Friday, January 16, 2015

CrossFit Week 11: A Week of Gains

If you count Monday, it'll wrap up 11 weeks into this new lifestyle of CrossFit...nearly 3 months. Since this week has really been a great one, I wanted to enter the weekend with a recap of the week. It wasn't a week of nothing but sunshine and rainbows but a week full of education, some new commitments, and hitting some new benchmarks. If you are thinking that I do nothing but this then think again. I devote 1 hour to it per day and if you count the commute, 1hr 22min. Do I think about it, often? Sure, I do. I also watch short 4-6min instructional videos online as well as I run across them. I have found one of the most appealing parts of this journey is the constant state of learning I find myself in. Luckily, there is a plethora of information out there in cyberspace. Plus, with the rowing online competition I'm doing, I really had a lot to learn. "About rowing? A lot to learn??" Sure did. The easiest way to debrief this week is to break it down by the day.

Thrusters
Monday: This is always back squat day...my favorite lift. I struggle a lot anytime the bar goes over my head, thanks to the 41+ years of doing no upper body strength training. The back squat uses the legs...no arms. The arms only hold the bar and weight behind your head on your shoulders. It wasn't a day to set any personal records and more of high reps at 70% of our max weight. Great workout and burn but what waited was something to drain plenty of energy and sweat. 21, 15, and 9 thrusters and burpees. Oh joy. The thruster is part of what CrossFit was founded on and involves thrusting the weighted bar over your head, locking out the arms and sticking head forward and then as it comes down to your shoulders, you go deep into a squat then thrust all the way back up again. (see image inset) Burpees are "like" pushups except your whole body touches the ground...you kinda fall to it and then stand up and jump. That's a burpee. The workout took me 8min, 1sec. Short, eh?! Yea, well, that was a killer! I didn't use the prescribed weight for the thrusters, though, since that's a "work in progress." My form was spot on, though...goal #1.

Tuesday: We did power cleans which is essentially lifting the weighted bar from the floor and catching it on your shoulders while the workout includes a lot of jump rope and hanging from a bar while trying to lift my knees to my elbows. Ultimately, the idea is to get my toes to the bar above but for now, I do the scaled version and do my best to get my knees in the same zip code as my elbows.

Wednesday: Well, the day began with my coach showing us new stretches to open up the shoulders while saying "Today is going to be a massive overhead day." Oh joy!!!!! Not. The strength portion of the workout was "1RM" which meant one rep max...try to lift your heaviest weight with proper form and movement. The movement was the Push Jerk. The weighted bar begins on your chest and you slightly bend your knees then thrust the bar straight overhead and push your head forward while straightening the knees. This was my first victory of the week. I had only done a light 65 pounds prior but got 1RM of 125 pounds. Quite happy with that! Then the workout, dubbed "Death by Push Jerk." Starting with the 1st minute, everyone does 1. Minute 2...you do two...and so on. The workout is over when you can no longer do them all within the prescribed minute. I got to the 10th round and only squeaked out 9 lifts. Arms were very wobbly and it was all I had. Two men in the class gained an audience as they battled it out into the SIXTEENTH round. That's a lot of jerks! :) Tough workout but I walked away happy with my effort and I really enjoyed it. Wednesday was also the day when Week 2 of Row'd Royalty was announced so I spent some time educating myself more on proper rowing technique and efficiency. I really wanted to do better on Week 2 of this 4 week rowing competition.

Thursday: Oh for the love of all that is good in this world...MORE overhead. This time, my most hated lift...the overhead squat. Arms spread wide on the bar and arms locked with it suspended overhead...then squat. For those (ME!!!) with poor shoulder mobility, this is very tough. It's one thing to do squats but to put the weight up there...yea, no. It's just so difficult. I could barely put any weight on at all. "Comical" is what I'm sure I looked like. I did the best I could then came the workout that had more of those in them (10 each) but mixed in 24" box jumps (10 each) and knees-to-elbow burpees (9 each)...all of that 4 times through. Those overhead squats were sucktastic. Enough said. I re-did those stretches from Wednesday and called it a day. Later on after work, I felt ready to return for the rowing workout for Week 2. This week, we have to row 400 meters, 1min rest, then 1200 meters. I did my very best to apply all I learned in the last week and hit all the marks. I lowered my revolutions per minute from 41 to 30 (as instructed by coach and friends) and leaned back at the end of the stroke. The result was more time to breathe on the recovery but still maintained close to the same pace as last week's fast-paced workout. The key is a full stroke with excellent posture and POWER in the pull. Everything must be done to not waste energy.
video

The last thing I did yesterday was sign up for another competition...THE competition that leads to the international CrossFit Games in California...call it the Olympics of CrossFit. The Games "season" all begins with the Open which takes place throughout the country and world locally at CrossFit affiliates. At the end of February and for 5 straight weeks, there will be a humbling workout announced each week and all athletes will complete it and enter their scores. Even the elite start here which is pretty darn cool. Those who excel in the Open will move to the Regionals and then to the Games...the place for the less than 1% elite CrossFitter. For the Open, I hope to learn a ton about myself and push myself harder than ever before. Last year, my gym fielded 60 athletes in the Open.

Friday: With any Friday comes some flavor of dead lift. It's simple...pick the weight straight up off the floor and stand up straight...while keeping the back straight and NOT arched. (very tough for me near my limit) Today, it was sumo dead lift. The chief difference is that the legs are wide apart versus being shoulder-width apart. My previous PR was 205 pounds. Today, I bested that by 20 pounds for 225 pounds three times. To put this in perspective, the gym record is 600 pounds but that guy is gone. Our strongest man there can push into the 500s. You should see him lift that weight! Dang. He can't fit another weight on the bar! For me...baby steps! (and not get hurt...so easy to hurt the back in a dead lift if done wrong) For the workout, it was a mixed bag of rowing, walking lunges, pike pushups, and jump ropes. I was sweating...just a touch at the end. Enough to leave my mark. :)

Afterwards, it was time to practice some more my kipping pull ups. As one of my 2015 goals, I need to consistently work on this. Plus, it's a part of SO many workouts. A strict pull up is one where you are hanging on the bar and pull yourself straight up, chin over the bar. Kipping is a motion where you use your body weight to propel yourself upwards and then pull yourself into the bar. Until now, I haven't been able to do it. Today, I got a few legit ones and had my wife record it. The video is on my Instagram account (username: RTRSBM) but here are a few screen shots. I'm super happy. I just need to learn, now, how to string several together.

I know it's not textbook or pretty but it's a beginning. Last week, I couldn't get my chin up there. That's progress.

Leaning into the weekend, I think REST is a fantastic idea...with some running and family time. I'm definitely going to see American Sniper at some point. Before I go, though...one thing I have never owned in my life is a pair of Size 32 jeans. Today, this showed up on my doorstep and guess what, they fit. How can I NOT love what I'm doing with results like this?! I was in a tight 34 when I started back in early November....then a 33...now this. Wearing them now. :)

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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