Crossfit Journal, 9/27/12 & Notes on a Proper Deadlift

Yesterday, another workout at CrossFit.  This time it was much more focused on Olympic style lifts.  This is more what I expected from CrossFit, but it is also the area that I’m consistently disappointed in, for this particular gym.  I’ll share the workout first, and then talk about some form issues at the bottom of the post.

Warm-up

  • 320-m run
  • 30 jumping jacks
  • 10 pull ups
  • 10 good mornings with dowel
  • 10 squat presses (with a 10-second pause at the bottom of the squat) – 25 lbs
  • 10 cleans – 25 lbs
  • 10 scissor legs (alternate vertical scissors with horizontal scissors)
  • 10 knees to elbows

Skill

Deadlifts

Experienced Crossfitters did 5-3-1-1-1 (that’s number of reps per set.  There are five sets in this case.)

For Newbies (me): 7-7-5-3 (four sets in this case.)

The goal here (for newbies) is to hit your three-rep max.  So the weight needs to be heavy.  I did 75 lbs – 95 lbs – 95 lbs – 105 lbs.

WOD

“Grace” – lots of common CrossFit workouts have names.

Grace is simply 30 clean-and-jerks for time.  I did mine at 55 lbs, in 9 minutes, 23 seconds.  I went slow, because I wanted to be safe, and I don’t feel as confident in my form for this lift.

_____________________________________________________________________

Rant:  The trainer at this gym, while a really nice guy, and a good motivator, is disappointing to me in terms of instructing on form. First of all, it’s just him at the gym, and whoever shows up for the WOD, he is the only guy monitoring form.  There are no other trainers.  1 guy for 10 people is not enough, especially when there are at least 3 newbies in every class.  There was a guy next to me, who had clearly never learned a jerk before (why does this gym not require that everyone attend an “elements” class?!?!).  That is totally fine, but the trainer should have taken his weight down, and worked on his FORM.  This guy was one of those people who was very open to direction, he wasn’t trying to be tough, and he wanted to do it right.  I don’t think our trainer has a good eye for form, neither has he developed a method for effectively communicating how to improve your form.  Frankly, I think I could even do a better job.  End of rant.

Anyway, let’s focus on something productive.  Since I’m still sort of trying to find my groove for Clean and Jerks, I’d rather talk about Deadlifts.  That’s a lift I feel pretty confident about.  Here’s a great video showing what I consider to be really nice deadlift form:

Some of the things I keep in mind when I’m doing a deadlift:

  1. shoulders back
  2. chest up (I try to set my gaze at the point where the ceiling meets the wall)
  3. weight in heels
  4. drag the bar along your legs
  5. one fluid movement with legs and back straightening at the same pace (i.e. not legs first, then back).

Are there any tips you think about when you’re working on deadlifts?  Have you ever been to CrossFit and seen a trainer ignoring improper form?

-Amanda

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CrossFit “Kitchen Sink” Tabata, 9/25/2012

Last night’s CrossFit session was my favorite ever!  Why?  1: There was no running, except for the warmup. And, 2:  I put in a really good performance.  I am definitely a bit competitive, so it felt good to be toward the top of the achievement list last night.

Warmup

  • 320-m run
  • 10 Russian Twists with 20-lb kettlebell
  • 10 jump squats
  • Samson stretch (detailed instruction here)
  • Windshield wiper stretch
  • 10 pull-ups, with or without elastic assistance/jumping
  • 10 6” jumps (find something that’s 6” above your fingertips when your arms are stretched overhead, and jump to touch it)
  • 10 medicine ball burpees (this video, at 1:13)

Skill

Tabata Hanging Power Snatch.  Seriously, who comes up with these names?  My boyfriend commented that this sounds like some sort of sex move for old lesbians.  I don’t disagree, haha! We are the epitome of class, over here.

Here’s what a Hanging Power Snatch looks like (still giggling):

Ladies were using 25-lb bars, and gents were using 45-lb bars. So for a Tabata, we did as many of these as we could in 20 seconds.  Then you get 10 seconds of rest, before moving on to the next round of 20 seconds.  You repeat this 8 times for a total of 4 minutes.  Each round, you really try to keep your number of reps the same as in your first round.  It’s very difficult.  My performance was 11-11-11-10-11-10-10-9.   I’m really happy with that.  I kept a great pace.

WOD (Workout of the Day)

“Kitchen Sink” Tabata, as many reps as possible in each of 5 rounds.

  1. Russian twists (I used a 20-lb kettlebell) – left and right is 1 rep
  2. Air squats – remember to “break parallel” (your butt should get below the level of your knees at the bottom of the squat)
  3. Hand-release pushups
  4. 6” jumps
  5. Military-style sit-ups.  Come up all. the. way.
  6. Mountain climbers – left and right is one rep
  7. Pull ups (with assisting band, or not)
  8. Burpees, hand-release pushup at the bottom, clap at the top.

So here’s how this one works.  You do exercise 1 for 20 seconds, cranking out as many reps as you can.  Say you complete 15 reps of the Russian twists.  When 20 seconds are up, you get a 10-second break.  Then it’s on to exercise 2: air squats for 20 seconds.  Your reps from the squats add on to the reps from your twists.  So, if you did 12 squats, then your total reps are now up to 27 (15+12).  You continue on, doing each exercise for 20 seconds, and adding up your reps as you go. Some items are much easier than others.  You can really crank out a lot of the 6” jumps, for example, but the burpees are pretty slow, so you might get just 6 or 8.  Once you complete the entire circuit once, you get a minute break, and write down how many reps you completed for that round.  You do the whole circuit 5 times, and count your total reps for each round.  So my first round, here’s what I did: 15 russian twists, 13 air squats, 13 pushups, 45 jumps, 12 situps, 26 mountain climbers, 8 burpees.  That’s a total of 143 reps for that round.  I would try to shoot for that in the next 4 rounds.  Each round takes (a grueling) 4 minutes, so with the 1 minute rest between rounds, the whole thing takes 24 minutes!  Here are my results.

  • Round 1: 143 reps
  • Round 2: 138 reps
  • Round 3: 136 reps
  • Round 4: 132 reps
  • Round 5: 141 reps

I’m pretty sure I want to do this exact workout with Kara one day.  I don’t think it will work for a large group at our gym,  because there aren’t enough spots for pullups.  Though, I suppose we could just offset ourselves on the different exercises…  We’ll see!

-Amanda

Quick Workout with the Girls, 9/20/12

Yesterday, I met my normal workout buddies for a quick workout at the gym.  I tried to put together something fast and intense, in the same format of the CrossFit workouts.  We didn’t have time for the typical “Skill” section, but I want to be sure to include that next time.  =)

Warm-up

  • 150-m run
  • 50 jumping jacks
  • 10 overhead pass-throughs with a dowel (here at 2:44)
  • 10 Russian twists with 15-20 lb kettlebell
  • 10 overhead kettlebell swings with 15-20lb kettlebell
  • 10 figure 8′s with the kettlebell (15-20 lbs)
  • 10 toe-touch planks (see video below)

Workout of the Day (WOD)

In 25 minutes, as many rounds as possible (AMRAP) of:

  • 150-m run
  • 20-meter farmer carry with two 35-lb kettlebells
  • 15 overhead kettlebell swings, 15-20 lbs
  • 10 crossing toe-touch planks (5 on each side)

Toe touch planks:

Kara completed 8 rounds (go girl!). I completed 7, plus a run.  The other girls we were working out with were all in the 7-8 rounds range.  We did great!

-Amanda

CrossFit Journal, 9/19/12

Yesterday’s CrossFit class was another doozy.  This time, though, I have a couple of critiques of this particular “box” (what Crossfitters call their gym).  See the end of this post for my rants.

Warm-up

  • 380-m run
  • 10 hand-release pushups (I do not approve)
  • 10 overhead pass-throughs with a dowel (here at 2:44)
  • 10 6” jumps, arms overhead (tap a bar above your head, if you can find one at the right height)
  • 10 doubleunders (jump rope, spinning the rope fast enough to get under your feet twice in one jump)
  • 10 (5 on each side) Turkish getups with a PVC
  • 10 sit-ups

Skill

Turkish Getups with a Bar.  Do one on each side, at each weight.  I did 12 lbs, then 25 lbs, then 30 lbs.

As you can tell, this is really technical with a bar (as opposed to a kettlebell).  It would be very easy to injure yourself, simply by losing your balance and rotating your shoulder the wrong way, so only work with a comfortable weight.  Better safe than sorry.  More tips:  Go slow.  Keep your arm completely vertical, elbow locked, at all times.  Keep your eye on the bar — always look up.  Tilt the bar very slightly forward for easier balance (at least for me).  Again, do NOT overload your bar!

Workout of the Day (WOD)

5 rounds, as fast as possible of:

  • 480-m run
  • 6 turkish getups (3 each side) with the bar (I started with a 25 lb bar, but quickly downgraded to 15 lbs to be safer.)
  • 15 hand-release pushups
  • 15 V-ups

My time was 32:55.  I think I could have done with a slightly heavier weight, but unfortunately, there was no 20-lb bar.  No matter, though, I was WIPED OUT at the end.  I am definitely bringing up the rear when it comes to these group workouts.  I actually kind of like it.  These people are insanely strong, and I love the motivation.  I can already feel that running is getting a bit easier (oh, I still hate it, but it’s easier).

Now, for the critiques I mentioned at the beginning:

1) Hand-release pushups. Not a fan.  These bring your chest all the way to the ground, and you have to pick up your hands when you’re on the ground, every time.  I understand the point — it forces you to do a COMPLETE pushup.  You get the full range of motion.  But what I also see is that, if you’re not strong, or your pushup form is weak, then you end up “doing the worm” on the way up, with a slumped back.  And it wasn’t just me.  Some of the strongest people in the class were doing their pushups this way, too, and it just looks totally wrong.  You lose all of the benefit of holding your body stiff (think, plank) for a pushup, and you also are probably causing yourself some back problems.  I think the better thing to do would be to WORK UP to this.  Start with regular pushups on your knees, progress to regular pushups on your toes, and when your back/core are super strong, try the hands-up when you go down.  To be fair, I don’t really think this is a universal CrossFit thing.  I think this video (also by a CrossFit affliate) is much more useful:

2. While I think Turkish Getups with a bar are an awesome idea, I think that trainers might want to take a little bit more responsibility for instructing their clients/crossfitters about the proper amount of weight.  There was a big guy in our class doing a weight that caused him to drop the bar, and lose his balance at the end of every rep.  I think this is really unsafe.  As I said before, you could easily injure your shoulder, not to mention drop the bar onto your body as you’re coming back down into the lying position.  And if we’re talking about CrossFit standards (i.e. for the CrossFit Games), I’m certain that he would receive a “fault” for every one of his reps.  I think it’s essential to preach form before weight, and our trainer failed to do that last night.  I was disappointed.

However, I was not disappointed in myself!  Despite finishing last in our 5-person group, I kicked ass. And actually, I beat everyone in the morning group (everyone’s times for the day are written on a whiteboard), so I feel good about that.  I’m really pushing myself and it feels great.  =)

-Amanda

Arm Circuit + AB HIIT 9/19/12

Last week, I was traveling for work and ended spending exactly zero time working out. This week I’m amped to get back into things and lose those calories I consumed last week. While I was gone, all they had were buffet lunches and honestly I think buffet lunches should be forever banned. Who has the will power to turn down scalloped potatoes? A stronger person than I, that’s for sure.

On to the workout. It starts with a quick warm up, moves into a circuit and then finished with an AB HIIT. I’m adding a few select moves with weights but in general trying to keep things cardio intense. Due to my increased calorie intake last week, I’m looking to burn a few more than usual this week.

Warm Up
5 minutes of moderate, steady state cardio. I will hit the treadmill, but feel free to spin, row or use the elliptical.

Circuit

  • >Good mornings
    x 15, with a weighted bar
  • One armed overhead press
    x 15 each side with 15lb weights
  • lat raises
    x 15 with 10? Dumbbells in hand
  • Jump Squats
    x 25 no weight
  • lunge kicks on bosu
    x 15, each side
  • Push Ups
    x 15
  • Step ups with knee lift
    x 15 each leg, hold 10 – 15 lb dumbbells on your shoulders
  • Jump Lunges
    x 25 no weight
Overhead Press
Lat Raise
Bosu Lunge

Ab HIIT
40s work, 20s rest. Repeat the circuit 3 times.

Sweat and Enjoy!

Kara.

A Juicy Plot

My adventures in juicing continue.  I had the Detox juice for four days last week, as my afternoon “snack,” and I liked it a lot.  Though, I did notice that …uh… well, I could possibly have used the fiber that juicing removes (ahem).  I looked up the differences in fiber for a few of the key ingredients I’ve been juicing, so here are some apple stats, to give you an idea of how much fiber you lose.

  • whole apple, skin on: 4.4 grams of fiber
  • whole apple, no skin: 2.2 grams of fiber
  • 1 cup of 100% apple juice: 0.5 grams of fiber

This is sort of funny to me, because I’ve heard many of my friends have the opposite experience with juicing.  “I’ve never been more regular in my life,” they said.  Hm, well I have no idea why that was true, but I’m not going to delve into my friends’ bowel histories to try to figure it out. 😉   So what I thought I’d try was putting some of the pulp back into the juice, after the veggies were shredded up.  Add some of the fiber back, you know?  I made up this recipe, using what I thought sounded good.  I’m going to call it a Green Cooler.

  • 1/4 cucumber
  • 1 apple
  • 1-inch cube of ginger
  • 1 cup of spinach
  • 2 stalks of rhubarb
grossed out by juice separation, sniff test, tasting, mostly high marks

See how it separates when you let it sit?  That vague pink layer is the rhubarb juice; not so appetizing.  It tasted pretty good though.  The rhubarb adds a really nice tartness.  I definitely recommend juicing rhubarb. I did not, however, care for the extra pulp.  Just imagine adding apple sauce to your juice.  It’s not bad, but it’d be better without it.  Now I’m considering adding some Metamucil to my juice instead.  What do you think?

-Amanda

CrossFit Friday, Spiderman Crawl

On Friday, I attended the second Groupon CrossFit session of my latest CrossFit phase. Here’s what we did:

Warm-up

  • 380-m run
  • 50 jumping jacks
  • 10 overhead pass-throughs with a dowel (here at 2:44)
  • 10 good mornings with a dowel
  • 10 tricep dips with an elastic band for assistance
  • 10 figure 8′s with the kettlebell (15lbs)
  • 10 Russian twists with a kettlebell (15lbs)
  • 10 pullups with an elastic strap for assistance
  • 10 squat jumps

Skill

Spiderman Crawl.  I think we did about 20 reps (10 on each side), since we did the crawl back and forth along the length of the gym floor.  Another thing to note:  about half of the people doing this workout did the pushup with the foot of their bent leg held OFF OF THE FLOOR.  So they basically did a tripod push-up, and got some more abdominal intensity from holding their leg up while completing the pushup.  I was really impressed.  I tried, and I am definitely not that strong yet.

Workout of the Day (WOD)

In 25 minutes, complete as many rounds as possible (AMRAP) of the following circuit:

  • 150-m run
  • 5 pull-ups
  • 5 tricep dips
  • 7 squat jumps

I completed 9 (+13), which means I completed 9 full rounds, and got through the tenth round all the way to the 3rd jumping squat (5+5+3=13).  I was so close to 10 total rounds!  It’s ok, I have room to grow!  Again, I swear it’s the running that kills me every time.  But it’s something I should work on, so I’m glad that CrossFit is pushing me to do so.  I’m developing little ways to coach myself or distract myself through the pain.  On a couple of the laps, I was planning the evening’s dinner.  😉

-Amanda