Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Don't get me wrong...this WOD was absolutely crushing, but in a way my body understands.  Three familiar exercises that gas me to the core, but at least it wasn't the fitness Wild West like Games WOD I.  That shit was insane...

After some major glitches in the Games website that delayed the WODs for a week, we finally see another competition WOD today for the 2011 Crossfit Games.  This one seemed right off the bat that it was going to be MUCH more my style, even if I knew deep down that after the first couple of rounds it would be sheer brutality:

CrossFit Games Open 11.2

Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 15 minutes of:
155 pound Deadlift, 9 reps
12 Push-ups
15 Box jumps, 24" box

So initially I'm bummed because I know I'll have to scale pushups to knees and box jumps to 20".  I'd love for there to be at least one workout I don't have to scale for the Games, but I think 2012 will be a better shot.  Unless we do 100 back squats for time I don't see there being a way.  And I guess in the context of my scaling I shouldn't be disappointed.  It's March.  In January I was still doing step-ups instead of box jumps and the thought of doing more than 30 pushups was ludicrous.  So yes, I will shut the fuck up (about scaling anyway ;) and appreciate where I'm at in this journey.  As far as the deadlifts go, no problem...

I had the honor and privilege of tracking the progress of Tim Broder, a fellow CFNYCer who has been encouraging and inspiring throughout my experience at the Black Box.  He and I were two of 6-8 people doing the WOD officially for competition (even though my scaling takes me out of actual consideration for the Games).  The box was slammed today, with full Elements classes in the back and a ton of people ready to do the WOD.  We cleared some space for the competitors and Tim RIPPED through eight rounds like a champion.

Inspired but nervous, I got my bar and box set up, and Tim (of course fully recovered in the 3-4 minutes since he crushed this WOD) got his game face on once again.  It felt like we were truly a in crime against, could say could say my old self...but either way we were both ready.  Tim had some helpful words about pacing before we got started, and then it was go time...

3...2...1...GO!  I cranked through the deadlifts without a problem...I've pulled 315 before, so doing nine of these at 155 was pretty standard.  Pushups were fine the first round, but oh how things change so quickly.  Box jumps were tough, but round one went by without much of a hitch.  I just kept as steady a pace as I could.  Tim helped break up the reps so I had sets of three or four at a time, and I just kept at it...two rounds done...three rounds done...four.  After five rounds I got into fumes mode, and even had to break up the deadlifts into sets of three.  Tim would let me rest for a five count then get me back on the bar...same with pushups.  Set of four.  Set of three.  It took every drop of gas in the tank to finish pushups, which I did at the buzzer.

WOD Total: Five Rounds plus deadlifts and pushups.

Like every other AMRAP WOD, five minutes went by and I was kicking myself that if I shaved off a few seconds from every rest I could've hit six rounds.  But Tim said there's no reason to regret things like that, and he's right.  I scaled the WOD, so it's not like I would have been a contender for the games even if I did twice as many rounds.  But I got after it and put up decent numbers, and at the end of the day I can't be disappointed.  After all us athletes are never satisfied...that's why we keep coming back ;-).

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I Miss Fran :(

I can't fucking wait to do Fran again.

That's right Crossfitters, I dig thrusters.  Deal with it.  I think it's one of the coolest exercises in Crossfit, and today I proved to myself that I'm going to annihilate my last Fran time  (Fran is sets of 21-15 and 9 reps of thrusters at 95 lbs and pullups, for time). Not to put myself down too heavily.  I went sub-10 minutes when I was only able to do ring rows and 75-lbs, and frankly I'm still using bands the size of truck tire to do my pullups so if I go sub-5-minutes it's not like I can measure myself against the upper eschelon of Crossfitters.  But I can measure against myself, and if Fran comes up within six months of the beginning of this little fitness journey I started in November it will tell quite a tale even if I can shave it by a couple of minutes.

Thruster 3-3-3-3-3-3-3

Heavy thrusters...I LOVE this concept.  Never done it before, and it's getting more rare to explore things I haven't yet done in Crossfit.  I was pretty psyched for today.

We started with the bar to warmup and then got right into the rounds of three.  We started at 95 lbs, which is Fran weight.  MAN I can't wait for the next Fran.  Now...I know once I get 10 reps into the first set of Fran I will likely get the big wake up call that it ain't easy, and it might be downright treacherous, but after putting up three reps at 95 lbs. I was shocked at how easy it was for is how it unfolded:

Warmup: 45-lb bar x6
WOD (sets of 3): 95 - 115 - 135 - 145 - 155 - 155 - 165

Sara said the last set looked like it was still easy for me.  I was trying to manage the weight so I was still able to get the explosiveness in my hips and not struggle at the top.  Thrusters are best when there's no arm involvement whatsoever, except for holding the bar.  If you come out of the bottom of your squat with explosive hips that momentum alone should get the bar to the top.  Turns out I should have tried more weight, even if I had to get the arms involved to get the bar up there...there's always next time.

Throw this on the pile of the strength days where in retrospect I feel like I could have done more weight, but I was very happy with my progress.  Sara said she's confident I can put up 185 without a problem.  I guess we'll wait until next time.  But I hope I don't have to wait too long for Fran...seems like it's time she paid us another visit :).

Monday, March 28, 2011

Dip Fail

I didn't realize someone brought in a camera today
No problem...

I come back from a peaceful weekend with family...resting nicely and getting my legs back from last week's crushing, and I casually check the main site for my nice little Monday...HOLY SHIT!

For time:
75 Squats
50 Pull-ups
20 Ring dips
50 Squats
35 Pull-ups
15 Ring dips
25 Squats
20 Pull-ups
10 Ring dips

Um...OK then.  I guess there's some scaling in order for these pullups.  I mean I'm really happy with my progress lately, but 105 of them is a bit too big of a chunk to bite into.  I talked to Kevin about scaling and he sliced them down to 35, 20 and 15.  And I wasn't expecting the ring dips to be a walk in the park, but Kevin talked about scaling to box dips, and I figured I would give it a try at the RX'ed reps...I was so distracted by the number of pullups the dips weren't even a concern, even though they would end up being my undoing...

We warmed up with some standard stuff...some GHD situps (hadn't done these in quite a while...ouch!) and some good mornings with a PVC pipe.  MAN these were amazing for the hamstrings...I need to do more of them...felt great to get that heavy of a stretch with such a light excellent addition to my newfound mobility pallette.  Anyway we went through a couple of rounds, got set up and Kevin started the AC/DC...

3...2...1...GO!  The air squats were completely fine.   If there's an exercise in Crossfit I can handle any reasonable amount of reps in it's air squats.  I knew these wouldn't be a problem, especially after three days rest.  I broke up the pullups into groups of 5 at a time and rested about 20-30 seconds inbetween...maybe about a minute for the last two sets...the dips were TOUGH.  I broke those up too and got through the first couple of rounds.  By the last round of air squats I caught some wind and did them unbroken, but I really shredded myself during those pullups...15 very tough ones, and then I went to shit on the dips.  Had to do them one at a time, and I finally (with the entire gym already done and cheering) got full extension on the final rep...

WOD Time: 21:42

What can I say...I suck at bodyweight stuff.  I still have a lot of body weight to lose, so at some point the equation will flip and I'll be able to manage exercises like these a lot better.  For now I'll plow through and live to fight another day.


Friday, March 25, 2011

Deadlifts and Toothpicks...a Tale of Pain and Progress

Of course.

Sara was right.  I wake up in borderline agony from yesterday's medball madness, and now I have a quandry.  My quads are exploding, but tell me this isn't a cool-as-shit WOD:

21-15-9 reps of:
225 pound Deadlift
135 pound Overhead squat

I don't remember the last time I did a metcon with deadlifts in it.  I've done several strength days with them, but I've really wanted to try something cool like this where there's a bunch of deadlifts for time.  And I'm definitely going to RX the weight if I show up for this.  The bitch of the situation is the overhead squats.  Last week I failed at my attempt at 155 lbs.  With my quads in this shape I don't know if I could overhead squat a broomstick without doubling over in agony.  But 135 lbs for 21-15-9 PLUS heavy deadlifts?  I'm a damned fool to try it.  Best to get back to bed and get another hour's sleep and call it a week.

...So anyway I get to CF NYC early to stretch out for the WOD.  Only me and Lucio showed up...seems everybody was destroyed from yesterday.  Lucio says his legs are shot too.  I told Sara about the problem and she's always sensitive to stuff like this.  I think she appreciates that we show up in that situation, so she's willing to scale as much as needed so we don't get crushed.  She agreed that I should RX the deadlifts, and after I told her OH squatting toothpicks might be a problem she chuckled and said it was fine if I just used the bar.

We did a mild warmup and I did some amazing hip stretches I learned from Mobility WOD (more on this amazing resource later).  I was feeling great, except for the fact that I could barely walk.  Literally my legs would occasionally buckle if I walked too fast...but hey, my hamstrings were ready to ROCK, and ROCK we did...


The deadlifts were heavy...damn heavy, but I was able to kick ass through the first set of 21.  It was far from unbroken, as I still haven't dialed in good technique for multiple deadlifts.  But I got through them fine and I was onto the overhead squats...I don't know if it was the warmup, the hip stretches, or the adrenaline, but these came a LOT easier than I thought.  As I segued into the sets of 15 and 9 reps got slower, but I stuck with it.  After an unbroken set of 9 overhead squats I yelled for time:

WOD Time: 11:15

Sara and I hi-fived and it really hit me that something special is happening here.  It's like I'm waking up slowly on a daily basis.  I started the day in pain and I left Crossfit in bliss.  After putting up several sub-20-minute times in the past week I can really see my progress in every way...on paper, in the mirror, and in my soul.  Everything I envisioned about this experience is coming to pass.  If this is what it's like after four months, I can't imagine my progress after the first year.  I'm really looking forward to finding out how far I can take this.

That's all for now...another four days of Crossfit on the books...time for some much needed REST!


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Medball Madness

My friend Kristina in Miami is a brand new Crossfitter.  I've known her for 20 years, and I think both of us have felt rejuvenated by our recent induction into the Crossfit addiction.  So it's pretty standard to send texts back and forth about our WODs and how we do in them.  Her gym does its own programming, so her WODs are different than mine at Crossfit NYC, as we follow the CF main site.  Today she texted me that she was doing "Karen" (150 wall balls for time).  I was jealous because we haven't done Karen since I started, and like any squat-based workout I'd love to try my hand at that one.  Since I forgot how many wall balls were in the workout I googled it and the main site came up from the last time they posted it.  Funny thing is when I checked my phone later on to see what today's WOD was going to be I thought I refreshed my browser.  I was shocked to see that we were also doing Karen (little did I realize mid-brainfart that my browser didn't refresh and I was still looking at the Karen post from before).  Even more bizarre is that I realized my mistake this morning and here's the official WOD for today:

Five rounds for time of:
15 Medicine ball cleans, 20 pound ball
15 Wall ball shots, 20 pound ball

How strange is that?  150 reps, all medball, and as close to Karen as you can get get without it actually being that WOD.  A very Twilight Zone moment for sure.

I rocked this WOD nicely, and I was psyched that my medball cleans were a hell of a lot better than last time.  I RX'ed the ball at 20 lbs comfortably.  Sara was impressed and I was happy to put up another sub-20-minute WOD time this week:

WOD Time: 15:02

Sara said our legs would be shot after this one...I'm definitely feeling it already.  I hope the protein cushions the pain a bit...we'll see.  For now I have another triumph to text Kristina about.

See you tomorrow...?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Getting Fed Through the Chipper


You hear the word and it conjures up equal parts fear and excitement.  Two syllables and the average Crossfitter knows they're about to face an opportunity to blaze a new trail in their fitness.  It's the ultimate test of both the physical and the mental.  The chipper is in its own category of metcon...large amounts of reps, and an array of exercises that do not just have to do a shit ton of each of them.  Some days you get fed through the chipper.  Other days the chipper feeds through you...

My first chipper was the Filthy Fifty.  I was happy to scale it to the "Dirty Thirty" at the time, but I know next time it comes around the days of scaling reps on something like that are done.  I've arrived, and instead of not even registering on the performance spectrum I feel like I've earned my place, regardless of how buried I am in the "novice" category.  Today's chipper was a beast, and I knew I'd have to bring my A+ game to make it through this one:

For time:
70 Burpees
60 Sit-ups
50 Kettlebell swings, 1.5 poods
40 Pull-ups
30 Handstand push-ups

I went to the store within an hour of seeing the WOD posted, as I had to find something to protect my knees.  The last time I did more than 50 burpees my knees were literally bleeding...something about the way I hit the deck scrapes away at the skin until the last 20 or so are excruciating.  I found some knee pads but they were too tight.  I ended up grabbing some big, flexible band aids that covered my knees...turns out they work like a charm.

I didn't know what to do for the warmup...I didn't want to waste an ounce of I did a modified version of Sara's gymnastics warmup day 1, which is:

Kick up to a handstand (3x)
5 ring pushups
frog stand (10 secs)
10 overhead squats (pvc)
10 kettle bell deadlifts (12 kg)

I usually do 5 handstand pushups for step 1 of the warmup, but I wanted to save every bit of those for the WOD.  So I just held the handstand for like 10 seconds and kicked back down.  We didn't do too many rounds of the warmup before it was go time.

3...2...1...Go!  You could feel everyone blazing out of the gate for this one...those initial bursts from a full class can be pretty powerful.  Once people settled into their pace everyone started getting a bit more methodical.  My approach, as always, was slow and steady.  I kept it going, the band-aids were holding out, and before I blinked I was halfway done with the burpees.  The last 20 or so were challenging, but I got some encouragement from some folks and kept at it. 

Soon enough I was on to the situps, realizing only then that I was a full round behind the pack...pretty standard (shrug). I asked Sara if I could do butterfly situps, and she was completely cool with it.  So I cranked through that biggest problem with situps is keeping my mammoth legs together, so butterfly made it a lot easier for me.  Those probably took the least amount of time out of any of the exercises.  By far the kettle bell swings were my strongest exercise out of the lot, and I might have put the KB down 3-4 times during the set.  I love this exercise, and even though my form was messier than most other times, I was able to crank through this set without much trouble.  Pullups were just a matter of breaking up the reps so I was able to maintain explosive energy and momentum from the resistance bands.  The last 15 or so were tough, and a cool guy Matt who I've seen around the gym came over to help get me through them.  Sets of five became sets of four, became sets of 3.  Somehow I got there, and I was onto what became a WOD unto itself...the handstand pushups...

Matt is a fucking hero...I cranked out like 7 or 8 of them without much of a problem, but with 22 to go, and very little gas in the tank, we started with sets of three.  That quickly became sets of two as I fell out a couple of times.  I was breathing heavy, staring down the bumper plate that dictated my depth in this exercise.  With like 18 to go I was averaging two reps every 2-3 minutes, and I think while we were both determined, a distant cloud of doubt was floating into the room as to whether I was going to finish.  Very long story short, after what seemed like an eternity I got there.  HUGE props to Matt for sticking with me through that absolute mess.

WOD Time: 41:04

My reps weren't pretty, but I got full (scaled) depth and full extension.  I would say MOST of the WOD was challenging but very doable.  But that final hill of the handstand pushups was a vertical climb.  After launching into the chipper with strength and confidence, I got spit out the other end...shredded, in pain, but alive, well, and more fit than yesterday.

I like the chippers.  They don't quite like me yet...they'll warm up to me over time, I'm sure of it :).

Monday, March 21, 2011

Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda...

Today's WOD was posted as a 10K run.  Even if I was capable of running a 10K in a reasonable amount of time, I wouldn't have the time to do this before work.  So I rolled the dice on coming into Crossfit, hoping Kevin would allow me to do yesterday's WOD:

WOD - For time:
135 pound Front squat, 10 reps
15 ft Rope Climb, 1 ascent
135 pound Front squat, 9 reps

15 ft Rope Climb, 1 ascent
135 pound Front squat, 8 reps
15 ft Rope Climb, 1 ascent

135 pound Front squat, 7 reps
15 ft Rope Climb, 1 ascent
135 pound Front squat, 6 reps
15 ft Rope Climb, 1 ascent

135 pound Front squat, 5 reps
15 ft Rope Climb, 1 ascent
135 pound Front squat, 4 reps
15 ft Rope Climb, 1 ascent
135 pound Front squat, 3 reps
15 ft Rope Climb, 1 ascent
135 pound Front squat, 2 reps
15 ft Rope Climb, 1 ascent
135 pound Front squat, 1 rep
15 ft Rope Climb, 1 ascent

Fun looking WOD!  I wasn't anticipating much resistance from Kevin, and I was excited to see one of my CF buddies Reda already doing that WOD as I walked in the door.  Kevin said it was no problem to do it, so I went ahead and got set up.  I was very confident I could RX the weight, as I did the 100 back squat WOD a few weeks back, and did that one in the high-bar position. Sara says that makes it basically the same exercise as a front squat, as you employ your quads a lot more than your posterior chain with the high-bar.

But anyway Kevin said the rope climb, which we scaled to four jumping pulls on the rings (touching chest each rep) would take a lot out of me between squat sets, so I reluctantly heeded his suggestion to do 115 lbs instead.  I knew I would be more than comfortable with 135, but I never want to pretend I know more than the trainer, as this is never true.  Though while I'm confident about very little in Crossfit, I'm confident that I can squat heavy, and I've proven that I can do a lot of reps at 50% of my PR 1-Rep Max weight. I don't fault Kevin for not knowing that, as Sara has much more of a handle on my history with these types of WODs. Needless to say I put the 115 on the bar and got ready to hit it.  There were around five other people who showed I told Kevin, nothing silences a Crossfit box more than a 10K run...Kevin programmed a sick WOD for the other people with double-unders, sumo deadlift high-pulls and chinups.  "Good luck to them" I thought...though I probably needed that WOD more, I was now even happier to be doing yesterday's. We did a warmup that included shoulder dislocates, ring rows, and back extensions.  After that we were ready to hit it...

3...2...1...Go!  I got a great pace going right off the bat.  With the descending rep scheme I didn't hold back much on the squat sets, all of which were unbroken.  The ring pulls weren't bad, but by the fifth set I saw what Kevin meant, even though I still felt I could easily have handled that 135.  I heard Kevin calling out the time and I really felt I had a good shot at putting up a sub-10-minute time for the first time since Fran.  But this would not come to pass, as I hesitated one too many times, and damnit did I really need that drink of water going into the 8th set?

WOD Time: 10:10

I'm nobody to complain when I put up a 10-minute time for any WOD.  But it's further evidence that moving forward I'll be able to hold my own with RX'ed weight on WODs with squats.  I would have been happy putting up 12+ mins but lifting 135, but better safe than sorry I guess, and I got a decent sweat going to kick off the week.  Mission accomplished. :)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Let's Lift Heavy Things

Some WODs hit the main site that I know are going to be an absolute mess (like yesterday's for instance).  Others come up and not only are they in my wheelhaus, but I'm damned excited for them.  Today's is one of those WODs, as once again, I get a chance to lift heavy and put my squats to the test.

Overhead squat 1-1-1-1-1 reps
Front squat 1-1-1-1-1 reps
Back squat 1-1-1-1-1 reps
Try to increase the load on each of the 15 sets.

I knew the overhead squats were going to be a bit tricky, as I haven't done them with weight of any significance.  But needing to increase weight on every rep throughout the WOD, I knew we weren't going super-heavy on that exercise anyway.

A cool CF guy Mike was back at the gym after a while away, and he lifts in the same range as me, so we paired up for the WOD.  We started at 95 lbs and BOY the overheads were shaky from the start.  It had been long enough since I did them with weight that it might as well have been my first time on the exercise.  Occasionally I'll do 10 of them with a PVC as part of a warmup but this is a totally different ballgame.  So of course leave it to my last rep of that exercise to botch the lift and drop the bar.  Sara laughed as I was hesitant to lift the bar up off the floor, but she said "you drop it, you clean it".  Seemed safe enough...I cleaned it, set it up, and we moved onto front squats and back squats, which is much more my forte...

OH Squats: 95 – 115 – 135 – 145 – 155x
Front Squats: 165 – 175 – 185 – 195 – 205*
Back Squats: 225 – 245 – 265* – 275* – 285*

*1 Rep Max PR

Setting four PR's in the process was quite the good time.  Now I'm certain I can back squat over 300, but I'm making a slow and steady climb to my true 1-rep max.  Today's WOD wasn't the place for it, but I see it coming around the bend...should  be fun when it gets here :).

Four days in a row this week.  I'm happy to rest tomorrow and get back in the mix next week...see you then!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Reis Baron - Athlete

OK so lets chat for a second about this.  There's a web site on this planet that actually refers to me as an athlete. Fine so it says that about anyone who ponies up the 10 bucks to register, but we need to contemplate how historical it is for me to enter ANYTHING as an athlete.  Not since little league could it remotely have been said without it being some sort of joke.

Well here I am world!! I'm Reis Baron and I'm registered for the 2011 Crossfit Games.  Do I expect to end up in Carson at the Home Depot Center this summer?  Not at all...but at the encouragement of Crossfit NYC I'll be representing my affiliate team each week for the next couple of months, as I'm judged on weekly workouts and my times are submitted for regional rankings.   Each week the top three results for each affiliate counts towards our score in the "Affiliate Cup".  The top affiliates nationwide will compete at the Games.

So today's WOD was the first competition workout.  I must've refreshed the Games website 50 times before finally going to bed after midnight.  I woke up at my usual time of 4:00 to discover that it was just about as bad as you could imagine.

CrossFit Games Open 11.1
Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 10 minutes of:
30 Double-unders
15 Power snatches

The Power snatch loads are as follows:
Men and Masters Men 45-49, 50-54: 75lbs/35kg
Women and Masters Women 45-54: 55lbs/25kg
Masters Men 55-59, 60+: 65lbs/30kg
Masters Women 55-59, 60+: 45lbs/20kg
Doubleunders and snatches.  It's like Crossfiit HQ had a meeting and said "Oh...Reis is competing?! Well, let's make sure this one is extra shitty with a side of 'fuck you'."  But hey, who was I to complain?  After all I'm an athlete, right?

Sara paired up with me, which at first and afterward was a great idea, but during the workout it would prove to shave me down to the remnants of my soul.  I subbed tuck jumps for double-unders and since we were able to sub clean & jerks for the snatches I sensed that I would switch to those pretty early in the game.  As it turned out I didn't realize how right I was...

3...2...1...GO!  I was off and, uh, jumping!  Man are those damn jumps tough.  I could feel my quads slamming into the ground with every rep.  When time came to pick up the bar I knew I would only crank out a couple of snatches before switching, and on rep 3 I did exactly that.  13 clean & jerks later, with Sara's encouragement, I was off to round 2.  Somehow I finished that round, doing 5 jumps at a time and only a couple of clean & jerks at a time.  It was the 3rd round where it started to get real interesting.  I remember at some point Sara announced that there were 4 minutes left and I was in sheer agony, literally capable of crying at any second knowing that we were only 60% done.  I was in so much pain and there was so much to go.  Sara all but pulled every rep out of me in the 3rd round.  It was insane.  I was completely cooked, and somehow I found these pockets of energy and kept jumping, and getting ahold of the bar.  Before I knew it three round were done and I somehow cranked out 11 more jumps.  With 3 seconds left I hit the ground, completely finished and spent beyond any level of exhaustion I've experienced at Crossfit yet.  It was fucking BRUTAL.  Worst.  WOD.  EVER.


See you tomorrow... :)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Fun with Ladders

(current skill: the press)
5 ladders with a kettlebell, a dumbbell, or a barbell with your 10-rep max.

Press 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (left & right if kettlebell or dumbbell) x 5. Set down to rest between each “rung”. (Rest the amount of time it took you to do the work.)
Focus on form.

Today was a main site rest day, so the Black Box came up with a cool skill WOD for the shoulder press.  I had never done ladders before, nor have I done shoulder presses in quite a while, so I was happy throwing 95 lbs. together and staying at that weight throughout.  I could have pushed it but when you take my legs out of the equation it's tough to add much weight to any situation comfortably.

Jacinto, our 72-year-old Crossfit super hero, came over and saved my ass by helping me to bring my grip in closer.  This allowed me to get multiple reps up a lot easier without crushing my shoulders.  MUCH better...thanks man!

A fellow CFer who took a month off came back today and remarked to Sara how much progress I was making.  I turned around after I was done with the second round, and it looked like Sara was laughing at me.  I asked her what she was laughing at and she said she was just so proud of me.  A coworker of mine came back to the office from a month off and said she was blown away at my progress, and my boss saw me in the kitchen the other day and said she didn't know if it's just that she had only seen me while sitting at my desk recently, but she said I looked incredible.  Seems like everything is working out very well.  I'll just keep plugging away...

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Casual Monday with The Jerk

Behind the neck Jerk 1-1-1-1-1-1-1

Not much to say about today's WOD, except we would have been able to get a lot more weight happening if we didn't have to drop the bar back on our shoulders after we jerked the weight up.  One of the few downsides to the Blck Box being on the third floor is that we can't drop the bar after we lift overhead...a small minus, but definitely annoying when you see example videos of the exercise where people can drop the bar with no problem.

I don't have my notes, but I topped out at 155, knowing if we dropped I could have gotten closer to 200, but my shoulders were getting crushed every time I had to lower the bar back down to my shoulders.

It's always good to have Kevin P. coaching when we do lifting days like this, because he's an award-winning olympic lifter and he's always very precise on form for exercises like these.

An OK day...a little frustrating, but a hell of a lot better than sleeping :).

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Over and Over and Over the Bar...

I didn't even realize today was my fourth day at Crossfit this week.  I guess mostly that's because we started out the week with a skill day.  Those aren't too taxing on the body the way a metcon or heavy lifting day is, so I had no reservations about coming in and attempting this one:


With a continuously running clock do one pull-up the first minute, two pull-ups the second minute, three pull-ups the third minute... continuing as long as you are able. Use as many sets each minute as needed.

Fun stuff...I did four rounds of the warmup, which was day one of Sara's two gymnastics warmups:

Kick up to a handstand (x3)
Frog Stand (10 secs)
Tuck L Hang (10 secs)
10 Kettle Bell Swings (16 kg)

Since I've had little problem getting into the handstand, I've been doing 5 reps of handstand pushups instead of just kicking up into the handstand.  I haven't explored much depth, as I keep three abmats stacked on top of each other under my head so I only come down a couple of inches for each rep.  Over time I'll take out the pads progressively, but I'm in no rush...

3...2...1...Go!  We started with one pullup (I used my typical 1.5 thick bands) and, as I'm sure is typical, people were laughing and making light of the fact that there was a minute rest after that.  But the minutes went by quick and one became two, two became three, and before I knew it I was eight minutes in, hoping to get through the round of nine.  I was breaking up all post-5 minute rounds into the first 5, then whatever was left.  It was a decent strategy, but skill (or lack thereof) caught up with me and I found myself one pullup into the 10th round and I was cooked.

So we're watching and encouraging as some of the more impressive CF'ers got into rounds 12, 13, 14, and I think one of them got close to 15 but alas we were all done after that, when all of a sudden Sara says:

"OK...same thing, but Burpees..."

I joked that I could be there all day doing burpees, but I petered out just before the round of 9.  That was a great audible from Sara...I don't think the class before us did that extra workout, and it was cool to get in an extra sweat while we still had time left.

A fun, solid WOD, and happily my last one of the week.  Time for some much-needed rest and relaxation.  Looks like only one WOD next week before the next rest day, so let's hope I come back to something serious.  Either way I'll be there, and that's what counts most of all...


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Dude...Bro...What do you bench?

Today was the first time I've bench-pressed since I was 16.  I saw it come up on the WOD and I had to laugh.  I was loving the scheme of the WOD, even though it didn't quite turn out as RX'ed:

Complete as many rounds as possible in 12 minutes of:
185 pound Bench press, 3 reps
225 pound Back squat, 5 reps

Because of limited hardware Sara decided that we should scrap the AMRAP and do seven rounds, not for time.  I was fine with that because I was much more into getting myself set on the back squats instead of rushing my way through them to try and get as many rounds as possible.  I settled on starting out at 135 on the bench and 185 on the back squat.  Since my quads were burning from yesterday's sprints I decided to low-bar the back squats, which uses glutes and hamstrings far more than quads.  This is what ultimately saved me.  If we had to high-bar like last week's back squat WOD I would have been in some serious trouble.

Here's what ended up happening:

Warmup: 25 pullups - 40 kettle bell swings (light - 16kg) - 3 tuck "L" hangs

Back Squats (5 reps)
185 (2 rounds)
205 (3 rounds)
225 (2 rounds)

Bench Press (3 reps)
135 (1 round)
155 (6 rounds)

I'm excited for the next skill day that focuses on the back squat.  I really feel like by the time we work on 1-rep max loads I'll be able to push into 300+ without a problem...I guess we'll wait and see, and depending on the day I might not be in a space to come close to that, but I'll definitely try.

The bench press sets were fine...pretty uneventful.  Knowing how infrequently this exercise comes up in WODs it was more of an experiment than anything.  I could have gone higher than 155 but I felt no reason to push it.

Fun WOD...more tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Sprints in the Park

Not Reis
On what I hope to be the final outdoor WOD of Winter 2010-2011, (it was 27 degrees out...ouch!), we jogged over to Madison Square Park to sprint for today's WOD:

Ten rounds, each for time of:
100 meter Sprint
Rest 90 seconds

I commented on the Crossfit NYC site that the only time I've sprinted in my life was when they were reloading the tuna sashimi at the all-you-can-eat place near my house on an aggressive Friday night.  So without a reference point, I'm not sure how the below times stack up.  But I do know that my results were perfect for remembering in the absence of a pen and paper to record my times.

:29 - :28 - :27 - :26 - :25 - :24 - :25 - :25 - :26 - :25

I felt my quads thumping towards the end of the day, so I knew some serious pain was on the horizon.  But it felt great, and it was definitely a true Metcon in every way.  VERY tough but felt great to put up fairly consistent times even in the latter half of the workout.

Crazy as it seems I look forward to sprinting WODs again in the future.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Snatch Encore

Well it seems the Black Box is on a mission to improve our ability to do the snatch.  Here we are with like the third skill day in a week dedicated to this exercise.

Perform 5 sets of the following:
3 reps of hang power snatch followed by 3 reps of overhead squat

Kevin went through the Bergener Warmup again, which I get more out of every time, as I'm trying to remember the positions in these lifts, which are the essence of the exercise.  When I started Crossfit I was so obsessed with getting more weight on the bar that I lost sight of what's important.  There really is a beauty to these movements when they are done properly, so I looked at this as an opportuntity to fine tune even more than last week.  Metcons can be a lot sexier than skill days for the snatch, but I believe the combination of the explosiveness of the exercise, mixed with the proper form, can only help metcon performance over time.

I would post loads, but they were minimal at best...starting with the bar alone, then increments of 5 and 10 lbs at a time after that.  My overhead squats were strong, and despite still being in pain from Friday's squat-fest I was able to get some decent depth in my squats.

A fairly uneventful day from a blog perspective, but anything that helps fine-tune my Crossfit performace is OK by me.

Friday, March 4, 2011

16 Minutes of Glory

What an AMAZING feeling putting up a sub-20-minute time for a WOD where I RX'ed the weight (i.e. lifted using the prescribed men's scaling, for the lift anyway). I've never done it before, but I'm starting to feel like I'm going to start doing so more regularly. I think my consistency is really paying off in droves, and I'm confident in my ability to lift heavy with good form (in most least for the first 5 reps or so ;).

Warmup: 20 pullups, 30 kettlebell swings

WOD - Five rounds for time of:
135 pound Back squat, 20 reps
Handstand walk 20 yards

Sara went through the class one by one and asked what weight people maxed on their last back squat. I reminded her that she basically laughed at me after I put up 245 x3 and she felt like it looked like a warmup set. So she said to go for 135 and I was quick to get set up. We also discussed the handstand walk, which obviously I had to scale (seems most people do).  So we tried a "wall walk" where I started in pushup position with my feet against a pole, and I tried to walk backwards until I was flush with the pole, but I lost it each time I tried.  So she said since I've been dying to do handstand pushups in a WOD, she prescribed 7 of them per round after each set of back squats.

Something interesting about the back squats was that Sara prescribed a high-bar back squat.  This confused me because last week we went over how crucial the low-bar position was to back squatting, to emphasize the use of the posterior chain vs the quads.  She said high bar back squats might as well be front squats, as they use the same muscles.  But apparently because of the volume of back squats she still maintained it was best to do high-bar, as she said low-bar would shred our shoulders, which would destroy our ability to do the other parts of the WOD.  I was nobody to argue, as I needed every edge I could get to make this one happen.

3...2...1...Go!  I did the first set of back squats unbroken, and had little trouble doing the handstand pushups, especially because I placed three abmats on the floor under where my head comes down to minimize the depth (I'm still very green on this exercise and there's no reason to push it yet).  Each back squat set after that was broken up into mini-rounds of 10.  I did the last one as 11 & 9, a tip I picked up from one of the regulars, and what a difference it made in getting the second part of the set done.  I'll remember that for future WODs...something happens psychologically that gets you through the remaining reps so much quicker when you have a single digit of reps left...Before I knew it I was done.

WOD Time - 16:00

I turned around and two people weren't done yet.  I was so psyched to encourage other people for a change.  Sara made sure I absorbed the moment. "You did 100 back squats and 35 handstand pushups in 16 minutes...SIXTEEN MINUTES".  I froze as I contemplated what a milestone this was.  I'm really feeling like this past week has been a massive breakthrough for my fitness.  I'm wearing smaller pants yet again, I owned the back squats last Friday and today, did the unbroken runs on Tuesday...what an incredibly productive week!

I look forward to rest and stretching galore this weekend.  Other than that, you may see some diet-related posts.  Otherwise, see you after the next WOD 8-).


Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Week of the Snatch Continues

This is what I posted on the Black Box WOD comments:

Skill Day for the Snatch

Round 1: Horrible Snatches
35 – 35 – 35 – 65

Round 2: OK Snatches
65 – 65 – 65

Round 3: Good Snatches
85 – 85

I’m excited that I hit a PR in my horrible snatch. Other than that it was a fairly uneventful day.
(end quote)

Sara was a lot more excited about my form than I was.  It's tough to really get a command of this exercise.  I think I need to build more strength in my lats before I can really get explosive movement upward.  Before I consider higher weight I need to just focus on form when this one comes around.  I like how it keeps you thinking about all of the proper positions in the progression of olympic lifts (as outlined by coach Bergener), but other than that I just think I need a lot more experience before I'm feeling good about it.

Either way, a productive day, even if it didn't level me like a lot of the others do.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

One for "Mick"

Some days things just come together.  A lot of the time you could say I'm kind of "chasing it" energy wise during Crossfit workouts.  I feel like I do well, and much better than when I started.  But in general there comes a time in many WODs where I hit the wall and it takes everything I have to push through and get it done.  There's no mystery there...I still have a long way to go before I would say I'm fit, and my sleep during the week is horrendous.  So once in a while when I crush a workout it feels damn spectacular...ESPECIALLY when it's a WOD of this magnitude.  Today was no fuckin joke, and I surprised even myself when I had some breakthroughs along the way.

WOD - "McCluskey"
Three rounds of:
9 Muscle-ups
15 Burpee pull-ups
21 Pull-ups
Run 800 meters

This was a "Hero WOD" - one that is named after a soldier who died defending our country.  This one was for Jason "Mick" McCluskey of Oklahoma who sadly died at the age of 26 in Afghanistan.  I think of where I was at 26...I hadn't even met my wife much of my life hadn't started yet.  At 38 I have a lot to be thankful for, so I was happy to lay it all on the table for Mr. McCluskey one time.

The scaling for this one was pretty cool.  Sara had us grab a pair of 35-lb dumbbells.  For muscle ups we did a pushup while holding the dumbbells, then at the top of the pushup we did a dumbbell row with each arm.  For burpee pullups I did a burpee then jumped up on a box and did a jumping pullup.  The regular pullups I did with 1.3 thick bands (the .5 was being used so I sucked it up and used a smaller one for my second one)

When you look at this WOD it's pretty crushing.  I love the 21-15-9 rep scheme, and it's very cool how they reverse it here...but adding the run is sadism at its finest.  Being the massochist that I am this one had my name all over it.

3...2...1...Go! I got a solid pace going and purposely didn't go to failure on the first round of pullups.  I broke it up into 6-5-5-5 and it went pretty smoothly.  The huge surprise came during the first run.  I ran out to 6th Ave, kept a steady pace, and by the time I rounded 24th St I realized that I didn't need to stop and walk...I just kept running...and running...until holy shit I rounded back onto 26th and finished the first run UNBROKEN.  How sick is that?  I've never run more than a block at a time in my entire life! I was sizzling on adrenaline and cruised through the second round, that is until the pullups.  By the second half of the set I was doing 1-2 at a time, but I got it done and out I went for run #2.  BOOM!  Unbroken again...what the hell was happening?  What an incredible feeling to run this consistently for this long...I sailed back in after the run and kept plugging away.  I could tell this one was running long, but if the firebreathers were putting up times of 25+ minutes I knew I was going to clock in at about an hour, which was fine with long as I finished.  Somehow I got through the pullups again and I raced toward the door.  Then a pretty crazy thing happened...

...Wayne is the coolest of the cool.  An elder gentleman who started Crossfitting a couple months back.  We've had some pleasant exchanges about the challenge of Crossfit and we've seen each other at the Black Box many times, as we both come several times a week.  Anyway Wayne had finished the WOD already, but as I passed him to head down the stairs he said "I think I'll come along for this round."  I couldn't believe it.  He was DONE.  Something about my taking forever on these WODs possesses people to do extra rounds.  I don't know who is more demented...but obviously I was flattered that Wayne gave THAT much of a shit about me to join me for the final run.  As it turned out my pace was so rocking that he easily walked beside me as I ran, but hey I RAN, and once again...UNBROKEN!

WOD Time - 54:21

The encouragement, feedback, and general comaraderie at the gym has been humbling to say the least.  I'm having a blast with Crossfit...and there's no doubt a lot of the above has to do as much with my progress as any physical gains I've had.  This is turning out to be quite the life experience.

I don't know how well I honored McCluskey's memory, but I'm satisfied that if I had the chance to meet him I'd be honest when I say I gave this one absolutely everything, and it gave me back even more.