3/23/10; Single-Leg Emphasis MetCon Circuit, and Of Being a Jack of Two Trades, but a Master of Neither (and it’s a good thing)

I certainly don’t mean this in a derogatory sense — far from it — this is simply the makings of a well-rounded athlete.

There is, of course, a wide range of phenotypical expression among athletes (and weekend warriors), along the explosive-elastic continuum.  Swedish sprinter/weightlifter Lena Berntsson is a fine example of a well-trained athlete who happens to fall somewhere in the “ripe” middle of this continuum — though probably leaning more toward the explosive side of things, as evidenced by her propensity for (and relative success in), the short sprints.

Lena’s in lane 4 of the finals, here — the 2nd race in this clip.

I’ve written a few prior posts (here’s one) on the vertical jump as a good measure of explosiveness and as an indicator of overall athleticism.  But let’s be realistic as to what we’re measuring for.  The vert is a good indicator of explosiveness, and, as such, is a good indicator of probable prowess in explosive-leaning sports.  Now, a 60 meter sprint and an Olympic lift may seem to be similar endeavors, but consider this: the winning 60 meter sprint time above was 7.4-ish seconds, whereas an Oly snatch, for example, requires a burst of approximately 1.5 seconds.  A good deal of elasticity is required to perform well in even a short sprint — but in an Olympic lift?  Elasticity need not apply.

We know that, to some extent, explosiveness can be trained.  But what of elasticity?  We’ll consider that in future posts.

Today’s workout was a single-leg gig with a MetCon feel.  This required approximately 30 minutes to nail, following the warm-ups.  Two rounds of this were performed as “primers”, and I have not included those here.  These are the “meat” rounds.

single-leg box squat: (each leg) 20lb dbs x 5; 30lb vest + 20lb dbs x 6, 6, 6

single-leg barbell deadlifts: (each leg) 115 x 5; 125 x 6, 6, 6

weighted dips: 45 x 6; 70 x 6; 80 x 6, 6, 6

weighted reverse-grip pull-ups: 45 x 5; 70 x 5; 80 x 4, 4, 3

4 total rounds here, with an additional round of dips and pull-ups.  My legs were too fried to attempt the “bonus” round.  Very slow negatives on the box squats, with the emphasis put on not collapsing onto the box at the near-parallel position.  Attempt these and you’ll know exactly what I mean by “attempt not to collapse”.

3/20/10; A Little Bit of Everything Workout & Some Thoughts on Explosiveness vs. Elasticity

“Age is mind over matter — if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter” – Mark Twain

A long bout of fixie intervals, some barefooted sprints, and a little bit of iron heavin’.  Spring broke in a beautiful way here in eastern NC, so I got out and about and made the most of it.

After about an hour-and-a-half of fixie intervals about town, I hit the Rocky Mount soccer fields where I shifted from clipless bike shoes to Vibrams, and proceeded to knock-out 7 x 120 yard sprints; this following a good bit of hip mobility work to act as a transition between the “biking motion” and the “sprinting motion”.  I’ve mentioned before how difficult a transition this is — especially the longer and more intense the former activity (in my case, almost always biking) vis-a-vis the later movement.  Two more non-complimentary endeavors you’re likely to find.  I love each, though, and so I’m okay with the fact that each, by bio-mechanical necessity, reduces the efficiency and proficiency of the other.  At this point in my “career” I’d rather be a generalist than a specialist anyway.

Following the sprints, I went into the gym and, following a Bergener warm-up* (explanation here), I lit into the following:

Whip snatch to OHS x 1 + heave snatch x 3 @ 115 lbs
straight bar muscle-ups x 3

Three rounds of that, then –

40 x 5; 50 x 4, 4, 4
Straight bar muscle-ups: x 3, 3, 3, 3

So, 7 total rounds of muscle-ups here.  The whip snatch, OHSs and heave snatches were mighty tough following the fixie ride and sprints.  *If you have access to the CrossFit Journal (if you don’t, you’re really missing out), make sure to check out coach Bergener working with Owen Franks of the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team at Mike’s Gym in Bonsall, Calif.

Explosiveness and Elasticity

I’ll come back to this more and more over the coming days, because it’s been kicking around in my mind lately; mostly because I hear the terms used — and wrongly so — interchangeably, and too because I think it might help to clean up some confusion when it comes to sporting comparisons and exercise prescription.

Explosiveness and elasticity came up in a recent discussion I had with a friend of mine, concerning the recent NFL combine and the collegiate “pro days” currently ongoing here in the US (basically, these are “tryouts” for the  professional level of American-style football).  Then, in a way that only S & C geeks will truly understand, our discussion shifted to a fantasy sprint match between American-style footballer Chris Johnson, (he of the 4.2 second 40 yard dash fame) and Olympic gold medalist and world record holder, Usain Bolt.  We agreed that CJ would have a good chance of winning a hypothetical 40-yard dash square-off, and most assuredly would take any version of a three-cone drill.  We also agreed that Bolt would take the hypothetical, straight-up 100 meter sprint, hands-down.  That he agreed here was a no-brainer.  But, the why behind our predictions is where we differed in opinion.

Bolt’s 100 meter superiority doesn’t all have to do with his gi-normous stride length — although that is no doubt a huge advantage, especially among athletes of similar, superior sprint-specific gifts.  No, I’d also say that Bolt has the one-up on CJ in what is commonly known as elasticity — the property of the human body to store and release energy.

Ahh, but CJ has the one-up on Bolt in explosiveness.

Think “shot out of a cannon” — explosiveness — vs the repetitive, bouncing super-ball; elasticity.

Plenty of ground to cover, here; more on this idea to follow.

And, as a nice segue into what will be the most obvious question to stem from an explosive/elastic discussion — can these qualities be effectively trained?Here’s an interesting KQED Forum discussion on the “nature/nurture” debate; David Shenk (author of The Genius in All of Us: Why Everything You’ve Been Told About Genetics, Talent, and IQ Is Wrong).  Now, although I am convinced of the reality of significantly affecting your genetic hand (in both intellectual and physical realms), I happen to give a little more credence to the genetic side of the equation than does the author.  Still, though, and interesting talk, and certainly good food for thought.

In health,