Sunday, January 29, 2012

12-01-29: The Reebok CrossFit commercial

The Reebok:CrossFit Commercial 

During the 2011 NFC championship game, the world of fitness was changed forever when this little gem was aired for the first time:

Wow, I mean just wow, right? Seriously, the sport of fitness HAS arrived. Of course, all hell broke loose on the interwebz, with those FOR Reebok:CrossFit acting like the tide has completely turned, and now everyone on the planet will clearly begin CrossFitting tomorrow (or maybe the next day). On the other hand, holy crap, the haters couldn't fall out of the woodwork fast enough to start shitting all over it. My personal take on it? I think the commercial is a wretched pile of horse manure. Despite how truly "punny" the red box imagery is,* and they are *fairly* iconic, they also make the entire CrossFit "thing" seem pre-packaged and assembly line. Given that most of the pre-existing confusion about CrossFit is based on the unfounded assumption that there is no scaling or substitutions, and that its a one-size-fits-all approach, I personally kind of hate any things that could feed into that misconception.

Of course, that's just my opinion, and for what it's worth, if someone told me that the decision was made to actively ignore the idiot haters and just go for it, I would actually appreciate that. I would even support it. However, after the questionable image decision, (which lasts for most of the commercial, by the way), comes the 10-15 seconds of utter shitting-of-the-sheets. Not-Unfit-Hipster-Man opens the box and is treated to a hip, fast, exciting, MTV-generation jump-cut medley of insanely fit people doing insanely intense workouts. What's wrong with that? Well, from the beginning, one of the main points of CrossFit's infinitely scalable workouts is that ANYONE can do it, from (yes, ok) the strongest, fastest athletes on the planet all the way down to you, me, and our parents and kids. Funny. I don't see any of *us* in that commercial. While I might be impressed by the commercial, I don't feel represented. At all. In fact, after 3 years of CrossFitting, I'm actually feeling a little LESS "CrossFitty" as a result of this.

Reebok:CrossFit followed it up with this much improved attempt:

Again, only the strong, fast, and beautiful are represented. Its impressive and striking, but its in NO way representative of everything that CrossFit can be. And AGAIN, having somewhat left themselves open to criticism. Beautiful case in point: Fitness Lonnie.

Sheer poetry. But, on the other hand, once upon a time, the people in charge knew how to make a commercial.

 Two words (sorry Mom): FUCK YEAH. (If I could make that blink, I would.) I want to do THAT. It looks hard, but rewarding. There are insanely impressive athletes and AVERAGE JOES, working out side-by-side. There's yelling, intensity, coaching, support, and COMMUNITY. On top of that, go to youtube and search for "What is CrossFit". There are a metric crap-ton of videos created by the various affiliates, each one showing their own individual character and traits.

So, while I personally think that the *business* part of the Reebok:CrossFit crossover is pretty impressive, I'm left a bit cold by their marketing attempts. Their clothing line is boring to look upon, but according the athletes being given lots of free Reebok gear, its insanely comfortable to work-out in, and, its possible (if unlikely) that they may even improve performance. The co-sponsorship of the CrossFit Games got them onto ESPN 2, which is kind of awesome. Here again, only the shiny awesometastic athletes get featured on the games, so while they're fun to watch, and in a few years, I would LOVE to compete at the Masters level (against the aging but still awesometastic current champions), they still don't really reflect on the other 99% of us out there.

*CrossFit gyms tend to be devoid of equipment, compared to the average $10/month gym which is just loaded with equipment, wall to wall. With the comparative lack of equipment, a CrossFit gym looks more like an empty box. Get it? Isn't the red box imagery awesome in that light?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

12-01-26: Death by Clean & Jerk

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Thursday, January 25th, 2012

Sage Burgener cranks through a perfect clean and jerk (the full version) with the bar coming from the floor, the catch in the full squat, etc.
Natalie Burgener bangs out a clearly awesome clean and jerk. Again, note that this is the full version.
A focus just on the jerk, with the dip and the re-extension to drive the bar up, allowing the athlete to drop under the bar with arms extended.

An insanely heavy (to me, and probably most people) clean. The technique of dropping under the bar and catching in the full squat means that you don't need to lift the bar as far. So, technique means you don't need to do *as much* work (as you would with crappy form) to get the bar on your shoulders.

Having stood up with the bar on the shoulders, there is another dip-drive, and the split (again) gets the body under the bar, so it doesn't need to be lifted as far. Technique equals efficiency, which means less total work per lift.

  • WoD:
    • Death by Clean and Jerk @ 65% (100#)
  • Sell-out:
    • Skill work
Very simple: Minute one, one clean and jerk. Minute two, two clean and jerks. Continue 'til ya can't. The only spin on the rules was this: After the round where you reached inevitable failure, you had to rest the following minute, then start back down the ladder, the same way you came up, UNTIL the final athlete finished in failure. So, if you made it to three reps on the third minute, and failed in the fourth minute (perhaps only completing three reps), you would rest for the fifth minute, then in the sixth, start at THREE reps, then in the seventh minute, two reps, one rep in the eighth, and (should things come to that), work back UP the ladder. (It turns out, that last part would be unnecessary.)

We were given the choice of doing either the full squat clean, the power clean, or the hang power clean. Knowing that my form would probably crap the sheets just about the third round, I opted for the less skill-intensive hang power clean. Just for poops 'n' grins, I started each round with a power snatch from the floor. They felt ok, but very quickly, the fact that I'm at the limits of my forearm flexibility in the catch position of the clean started catching up with me. After the getting the bar onto my shoulders, the transition time to getting set to get it overhead grew longer and longer...

While the 6th rounds six reps took me all of 30 seconds, in the 7th round, it took me nearly the full minute, leaving me screwed to finish the seventh rep in time. I ended up having to rest in the 8th round, then started my way back down the ladder with six reps in the 9th minute. There was some confusion as to whether there WAS a ninth minute, as the person who had lasted the longest didn't actually complete round 9. Screw it, I finished my six reps to start on the way back down.


For skill work, I worked on a few different things. For the first, I banged out 34 push-ups (in 4 rounds), to get ahead in a facebook thing where for everyone who liked a status, i would do a push-up. 48 likes the last time I checked, and 34 tonight brought me to a total of 50. Much better than some other facebook denizens who, being way more popular than me, ended up owing 3,000 or more. Suckers.

Then, it was on to the joy of double-under practice.  As usual, I had no idea going in if they would chain or not. For the most part, they did not. But, several serious welts later, they did start coming together. Near as I could tell, I tend to rush the spinning of the rope, making the double-unders even harder than they need to be. Stupid me.

Finally, it was on to a little work on kipping pull-ups. I haven't worked on my kip since leaving NYC what, eight months ago? No good. So, a little work on the basic swinging motion... until my palms felt like they were on fire. I *had* just done a bit of barbell work, after all. :-/ It's important to not be this guy:

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

12-01-23: Front squats, pull-ups, handstand push-ups and knees-to-elbows

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Monday, January 23rd, 2012
Elbows in the front squat. If you look like the picture on the left, you'll end up  looking like the dude below, with your hands slipped out and in danger of losing control of the bar. If, on the other hand, your triceps aren't insanely tight and sore (see below), the bar will be well controlled on the delts. (CrossFit)

Very popular on Muscle Beach. That doesn't make it right, or cool. Note also the cheater board under his heels, making the movement a little easier. Its a similar assistance as given by the slight heel lift in oly shoes, but much more so, and far less stable. So, more cheat, and more unsafe. Awesome.

Band-assist pull-ups. As always, note the leg without the band crossed over the one with, to minimize the likelihood of the band slipping loose and zapping you in either the face or the junk. Never a good thing. (CrossFit Threshold)

Band-assist pull-ups. One of the hardest things to achieve, at least early on, is the fully extended body in the harness. Its difficult to not end up with the legs bent, bowing the entire body out of position, and resulting in the movement resembling a completely screwed up elevated push-up, rather than an awesome handstand push-up. I've been having a bit more success with that... a bit. (CrossFit King of Prussia)

Variations. L-R: Knees to elbows, toes to bar (rings), and knee to elbow attempts (ie, knee raises).  (CrossFit)

WoD: (vertical)
  • 15-9-6
    • Front Squat @ 55% of 1RM (135#)
    • Pull-ups (band-assist)
  • 4 minutes recovery
  • 9-6-3
    • Handstand Push-Ups (band-assist)
    • Knees-to-Elbows
Monday morning beat down time. After a nice warm-up and review of techniques and movements standards, it was time to start kicking ass and taking names. 55% of my one rep max for the front squat (285#) comes out to 135#. A fairly heavy weight for 15 reps, but not impossible. Good thing. There would be more after that... The one issue I had going into the workout was that my triceps were insanely sore and tight from the previous weeks' workouts, which translated into some stiffness in the front squat rack position. Further translation: stiffness in the front rack position meant I was back to being unable to keep my hands on the bar, requiring me to quickly switch to the annoying "California" front-squat position. Not as secure, and sort of lame. However, I did still bang out all of the squats, unbroken each time... so there was that.

For the pull-ups, I opted to go band assist, since for 15 reps, there was just NO way that going without assistance was going to happen. Sad but true. I'm working on it, and seeing some progress, but not enough to get through 30 reps in a timed workout. Bah. So, the blue band was my way of getting through the pull-up portion of the workout. The bad news is that I still have a LOT of work to do in terms of power output: even with the band assist, I still ended up having to break up the sets. Sad, but at least it points out one of my big goats, and what I need to keep working on.

I was one of the last ones off the pull-up bar going into the break, but I was determined to make it up one the second leg of the workout. After a VERY fast four minute recovery, I was back into it. All I wanted was to keep the sets unbroken. After powering through 9 band-assist push-ups (and having kicked up cleanly, I might add), I had a pretty good feeling about that goal. The knees-to-elbows proved to be a bit more difficult, more just because of my now completely smoked arms and failing grip. I just tried to protect my grip, only dropping off the bar to rub some life back into my hands and try to keep from getting a torn callous (I do try to keep them filed down, but still...).

By the end of the workout, I had caught up with several other athletes, though in all fairness, one had done the entire workout completely unassisted. So, even if I beat him by a minute or two, he did infinitely more work than me. Showoff bastard.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

12-01-20: Ring Dips and Double-Unders

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Friday, January 20th, 2012

Camille Leblanc-Bazinet. Probably in the middle of a muscle-up, but she drives traffic. Yes, I'm getting cynical.  She's an awesome athlete, and you found this blog because of her. Deal with it. ;) (CrossFit Games)
More ring dips. By the ways, these suck so much, they rule. There is no part of the upper body these don't annhilate. A day later, you can trust me on this one... 

Double-unders. If the picture doesn't show you how much these suck, nothing will. On the other hand, thanks to Alice-Anne for hitting her FIRST double-unders on this WoD. w00t!

Left: bad form (broken, too much work being done) vs. awesome form (crisp, clean, efficient.)

WoD: 20 min
In twenty minutes, perform as many rounds of as many ring dips as possible, then knock out 10 double-unders (or 20 single-unders). Pretty simple. Good thing both movements are a pain in the tuchus, otherwise this workout might have been too easy! Heh.  As part of the WoD intro, we were instructed to be ready to scale down the difficulty of the ring dips as we fatigued, moving to band assist as needed. I ended up doing the same thing on the double-unders, as chaining them together was just beyond me during the WoD, and I ended up (as usual) scorching my lungs and legs trying to get 10 and taking too long and killing my cardio going for it. I switched to single-unders in the 5th round, and had added in band assist ring dips in the 6th.

With 6 ring-dip stations, and several people using benches as their scaling, I had a pair of rings to myself. w00t! (It's the little things...seriously!), but ended up needing to dodge 12 people's double-unders on my way to my jump-rope station. Bah! Still, nothing like dodging whirling ropes of death in the middle of a workout to keep you on your toes!

Total reps: 62 ring dips / 10 rounds 
Scalings: 32 ring dips/30 band assist (red band) and 4 rounds double-unders and 6 rounds of single-unders

Thursday, January 19, 2012

12-01-18: Deadlifts, shrugs and the Big Butt test

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Heather Bergeron cranking the deadlift for reps. (CrossFit Games)

Camille Leblanc-Bazinet deadlifting. Or maybe mid-clean or something. (CrossFit Games)

Jolie Gentry NOT going for reps, I wouldn't imagine. (CrossFit Games)

Killian. I'll be back. With a well-maintained lumbar arch, even barefoot, and possibly high. Lock up your daughters and house maids...

The barbell shrug. Often ignored in functional movement circles, I guess a movement that both requires and builds grip and shoulder strength isn't all that useful. <>

WoD: 6 Rounds
  • 2 Deadlifts @ 1 ½ BW (275# using "ideal" bodyweight x 1.5)
  • 5 Shrugs
  • 2 min recovery
Grip work! Picking a pretty damn heavy weight, do two deadlifts, then 5 shrugs, all unbroken. Then, rest two minutes, and do it all again. 5 more times. The prescribed weight was supposed to be 1.5 times body-weight. Since that would put me up over 300#, I rolled it back to 275#, which would be closer to 1.5x my "ideal" body-weight. Good enough for me!

Six rounds of some serious work later, it was time for some truly important work. It was time to take the Butt Test. You lie on your stomach, someone else rolls a barbell, loaded standard Olympic plates, up your legs, and if your butt stops the bar, you pass. If you have tiny, under-developed glutes (or are just petite), you fail. You'd best believe my big-ass butt stopped the bar. Coach Kimmie actually kept pushing a bit, and the butt kept working. Passing felt almost as good as hitting a PR. Almost!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

12-01-16: Bench press, back extensions and push-ups

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Monday, January 16th, 2012

Bench press. Mark Rippetoe cueing Eva Twordokens on proper bench technique. Shoulders are pulled back, scapula contracted, making for a solid point of contact with the bench itself. Conveniently enough, it also decreases the range of motion required to hit lock-out. See the pic below for the reasons why. (CrossFit)
On the left, his hands are easily 2 feet from his chest, whereas on the right, the range of motion has been reduced several inches. So a stronger point of contact with the bench, a decreased range of motion... what's not to like? (Weber Strength)

Glute-ham developer back extensions. Look easy. Feel awful. (808 CrossFit)

Push-ups. I shouldn't have to add anything here. Seriously. Push-ups. Keep your core rigid. Always. (CrossFit)

Ah, the bench press. Staple of most strength programs, and something every person ought to know. "How much ya bench?" should be an answerable question, dammit! As we're in a strength-building phase, the goal was to do a percentage of one rep max for a set number of reps, 90% for 4 reps, 4 times through. A difficult number at that weight, but not certainly not impossible.

Four rounds of four reps later (with one near miss on the final rep), it was on to the sell-out, alternating rounds of 10 back extensions and max-rep push-ups. Back extensions were ok, but screw me, push-ups after heavy benches suck. I mean, I suck at them anyways, so being tired didn't change *that* much, but damn did it ever feel awful.

Bench @ 185#1234

Max Rep Push-UpsRound 1Round 2

Saturday, January 14, 2012

12-01-13: Snatches, sit-ups and snatch-balances

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Friday the 13th, January 2012
Iranian Olympic lifter Rezazadeh throws several hundred kilograms of weight over his head the way I through my daughter over my head.. only he makes it look easy. (Sweatpit)

Sage Burgener shows awesome snatch form. So awesome that in the second frame, during the explosive pull, she's actually transmuting time and space. Awesomeness. (CrossFit)
Snatch balance. Start standing up, end in a nice deep full squat, bar overhead with arms locked out and fully extended. (crossfit)

  • Strength: 10min
    • Snatch 75% and under @ 95#
    • Work to get under the bar
  • WoD: 3 Rounds For Time
    • 20 Sit-ups
    • 10 Snatch Balance 95# 75# (First time seeing this video, and its AWESOME! Great coaching and tips.)
Ah, more olympic lifts! Today's goal was to work our experience under the bar, specifically finishing the snatch with the arms fully extended (rather than pressing out), and achieving stability in that extended position at the bottom of the catch. Hence, the lower weights, and the time to focus on form for each attempt. Rather than training at the squirrely edge of technique with too-heavy weights, the goal was to use weights we felt at least mostly comfortable with that would still pose a challenge.

Warm-ups with the bar felt fine, as did 65# attempts. Working through 75#, 85# and finally 95#, I began struggling a little bit more. I was really working on form, trying my very best NOT to just muscle the bar overhead, which at those weights I would have been more than able to handle. However, since that wasn't the point of the workout, it was more instructive to land on my ass a few times after a failed attempt than work too hard to rescue it.

For the WoD, we worked on the snatch balance, where the bar is held in the high-bar back squat position across the shoulders to start, then dropping under it as fast as possible, catching it with arms extended. This is really very difficult, especially since its way easier to initiate the movement by heaving the bar up a little bit to give the bar a little upwards motion prior to dropping under it. Of course, that's the heaving snatch balance, and not the same movement at all. Admittedly, by the third round, the heaving version was the only possible version.

Compared to the O-lifts, the sit-ups were basically non-existent, just some filler in between rounds of much harder, more awful (I mean AWESOME!) olympic lifts. The snatch balances were definitely the surprise hero of this workout, because even though I knew they would suck, they ended up annihilating me, making me wonder if I would make it through the workout or not. I've only done them a few times in the past, not including warm-ups with PVC pipe. I can only recommend them as a great way to work on the critical catch component of the snatch.

Total time: 10:06

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

12-01-11: Squat cleans and pull-ups

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Wednesday, January 11th, 2012
Squat clean. If the weight is heavy enough (like it clearly is HERE), proper form is the only way to get it up to your shoulders. And more importantly is the action of getting your shoulders DOWN to the bar, hence the squat portion of the movement!

Pull-ups. Deadhang, so no kipping. Strict deadhang pull-ups. Upper body strength. Exactly what CrossFit haters all claim we don't do. So sorry to disappoint. Hate all you want, we'll make more. (CrossFit)

WoD: 20 min Ladder Up (1-1-2-2-3-3…)
Let's get straight to today's moral: DON'T JERK THE BAR STRAIGHT OFF THE FLOOR WHEN DOING A SQUAT CLEAN. The first part of the movement is a deadlift. A slow movement. A controlled movement. The entire point of the movement is to get the bar up to the power position and THEN jerk the shit out of it. NOT BEFOREHAND. BECAUSE DOING IT BEFORE HAND MAKES IT F***KING *HARDER*!!! Trust me... it makes the movement harder.

OK, sorry about that. After working out the kinks from the heavy deadlifts on Monday with some extensive SMR and the warm-up, we went over proper technique for the squat clean. Starting from the hang power clean, then transitioning into the hang clean, then to the full squat clean. After setting up our pull-up stations, we began warming up to our working weights for the squat cleans. After a couple of reps at 95#, I went up to 115#. My initial plan was to go up to 135#, but realizing how many reps I had ahead of me, and still working on my form, I decided to keep it where I was. That would be an awesome decision around set 5.

The first several sets were pretty simple, though my lungs were starting to burn by the end of the round of 4 each. What I realized as I struggled through the round of five was this: I was jerking the bar directly off the floor, and it was making each rep extremely difficult. Rather than having any control in the movement, trying to yank the bar that hard off the floor meant that I was shooting my hips up (without moving the bar, mind you... wasted energy and loss of efficiency), then cranking my hips open with the bar in tow, and trying to fire the bar up onto my shoulders from there. Seriously, just writing this is making me feel stupid. I can't imagine how stupid I looked! I did figure it out on the fifth rep, and man it was EASY doing it with proper form.

At this point, the only thing holding me back is my in-progress cardio. I could barely breathe each time I addressed the bar, so trying to make sure each rep was quality took longer and longer. But as I've said before, and as others have complained, you can not (or at least, SHOULD NOT) compromise form just to race the clock. While I wish I had more rounds done, I'm proud that I took the time I needed to do the best I could on each individual lift.

I did all of the pull-ups in the blue band, but in hind-sight, I should have done at least the first few rounds un-banded. I can do 3-4 pull-ups un-banded, so should have taken the opportunity in the early rounds. Still, could have been worse all told. The only other issue (at least in the early rounds) was the time it took to get in and out of the band. While it didn't matter as much in the later rounds (when the few seconds rest was most welcome), it was an awful waste of time for just two or three reps.

Total rounds: 7 rounds + 4 pull-ups (36 squat cleans + 32 pull-ups)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

12-01-09: Deadlifts and Double-Unders

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Monday, January 9th, 2011

Deadlifts: Good enough for steroid Arnie, good enough for me. Seriously.

Jolie Gentry rocks 285# at the CrossFit 2009 Games. (CrossFit)

Double-unders. Supposedly. I can see the jump-rope, so it might just be a regular single-bounce. (CrossFit Invictus)

I saw it coming from a mile away: Setting a 30# PR on deadlift a week or two ago meant that the next time a percentage workout came up, it was going be brutally heavy. I hate being right sometimes.

After warming up to my target weight of 315#, I set into the strength part of the workout: 8 sets of 2 deadlifts, 30 seconds rest between each. I can't tell you how heavy it felt by about the 3rd round, and though I did the complete floor-up-floor movement for the first of each, I ended up dropping the bar after the second rep each time, feeling like my hands were about to be torn from my body. Other people in the gym actually thought I was injured when they saw me dump the bar like that... but no... I was just in agony. It got better when I remembered the wod was 30 seconds rest in between rounds, NOT 2 lifts every 30 seconds, a very different, harder approach!

After that, it was time to really do some work. 10 reps of the deadlift at 65% of 1RM (220#), followed by 20 double-unders. Sounds simple, right? Well, it would have been if I could have strung together even TWO double-unders... After cruising through the first 10 deadlifts, I proceeded to struggle with the double-unders for the next minute or so.  That screwed me completely for the next set of deadlifts... completely smoked, I ended up having to catch my breath at least three times (maybe more). The second set of double-unders was a little better, since I got at least 4-5 reps in a row. Wow. Rock on for me. Of course, that left me just as screwed for the 3rd round of deadlifts... which I failed to complete.

Total rounds: 2 rounds + 7 double-unders

Friday, January 6, 2012

12-01-06: Wallballs and Toes-to-Bar

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Friday, January 6th, 2012

Wall-balls. *I* wanna use the kids target! (Forged Fitness)
Toes to bar (and knees to elbow, third one back). (The Farm Project)

WoD: 6x
Third workout of the week... third with squatting. To say my legs were getting a bit stiff and achy would be an historic understatement. I tried to focus on mobilizing and flexibility on the warm-up. After that, it was time to find a wallball, a target, a suitable pull-up bar for toes-2-bars, and prepare for the coming onslaught.

6 rounds, 90 seconds of wall balls, 30 seconds of knees to elbows, then a minute rest. Here's a clue that a work/rest workout is going to be tough: The FIRST rest period feels like its too short. By comparison, in the Tabata protocol (20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest), the first few rounds don't feel that bad. At least for me, its always the 4-5th round where the rest period feels like an instant, and the next work set feels like an eternity. I had that feeling during and after the very first round.

Though we were only counting our 3rd and 6th rounds, and trying to maintain consistency across all 6, I recorded outcomes for every round, but can't find the sheet right now. I definitely came out of the gate too fast, racking up 39 wallballs in the first round, a feat I would NOT be able to replicate for the rest of the workout. The one thing I love about work/rest workouts is the built-in time to consider how much each part of the workout sucked... and how terrifying the coming 5-4-3-2-1 rounds are going to be. On the upshot, each time, there are fewer coming rounds to crap yourself over.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

12-01-04: Overhead squats and more

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Wednesday, January 4th, 2012
Overhead squat (or the catch to a perfectly executed snatch) by Camille LeBlanc-Bazinet. Depth (as with all such lifts) is all-important. Go deep or go home... or go to Planet Mediocrity where no one cares if you get a workout or not... (CrossFit)
Stiff-legged deadlift. Starts and ends at the top, and the range of motion is defined by how far you can go down before form falls apart. If that's the floor, congrats. If its not, push into the depth, then come back up.
Nicole Carroll demos a perfect hang-power clean. Left: all three power joints (ankle, knees, hips) are slightly closed, arms are straight. Center: all three hips have opened forcefully, the bar is rising quickly, and the arms have just started to finally bend allowing, Right: the elbows to fire under the bar, with the upper arms parallel to the floor, the weight supported on the front deltoids, and the knees, hips and ankles rebent to cushion the impact of the weight landing. (CrossFit)

Warming up in a gym with no heat on a morning when its 14 degrees out is seriously no fun... but what inspiration to get moving and warming up! I was still feeling crushed by the back squats from Monday, lots of stiffness and tension around the quads, adductors, abductors, hamstrings, IT band... etc. All of it.

After going over proper form for the overhead squat with pvc bars, we moved onto the real thing. I warmed up a few sets at 45#, 65#, and 95#, pulling the bar out of rack in a the back squat position and jerking it up overhead. At 95#, I did five reps, but ended the set there, as part of the warm-up. At 115#, I managed 3 reps before failure. My final "set" as at 135#, at which I failed dropping into the first squat. Unfortunately, we were up against the starting time for the WoD, so that was the end of my work sets!

Going into the WoD, I first set up attempt it at 85#. I guess I was still gun-shy from failing so totally on the OHS at 135#, but it just felt insanely heavy. Rather than using the racks, we were going ground-to-overhead any way possible. While 85# should be well within my snatch tolerances, I felt really uncomfortable at that weight. So I dropped to 65#... and enjoyed a ridiculously easy WoD... I tried to focus on depth and form, since I ended up not really needing to worry about the weight. Kicker proving I still have work to do: I still wasn't the first one done. Dammit.

Monday, January 2, 2012

12-01-02: Backsquats, box jumps, jump and shrugs

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Monday, January 2nd, 2012
Squat. All the way down. All. the. way. down. Otherwise, NO REP! (Paleo Now)

Box jumps. For this WoD, the height wasn't too high, to encourage faster cycling and explosive rebounding back up onto the box. Note the low reps to support that (High rep box jumps are now known to blow out Achilles tendons, which is becoming sadly common in CrossFit circles...) (Motor City CrossFit)

The triple extension: ankles, knees, and hips all opening to propel the bar upwards. Note that the arms are still fully extended, "showing off the triceps," allowing/forcing the much stronger lower body to do all the work. The "jump and shrugs" mimic exactly this portion of the lift, going from a slightly contracted angle in all three joints to full extension. The arms never bend, and the weights never rise above this height. (CrossFit)

Strength: 4x6
  • Back Squat @ 80% (Calculated to 250#, then dropped to 250# for rounds 3-4.)
  • Each set followed by:
    • 3 Box Jumps
    • 10 Kettlebell “Jump and Shrugs”
Ah the joy of figuring out calculated weights using OTHER calculated maxes to work from. I apparently managed to lift 265# for a set of 5 a month or so ago, so a calculated 1 rep max was 315#. So 80% of THAT would be 250#. So, 4 sets of 6 reps. Easy! Well, as it turns out, not so much.  I warmed up at steadily increasing weights, noticing that the bar felt REAL heavy at about 225#. I finally moved up to the 250#, and prepped for the WoD itself.

I struggled mightily on the first set, but made it through. After each set of squats, we had three box jumps (20") and ten kettlebell triple extensions (aka "jump and shrugs") (36# per kettlebell). Well, feeling crushed by that first set, I stumbled through the rest of the round. After resting up a bit, I re-approached the bar. On this set, the first 3-4 reps were tough... the fifth was awful... on the sixth, about 2" out of the bottom, I suddenly realized I was on the knife's edge of completely failing out, and I had no idea how I would get rid of the bar in that position. Between my not-great shoulder flexibility, and my completely squashed up position, I just didn't know what to do. Sucking in a great breath, I did the only thing I could think of: I stood up under the weight and managed to rack the bar amidst a haze of spots in front of my eyes. Not fun. After catching my breath for a few seconds, I finished the round and started considering dropping the weight to complete the workout.

Meanwhile, everyone else was already racking their gear, since my warm-ups took me into their second or third sets. Bah. After dropping back down to 225#, I went back for round three. By now, I was so annihilated by the first two rounds, even the lighter weight was almost too much, but I made it through, and completed the round. At this point, I actually considered cutting the workout short. Everyone else was done, including the person I usually give a lift to, who had other things to get going on that morning. No one else would notice... no one but me. Seriously, I could walk away, and no one would be any the wiser. I was tired, I felt broken, it would have been perfectly ok.

Bullshit. I re-addressed the bar, got my ass under it, banged out six more reps. The last two sucked almost as bad as the one that nearly wrecked me in the second round, but with the rest of the class cheering me on (well, those who were still there...), I made my way through it, and banged out the rest of the round. I'm glad I didn't give in to the temptation to cheat the workout, the coaches, and most importantly, myself. What's the point of spending the money, and taking my time and everyone else's, just to quit when it gets hard. What's the worst that happened at that point? With a lighter weight I fail and dump the bar and end the workout there? Who cares? At least I tried! And having successfully finished it, all the better.