Another Friday, another “easy” WOD. I use the word “easy” in a relative way now – I know there’s nothing easy about lifting heavy weights if you’re new to this sort of thing, as I found out myself a month ago!
Once again, parts A and B were all about trying to increase the weight, and make small improvements. I started my front squats at my previous best from last Friday of 37.5kg. Then it was three reps at the magic 40kg, and then three more at 42.5kg, just because I could – a satisfying improvement, and I’ve managed to fix the “bar in the collar bone” problem of previous front squats. I think having a heavier bar helps – it forces itself back into your shoulder rack more.
I started the push press at 35kg, and didn’t feel as if I could improve much today. My arms must be tired from all the stuff I’ve put them through this week, so I stuck at that weight for the three sets. There’s plenty of time to improve.
And then the back-breaking stuff – dead lifts and kettlebell swings, alternating between the two every minute. Another tweak of my dead lift technique from the coach, and it feels more natural now. They always make my back ache, as does swinging a great big 20kg kettlebell over your head.
So, after a month of tediously documenting every WOD, how much have I actually achieved by putting myself through this stuff? Well, first of all my body has become much more used to heavy physical exercise. Comparing how I feel now to how I felt after my induction course reveals a world of difference. Naturally, my body aches as I sit typing this, but my muscles have now “learned” the movements I make them do, and so each time I exercise them they respond better. I have also lost the fear of going to CrossFit. The first few sessions were quite nervous affairs, as I didn’t know anyone and I was useless at any form of exercise, so I was talking myself down before actually trying anything. But you then learn that you have to do it at your own pace, and not worry about the others banging out the reps. I’m there for me, not them.
As for what I have managed to do, I CAN DO ACTUAL PROPER WEIGHTLIFTING, like what them big muscly people do at the Olympics and everything! I know 30kg isn’t exactly setting the world on fire, but at the induction course it was all I could do to get the 15kg bar up to my shoulders from the hang position, and I don’t think I’m far off 40kg for the clean and jerk. I couldn’t even get the 15kg bar over my head on that very first day – I had to use the 10kg training bar or a piece of PVC pipe to learn the moves!
Things I can do: skip with a nylon washing line, jump up onto a 24-inch high wooden box, swing a 20kg kettle bell over my head, lift a 50kg barbell off the floor, squat down and get back up again while holding 42.5kg on the front of my shoulders, run 1k, and smaller portions thereof multiple times without collapsing, do more press-ups and sit-ups in a row than I have ever been able to do before (50 sit-ups the other night, remember?). And I can throw a 9kg medicine ball up a wall. Why would you even do that?
Things I can’t yet do: double-unders (although I fluked one the other day), pull-ups, muscle-ups, handstand push-ups (or handstands for that matter), and pistols. In other words, all the stuff that requires good upper-body and core strength, and I’m still working on that. I have set myself the goal of doing a strict pull-up by my 42nd birthday (that’s in April). I may be able to do a kipping pull-up before then (that’s swinging your body to create momentum first), maybe by March. I’ve no idea.
The fact that I have gone from just about being able to front squat a PVC pipe to front squatting a metal barbell weighing 42.5kg in a month means I should be able to improve in all the other areas in time. With that in mind, I’ve made a list of the weights I have managed in various movements, for comparison at some point in the future:
- Back squat – 35kg
- Power clean – 25kg
- Clean and jerk – 30kg
- Front squat – 42.5kg (my best improvement over three weeks)
- Overhead squat – 15kg (needs work on technique)
- Push press – 35kg
- Strict press – 20kg
- Power snatch – 25kg
- Thruster – 25kg
- Dead lift – 60kg (but usually 40/45kg at the moment)
- Kettlebell swing – 20kg (but sometimes 16 on longer reps)
And all that in just 15 sessions spread over October. I think I deserve a cup of tea …