Tuesday, May 13, 2014

CrossFit Open 14.5

Week 5.  14.5

21-18-15-12-9-6-3 reps for time of:
95-lb. thrusters

I had a very difficult time anticipating how I would perform in this workout.  I had the opportunity to watch the announcement event live, but those guys are ridiculous so any comparison is worthless.  The prep videos weren't as useful as they had been previously.  Carl Paoli's video was probably the most useful.  He emphasized minimizing movement on the burpees.  Other than that, everyone basically just said it was hard.

I figured I would go unbroken on the 12, 9, 6, 3 rounds of thrusters, but I didn't really know if that was feasible.  I wanted to hold the top of the thruster to rest and control pacing.  I wore lifting shoes to help with the thrusters.  I didn't think they would hurt my burpees that much.

My rounds broke down like this: 21, 10/8, 6/5/4, 6/6, 9, 6, 3 (I think).  I hadn't planned on doing the first round unbroken, but once I started, they felt really easy.  I was going too fast though, because I wasn't pausing at the top at all.  Around the 12 round I started really struggling with the burpees.  I had to step back and up or I was just going to burn out.

In the end, I finished in 14:56 which put me in 5th place for that workout at our gym.  I was really happy with my performance at the time, but I had no idea that I had done that well compared to the rest.  Definitely my best showing.

I had my standard crew of support watching me, which really helped.  In particular, Colin really helped me toward the end.  I literally had no idea where I was at with time, but on the 6 round he started saying that I could make it under 15 minutes.  That gave me the extra boost I needed to race through the end.

An interesting thing happened after this workout.  I got a lot of attention from folks about my performance.  It was awkward but also really great.  I've never really had that from crossfit stuff.  I spent a while thinking that maybe it wasn't legit.  Perhaps my thruster form was not legal or something and that's why I was able to do comparatively well.  If you check out the video, let me know what you think, but it looks good to me.  I've now accepted that I'm just randomly good at thrusters.

To all of my loyal fans, I apologize for not writing this earlier.  I'm lazy.  I'll write a full recap of my training and the open eventually.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

CrossFit Open 14.4

Week 4.  14.4

Complete as many rounds and repetitions as possible in 14 minutes of:
60-calorie row
50 toes-to-bars
40 wall-ball shots, 20 lb. to 10-foot target
30 cleans, 135 lb.
20 muscle-ups

This is what they call a "chipper", because you're just chipping away at the reps until you finish (or time runs out).  This one is all about finding and keeping a below-redline pace.  My stretch goal for this workout was to finish the cleans, and I achieved it with 4 seconds to spare (video: part 1 and part 2).

To prepare, I again watched BarbellShrugged's and Jami's prep videos as well as Carl Paoli's.  Nothing earth-shattering to learn from these, but I did get a few tips that I used.
  • Wear lifting shoes.  It should help on the rower, wall-balls, and cleans and has little or no negative impact on toes-to-bar or muscle-ups.
  • Don't go to failure on anything, especially the toes-to-bar.  Always leave a rep or two in the tank.
  • Use a reverse grip on the toes-to-bar.  This was fantastic for my shoulders.
  • Keep eyes down to avoid overuse of arms on the toes-to-bar.

Rowing was no big deal.  I kept a pace around 1100-1200 cals/hr.  I think I could have gone faster, but I don't think it would have helped me much.

The toes-to-bar was the hardest part of this workout by far.  I knew this going in.  My plan was was to start with sets of 5 and taper off as needed to avoid going to failure (which I still did a couple times).  I used gloves and didn't have any issues with loosing my grip strength like I thought I would.

Wall-balls are nothing.  Sets of 10.  Rest long enough to keep breathing easy.

I made up time on the cleans.  I was "behind" by the time I finished the rower, toes-to-bar, and wall-balls.  I only had about 3 minutes left when I started the cleans.  I did singles the whole time and never rested very long between sets.  I think my pacing throughout the workout let me stay steady during the cleans and "catch up".  I also have a reasonably efficient clean.  I had to rush to finish the last few reps before time ran out, but I met my goal.

F muscle-ups.

Again, I'm really happy with how well I did.  I don't have a good sense of how the other guys did, but I'm less concerned with that at this point.

I've got one more week of this thing.  I'm happy that it's almost over so that I can focus on getting my shoulder pain free (I'm seeing an ART guy this week) and increase my range of motion.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

CrossFit Open 14.3

Week 3.  14.3

Complete as many reps as possible in 8 minutes of:

135-lb. deadlifts, 10 reps
15 box jumps, 24-inch
185-lb. deadlifts, 15 reps
15 box jumps, 24-inch
225-lb. deadlifts, 20 reps
15 box jumps, 24-inch
275-lb. deadlifts, 25 reps
15 box jumps, 24-inch
315-lb. deadlifts, 30 reps
15 box jumps, 24-inch
365-lb. deadlifts, 35 reps
15 box jumps, 24-inch

A lot of folks were happy about this workout.  This one is nice for a lot of people, because it's low skill.  Not to say it's easy, but none of the movements are complex.  You can basically do these moves on day 1.  Grab the bar on the floor and stand up.  Then step up onto the box.  The trick is doing that a hundred times at heavy weights as fast as you can without leaving in an ambulance.

I'm not the strongest guy in the world, but my deadlift is pretty solid (345# 1RM).  On this workout, I got 114 reps which means I got through 24 of 25 reps at the 275# deadlift.  This was better than my prediction of around 100 reps.  I was really pleased with how it went.  Additionally, I was able to keep a near perfect back the whole time; so, my recovery time should be somewhere under a week :)

I watched BarbellShrugged's and Jami's prep videos along with a bunch of video submissions to gauge how I wanted to approach the workout.  I took that info and did a little walkthrough on Friday morning.  I had a few ideas:

  • Always step up on the box.  Jumping is for suckers.  Step up on the corner to make it easier for the foot to get on top.  Push off of the knee with your hands every time (your arms are otherwise useless in this workout).
  • Use a loose, finger grip for the lighter weights to save a little distance on the bar path.  For me, this was the 135# and 185# weights.
  • No collars.  Until you're dropping the weight a lot, collars are just a waste.  For me, this meant no collars until 275#.
  • Mix grip from the beginning.  Switch as needed (I never switched).
  • Lay out the weights for fast transitions.  I stagger-stacked the 45# plates on the left side and put the 25# plate on the right side.  Always pull off and pull on the weights.  Pushing is for suckers.  Practice this.
  • Pacing - Fast.  All of the effort is on the last weight you get to; so you need to blaze through everything to get there.  For example, I started the 275# at 4:15 (of 8 minutes) and didn't finish them.  
  • Rep scheme - 135# - 10 reps unbroken.  185# - 15 reps unbroken.  225# - 20 reps in sets of 5.  275# - 25 reps in singles.  I decided that doubles and triples were stupid.  Singles let you eliminate the negative because you can drop it from the top.  That saves half a rep!  The downside is that you have to reset each time.  Worth it.

Some things I didn't do.  I didn't use the slightly narrower 35# (women's) bar.  This was supposed to help with grip.  I tested it, but I didn't notice much difference.  I didn't use a weight belt.  This isn't because it's a bad idea or it doesn't matter.  I just have no experience using one, and I didn't want it to interfere.

So this was likely my best showing so far in the open.  I still doubt I made the top 10, but I'm overall happy with the outcome.  I'll continue with all the same crap I've been doing until this thing is over.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

CrossFit Open 14.2

Week 2.  14.2

Every 3 minutes for as long as possible complete:
From 0:00-3:00
   2 rounds of:
   10 95# overhead squats
   10 chest-to-bar pull-ups
From 3:00-6:00
   2 rounds of:
   12 95# overhead squats
   12 chest-to-bar pull-ups
Following same pattern until you fail to complete both rounds

No surprise, the pull-ups are tough.  I got 63 pretty solid reps (about halfway through the second 3 minute round).  I didn't have too much trouble with the overhead squats.  My shoulders were behaving nicely that day :)  The pull-ups weren't any harder than usual, but they're definitely tough for me.  I stuck to my game plan for the first round and broke them up into 4/3/3.  I dropped down to 2s and 1s from then on.  I did the overhead squats unbroken and broke the third round of overhead squats into 8/4, but that was pretty inconsequential. 

For preparation, I did not do a test round on Thursday night.  I didn't want to waste the pull-up reps, and I also didn't think there would be much to learn that I didn't already know.  On Friday, I just spent about an hour mobilizing my shoulders and getting my overhead squat positions solid.  I kept it really easy so I would feel really fresh on Saturday.

I knew I could do the overhead squats unbroken.  I thought I could do the pull-ups in slightly longer sets, but I wasn't too surprised.  My goal was to get into the second 3 minute round.  Knowing how I would likely perform eased the stress/anxiety a lot.

It was pretty fun to have a bunch of friends there (a bunch of non-crossfitters too) cheering me on.  On the video, there are some pretty funny comments, "Go CrossFit!".  Love you guys :)

This week I'm going to keep up the intensity and up my mobility.  I'm trying to clean up my diet and maximize my sleep as well.  I'll still plan to run through some of the workout on Thursday if it makes sense.  I have a feeling one of these workouts is going to bend to my will, and I will become the campion of CrossFits.  At minimum, my abs are going to look hella sweet bro.

Monday, March 3, 2014

CrossFit Open 14.1

After weeks and weeks of "training", it was finally performance time.  The first workout of the 2014 CrossFit Open (a.k.a 14.1) was

10 minutes as many reps as possible (10 AMRAP) of
30 double unders
15 75# power snatches

In preparation for the workout, I had a session with John about pacing and snatch positioning.  This session unfortunately showed me how frail my double unders are.  I was really anxious about everything, and it messed up my timing; so I could barely get them going.  Messing up the doubles just compounded the problem by adding frustration.

I had a few issues with cycling the snatches.  The first, was that I wasn't hitting the correct snatching positions and this was making me really inefficient.  We mostly worked on keeping the bar in close.  The other issue was that I was cycling way too fast.  The problem with going to fast is that I burn out right away.  Fortunately, the weight is so light that my mobility and shoulder issues don't matter that much.

The "game plan" for pacing was to shoot for 6 rounds.  I'd break up the snatches with 5-10 count rests: 15,  9/6,  9/6,  6/5/4,  6/5/4,  6/5/4.  I would go unbroken for the double unders each round.  Additionally, the actual snatches need to paced by hitting positions on the way up and down as well as a slight pause at the top.

On the day of the workout, I was a little anxious but mostly excited.  I got really warm and did my normal mobility prep.  I fired off a few sets of double unders and snatches, then watched the first heat.

My actual performance didn't really go that much different than my practice session the day before.  I repeatedly failed on the double unders.  I did pretty well with keeping my snatch positions and sticking to my rep scheme though.  After a few rounds my shoulders were smoked, and it was really difficult to turn the rope fast enough on the double unders.  I didn't have any grip or forearm issues like others mentioned.

In the end, I got 5 rounds or 225 reps.  That's a respectable performance, but not even close to the 6 rounds I was shooting for.  Angela was kind enough to video it for me.  After reviewing the video, I learned a lot.

The first thing I learned was that I tried to do double unders WAY too fast.  Apparently, I always do them that fast, which is ridiculous.  That pace only works when I'm completely rested, and that is never the case in a workout.

The second thing I saw was that I was still racing through the snatches.  I was kind of hitting the positions, but they looked flaily and inefficient with no bounce off the hips on the way up and no pause at the top.

Because of all the inefficiencies, I thought I should redo the workout.  I figured, if I could slow down the double unders to a maintainable pace, break up the snatches into 5s to force a slower pace, and bounce off the hips more to save my shoulders, I could really improve my performance.

Unfortunately, it didn't pan out.  I spent a while testing out a slower paced double under, but it never clicked.  Also, the snatches seemed really heavy (not recovered enough).  In the end, I decided to just accept my first score.  I don't know how I stack up against the rest of the guys, but I suspect I'm not in the top 10 :)

My performance is pretty frustrating, because one of my best skills is double unders.  This was a chance for me to put myself in the a good position, but I couldn't make it happen.  A lot of it was mental.  I need to get more experience in competition situations.

For the rest of the Open, I'm going to continue the way I have been, but I plan to try part of it right away on Thursday.  I could do a bit better with getting enough sleep for the days leading into the workout as well.  Thanks for all the cheers ya'll.  I had a fun time and look forward to the upcoming weeks.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

CrossFit Training Week 15

One Week Out

So, this thing is about to start next weekend.  Obviously, there's not a lot of improvement to be made by next week, but it's 5 weeks long; so, there's actually still a lot of training time left.  I'll continue to focus on my weak movements: snatches and pull-ups until one of the workouts has them.  Otherwise, I'm going to concentrate on met-cons, mobility, and recovery.  I'm hoping to perform well each week, not get injured, and maybe even enjoy myself.

Overhead Squat

I had a great session with John this week.  We worked on overhead squats (OHS).  This session really showed how improving my shoulder range of motion could dramatically improve my lifts.  Although that's obvious, increasing my OHS 1RM from 125# to 155# is still a good day.  I learned specifically what mobility things I need to work on, a better hand position on the bar, and some routines I can use before doing OHS or snatches.

Monday, February 17, 2014

CrossFit Training Week 14


I've been working on chest to bar pull-ups more.  Although, they're still my weakest movement (along with snatches), I'm starting to learn how to get the most out of them.  I've found that a slightly narrower grip works better, allowing me to get my chest closer (not sure why).  I think I'm actually going higher than I need to, because I haven't quite found the right grove yet.  If I'm lucky, they'll show up toward the end of the open to give me more time to train them.

Clean & Jerks

I've had a few session with John about clean and jerks.  Recently, I've really started to dial in the cycling.  My overhead mobility restrictions are still a limiting factor on the jerk, but I feel like they're becoming one of my strengths.


I've noticed a perceived drop-off in my met-con recently; so, I've been putting some focus on that.  In particular, I've tried to figure out how to stay below the redline so that I don't burn out.   I've also added a couple workouts to focus on proficiency while fatigued and to just push my breathing.  I think a little more focus here will really pay off, and I don't need much recovery from these types of workouts.

WOD Preparation

As I've complained about before, my shoulder and hands are still a problem.  Most of the time I can mobilize my shoulders enough so there's no pain, but sometimes I just have to deal with it.  The annoying  thing is that it messes up some of my workouts.  I think I can mitigate this better than I have with more wod-specific preparation.  There's no excuse for my front rack to hurt in a workout just because I didn't stretch out my hands enough.


I PR'd my deadlift.  Up to 345#.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

CrossFit Training Week 13


Not much improvement on my shoulder.  In fact, working on muscle-ups may have set me back a little.  I think failing on a muscle-up puts you in a really bad position.  I'll likely forgo working on them for a while.  As far as the open goes, the difference being able to do ONE muscle-up and ZERO is only 1 of hundreds of reps.  It's not gonna make much difference on my scores.  I'll likely see a higher ROI on chest to bar pull-up practice.


I've been hurting on sleep this week.  I honestly don't feel more fatigued at workouts or notice any slowing of recovery, but there's no way it's not having a negative effect.  In general I need to free up my time more to allow for more sleep and more auxiliary work and mobility.


The lack of sleep has only exacerbated my poor diet.  It's not the worst I've ever done, but I could be doing a lot better.  It's actually embarrassing that I'm so weak by the end of the day.  All of my little tricks have been short-lived or just failed.


As I've fallen into a set weekly training routine, I've found that my pre and post workout routines have gotten more efficient, effective, and intuitive.  For a while, I had a scripted routine that I followed.  Now I base it more off of how I feel, the upcoming workout, and how much time I have.  It's been a positive side effect of my shoulder and hand issues as well.


We've been doing more snatching recently, which is great for me.  I even got to do a nice piece on overhead squatting over the weekend.  I'm gradually getting more comfortable in the shapes; although, I need to be more thoughtful during workouts with a lot of cycling.  Still no PRs or anything, but I'm getting a touch more comfortable.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

CrossFit Training Week 12

Just a few highlights.  My shoulder felt just good enough to do some snatching with John.  No PRs or anything, but I got some great work done on setup, position, what to think about, and what to work on.

I was sick for most of the week, but it didn't seem to be much of a problem during workouts.  It might have even helped me get more rest.

My diet is is a bit better, but not good enough.

I redid 13.4 and got 63 reps (vs. 50 last year).

Monday, January 27, 2014

CrossFit Training Week 11


My left shoulder continues to hurt.  I've found that I can usually mobilize it enough so that it doesn't hurt during a workout (which John says is ok), but it doesn't really feel like it's getting any better.  I guess I'll just keep pushing through it, but I'd really like to be pain free by the time the Open starts.

I had a long pull-up/muscle-up session with John and unfortunately ripped my hands pretty bad.  I was using Rogue gloves and thought they were protecting my, but when I took them off I saw this:

Lesson: callus maintenance is non-negotiable.


I'm getting really lazy on diet.  I've gotten my water and sleep game together, but I keep cheating at night.  I'm concerned that I'm going lose my sweet abs.  I mean, what are we working for here?!  Seriously though, I need to drop as much fat as possible.  My performance will only get better if tighten it up.


I got a couple PRs this week.  I added 40# to my front squat 1RM.  I hadn't tested it for over a year; so it made sense to have a pretty big jump.  I got up to 245 pounds.

During my session with John, I got a new Clean and Jerk 1RM of 200 pounds!  That's actually a PR for the separate Clean and Jerk movements as well.  John is confident that I can get a lot more gains by fixing some glaring technique issues.

Friday, January 17, 2014

CrossFit Training Week 10

Level 2

I'm now taking Level 2 classes exclusively.  This has been great for me.  All of the athletes are great in Level 2; so, I'm always pushing myself hard.  Additionally, I can learn by watching any of them because they're proficient at just about everything.  It's humbling being toward the back of the pack, but I know that's the fastest way to get better.

Overtraining vs Bad Training

When I tell folks that I'm going to the gym for the second time, they're often concerned that I'm overtraining.  This week, I started having some serious pain in my left shoulder.  It's been messing up my training, because my workouts are weak, and I've had to skip doing extra stuff.  I would not attribute my shoulder issues to overtraining.  I think it was from poor training.  My suspicion is that it has more to do with not focusing on quality positions and movements during the intense workouts.  If it was overtraining, I imagine that my muscles would be fatigued all the time, which is not the case.

In any case, incorporating recovery in all of it's forms needs to be part of my focus going forward so that I can keep my training intensity high.  At this point in my training, I think intensity is more important than volume anyway.  I probably have a number of months until I would maximize the value of additional volume.


Last week I redid 13.2.  I got 232 vs 210 last year.  That's pretty good.  I think I could have done a lot better had I been fresh (I just completed a 1 hour session with John), my quads not smoked from the previous day's workout, and in competition.

I also got a chance to find my new back squat 1RM.  I got up to 295 (+20#).

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

CrossFit Training Weeks 6-9

Conditioning & Strength

The most obvious improvement over the last month has been my increased work capacity and strength.  I'm consistently getting great times in WODs and my chin-ups and dips are noticeably better.  I don't see a much difference in technique to account for this other than having the capacity to maintain better technique for longer and using butterfly pull-ups whenever possible.  The exclamation point on this whole thing is my new Fran time of 4:50.


My daily recovery has been held back by poor sleep and sub-par eating.  I usually know as soon as I start warming up how the workout is going to go.  If I started getting fatigued on double-unders or something, it's going to be a rough one.  I apparently have a kidney stone that enjoys becoming extremely painful while I'm sleeping so that I wake up all night.  I've also been slacking on eating perfectly the last couple weeks.  Ain't nobody got time for that!

1:1 - Snatching & Muscle-ups

A few weeks ago, I had a 1:1 with John Post on the snatch.  This was largely embarrassing.  I already knew that I wasn't good at snatching, but I performed much worse than what I thought I could do.  Of course, this is all part of the deal.  I got some really great coaching on position, equipment, and what to work on.  At the time it was extremely demotivating, but in retrospect it was exactly what I needed.

I spent a bunch of extra time on snatching in off-class time that I think was useful, but I ended up hurting my hook grip-thumbs and exacerbating my lower back issues.  It has paid off in workouts for the lower weights, but nothing impressive on anything heavy.

My last 1:1 with John was on muscle-ups.  I've tried to do a bar muscle-up before, but didn't get anywhere; so, this was basically my first attempt at muscle-ups.  John lead me through all of the muscle-up progressions which I thought went well.  I could immediately see the benefit of the chin-ups and dips I'd been doing.  Eventually we got to work on the full thing.  I never got one, but I was so close a couple times I just assumed that the next time I worked on them it would happen right away.

Unfortunately that was not the case.  I've begun to take only Level 2 classes.  In the last class, I had a pretty embarrassing session working on muscle-up stuff.  This was demotivating, but it is what it is.  It's definitely just technique, but that doesn't mean I'm going to have them tomorrow.


As the CrossFit Games Open approaches, my mental game has been suffering.  I'm realizing more and more athletes that are as good or better than me in any number of areas.  The time left to improve gets shorter and shorter.  The easy gains seem to be slipping away.  I worry that I'm wasting my time, money, focus, etc on a goal that becomes less attainable every day.

This coupled with my focus being pulled in every direction by work, friends, side projects, real estate, life...  The determination to stay the course is difficult to find when it seems like I'm making the wrong decisions.

I've been in this situation before.  Doubts lead to poor diet, work ethic, focus, bad attitude etc. which just leads to lower likelihood of success.  I've decided not to do that.  Here comes a big speech about motivation and self-confidence or other such hippy crap.  Instead I'll just say, I need to stop being a pussy and get to work.