Category Archives: training

Diet and protein: training, performance and long-term health.

Protein Intake, training and performance

Diet, protein intake and performance are interwoven issues. The aim of training is improve the body’s ability to perform certain tasks (and in the case of CrossFit it is to achieve a high degree of effectiveness and competence in a wide range of skills and efforts).

Lucas Allen and Summer Rogers at the SouthCentral
Crossfit 2012 Regionals.  Both are in their thirties.

The goal of nutrition in training is to help the body (the entire thing) adapt and remodel, or at least maintain what you have and can do. Bodies like efficiency. Your body will see no point in maintaining bone or muscle that does not look like it’s going to be used any time soon and will let it go. That’s why people who have been ill and disabled for a long time become so frail. When challenged your body (which means here not only muscle and bone, but brain, nerves, biochemical pathways and efficiency, cell proliferation and organelle numbers and function, and neurotransmitters) changes to meet that particular challenge. Protein is important here for repair, strengthen and reinforcement of stressed tissue. Strength-oriented athletes have traditionally made efforts to increase protein intake and there is some evidence that this is effective in increasing muscle mass. There is also evidence that increasing protein intake can reduce the rate of loss of muscle mass seen in aged people.  That’s good for us Masters too.

Cody Zamaripa, age 46, counts burpees during the 2012 Open
at Crossfit Seven, in Fort Worth, TX.

Not all of the protein you can consume will be used to increase mass. Your body will use what it needs, or what it anticipates needing in the near future (in case you persist in doing all those squats, jerks, kettle bell swings and pushups.) Consuming more than you need will probably not hurt you (unless you’ve really gone overboard). Not consuming enough will slow repair and limit your ability to adapt to physiological and mechanical stress.

 Endurance athletes have long been encouraged to eat plenty of carbohydrates since availability of carbs can be a limiting factor in performance. This is why consuming dilute fruit juice (or sugar water) can delay exhaustion and allow an athlete to continue to run, bike or whatever longer than they would if they had been drinking plain water. However if you are always running on carbohydrates you may not adapt biochemically speaking. Normally, if you are low on carbohydrates (or glycogen) your body will attempt to increase the rate at which is uses its own fat stores for energy. Being habitually low on carbs may increase your ability to generate energy by other means. You will probably be uncomfortable for at least a while, but you might improve at this the longer you train.    There are really too many unknowns floating around at present to know exactly what is best.  What is best probably varies by individual, situation, stage of life, and training goals. New information becomes available all the time. We’ll see how things fall out.

Churchward – Venne, T., Burd, N., Phillips, S., & Research Group, E. (2012). Nutritional regulation of muscle protein synthesis with resistance exercise: strategies to enhance anabolism Nutrition & Metabolism, 9 (1) DOI: 10.1186/1743-7075-9-40  

Logan-Sprenger, H., Heigenhauser, G., Killian, K., & Spriet, L. (2012). The effects of dehydration during cycling on skeletal muscle metabolism in females Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e31825abc7c  

Symonsi, T., Sheffield-Moore, M., Mamerow, M., Wolfe, R., & Paddon-Jones, D. (2010). The anabolic response to resistance exercise and a protein-rich meal is not diminished by age The journal of nutrition, health & aging, 15 (5), 376-381 DOI: 10.1007/s12603-010-0319-z ResearchBlogging.org

Strength vs. Endurance and the Master Athlete.

Strength or Endurance or Both?

Masters Crossfitters, face a problem of having to work harder to build speed and strength, and maintain it, than do more junior athletes.  There is unfortunately not a lot of research on Masters’ performance and most of what there is focused on endurance athletes like swimmers, runners and cyclists.  And little to go by when training as a Crossfit Master.  As Crossfitters we need everything: speed, endurance and strength.  

Post CrossFit WOD at CrossFit Seven.

As a general rule, all masters athletes can keep a competitive edge over peers by combining high-intensity aerobic and resistance training.  This is exactly what we are getting in varied strength and endurance programming. Endurance athletes score high on cardiovascular markers with greater arterial flexibility, less thickening of arterial walls and better vascular endothelial performance (performance of the inner layers of blood vessels) than others.   Unfortunately they show little preservation of muscle mass over time. Those who are primarily into resistance training maintain muscle mass and function better than others, but do not do as well on cardiovascular tests as those who focus on endurance. The best strategy appears to be to keep up with both and both will be important for Crossfit performance.  That goes for juniors too. 

Shibata, S., & Levine, B. (2012). Effect of exercise training on biologic vascular age in healthy seniors AJP: Heart and Circulatory Physiology, 302 (6) DOI: 10.1152/ajpheart.00511.2011

Reaburn, P., & Dascombe, B. (2008). Anaerobic performance in masters athletes European Review of Aging and Physical Activity, 6 (1), 39-53 DOI: 10.1007/s11556-008-0041-6

The CrossFit Games. The Masters: Ken Cutrer, headed to the Crossfit Games 2012

Ken Cutrer, Crossfit Master Athlete and prominent Fort Worth Attorney, is legend in South Central.  Cutrer, who is also known as “The Godfather,” started Crossfit with his law partner, MMA fighter Max Effort.   The two began working off the main site about eight years ago.  We spoke with Cutrer about training for the CrossFit Games.
Ken Cutrer at the Rower
When Cutrer first started Crossfit he would pick and choose WODS that were less likely to induce Effort’s more provocative antics.  But in 2007 he decided to follow the Main Site workouts and stuck with them, regardless of how demanding and grueling they were or how embarrassing Effort’s behavior became.  “That’s when I started to see big improvements.  In my athletic performance, I mean” says Cutrer. “Effort was definitely a distraction, but I was too exhausted to get upset about it.” It wasn’t long before his times became competitive with times other Crossfitters were posting online.   “We didn’t know how old people were back then.  I would wait for Chris Speeler to post and then see if I could beat him.”  
Ken Cutrer of CrossFit EST in Richland Hills, TX

Cutrer competed in the Crossfit games for the first time in 2008.
He has continued to follow main-site WODS, but also spends a lot of time honing skills, attending clinics and workshops, getting stronger and experimenting with different approaches to programming.   “In 2008 I focused on Olympic lifting following Greg Evertt and have done CrossFit Football since 2009.  I learned a lot from that.”  Cutrer follows a Paleo-type diet that he describes as heavy on olive oil and rum.  While this may sound unorthodox, his performance gains have been unbelievable. He has made it to regionals every year since 2009 and placed 8thin the Games Masters Division in 2011.  
In addition to practicing law, Cutrer now runs his own box, CrossFit EST with his partner Chris Lofland. The two have coached one of Crossfit South Central’s most competitive female athletes, Candice Ruiz.   Ruiz hopes to be Masters Athlete someday, although frankly she really cannot imagine being that old.  Ruiz placed 17that the Games in 2010 and will be returning again this year.  
Cutrer recommends young athletes follow Rudy Neilson’s programming at Outlaw Crossfit and do two WODs a day leading up to the Games.  Cutrer also recommends lots of volume while keeping a close eye on rests and athlete fatigue.  “I think Xfitters are hard charging type A competitors.  There’s a different between can I or should I?” said Cutrer, eyeing Effort.  “What are you going to get out of it?  Come back another day.” 
As a Master, Cutrer acknowledges needing to back off some.  “It takes a little longer to recover” now that he’s 47, says Cutrer.  “If you’re injured or hurting, work on something else.  Rests are important.  It can be hard to get the message across.  A lot of endurance athletes have this problem.  They come in with the attitude that more is best and they need to change that.  There is a better way to train.  I’ve watched people who were marathoners dial back mileage and still go out and get a PR with nowhere near the wear and tear they would have had before.”   Cutrer advises Masters athletes, and in fact anyone headed to the Games, to remember how complex it is to organize and pull off an event like this, especially with the sport evolving and growing so rapidly.  “I heard some people were unhappy with having Masters out in a parking lot last year, but I wasn’t.  We (Masters) need to be our own separate thing.”   
Cutrer has been preparing for the games by following a 3 on 1 off, 2 on 1 off alternating workout schedule. Cutrer says that since both strength and speed are important in competition, he is devoting time to each.   Cutrer says he did not stress too much about his performance in the Open.  His goal was to make the top 20 to qualify for the Games, not necessarily place at the head of the Leaderboard.  “I was just interested in qualifying” says Cutrer “1st or 17th doesn’t matter at this stage”.   Cutrer is, in many ways, the ideal Crossfit Masters Athlete:  fast and strong with lots of experience and a defense attorney’s sweeping sense of strategy.   It will be a huge advantage to Cutrer to have seen it all before.  He knows the Game and what to expect.

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CrossFit Training for Masters: how to stay strong and healthy

 CrossFit Training For Masters Atheletes.

How to be your best.

Remember who you are now:

Crossfit Seven Master Athlete Mark P. Demos Pull-ups
More confident, smart and astute.   Less of an idiot.  Less impulsive.  Still, every now and then the cognitive and physical end up on different pages. You know that awkward feeling you get when you dive for a Frisbee, knowing exactly where your body should have been to gracefully capture it?  Don’t let that happen with a heavy weight. 
Reduce other sources of stress.
If you can.  Stress can lead to elevated levels of cortisol, which will depress levels of growth hormone, possibly slowing recovery.
 
Don’t overtrain.
This can be a hard thing not to do.  For a lot of us, the whole point of doing Crossfit is to push ourselves.  A lot of us also use Crossfit to unwind, enjoy time with people we like, and work out the day’s frustrations.  However, there seems to be a consensus that rest and recovery are extremely important.  A lot of masters athletes will be wondering what the ideal program would be; especially if they are headed for a competition.  That goes for young and junior athletes too, who tend to feel invincible and may have more of a problem letting up on intensity.  There is little research on how much training or how much rest are ideal for Masters.  Best advice to follow is listen to your body and see how you feel.  Most of us are much better at this than we were as novices.  If you are a novice, and over train, prepare to be injured, uncomfortable, and really tired.  And maybe irritable and not as fun to be around as you usually are.  Focus on building strength, flexibility and endurance rather than worrying about keeping pace or beating someone else.  One of the wonderful things about Crossfit is that Trainers and fellow Crossfitters will yell at you to PUSH!  Unless you are exceptionally hot, famous and outgoing, it’s unlikely that they will know your body as well as you do.  Or know much about Masters Athletes in general.
Don’t over rest.
Masters may need a smarter recovery strategy.  You need to longer to recover but can tolerate less inactivity than juniors.  There is also some evidence that long periods of rest (10 days) may cause masters athletes to lose some of the enhanced glucose control gained through training faster than younger athletes.  Use active recovery methods and vary your training.


Fell J, & Williams D (2008). The effect of aging on skeletal-muscle recovery from exercise: possible implications for aging athletes. Journal of aging and physical activity, 16 (1), 97-115 PMID: 18268815 ResearchBlogging.org

CrossFit Masters Training: Strength vs. Endurance and the Master Athlete.

CrossFit Masters Training

Coconut oil and CrossFit Masters
CrossFit Masters Athletes sometimes eat coconut oil

Masters Crossfit athletes face a problem of having to work harder to build speed and strength, and maintain it, than do more junior athletes.  There is unfortunately not a lot of research on Masters’ performance and most of what there is focused on endurance athletes like swimmers, runners and cyclists.  And little to go by when training as a Crossfit Master.  As Crossfit athletes we need everything: speed, endurance and strength.  As a general rule, all masters athletes can keep a competitive edge over peers by combining high-intensity aerobic and resistance training.  This is exactly what we are getting in varied strength and endurance programming.

Endurance athletes score high on cardiovascular markers with greater arterial flexibility, less thickening of arterial walls and better vascular endothelial performance (performance of the inner layers of blood vessels) than others.   Unfortunately they show little preservation of muscle mass over time. Those who are primarily into resistance training maintain muscle mass and function better than others, but do not do as well on cardiovascular tests as those who focus on endurance. The best strategy appears to be to keep up with both and both will be important for Crossfit performance.  That goes for juniors too.

Shibata, S., & Levine, B. (2012). Effect of exercise training on biologic vascular age in healthy seniors AJP: Heart and Circulatory Physiology, 302 (6) DOI: 10.1152/ajpheart.00511.2011

Reaburn, P., & Dascombe, B. (2008). Anaerobic performance in masters athletes European Review of Aging and Physical Activity, 6 (1), 39-53 DOI: 10.1007/s11556-008-0041-6