Wednesday, August 31, 2011

11-08-31: Handstand Push-Ups and Double-Unders

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Wednesday, August 31st, 2011
Wall-assist handstand push-ups. I'm not there yet. Soon enough. (
Um, this is just silly. Impressive, but silly. (

WoD: 10! UP
  • Handstand Push-Ups (knees on high box)
  • Double-Unders 
 After a day of running and pull-ups, it would be interesting to hit some more lower-body metabolic conditioning (though in sprint mode, for the double-unders) and add in an upper body pushing movement. After going over the standards and scalings for the hand-stand push-ups, I opted to go with the knees on the box variation. I don't have a kick-up to the wall yet, much less into a band harness hungfrom the pull-up bar, but that's definitely my next stop. My next skill-work day will be more hand-stand push-up work, but this time focusing on the kick-up to either the wall or band.

Total time: 7:12

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

11-08-30: Nicole

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Tuesday, August 30th, 2011
Pull-ups. (
When this guy tells you to run, you'd best get running. (

Benchmark WoD: "Nicole" - 20min AMRAP
  • 400m Run
  • Max Rep Pull-ups
Score is # of pull-up successfully completed
NOTE: Protect your hands: if you rip your WOD is terminated!

A pretty simple WoD... each round, you run a 400m (2x around the ECC parking lot), then do as many pull-ups as you can in a single set. If your hands come off the bar, or you're stuck resting at the bottom of the band, your round is done, and you're back on the run.

I felt pretty good on the runs, all 6 of them, though good is relative. I didn't feel like I was going to die, which for me is a great improvement. See my most recent post for reasons why I still think running sucks. Or at least, I still suck at it.

Pull-ups were even worse, but these have always been an issue for me. Part of it is being a big dude, but considering Coach Joe worked out with us today, and he's easily got a dozen pounds on me (pure muscle, mind you), AND he knocked out almost my entire total of pull-ups in his FIRST round, clearly the "big dude" hypothesis of sucking at pull-ups is out the window. Man, was THAT ever a convoluted sentence. Sorry. It's just a matter of working more on the pulling movements. Everyone manages to focus on pushing movements when they work out on their own (see my many years of weight lifting (on and off) doing ALL pressing movements.)

Total pull-ups: 47

Friday, August 26, 2011

11-08-26: Skill work and why running sucks.

Elm City Crossfit WoD for Friday, August 26th, 2011
Coach Jorgy demos ring handstand push-ups. A bit out of my league. A bit. (
How I ALWAYS feel when I run. (
How I'd LIKE to feel. Herschel Walker setting the Falcons straight. (

Buy-in: Skill Development
  • Handstand Push-Ups
WoD: Time Trial
  • 1.5m Run
 After the warm-up, but prior to working on the HSPU progressions, I check with Coach Vin about the on-going soreness and weakness in my forearms and wrists. He had me try to roll out my forearms on a bar placed on a squat rack, and what do you know?! Huge, monstrous knots in my upper forearms! Because knots don't always hurt where they are, but often make things at a distance sore (think of pulling on a rope. The first place to feel the tug is at the OTHER end, where the rope is anchored.) That constant tightness makes everything ELSE hurt... especially if the other end is all the little niggly, fragile bits that make up the human wrist. So, yet another thing to keep working on. Rolling out the knots helped tremendously, but they tightened right back up pretty quickly.

On to the gymnastic movements. At some point a few years ago, I suddenly realized that gymnasts were basically the most usefully strong people, pound for pound, on the planet. I think it was watching John Roethlisburger move from a push-up planche type position to a hand stand by just raising his legs. To me, that's STILL magical. That amount of core stability and overall strength is just... beyond. I don't know if I'll ever get there, since it seems more like the kind of skill you start working on when you're 4-5, and manage to keep for only a few years past your ultra-prime stage.  Either way, I have nothing but respect for gymnastic type movements, especially for being so bad at most of them!

To work the progressions for the handstand push-up, I did several wall-climbs, where you start in a push-up position with your feet to the wall, put your feet on the wall, and slowly walk your hands backwards while moving your feet up the wall. Ideally, you should go from belly on the floor to belly on the wall. After doing a few of those, I started experimenting with trying to pull one hand off the floor, and readjusting my body over the one remaining arm. This was NOT very successful, so I changed tactics, and began doing lateral wall walks, along the wall. This still works the single arms, but doesn't focus on how long each hand is off the ground. Similar work, different trigger, different measurement.

After rolling out my wrists again, it was time for the time trial. 1.5 miles. The longest single run I've attempted since starting at ECC. Actually, probably the longest single run I've ever attempted. (Not true, just realized I've attempted 5K runs around the reservoir in Central Park on at least two occasions, which would be double today's run.) The "course" involved running to the right out of the parking lot, going down to the traffic light at the end of the road, and coming back. The worst part of the run is in the approach and return from the light itself, where the road drops down on the way out, requiring a bit of a climb on the way back. If I wasn't already gassed, the hill wouldn't be too bad. However, it was on the hill where I managed to go from third to second place, which I managed to keep to the end.

I walked twice during the run, neither time for very long, maybe 10-12 paces while I tried to reset my breathing and my thinking. What I hate most about running, and the reason why this entry has "why running sucks" in the title, is that there's almost no distraction from the sound of your own labored breathing. All I can ever think about is how much it hurts to breath, and am I breathing too loud, do I sound like I'm panting, do I sound like an idiot, should I be breathing faster and shallower, how do runners do it, how do marathoners keep this up for hours at a time, how do ultra-marathoners do this for days at a time, this can't be normal, oh god, there's a stitch in my side.... and on and on.

What I have discovered over the years is how to avoid developing a stitch. When I start breathing heavy (you know, 3 steps in), I try to remember to inhale for an odd number of strides, then exhale for an even number of strides. The upshot is that it takes an odd number of strides overall for the full cycle, which means if one inhale starts on the left foot, then the next inhale will start on the right. I find that having the breathing alternating with the footwork means I'm not always inhaling when my left foot strikes, and always exhaling on the right foot (or maybe all the breathing is tied to a single foot, it doesn't really matter for this discussion).  With an odd number of footfalls, the inhale/exhale cycle alternates feet, keeping any given muscle/impact stress from building up. Maybe its all in my head, but when I can focus on that for a bit, I get WAY fewer stitches.

Running still sucks. Unless you're a running back, in which case its the greatest thing ever. I wonder if there's a way to integrate running back-style workouts into crossfit. I wonder how much the cage with the heavy pads in it that you have to run through costs... that would be AWESOME!!!

Total time: 12:38

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

11-08-24: Clean & Jerk Madness

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Wednesday August 24th, 2011
Sage Burgener demonstrates the Clean & Jerk. Click the link to Olympicize the picture. (

Strength: 3 x 6
  • Clean and Jerk @ 70% w/
  • 45 seconds between sets
WOD: on the minute for: 10 minutes
  • 1 Clean & Jerk @ 80%
  • 5 Shoulder-Width Push-ups
I totally suck at the Olympic lifts again. Seriously, its like I never even vaguely learned them in the first place. Not that I was ever coached, so maybe this is just all of my half-assed technique under the microscope of experienced coaching. Either way, even if my form has always been crap, I at least *felt* more comfortable with Clean & Jerks 6 months ago than I do now. For the record, I guess its fair to say that i really never did the full version (catching the bar in a squat), but that's not even the part that's giving me trouble... the trouble begins long before that, and the squat is just part of the ensuing train wreck.

My PR weight is 125#, so the strength portion was done with 85#, and the WoD with 95#. My wrists and forearms are *still* sore from last week's farmers carries, and the receiving position of the C&J didn't do me any favors, which added yet another thing to worry about throughout the workout. For the WoD, I ended up alternating sets of regular push-ups with fist push-ups, which allowed me to keep my wrist straight, which felt much better. Being out of shape on the fist push-ups meant that they knocked the crap out of my hands, instead.

"It's always something." - Gilda Radner

I ended the workout tired, sore, and sweating, so there was definitely some good work going on, but I can't shake the feeling that, having struggled with form the whole way through, that the workout wasn't as good as it could have been. Meh.

    Tuesday, August 23, 2011

    11-08-23: Running, Rowing and Kettlebell swings

    Elm City CrossFit WoD for Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011
    Kristan Clever and Annie Thorisdottir in the 2010 CrossFit Games. (
    Because pictures of kids doing CrossFit are just awesome. (
    One-arm kettlebell swings, as demonstrated by Jeff Martone (
    Tell me again what your excuse is? I think this guy might want to have a word with you about your "excuses." (

    Warm-up (for the next two weeks):
    • SMR (Self-Myofacial Release (Foam Rolling)):
      • Gastroc/Soleus (Calves and surrounding areas)
      • ITB/Quad (quads and surrounding areas)
      • Thorasic/Lats (back)
    • Active Stretching:
      • Leg Swings
      • Scorpion
    • Balance and Stability:
      • Lateral Step-up 2 Balance w/ Press and Hold
    • SAQ Drill:
      • Ladder: in-in-out-out (forward and side)
    WOD: 20 min Cap: No Clock-Just Get Rounds
    • 150m Row or 200m Run
    • 5ea arm KBS 55/70
    NOTE: Self-regulated rest intervals

    I was pretty happy with this workout. My wrists and forearms were *still* tender from last Wednesday's farmer's carries, but due to the kettlebell motion being generated completely from the hips, I really don't think this did too much more damage to whatever's sore/impinged/healing/etc. I ran the first 6 rounds, knowing that's way more a weakness than rowing, but by the end of the 7th round, my lungs were finally on fire enough for me to be happy to see one of the rowers unoccupied after finishing up the that round's kettlebell swings. I ended up rowing the 8th and 9th rounds, running the tenth, and was 2/3s of the way through another row when the 20 minutes was up.

    I really tried to minimize rest time, extracting as much "rest" as I could from the transition to and from the kettlebell, especially while chalking up. I just wanted to avoid standing over the kettlebell, willing myself to pick it up, which I think I was very successful at. I also wanted to avoid walking during any of the runs. The only "cheap" rest I got was on one of the rounds where I rowed, where I got to wait for 5-10 seconds while someone got themselves off the rower. Ah, sweet blissful oxygen.

    Total rounds: 10 plus a little rowing

    Monday, August 22, 2011

    11-08-19: Push-Ups, Pull-Ups and Skill Work

    Elm City CrossFit WoD for Friday, August 19th, 2011

    Push-ups. Sort of. Don't try this at home. (
    Pull-ups. I wish I could smile at the top of one. Someday. (
    Muscle-ups. Dynamic. Awesome. I can't wait to be able to do one! (

    Buy-in: 5-10-5-15
    WOD: Skill Work/Work Your Weakness
    Still in agony from Wednesday's workout, I took this as a sort of slow, active recovery kind of day. Hit the buy-in as hard as possible, but even with a fairly stout band (the thick blue one) ended up finishing second to last, and the guy who came in last had done the same workout and was doing this one with full body-weight pull-ups, so he beat me overall, easily.

    For the WoD, we were to pick whatever skill we wanted, and work on the progressions leading up to it. I chose muscle-ups, as it would allow me to continue working upper body while ignoring my leaden lower body to a large extent. I worked on the false grip, dips, control position, and some transitions from hanging under the rings in a false grip to the above the ring position. Sadly, my grip was so shattered as well that my usually crappy false grip was actually even worse than usual. Definitely a recovery day overall.

    Note: Three days later (I'm finishing this on Monday afternoon) my wrists and forearms are still pissed at me. Uh oh. To the fish oil and advil, batman!!

    Wednesday, August 17, 2011

    11-08-17: Walking Lunges, Farmer Carries, and Tire Flips

    Elm City CrossFit WoD for Wednesday August 17th, 2011
    Walking lunges. I thought these would be the worst and I was RIGHT! Shorter strides hurt the knees, and you need to do more. Longer strides are easier on the knees, you get to do less, but they are also a bit harder. No way to win this one. (
    Farmer's carry. Note the pain face. It is accurate. We did kettlebells or dumbbells, with are markedly easier than barbells. And with far lighter weights. (
    Tire flips! This is how I felt on the lighter tires. However, I was unable to even budge the biggest tire, so at least there's room to grow! (

    WoD: 2 Rounds-Rest as needed between each
    • 200m Walking Lunge
    • 200m Kettlebell Farmer's Walk 55#
    • Tire Flips 7, 5, 3 (<- refers to increasingly heavy tires, and the number of flips required)
    Walking lunges were everything I feared. Just awful. The burning in the quads, the burning in the glutes, the ever-tightening hip-flexors. Just brutal. This was the slowest part of both rounds, and the slowest to recover from, obviously.

    The farmers walk (done with 55# kettlebells) was kind of hard, but more just for grip and shoulder issues. Had to rest once on the first round and twice on the second go-round, but overall not too shabby.

    Tire flips. Finally. The 2 lightest tires were almost painfully easy, the heavier tire was sort of tough, but easy enough for the three reps called for. For the second round, I tried the heaviest tire. I barely got the edge off the ground, but I think my form was all wrong. While I was able to easily deadlift the lighter tires, I think the heaviest one requires more of a horizontal start, judging by the pictures I found online. I'll have to play with that a bit, and do some more research.  Still, awesome to cross something else off the list! 

    Monday, August 15, 2011

    11-08-15: Back squats and a deadlift-box jump couplet

    Elm City CrossFit WoD for Monday, August 15th, 2011
    Back squat. It just doesn't get any more fundamental than this. Oh wait, probably the deadlift is a *little* more fundamental. They're both pretty important, and technique matters. The weight needs to stay over the center of balance at all times, heels need to say nailed to the floor, hip crease MUST go below the tops of the knees (a bit lower than shown in the picture, actually).  Coming back up, the lower back needs to stay locked in, so the butt doesn't come up before the shoulders, meaning the legs extended without actually moving the weight. Not much point in THAT, now is there? (Teen Fitness Blog)
    Deadlift. Pick up heavy stuff. Hell, pick up light stuff with proper technique. Big muscles do ALL the work, while small muscles ALL work to stabilize and protect. It's sad how undervalued this lift is outside of CrossFit, powerlifting, and some weight-lifting circles. Again, all the weight should be on the heels, the weight stays over the center of balance, and the bar never leaves contact with the body. (2010 Crossfit Games)
    Tire jumps! It didn't look nearly this awesome with three dudes sharing a tire in the half-light of a rainy CT morning. But still, it was good fun to share the tire! (Crossfit)

    Strength: 3 x 8
    • Back Squat @ 80% (205#)
    WOD: 5 Down
    • Deadlift (205#)
    • Box Jump (24")
    First, the whining. I was badly under-rested coming into today's workout, and had spent much of the previous day wet-vaccing my basement and driving through torrential downpours with drivers who had NO business being on the roads in good conditions, much less cataclysmic conditions.  All said and done, I rolled in on about 4 hours of sleep (3 uninterrupted, the final one restless due to idiot cats who thought that just because I woke up for a second at 4am, that meant it was breakfast time. Idiot cats.)

    As usual, I perked up a bit after some good rolling out, and the warm-up always makes me feel  a whole lot less crusted up and miserable. After going over the standards and mechanics of the back squat with Coach Mark (good job today, Mark!), I was happy to realize I'd have a squat rack all to myself. ("It's not my fault being the biggest and the strongest!" - Fezzik) Of course, that's only because Mark was coaching. If he was WoDDing with us, I'd have shared with him, and felt like a weenie every time we had to dump a ton of weight to get from *his* work weight down to *mine.*

    Going off a previous workout's revelation that my calculated 1-Rep Max is probably around 255#, I warmed-up to a working weight of 205# for my work sets. This felt freaking HEAVY today. Though it was always ok for the first few reps, I definitely felt like I was fighting for my life for the last 2-3 reps. Either way, I made it through all three rounds without having to dump the bar, so that was pretty sweet.

    After several minutes recovery, we moved onto the WoD. Woody brought out one of the tires for a few of us to use for box jumps. Not including a few test jumps 8 months ago at my Level 1 cert, this was my first time box jumping to a tire. I loved it. The landing was a bit softer, which made it a bit trickier, but also a bit nicer, too. For the WoD, "5 Down" refers to going through both movements with decreasing numbers of reps, so 5 deadlifts, 5 tire jumps, 4 deadlifts, 4 tire jumps... Down to one and one. This was designed to be a burner of a workout. I opted to leave the same weight on the bar, since there was no range given for the deadlift weight. 

    For the first time ever, I got to celebrate my first "win" on a WoD, jumping off the tire at the end of the 5th round with a total time of 1:30. I felt good on this, like I finally found 3rd or 4th gear and was able to keep trucking, despite the rising oxygen debt. Though it was short, and therefore in my sprinter's wheelhouse, there was also enough going on that it would have been easy to stop for a second and catch my breath, or stop and make *sure* I was set-up correctly for the deadlift, rather than relying on experience and instinct to guide me through, which it did. Pretty sweet. Again, had Mark been WoDDing with us, (or if Larry or John had showed up), I'm sure I would have gotten smoked. But no matter, victory was MINE! Until the next WoD when I end up shattered on the floor... as usual. ;)

    Saturday, August 13, 2011

    11-08-12: Hang Power Snatches, Hang Power Cleans and Front Squats

    Elm City CrossFit WoD for Friday, August 12th, 2011
    Spencer Hendel demonstrates the dynamism involved in the Olympic lifts. Given his wide grip, this is obviously a snatch of some kind, though whether he's planning on diving under the bar in a "regular" snatch (ie, a full "squat snatch", although adding in "squat" ought to be redundant), or catching it in a standing position (the "power snatch" variant) is unclear. Either way, a whole lot of energy needs to be imparted on the bar to lift a heavy weight overhead. Notice that he's pulled up and jumped so hard that, even with about 185# on the bar, Spencer's feet have come off the floor. (
    Hang Power Clean. Again, notice the feet leaving the floor with the amount of force generated. Nicole Carroll is something of a bad-ass. (
    I keep using this image for a reason. I think I'm the person on the left, with not-great arm position that leads to repeatedly failing out as I get tired. Be the person on the left, with upper-arms fully parallel to the floor, where the bar can't even begin to start rolling down... yeah, be that person. So much better. (

    WOD: 20 minutes of the following:
    • Odd Minutes:
      • 1 Hang Power Snatch 155# 115#
      • 2 Overhead Squats (Sub two more Hang Power Snatches if OHS form sucks)
    • Even Minutes:
      • 2 Hang Power Clean
      • 4 Front Squats
    When we started this workout, there was actually a different time-scheme. Instead of being a 2-minute back and forth, there was a three minute schedule. Hang power snatches the first minute, hang power cleans and front squats the second, and REST the third. Apparently, we looked far to bright-eyed and bushy tailed going into the rest minute, so we quickly had that taken away from us. Seriously.

    Given my (still) awful overhead squat form (tight calves, crappy shoulder mobility), I opted for the substitution of doing two more hang power snatches. It seemed like a good idea... once I got tired (about 4 rounds in), I was exceedingly happy to have made the swap. What sucks when I'm in fine form would certainly fall apart when I got tired. Trust me.

    The whole way through, I had just ONE thought: bang through all the reps as fast as possible, to have as MUCH time to rest before the next set. I think I was fairly successful, in that even towards the end of the 20 minutes, I was still walking away from my bar to reset while most everyone was still finishing up their last minute or two.

    As far as front squat form, I went back on forth on successfully maintaining a proper grip. My very first set was a total failure, with me nearly dumping the bar and resulting in me having to do what amounted to an out-of-position good morning as the bar started rolling down my arms. No good. That was the worst nearly-dump of the day, and most of the issues weren't nearly as bad. I am definitely still struggling to find the sweet spot where my hands aren't guaranteed to slip... or where they're guaranteed to stay. Someday. Some. Day.

      Wednesday, August 10, 2011

      11-08-10: Running, Toes-to-Bars and Kettlebell Swings

      Elm City CrossFit WoD for August 10th, 2011
      Rule 1: Cardio. In a zombie apocalypse, I'm the first one dead. Well, maybe second or third. I do NOT live into the sequel, I tell you that much. (
      Knees to elbows. Showing the difference between "ok" form (top, knees coming to triceps instead of elbows, torso less horizontal) vs. "awesome" form (bottom, all issues resolved.) (
      Kettlebell swings. Though she's a bit *too* cut (eat a burger, dammit!), it does highlight all the core muscles needed to get the kettlebell overhead. Its NOT a shoulder raise, its a full body movement to put the momentum into the kettlebell to get it overhead, starting from the hip pop to get it moving in the first place. (Forever CrossFit)

      WoD: 3 Rounds for Time
      • 10 Dumpster 2 Dumpster runs
      • 20 T2B Knees to Elbows
      • 10 Kettlebell Swings 55#
      Sellout: 2x20
      GHD hip & back extensions

      Yup, totally thought I was going to die on this one.  While the running focused pretty heavily on my massive cardio weakness, the following movements didn't give me a chance to catch my breath at all. My guess is that the total distance per round was about 500m, but I'm not really sure. If it was in that range, I think I would have preferred to hit the road and just do it all in one longer run than broken into shorter distances. Not that I ever broke into a sprint, but it felt like I *should* have.

      Though I was worried about doubling up on knees-to-elbows AND kettlebell swings, I just tried to keep my grip stable on both, and only had a few times where I felt the kettlebell moving in my hands. I also tried to keep my hands dry with chalk, without overdoing it and actually increasing the risk of tears. Longtime CrossFit contributor (as well as several other websites) Becca Borawski has a great article on hand care.

      All in all, it was the running that killed me. I really tried to crank through the K2Es, and the kettlebells weren't *that* bad, but I was the last one back out the door going into the third round. I don't think I had a single complete run, either stopping early to walk, or walking after the turnaround to try to catch my breath. By the time I got back in to the bars to do the last round of K2Es, some people were already finishing up the kettlebell swings. I got through the last K2Es ok, but imploded on the final kettlebell swings. While I wanted to go unbroken for at least 15 reps, I crapped out at 11. 7 more got me to 18, but I had a pretty bad grip slip on that final one, so I ended up dropping and resetting. It took a few moments for me to finally stop greying out enough to grab the kettlebell and bang out the final 12 reps.

      Total Time: 27:50

      The back-hip extensions were just brutal, since I was already at the "lie down and let me die" stage. But I got it done in sets of 10. I'm waiting to feel those later today and tomorrow.

      Tuesday, August 9, 2011

      11-08-08: Bench Press, Pull-Ups, and Dips

      Elm City CrossFit WoD for Monday, August 8th, 2011
      Bench press with four solid points of contact: feet on floor, hips on bench, shoulders on bench (with shoulder blades pulled together to give a stable platform), and hands on bar.
      The band-assist pull-up. Notice the leg crossed over to reduce the chances of slingshotting the band into your own face. Wily veteran move! (CrossFit Threshold)
      Ring dips, though this is probably from a full-on muscle-up attempt. Still, the rings are in your armpits and you have to straighten your arms. Whether you came from below the rings, or lowered yourself down from the control position, you have to do the same thing: DRIVE!! (

      Strength: 2x vertical
      • Max Rep Bench @ BW
      • Max Rep Weighted banded Pull-up
      • Max Rep Weighted BW Ring Dip
      Note: No Kipping on Weighted Movement

      ExerciseRound 1Round 2
      Bench Press205#/1195#/2
      Band Pull-Up119
      BW Ring Dip97

      Friday, August 5, 2011

      11-08-05: Burpee, Knees-to-Elbows, Stiff-Legged Deadlift Triplet

      Elm City CrossFit WoD for Friday August 5th, 2011
      As Coach B says: "Yay Burpees!" Easy enough. Stand up. Then get your chest on the floor. Then get your feet off the ground and your hands clapping overhead. What you do in between is your business, unless strict burpees are called for, which require push-ups, squat jumps and that sort of thing. Either way, these things are HARD. (
      Eva Twordokens doing a pretty serious knee-to-elbow. To envision a supine variation, everything would look the same, except the bar would be over her head (ie, to the right, in the picture), and she'd be on her back. Get it? (
      Michelle Mootz from CrossFit Santa Clara demonstrating a perfect stiff-legged deadlift. The move starts from the fully standing position (requiring a regular old deadlift to get the bar into position), then you kick the hips back, and keeping the bar stuck to your legs (knees slightly bent), and keeping your back arched, lower the bar as far as you can without rounding your back. Super flexy? Do it standing on a platform that lets you lower the weight further. Old and stiff like me? Go as low as you can and come back up. (

      WOD: 12min AMRAP
      • 8 Burpees
      • 4 Toes to bar (Supine)
      • 2 Stiff-Legged Deadlift 155#
      Bonus Round: 10 min
       - Work on under developed skills & progressions - ring work, dips and L-sits

      ZZzzzzZZZzzzzz. Stupid alarm clock. Stupid gym. Stupid cats sitting on my head waiting for me to get up and feed them! I'll just go back to bed... nah... maybe I'll feel better after rolling out and warming up at the gym. Maybe.

      It turns out I DID feel much better after the basic warm-up routine. Who would have thought? The soreness (in most areas) dissipated, the tightness (in most areas) evaporated. The urge to go back to bed? Not so much. I could still go back to bed now, 2 hours later. Sigh.

      Pretty much any WoD, and especially any AMRAP (As Many Rounds As Possible), that includes burpees is going to suck. This was no exception. I tried to maintain a steady, non-frantic pace on them, but they just kick my ass so fast that by the end of the first round of them, I was already sucking some serious wind. Comparatively, the K2Es and SLDLs were downright easy.

      I opted for the supine variant of the K2E's (lie on your back with your head towards your barbell, grab it like you were on a pull-up bar, and bring your knees to your elbows. Sort of like Ye Olde Reverse Bench Crunch. My hands have been really sore this week, and I didn't want to run the risk of tearing my callouses (again), so this seemed like a good option for maintaining the full-body aspect, while also protecting myself. Plus, it meant I got to keep lying down in the middle of each round. Sheer bliss.

      By the third round, I was completely unable to string any burpees together, so the final 7-8 minutes of the workout were filled with slogging through burpees, then nailing the other movements pretty quickly. However, the burpee thing really killed my time moving from round to round.

      Total rounds: 7 + 4 burpees

      For my extra work, I focused on ring dips and ring L-sits, just trying to really maintain good support, body position, all that jazz.
      Heather Bergeron (CrossFit New England) demonstrates all the many muscles required to make this happen. I don't think I can even get my legs parallel to the floor without leaning back in the rings. (

      Thursday, August 4, 2011

      11-08-04: Back squats, front squats, and overhead squats, oh my!

      Elm City CrossFit WoD for August 4th, 2011 is Mark Rippetoe's (aka The Iron Samurai) site dedicated to barbell training. I'm not sure if he's parted ways with CrossFit (though I've seen rumors on the interwebz), but his teachings are still true, and just as important as always.
      Karianne Dickson (one of my trainers at my Level 1 certification) works the band squat with power-lifting sensei Louie Simmons at Westside Barbell. Bands put more pull on the bar at full extension, making the lockout at the top that much harder than at the bottom. (
      Front squats. Yes, they suck. Do 'em anyways! Capice?! (

      The overhead squat. She may make it look easy. It ain't. By far the most difficult of the squats, based solely on how many muscle groups have to work together to stabilize the weight overhead. (

      Strength: 5x 5-3-1
      • 5 Back Squats
      • 3 Front Squats
      • 1 Overhead Squat
      *weight is set @ 90% of OHS max for all lifts. The bar is placed in the rack only to switch grips.  For OHS the bar is Jerked from the behind the neck position.

      As expected, my craptastic overhead squat technique was a problem. 90% of what I can overhead squat is barely cracking into warm-up weights for the other squats, which would have made today not much of a strength day. Along with a few other athletes, the scaling was to go fairly heavy, work to jerk the bar into the overhead position, try to stabilize it for several seconds, then work into the overhead squat.  Even if I failed, I had still done as much work as possible, at a pretty heavy weight, to improve strength in the overhead position for next time.

      After warming up with sets at 45#, 65#, 95# and 135#, I settled in at 155# for my work sets. I could probably have gone a bit heavier in terms of the back and front squats, but at 155#, I could barely get the push jerk to work. I think I was just definitely intimidated by the thought of that much weight overhead, combined with all of my weaknesses (flexibility, experience) getting that much weight up there in the first place. Of the 5 rounds, I failed to get the bar overhead on three of them. The two successes had some pretty ugly technique on them, to the point where on one, I made the mistake of not just dropping under the bar (its coming up from my shoulders behind the head, so straight down is the ideal motion), but actually lunging forward. Sadly, this mistake was actually compensated for by my ultra-inflexible shoulders, and I ended up catching the weight overhead and feeling pretty good about it. Then Coach Vin pointed out how impressed he was that I managed to control it at all, what with all the forward motion.

      I considered dropping the weight, but then that would have made the back and front squats kind of pointless. In the end, I did a few sets of reduced weight front squats (65#), just working on keeping the weight settled over and slightly behind my head, and trying to keep all the moving parts doing so correctly. One of the goals is to figure out where my issues are really stemming from. Is it really tight calves, reducing mobility all the way up the chain? Tight shoulders? Both? More than that? (My money is on "more than that.")  Well, you have to start somewhere. Here I am.

      Wednesday, August 3, 2011

      11-08-03: Pull-ups and double-unders

      Elm City CrossFit WoD for Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011
      (Click to enGamesenate) Annie Sakamoto (center), one of the original CrossFit bad-assed women, demonstrates how many muscles can be brought to bear on a good kipping pull-up at this past weekend's CrossFit Games. Sadly, we were doing deadhangs, which means no kipping, which means no using hip drive and momentum to get above the bar. I'd complain, but I can't do a kipping pull-up anyways. Meh. (
      (Click to enhugenate) Double-unders at the 2011 Games South East Regional team event. I don't know the athlete, but his form is PERFECT. Body is vertical, there's no mule-kicking, wrists and hands are fully out to the side... perfect. (

      • 3 rounds for time
        • 10 Double Unders
        • 2 Deadhang Pull-ups
      • ~2min Recovery~
      • 3 rounds for time
        • 4 DHPU
        • 20 DU
      Went into this workout feeling pretty good. I hadn't worked out since the Friday before, and rather being sore from previous exertions, I was sore from lack of exertions! Or maybe I've just been sleeping funny. I'm honestly not sure. I made sure I was wearing my Pumas, as they have a nice smooth sole, less likely to catch the jump-rope on the double-unders, and I made sure I had my own jump-rope, too. It's not all that special, but it gets the job done, and I can't seem to do double-unders with any of the ropes at the gym.

      I struggled to chain the double-unders a bit, but still managed to knock out 10 faster than the group (recovering from a 24 hour race over the weekend) doing 10 sit-ups instead. However, they could inevitably knock out the 2 pull-ups faster than I could, so we were all hanging neck and neck. I finished the first round in 1:20.

      Not surprisingly, the 2 minute rest flew by, and we were into the longer round. I opted to go band assist on this set of pull-ups, just to keep my time from spiraling out of control. My first band was WAAY too strong, and I had more trouble getting down to full extension than I did with the resulting pull-up, so I asked Vin to swap the bands for me while I did the first set of 20 double-unders for the second rotation. That set was *perfect*, 20 perfectly chained double-unders .Sweet! Meanwhile, Vin had set me up with a much more "medium" band, which did far less of the work for me. Upshot was that the final 8 pull-ups all required a bit of work from me, which is the entire point of being there in the first place!

      Total time: 6:42 (both rounds and rest time included)

      Afterwards, I spent some time working on ring dips and ring L-sits, since I haven't really done ANY ring work since leaving the House of Diesel back in May.