Eleven thrusters thrusting

Just a quick update today, outlining Christmas Eve’s “12 Days of Christmas” WOD. ¬†Most CrossFit boxes do a variation of this every Yuletide, and they’re designed to make you work hard, with the incentive of being able to eat more food the following day. ūüôā

On the face of it, the work to be done looks easy enough:

Christmas punishment
Christmas punishment, to make room for all that shit food

Anyone can do six box jump burpees – even YOU. ¬†But of course you have to do this in the style of the Christmas song, but going up the list rather than down it. ¬†So you start off doing one power clean, and then you do one power clean followed by two front squats. ¬†And then you do all that again, but followed by three muscle ups/pull-ups/ring-rows. ¬†And then you do all THAT again, followed by four handstand push-ups/normal push-ups. ¬†And then … well, you get the idea. ¬†The final round is everything on the board in the order shown. ¬†You could choose any weights you liked for the various lifts, and we were advised to go light, as we’d be knackered by the end.

The long and short of it is that you perform the following:

  • 12 power cleans
  • 22 front squats
  • 30 ring rows
  • 36 push-ups
  • 40 kettlebell swings
  • 42 box jump burpees (20-inch box)
  • 42 box dips (in lieu of ring dips for me)
  • 40 knees-to-chest (can’t do toes to bar yet)
  • 36 power snatches
  • 30 lunges with a plate held overhead
  • 22 thrusters
  • 12 dead lifts

A total of 364 reps in a row. ¬†I managed the first five rounds with my Santa hat on, but I had to take it off during the first set of box jump burpees as the bobble kept smacking me in the face (and my head was bloody hot). ¬†I was the first person of eight to finish the whole thing, but that’s because a lot of the other people could do muscle-ups and HSPUs, and they take longer to do than the stuff I was doing as substitutes. ¬†I was also going at quite a pace at the start as there was a 45-minute time limit, and I didn’t want to be timed-out as I inevitably slowed down towards the end. ¬†As it was, I was finished in 32 minutes and three seconds, feeling quite pleased with my efforts.

And that was that. ¬†I think I made enough room for all the food I ate yesterday …

“Total CrossFit”

I’ve had a few days off updating my exploits, mostly due to a sporadic attendance record due to stupid work shifts. ¬†I’ve done a bit of running, jumping and lifting in the last week or so, but today was all about lifting. ¬†We had 15 minutes each on three disciplines in which to reach our 1Rm weight (one rep max ¬†– the most you can lift for one rep before having to drop it). ¬†The total weight we lifted in all three disciplines was added together to give a “total” for the session (dubbed “Total CrossFit”). ¬†No picture of the actual work tonight, as I forgot to take one.

The first thing was strict press. ¬†I’ve been stuck at 35kg for a few weeks on this, and I’m still stuck on 35kg. ¬†I tried 37.5kg but I could only get it halfway up before I ran out of strength. ¬†I had three goes at it, but it wasn’t happening, so I got grumpy and gave up. ¬†There’s not much more to say about that.

Next it was back squat. ¬†We’ve been doing these quite a bit of late, so I was confident of getting past my PR of 55kg. ¬†I started at 55kg and quickly passed through 60kg, 65kg, and 70kg with ease, finally hitting the wall at 72.5kg. ¬†That more than made up for the strict press failure. ¬†Where on Earth is all this extra strength coming from?

We haven’t done much in the way of dead lifts over the last couple of months, and when we have they’ve been part of a timed work-out, so I’ve always been working light at 40kg, for speed. ¬†I did lift 60kg previously, but that was also over a number of reps, so I thought I could probably go past that for a one-rep max. ¬†And again, I whizzed up through the stages – 60kg, 65kg, 70kg, and 75kg. ¬†There was just enough time at the end of the 15 minutes to try 80kg, and up it came – just. ¬†The magic 100kg can’t be too far away.

At the end I did a few 20-second handstand holds (facing the wall, of course as I’m not confident in being able to kick myself up into a traditional one yet). ¬†I might surprise myself and try a standard one next time. ¬†Maybe. ¬†Maybe not.

So, here are the scores from today. ¬†I’m the Neil at the bottom, and not the one who was in at 06:00.

A range of scores
A range of scores from people of all abilities

“You’ll notice a difference”

This is the start of week 12 for me. ¬†They said that after three months I’d notice a difference. ¬† Well, I’ve noticed that I’m a few hundred pounds poorer from membership fees and the equipment I NEEDED to buy (no, YOU shut up). ¬†Weight-wise, I’m the same as I was when I started – around the 12 stone, nine pound mark. ¬†I’m glad I lost two stone over summer before I started doing this, as I’d probably still be above 14 stone otherwise. ¬†I have no idea how much fat has magically turned into muscle. I assume a certain amount has, or I wouldn’t be able to lift as much as I can already. ¬†This belly could still do with getting a little flatter, mind …

Anyway, enough of that – back to work:

Simple, stupid
Simple, stupid

The coach described today as “simple, stupid”, as a few people had been to the CrossFit Christmas party on Saturday and were probably still feeling the effects. ¬†I had to work, so I wasn’t feeling anything except seething resentment at my shift pattern preventing me from going too.

Overhead squat holds are easy enough, but they start burning after a while. ¬†The OHS is one area in which I am improving slowly, having had poor mobility and technique when I first started. ¬†Part A¬†was five sets of three push presses (from behind-the-neck) followed immediately by three overhead squats. ¬†There’s no way I can OHS my best push press weight of 42.5kg yet, so I went for my OHS best – 30kg to begin with. ¬†I then stuck another 2.5kg on for the final set. ¬†I was a little wobbly, but I managed it without getting that feeling that the bar was going to fall forward as I so often do with the OHS.

So a small improvement, but an improvement nonetheless. ¬†No chance of that for part B – lunge walks with the bar in the front rack position. ¬†You may remember that last time we did these I put 35kg on the bar and destroyed my legs. ¬†Despite the board saying “add weight from last time”, I went down to 25kg. ¬†As it happens I think I would have managed 30kg, but I’d rather drop back and start building up again with these buggers. ¬†Anyway, I had my eye on the WOD at the end of the session, and I wanted my legs to be able to do 20-inch box jumps!

The coach said the WOD was “Ship”, which is one of the “Hero WODS” that CrossFit do. ¬†I looked it up afterwards, and it turns out that what we did today isn’t quite the same as the official definition of this one. ¬†The real WOD is nine rounds for time with heavier weights and taller boxes, whereas we did a seven-minute AMRAP with less of each. ¬†It was still one to make your heart beat just a little faster – three power snatches (bar from floor to overhead in one¬†fluid¬†movement, remember), followed by six box jump burpees (our box’s standard punishment exercise for people who leave equipment lying around, or who don’t book in for their sessions). ¬†Repeat for seven minutes and do try not to collapse, there’s a dear.

I started with 30kg on the bar for the power snatches, but my right arm had developed a little niggle, so I quickly knocked the 2.5kg plates off after two rounds, and it was a little less troublesome. ¬†The box jump burpees were actually quite enjoyable. ¬†I really have no idea why I love box jumps so much, but I just do. ¬†Every burpee was just about perfect too – I could hardly string three together at the on-ramp course, but now I can knock them out like there’s no tomorrow. ¬†I managed a total of six rounds plus three box jump burpees in the seven minutes, and it would have been more if I hadn’t taken the time to reduce the weight of the bar.

And that was it. ¬†I suspect Wednesday will be more strenuous, especially as it’s usually “running” day. ¬†Bring it on.

How hard is it?
How hard is it to spell “Neil”?

Important gainz

Not much to update from last week as Wednesday was the Olympic weightlifting beginner’s class, and I was away for the rest of the week. ¬†The class was mostly stretching, interspersed with doing overhead squats to see if the stretching was changing anything. ¬†Suffice it to say I learned some new stretches, and made real improvements in my technique by the end. ¬†I could have stayed on for the 19.00 WOD but, to be honest, I didn’t fancy the look of it. ¬†Too much running for my still-aching glutes, and I had to drive the car over 250 miles the next day.

Anyway, fast-forward five days, and we’re at the start of another week of the current strength cycle.

Time to smash those PRs!
Time to smash those personal records!

The 20-second overhead squat holds at the start were slightly easier than before, especially as I did a bit of thoracic spine mobility before the session started, as suggested by the weightlifting coach last week! ¬†And there’s nothing better than almost pulling your shoulder out of its socket by stretching the bugger with an elastic¬†band if you want some extra mobility. ¬†It may hurt, but it’s supposed to.

So to the main event – slinging heavy pieces of metal with rubber plates attached over your head. ¬†The idea was to build up weight over six sets until you got to the maximum you could manage. ¬†Each set comprised a push press, a push jerk, and a split jerk, all performed one after the other. ¬†This was the first time I’ve done a split jerk (the split leg technique that you see Olympic weightlifters do when lifting¬†the bar from shoulders to overhead – one leg forward, the other behind you in a sort of lunge position). ¬†The idea is to get lower under the bar than you do with the push jerk, thus allowing you to lift a heavier weight. ¬†We could scale it to two push jerks, but I reasoned that if I was going to get near or over 40kg then I was going to have to use the split jerk.

My previous best on the push press was 35kg, so I started with that, just to get my split jerk technique right at a weight I knew I could manage. ¬†Having done all three moves with no problem, I then added 2.5kg to the bar with each set. ¬†I sped through 37.5kg and 40kg with no trouble, and then I put¬†42.5kg. on the bar. ¬†I dropped the bar during the push jerk in set four, and lost it attempting the split jerk in set five. ¬†But after a couple of pointers from the coach, I nailed all three moves in set six. ¬†So that’s one PR completely smashed. ¬†Hopefully, I’ll have 50kg over my head before long.

What better way to proceed than to try to better a movement which I struggled with when I started CrossFit, mostly due to weak legs. ¬†But the quads have taken a good pounding in the last nine weeks, and have started to repay me. ¬†We were working up to a 4RM with the front squat (the maximum weight at which you can do four reps before dying). ¬†My previous best was 45kg, so I started there (as is my usual practice when trying for improvements). ¬†It felt good, so I went up through 47.5kg, 50kg, 52.5kg, and just about managed four reps at 55kg in the fourth set. ¬†That’s my absolute maximum for the front squat, and I’m very impressed with legs for managing it. ¬†Another one smashed.

Unfortunately, that’s where the awesome stuff ended, as today’s WOD was “Jackie”. ¬†They’ve got nice names, but they all kick you in the balls. ¬†You’re actually supposed to row 1000m at the start of this, but we don’t have enough rowing machines for everyone, so we had to run 1k instead. ¬†I should have commandeered one of the rowers for this anyway, as I have a chest cold (I was hacking like a 30-a-day smoker in the car on the way home). ¬†It’s a good job that the thrusters were using the 20kg bar only, as I was well out of breath after that run. ¬†I am onto our coach and his practice of making us do max-weight squatting stuff before WODs involving squatting, in the same way he made us do those front-rack lunge walks before a WOD involving KB thrusters last week. ¬†Evil bastard.

Naturally I did ring rows instead of pull-ups, but they still hurt like hell after 50 thrusters. ¬†My time was 10 minutes, 33 seconds. ¬†Not spectacular, but I tend to see these “for time” WODs as a necessary evil to get through. ¬†I’m not after any records with them at this stage. ¬†Anyway, I got two important PRs today, so Jackie can bugger off.

Bigger numbers next to my name
Bigger numbers next to my name now …

Heavy, man …

I woke up this morning, and my glutes were on fire.  I walked downstairs like an old man (well, I *am* 41).  I was like the morning after my induction session all over again, but at a much reduced level.  And what had caused this discomfort?  My own stubbornness.

Hard on the legs
Hard on the legs, this one

In fact, the whole thing was a body-breaker for me, as the behind-the-neck push presses came with their own health hazard. ¬†The idea here was to do four push presses starting with the bar behind your head, and then hold the fourth one and go into two overhead squats. ¬†I was in a bit of a dilemma as my push press weight is 35kg, and my OHS is 25kg. ¬†So I went right down the middle, and put 30kg on the bar, hoping to at least improve on my OHS best. ¬†The problem wasn’t the overhead squat – it was lowering the bar down behind my head after each push press. ¬†My right arm was hurting during this move, and the bar came down right onto to the top of my spine, causing some nice bruising. ¬†I had to get my rack partner to spot the bar on the way down after a few of those. ¬†It’s more than likely a shoulder mobility issue that’s preventing my arms from bringing the bar down further back than I could manage. ¬†As for the OHS, that was fine – just about. ¬†More on that¬†later.

With that out of the way, I then had to make another decision about what weight I was going to choose for the front-rack lunge-walking. ¬†I can front-squat 45kg, but I didn’t think I’d be able to do ten walking lunges with that weight, and I was right. ¬†I could barely do four¬†sets¬†of ten with the 35kg I went with. ¬†I think I went too heavy with that, to be fair. ¬†I took 5kg off for the final set and it was a lot easier, but my legs had gone by then, so my form was still rubbish.

The last part of the session was a 21-15-9 involving kettlebell thrusters (both hands) and box jumps. ¬†At least I can do box jump properly, but guess what – once again I went too heavy on the kettlebells. ¬†I had a practice go with a couple of 16kg kettlebells, and I could barely get up out of the squat, so I dropped to 12kg. ¬†As it happens I should have gone down to 8kg. ¬†The coach even said we should go for speed instead of weight here. ¬†It was a real struggle getting the damn things overhead after the pounding my legs had taken from the lunges, and I have to admit that I didn’t do the full 21 or 15 on those rounds. ¬†I didn’t really care by that point; the whole session had been a complete disaster so far as weight choices were concerned, and I was cursing myself for being too stubborn to go lighter. ¬†My time of 7:01 meant nothing, as I’d cheated the WOD, which is one of the cardinal rules of CrossFit one must not break. ¬†I’m going straight to burpee hell.

Back to the overhead squat. ¬†The Olympic weightlifting coach is running a beginners’ session on this tomorrow evening, concentrating on flexibility, mobility and stability. ¬†On seeing this I immediately signed up, as it’s one area where my form and strength is lacking. ¬†This means I won’t be going to the WOD tomorrow, but to be honest my legs don’t feel as if they’d be up to it. ¬†I also need to speak to the resident physiotherapist about my shoulder mobility in general, as I feel it’s affecting too many things at the moment.

I wonder if I’ll have learned my lesson about choice of weight by the next WOD …