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Old 09-20-2010, 11:21 PM   #1
Joseph E. Morris
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Odd proportions

So I'm partially looking for people with whom to commiserate, and partially looking for people who might have had the same annoying issues as I have, who might be able to suggest some solutions.

First issue is improving in the deadlift. It takes forever for me not because my back/legs aren't strong enough, but because I have smaller hands which I've read is likely the reason for them tiring out so quickly on even a three-rep max. Even if I do a week or two of extra grip work, I can't maintain the gains without continuing all of the extra work. My grip strength seems to become deconditioned rapidly. Has anybody in a similar situation found a relatively less time-intensive way of improving and maintaining grip strength than half-hour grip-specific sessions two or three times a week? I do farmer carries with the Fat Gripz or kettlebells, one-handed tomahawk or hammer swings, and use the Captains of Crush grippers.

Second issue is my short limbs relative to my long torso. Last year, I did six months of basically main page WOD-only workouts and I pretty much completely lost my ability to run more than a mile or so comfortably. I wouldn't even be breathing hard and my calves would be absolutely dead. My calves also seem to decondition very rapidly, which I'm assuming is because they're relatively small length-wise. While I can go a week or two without squatting and maintain roughly the same level of strength, my calves scream on runs, hikes, etc. unless I'm running distance several times a week.

Doing bodyweight calf raises seems to help somewhat as a less time-intensive way of improving. Squats and lunges -- weighted or otherwise -- don't seem to do anything for the issue. Has anybody else dealt with this?


Thanks
Rick
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Old 09-21-2010, 12:05 AM   #2
Karin Franklin
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Re: Odd proportions

Use a womens' bar?
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Old 09-21-2010, 06:34 AM   #3
Shane Skowron
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Re: Odd proportions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joseph E. Morris View Post
So I'm partially looking for people with whom to commiserate, and partially looking for people who might have had the same annoying issues as I have, who might be able to suggest some solutions.

First issue is improving in the deadlift. It takes forever for me not because my back/legs aren't strong enough, but because I have smaller hands which I've read is likely the reason for them tiring out so quickly on even a three-rep max. Even if I do a week or two of extra grip work, I can't maintain the gains without continuing all of the extra work. My grip strength seems to become deconditioned rapidly. Has anybody in a similar situation found a relatively less time-intensive way of improving and maintaining grip strength than half-hour grip-specific sessions two or three times a week? I do farmer carries with the Fat Gripz or kettlebells, one-handed tomahawk or hammer swings, and use the Captains of Crush grippers.

Second issue is my short limbs relative to my long torso. Last year, I did six months of basically main page WOD-only workouts and I pretty much completely lost my ability to run more than a mile or so comfortably. I wouldn't even be breathing hard and my calves would be absolutely dead. My calves also seem to decondition very rapidly, which I'm assuming is because they're relatively small length-wise. While I can go a week or two without squatting and maintain roughly the same level of strength, my calves scream on runs, hikes, etc. unless I'm running distance several times a week.

Doing bodyweight calf raises seems to help somewhat as a less time-intensive way of improving. Squats and lunges -- weighted or otherwise -- don't seem to do anything for the issue. Has anybody else dealt with this?


Thanks
Rick
Long torso means you're build for sumo deadlift, not conventional deadlift.

Are you using mixed grip for your deadlifts?


I don't believe the size of your calves affects to any noticeable extent how much endurance they have. Some of the best trail runners have calves as big as their quads, and some of the best road runners have calves as small as their ankles. Your calves will adjust in size to what sort of adaptation they get.

Running up hills causes tired calves for a lot of people. The only way to adapt is to keep doing them. You also might want to look at your form. It's possible you're running to far forward on your toes rather than landing on the springy portion of your foot.
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Old 09-21-2010, 06:55 AM   #4
Brian Cox
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Re: Odd proportions

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Originally Posted by Shane Skowron View Post
Long torso means you're build for sumo deadlift, not conventional deadlift.

Are you using mixed grip for your deadlifts?


I don't believe the size of your calves affects to any noticeable extent how much endurance they have. Some of the best trail runners have calves as big as their quads, and some of the best road runners have calves as small as their ankles. Your calves will adjust in size to what sort of adaptation they get.

Running up hills causes tired calves for a lot of people. The only way to adapt is to keep doing them. You also might want to look at your form. It's possible you're running to far forward on your toes rather than landing on the springy portion of your foot.

This may be completely made up, but I do seem to recall hearing something about a longer calf helping in both distance and speed of running. It's somewhat anecdotal but look at the length of the better olympic sprinters.
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Old 09-21-2010, 07:38 AM   #5
Shane Skowron
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Re: Odd proportions

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Originally Posted by Brian Cox View Post
This may be completely made up, but I do seem to recall hearing something about a longer calf helping in both distance and speed of running. It's somewhat anecdotal but look at the length of the better olympic sprinters.
Sprinters...maybe...

Distance runners, I'm not convinced.
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Old 09-21-2010, 08:08 AM   #6
Spencer James
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Re: Odd proportions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joseph E. Morris View Post
So I'm partially looking for people with whom to commiserate, and partially looking for people who might have had the same annoying issues as I have, who might be able to suggest some solutions.

First issue is improving in the deadlift. It takes forever for me not because my back/legs aren't strong enough, but because I have smaller hands which I've read is likely the reason for them tiring out so quickly on even a three-rep max. Even if I do a week or two of extra grip work, I can't maintain the gains without continuing all of the extra work. My grip strength seems to become deconditioned rapidly. Has anybody in a similar situation found a relatively less time-intensive way of improving and maintaining grip strength than half-hour grip-specific sessions two or three times a week? I do farmer carries with the Fat Gripz or kettlebells, one-handed tomahawk or hammer swings, and use the Captains of Crush grippers.

Second issue is my short limbs relative to my long torso. Last year, I did six months of basically main page WOD-only workouts and I pretty much completely lost my ability to run more than a mile or so comfortably. I wouldn't even be breathing hard and my calves would be absolutely dead. My calves also seem to decondition very rapidly, which I'm assuming is because they're relatively small length-wise. While I can go a week or two without squatting and maintain roughly the same level of strength, my calves scream on runs, hikes, etc. unless I'm running distance several times a week.

Doing bodyweight calf raises seems to help somewhat as a less time-intensive way of improving. Squats and lunges -- weighted or otherwise -- don't seem to do anything for the issue. Has anybody else dealt with this?


Thanks
Rick
I'm just curious -- what's your diet/hydration/sleep like? Rest days? What kind of strength numbers are you talking about above (ie what's your deadlift, squat, mile time), and what was your athletic background before beginning CrossFit mainpage?
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Old 09-21-2010, 09:13 AM   #7
Richard Guerard
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Re: Odd proportions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joseph E. Morris View Post
So I'm partially looking for people with whom to commiserate, and partially looking for people who might have had the same annoying issues as I have, who might be able to suggest some solutions.

First issue is improving in the deadlift. It takes forever for me not because my back/legs aren't strong enough, but because I have smaller hands which I've read is likely the reason for them tiring out so quickly on even a three-rep max. Even if I do a week or two of extra grip work, I can't maintain the gains without continuing all of the extra work. My grip strength seems to become deconditioned rapidly. Has anybody in a similar situation found a relatively less time-intensive way of improving and maintaining grip strength than half-hour grip-specific sessions two or three times a week? I do farmer carries with the Fat Gripz or kettlebells, one-handed tomahawk or hammer swings, and use the Captains of Crush grippers.

Second issue is my short limbs relative to my long torso. Last year, I did six months of basically main page WOD-only workouts and I pretty much completely lost my ability to run more than a mile or so comfortably. I wouldn't even be breathing hard and my calves would be absolutely dead. My calves also seem to decondition very rapidly, which I'm assuming is because they're relatively small length-wise. While I can go a week or two without squatting and maintain roughly the same level of strength, my calves scream on runs, hikes, etc. unless I'm running distance several times a week.

Doing bodyweight calf raises seems to help somewhat as a less time-intensive way of improving. Squats and lunges -- weighted or otherwise -- don't seem to do anything for the issue. Has anybody else dealt with this?


Thanks
Rick
A few questions and maybe some helpful tips--
1. Grip strength involves small muscles- training 2-3x 30 minutes per week is totally unnecessary, in my opinion. That type of training volume is overkill. Smaller muscles can be trained more consistently, but low volume.
2. Including heavy DB/KB Farmers Carry can help with grip strength. When I program this exercise, I try to use 2x90# DB's or heavier, carrying them 100m or farther. Another good tip is carrying 45# bumper plates around with a pinch grip; if you have heavier plates at your gym, go for it.
3. What level Captains of Crush grippers do you use? I bought level 1 a few months back and could barely close it. In order to improve, I brought mine to work and keep it next to my computer. I can now close so that both ends touch without too much trouble. I work on it once in the morning and once in the afternoon (except if im doing a workout that night, I usually work out before work), so 5 days per week.
After loosening up my hands and giving it a few easy squeezes to stimulate blood flow, I squeeze the gripper as hard as possible (until both ends touch) for a long 3-count. I mean its as hard as I can, gritting teeth included. I alternate hands and do 10 reps for each hand-- I started with 5. I have definitely seen an improvement in my max DL, max DH pullups, TTB/KTE, and O-lifts, especially max effort power cleans. I might buy a level #2 soon.
4. From what I suspect, your calf issue isnt strength-related at all and definitely not a result of short limbs, lol. It's due to your running technique- yes, there is a technique for running, swimming, rowing, etc. Most likely you are pushing off too much with your calf and not lifting with your quad; hence, you are burning out the smaller muscles first. Your running stride should be easy, not forced. Take a look at crossfit endurance videos when they discuss form, especially the figure-4 running position. When running, your heels should hit your butt on every rep (though I havent quite mastered this technique yet).

Sorry, the "im bad at running because i have short calves is pretty hilarious", although most olympic athletes are taller. Im 6'3" but there are definitely some drawbacks with the added length.
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Old 09-21-2010, 10:29 PM   #8
Joseph E. Morris
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Re: Odd proportions

Karin: didn't know there was such a thing, but either way it's not an option offered at my base gym.

Shane: I only use the mixed grip for the 1RM, per Rip's comment in SS that it loads the shoulders differently. As for calf size, I meant more in length than in girth. I have no idea if it has any effect, but it seemed to make some sense to me that muscles with less potential size (than say, glutes, hammies, or quads) might become deconditioned more quickly. It also explained to me why my legs seem to gas out more quickly on runs when people who seem to run distance only rarely (and I've done that too without success) could leave me in the dust easily. In sprints I can compete. In strength I'm generally on par with most of the guys on my team. I'm perform well enough on most kinds of short-burst-related activity. It's really only the longer distances where I fall apart.

Spencer: 3RM DL is 275 (grip is keeping it from 285; as I come up on the third rep my hands pry open). For a long time it was 285 trying for 295, but about two months ago I had several weeks during which I could not work out consistently, and I lost a lot of strength (and some weight). 3RM squat is 225. No idea what my mile time is, but most recent 3mi was 23:20. Before starting CF main page (Mar 09) my 3mi was about the same. 5mi was maybe 40-45min. When I got back from Iraq (Sep 09) my 5mi was 55min -- pretty much a limping shuffle. As of May, it was back down to about 45min. And it's pretty much just my legs that kill me. Lungs are fine for running, generally.

I'm doing GOMAD (but with Lactaid), eat fish regularly, chicken, sausage, bacon, some steak, fruits, veggies, some nuts. Vaguely paleo-ish. My worst regular "cheat" is probably the burrito I eat a couple of times a week. I'm about to deploy again, though, where I know I'll be living off low-fat, high-refined-carb MREs, so I haven't been trying too hard to eat clean. Rest is maybe 6-7 hours weeknights (occasionally less, rarely more) and 7-9 hours on weekends (occasionally more, rarely less). Sleep quality is generally pretty good.

While obviously my diet and rest are not ideal, I'm still improving across all my strength numbers. Being a Marine makes it a lot harder to stay consistent, but for the last few weeks I've been mostly improving except in those problem areas. Physically I feel really good. Generally alert, rarely anything beyond mildly sore, relaxed, etc. The program I use is CFSB-inspired. When I started it I was getting beat down; I was just exhausted all the time (not helped by doing GOMAD with milk, which is when I found out I'm somewhat lactose-intolerant). When I started to plateau in some of my lifts I increased volume and saw gains again. Now I generally see gains, as long as I'm consistent with everything, except with grip and running.

Richard: well, generally, I would agree that grip-specific training very often would be overkill. But if I don't do it that often, the minor gains don't last. I might be able to pull 295 for 3 one week, back off on the grip training because I think I've made the adaptation, and then the next week I'm back to pulling it for 2 or even 1.

Thanks for the form suggestions. I've been running with VFFs for about six months now, so I figured most necessary changes to my form probably occurred on their own.
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Old 09-21-2010, 11:20 PM   #9
Tim Nakashima
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Re: Odd proportions

Have you tried using a hook grip for those 3RM's?

I also agree with checking your running form for your calf problems

Tim
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Old 09-22-2010, 07:33 PM   #10
Kevin J. Fleming
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Re: Odd proportions

Use straps--you are not competing in powerlifting meets.

The size of your calves is not the source of your premature fatigue.

Is your name Joseph or Richard?
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