Wednesday, March 30, 2011

11-03-30: Deadlifts and Burpees

CrossFit Garden City WoD for March 23, 2011
Dynamic Stretches
In 15 minutes build up to a heavy single
Loss of back position is considered a failed rep
For 20 minutes on the minute complete:
If you miss completing the reps in any given minute, take the next minute off and then continue.

Deadlifts. Good enough for Franco Columbu, good enough for you and me. 'Nuff said.
Burpees. Self-contained hell on earth. (CrossFit Endurance)

After a good thorough warm-up (trying to shake out some soreness from yesterday), I jumped straight into setting a new 1 rep max on deadlifts. I knew I had lifted 285#, but I think that was for multiple reps. So, the goal was to blow 285# out of the water. By the time 15 minutes was up, I had made it up to 335#. A 50# PR. Not too shabby!  I didn't even hit a fail point, so its possible I might have gone up even more, but probably not a whole lot more.  We'll find out next time!

The 20 minute MetCon managed to catch up with me nearly instantly.  60% of 335# came out to about 200#, so that was the deadlift weight. The deadlifts were never a problem, but boy those burpees definitely caught up with me. After the 4th round, I was completely unprepared for the fifth minute, so I started to go every second minute. Not my finest hour, but it allowed me to try not to grey out between rounds. After the sixth or seventh round, I wasn't even done with those 9 reps before the next minute was starting anyway, necessitating the extra minute rest anyways. Either way, at the end of 20 minutes, I had completed 12 or 13 rounds. With a pencil (loaned to a fellow CrossFitter and instantly lost...), I could have tracked those rounds. As it was, good enough for me.

Big kudos to Amon Amarth for getting me through the last few minutes of the metcon with this little gem:
Amon Amarth - Fate of Norns

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

03-29-11: Couplets and running

CrossFit Garden City WoD for March 18, 2011
3 sets of
Review and warmup Push Press and Sumo Deadlift High Pull
Determine appropriate weight for workout
  • AMRAP in 5 minutes:
  • Rest 5 minutes
  • AMRAP in 5 minutes:
    • 5 SDHP (95#)
    • 5 Pushups
  • Rest 5 minutes
  • Run 800 meters as fast as possible
Scale weight for Push Press and SDHP to keep technique solid and output HIGH.
Stay active during 5 minute rest periods (walk around, stretch, practice something, etc.)

The push press. Dip. Drive!
The Sumo Deadlift High Pull. Done correctly, the arms are barely used. Its all in the violent hip opening driving the bar up. The arms are basically CATCHING the bar before it hits you in the chin. Done correctly...

I'm honestly glad that it sucks to work out after going on a three or four day cupcake bender. (In my defense, my little girl turned three, and there were several discreet occasions that, if they didn't *demand* cupcakes, certainly suggested VERY strongly that cupcakes should be ingested.)  No, they weren't Paleo cupcakes. No, they were NOT Zone approved.  They were the awesome kind, with frosting and everything. The kind that goes straight to my ass and gut. The kind that you can feel when you start jumping rope for the first time in about a week. The kind you can feel almost instantly when you hit the treadmill at a dead run. The good kind of cupcake, which also means the evil kind. The only kind.

For the warm-up, I did the first two rounds of overhead squats using the jump-rope (also working on shoulder dislocates with it), and the final round with the barbell. Double-unders are starting to come along. I was trying to work in different patterns of single-bounce/double-under combinations, just trying to master the ability to go back and forth, as well as really hammering down double-under technique. Going slow then fast and back hopefully keeps me from going too fast. Either way, I got a couple of good links (11 during the 2nd set), and several 5s and 6s. Progress!

I did the Burgener warm-up twice before practicing the push press and sumo deadlift high pull (SDLHP), and decided to stick with the prescribed weight of 95#. Heavy, but not unmanageable for either lift. Push presses felt good for the first few sets, while pull-ups fell apart pretty quickly. By the third round, I had scaled the movement to jumping chest-to-bar pull-ups. It's always interesting to watch time speed up as you fatigue, and what seemed like an infinitely long 5 minutes when your lungs start burning has suddenly started racing by as you struggle to complete just one more set.

95# Push-Press/Pull-Up Couplet: 60 reps

Knowing that push-ups are a bit more in my wheelhouse than pull-ups, I had grand plans for the second couplet. While the 5 minute rest was just long enough to get a bit boring (I want to go NOW!), it was also just short enough to NOT let me completely recover. Yeah, I know, recovery should be measured in seconds, NOT minutes. Hopefully soon. Not yet, however. About halfway through the 3rd round of the second couplet, I knew I was in trouble. I was shooting for 90 reps (optimistically) and 80 more realistically.  As it turned out, I felt proud to grind out 72 reps. By about rep 50, I just wanted to lie on my back and look up at the narrow strip of sky visible through the glass roof. I fought that urge and continued slogging through... and now had only the same too long/too short 5 minutes to prep for the 800m run.

95# SDLHP/Push-Up Couplet: 72 reps

I started the treadmill at 10mph, hoping to be able to run the entire distance. However, my lungs fairly well exploded about halfway through. I found this interesting, since most of the distances I've run lately have been 400m. It turns out the body really IS very good at adapting at what you throw at it, and moving to an 800m distance clearly knocked the bloody hell out of me. After taking a few seconds to recover, I dropped the speed to 7.6 mph, a loping jog I can easily maintain. Easily. OK, I have an ok chance of NOT bonking "running" at that speed. It ain't fast, but it gets me where I'm going.

800m run: 3:05

Friday, March 25, 2011

11-03-23: Front and Back Squats

CrossFit Garden City WoD for March 17th, 2011
  • Dynamic Warmup
5 3 WORKING sets
  • A1. Front Squat (30X0 tempo) x 3 reps
  • Rest 10 seconds
  • A2. Back Squat (30X0 tempo) x Max Reps
  • Rest 4-5 minutes
  • Perform a set of 3 challenging Front Squats at a 30X0 tempo. Rack the bar and rest 10 seconds. Unrack the bar and complete as many Back Squats as possible with the same weight at a 30X0 tempo.
  • The Front Squats are considered a failure if you are unable to hold tempo. If this happens go lighter.
  • The Back Squat set is terminated once ROM is sacrificed, technique breaks down or you are unable to hold tempo (i.e. resting at top b/w reps).

I hate that reading is so fundamental. I only did 3 sets. I only realized my mistake TWO DAYS LATER as I'm finally blogging this up. Son of a.... dangitall!!

As always, I struggled to keep the proper front rack position for the front squats, often resorting to the far less stable "California front squat" grip. (See pic to the left)  Still, better to get the reps in, I suppose. For the weights I used, I was able to complete all three front squats.  Back squats were fairly uneventful, though 3 seconds becomes an ETERNITY past rep 4 or 5.

SetWeightBack Squat Reps

And had I done two more sets, this might have been a bit more effective. I was honestly unsure about this workout, going into it, as I was really sore from the previous two days, so its actually probably pretty good that it ended up being a lighter day. But still, I prefer to do my scaling on purpose, not by accident. :S

I did end up following up this workout with a few sets of empty bar (35#) reps of presses, push presses, and push jerks, just focusing on form, technique, and timing, and had worked back up to a fair sweat by the end of it. So there was that...

11-03-22: Hang power snatches and a met-con triplet

CrossFit Garden City WoD for March 15th, 2011
3 sets of:
In 15 minutes quickly build up to a heavy single rep - NO FAILED REPS
All should be fast and clean, with only 2-3 challenging reps towards the end
5 3 sets:

(Lincoln Park CrossFit)
(CrossFit One World)
(CrossFit OCMD)
Josh Everett is a beast.

After warming up with some basic jump rope, I moved into the prescribed warm-up, which included even more jump rope, though with an emphasis on double-unders. For each set, I increased the load on the overhead squat, starting just with my jump-rope of negligible weight, to a weighted jump-rope of unknown weight (5-10# tops), then the empty barbell at 35#.  Because the barbell is so short, it definitely had a major impact on my arm position, which trickled down to changing my torso position, and then where my feet felt comfy. It was weird.  Back extensions were no problem, and double-unders were the usual freak show of singles, doubles, the occasional triple, and the rare 10+. I'm getting I just need consistency!

For the hang power snatches, I experimented with a thick, very dense piece of wood that was taken out of one of our treadmills a while ago. While its not particularly deep front to back, its long enough to accommodate those movements with a fairly restricted range of motion for the feet. My hope was that it would even out al the problems with the floor in the gym, which is massively uneven, lumpy, and in some places, littered with holes in the subfloor concrete. The wood did NOT address most of those issues, but it still felt pretty good. Made me wonder what an appropriately sized piece of wood on a better floor would feel like.

I added in a Burgener Warm-Up just to grease the grooves, as it were. After that, I did the following reps on my way up to a personal record for a heavy single on the hang power snatch.

35# x 3 / 45# x 3 / 75# x 3 / 85# x 2 / 95# / 105# / 115# / 125# / 130#F / 130#F

The final two reps were, strictly speaking, missed reps, as I ended up pressing out the weight at the top, rather than snatching the bar all the way up. So, while the bar did end up locked out overhead, in a competition setting those reps would NOT have counted.

I ended up having to scale the conditioning section of the WoD, mostly for time.  While I believe I could have finished the workout *eventually*, it was better to go as hard as I could for only 3 rounds than just slug along, slower and slower, through the final two rounds, only to eventually get fired for being "out for lunch" for two hours.  So says me.

I used the prescribed weights, though its possible I could have gone a bit faster had I made them a bit lighter. However, the 50# dumbbell snatch was still less per hand than I was just doing with the barbell a moment earlier, so it seemed like an ok place to start. Oddly, I found the left hand easier, as I was able to more efficiently utilize the hip opening  to propel the weight up, while with the right arm I was more likely to just muscle it up with the arm muscles the whole way, or at least a lot more of the way. That'll be something to work on and improve.  When the right side got tired, my form would improve a little, but the fatigue of doing it wrong for so many reps made it hard to capitalize on the improved form. Whereas on the left, as I fatigued, I was able to get even more hip pop to do even more of the work, so that arm seemed to stay fresher as the workout went on.

As usual, I had to substitute a dumbbell for the kettlebell swings, since our "powerballs" only go up to 25# (provided they haven't lost sand over the years...NOT a good bet). I've taken to gripping the dumbbell by one of the ends, so there's at least a little ballistic action on the other end, rather than grabbing the handle, mashing one hand over the other, and completely NOT having it feel like a kettlebell.  Unfortunately, my grip never once felt strong, which led to a few broken sets when I stopped so I could reset my grip a little, and inevitably grab a few breaths.

The double-unders truly proved to be my undoing.  While I was able to string together 2-3 pretty easily, anything longer was a real victory, and the 3 times I managed 10 or more were like a gift from the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Basically, I would get to the double-unders pretty gassed, and finish the round ready to puke. It was a brutal downhill spiral for the three rounds I completed, and attempting the final 2 would have been nothing but a deathwish fiasco.

Total Time: 21:45

Monday, March 21, 2011

11-03-21: Ring dips, renegade rows and db hang squat cleans

CrossFit Garden City WoD for March 11th, 2011
  • Jump Rope
  • Active Stretching
  • Ring Dips, 5 sets of max reps (rest 2 min b/w sets)
Take the following acsending ladder as high as possible in 20 minutes:
As high as possible...

(CrossFit Rockwall)
(Crossfit Jersey Shore)
Diablo CrossFit

Having had to take off several days for various schedule and life conflicts, I came into this workout physically fully rested, if a bit sleep-deprived from some of those life conflicts. Unfortunately (in a good way) the gym was crawling with students today. Good to see them working out...though usually they just hang out and compare abs and biceps. Blargh.

Took some time to work on jump rope skills, first just going for single-bounces as long as possible (about 70 with a slowly accelerating rope speed), then trying to link together some double-unders. After several false starts, I suddenly got 20 linked double-unders! So, its in there somewhere. I have NO idea what I did differently to make them start going, but with both a strength workout and a met-con component, I didn't want to spend too long gassing myself before the main workout!

After killing a little time (the Smith machine I hang the rings on was in use for 1/4 squats...), I got the rings hung up, and proceeded to set a personal record for ring dips (8 in a row!) in the first round. Each successive round was spent trying to match the previous round. I didn't manage that even once...

Ring Dips: 8 / 7 / 6 / 4 / 4 = 29 reps

The room was still a bit crowded to continue directly to the conditioning part of the workout, so I ended up working with some of the track and field guys with some med ball drills, working on their form. I took the opportunity to work in some med ball cleans, by way of warming up the squats for the dumbbell cleans to come. They actually felt really good, which was nice. I haven't done them much since first encountering them at the Level 1 certification in December, and it felt good to feel all of the performance points coming back to me. And, it totally did warm up my squats, which was key for my confidence going into the hang power cleans.

After getting some room on the floor for doing the renegade rows and hang power cleans, I picked a bit of music to go all out to. While I had a nice metal mix going (Anthrax, Slayer, Metallica, Amon Amarth, Clutch, DragonForce, etc.), I wanted to be sure the intensity stayed high. I know there are people who can go hard to the Living Strings, but I'm not that guy. I need pounding metal and thunderous guitars. Thankfully, Amon Amarth can deliver that, without ANY fear of a slow ballad or something to kill the mood. Hell, I actually had to skip a track that was *too* heavy. Plus, a song called "Where is Your God?" probably wouldn't play well in a Catholic school, if they could even make out any of the lyrics. (Though probably not as bad as most Slayer, come to think of it...)

With "Twilight of the Thunder God" pounding away, I started the timer and got to work. This was my first time doing renegade rows, and I wasn't entirely sure what weight to use. I did a hang power cleans with a pair of 35# dumbbells, and they felt ok. I can do FAR more weight with a barbell, but then the arms and everything are working together on a single weight, rather than independent weights like dumbbells. I assumed (quite rightly) that as the fatigue kicked in, rowing the 35# dumbbells was going to move quickly from "not bad" to "oh my god, I'm dying." It wasn't even my back or upper arms (the "working" muscles in a renegade row) that starting to give out; my forearms, and therefore my grip, were the first casualties. By the time I was done, I could barely stop the stopwatch or manage my water bottle.

My initial goal going in was 12 rounds, with no idea how optimistic or pessimistic that was. By round 8 or 9, I kind of thought I had bitten off more than I could chew, but I soon realized that I had just finished the 11th round with about 2 minutes left. I threw myself into the final 12 rows, and popped to my feet, ready to head into the hang power cleans. Then I spent a few seconds clenching my leg muscles, trying to keep from greying or blacking out. After the stars stopped dancing quite so far into my vision, I started banging out the cleans. And I'll be damned if I didn't get the 12th one done just as my 20 minutes were up.

Total Rounds: 12 (78 reps of each exercise)

Amon Amarth \m/
Twilight of the Thunder God

Free Will Sacrifice (video from 300)

Guardians of Asgaard

Varyags of Miklagaard

Tattered Banners and Bloody Flags

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

11-03-15: Front squats, pull-ups, running, wallballs

CrossFit Garden City Wod for March 8, 2011
  • Jump rope
  • Active Stretching
  • Burgener Warm-Up x2
  • A1. Front Squat (30X1) x 4-5 reps x 5 sets
  • A2. Pullups (30X1) x 4-5 reps x 5 sets
  • Rest 90 seconds b/w exercises
3 sets: On a 3 minute interval:
  • Run 400 meters
  • AMRAP Wall Balls
  • Rest 3 minutes


Ah, the joy of a weight room all to myself. Crank up some metal, get all the equipment completely set up and ready to go. Lovely...I started out with sucking COMPLETELY at the jump-rope, failing to link ANY double-unders together. It was great fun, but it did warm me up!

Knowing that I would be doing sets of slow, heavy front squats, I opted to start fairly light (85#) and work up from there. I'm still working on my front-rack position, as well as wanting to be sure about my squat depth and hand position, and everything else. Lots to work on. No need to put a crap-ton of weight on the bar and learn bad habits instead of good ones! 

Front squat: 85# / 95# / 105# / 115# / 125#

I did still have some issues with my grip, resorting to the crossed-arm grip once or twice at the end of a set. Copious amounts of chalk, and a noticeably wider grip helped a lot... wider than was strictly comfortable, but it kept the bar in place, so who gives a crap if it was "comfy" or not?

Pull-ups were "as strict as possible," which means that usually the first 3-4 reps of 5 were strict, with the last 1-2 going into kipping territory. For the last two sets, I used a band for assistance, with the upshot being that I probably could have used a lighter band... not great scaling, but nice to know that my pull-ups are coming along.

For the conditioning part of the workout, my goal was two-fold: keep the treadmill at 10mph (running, NOT jogging), and try to do more wall-balls each round. I managed the first one, but failed the second one by one rep.  Still, better than having the reps decrease each time. I definitely felt like my heart was going to explode each and every round, especially at the end of each run, and midway through the wall-balls. I honestly thought I would never stop sweating...

Wall-balls: 30 / 31 / 31

Monday, March 14, 2011

11-03-14: "Diane" and ring work

CrossFit Garden City WoD for March 7th, 2011

Dynamic Warmup

Benchmark! - "Diane"
21-15-9 reps of:
Deadlift - Men: 185, 155 or 135, Women: 125, 110 or 95
HSPU: Scale reps, Shortened ROM (1,2,3 AbMats) or Regular Pushups

Jolie Gentry lifting my 1RM deadlift. Strong really IS the new skinny. (
I betcha this pic is from an affiliate doing "Diane!" People inverted on a wall, heavy bars waiting for them... "Diane!" (


Named workouts scare the heck out of me. Especially those with women's names. Maybe its the fact that, usually (or at least *sometimes*), they kind of look easy on paper.  Sure, there are the hour long hero workouts that, no matter what, are going to grind you down through sheer volume ("Murph" springs to mind). A lot of the CrossFit Girls seem to be more 'kick the tires, light the fires' sorts of workouts: fast and brutal. Well, ok, if you're me, then kinda fast, at least at first, then brutal for a very long time. Today was no exception.

I was pleased with my mature decision to scale the weight. My first thought was to go full bore, since 225# is well-below my current (and likely inaccurate) 1RM of 285#. However, I realized that 225# was prescribed for those who have way heavier 1RMs, and that it really represents more like a 50-60% weight for them. Accordingly, I dropped to the highest scaled weight, and hoped that would be enough.

I kicked around the option of doing some form of pike push-ups, or elevated feet, or something kinda basic, but ultimately chose to go with handstand push-ups, but knew going in that my ROM start out close to ideal, but quickly fade to mere inches. All in all, I figured that the time in the handstand (wall assist!) would be even more awful that full(er) ROM push-ups of another variety. I believe I was proven correct.

I failed to keep all three rounds of deadlifts unbroken, having to rest my exploding lungs in both of the first two rounds. I hated doing it during the first, but would have died in the second, so that one didn't sting as badly. The handstand push-ups were pure murder, so the first round was divided into 3 sub-sets of 7, while the second round was 3 subsets of 5. The final round of deadlifts I kept unbroken, while the final handstand push-ups included a seventh rep that was total garbage. After resetting, I repeated that rep and finished out as strong as possible. Read: not very. ;)

Total time: 12:45ish

After resting for a good 15-20 minutes, and doing a little more jump-rope, which led directly to cramping in my left foot, I pulled out the gymnastic rings, and started to play around with those. Yesterdays Gymnastics WoD featured false grip progressions, so I worked on those. I also did some knee raises-to-L-sit holds, as well as dips and a few pull-ups. I still have almost NOTHING in the way of a false grip, but I'm determined to get it. Highlight of ring-work was having a know-it-all freshman, who was earlier trying to show off his "mad push-up skills" (I didn't have the heart to direct him to the awesome CrossFit push-up video), attempt to get on the rings. he looked as bad as I did MY first time! :S Hell, I was at least able to kind of hold the control position...even if my hands were shaking badly!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

11-03-11: Farmer carries, running, jumping pull-ups and goblet squats

CrossFit Garden City WoD for Saturday March 5, 2011
Dynamic Stretches
Farmers Walks w/ two 45lb dumbbells
Complete 10 laps - Length of gym and back is 1 lap (@60 paces)
3 rounds for time:

  • Run 400 meters
  • 15 Pullups30 Jumping Pull-ups
  • 30 KB Goblet Squats (24kg/16kg)
  • 15 Pullups30 Jumping Pull-ups

(Eastside SC)



Still feeling massively sore from the two previous workouts, I went into this one more or less hoping it would at least help relieve some of that! Writing this up two days after (Sunday evening, to be exact), the ab soreness is almost completely gone. Apparently, 70 reps of knees to elbows on Tuesday was a pretty heavy dose! :S

I warmed up with farmer's walks, using two 45# dumbbells. In the original Rx, it was designed as a team effort to complete 20 lengths of the gym. Being just me, I opted to complete a lap, then rest and stretch a bit, then do another. The first several were easy, but I was *glad* to be done with the 10th lap! Some more stretching, then some more failing completely to link double-unders. Very disheartening to have really thought I had unlocked the secret to double-unders just to completely lose it again.

I set the treadmill to 10 mph, 0% grade. Since this would only be three rounds, I was hoping to keep that speed constant. I also planned on doing the suggested scaling of 30 jumping pull-ups, rather than 15 regular pull-ups, since shooting for a total of 30 regular pull-ups per round (90 total) would have been pointlessly fool-hardy. I probably wouldn't even have been able to finish the first round! The goblet squats I did with a 55# dumbbell, since we don't have kettlebells that go that heavy, and even if we did, the version we have (Powerballs, or whatever) have a much reduced handle area, making it nearly impossible to grip with two hands. Pointless pieces of crap.

Ran the first 400m with no problems, then banged out 30 jumping pull-ups, 20 then 10. The goblet squats proved to be no problem, but the second set of jumping pull-ups in the first round was deadly. I fought through it, but the cardio aspect of jumping that much caught up with me very quickly. After making it through, I staggered back to the treadmill.

The second 400m was rough, but I made it. Forced my way through the 3rd set of jumping pull-ups, did the goblet squats easily, then forced through the 4th set of jumping pull-ups. These HURT by this point. My lats were completely smoked, and my grip was starting to get sore. I mean, I know I'd only done 120 by this point, but still...

The 3rd run killed me. Nearly. I had to stop after the first 150m to slow the treadmill down, and was barely able to convince myself to get back on it. I watched the counter slowly click off hundredths of a mile, trying to make the excuse that I needed an easy number to add the final .15 of a mile to. Finally, I got back on, promptly slowed it down again after another 75-100m or so, and barely made it to the end. I was huffing and puffing like I had never worked out in my life. My lungs were on fire, and I was basically feeling completely run over.

I took a few seconds to get myself together, including a stopped clock potty break. As soon as I got back into the gym, I restarted the clock while I sipped some more water and prepped myself for the rest of the round. Having taken a minute or two to recover, I promised myself one thing: all three remaining exercises would be unbroken. I pounded through the 5th set of jumping pull-ups, trying to find the rhythm where the landing of one rep is the loading for the jump of the next. I ripped off the final set of goblet squats like they were nothing, then proceeded to march through the final jumping pull-ups, trying to make the last 10 as picture perfect as possible.

Total Time: 18:45

Thursday, March 10, 2011

11-03-09: Hang Power Snatches and "Randy"

CrossFit Garden City WoD for March 4th, 2011
Burgener Warmup
Hang Power Snatch3-3-3-3-3
Bar does not touch the ground until the completion of the third rep each set.
All reps should be fast and clean. NO FAILED REPS.
- 75 Power Snatches for time (75#)
GHD Hip Extensions x 50
Break up reps into as many sets as needed

Upshot to the various "full snatch" variants is that, at least up through this point, they are all identical. How he lands and receives the bar will define whether this is a squat snatch, split snatch, or power snatch. (CrossFit South West Sydney)

Seize the iron. Indeed! (Underground Shack)

Knowing I would need my lungs soon enough, I went into this workout looking for a quick warm-up, so when I opted for jump-rope, I just wanted to do a bit of practice on double-unders. My goal was to get at least 5 in a row. Upon seeing that I was still back at square one or two, I ended up being happy with three in a row.

I went through the Burgener warm-up twice, once with the bar empty (35#), then with 10# put on, to mimic the warm-up with an Olympic bar. After taking the time to correct some freshmen on their 'concentration curl' technique (if you're going to waste your time with an exercise, at least do it correctly, I guess...), I got chalked up and prepped to do some hang power snatches. I quickly discovered a huge flaw in my technique: though I was starting the motion with the violent hip opening to get the bar moving, I wasn't really jumping with the bar all that hard, which definitely keeps it moving up. Instead, I would pop the hip open, and guide the bar up the rest of the way, rather than working to keep it from flying away. Basically, I was missing a lot of the explosive pop that will make it easier to lift heavier weights.

Hang Power Clean (for 3 reps): 85# / 105# / 115# / 125# / 135#

While the first few sets were pretty easy, by the last two, I could see that my speed was uneven from side to side. With each snatch at 125#, I could see that rather than firing the bar up from my hips, I was actually pressing it out to full extension, but only on my left side. For the final set, I focused much more on the hip drive and the jump with the bar to propel it, and while that made the overall move that much faster, I still had the same problem with the left hand being forced to drive the bar the rest of the way up, which is a press, NOT a snatch.

After unloading the bar for "Randy," I tried to focus on resetting myself completely, and not hopping back into the workout with resting substantially enough. Easier said than done, since the gym was crawling in students, all too unmotivated to bother really working out. In his book, Starting Strength, Coach Rippetoe takes such student "athletes" to task (as well as everyone else who does this):
No one should ever arrive to train not knowing exactly what to do. Wandering around the gym, deciding what looks like fun, doing it until the fun stops, and then doing something else is NOT training.
So, with kids milling around, some actually doing stuff, and my precious floor space under attack, I grabbed the bar and started carving out my zone of death. Despite the relatively light weight, I still ended up having to break the 75 power snatches into smaller sub-sets, as follows: 20 - 10 - 15 - 10 - 10 - 10. Between each subset, i tried to rest as little as possible, but each time, I could easily watch the timer continuing to count...

The upshot was that the final 20 reps or so, I started feeling the jump become a part of the overall power snatch technique. As all the bits that had been allowing me to complete each rep with less than ideal form became fatigued, the PROPER muscles had to take over. I definitely started to feel what the movement should feel like as the bar actually seemed to become lighter, always a nice trick 45-50 reps into a benchmark! Finally finished up at about 7:45.

"Randy" - Total Time: 7:45

Finished up with the prescribed 50 GHD hip extensions, done in sets of 10, followed by a few minutes cool-down on the exercise bike.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

11-03-08: Met-Con: Rowing, HSPUs, K2Es, Box Jumps, K2Es, HSPUs and Rowing

CrossFit Garden City WoD for March 3rd, 2011
Dynamic Stretches

For time:
  • Row 1000 500 meters
  • 20 Handstand Pushups
  • 35 Knees to Elbows
  • 50 Box Jumps (24")
  • 35 Knees to Elbows
  • 20 Handstand Pushups
  • Row 1000 250 meters

It would be awesome to have more than one rowing machine...especially when that ONE starts spazzing out. (
Scaled handstand push-ups. I was actually facing the other way, with the tops of my shoes on the bar (ie, much MORE scaled), but the idea's the same. (
From L to R: Knees-2-Elbows, Toes-2-Bar (on rings!), and hanging knee raises. All of these inherently suck, by which I mean they are AWESOME for working your entire abdominal, back, arm and everything else possible. (
Box jumps. (I can't think of anything informative OR snarky. Caption Fail.) (CrossFit Tribe)

So, apparently Concept2 rowers can eventually start to bite the dust. Code 50 - failure to compute the drag factor. Happily, it just makes the erg reset itself... handy in the middle of the workout. Heavens forbid it should just muddle through and give you an (*) next to your workout totals, letting you know that the total numbers might be a bit wonky.  I was seriously so pissed off when it failed out at the 500m+ mark on the first row, I didn't even want to sub in something else. When it failed out in the final row around the 250m mark, I was just f'ing done.  Here's hoping a room with no budget for repairs or replacements can handle this...

Ok, so shortened rowing distances totally killed this workout (I can't really claim it was scaled, and spending a minute or two when it first died trying to figure it out didn't help), but the only other scaling I used was doing the handstand push-ups with my feet on the bar of the Smith Machine (I find more uses for that stinking doorstop), rather than up against the wall. I just wanted to experiment with it, and I can say that I'm not a huge fan, but there are more things to try (bar at a higher setting, which should scale towards full bodyweight handstand push-ups, etc.)

Other than the blinding rage, felt ok getting off the rower. Pushed through the first set of push-ups unbroken, mostly because I wasn't sure how to dismount from the bar, and didn't really feel like getting back up in a fatigued state! Knees to elbows were the usual torture, done hanging from the back of the Smith Machine. It's not a pull-up bar grip, but a metal bar about the size of a 2" x 4", so it tends to be a bit grip intensive. For the first time, I tried really hard to not touch down on the ground, or kick off the floor to assist the movement, which made it WAAAY harder. As usual, the first things to start failing were actually my wrists. Guess I need to do more behind-the-back wrist curls (snicker, snicker).

To my own great surprise, I slowly but surely plowed through the box-jumps in one huge unbroken set. Bear in mind each rep involved a jump, then a kind of slow, controlled step down (alternating landing legs), followed by a quick reset before the next jump. Basically, each one took me probably 3-4 times as long as someone just ripping through them. However, I went into them a bit gassed from the previous movements, and had as my mental yardstick that I was going to get at least 25 reps in a row... then just kept going. It was pretty awesome.

Then back to the knees-to-elbows. These were broken up into ever smaller chunks, eventually just two at a time as my wrists and forearms were screaming obscenities at me in languages I haven't heard from them yet. It was a bit scary.  Back into the assisted handstand push-ups, until my feet fell off the bar after 7 reps. I considered moving over to regular push-ups, or perhaps pike push-ups off the box, but in the end decided either of those options would obviously entail doing even MORE reps, and I didn't like that option. I got myself back onto the Smith machine and banged out 13 more reps, as fast as I could just to avoid falling off again!

After that, I got back on the rower, hoping the glitch from earlier would prove to have been a one time event. A little over 250m later, it happened again. I briefly toyed with doing double-unders (or at least working on them) to make up the time, but realized I had NO idea how many or how long to go, so I opted to consider the workout force-ably scaled by the equipment. Not the best of outcomes, but it could have been worse, I suppose. I wish I had known going into it though, I would have figured out a way to translate the distance onto the treadmill or something.

Total Time: @ 24:00

Monday, March 7, 2011

11-03-07: Front squats, thrusters and burpees

CrossFit Garden City WoD for March 2, 2011

  • Jump rope
  • Shoulder Mobility Circuit
  • Burgener Warmup

Front Squat
 - Build to a heavy triple in 20 minutes (30X1 tempo)
6 sets:
  • AMRAP in 30 sec of Thrusters 
  • Rest 30 sec
  • AMRAP in 30 sec of Burpees
  • Rest 30 sec
AMRAP = As Many Reps as Possible.
Weight for Thrusters is 135/95 or 40-50% of heaviest set of Front Squats (55#).

An awesome front squat. (
A well-performed thruster, a movement which I believe is only trumped by the snatch (both power and squat/split varieties) in terms of sheer range of motion with a barbell. (
Stand, squat, planche position, push-up, kick back to the squat, jump up and clap. Repeat. If you're not quickly gargling with stomach acid, you're not doing it right. These are full body murder, especially interlaced with thrusters!

Back to working out with the students getting in the way. Tried to correct some massive form issues for the guys slowly trading bench press sets on the Smith machine. These guys just can't figure out that having the bar landing directly over your neck is a bad thing. Upshot is that they were all doing 1/4 to 1/2 presses at best, no matter how many times I pointed out their awful ROM, but that's a discussion that will need to take place in a classroom, or at least an official "listen to me, I'm smarter than you" discussion. These guys want to do seated "concentration" curls with their wrist landing on their thigh. Who am I to point out the many levels of irony and ineptitude? Just a moderator, not a teacher. I've got the track guys starting to listen to me, and a few of the baseball players, but that's about it so far.

Started out with some hasty warm-up, leading off with jump-rope. I'm still struggling to replicate last weeks' feat of linking double-unders. Best I had today was 4-5. I have NO idea what I was doing last week, and no idea how to fix what I was doing today, either. That's a bit frustrating. Moved on to shoulder mobility via the beginning of my active stretching routine, also focusing on a triplet of slower stretches I've started incorporating lately. First, a good morning to try to target the hamstrings, followed by a back bend, trying to mobilize the lower back with the recently loosened hamstrings, then a deep squat pushing the knees apart with my elbows, to wake up the rest of the posterior chain. I generally hold each position for about 3 seconds at the longest, not trying to shoot for static stretching, but just moving the body through those positions that will grease the grooves for the exertions to come. Along those lines, a trip through the Burgener warm-up just to keep those skills fresh also serves as another shoulder mobility enhancement.

Finally, it was time for the front squats. I hate these, but only because my arm flexibility really limits me on them...and the lack of a rack makes doing them a pain in the ass. Check out Dave Lipson front squatting heavy triples, like what I was shooting for today. That arm/hand position is really only usable when you can walk the bar right back into the rack. It's utterly useless if you're going to have to finish off the move by trying to get the bar to levitate back up into your grip so you can put the bar down safely on the ground. Especially several sets in. the goal of that position is to have the bar carried on the front of the deltoids, pinned there by the fingers. Still, for all that, I started out light, aiming to do lots of sets, lots of small jumps, and really focus on both my hand and arm position, as well as foot width and back position. I'm not strong enough in my technique to worry too much about going super-heavy, since my form would begin betraying me long before those increased weights could start causing huge amount of growth.

So, with that in mind, in 20 minutes I did 10 sets. Starting with the empty bar (35#), and pretty much unable to get it in the proper position (which more weight does actually enable) I moved up 10# at a time, successfully nailing triplets at the following weights:

35# / 45# / 55# / 65# / 75# / 85# / 95# / 105# / 115# / 125# (PR)

With proper form, and for a triplet, 125# is a new PR for me, though its very low. However, putting in the work on proper from, proper arm and hand position (which came together in about the 3rd round, and fell apart in the last 3), and keeping everything else tight, will do more good for increasing those weights in the long run than just throwing myself at 125# and hoping against hope that there would be more in the tank ever could.

After resting up for a few minutes, I dropped the weight on the bar to 55# pounds, took a moment to scoff jealously at the original Rx for the workout (135#), then said a silent thanks to the knowledge that killing myself at that weight was NOT the point of the workout, and that 55# would be way more likely to allow me to annihilate my lungs. No matter how easy the first few reps or sets felt, the weight would be MORE than adequate to stimulate a training response!


Despite the fact that I ended up barely able to get up off the floor by the time this one was over, I felt really good throughout this workout. A few days off had done my body wonders as far as recovery from the last workout, and the cold symptoms that made that last workout so terrible were mostly past, meaning I had been sleeping way better for the past few days, too. I had handled food better during the day, as well. In every way possible, I was just better prepared for this workout, and that's just a fantastic feeling.

11-03-04: "Helen"

Dynamic Warmup (including Jumps)
Burgener Warm-Up x2
Benchmark!: "Helen"
3 rounds for time of:
  • Run 400 meters
  • 21 KB Swings - 55# Dumbbell
  • 12 Pullups (band assist)

Hell-In. Note the bars just waiting for those gentlemen to come by and see them AFTER they've run 2800m, done 126 kettle-bell swings, and 72 pull-ups. Much as I fantasize about competing in the games one day, the mere thought of this workout is enough to bring a visit from Pukie the Clown. (
Kristin Clever and Annie Thorisdottir go head to head on the kettlebells. (
Graham Holmberg (2010 Games Male Champion) cranks out pull-ups. I don't *think* this is actually from Hell-In, since he seems to be back in the main stadium, but it still works. He's way better at pull-ups than I am. For Real. (

Don't do benchmarks when you're tired, in the middle of a head-cold, and poorly fueled.  This wasn't a workout, and I don't expect to see any physical changes as a result of plowing through it. If anything, it was a mental victory, just for pushing through it, but overall, I should have taken today as a rest day. I felt like crap and paid for it.

That said, I did actually PR on it, but considering I last did it a year ago, when I was not nearly as fit, and in the middle of my full on knee agony, its not really *that* much of an accomplishment. I knocked a minute off, but if I was feeling better, I'm sure I could have carved off 5-6 minutes. Not that impressive on a crappy time, but still an improvement. As it is, I've left a time for me to destroy the NEXT time Helen comes up.

Total Time: 17m (PR by 1:00)

By way of comparison, check out the videos from the CrossFit 2010 Games, wherein "Helen" was converted into "Hell-in."  The first round involved running triple the distance (1200m), triple the swings (63) and triple the pull-ups (36). The second round was double everything (800m, 42 swings, 24 pull-ups) and the third round was back to the original distance/rep scheme (400m, 21 swings, 12 pull-ups). Basically, a double-"Helen." After that, the competitors had 90 seconds (I believe) to put as heavy a weight as possible overhead. Always fun in a state of utter exhaustion!

Mens Heat 3 of Hell-In [mov] [wmv]
Women's Final Heat of Hell-In [mov] [wmv]

Thursday, March 3, 2011

11-03-02: Ring Dips, Hang Power Cleans and Double-Unders

CrossFit Garden City WoD for Monday, February 28th, 2011
Active Stretching
Burgener Warm-Up x2
Ring Dips (41X0 tempo) x 4-5 reps  x 5 sets (2 min rest b/w sets)
3 rounds for time:
 - Choose weight on HPC and Double Under reps that allows for completion of workout in less than 10 minutes.

Look closely. Name a SINGLE muscle in the upper body that the ring dip doesn't hit. (CrossFit Central Oregon)
Every muscle in the body fires BEFORE the arms start moving at ALL. Hips open violently, shoulders shrug hard and fast, and AFTER the bar is moving, the arms finish the lift and get under it to let it rack on the shoulders. Notice this lifter is at FULL extension and the arms have barely bent at all. ( CrossFit Colorado Springs)
Double-unders at the 2010 CrossFit Games. Note the legs. The at-first weird looking angle is actually a sign of a fairly mature double-under. She's not wasting precious energy (or time) with a big jump, but is keeping it tight and close. (911 CrossFit / CrossFit Games)

I really hate working out with a head cold, but really, there was no good physical reason to not do it...other than the sore throat that made breathing hard agony... but not nearly as bad as Fran-lung feels, so whatever.  Took some extra time with the warm-up since my shoulders and pecs were still *crushed* from Tuesday's Tabata push-ups. After awhile, they definitely started feeling a bit better, but not a whole lot. Twice through the Burgener warm-up, adding in a hang power clean component also seemed to help. A little. Ah well, nothing like deep ring dips to wake up some sleepy, stiff shoulder carriage muscles! :)

Hopped on the rings and tried to keep to the prescribed pace (41x0 = 4 seconds down to the bottom, pause one second, extend up as fast as possible, then repeat without resting at the top).  I came down after only 4 reps, but had a feeling I could have held on for a fifth, a feeling I proved over the next 3 rounds. I'm sure I was counting too fast on the descents, but I tried to keep them as slow as possible. By the end of the 4th round, I was definitely getting tired, and the fifth rep out of the bottom was a bit slow and shaky. The 5th round started a bit better than that (2 minutes rest seemed like so LONG between the first two rounds, and just flew before the fifth, as always...), but quickly devolved. I barely locked out the 4th rep before coming off the rings. Still, not a bad little strength workout.  While my arms quivered, I started setting up equipment for the couplet.

Picking up the 45# plates for the bar, they felt SO heavy (rotten dead arms), but rather than drop straight to the 35# plates, I decided to put the 45# on the bar, just to see how they felt. One pretty good feeling test hang power snatch later, I decided to just go with those two plates. On the bar (35# by itself), the total was 125#, not too badly scaled from the 135# as Rx'ed. I figured it felt heavy, but liftable...hopefully for unbroken sets of ten. At least for the first round, I did manage to keep the set unbroken. My wrists were pretty fried by the end of it (from the extreme flexion necessitated by the catch position, which I am still not completely comfortable in.), but I managed to get through them. I picked up the jump-rope (not entirely sure of my scaling), and a miracle happened.

I strung together 33 picture-perfect double-unders, with NO single-bounces in between. Just pure, clean double-unders. With a bit of prescience, I knew that wouldn't happen again, decided to count my blessings, and scale the double-unders from 100 per round to 33, which would give me a total of 100, the most I've ever attempted in a workout. The second round of hang power cleans was also unbroken, mostly off the high from my accomplishment with the jump-rope.  Heading back to the rope for the second time, I tried to not jinx myself. I got 12 chained together, another 3, then finished the set unbroken. Still a very good performance for me, especially with the increasing oxygen debt and muscle fatigue!

My only thought for the final round of hang power cleans was "unbroken." Just do them all at once. Don't put the bar down. Don't let go. It was a very near thing. I wanted to drop it so bad after the 8th rep, and just pushed through for two more reps, with my wrists and forearms on FIRE. Everything else was sore, too, but those were just screaming at me. As I grabbed the jump-rope, I saw that my time was at about 6:30. I figured if I finished at the 8-9 minute mark (already assuming I wouldn't replicate 33 unbroken double-unders), I would be really happy with my performance.

And that began 5 minutes of the worst, most pathetic jump-rope you've seen in your entire life. I could barely single bounce, much less get a double-under, much less string together multiples. I couldn't even get back to the single bounce! I was just *shot*. I struggled through, and in desperation, managed to string together about 5 at the end, when I really only needed 2. So, for the final round of jump-rope, in 5 minutes I completed 36 double-unders. I think. Its entirely possible that in the pain and fatigue, I might have miscounted. I tried not to, but I personally can't really vouch for the number 36, which was the other reason for overshooting 33. I can almost guarantee I didn't miss more than 3 reps, so either way I should be all good. Ugh. I seriously thought I was going to die after that.

Total time: 11:00.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

11-03-01: Ring work, tabata rowing, push-ups and squats

CrossFit GardenCity WoD for February 24, 2011
3 sets of 10 Overhead Squats, 2 minutes of DU practice
Ring work - ring dips, pull-ups, etc.
  • Tabata Row
  • Rest 1 min
  • Tabata Pushup
  • Rest 1 min
  • Tabata Squat

Overhead squats. Those will wake up your shoulders in the morning.
Double-unders. Note the higher than normal jump and the invisible rope. Tell-tale signs. (CrossFit Jax)
Ring dips. Full depth ring dips. Man these suck. (CrossFit Rockwall)
Hey, that's Chuck Liddell and John Hackleman! Even the Iceman appears to suffer on the rower! (CrossFit Rockford)
Tabata push-ups. I really REALLY hate them. (CrossFit Works)
Air squats. At last, something I'm good at! (CrossFit Santa Cruz)

I love and hate the overhead squat/double under warm-up. If only it weren't so damn effective. The even further upshot was that I was finally linking a crap-ton of double-unders together. It was freaking awesome. Following an exciting warm-up (never thought I'd type that), I focused on some ring work. Plenty of dips, knee lifts, L-sits, pull-up progressions, and toes-to-bar, which were freaking HARD hanging from rings!

After recovering for a bit, I cranked up the tabata mix (20 seconds of metal, 10 seconds of calm), and prepped for some bad-assed interval training. The row was more or less uneventful, though I was really hoping the 7th round was the last, so the 8th was just awful when the metal kicked back in.

Tabata push-ups are my kryptonite. I had a fairly successful first round, but I tapped out pretty quickly after that. I wish the floor in the gym was a bit cleaner, because I ended up face down on it repeatedly in the last 3-4 rounds. However, tabata squats, while not being a favorite, are certainly one of the things I'm better at.

Rowing60 calories60
Air Squats1413121313121314104

11-02-28: Turkish Get-Ups, Met-Con Triplet

CrossFit Garden City WoD for Thursday, February 11, 2011
Jump Rope
Dynamic Stretches
Burgener Warm-up x2 35#

Turkish Get Up
 - In 15 minutes build up to your heaviest triple

3 rounds for time:
  • 50 lateral barbell hops
  • 21 Ball Slams
  • 6 Band Chest to Bar Pull-ups or 12 Jumping CTB Pullups

Sig Klein does a picture perfect Turkish Get-Up, provided we ignore the weird picture in the middle. I seriously can't make that one work at all in this series. (

Med-ball slams. Full extension overhead, down to a squat on the release. It's the proper range of motion that makes these a total beast. (CrossFit Sacramento)

Band assist Chest-to-Bar Pull-ups. This is what I did for the first round. (CrossFit Threshold)

As always on days with a ton of students in the gym, I found myself cutting corners trying to just the get workout in, much less done perfectly. Warm-ups were greatly curtailed in the interest of holding onto the gear I had "reserved" (read: piled around me), rather than repeatedly having to tell students to wait. I don't want to keep them from working out, even if they are doing useless activities that barely count as "exercise."  Making sure that at least my shoulders were pretty well stretched and good to go, I quickly moved through jump-rope (trying not to whip anyone with it), active stretching, and twice through the Burgener warm-up. After that, I cleared a little bit of room, and hoped I wouldn't be tripped over while prepping for the TGUs.

Started at 35#, knowing that I should be able to do that fairly easily, and was happy to be proven correct. I handled 40# and 45# pretty well, too, though I had some issues starting the sit-up portion of the movement at 45#. Moving to 50#, this became even worse. I need to head back into the CrossFit archives of movement how-tos and see if there's any tips on initializing the movement under weight.(Yup, I've been doing it wrong. Thanks for the corrections, Jeff!) Though they were slow and painful, I did manage to squeeze out a triple of TGUs at 50#, which is a new PR for me, single AND triple, I think. So that was pretty awesome.

After putting away the dumbbells and trying to catch my breath for a bit, I set myself up with a barbell, loaded with 45# for the lateral jumps. I would have loved to do the double-unders as Rx'ed, but the reality of that would just have ended up with me in an ice cast again, or at the very least, taking 2 hours to complete what's clearly supposed to be a fast met-con. I also opted to scale the reps for the lateral jumps. 100 would have been grueling, and not being 100% sure of my knees, even now, I didn't want to find out mid-way through that I had made a massive miscalculation. So, I figured, do the 50, but hit them HARD. Which I did. As much as my lungs of fire would let me. :D

First round, I managed to keep the first 42 lateral jumps unbroken, and just *thought* about breaking up the set, and suddenly realized I HAD. Rotten brain. Quickly banged out the remaining 8 jumps, grabbed the med-ball, and banged out the first 21 slams. I had set up our gravitron-like pull-up machine with a very light-weight rubber strap, hoping to do 6 slightly assisted C2B pull-ups, with the strap only really helping at the bottom of the hole. So, 6 super strict but NOT C2B pull-ups later, I decided to switch (if I could) to jumping C2Bs on the Smith Machine frame.

Second and third rounds, the lateral jumps were broken up, but with minimal rest times included. Usually it was more to reset a bit to make sure I didn't just trip over the bar on the next jump! Med-ball slams were unbroken for all sets, which I felt rather good about. However, watching concrete dust come out of the seams in the rubber matting was a bit disturbing, since I was doing them somewhat near the already existing sink-holes in the concrete (apparently, "ash concrete" should NOT be used in a gym, and repeatedly dropped weights (NOT all me, as the hole was there when I got to the school) have punched holes in the concrete around the room. Safe!

Second round of pull-ups, I was able to move over to jumping pull-ups, but in my fatigue, didn't realize I was facing the wrong way on the Smith machine, and on the final rep, cracked my skull on the frame. That sucked a bit, but it was at least a glancing blow, so it could have been MUCH worse. Final round, facing the right way, was MUCH safer! Both of those rounds were broken up, usually into sets of 3 or 4 as needed. Usually it was to reset the legs and make sure I wasn't just bombing into the bottom of the negative and screwing up my shoulders, which were already feeling a bit "tweaky" after the TGUs.

Total time: 8:45

Post-workout, did some playing around on the rings, slung off the back of the Smith machine. Several dips, static holds, knee lifts and L-sits later, my shoulders and pecs were fully smoked, making today a total success! ;)