Saturday, December 31, 2011

11-12-30: Burpees, pull-ups, double-unders

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Friday, December 30th, 2011

Burpees. Anything less than perfect form is a no-rep. (Freal Fitness)
Pull-ups. Chin goes over the bar, otherwise its a no-rep. Eyes over? No rep.
Double-unders. Boy these can stink.

WoD: 18x On the minute (pick three and order)
  • 2 Burpees
  • 2 Pull-ups
  • 2 Double-Unders
  • 2 Sit-Ups
The goal of this workout was to do approximately 2:1 rest to work, so 20 seconds of work followed by 40 seconds rest, and additionally, to maintain that pace the whole way through. While it would have been easy to choose sit-ups and get rid of one of my many goats in the list, I decided to go after those goats with a vengeance. I only needed to do two of each move per round, so I figured I could easily handle the burpees and pull-ups, even doing those unassisted. The only question was really whether I could pull off the double-unders or not. If I ended up struggling, I would be in a world of hurt. The other part we had control over was the order of the movements: Each round, I wanted to hit to burpees fresh, head into the pull-ups with a lot left in the tank, then deal with the double-unders however they presented themselves.

As it turned out, I ended up keeping every round at about 20 seconds of work, and the only real variable was the double-unders. If I struggled, the round was usually closer to 30 seconds. My only concern was the pull-ups. I tried to keep them strictly deadhang at the beginning, but by the time 4-5 rounds had gone past, not only had I introduced a whole lot of kipping (uncontrolled, not entirely useful kipping at that!), I had also started letting my feet touch down between reps, to give myself a chance to reset quickly. All told, I would have preferred to not touch down, and to minimize the kipping... or to have kipped with purpose, adding in speed and power. OK, so I need to work on both strict and kipping pull-ups. w00t.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

11-12-28: Deadlift 1RM

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Wednesday, December 28th, 2011
Josh Everett. Scary strong in a "normal looking" package.
Jason Khalipa. Scary strong in a large, muscular looking package.

Rob Orlando. Scary strong in a scary strong looking package.
A cute little package. And the last time I use the word package. I swear!

Strength: 1 Rep Max
 - Deadlift or Back Squat

 World's simplest workout: work up to a one rep max attempt on either the deadlift or back squat. That's it. After working through the new warm-up for the next two weeks, we went over technique on both lifts. I knew my 1RM on the deadlift was getting a little old, so I wanted to shoot for that. After warming up for a few reps at 135#, 225# and 275#. At that weight, I started making smaller jumps and doing fewer reps, hoping to keep the total poundage from getting out of control.

Once we hit working weights, I shared a bar with Al, who was working in the same weight range as me. Upshot is that we both had built-in rest time and cheerleading, which was definitely nice. After 2-3 reps at 295#, we jumped to 315#, then straight to 335#, my previous PR. Feeling all stupid strong, we jumped to 355#, which felt almost easy. Almost. Just for the hell of it, I slapped on an extra 10#, and lifted the crap out of it. So, with that, I hit a 30# PR, jumping it up to 365#.

Deadlift 1RM: 365#

Monday, December 26, 2011

11-12-26: Double-Unders and hill sprints

Post-Newtonmas WoD for Monday, December 26th, 2011

Matt Chan bangs out double-unders with perfect form. Note that hes not cranking up his legs to get over the rope, but just pogos up and over with a minimum of effort.
Chris Spealler with perfect running form (as usual, impossible to tell from a still frame... but trust me on this, he's perfect.)

WoD: 5 Rounds
  • 20 Double-Unders
  • Jog to hill
  • Hill Sprint
  • Recover on walk back to driveway
  • Jog up driveway
Sell-out: 100 200 single-bounces

Not a real scorcher, just enough to get moving, earn the previous days' gluttony, practice double-unders with a light, quick rope, and finally see if using the hill a bit up the street from where I grew up would be good for hill sprints. (Hint: it totally IS.) After warming up with some single-bounces with both my old rope and the new light hotness borrowed from the gym, I proceeded into the workout. After struggling to chain together even two double-unders, I jogged down the driveway and out to the hill in front of the neighbor's house. At the foot of the hill, I started sprinting up it, stopping at the crest. I walked back to my driveway, jogged up it, and repeated the process.

Oddly enough, on the third round, I suddenly very easily chained together 15-16 reps, and it felt great. I felt like I was doing no work on the rope, my upper arms weren't locking up (my rope requires my arms to be held out too far, making my shoulders sizzle like mad after about 20 seconds of work)... it was great. I was unable to re-create that experience for the rest of the workout, however.

For a sell-out, I decided on 100 single-unders. After sailing through those, I upped it to 200. By the time I was done, Fran-lung had set in, and it was time to come inside.

Friday, December 23, 2011

11-12-23: Max Bench

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Friday, December 23rd, 2011

Mark Rippetoe coaches Eva T. on proper bench press form. Nothing but awesome here. (

For Jesus Newton: Max Bench

Bench press. Fairly simple, though I'm sure there are "classic" CrossFitters who have no idea what the hell it is or how to do it correctly. I would refer them to the Iron Samurai, Mark Rippetoe's crucial "Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training" for all the necessary information. As luck would have it, I had a bench and rack to myself, which was great, since I was moving weights far lighter than the two super strong guys, but a bit higher than the two smaller guys (but not nearly 'higher' enough given the size difference... either they're super strong, or I have a LOT of work to do!)

After warming up under the empty bar, then 95# and 135#, I started backing off on the reps. My goal was to hit 205# for a 1RM, which would be the first time I actually hit a weight that heavy. Having just done a quick search of the last time I did bench presses, I aimed a bit south of my calculated 1RM (I did 4 reps at 185#, which is 87% of @212#), but the 185# marked the biggest weights I had moved at all, so 205# was still an impressive benchmark for me.

The only real notes from this workout were the final two lifts. At 195#, the bar shimmied a LOT from left to right on its way up, which made me a bit worried for the next lift, but I knew I wanted it. At 205#, the bar totally stalled about a 1/3rd of the way up, but I managed to get it going and completed the lift. I definitely thought there was a possibility of failing at that instant. Coach Vin asked if I was going to shoot for the next weight, but I had hit my goal, with difficulty, and decided to stop while I was ahead of the game. Knowing (now) that my calculated 1RM would really have been 7-10# higher, I kind of wish I had kept going, but I'm ok with that for now. Next time, I'll destrominate that weight.

1RM = 205# PR

11-12-22: Rope climbs, pull-ups, bear crawls

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Thursday, December 22, 2011

Rope-climbs: Of course, these bad-asses aren't using knotted ropes, which makes it even MORE impressive. Next time there's a skill day, I need to work on the footwork needed to climb this style of rope. (Costa Mesa CrossFit)

I don't smile at the top of pull-ups. There's not enough time. (

Bear crawls. Holy incredible suckage!! These are just awfultastic. (Flatirons CrossFit)

Buy-in: 15 min
 - Rope Climb
WoD: 10 min AMRAP
 - 3 Pull-ups
 - Bear Crawl

Ah, rope climbs. For the first time, I was the "experienced" climber on the knotted rope, trying to help coach a few other athletes through the process of 'jumping' up the rope from knot to knot. For myself, I managed 6-7 total climbs, all the way up to the new bells up at the rafters. So that felt pretty good. After that, the suckage set in.

If you're me, you haven't done bear crawls in... ever? So, while I was able to do unassisted pull-ups (I can handle small rep schemes without requiring a band-assist) for the rounds I completed, I was getting utterly *destrominated* by the bear crawls. Like being on hands and knees, except on your feet, which loads the weight a WHOLE lot more onto the upper body. Big time fun when that upper body has just climbed a rope repeatedly and then did a few pull-ups.

Final tally: 7 rounds and 2 pull-ups.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

11-12-21: Power snatches, kettlebell swings, jerks and squats

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Power snatches. The first few reps of Grace usually look pretty good, then its pretty much train-wreck time after that. Still, watching Dave Lipson and Josh Everett bang through it is pretty impressive. (
Kettlebell swings. American-style go up over the head, rather than just shoulder-height. (CrossFit CFT)
I don't need this or this. Just this ashtray... And this paddle game. - The ashtray and the paddle game and that's all I need... And this remote control. - The ashtray, the paddle game, and the remote control, and that's all I need... And these matches. - The ashtray, and these matches, and the remote control, and the paddle ball... And this lamp. - The ashtray, this paddle game, and the remote control, and the lamp, and that's all *I* need. And that's *all* I need too. I don't need one other thing, not one... I need this. - The paddle game and the chair, and the remote control, and the matches for sure. Well what are you looking at? What do you think I'm some kind of a jerk or something! - And this. That's all I need.

Back squat to acceptable depth: Hip crease below the tops of the knees. Note the back arch protecting the spine from the load. The nerd in me wants to know what the different colors mean as far as weights. (Crossfit Multikeo)

WoD: For Time
  • 9-15-11
    • Power Snatch @ ¾ BW
    • Kettlebell Swings
  • ~5 min Rec~
  • 11-15-9
    • Jerk
    • Back Squat
Scheduling fail: I didn't make it to the gym today... but I was pretty proud of the work I already did on this the night before. Having seen the tail end of the final class of the day making their way through this... holy crapnuts. I think I need to hit this one on a make-up/amnesty day. Jeebus.

(And seriously, tell me the Jerk reference isn't classic, if completely out of place. SOPA or whatever the hell the internet censorship law is will destroy me AND this sorry excuse for a blog...)

11-12-19: 1RM Cleans and Front Squats

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Monday, December 19th, 2011

The clean. Floor to shoulders, using just about every muscle in the body EXCEPT the arms (other than just for control). If you're using your arms a lot, you're doing it wrong.Note pictures 2-3... the weight hasn't moved much, only the lifter has. And his arms are STRAIGHT in the 2nd pic.

Brett Marshall (AFT) demos awesome front squat form. The weight is out of the hands and riding on the delts. Knees are out, feet are flat on the floor. Perfection. (

Strength: 1 Rep Max
  • Clean
  • Front Squat
Pretty simple prescription: Work up to 1 rep maxes on the clean, then on the front squat (ie, NOT in the same move; a full clean (which includes catching the bar in a full squat) does NOT count as the front squat attempt.) After a good amount of warm-up and review with empty bars, we set to work. Despite all of my recent complaining and whining about my own shortcomings and goats, especially the olympic lifts, including cleans, today felt really good. I felt like I was really popping the bar up to my shoulders using mostly the triple extension of hips, knees and ankles, and I was having some pretty good success dropping under the bar, rather than just relying on firing up to full standing height in a power clean. So that was all good.  As I climbed up in weight, I just trying to keep my head fully in the moment, only worrying about the deadlift "yellow light" portion of the lift, then the explosive pop, then the catch, and not getting all flustered by dealing with everything at the same time. 

After a few warm-ups at 95#, I started moving up in weight. I had two good lifts at 115# and 135#, then matched my previous PR at 155#. That felt so good with my improved form, I shot to 175# and nailed it, setting a 20# PR. After taking a few minutes, I tried for a final attempt at 185#, but didn't quite get under the bar properly, causing it to "stack up" on my left wrist wrong. Though I was able to shake it out in time for the front squats, it definitely made me bring my clean attempts to an end!

For the front squat, I picked right up at 185#, banging out two reps easily. I again started climbing, this time gunning for my previous PR of 215#. After a rep at 205#, I went to 225# and nailed it. I tried a rep at 235# and nailed it, putting me at a 20# PR on front squats, too. After nearly deciding to quit (it was time for the next class to come in), I opted for one more lift, this time at 245#. I nailed it, inking in a 30# PR on front squats for the day. Not a bad start to the week, and a welcome change from my usual bitching and moaning, at least in recent posts. Progress. Getting stronger. THIS is why we do this. No, its NOT always fun, but on days like this (or when I got to the top of the climbing rope, or broke 300# on my deadlift), its totally worth it!

One other thing I thought of later: I had NO problems with my grip on this workout. Granted, I didn't do any high reps on the front squats, so there wasn't a lot of time for fingers to slip out.  I also did some triceps work during the warm-up, which I think definitely paid off. Interesting. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

11-12-16: Box jumps and double-unders

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Friday, December 16th, 2011

High box jumps. We didn't go anywhere near this tall, but worked in with double-unders, that makes total sense. (CrossFit Roots, Denver CO)

Double-unders. Its just jumping rope... I don't know why Brandy Richardson needs to make it look so much harder than it is. Show off. (

WoD: 3 Rounds for Time
  • 1 Box Jumps (30")
  • 10 Double-Unders
  • 2 Box Jumps
  • 20 DU
  • 3 Box Jumps
  • 30 DU
  • 2 min Recovery
Some days you have double-unders, and others you start getting grateful for a single rep that doesn't result in you whipping the rope into your toes. Not so bad the first time, but the hundred and first time... well, its gotten old by then. This morning was a trainwreck, highlighting my need to do double-under work far more regularly, either as part of my warm-up or cool-down. I apparently don't have them strongly enough to put them away for a month, then come back and expect them to be there.

The first round started well enough. Easy big box jump, followed by 10 broken up double-unders, nothing too bad. Two more jumps, then a chain of 20 double-unders. Boo-yah, I'm back! Three more jumps, then a slightly broken up set of DUs, probably something like 6, 20, and 4 reps to get out of the round. My split time for the round was 2:15. It would be the last split I noticed.

The second round was... bad. After waiting 2 minutes, I jumped back in. Again, jumps weren't too bad at all. For this round, I think the most reps I strung together on the DUs was two... maybe three. Not bad for ten, but getting awful on the set of twenty, and sheer torture on the set of thirty. Little did I know that the 3rd round would be even worse.

Again, jumps were ok. As I struggled through the set of 10 DUs, most of the rest of the class finished. The stragglers were well done before I got out of the round of 20... and it was all me for the round of 30. I wanted to quit. I would have given anything to have been done and recovering. As it was, I had to have single-bounced enough between double-under attempts to have officially completed the scaled version of the WoD (2x singles for each Rx'd DU, so rounds of 20, 40, and 60 SUs.)  Either way, by the time I was done, my lungs were scorched, my calves were unhappy, and my will was crushed. Well, not crushed. Like I said, I know what to learn from this experience: Remedial rope work before or after every WoD, and some work on off-days, unless they are deemed pure recovery.

Total Time: 13:53

Note: While trying to find pictures for this installment, I came across a great post on beastmodaldomains about utilizing box jumps in a WoD, and tackling the issue of massive reps being very risky in terms of achilles ruptures. Suddenly, instead of wondering why we only did 18 total box jumps, I marvel at the intelligence of it. Sweet. Plus, it has several awesome pics, including my new favorite:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

11-12-14: Olympic Total

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

Camille Leblanc-Bazinet at the bottom of the snatch catch... or in an overhead squat. Hard to say. 
Camille Leblanc-Bazinet sets up for the clean, getting the bar from the ground to her shoulders.

Heather Bergeron catches the clean in full "ass to grass" depth. I need to work on this some more. ;)

Olympic Total: 30min cap (Three attempts at each lift)
  • Snatch
  • Clean & Jerk
Ah, the Olympic lifts. Skill, power, and massive amounts of suckage when not done correctly. My goal for today was to try to do the lifts as true to form as possible, meaning no power snatches or power cleans, but the full "squat" variety of each. As a result, my total numbers were nowhere near my "sloppy-as-I-needed-to-be" Personal Records. Oh well. 

After a thorough warm-up and refresher on the lifts using PVC pipes, we moved to the real bars. Goddamn they get cold in winter in an unheated gym! After warming up both lifts for a bit, I moved to 65# for a few reps on both, then 95# for a few reps. I started my snatch attempts at 115#, moved to 125#, failed once, then nailed it.  

After that, we moved to the clean & jerk. In the workout as prescribed, we were allowed to jerk out of the racks (ie, get the bar out of the rack in the front rack position, and jerk from there, rather than needing to clean the weight up.)  While doing that would have definitely improved my total, my main issue with the Clean & Jerk is the transition between the two, so I was more interested in working THAT and getting more experience in. After a success at 125#, I failed at 135#, then tried it again and nailed it. I found myself with some extra time, and made two attempts at 140#, and failed on both of them.

Snatch: 125#
C&J: 135#
Total: 260#

Monday, December 12, 2011

11-12-12: Ring rows, sit-ups and push-ups

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Monday, December 12, 2011
Ring rows: Though used as a scaling option for pull-ups, they are difficult in their own right, requiring and building lots of multi-planar support in the shoulders, torso, as well as the arm muscles, obviously.
Push-ups. Note the abmat next to her, conveniently for my needs. There is a dearth of cool pictures of people doing sit-ups on the interwebz.

  • WoD: 10!
    • Ring Row
    • Sit-up
    • Push-ups
  • Sellout: 2x Failure
    • Dumbbell Hammer Curls
The factorial in the WoD description just means rounds of 10, 9, 8, etc... 

This is the workout I'm glad I *didn't* have on Friday: It actually felt pretty good.The ring rows and push-ups caught up with me pretty quickly, but not in a way that was too distressing. I pretty much wanted to die during the 2nd and 3rd rounds (9 and 8 reps, respectively), but as the rounds got shorter, the work got noticeably easier.

The upshot with ring rows is how infinitely scalable they really are. With your shoulders directly under the rings (and where the rings are anchored), the work is very difficult. But if you just walk a bit backward, putting a lateral component into the angle of the rings from the ceiling, the work load decreases dramatically. They can be performed from a nearly vertical position for extreme scaling, or flat parallel to the floor for a tougher workout. I was somewhere in the middle, flatter in the beginning... a bit more vertical by the end.

Push-ups were all completely legit, full ROM. Sit-ups were performed with an abmat, knees apart to minimize the contribution from the hip flexors. The ROM is defined by the back touching the floor, and the shoulders moving in front of the hip crease  at the top. While the push-ups were all broken into subsets after the first few rounds, I managed to keep the sit-ups unbroken. So at least there was that.

The sell-out was good old-fashioned body building, dumbbell curls. The prescripted weight was "heavy enough to limit the set to 8-12 reps." I got it fairly close, failing out at 13 reps on the first round, 14 on the second. This was using the 20# dumbbells. 25# probably would have been perfect, but I'm not too concerned about a couple of extra reps. At least I didn't bang out 20-25 and completely miss the point. So, again, at least there was that.

Friday, December 9, 2011

11-12-09: Clean and Jerk complex

Elm City CrossFit WoD for December 9th, 2011

The inspiration for today's workout. Damn, this guy is strong!

Natalie Burgener clean and jerks. She's kind of awesome. Comes with being a Burgener, I guess. ;)

  • 1 Clean*
  • 2 Front Squats
  • 1 Jerk
Repeat until failure
*Start @ 70% Max C&J and increase by 5% each cycle. End @ 90%

First time back to the gym in over two weeks (holidays, a death in the family, work overload, capped off with a fun case of food poisoning... cue my 'world's saddest violins,' please!), and crap, was it a rough re-entry. Not just a day requiring strength... but a day requiring a great deal of skill, too, and NOT skills that I had locked in before. While I wasn't cleaning at weights that were too much of a stretch, it also never felt that great. I realized fairly far into the workout that I was power cleaning (not on purpose) so much, I was catching the bar without having moved my legs out, and with my knees straight. As high up as I possibly could, in other words. Doofus.

The front squats were easy as pie, again not being anywhere near my max weights, and the grip wasn't too much of a problem... until it came time to transition into the jerk. My grip/forearms aren't flexible enough to keep all my fingers under the bar... and as the pinky and ring finger slipped out, I was completely screwed trying to prep for the jerk. The only weight I was successful at was my starting weight of 115#. After a few reps of that in my first work set, I moved up another 5% towards my C&J max of 155# (set on another day when I was struggling with the exact same grip issues), to 125#. After several failed attempts, all at the jerk, and all because of trying to get my grip re-situated, I dropped back to 155# to at least get some work done going overhead. For the final few minutes of the workout, I made a few more attempts at 125#. Failed all of them at the jerk. Effin' grip.

So, I clearly need to work on the transition, and on my forearm/grip flexibility. It's no good having work that you can do, strength-wise, be completely undermined by something "small" like that. Of course, that's not entirely true, as most olympic lifts and their variations are equally dependent on strength as technique... but still...

The one "upshot" is thatI got my re-entry out of the way early. Had this workout gone fairly smoothly, like I hadn't missed a beat, only to have a train-wreck the next time... bah. Best to have it out of the way now. I guess. Dammit.