Archive for the ‘Interesting Articles’ Category

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This year has been a year when most of the world focused on health and wellness in a more holistic manner: both physical and mental wellness. And it is beginning to look like 2019 will be a glorious continuation of what we have been opening our minds up to in 2018. So what can we expect to see in the health and wellness sphere in 2019?

1. Ayurveda

The 5,000-year-old health system, Ayurveda (in Sanskrit means “knowledge of life”) is responsible for a lot of health movements in 2018. Perhaps the most familiar of which would be the ketogenic diet. Ayurveda is an old system of medicine that incorporates plants and animal products, particularly fats. The practice of Ayurveda involves using fats both for consumption, meaning eating fats like ghee, and external use, like oils for the skin. The practice connects both mind and body in bringing about wellness.

2. More Plant Based Alternatives

2018 has seen the rise of plant based food, a whopping 23% rise in sales. Gone are the days when the choices we had regarding plant based food were TVP and tofu. Now it is beginning to look like there will be a huge movement in the plant based fish sector. Expect your local Whole Foods aisles to have more plant based fish meat choices. The plant based fish movement stemmed from the awareness of people of the negative impact of overfishing has on our environment.

3. More Sleep

A lot of people, students and workers alike, are severely lacking in sleep. In the coming year, we will have a better understanding of our circadian rhythm and the effects of melatonin and cortisol on our sleep patterns. If these two hormones get out of whack, our circadian rhythm will be thrown out of its cycle and our sleep gets messed up.

4. CBD Oil

This year has seen a massive rise in popularity of CBD oil. Despite its being taboo in certain circles, Whole Foods Market’s projection predicts that CBD oil will have an even higher spike in popularity in 2019.

Expect that in the coming year, we will be learning more about the endocannabinoid system or the ECS. This is a major bodily system which compounds like CBD and other cannabinoids interact with. We have seen how CBD oil has helped manage anxiety and we’ve marveled at its anti-inflammatory and anti-seizure effects. Cannabis might also help with setting our sleep pattern straight. It most certainly helps with keeping a lid on anxiety and stress.

5. Eco-consciousness

More and more people are becoming aware of global warming and the dire situation the Earth is currently in. Expect that in 2019, the strong rise of the eco-friendly movement will continue. It is predicted that the use of single use plastics and other single use items will see a further decline and the BYOB (bring your own bag) movement will continue to become more popular.

6. Mental Health

This year, mental health continues to be given its due importance. People are now realizing that in order to be physically healthy, you need to think about your mental health as well. Hemp based products (like CBD oil) has become a more popular alternative to the usual stress medications. It is predicted that 2019 will see the continuation of this mental health trend.

7. Oat milk

Is oat milk the new soy? This year, sales have grown by an impressive 45%. Lactose averse people have found a good alternative to dairy and soy milk and the rise of its popularity does not seem to be ending soon. Grab yourself a bottle of oat milk this 2019 because it looks like they will be flying off the shelves still.

8. MCT oil

Aside from CBD, 2018 brought MCT (medium chain triglycerides) oil into the spotlight. This oil is odorless and colorless and stays liquid at room temperature. Putting MCT oil into your coffee, making it “bulletproof” is a good way of boosting your energy. Expect to see MCT become even more popular in 2019 as more people become aware of its benefits.

9. Body Positivity

Thanks to Rihanna and her Fenty brand, body positivity moved from the fringes to mainstream. Body positivity saw a rise in popularity in 2018 as more and more people focus on loving their bodies instead of shrinking them to fit into the mold that society wanted them to look. As more people shift their focus to mental health, this 2019 will see an even bigger rise in the body positivity movement.

10. Hemp based products

Aside from CBD oil, hemp based products have found their way into our lives from our beauty products, to our food. With the 2018 Farm Bill already signed into law, hemp based farming will be legal nationwide. Expect that in 2019, there will be more choices in hemp based products.

This article originally appeared on

As a distance runner, you may want to consider incorporating cannabis into your daily regimen to optimize your training and even improve your overall health in between your workout routine.

If you’re an avid distance runner, odds are you’ve encountered a handful of injuries – whether major or minor – during your time hitting the pavement.

While there are a number of conventional aids to help you deal with pain, maintain focus and mental clarity, reduce stress, and improve speed and overall performance, there’s a more natural substance that can be used for all of these and more: cannabis.

As a distance runner, you may want to consider incorporating cannabis into your daily regimen to optimize your training and even improve your overall health in between your workout routine.

If you’d rather avoid the high that comes from cannabis, look for hemp-derived CBD products. These provide many of the positive effects without getting you high – the benefits of cannabis can be reaped without the psychoactive effects of THC.

In fact, more and more athletes are turning to CBD thanks to its plethora of health, wellness and medical benefits. With the legalization of marijuana in certain parts of the country, an upsurge in recreational and medical usage has encouraged studies that insinuate an abundance of positive, healing effects of marijuana – and CBD in particular.

As these studies have emerged to verify the benefits of medical marijuana, a recent ruling by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) to remove CBD from their list of banned substances has allowed athletes the freedom to use the cannabinoid, both in and out of competition. Whether used to alleviate pain, reduce performance-related anxiety, or to help recover faster from rigorous training, CBD can be an effective tool for athletes.

How Cannabis Can Help You Become a Better Distance Runner

Over the years, an increasing number of studies have been conducted on cannabis and the cannabinoids within it, including CBD and THC. More specifically, research is focusing on the potential benefits of marijuana. The results tend to point to its ability to alleviate a number of ailments and even improve overall health and well-being – even when it comes to mental health.

But how exactly can cannabis fit into the world of a distance runner? What is it about the properties of cannabis and its cannabinoids that can make the life of a distance runner better?

Fights Fatigue

It’s no secret that distance runners require an abundance of energy to complete their long distance runs, but sometimes there just doesn’t seem to be enough fuel in the tank. When energy levels are low, performance typically suffers. Just struggling to finish the last mile or two can prove extremely draining.

But cannabis may be able to counter fatigue. In fact, certain marijuana strains may be effective at sustaining energy levels, making it easier for distance runners to keep up with their runs without caving to fatigue.

More specifically, sativa-dominant hybrid strains can help provide a little energy when needed most. Sativa cannabis types are those that tend to provide more energetic cerebral effects, which is why they would be more suitable for those who are looking for a pick-me-up.

On the other end of the spectrum are indica cannabis strains, which have been linked to a sedative effect that’s more suitable for users who are looking to relax and alleviate stress.

Hybrids offer a combination of both sides, with different indica/sativa ratios offering very different effects. How you feel depends on which strains dominate, and sativa-dominant strains lean more toward the stimulant side of the spectrum.

Improves Mental Clarity and Focus

While the physical aspect of training is certainly crucial for athletes when they train and compete, the mental aspect is equally – if not more – important. Being able to focus on training with maximum effort requires a certain degree of mental clarity and awareness.

But it’s not uncommon for athletes – including distance runners – to suffer from brain fog on occasion, which can have negative implications on their performance.

The CBD component of cannabis has been shown to help athletes – and the general public – improve their level of mental clarity so they’re more aware of the task at hand and the surrounding environment. In fact, studies have shown that CBD, in particular, has been showing great promise as a wake-promoting agent.

Helps With Pain Management and Recovery

Long distance runners are known to suffer from specific overuse injuries, particularly in the muscles and ligaments of the lower extremities, for obvious reasons. More specifically, distance runners are more prone to suffering from leg injuries such as stress fractures, muscles strains, and torn ligaments.

Overuse injuries require a certain amount of rest to ensure full recovery before training can recommence. Therapies are often required, including physical therapy or even surgery. But during the recovery process, a certain amount of pain is bound to be experienced, no matter how mild or severe.

While NSAIDs and opioids are typically prescribed to athletes to help them manage their pain, such medications come with a slew of side effects – some minor, but some more severe. Addiction can also arise from the ongoing use of these drugs, which we’ve all seen with the recent opioid addiction epidemic.

Thankfully, there are more natural substances that distance runners can take to effectively alleviate pain and discomfort from injuries without the potential for addiction or side effects that pharmaceuticals tend to have, and marijuana is one of them.

Several studies have linked the use of marijuana and the cannabinoids and terpenes within the plant with alleviation of pain and inflammation. Different types of pain can be targeted and treated, including pain resulting from physical stress and injury.

CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) – the two most abundant cannabinoids in the cannabis plant – both interact with the brain’s cannabinoid receptors of the endocannabinoid system. This interaction activates the reward system of the brain and reduces pain levels. While THC also induces a “high” at the same time, CBD can relieve pain without any mind-altering effects.

Promotes Relaxation

Running with tense muscles wastes a lot more energy compared to running in a more relaxed state. Using up too much unnecessary energy can burn you out long before your run is done, and even increase the odds of injury occurring. That’s why it’s important to relax your body before you take to the open road.

Distance runners are encouraged to practice relaxation exercises to help pinpoint and remove any tension from the body. Taking CBD may also be effective at promoting relaxation in distance runners.

Not only can cannabis and CBD products help calm distance runners before big events, but it can also help relax runners them after they’ve completed their training.

Modes of Marijuana Consumption

Smoking isn’t the only way to consume and enjoy the benefits of cannabis. Not only is this mode of consumption irritating to the lungs and bad for overall health, but it can also hinder the performance of distance runners who rely on maximum lung function to sustain long distance runs.
The good news is that there are other ways to use marijuana that are perfectly safe, including the following:

  • Tinctures/Cannabis oils – Marijuana tinctures can be placed under the tongue using a dropper to allow the THC and/or CBD to take effect more quickly by bypassing the digestive system.
  • Edibles – Cookies, brownies, gummies, chewing gum, and candies can all be infused with marijuana and eaten like any other treat.
  • Tablets/capsules – Tablets and capsules are perhaps one of the more convenient ways to use marijuana.
  • Vapes – Rather than burning the marijuana (as is the case with smoking it), vaping only heats the marijuana up just enough to melt the resins and oils.
  • Sprays – Marijuana sprays can be applied orally.
  • Beverages – Like edibles, different beverages can be infused with marijuana cannabinoids for a quick and easy mode of consumption.
  • Topical creams – Topicals are ideal for those suffering from localized pain. Users can apply the cream directly to the area of discomfort to alleviate any pain experienced.
  • Transdermal patches – These can be applied to any area of the body and offer an immediate infusion of marijuana into the bloodstream.

Final Thoughts

Marijuana is a lot more than just a THC-laden recreational drug that gets users high. The benefits of CBD and THC are boundless for athletes and those facing other physical and/or mental ailments.


A few months ago I started an ambassador program with SUNDRIED, an ethical activewear company. They have a very good ethos what is worth to support and also amazing products. I really love the clothes I have bought from them since I started.

When you buy online use code RICHARD and get 50% discount

Shop NOW

Sundried-Richard-Csosza (1)

Why is SUNDRIED ethical?

Because….. “We deeply care about the environment and we don’t just want to maintain the status quo, we want to go a step further and make things better than when we found them. We are deeply passionate about charity work and work closely with several charities such as Surfers Against Sewage, Havens Hospices, and Water For Kids. We believe that giving back is important and we are proud of the work we do.” More about their ethical ethos.

Their technology

“We stay up to date with the latest developments in technology to ensure the products we bring to you perform at their best. We are constantly researching and exploring new innovations in the market to evolve with the industry.

All of our fabrics are developed with performance focused technology to include the following features:


Sweating is the body’s natural way of cooling us down during a tough workout, but excess sweat can lead to chafing and discomfort. This is why at Sundried we use the latest in sweat-wicking technology in all of our products. You may have already heard about fabrics which ‘wick away sweat’ but you may not know what it actually means. Special wicking fabric literally pulls moisture from the body to the outside of the clothing so that it can evaporate away, leaving you feeling drier than you would in a fabric without this technology.

Multi-way Stretch

Stretch fabrics come in two types, 2-way or 4-way stretch. 2-way stretch fabrics stretch in one direction, usually from one end of the garment to the other. 4-way stretch fabrics stretch in both directions, crosswise and lengthwise.

At Sundried, we use 4-way stretch fabrics to create the ultimate in comfortable, breathable, and moveable clothing. When you’re training you want your apparel to move with you so that it doesn’t chafe or ride. Our materials stay put and follow the contours of your body to not only make the clothes more comfortable but to create flattering outlines too.

Temperature Control

When you’re training, you want to stay cool when it’s hot and warm when it’s cold. Our temperature control technology does just that. Special fabrics and fibres are used to channel warmth so that you can be comfortable no matter what the weather.

Recycled Fabrics

Sundried are proud to support ethical, sustainable activewear production with our range of apparel made from coffee. You’ve probably heard of fabric being made from recycled water bottles, but coffee is the latest development in responsible sourcing. First developed by a Taiwanese company in 2008, the use of coffee grounds to make clothes has been on the rise ever since. The fabric produced has a number of benefits, especially for activewear and gym clothing. It is fast-drying, sweat-wicking, and de-odorising, all benefits which are hugely important for performance clothing. Not only that, it does not require the high-temperature treatment that other materials require which reduces CO2 emissions leading to a greener planet.”

About the quality and recycled fabrics
Check out the online shop and don’t forget the 50% discount.
Use code: RICHARD

“Tough workouts require tougher activewear. Sundried’s fabric choices are designed to last, trialled and tested by leading triathletes to ensure our athletes are supported. Sundried use premium materials with the finest quality fibres to ensure the products we bring to you are of the highest standard.”

I can say this is true. The quality and the fabric is very tough and very light, last but not least very comfortable to wear.


“Ethical clothing is sweeping the nation, and there is an ever-growing demand for more sustainable ways to produce fabric. With a rise in ‘fast fashion’ over the last few years, the mounting production of cheap clothes has meant that important values have been lost and not only does the environment suffer, but so too do the workers.”

“Sundried are proud to support ethical, sustainable activewear production with our range of apparel made from coffee. You’ve probably heard of fabric being made from recycled water bottles, but coffee is the latest development in responsible sourcing. First developed by a Taiwanese company in 2008, the use of coffee grounds to make clothes has been on the rise ever since. The fabric produced has a number of benefits, especially for activewear and gym clothing. It is fast-drying, sweat-wicking, and de-odorising, all benefits which are hugely important for performance clothing. Not only that, it does not require the high-temperature treatment that other materials require which reduces CO2 emissions leading to a greener planet.”

So how on earth does it work?

“The fabric is made from the waste product that is created when making coffee. The used coffee grounds usually just end up in a landfill, so this recycling process is truly ethical and responsible. The coffee grounds are processed in a low-temperature, high-pressured environment to make them into yarn which is then woven into naturally high-tech fabric.

The clothing that is produced from used coffee grounds has fantastic benefits, including odour control, sweat-wicking, and it dries over 200 times faster than cotton. It is also naturally anti-bacterial.

Responsibly-sourced materials are the future and ethical brands like Sundried are leading the way to a brighter time ahead for our planet.”

Check out the online shop and don’t forget the 50% discount.
Use code: RICHARD
The most important thing is their charity work

“Sundried want to share our success. Sundried-Richard-Csosza (1)Your purchase through Sundried will make a difference to a child’s life, helping to provide them with something we take for granted, water.

Use code RICHARD and get 50% discount.

When we call ourselves responsible we don’t just say it. While we develop our apparel we want our positive message, respect for the environment and healthy lifestyle to rub off on our consumers and the people that we know. To do this we make a pledge to charity with every Sundried purchase.

Each item in our collection is uniquely coded with a pledge to charity Water for Kids. By visiting our donate site and entering your code, you will be able to follow the journey of your donation. We encourage you to share this donation across social media in order to inspire others to do the same.

Water for Kids protect the good health of children and communities in the developing world by assisting in the provision of safe drinking water.

Your Sundried purchase could help a child get safe drinking water for the first time.

Water for Kids currently have projects mainly in rural disadvantaged communities of Uganda, Zambia, Tanzania and Kenya. The projects begin sourcing safe drinking water; either by protecting a polluted village water source, rain water harvesting or building a new borehole for a larger community.

Sundried promote respect for our environment and our people and we’re proud of our ethos.

Sundried will prove to the industry and consumers that desirable sportswear can be ethical.”

A strongly agree with SUNDRIED. This company has an ethos what everybody should follow and promote. People need help all around the world and every penny counts. To keep the environment safe and also to preserve what we have on Earth is also crucial for future generations. People always forget about that our generation maybe the last who can see polar bears, gorillas, elephants but I want my daughter to see them too and not only in pictures.

After a very long silent period I am posting again. 🙂

Let’s talk about trigger points and muscle knots. A client of mine asked me about the difference. The simple difference is that a trigger point is a painful muscle knot. Knots are at least partially responsible for as much as 75% of muscle pain.

Symptoms can range from intolerable pain caused by “active” trigger points, to painless restriction of movement and distortion of posture from “latent” trigger points.

Trigger points are areas (from a pinhead size to perhaps the size of your thumb) of painfully contracted muscle tissue.  The big problem starts when this knot tightens then it creates a small muscle spasm that causes pain. This pain causes you to tighten up to protect the painful area. The result can be a new knot and more pain.

Trigger points can be the result of injury, overworking a muscle or postural stress and strain like sitting in a less than ideal position for long periods.  Anxiety, emotional stress, inflammation, environmental toxins, and allergies may also play a part.

Muscle Knots and Referred Pain

Knots often cause referred pain so they are tricky to pinpoint. Referred pain means the pain is felt not at the point of the knot, but elsewhere in the body. E.g. if you find a knot in your upper trapezius and put pressure on it you may feel pain in your head. Or pain in your leg could be the result of a trigger point in the lower back.

This tendency to cause referred pain is one of the things that make trigger points so maddening.

Massage therapists and physical therapists know the most effective way to release the contraction of a trigger point is deep, continuous pressure. But if you’re bothered with frequent shoulder pain, for example, that you suspect may be caused by a painful knot, repeated visits to a therapist are not always practical.

Self treatment

In my point of view and personal experience self treatment is always a temporary solution of prevention. If you train with weights you have bigger chance to develop knots and trigger points despite lots of SMR (self myofascial release) so you need to see a professional therapist e.g sport massage therapist maybe once in a month. Of course, it depends on your condition.

The next post will be about the SMR tools.

By Ann Gibbons

The Khoisan hunter-gatherers of Namibia offer a glimpse of our ancestors’ great genetic diversity.

The famous Kalahari Bushmen of southern Africa have long been in decline. For more than a century, the people, who speak Khoisan languages, have been pushed off their land by farmers and brutalized by colonialists.

Yet for tens of thousands of years, the Khoisan’s ancestors were members of “the largest population” on the planet, according to a new study.

The Khoisan have long stood apart from other groups within Africa. They look distinct, speak in “click” languages, and have also maintained the greatest genetic diversity known among human populations. Usually, big populations harbor the most diversity. But census counts show that the 100,000 Khoisan speakers in Africa today are far outnumbered by other groups, such as the 45 million Bantu speakers and their 180 million descendants who now speak Swahili and other languages. Researchers have thought that the Khoisan inherited their genetic diversity from a large ancestral population, an idea supported by a single Khoisan genome published in 2012. But scientists couldn’t rule out that the variation in Khoisan DNA arose from more recent interbreeding with other diverse Africans.

In the new study, published online today in Nature Communications, biochemist Stephan Schuster of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and colleagues sequenced the complete genomes of five Khoisan hunter-gatherers from Namibia and compared them with the DNA from 1462 genomes of people from around the world. Schuster’s team found that two of the Khoisan, members of the Ju/’hoansi population in Namibia, inherited their DNA only from Khoisan ancestors in the northern Kalahari region and showed no sign of interbreeding with non-Khoisan speakers. These two Ju/’hoansi genomes preserve ancient diversity inherited entirely from their direct ancestors, the authors say.

Using several different methods of analysis, the team reconstructed population sizes for the ancestors of the Khoisan, as well as for Europeans, Asians, and another African group, the Yoruba. They found that all four groups declined in effective population size (the number of breeding adults) between 120,000 and 30,000 years ago. The non-Khoisan groups’ numbers plunged precipitously—by 30,000 years ago, European and Asian populations had plummeted by 90% from their peak, thanks to population bottlenecks caused by the migration of small groups out of Africa. But the Khoisan population declined by only 26%. (Yoruba populations dropped by 69%).

The researchers uncovered declines in population in all four groups, likely tied into periods of dry climate in Africa. But the Khoisan suffered the least, perhaps because their huge ancestral population was buffered from droughts that winnowed other groups, such as the Yoruba and the African ancestors of Europeans and Asians, because the Khoisan lived farther south in Africa where rainfall actually increased. The Khoisan then began a more drastic decline in the past 20,000 years or so, with a major blow when the Bantu farmers spread through Africa 4000 years ago. “This shows us how much climate can influence populations,” says genomicist Webb Miller of Pennsylvania State University, University Park, a co-author.

Other researchers agree that it’s likely that the Khoisan descend from a large population. But because sampling of African genomes is still so spotty, not everyone is yet convinced that the Khoisan “was the largest population on Earth at some point,” says evolutionary geneticist Pontus Skoglund of Harvard University. “Many African populations are not included for comparison,” he says, so it is possible that some of the diversity seen in the Khoisan was inherited from recent interbreeding that cannot yet be detected.

Either way, the study makes it clear that even though the Khoisan are genetically diverse by today’s standards, even they carry just a fraction of our ancestors’ genetic legacy over the past 120,000 years. “It is quite staggering how much extraordinary genetic variation and ethnic diversity was present but is now lost,” Skoglund says. The Khoisan, retaining more than the rest of us, offer a rare window to look back in time at some of that diversity.


By Dan John (web)


If I could summarize smart training I would say this: Train your whole body daily with enough work and appropriate load. Let me give you two words to aid in your understanding of training the movements with appropriate work and load: Integrity and Environment.
Integrity is a word I use often in my work. I use it to talk about “being the same person in every situation,” being true to one’s values and system, and, the key for this section, “being one piece.”
“The body is one piece” has been a teaching truth of mine for decades, but it can be simplified to “Integrity.” As you train and pursue your goals, you must think of your body (mind and soul) as one piece. Your feet, even if you don’t realize it, are searching for clues from the ground to protect you from making a life changing or life altering error. You inner ear is helping out your feet by providing feedback on what is upright, and the rest of your body is sharing information to help your decision making process.

As for environment, it’s “everything out there.” It can be water, ground, trees, rocks, falling rocks, and everybody else. It can be as controlled as a cement floor and an air-conditioned room, or as chaotic as the breakers hitting a tidal pool. We are constantly waging a full scan on everything around us and reacting to all this input.

We can use integrity and environment to help understand the fundamental human movements and how they can be seen over the lifetime of training.

Let’s just discuss the upper body and how your local playground might be the best toolkit for training you know.

The “Push” is an attempt to separate from the environment. Babies strive to push the floor away to begin moving on their own, the bench press is an attempt to separate the bar from the chest, and we spend much of our life pushing away mom and dad so we can grow up. Not surprisingly, pushing muscles tend to be the muscles of youth. As you review Janda’s Phasics—a group of muscles classified by Dr. Vladamir Janda as extensors, or essentially “pushers,”—you will note that these are the ones that weaken with age or illness.

The “Pull” is how we unite or embrace our environment. When we try to bring things closer to ourselves, like during a pullup, row, or embrace, we are attempting to close the gap between our integrity (our body) and the environment. Sports naturally flow between push and pull as we try to leverage an opponent or nature. As we age, we wish everyone we know were just a bit closer either due to hearing loss or just distance. Janda’s Tonics—classified as your flexors or “pullers”—are the muscles that tighten with age or illness.

If you wish to do both the Push and Pull in the healthiest, safest manner, go look for some Monkey Bars. If you ever want a full upper body workout in about a minute, swing from hand to hand across the Monkey Bars.

Hold on. Why do we call them Monkey Bars? In Wikipedia’s definition of “Brachiation,” there is a very interesting description of the traits of brachiators: “Some traits that allow primates to brachiate include short fingernails (instead of claws), inward-closing hook-like fingers, opposable thumbs, long forelimbs, and freely rotating wrists.”

Sound familiar? Yeah, well, look in the mirror! Go find a park and rename them “Human Bars” and take back our equipment! Like Charleton Heston warned us: “Take your paws of me, you damn dirty ape!” My friends, let me warn you: First the playgrounds, then the world. Seriously, there are movies about this!

No. Really.

There is a beach in California with rings set up so that one can “fly” back and forth and back and forth. Now, by the time you read this, some group interested in safety will have banned them, but if you want to look fantastic in the upper body, start brachiating. The beachcombers who do these big swings look amazing. Now, the chicken or the egg question: Does swinging build this physique or does a certain physique allow “flying rings.”

Either way, it doesn’t matter. Your upper body is made to do it. Its job is to both separate and embrace the environment.

Traditionally, I have gathered a bunch of our typical training drills into something I call “The Sixth Movement.” I am never sure what to call this, but basically it is everything besides push, pull, hinge, squat and loaded carries (the five foundational movements). It is groundwork. It is rolling. It is literally “everything else.”

Generally, though, the Sixth Movements seems to encourage this: Integrity with the Environment.

Rolling on the ground makes falling seem safer. Turkish getups simplify popping up off the ground to get some more beer during the Super Bowl. Rolling on the floor with a grandchild makes everyone happier. (That last one isn’t scientific, but it is true.)

The Sixth Movement(s) bring you back to the early days of sitting around a fire and listening to a story. We are reminded of sliding in and out to spark the embers, sliding back into the earth to hear the story, and rolling over on the ground to fall asleep.

Our relationship with the earth shouldn’t be “me and it,” it should be “I and Thou.” Yes, it might be a bit heavy for a lifting audience, but just roll around for a while and trust this point.

Crawling can be seen as simply “engaging the horizontal environment.” Brachiating can be summed with “engaging the vertical environment.” You don’t need to swing from limb to limb to engage the vertical environment as you can do that simply through Monkey Bars or Rope Climbing. The recent popularity of rock climbing reflects this basic truth of the human person: We like to explore what is around us and hidden behind that next curve, tree, or mountain.

I was lucky to be educated in the last wave of the classic Physical Education programs. We began the year with marching. Can you even imagine the number of phone calls to the principal if today you had kids marching around the schoolyard following the commands “To your left, to your left, to your left, right, left?” We learned sports and games, but we also spent quality time on climbing ropes, high bars, dipping bars and Monkey bars.

In most P.E. classes today, you simply see pick-up basketball games and dodgeball. In many states, it has all but vanished for the scholastic curriculum. If you don’t learn certain skills as a child, bicycling and swimming quickly come to mind, it is going to be difficult to pick them up in your adult years. Learning to ride a bike involves some falling and tumbling and this isn’t always the best for adults.

Let’s rediscover the great tradition of physical training.

by Jeff Leach (source)

AS THE SUN set over Lake Eyasi in Tanzania, nearly thirty minutes had passed since I had inserted a turkey baster into my bum and injected the feces of a Hadza man – a member of one of the last remaining hunter-gatherers tribes in the world – into the nether regions of my distal colon. I struggled to keep my legs in the air with my toes pointing towards what I thought was the faint outline of the Southern Cross rising in the evening sky. With my hands under my hips – and butt perched against a large rock for support – I peddled an imaginary upside down bicycle in the air to pass the time as I struggled to make sure my new gut ecosystem stayed put inside me.

With my butt cheeks flexed and my, you know what puckered, I wondered if I had just made a terrible mistake. Could I really displace my western gut microbial ecosystem with that of a man, who, days before had dined on animals as diverse as zebra and monkey, possessed one of the most diverse gut microbiomes of any person in the world? Would my immune system soon freak out at the presence of what should be some familiar Old (microbial) Friends now setting up shop throughout the slimy vastness of my gastrointestinal tract? Or had I just unwittingly infected myself with some lethal bacteria or virus? The pros and cons – mostly cons – of my evening turkey basting activities raced through my anxious mind as I peddled my way into the evening.

Hadza hunter-gatherer

My colleagues and I have been working and living amongst the Hadza hunter-gatherers of Tanzania for over a year now. Over the course of several field sessions, we’ve collected nearly 2,000 human and environmental samples in an attempt to characterize the microbes on and within the Hadza and the microbes in their environment. The human samples have mostly included stool (feces), but also swabs of hands, foreheads, bottoms of feet, tongues (some spit), breast milk from mothers, and so on. Environmental sampling has included swabs of the plants and other foods they consume – like berries, roots, honey, etc. – and a dizzying number of animals ranging from Greater Kudu, Impala, Dik Dik, Zebra, various monkeys and birds, and so on. For the animals, we collect feces and when possible swabs of the stomach contents of larger animals – all of which end up covering the Hadza sooner or later during butchering (see little blurb in Nature titled Please Pass the Microbes). We also swab their homes – inside and out – along with the various water sources. In short, we swab everything including the researchers while in the field.

The official title of our little project is The Effect of Seasonality and Transculturation on the Human Microbiome: a Pilot Study in Tanzania and includes a talented team of collaborators from New York University, University of Colorado-Boulder, Stanford, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Western University & Lawson Health Research Center in Canada, and several researchers from the National Institute of Medical Research in Tanzania. Additional collaborators working on various analysis are scattered at universities in the US and Europe.

Twenty years of rainfall in Hadza Land taken at Kisema Ngeda.

As the clunky title of our study implies, we are interested in how Hadza microbes – along with their environmental microbes (water, homes, plants and animals) – shift between the wet and dry seasons. Due to some unique geography and global weather patterns, East Africa experiences a striking wet and dry season – essentially 6 months of rain, followed by almost none (see figure). This reality means that during the dry season, as water holes dry up, the Hadza kill a lot more animals as dwindling water sources make the animals more predictable and easier to shoot with their poison arrows from hunting blinds (aka ambush hunting). An increase in protein and fat from animals means a drop off in other caloric resources, mainly plants, as the Hadza will often binge of meat when possible (note they have no storage so everything is eaten in a short period of time). During the wet season when Hadza Land is awash in greenery and flowers, the Hadza enjoy an abundance of wild honey (gooey fat of the larvae included) and massive stands of sugary berries. With the coming of the rains larger animals are more scattered and thus harder to kill, so make up less of the daily calories (though its highly variable from day-to-day and week-to-week and from camp-to-camp). No matter the season, fibrous baobab fruit and subsurface tubers are a daily constant for the Hadza. Yes, they consume lots and lots of dietary fiber!

The impact of seasonality on the Hadza and their microbial environment is an interesting and possibly important question as it relates to what a normal or healthy microbiome might have looked like before the niceties and medications of late whacked the crap out of our gut bugs in the so-called modern world. It’s not a stretch to say that nearly all of us in the western world are a hot microbial mess due to, well, just about every aspect of our daily lives – hence the emerging microbial connection to a staggering number of diseases and ailments in the twenty-first century including IBD, autoimmune disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and so on.

Should we really strive for a certain composition of gut microbes as many modern buggy-like products infer – such as those found in over the counter probiotics, various drinks and foods? Or does the reality of our seasonal past reveal that our gut microbiome is a shape shifting metabolic organ pulling the strings on our health and well being in a bi- or even tri-annual circadianlike rhythm? Said differently, and with all due respect to the brilliant Harvard researcher Richard Wrangham of fire made us human fame, is seasonality and its impact on our symbiotic microbes more responsible for what makes us human? I like to think it might – plus, Seasonal Homo is kind of catchy.

The Hadza are particularly (microbially) interesting over, say, remote groups in South America, as they still live in a part of Africa that purportedly gave rise to our genus Homo. However, Lee Berger and his colleagues working new fossil sites in South Africa are giving East Africa a run for its money for the prize for which part of Africa holds the honor to the geographical cradle of humanity. Regardless, being only a stones throw from famous paleontological sites like Olduvai Gorge of Leakey fame, the Hadza literally hunt and gather many of the same animals and plants that humans and our ilk have subsisted on for millions of years – not too mention they are literally covered in the same dirt, drink the same water (save the occasional cow turd floating about), and practice the same central-based foraging that has brought people together in microbial-sharing camps/communities for the better part of the Pleistocene.

While the Hadza are not living fossils, nor in anyway represent a perfect referent population for early human evolution (but close), their hunting and foraging lifestyle and constant contact with the natural microbial world, natural births, extended breast feeding and limited to access to western medications, makes them one of the best – if not the best – population in the world for trying to understand what our ancestral microbes may have once looked like, where we got them and at what point in our life history we acquired them, before the rest of us ran gut first into the buzz saw of globalization.


On the original question of whether or not the gut microbiome composition of the Hadza changes between wet and dry seasons, our initial – though unpublished data – suggest yes (see graph). To our knowledge this is the first study in the world to document this pattern among rural and remote populations. Ecologically speaking, this suggests there may not be one steady state – or equilibrium – for the human gut. It’s moving target with multiple steady states.

Though we see seasonal shifts in the composition of the Hadza gut microbes across the same individuals, we are currently trying to determine if there exists any functional shifts as well (via shotgun metagenomics). In other words, even if the members shift around from season to season, are the metabolic capabilities – or ecosystem services – of the entire community conserved between seasons or do they change as well? We should know this in the near future.

If we squint for a moment and consider the Hadza and the seasonality of our ancestral past and its impact on our shape shifting gut microbiota as relevant to populations in the western world – and no reason we shouldn’t, though some may argue otherwise over hair splitting details – then we might need to start rethinking an entire industry of probiotics and the like that suggest we need a certain set of bugs in this drink or that slimy yogurt.  And since we are on the subject of probiotics, some significant and dominant players on the market today include characters with names like bifidobacterium and lactobacillus. Interestingly, while the Hadza harbor bifidobacterium and lactobacillus while still breast-feeding, these bugs are essentially absent in Hadza post-weaning (i.e., more or less absent after age 5).

This begs the question: should we really consider these groups of bacteria as essential and necessary to human health despite what a multi-billion dollar industry tells us? Clearly, mountains of research suggest these lactic acid bacteria are good for us, but are there other – more ancestral – groups of bugs that may be more in tune with our seasonal gut post-weaning? More importantly, does the persistence of bifidobacterium and similar bugs in our western gut – mainly due to continued consumption of cow’s milk, ingestion of some probiotic/prebiotic foods, and so on into adult life – nudge out or blunt down other members of our gut ecosystem that would otherwise flourish and provide important ecosystem services? We are currently trying to understand this as we perform various co-occurrence analyses of the Hadza data. Stay tuned.

It’s also interesting to note that while the most dominant group of bacteria in the American Gut is thegenus Bacteroides – by a country mile – this group of bacteria is a minor, minor player in the Hadza gut. Almost non-existent. The prevailing wisdom is that these bacteria are driven by our high protein-fat and sugary diet. However, I think it has a lot more to do with our absence of dietary fiber and resulting alkaline guts (see Going Feral). As my own self-experiments have shown, I can turn my Bacteroides up or down with the amount of fiber in my diet irrespective of the amount of other macronutrients like fat. To me at least, I think the dominance of Bacteroides in the western gut has to do with pH levels, which is “mainly” driven by fermentation of dietary fiber (fermentation of fiber equals more SCFAs and thus a more acidic colonic environment which strains of Bacteroides don’t like). So with the average American eating less than 20g of fiber a day – pitiful – we are likely lugging around the most alkaline guts in human history which in turn is allowing certain species of Bacteroides (and some opportunistic pathogens) to flourish. Again, if we squint for a moment and lean on the gut of the Hadza, then maybe we shouldn’t let Bacteroides dominant our gut – and by doing so, who else is getting nudged out or down and potentially dragging us closer to ill health? I suspect the Hadza keeo Bacteroides levels low with their high, daily levels of dietary fiber which keeps their colonic environment very acidic. In addition the high protein-fat and sugary argument doesn’t hold with the Hadza either as they will often gorge on meat-fat and eat piles of sugary honey for weeks on end during the wet season – and we see no blooms in Bacteroides when we sample during these periods. It’s the Fiber Stupid!

Some of our initial sequencing data on the Hadza reveal extraordinary diversity of certain groups of bacteria – one that sticks out, among many – is the genus Prevotella. Currently there are only two described/sequenced species of Prevotella derived from the human gut: P. copri and P. stercorea.Strikingly, the Hadza appear to harbor dozens of species! This is interesting as Prevotella have been linked/correlated to enhanced susceptibility to arthritis and some other issues. So, is the diversity of Prevotella species in the ancestral Hadza beneficial, benign, or possibly even problematic? It’s exciting to think that we all once harbored this diversity of Prevotella but have lost it through our western diet and lifestyle. At the moment we don’t know what to make of the Hadza diversity of this important genus, but we are working on it. Stay tuned.

Oxalobacter formigenes is another species of bacteria that most of the Hadza carry and that the rest of us in the western world have more or less lost. Oxalobacter, as an oxalate-degrading gut microbe, hasgained attention in recent years for its ability for preventing calcium oxalate kidney stones. Graduate students Amanda PeBenito and Lama Nazza in Marty Blasers lab at NYU have been looking at Oxalobacter levels in our Hadza samples and have found that most of the Hadza still carry this important microbe – and acquire it at a young age. Conversely, Oxalobacter seems to be disappearing from our western guts and may be at the root of rising levels of kidney stones. Less the 15% of Americans still carry this important microbe and almost no kids are acquiring now – according Amanda and Lama’s research. Since Oxalobacter is sensitive to penicillin’s, our overuse of some western medications may be the problem.

As the examples of Prevotella and Oxalobacter reveal – and note there are lots of others emerging in the Hadza samples – we have potentially lost an extraordinary diversity of microbes that may have once contributed to our proper functioning and the reason I found myself peddling an imaginary bicycle under a Baobab tree this past August.

When we started working with the Hadza during the summer of 2013, we would live near them but not in their camps. And though I lived in their environment while working with them, I continued eating western food all the while collecting my stool samples as well as theirs. Other than the occasional taste of wild meat and some baobab fruit, my diet consisted of pasta, some canned meats, fruits, veggies, booze, etc. I was interested in seeing whether or not simply being in their environment would change my gut microbes in any meaningful way. And it did – but only so slightly. The next field session I not only lived in their environment, but drank their water and ate their food – giving up my normal, western camp food. But I did smoke weed on occasion as the Hadza are big pot smokers (they trade honey and meat for weed with the local Datoga). As with my previous experience, the combination of environment plus Hadza food altered my gut microbe composition as well. However, my gut bugs still did not match that of an age-matched Hadza male. Granted, I did not stay on the Hadza diet long – only 6-8 days at a time. The experiment of “going Hadza” was to see if I could catch or acquire their consortium of microbes through diet and lifestyle changes. Clearly my changing microbiota suggested yes. Since I did not have the time to live amongst the Hadza for months on end – a time I felt would be necessary to make my gut look more Hadza-like – I thought something more radical was needed.

Fecal microbiota transplants – or FMT – have become all the rage. And as the name implies, it entails taking a small amount of fecal matter from one person and putting it another. While the promise of this therapy is hard to overstate, the science is still a long way down the road from being a simple thing for everything that ails us in the western world. FMT has been proven again and again as a successful treatment for C. Diff infections – where antibiotics have been unable to clear the infection and in many cases, only make matters worse – its use in IBD and other issues is still a work-in-progress. But everyone – including me – is hopeful that the idea that you can restore microbial diversity or otherwise improve dysbiosis in a sick gut with a donor stool is breathtaking.

When I first considered the idea of doing a fecal transplant between a Hadza hunter-gatherer and myself, I ran the idea pass a number of colleagues working in various areas of microbiology and medicine. If memory serves, one hundred percent of the experts I consulted said don’t do it. Concerns ran from it’s too risky or you’re not sick so why do it, and so on. But it was comical to hear more than a handful of experts warn against doing it, but if I did, it sure would be interesting to see the data! So I carefully weighed the advice and jumped in with both butt cheeks.

While for ethical reasons I cannot disclose the donor, I can say it’s a Hadza male, in his mid 30s, with a wife and handful of kids. Before the poo swap took place, I knew more or less what microbes he carried as we had sampled him several times over the months prior and that he harbored at least twice the amount of species (OTUs) that I carried – including all those crazy Prevotella and those oxalate eating Oxalobacter. We also took the donor to a small hospital in the town of Haydom and had him tested for Hep A-C and a few other things. For HIV, we used rapid field test strips and repeated the test multiple times over several days. While it’s not possible to catch everything, we were being cautious. However, I had no data on the parasites he might carrying at the time of the transplant as those analysis were still ongoing at Jack Gilbert’s lab at the University of Chicago. Oh well, parasites be damned, onward with the science!

Since I wasn’t sick and in need of a transplant for those reasons, why was I taking the risk? To that advice – which I greatly appreciated from my colleagues – I responded that while I don’t technically have a diagnosed disease like a refractory C. diff infection for which a fecal transplant was the best cure, I did have a western gut microbiota – one I was given when I passed through my mother’s vaginal canal and that I had spent a lifetime of knocking the crap out of with chlorinated tap water, the occasional antibiotic, mountains of shitty (and good) food, living more or less the sterile life of an American male – devoid of the kind of microbes my donor had grown up with – and last but not least, a semi truck load of booze I had consumed as an average American male (I’m 47 so I have seen the bottom of my share of tequila bottles). Therefore I did consider myself gut sick even if I had not been diagnosed as such. But that’s not the whole reason.

The bigger reason or hypothesis I wanted to test was one of microbial extinction, something I believe we all suffer from in the western world and may be at the root of what’s making us sick. My colleagues and Hadza collaborators Maria Gloria Dominguez-Bello and Marty Blaser at NYU estimate from their decades of work in the US and among Amerindian populations in South America, that us modern humans have lost a third (or more) of the microbial diversity we once enjoyed. The Hadza data thus far suggest this number could be as high as half. So for me, and my little transplant experiment with a Hadza hunter gatherer still living at microbial ground zero for all humans, I wanted to know if my western diet and lifestyle could rapidly destroy this newly acquired diversity in a short period of time. Since the human genome contains ~23,000 genes and our whole-body microbiome accounts for another staggering 5-10 million genes – most of which our deep in our gut – my distal gut ecosystem restoration project attempted to replace 99% of the genes in my body.

Again, if you squint with me for a minute, could I simulate 10,000 years of human history – from the transition of hunter-gatherer to agriculturalists, to crowded conditions of civilizations, to indoor plumbing, to the introduction of antibiotics and antimicrobial soaps, to Lady Gaga – all in a short few months with my fecal transplant?

So once the fecal transplant had been completed that warm, August night – with the aid of a turkey baster (note also I’m pretty sure my colleagues who brought me the turkey baster purchased the largest one made and sold at Walmart) – I immediately went back to camp and started back on my western diet (note I had been on a pure Hadza diet for a few days leading up to the transplant).

Before and after the transplant I took stool, blood, and urine samples (note I’m still taking stool samples weeks after the experiment). We also took several samples of the donor stool. At the writing of this blog post I’m not sure if the fecal transplant took – that is, whether my body successfully took the transplant and if so, what percentage of my donors bugs populated my distal colon. I was able to “hold in” the donors sample until 11AM the next morning, a period of 16 hours, before having my first bowel movement. So I am hopeful. I should know by early November, when all the samples are sequenced, whether or not the procedure took.

So, if I was able to acquire and keep a portion on my donors ancestral microbial ecosystem, how much of it could I wipe out as I transitioned back to the US and then back to Tanzania this coming November? When I arrive back in Tanzania in mid November, I will go back on the Hadza diet – and of course, live in their environment – to see how much of the original donors samples I can get to spring back to life. If my transition back to the US results in a loss of my newly acquired diversity, then essence – if you squint with me for a moment – I was able to recreate the epidemiological transitions we’ve all experienced in the last 10,000 years in a few short months. Regardless of the outcome, it will be interesting. I will also do another transplant or two when I return in November, but this time I will stay on the Hadza diet to see if I can hold onto whatever ecosystem I acquire at transplant.

So how did I feel after the transplant? Not that much different other than – as it was pointed out to me by my girlfriend – I seemed to be farting a lot less – a lot less! Didn’t really notice any change in my mood or my bow hunting skills either! But it is interesting that I started shedding a few pounds for no apparent reason. Interesting. Stay tuned.

Don’t try this at home!

by Christian Thibaudeau web

July, 2013 CrossFit Marathon

You want to hear something crazier than Christian Thibaudeau doing CrossFit? How about Christian Thibaudeau doing a 24-hour CrossFit marathon?

By now you might realize that I have an “all-out” attitude. Moderation isn’t in my nature. So after less than two months of this type of training my wife and I decided to sign up for a 24-hour CrossFit marathon organized to raise funds for a city that got hit by a huge train explosion that devastated half the downtown area. The event lasted 24 straight hours, one workout being performed every hour. We were divided into teams of four, so we all had to do six workouts, one every four hours or so. My wife and I stayed at the gym the whole time, except for two brief periods when we went back home to feed the dogs. It would be a lie to tell you that we slept, as sleeping was a physical impossibility.

When I got to the gym, I quickly noticed that a ton of people knew me; some knew me because I had coached them in Olympic lifting and many others knew me by reputation. All were surprised to see me there as they didn’t know anything about my “shift in training.”

So when the first workout came up I felt an amazing amount of pressure. In fact, my heart rate was close to a fatal level before the workout even started. Plus, the workouts were picked at random so we couldn’t really assign specific workouts to the team members because we didn’t know the order of the workouts in advance. That made things even worse.

It turns out that I had to do the workout named “Fran,” which is 21 thrusters (95 pounds), 21 pull-ups, 15 thrusters, 15 pull-ups, 9 thrusters, 9 pull-ups for time. It looks quite innocent, but the thing is that you basically can’t breathe during that workout. The thrusters are the absolute worst exercise when it comes to breathing, and then you have to do pull-ups where deep breathing is almost impossible because you can’t elevate your chest.

I made the mistake of really blasting through the first 21 thrusters. While I was the first one done, I gassed out bad when I walked toward the pull-up rack. This was due to lack of breathing plus the elevated heart rate at the start. I was able to pull through but I promised never to do that workout again.

My second workout was even worse:

18 toes-to-bar
16 hand release push-ups (a push-up where, after your chest touches the floor, you momentarily pull your hands off the floor)
14 pull-ups, chest to bar
12 ring dips
10 chin-ups
8 handstand push-ups
6 pull-ups, chest to bar
4 clean & jerk with 155 pounds
60m walking lunges while carrying 45 pounds overhead

It actually went fairly well, except for falling down three times while doing the handstand push-ups (it’s not something I’d practiced), but I was really disappointed when I saw that the next workout (the one a teammate got to do instead of me) was testing your deadlift 1RM. I would have cleaned up on that one!

I did fairly well in my third workout, which consisted of five rounds of the following:

200m farmer’s walk while holding one 45-pound bumper plate in each hand (held by the hole)
20m bear crawl (running on all fours)
10 high box jumps (36″)

Again, the next workout consisted of 5-4-3-2-1 in the power clean and kettlebell snatch. I would’ve done very well at that one, too, but my wife got to do it and I’m proud to say that her cleans looked very solid. Finally, in the next round, I drew one that was designed for me: “Isabelle,” which is 30 snatches with 135 pounds. All eyes were on me and I was expecting a very solid performance.

Sadly, when luck is not on your side, it’s really not on your side. After the first 10 reps, where it felt like I was snatching an empty bar, my left quad started to cramp bad. In fact I was unable to put any weight on my leg at all without experiencing severe cramps. So I stopped, took two servings of Plazma and 3000ml of water, waited 10 minutes and did it again. Sadly, most people were finished and getting some rest by then.

The rest of the experience is a haze. I’m someone who normally wakes up at 4:30 AM and goes to sleep at 8 PM. That day I still woke up at 4:30 AM but I finished my fourth workout at roughly 3 AM. I do not respond well to sleep deprivation. I finished with a workout that was tailored to me, but at that point I was fighting to stay alive and awake so I can’t say that I killed it.

The main thing I learned during these four weeks was the value of loaded carries. I was reminded about them when I had to do a workout at CrossFit Levis that included 5 rounds of a 400m farmer’s walk while carrying 24kg kettlebells. Then, two days later, I did the farmer’s walk at the CrossFit marathon. My forearms and traps might have doubled in size. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but the farmer’s walk did have a profound impact. And I also found that they can teach you to breathe properly during intense effort. When doing conditioning/strength-capacity type work, breathing is something that’s highly underrated, yet is of supreme importance for optimal performance. I’ll make sure to include more farmer’s walks in my training for their effects on body composition, muscle mass, and breathing skills.

It Was Going So Well..

Back to the present… My CrossFit experience ended soon after my third month passed. That’s when my health issues started. I don’t want to cover them all over again since they were detailed in theMicro-PA forum, but suffice it to say they stopped my momentum.

What Now?

I spent some time rebuilding some of the muscle mass I lost when I was hospitalized. To do that, I went back to regular heavy lifting. Now that my base is coming back, I’m focusing on the Olympic lifts again. I’m doing plenty of strength work, too. I have the two Olympic lifts every day and I do pulling strength-movements on day 1, pushing on day 2, and legs (squats) on day 3. I then take a day off and repeat.

I’m using the tried and true 5 x 5 for my strength lifts. My goal is to get 5 sets of 5 reps with the same weight, and when I can do that I increase the load. I never decrease the weight. On some sets I might only make it to 3 or 4 reps, but that’s fine and it means I won’t increase the weight for the next workout.

Will I do CrossFit again? Probably. Not to the same extent as I did last summer but when my strength levels are back up where I want them to be, I’ll start hitting CrossFit Levis with my wife once or twice a week. I’ll have to be ready to have my ass kicked, though, since, unlike me, she didn’t stop!

by Christian Thibaudeau web

June, 2013 Second Month Observations

Shredded-Physique1. A hard month of training is now behind me. I can say that this form of training is addictive and I certainly see why CrossFit is popular. I mean, it really sucks when you’re doing it, but the amount of pride you feel and the sense of accomplishment is hard to beat. As for my own training and results, I love what I’m seeing and how I’m feeling.

2. During my second month of training I observed and learned a few more things that I want to share with you. I always felt that I am the average T Nation reader. I want what they want and like what they like. I like to be strong and muscular, but I love to be lean and feel athletic. I said that my ideal physique is that of Georges St. Pierre with 10-15 pounds more of muscle, but considering what’s happening to my body I might as well change that to 20 pounds more muscle!

3. While I expected to get leaner with this type of training, I was afraid of losing some muscle mass.After all, my lowered volume of overall strength work and increase in metabolic conditioning work would surely lead to some loss in size. I was actually willing to live with this, but so far I’m shocked by the results. I certainly haven’t lost any size, and quite possibly gained some size, as evidenced by the fact that I’m a lot leaner while my bodyweight remains fairly stable. This tells me two things: 1) the amount of strength/heavy lifting necessary to build strength and size is much lower than I thought and 2) lighter resistance work can actually become a muscle growth stimulus if you push it hard enough.

4. After some deep introspection I realized that I value being super lean more than being super big.Don’t get me wrong, I want big muscles and you really can’t get the look I want without a good amount of muscle tissue, but being a walking anatomy chart has always been my main goal. The problem is that every time I tried to get that lean in the past, I felt like crap throughout the process. I had no energy and lost a lot of strength. Why? Because with the type of training I was doing, I achieved fat loss by food/carbs reduction (sometimes quite drastic) and I’m now doing it while eating just as much food, if not more, than during a muscle gain phase.

5. My back, shoulders, and legs are definitely improving the most. What freaks me out (in a good way) is seeing my back get lean! As I mentioned, it would normally take extreme dieting to get back definition, but I’m now seeing tons of separation. The shoulders are much rounder, which is cool because in the past when I was “dieting down,” shoulder roundness was the first thing I’d lose. My legs are bigger, but of course that’s not surprising since I’m doing four squatting workouts per week, plus the Olympic lifts and complexes.

6. I decided to add daily ring dips and chins to improve my relative strength. I find that with the daily ring dips I’m able to maintain chest mass despite dropping bench pressing almost completely. This led me to the conclusion that dips can be a superior chest builder to the bench press.

7. This is the first time in my life that I really like the way I look. I think that most of us who get serious about training do so because we’re not satisfied with the way we look. I’m no different. Even when I did bodybuilding I never liked the way I looked. This could’ve been because when I finally reached the degree of leanness and muscularity I felt so bad that I had a negative outlook on everything. I can safely say that this is the first time I ever looked and felt great at the same time.

8. The more I experience it, the more I believe that submaximal lifting that focuses more on speed and density of work is a great way to build muscle. This is especially true of the Olympic lifts, so I decided to go a bit lighter on my Olympic lift days (I’m building overall strength with the strength days anyway) and focus more on complexes and EMOM loading (every minute on the minute). I feel that this will give me more overall muscle gains while also solidifying my technique while preserving the nervous system.

9. You really need to up the carbs! Not only will you not get fat on this program, the carbs (the right ones) will actually help you get leaner because you’ll be able to train harder. I ran out of Finibars at one point and it hit me really hard. I didn’t realize how much they helped me recover from these workouts.

by Christian Thibaudeau web

May, 2013 Stuff I Learned From My First Month of CrossFit

1. I’d become lazy with my own training. I’d stayed in my comfort zone way too much, turning up the heat only when I really had to improve fast (e.g., before a T Nation video session).

2. My cardiovascular system is both better and worse than I thought it was. Better because I found I was able to keep going way past the point where I thought that I’d actually die, and worse because I think that dying would have felt better!

3. Some of the workouts used are very conducive to my own physique goals (my ideal physique is Georges St. Pierre with 10-15 pounds of added muscle mass). However, some are also very counterproductive and will make reaching my goals harder.

4. Training to be good at CrossFit will do more to build the body I want than just doing CrossFit. I think that’s one of the reasons why the top-level guys and girls have such great bodies – they do CrossFit sessions but they also do plenty of strength work.

5. I know that my strength-building methods are more effective than those used by even the top CrossFit athletes. I also know that the type of work done in the productive (for my goals) CrossFit workouts will do a lot to help me build quality muscle and get me leaner. A combination will give me everything I want from my training.

6. It’s fun to finally learn hard skills like handstand push-ups, muscle-ups, and the like, but you don’t need them to build the ultimate physique. If there’s one thing I don’t really like about CrossFit is the complexity of some of the skills. I understand that “being prepared for everything” is their driving concept, but if your goal is just to be more muscular, leaner, and stronger, the advanced skills aren’t necessary.

7. There’s something magical about being able to perform an explosive lift when you’re metabolically fatigued and your heart rate is running at 200 bpm. Being in that kind of distressed physical state activates a powerful survival mechanism. When you do strength and power work in that state you create a very powerful growth stimulus that cannot be achieved any other way.

8. My lats got sore for the first time ever and grew significantly. I always hated pull-ups and because of that I avoided them. I found that practicing them every day by doing strict pull-ups, kipping, butterfly, and rings at a non-maximal level worked like nothing else to build my lats. The weird thing is that I didn’t feel my lats that much while doing them, but I sure felt them the next day! This made me reconsider several things that I believed were immutable truths.

9. CrossFit indeed has a fairly high injury risk potential. Even as somebody who’s a student of lifting technique, I tended to cut the corners during a WOD. As such, it’s important to train the big basic lifts used in CrossFit during regular strength sessions to make proper technique as automatic as possible.

10. During a CrossFit workout, you get in a state of deep focus that allows you to do things you wouldn’t expect. For example, at one point I was having a hard time breathing and was very close to passing out, but I ended up doing one of my most technically solid snatches ever, with about 10 pounds less than my current max at the time. Experiencing that type of tunnel vision-like focus is something that you can learn to transfer to strength workouts and make them a lot more productive. I can also use my wife as an example. During regular strength workouts you couldn’t force her to deadlift 135 (because of the “big plate” on each side), yet during a WOD she went up to 225 pounds.

11. My capacity to do a high workload even in a state of metabolic distress has improved dramatically and much faster than expected. Along with my own training, I’m doing two workouts at the Levis CrossFit box/gym along with my wife. I’ll be honest, the first week I really thought that there was no way I’d be able to finish, or even survive. I felt a deep sense of panic about two-thirds of the way into each workout. By the second week I was actually able to finish strong instead of just surviving, and by the third week I felt so much better that after one workout I questioned whether I did the workout right because I actually felt good at the end!

12. I got lean fast! I’m the leanest I’ve been in the past five years and that’s with zero emphasis on nutrition. In fact I’m eating a lot more carbs now. After the first week I even jacked up my carb intake a lot to make sure I was recovering. Here’s what my daily food intake looks like. Keep in mind that this is not a dietary recommendation. I really didn’t plan anything and I’m certainly not among the gluten haters!

• 6 sirloin hamburgers (150g of carbs)
• 3-4 scoops of Plazma™ (roughly 114-152g of carbs)
• 6 scoops of Mag-10® (30g of carbs)
• 14 rice cakes (112g of carbs)
• 2 Finibars (80g of carbs)
• Some berries (roughly 20-30g of carbs)

That’s between 520 and 540g of carbs per day, and sometimes I even get to 600. Not bad for someone who used to fear ever going above 50 grams per day.

13. Despite my biggest fear, not only did I not lose any strength, I actually got stronger on many movements including pull-ups, dips, overhead presses, and deadlifts. My power snatch also improved. My power clean stayed the same, though, mostly because I couldn’t train it hard due to an elbow injury dating back two years ago when I went overboard on ring work.

14. I’m almost unbreakable with weights in the 60-75% range. Before that I could do tons of sets of 1-2 reps with 90% and not break. But I couldn’t handle higher reps or workloads. To give you an idea, after three weeks I tested myself on the deadlift and was able to perform 60 deadlift reps in less than 8 minutes with loads ranging from 70 to 75%. That might not seem humongous, but that’s one rep every 8 seconds. And honestly, I could have kept on going. I also did 60 behind-the-neck push presses, all over 225 pounds, in a tad under 9 minutes.

15. My lats and shoulders have improved the most. I used to have very good rounded delts, but for some reason I lost some size, roundness, and strength in those muscles over the past two years or so. My guess is that it was caused by a significant decrease in overhead pressing work (in favor of the bench press) and some chronic shoulder inflammation. To be good at CrossFit, you need to be super efficient and strong overhead, so I really had to shift my focus more on overhead pressing strength than the bench press. It paid off. I also did a lot of high-rep overhead work, which seems to be more effective than maximal loads to build the delts. Growing the lats was a given since I had to become good at pull-ups since they were basically present in all the workouts I did at the CrossFit box.

16. I lost fat in the upper and lower back, areas normally super stubborn for me.

17. I feel much better. I used to have energy crashes and even “borderline depressive” episodes. I attributed that to a messed up brain chemistry. Turns out that I was just out of shape! I find myself more energetic, happy to do chores. I’m not yet at the point of enjoying visiting my in-laws, but it will come I’m sure.

18. I feel athletic. I walk differently. I look more fluid and am more confident. I look like a different person when you see me approaching and it’s not even from the physical changes!

19. My bodyweight hasn’t changed much despite being a lot leaner. I started out at 215 pounds, which is pretty much my normal weight, and after four weeks I’m 213 pounds, but I’ve lost a lot more fat than just two pounds. So much for the fear of whittling away to 180 pounds in weeks!

20. The sport that will benefit the most from Plazma™ is training for CrossFit, no contest. Not only was I able to easily recover from some brutal metcon sessions and still lift big during my strength sessions, but I never felt physically out of it. I actually only got really sore once and that was after a workout where I did 64 power cleans with 185 pounds at the CrossFit gym and then push-pressed 295 pounds an hour later during a regular strength workout. My traps got sore, but that’s about it.