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Part 1 of a two part series following Cameron and Mike in their efforts to cut weight for the 2016 Oregon Feats of Strength.
Jeff Pearson is a competitive strongman and powerlifter. He has been training in a variety of sports over the last 18 years and has been actively competing in powerlifting and strongman for the last 4 years. He has elite totals in raw, drug-tested powerlifting in the superheavyweight, 308, and 275 lb classes. He has qualified for Nationals in strongman for the past 4 years and has competed in more than 20 strongman contests.
As strongman season in the northwest quickly approaches, I felt it was a good time to go through the ways in which I prep and prepare for a contest. Disclaimer: Please note that there are many ways to prepare for a contest, and the following is just the way that I prepare. There is no "cookie-cutter" approach, and I recommend individualized prep for each of my athletes.
To "Peak" or not to "Peak"?
One of the fundamentals of my program, is that I train to be strong everyday. "Peaking" is a style of programming in which you plan your training around a specific competition, and program to be at your strongest (or to "peak") for that comp. Personally, I don't want to peak to be at the strongest I can be for just one day out of the year. My objective is to be strong and big all the time, so I don't peak. I train the same way basically year-round. The events and/or style of my lifting change, but I try to be ready to compete any day at any time. I feel this is the best way for my body to consistently handle heavy work loads and to be able to recover much faster from competing. My training style is constantly-varied and I rarely do the same workout twice. That being said, the week leading into a contest I back the weight off and work on more speed and technique refinement. This is to make sure I am rested and well-prepared for the contest.
As the event gets closer, I slowly add more of the events into my training. I take the bodybuilding style training out and try to focus on just the events I am going to be facing at the upcoming contest. The length of my workouts becomes longer as I try to mock the actual contest as much as possible. Generally speaking, I try to hit over contest weight at 3 weeks before a show. As it grows closer, I can back off on trying to hit the heavier weight and focus on just the speed of the movements. My thought has always been that you’re not going to get stronger in two weeks, but you can polish up your technique. There are two ways to be successful in a strongman contest. One is to be brutally strong and just do it. The second, is to be very proficient at the movements. Demonstrating a higher skill level in the movements will allow you to execute it more efficiently. Ideally a competitor is strong and has good technique. I try to build up strength with some work on technique until I grow close to a meet, at which point I shift and focus mainly on technique and less on strength building.
In terms of food, I try to overload the night before a contest. I basically eat myself into a food coma by consuming as much steak and as many sweet potatoes as possible. This does two things: First, it allows me to sleep the night before a contest and second, it gives me stores of energy so I don't need to eat the day of the contest. The day of the contest I only eat very light things to keep my energy levels high without filling me up. My diet typically looks pretty strange on contest day. For example, I will drink a coca-cola soda, eat spinach, and poptarts. I try to stay away from slower digesting foods as I want the energy immediately. I rarely take pre-workout the day of a contest. With the adrenaline pump that I get from competing, adding in pre-workout just makes me a little too wild and I find myself crashing too hard between events.
After a contest I will generally take the following day off. Within two day, I will typically be back in the gym training with lighter weights and doing more bodybuilding style workouts. The reason for this is that I've found that getting blood to flow back into the muscles allows me to recover more quickly. It also enables me to get ready for another contest at a faster rate.
By. Michelle Craig, Coach & Personal Trainer
Michelle is the early-AM coach at Inner Beast CrossFit. She has competed in multiple CrossFit competitions and obstacle course racing events.
My decision to start a “Flexible Dieting” program began several weeks ago, when I realized that stumbling around eating whatever sounded good at the time had led me to gain about 30 – 35 lbs. in 2015. A good friend of my mine, Strongwoman competitor Kate Hanson, had great success following this program and I wanted to give it a whirl.
What is Flexible Dieting?
In short, it is a diet plan (the definition of diet here being: “the foods eaten, as by a particular person or group”) that consists of calculating the number of calories, carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, that your body needs each day. The theory is that as long as your daily intake meets your macronutrient needs, you will lose, gain, or maintain (depending on your goals and calculations.)
My daily macro targets for this past week were:
1960 Calories, 94g Carbs, 186g Protein, and 93g Fat (Sample Day of Meals & Macros)
I didn’t hit these perfectly on a single day (that’s okay!), and my average carbohydrate intake was 100g, ranging from 78g-130g.
Macro Profile Examples:
Chobani Greek Yogurt: 150 Calories, 19g Carbs, 12g Protein, 2.5g Fat
Ground Turkey (6 OZ): 240 Calories, 0g Carbs, 33g Protein, 12g Fat
Justin’s Maple Almond Butter (2 Tbsp.): 190 Calories, 8g Carbs, 6g Protein, 16g Fat
Rice (1/4 Cup Dry): 160 Calories, 36g Carbs, 3g Protein, 0g Fat
FIRST, let me say that when I gain weight quickly, my body can sometimes lose it more quickly than normal (mostly water weight/bloat from sugar/alcohol/carbs). Second, prior to this diet, I was eating a lot of crap. I also wasn’t working out consistently, so my body responded positively to a new strength training & cardio program.
Weight Loss: 7lbs. (Again, this is not a normal, expected, or calculated loss. My goal for the week was 2lbs.)
Activity: Cutting gluten, dairy, sugar, & alcohol made my body feel better within a day. My workouts felt better and I didn’t have any of the nausea/stomach pain that usually comes from over-eating & eating crap.
There are definitely challenges with a program like this, but there are many more benefits that make it worth it. I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of progress I can make in the coming weeks.. physically and mentally.
Follow me on Instagram for a glimpse into my program - @mcraigpdx
My approach, as influenced by "Flexible Dieting 2.0 - A Flexible Dieting Approach for the Modern Athlete" By. Krissy May Cagney, is to hit my macros with mostly whole foods, minimal gluten, and minimal dairy. This is because I know my body responds well to limiting certain foods, and is not because everyone should be “gluten-free” or “Paleo”. Since most of the fall and early winter were consistently “cheat months” for me, I also decided to eliminate alcohol, treats, & “cheat meals” for the first four weeks of my program. My goal is “cutting” also known as reducing fat mass, or losing weight.
Every meal that I ate over the last seven days was tracked in the MyFitnessPal app. About 90% of my meals were weighed and measured and, with the exception of a couple of packets of Justin’s Almond Butter, two Quest protein bars, and a couple Americanos from Starbucks, all of my meals were cooked at home.
I created a workout program, with the help of Cameron Kerns, and started that along with my new “diet”.
Highlights: I was able to be consistent, and my program was relatively manageable for me. I hit a 140lb. push-jerk (lifetime PR) and had a killer Sunday morning workout.
Struggles: My carbs were super low, and as a result my energy levels were as well. Most days I crashed in the middle of the afternoon, but with caffeine and the appropriate snacks I survived. It was also hard going out to the Growler Run (tap-house) and not drinking a delicious beer or skipping across the parking lot for a burger, fries, and Oreo milkshake.
First, and foremost, thank you to everyone who participated in our first competition! We could not have done it without the athletes, volunteers, sponsors, and spectators. We are thrilled to have such a supportive community, especially one that brings Strongman and CrossFit together.
Sponsors: Kill Cliff, Bite Fuel, Alpha Project, Egg Whites International, Nautilus Plus OC, and Anfarm Gear.
Now, some photos:
We're beyond thrilled to be hosting our own hybrid competition - a mix between CrossFit, Strongman, and just a hint of powerlifting. The competition will be on Sept. 26th, 2015.
More information can be found on our event page, or head directly to WOD Rocket to register.
When: Mondays at 7 PM
Where: Inner Beast CrossFit (Same parking lot as Nautilus Plus OC)
Cost: $15 Drop-in Fee – This fee includes access to two, record-holding, coaches during the class and weekly programming.
Inner Beast CrossFit and the Alpha Project are now teaming up to bring you a Powerlifting class!
Competitive Powerlifting focuses on three core movements: the Squat, Deadlift, and Benchpress.
Learn more about the Alpha Project here.
2014 was a great year at Inner Beast CrossFit. We grew steadily, celebrated our one year anniversary, and had many athletes competing in their first CrossFit Competition. We had twelve athletes compete in the Everyday Warrior Battle Series, an online competition offering support to those within the community dealing with cancer.
In 2014, we were able to bring on a Strongman coach, Jeff Pearson, and to partner with Operative Defense and Fitness to offer Self Defense/Striking/Krav Maga classes. We are looking forward to seeing these classes grow and potentially adding even more specialty classes at Inner Beast CrossFit.
Our goals for 2015 are:
- To continue to work hard for our athletes.
- To continue to grow.
- To get more involved in the community and host more fundraising events.
- To increase athlete participation in CrossFit competitions and other team-building events.
- To support every athlete in reaching their personal fitness goals, while continuing to provide a welcoming environment.
If you haven't already, join us in making 2015 our best year yet.
-The Inner Beast Team