Posted on Leave a comment

Thoughts On Crossfit and Working Hard

About a month ago, I posted recaps of the Crossfit Open workouts I participated in. A few things happened during my first open journey – one of them being that I learned a lot about myself. Now that I’ve had some time to digest what I’ve learned, I’m ready to document it and use it moving forward.

IMG_1198.JPG

Here’s what happened when I did the Crossfit Open:

  1. I fell more in love with the sport. I don’t have games ambitions (or even regionals ambitions for that matter) – but I do have more goals I want to explore when it comes to Crossfit. I’ve stopped viewing it as just my morning sweat session – I’d like it to be more than that, and I think it is now. It’s not just a workout: it’s a sport; where I will be competing with myself every time I do it.
  2. I learned the difference between doing something just to get it over with, and doing something that I’m trying my best at and pushing myself through. I think this hit me truly in 17.4 – I knew I could do each move, but that the workout would require an ambitious mindset for me to perform well. I pushed through large sets of wall ball shots and didn’t give up on the rower (a large mental task in itself). I knew I had pushed my limits when the workout was over and I couldn’t get off the floor/almost threw up. This gave me some perspective – am I really pushing myself hard enough throughout the week? I know I shouldn’t always go 110% or be on the verge of throwing up every day (I need at least a little bit of recovery to be at my best) but was I ever pushing as hard as I should? Since then, I know I’ve improved my mental toughness and stamina. I push beyond what’s comfortable in a workout, even if the moves aren’t my strengths. I perform more reps per set and I move at a faster pace. I go all-out for at least 2 workouts per week. It’s that push that will make me better.
  3. I nailed a move I’d been struggling with previously: the bar muscle-up! Call it open magic (even though it didn’t happen during a workout) or call it focus. Either way, I’m pleased to have accomplished it, and it’s made me less scared of my weaknesses.

What does hard work mean to you in a workout?

Posted on Leave a comment

Crossfit Open: 17.3 Recap + Tips

So this post is a little later than usual, meaning the tips won’t really help anyone trying that’s in the open this year. BUT if your gym is like mine, you’ll have this workout thrown into your programming at some point anyway! Might as well know what to expect, right?

Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 6.36.18 PM

I like to watch the live announcements for the open workouts. I’m the type of person who needs to know ASAP what to expect. So as I sat with my glass of wine watching Dave Castro put the dumbbell down and say the workout would be using barbells, I felt some immediate relief. THANK GOD, A BREAK FROM THE DUMBBELLS (which are such an irregular part of our programming!). Then he announced “snatch ladder” and I knew I was in for a rough one. Make that a SQUAT snatch ladder. Paired with chest-to-bar pull-ups? Absolutely savage. Brutal. Bring it on.

17190468_1659557350738050_7198349442969911531_n

Let’s start by taking a look at those jumps in weight! My power snatch max is right around 100 lbs. Squat snatches are a whole other ball game, so I knew 95 would be a struggle. Taking a look at the standards, I also saw there were “no free rides”- aka, you can’t power snatch, adjust your feet, and ride the bar down into an overhead squat. You either had to catch the bar below parallel or ride it down smoothly (no pause). Hellooooo, no reps!

17309664_1659558834071235_6730769392779724805_n

Let’s also note that chest-to-bar pull-ups increase in reps per round. So as you’re getting more and more tired and your muscles are feeling more and more taxed, you need to do more reps. Good thing I won’t be making it too far into this workout, right?

17352089_1659557450738040_2063379224826666722_n

Taking these movements into account, I went in with a few strategies.

  • I knew shoulder mobility would be important, so I spent a  lot of time rolling out/stretching and opening up my shoulders prior to the workout.
  • I knew grip would be taxed quickly – the rig + snatches are the special sauce for popeye arms.
  • Being in the rig and on the barbell means your hands are likely to rip. Especially because the kip required to successfully execute a chest-to-bar pull-up means your hands are really moving on the bar. I made sure to chalk up and break up my sets of chest-to-bar to avoid this.
  • Knowing that the weight was going to get too heavy too quick, I made it a point to fly through the reps at 65 lbs so I would have plenty of time to try to get as many 95 lb snatches as possible (and get the best possible tiebreak time at 65 lbs).

So how did it go? I made it successfully through the 65 lb round with few no-reps (squat snatching is awkward. I got better as I went along.) The chest-to-bar pull-ups presented no issues for me.

17309254_1659557454071373_6018807457339822197_n

Then I got to the 95 lb snatches. There were a lot of deadlifts, high pulls, and no-reps among my 4 successful reps. I power snatched the bar and got stuck/paused on the way down too many times which was wasted time and wasted effort. The last 4 minutes of this 8-minute workout were a bit frustrating and slow for me, but again, I know something I need to work on moving forward: squat snatches!

17309226_1659556804071438_2207845130360766104_n

I also learned just how big of a difference lifting shoes make. I borrowed a pair from a friend for this workout and they were a game-changer for stability. I went home and immediately ordered a pair!

17308701_1659557097404742_741004038293391801_n

All in all, I left this workout with a sense of purpose. I know my goals moving forward. Is a 135 lb squat snatch one of them? Absolutely not. But I’d like to get to a point where 95 lbs is easy. Stay tuned!

Posted on Leave a comment

Crossfit Open: 17.2 Recap + Tips

It’s week two of the crossfit open (you can read about week one here). On Thursday, I anxiously watched the live announcement of the workout. I started off feeling pretty good about the movements. Weighted lunges? Hell yeah! Toes to bar? GREAT, I’ve become really efficient at those! Dumbbell power cleans? Not sure what’s with all the dumbbells this year, but yeah, those are fine. Then Castro announced the move I’ve been dreading since I decided to sign up for the open: bar muscle ups.

screen-shot-2017-03-05-at-1-28-27-pm

I was pretty discouraged to hear it even though I knew it was coming. In my years of crossfit, I’ve probably spent a collected total of three hours working on muscle ups (i.e. not much time at all). So it’s no surprise that I’ve never successfully performed one, and I’m very unprepared for the 16+ that this workout is calling for.

17-2

When you can’t perform a movement, you have two options: scale it or fail out. In crossfit workouts, you actually score better for getting through the workout up until the muscle up portion than you would for scaling the workout and smoking everyone else competing. Also, there’s always hope that with the competitive atmosphere, you’ll be able to do things you’ve never been able to before. I knew I was strong enough to do a muscle up and just needed to get my form down, so this was the hope I went with.

17-2-4

I also went into the workout planning for the worst. If I wasn’t going to get any muscle ups, I better get a great time for the movements leading up to them.

The workout started off great: I finished my third round of lunges right around the 5 minute mark. This left me with 7 minutes to attempt a bar muscle up. I knew I would need a solid break before I made my first attempt. Those movements crushed my forearms and had me breathing pretty heavily – no need to waste any energy trying a muscle up when I knew I was too tired and would fail.

17-2-2

So after about a minute passed, I made my first muscle up attempt. Fail. Breathe. Second attempt. Fail. Breathe.

17-2-3

I filled the last 7 minutes of the workout with failed muscle up attempts and rest. I was stringing together chest to bar pull ups like a boss, and I had a couple of pulls where I was close to getting over – but I fell short every. single. time. Even with the cheers and the coaching, I just wasn’t ready. At least I know what I need to work on moving forward! And who knows.. maybe I’ll try again before I submit my score on Monday 😉

17-2-1

As for my 17.2 tips:

  1. Be efficient with how you hold your dumbbells on the lunges. This workout taxes your grip – don’t make it worse by relying heavily on your forearms during the lunge portion. Make sure the dumbbells are at least somewhat resting on your shoulders to help take the load off your arms.
  2. Only touch the front head of each dumbbell to the ground between cleans.
  3. If you’re going to rest on your cleans, rest around rep 6 or 7. DO NOT drop the dumbbells after your 8th rep. Move right into your lunges to avoid having to add in an extra clean to get the dumbbells into the front rack position.
  4. Try not to break at all during the lunges. You’ll get tired re-cleaning the dumbbells and you have to start again from behind the last line you passed. These are heavy lunges, use your momentum to keep you going.

Did you do 17.2? How did you do? What are your tips?

 

Posted on 1 Comment

Crossfit Open: 17.1 Recap + Tips

My crossfit journey started in July 2014. Since then I’ve completed countless wods, but not many serious competitions. This year I decided to enter the open.

The crossfit open is a 5-week, 5-workout competition that crossfit athletes all over the world can enter. The workouts are announced on Thursdays and athletes have until Monday to submit their scores. Workouts are completed in the presence of a certified judge who ensures you follow the rules (and in my case, counted my reps out loud for me).

17.1, the first workout of the series, was a couplet: single arm snatches and burpee box jump-overs:

screen-shot-2017-02-26-at-9-46-48-am

In my years of being a crossfit athlete, I’ve done countless wods. I start most days doing a wod before going to work. None of them felt like this: heart racing, dry mouth, nerves out of control. I started off strong – 10 snatches and 15 burpee box jumps? No problem. The snatches were unbroken and I jumped right from my burpees onto the box, no step in between.

17-1

Follow it up with 20 snatches and 15 more burpee box jumps? You got it. This isn’t so bad, right?17-1-1

Then came the round of 30 snatches. My back was tightening up, my throat was on fire. I was really starting to feel it – which was evident by the amount of times I dropped the dumbbell, and the step I started taking between the burpee and box jump. This is where my time really started to slide.

I caught myself struggling to get full extension on the snatches and made a conscious effort to catch the dumbbell standing straight up. There were also a few times my non-lifting arm started to rest on my leg during the snatches, which would’ve been a “no-rep”. I felt it happening mid-rep and dropped the dumbbell completely so as not to waste any more time/work. 17-1-2

I was more than 18 minutes in when I started my last 15 burpee box jump-overs. I wasn’t sure I was going to make it under the 20-minute time cap – and you can see from the faces in the picture that the spectators were skeptical too (the ones not looking at me are looking at the clock).

One of my coaches saw I was fading and put on my favorite song (Project T) while one of my other coaches cheered like crazy beside me. I ended up finishing with 4 seconds to spare: 19:56. The energy in the room around me played a huge part in helping me to the finish. I struggled hard and ultimately was hoping for a better time, but I’m happy that I finished. I feel accomplished and ready for the next workout!

17-1-3

So what are my words of advice for those who haven’t done 17.1 yet?

  1. HYDRATE. This is taxing cardio, you’re going to need all the water you can get leading up to (and following) this wod.
  2. Keep your shoulders above your hips when you bend down on the snatches. It’ll save your lower back in the long run.
  3. Start off taking the burpee box jump-overs slower than you think you should. It’s easy to burn out on them when you’re moving quickly.
  4. Turn mid-air when getting off the box and fall right to the ground into your burpee. Don’t waste time stepping around/setting up between each rep.
  5. Keep a number of snatches to hit unbroken in your head. This was a miss for me – I should’ve set the goal of doing 10 unbroken each round. I didn’t keep this in mind and dropped the dumbbell more times than I should’ve, wasting a lot of time.
  6. Don’t stand to full extension on the box. The completion of the movement is getting OVER the box to the other side. Standing up on the box is unneccessary and will slow you down.

Did you do 17.1? How’d you do? What advice do you have?