17.4 is 16.4 – back for more!

The old saying warns, “be careful what you wish for.” In numerous Open WOD discussions and chats and predictions, I’ve been saying that it would be great to have a repeat of 16.4. As the announcement drew closer it seemed like a good guess given the movements which had not yet appeared in the Open. Deadlifts. Wall balls. Handstand push-ups. Of course thrusters and double under have yet to appear as well. But this week we had 16.4 again.

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Last year, 6 months into CrossFit, I didn’t have high expectations of this workout. I attempted it Rx despite having a 3 rep max deadlift of 255 lb. Dangerously close to the prescribed 225 lb this workout called for. As you might guess, I got stuck at the deadlifts. It took me forever to finish them. I wasn’t much better on the wall balls. I ended up getting onto the rower with precious little time left and managed 1 single calorie. I didn’t even worry about the fact that I could not perform handstand push-ups since I knew I wouldn’t make it that far.

Enter 2017.

I have a higher deadlift 3 rep max now (315 lb) and I’ve been known to string together a few wall ball shots unbroken. I can also do handstand push-ups now and my rowing speed is adequate. I made my first run on Friday morning. My hope was to beat last year’s score and at least get further on the rower.

I tried to pace myself on the deadlifts. I didn’t want to run out of steam too early on. I did 5 reps unbroken but then followed those up with 50 slow and steady singles. Off to the wall balls. These went well for me. I kept up quite a good pace and my coach kept my breaks short and consistent. I got on the rower with a little over 2.5 minutes to go. I strapped in. Closed my eyes. And just started pulling. As hard as I could. I finished 40 calories! A nice 39 cal improvement on last year.

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I was rather chuffed. Later that evening I returned to the box to watch the other athletes make their attempts at the workout. Man! Those guys were amazing. It was inspirational to see them go all out. Their pace on the deadlifts was incredible. They flew through the wall balls. Then pulled like Olympic rowers. One guy even made it as far as the handstand push-ups. The next morning two more athletes made their runs. Another two awesome performances. Wow! Watching them made me start to rethink my strategy. Could I push harder on the deadlifts – the only place I felt I could improve my time? I spent most of the weekend wondering about this and eventually decided I’d repeat the workout today.

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I was quite nervous. I wasn’t at all sure I could go at a faster pace and maintain it for 55 reps. I decided to just go for it. 3-2-1-Go! And I was off. I started off doing singles immediately. But this time, the pauses were a lot shorter. As soon as I dropped the barbell I picked it up again. I managed to keep up a pretty good pace for 15 reps and still felt good. Each deadlift gave me more confidence. At 30 reps, I was felt strong and kept going. I finished the reps 2 minutes faster than my Friday time. Wall ball time. Good pace again. Almost the same time as Friday. This meant I was still 2 minutes ahead of that pace. Yay.

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Next up, row, row, row your boat. Again, same tactic. Strap in. Close eyes. Pull. And pull. And pull. Repeat until 55 calories reached. I managed to finish! Just over a minute to get in as many handstand push-ups as possible. My whole body felt wobbly and unsteady. I took a few seconds break and then coach told me to just get up on the wall. I listened. First attempt. No rep! Dammit! Reset. Try again. 1 rep!! Woohoo. And then…5 more reps.

I was over the moon. As happy as when I managed my first muscle-up. 171 reps in total. 60 more than 2016. I’ve been smiling all day. What a great feeling. Coach Matt is the man. His programming, patience and persistence saw me to a big improvement over last year. Amazing what you can achieve with consistent training with a great coach. Incredible what you can push yourself to do when inspired by a great bunch of athletes.

One more to go. Thrusters and double unders are my prediction. 21-18-15-12-9-6-3 for time. Can’t believe the 5 weeks are drawing to a close. It’s been great so far. How has it gone for you?

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday Testing and Wednesday WOD

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Stepping Axe Kick – one of my faves. That’s me in the background in the yellow belt

Last night I tested for my blue belt in Kuk Sool Won at my dojang, Kuk Sool Won of Dublin. For those of you not familiar with Kuk Sool Won, this is taken from our school website:

Kuk Sool is a comprehensive martial arts system that is derived from the rich and varied martial art techniques and traditions that have arisen in Korea through the ages. Kuk Sool is not a sport, nor is it simply another method of self-defense. Kuk Sool is a complete martial art that is dedicated to the cultivation of mental strength and well being. It also focuses on the preservation of traditional Korean Martial arts.

My dobahk (uniform) was soaked with sweat by the end. I was happy with my progress – my kicks felt more powerful and my fellow students complimented me on my form. Hopefully I’ll move up a rank to blue belt. There are some cool techniques and the challenging blue belt form. We’ll see on Saturday.

WOD 17.2.15

WOD for 17 Feb 2016

This morning’s I Will Crossfit WOD was all about strength. After a tough warm-up which included 100m of jumping jacks, 150 mountain climbers, 60m of bear crawlers, and 60m of frogger, we gathered at the WOD whiteboard.

I was feeling quite tired today but decided to follow the advice of the point at the bottom of the board which said, ‘Challenge Yourself.’ The front squats were ok but the last 3 reps were tough as I reached ~70% of max. Initially I thought I was doing well on the chin-ups but then Coach Matt told me to continue pulling at the top so that my elbows came alongside my chest. This changed the chin-up completely. I was getting my chin above the bar but I couldn’t finish in that position. Need to keep working as this is good practice for muscle-ups (a move I want to conquer).

The single-leg, one-arm, Romanian deadlifts were a great test of balance. As the weight increased, it became tougher to maintain my balance. Ring dips are always tough for me as my upper body strength is severely lacking. I’ve improved over the last couple of months but they’re still difficult. However, this is another move to get right as I pursue muscle-ups.

The last super set definitely extended me. The overhead reverse lunge was not only a test of strength but also balance. Initially I couldn’t do a rep properly without losing my balance. Another tip from the coach made all the difference. “First learn balance!” he said. Then added the more valuable information :-): as you’re stepping backwards into the lunge, keep your weight on your front leg. As the weight increased through the set, this tip became even more crucial. Quoting the Karate Kid, however, gave him an idea for another move which he dubbed the Miyagi Reverse Lunge. This would involve adding a front kick after you complete the lunge. That’ll be interesting to see. Especially if we have a barbell overhead.

Recently I have found that I’m a bit better at toes-to-bar than before. Again, I thought I was doing pretty well until the coach came to watch. He said it was good but that I could challenge myself even more. Apparently my legs were not quite straight on the way up. If I pointed my toes my form would be better. Thankfully this advice came for my final rep. It makes quite a difference as your abs are fully extended when you’re hanging from the bar so it requires complete flexing in order to lift your legs up towards the bar and let your toes touch. Something more to work on. Yay!

Today’s WOD was fun – lot’s of laughs, some good-natured ragging. I did challenge myself and I was happy with the outcome. I’ve definitely improved but there’s still much to work on. The Crossfit Open is in 8 days’ time. I hope I’ll be ready.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Master Saidi or that of the World Kuk Sool Association.