Friday, July 13, 2012

12-07-13: Friday the 13th Triplet

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Friday the 13th, July 2012
The overhead squat (shown to not-quite full-depth, though as always, it could just be a timing artifact, and she's .1 seconds before or after hitting full depth). As always, the hip crease should be BELOW the top of the knee. Way easier said than typed...

Former CrossFit-trainer and Paleo-guru Robb Wolf coaches the proper bottom position of the OHS. (crossfit)

This is how we got the bar into position, with the addition of getting the bar behind our heads BEFORE jerking it overhead, so that it would go straight up into the right position. We also didn't drop it and celebrate as soon as we got it up there... Natalie Burgener was really just doing a classic clean & jerk. 
Sage Burgener demos more proper clean & jerk technique. The other difference to note is that, when using this as the set-up for the OHS, the hand position ends up quite a bit wider, and the final foot stance stays closer to that in the 4th frame (top right), rather than closing up after the jerk to get the bar overhead. (crossfit)
Camille Leblanc-Bazinet showing awesome overhead squat positioning down in the bottom.  (CrossFit Games)
Original Firebreather Greg Amundson shows off perfect form coming out of the hole. (CrossFit)
CrossFit HQ's trainer Nicole Carroll looks way too comfortable in the bottom position. (CrossFit)
Proper box jumping, though I'd say the trunk lean in the very first frame might be a bit excessive. Still, going into and out of the slight squat, his trunk is kept mostly upright (as compared to having that much lean in the 4th frame), which saves considerable energy and wear-n-tear on the back.

Banded pull-ups. A necessary evil, I guess... Must get stronger, dammit! 

Camille LeBlanc-Bazinet mid-muscle-up, proving exactly why ring dips are so obviously crucial to the movement! (CrossFit Games)

WoD: 3 Rounds for Time
  • 2 Overhead Squats @ 75% of Bodyweight or 1RM OHS = 95#
  • 5 Box Jumps 30"
  • 7 Dead Hang Pullups (blue band)
As I'm writing this, I'm also watching the 2012 Reebok Crossfit Games. It's refreshing to remind myself just how far I have to go if I ever want to pretend to compete on that stage (having paid my $20 get immediately eliminated in this year's Open leading up to the Games.) Damn impressive, even if, as usual, the chuckleheads posting on the live stream are (at least some of them) among the very worst that CrossFit has to offer. (As a side note, this week saw the shutting down of Beast Modal Domains, aka the Conscience of HQ, and the epic ignoring of CrossFit Mean Streets proving themselves to be the biggest d-bags on the planet...) I may yet end up writing a full opinion-piece on all of that... with the reminder to my few readers that, though I'm affiliated with a gym, I'm not an employee and my views are my own. (In other words, HQ can piss up a rope if they think they can shut me down by pressuring my affiliate or by sending anonymous packages to my employers. That post will actually be called "In Defense of CrossFit," but it will NOT be a kool-ade zombie defense...)

OK, back on topic. After a few days off, it was time for my first quick burner in some time. Overhead squats, limited more by my 1RM than my bodyweight, box jumps, and pull-ups. The only scaling I opted for was a band on the pull-ups. 7 rounds of 3 I would have done unbanded. 3 rounds of 7 is just too many at once. (Have I mentioned lately that I really need to tighten way up on my diet? It'll make things like pull-ups MUCH easier...) My overhead form on the OHS is getting much better, and I felt pretty solid warming up to my game weight of 95# (75% of my 1RM of 125#).  For this workout, we had to clean it from the bar, get it behind the head, then jerk it up overhead into the OHS squat position... more on that later.  Box jumps were no sweat. Banded pull-ups... well, they'll always annoy me.

First round went pretty much to plan. Annoyingly, in the second and third rounds, I struggled to keep the weight overhead on the 2nd OHS rep of each round. Though I didn't get no-repped, I decided then and there I would be doing some extra work after the WoD to make up for it. I finished with a total time of 3:58, with at least a minute of that coming while dealing with the barbell. I was usually able to get it cleaned up to the shoulders pretty quickly, and then behind the neck. After that, there was usually a (seemingly eternal) struggle to figure out hand placement and foot position. I kept trying to put my feet too wide or angled too far out, but then knowing that from that position, I'd set myself up for some severe knee caving action. So then the feet would have to come back in prior to starting a rep. All in all, it left me really distracted for the actual lifts, so in that light, its not surprising I was dumping to the front coming out of the second rep.

After the workout, I worked with Coach Greg for a bit on hand and foot positioning, and then banged out a set of 5 reps at 95#, all of which felt better than ANY of the reps in the workout. Hm, in hindsight, that does actually raise a complaint for me: I truly believe in the CrossFit approach of Mechanics -> Consistency -> Intensity. Given that, at the first moment I started struggling with form, I probably should have shit-canned the WoD for myself, and just focused on putting in solid work on the OHS all by itself. Dammit...

After my remedial OHS work, I set up some rings, which I haven't been on in a fairly long time, and put in some time working ring dips and ring rows. At some point (again, after finally getting food and diet stuff locked in, and some gut-padding shedded), I'd really like to start working towards a muscle-up. Finally. ;)  One thing I can't wait for is this: Finally buying a house (cleared for closing and mortgage stuff) in August. I'll finally be able to set-up the garage gym, and *this* time I'm planning on making full use of it. Rings, olympic bar and all. w00t!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

12-07-10: Kettlebell swings and running

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

Kris Clever faces off against Annie Thorisdottir at the CrossFit Games. Both have been champions, and will be trying to either defend or reclaim their title this weekend. 
Graham Holmberg, 2010 CrossFit Games Men's Division champion, shows perfect extension (the slight bend in the elbows actually signals that the weight has started coming back down a fraction of a second before the shot was taken).
No less inspiring than games champions, everyday folk like you and me can perform full extension, overhead kettlebell swings. It just takes a little practice and confidence to know that for the most part you won't drop it on your own head...
Camille Leblanc-Bazinet runs in the CrossFit Games.

WoD: 18 minutes - As Many Rounds As Possible [AMRAP]
  • 10 Kettlebell Swings [55#]
  • 200 Meter run
  • 1 Minute rest
Athletes will track their own minute of rest starting from when you first re-enter the garage door after your 200 meter run. Each couplet of KBS and Run is followed by rest.

Just keep up with the endurance specialists. Try to monitor breathing, especially while running.  Try to keep breathing slow and deep, through the nose as much as possible. Try to keep the intervals about the same. Don't over sprint on one round and drag-ass on the next. Just keep working.

With all of those mantras floating through my head, and a good distribution of athletes ahead of me to try to keep with, and behind, to try to stay ahead of, this was a pretty damn good workout. I was definitely reduced to sucking wind occasionally, but I really tried to keep my pacing and breathing under control, ending with an average round time (not including the rest minute) of around 1:10. There were out-lyers of 1:05 and 1:25, but they were the exceptions.

I opted for a fairly heavy kettlebell, not the Rx'd 70#, but the next one down, 55#. While not a heavy weight by itself, I'm still new enough at doing the standard overhead swing with a heavy kettlebell that going any heavier would probably have been a death sentence... if not for me, then for everyone in my immediate vicinity!  In all, I was glad I managed to stay unbroken on both the kettlebells and the running. With only 10 reps at a time, stopping on the kettlebells would have been unthinkable, but on the runs... even for such a short distance... well, it occurs to you, or at least to me, about 150m in, how nice it would be to just stop and walk for a bit... maybe breathe a bit too, while I'm at it. So, to ignore those voices and just keep working, that felt pretty good.

8 rounds @ 1:05 - 1:25 per round.

Monday, July 9, 2012

12-07-09: Deadlifts, Wallballs and Push-Ups

Elm City CrossFit WoD for July 9th, 2012
The deadlift. See a heavy weight, squat down, and pick it up. Done.

Heather Bergeron right before or after locking out the deadlift at the CrossFit Games

Camille Leblanc-Bazinet prepares to deadlift. Or clean. Rotten freeze-frame photography!

  • WoD: Strength
    • 5x5 Deadlift @ 85% = 340# 315#
    Rest as needed between work sets.
  • 3 Minutes after your last work set:
    • 1 Minute of Max Rep Wallballs 20#
    • 1 Minute of Max Rep Pushups
    No Rest between Wallballs and Pushups.
Post number 300!  Ah, the joys of a big, round number! Ah, the joys of heavy deadlifts.  Having somewhat recently increased my 1RM to 400#, I was (rightly) concerned about my ability to do reps at a substantial percentage of that weight. During the warm-up, 315# felt damned heavy, and I wasn't too psyched about adding another 25# to it, feeling that the first point of failure would actually be my grip. Thankfully Coach Wheels was there to keep me completely distracted from my grip by working with me to increase (and maintain) my lumbar back arch, as I'm prone to letting it release, especially on the eccentric/negative part of the movement. Not such a problem on a 1RM attempt with no negative, but VERY bad when doing heavy reps.

After working my way through all five sets, resting between 3-4 minutes between each, it was time to rest before hitting the wall-balls and push-ups. I spent the 3 minutes rest unloading my bar and keeping moving, hoping the "active rest" would do me well. When it was time to hit the wall-balls, I managed to keep moving for the first 40 seconds unbroken, then finished up the final 15 seconds (a few to breathe, ya know), and managed 24 reps.

Then it was on to the push-ups. I was hoping for at least 10 in the first shot, more if I was lucky. However, I faceplanted after the fifth rep. Turns out deadlifts and wall-balls actually tax a lot of the same muscles, and the aerobic fatigue from the wall-balls certainly took their toll on the push-ups, too. Total reps = 16.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

12-07-04: July 4th Team WoD

Elm City CrossFit WoD for July 4th, 2012
Precisely the disaster we tried to avoid by having a staggered start. If this WAS us, I'd be the jerk in the back waving. For sure.

Burpees defined. (Lean Primal Fit)

Plate carries. These always suck, but as a bigger guy, they aren't the absolute worst... until someone passes me at a dead run with a plate. Jerk. (River North CrossFit)
I can't tell if she's resting, but *this* is the standard full contraction position: shoulders in FRONT of the hips. Crunches and other crap will NOT fly. (CrossFit 817)

NNNNNNNNOOOOOOooooooooooo........! (CrossFit Battlefield)
Push-ups. Keep your junk off the ground, but your chest should touch. Repeat until you crash face first into the ground. Repeat THAT. (BaseOps)

Team WoD:
Every member of the team must complete the following:
  • 200m run
  • 30 burpees
  • 400m plate carry 45#
  • 40 sit-ups
  • 100m overhead walking lunges 25#
  • 50 push-ups
For Independence Day, Elm City CrossFit celebrated our Independence Together with a team WoD. 8 teams of 4 athletes tackled this one, with the only curve-ball being that only one member at a time could run the 200m, tagging in the next person as they finished it, to stagger the start, and not have a crowd of 32 people running around the parking lot.  As designated "burpees will crush me guy," I lobbied hard to go first. After all, my teammates (two coaches and a distance monster) would easily pass me later on, while if I went last, I would NEVER catch up!

The run felt pretty good, as I managed to pace off of one of our faster athletes, allowing me to come in second (not that anything was being counted that early on), and hit the burpees. I felt good to match that athlete coming out of the burpees, too. (Bear in mind, she's a few months post-pregnancy and VERY well rested what with raising a few-month-old...AND she still kept ahead of me!) 

The weighted carry was ok, though I started it steady and slow, and by the end was trotting to keep from falling to the back of the pack. The sit-ups were fine. My turn-over is a lot slower than a lot of other people, mostly on the relaxation part of it... I'm not sure why, but its something to look into as far as tweaking how I do movements to both maximize efficiency and speed. There's almost no way a slow relaxation/eccentric phase in the sit-up is helping me.

Then the wheels fell off.

Walking lunges suck on the best of days. But a hot day, with a 25# plate overhead with arms locked out, is just that much more awful. Talking about it after the fact, it was funny how my mental negotiations kept falling apart: "OK, first 'round' was 12 lunges... rest, then do 12 more. Ok, go... Ok, that was only 3 more. OK, let's do sets of three. Fine. Crap, that was only 2. Why can't I breathe!?"  For a while, I just tried to keep up with the pack... then to keep ahead of the pack behind me... then to keep up with the pack that HAD BEEN behind me.

After that struggle, it was time yet again to face the fact that I have a few push-ups in me, but not a lot. With 50 of them to knock out, I hit the first set as hard as I could, coming up with 14. Six more got me to 20. A few sets of 5 got me to 40... then it was singles and doubles the rest of the way out. Meanwhile, almost every other team had finished, while I faced a puddle of my own sweat and dared my arms and pecs to do another rep. Finally, we finished (when I finally finished) with a time of 24:22 (or maybe 22:24?)  Either way, it felt like it took a LOT longer than that, mostly because of the hell of walking lunges.

Overall, I felt pretty good, performance-wise, but there's no doubt that if my lunges or push-ups were better, I'd have done better (der!), but my team would have done a lot better, too. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

12-07-03: Front squats and running

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012
OK, if Baby Lex Luthor can do it, so can you! (What's with the prison jumpsuit already?) (Silvaback Athletics)

This is what my 800m runs feel like. I haven't been able to secure producers or Westheimer for the score, however, so I've had to settle for the sound of my own ragged breathing...

WoD: 8x90 sec on/off
  • 3 Front Squats @ 80% = 190#
Sellout: 2 x 800m Run 1:1 work:rest

After the epic destromination I endured at the first ECC throwdown (1 post previous to this), I was actually a little gun shy about showing up today. Additionally, I was running late, giving me every reason and opportunity to just go park and snooze somewhere else... but I pulled up in front of the gym and saw everyone was still rolling out, so I wasn't *that* late. Sigh.

Upshot was that the workout looked doable, which, after Saturday's "Stacked Double-Helen" assault, made for a nice change. Front squats? Sure! Reps well within the percentage amount? Sure! Working off a real 1RM? Sure! (Though to be honest, I actually wasn't sure about that until checking my blog as I write this right now.)

The goal was to do triplets of submaximal weights EVERY 90 seconds, so stressing the system some, letting it recover some, then hitting it again. And again. And again. Until you've done it 8 times. While the first few sets felt easy, the last few felt like they were getting damned heavy, and with legs that were still shot from running and kettlebell swings on Saturday, that fatigue definitely mounted quickly! Still, end result was 8 rounds of 3 reps each, with NO grip slip issues, and no failed reps. I felt like I had decent depth on every rep, and they all felt pretty damn solid, even if a few of the "stand-up" phases felt a bit slow and sluggish, the bar kept moving, so good enough for me!

After that, it was time to run again. Run 800m, rest for the same amount of time it took to run it, then run it again, trying to maintain that time. 4:30 to run it, 4:30 rest, then a mysterious amount of time to complete the second run, because I forgot to check the clock when I came back in. Sigh.  I felt ok on the runs, but am definitely finding myself working on my breathing, as its far too easy for me to slip into ragged panting, rather than controlling my breathing and maximizing my air. Panting just kills you over the long haul, so I have a LOT of work to do here. Upshot of (eventually) moving into our new house in August will be living about a mile from the gym, which means I intend to run to and from the gym as often as possible, biking it when time is shorter. Only under duress will I actually kick the crap out of a car to drive it such a short distance. Let's see how that works out! ;)

Monday, July 2, 2012

12-06-30: ECC Throwdown #1

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Saturday, June 30th, 2012

Sums it up nicely. You really don't need to keep reading if you don't want to. Its an epic tale of woe and whining. Mmmm... woe and whining.

WoD#1: Stacked Double Helen
  • Round 1
    • 1200m run 
    • 63 Kettlebell Swings @44# 
    • 36 Pull-ups w/ green band 
  • Round 2
    • 800m run
    • 42 KBS
    • 24 PUs
  • Round 3
    • 400m run
    • 21 KBS
    • 12 PUs

Writing up the last part of that list was really kind of a waste of time. Despite scaling both the kettlebell swings and the pull-ups, I ended up getting CRUSHED by this one. KEERUSHED. Maybe its because in pretty high heat and humidity I just suck at running, maybe its because 36 pull-ups is just a ridiculous amount for me, no matter how you scale or substitute it. I honestly believe that even going for 36 ring rows, with a major angle involved, still would have destroyed me.

As it was, I struggled through the first round (run, kettlebells, pull-ups) and ran out the door to start the second round, only to find myself completely bonked. Frankly, I had been bonked since reading the workout, but this was a little different. Whereas, before the workout, I was at least resigned to trying to get through it, starting up the 800m run, I just wanted to quit. I struggled to keep running for this interval, and when I failed, struggled to keep my walk at least brisk. I did ensure I made a show of finishing the last bit at a run, for the look of the thing when I came back in sight of the gym.

I remember very clearly the thought I had when I entered the gym and saw the clock on the wall. I don't remember if it was at 24 minutes or 25 minutes elapsed, but the only thought that went through my head was:

That's too much time left.

I just wanted the pain and suckage to end. As soon as possible. However, there was still time to keep chipping away at the mountain of crap left to tackle. I knocked out the kettlebells, I won't say easily, but I don't remember them being *too* bad. However, I spent the final minute or two just getting single reps of pull-ups, chin-ups, whatever. I did the first round with the green band (a quite stout band, stronger than the blues I usually use), and added in a light orange band for this round. Frankly, you could have given me the black band (with which I am unable to even hang under the bar, because the band is SO strong) and I wouldn't have had anything left. I was done. Time ran out, and I was left with a big DNF, 30m, with a full round unstarted, and 19 pull-ups left in the one I was in. But it was over. Finally.

WoD #2
Clean ladder - Squat or power
Every 30 seconds, attempt another bar
95#, 115#, 135#, 155#, 185#, 215#, etc.... (I think)

After waiting to recover a bit from the first WoD, I realized I was out of time, and had family obligations at home. I knew my 1RM clean, squat or power, was more than 155#, so I talked with Coach Wheels about it a bit, and we agreed to pencil me in for 135#. Between the heat and fatigue, there was a good chance I wouldn't be able to successfully lift 155# that day, but 135# should have been in the bag, and I just didn't have time to prove it. So, unofficially, and quite lamely, 135#. Needless to say, further ECC Throwdown events will have me participating for the fun, as I would imagine I'm a little bit out of the running! ;)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

12-06-29: Bench Press 1RM

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Friday, June 29th, 2012

Always funny. Deal with it.

Coach Rippetoe (the Starting Strength guy, aka the Iron Samurai) coaches Eva T. on some of the finer aspects of the bench press. Good stuff MUST have come out of this. (CrossFit)

The benefits of setting up properly for the bench press: By pulling the shoulder-blades back, you get a more stable surface on the bench AND decrease the overall range of motion for the movement. So, improved positioning AND a slight "gaming" of the movement for your own benefit. Chest muscles will still move through the same range of motion, so its not a detriment to the exercise.

WoD: Max bench press - 3 attempts

My first visit to the gym since the birth of my second daughter, Abigail Grace, at home. Sleep still wasn't great, but my body was rapidly going into decline by not being physically taxed in nearly two weeks. My mind was going with it (we have a LOT going on right now... the new baby is almost the least of it, which you with kids should realize is a huge tell-tale sign. Or maybe just a sign of our experience now that we're on our second! Hmmm...), so my wife basically told me "set your alarm and go to the gym in the morning, we'll make it work." So I did. Just in time for max bench day! Wheee!

My only goal was to get to a clean "bodyweight" bench.  Admittedly, I haven't weighed myself in some time, so I'm not entirely sure what to shoot for, but I know that at my heaviest (pre-adding on CrossFit Muscle), was around 230#, so 225# really ought to do it. I warmed up with the empty 45#, 135#, 165#, 185#, and 205#, the last of which was my previous PR. I did it for two reps, which meant I definitely had gas in the tank for a new PR.

215# proved to be pretty easy, so after a few minutes, I jumped up to 225#. While this lift was definitely tougher, I got it to lock out, still feeling like it was "too easy." So, I shot for my 3rd PR on the day, but rather than being conservative and just putting 5 more pounds on the bar, I went up to 235#, and earned my first failed rep of the day to close out the session. No real worries, I increased my bench PR by 20 pounds, and will be whining the next time we have to do reps with a percentage of that...

Weight# of Repsnotes
205#2Previous PR