Friday, January 28, 2011

11-01-28: Overhead squats, double-unders, and sloooow back squats.

CrossFit Garden City WoD for January 21, 2001
Strength: Back Squat (51X0 tempo)
Take 2 min rest b/w sets
Increase weight every set.
Start light and stay STRICT on this tempo.
Conditioning: 3 sets: AMRAP in 3 minutes:
  • 4 Burpees
  • 8 DB Bent Over Row, Double Arm (50/35)
  • 12 Box Jumps
  • Rest 3 minutes
Conditioning was cut for time. Got into the gym late, so I was in the way of a class coming in.

Greg Amundson demonstrates awesome OHS technique. Shoulders stay shrugged and active the whole time, so the weight is carried on the lats themselves. Losing that shrug is baaad. Notice also the depth of his squat. Hip crease WELL below the tops of the knees, and full extension at the top. (
Pictures of double-unders are kind of worthless. The only evidence she's doing one is the rope that disappears, which usually means it is screaming through the air. Check the video above for tips from jump-rope master Buddy Lee. (
Ah, squat stands. Those would be awesome to have. Notice the fairly relaxed hands on the bar, showing the weight is firmly on his back, NOT on his hands and wrists. It takes a bit of flexability to get it there, but it's TOTALLY worth it. (

Though dragging a bit from clearing snow for 2 hours and 45 minutes yesterday, I decided not to skip my workout.  However, the needs of work dictated that I get down to the gym later than usual, which meant that I ended up finishing up after a class had come in. Since at that point, I was still doing the back squats, I wasn't taking up too much room, but with a small gym filled with kind of clueless kids, running around doing a met-con, even one with a fairly small equipment load and footprint, is never a good idea. Last time I tried it, I ended up with kids tripping over my feet and legs during push-ups or burpees or whatever it was. Sigh.

I warmed up with a good amount of single-bounce jump-rope, trying to shake out my calves which were still sore from the running in Tuesday's workout. I was fooling around with some front-back bouncing, some side-to-side bouncing, then some turning in place stuff with the jog-step. Unfortunately, I ended up screwing that one up, causing the rope to whip the crap out of my left hand twice. I can still see the welt 9 hours later. Ooops. Also, owwie! ;)

I opted to go with no weight on the bar for the overhead squats, realizing I still have a lot of kinks in my technique to iron out before loading up again. I'm not having too much of a problem with the "active shoulders" bit, which is irritating, since that's the newest part for me. It's definitely still an issue with shoulder mobility killing my ability to easily carry the bar directly over the shoulder blades (allowing my torso to rotate forward under the bar a bit), requiring a much more upright torso instead, thereby necessitating a truly horrific foot stance to allow that train wreck to express itself. Like I said last time, I need to get me some coaching, stat! (I just looked at a bunch of local affiliates... is it policy for people to not post prices? I'm not calling around to all of you just to find out your monthly rates: you all have websites, USE them.)

Then, back to jumping rope, this time shooting for double-unders. I started out with trying for a double-under, followed by three single-bounces, repeat. I did a few of those, then I tried to reduce the number of single bounces between double-unders, and managed to string three double-unders together. Inevitably, three would be it. In hindsight, I wonder if I was breathing at all during them, or speeding up in a blind panic of "I'm doing it!"

After a minute of that, it was back to the overhead squats. Whereas for the first set, I was sideways to the mirror so I could try to sneak glances at my back and arm positions, this time I faced the mirror. I'm not entirely sure what I was seeing, but it looked like my left ass sinks just a little lower into the squat than my right... and I have no idea why. I don't *feel* like I'm lopsided, either in the hips or knees, but clearly something's happening that isn't perfectly symmetrical. When I finally get some coaching, that'll be on the list of "WTF Am I Doing?!"  Despite the lack of weight on the bar, by this point I was starting to sweat a bit.  Back to jump rope, then back to overhead squats. I made sure I was keeping my shoulders active, and my armpits facing front (which helps to cue the active shoulders), while still struggling to figure out the back/hip flexibility and foot placement issues. Gah.

I spent a few minutes getting some weight together for the back squats. By now I was nicely warmed up from the alternating overhead squats and double-unders, and decided to go for a few ring dips while letting my legs recover a bit. I knocked out a triplet pretty easily, which was totally awesome. I tried a few l-sits as well...those still suck, but this was only my second attempt at them, so no huge loss there. I need to figure out what height will allow me to practice ring pull-ups, so I can start working towards the all important muscle-up. More on that eventually, hopefully.

Back squats would be so much easier with squat racks, and a bar wide enough to accomodate my inflexible shoulders.  Since our bar is so short (by about 2 feet, I think), the grip width is substantially shorter than what's available on a true olympic bar.  For poops and grins, I tried to size up my squat stance on the Smith Machine, which has a wider grip width, but even there I found myself wanting an even wider grip. Gotta do a lot more work on these crusty old shoulders. Back to the real bar for some real weight-lifting!

In the instructions, the tempo for the back squats is 51X0.  Each of those describes a different part of the movement. For a squat, the first number is how long the descent takes, in this case, 5 seconds, which is a slow-assed descent! The second number is how long you pause when you get there, in this case 1 second. The X in the third position means the next motion is as fast as possible, or as powerful as possible, or however you want to describe it. The final number is the pause back at the original position, in this case the 0 means NO pause, straight back into the next 5 second decent.  This is an absolutely miserable way to do squats because it demands (and teaches) control and power. I started very light, with just 45 pounds, and worked my way up to 95#.  As usual, I was limited a bit by needing to clean and jerk the weight up off the floor, just to try to lower it into the correct position for the back squat, which is nearly impossible. My inflexibility was probably an even more limiting factor, but still.

Round about the third round was when I was suddenly invaded by students. While I watched in horror as they ran to their favorite nautilus style machines, one or two eyed the rings slung off the back of the Smith Machine with interest. Normally I'd be very possessive of "my" things, but these kids don't get to work with anything as awesome as gymnastic rings. Even when they do gymnastics, its a little bit of tumbling, something with the pommel horse (though I can't see them being taught either vaulting it OR the cool thing gymnasts do on it...whatever that's called), and the parallel bars. That's it!  In elementary school we definitely had gymnastic rings, uneven bars (not that we ever did much on them, but we had them, dammit!), and we learned how to both vault and do the pommel-horse thingy. I can still remember the LAST time I tried to vault the pommel horse in junior high. I was apparently not paying much attention as I sprinted towards it, since instead of finding myself above it and just needing to guide myself lightly with my hands, I instead hit the side of it with the side of my head. TOTALLY graceful, I swear. :S 

I finished the final two rounds, having to add an extra rep in the final round when I started it out with a fast squat, rather than the now painfully slow ones. Ugh. After that, I showed the students a few things on the rings, culminating in another triple dip. The last of the three dips was weak and shaky, and it took me two attempts to finish it, but I did it dammit. It was even more gratifying to watch one of the short skinny kids, who's actually a little jacked (or at least very thin) struggle to even maintain the control position, then crash through the rings when he tried to do more than a quarter dip. Given that I weigh easily twice as much as him, I felt even better about my growing skills on the rings. ;)

So, not a great workout all told, especially in missing out on the conditioning part, but given the workload from the previous day's snow shoveling, I certainly could have been doing worse, too. Meh.

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