Monday, November 30, 2009

One tough Monday

Today's WOD was one of those workouts that looked hard on paper, but was even harder in practice:
  • Every minute on the minute 6 box jumps (24"/20")
  • For the remainder of the minute: squat-clean-to-thruster (95 lbs/ 65 lbs)
The workout ends when you have completed 65 reps of squat-clean-to-thruster...but at the top of every minute you must complete 6 box jumps.

For the squat-clean-to-thruster, this is a full squat clean with the bar starting on the ground. Receive the bar at the very bottom of your squat and then in one motion fully extend to thruster. Bar touches the ground each rep.

Time: 20:45.

This WOD was sick. I seriously thought about tapping out around the half-way mark, but I fought through the insanity. What makes this WOD particularly difficult is that you can't slow down during the box jumps, otherwise you risk prolonging the workout by giving yourself less time to do the squat-clean-to-thrusters. The workout doesn't end until you get to 65 squat-clean-to-thrusters, so you're highly motivated to rip through the box jumps. Just awful.

Much grunting during this one followed by one hell of a sweat angel.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Ten is the number

Lots of tens in today's WOD: Three rounds of:
  • 300 meter run
  • 10 overhead squats (95lbs)
  • 10 push-presses
  • 10 ring push-ups
  • 10 thrusters
  • 10 push-ups
  • 10 pull-ups
Time = 26:33.

This one was very hard on the arms and shoulders. My push-ups were completely useless once the second round got underway. I was glad to do the overhead squats prescribed, and my jumping pull-ups with the supinated grip are starting to come along. Very challenging WOD.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Heavy overhead squats

The overhead squat is my weakest CrossFit movement, which is why my heart sunk when I saw today's WOD. From the CrossFit Chronicle website:
You had to know it couldn't last ALL one little day of something HEAVY, and in the grand scheme of things it isn't really heavy at all...if I asked you to back squat 135 lbs or 95 lbs you would think it was a joke it's just the extra challenge of putting that same weight OVERHEAD and squatting with it that makes it difficult....Shoulder STABILITY and FLEXIBILITY along with mid-line STRENGTH thats what the OVERHEAD SQUAT is all about. Keep working on it!!!!
Today's WOD:
  • 10 Overhead Squats 135 lbs/95 lbs
  • 30 Knees to Elbows
  • 8 Overhead squats
  • 24 Knees to Elbows
  • 6 Overhead Squats
  • 18 Knees to Elbows
  • 4 Overhead Squats
  • 12 Knees to Elbows
  • 2 Overhead Squats
  • 6 Knees to Elbows
My overhead squats have been so bad that I decided to hit the re-start button on them. I have the leg strength -- no question -- but it's the overhead element that kills me. I've also been battling a shoulder injury which has set me back.

So, for today, I did not worry about the weight and instead I concentrated on getting my confidence back by focusing on three specific elements: (1) active shoulders, (2) extending my butt back and (3) keeping on my heels from the very get-go.

For this WOD I lifted 85lbs, but seeing as I've even had problems back squatting an empty 45lb bar these days (!!!), it was the perfect weight. At 85lbs I was able to concentrate on all these elements and get full range of motion. My squats were deep and (mostly) back on my heels.

I finished the WOD in 12:00 -- a definite confidence booster. The lifts will only get better and heavier from here.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Hopper deck Thursdays: Tabata Something Else

Today's WOD as determined by the alignment of the stars: Tabata Something Else:
  • Pull ups
  • Push ups
  • Sit ups
  • Squats
Tor this workout each movement is done for a full Tabatas: 20 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest for 8 rounds. So the entire workout is 16 minutes and your score is the total number of reps completed.

Here's how I fared:
  • Pull ups: 46
  • Push ups: 42
  • Sit ups: 90
  • Squats: 139
For a total of 317.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Being 'ripped' and being physically fit are two very different things

A recent article from the Globe and Mail points to a fundamental problem that's endemic in much of mainstream workout culture. Dave McGinn, in his article, "Muscle confusion: Hey biceps, you'll never guess what's next," frequently conflates two very different concepts: physical fitness and bodybuilding.

There's a common misconception that a person who looks huge and ripped must be in great shape. This is not always the case; guys who hit the treadmill for five minutes a day, blast their pecs on Tuesdays and work their legs on Thursdays are almost certainly not physically fit. These are often the same guys who, when doing a CrossFit WOD for the first time, are confronted with the shocking reality that they're not even close to being fit.

Now, I'm not trying to take anything away from the practice of bodybuilding -- it's a completely valid activity in it's own right. If body sculpting is the goal, then micro-focusing on specific body parts is very likely the way to go. Moreover, as the McGinn article suggests, isolation workouts should probably be interspersed with dynamic (and dare I say CrossFit style) workouts to create the desired muscle confusion to facilitate development.

But if the goal is to be as physically fit as possible, then the bodybuilding paradigm is most certainly not the way to go. What bodybuilding fails to do is address a number of critical elements that have been tied to the development and onset of true physical fitness.

According to the CrossFit model, there are ten different fitness domains:
  • cardiovascular/respiratory endurance
  • stamina
  • strength
  • flexibility
  • power
  • speed
  • agility
  • balance
  • coordination
  • accuracy
The CrossFit program utilizes a number of very specific movements that are designed to address all these elements -- movements that include kettlebell swings, medicine ball slams, box jumps, push-ups, pull-ups, running, rowing and more. Sure, this might not sound as sexy as doing bench-presses, but these movements are highly refined and proven to work.

That said, the program also has a weightlifting component that includes complex and compound movements with heavy loads. Movements include deadlifts, overheat squats, snatches, thrusters and clean-and-jerks.

The utlimate goal of CrossFit is to create the 'quintessential athlete', equal parts gymnast, Olympic weightlifter, and sprinter. By regularly engaging in CrossFit workouts, participants are able to increase their work capacities and speed in these domains by facilitating neurological and hormonal adaptations across all metabolic pathways.

Needless to say, while a bodybuilding workout will address some of these fitness domains, it does not come close to addressing them all. It's an activity that's far too specialized and not designed to help athletes achieve high levels of fitness.

And it's also worth noting that a significant benefit of CrossFit is that bodies can and will get toned --a rather nice side-effect to getting fit if you ask me.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

More MetCon: AMRAPs

In tune with this week's focus on metabolic conditioning we did AMRAPs in 20 minutes of:
  • 25 squats
  • 10 pull-ups
  • 10 ring-dips
  • 25 sit-ups
I squeezed in seven rounds. My pull-ups were of the jumping variety as I train to do kipping pull-ups. And I used the purple band for the ring-dips.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Whatever you want to do, whenever you want to do it

Without a doubt, one of the most powerful aspects of CrossFit is its ability to prepare people for virtually any physical circumstance.

Unlike traditional approaches to fitness, most of which involve a very limited set of movements and fairly strict regimens, CrossFit takes a varied and multi-disciplinary approach to workouts. The movements are compound (involving lots of different body parts and muscles) and highly functional -- the kind of movements the human body has naturally evolved to do: lifting, pulling, pushing, jumping and running.

This approach to strength and conditioning typically results in the emergence of a more well-rounded athlete, one who is better prepared to meet vastly different physical challenges. In other words, it creates an individual who can do whatever they want, whenever they want to do it -- including those daily activities that are completely outside of athletics.

Take me, for example. Since starting CrossFit a little over a year ago my endurance and strength have increased appreciably. This was driven home recently when helping a friend move; I had no difficulty moving heavy objects all day and I never grew tired. And just as revealing, I wasn't sore the next day.

I had a similar experience when camping at Algonquin Park this past summer. Rowing a canoe for nearly 10km was a breeze, as was chopping wood. My ability to keep chugging along earned me the nickname "CrossFit" among my fellow campers, some of whom were clearly out of shape and who often struggled to keep up -- a reminder to me of how valuable it is to be in shape and how it can enhance quality of life and experiences.

And as for cross-sport applications, CrossFit has also made a huge difference. I started playing hockey again this winter and I'm amazed at my strength, endurance and speed. For the first time in my life I can actually out-muscle someone off the puck. I've also noticed that by the end of the game most guys have slowed down appreciably, while I'm able to continue quite strong.

All this after one year of CrossFit. Damn , I remember a time not too long ago when I would lose my breath simply by walking up the stairs. Never again.

Indeed, it doesn't have to be this way: get fit and do what you want whenever you want.

Box jumps, lunges and renegades of row

After a week of some very heavy lifting we were given a much need break. Well, calling it a "break" may be pushing it: today's WOD consisted of 150 box jumps, 150 lunges and 30 push-up rows with 35lbs dumbbells. Here's how it broke down:
  • 50 box jumps
  • 50 lunges
  • 10 row w/ 35lbs dumbbells (i.e. one push-up, one right side pull of the dumbbell, one left side pull of the dumbbell -- that's one rep)
  • 40 box umps
  • 40 lunges
  • 10 rows
  • 30 box jumps
  • 30 lunges
  • 10 rows
  • 20 box jumps
  • 20 lunges
My time = 21:34. Completely demo'd my left shin doing the box jumps (on my first round no less). I had a pretty impressive mouse growing out of my leg. I'm happy about how good my cardio felt on this WOD -- I think I've made some progress there.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Heavy thrusters and pull-ups

Today's WOD: Five rounds of:
  • Max thrusters @ 105lbs
  • Max pull-ups
  • Followed by three minutes of rest
My sets went: 24, 24, 15, 13, 14.

I had the first two rounds under control, but once the third round came around I was completely gassed. The three minutes rest, while seemingly generous on the surface, didn't really help all that much. My arms were weak and shaky and I had to fight for each rep. I was surprisingly gassed when it was all over and it took some time to recover. Much harder than it looks.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday lifting

Very challenging WOD today involving some heavy lifting. From the CrossFit Connection site:
We decided to finish up the end of the week with a nasty grind of a workout. MAKE IT HEAVY means make it worthwhile. Do it with intensity and you'll really see gains.

Training with intensity is how you see positive results in a short period of time. Unfortunately, training with intensity also sucks, hurts alot while you're doing it, can make you puke, has made some catch my drift... so not a lot of people can gut it out on a regular basis. Huge kudos to all of you who stay consistent! You know who you are!
Five rounds of:
  • 15 x Deadlifts
  • 12 x Hang Cleans
  • 9 x Front Squats
  • 6 x Push Jerk
Prescribed weight was 135lbs, but there's no way I can consistently clean that weight. Instead, I did 115lbs and it turned out to be a good idea. A couple of guys in the gym tried to do it fully prescribed and either did not finish or could not finish the required number of reps. And for those guys who successfully did it prescribed, it was a considerable challenge.

My time: 19:12. Very happy with that, and very happy with my mental approach to this one.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hopper WOD: Short and intense

Today's WOD from the hopper: 21, 15, 9 of:
  • Box jumps (24")
  • Kettle bell swings (24k)
  • SDHP (75lbs)
Time: 6:34. Bettered my previous time by 11 seconds.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


A benchmark workout today: Helen: 3 rounds of:
  • 400 m run
  • 21 kettle bell swings (24k)
  • 12 pull-ups
Time: 12:05 (PR).

It should be noted that I did jumping pull-ups, but because I'm changing to the forearm grip it was a hindrance rather than a benefit.

This was a surprisingly hard workout for me. At 24 kilos, the KBs were freakin' heavy by the third round and it was hard to keep a grip. This is definitely one benchmark that stands for significant improvement on my part.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Intimidated by CrossFit? Don't be

CrossFit is now such a big part of my life and workout regimen that I often forget how fringe it really is. I'm of the opinion, of course, that it's the best way to get fit, and consequently I expect that most people will eventually catch on and join the party.

It's easy to forget, however, that CrossFit can seem incredibly intimidating to outsiders, especially to those who have never worked out. A quick glance at CrossFit videos on YouTube affirm the impression that this is pretty extreme stuff, an elite activity reserved for fitness nuts and X-Games athletes. There's no question that CrossFit has a particularly steep barrier to entry.

But I have a message to those who are nervous or scared about joining a CrossFit gym: don't be.

First, in my experience, CrossFit gyms are very warm and welcoming. Everyone is there to support each other regardless of experience or ability. Don't be freaked out or turned off by the 6'4" tattooed guy screaming in the corner as he throws down a 135 pound barbell to the floor; chances are good that he'll be there to cheer you on at the end of the WOD. This 'group support' element is an integral part of the CrossFit mentality and it is what keeps me going to the gym day after day. As the sign says, 'Check your ego at the door.'

Second, the physical demands, while certainly intense at times, are more manageable than you may think. All workouts are scaled according to the individual. If you're a beginner, elderly person or someone who's battling a particular injury, the certified trainer conducting the session will ensure that you're lifting, jumping and pulling amounts that are most appropriate for you. This ensures safety, proper form, and of course, that you'll able to complete the WOD and come back to fight another day.

Lastly, CrossFit works.

Take me, for example. When I first started CrossFit last year as a 38 year old I had never worked out in my life aside from some yoga and jogging. Doing things like push-ups, pull-ups and Olympic weight lifting were completely foreign to me.
In fact, I remember an early workout in which I deadlifted 125lbs and I nearly passed out from the strain and dizziness. Not to frighten you with this anecdote, but I stuck with it, and nearly a year later I was doing 325lb deadlifts. This shit works. There aren't too many WODs any more that I don't do fully prescribed -- this after a little more than a year of regular workouts.

Still don't think you can do CrossFit? Well, check out this video of an 11 year old girl doing the infamous Fight Gone Bad workout.

So, now what's your excuse?

A little bit of heavy on a Monday

  • 15 x SDHP
  • 12 x thrusters
  • 9 floor wipers
Prescribed weight was 115, I did 100lbs. Time = 24:45.

This was an intense one -- a workout where exhaustion starts to creep in during the back half. The last two rounds were particularly hard and I need someone to spot me the bar for the floor wipers. Happy with my performance, but would have been happier had I taken shorter breaks.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

10k run

Ran 10k in 1:01:45. My first distance run in quite some time, and it felt great.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Snatches and wall balls

WOD: 3 rounds of:
  • 25 snatch (75lbs/45lbs)
  • 25 Wall Ball (20lbs/12lbs)
These are full squat snatches as in your hips are below parallel at the receiving position of the bar.

Time = 22:00.

After doing several snatches I had to dumb it down to 65lbs -- and it was still not easy given the sorry state of my right shoulder. I'm having great difficulty holding the bar behind my head, resulting in a ridiculously wide squatting stance to compensate (not to mention leaning forward on my toes).

This lack of shoulder mobility is also impacting on my overhead squats. I need to lessen the loads when doing anything involving a sustained overhead movement.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Hopper deck Thursdays: Cleans + running

Today's WOD as chosen by sheer chance:
  • 10 cleans (95/65) + 200 meter run
  • 9 cleans (95/65) + 200 meter run
  • 8 cleans (95/65) + 200 meter run
  • and so on down to 1 clean and a final 200 meter run
My time = 16:32.

I was surprised by my time and not in a good way. I couldn't generate any speed on the cleans as I methodically worked my way through the sets. The runs were hard after the squat cleans with the legs feeling quite heavy. My last few sets were the best as the frequency of the lifts started to decrease. I can definitely do better on this one next time -- need to approach this one with a bit more aggression and confidence.

New penalty rule in effect at CrossFit Connection

Well this looks interesting: starting next week CrossFit Connection in Burlington will be implementing a penalty rule for their WODs. This is being done in order to dissuade and correct poor form.

Each week the gym will designate a movement as the penalty move of the week. It might be push ups, sit ups, burpees, squats lunges, whatever.

For this to happen, a penalty will be imposed for not squatting below parallel, not hitting the 10 ft mark on the wall ball, not fully extending the overhead movements, not getting to the floor during push-ups, and so on.

During the WOD, participants will be given only one warning; on the second offense they must stop their workout and complete the penalty move before continuing on.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Now on Twitter

You can now follow my CrossFit progress on Twitter: @xfitchronicle.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Deads, jumps 'n run

  • RUN 200 m
  • 21 Deadlifts (225 lbs/ 155 lbs)
  • 21 Box Jumps
  • RUN 400 m
  • 15 Deadlifts
  • 15 Box Jumps
  • RUN 800 m
  • 9 Deadlifts
  • 9 Box Jumps
Time: 13:11

Monday, November 9, 2009

Monday madness

WOD: Six rounds of:
  • 10 x Thrusters
  • 10 x Push-press
  • 10 x Overhead squats
  • 25 double unders
Time was 37:11. My overhead squats were a disaster and I need to recapture some shoulder mobility to make it start working again.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

5k row

Rowed 5k in 18:47 today, just 2 seconds off my PR. It's going to happen.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Hit it hard Friday

  • Box Jumps (24"/20")
  • KB Swings (24kg/16kg)
  • Sumo Deadlift HighPull (75 lbs/ 55 lbs)*
Reps of 21-15-9

*the weight on this one is light but the idea is power generated...moving a lighter weight faster can sometimes produce more power then moving a heavier weight at a slower speed.

Time = 6:45.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Hopper deck Thursday

Randomly selected WOD:

  • Handstand Push ups
  • Ring Dips
  • Push Ups
Reps of 21-15-9.

I forget my time, but it doesn't matter cuz I didn't do so well...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Long and heavy

Today's WOD: 30 rounds of:
  • 3 x Deadlifts
  • 2 x Power cleans
  • 1 x Squat clean
  • 1 x Jerk
All that is considered one round.

Prescribed was 155lbs, but Jason had me do 135lbs. Took me 22:59 -- which I'm very proud of. Rock 'n roll!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Tabatas: Squats, SDHP, Wall-balls and Pull-ups

Today's WOD: Tabata: 20 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest, 8 rounds each of:
  • Air squats
  • SDHP (95lbs)
  • Wall balls (20lbs)
  • Pull-ups
Did 124, 55, 77, and 40 respectively for a total of 296.