Jerk Drives & Carbs

Hello, friends!  What is this, a microphone?

The posts on have been a bit infrequent and erratic for the last few months for a couple of reasons.

Number one, I went blank on things to write about and I always promised myself never to be the guy who puts out crap out for the sake of posting.

Number two, Performance360 has been busy in 2013 and a lot of our energy has simply gone to trying to keep up, kick starting some new ideas and maintaining momentum with what we already have in the works.

At any rate, there are a few things that I’d like to share.

#1: Carbohydrate Re-Sensitizing

I’m a mostly Paleo eater and I’ve had this sneaking suspicion that I have developed an enormous over sensitivity to complex carbs such as bread, potatoes and rice.  Not necessarily in an unhealthy manner, more so as it pertains to weight management as I’ve reached a point that whenever I consume more carbs than usual I put on weight quickly and noticeably.  Some good.  Some bad, but I don’t like it.

You can label Paleo with whatever helps you rationalize it, but it’s a low carb diet any way you splice it.  And, while it works tremendously for me, fat loss and my performance it’s also going to make one incredibly sensitive to gaining weight if one ever decides to re-up carb intake, whether intentionally or by accident.

My friend Clifton Harski has a great quote.

“At this point, I basically see carbohydrates as a supplement for performance, not something you need for health”.

I completely agree with this statement.  You eat what you need depending on your level of training rigor and style.

However, I am not a perfect eater.

I like Chic-Fil-A.

I like ice cream.

And I like treats.

Three things that clash hard with my usual Paleo-ish diet and from about Christmas to St. Patrick’s Day, they clashed like the mother fucking Titans and I put on some weight.   Most of it is muscle as I went on a bit of a half-ass mass gaining plan and it led me to my heaviest weight since we opened.

While the new muscle has elicited some awesome PRs and broken strength plateaus, I also feel a lot less spry and very removed from my previous ninja powers.  My optimal fighting weight is about twelve pounds beneath my current weight and while I’ve enjoyed some of the new muscle I’m also anxious to shed the belly fat that’s come along with the increased amount of carbs I have been consuming.

Enter short-term carb cycling.

The idea is to purposefully fluctuate the amount of carbs you eat on certain days to continue to develop muscle growth while also triggering new fat loss.  It’s what we call “the best of both worlds” in the bizzzz.

So, starting roughly three weeks ago I hit the accelerator on my carb intake even more so, consuming upwards of 200g per day with the idea of making my body “miss” them and burn rapid fat after I went cold turkey, and to also take advantage of the heavy squatting and leg work I’ve been doing to add muscle.

Use a high carb phase to grow and re-sensitize my body to a low carb fat loss phase that would then follow.

After the three weeks of high carb were up, I then went cold turkey.  Zero complex carbs.

The results?

I set a squat, hang clean and jerk PR during the high carb weeks and I am now down 6 pounds during the zero carb week.

Typical carb cycling is usually managed day by day with high and low fluctuations.  I elected more of a macro type approach with higher carb intake, and then slammed the breaks to go cold turkey.  It can be a dicey approach and if you screw it up it’s easy to be left with love handles.   But, if you formulate it right and are willing to deal with some temporary fat around your midsection the end the results can be rewarding, especially if you have stalled with fat loss.

Here is a library of articles on the topic.

#2: Sticking Points

One area of coaching in which we study most in our athletes are sticking points on major lifts.  Frankly, it’s easy to get your lifts to a certain criteria but the real work comes into play once you get stuck or hit that first legitimate plateau.

In case you missed it over on the Performance360 blog, here is a a great exercise to reinforce power on the drive portion of the jerk if you have trouble generating force need to move the weight on the dip.

What interests me most, and I know you’re not going to believe this, but it’s the three major sticking points in the deadlift.

  1. Getting the weight off the floor.
  2. Getting the weight past your knees.
  3. Locking the weight to full hip extension.

First, how do you know which of the three sticking points apply to you?

It’s incredibly simple.

Where do you miss?

Are you the type that struggles for fifteen seconds and then lose your grip just before you lock out?  If so, you’re in the number three group.

Or, can you easily pull 400# off the floor but 405# doesn’t budge?  This would be a number one problem.

For example, P360 member Dan Jahnke gets weight off the floor faster than any person I have ever seen or coached, but the last one inch of the movement has plagued him for months. He has been working very hard on his lockout deficiencies and the result has been a 500# deadlift from his 175# body weight through nothing more than some mobility and technique work, absolutely no overload training.

The worst and most common of these sticking points is numero uno because for those of us who suck off the floor, we have no idea what we are truly capable of lifting.

All sticking points are do to either a mobility or muscular weak link in the chain.  If you can’t budge weight off the floor it typically indicates your hamstrings are the weak link in the lift and luckily, it’s a very fixable problem with proper diagnosis.

Here are some very quick and dirty examples of our favorite exercises for an off-the-floor sticking point.  If you want more info on them just drop a comment or a question and I can elaborate.

  1. Single leg RDL
  2. Swiss Ball curls
  3. Russian curls (if you don’t have a GHD machine)
  4. Good mornings
  5. Eccentric band curls (lower your leg as slow as possible and resist the band)
  6. Deficit deadlifts

They take the hamstrings through a variety of ranges of motion and exercises like this are why we always need to make sure we recognize the importance of isolation training.  I’ve used a combination of those movements to a lot of success in helping move past plateaus on my deadlift.

Some of them seem rudimentary but they are really helpful.

Not everything can be pure horsepower and athleticism 24/7.

#3: Food Labels Continue to be Crap

I’m not breaking any Sherlock Holmes stuff here since by now.  Unless you have been living under a rock you know that food labels are designed to trick the consumer and increase sales for Big Food.

I was browsing the grocery store the other day and snapped a few quick photos that are very telling of just how FUBAR food labels can be.   This one really disappointed me because it is a smaller organic company who makes food ethically, yet even they fall prey to the temptation of tricky labeling.

Both of these labels are the same brand.   The top label contains information for pork bacon and the bottom label for supposedly healthy and so-much-better-for-you turkey bacon.

This label supports that notion, right?



You HAVE to make sure you pay attention to serving size when looking at this kind of stuff.  The turkey bacon label is based off a single slice serving size compared to it’s pork counterpart of two slices, so that it will appear at a glance to be a healthier option when a customer is shopping.

However, if you do the math you get the following for two slices of each.

  • Turkey Bacon: 70 kcal, 3g fat, 12g protein
  • Pork Bacon: 60 kcal, 5g fat, 4g protein

In the grand scheme of a day, 8g of protein is marginal and the fat is basically the same, yet only one is cut directly from an animal and the other is typically from a processed loaf.

Take charge of your food selection and don’t be so quick to believe any low-fat labeling hype.

#4: Stop Calling Everything CrossFit

I recently had a conversation with a brand new gym member who told me, “man, I am loving this CrossFit stuff so far” and it alarmed me.

After I politely informed him he was not doing CrossFit, that deadlifts have been around for centuries, it made me realize it’s a bigger issue we’re dealing with here.

I don’t know how it happened, I don’t know when it happened, and I don’t know who did it but some time over the last few years we’ve somehow reached a point as a collective fitness industry where every single workout that involves circuit training, kettlebells, Olympic lifting or even moving at an above average pace is now “CrossFit” or a “WOD.”

All of the sudden a workout of deadlifts, pull-ups and sprints is CrossFit exclusive.

Just so we’re clear, I got nuttin’ but love for the CrossFit movement, community and the many friends I have involved with it so before you move those frantic those little fingers to call me something unsavory, please just shush.

After all, I’m the guy that wrote this and our gym tends to feed CrossFit new members whenever they move away.

This is not an anti CrossFit of any caliber.  It’s simply an awareness post, a quick 20 second time out because despite what Reebok, ESPN and some inexperienced box owners might have you believe, these movements have been around long before anyone ever heard of Greg Glassman and I am more than a little tired of this notion that everyone else is in this constant quest to be CrossFit.

While CrossFit is great and has contributed a ton to fitness (love their scaled vs. prescribed idea), anyone who has played any high level athletics knows power and Olympic lifts are a staple of proper training and it’s most likely not new to them.

Plyometrics, kettlebells and powerlifting have been used in athletic and sport-performance circles as long as the modern day Olympics have been around.  Russians have been doing KB swings and snatches in the snow in their underpants while America was still Sweatin’ to the Oldies.  All of these tools have countless uses and methods to elicit results.

We were first introduced to box jumps and basic power lifting movements in 2000 during our freshmen baseball season at University of Richmond.  That evil son of a bitch Jim Roney ruined my skinny life with this stuff and introduced me to what was, and still is my least favorite exercise of all time.

Glute ham raises.

Yes, that GHD machine, believe it or not, yes, athletes were using it long before CrossFit was on the map and yes, I am that old.


What is now completely ridiculous to me is that if someone walked into that 2000 Spider weight room today, they’d probably nod to their friend and most likely assess it as, “hmm, pretty cool this team is doing CrossFit.”

My point is that there are a lot of awesome gyms and trainers doing great things with implements as old as dirt that aren’t affiliated with CrossFit, don’t follow its programming and aren’t doing 13.whatever right now.

That’s great for you if you are and you’re killing it but I’m more than uncomfortable with this shifting prevailing thought that every one doing heavy lifting and athletic work is now trying to emulate CrossFit.

Maybe some are, but most are simply applying their own training knowledge and personal flavor to tried and true modalities.

In short, stop CrossFitting CrossFitty CrossFittiness all over the place.

Until next time, friends!

Agree? Disagree? Let me know what you think, and if you liked it, please hit the SHARE button below. 


  1. Oh my gosh, yes!! All of this YES!! I love your carb approach-mine is much the same. There are outliers who can get away w carb city all the time, but most of us, even athletes, can’t. But that doesn’t mean you let your performance go in the tank – you take the value of carbs while ramping up and then take the value of low carb when you’re dropping fat. But most people are trying to up their game AND drop fat at the same time and those are two different goals w/different requirements!
    And on the Crossfit thing…when you see good stuff like what’s happening at your or my gym, that’s good strength & conditioning. It doesn’t need a name or some label beyond that and if we can re-educate enough people
    To know that s&c is(& was) a thing LONG before Crossfit, we may just see the tide shod away from calling every exercise Crossfit.

    1. Thanks, Kate. I am glad you liked it. Your gym sounds awesome and I would love to be able to check it out someday! Thanks for reading.

  2. Funny you wrote about the Cross-fit. Yesterday someone today asked me where I got my cross-fit workouts.

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