Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Oh hell yeah

Was a little disappointed with today’s WoD, as it contained handstand push-ups (do a handstand and then do a push-up from that position), nope can’t do them. Substitution as recommended is pike push-ups, nope, can’t do them either, but its something to aim for. So I substituted Swiss Ball push-ups, with just the tips of my toes on the ball, which tied in well with an ab focus on my core today ( plank with arm raise, side plank with push through and swiss ball work single leg bridges). The other exercise was a rope climb, nope don’t have one at the gym, so substituted chin ups.

Workout looked like this for 4 circuits, best time :-

400m run
15 swiss ball push ups
15 chin ups

The runs I attacked hard as tomorrow is a rest day and have two long runs scheduled Thursday and Saturday so a day break will be good. Each of the swiss ball sets were straight through, though the last two sets required a lot of concentration and balance through my core to keep my toes level on the ball and not fall off.

The chin ups, was great, first set of 15 straight through. Second set was 11 and 4, third set 8+5+2 and last set 6+5+4.

Total time 34 minutes, most of the delay being the one minute (one and a half) between the chin up reps.

The “hell yeah” at the beginning ?

All the chin up sets were unassisted, hence the sets being broken up with rests to complete. That’s the first time I’ve managed more than 30 body weight pull ups, and an indication of my strength gains in only 3 weeks.

Three days, three GREAT workouts (plus the 10k the day before). I’m guess the workouts the rest of the week are going to be doozy big rep stuff with a lot of leg/squat work as that has been missing. I also notice a pattern, the last two 3 day blocks were long and intense, very high rep routines, this block was more heavy lifting for two days followed by short, sharp one. We shall see...

...or maybe I'll do Thursday's run tomorrow and go get muddy in the woods...yum :-)

Monday, January 05, 2009

Hang free

The are good days, and there are great days.

From a very productive day at work where everything seemed to move in a positive directions, even during the phases where three things were going at once (talking on phone, IMing with CEO and resolving an issue over email), a great run at lunchtime. While we have forecast for ice storms tomorrow the temp was still high enough for just shorts and a long sleeved top, admittedly the wind was a little stronger than I anticipated but hey if its cold, run faster ;-)

Tonight's CrossFit WoD was Hang Power Cleans. Something I've never done before, so this will be another day of a PR :)

Usual warm up of an assortment of Ab and core exercises, plus the obligatory three sets of pull-ups, push ups and dips and into it.

I did a couple of sets with just the 45lb bar to practice my form before loading it up

95lbs - 3 reps
105lbs - 3 reps
115lbs - 2 reps
125lbs - failed at both attempts
115lbs - 2 reps
115lbs - 2 reps
115lbs - 2 reps

It feels good to be working out at my limits, though it only occurred to me, in a slap your forehead way as I was leaving the gym that I could have used different plates and made an attempt at 120lbs..doh !

After two days of maximal lifting, tomorrow is almost certain to be a monster rep affair...I'm chomping at the bit ! :-)

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Maxed out

A Personal Record weight today !!!

In the deadlift of all things.

The RX was Deadlift - 3-3-3-3-3. Which means to build up to a weight you can lift three times, and then do five sets. I've never really done much 1 or very low rep lifting so I am really not sure what my max should be. Of course this doesn't include the 3 sets of sit-ups, pull-ups, push ups, dips, squats and planks that make up the warm up (I can think of times where my warm up would have been my entire workout !).

In terms of deadlifts I've done both the stiff legged and normal variety, but always found a limiter being my lower back, despite doing a lot of core work such as planks and back/hip extensions. A look at the these great videos and the problem in my form becomes apparent.

Previous best was 105 lbs for 10 reps. So I set a goal to get to 135 lbs. The first few sets were warm ups and to fine tune my form at :-

95lb - 10 reps
105lb - 8 reps
115lb - 6 reps
135lb - 3 reps
145lb - 3 reps
155lb - 3 reps
165lb - 3 reps
175lb - 3 reps
185lb - 3 reps
195lb - 3 reps
205lb - 1 rep

It just goes to show what good form and determination in lifting can produce. That's the first time I've ever moved over 200lbs in any kind of free weight lift, and incredible feeling of achievement to lift that final rep and not feel any kind of pain, just muscles working at my limits.

I think this is the thing I like best about CrossFit, pushing beyond my mental limits. Though I would add the caveat that I have a very solid base of both lifting and working out before I started this, and also the knowledge of when I am pushing beyond my physical limits into injury pain. While I like and agree with a lot of the core philosophy, I approach it with my own beliefs on lifting, of good form, and not forcing exra reps out at all cost with very bad form, as this path leads to injury and despair. Amongst the affiliate gyms, they seem to fall into these two camps themselves, some hardcore push everyone past their physical (not mental) limits, and then others who teach good form and drive them to their limits but not beyond.

As an old member of the Tri-DRS group said "Take what you want and leave the rest", I take the workouts, and the drive to push myself but have no desire to join a CF gym and do the group workouts. My workouts are my time, a solitary competition with no one except myself, and chance to center and focus on one thing, I'm certain that having others around me and competing on time would take away my enjoyment. It was these very things that drew me to triathlon originally.

But regardless, I'm stoked about today. With today being a heavy day, tomorrow is sure to be something with lots and lots of reps.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

If you go down to the woods today...

Yay...a day off from throwing weights (and myself around), but with such a jonesing to get outside and go run in the woods.

Although a little chilly, weather.com was reporting 34 degrees, it was sunny and with no wind. The trails were fantastic, dry, wintry and still. I had in mind to do the Watkins Mill-Rt. 355 out and back which would give 10k. The entire trail end to end is 12.5 miles and I've run (and) mountain biked every mile of it so many times over the last year but I never tire of it. Every time I notice or see something a little different, and each time running somewhere other than a road or laps around a lake just seems to lift my soul.

The first two miles (and surprise surprise, the last two) are up and down through the woods overlooking the creek before finally descending and running alongside it, the difference always jolting, one moment running well worn singletrack, the next hitting flat marshland vegetation. Even though it is mid winter, any number of stream and creek crossings are dried out, the creek itself running much lower than in the summer. My legs certainly could feel the last two days, the 300 squats, and all the cleans but yet they didn't feel dead, even after two weeks of Crossfit I could feel an increase in strength and spring in my step. Though the last two miles, the spirit and aerobically I was willing but there seemed little in the legs, not a tiredness, just very little in the bank.

Even so it was great to be outside, food for the body, mind and soul.

Legs like tree trunks -----> ;-)

This is the playlist along with a random thought that I had while each one played...

Friday, January 02, 2009

Not Big

Sandwiched between “Rolling” by Limp Bizkit and “Beds are burning” by Midnight Oil during today’s workout was this little gem, she’s such a Spitfire, in that very British 'Squeeze/Beautiful South' cynical lyrics to happy sounding songs kind of way. If the mood takes you and you feel the bitterness, the lyrics are here..

Today was the end of another block of three days straight and tomorrow is (yippee) a rest day, though I’m getting the itch to go for a nice 10k trail run in the woods as I haven’t been out there in what seems like ages.

The RX was to do 135lb clean and jerk - 1 in the 1st minute, 2 in the 2nd etc..until failure.

Not knowing my single rep clean and jerk limit (come to think of it I’m not sure of any of my one rep maxes having never worked out that way), this workout seemed to not work for me, but in the spirit of doing the exercises I thought a negative progression would supply the load and work required.

I started with 75 lbs on a 45 pound bar (usually use a 25 so the extra length was interesting to balance) and did 10 reps to start and then warm up, each successive set I dropped one rep and increased the weight

75lb - 10 reps
85lb - 9 reps
95lb - 8 reps
100lb - 6 reps (think I took too short of a break interval here, and the form was bad)
105lb - 4 reps
110lb - 4 reps
115lb - 2 reps
115lb - 1 rep
115lb - 1 rep
115lb - 1 rep
115lb - 1 rep

I stopped at 115lb as this was the weight at which my form was on the edge of becoming bad, when pulling a weight from the ground to your collarbone and then pushing it overhead, a loss of balance because of form could be somewhat catastrophic in terms of injuring myself. Equally I could still feel my workout from yesterday, its better to work hard but know your limits, two less reps or 20 less pounds is better than a month or two off because you pulled something. The workout was still enough to be challenging, with each of the last one reps making me think quite hard to get the bar up. It also make me pretty happy as that is 20lbs more than I’ve managed in a standalone shoulder press, adding the total weight up, that makes 4445 lbs lifted in one exercise/workout..damn.

Though thinking about yesterday’s and pulling my calculator out and assuming my body weight = the weight lifted, the pull-ups and push-ups alone total 36,000 lbs, which can’t be right, there must be some kind of estimate. Though I can easily compare to conventional weightlifting, my muscles are more tired and feel as if they have been worked much harder.

Thursday, January 01, 2009


Happy New Year to one and all ! :-)

As suspected the workout for today being New Year’s Day was going to be a doozy, and it sure as heck was.

“Murph” is one of CrossFit’s Hero workouts, so named as they are dedicated to members of the Forces, Police or Firefighters who have died in the course of duty. This one is in memory of Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy, 29, of Patchogue, N.Y., who was killed in Afghanistan on June 28th, 2005.

Adding that memory puts some extra spice into giving my best to the workout itself which consists of:

1 mile run
100 pull-ups
200 push-ups
300 squats
1 mile run

Being a runner the first 1 mile scares me not one iota, the second one after all those squats was going to be interesting to say the least.

THe instructions suggest the exercises other than the runs could be broken up or partitioned in any way you choose, anyone who can do 100 pull-ups straight has to be a complete monster. I chose the advice of several of the commenters to break it up into a “Cindy”, so 20 circuits of 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups and 15 squats.

Unfortunately due to NY hours the gym closed before I could complete it as RX’d, but managed the 1 mile run, 18 circuits and .75 of the last run before they shut the lights out on me, a quick 2 circuits of the outside of the gym including the car park kept it as honest as possible - total time 54 minutes. If I’d skipped a circuit of my ab/core workout I could have done it whole, but still, thats four more circuits than I managed on “Cindy”

Totals :

Incline sit-ups (*) - 60
Hanging knee raises - 60
Back extensions - 60
Side planks - 45

Pull-ups - 90
Push-ups - 180
Squats - 270

Total - 765

Wrecked/wasted/destroyed are all good descriptions of how I felt afterwards.

Now sitting with the aroma of my Chicken Cacciatora wafting up the stairs, and then going to the Movies later. A great start to the new year :-)