Saturday, August 11, 2012

12-07-31: Manmaker or man-breaker

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Tuesday, July 31st

WoD: 3 Rounds For Time
  • 10 Dumbell Man-Makers @ 35#
  • 20 Toes to Bar
  • 1 Gym Loop of Crab Walk
3 Minutes after completion of the above, athletes will complete:
2 Rounds For Time
  • 20 Wallball with Pushup
  • GHD Hip and Back Extension 
  • Dumbell Man-Maker is initiated from the standing position. Athlete hits the deck with dumbells in hand, similar to a strict burpee. Athlete performs a pushup on the dumbells, dumbell row with each arm, another pushup on the dumbells, then returns to the standing position. Dumbells are then cleaned to shoulders and pressed or push pressed overhead. This cycle counts as 1 rep.
  • Wallball with Pushup is initiated with a standard Wallball shot. After athletes receive rebound, they will put ball on the ground, and perform a pushup on the unstable ball. After the pushup, athlete will reset and initiate the next rep with a Wallball shot.
  • Setup for GHD Hip and Back Extension is with athletes hips in front of the GHD pad. Athletes will then complete a standard Back Extension ["cat back"], with the movement finishing in full extension of the spine.
This one ended up being a war of attrition. I came into the workout with insanely sore and tight triceps, which were making my elbows and upper forearms ache too. I tried to roll and SMR some life back into them, but it didn't really seem to do too much. Then it was time to work.

The man-makers were ok for the first few, then became awful (picture burpees with even more work...), the toes to bar were bad when I was on the bar, but tolerable once I went over to pike sit-ups to avoid tears on my hands, and the crab walks were absolute torture. The worst part? Even after slowly slogging through all of that, there was MORE work to do. 

This was my first time attempting wallball push-ups. Because of the size of the ball, they end up being very tricep-centric. Seeing as how I was already 60 push-ups into the workout as a result of the first couplet, this just became slow and painful. After grinding through 20 reps, it was time for the GHD machine Hip/Back extensions. Comparatively, these were pretty easy, though as usual, I ended up feeling like my head was going to explode about 10 reps in, so I had to break these up, too.  Then it was back to the wallball push-ups, as the next class was coming in and starting to get warmed up. This set took longer than ever... but eventually... finally... it was done. Just a few more hip/back extensions more I would finally be done. 

I seriously thought I was going to DNF on this one, and it turns out the Coach nearly offered to cap me at 30 minutes, but because I just kept gutting through, he let me keep going. I think that's a good thing. I think. :S I ended up taking nearly a week off after this workout, because the additional stress on my triceps led to my elbows and forearms becoming even more sore.

12-07-28: ECC Throwdown Part 2

Elm City CrossFit Throwdown Part II WoDs

Shoulder to overhead, in this case using a shallow split jerk to drop a little under the bar.

Another shallow split jerk. Hard to tell from the picture, but his back leg doesn't seem "soft" enough, but the picture may not be from the actual catch, but when he was starting to transition to the full standing position in the third frame. If he can lift those weights... I assume he's got good form.

Ground to overhead with Sage Burgener. The final final frame would be with the weight held overhead, legs and hips fully extended. For the purposes of the throw-down, there was no requirement to ever get into a full squat position. For that matter, it didn't have to be a snatch, as pictured, but could have started with a clean to the shoulders, and then any form of shoulder-to-overhead. Anything goes...

Buck furpees.

Kettlebells with CrossFit Games former Champion Kris Clever and two time Champion Annie Thorisdottir. (CrossFit Games)

Box jumps. woot! (

How to do a wall ball. My only tweak would be in the final frame: It would be way more efficient to catch the ball with the forearms closer to vertical and the elbows bent a little more (more like the position in the first frame.) Cushion the catch by bending the knees, cycling straight into the next rep. The more you can maintain that form, the faster you can go. (CrossFit 714)

A scaled version of handstand push-ups. I opted for this scaling, knowing I wouldn't have 45 reps of band-assist in me, even with the stiffest bands. If these look easy, you've apparently never tried them. (Unless you do have unassisted handstand push-ups, in which case these probably are pretty easy. Shut up.) Note the nearly vertical torso. A common error is to have the hands out too far, turning it into an elevated regular push-up. Still a nice exercise, but not targeting the shoulder girdle or core in quite the same way. (Snoridge CrossFit)

  • 21-15-9
    • Deadlift @ 185#
    • Handstand Push-Ups (scaled to knees on the box)
  • 10-8-6
    • Shoulders-to-Overhead @ 95#
    • Burpees
  • Wallballs til broken
  • 3 minutes after last finisher
    5 rounds for time
    • 7 box jumps 30"
    • 5 Ground-to-overhead @ 95#
If I had written this two weeks ago... I might remember details other than ARGH! Owwie! It hurts!! I do remember my decisions on the scalings. Knowing that we were starting out with a workout named Diane (21-15-9 of 225# deadlifts and handstand push-ups), followed by another couplet involving the same bar (with a weight change), I decided to scale both weights by 40#, which would allow me to just slide the 45# plates off both sides of the bar between couplets. I also scaled the handstand push-ups to box handstand push-ups, knees on the box. For 45 reps, there was no chance of being in the bands and EVER finishing this workout! Our score on the WoD would be affected by the number of scalings, in my case, three.

For the second WoD, I went completely RXed, with my only nod to not killing myself being the decision to only complete 10 wallballs, rather than trying to do a ton of them, then finding my legs too crushed to actually complete the couplet. So, whatever time I got had ten seconds taken off (the number of wallballs completed counted as seconds to be subtracted from your total time... so if you did 90 wallballs and did the workout in 2 minutes, your total time would be only 30 seconds. Pretty sweet, if you have the motor to crank through a ton of wallballs, then recover enough to perform the workout well!

Comparatively, I don't remember details like my times and whatnot. All in all, it was an awesome showing from the ECC community, and great fun.  Even better was the barbeque afterwards, and showing off the newest member of our family, little baby Abby. It was also a nice opportunity to try some great paleo fair. Turns out that a burger without a bun, but cradled in a romaine leaf is *really freaking good.* A burger without a bun sticking to the back of your teeth is kind of a revelation! (Yup, I remember the food better than the workout. Go figure...)

Saturday, August 4, 2012

12-07-24: Olympic clean and running couplet

Elm City CrossFit WoD For Tuesday, July 24th, 2012
The olympic clean. Performed perfectly.

Natalie Burgener performs a perfect clean and jerk. For today's workout, we were really only concerned with the first 3-4 frames (well, standing up to full extension with the bar on our shoulders, so past frame 4, but not launching the bar and dropping under it as in frame 5)
Again, we're only focusing on the first 5 frames of Sage Burgener demonstrating a great clean and jerk. 

I believe I just need a bit more inspiration to be an awesome runner. Perhaps not this much, though/?

WoD: 10 Rounds, each round begins every 75 seconds
  • 3 Cleans [full squat] @ 75% of one rep max
  • Crack Dash
A new round will begin every 75 seconds. Athletes rest will be remaining time in each round after they complete the work above.

After some good warm-up and oly lifting tips from Coach Greg, dealing especially with my starting position (adjusting to bring my weight further back on my heels, getting my shins more vertical from the starting position) and just trying to get past my tendency to still do the lift in two very separate parts (powering the bar up up vs. dropping under the weight), it was time to do some work.

For most of the rounds, I managed to get all the work done in about 45-50 seconds. I had just ONE goal: mechanics. I wasn't too overly concerned with my actual speed or making it through each round. Mechanics. Consistency. THEN Intensity. This is the bit that so many CrossFitters miss: They try for the intensity LONG before they can safely crank up the effort, performing a series of shitty reps, practicing shitty reps. Hardwiring themselves to always perform shitty reps. The difference between that approach (aka all intensity, all the time) and taking your time and seriously improving the mechanics as much as possible, so that even under pressure, the mechanics stay consistent, is the difference between a simple CrossFit kool-aid drinker and a CrossFit Games-caliber athlete. For a perfect example, the clean ladder from the men's and women's competitions. The only crappy reps were when people were shooting for PRs and at weights far beyond their capabilities...

So, fatigue started setting in, and I started taking longer and longer to complete my reps. Finally, I finished the run for the 8th round, and had just made it back to the bar when the buzzer went to start the 9th round. I took a few seconds to collect my breath and self-control, then did a rep. Again, the pause to gather myself. Another rep. All the other athletes had already headed out for the run. I still had some more work to do. Another pause. Another rep. Finally, it was time to run. I had just barely made the turn back from the endpoint of the run when I heard the timer go off again. I slogged back, the rest of the class running back out of the gym as I stumbled in. I could quit right now... I hadn't completed the 9th round before the 10th began. Ah, screw it. Where's the fun in that?

After spending a little bit of time staring at the bar, willing it to become lighter, I again fought through three reps, trying like hell to keep form and mechanics solid, trying to let the proper muscles actually lift the bar, and not resort to craptastic form instead. In all, despite the fatigue and gasping-for-breath bit, those felt like the best reps, because they HAD to be. Crappy form would have just resulted in failed reps, but all three of them (actually all 30 reps) landed solidly on my delts, I was pretty well under the bar, only riding the elevator down (ie, getting lower after already racking the weight... a waste of energy, but a requirement for practicing squat cleans, rather than accidentally practicing power cleans...).

One more run. Well, run is probably putting it a little strongly. Joggers could go faster than me. A good Manhattan commuter could easily have walked faster than me... but I was going to finish the freaking WoD, no matter how long it took me. And... eventually... I did.

12-07-26: Running, box jumps and pull-ups

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Thursday, July 26th, 2012
Camille LeBlanc-Bazinet makes running look easy. (CrossFir Games)

The box jump. Make that box twice as tall and you're onto something...

Heather Bergeron shows exactly why non-strong people struggle with pull-ups: They really do require almost every muscle in your body to be working. (

WoD: 8 Rounds For Time
  • 200 Meter Run
  • 3 Box Jumps 30"
  • 3 Dead Hang Pullups
Another workout that looked sort of easy on paper, but quickly degraded into a battle to the finish. We had the option of rowing 100m rather than running, and started out the session with a nice tutorial and quick coaching from Coach Larry, a varsity crew rower during his days at Syracuse U. (Can I say "our days" if I was somewhere on campus at the same time, even though I didn't know him then?) As always, for someone like me who taught himself for a few years before finally joining a gym and getting real coaching, there were plenty of cues and pointers to pick up, and the brief coaching/trouble-shooting he provided definitely highlighted and fixed a few problems I hadn't yet sorted out... or realized were problems. Tight shoulders? Who'd have thought?

After that, we set-up our boxes and pull-up stations, and then got to work. For the first few rounds, I felt pretty good, but it was definitely warm and muggy out, and I started having trouble controlling my breathing on the runs, meaning I was gasping by the time I got back for the box jumps, and 30" is a pretty tall jump to try to hit completely fatigued out. I tried to keep all the jumps more or less chained together (the standard was to stand up tall on top of the box, then step/hop down.), which I was fairly successful at. Then came the pull-ups. Each round, I alternated between pull-ups (palms facing away) and chin-ups (palms facing me), for the dual benefits of giving different muscles a break, and helping me keep track of what round I was on (pull-ups on the odd rounds, chins on the even ones).

As the rounds wore on, my prep time before the pull-ups/chins started to get longer, and after only a few rounds, I was down to grinding out singles anyways. The average time per round, which had started at a little over a minute, started to creep up, and by the final few rounds, the pull-ups alone were taking me that long. Still, drenched in sweat, I finally finished somewhere around the 13 minute mark, having done the entire workout RX'ed, even to the point of not using any bands for the pull-ups (though perhaps I should have.)  I had figured that it was just three at a time with enough time in between sets to rest... forgetting that between the running and pull-ups, there would be no rest. Silly dumbass.

12-07-17: That time I thought I was gonna die

Elm City CrossFit WoD for Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

Annie Sakamoto showing fantastic form on the long-stride version of the walking lunge. Note the knee lightly touching the ground, to truly light her quads on fire. (CrossFit)
How I felt about 2 rounds into this beast... (

You'd better believe I was hallucinating through most of the crabwalks... (

WoD: 5 Rounds for Time
  • 20 Walking Lunges [un-weighted, each time your knee touches the ground = 1 rep]
  • 200 meter run
  • 1 Bear Crawl Loop [marked off inside gym]
How hard could it be... 5 rounds, some running, some lunges, a few bear crawls... How hard could it be?

Um. Very hard. I'm not writing this until a little over a week later, and I still remember the feeling that I was going to die round about the 3rd bear crawl. The feeling of utter suffocation was unbearable. The lunges were bad, the runs were terrible... but the bear crawls... deadly.

Total time: An eternity - a few minutes.