Monday, December 20, 2010

10-12-20: Overhead squats, pull-ups and dips

CrossFit Garden City WoD for Monday, December 20th, 2010
  • Jump-rope
  • Shoulder Mobility Circuit
Overhead Squat
Build to heavy triple in 15 minutes @ 41X1 tempo.
(4 seconds down, 1 second pause at bottom and top, up FAST)
AMRAP in 20 minutes:
  • 5 Chest to Bar Pullups
  • 10 Ring Dips (no rings... so...)
  • 15 Overhead Squats (50% of 3RM)
External Rotations x 10 x 3 @ 3010 (no idea what this meant... did some shoulder dislocates and more jump-rope)

Warmed-up with some jump-rope.  Going well until a random single bounce lit up my right ankle in agony.  Not sure what it was about... I tried to start up again, gingerly, waiting for more pain but it didn't come. Not even sure why I remember it, but it did scare the piss out of me.

Active warm-up, with a focus on shoulder mobility, including shoulder dislocates using the jump-rope to set the distance... my narrowest hand-width is still wider than the grip of our bar-bell, so I knew going in that if I had to dump the barbell, it had to go forward, since I wouldn't be able to safely go backwards without endangering at least one shoulder. Score.
It's best not to find yourself here. Ever. (This is actually an elbow dislocation... but still. Weight overhead, and strength and flexibility weren't enough to protect him... hopefully he makes it back for the next Olympics.) (
In order to try to be safe, I started out with the empty bar for a set of three. Easy enough. One thing I quickly picked up on was that my hips were feeling tight, which was making the depth on the squat a little hard to hit. Add to that my inherently inflexible shoulders (but I'm working on it, dammit, that's not just an excuse), and my alignment on the squats was really flaky at best.  Basically, I ended up having to use a stance that was a little too wide, with feet out a bit further than I wanted, to allow me to keep my torso more upright, so that my arms wouldn't end up further behind my head than I could safely/easily/actually keep them.

I love this picture, because it shows what perfect alignment should look like:
Awesomeness. (
Notice the vertical arms, with fully active shoulders (shrugged up, so the weight is carried on the muscles of the upper torso, NOT on the bone/bone socket of the shoulder!), above a slightly forward-leaning torso.  The weight is perfectly suspended over the shoulder blades, and further, directly over the middle of her feet. Perfection.

Well, I can't get my arms up to vertical with that much of a forward lean... YET.  So, I adjusted my stance, raised my torso as much as I had to, and did what I could.  More remedial work to follow to clean up form issues.

Weight progression towards heavy triples:
35# - 55# - 65# - 75# - 85# - 95# - 100# - 105# (hit for two singles, but failed at multiple attempts)
Highest successful triple: 100#

By this point, my shoulders were already pretty smoked. I pulled weight off the bar, ending up with a 50# barbell for the met-con.  Hit the pull-up tower hard for the first five pull-ups, cranked out dips in two sets of 5, and ran over to the bar.  Why, overhead squats with light weight was nearly easy... until I had to drop the bar after 11 reps.  Sigh.  Finished the set, and headed back to the pull-up machine.

Second set was a bit more shaky. Pull-ups broken up into 2-2-1, dips into 4-4-2, but the form was already gone on the dips. Pull-ups were all actually chin-ups, as I lacked the ability to even begin to generate a pull-up, no matter how I tried. Chins were very heavily "kipped," even as i tried to keep them even somewhat strict.  No good.  Second set of overhead squats was actually better than the first. I only made it 10 reps before dropping the bar, but I felt better going into it, and felt less surprised by the sudden exhaustion a bunch of overhead squats can suddenly hit you with.

Round three. aka "The Ugly One."  Chin-ups were all singles. I kept trying to work in a pull-up to give the chin-up-centric muscles a break. No good, I didn't have a single pull-up left in me. I pretty much didn't have any chin-ups, either.  I'm not sure if I could have done any more if I had a spot to work in a good kip... core-wise I felt ok, but I don't know if I had the arm strength to hold onto the bar even with a good active kip.
This doesn't even include the pull-up, just the core drive.  Note the range of motion around the shoulders.  Chances are that if I had room to do this, I would have merely sling-shotted myself off the bar. Seriously. (
After completing 5 of the ugliest pull-ups ever (until about 3 minutes later), I was back to the dips. Again, much rocking and kipping was engaged in, to greater and (generally) lesser degree. Final 3-4 reps were all singles. Ugly singles.  Back to the bar for a fairly uneventful set of 15 overhead squats. That marked more or less the end of the workout.  Oddly, I still had 7 minutes left.

Round 4: "The Unfinished Symphony."  Failed repeatedly to achieve even a single pull-up or chin-up.  Completed a whole bunch of partial negatives, none of which I wanted to count. Added on 30# of weight assist. Still no pull- or chin-up.  Went up to 50#. Still neither.  At 70# weight-assist, I was able to *just* get my chin over the bar with a chin-up. I was still unable to even begin a regular pull-up. I haven't felt that week in.. forever. It was instructive to feel it here, at the end (ha, in the middle) of a workout that didn't look like it was going to be *SO* terrible. Touche, sneaky workout, touche.

Music was a more or less uninspiring blend of various "rock" christmas albums, including "Season in Chaos: Music for a Brutal Christmas," "A Santa Cause: Music for a Punk Rock Christmas" and various Trans-Siberian Orchestra songs... but none of the good ones.

A good TSO song would be described as follows: (oddly enough, the good ones are all synced to Christmas lights... go figure!

And, just because its awesome: SLAYER!!!!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

10-12-17: Front squats and double unders

CrossFit Garden City WoD for Friday, December 17th, 2010

  • All - Shoulder Mobility Prep for Front Squat.
  • Beg - Practice doubles/singles.
  • Front Squat @ 30X0 and FULL depth.
  • Beg - 5 sets of 3. Increasing weight each set.
  • Front Squat - Use 60% of heaviest singl
  • Double Unders - Scale accordingly to keep workout under 15 minutes.

The front squat. Elbows high, weight on deltoids. (
Double-unders. Each jump, the rope *should* go under the feet twice. Much skill and cardio involved! (

Did a bit of jump rope for warm-up, more fun with switching up the single-bounce and running steps, still working on mixing it up.  I apparently have trouble going from the single bounce to the run step with the right foot still down. Apparently every time I've done it so far, I've raised the right foot, so the first bounce off a single foot was ALWAYS off my left foot. That was an odd thing to discover, and something I'm now working on. Its an odd issue to find, but one worth obliterating all the same. Then on to basic hip and back flexibility work, as well as wrist/forearm work in preparation for the coming front squats. This would be my first time working on front squats since my Level 1 Certification, where we worked on front squats with pvc, but not with weights.  Also, do to our lack of a squat  or power rack, every round would have to be started with a clean to the rack position.

Strength - Front Squats
85# - 105# - 110# - 115# - 120#

The first set was very easy, which was a nice surprise. I was easily able to get my elbows up and rest the bar on my delts, which was new.  Unfortunately, to get the bar fully on my delts, I had to loosen my grip until the bar was just being held by my fingertips in position. On at least two of these sets, my fingers further slipped, requiring me to grab the bar in a California front squat position:

Not good. Generally accepted, but still not good.
Ending up here without a rack to walk the bar back into just sucks.  I can't figure out how to put the bar down safely when I haven't had to cross my hands...AFTER getting stuck there, I would end up lowering the bar by lowering my arms, still crossed, until the bar was at hip height, palms facing forward, and then lowering from the legs, since my torso was still all knotted up.  Not fun.  The lack of bumper plates, lifting platforms, and/or a floor that could definitely take 120# being dropped onto all combine into a definitely pain in the tuchus.

For the conditioning phase, my 60% 1RM came out to 72#. The closest I could get to that was 70#, which was an ok weight for the prescribed 10-8-6-4-2 progression.  I opted to dramatically reduce the number of double unders, however.  Given my inability to string them together with any regularity, I chose the progression of 5-10-15-20-25 reps. Since the notes said to scale to keep the workout to under 15 minutes, this seemed like a good bet.

First set of 10 was pretty easy, though my legs and lungs were screaming by the end. As expected, 5 double unders took me about as long as the squats had... sigh.  The squats kept getting harder, even at the reduced weight, and lowering numbers of reps, as my wind and recovery started to fade.  The second to last set of squats, with only 4 reps, was arguably the hardest. I was just gassed at that point from struggling to get 15 double-unders (which involved several resets and lots of single bounces interspersed). The final round of squats, 2 reps, was easy enough, and the final 25 double-unders actually had a few here or there strung together. I need to work on the rhythm of the rope, and I think cut the rope down again.  I get the feeling that a shorter rope might make it easier, since less work would have to be done to get less rope around twice per jump.  Who knows?

Conditioning time: 9 minutes

10-12-16: Weighted Pull-Ups, Rowing and Burpees

CrossFit Garden City WoD for Thursday December 16th, 2010

5+ Strict Pullups - Add weight that allows for 5 hard sets of 3 reps. (30# weight vest)
90-120 seconds rest b/w sets.
5 all out efforts. Try to maintain same number of burpees of every set.

Kristan Clever, 2010 CrossFit Games women's division champ, rockin' the weight vest pull-ups. (
Rowing. More fun in groups. Too bad we only have the one rower. And that I usually workout alone anyways. (
Burpees. Probably not, but its still an awesome picture of guys apparently trying to learn how to fly... (

Did my usual warmup (rather than the Rx'd CrossFit Warm Up), and went and found our one remaining weight vest.  It's actual weight is unknown. I've heard it referred to as 20# and as 35#.  Frankly, I have no idea... comparing the "dead weight" of the vest to a dumbbell just never seems to work. So, let's call it 25-30#.

Set the timer running, climbed up on the pull-up machine, and cranked out 3 weighted pull-ups. While not really kipping (there isn't room to do so without endangering your ability to procreate), they were NOT strict pull-ups in any sense of the word. After 90 seconds, I did another set of 3, this time as chin-ups (palms facing me).  I continued alternating between pull-ups and chin-ups for the duration of the 5 sets.  In terms of my inability to do strict pull-ups with the vest, I'm left wondering if I should have gone bodyweight and worked on my strict pull-up form. Even spread over 7.5 minutes, 15 strict pull-ups would have been quite a workout by themselves.

After that, I prepped for the conditioning part of the workout.  Set the rower to a 500m course, cleared some space for burpees, and got ready.  Each row took about 1:50, which is a fairly slow pace. Every time I would cruise into 250m with a split time of about 1:39... but right about then my strokes would either fade in power, or I would lose so much wind that I would end up doing faster, but far shallower strokes to just try to keep moving.  Either way, my time stayed fairly stable across all five rounds.

First round of burpees, I managed 9 before time ran out on the round.  In all honesty, I probably could have squeezed in 2 more, had I been feeling daring.  As it was, I barely managed to maintain reps across the other four rounds, but in the end, I was successful.  Oddly, while getting to 9 reps in the 3rd round was nearly impossible, with my final jump-clap coming a few seconds after the round was over, the 5th round was actually pretty easy.  I don't know what changed there... did I finally make friends with exhaustion and come out the other side? Personally I doubt it, but I also can't explain it.

All in all, another awesome workout.  I'm really loving the strength work followed by the conditioning work. I might be following CF Garden City fairly closely from here on out.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

10-12-15: Post No. 100 = Death by Turkish Get-Ups

CrossFit Garden City WoD for December 15th, 2010
(courtesy CrossFit Garden City)
As you may or may not know, my CrossFit Level 1 certification was taught by 5 highly skilled trainers. Of them, two hailed from nearby (to me) CrossFit Garden City, Dennis Marshall and Jennifer Hunter-Marshall. Both were amazing teachers and trainers, and were very inspirational to work with (so were the others! It just excites me that Dennis and Jen have a gym 10 minutes from my house!)  I decided with this workout to give their programming a try.  I like the inclusion of specific warm-ups and things to work on with the "pre-training" practice, which is a very nice addition to a prescribed workout.  It's something I've never given too much attention to, just going through my usual active stretching routine, but nothing ever workout specific. Click on the WoD link above to see their additional notes for the workout (beginner/advanced advice, etc.)

I did some jump-rope, trying to go for longer times, and trying to do some fancy running patterns (alternating for two, right foot for two, alternating for two, left foot for two), as well as a little double-under practice.  However, my shoulders and chest were getting tighter by the minute, so I opted to cut that short and get some good stretching and mobilization in... as prescribed in the workout!

After that, seeing some floor space open, I did some slow Turkish Get Ups. In hindsight (about 25 reps later), I found myself wishing I had brushed up on my technique, because what *I* was doing at first were NOT ideal, and were very hard on the quads. Maybe that's good, and maybe there are some schools of thought that my method is actually the best, but it started sucking very fast in the actual workout.  But I get ahead of myself... I started at 20# for each arm, and that seemed easy. 25# seemed very doable.  30# seemed just right... heavy enough to be challenging, light enough that three rounds of 20 didn't seem impossible. Boy was I in for a surprise.

Having worked up to a workout weight (theoretically I could have warmed up even a bit heavier, since the last time I did Turkish Get Ups, it was with the 35# bar bell, and I did a lot of those, so stopping at 30# might have been a tad hasty), I surveyed the gym.  Too many kids, as usual, but the GHD was open, and there was floor space in the cardio room for the Turkish Get Ups.  I wasn't too sure about the third exercise (the Toes to Bar), since the only place to do those is off the back of the Smith machine, and with kids milling around, the likelihood of someone not "blasting their chest, brah!" on that godforsaken pile of crap is always very low. I figured I would mix it up a bit, and keeping with the mega-core blast that Toes to Bars provide, I decided on GHD sit-ups with a med-ball throw to the wall. That oughtta blast my abs, brah!

25 Hip extensions on the GHD kicked of festivities... not too bad.  First time doing them since the cert, and with a much better idea of what should be locked into place for the duration (lumbar arch) and what should be moving (hip joint), these actually felt better than ever. On to the Turkish Get Ups, 30#. 

I started by doing 5 per arm, which worked very well for the first 10.  However, I started switching arms every rep after that, feeling my shoulders start to get a little pissy at being worked so constantly. Either that means I was dumb to try and do that many in a row on one side, or it means I need to do that more often to get them to strengthen up.  Or both.  Made it through 20, but realized I was probably doing something wrong. My quads were starting to kill me, and I made the connection that my technique was probably to blame.  Somewhere in there, I was missing the stage of the Turkish Get Up where you have one knee on the floor, and one foot flat on the floor, a position of relative strength. Instead, I was somehow skipping the knee, and going straight into a very compromised squat position.  By that, I mean that most of the important elements of *any* good squat were missing.  I was deep enough, but coming up from the lying down position, I was usually up on my toes, which goes against ALL good squat logic.  It was at this point that I realized about the knee... crap.  Well, I'd have 40 more reps to figure out what I was doing wrong, and how to fix it.

On to the GHD wall-balls. Yup, these sucked as planned, so I was happy to have included them. :D

Round two, more hip extensions, nothing too exciting.  On to the Turkish Get Ups.  Finally got my leg work straightened out, though now I need to go review all of Jeff Martone's videos and articles, because my non-weight bearing hand, which gets planted on the floor for part of the move, seemed to always want to go to new positions, and I'm fairly certain there should be a definite "best" position for that hand. Either way, the progression was now stronger with the knee on the ground and the other foot flat on the ground, allowing me to push through my heels on the stand-up.  However, by this point, my shoulders were pointing out what a frickin' dolt I was for thinking I could do 60 Turkish Get Ups with 30#.  I dropped down to 25# and that seemed to quiet some of the voices.  However, by about 10 reps, I was really feeling done.  I was pretty much halfway through this workout, and my shoulders were just feeling one mistake away from damage. Not a fun feeling.  I decided to gut it out a bit and made it to 15 reps. At this point, I decided on some 'on-the-fly' scaling.  15 reps this round, and 10 the next.  If I didn't go for that, I would have just stopped at the end of the 2nd round... feeling weakness like that in my shoulders worried me, since they are NOT my strongest element, so I don't feel great just hitting them with everything I can.  I'll beat on my legs all day long, but shoulders...ugh.

The Smith machine was actually clear by the time I was done with that dilemma, so I ran over and banged out 15 Toes to Bars.  My technique was sloppy enough that I could also have called them Knee to Elbows, which most likely means I was doing them so wrong as to be a waste of time.  I'll need to investigate that the next time I have time in the gym without the ever-milling students around.  Maybe tomorrow (today as I write this).

Round 3, much like the 2nd, a slow and steady slog. Hip Extensions, 10 Turkish Get Ups (5 per side), and 15 GHD wall-ball sit-ups. Argh.... All in all, it was a GREAT workout, spoiled only by my usual inability to scale something appropriately.  That said, I'm planning on following their programming for a while to see what I can learn.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

10-12-13: Post certification Keeping Loose and Coaching

I wasn't going to workout. I was tired, I was sore, it was officially a CrossFit rest day. So why would I workout?  I had brought in my gym clothes, but I went down to the gym expecting to read, to merely moderate, and let it go at that.

CrossFit Level 1 certification, December 11th and 12th, CrossFit Virtuosity

Turns out watching a bunch of guys using absolutely terrible technique is kind of inspiring.  Inspiring to go do something else (I realize I just did training for being a coach, but as the moderator, I'm just a warm body in case of emergency. Most of those kids are uninterested in anything that wasn't just featured in Muscle & Fiction, and I've stopped banging my head against that particular wall...mostly.).  So, I got changed, put on my kick ass CrossFit t-shirt, grabbed my jump-rope, and put in some fairly serious skill work, at least compared to what I've been doing lately.

Ever since working jump-rope back into my routine (after the Patellar Tendonopathy Affair), I've gone fairly light with it.  Enough to work up a quick sweat, but not a ton of skill work, and certainly not for any extended periods of time.  I opted to go for a good 8-10 minutes, first trying to get a really fast turn-over on the single bounce, jumping as little off the floor as I could, before moving on to as fast a run step as I could manage. I did a little work with cross-overs, but found that skill both rusty and a bit painful from the soreness in my pecs and shoulders from the weekend.  I did some left-right and forward-back single bouncing, and then finished up with 20 double-unders.  Most all of which were either singles or chained together with 2-3 single bounces in between.  Which is to say they definitely still need a bit of work... sigh.

After that, I decided to try out the rowing machine.  Watching two of the trainers, Keith Wittenstein (CrossFit Viruosity) and Karianne Dickson (CrossFit Morristown), go head-to-head on a pair of rowers in a 5K race, I was struck by how slow their cycle time was, and by how *strong* their pulls were.  Even if they were averaging 7-8 fewer strokes per minute than I usually do, they were both going MUCH faster than I usually do, so I have to imagine it was in the efficiency of their strokes.  I set up the rower to just go, and practiced slow, powerful strokes, and for awhile definitely had an improved 500m split time.  However, I wasn't able to maintain that kind of output for more than about 260-275m, so my overall time was a bit slower than usual.  Still, I think *this* is the key to going fast... and strong, controlled burn.  Must to increase my cardio...

After that, I decided not to push my luck with anything else. I was nice and warm, my shoulders and chest had unlocked a bit, I could leave some in the gas tank for tomorrow.  At that point, I was presented with the opportunity to coach a few kids in the squat and deadlift. It turns out that trying to coach kids with absolutely ZERO proprioceptive feedback (ie, they don't know where their bodies are, or what their bodies are doing) is a lot more difficult than working with a whole bunch of people who've been CrossFitting for any length of time. 

Many of the guys, we were able to get going with basic air squats fairly rapidly.  There are a fair number of points to watch out for, especially for the uninitiated (weight in the heels, arched back, big chest, knees track over toes, hip crease below top of knee), as well as a fair number of cues and coaching points, and most of the guys picked it up pretty quick. Sure, they need more work with their depth, or pressing their knees out, but they understood what they were supposed to be doing.  However, the problem was trying to work with one guy who either didn't get it, didn't care, or frankly has NO body control whatsoever.

I don't mind if someone doesn't understand a cue.  If I say "arch your back hard" and you press your back out like a cat doing the Halloween stretch, that's fine, that's just a miscommunication.  If I say it again, pressing my chest out and really arching my back into a nice S curve, and point out the chest and showing how it should go, and the guy hunches over even harder.... what do you even say?  We tried several cues, with a hand on his lower back trying to help him see which muscles to clench to attain the arch, to trying to get him to squeeze his shoulder blades together, to trying to get him to just do a muscle-man "chesticles" pose.  Nothing. Nada.  Zilch.  Niente.

I've been racking my brains since then trying to figure out what else can work to get the idea across.  So far, I don't have much.  We'll try it again tomorrow, I guess.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

10-12-12: Officially certifiable

Day 2 of the CrossFit Level 1 certification. There's a good chance that some of this is out of order, as my recollections of what happened when are all a bit fuzzy a few hours later...

Still a little sore and creaky from our dozens of reps of the nine basic movements from the day before, as well as a killer rendition of Fran to seal the deal, we sat down to some more theoretical work. After another "classroom" section, we split off into groups to either learn the kipping pull-up OR do a work-out. And then we switched!  I got to learn the kipping pull-up first, as well as (more importantly) the tips to getting good at it. Now, if only I had somewhere to practice it... quite possible that putting enough weights/sandbags or whatever over the base of my pull-up/dip tower in the garage might allow me to do it there. I should probably try that out before i forget how...

After that, we swapped with the tired and sweaty bastages who were working out, and faced our doom: Tabat medley.  Basically, every Tabata I've done to date has involved staying with the same movement for several rounds at a time, usually 8 rounds.  Since the action is 20 seconds of all out effort followed by 10 seconds of rest, 8 rounds is only 4 minutes.  Do that over 4 stations, and you've just annihilated your body for 16 minutes in ways that most cardio-only fitness buffs can't even begin to comprehend...

In this case, after each 20 seconds of work, we would transition to the next exercise.  We did this across three stations (air squats, push-ups (deck to full arm extension), and kettle-bell swings) for 5 rounds.  Since that works out to 15 sets, for a grand total of 7.5 minutes' work.  Sounds simple, right?  You try it... and make sure you're squatting so that your hip crease goes below the top of your knee, and make sure your hips, chest, abs and chin all hit the ground at the same time, and that you come back up to full extension on every rep.  Basically, the first few sets were "ok" which quickly devolved to "ARGH!!!"

After that, we went back to the classroom to learn about the applications and uses of the glute-ham developer, most of which was review for me, but some of it was exciting and new.  After a lunch break, we came back for anther classroom lecture, this one on nutrition (which was probably before lunch...seeing as how some of the lecture dealt with food in my bag that i hadn't eaten yet, but decided to anyway...). Then we went back to our large "small" groups to work on our squat snatches and muscle-ups.

I do not have a muscle up on the rings. I can barely get to a control position on the rings. I need to get some rings, because they target muscles I didn't even know I was ignoring. Lame. Still, it was cool getting the pointers on how to approach the problem, both as an athlete, and as a trainer who wants to work with athletes who will undoubtedly struggle as well. Squat snatches (with pvc pipe as our "bar") seemed to go easily enough. I have to work a bit on footwork and opening the hip more explosively, but those are both common faults and easy ones to fix (hopefully) with some dedicated practice.

After one last classroom session on programming workouts and scaling, it was time for the test. (which sounds like I'm glossing over the classroom material.  I'm totally NOT, its just that there's waaay too much good info to try to squeeze into a "basics" post like this!  The test?  It was easy.  I swear to you, if you do the reading and pay just a little bit of attention in the classroom sessions and small group coaching environments, you almost CAN'T fail. I passed with flying colors, and did well enough that I'm actually a little bit bugged about those few questions missed.  Right now, I like to think I made extra marks on the scantron, and that I actually got everything right. Sigh...

So yeah, I'm all certified and shit.  Show me your squat!  Do it NOW!!!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

10-12-11: CrossFit Lvl 1 Cert: Fran

After spending some time learning about the theory behind CrossFit, we learned about the nine functional movements (squat, front squat, overhead squat, shoulder press, push press, push jerk, deadlift, sumo deadlift high pull, and the medicine ball clean).  All of that took several hours, and by the end we had all air-squatted or flung around a pvc bar (or a 95# bar, in the case of the deadlift) several dozen, and perhaps a few hundred times.
After ALL that, we geared up for our shared WoD.  I was excited and petrified.  Would it be something I could kick ass at like... um... ok. Well, would it be something that terrifies me, like Fran?  As luck would have it, it WAS Fran.  3 rounds of thrusters and pull-ups, 21-15-9 reps of each, for a total of 45 each.
The bar I selected was loaded with 65#, which was a good scaling after the rest of the day.  Unfortunately, it didn't occur to me to ask to do jumping pull-ups, even though these were offered and encouraged. (I are an asshole to myself sometimes...).

Round 1 was mostly unbroken, I think for 15 reps.  By this point, I was already pretty smoked leg and back-wise, but as usual, it was my craptastic cardio that gave out first. Shocking.  However, it got worse when it turned out that after an initial burst of 5-6 reps of pull-ups, I couldn't get more than one or two at a time. These eventually turned into jumping pull-ups, but from too far away to do much good.  That round KILLED me.

I made it back to my barbell, asked (panted, really) that a few plates be put under the pull-up bar. I started cranking out thrusters, thankful and elated to hear pointers being fired at my by coaches who know how to fix form faults on the fly (a goal of mine!). However, some things just weren't going to be fixed quickly, like my inability to get the barbell onto my shoulders during the squat part of the thruster.  Soon enough...

Rest of the workout passed in a sort of panicked, under-oxygenated haze.  It was definitely fun, and more than worth it when I even finished before a few other guys and gals in my heat. Granted, the guys were doing thrusters with far more weight, and they probably knocked out their pull-ups in a fraction of the time... but still. I think that counts for something.

I spent the next heat just trying to breathe through the pools of acid and liquid metal that seemed to live in my lungs after all that. However, for the third heat, my friend Lee was finally up, and I was going to coach/encourage her as much as she had me. One of the women from my small group was lined up behind her, so I opted to do what I could for her, too. My coaching was limited to "deeper!" on the squats and "lock it out!!" on the top of the thrusters, and providing a count (where I managed to keep one) on the exercises.

Exhaustion is setting in. Must... sleep... before... day... 2!

Fran total time: 7:36 (i think... i was a bit woozy.)

Friday, December 10, 2010

10-12-09: Power Snatches, Wall-balls, K2Es

CrossFit WoD for Monday December 6, 2010

21-18-15-12-9 rep rounds of:
Crystal McReynolds 14:01 (75lbs, 14lb ball), Austin Malleolo 14:05, Carey Kepler 14:08 (75lbs, 14lb ball), JC Nessa 15:24, Kevin Montoya15:34, Mat Frankel 16:24, Lance Cantu 17:11, Heather Bergeron18:55 (85lbs, 16lb ball), Stacey Kroon 19:23 (85lbs, 16lb ball),Kristan Clever 19:47 (85lbs, 16lb ball), Laurie Galassi 19:48 (78lbs, 14lb ball), Mel Ockerby 19:49 (85lbs, 14lb ball).

WOD Demo at CrossFit Santa Cruz - video [wmv] [mov]
Austin Malleolo on today's WOD - video [wmv] [mov]
CrossFit New England on today's WOD - video [wmv] [mov]

Natalie Burgener Woolfolk preps for a snatch attempt. And since her dad is Coach B, she'll probably hit it, too. (
Wall-balls. Depth of squat is important, hence the med ball as a guide. The target is another 3-4' above his hands, so that ball better be booking.  Best way to do that? Drive with the hips, baby. (
Variations on the theme. Left is as prescribed, center is harder, right is easier. The amount of muscles this hits is hard to overstate.  Probably your toes don't get a good workout... probably. (

This was my last workout prior to (hopefully) getting my CrossFit Level 1 certification this weekend, and being all allowed to train others and stuff.  As such, I wanted it to be an ass-kicking that I would totally own. Instead, I got totally pwned by it.  Ah well, it happens.

First mistake: No scaling on the weight on the power snatch.  Now, I can power snatch 115# pretty easily, even with my probably craptastic form. However, that doesn't take into account the necessity of doing so 75 times during the course of the workout. Crap, it barely took into account doing it 21 times in a row to start this thing out!  Basically, this should have been 95# or even 85# for me to stand a chance... Did the first set, broken into about 4 sets. I think there were 10 unbroken, but I could have just been delirious and dreaming. After that, headed over to the wallball station.

UNBROKEN. I love wallballs. Probably means my med-ball is too light (the heaviest one lost its cover or something, so you can't tell how heavy it is), or I'm not throwing them high enough.  That said, its pretty heavy, and I throw it between 10-12' feet up on the wall. So, maybe the weight is low, but the height is enough, and I LOVE WALL-BALLS.  Especially now that I got rid of the chairs I was using to gauge the low end of the squat, and just started squatting as low as I can go.  Definitely lower than with the chair.

Knee-to-elbows.  In the picture caption, I mentioned that every muscle in the body gets worked, right?  Well, it turns out that 21 power snatches and 21 wall-balls have pretty much already annihilated lots of muscles, so the fact that this targets those and more makes them an evil addition to this triplet from hell. I think I got 12 unbroken, and from then on, I think 5 was my max at a time.  Given where I do them (frame of a 7' tall Smith machine) theres not really room to fully extend at the bottom. I did what I could for most of the first round, but found myself touching down with my feet after awhile, but I made damn sure I wasn't jumping up into the top position the whole way through, so while not ideal, it wasn't as bad as it could have been.

Round two was just a grueling slog through a ton of short mini-sets on each exercise... except for wall-ball! Stormed through 18 of those like I was just starting out.  My lungs nearly exploded when I was done, but hey, whatever.

Third round was even uglier. I mean ugly.  Basically, it nearly didn't happen, but I decided I had to at least begin to finish what I had started. Snatches were by now just ugly variations on a theme, though dropping 10# helped substantially, the wall-balls were awesome, and I could barely grip the bar to do the K2Es. By the time I finished the 3rd round, I was already at the 30 minute mark. I had to cut it there, since I workout at work, and taking another 30 minutes to finish the last two rounds probably wouldn't go over well with the people in charge. ;)

So, 30 minutes in, I gave myself a DNF. Final workout before certification. The ego has officially taken a beating.  Which is probably good, since I can't imagine walking into a CrossFit certification thinking I'm a big bad-ass would work out so well. Now I can just be polite, and learn a crap-ton of information! Woo

Monday, December 6, 2010

10-12-06: Rowing and thrusters

CrossFit WoD for Thursday December 2nd, 2010

Five rounds for time of:
Mikko Salo 10:44, Graham Holmberg 10:56, Ken Gall 11:45, Tommy Hackenbruck 11:45 (thruster behind the neck), Pat Padgett 11:48, Kevin Montoya 11:56, Austin Malleolo 12:03, Dave Lipson 12:50, Michael Giardina 12:51, Chris Spealler 12:52, Kristan Clever 13:36 (95lbs), Rebecca Voigt 13:55 (95lbs), Katie Hogan 14:42 (95lbs), Heather Bergeron 15:28 (95lbs).

WOD Demo with Chris Spealler - video [wmv] [mov]
Michael Giardina and Ken Gall on today's WOD - video [wmv] [mov]
Austin Malleolo on today's WOD - video [wmv] [mov]
Heather Bergeron and Dave Lipson on today's WOD - video [wmv] [mov]
Rob Orlando modifies today's WOD - video [wmv] [mov]

The joy of rowing.  Three pulls make the chain speed up throughout the extension phase: legs, hips, then arms.  (picture courtesy
Thrusters. Notice the precarious "grip" in the middle panels... we'll get back to that. (
Rowing?  Not too bad. I know my form is probably crap, but I can at least sprint a 200m, suffer through a fast 500m, or grind out a 2Km, as compared to needing to stop on die while running.  But heavy thrusters?! Argh... so painful in so many ways... I set up the barbell with 125# (taking all I could from the kids doing 1/4 squats on the Smith machine... don't get me started on THAT!), and tested it out.  Heavy...but doable.  Just...

Warmed up a bit, some good jump-rope work, got in a little active stretching, but not a ton, since there were too many kids wandering around... ugh.  I hate that excuse, but the third time I hit someone and/or got bumped into/tripped over, I kind of gave up. :S

Rowed the first 500m, feeling pretty good, and grabbed the bar.  Hm, a bit heavier now. Cleaned it up into the rack position, dropped into a deep squat, and came firing out of the bottom. 1 rep done. Repeated it. 2 done.  However, while coming out of the squat for the third time, my fingers (see the picture above), slipped, and I suddenly had a barbell rolling down my shoulders and chest. I managed to get under it enough to catch it almost in a Zercher squat hold, before catching it with just enough control to lower it without dropping the metal plates straight through the crappy floor. Got a nice bruise on my right forearm to show for all that. Sweet!

So, having proven that my slight scaling wasn't quite enough, I dropped another 20# to 105#.  This proved to be a heavy enough weight that it still sucked completely, but at least I was able to complete each set... even if the final two were both broken up a bit.  I finished up the first 4 rounds this way and seriously thought about "scaling" the workout to just four rounds.  I took a minute to collect myself, and decided I could at *least* do a fifth round of the rower... and if I'm already doing the rowing machine... I might as well finish the thrusters, right?

So, 5 rounds completed, with some necessary weight scaling on the thrusters. I can't wait for the next time I get to do thrusters with "only" 75#.  Oh, it'll feel so good!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

10-12-01: Heavy Tabata

CrossFit WoD for Sunday, November 28th, 2010
  • Tabata Weighted pull-up, 30# dumbbell
  • Rest 1 minute
  • Tabata Weighted squat, 45# plate
  • Rest 1 minute
  • Tabata Weighted ring dip, 30# dumbbell 25# weighted vest
  • Rest 1 minute
  • Tabata Deadlift, 165# 115# barbell
The Tabata interval is 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest for 8 intervals.
Tabata score is the least number of reps performed in any of the eight intervals.
Michelle Kinney 2 (15lb), 12 (35lb), 3 (15lb), 8 (125lb) = 25
Kevin Montoya 3, 9, 3, 6 = 21

Michelle Kinney on today's WOD - video [wmv] [mov]
Kevin Montoya on today's WOD - video [wmv] [mov]

Eva T. doing a 70# weighted pull-up. Me being jealous. This is where a real spot for pull-ups would come in handy. (
Instead of risking a self-lobotomy, I tended to either clutch the weight to my chest, or up and over, on my shoulders.  Either way, it starts off feeling so easy... (
The Governator rips out some impressive weighted dips. Not having a dip belt, and having given up on trying to hold the weight between my feet, I had opted for a weight vest by this point... (
Tabata deadlifts. Wooohoo! Note all the people using the alternate grip (one hand turned away from the body, one facing in.) This is completely unnecessary for anything other than max weight attempts. It's better to keep both hands facing towards your body, as this works the grip better, so you don't need the alternate grip as much. (

Apparently, trying to do weighted pull-ups using a dumbbell in the middle of a Gravitron rip-off is a recipe for disaster. Our machine is such a piece of crap, I can't even find a picture of it online. Basically, it has a bar you stand on for weight assisted dips or pull-ups.  The bar is attached via a T-joint to a longer bar that passes under the weight stack to the cam that actually pulls the cable attached to the weight stack via the top of the machine. (Simple design, just an awkward description.)  The t-bar takes up most of the space that is enclosed by the base of the machine in front of the weight stack, which means that finding a spot to balance a dumbbell on its side is annoying at best.  Add in a spectacularly unstable floor and the fact that when the dumbbell inevitably falls over, it ends up straddling the bar, making it impossible to pick up with your feet, and you have a total clusterf***.

The first round had a great 6 reps.  Everything after that was either singles or total failures, which I refuse to count towards my score on general principal. Even if it only increases it by one, its something of a moral victory.  The problem in a Tabata set is that there's no time to stop and adjust in the middle of it. If what you're doing doesn't work, you're still stuck with it. I was less that thrilled, but hey, you live and learn.

Magically, the 45# plates weren't in use by the time the second round came up, so I was able to grab one and do this bit as Rx'ed, which made me very happy. I don't mind squatting, and its one of the few movements i can just power through. Whereas the other exercises in today's Tabata showed a marked drop-off, both of the leg/posterior chain moves showed staying power, but especially the squats. I started alternating between clutching the plate to my chest and holding up and behind my neck, kind of like a high-bar back squat position.  Both felt pretty good, and being able to mix that part up kept me from destroying my arms trying to maintain a single position.

During the squats, my workout partner opted to do hers with a 35# weight vest. I snagged the vest for the dips, obviating the need to try to wrastle with the frickin' dumbbell in the pull-up/dip machine again.  Definite improvement.  There was still a massive fall-off in reps, but at least that was just because my arms were smoked, not technical crap more or less beyond my control. Lots of good, if unintentional, work on the negatives, with all the failed reps in the later rounds!

More deadlifts! I was stuck with a curl bar, but again, the 45# plates were available, so I just threw those on and went to town.  I'm sure my form was compromised by the fact that I know the grip pattern on that bar was apparently done with a chainsaw, and if I let it even brush my leg, I was going to be bleeding like a stuck pig. So, the bar was always at least a little distance from my leg, which is completely wrong. I didn't overdo it, but just having it float away at all rather than keeping it locked directly over the center of balance was annoying... now add in the curves and excitement of a curl bar, and you have a guarantee of poor technique!


CF Total (not including zero rep failures) = 1 + 7 + 1 + 4 = 13
Total reps: 11 + 68 + 22 + 54 = 155