent knees again in the 'power position') eliminates the confusion of the 'third pull' a skill that's gonna take a long time to develop for sure.
And why the snatch? The load is moved a greater distance.
The goal is to move the most weight the farthest the fastest. I think that I can give the clean more weight, but I'll take the other two with the snatch.

With the high hang power snatch, you can quickly advance to 30-40% of your max squat, and the most powerful athletes will be doing reps well over bodyweight. That bodes well for your ability to grab somebody and toss them in the air, doesn't it?
There are many variations on the O Lifts, and there are plenty of alternatives to my proposal;
accelerative lifting
I think that power snatching delivers a lot of bang for the buck, so it's just my preference.

Help an Olympian

Taraje Williams-Murray

overlooking Rio at the 2007 World's

From the Bronx, 24 years old, has been doing Judo since we has 8. Went to the 2004 Olympic games. Has spent the last 4 years sacrificing everything to make it the 2008 Olympic Games.

He made it.

Here's his match against Hiraoka, which he won by decision. He played an incredibly tight game, got up by a point, and played smart to run out the clock ahead, and beat a highly ranked Japanese player that, frankly, no one but his American fans expected him to beat. It wasn't the most romantic and exciting Judo ever played, but any international player would appreciate the strategy and tactical execution of this match.

What you may not know about Taraje, is that in the last 2 years he's medaled at the following events(this is in no way exhaustive, it's just the highlights);
Pan American Championships
USA Judo National Championships

New York Open

Tre Torri International B-Level Tournament (B)

USA Judo Pan Am Games and World Team Trials

USA Judo Nationals

NYAC New York Open
Liberty Bell Championships (66kg)
National Championships (66kg)

U.S. Open (66kg)

While no slouch, it is sort of a long shot to hope for someone from the states to win a medal in the Olympics. While Taraje has some international experience, including an incredible victory (GOLD) at Tre Torri, one of the most prestigious events in international judo, he still doesn't have near the mat time in Europe and Asia that most of his competitors would have.


Because he's lazy?

If you wonder this, please visit his blog, linked to above. Or look up his name on Youtube. Watch several intense strength and conditioning training sessions with coach Rhadi Ferguson (himself an Olympian, as well as a competitor at ADCC and the Mundials), or ask his Judo coach Jimmy Pedro if he's got any work ethic. Read his schedule on his blog, about the morning S&C followed by two technical sessions in one day and randori at night. Or about the diet that he's on to stay at 60kg (that's 132lbs).

The young man works his ass off.
All while trying to complete a master's degree from Boston University. Which brings me to my point; for the time being, it looks like it's time for Taraje to return to school. However, one of those sacrifices I was talking about earlier is rearing it's ugly head;

You see, in America, judo athletes receive no financial support from our Olympic committees. Nor do they receive a lot of support from say the national governing body of Judo, of which we have three rather than the more efficient or centralized ONE. They don't get scholarships, hell, Judo is not even a SCHOLASTIC SPORT at all, like it is an most of the countries that do best in Judo (France, Japan, Korea or Russia).

So, while doing all this training, and hiring all these coaches, Taraje still had to figure out a way to pay for plane tickets to Italy, rent in New York and tuition for grad school. The only answer he could find?
Credit Cards.
BU won't let him back in until he pays his outstanding debts (fair enough I guess). He's racked up a massive amount of debt trying to fulfill his 'Olympic Dream', but now it's time to come home.
Get back to work? London 2012?

The guy won Tre Torri. He can win an Olympic Medal. It would be the first one for the USA since Jimmy Pedro, and one of only a few in US history.
If you can, help him out. He's already had several donors so far, and he's almost a quarter of the way to his goal. Here's the link;

Donate to Taraje's School Fund via PayPal

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Dogs love trucks

or so the old Nissan ad used to go.

my cats are kind of homebodies, but here's the new truck;

Monday, August 11, 2008

Kraiburg Bumpers

is carrying Kraiburg Bumpers now!

They are pricing them at $2/pound before shipping, which is a fair price. However, they are on sale for about $1.50/pound before shipping, which is a REALLY GOOD price.

Kraiburgs have become the industry standard when it comes to economical training bumpers. You can't go wrong with this as you're garage gym work horse!

They have always been very fair with me on shipping, as I am here in VA and they are in SC. Pretty awesome deal!

I am looking at buying about ~150lbs or so, and they are pricing them at about $.40/pound for shipping too, so all said and done, it looks like about $1.90 per pound to my door.

I'll be sure to let you know how fast they get here!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Byers gets Diesel

Recently, I have made a new friend through the internerd.

Her name is Melissa. I first noticed Melissa making some posts on the Crossfit Message board. She had an amusing avatar of her doing pull ups on what looked like a curtain rod. She was wearing business clothes, like a skirt suit or something, so naturally it was a pretty great photo.
I sent her a message asking her about it, and she explained that she had recently become obsessed with getting a pull up, then more pull ups. A girl after my own heart.

I was of course intrigued. I've known some women who train purely for strength, and while I respect them, and their achievements, they don't look like Melissa. I've also known women who only do cardio. I've never respected them, and again, none of them look like Melissa. Some are skinny yes, but I am not saying that as any kind of compliment.

I sent her an e-mail to ask her about her training of late, and here's some of the conversation we had;

I started CF for real in December '07, but I've been playing with KBs and CF concepts for about two and a half years.  This is how new some of this stuff is, though... I got my first dead-hang pull-up in February, I learned to DL and power clean in March and did my very first back squat in May.(All this year.)  But I can crank out pull-ups with 15#, am SO close to  1.5x BW deadlift and just recently pulled a 105# clean.  I'm working my ass off over here.  

My diet has always been really strict - paleo, no grains, no sugar, no dairy. I don't weigh/measure but I have a good idea of what I need to eat at this point. I started IF'ing about a month ago at the behest of Gant Grimes, and I love it. I fast 4-5 days a week (never on rest days). I stop eating between 6 - 8 PM, train at 6 AM the next day (while fasting) and start eating again around noon. My energy has never been better - it's far more consistently "up" than it was when I was eating every few hours. I'm still getting stronger and rocking the met-cons, and my work capacity is increasing. And I like not having to worry about carrying food around with me everywhere I go. It's really freeing. When I do eat, I eat as much as I want, as long as it's paleo. I get about 140g of protein a day, some carbs in the form of veggies and a little bit of fruit and the rest(about 50% of my overall diet) is fat. Right now I'm at about 128# and about 13% BF, but looking to put on another 5# or so.
Editorial Here: So, she can Deadlift 1.5 times bodyweight, and clean about 80+% of BW. She does weighted pullups.
Diet: If less than 50% of her diet is Protein (which it must be), in all likelyhood she eats about 140g (x4 cals per gram) of Protein and nearly as much in Carbs (let's guess 100+g). That means she gets at least ~1000cals from those two, leaving approximately the same in fat. That's 2000+ cals a day, of which at least half comes from 110+ grams of FAT a day.
Additionally, you can see here that she wants to GAIN weight now.
End Editorial

I did a kettlebell demo at an outdoor fair on Tuesdsay.  I was one-arm C&J'ing the 20K and a woman said, "Oh, those are heavy.  I don't want to get all bulky."  I just stood there like, are you kidding me?   I'm certainly not in the Nicole/Annie category, nor am I any kind of CF role model... but I am a pretty normal girl who has had some really amazing results by dialing in on my diet and CrossFitting as hard as I can.  And I am the furthest thing from big OR bulky.  I love sharing my CF experience with other women.  Dudes too.

I would love to be featured, that's pretty awesome. You can
reprint anything I've given to you, and I've dug up some pictures. I don't have a ton of "before", but I found a picture from my training at the Black Box in NYC back in March of this year.
For what it's worth, I have dropped from about 18% BF in December to 13% today. That's not that much time. I credit a program that revolves around LOTS of heavy lifting and getting super strict with my diet. It's hard to convince women to focus only on performance and results - to measure success solely by how much stronger and faster they are getting. It's even harder to convince them that the way they look WILL fall into place. But that is exactly my experience.

I'd been lurking on the CF site for a while, and was incorporating some of the CrossFit movements into my KB workouts - things like box jumps, wall-ball, dumbbell thrusters and push-ups. For two years, though, my entire program consisted solely of 45 minute met-cons with little to no weight. While my cardio capacity kicked butt, I wasn't really getting anywhere strength-wise. Of course, what was missing were (a) the big lifts and (b) moving heavier things, but I was too scared to try some of the workouts I saw posted on the main site and didn't think I could ever be strong enough for things like pull-ups. However, my progress had stalled, and I was getting really bored.
Nothing more boring than killing yourself and not getting results ;)

When I started trying some of the CF exercises (like deadlifts, pull-ups and overhead squats) it was REALLY  intimidating.   The movements felt foreign and I could barely lift the bar, let alone add any weight.  I couldn't imagine moving anything even close to 100# - in any direction. But the idea of being able to complete some of those workouts - and seeing how beautiful AND tough some of the CF ladies are - pushed me to commit myself to it.   I started really working the movements, one at a time, with a trainer... and discovered that I was a hell of a lot stronger than I gave myself credit for.  And I found I really LIKED feeling that strong!
Stepping up to the squat rack and using the "big boy bar" made me feel tough - even in my pigtails and Lululemons. So I started adding more weight, and more movements, and eventually progressed into the program I have now - primarily focused on heavy strength days, with some shorter, faster weighted met-cons, regular Oly work and a "mix" day of track, strongman and KBs.

Fixing my diet was the very last step - it was always pretty good, but
when I got really strict with my food choices and started upping my protein and fat, THAT'S when everything clicked. And the best part about this whole experience is that my body just sort of fell into line. I was so focused on getting a bodyweight front squat and learning to kip that I forgot to check myself out in the mirror. It was like one day I woke up and had a six pack. Which, although secondary, was pretty sweet.

Why should women care about Olympic lifts, deadlifts or their 400m sprint time? I can clean a 45# bag of dog food from the floor to my shoulder at the pet store. I can help my husband move a giant pile of rocks from one end of the yard to the other. I can join a pick-up game of tag football with my little cousins - and run them into the ground. That. Feels. GOOD. And the best part? I'm STILL a confirmed girly-girl. (Power cleans and lip gloss are not mutually exclusive.)

Let me know if you have any other questions - and thanks again for the opportunity.


The Picture on the left is from March 2008. The right is June. That's 4 months, tops.

I will have to thank her again for sharing that with me. She sent me another e-mail a day or two later, to point out to me that she was 'fit' before, but that she really didn't achieve excellent results until after she started using significant weight in her workouts. DUH. I'm glad she told me, but she didn't have to. This is the lecture I have been giving confused, bewildered women since 2004.
There also seems to be an inverse relationship between time and intensity that we all know, and all forget. Doing 100 cleans is cool and all, but that will never take you the same place as doing one REALLY heavy clean. I think what Melissa and I are trying to tell you, is that somewhere in the middle, is Fran, Grace, Helen whatever. They all call for moderate loads, and moderate reps for a reason. Intensity. There's no intensity if you can do it more than fifty times. There's no met-con if you do it less than ten times.
The magic is in the movements, it's true. But it's also in the load and the speed. Enough load and speed, and you have power. All things being equal, more power equals more capacity and MORE RESULTS!
Never stop pushing for heavier, faster and harder. It never gets easier. In fact, the more your Fran time goes down, the more it hurts to try and do better. But you have to do better! If the times keep going down, I guarantee you are getting stronger, faster, healthier and god damn it, sexier!

Back on the horse

it all started here

this helped put it into perspective for my readers that were less familiar with training the OHS real hard

I posted these videos to further expand the understanding of OHS for my readers

then came the progress reports

3 is where my wrists sort of 'break'.
4 is my final post. I attempted a few more training sessions with 115 and 135lbs, but I could never complete the reps I was supposed to (i knew my legs and core were capable of) because of the pain in my wrists.
I recommend for anyone that has done 'a couple' of OHS here and there, if they want to catch Nicole, or they wanna be a bad ass on the platform, to START SLOW. Take a few weeks to hit those OHS with less than 10 reps with a submaximal weight. Perhaps something like Starting strength or even PTTP. Build up the posture, mobility, groove and most importantly WRIST STRENGTH to do it.
I may be a unique case; While I have good mobility, balance and excellent(if I do say so myself) leg and back strength, I have bird bones. I have very high BMD (known from multiple DEXA), what I mean is that I have very small bones. Especially wrists. I am meant to be really skinny. Probably a little skinnier than I already am. I also don't press much, and I know that if I could strict press and bench press more that the weights I were using for the volumes that I was using (sometimes as much 70 or 80 reps with 95 or 115lbs, yes; 6-9ooo lbs in one sitting) may not have been so detrimental. So take it from me; Start Slow.
Then go after it with a vengeance!

Here's me back in the saddle yesterday- My last test, from early May left me at 10 reps with 135lbs. It appears that 145lbs and 6 reps is almost equivalent. I feel as though I may not have lost too much performance with this time off, which is a great relief.

I will slowly ease back into the OHS, and hopefully I will have caught Nicole and OPT before Christmas.

There are a few things that helped; Tape, hyper extending the wrists back worked OK too, and SHOES.
These were the brand I went with, b/c I had worn them before, like the moderate heel, and really liked the price! I reviewed them here.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Judo Chin Up

Cross Collar Choke
as performed by a judoka
(all force, no technique... right guys?)

Valery Fedorenko AKC Kettlebell for Sale

Play it Again Sports
Parham and Broad in the West End
Valery's AKC comp bells
I bought one of the last two

1 32kg Bell
for $70

They have no idea how rare they are or what they are worth. GO BUY IT NOW!

Monday, August 4, 2008

BJJ Chin Up Challenge

In a response to a recent article from KB Athletics and Jason C Brown, me and some of my athletes attempted his excellent sport specific variation on the chin up for BJJ Athletes
featured recently on his incredible 'Combat Sports Conditioning' webpage.

Here's our best...

Friday, August 1, 2008

Yoko Guruma

Here are some variations on the 'side wheel'


from a sleeve and belt

variation; both legs fall to the outside (yoko wakare reverse?) upon descent sleeve hand takes the back of the far side knee... much like a wrestling move I was shown once I was told was called 'the switch'.

Intermittent Fasting Paleo Zone

You ever think that we make eating right too complex?

I am going to start a little diet experiment;
Using a modified Alternate Day Fasting regimen (ADF) with a macro nutrient balance typical of the Zone (on crossfit). I will choose predominantly foods that are 'Paleo' friendly.

I am making a lot of my own choices (x2 fat, using milk, tweaking feeding times), so I will catalogue it as thoroughly as I can.

Have any of you guys tried any type of Intermittent Fasting protocols?

Share results/links in the comments section.

I think that I will try this starting Monday, after a trip or two to the grocery store this weekend.

The basic plan is to eat about 150% of what I am 'supposed to' on A days, and then about 30% on B days. You'll notice, there's a general 10% deficit.
I did Zone pretty strict before, for about 6 weeks, and lost about 7 pounds, leaning out a little. I liked it over all. This is averaging about the same caloric intake. I find the monotony of always being a little hungry the hardest part about 'dieting' and this isn't a diet so much as an alternative eating pattern intended as a system for the long term...

We'll see!

Soccer has evolved