Saturday, December 31, 2011

11-12-30: Burpees, pull-ups, double-unders

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Friday, December 30th, 2011

Burpees. Anything less than perfect form is a no-rep. (Freal Fitness)
Pull-ups. Chin goes over the bar, otherwise its a no-rep. Eyes over? No rep.
Double-unders. Boy these can stink.

WoD: 18x On the minute (pick three and order)
  • 2 Burpees
  • 2 Pull-ups
  • 2 Double-Unders
  • 2 Sit-Ups
The goal of this workout was to do approximately 2:1 rest to work, so 20 seconds of work followed by 40 seconds rest, and additionally, to maintain that pace the whole way through. While it would have been easy to choose sit-ups and get rid of one of my many goats in the list, I decided to go after those goats with a vengeance. I only needed to do two of each move per round, so I figured I could easily handle the burpees and pull-ups, even doing those unassisted. The only question was really whether I could pull off the double-unders or not. If I ended up struggling, I would be in a world of hurt. The other part we had control over was the order of the movements: Each round, I wanted to hit to burpees fresh, head into the pull-ups with a lot left in the tank, then deal with the double-unders however they presented themselves.

As it turned out, I ended up keeping every round at about 20 seconds of work, and the only real variable was the double-unders. If I struggled, the round was usually closer to 30 seconds. My only concern was the pull-ups. I tried to keep them strictly deadhang at the beginning, but by the time 4-5 rounds had gone past, not only had I introduced a whole lot of kipping (uncontrolled, not entirely useful kipping at that!), I had also started letting my feet touch down between reps, to give myself a chance to reset quickly. All told, I would have preferred to not touch down, and to minimize the kipping... or to have kipped with purpose, adding in speed and power. OK, so I need to work on both strict and kipping pull-ups. w00t.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

11-12-28: Deadlift 1RM

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Wednesday, December 28th, 2011
Josh Everett. Scary strong in a "normal looking" package.
Jason Khalipa. Scary strong in a large, muscular looking package.

Rob Orlando. Scary strong in a scary strong looking package.
A cute little package. And the last time I use the word package. I swear!

Strength: 1 Rep Max
 - Deadlift or Back Squat

 World's simplest workout: work up to a one rep max attempt on either the deadlift or back squat. That's it. After working through the new warm-up for the next two weeks, we went over technique on both lifts. I knew my 1RM on the deadlift was getting a little old, so I wanted to shoot for that. After warming up for a few reps at 135#, 225# and 275#. At that weight, I started making smaller jumps and doing fewer reps, hoping to keep the total poundage from getting out of control.

Once we hit working weights, I shared a bar with Al, who was working in the same weight range as me. Upshot is that we both had built-in rest time and cheerleading, which was definitely nice. After 2-3 reps at 295#, we jumped to 315#, then straight to 335#, my previous PR. Feeling all stupid strong, we jumped to 355#, which felt almost easy. Almost. Just for the hell of it, I slapped on an extra 10#, and lifted the crap out of it. So, with that, I hit a 30# PR, jumping it up to 365#.

Deadlift 1RM: 365#

Monday, December 26, 2011

11-12-26: Double-Unders and hill sprints

Post-Newtonmas WoD for Monday, December 26th, 2011

Matt Chan bangs out double-unders with perfect form. Note that hes not cranking up his legs to get over the rope, but just pogos up and over with a minimum of effort.
Chris Spealler with perfect running form (as usual, impossible to tell from a still frame... but trust me on this, he's perfect.)

WoD: 5 Rounds
  • 20 Double-Unders
  • Jog to hill
  • Hill Sprint
  • Recover on walk back to driveway
  • Jog up driveway
Sell-out: 100 200 single-bounces

Not a real scorcher, just enough to get moving, earn the previous days' gluttony, practice double-unders with a light, quick rope, and finally see if using the hill a bit up the street from where I grew up would be good for hill sprints. (Hint: it totally IS.) After warming up with some single-bounces with both my old rope and the new light hotness borrowed from the gym, I proceeded into the workout. After struggling to chain together even two double-unders, I jogged down the driveway and out to the hill in front of the neighbor's house. At the foot of the hill, I started sprinting up it, stopping at the crest. I walked back to my driveway, jogged up it, and repeated the process.

Oddly enough, on the third round, I suddenly very easily chained together 15-16 reps, and it felt great. I felt like I was doing no work on the rope, my upper arms weren't locking up (my rope requires my arms to be held out too far, making my shoulders sizzle like mad after about 20 seconds of work)... it was great. I was unable to re-create that experience for the rest of the workout, however.

For a sell-out, I decided on 100 single-unders. After sailing through those, I upped it to 200. By the time I was done, Fran-lung had set in, and it was time to come inside.

Friday, December 23, 2011

11-12-23: Max Bench

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Friday, December 23rd, 2011

Mark Rippetoe coaches Eva T. on proper bench press form. Nothing but awesome here. (

For Jesus Newton: Max Bench

Bench press. Fairly simple, though I'm sure there are "classic" CrossFitters who have no idea what the hell it is or how to do it correctly. I would refer them to the Iron Samurai, Mark Rippetoe's crucial "Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training" for all the necessary information. As luck would have it, I had a bench and rack to myself, which was great, since I was moving weights far lighter than the two super strong guys, but a bit higher than the two smaller guys (but not nearly 'higher' enough given the size difference... either they're super strong, or I have a LOT of work to do!)

After warming up under the empty bar, then 95# and 135#, I started backing off on the reps. My goal was to hit 205# for a 1RM, which would be the first time I actually hit a weight that heavy. Having just done a quick search of the last time I did bench presses, I aimed a bit south of my calculated 1RM (I did 4 reps at 185#, which is 87% of @212#), but the 185# marked the biggest weights I had moved at all, so 205# was still an impressive benchmark for me.

The only real notes from this workout were the final two lifts. At 195#, the bar shimmied a LOT from left to right on its way up, which made me a bit worried for the next lift, but I knew I wanted it. At 205#, the bar totally stalled about a 1/3rd of the way up, but I managed to get it going and completed the lift. I definitely thought there was a possibility of failing at that instant. Coach Vin asked if I was going to shoot for the next weight, but I had hit my goal, with difficulty, and decided to stop while I was ahead of the game. Knowing (now) that my calculated 1RM would really have been 7-10# higher, I kind of wish I had kept going, but I'm ok with that for now. Next time, I'll destrominate that weight.

1RM = 205# PR

11-12-22: Rope climbs, pull-ups, bear crawls

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Thursday, December 22, 2011

Rope-climbs: Of course, these bad-asses aren't using knotted ropes, which makes it even MORE impressive. Next time there's a skill day, I need to work on the footwork needed to climb this style of rope. (Costa Mesa CrossFit)

I don't smile at the top of pull-ups. There's not enough time. (

Bear crawls. Holy incredible suckage!! These are just awfultastic. (Flatirons CrossFit)

Buy-in: 15 min
 - Rope Climb
WoD: 10 min AMRAP
 - 3 Pull-ups
 - Bear Crawl

Ah, rope climbs. For the first time, I was the "experienced" climber on the knotted rope, trying to help coach a few other athletes through the process of 'jumping' up the rope from knot to knot. For myself, I managed 6-7 total climbs, all the way up to the new bells up at the rafters. So that felt pretty good. After that, the suckage set in.

If you're me, you haven't done bear crawls in... ever? So, while I was able to do unassisted pull-ups (I can handle small rep schemes without requiring a band-assist) for the rounds I completed, I was getting utterly *destrominated* by the bear crawls. Like being on hands and knees, except on your feet, which loads the weight a WHOLE lot more onto the upper body. Big time fun when that upper body has just climbed a rope repeatedly and then did a few pull-ups.

Final tally: 7 rounds and 2 pull-ups.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

11-12-21: Power snatches, kettlebell swings, jerks and squats

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Power snatches. The first few reps of Grace usually look pretty good, then its pretty much train-wreck time after that. Still, watching Dave Lipson and Josh Everett bang through it is pretty impressive. (
Kettlebell swings. American-style go up over the head, rather than just shoulder-height. (CrossFit CFT)
I don't need this or this. Just this ashtray... And this paddle game. - The ashtray and the paddle game and that's all I need... And this remote control. - The ashtray, the paddle game, and the remote control, and that's all I need... And these matches. - The ashtray, and these matches, and the remote control, and the paddle ball... And this lamp. - The ashtray, this paddle game, and the remote control, and the lamp, and that's all *I* need. And that's *all* I need too. I don't need one other thing, not one... I need this. - The paddle game and the chair, and the remote control, and the matches for sure. Well what are you looking at? What do you think I'm some kind of a jerk or something! - And this. That's all I need.

Back squat to acceptable depth: Hip crease below the tops of the knees. Note the back arch protecting the spine from the load. The nerd in me wants to know what the different colors mean as far as weights. (Crossfit Multikeo)

WoD: For Time
  • 9-15-11
    • Power Snatch @ ¾ BW
    • Kettlebell Swings
  • ~5 min Rec~
  • 11-15-9
    • Jerk
    • Back Squat
Scheduling fail: I didn't make it to the gym today... but I was pretty proud of the work I already did on this the night before. Having seen the tail end of the final class of the day making their way through this... holy crapnuts. I think I need to hit this one on a make-up/amnesty day. Jeebus.

(And seriously, tell me the Jerk reference isn't classic, if completely out of place. SOPA or whatever the hell the internet censorship law is will destroy me AND this sorry excuse for a blog...)

11-12-19: 1RM Cleans and Front Squats

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Monday, December 19th, 2011

The clean. Floor to shoulders, using just about every muscle in the body EXCEPT the arms (other than just for control). If you're using your arms a lot, you're doing it wrong.Note pictures 2-3... the weight hasn't moved much, only the lifter has. And his arms are STRAIGHT in the 2nd pic.

Brett Marshall (AFT) demos awesome front squat form. The weight is out of the hands and riding on the delts. Knees are out, feet are flat on the floor. Perfection. (

Strength: 1 Rep Max
  • Clean
  • Front Squat
Pretty simple prescription: Work up to 1 rep maxes on the clean, then on the front squat (ie, NOT in the same move; a full clean (which includes catching the bar in a full squat) does NOT count as the front squat attempt.) After a good amount of warm-up and review with empty bars, we set to work. Despite all of my recent complaining and whining about my own shortcomings and goats, especially the olympic lifts, including cleans, today felt really good. I felt like I was really popping the bar up to my shoulders using mostly the triple extension of hips, knees and ankles, and I was having some pretty good success dropping under the bar, rather than just relying on firing up to full standing height in a power clean. So that was all good.  As I climbed up in weight, I just trying to keep my head fully in the moment, only worrying about the deadlift "yellow light" portion of the lift, then the explosive pop, then the catch, and not getting all flustered by dealing with everything at the same time. 

After a few warm-ups at 95#, I started moving up in weight. I had two good lifts at 115# and 135#, then matched my previous PR at 155#. That felt so good with my improved form, I shot to 175# and nailed it, setting a 20# PR. After taking a few minutes, I tried for a final attempt at 185#, but didn't quite get under the bar properly, causing it to "stack up" on my left wrist wrong. Though I was able to shake it out in time for the front squats, it definitely made me bring my clean attempts to an end!

For the front squat, I picked right up at 185#, banging out two reps easily. I again started climbing, this time gunning for my previous PR of 215#. After a rep at 205#, I went to 225# and nailed it. I tried a rep at 235# and nailed it, putting me at a 20# PR on front squats, too. After nearly deciding to quit (it was time for the next class to come in), I opted for one more lift, this time at 245#. I nailed it, inking in a 30# PR on front squats for the day. Not a bad start to the week, and a welcome change from my usual bitching and moaning, at least in recent posts. Progress. Getting stronger. THIS is why we do this. No, its NOT always fun, but on days like this (or when I got to the top of the climbing rope, or broke 300# on my deadlift), its totally worth it!

One other thing I thought of later: I had NO problems with my grip on this workout. Granted, I didn't do any high reps on the front squats, so there wasn't a lot of time for fingers to slip out.  I also did some triceps work during the warm-up, which I think definitely paid off. Interesting. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

11-12-16: Box jumps and double-unders

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Friday, December 16th, 2011

High box jumps. We didn't go anywhere near this tall, but worked in with double-unders, that makes total sense. (CrossFit Roots, Denver CO)

Double-unders. Its just jumping rope... I don't know why Brandy Richardson needs to make it look so much harder than it is. Show off. (

WoD: 3 Rounds for Time
  • 1 Box Jumps (30")
  • 10 Double-Unders
  • 2 Box Jumps
  • 20 DU
  • 3 Box Jumps
  • 30 DU
  • 2 min Recovery
Some days you have double-unders, and others you start getting grateful for a single rep that doesn't result in you whipping the rope into your toes. Not so bad the first time, but the hundred and first time... well, its gotten old by then. This morning was a trainwreck, highlighting my need to do double-under work far more regularly, either as part of my warm-up or cool-down. I apparently don't have them strongly enough to put them away for a month, then come back and expect them to be there.

The first round started well enough. Easy big box jump, followed by 10 broken up double-unders, nothing too bad. Two more jumps, then a chain of 20 double-unders. Boo-yah, I'm back! Three more jumps, then a slightly broken up set of DUs, probably something like 6, 20, and 4 reps to get out of the round. My split time for the round was 2:15. It would be the last split I noticed.

The second round was... bad. After waiting 2 minutes, I jumped back in. Again, jumps weren't too bad at all. For this round, I think the most reps I strung together on the DUs was two... maybe three. Not bad for ten, but getting awful on the set of twenty, and sheer torture on the set of thirty. Little did I know that the 3rd round would be even worse.

Again, jumps were ok. As I struggled through the set of 10 DUs, most of the rest of the class finished. The stragglers were well done before I got out of the round of 20... and it was all me for the round of 30. I wanted to quit. I would have given anything to have been done and recovering. As it was, I had to have single-bounced enough between double-under attempts to have officially completed the scaled version of the WoD (2x singles for each Rx'd DU, so rounds of 20, 40, and 60 SUs.)  Either way, by the time I was done, my lungs were scorched, my calves were unhappy, and my will was crushed. Well, not crushed. Like I said, I know what to learn from this experience: Remedial rope work before or after every WoD, and some work on off-days, unless they are deemed pure recovery.

Total Time: 13:53

Note: While trying to find pictures for this installment, I came across a great post on beastmodaldomains about utilizing box jumps in a WoD, and tackling the issue of massive reps being very risky in terms of achilles ruptures. Suddenly, instead of wondering why we only did 18 total box jumps, I marvel at the intelligence of it. Sweet. Plus, it has several awesome pics, including my new favorite:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

11-12-14: Olympic Total

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

Camille Leblanc-Bazinet at the bottom of the snatch catch... or in an overhead squat. Hard to say. 
Camille Leblanc-Bazinet sets up for the clean, getting the bar from the ground to her shoulders.

Heather Bergeron catches the clean in full "ass to grass" depth. I need to work on this some more. ;)

Olympic Total: 30min cap (Three attempts at each lift)
  • Snatch
  • Clean & Jerk
Ah, the Olympic lifts. Skill, power, and massive amounts of suckage when not done correctly. My goal for today was to try to do the lifts as true to form as possible, meaning no power snatches or power cleans, but the full "squat" variety of each. As a result, my total numbers were nowhere near my "sloppy-as-I-needed-to-be" Personal Records. Oh well. 

After a thorough warm-up and refresher on the lifts using PVC pipes, we moved to the real bars. Goddamn they get cold in winter in an unheated gym! After warming up both lifts for a bit, I moved to 65# for a few reps on both, then 95# for a few reps. I started my snatch attempts at 115#, moved to 125#, failed once, then nailed it.  

After that, we moved to the clean & jerk. In the workout as prescribed, we were allowed to jerk out of the racks (ie, get the bar out of the rack in the front rack position, and jerk from there, rather than needing to clean the weight up.)  While doing that would have definitely improved my total, my main issue with the Clean & Jerk is the transition between the two, so I was more interested in working THAT and getting more experience in. After a success at 125#, I failed at 135#, then tried it again and nailed it. I found myself with some extra time, and made two attempts at 140#, and failed on both of them.

Snatch: 125#
C&J: 135#
Total: 260#

Monday, December 12, 2011

11-12-12: Ring rows, sit-ups and push-ups

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Monday, December 12, 2011
Ring rows: Though used as a scaling option for pull-ups, they are difficult in their own right, requiring and building lots of multi-planar support in the shoulders, torso, as well as the arm muscles, obviously.
Push-ups. Note the abmat next to her, conveniently for my needs. There is a dearth of cool pictures of people doing sit-ups on the interwebz.

  • WoD: 10!
    • Ring Row
    • Sit-up
    • Push-ups
  • Sellout: 2x Failure
    • Dumbbell Hammer Curls
The factorial in the WoD description just means rounds of 10, 9, 8, etc... 

This is the workout I'm glad I *didn't* have on Friday: It actually felt pretty good.The ring rows and push-ups caught up with me pretty quickly, but not in a way that was too distressing. I pretty much wanted to die during the 2nd and 3rd rounds (9 and 8 reps, respectively), but as the rounds got shorter, the work got noticeably easier.

The upshot with ring rows is how infinitely scalable they really are. With your shoulders directly under the rings (and where the rings are anchored), the work is very difficult. But if you just walk a bit backward, putting a lateral component into the angle of the rings from the ceiling, the work load decreases dramatically. They can be performed from a nearly vertical position for extreme scaling, or flat parallel to the floor for a tougher workout. I was somewhere in the middle, flatter in the beginning... a bit more vertical by the end.

Push-ups were all completely legit, full ROM. Sit-ups were performed with an abmat, knees apart to minimize the contribution from the hip flexors. The ROM is defined by the back touching the floor, and the shoulders moving in front of the hip crease  at the top. While the push-ups were all broken into subsets after the first few rounds, I managed to keep the sit-ups unbroken. So at least there was that.

The sell-out was good old-fashioned body building, dumbbell curls. The prescripted weight was "heavy enough to limit the set to 8-12 reps." I got it fairly close, failing out at 13 reps on the first round, 14 on the second. This was using the 20# dumbbells. 25# probably would have been perfect, but I'm not too concerned about a couple of extra reps. At least I didn't bang out 20-25 and completely miss the point. So, again, at least there was that.

Friday, December 9, 2011

11-12-09: Clean and Jerk complex

Elm City CrossFit WoD for December 9th, 2011

The inspiration for today's workout. Damn, this guy is strong!

Natalie Burgener clean and jerks. She's kind of awesome. Comes with being a Burgener, I guess. ;)

  • 1 Clean*
  • 2 Front Squats
  • 1 Jerk
Repeat until failure
*Start @ 70% Max C&J and increase by 5% each cycle. End @ 90%

First time back to the gym in over two weeks (holidays, a death in the family, work overload, capped off with a fun case of food poisoning... cue my 'world's saddest violins,' please!), and crap, was it a rough re-entry. Not just a day requiring strength... but a day requiring a great deal of skill, too, and NOT skills that I had locked in before. While I wasn't cleaning at weights that were too much of a stretch, it also never felt that great. I realized fairly far into the workout that I was power cleaning (not on purpose) so much, I was catching the bar without having moved my legs out, and with my knees straight. As high up as I possibly could, in other words. Doofus.

The front squats were easy as pie, again not being anywhere near my max weights, and the grip wasn't too much of a problem... until it came time to transition into the jerk. My grip/forearms aren't flexible enough to keep all my fingers under the bar... and as the pinky and ring finger slipped out, I was completely screwed trying to prep for the jerk. The only weight I was successful at was my starting weight of 115#. After a few reps of that in my first work set, I moved up another 5% towards my C&J max of 155# (set on another day when I was struggling with the exact same grip issues), to 125#. After several failed attempts, all at the jerk, and all because of trying to get my grip re-situated, I dropped back to 155# to at least get some work done going overhead. For the final few minutes of the workout, I made a few more attempts at 125#. Failed all of them at the jerk. Effin' grip.

So, I clearly need to work on the transition, and on my forearm/grip flexibility. It's no good having work that you can do, strength-wise, be completely undermined by something "small" like that. Of course, that's not entirely true, as most olympic lifts and their variations are equally dependent on strength as technique... but still...

The one "upshot" is thatI got my re-entry out of the way early. Had this workout gone fairly smoothly, like I hadn't missed a beat, only to have a train-wreck the next time... bah. Best to have it out of the way now. I guess. Dammit.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

11-11-23: Bench press and double-unders

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Bench press. 15-20 reps in, the smile has usually disappeared. Usually.

Floor presses. See notes below...

Double-Unders. Nothing I haven't already said about them before....

  • Buy-in: 5 x 4
    • Bench @ 87% 185#
  • WoD: 6min AMRAP
    • 5 Floor Presses 155# 135#
    • 7 Double Unders
This was my first time NOT working out with the 5:30 a.m. crew. Turns out, I suck at setting my alarm clock at 11 p.m. at night. Rather than setting the MWF early morning alarm, I set the slightly later Tuesday alarm. That'll be handy next week when it finally goes off! Happily, there were plenty of friendly faces. (Yes, I was worried about not knowing anyone... pretty lame, but seriously.)

First up was bench presses, 5 sets of 4 reps, at about 5 rep max weights. Basically, the first several sets of 4 should be easy enough, but in terms of total volume, the chances are that the final set would be hard. In a good sign, the first 4 sets were increasingly difficult, but I finished all of them, only to fail on the final rep of the final set. Essentially, perfect weigh selection! After that, it was fun with a couplet involving floor presses and double-unders.

 Happily, the weight for this was lighter than for the bench presses, and floor presses automatically have a reduced range of motion. Easy, right? Heh. Tonight, I experimented with using a much lighter jump-rope on the double-unders. It was arguably easier to turn fast enough, but I had a lot of trouble stringing them together. Probably just a practice thing, because the actual individual double-unders themselves seemed a bit easier.

I ended up informally competing against Tom, one of our better endurance *and* strength athletes, who had also been my spotter (and I spotted him) on the bench presses. As it turns out, he was keeping tabs on me, too. Having already hit my limit on bench presses earlier, it was only a matter of time before the floor presses caught up with me. However, I was having better luck with the double-unders than Tom. At the end of 6 minutes, we were completely tied: 5 rounds + 5 floor presses.

Monday, November 21, 2011

11-11-21: Handstand Push-Ups and Burpees

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Monday, November 21st, 2011

Handstand Push-Ups. Or maybe just handstands. The more I try to find pictures for this blog, the more I start to hate the limitations of still photography. (That's not a very useful caption. Sorry!)

Yay burpees! I mean "Ah crap, burpees!" If only there was a way to scale-em... at least for those days where that might really help!

WoD: 21-18-15-12-9-6-3
  • HandStand Push-Ups (Band Assist)
  • Burpees
Some days you just shouldn't even get out of bed. That was this workout. Even after the warm-up, I still felt tired and sore. I ended up choosing a fairly stout combination of bands for the HSPU, knowing there was just no way I had 84 reps stored away doing even half-way decent scaling. Turns out, it didn't matter that much: The burpees annihilated me. Dead. I bonked halfway through the first round of 21. Then things got ugly.

I came down out of the handstand on rep 15 of the second round, and knowing that I was already way far behind the rest of the class, decided to go with a "Fran-esque" round structure (21-15-9) but play with the end, depending on time/fatigue. As it was, there was a 20 minute cap on the workout, which I ended up being the only person to hit. My final output was as follows:

21 - 15 - 9 - 3 - 3 - 3 - 3

Translated into the original workout, that more or less becomes 21 - 18 -  15. (54 reps of each, total). Yup, I made it through a little more than the first half of the workout. With a heavy assist on the HSPUs and sheer death on the burpees. Solid.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

11-18-11: Rope Climbs and Overhead Squats

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Friday November 18th, 2011

Rope climb. Basically, I dare you to find a single muscle not in use. One of the reasons rope climbs work so well. (

Overhead squats. Yet another entire body blaster destruction tool of devastation. I hope that didn't sound too negative... (

  • 5 x Rope Climb*
*Protect your legs
Strength: 7-6-5-4-3-3
  • Overhead Squat 2x85%, 2x87%, 2x1x90%
I MADE IT TO THE TOP OF THE ROPE! Yeah, you read that right, I got my butt all the way up the rope... repeatedly!  In total honesty, I did it on the first attempt, just to prove I could. The next two... I chickened out. Seriously, I just felt like I would fall if I went all the way up again. For the final two attempts, I decided such chickensh*t behavior was unacceptable, and went all the way up. For the final rep, I didn't just reach the metal buckle on the rope, I actually hit the rafter the rope is attached to, and made it down pretty easily, too. I think for the next time there's a skill day, I need to start working on the un-knotted rope, with all the necessary leg and foot skills that will entail. However, if the next time ropes come up in a WoD requiring speed, the knotted rope, and me at the top of it, will be the standard. Bring it.

Overhead squats were the usual struggle. After a warm-up set at 45#, I promptly threw two 25# plates on the bar, knowing from the last time I did heavier OHS, I actually did better with some weight on the bar. At 95#, the weight felt nearly comfortable... for holding a weight overhead and squatting to depth. Not the most comfortable thing at the best of times. On my first work-set (105#), I was asked to demo correctly dumping the bar... so I had most of the class watching me. Of course, the first 6 reps were ok, I struggled with the 7th, then dumped the bar from overhead with straight-arms in front, stepping back from its descent, and lightly controlling it to the floor. The rest of the workout was pretty standard, with me struggling to keep my weight from shifting forward, "into" my quads as it were. Not good, and on my final rep at 115#, my pre-occupation with trying to keep it from happening resulted in me missing that rep (and safely dumping the bar forward.)

But who gives a crap?! I made it to the top of the Flying Spaghetti Monster-damned rope! w00t!!!

What I had stuck in my head ever since. ;)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

11-11-16: Muscle-Up progression and Handstand Push-Ups

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Band-assist handstand push-ups. I think form-wise, I might be better served by doing them against a wall instead of in the band, but with the band helping scale the weight... that might NOT work so well! (CrossFit Geneseo)

Camille Leblanc-Bazinet mid muscle-up. Strong kip and insane upper body strength = better at them than me. For NOW. (

I *so* want to make fun of this dude for his 5-10# weights... but they're probably the weight I should have been using, and if he's demonstrating the movement for physical rehab of an injury, that would make me even more of a jerk. Keeping the elbow still, extend the arms, opening the elbow joint, until arms are perfectly straight. Repeat until the triceps catch on fire...

WoD: 2 x 7min - Up by 1
  • Muscle-up (scaled as band-assist muscle-ups)
  • Handstand Push-Ups (HSPU) band-assist
Sellout: 4x 2x
  • 15 DB Skull Crushers 30#
  • Max Rep Weighted Dips
After the suck-fest that was Tuesday's workout, it felt pretty good to get in and do some skill work. Sure, it meant working on things I'm not great at, but without the pressure of a timer or even the competition with the other gym-members (and there was a great turnout this morning, too!)  My scaling for the muscle-ups was band-assist. I've looked for some videos of this on-line, and have found many variations, but nothing quite like how we do it at ECC.  Basically, the band is locked onto itself on one ring, then held with sheer grip strength in the other ring. Your butt goes in the resulting cradle. Ta-da, instant weight modification for the muscle-up! It took me a few tries to get the right band tension. The first band I tried (green) was so taut I couldn't get far enough below the rings! The second (thin red) made it nearly impossible to transition up into the dip. Finally I found one of the thinner blue bands, and that one was just right. Apparently, I'm Goldilocks. Oh well.

While the workout as prescribed was to do 1 of each movement the first minute, 2 of each the second, etc., I chose the recommended tactic of really trying to focus on clean technique on the movements. Oh, and spending 30 seconds almost every round just trying to kick up into the HSPU. Dammit. Ultimately, I ended up doing 3 sets per round, maxing out at 3 reps in those final sets. While I ended up feeling ok on the muscle-ups, the feedback on my HSPU's is that my core control is at best completely lacking. Rather than having a firm, stacked, slightly arched spine, I apparently was doing my best imitation of a bow, completely broken in the abs and mid-section. So, that's something to work on next time...

After that, we moved onto the sell-out, also known as triceps devastation. Knowing more or less what I used to be able to do with a single dumbbell held by the blob (70#), I opted for two 30# dumbbells. This seems to have been a bit much, especially after the WoD. I made it through the first 10 reps more or less unbroken, but my left arm started wavering like crazy, so I started resting a bit to keep the skull-crushers from being too aptly named. By the time I finished the set, it was with ugly looking singles. Then, just out of curiosity, I tried a weighted dip. Failing that, I ditched the weight and was still only able to bust out three reps on the rings.

The second set of skull-crushers took... somewhat longer. By which I mean a LOT longer. Enough that it wasn't that big a deal that I failed even a single rep in 3 attempts on the dips afterwards, because the next class was already in and at the white board being briefed on the day's workout, and I had to get to work! 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

11-11-15: Endurance Beatdown

Elm City CrossFit Endurance WoD for Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

I knew I should have just joined Planet Ineffective instead. Low impact machines... tvs. And you can bet for damn sure it would have been air conditioned. Who cares how crappy a workout is when you can watch The View in air conditioned splendor?!

WoD: 4 Rounds for Time
  • 20ea OH Walking Lunges 45#/25#
  • 200m Run
  • 20 Burpees
Wow. This just sucked so bad, it sucked! Yeah, I know! Terrible!  Long story short, I stink at walking lunges, especially holding a weight overhead. The runs were the easiest part (until the final two rounds, when they took forever because I couldn't move my legs any more...), and the burpees were almost as bad as the lunges. The worst part about the lunges was my total inability to count them very well... and here's my confession: I have NO idea if I did enough reps. I often lost count, and tried to guess where I really was, and I have NO doubt that my brain didn't do the math accurately each time.

That said, this workout was just miserable, the whole way through. Not sure what I wanted instead, but this was NOT it! Of course, that's just because it was three things I'm not the biggest fan of, one after another. This is a workout I would never have programmed for myself, meaning this was probably the best workout possible. Meh.

Total time: 23:41

11-11-09: Birthday Bash!

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Wednesday, November 9th, 2011
Chuck Norris doesn't blow out birthday candles. They surrender their flames willingly.

WoD: 10min AMRAP
  • 20 Wallballs 20/16
  • 1 Rope Climb
Sell-out: 5 Rounds For Time
  • 5 Deadhang Pull-Ups (DHPU) (Blue Band)
  • 10 Barbell Curls 65#
  • 15 Stiff-Legged Dead Lifts (SLDL)
Did more on my 35th birthday than I've done on the 34 before all combined... but probably not as much as my mother did on my actual day of birth!  Not a bad workout, and I even made it *almost* all the way to the top of the rope. Definitely up an extra knot or two. To the top next time, I swear!

WoD: 4 rounds.

The "sell-out" ended up actually being the harder part of the workout. I used 65# on the bar for both movements, though it was an option to add and remove weight between them. Meh. I figured that for 75 SLDLs, a lighter weight would be just fine. To judge by the fact that I was sore for about 4 days after, I think I made the right choice. Turns out, the main issue was with my grip. After hammering it with the wall-balls (especially the catches) and rope climbs, adding in pull-ups and curls, I started getting shooting pains in my forearms. Not very fun! So, every time I broke in the later sets, it was to keep from dropping the bar completely out of control.

Total time: 13:41

Friday, November 4, 2011

11-11-04: Box Jumps, Pull-Ups, Push-Ups and runs

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Friday, November 4th, 2011

Tire jumps. Jump up. Jump or step down. Repeat. (CrossFit Nyack)

Pull-Ups.  Blargh! (District CrossFit)

Push-Ups. Chest touches the floor on every rep. (Team Gorilla)

Running. Left right left right, right? (Team Gorilla)

WoD: 5 Rounds for Time, 30 minute cap
  • 20 Box Jumps
  • 20 Pull-ups (Band-assist)
  • 20 Push-ups
  • 200m Run
  • 1 minute rest
Yup, pretty much thought I would die on this one. My big mistake (I realized about an hour later) was not scaling the pull-ups correctly. While band-assisted pull-ups might be ok in the 20-40 rep range, they are NOT ok in the 100-reps-in-a-single-workout range. These should have been replaced with jumping chest-to-bar pull-ups. Both easier on the arms, in terms of saving something for the push-ups, but also more work on each of the later rounds. Basically, I got so weak that there was NO way I was getting completely extended at the bottom of the pull-ups, since I couldn't begin to pull my way back out of that hole. So, shitty range-of-motion in an attempt to just finish. Funny, didn't I just write about not compromising ROM for time?! Dammit.

Tire jumps were always not too bad, though I still can't chain them together all that effectively, which means I'm losing a ton of energy and efficiency on each one. However, for all 100, the jump up felt fine, and I jumped down on all of them (rather than stepping down) and my knees feel pretty good right now (about 4 hours later).  Time will tell.

Push-ups were a massive pain in the shoulders, but again, I was hitting them completely noodle-armed after the pull-ups, so no real surprise there. I ended up alternating between sub-sets of regular push-ups and fist push-ups, just to keep the pressure from building up too much on my forearms. 

The runs were basically recovery, though I tried not to hit them *too* slowly, though the final run I completed (round 4) was very much a jog, as I couldn't even begin to get my arms going to balance a faster pace. Seeing that there were only a few minutes left, I rested that one minute, then hit the tire jumps as fast as I could, and got in 4 pathetic pull-ups before time ran out. 

Another thing I realized about trying to go band-assist on the pull-ups: In order to maintain correct position in the band, I was basically doing medium-speed negatives into the bottom position as I got tired, meaning that even on that phase of the pull-up, I was still doing a lot of work. No wonder my arms were smoked. Seriously, coming and going, band-assist was the wrong decision for today's workout. Next time... next time.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

11-11-02: Presses, push jerks and a triplet

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Wednesday November 2nd, 2011

Presses. Weight starts on the shoulders, gets locked out overhead. Repeat.

When the weights get heavy, start using a dip-drive to launch the weight up. Repeat.

Yay Burpees! Repeat!

Band-assisted handstand push-ups. REPEAT!

Single-armed kettlebell swings. REPEAT! REPEAT!!

Strength: 3x within 15:00
  • Press then Jerk till failure @ 87% of Max Press 100#
Score: 2 points for Press reps and 1 point for Jerk Reps

WoD: 3x
  • 5 Burpees
  • Max Handstand Push-Ups
  • 5ea Single Arm KBS 35#
  • Rest 1 Minute
Score: add HSPU to Strength score

Hooray for bruised clavicles (see yesterday's workout for my whining about that), then hitting them again today! Simple enough workout for the day. Grab the weight off the rack, start squeezing out presses, then when the weight gets too heavy, switch over to push jerks. Each press is worth 2 points, each jerk is worth 1. The goal is to get as many points as possible.

Unfortunately, I ran up against the 15 minute time limit for warm-ups and work sets, so I didn't get in my third work set. I'd complain, but after catching the bar on my collar bones about half the time again, I wasn't really too upset about that. I would have liked to have gotten the extra work in, but damn do lightly bruised bones hurt.

34 points

After all that, we moved onto the WoD, doing 5 burpees, handstand push-ups to failure, then single-armed kettlebell swings, 5 per side. The number of reps on the HSPU's got added to the points from the strength portion to give our total for the workout. After each round, 60 seconds rest. I felt pretty good on the first round, up until I failed sort of catastrophically. "Like a lawn dart!" was how Coach Vin described it. Escept for the fact that I *did* barely get my feet down, he was totally right. Still, no harm, no foul.The WoD goes on. I tallied 14 band-assisted handstand push-ups (6/6/2), bringing my total to 48 points.
19 - 15 - 14 = 48