Aug 212014
 

I just recently passed my one year anniversary at Crossfit Recourse, and thought it worthwhile to take a few minutes to share my thoughts on the ongoing adventure.  Amazing how things have changed in one year (142 crossfit workouts).

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So… to begin, following the onramp last fall, I slowly fell into the swing of the regular crossfit workouts.  As I look back at my journal of the WODs, it’s rather apparent to me that even the regular classes were slowly ramping up throughout the year, as all of the members were fairly new.  As we progressed into the winter, my fitness got better and better, and I was able to deal with heavier weights, higher boxes, etc., to the point that I was able to Rx some of the workouts in the winter (Rx is crossfit lingo for doing them as prescribed, at the “big boy” weights.)

I was also slowly getting to the point where upcoming workouts weren’t a focus.  I’d go to bed at night and wouldn’t worry all night about what the next morning would bring, and I didn’t worry nearly as much about getting to bed extra special early, avoiding all food after 6 pm in fear of throwing up the next day, etc.  Crossfit instead was becoming a part of my day instead of a focus of the day.

As we progressed, Chris also began adding additional classes.  The incorporation of a 4:15 pm class made things MUCH easier for me, as I wasn’t having to get up at 4:40 in the morning to make the 5:15 am class, which meant I was around to help get the kids ready for school in the morning, and it was very convenient to leave school at 3:40 in the afternoon, get my crossfit workout in, pick up my girls from school, and head home to get cleaned up and have dinner.  It just fit into the routine much better.

And month by month, I was feeling stronger, better, more confident… but it couldn’t just be that easy.

Around November I started having a lot of trouble with my shoulder again.  It’s never been good — I had rotator cuff surgery (with some extra “features”) in late ’99 and it had never been the same, but now I was having even more trouble — every now and then my shoulder would lock up or for a short period becoming exceedingly painful.  But it was intermittent.  Volleyball on Thursday nights was getting tougher and tougher, and I was getting gun shy at crossfit about lifting heavier weights, nervous that my shoulder might lock up at the wrong time and I’d drop something heavy on myself or someone else.

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A trip to the orthopod wasn’t overly helpful either.  I was sent to physical therapy for a few weeks, with a follow-up appointment scheduled.  I did my PT, though the therapist even said surgery was required, this wasn’t going to fix anything.  I got the MRI — the doc was much friendlier after seeing the pictures.  And shortly thereafter I was scheduled for surgery in April — hopefully just clean things up in the shoulder, as the previous damage was significant and not everything could be fixed.

Surgery was pretty straightforward.  I even snuck in a crossfit workout the morning before I had to go in to the hospital.  Doc said everything worked out, they were able to pull out a bunch of scar tissue and old sutures that should eliminate the “catching” issue in my shoulder.  Based on what he found, however, he wasn’t sure I’d play volleyball again, or do crossfit… only time would tell.

I started back at PT a few days later with a wonderful therapist who worked me hard, realizing I had pretty lofty goals.  After a couple weeks she even allowed me to go back to crossfit, though I was limited to one arm for a couple weeks, then light weights on the arm for a couple weeks, etc.  At least I was able to keep doing something, in an effort not to regress too far.  After a while she kicked me out, said we’d done what we needed to as far as strengthening that shoulder, and I could get back to crossfit and continue my PT exercises on my own.

The next trip back to the doctor wasn’t as promising, however.  Following a brief observation, the doc said all was going as expected, and that I could begin to do a few crossfit exercises (things I’d been doing for weeks at this point).  Also I could start playing volleyball – I wasn’t going to do any more damage to my shoulder, though things might be uncomfortable, and I’d have to see whether I’d be able to play anymore.

So, a few days later I had my first volleyball tournament of the year.  I didn’t hit the ball much, and the few times I tried to stretch were pretty painful, but I made it to the day in a limited capacity.  When we got to playoffs, however, my arm was shot.  Could barely get it above my head.  Shucks.

Since then I’ve subbed on our volleyball team twice, and each time I’ve been left in pretty rough shape the couple days after.  I’m going to try it once more tonight, but if things continue the way they have, I might need to take the next session off as well to see what I can do.

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I have been getting back to crossfit, however, and have started working back to higher weights again.  Hand Stand Push-Ups will never be on the docket again, I’ve been told, due to a missing rotator cuff muscle from the ’99 surgery, and snatches / overhead squats will have to be very light weights, but at least I’m back in the gym.  And Tuesday I matched my previous personal record clean of 185 pounds.  And in all honesty, thought I failed at my 190 pound attempt, it wasn’t due to lack of strength, but rather lack of form.  I’m looking forward to crushing that PR again sometime in the near future.

So some things are working, and some aren’t.  Plank holds the other day were excruciating (we modified them to V-holds), yet push-ups, man-makers, and overhead DB lunges worked today (I was weak, but it wasn’t painful).  Thankfully, the instructor has been exceedingly helpful in providing modifications to exercises to allow me to continue to push myself without fear of injury.

Since then, I’ve been working on getting back up to speed, even attending a couple extra classes per week.  It’s been a bit frustrating, especially as I notice that outside of just shoulder strength, I’ve been struggling more and more with the cardio/endurance aspect of workouts.  I’m not sure if that’s due to the forced slowdown after surgery, being worn out in the summer months with all our activities and shifting schedules, or maybe even just an aspect of getting older.  Regardless, I’ve now made it through 142 crossfit workouts, and each and every one challenges me both mentally and physically.  I still can’t say as I find the workouts themselves fun (well, at least not most of them), but every time I finish I feel a sense of accomplishment, having completed something I didn’t think I could do.  There’s a moment in every workout when I think to myself how easy it would be to quit now, that I’m “toasted,” that I’ve got nothing left.  And every time the coaching and the community around me convinces me I can give just a little bit more.

So what’s it all mean?  I really can’t say as I’ve figured it out yet.  I’d love to be able to say that I love crossfit.  But I’m not sure that’s accurate.  The workouts are varied, and challenging, and good for me… but I don’t really find them “fun” as a whole.  I find the coaches fun.  I find the other members fun and supportive.  I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment when I’ve completed a workout, the slow ache all day that tells me I did something great early that morning.  

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I do find some of the exercises fun.  I love doing cleans — not sure why, but it seems to have just the right mix of strength and form, and I can easily observe that I have significant room to improve in both areas that I’ll be able to see as I improve my personal records.  I used to enjoy the kipping pull-ups, though at the moment my shoulder isn’t ready to do them, so I’m relegated to the modified ring rows.  Those are frustrating, but they’re my path back to the regular pull-ups, so they have a purpose, so I’ll keep at it.  Thrusters make me sad.  Dumbbell thrusters are just plain evil.  But they’re good for me.

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And I can tell I’m getting back in shape.  I lost close to 30 pounds last fall.  I put close to 20 pounds back on (though I think it’s muscle, and in different places).  My shirts fit differently.  My pants are harder to buy… though my waist size has come down, my legs don’t fit in my drawers in a comfortable way anymore — may have to start paying more attention to the “fit” as I buy jeans and dockers.

I love how the community is so supportive.  I appreciate how the instructor coaches and cares about each individual member, tailoring our work to our needs.  I enjoy pushing myself and challenging myself each and every time I walk in.  And I know this is what is going to help make sure I can stick around to be with my girls as long as I can.  So I’ll keep going, keep working, keep sweating, bleeding and crying.  Because it’s good for me.

 

Mar 272014
 

So I’ve been extremely lacking in updating this blog, but it seems like it’s time you got an update.  The last update was my first real “big league” crossfit workout.  This update comes the morning after I finished my 90th workout.

Since last fall, I’ve continued with crossfit three days a week at Crossfit Recourse.  Many days have started out with the alarm going off at 4:30 am to make it to the 5:15 am class.  Many others have been the newer 4:15 p.m. class.  And, on those nifty teacher-days-off when the rest of the world is working, the 9:30 am class has been fun.  I’ve enjoyed hitting the various classes as it gives me a chance to meet a bunch of folks I might not otherwise have a chance of connecting with.

So, I can definitely see a difference from when I started.  Six weeks after I began crossfit I was down 25 pounds, a weight I have pretty much maintained, though I can feel a consistent migration from flab to muscle at the same weights.  I’ve also seen the weights I work with during the workouts consistently increase, to the point now where I have a reasonable shot at doing a good number of the workouts “as prescribed” (Rx).  Not all, mind you, but it’s at least a point of consideration each time I walk into the gym.

I feel better in general, and a number of my regular aches and pains have definitely improved.  Prior to starting crossfit I was having regular problems with my right knee, but have been doing MUCH better since getting in shape.  My right shoulder underwent a substantial surgery 15 years ago that has left me sore and in pain for years.  Since I started crossfit the regular dull ache has subsided considerably.  Unfortunately, I now have acute intermittent pain in that shoulder attributed to something floating around in the shoulder capsule that will need to be removed, but that looks like an artifact of the surgery 15 years ago, not related to my new fitness habit.  Two days ago we did a workout where I ended up doing 95 pull-ups, 190 push-ups, and 270 air squats.  Shoulder was fine.  Yesterday the workout involved push pressing 145 pounds overhead, as well as a bunch of 135-pound cleans.  No problem.  This morning zipping up my coat on the way to work left my shoulder in agony.  So it’s time to get it fixed, surgery is scheduled, and I’m most concerned about backtracking after working so hard the past months to get back in shape.

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The workouts have also started to become fun.  OK, not thrilling, not “look forward to it all day” fun, but sense of accomplishment-fun.  And the community of athletes in the gym is outstanding.  We have young’ins.  We have senior citizens.  We have teachers.  We have cops.  We have bartenders.  We have laborers.  We have bosses, and we have bossees. It doesn’t matter — the entire group, every single person I’ve met, is supportive of everyone else.  It’s a highly differentiated group all with the same goal — to improve ourselves and help each other.  And that makes it fun.

And the instructor, Chris, continues to amaze me with his individual attention to helping everyone achieve their goals.  He shares in our goals through each and every workout, helping push us where needed, pull us back when we’re about to do something less than brilliant, and providing general direction as we set goals and then work to achieve them.

What I’m most amazed at is the ongoing level of challenge.  Yesterday was my 90th workout.  Every single workout has pushed me to the point where, at some point in the workout, I think to myself “I can’t do this, it’s time to stop and take a break.”  And every single time, I’ve found a way to push through.  Crossfit is a physical endeavor, yes, but the major challenge each day is mental.  Finding a way to keep going when the rest of your body has long since passed its comfort zone.  And so far, I’ve been able to make it through. Every.  Single.  Time.  That’s not to say you want to push yourself through to the point of doing something dumb and hurting yourself, but there’s a difference between moving past what you think you can do, and moving past what is safe.  And our instructor keeps a very careful eye to help us make sure we keep safety a top priority.

I have two more weeks before I undergo shoulder surgery which will pull me out of crossfit for several months.  I’m dreading the backward slide I know I’ll have to work through, and all the work I’ll have to repeat to get back to where I was before.  That will be another challenge.  Finding the motivation to push through to get back to where I was, when I know how tough it was the first time, and how hard I worked.  But I’ve gone 90 workouts so far where I’ve given everything I had, to the point where I’m nearly dragging myself off the floor as I leave the gym.  I can’t see stopping now, and I’m counting on that great community surrounding me to help keep me focused and on track!

Sep 022013
 

So, my first “real” Crossfit workout, having graduated to the big leagues.  It was a pretty busy gym, as there was only one workout for the day at 9 am due to the holiday.  Everybody was very friendly on their way in, introducing themselves and smiling.  Now on to the workout.

Our warm-up consisted of three consecutive rounds of:

  • 10 tuck jumps
  • 10 KB swings
  • 5 burpees
  • 5 plank walks
  • 20 jumping jacks

This was a fairly challenging warm-up.  The tuck jumps weren’t too bad to begin with, and the kettle bell swings are still kind of fun, even if I’m pretty pooped with 10 of them at the higher weights I’ve been moving up to.  I still hate burpees, and the push-ups incorporated in those combined with the push-ups in the middle of the plank walks had me struggling by round 3.  Twenty jumping jacks sound pretty easy, but this was the first time I was struggling to finish those instead of using those as in-workout rest.  I wasn’t the last one done with the warm-up, but was pretty close.  But, it got done.

Our “sermon” for the day was five sets of 3 back squats at roughly 70% of our max weight, but doing them slowly.  Moving down at a 2-second pace, with a 1-second hold at the bottom, then a 2-second push back up.  My partner and I used 135 pounds, which wasn’t quite 70% of my max, but was a touch more than his, so it worked out pretty well.  Working hard, but survived.  On to the WOD (Workout of the Day).

Today’s WOD was a partner workout, with a list that seemed to go on and on.  The goal was to have one partner always working, the other resting, and switching off as needed when one became pooped.  Here’s the list:

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  • 50 box jumps @ 24″
  • 50 pull-ups (jumping pull-ups after my first 2 strict)
  • 50 35?-lb KB swings
  • 50 step walking lunge (45 lbs then 35 lbs)
  • 50 knees to elbows
  • 50 push-presses @65 lbs then 45 lbs.
  • 50 wall-ball shots @ 14/10 lbs
  • 50 burpees
  • 50 side jumps (or double-unders)
  • 400m carry run (or both could run but carry 3 tires)

I started with the box jumps, and my partner, Rich, swapped off with me every 10.  That 24″ height is a bit daunting (Rx was 30″) but we made it.  The 50 pull-ups was a nice switch as my legs were beat, but, as usual, I was definitely struggling by the end.  Rich was having more trouble, so I pulled a couple extra here, then we moved into the KB swings.  Here we went in batches of 15 first, then down to 10s.  Next was the walking lunge.  We began with 35 lbs, but had to switch to 25 partway through.  I lasted two sets of 10 with 35, and finished up with 10 at 25.  On to the knees-to-elbows.  I really hate these, though I know they’re good for me.  Rich really picked it up here, though, and we continued through alternating in sets of 10.  I led off the push-presses with 10 @ 65 lbs, which was pretty challenging.  Rich followed and made it through 8.  I pulled the third round and pushed out 10, then we pulled the weights off the bar.  Rich pushed out another 10, and I finished up with 12 as we moved to the wall ball.  Here Rich was still struggling again, whereas I do OK with the wall-ball (probably due to the volleyball background), so I picked up the slack here a bit before we moved into burpees.  Rich managed to do six in his first round, and I followed up with 10, but was wicked gassed.  Back to Rich, and he eeked out another 10, and I followed with another 10.  Rich managed 6 in the next round, and I finished us up to get to 50, but was starting to get pretty dizzy/nauseous by this point.  Moving into side jumps, Rich led off with 10, then I pulled 20 (again, volleyball training probably helping my legs, but still dizzy).  We finished up each with 10 and 10, then on to the 400m carry run.  At this point, carrying each other probably wasn’t the greatest idea (I was dizzy and nauseous, Rich thought he might pass out).  Here Rich really shined and made up ground, though.  I started with one tire and he took two for the first 100m (which was a LONG 100 m).  When I went to switch with him, he kept going.  When we hit the 200m mark, I took both tires and he took one.  By now everyone else had finished, and many of them were running with us, encouraging us to keep going.  I made it about 100m before I had to start walking (though my jog was nearly a walk previously).  Rich grabbed the extra tire on his way past, and he and I managed to jog the last 100m in, Rich with both tires, while I carried 1.  Total time: 30:59.  I was absolutely soaked, covered in filth, complete exhausted, and glad to be done!

Sep 012013
 

Walked into today’s session fairly excited about the “Total” workout, in which we would determine my maximum lifting weights.

We started out with a short “dynamic” warm-up, which included a jog back and forth across the gym, high knees back and forth across the gym, kick backs, bear crawl, skipping, Russian march, etc., by far the easiest warm-up, all designed to stretch me out.

Our workout consisted of three phases.  Finding my one-rep max on back squats, dead lifts, and strict press.  For each exercise we had 15 minutes.

Beginning with back squats, we started with just the bar, where I did five or six reps, then as the weight went up, slowly decreased the reps.  Between each set of weights we weighted 60 to 90 seconds.  Maximum weight was 215, though it took us close to 20 minutes to get to that weight.  This was pretty close to Chris’s prediction, as he figured I would be able to back squat my weight, dead lift about 1.5x my weight, and strict press half my weight.

The dead lift went a bit more quickly.  I finished up at 345, though with the last few weights I could feel as though I was using my back more than I should, which made 345 a great place to stop.  It took us about 15 minutes to work up to this one.

The strict press went much more quickly.  I started out with just the bar, then we slowly added weights up to 115.  I took a shot at 120, but the bar just refused to make it all the way up, so I dropped it and we called today a success.

Total Workout Score: 215+345+115 = 675.  It’ll be interesting to see how this changes in the coming months!  At the end of this workout, Chris explained that I had graduated from the OnRamp program, and was now eligible to join the regular Crossfit workouts.  This is good news, but also a bit scary… time will tell!

Aug 282013
 

Crossfit OnRamp Day 8, Wednesday morning, and nothing is terribly sore to start out with.  I’m excited, a workout where I’m coming in “relatively” fresh!

The warm-up we began with seemed pretty reasonable.  Three consecutive sets of:

  • 20 jumping jacks
  • 5 plank walks
  • 10 situps
  • 20 flutter kicks
My abs were sore by the end, and I was warmed up, heart going, but not completely spent.  Just about right.  While the previous class finished up, I spent about 5 minutes on the jump rope myself working on double unders, then we began the “education” portion of today’s lesson.
 

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We focused on kettle bell exercises and progressions, reviewing standard kettle bell swings, then working into kettle bell clean & jerks right-handed, left-handed, and simultaneously.  Then we moved into kettle bell snatches, which I actually liked better than the clean and jerks.  Finally, we spent a few minutes doing Turkish Get-Ups.  They were kind of fun from a technical standpoint and an exercise unlike anything I’ve ever done before, but I also quickly learned how tiring they get after a few repetitions doing them correctly.
 
Today’s workout was a quick one, though challenging.  Chris gave me a choice of going to lower or heavier kettle bells for the workout.  I chose the heavier set, but kept the lighter ones handy in case it was a bit more than I bargained for.  As it happened, I was able to complete the workout without moving to the lighter bells, but certainly didn’t have much (if anything) left in me by the time we were done.  The workout was one time through, for time:
  • 15 KB swings
  • 7 KB C&J (R)
  • 15 KB swings
  • 7 KB C&J (L)
  • 15 KB swings
  • 7 KB snatch (R)
  • 15 KB swings
  • 7 KB snatch (L)

I was a bit nervous about this one with all the shoulder work, given some artificial parts in my right shoulder and a missing rotator cuff muscle, but it worked out OK.  The 15 kettle bell swings, which I usually like, really had me pushing to keep good form by the end, and the 7 reps of the clean and jerks and snatches were just the right amount to push me, but not so much that I had to break the sets.  My biggest worry by the time we were done was keeping hold of the kettle bell, as I was absolutely drenched.  A couple trips for more chalk on my hands certainly fixed that issue, though.  Total time was around 6:20 for the workout.

I’d expected another “cash-out” killer exercise before leaving since I did the set unbroken, but we finished up with a shoulder stretching exercise.  This workout seemed just about right — challenging, pushing me, but it didn’t kill me for the rest of the day (and I’m hoping leaves me in reasonable shape for a couple matches of sand volleyball tomorrow night, as it’s our end-of-season playoff night)!  Friday is our “Total” day, in which we try to figure out my maximum weight for a variety of strength exercises.  I’m a bit excited to learn what my maximums are, but also a little nervous about staying injury free, as all heavy-weight work I’ve ever done has always involved sets of a minimum of eight repetitions.  One-rep maximums will be an entirely new critter!

Aug 262013
 

Monday morning, time for on-ramp workout day 7.  Before I get into that, though, a precursor about the weekend should probably be in order.  If you’ve read my post about Day 6, I was feeling reasonably OK when I left the gym.  And that evening.  But that night my little girl was sick so there wasn’t a lot of sleep going on in the house.  When the girls went down for their afternoon nap on Saturday, I thought I’d try and join them for about half an hour.  I laid down with them, nodded off reading my book for a bit, and when I woke up, I could not straighten my arms.  It was agony to try to unfurl them.  I couldn’t even lay down in an inverted starfish position without serious pain.  I did a bit of google searching and learned about Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), which makes it sound pretty mild, but I gotta tell you, I was hurting until Monday morning.  By Monday morning it was starting to subside, but was by no means gone.  So, a couple of rough nights with little sleep and I certainly wasn’t feeling refreshed walking into Day 7.  But walk in I did.

I stretched out while watching the regular cross fit class do their work-out.  Oh my, they were mighty impressive, and I almost felt guilty stretching as they worked, but I had my turn pretty quickly.  Warmup was three sets of:

  • 10 split jerks (with PVC focusing on form)
  • 10 air squats
  • Samson Stretch
  • 10 situps
  • 20 mountain climbers

All pretty reasonable… heart rate was up, wasn’t too tired, ready to go.

We began with today’s focus — rings.  Chris started by demonstrating a muscle-up, then, we moved to a progression with ring pulls.  I did three sets of five ring pulls from a fairly horizontal position, which made them significantly tougher.  Then he had me do a couple dips on the rings (I think I managed about 2.5), and he seemed surprised I was able to do even one of those.  Hmmm.  Then we started a muscle-up progression, just practicing going from an extended fake grip to a pre-dip position.  This was rather uncomfortable, but we did about five of those before putting the rings away.  Next, on to the WOD (Workout of the Day).

Today’s workout was a progression of jump rope and back squats.  Jump rope typically would be double-unders, but as I haven’t mastered those yet, Chris made them singles.  On the bright side, thanks to junior high wrestling coach I can pretty much rest while I jump rope singles… the bad news is that was pretty apparent, so the workout was probably easier than initially intended (which we made up for).  Chris gave me a choice of lighter or heavier weights for the back squats, and I chose heavier to see how things worked.  The progression was as follows:

  • 50 jump rope singles
  • 3 back squats
  • 40 jump rope singles
  • 6 back squats
  • 30 jump rope singles
  • 9 back squats
  • 20 jump rope singles
  • 12 back squats
  • 10 jump rope singles
  • 15 back squats

Before we began, Chris gave me a primer on back squats, and I did five or six to make sure I had the form down (or as close to down as a rookie can get).  Then it was time to begin.  We put roughly 55 pounds on the bar (I think) and it was off to the races.

The jump rope was rather easy, and the back squats were a focus more on form than strength, though by the time I got to the 12 and 15-rep sets, that weight was feeling mighty heavy.  Overall, though, this was the easiest WOD I’d completed yet, which didn’t go unnoticed.  I completed the entire thing in just under 6 minutes, so Chris added a “cash-out” program.  What did that mean?  20 Jump-the-box burpees.  Basically 20 burpees, but after each one, I was to broad jump onto a 24-inch high box, stand up, then step off to do my next burpee.  Given that my legs were already pretty tired from the back squats, this was a challenge, but I managed to get all 20 completed without ever stepping up onto the box (though I swear that box got higher and higher the more burpees I did).  Another good workout, and I only needed about five minutes before I was stable enough (quit shaking) to drive home.  On to Wednesday and Day 8!

Aug 232013
 

Start of day 6 (Friday morning) and I’m beginning in pretty bad shape.  My back just ached the entire day before, it hurt so much I had trouble sleeping at night, and this morning it’s worse, if that’s even possible.  So I started stretching about an hour before my workout, hoping to gain any little edge I could.

Arrived at the gym just in time to see the previous class doing their WOD — a 50-40-30-20-10 progressions of air squats, bear crawl (just one length), sit-ups, bear crawl, repeat until done (or deceased).  Oh my.

While they finished up, I began my warm-up…  Four sets of 10 burpees and a 200m run.  Probably a pretty reasonable warm-up on most days, but already being sore and tired, this pushed me a bit.  Made it through, though, and other than my back being so sore it hurt to stand, it didn’t go badly.

We sent right into 5-8 minutes of jump rope, working on doubles.  I found the singles actually relaxing after the warm-up as I got my breath back in this exercise, and am getting closer on doubles, but still not quite there.  Chris stopped me after a few minutes, and we spent a few moments doing some back stretches before moving into a progression on cleans with the bar bell.

We began with PVC, starting with dead lifts, then a progression of cleans.  Definitely some skill involved here to keep most of the lifting the job of the legs, and not the arms.  My form isn’t great by any stretch, but on the bright side, I can start to tell myself what I’m doing wrong and when it’s getting better.  So that was our skill portion, as we spent quite a bit of time here working through the progressions.

Time for the day’s workout… a 21-15-9 progression of thrusters followed by pull-ups.  So what’s a thruster, you may ask?  Basically, you start with the barbell doing a clean, then from a standing clean position, do a front squat and push the bar (and yourself) up to a fully-extended hold.  Chris offered to start me with lighter weights, but we decided to up them a bit to challenge me (I think the final weight we decided on was 75 lbs?).

So, first set of thrusters.  Started out kinda fun (something new), and I made it to around 12 before really starting to struggle.  Pushed out a few more then had to take a break at 16.  Was hoping to pound the last nine out, but ended up doing three more, then two to finish it off.  On to the pull-ups.  I wanted to start with regular strict pull-ups to see how many I could do.  After the thrusters, apparently the correct number was three.  So I slid over to the box and finished out with jumping pull-ups (the downside was each jumping pull-up only counted as half credit, so I had to do 36 of them to finish off my 18).  It seemed like something that should be pretty easy, but I really focused hard on not jumping any more than I had to, so my shoulders were just about falling off by the time I finished (which required another break or two).

On to round two.  This time, I made it through about 8 thrusters before dropping the bar.  Thankfully, I was able to get my head out of the way.  Finished up then with a set of 4, tried for 3, but actually had to take a breather before pushing out the last one.  Then back to the pull-up bar.  Tried a strict one — nothing doing, so straight on to the box.  To finish the set I needed 30 jumping pull-ups.  And let me tell you, they took everything I had and a bit more.  Again, I didn’t make it through unbroken, but I did them.

One more round of nine reps.  By now thrusters weren’t nearly as fun as they were at the start, but I managed to complete them with a set of 5, 2, and 2, then back to the pull-up bar.  Started strong with the end in sight and got through 10 before my shoulders went on strike.  I negotiated with them for a moment and they came back to work, did five more, then two more, then thought I’d try to be a bad ass and end on a high note.  I moved over to the regular bar and tried to muscle out one last real pull-up.  Crap.  Arms back on strike.  Back to the box to finish the jumping pull-ups.  Day six complete, and a two day rest to hopefully get healed up before our next adventure on Monday!

Aug 212013
 

Our day 5 on-ramp class warm-up started fairly reasonably.  Three sets of a bear-crawl across the gym, 10 kettle bell swings (18 kg), 10 of something I can’t remember, and long-jumps back across the gym.  The warm-up was pretty reasonable again this time.  I was just starting to feel sore, heart rate was up, it wasn’t easy at all by round 3, but I still had something left in the tank.

Then we went on to skills.  We started by working on jump rope.  I did fine with my initial singles (thanks to my junior high wrestling coach), but struggled a bit doing doubles — well, struggled a lot.  But I’m sure that I can improve on.  The issue wasn’t fitness here, but skill.  Chris said that jump rope frustrates many folks as one of the hardest things in cross fit.  Hard to imagine, jump rope doesn’t worry me at all.  Those toes-to-bar and handstand push-ups make me nervous.  Anyhow, we spent about five minutes then moved on.

Next up was pull-ups.  Chris seemed surprised that I could do strict pull-ups, but after a few to prove it, we moved on to kipping pull-ups (which he said should make pull-ups easier).  This began with a progression of v-ups / super mans on the ground, then practicing on the bar for several sets.  I found these harder to do than the actual pull-ups, but it sounds like that’s probably a technique / core-conditioning issue.  Regardless, that had my shoulders pretty tired by the time we got to our work out.

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Today’s workout: Fight Gone Bad.  In short, it’s a 17-minute workout, broken into three sets of five minutes each, with a one-minute rest at the end of each five-minute block.  Each five-minute block consisted of:

  • 60s wall-ball (14-lb ball this time)
  • 60s sumo deadlift high-pull @55 lbs
  • 60s box-jumps
  • 60s push-press with 45 lbs
  • 60s rows

Initially we had the box at the prescribed 20″ at my request, but after finishing the first minute of wall-balls, I could tell that was going to leave me cracking my shins on the box, so I called an audible and moved to the lower box.  Each of these exercises by themselves would be pretty reasonable, but I neglected to recall how spent my legs were following the wall-ball exercise.  By the time I got to the deadlifts, it was a struggle to keep good form, and my lower back was starting to ache.  The box jumps really pushed my legs again, but I kept moving by transitioning to step-ups.  The first round of push-press I made through with some challenges, and the 60s row was almost a break in itself on my aching shoulders and back.  Round 1 complete, and that 60s break was mighty short.

Round 2 and the wall ball really started to push me.  I had to take a 5-6 second break toward the end of the set, and the deadlifts just piled on to sore legs.  The box-jumps started with one or two legit jumps, then transitioned to step-ups again, but I kept moving.  The push-press, well, that’s where things started to come apart.  In this round after hammering out 6 or 7, I had to catch a quick break with the bar on my chest a few times, and that 45-pound bar was mighty heavy by the time the minute was up.  Got to the rows again and focused on form.  One round left and by now I was really starting to hurt, was a touch dizzy, and just walking to the next station had me pretty jelly-legged.

Round 3 and the wall ball required another break or two, and I even dropped the ball once.  Oops.  Transitioning to the deadlift and I was really struggling with my form.  Put the bar down once for a few seconds, but managed to get through it.  The box-jumps were just an ongoing step-up exercise as I sang in my head “just keep swimming…” and the push-press, well, it wasn’t pretty at all, but I survived.  When the buzzer sounded to move to the rows I was thrilled, as the row machine does push from a cardio standpoint, but there was no one single muscle group that screamed at me.  I was panting and dripping all over by the time that last minute ended, and even getting out of the rowing machine was a little trickier than one might imagine when you’re that exhausted, but overall, another good workout.

Aug 192013
 

Day 4 of my Crossfit OnRamp Classes, and I was somewhat excited in having had an entire weekend off to recuperate, hoping I could walk in and start a workout without being too sore at beat up at the outset.  Friday’s class (OnRamp Day 3) had gone fairly well, so I was excited to see if the trend continued.  I really wanted a good workout that pushed me, but not so much that I started getting sick or nervous about hurting myself.

Today didn’t disappoint.  The warm-up was quite reasonable, I thought.  We started with three consecutive sets of: 10 air squats, 3 plank walks, 10 sit-ups, and 20 jumping jacks. In reality, it may have been the “easiest” warm-up yet, but I thought it did what it was supposed to.  My heart rate was up, I was stretched out, moving, and ready to go.

We then jumped into some stretching exercises to get ready for “press day.”  With some PVC pipe we did a number of shoulder exercises to stretch things out, then we talked about a number of different types of presses.  We started with form practice for the strict press with the PVC pipe, then a push press, then finished with practice of the split-jerk press.  It was all about form, and I know it’ll take some practice, but most of it seemed pretty reasonable.  I’m sure, just like when I first started using free weights 10 years back or so, it feels uncomfortable and scary for a while until you get used to it.

Then we moved into our progression for handstand push-ups.  Yup, really, just like it sounds.  To begin with, we started with a hand stand.  I began against the wall doing a tripod progression to a hand-stand without too much trouble.  Next, however, was getting into an arm-locked handstand without the tripod.  Not quite as good… I’m not sure I really have the shoulder strength to handle that yet, but with Chris’s help I was able to hold the position for a few seconds with help getting into it against the wall.  He said it was better than most beginners for that exercise — he may have been bolstering my feelings, but it seemed like a decent start.

The workout of the day was of the AMRAP type — As Many Rounds As Possible — in 15 minutes.  Our progression was 10 kettle bell swings (18-lb bell), 15 kettle bell squats, and a 200 m run.  I gotta say, it sounded pretty reasonable at the start.  The first round went well.  Kettle bell swings are actually kinda fun.  I know my weight was light, but I was also focusing on form.  Then the 15 kettle bell squats started to get challenging by the end, but about the right intensity, and I knew once I finished those I’d have a 200m run to recuperate before round two.  Silly me.  Finished the squats, put the bell down, and took about three steps before I almost fell on my face.  Apparently my legs had turned to gelatin during the squats.  OK, so not as easy as I’d figured.  I knew there had to be a catch.

Despite the jelly legs, I finished my 200m run and started on round two.  Again, the kettle bell swings were kinda fun, the squats really started to push me, and it was the run following the squats that again kicked my butt.  During round 3 I had to take a quick circle walk about halfway through the kettle bell squats, then finished up with a stumble out the door.  By the time we finished the 15 minutes, I’d completed five rounds (barely), and had 8 kettle bell swings into round 6 complete.  Not wanting to leave the fun part unfinished, I did the last two after the buzzer, then attempted to walk around and regain my senses for a few moments, as that last run I’d started to get a bit dizzy.  I sat down, walked around, talked (gasped) to the instructor for a few minutes, then headed home for my shower.  Which got MUCH more exciting when I decided to climb the stairs to get to the bathroom.  OK, need the railing here.  No problem.  Until I had to go back DOWN the stairs to let the dog in.  Going down the stairs was a bit more exciting, as I barely had enough in my legs to keep from falling.  Yup, good workout.  Survived day four, onto number five on Wednesday!

Aug 162013
 

I walked into Day 3 a bit apprehensive and a bit excited, as I was still quite sore from the previous two workouts, but looking forward to seeing what would come next.  As I walked in, two folks from the regular class were finishing up sets of pull-ups and wall balls, and it did my heart good to see that they were struggling as well.

I started off with what I thought was a perfect warmup.  Three sets of a 200m run, 10 push-ups, 10 sit-ups, and 20 mountain-climbers.  The run felt good, I managed the first 10 push-ups with just a bit of struggle at the end, I was burning from sit-up one from my previous days, and the mountain climbers certainly got my heart pumping.  By round 2 I was struggling on the push-ups and sit-ups, and by round 3 push-up and sit-up #10 were big struggles.  For where I’m at currently, that seemed just about right.

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On to our lessons.  We began with wall climbs, in which you get in push-up position with your feet against the wall, do a push-up, then slowly walk backwards up the wall.  It looked pretty cool in the demo, but was quite a bit tougher to do in practice.  On the first one I just about fell down the wall, the second I got the hang of it, and by the third I was pooped and half fell down the wall at the end again.  Looking forward to more of these, though, if just from a “something different” perspective.

Next we worked on dead lifts by practicing with the medicine ball.  As all these free-weight exercises are new to me (I’ve only really done isolated bar exercises, and mostly for upper body, as in the past all leg-work was done with dumb bells instead of a bar), there’s a lot of work to be done on form.  We started with learning how to pick up the ball and clean it, focusing on maintaining a good squat position and keeping the ball in tight.  From there, we practiced some wall balls (which felt amazingly like setter drills but with a bit more weight and bit bigger ball).  After lesson time, it was time for the daily workout.

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Today’s workout was a 21-15-9 progression of wall balls and a form of abdominal torture known as toes to bar.  From a hanging position, the goal is to pull your toes up to the bar as shown at the left.  Yeah, I thought that was funny too.  Chris modified the instructions for me, allowing me to shoot for getting me knees up to my elbows.  I got a bit closer there, but still REALLY struggled.  After instruction, it was time to start the workout!

The first set of 21 wall balls wasn’t too bad… I was using a 10-pound ball and the form was very similar to volleyball.  Not saying I wasn’t struggling and huffing and puffing by the end, but I didn’t want to die (yet).  Then on to the bar for 21 “elbows-to-knees.”  Yikes.  I was spent from the three I did to practice before we started.  I tried my best to maintain proper form and not swing, but it probably took me 6 or 7 sets to finish the required 21.  Was THRILLED to go back to wall ball for my set of 15.  Again, the wall-balls got tough after about 10, but I was still happy to be there and not yet at the bar.  The walk from the wall to the bar was mighty depressing.  Got to the bar and 15 elbows-to-knees seemed excruciating.  I ended up breaking the set into 5’s, then 4’s, then 3’s, and just about cried.  OK, the set of nine left.  Hanging in there.  Back to the wall ball.  Mighty tired, but ecstatic to be away from the bar, so nine of these wasn’t too bad (not sure if it was the 10-pound ball or just hating the ab exercises).  Next time I probably ought to jump to the 14-pound weight and find out.  Nine elbows-to-knees on the bar.  Yeah.  Started out trying for sets of 3.  Wasn’t happening.  Made it through two of these, tried my last set of three and only got two weak ones in, then hunkered down for one last good one.  Yippee, done!

I was spent, sore, tired, exhausted, but wasn’t ready to throw up or pass out.  This seemed like what a workout should be.  Two days off until my next lesson, so perhaps a bit more time for my soreness to work itself out… sure hoping today’s improvement is a trend toward starting to get more comfortable and not just a workout that was a touch lighter since I was so familiar with the wall-ball type exercise from volleyball!

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