Friday, April 29, 2011

11-04-28: Deadlifts and vertical jumps

CrossFit Garden City Wod for April 14, 2011
Deadlifting heavy. The only way to go.

A slick tool for measuring and comparing vertical jumps... but how do you reset it?! (

  • Jump rope, double-unders
  • Active Stretching
Workout Prep:
3 sets of:
  • Deadlift x 4 reps, increase weight each set
  • 2-3 vertical jumps to rings (determine appropriate ring height)
5 sets:
  • Deadlift (41X0) x 3-5 reps
  • Rest 10 seconds
  • Max Vertical Jump to Ring x 6 reps
  • Rest 3-4 minutes
Deadlift: Goal is to increase weight each set. If you can perform 4-5 reps with good technique, you MUST increase weight. If you can perform 3 reps, stay at that weight. If you only get 2 reps with good technique, lower the weight.
Vertical Jump: Set a ring at max vertical jump height, which you establish during the warmup. Jump and touch the ring with one hand. Rest less than 5 seconds between jumps. You can also jump to the pullup bar or the I-Beams, if appropriate.

After some good double-under work, I did some stretching, focusing on hips and hamstrings. For the warm-up sets of deadlifts, I used 125#, 195# and 245#, and set my jump height using one of the many unused air ducts along the ceiling of the room that make that portion of the gym more or less unusable for anything else.

Deadlift Work Sets:
Weights #255265275285295

I worked on really trying to keep my vertical jump height consistent. Not having a more obvious feedback like the rings suggested in the workout, I relied on the chalk fingerprints I was leaving on the air duct. Those'll be there more or less forever, until the room gets renovated and that system gets removed! ;)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

11-04-26: Unending Devastation

CrossFit Garden City Wod for April 13, 2011
Wall-climbs. Hang on to your lunches! (CrossFit Beaufort)
Dumbbell swings, gripping one of the weight blobs. (CrossFit UNC)
Air squat. It's safe to say you're not going low enough in your squats. Hip crease MUST drop below the top of the knees. Otherwise, you're just doing knee-cricks, which don't count for reps. (CrossFit)
If the rope is invisible in the picture, it's probably a double-under. (CrossFit LAX)

  • 3 sets of
    • 10 Overhead Squats,
    • 2 min Double Under Practice
  • HSPU/Wall Climb Practice
(Determine appropriate scale for workout)
  • 10 Wall Climbs
  • 40 KB Swings (24/16kg)
  • 60 Anchored AbMat Situps
  • 80 Squats
  • 100 Double Unders
  • 80 Squats
  • 60 Anchored AbMat Situps
  • 40 KB Swings
  • 20 HSPU (shortened ROM)
Scaling: HSPU: Full ROM - Shortened ROM - Kick To Handstand - Wall Climbs (Chest to Wall)

This was just an ugly, ugly slog to the finish line. The whole way through the workout, I kept thinking I was going to end up capping it after the double-unders, just in terms of time. However, I've been *terrible* about my diet lately, and felt I owed it to myself to beat the everliving piss out of me in retaliation for mistaking my fuel-intake for a garbage disposal. Warm-up was fairly uneventful. Struggled mightily with the double-unders, which after a week of not practicing, didn't exactly come as a surprise. It did make me start considering the requirement of doing 100 of them mid-workout, though. Decided to scale the initial 20 handstand push-ups to 10 wall climbs, which took me a few mini-sets to complete.

The first set of kettle bell swings I completed in two sets (I was having grip issues because of sweaty palms and using a dumbbell rather than a real kettlebell with a *real* handle to hang onto...). The sit-ups were where everything started to fall apart atrociously. It took a good 4-5 mini-sets to get through them, and my abs were on FIRE from about rep 30 on. Especially upper abs, where they attach to the ribs. That's one upshot of the abmat, where you have to unclench the abs on every rep, so you're doing a bit more work on every rep. Argh. The squats were hard, but not terrible. I ended up breaking them up a bit, just to get some blood back into, or maybe out of, my quads. Depth was good on every rep, but I was having trouble finding a good foot placement. Could have just been that as random smaller muscles fatigued (IT band, ab/ad-ductors), I was adjusting in a bid to ease up on them without really realizing it.

 Double-unders. 100 of them. I've never done that many in a single workout. I decided to see how I did, and scale on the fly if needed. After "accidentally" cranking out 30 at once, I was determined to complete the prescribed 100. Several mini-sets later, I had done just that. Words cannot describe how awesome that felt. Not that I'm great at them yet, but this was a huge mental hurdle that I barely knew existed going into it. "How can I ever do 100 double-unders?" In small chunks, that's how.

 With that out of the way, I opted to NOT scale or cut the rest of the workout. The second set of squats felt a little easier than the first, though it still took me two mini-sets to complete. The next 60 sit-ups nearly killed me. Seriously. The final 40 dumbbell swings were just a pain because of my grip slipping on the end of the dumbbell. I could have switched to holding the handle, but it changes the ballistics so much that I'm really not a fan of doing that with so heavy a weight. Some chalk and curses later, I was down to just the final handstand push-ups. I opted to do wall-walks, with 20 reduced-ROM handstand push-ups. I would be rewarded for doing more push-ups at once with fewer wall-walks. That carrot worked PERFECTLY, as I cranked out 5, then 7, then a final 8 handstand push-ups with only three wall-walks added in. That might be my constant scaling now, scaling that actually adds in a bit of work at the beginning and end of the mini-set (the wall-walk up and down), with some actual movement (the reduced-ROM HSPU), with a goal of minimizing the wall-walks and increasing the ROM.

Total Time: 47:30

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

11-04-19: Deadlifts and Push-Ups

CrossFit Garden City WoD for April 8, 2011
Someone on the interwebz used this page from Coach Mark "Iron Samurai" Rippetoe's fantastic book, Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training. BUY IT, then read it. Then re-read it. And again. And again. (
Push-ups with proper body alignment (aka The Position) again. (

Jump Rope
Active Stretching
Deadlift (51X0 tempo)
- 5 sets of 3-5 reps
- Rest 2 minutes between sets

If you can complete 4 or 5 reps with PERFECT technique (both on the way up and the way down) and hold this tempo, you must increase weight. If you can only perform 3 reps, stay at that weight for the next set.

100 80 Pushups
Penalty for stopping, failing or missing full ROM on any rep is to Run 400 meters.

Crap. Did this workout a week ago (its now the 25th.) I didn't realize I never completed blogging it. No info on this one. I do remember that I dropped the penalty on the pushups, since doing 100 would have been an enormous achievement, and adding in the penalties would have resulted in me running an infinite distance and never getting a chance to ever finish the push-ups!

I *believe* the heaviest deadlift was either 275 or 285 for the set of 5... but I don't really remember. Bah.
Edit: Found the sheet.

Deadlift Work Sets:
Weights #185195205215225

Monday, April 18, 2011

11-04-18: Split squats, DB Swings, box jumps and knees-to-elbows

CrossFit Garden City WoD for April 7, 2011

The split squat. Infinitely easy until you slow the descent to the point where it takes 5 seconds.  Then, they suddenly become infinitely HARD. (
Dumbbell swings. I've started holding them as on the right (by the bell), but with a rubber-coated hex dumbbell, it takes a slightly larger grip. (
The box jump. Ugh... (
Knees-to-elbows (and varations: toes-to-bar (harder) and knee lift (easier). All of them suck a bit, since you're hanging by your hands while contorting your body around. (

  • Jump rope - double under practice
  • Dynamic Stretches
  • Split Squat Review/Practice
  • A1. DB Split Squats @ 5010 tempo x 5-6 reps/leg x 4 sets
  • A2. Pullups @ 50X0 x 5-6 reps x 4 sets
Rest 60 sec b/w exercises

AMRAP in 15 minutes:
Scaling: Pullups - Perform 25-30 seconds of negatives per set

Well, split squats were a new one for me, so after a bit of research on the interwebz, I settled on a technique to follow, and decided to start the weights fairly light, given the very slow speed dictated by the workout. After a good warm-up, with plenty of "on-purpose" runs of 10-12 double-unders, I got to work. As usual, the weight room was crawling with directionless kids showing off their extreme accomplishments of limited ROM and sketchy technique. Bah... metal was cranked and split squats were waiting.

Man, these suck pretty quickly. Every set, I would quickly come close to losing count, as I was counting the 5 second descent in my head, and promptly forgetting what actual rep I was on. Not fun, especially as my legs started to get tired. I jumped up in 5# increments at a time, and (not surprisingly) the issue actually became my grip more than my legs. Sure, my legs were shaky, and I swear I could feel old scar tissue in my quads (probably just new ickyness from doing "Karen" last week) popping on the third through sixth reps each round, but it was my forearms and grip that started making the last two sets nearly unbearable.

Dumbbell split squats: 25# / 30# / 35# / 40# (each hand)

The slow pull-ups were also murder, probably mostly for being even more grip-centric than the split squats. I was actually impressed with my ability to do a strict or slightly-kipped pull-up after dropping so slowly into the hole on each rep. While I was only able to do three reps at a time, and usually finished the rounds with a lightly jumped pull-up followed by a long negative, it was actually a better performance than I assumed. Since I was scaling the last few reps to jumping pull-ups and negatives, I opted to do six reps every round.

By the conditioning, I was pretty much bonked. I had eaten fairly well during the day, but had forgotten to have any fat with my lunch (I'm literally realizing this NOW, a good 6 hours later), and it probably had a bit too high of a carb/protein ratio, as well. Plus an iffy night's sleep... really NOT a recipe for success. I planned on making it to 8 rounds of the triplet. Little did I know how much time I would spend fighting off a foot cramp in my left leg, worrying about that same lunch repeating on me, with only the occasional twinge of fear that I might actually suffocate to death from not being able to breathe fast enough. The same grip issues plagued the dumbbell swings and knees to elbows. While I was able to keep all the swings unbroken, the knees to elbows were usually done in a 4-4-2 breakdown, swapping the grip (supine vs. prone) to try to save my forearms.  I would have been ecstatic with 8 rounds, and satisfied with 6.  I had to make do with 4.

Triplet: 4 rounds

11-04-15: Barbell Complex

CrossFit Garden City WoD for April 6th, 2011

The barbell complex is:
Step 1. Deadlift
Step 2. Hang power clean the barbell to the front rack.
Step 3. Front squat.
Step 4. Push press the bar overhead.
Repeat 4 more times for each weight, never letting the barbell rest on the ground. Lifting chalk is a necessity for a beast like this. Trust me.

  • Dynamic Stretches
  • Burgener Warm-Up
  • 3 sets of barbell complex, increasing weight each set
Barbell Complex, 5 sets:
  • Deadlift
  • Hang Power Clean
  • Front Squat
  • Push Jerk
1 round = 1 Deadlift, 1 HPC, 1 Front Squat, 1 Push Jerk.
1 set = 5 unbroken rounds of entire complex.
Goal is max weight. The bar cannot rest on the ground.

The great grip and fore-arm murdering workout. It did both. While the bar cannot rest on the ground, it CAN be held in the hip crease with a 1/2 squat, so that you can massage some life back into your hands and wrists. I had a few reps where my grip totally slipped on the front squat, leaving me to try to wrassle the bar (heck, catch it out of freefall, once), and continue on with the rep. Miserable. Highly recommended!

As a specific note, the transition from the front squat grip with the bar back on the finger tips to the push jerk grip was problematic on every rep, and was the usual source of failure when I ended up needing to recover a lost grip or catch the bar. This was also the transition that most tore up my hands, leaving me ever less able to securely grip the barbell...resulting in even more issues. Definitely a miserable, and therefor awesome experience. Highly recommended for both the bodybuilders who think they can control a bar and the cardio types who think that long slow distance is the only way to make your heart explode out of your chest. This will definitely do it, too!

Barbell Complex:  105# / 115# / 125# / 135# / 140#

Friday, April 15, 2011

11-04-14: Close-Grip Bench Press, Burpees and Pull-Ups

CrossFit Garden City WoD for April 5th, 2011
Close-grip bench press: Generally, the hands are no MORE than shoulder width apart.  This is about the width I used. (Mens Fitness)

  • Dynamic Stretching
  • 3 Warmup Sets of Close Grip Bench Press, increasing weight on each set
Close Grip Bench Press (Hands shoulder width, no wider)
5 sets of 3-5 reps @ 51X0 tempo
Rest 2 min b/w sets
If you can complete 4 or 5 reps with a weight, you MUST increase weight on the next set. If you can only complete 3 reps with a weight, stay there for the next set.
5 sets; 2 min AMRAP:
Rest 2 min between sets.

After yesterday's experience with "Karen," my legs were (are!) completely shot. It was with great joy that I found out that today would be an upper-body beat down! It's almost like old-school body building over here...just a little less ridiculous/impressively insane. (For the record, if you ever meet me and talk to me, you'll at first think I hate and mock body-building incessantly. The reality is that I *only* mock it in terms of absolute strength AND conditioning. In terms of hard work, dedication, and frankly, impressive results, I think there's actually a LOT that CrossFitters/high-intensity interval trainers can take away from body building.)

Lately, I've been trying to walk past the pull-up bars in Central Park off the northwest corner of the Great Oval and get in some kipping pull-up work. In addition to that, I've also been working on strict pull-ups as well. It turns out, the ill-equipped gym where I usually work out isn't great for learning either type up pull-up. There's NOWHERE to kip in the gym, and the weight-assist pull-up machine is so close on every side that its nearly impossible to not touch toes against the weight stack at the top of the pull. While not much of an aid, it really does help in terms of controlling momentum and swing... things that make pull-ups on a free standing bar 8 feet off the ground REALLY hard if you've never had to account for them before! I'm only doing a few reps of each, but really working on grinding out the strict pull-ups as slowly as possible, really just in control of every aspect of the movement. Though I haven't been doing it for long, I really noticed the results on the metcon part of today's wod.

But first, close grip bench presses. I haven't done bench pressing in awhile, not having any where to do them. I hear you saying "What!?" But its true. Well, at not not in the previously mentioned ill-equipped gym. I actually have a bench press bench at home (maybe 2?), but I never work out at home, since I'd rather spend time with my wife and kid who I never get to see. Maybe this summer I can turn workouts into some kind of "daddy and me" time with the little squirt, but so far, not so much. So, I don't bench much. First of all, CrossFit rarely calls for it, and secondly, I have nowhere safe to do it.

But, having excuses isn't the same as having reasons. So, each set of bench presses involved a power clean, and then sitting and then lying down with the bar already up. Every set ended with the being lowered to my chest, and then lowered further down so that I could sit-up with it, stand with it, then lower it to the floor. I also made sure that I did NOT use collars on the weights. In the event of an accident, I would (hopefully) be able to dump the weight off the bar one side, then get it off me. If something catastrophic were to happen (bar slips, ends up on neck), I would literally have seconds to act before blacking out, so any extra bit of safety is an absolute necessity, especially when working out alone, as I often do.

It was my first time benching since reading (and re-reading) Mark Rippetoe's fantastic book "Starting Strength" for barbell training, and I tried to keep his teaching in mind: feet flat on the floor, butt and upper back firmly on the bar, scapulas retracted and flat to give my upper body a firm base on the bench, using the same spot on the ceiling as my target for the bar, no collars when working out alone (see above)... and many more. And they ALL made the motion that much easier. The tempo called for (51X0) is excruciatingly slow (From lockout, 5 seconds to lower the weight, rest with it in the bottom for 1 second (so no bouncing it off your chest, a.k.a. "cheating"), then up as fast as possible, then no rest at the top before starting the next descent.)

I *think* I might have misloaded the bar for the final set. It definitely felt like my right wrist was weaker, and starting to give out from all the weight, and all the reps, but when I went to deload the bar, I think there was either an extra 2.5 or 5# on that side, too. What's weird is that I didn't notice it at all when I power cleaned it to get into position, or any of the rest of the maneuvering to get onto or off the bench, just during the presses. But there was definitely a plate mismatch. Oops...


The met-con was just a grind. I tried to keep steady and even on my pacing, trying to pay attention to form on the burpees as outlined in a recent CrossFit Journal video article. Pull-ups, as mentioned, were much improved over my usual baseline. I opted to alternate sets with pull-ups vs. chin-ups, and really enjoyed how my chin-ups are basically all chest to bar, which is a nice change. ;) After setting a pace on the first round, my only goal was to try to maintain that pace across all 5 rounds. Though there was some drop-off, I actually managed to maintain that initial pace far better than I assumed I might be capable of.

3 rounds
3 burpees
3 rounds
3 burpees
3 rounds
1 burpee
2 rounds
3 burpees
2 pull-ups
3 rounds

Thursday, April 14, 2011

11-04-13: "Karen"

CrossFit Garden City WoD for April 4th, 2011

Wall balls. Full squat (not well shown in this pic), then use the squat to propel the ball up to your target. It is NOT just an upper body exercise, its a full body ass-kicking. (CrossFit 908)

  • 3 sets of 10 OH Squats, 2 min double-under Practice
Benchmark! "Karen"
3 sets:

I forgot how much "Karen" can hurt. I've done it at least twice in my short time CrossFitting, and I always forget how most of these workouts are self-scaling: The harder you can throw yourself at it, the harder it will be. So whether you struggle through for 20 minutes or hit 14:30 (or even a competitive time, like 5 minutes!), you're still gonna get your ass kicked.

Total Time: 14:30

Honestly, I was just happy to beat 15 minutes, so it was all good.

The accessory exercises were actually more interesting. This workout marked the first time I successfully performed an actual glute-ham raise (from all the way down to ALL the way up, not just up to parallel.) The secret seemed to be making the foot-pads even closer to the main pad. I didn't try it again where I usually have the GHD set-up, but it was good to know. The external rotations really quickly became evil little things, especially at the tempo indicated. I felt all new parts of my back lighting up in agony...nice!

Monday, April 11, 2011

11-4-11: Deadlifts, Push-Ups, Box Jumps

CrossFit Garden City WoD for March 30th, 2011
The deadlift. Pick up something heavy, and lock open the hip joint. It sounds SOOO easy. It ain't. (
Push-Ups. All the way down, all the way up, body in "The Position" the entire time. (
Box jumps. Jump on the box, jump down or step off the box. Repeat as needed. (

Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 15 minutes of:
Deadlift: Choose weight that allows for consistently good technique for all rounds. Shorten ROM or lighten load if unable to keep back in extension.

I was happy to see that I was consistently stringing together 8-12 double-unders at a time during the warm-up. After watching several CrossFit Journal videos last night dealing with the "hollow body" position and maintaining it during exercises such as double-unders and burpees (The Position Part I: Double-Unders and The Position Part II: Burpees), I really tried to focus on keeping those coaching points in mind. For the double-under, it meant really focusing on keeping my hands back by my hips (see my earlier post of Remedial Double-Unders for videos and analysis), keeping the spinning rope under control, and really minimizing any extraneous movements related to the actual jump. The goal is to be as close to a pogo stick (in MY mental image at least), with a vertical spring just firing you straight up off the ground. The feet shouldn't swing back, the knees shouldn't travel up and out front... just a quick, powerful pogo motion. You'd think my years of ska and punk shows would pay off more now.

The overhead squats were ok. I did the first warm-up round with the jump-rope overhead, then moved to the empty bar (35#) for the next two sets. At least today, I seemed to have a bit more shoulder mobility than usual... apparently all the overhead squats, shoulder dislocates, and other shoulder mobility work is finally starting to manifest itself!

Deadlift warm-ups were easy enough, though I was amused to note that by about 10 minutes in, I was just DUMPING sweat, even though it didn't feel like I was doing all that much work. What was work was keeping my lunch steady in my stomach. Even though I had eaten 3 hours earlier, I was still burping it up like crazy, and it felt like I might get a visit from Pukie the Clown at any moment. Unfortunately, this feeling stuck with me for the duration of the workout.

After taking some time to get more water (having already downed a LOT trying to ease my stomach woes), I set the timer and got to work. For every round, I was unbroken on the deadlifts, which while not much of an accomplishment for the actual weight, was a hell of an accomplishment for the number of reps, especially coming off of push-ups and box jumps.  For the push-ups, I was really happy to note that they were all unbroken except for the final set. Oddly, I had been feeling a weird pain in my ribs right between my pecs (I love that I don't need to say "man-boobs" anymore, by the way) for the past two days, and I had no idea what had caused it.  It hadn't really shown up in the overhead squats or deadlifts, but boy oh boy did push-ups ever light it up. I have no idea what the initial cause was, but it definitely made me very aware of the push-ups! What felt nice was knowing that the last time I had done push-ups, my max reps was nearer to 7 or 8, so repeatedly banging out 12 was kind of awesome.

Box jumps, as always, leave me pretty nervous. I've definitely narrowed down the causes of my patellar tendonopathy from last year to box jumps on a shitty surface, as well as a few really insane plyometric workouts that just kept on targeting the same damage. Box jumps were definitely part of the problem, but I really think it was a combination of silly over-training decisions alongside some of that abuse occurring on a really unforgiving floor. Using a slightly lower, but infinitely more durable plyo box on a floor that is more forgiving (the weight room floor vs. the evil "lower gym" floor), I actually tried hopping back off the box on each rep, rather than stepping down. Writing this up a few hours later, my knees are not particularly sore, and if they were, I'd still be pointing back to last week's remedial jump rope workout, since that put a lot of wear and tear on the old knees.

Unfortunately, the issues with lunch threatening to repeat on me dogged me for the entire workout. I'm not a "just puke and keep moving" type, so unfortunately, I couldn't just purge myself of the issue and refuel later. I had to fight my way through it, but that meant my occasional rests for bursting lungs were accompanied by rests for acidy death stomach.

Total rounds: 6

Thursday, April 7, 2011

11-04-07: Front squats and thrusters

CrossFit Garden City WoD for March 31, 2011
Front Squat (30X1)
- Build up to a heavy triple in 20 minutes
  • Set 1: Max Reps with 50% of 3RM Front Squat
  • Set 2: Max Reps with 40% of 3RM Front Squat
  • Set 3: Max Reps with 30% of 3RM Front Squat
 - Rest 3 minutes between sets.

The front squat. Looks like a normal wrist position, right? (CrossFit Oakland)
Thrusters. Notice the front squat in the first 2.5 frames! (

Sore and creaky from the last three days, I was kind of psyched to have another shot at front squats (and more importantly, the necessary power cleans) this week. I've been annoyed by my performance on Monday, so it felt good to be able to work past those weights. I was honestly concerned that I had set myself up for a mental block against cleaning more than 165#, which would be annoying, knowing I had done much more a few weeks/months ago for front and or back squats. I didn't really plan out my jumps and skips, I just knew I wanted to finish up at 170# or 175#, which I actually successfully did. That felt kinda good.

As usual, I struggled with my front squat rack/grip issues. It's definitely feeling slightly better with each workout, but its still a long way away from being stable. Repeatedly I found myself quickly switching to the "California" crossed arm "grip," though I did get through a few sets with a real grip. Unfortunately, because its not an easy grip for me to maintain (yet), its also the first part of the entire load-bearing chain to start fatiguing. In terms of actual squatting, I could have gone far heavier. Well, ok, somewhat heavier. But there was no way I would actually be able to control the weight.

For the lazy types, there is this option:
For my money, if you're going to use a harness to do all the work of controlling the weight, you might as well just do your squats in a Smith machine. Granted, you need to stay somewhat vertical in the back to keep the bar from crushing your hands, but this is definitely the kind of gear to be used by injured lifters/athletes trying to work around an injury, not an able-bodied person to rely on. Just my 2c. I'd sooner continue trying to improve my crappy rack position grip than use a relic from the Headbangers, Thrasher and Mosh.

After topping out at 170#, (woohoo, mental block!), a feat made a bit more difficult by rushing through my final three weight attempts in my desperation to beat 165#, meaning I was a bit more winded and unrested before each attempt, I started to do the math for the thrusters.

Front Squat 3RM: 170#

The first round would be at 85#, a medium weight thruster, the second would be at 70#, and the third at 50#. We don't have micro-weights, so I couldn't dial in the last two to 68# and 51# respectively. High on one forgives going low on the other, right?  85# thrusters are not *that* bad, though I think the last time I did "heavy" reps at 95#, I definitely wanted to die.  However, coming off of 20 minutes of increasingly heavy front squats, my forearms and wrists were already completely smoked. I wasn't too concerned with the leg part of the squats, or the upper-body oriented press motion...just controlling the weight in the squat and receiving it correctly after the press.  It turns out I was right!

First set, I was really shooting for 9 reps, just the final round of 'Fran' or whatever. Sadly, I crapped out at 8, but was actually thrilled to have made it past 5, so there.  The next three minutes, spent trying to get feeling back into my hands and forearms, seemed to fly. I barely remembered to shuffle the weights around to get to 70#.  Oddly, picking up the bar, it felt nearly weightless...until I cleaned it up to the front rack.  Suddenly, the weight of the universe was pressing down me.

Though I paused occasionally to re-grip and adjust (without putting the bar down), I did manage to crank out 21 reps. When I put it down, it was because my wrists and forearms were on fire, not because of legs or lungs. I just couldn't hold the bar any more...though I presumably could have rested the bar in my hip crease again and again. That just smacked of "cheating." Max reps means how many can you do, not how many can you do if you take as long as humanly possible while stalling as often as possible.

Again, I spent the intervening three minutes trying to wish feeling (other than abject agony) back into my arms. This was more or less completely unsuccessful. The final set of thrusters, at 50#, started easy and rapidly devolved into me fighting through the forearm fatigue and pain for a few more reps. After regripping at 25 reps, I banged out a final 5 before losing the ability to grip the bar completely.

Set 1 @ 85#: 8 reps
Set 2 @ 70#: 21 reps
Set 3 @ 50#: 30 reps

It was fun trying to change back into my work clothes with fingers and hands that didn't really want to listen to me anymore. That's the word: Fun.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

11-04-06: Dumbell squat cleans, knees-to-elbows, burpees

CrossFit Garden City WoD for March 26, 2011
Burgener Warm-Up x2
Dynamic Stretching
21-15-9 reps of:

Dumbbell squat cleans. I end up with the weight more in front, with the inner heads of the two dumbbells pressed together, allowing me a somewhat easier time managing the weight. I need to play with squatting with dumbbells some more to keep the dumbbells apart and resting individually on my shoulders. (CrossFit Redding)
Knees to elbows. Full-body, massive suckage. Everything hurts after a few of these. Trust me. (Trinity CrossFit)
I don't even want to run a mile...much less do burpees for a mile (broad jumps rather than vertical jumps). Not even a little. (CrossFit FX)

The only thing worse than sharing a gym with a dozen students who have no idea what they're doing (and a select few who actually do) is sharing that gym with about 30 kids who have no idea why they're there. It might be time to have a chat with the athletic coaches in the school to let them know that "Go to the weightroom and workout" isn't quite enough info for these guys. The guys doing curls on the balance boards were my personal faves...

After warming up a bit and waiting for the crush to dissipate a bit, I finally got some space to myself. Our rowing machine currently has no ERG attached, so that was out, and I wasn't too excited about subbing in sumo deadlift high-pulls, seeing as how I had just annihilated my legs and upper arms yesterday with my marathon double-under practice. So, I cut it knowing that there were enough of my goats in this workout that it would NOT be like taking it easy.

The original workout called for kettlebell squat cleans, but since all of our 'powerbells' were in use, I went with dumbbells instead. Since I'm not super confident on squat cleans, except with a fairly light bar or med ball, I went medium light on the dumbbells, 35# each. It's a weight I can control, while being plenty heavy 10 reps in. Knee-to-elbows were off the back of the ever trusty Smith machine, and burpees were done in front of it.

This was a total grind. I wanted to seriously die midway through the first round, and things did NOT improve as it went on. I really think I need to do some remedial cardio/met-con work, as that seems to be my biggest weakness right now. One of my plans was to do either a Rippetoe 'Starting Strength' linear progression, or a Wendler 5-3-1 strength progression over the summer, with the kids gone. However, both of those assume you have a squat or power rack to actually allow you to do heavy squatting. We have neither. And while my strength is so-so, my met-con is abysmal. Perhaps time to rethink that plan. Maybe a CFGC or mainsite WoD in the morning, followed by the CrossFit Endurance WoD in the afternoon. Hmmm...

Total time: @19m. Total time catching breath, wishing for death: @10 minutes.
(That's an estimate, in that the total amount of work can't have been much more than 9-10 minutes...which implies an awful lot of time spent trying not to puke.)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

11-04-05: Remedial Double-Unders

My original goal was to finally complete the CrossFit Games Open Qualifiers Week 1 workout, Double Unders and Power Snatches. I had been cranking out double-unders the day before, and wanted to strike while the iron was hot, so to speak. Fortunately, I was smart enough to warm up with some jump rope, just to grease the grooves, and discovered to my horror that I had once again LOST the ability to do double-unders consistently.  So, I scrapped the initial workout idea and decided to focus on double-unders for as long as I could stand it. 55 minutes later, I was hitting somewhere between 6 and 13 reps at a time. My calves are shot, my triceps are on fire, but hey, I got some video of the experience!

About 20 minutes in:
A few minutes later:
(Please forgive the hideous sound artifacts and crappy editing... or lack thereof.  Need to find some freeware for trimming up mp4s made on an iPod with a non-responsive start/stop button!)

So, long story short, I've still got plenty of work to do.  Not sure if fighting my way through several dozen attempts today (hundreds?) was positive or not, but I AM glad I took some time to work on it. Meh.

Monday, April 4, 2011

11-04-04: Front squats, thruster/box jump couplet

CrossFit Garden City WoD for March 25, 2011
  • Jump rope
  • Active Stretching, shoulder focus
Front Squat (20X1 tempo)
Increase weight each set. Set of 5, 4 & 3 should be easy & fast. Set of 2 a bit tougher. Try to set a new 1 rep max over the last 3 sets.
5 sets:

The front squat. (CrossFit Sweatshop)
Field thrusters. MUCH harder than dumbbell thrusters. Trust me. (CrossFit Westchester)
The fourth photo shows the most important part of the box jump (other than making it up onto the box): Full hip extension. *This* is where everyone will cheat the move, making so that they don't actually really move their body weight the full height. That's cheatin'. (

I wasn't ecstatic about working out today. It was just a weird, off kinda Monday, and I was worried that might carry over to the workout. I really hate being right.

However, I do have to gloat a bit about being able to link together double-unders sort of without even trying. Not that I was able to do more than 10-15 at a time, but that about 10x to 15x more than usual. So that kind of ruled. Stretching was fairly uneventful in contrast.

The trouble started with the front squats. My previous PR was 185# for two reps. So, with a great deal of chutzpah, I figured I could easily hit it again for a single, then PR at 190# or 195#. I tried to plan ahead what my weights and jumps were going to be. I realized a few weights in that I'm an idiot. I started out, greasing the tracks, with a set of 10 front squats with the empty bar (35#). Easy enough. Slapping on 25# plates brought me to 85# for a set of 5. Easy. The next few sets were easy as well. It wasn't until it occurred to me that in my stupidity, I had programmed in 20# jumps for the final three sets of single reps. Stupid.

I easily hit 165#, but had an ugly dismount of the bar. As usual, for every set, I had to clean the bar up to the front rack, spend some time adjusting grip and whatnot (occasionally failing over to the less secure, but more easily attained "california" grip), then hit the squat. The dismount of the bar at 165# was really kind of ugly, and near as I can tell, really screwed me up for my attempt at 185#, a weight I HAVE cleaned before, and even squatted for a double. Not today. Today, I couldn't even clean the weight. I don't know how much was mental, but I tried 3 more times just to clean it, and damn if I couldn't get it up to the rack. They were all power clean and hang power clean attempts. Its possible that with a full squat clean, I might have gotten under it. I honestly didn't even try that.

So, final tally on the front squats ended with me missing the final two weight attempts, and failing to set a new PR.

Front squat: 85# x 5 / x 4 / x 3 / x 2 / 165# x 1 / 185# x 1(x) / (x)

The metcon was less exciting, but arguably even more grueling. Knowing my own limitations, I scaled the dumbbells back to 35# apiece, and 10 reps into the first round, really wished I went further down! Though I tried to shoot for unbroken sets of thrusters for each round, I was feeling pretty down from the front squat fiasco, and didn't once succeed. I did better with the box jumps (stepping down, rather than hopping). I believe I kept all of those sets unbroken, if somewhat slow and deliberate. Hell, with a stack of 6 crappy steparoebics steps all rickety and crap to jump onto, anything other than deliberate is suicide!

Thruster/Box Jump couplet: 22:15

A nice tag to the day came when several of the students asked about different exercises and diet approaches, which set a new high watermark for them showing interest in actual strength and conditioning, rather than "silly" body building. I call it "silly," since these kids aren't following the pros over at or doing Wendler 5-3-1 routines or Rippetoe's Starting Strength. Their routines seem to embody the worst of wandering around the gym, finding something that looks amusing, doing it until its no longer amusing, then wandering around again. Its difficult to try to turn them onto something that, while randomized, is also completely planned out before you go into the gym. And I barely do any crunches or bicep curls! Madness!

The soundtrack for the entire workout was the new Amon Amarth album, 'Surtur Rising.' HIGHLY recommended. \m/

Friday, April 1, 2011

11-03-31: Pull-ups, sit-ups and walking lunges

CrossFit Garden City WoD for March 24, 2011
  • 10 light Turkish Get Ups per Arm 20#
21-18-15-12-9-6-3 reps of:
  • Jumping Pullups
  • AbMat Situps
  • Walking Lunges
  • L-Sit L-Tuck on Rings - Accumulate 2 minutes in as few sets as possible

The Turkish GetUp. Learn it, live it.(
Chest to bar pull-ups. Like regular ones, but a bit more awful. (Sin City CrossFit)
AbMat Sit-Ups. Maybe more fun together than alone? (CrossFit Weekend Warriors)
Ideally, you actually should NOT teleport from one leg to the other. Stand up between EVERY rep, not just the first three and last two. (
Heather Keenan Bergeron does that which I cannot. (

Though feeling a bit tight from the previous day's massive PR on deadlifts (335#...which isn't very heavy at all, actually...), I was pretty psyched up for today's workout. I scaled the warm-up a bit, doing only 10 Turkish Get-Ups per arm, rather than the Rx'ed 30/arm.  This was mostly a time consideration, as 60 TGUs is a bit time consuming. However, after doing those 20 reps, I did a little active stretching and prepping for the training phase.

Although I set-up a stretch band on the weight-assist pull-up machine, I opted to do jumping chest-to-bar pull-ups off the back of the Smith machine, figuring that over the sheer number of reps (84) for this workout, we didn't have enough bands for when I finally couldn't do any sort of normal pull-ups anymore, while my staying power on the jumping variety is quite a bit better.  After cranking up the new Amon Amarth album "Surter Rising" I started the clock and got going.

My only goal for each set was "unbroken." Just finish the reps for that round, that's all. It worked for the first and longest round, and I eventually recovered it for the final three rounds (9-6-3), but had no ability to maintain it on the rounds of 18-15-12, except for the walking lunges. Soccer legs saved me on those, making those my rest period compared to the rest.

Total Time: 10:18

For the L-Sit hold, I immediately scaled it back to an L-tuck, since I barely have a clean L-Sit, much less for an extended period of time. Though I've done some work maintaining the control position, and a little less time trying to hold L-sits and tucks, I had no idea what 2 minutes would feel like. Turns out, it feels like an eternity, even in four smaller bite-sized chunks!

L-Tuck 2:00m: 30s / 35s / 30s / 25s