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.