More Placebo, less con

In the old days, drug companies used to test their new fanged expensive products against  a PLACEBO.

According to wikipedia  placebo  “is a simulated or otherwise medically ineffectual treatment for a disease or other medical condition intended to deceive the recipient. Sometimes patients given a placebo treatment will have a perceived or actual improvement in a medical condition, a phenomenon commonly called the placebo effect or placebo response. The placebo effect consists of several different effects woven together, and the methods of placebo administration may be as important as the administration itself”.

These days its often not. I think the drug companies got miffed that their new fangled ( very expensive drug) only got 1 or 2 % better results than a sugar pill.

Very annoying if your corporate mission is to screw cash out of our NHS.

The reality is that getting our body to believe it can be cured has remarkable effects. Let’s face it, often the body cures itself, with no outside help from the drug companies what so ever.

Often “cures” like Reiki, magnets,  supplements  are raved about on social media.

Clearly, these things  have no physical effect (as yet, discoverable). Adding less than .001%  extra  glucosamine to the bodies natural store of  glucosamine really wont cure your shoulder issues.  A deluded fanatic holding their hands 2 inches from your shoulder thinking happy thoughts  wont apply any physical effect to fix your shoulder

But clearly, things like this actually work. Amulets don’t stop bullets, but give one to a boy  soldier  (add  a few tokes of a good spliff  and  a motivational speech:obviously) and they will charge  people firing machine guns at them.

People believe the weirdest things.

That placeboes work is beyond doubt. They often work well as pain relief, because often , after 2 or 3 weeks, pain is no longer an indication of the state of the tissue. Its simply an alarm bell that continues to ring because we don’t know how to switch it off. Ever heard of the guy whose amputated leg still hurts????

People in pain, often feel no pain after placebo  “treatment”

Anything that rallies your subconscious into believing that a wrist band, or blue socks, or vitamin C, or an evangelical prayer will cure cancer, or improve performance ,is probably worth trying out as long as  its only  £10 (ish) or less.

I guarantee you that somewhere, someone, has been cured by a wrist band, or blue socks, or vitamin C, or an evangelical prayer. Ive  cured people like this myself !

I have one plea.

If you respond to placeboes, try and find a cheap one to respond to.

Believe that drinking a glass of tap water  cures pain, or that  touching  trees gives you healing powers. Believe that by simply adding your ailment to the comments below, our online community will send out universal love and fix it .

Try not to believe that a racoon paw improves  virility , or that a Panda’s big toe cures aids.  The animals concerned are rather fond  of the bit remaining on their body just as it is. Thank you

That said, sometimes the most effective  placebo is you spending lots of money and getting lots of attention!

Ce la vie

Ofcourse this is nothing but a shoddy advertorial for me as a personal trainer …………..but dont you feel better already

Rest periods

I keep on meaning to create a post with this timing  information in:

These are estimates of how long a set of reps takes, followed by the ideal rest periods between sets.

The chances are that 1-5 reps  takes  0-20 seconds , with 1-2 reps needing 300 to 240 seconds rest  and 3-5 reps needing 240-180 seconds to recover

If you are doing 6-8 reps, the chances are it takes 20-40 seconds and you need rest of 180-120 seconds between sets.

If you are doing 9-12 reps the chances are it takes 40-70 seconds and you need to leave 120-90 seconds

If you do 13-20+ reps, chances are it takes 50-120 seconds and your rest period could be 90-10 seconds.

Rest periods can really support or screw your training

Push ups

There isn’t a decent  home or gym routine that doesn’t have push ups in. Many strong men of old insisted on them daily, getting clients to progress from floor pushups to between chairs to get that extra range of motion.

In my “Andrew Stemler  Fit  at Home” regime,  I say, Do them everyday . Make them a daily habit.

Is Crossfit really random?

As the CrossFit website will tell you ” CrossFit is constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity”
People are so impressed with how fun and effective Crossfit workouts (WODs) are, that they often forget to see the whole prescription. This often expresses itself in conversations about programming, where some insist that to be “crossfit”  A crossfit programme should be totally varied and random. This is an understandable misinterpretation as in the crossfit journal ( October 2004 page 6) Greg Glassman wrote:

“ the WOD is responsible for quite a bit of confusion about the crossfit method. Crossfit is a strength and conditioning system built on constantly varied, if not, randomized functional movements executed at high intensity . The WOD is but one example of Crossfit programming.”

Like most crossfitters I quickly jumped to the conclusion that Crossfit, as a strength and conditioning regime was all about variety. After all, that’s what the website did. It varied.

All the time.

Surely I thought, you deadlift 11111, on one day, then Fran the next, then a 5k run, then rest day, then onto infinite variation. I clearly remembered this paragraph “Five or six days per week mix these elements in as many combinations and patterns as creativity will allow. Routine is the enemy”

Voila. End of debate!

However, I worried me, that I found among all the “constantly varied“ statements Greg’s description of a regular class at the original crossfit facility. Indeed the days before my certification in 2005 Id witnessed this format

“One of our favourite workout patterns is to warm up, and then perform three to five sets of 3 to 5 reps of a fundamental lift at a moderately comfortable pace, followed by a 10 minute circuit of gymnastics elements at a blistering pace, and finally finish with 2 to 10 minutes of high intensity metabolic conditioning. There is nothing sacred here” ( CFJ October 2002 page 9)

So, I thought, they are regularly practicing and training gymnastics and the major lifts, then doing wods.

This backed up my subsequent clinical experience. Those who did regular muscle up work, got muscle ups, bigger squatters squatted well, the x gymnasts popped up into handstands.

People who limited their Crossfit to a wod, or a series of Wod’s struggled.

Then I re-read the “100 words. The statement that summarises the crossfit prescription To be honest. I actually read the 100 words properly for the 1st time . To help you understand my revelation, Ive added some “Ands” and some numbers ( my views are in the brackets)

Here is the prescription:

1) Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat.

(Ok! Not everyone does, but yep TICK)

And

2) Practice and train major lifts: Deadlift, clean, squat, presses, C&J, and snatch.

(Er, ok, not randomise, but training and practise like you’d find in an oly club. Ok, I can do that. Tick)

And

3) Similarly, master the basics of gymnastics: pull-ups, dips, rope climb, push-ups, sit-ups, presses to handstand, pirouettes, flips, splits, and holds.

( wow, er regular practise and training too. Like any sport, regular practice and training. OK)

And

4) Bike, run, swim, row, etc, hard and fast.

(ok.that too wow)

And

5) Five or six days per week mix these elements in as many combinations and patterns as creativity will allow. Routine is the enemy. Keep workouts short and intense.

(Oh I get it!!! Once you have done your regular training, do workouts that combine what you know! That makes sense)

And

6) Regularly learn and play new sports.

( if I had time, but yes, I get it)

Many think that crossfit is about total variety in every aspect of training. It is never the less clear that “creativity” occurs in the workouts, not in the regular practice and training .

This model is totally familiar to any team or combat sports person. As a fighter, I trained and worked for perfection in moves and combinations. I had medicine balls dropped on my abs with tedious regularity. I worked the heavy bag. A LOT. But every session had a WOD . In that sport it was a sparring sessions: here the unknown and unknowable “punched me in the face!’. A LOT.

So, structured practice, plus a random WOD.

But the question frequently comes up . In these wods, are there targets or is it just random?

“If you are doing the workout of the day, you are training for these ( the benchmark) wods” . (CFJ Sept 2003 page 4) Back then, the benchmarks were the 6 sisters Angie, Barbara Chelsea, Diane Elizabeth and Fran. In short, Crossfit quickly decided that, in preparing for the unknown, It was as well to target success in benchmark workouts. After all, “Success with high rep calisthenic movements won’t come to be without regular practice. Not all of that practice need be a max rep, but it needs to be regular.” (CFJ April 2003 page 3) Incidentally the warm up is the perfect place for that practice”. (CFJ April 2003 page 3)

But, its too often asserted that “its gotta be random. Its crossfit innit”

Not according to the crossfire level 1 trainer guide. At page 51 it clearly says that “What your programme needs is not to become routine”. Bear in mind that at the time Crossfit began, all that was available at most “leisure centres” was basic bodybuilding and jogging routines. Equally, when discussing variation, Crossfit says that no two, 3 day cycles are the same: so if you spot that back squats and the lunge comes up a few times in a week. It’s not lack of variance, You need to assess what comes before and after the move.

So whats the take home messages

1) Everything you have read and heard about crossfits variation, randomness, excitement, brilliance, is true, but probably written with mainly the WODS in mind. If you simply did Crossfit Wods, it would give you excellent fitness. But thats only part of the 100 word prescription

2) Better Crossfiters looks to the 100 word prescription: it makes you regularly train and practise weightlifting, gymnastics and cardio, then also, mixes those elements up for a workout.

3) Don’t let anyone kid you that regular practise in Olympic lifting, squats or gymnastics, somehow isn’t Crossfit.

It’s right there. Read the 100 words