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The Beauty of Data Collection

I love data. I love spreadsheets and calculations and numbers. I love statistical significance, p-values and T-tests. How is this relevant to CrossFit Football? Well, I’ve been at it for a month, and I’ve been keeping a meticulous log of a bunch of different variables to figure out the ideal combination of modifiable factors in order for me to put on muscle and strength while keeping body fat stable (or decreasing it altogether). First off, here are my general results:

Weight: up from 179 to 184.5 lb
Lean Body Mass: up 5.2 lb (from 148.9 to 154.1 lb)
Body Fat: up 0.3 lb (from 30.1 to 30.4 lb)
Body Fat Percentage: down from 16.8% to 16.5%
Squats: from 205lb to 230lb (3 sets of 5 reps); other exercises have good linear progression

I’m pretty happy with this, as long as I remember that I resigned myself to putting on some weight with this. I’m in this program to get stronger, not to get skinnier, and I can’t frown every time a T-shirt fits a bit more snug. The workouts are fun and challenging, and the slow, linear progression in my strength gains has been quite welcome. Here’s a “pre” photo from my most recent workout, which involved carrying 45 lbs for 45 minutes and walking as far as possible (for me, a painful 1.7 miles):

So what other factors have I been measuring week-to-week? Things that I can control. Hours of sleep. Naps. Drinks. Caffeine intake. The timing of my carb sources (pre-workout vs post-workout). So what has been making the difference so far? Well, let’s look at my best week, Week 2. Added 1.2 lb muscle and lost 0.8 lb fat. That was the week I averaged the most sleep (7.72 hrs/night) and had the fewest cheats (only one meal). I also had the week off from work, thus no busy morning rounds. Coffee and booze intake was about average, compared to other weeks.

It’s going to take 3-4 more months of data to establish any real sort of trend, but the collecting itself is exciting, and maybe I’ll figure out what works best for my body in order to keep my stress levels low but my fun levels high. Right now, it seems like it’s all about the sleep.

Next time: a more practical approach to carb-backloading.




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