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

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