Friday, February 26, 2010

Squats, squats, squats, squats!

And more squats to end the week! Thrusters, front squats, squat cleans, more legs are tired (not b/c they've been running through your mind all day).  Here's a summary of the rest of the WODs from this week:

3 Rds
500m row
21 DB Thruster (30#)
400m run

Time: 22:14 Whew-wee! That was a lung-burner - especially b/c it was snowing outside. The thrusters weren't heavy, they were just awkward with the dumbbells. I prefer barbell thrusters anyday. In my opinion, the row was the hardest part. I'm conveninced that people who think rowing is easy are not doing it right - it's a full-body exercise. At any rate, I was happy with my time on this one. 

800m (3:10)
5X5 Front Squat (75, 95, 115, 120, 125, 120)

Whitney and I partnered up on this one - glad she was there to cheer me on. Whit completed the last set of 5 reps at 125 lbs, but I could only get 2! After three more failed attempts, I decided to finish out at 120, just to get some good reps in. We both managed to set new PRs on front squat, although since we rarely do them at max weight, I'm not sure what that means. The true test will be to try again in a few months and see our progress. I would like to get up to 145 - I think I can do it!

3 Rds
10 Squat Cleans + Overhead (85#, Thrusters)
500m row

Time: 16:18 Last time I attempted to do 95# Cleans (power cleans), I had to do 2 at a time b/c they were so heavy. Add in a thruster, and I was getting seriously scared of 95#. So, I conservately decided to go with 85# for the entire workout. JDP let me know that this was probably too light, and that I was wussing out, but I wanted to work on form and finishing in a reasonable time. So, I did. The cleans and thrusters felt good, and I rocked it on the row. Ended up with a decent time... But, JDP was right. I could have gone heavier.

I admit I sometimes get intimidated by the weight, even though I'm capable of lifting it. I totally psych myself out. I need to learn how to psych myself UP! Like Jack and Liz:

I'm planning to drop by RunTex or UTB for the free CrossFit Central workout tomorrow. And then I'm off to Georgia's handstand clinic on Sunday. Should be a fun and active weekend!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Resources for Torn Hands

If you're like me, your hands rip at the mere thought of Angie or a WOD with lots of pullups and heavy Oly lifts. If I know in advance that the WOD will reak havoc on my hands, I'll tape up before class. But taping limits my range of motion and really only works to protect the calluses from ripping - doesn't do much if your hands are already ripped. Crap. Even worse, I've had to quit mid-workout b/c my hands were torn and bleeding. That really sucked.

What's a girl to do?! If you've ever ripped your hands and had to suffer through the healing process, you probably NEVER want to go through that again. It's not fun, nor does it make you a bad-ass. It's an injury that could have been prevented and requires time and care to heal. Booooo injuries!
Searching on the interwebbings, I found a slew of posts on the subject from other CrossFit bloggers around the country. Thanks to all of them for their great advice. Read on:

How to Tape Your Hands via CrossFit Invictus blog
This is Not Cool, Part I via CrossFit One World blog
This is Not Cool, Part II via CrossFit One World blog
I've Got to Hand it To You, Part 2 (how to treat rips) via CrossFit Vertusosity blog
I've Got to Hand it To You, Part 3 (how to tape) via CrossFit Vertuosity blog
Hand Care via CrossFit Full Circle blog

And, here are some resources for products that will help you care for your hands to prevent or treat rips:

New Grips for Weighlifting and Pullups to prevent hand injury (I just ordered a pair and will post a review!)
PedEgg or a Pumice Stone for smoothing calluses (you can get these at HEB/Walgreens, etc)
Euecerine Aquaphor Healing Ointment (this stuff is tha bomb!)

High-fives for callus-free/rip-free hands!

Now let's go crush those pullups/Oly lifts. :)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Best New Exercises for Her and Him....really....

Saw this photo on today. It links to articles from Women's Health and Men's Health magazines, respectively. At first, I was put off my the fact that the woman was shown doing a wimpy single-handed dumbbell lunge while the man was shown doing the awesome push press (eye roll). Intrigued by the possibility that I could learn something new, I decided to explore... 

Not suprisingly, the "Best New Exercises for Women" include body weight resistance work on Swiss balls or light bumbbell isolation work (last time I checked, this crap wasn't new). There were a few core-focused exercises such as mountain climbers, L-raise (which is similar to a superman, except for the Swiss ball), and something called a McGill curlup (see below). This is new to me, but I can't for the life of me figure out how this will help build a strong lower back.

CRUSH IT, girl! That muffin-top will be gone in no time!

After reading through all 9 lame women's exercises, I decided to see what was touted as the "Best New Excerises for Men". Lo and behold, here are some movements I am familiar with! (...none of them "new", but whatever):

Pushup, barbell push press, mixed grip chin ups, pistols (see below), and straight legged deadlifts. Oh yeah, and they threw in some bicep and tricep isolation crap. But, it's for guys and they want the gun-show arms, you know?!

His legs were burnin' so bad, he had to remove his shirt

Overall, the men's workout incorporated movements that involved more muscle recruitment, less isolation. That means, more fat burning! Why, oh why, aren't women being taught the same principles? If it will work a man's muscles effectively, why not a woman? The fitness media bias has got to change.
BTW, a major pet peeve of mine is when fitness magazines don't specifying weights/frequency. In both articles, there is NO mention of a prescribed weight for the exercises, nor a suggestion of reps/sets/or frequency that these exercises should be performed. So, I guess its just up to the reader to figure that out. Real useful for the novice reader.

In conclusion (yes, this rant is ending!) I DID learn something from this article: I learned how lucky I am to train with women and men who understand what its like to really work! And, that our coaches don't care if we are women or men - we are all strong and capable of pushing ourselves to the limit. No bias, no excuses. Thank you, CrossFit!  

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Push jerks live up to their name

Last night's WOD included lots of shoulder work (again). This time we warmed up with some shoulder presses, push presses, and push jerks using different equipment and weights:

3 Rds, AMRAP 30 seconds
25 lb dumbbell shoulder press (18, 15, 12)
8 lb medball push jerk (22,18,15)
12 kg dual kettlebell push press (10, 10, 10 - bruises to show for it)
200 m run

It felt like we were doing it backwards. Typically shoulder press is the lightest weight, push press is heavier, and push jerk is heaviest. But, I didn't question it b/c it burned, the entire time. Must be doing something, right?!

Then, came the "real" workout:
3 rds, Don't put the barbell down until sequence is complete
10 Deadlifts
10 Front Squat
10 Push Jerks
10 Back Squats
Rx was 75lbs, I used 65lbs.

I should have been able to complete this one at 75lbs, but it felt really heavy on the push jerks, so I scaled down. The leg work was pretty easy at 75 and too easy at 65, but you're only as strong as your weakest link (shoulders in my case). I was discouraged since I've done push press at 85 and 95 lbs before, but whatever. Wonder if my shoulders were just cashed, or I'm not getting under the weight quickly enough? At any rate, my shoulders were sore this morning, so I know I worked hard. Wrists are also sore, but I blame that on my desk job and the fact that I type ALLLLL day. Need to bring my grippers to work to help strengthen my hands, wrists, and forearms.

Anyway, I watching some videos about push jerk form and found this one to be particularly helpful. Notice, he's lifting the same weight in all three exercises, however the push jerk is by far the most efficient way to get the weight overhead. Check it out.

Friday, February 19, 2010

A week of WODs and related adventures

Hot damn! Where did the week go?! It's Friday and that means I've survived another week of WODs and slaving away for the corporate overlords. And, I managed to have some fun while doing it! :)

Summary of WODs:
12 OHS (Rx was 95 lbs, I did 65)
5 Burpees
Time: 15:00-something...I forget, but I was last. Dead last.
Thoughts: The WOD was hard, not because of the weight, but because I'm still having trouble w/my OHS form. I was all wobbly at the beginning and had to take it slow. I mean, real slow. But, I got full squat depth and felt pretty good afterwards. My burpees improved significantly, thanks to the tips I learned from the CrossFit Austin crew (end the burpee w/your feet wide, like a full squat stance). It helps to position your hips below shoulders, so you can jump up!
Stayed after for pull-up practice with Jasmine. I used the purple band (which is nothing), and after some really nice kips, managed to snap myself right in between my front of a crowded gym....again. I do this all the time. I'm thinking that its time to move off of the bands for no other reason than to save face. And, let's be honest, that purple band ain't doing anything for me. Time for unassisted kips!
SDLHP/Sprawl (24kg Kettlebell)
Thruster (2, 12kg Kettlebells)
Time: 21:16 Rx
Thoughts: After lots of coffee and SPARK throughout the day, I may have overdosed on the sweet, sweet caffenine nectar. Proof: On my first round of SDLHP, I slammed the 24kg kettlebell right into my crotch. Holy beejeezus that hurt. Thankfully, I don't have balls, so I was able to keep going...I wonder if anyone saw me do that. Must have been freakin hilarious. I let out a "shit, that hurt", but everyone is so used to me muttering obscenities during my workouts that they probably didn't pay attention. At any rate, the high-pulls felt good, and the thrusters were ok, although I prefer to do thrusters w/the barbell.
5 Rds
7 Thruster (Rx was 95 lbs, I did 85)
500m row
Time: 20:40
20 Toe -to-bar
Thoughts: The thrusters were heavy, but they felt good! I was solid with my form and managed to bang out the first 2 sets w/o resting the bar. Last 3 sets I did 5-2, 4-3, and 4-2-1. I was pretty tired at the end of this one. The row is deceiving - not as easy as a 400m run in my opinion! I'm pretty sure I could have done the Rx weight. Next time, I will.
5 Rounds
15 OHS (Rx was 65, I did 55)
400m run
Time: 18:15
100 Ab-mat sit ups
Thoughts: Could have done the 65 lbs as Rx'd, but my shoulders were cashed, so I went with 10 lbs less. I felt strong on my squats - maintained form and full squat depth. My reps went 10-5 on each set. So, I only but the bar down once on each set. I'm beginning to like OHS (shhhh!!) And, I was happy when this one was over and I hadn't done anything to embarrass myself. :)
Another week of WODs on the books! Now I'm looking forward to my fun-filled weekend:
Bonita's Tribe at AHS @9:00 am - Surprise WOD!
B-fast at Whole Foods
Kettlebell Clinic at CFC @11:00 am
Plenty of R&R
Rock Climbing and Craptastic gym hunting

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Jessie and the Bear (Complex)

I was so excited to join Bonita and Lisa at the AHS track to take on the infamous "Bear Complex" WOD today. The sun was shining, the temperature was just right - the perfect day for pushing weight. Knowing that today was supposed to be an active rest day for me, I didn't attempt to lift the actual weight I would in the gym. Instead, I focused on the movements and developing a strategy for the next time this WOD comes up. Bear Complex: 5 "sets " attempts at max weight, not timed; rest in between sets 7 reps w/o putting the barbell down (same weight for each exercise): Power Clean Front Squat Push Press Back Squat Push Press My weight: 55-55-60-65-65 I think I could start at 65 in the gym and progress to 85, moving up in weight increments of 5lbs. Totally do-able. I substituted thrusters for the squat/push press and it really made the transition between movements seamless. I think the momentum created by one movement carries through to the other movements, making them easier (and making me more efficient). I think the bear may be my new favorite WOD. Love it! Can't wait to take it on again. Big shout out: Bonita PR'd today with 115 on her 4th attempt. Way to go, B! ;)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Give yourself some credit!

For the last few workouts, I've been getting really down on myself for not performing as well as I expected. I've been using the Rx weight or at least 90% Rx weight for all workouts, but I'm finding that my metcon work is suffering as a result. I'm getting too tired with the heavy weight to rock it out on the stuff I'm actually best at, including running. As a result, my times are tanking. I'm still getting a great workout and pushing myself hard, but I'm getting frustrated with not being in the fastest group anymore. I didn't finish Thursdays WOD in time (I had 15 pullups left) and had to dump weight on the final 6 push jerks of this morning's WOD to make it in time. WEAK! I couldn't pull out SIX more? Uggghhhh.... After feeling a little disappointed for most of the day, I read a blog post about honoring yourself and it resonated. I thought, you know what?: I AM DOING SO MUCH BETTER THAN I EVER IMAGINED, BETTER THAN EXPECTED. I deserve to honor myself for my accomplishments to date. I forget that I started on this crazy journey a mere 5 months ago. I'd say I'm progressing nicely.

After my epiphany, I stopped feeling frustrated and started remembering things about those workouts that the negative voice inside my head conveniently overlooked before. Little things I will hang on to as a reminder of how far I've come: Wednesdays WOD: Rx was bodyweight for the deadlifts. I started at 5 lbs over BW and completed the WOD at BW (dumped on the last 10 reps). Looking around at a lot of bars, I know there were only a few of us who even attempted bodyweight. I rocked the weighted lunges. I finished the WOD in the middle of the pack. Thursdays WOD: I grabbed the Rx weight like I had no other option. Done and done. In fact, I used the same weight as the GUY next to me. I focused on my DB snatch form and went slow if I had to, to get it right. Full squat depth, weight in the knees, controlled. Doesn't count if it's half-ass, right?!. I only took 1 water break. Only 3 people in class finished the WOD (all rock-stars!), and I was thisclose to finishing - only 15 pullups away. Fridays WOD: (12 hours after Thursdays WOD!) I grabbed heavy weight again like it was not an option (90% of Rx). Its like a knee-jerk reaction now...Into the first set of 21, I knew this was going to be hard, but I kept going and focused on form: Full-depth front squat, getting under the weight quickly on the push press. Me and another girl were the only ones at or near Rx weight - and DUDES make up the rest of the class. I stayed slow and steady through the round of 21, 15 and completed the final 9 front squats w/o fail. 3 of the final 9 push jerks in, I lost it. Wrists hurt, I was cashed. So, I switched to the final pushups and mulled it over. JDP asked me if I quit and I knew I had at that weight - but rather than just stand there doing nothing, I dumped 20 lbs and rocked the last 6 jerks out. I don't count those last 6, but it was better than doing nothing. 3 months ago, I wouldn't have been using Rx or close weight at every class, I wouldn't have kept working until the final seconds, even if I wasn't going to finish, and I would have been ok with quitting or dumping weight. I would have expected to struggle. 3 months later, I'm spending half of my day on Friday, frustrated that I can't be the winner. ;) I've created a monster!

Going forward, I'm still going to be tough, but not a bully to myself. I'll leave the tough love to the coaches!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Around the Way

First day back to the the gym since I got sick last weekend. Hope I survive the WOD tonight! I don't have much to post yet, but I wanted to share some good music with ya. Here's the Jam of the day (thanks, Bug!), LL Cool J's, "Around the Way Girl":

Monday, February 1, 2010

Benchmark Day: Its 'Total' Time!

Time to put up or shut up! Its CrossFit Total time. The "Total" WOD works like this: 3 exercises (back squat, shoulder press, deadlift); 3 reps; Add the heaviest weights from each exercise and you get your Total score. That means I really have to power through those 9 intense reps, b/c that's all I get until next time... Back on Dec 2nd, I completed my second CrossFit Total benchmark WOD. Here's what Total looked like on 12/2/09 and this week: (weight over previous Total in parenthesis)

12-2-09 Back squat: 135 (+5 lb), Shoulder press: 75 (+5 lb), Deadlift: 175 (+10 lb) Total = 385 2-3-10 Back squat: 145 (+10 lb), Shoulder press: 65 (-10 lb), Deadlift: 185 (+10 lb) Total = 395

The play-by-play: It started out well with the back squat. I was able to jump to 145, no problem. I bet I could've gone higher, but we only get 3 tries. Ok, so it was a WIN! Next up was shoulder press. My first try, I lifted 65 lbs and it felt heavy. Shoulder presses are tough! I moved up to 75, but couldn't finish it w/o bending my knees. So, I ended up maxing out at 65 lbs (10lbs under my PR). FAIL. Next up was deadlift (dun, dun, dun...). It went better than expected. I started with 155 and progressed to 165 and then jumped to 185. Looking back, I should have started with 165, and progressed to 195 by my third try. Still ended up 10# over my previous record, which made me happy. Deadlifts are the hardest lift for me to master in terms of form. I want to push my hips back at the beginning of the movement before straightening my legs (this is known as the 'stipper move'). The strength is there, I just have to work on form. Goals for next time I take the 'Total' challenge: Bodyweight back squat (155lb), 85lb should press, and 200lb deadlift. Action plan: I'm joining an old-school gym to start working on these movements and lifting heavy more regularly. I definitly need extra practice outside of the CrossFit WODs to hit these goals. :)