Wednesday, November 23, 2011

11-11-23: Bench press and double-unders

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Bench press. 15-20 reps in, the smile has usually disappeared. Usually.

Floor presses. See notes below...

Double-Unders. Nothing I haven't already said about them before....

  • Buy-in: 5 x 4
    • Bench @ 87% 185#
  • WoD: 6min AMRAP
    • 5 Floor Presses 155# 135#
    • 7 Double Unders
This was my first time NOT working out with the 5:30 a.m. crew. Turns out, I suck at setting my alarm clock at 11 p.m. at night. Rather than setting the MWF early morning alarm, I set the slightly later Tuesday alarm. That'll be handy next week when it finally goes off! Happily, there were plenty of friendly faces. (Yes, I was worried about not knowing anyone... pretty lame, but seriously.)

First up was bench presses, 5 sets of 4 reps, at about 5 rep max weights. Basically, the first several sets of 4 should be easy enough, but in terms of total volume, the chances are that the final set would be hard. In a good sign, the first 4 sets were increasingly difficult, but I finished all of them, only to fail on the final rep of the final set. Essentially, perfect weigh selection! After that, it was fun with a couplet involving floor presses and double-unders.

 Happily, the weight for this was lighter than for the bench presses, and floor presses automatically have a reduced range of motion. Easy, right? Heh. Tonight, I experimented with using a much lighter jump-rope on the double-unders. It was arguably easier to turn fast enough, but I had a lot of trouble stringing them together. Probably just a practice thing, because the actual individual double-unders themselves seemed a bit easier.

I ended up informally competing against Tom, one of our better endurance *and* strength athletes, who had also been my spotter (and I spotted him) on the bench presses. As it turns out, he was keeping tabs on me, too. Having already hit my limit on bench presses earlier, it was only a matter of time before the floor presses caught up with me. However, I was having better luck with the double-unders than Tom. At the end of 6 minutes, we were completely tied: 5 rounds + 5 floor presses.

Monday, November 21, 2011

11-11-21: Handstand Push-Ups and Burpees

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Monday, November 21st, 2011

Handstand Push-Ups. Or maybe just handstands. The more I try to find pictures for this blog, the more I start to hate the limitations of still photography. (That's not a very useful caption. Sorry!)

Yay burpees! I mean "Ah crap, burpees!" If only there was a way to scale-em... at least for those days where that might really help!

WoD: 21-18-15-12-9-6-3
  • HandStand Push-Ups (Band Assist)
  • Burpees
Some days you just shouldn't even get out of bed. That was this workout. Even after the warm-up, I still felt tired and sore. I ended up choosing a fairly stout combination of bands for the HSPU, knowing there was just no way I had 84 reps stored away doing even half-way decent scaling. Turns out, it didn't matter that much: The burpees annihilated me. Dead. I bonked halfway through the first round of 21. Then things got ugly.

I came down out of the handstand on rep 15 of the second round, and knowing that I was already way far behind the rest of the class, decided to go with a "Fran-esque" round structure (21-15-9) but play with the end, depending on time/fatigue. As it was, there was a 20 minute cap on the workout, which I ended up being the only person to hit. My final output was as follows:

21 - 15 - 9 - 3 - 3 - 3 - 3

Translated into the original workout, that more or less becomes 21 - 18 -  15. (54 reps of each, total). Yup, I made it through a little more than the first half of the workout. With a heavy assist on the HSPUs and sheer death on the burpees. Solid.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

11-18-11: Rope Climbs and Overhead Squats

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Friday November 18th, 2011

Rope climb. Basically, I dare you to find a single muscle not in use. One of the reasons rope climbs work so well. (

Overhead squats. Yet another entire body blaster destruction tool of devastation. I hope that didn't sound too negative... (

  • 5 x Rope Climb*
*Protect your legs
Strength: 7-6-5-4-3-3
  • Overhead Squat 2x85%, 2x87%, 2x1x90%
I MADE IT TO THE TOP OF THE ROPE! Yeah, you read that right, I got my butt all the way up the rope... repeatedly!  In total honesty, I did it on the first attempt, just to prove I could. The next two... I chickened out. Seriously, I just felt like I would fall if I went all the way up again. For the final two attempts, I decided such chickensh*t behavior was unacceptable, and went all the way up. For the final rep, I didn't just reach the metal buckle on the rope, I actually hit the rafter the rope is attached to, and made it down pretty easily, too. I think for the next time there's a skill day, I need to start working on the un-knotted rope, with all the necessary leg and foot skills that will entail. However, if the next time ropes come up in a WoD requiring speed, the knotted rope, and me at the top of it, will be the standard. Bring it.

Overhead squats were the usual struggle. After a warm-up set at 45#, I promptly threw two 25# plates on the bar, knowing from the last time I did heavier OHS, I actually did better with some weight on the bar. At 95#, the weight felt nearly comfortable... for holding a weight overhead and squatting to depth. Not the most comfortable thing at the best of times. On my first work-set (105#), I was asked to demo correctly dumping the bar... so I had most of the class watching me. Of course, the first 6 reps were ok, I struggled with the 7th, then dumped the bar from overhead with straight-arms in front, stepping back from its descent, and lightly controlling it to the floor. The rest of the workout was pretty standard, with me struggling to keep my weight from shifting forward, "into" my quads as it were. Not good, and on my final rep at 115#, my pre-occupation with trying to keep it from happening resulted in me missing that rep (and safely dumping the bar forward.)

But who gives a crap?! I made it to the top of the Flying Spaghetti Monster-damned rope! w00t!!!

What I had stuck in my head ever since. ;)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

11-11-16: Muscle-Up progression and Handstand Push-Ups

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Band-assist handstand push-ups. I think form-wise, I might be better served by doing them against a wall instead of in the band, but with the band helping scale the weight... that might NOT work so well! (CrossFit Geneseo)

Camille Leblanc-Bazinet mid muscle-up. Strong kip and insane upper body strength = better at them than me. For NOW. (

I *so* want to make fun of this dude for his 5-10# weights... but they're probably the weight I should have been using, and if he's demonstrating the movement for physical rehab of an injury, that would make me even more of a jerk. Keeping the elbow still, extend the arms, opening the elbow joint, until arms are perfectly straight. Repeat until the triceps catch on fire...

WoD: 2 x 7min - Up by 1
  • Muscle-up (scaled as band-assist muscle-ups)
  • Handstand Push-Ups (HSPU) band-assist
Sellout: 4x 2x
  • 15 DB Skull Crushers 30#
  • Max Rep Weighted Dips
After the suck-fest that was Tuesday's workout, it felt pretty good to get in and do some skill work. Sure, it meant working on things I'm not great at, but without the pressure of a timer or even the competition with the other gym-members (and there was a great turnout this morning, too!)  My scaling for the muscle-ups was band-assist. I've looked for some videos of this on-line, and have found many variations, but nothing quite like how we do it at ECC.  Basically, the band is locked onto itself on one ring, then held with sheer grip strength in the other ring. Your butt goes in the resulting cradle. Ta-da, instant weight modification for the muscle-up! It took me a few tries to get the right band tension. The first band I tried (green) was so taut I couldn't get far enough below the rings! The second (thin red) made it nearly impossible to transition up into the dip. Finally I found one of the thinner blue bands, and that one was just right. Apparently, I'm Goldilocks. Oh well.

While the workout as prescribed was to do 1 of each movement the first minute, 2 of each the second, etc., I chose the recommended tactic of really trying to focus on clean technique on the movements. Oh, and spending 30 seconds almost every round just trying to kick up into the HSPU. Dammit. Ultimately, I ended up doing 3 sets per round, maxing out at 3 reps in those final sets. While I ended up feeling ok on the muscle-ups, the feedback on my HSPU's is that my core control is at best completely lacking. Rather than having a firm, stacked, slightly arched spine, I apparently was doing my best imitation of a bow, completely broken in the abs and mid-section. So, that's something to work on next time...

After that, we moved onto the sell-out, also known as triceps devastation. Knowing more or less what I used to be able to do with a single dumbbell held by the blob (70#), I opted for two 30# dumbbells. This seems to have been a bit much, especially after the WoD. I made it through the first 10 reps more or less unbroken, but my left arm started wavering like crazy, so I started resting a bit to keep the skull-crushers from being too aptly named. By the time I finished the set, it was with ugly looking singles. Then, just out of curiosity, I tried a weighted dip. Failing that, I ditched the weight and was still only able to bust out three reps on the rings.

The second set of skull-crushers took... somewhat longer. By which I mean a LOT longer. Enough that it wasn't that big a deal that I failed even a single rep in 3 attempts on the dips afterwards, because the next class was already in and at the white board being briefed on the day's workout, and I had to get to work! 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

11-11-15: Endurance Beatdown

Elm City CrossFit Endurance WoD for Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

I knew I should have just joined Planet Ineffective instead. Low impact machines... tvs. And you can bet for damn sure it would have been air conditioned. Who cares how crappy a workout is when you can watch The View in air conditioned splendor?!

WoD: 4 Rounds for Time
  • 20ea OH Walking Lunges 45#/25#
  • 200m Run
  • 20 Burpees
Wow. This just sucked so bad, it sucked! Yeah, I know! Terrible!  Long story short, I stink at walking lunges, especially holding a weight overhead. The runs were the easiest part (until the final two rounds, when they took forever because I couldn't move my legs any more...), and the burpees were almost as bad as the lunges. The worst part about the lunges was my total inability to count them very well... and here's my confession: I have NO idea if I did enough reps. I often lost count, and tried to guess where I really was, and I have NO doubt that my brain didn't do the math accurately each time.

That said, this workout was just miserable, the whole way through. Not sure what I wanted instead, but this was NOT it! Of course, that's just because it was three things I'm not the biggest fan of, one after another. This is a workout I would never have programmed for myself, meaning this was probably the best workout possible. Meh.

Total time: 23:41

11-11-09: Birthday Bash!

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Wednesday, November 9th, 2011
Chuck Norris doesn't blow out birthday candles. They surrender their flames willingly.

WoD: 10min AMRAP
  • 20 Wallballs 20/16
  • 1 Rope Climb
Sell-out: 5 Rounds For Time
  • 5 Deadhang Pull-Ups (DHPU) (Blue Band)
  • 10 Barbell Curls 65#
  • 15 Stiff-Legged Dead Lifts (SLDL)
Did more on my 35th birthday than I've done on the 34 before all combined... but probably not as much as my mother did on my actual day of birth!  Not a bad workout, and I even made it *almost* all the way to the top of the rope. Definitely up an extra knot or two. To the top next time, I swear!

WoD: 4 rounds.

The "sell-out" ended up actually being the harder part of the workout. I used 65# on the bar for both movements, though it was an option to add and remove weight between them. Meh. I figured that for 75 SLDLs, a lighter weight would be just fine. To judge by the fact that I was sore for about 4 days after, I think I made the right choice. Turns out, the main issue was with my grip. After hammering it with the wall-balls (especially the catches) and rope climbs, adding in pull-ups and curls, I started getting shooting pains in my forearms. Not very fun! So, every time I broke in the later sets, it was to keep from dropping the bar completely out of control.

Total time: 13:41

Friday, November 4, 2011

11-11-04: Box Jumps, Pull-Ups, Push-Ups and runs

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Friday, November 4th, 2011

Tire jumps. Jump up. Jump or step down. Repeat. (CrossFit Nyack)

Pull-Ups.  Blargh! (District CrossFit)

Push-Ups. Chest touches the floor on every rep. (Team Gorilla)

Running. Left right left right, right? (Team Gorilla)

WoD: 5 Rounds for Time, 30 minute cap
  • 20 Box Jumps
  • 20 Pull-ups (Band-assist)
  • 20 Push-ups
  • 200m Run
  • 1 minute rest
Yup, pretty much thought I would die on this one. My big mistake (I realized about an hour later) was not scaling the pull-ups correctly. While band-assisted pull-ups might be ok in the 20-40 rep range, they are NOT ok in the 100-reps-in-a-single-workout range. These should have been replaced with jumping chest-to-bar pull-ups. Both easier on the arms, in terms of saving something for the push-ups, but also more work on each of the later rounds. Basically, I got so weak that there was NO way I was getting completely extended at the bottom of the pull-ups, since I couldn't begin to pull my way back out of that hole. So, shitty range-of-motion in an attempt to just finish. Funny, didn't I just write about not compromising ROM for time?! Dammit.

Tire jumps were always not too bad, though I still can't chain them together all that effectively, which means I'm losing a ton of energy and efficiency on each one. However, for all 100, the jump up felt fine, and I jumped down on all of them (rather than stepping down) and my knees feel pretty good right now (about 4 hours later).  Time will tell.

Push-ups were a massive pain in the shoulders, but again, I was hitting them completely noodle-armed after the pull-ups, so no real surprise there. I ended up alternating between sub-sets of regular push-ups and fist push-ups, just to keep the pressure from building up too much on my forearms. 

The runs were basically recovery, though I tried not to hit them *too* slowly, though the final run I completed (round 4) was very much a jog, as I couldn't even begin to get my arms going to balance a faster pace. Seeing that there were only a few minutes left, I rested that one minute, then hit the tire jumps as fast as I could, and got in 4 pathetic pull-ups before time ran out. 

Another thing I realized about trying to go band-assist on the pull-ups: In order to maintain correct position in the band, I was basically doing medium-speed negatives into the bottom position as I got tired, meaning that even on that phase of the pull-up, I was still doing a lot of work. No wonder my arms were smoked. Seriously, coming and going, band-assist was the wrong decision for today's workout. Next time... next time.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

11-11-02: Presses, push jerks and a triplet

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Wednesday November 2nd, 2011

Presses. Weight starts on the shoulders, gets locked out overhead. Repeat.

When the weights get heavy, start using a dip-drive to launch the weight up. Repeat.

Yay Burpees! Repeat!

Band-assisted handstand push-ups. REPEAT!

Single-armed kettlebell swings. REPEAT! REPEAT!!

Strength: 3x within 15:00
  • Press then Jerk till failure @ 87% of Max Press 100#
Score: 2 points for Press reps and 1 point for Jerk Reps

WoD: 3x
  • 5 Burpees
  • Max Handstand Push-Ups
  • 5ea Single Arm KBS 35#
  • Rest 1 Minute
Score: add HSPU to Strength score

Hooray for bruised clavicles (see yesterday's workout for my whining about that), then hitting them again today! Simple enough workout for the day. Grab the weight off the rack, start squeezing out presses, then when the weight gets too heavy, switch over to push jerks. Each press is worth 2 points, each jerk is worth 1. The goal is to get as many points as possible.

Unfortunately, I ran up against the 15 minute time limit for warm-ups and work sets, so I didn't get in my third work set. I'd complain, but after catching the bar on my collar bones about half the time again, I wasn't really too upset about that. I would have liked to have gotten the extra work in, but damn do lightly bruised bones hurt.

34 points

After all that, we moved onto the WoD, doing 5 burpees, handstand push-ups to failure, then single-armed kettlebell swings, 5 per side. The number of reps on the HSPU's got added to the points from the strength portion to give our total for the workout. After each round, 60 seconds rest. I felt pretty good on the first round, up until I failed sort of catastrophically. "Like a lawn dart!" was how Coach Vin described it. Escept for the fact that I *did* barely get my feet down, he was totally right. Still, no harm, no foul.The WoD goes on. I tallied 14 band-assisted handstand push-ups (6/6/2), bringing my total to 48 points.
19 - 15 - 14 = 48

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

11-11-01: Power Cleans, Runs, and Front Squats

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

 Casey Burgener cranking up what appears (at quick count) 205 kilos. Oops, plus 5 kilos or so... i.e. he's really freaking strong, and I'm sure completely efficient. Strong, efficient jerk.

WoD: 6 Rounds: On the Minute
  • 4 Power Cleans @ ¾ BW
  • Crack Dash

Sellout: ½ Tabata

  • Front Squat w/ Power Clean weight
After spending a LONG time on technique and cues, as well as working on sticking points in the power clean, we started warming up. I've found that one of my issues with the clean (of any type) is a reluctance to rebend at the hips for the catch. To try to ensure the bar lands on my shoulders, I stay leaning back a bit... which means that instead, I catch it on my freaking collar bone. My right one more often than not, for some reason. I tried like hell to work on that, trying to focus on hitting that "universal athletic position" so touted among people who don't have bruised clavicles....

Compare the picture to the picture of Casey Burgener up there. Pretty freaking close. You don't see anyone in either picture with their hips fully extended, pointing their chests to the sky. That's what I tend to do... and it hurts. A lot.

The prescripted weight was 3/4 body weight, which should have been 152# or so. However, in an attempt to not cripple myself, I scaled back to 135#. It would be a heavier weight than I've used in a while for an o-lift workout, but its a weight I could easily muscle-up, so it would still be a valid weight to struggle with form on. I was definitely right about that...

The second part of each round was the joy of the "crack dash." Though it sounds sketchy, it merely involves running out of the gym, hanging a hard right, running to the big crack towards the end of the driveway, then heading back. Sounds simple. However, I was the person the deepest in the gym, the furthest from the door. So, if someone else had 100m or so to run, I had 160m. Of course, that's my damn fault for picking the spot I did. Stupid stupid stupid. And all me. So someone make that rotten violins stop playing before I hurt someone... 

So, long story short, each round, I was lucky to make it back to my bar to begin the next one, but I never got back AFTER the round had started. I might have stared at the bar for a second after that buzzer, but I was standing right there, staring at it. Despite that, I tried to make each rep as smart as possible. If one of the big complaints about CrossFit is that we end up rewarding crappy technique by focusing too much on time, a workout like this, where there's pressure but NOT a do or die by the clock impetus, the smart thing to do is focus on the technique. Seriously, screw the buzzer if you need an extra second or two to get the form right. Hell, even in a time domain-based workout, there's just NO excuse for shitty form. Ever. Does it add a few seconds to your "Grace" or "Isabelle" time? Cry me a river (you can borrow my violins), and do it right with the proper form. Or screw up your back or something. No difference to me, champ.

The sell-out was particularly brutal after all of that. A clean to start the set of front squats, then 20 seconds of front squats, followed by 10 seconds rest. I got several in the first round, a few less in the second, then managed just 2-3 for each round after that. My total was 17 front squats. I truly felt like I earned each and every damn one of them. The rule was that we couldn't put the weight down until "Rest!" had been called, so the final two rounds ended with me sucking wind for the final 3-4 seconds, just waiting for that blessed word to come. My legs were shaking like jello, and the idea of cranking out that one final rep, while tempting, was just terrifying. I did manage it in the final round, since there's nothing left to save it for, but that was about it.

"I feel terrible!"