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Posts Tagged ‘Matt Chan’

Matt Chan’s Training Wisdom

In Training on August 30, 2012 at 9:50 pm

A confession: I’ve become a podcast addict. Thanks mostly to the Burpeee Warrior, I’ve discovered that podcasts serve as the perfect companion for my long walks from home to the office to the gym and back. Though I don’t necessarily agree with all his advice, I’m easily entertained by Robb Wolf (and Greg Everett) of The Paleo Solution. I’ve also started listening to CrossFit Radio. Today, my perambulating accompaniment was Episode 233, which includes interviews with Julie Foucher and Matt Chan– the women’s and men’s second place finishers for this year’s CrossFit games. Julie seemed like a sweet, intelligent girl, though I didn’t glean anything fascinating during her interview. I enjoyed Matt’s more, since he revealed more about his training methodology.

First of all, Matt underscored the advantage of having a coach. I was actually surprised to hear that he had a coach since he himself owns and operates a very successful CrossFit box, and is an accomplished trainer. However, he made a point with which I agree– it’s impossible to eliminate our own biases when determining our own workouts. He attributes the tremendous improvement he saw between last year’s games and this year’s games to his work with a coach. They sat down and reduced the amount of time he spent lifting heavy (Matt’s already one of the bigger, stronger athletes in the CrossFit world) and worked on his endurance. Also, for those curious about the amount of volume undertaken by a serious CrossFit competitor, he said that he spent about 1 and 1/2 hours in the gym at a time– usually only one workout a day (perhaps significantly more sane than Rich Froning’s regimen). But Matt’s workouts were still long– often up to 40 minutes… many heroes, sometimes back-to-back heroes. He also discussed a horrific-sounding triple-Fran, which– by comparison– made the last workout of the CrossFit games (Isabel, Elizabeth, Fran– with brief rests in between) seem manageable.

Something else Matt emphasized was the importance of recovery. Apparently he spends 10-20 minutes on an airdyne or a rower after each workout to keep his heart pumping and help eliminate the waste released into his bloodstream during exercise. A well-known adherent to the Zone Diet, Matt bumped his daily intake up to 25-28 blocks a day during the Games. Also, during the competition, as well as throughout training, he took in ~100g of carbohydrates after stressful workouts.

I mentioned that Matt’s an accomplished coach, and Judkins (the host of CrossFit radio) also asked Matt about his programming for CrossFit Verve. Apparently, Matt takes the time to program separately for the everyday gym-attendees and the aspiring competitors. For the generalist who’s interested in personal wellness, Matt uses Wendler’s 5/3/1 program– though only two lifts a week. These patrons do the bench and the squat based on the 5/3/1 template, one on Monday and one on Thursday. For more competitive athletes, Matt uses the Westside Conjugate method. He incorporates two max effort days and one day that involves two dynamic effort lifts. This isn’t too far a departure from my current programming, which is 2 max effort days and 2 dynamic effort days with one major lift apiece.

Speaking of my programming, I’m loving my Westside Conjugate experiment. I PR’d again on my squat on Monday and my press on Tuesday. I screwed up a bit and didn’t do as many reps of a 3RM as I should have (according to Prilepin’s table, I should have shot for 15 total lifts, and I only did 9… but I also accidentally started at a higher percentage– 90% instead of 80%). (*Paranoid knocking on wood*) I just hope the progress continues… As for the dynamic days, I’m… noticing how much my explosiveness sucks, but thrilled to be doing something about it. Moreover, I feel that the assistance work is really helping. Though I’m not usually sore from the major lifts the next day, I can feel the impact on the minor muscle groups that I’m targeting through the supplementary lifts (JM presses for my weak triceps, sumo deadlifts for my quad-to-hamstring strength imbalance). I’m also awful at Glute-Ham raises (and convinced that I’ll topple off the machine and break my head open sometime…), but again… glad to be working on weaknesses.

Lastly, I actually think it helps that I’m following the box’s programming again. It’s not an ideal situation since my major lifts don’t align with the major lifts that the coaches program using Wendler’s 5/3/1 on each day, but I’m forced to do movements I would otherwise forget about or avoid. Whenever I don’t feel like doing a WOD, I interrogate my own reasons for it. If it’s because I’m burnt out or exhausted, then I let myself take an easy day– maybe complete rest, or something involving a prowler or just a long walk. But if it’s because I hate overhead squats, then I do the damn WOD and I concentrate on hitting the absolute bottom during that squat and slowing down my reps for the sake of form and range of motion. I’d like to think that this approach is working well, as I subtracted another 10 seconds from my baseline on Monday. It was my first sub-4:00min time, and I now clock in at 3:54. I actually don’t think my run is my limiting factor anymore (though it could still be significantly better). Now I’d like to be able to get through those air squats faster (too many breaks), and I’m annoyed that my sit-ups are slow… I could do them ad nauseum, but I just can’t move my body back and forth quickly as others seem to. Do I need to slam harder back down on the abmat? Something to try out I suppose. The good news is that I’m feeling better about my butterfly pullups. I think I’m skipping the gymnastics kip altogether. Someday I’d like to go back and smooth out my transitions between them so I can link them smoothly, but right now the butterfly feels so much more natural. I’d also like to link my toes-to-bar… right now I have to return to a dead hang and swing back up.

Anyway, that’s the long update for now. School awaits and I have many chapters of Aristotle and Rousseau and various other theorist/philosophers waiting for me. Happy Thursday.
P.S. Don’t forget to enter my Coconut Oil giveaway!