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.
Here’s what happened when I did the Crossfit Open:
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!
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?
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
So after about a minute passed, I made my first muscle up attempt. Fail. Breathe. Second attempt. Fail. Breathe.
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 😉
As for my 17.2 tips:
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.
Only touch the front head of each dumbbell to the ground between cleans.
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.
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?
You know what they say about March weather: coming in like a lion and going out like a lamb? Well, in addition to the weather portion, March has come in like a lion for my personal life – stomach bug, wedding planning meetings, open prep. So I’m a little late with this post! But I’m excited about everything on this list and will be using this blog (in addition to my fiance and the goals outline hanging on my wall) to hold me accountable.
So without further adieu, here are my March goals:
Grow my @healthydoseoflife Instagram to 450 followers. My action plan is to post at least twice a day, follow 100 people per week, and take the time to comment on other peoples posts and connect with them rather than just liking their pictures and moving on. I really enjoy Instagram as a platform to connect with other like-minded people, so this is where I’ll focus a lot of my energy this month.
Break my record for “most viewed post” on the blog. So far, my most popular post has been my 17.1 recap. This post even ranked in search engines for some terms about crossfit open tips which brought people to my site – a first for my blog. I think I’ll need to recap all of my open workouts to break this record!
Run 75 miles. This is always a tough one to complete on top of crossfit. My runs outside aren’t very long (especially when the temp drops below 30) and the treadmill doesn’t keep me occupied for more than 30 minutes. I’ll also count the few elliptical miles I accumulate each month when the only way I feel like going to the gym is if I can read during my workout. So far I’m only 5 miles in and need to pick it up!
Perform a muscle up. This goal has eluded me since I started crossfit. I tried for 7 minutes to get my first bar muscle up last night during 17.2 and failed, but got really close. I know I’m strong enough but my form needs work and I need to believe it will happen. The time is now!
Read 1 book for purpose rather than pleasure. I love to read fantasy. My fiance loves to read sports biographies and motivational books. The more I see him take notes and learn from the books he reads, the more it makes me want to try it myself. So this month I took out a library loan for “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin. It is SO good, I can’t put it down. I can’t wait to start my own happiness project after reading it – not because I am unhappy, but because I could be happier and more appreciative of what I have right in front of me. This goal is as good as achieved already.
What goals are you focused on? How do you keep yourself accountable?
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:
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.
Follow it up with 20 snatches and 15 more burpee box jumps? You got it. This isn’t so bad, right?
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.
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!
So what are my words of advice for those who haven’t done 17.1 yet?
HYDRATE. This is taxing cardio, you’re going to need all the water you can get leading up to (and following) this wod.
Keep your shoulders above your hips when you bend down on the snatches. It’ll save your lower back in the long run.
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.
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.
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.
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?
The right music can make or break your workout. When I need a push at crossfit, the right song can get me in the zone. Bumping beats can distract you from the pain and fatigue of a workout. Studies have shown it can even reduce perceived effort and increase endurance, allowing people to work out longer than they would without music.
Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t just about BPMs – the right workout music is different for everyone. I personally tend to perform best at crossfit and sprinting workouts when listening to fast-paced, intense rap and EDM. When running for distance, I actually prefer podcasts over music (like Ben Greenfield). Knowing this helps me plan and execute my workouts in a way I wouldn’t be able to otherwise.
If you’re like me, the following songs can take your hardest workouts to the next level:
What music helps you make the most of your workout?
Over the weekend I posted about how it was mid-60’s and sunny in CNY. Only in Syracuse is that weather followed by a blizzard 2 days later!
I turned around while driving to crossfit this morning. The roads were worse than I’ve seen in a long time. So instead of turning today into an unplanned rest day, I made up a little snowed-in workout. See below to try it yourself!
Scale hand stand push-ups to regular push-ups.
Jumping lunges are a two-count (L+R=1).
Did you try this at home? How did you sweat today?
Earlier this month I posted about my fitness goals. Yesterday I checked the first one off my list: 100 unbroken double unders. Up next, I’ll probably raise that goal (150?) and add in a rowing goal. Stay tuned!