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.

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