This workout was hard: 21 thrusters, 21 bar-facing burpees, then 18 or each, the 15, 12, 9, 6 and 3. This knocked a lot of people out of the Opens. Katie slogged away at this workout for a long time, but I could not be more proud of her tenacity. She finished in just over 54 minutes.
Hit 325# today!
We are wrapping up the 2nd Performance Nutrition Challenge this week. Rather than focusing on Paleo or Zone, the goal has been to eat "real" food (including some starches) and tune in to how our diet impacts our performance. The goal was not necessarily lose weight, but several participants did. More importantly, though, was the observation of the cause and effect of eating and performance.
The format is simple. We did 3 WODs at the beginning, established a point system to reward clean eating, water consumption, sleep, supplementation (fish oil), alcohol avoidance, and WOD participation.
My performance in the 3 benchmark WODs were OK at best. Like most "masters," I was in the throes of recovering from various aches and pains. This particular week, it was my left shoulder. The workouts went like this:
Start as heavy as you want, you may not ADD weight during the workout, only remove it - score is weight on the bar at the end of the 10 minutes.
This workout was actually in my wheelhouse - I love clean & jerk and have been practicing hard for about 4 months to improve my form (with John McEvoy, Don McCauley, and Diane Fu). I loaded the bar with 145# and finished with that same weight.
This workout was not so much fun. I was winded after the first set of wall balls and took too many breaks along the way. I finished in 7:00 even.
At the end of 45 minutes, I had finished 4 rounds plus 10 more pull up reps. Half my pull ups included using a green band (remember the injured left shoulder). I was the least happy with this performance. It sucked. A lot.
The main focus of the "nutrition" part of this challenge was getting my protein intake closer to 200g/day. I ate a cow's worth of steak and a truckload of eggs over the course of the last 4 weeks.
At the same time, I worked on my shoulder pain by doing very basic curls, presses, internal and external rotations, and mobility work daily (usually multiple times a day). I started very light (3# weights) and worked up through 5 and 8 pounds. This made for a relatively quick recovery.
Over the course of the challenge, I reached new PR's in front squat, back squat, and dead lift.
We started to re-test the same 3 WODs this week.
Started with 160# and finished with that same weight. I think I could have done 165#, but it would have been close. I improved by 15# on this workout in 4 weeks.
This one was still a gasser, but I took much fewer breaks and got bigger bunches of both movements. I finished in 6:32 - taking 28 seconds off my previous time.
This was not a benchmark from 4 weeks ago, but notable to me anyway. This was the first ever WOD that included muscle-ups that I actually got the muscle-ups. I had to get 1 muscle-up and 2 ring dips in each of two rounds. I got both on the first try and completed the dips while I was up there. Also, chest to bar pull ups were solid, strong, and unbroken. Lastly, first WOD using 70# kettlebell. *Felt AWESOME*
No bands. 20 unbroken pull ups in the first round. Better pull ups throughout the workout. I still ran out of time, but my shoulder felt great. I finished 4 rounds plus 85 reps. This was 75 reps better than 4 weeks ago. Furthermore, I did not stop at 45:00 - I finished Barbara in 46:43. Not within the time limit, but it is my PR regardless.
Have I lost weight? Nope. I expect to weigh in and be almost exactly the same. However, I am feeling like a winner because my goal was to improve my performance, and I did that big time.
One week later and I added 5# to my front squat. Got 270# today. Almost got 275#, but lost it about halfway up. Sorry, no video of today's lift; you'll just have to take my word for it when I say it was a thing of beauty.
New PR for back squat @ 310# (+10 from 12/27/13)
New PR for front squat @ 265# (+10 from 1/9/14)
This past Saturday was the "Frosty Flourisher" at CrossFit Free. This comp was designed for the "up-and-coming" crossfitter. Based on the field of athletes that showed up, "up-and-coming" was open to wide interpretation. There were some beasts, a few newbies, and a good sized group of old guys like me.
The workouts made me feel old and slow. For the most part, I was strong enough and healthy enough to move the weight; I just was not very fast at anything.
The sad part of the day was a moment of my dorky youth coming back in spades - in front of a number of other athletes. There was a warm-up area that had bikes, rowers, bars, and boxes set up. Between the first and second workouts, I warmed up with the bar (hang cleans and shoulder to overheads) before moving on to the 30" box jumps. The box I picked was on a lifting platform. As I hit the box top, it shifted forward and I started to fall back where I came from. There was nothing to grab (though I flailed in an uncoordinated flap-flap-flap). I hit the floor and smashed my elbow/triceps on a barbell. That hurt like hell. I looked around - everybody had watched the ungraceful crash to the ground. "Dork" I think I could actually hear their thoughts.
I got up, dusted off, switched boxes (to one that was on a non-slip pad) and got in a few reps. I was in pain for the rest of the day, although the 3,200m row warmed my arm up nicely.
It is now Tuesday (3 days later) and my arm almost feels better. I may be in the best shape ever, and I know my age is limiting me a bit, but worse is the feeling of "newborn fawn on ice" that brings back memories of the distinctly un-athletic kid I used to be.
This Saturday, Katie and I will be competing in the Crossfit Free "Frosty Flourisher" for up-and-coming crossfitters. Brandon has posted two workouts so far. The first is a relatively tame bike, clean/jerk, burpee triplet. The second is a grueling test of endurance; 3,200 meter row with a 15 minute time cap. I tried this workout today to prepare.
We were doing a 2K row at CrossFit 2A anyway, so I added 1,200 meters to that. I finished the 2K in 8:28 and the 3.2K in 13.28. I kept a steady pace the whole time. I tried not to go out too fast. I focused on conserving energy early and maintaining pace from the middle to the end.
It was hard, but not impossible. I am actually looking forward to doing it again on Saturday now that I know how it feels.
Freddys Garcia and I finished the CrossFit 2A Winter Partner Throwdown yesterday. Ultimately, we came in last place. We both did well - we beat our practice weight for the bear complex, and improved out time for the second workout. We lost 11 reps off our third workout (though it felt like we were doing much better).
At the end Freddys commented that we probably should have done scaled. Not sure. Our bear complex score would have put us in 2nd place in scaled after the first event. The second event would have been easier, too, since we would be snatching less weight and then cranking out pushups instead of pull-ups. The last workout was a lighter deadlift - that should increase our score, but everyone was moving the weight pretty fast, so I estimate we would be mid-pack for that one.
It is a hard balance - is it better to do poorly in Rx or place higher in scaled? Considering that the bulk of the Rx competitors are at least 20 years younger than I am, I am leaning towards scaling future comps.
Either way, I am not discouraged by how this weekend turned out. Freddys and I had a great time practicing last week and going all out on Sunday. It was a great experience, and I'm glad we did it together.
It is almost show time again. This Sunday I will be participating in the CrossFit 2A Winter Partner Throwdown. This will be my second Rx competition. It will be a bit easier than the last since it is all 2-person (same gender) teams, and my partner is Freddys Garcia - he is plenty strong and will be a big help in many of my weak areas. We have spent the last week rehearsing the workouts, and we have a good idea what we are capable of doing. Now we are in the critical last few days - no more hard workouts, lots of mobility, rest, eat right, and be prepared to bring it on game day.
In other news, I hit a new Front Squat PR today. 255# after working up with sets of 2 through 245#. My previous 1RM for front squat was 235#.
Trying out the new lifting platforms at CrossFit 2A.
This weekend will be my first real foray into Rx competition. This means that I will be going up against guys that are 25 years younger than me, twice as strong as I am, with bulging muscles and egos. There are four workouts scheduled, and I feel pretty good about two of them. The first is a double-under/snatch combination. I think I will be in the middle of the pack for this one just because I think (hope) that I can snatch pretty heavy. The floater workout is a short sandbag/burpee challenge. I don't think anyone has a huge advantage with these, so some people will do better than me and some will do worse.
The middle workout is cleans, lunges and burpees. The lunges (at 135#) are the killer here. I expect to suffer for the full duration of this workout. The last workout is 40 chest-to-bar pullups, 30 dead lifts @ 185#, 20 box jumps @ 30", and 10 thrusters @ 135#. I ran through this workout last week and it was unpleasant. My weakness is right at the top with the 40 chest-to-bar pullups. I know I can do all of this, but it is going to take me a while to complete it.
Between now and Saturday I have 2 objectives: first is to eat very clean to try to drop the Thanksgiving weekend poundage. Every pound I can shed will make the pullups that much easier. I have been watching every mouthful for 2 days now. Three more and I will be ready to go Saturday morning. My second task is to continue doing scaled down versions of these workouts. I did a bunch of 135# squat cleans today and lots of double unders yesterday and today. I plan to do half of the chest-to-bar workout tomorrow or Thursday - 20 pullups, 15 deads, 10 box jumps, and 5 thrusters. Doing a small version of the workout helped a lot during the Opens, so I will give that strategy a try again.
Other than that, I will continue to nurse the various aching joints on my body and mobilize in every free moment. My first objective for Saturday is to avoid injury, followed by completing each workout, followed by supporting my fellow CrossFit 2A athletes, then, lastly, doing well in the standings.
When I started CrossFit, I didn't know shit. I knew I did not know how to lift properly nor did I have command over basic bodyweight movements like push-ups, pull-ups, and squats. If any experienced CrossFitter would walk up to a random person on the street and say, "Show me how you squat," you can expect that our immediate response would be, "No, that’s not right. Your butt should go down and back, and your knees shouldn’t collapse out in front of you or cave in." We also can spot the difference between the push-ups we learned in school and the full range of motion exercise we perform now.
The biggest changes in our CrossFit performance likely came in the first few months of joining the sport. Why? Because we were learning the fundamental movements like pushing, pulling and squatting. We learned hand release push-ups and strict pull-ups and negatives and box jumps and wall balls (yuck!) and burpees. We picked up the bar and were taught the basics of dead lifts, cleans, presses, jerks, and snatches. Once we had these basics, it was easy to add weight and start setting PRs each week.
Then something else happened that I call the sophomore syndrome. Just like high school, sophomores have a little knowledge and think they know everything to succeed. In CrossFit, this means you got some pull-ups and started to kip. You started to kip, so you started working on muscle-ups. You have push-ups, so you started on handstand push-ups. You also have kipping, so you start on kipping handstand push-ups. You have kipping pull-ups, so you start on butterfly pull-ups. You may have some small nagging injuries at this point, too.
Likewise, you start to push for PRs in all the lifts. In every WOD. You can add a couple more nagging injuries here, too.
After about a year of CrossFit, I noticed that I was not improving as quickly as I would like. I was not getting stronger or faster or even generally better at a recognizable rate. At the same time, a couple other things were going on in my life that started to give me a clue.
I coach my son's sixth grade travel soccer team. These kids are the strongest players in Westwood, and we started the fall season with two convincing wins. Our third game was against a much weaker team than we had played so far, and we only managed a tie. We then lost 2 of the next 3 games. It seemed our opponents were improving faster than we were. I started searching online for clue about how to make a strong team better. Contrary to the belief I had been employing, all the experts agreed: practice the fundamentals at every training session. I had assumed that the kids had dribbling, passing and shooting down pat; so we practiced more esoteric skills and combination plays. I refocused my weekly sessions to emphasize ONLY the fundamentals. The team immediately showed improvement again and got back to their winning ways.
Additionally, Katie is in the middle of her junior year algebra class. She had difficulty with some equations and it showed on a quiz. The grade was not horrible, but it wasn't great, either. We decided to revisit the topic even though the quiz was done and there was no improving on it now. We recognized that math class teaches each subject with the intent of building on the existing knowledge to understand and master the next (and more complex) topic. Having a weak grasp on a fundamental concept would have a ripple effect on the future quizzes and tests.
Circling back to CrossFit, I am convinced that the key to avoiding injury and realizing the fastest improvement comes down to continuing to work on fundamentals.
Strict pull-ups are the key to avoiding injury with kipping and butterfly pull-ups. You can certainly master kipping pull-ups, but you should still be working on strict pull-ups at the same time. Kipping and butterfly pull-ups put a huge strain on your shoulder joint. Strict pull-ups build strength around the joint and allow you to use muscle to help get your chin over the bar (instead of relying solely on momentum).
Push-ups and squats are fundamental to most Olympic lifts. The ability to push and pull the bar with control and balance and the right alignment will allow you to reach new PRs and will keep you healthy.
Just as we have learned to mobilize before and after our daily workouts, spending extra time on fundamental movements will accelerate your improvement rather than hold you back. You may feel silly working in basic movements, but when it is time to combine these in a WOD, you will have the advantage. And you have a much better likelihood of finishing un-injured.
Brandon at CrossFit Free arranged for a full day of lifting technique with Don McCauley last Saturday. Katie and I went (and met up with Sean Towey) and got loads of good tips and practice. Don brought some current weightlifters to show us good form and to help with coaching. There were almost 50 participants, but we all got lots of close observation and correction.
Can't wait to do another one of these.
The family decided to make a spur-of-the-moment trip to Orlando to see the US Women's National Team play Brazil in a soccer friendly. A friend of ours was named to the roster the week before and there was a chance she would play. We then had a whirlwind of preparation to get a weekend's worth of stuff done before we left Saturday night.
This all meant I only had a few spare moments on Friday, so getting to CrossFit 2A was not going to work. I arranged to drop-in on CrossFit Hingham. It was a small class (about 12 people) getting coached by Eric Magee. We spent time working on snatches (my favorite) then the class split up into "fitness" and "performance" groups. I wanted to do the performance workout, but since Eric did not know me, I was put into "fitness" which means I had to do a burner rather than the strength WOD. The workout was 5 RFT of 5 pull-ups, 5 burpee box jumps, and 10 weighted sit-ups. After that, we had some time to find a max hang snatch. I pulled 135# which I was happy with since that used to be my 1RM power snatch.
We traveled to Orlando Saturday night and had a great Sunday by the pool then at the soccer match. I had contacted CrossFit Kings Point for a drop-in for Katie and me. We went to the 8AM Monday class coached by Mike Koenig. This gym was HUGE. There were about 15 people working out with us. We started with a back squat sequence, then had "Brenton" - 5RFT of 100m bear crawl and 100m broad jumps (with 3 extra burpees after every 5th broad jump). That was a sweaty mess, but it was also great fun.
I may start doing a few more drop-ins just to get to know more boxes around me. Quincy City and Florian will be in the next round.
CrossFit 2A threw Fight Gone Bad into the WOD mix today. I think of this workout like "The Walking Dead" - it is so great because it is so horrible.
The workout: 3 rounds for time - 1 min 20# wall balls, 1 min sumo deadlift high pull 75#,1 min box jump 24", 1 min push press 75#, 1 min row for calories, and 1 minute of rest.
The last recorded score I had for this was last December - 188 reps. At the time, I had only been CrossFitting for about 6 months. Based on how I did last month re-testing the Opens, I expected to much better on FGB today.
And I did. I came in at 239 reps, beating my old score by 51 reps. This is an improvement of 27%. This is part of what I love about CrossFit - the benchmark workouts are concrete measures of your progress.
I still felt like a wet rag by the end, and my rounds got progressively worse as I progressed. I know that the next time I will be even badder.
Today at CrossFit 2A, front squat PR at 255# (up 20 from 235# on September 22). Failed 265 and 260.
After class, a few of us did a max box jump test. We ended in a 3-way tie at 44 inches. Adding another inch really made the stack feel like it was up to my chin. I suspect failure was more mental than physical.
Saturday was spent at CrossFit New England for their 2nd annual Masters Competition. There were hundreds of 40+ athletes for a coll, long day of workouts.
The night before the comp, CFNE posted the "Playground" workout video. Besides the standard stuff (what to do in the workout), they included some bonus items. There would be two opportunities for bonus points in the competition. These would come as two 30 second mini-WODs - 30 seconds of muscle-ups and 30 seconds of 135# snatches. I was very excited to finally have a chance to do both of these in a competition. I am admittedly a beginner with muscle ups, but I was eager to get at least one. As it worked out, I got exactly one muscle-up and 3 snatches. The two bonus rounds happened right after the obstacle course and were back-to-back. I would have had 4 snatches, but I tossed the first one right over my head and out the back.
My other workouts were good. I did better than my practice sessions for everything. I was plenty sore on Sunday, so I must have worked hard enough. I ended in 32nd place of about 45 athletes in my age group. This was a great time and will serve as a good bench mark for how I improve over the next 12 months.
This Saturday I will be spending the day with the old guys. It is the 2nd annual CFNE Masters Competition. This is a huge event with hundreds of 40+ athletes beating themselves up during three workouts.
AMRAP 3: 10 Thrusters, 10 Pullups
Max *unbroken* Bench Press Reps (115/65) - 1 Min Time CapThird WOD is an agility course that we have not seen, yet.
Leading up to this competition, I have done a few things right and a few things wrong. The right stuff: I have practiced the first two workouts a few times each. I think I have a realistic view of how I can perform on each of these. I am at the point now that I just want to focus on mobility and rest so I can do my best of Saturday. I know that I will not be winning anything; I just want to do well enough to be in the middle of the pack somewhere.
The wrong stuff: I hurt my upper back last Tuesday and it is taking a long time to return to 100%. I give it 95% right now, but I aggravated it again yesterday (not sure how) but it feels pretty good today. I assume I will be able to do the workouts on Saturday but will be quite sore by the end of the day.
Also, we just finished a nutrition challenge (not a paleo challenge). This diet allowed for rice and potatoes to help fuel performance. I did OK with my diet, but after a year of strict paleo, the rice and potatoes made me feel sluggish. After the challenge ended, we had our Halloween party. I seriously overdid that party and suffered for a few days afterward. Today is the first day that I feel recovered from the party and the post-diet binge. I need to keep eating clean during these last few days.
I do not feel as ready for this comp as most others. I will focus on diet and rest for the next 3 days to hopefully get myself positioned for the best possible performance.
After Tuesday's workout, I spend a few minutes to roll out my back. Charlie took advantage of my recovery position and jumped up for some luvin'. As I dug into the knots in my back, Charlie settled into my soft, warm belly like it was a doggie bed.
Time to firm up a bit, I think. LOL