Taking the (p)lunge

Week 2 of the 2017 edition of the CrossFit Open is well underway. Dave Castro announced the workout last night at the Rogue Headquarters. He’s making sure that all the boxes that invested in new 35 and 50 lbs dumbbells are getting maximum use out of them. Like 17.1, this week’s workout included some dumbbell work.

17-2

After watching the live announcement and the live head-to-head of Kari Pearce vs Kristi Eramo followed by Ro vs Boz, my nervous energy shot up 100%. Last year I managed to do my first bar muscle up, so I know I can do them and I wasn’t too worried about those. What worried me was reaching the 3rd round at all. The weighted lunge was with two 50 lbs dumbbells. That was going to be heavy for me. I wasn’t sure I could even get them onto my shoulders, let alone do walking lunges for 50 ft.

I did my run at the 5:30 am class today – it was completely brutal. After Coach Matt counted down and said, “Go” I had a number of failed attempts at raising the dumbbells onto my shoulders. When I did get them there, they weren’t comfortable or stable. I then realized that the clock was ticking and that I was squandering precious reps. I just stepped up to the line and took the (p)lunge. One foot in front of the other. The dumbbells felt ridiculously heavy and completely unsteady. I reached the 25 ft mark and turned around. When I finished the 50 ft I dropped the dumbbells from shoulder height. Coach was not impressed but I didn’t have a choice. I couldn’t hold them anymore. Next came toes-to-bar.

17-2-2

These were alright. I can string a few reps together and was able to complete the first round of them in two sets of 8. Dumbbell cleans came next – 8 of those. Matt and a number of people online recommended doing 6, taking a short break, then doing two more and heading directly into the lunges. This saves you having to perform a 9th clean if you rest after the required 8. This time around, I got the dumbbells settled on my shoulders a bit quicker and off I went on my second round of lunges. These didn’t feel any better than the first round but I managed to maintain a steady pace. I put the weights down after 25 feet though. Took a short(ish) break and headed back down the track for another 25 ft. At the end, I was able to lower the weights more gently and not drop them like before. The second round of toes-to-bar were not as smooth. I managed a set of 8 but then had to break them up into 1s and 2s for the second half. Successfully completed, I moved onto the cleans and followed the same process as in round 1. I was tiring rapidly now but I was determined to reach the muscle ups – even if I was unable to finish all 16. I finished round 2 at 6:44 with the dumbbells on my shoulders. Next set of lunges…

I was getting used to having this unstable and unsteady weight on my shoulders now but my legs were starting to give in. After the workout, one of the other athletes told me that he was standing behind me on this set and he saw my legs wobbling quite a bit. I had to take a break at the end of 25 ft and then finished the next 25 feet with about 2:30 left on the clock. I hoped this would be enough time to finish at least half of the 16 muscle ups. I stood under the bar just looking at it. Matt told me to just get one and that would start the momentum. I jumped up and did just one. Yay! Only 15 more to go. I was exhausted. Breathing heavily, throat dry, muscles aching. Matt and the other athletes started shouting encouragement and clapping. This made a massive difference. I was buoyed by their cheers and kept pushing. Thanks Daniel, Eric, Shannon, Warren and Matt – you guys are awesome! One rep at a time. At 40 seconds to go, I had 4 reps remaining. 30 seconds – 3 reps. 20 seconds – 2 reps. 10 seconds and I completed the last rep! Man!! I jumped down from the bar as the last five seconds were counted down. Fell to my hands and knees and then rolled over onto my back. I was utterly spent but also ecstatic. My goal had been to reach the muscle ups in round 3 and complete and many of them as I could. To actually finish all 16 in that round felt amazing. 94 reps total.

17-2-5

17.2 was a doozy. My shoulders are bruised. My hamstrings and glutes are worn out. But my spirits are soaring. This time it’s definitely one and done. I don’t want to repeat that workout anytime soon.

Good luck to everyone else doing their run later this weekend. Let me know what your strategies are and let me know how you fared.

PS. Not the best quality pics, I know. They’re screen grabs from the Livestream video of the workout.

 

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Conditioning Day: Embrace the Pain


This was a tough but good WOD.  After our coach said 3-2-1-GO, most of the athletes took off at quite a quick pace. My comment was ‘it’s a marathon not a sprint!’ When I saw the workout posted I decided that I was going to aim for a steady rather than quick pace. 

I’ve recently managed to figure out how to do kipping toes-to-bar so I felt ok about those. I just had to keep moving. I broke them up into sets of 5 with a 5-10 second break between each. This worked well throughout because I was able to maintain a steady pace. 

The double unders were sooooo frustrating. Every time I think I’ve learned how to do them properly it gets programmed into the WOD and I realize I haven’t. The most I managed unbroken was 6! So I lost a lot of time doing these and I have the whip marks on my legs to show the struggle. I need more practice!

Wall balls! At the end of each round. This is where the suck really set in. Again I broke these up into sets of 5 or 10 with a 10 second break between each set. Slow and steady. Despite this I was so tired at the end of each round that the run in the next round was more like a shuffle. 

In the end I didn’t finish before the time cap was reached. I managed to get through the 30 double unders of round three. I did continue and completed all 150 reps of all  4 exercises. I was so finished at the end I could barely form coherent sentences.

If you’re looking for a great conditioning workout give this one a try. Scale where necessary – knees to chest/single unders/manageable wall ball weight. Let me know how it goes. 

16.2: Can I try that one more time?

 

16.2 the first time around

 

16.2 has come and gone now. The deadline to submit your score was a 5PM PT last night. I’ve been reading various blog posts about the workout and I noticed similar themes in almost all of them. There were a number of crossfitters who were excited about it after the announcement on Thursday and there  were a fair number who felt that it was going to be a manageable one. Once they tried it, the other common theme that emerged was that there were a good few people who were surprised at how tough it was to get past round 1 and just as many who felt they could improve on their first attempt and were planning a second try.

The prescribed workout was as follows:

16.2 WOD

While the scaled one was:

Scaled WOD 16.2

On Friday morning I arrived at the I Will Crossfit box determined to do the Rx version and make it to the squat cleans in round 2. My one rep max up until that point was 155# so I would have to improve on that by 30# to even make one rep. But I figured I could give it a try. I felt that my toes-to-bar was in good shape and as you might’ve  seen in an earlier post, I had just managed to get double unders. I figured I would make it to round 2 within the 4 minutes and then give that my best go. Well, the best laid plans of mice and men…

The toes-to-bar went a lot slower than I anticipated. My technique is good but my speed not so much. Then the double unders which I thought I had worked out. I couldn’t string together more than 2-3 unbroken. It took me way longer than I expected to finish the 50 reps. I had only about a minute and a half to finish 15 squat cleans at 90% of my one rep max. I completed 3 successfully before the time ran out. Wow. What a humbling experience. 4 minutes of workout and I was done. Another guy in the gym had been equally frustrated. We decided to take a break and then try again. He was going to go Rx but I thought I’d switch to scaled and see if that was better.

Hanging knee raises and single unders were easier but the squat cleans were still tough despite the lower starting weight. I managed to complete round 1 with some time left on the clock. This meant I had more than 4 minutes to finish round 2. Going into the knee raises I was already feeling  winded. I don’t know if I went out too quickly in round 2 or if the Rx attempt had taken more out of me than I realized or maybe the workout was just tougher than anticipated. When I reached the squat cleans at 115# I knew I could manage the weight but I wasn’t sure I could manage 13 reps. I couldn’t – the clock ran down at rep 10. Aargh!!! A big improvement in total reps over the Rx attempt but I had been hoping to reach round 3 at least. How difficult 16.2 was turning out to be.

At the team WOD on Saturday there were a few other people who’d had similarly frustrating experiences with 16.2. And they were all planning to give the workout another try on Monday. The seed was planted. In fact, the seed sprouted a fully fledged tree within minutes. I decided to join these crazy people who couldn’t get enough of the challenge. I was further inspired when I heard that one of the guys had finished the scaled version of the workout. All 430 reps!! In the allotted time. Impressive. I just wanted to get to round 3 and post a good score for the week. Third time lucky? I hoped so.

I was awake super early yesterday morning. I was nervous and excited about my final attempt at this workout. There were two other guys also giving it a last go at 5:30am. All of us were doing the scaled version. After our normal warm-up, we set up the bars and found our jump ropes and spots for the knee raises. All too soon, Coach Matt was saying 3-2-1-GO! I took off like a bat out of hell. I was so determined to get to round 3 I let all my plans for pacing go out the window. I managed the squat cleans a lot more comfortably this time. When I started the knee raises for round 2 I tried to keep a steady pace but sped up again on the single unders. I decided to try and do the 13 squat cleans in sets of 3. This worked out well. I finished round 2 with time to spare. Yay! On to round 3. Knee raises and single unders went well. The 135# squat cleans slowed me down. This was at 90% of my  rep max, remember? I used the same game plan – 3 reps at a time. To my amazement and excitement, I finished. On to round 4. This was unplanned territory. Throughout the workout the other two guys and I kept shouting encouragement to each other. We were side-by-side and I know that made a massive difference. The other people in the gym were equally enthusiastic with shouts of support while they were getting through the normal WOD. We have a great atmosphere of camaraderie.

Round 4. My knee raises and single unders were slowing down but I finished them with a few extra minutes left over. I had about 7 minutes to finish 9 reps at #155. My one rep max! I would have to go one at a time. It took everything I had but I cranked out 6 reps before I ran out of time.

I was elated. Three attempts later I had reached a total of 345 reps. Almost double my Friday score. I’v decided to embrace scaling. For my first Crossfit Games Open, the scaled division will give me a nice benchmark for future workouts and for next year. And it is damn challenging. As with 16.1  and 16.2, I eagerly and nervously await the announcement of 16.3 on Thursday.

How did 16.2 go for you? Any new PRs? What are your predictions for 16.3? Muscle ups maybe? Wall balls? Whatever Dave Castro has in store, it’s going to be a challenge.

The Hot Gates (of hell)

Team WOD at I Will Crossfit on Saturday was dubbed ‘The Hot Gates.’ When the coach wasn’t looking, someone added ‘of hell’ to the title. The workout was tough as always.

WOD 16.2.20

We were divided into teams of 4. I worked with Tom, Sandy and Marylene. We decided to start with the tire flips. I always enjoy these and having a strong guy like Tom on the team helped a lot as 700 pounds is not easy to lift and flip. From there we moved on to toes-to-bar. We each did 10 at a time for what seemed like forever. I started out with strict toes-to-bar but my pace was a bit slow so I switched to knees-to-chest. My memory becomes a bit hazy from this point – probably induced by exhaustion and blocking the pain. I think we moved on to the burpees. Again we did 10 at a time. Sandy and I did this together and we pushed each other to keep a good pace going. She was quicker to the floor and I was quicker back up so we were always chasing each other. That may have been my best set of burpees ever. My technique must be improving. Yay, burpees! Improved burpee technique ahead of the Open start today can only be a good thing.

The rope climbs were cool. In the past, I’ve done the modified climb which involves lying on your back and pulling yourself upright, then lowering yourself back down. Three of these counts as 1 rep. On Saturday I decided to try the proper climb to the top. I managed to do it for the 8 reps which made up my share of the team’s 30. Another positive step forward in my crossfit journey We finished with push-ups. Twenty at a time to begin with and then down to 10 as we tired. Again, Sandy helped me keep pace. Time ran out before we could finish the sit-ups. I think this was a blessing in disguise because the teams that chose to do the sit-ups earlier in their rotation said that was the toughest round.

All-in-all, a challenging but fun work-out. Highly recommended as a team WOD. Give it a try and let me know how it goes. What are some of your favourite team or partner WODs?

 

Tuesday Testing and Wednesday WOD

Robin kick testing

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.