Back Squat Thursday

Today’s post title should really be “crap, I can’t count” or “dude, go a little lower.”

Made it to an 8:30 am class with my wife and Larry at Crossfit Continuum and we had both Coach Isaac and Coach Zac today. We’ve been in a strength cycle for a while now and this is week 3. Next week should be the end of it.

math-is-hardStarted today with a 500m row and then did a few things… Frankenstein walks, sumo deadlift high pulls with a kettle-bell, Cossack squats, slow air squats, stand to squat (gorilla pose from yoga essentially) and pigs-on-skates. But after that it was all business.

Today’s series was 3 reps each at 80%, 85%, 90%, 85%, and 80% of our one rep max.

My percentages would be 220#, 233#, and 247# so I figured I’d go 225#, 235#, 245#. What I ended up with was 225#, 245#, 265#. So at the high end I did 3 reps at better than 95% of my one rep max. Some days barbell math is hard.

What was funnier to me was warming up… I started with 135# on the bar and did a back squat where Isaac kept saying “lower… lower… lower… now how’s that feel?” I was lower than I’ve ever been in a back squat and it didn’t hurt. It was very strange. I attribute some of that to being chiropractically adjusted yesterday by Caleb. And the good feelings didn’t last the whole workout, but it was a nice change.

Took a while to get through the five rounds and by the fourth round my right knee was a bit cranky, but still… I managed to get through it all before Isaac pointed out that I’d done 265# three times at the top, not 245#. Oops. That math thing. Something tells me my one rep is going to go up if this progress continues. ๐Ÿ™‚

20151001_093321Meanwhile Ev & Larry were chugging away as well. She did 135#/145#/155# as her progression. 155# was her old one rep max (165# is her new one from May I think she said) and she did it 5 or 6 times working with Isaac, so I suspect her one rep will be going up as well. Not sure what Larry hit at the top, but he was chugging through the reps pretty quickly as well.

Once that was done we had two movements to work through… a “weighted squat jump” and good mornings with a bar. When Isaac demonstrated, he did them as lunges initially but by the time we got to them it was more straight up and down, exploding upward from the bottom of the squat. He suggested a 95# bar but eventually dropped that to the regular bar.

It wasn’t too bad. I’m not the best jumper in the world (my brain gets in the way), but I did ok with an empty barbell. Funny enough the jumps were more fun than the good mornings today. My low back and hips were a little fired up so it was a bit wobbly. I didn’t get through all three sets by the end, but did two full sets alternating 5 of each for 20 total each round.

So it was a good day is what I’m trying to say. ๐Ÿ™‚

Next week should be good to finish up the strength cycle and see if I can beat my one rep max for back squats at the end. I think I can. ๐Ÿ™‚

A big thank you to Isaac and Zac for helping us out today!

Leaping into Tuesday

This week is already better on the workout front. Workout #2 for the week is in the books…

20150929_102841Was going to try and make it to the 8:30 class, but work insanity struck again and caused me a little grief so I had to reschedule. I work as a code monkey, i.e. “software engineer”, and stumbled on a mystery after being asked to look into a test failure at 6:45 this morning. I left the computer chugging away rebuilding some stuff and headed in for a 9:30 class.

When I got there, one of my box mates, Andy, asked if this week was going any better than last week (last week was rough) and I had to say “Not really.” But by the end of the class, the endorphin rush had kicked in and I was feeling better. One more beneficial side effect to crossfit beyond getting in shape and interacting with a mutually supportive community. ๐Ÿ™‚

Whereas it looked like everybody was exhausted and beat up a bit by yesterday’s workout, today folks were smiling and happy. Amazing what a difference a day makes! It was Monica, Andy, Ashley, Nicole, and Mike in the 8:30 class with Coach Drea.

For the 9:30 class it was me and Sam with Coach Drea, so a quiet class. Sam is small but mighty. ๐Ÿ™‚

Today was a strength day at Crossfit Continuum. We’ve been in a back squat cycle (which I missed all of last week) and it continued today (and again this coming Thursday)…

We started with an 800m run or 1000m row and I chose to row today to save my knees a bit of wear and tear. Took me about 4:15 to do that, so not bad. And then we jumped right into warming up to our starting weight for back squats.

Back Squats

Today’s progression was 5@75%, 5@80%, 5@85%, 5@80%, and 5+@75%. And honestly I was feeling pretty wimpy today. My one rep max is 275#, so I should have been at 205#, 220#, 235#. Instead I worked at 205#, 215#, and 225#… a bit lighter than I should have, but still good.

I warmed up and went through this progression…

  • 45# x1
  • 135# x1
  • 185# x1
  • 205# x5
  • 215# x5
  • 225# x5
  • 215# x5
  • 205# x6

Took a while, but we got it done.

Skill Work

And then we did some skill work, which was quite interesting. The easy part was a 3 rep back squat series at a lighter weight where you go down to the bottom of the squat, come up halfway, then drop again and stand. I did those at 135#. They weren’t too bad.

20150929_102820The bizarre one was this strange “seated box jump”. I’m about 5’10” and longer in the torso than the legs. Even so, I can usually pull off a 20″ box jump when my knees cooperate and occasionally even do a 24″ box jump (or step ups). But I’ve never attempted one while sitting on a low box.

Talk about playing mental games with yourself… Geez. I couldn’t think myself up from my butt onto a 20″ box to save myself. So Drea had me start small. Jumping onto a 45# plate. Then 2 plates. Then 3 plates. And even after that I still couldn’t convince myself to jump to 20″. These plates are a little over 3″ (maybe 3 1/4″). So three of them is about 10″ high. I was able to jump on three. I could probably do 4. But even after psyching myself up to do that, I couldn’t bring myself to jump on the damn 20″ box.

It’s all in my head. I suppose there are a lot of things like that…

It was just amusing. I sat there on the little box and stared at the 20″ box like it was three feet tall. It was crazy.

Someday I’ll conquer my brain. Until then… one thing at a time. ๐Ÿ™‚

Great work Sam! Thanks Drea for all the help!

And I’ll be back again on Thursday for more back squats. ๐Ÿ™‚

Monday, Dragging Monday…

Morning folks, for at least a little longer. Last week was awful (only made it to one WOD on Monday and then did the team WOD on Saturday with my family), but I’m hopeful that this week goes better. Hope springs eternal. And it started off with a WOD today at Crossfit Continuum, so that has to help.

Actually it started out with a couple of meetings for work, but they weren’t too bad. And I got a post up on my other blog (Moebius Adventures). So if all that happened and nobody was screaming loudly about anything, it meant I had time for a workout!

20150928_104050Got there about 9:15 and watched the 8:30 class finish up with Coach Drea. I saw Monica, Emily, Mike, Lori, and Larry, plus a new guy. And none of them looked happy. That didn’t bode well for today. Most folks took around 30 minutes to complete the WOD and looked completely spent at the end.

There were four of us in the 9:30 class… Heather, Nick, Andrea, and myself – led by Coach Bill.

We started with a 400m jog and then did a whole mess of different warm-up exercises… Half handstand push-ups, pike sit-ups, handstand holds, wall squats, fire hydrants, mountain climbers, and even roll to candlesticks. Those are always so much fun. Not. And then we warmed up with our front squat and push press weight on the bar…

Today’s WOD was 4 rounds for time:

  • 30 push-ups
  • 115/80-lb. front squats, 20 reps
  • 115/80-lb. push presses, 20 reps
  • 30 sit ups

I had multiple issues today… wrists, knees, and shoulders. But honestly it was my left knee that caused the most issues. Those fire hydrants had me put my knee on the floor and it seems that any time it gets direct pressure on the floor, it gets fired up – and not in a good way. And everything collapsed that direction today.

I started by scaling the weight a bit and only put 95# on the bar. My push-ups were fine for a while, but eventually I had to go to my knees and that fired it up further. And the front squats just made it more angry. So by the middle of the 2nd round I was trying to figure out what to do. I jumped from push-ups to a couple of front squats to my sit-ups just to keep doing *something*. Bill had me drop the front squats and replace with air squats and drop the number of reps in the middle, and that helped reduce some of the stress on the knee.

20150928_104054But my workout went something like this:

  • 20 regular push-ups, 10 from knees
  • 20 95# front squats (in sets of 5)
  • 20 95# push presses (in sets of 5)
  • 30 sit-ups
  • 10 regular push-ups, 20 from knees
  • 2 front squats
  • 30 sit-ups (Bill chatted with me)
  • 10 regular push-ups, 20 from knees
  • 20 air squats
  • 20 push press
  • 30 sit-ups
  • 10 regular push-ups, 20 from knees
  • 20 air squats
  • 10 push-press
  • 40 sit-ups
  • 20 air squats
  • 10 push-press
  • 10 sit-ups

Took me 35:38 to finish. I think I got all the reps in, but boy was this scaled up the wazoo. My goal was just to keep moving, doing something – anything. And I was prepared to just do sit-ups until Bill suggested the alternative.

Thanks for the encouragement and suggestions Bill. I’m not sure I would have gone as far as I did without the severe scaling in the middle. To say it was “heavily modified” is an understatement. But hey, it’s done and I can move on with my day… Great work everybody!

We’ll see if the knee responds to a bit of ice and ibuprofen and hope that it’s happier with some back squats tomorrow.

Have a good day folks!

Monday, Monday…

Morning folks.

I’ve decided that instead of writing up my WOD progress in Facebook, I’d do it in my blog. I have a bit more flexibility writing it up here and it will go immediately to my Facebook wall anyway, so it amounts to about the same thing. ๐Ÿ™‚

This week is going to be a bear and I’m only going to get a couple of chances to work out, so I figured I might as well start the week with some physical activity in the box.

Arrived for an 8:30am workout at CrossFit Continuum with Coach Drea. We had a full class today. Lori, Monica, Mike, Larry, Todd, Nicole, Casey, and yours truly. (The 9:30am class came in later – looked like Heather and Andrea joining Drea for that one.)

20150921_093031Started with a 400m jog instead of a 500m row. Why? Because it was nice outside and I wanted to. No other reason. After that we did some shoulder mobility and then one-armed kettlebell thrusters, jumping pull-ups, hollow body rocks, roll-to-candlesticks, and mountain climbers. Sets of 10 each. And we went through the whole thing twice.

I was ok with everything in the warm-up (even the one-armed thrusters, which I’m not great at) except for the roll-to-candlesticks. Several months ago I did one and damn near killed myself by backpedaling into a counter on the wall. I’m not good at them. The idea of thrusting my body off the floor into a standing position is something that I just can’t wrap my brain around, and my body knows this. (For an example, check out this excellent post at GymnasticsWod explaining the movement…)

Once that was done we grabbed an unloaded barbell and did some thruster practice, just to refresh our memory of how those work. Front squat into push-press. Not an unfamiliar movement, but not one we’ve done for a little while in any sort of high frequency.

And we worked on pull-ups. Chest-to-Bar is what the workout calls for, but only a handful of us have those down. After not working out for a few days (confession time: it’s been three days since my last WOD), nothing was moving easily today. But I did the best I could.

Today’s WOD is here. 10 minute AMRAP. Thrusters and C2B pul-ups in an ascending ladder. 5/5/10/10/15/15/20/20/etc. 95# on the bar for guys. 65# for ladies. Pretty straightforward.

20150921_093026Some folks from earlier classes made it to 100 reps, which meant they were well into the round of 20 or starting 25, which is impressive. I personally was shooting to finish the round of 15s and maybe get into the 20s. And I did. But I lowered the weight slightly to 75# because my left wrist wasn’t moving well and I knew this combination was going to do me in pretty quickly.

I made it through 5/5/10/10/15/15 and got one thruster in the 20’s round done. So not too bad. My thrusters were a bit rough in spots but ultimately it was the pull-ups that killed me. I have multiple hand wraps in my bag and like a dummy didn’t use any, so by the end I had a couple of places that tore.

20150921_103149Other folks in the class got into the 90s which was awesome! The beauty of crossfit is that I’m only ever really competing against myself in any workout, so I can cheer everybody else on while I’m sucking wind. ๐Ÿ™‚

After all that we did some mobility work. Quad mashing with an unloaded barbell and then rolling our upper back between the shoulder blades on that same barbell. My shoulders were cranky, so I did a bit more banded shoulder mobility as well.

I’m not too painful after all that. My left hip is a little cranky. Right knee. And right elbow. But those will improve through the day.

So there you have it… Monday WOD… DONE.

Next couple of days will be crazy. We’ll see how they play out.

Hope you all have a good day!

Fear and Loathing in My Noggin’ – aka DNF

There are days I should just go back to bed and stay there. Today was one.

First day back to school for both our girls. One starting 5th grade. The other starting high school as a freshman. We had a packed summer and yet it feels like it’s over way too soon.

But I figured it was a good time to get back into the regular routine… CrossFit a few days a week by myself or with my wife when she’s off from work. Today was an alone day and I could tell as soon as the WOD began that I should have just gone home.


Warmup and WOD

Warmed up with a 500m row that felt pretty good, then did some med-ball cleans (20#), arm swings (forward and back in a few styles), one-armed kettle-bell squat cleans, PVC pipe high elbows, and so on. Then we warmed up with an empty bar and did some clean progressions…

The workout? Pretty straightforward: 5 rounds for time with each round consisting of 7 heavy squat cleans (155/105#) and 14 kettle-bell swings (53/35#). Sure. I warmed up and stood at the bar as time began and just felt the lack of enthusiasm. I stepped to the bar knowing I was going to fail. Always a great way to start.

I got through the first round with 115# on the bar. My knees are still bugging me a bit after taking a digger a week ago during a team WOD version of Murph. And I could feel my left knee “swim” under the bar on every rep.

So I lowered the weight to 95#, got through 2 full reps and stood up the third clean in power clean style. And I walked out.

Big Fat DNF

Instead of completing the workout, I walked the same mile route that I crashed and burned on just 9 days before. I hoped it would make me feel better. It didn’t. I am happy to say I didn’t fall, but I didn’t run either so there you go.

Walked back into the box and the class was doing the post-WOD mobility. Cleaned up my bar, grabbed my stuff, and walked to the car without a word. Wasn’t worth it. I was ticked at myself and nobody was going to be able to say anything to change that.

Drove home and here I am, writing. Go figure. DNF leads to writing here and a bit of analysis. (And yes, I’m aware that DNF is still better than “Did Not Start” – but not by much in this case.)

So I’ve listed off WHAT happened… let me go into a bit of detail about why I think it happened. Perhaps someone can help me get past it then.

My Analysis

Exhaustion plus Injury plus Getting Into My Head = DNF

KTnedq5EcThis past weekend my daughters both played in a soccer tournament down the road at the Air Force Academy. We had soccer Friday night (got through 20 minutes of the first half before the game was called for lightning). We had four games on Saturday (up by 5am, to bed about 10:30pm). And another two games on Sunday (up by 5am again).

Plus we had friends from out of town staying with us for a couple of days. Great folks and we had a nice visit, but it just added to the crazy.

Suffice it to say that it would have been an exhausting weekend even if I wasn’t an introverted geek. Adding in the people, parking, and madness and it took its toll quickly. I crashed hard yesterday afternoon when we got home and still managed my regular tossing and turning self to sleep through the night until about 6am today.

Let’s add in the fact that I still have dings and dents from falling badly during the first part of the mile run in a team version of the Murph WOD on Saturday, August 9. I landed hard on my left knee, so it’s cranky. That adds to the left hip, right knee, and shoulder problems I had before that. And the fact that I hate running.

I’ve been joking for the last week that I’ve been waiting to fall on every jog since starting CrossFit two and a half years ago, but it’s true. I’m a natural klutz.

And lastly, let’s throw in the fact that I overthink everything. Whether it’s my introverted or analytic nature I couldn’t tell you, but if it’s possible to psych myself out of something – damn I’m going to find a way.

I don’t like pain. So when something hurts or I feel like I’m going to hurl or even if I’m just uncomfortable, I seem to find ways to defeat myself. I’ve done it in quite a few workouts. I don’t thrive under the pressure of competition. I just get into my own head and somehow convince myself that I just can’t do it.

So I don’t.

Where Do I Go From Here?

So now what?

My knees “hurting” is just an excuse. They’re fine. Sore, but pretty much back to normal.

How the hell do I get out of my own way and just complete a damn workout? What kinds of mental games do you play with yourself?

I’m open to suggestions at this point, because it’s a problem and I need to solve it or I’m going to keep running into it again and again.


One Joy of Crossfit – The Fountain of Youth

This weekend I was able to attend a Team WOD at CrossFit Continuum. Sometimes the rest of my family goes with me, but this time it was just me participating (my youngest hung out with the kids and played Minecraft since there was no Kids’ WOD). When that happens, I get to team up with some of my fellow athletes at the box – and occasionally I get to work with folks I haven’t worked out with before.

11377075_10153368781679648_2353296915319067126_nThis time I was able to work out with Robert, Richie, and Sam. Working out with Robert is great and it happens a lot on Saturdays. He and I are roughly the same age, work in similar jobs, and are both big geeks. But I’d not worked out with Richie or Sam before. I suspect both are probably in their early 20s, if not just out of high school. They’re both great kids, but I have a sneaking suspicion that if we add both their ages together I’d still be older than they are at 45.

So I wasn’t sure how I’d do working with a couple of younger, stronger kids, but gave it my all.

And it was a lot of fun. ๐Ÿ™‚

The workout itself was generated on the fly by Coach Drea from one of the various card decks of movements she’s picked up. There were 8 of us participating, so she picked 8 different cards based on numbers we’d throw out (1-13 and low/high). We ended up with a 30 minute AMRAP:

  • 4 toes 2 bar
  • 12 push-ups
  • 100 med ball cleans
  • 100 V-ups
  • 100 situps
  • 100 double unders
  • 8 Russian twists
  • 40 bench press

It was a lot of body-weight exercises except for a 20# med ball (which I also used for the Russian twists) and the bench press. And I did double the single-unders for my double-unders since I’m still working on those. But we either split the reps among all four of us or if it was a low count (< 10) just did them all.

We don’t do a lot of bench press in our workouts. So I was the wimp – going with 135# on the bar while the rest of the guys did 165#. (Even Robert did 245# and more after the workout trying some max weight bench presses – I was impressed!) And even with 135# it was a bit of a struggle to get through 10 reps in a row.

Not Me Trapped Under a Bar
Not Me Trapped Under a Bar

But what I found (and it shouldn’t have surprised me) was that, especially with *this* workout, I did just fine. I hung in, did my part, and chugged right along. Funny enough, Robert and I did a little better with the abdominal-based pieces (V-ups, sit-ups, twists) than the younger guys did.

Ultimately though, every time I go to workout at our box there’s usually a mix of folks of different ages. Some days I work out with younger folks. Some days it’s older folks. And usually it’s a mix. I suspect it’s the same in other places.

If I was more competitive I might be challenged or threatened by the younger folks, but that’s not the case. I’m 99% competing against myself more than anyone else. And I have fun with whomever it is happens to be in the classes – both trainers and athletes. Sometimes that youthful optimism and enthusiasm sometimes wears off when I work with younger folks – like Lyle, a police officer. He pushed me one day to get to 195# for my one rep max push press – and that was fantastic. I’m still not sure how I did that much weight, but I must have fed on his youthful energy that day.

It’s just one more reason why CrossFit works. Age doesn’t matter. And the mix changes every workout just like the workouts themselves.

I was happy as a clam that I was able to hang in with the guys on Saturday. Of course, my abs are a little fried now – but they’ll recover!

Thanks guys for letting an old, slow guy work out with you. It was fun! ๐Ÿ™‚

By the way – I’m starting a new effort – Come check it out. Are you a CrossFit athlete, trainer, or box owner? Want to participate and answer a few questions for an interview? Drop me a line on the Contact page!

A Battle with Murph, 2015

This past weekend I managed to repeat a cycle I hoped I had broken, but apparently have not.

Here’s the cycle:

  1. Agree to do a challenge of some variety – whether it’s a competition, a workout, or even a goal.
  2. Fail to accomplish the task.
  3. Feel guilty and become anti-social.

guilt1It’s not like I have done anything wrong. I didn’t break a vow or promise to my wife. I didn’t cheat on a test. I fell short physically and failed my own expectations. So why the guilt?

That’s a damn fine question. Logically I know that guilt is just wasted energy. And in this case it may not even be the right term – the actual behavior is probably closer to regret, but somehow it’sย spun wildly out of control.

This weekend I participated in a well-known crossfit workout at my box – Murph. It honors the sacrifice made by Lt. Michael P. Murphy in Afghanistan that was later made into a movie – Lone Survivor – in 2013. Like all hero workouts, it boils down to pushing yourself hard to show respect for the sacrifices made by heroes in the military, police, fire, or wherever they may be. But this one gains special significance and has been adopted by crossfitters as “the” Memorial Day workout.

This is the third time I’ve attempted Murph since starting crossfit.ย The first time I was new to crossfit and did a very scaled version at the box. But this isย the second year in a row I came up short (last year was at home), watching my wife, daughter, and friends complete it when I gave up. I plopped my butt in some sun and moped. Yay me. Very mature, eh?

I am not an athlete. Sure, I’ve been doing crossfit for more than two years now, but prior to that my most athletic endeavor was basketball when I was 12 and 13 in junior high. I was awful, on the “B” squad, and mainly was on the court to get in the way of the other team. My offensive skills counted for 2 points in one fantastic shot I will never forget. 2 points in two seasons. Total.

My father (who has always been athletic, playing football in college, then softball and basketball most of my childhood) worked with me on the little concrete basketball pad we built behind the garage. I don’t know how many free throws I shot – poorly. I never mastered the art of the layup. And I was never master of my own blocky, uncoordinated limbs.

In high school I took a weight lifting class and that was fun until I hyper-extended my jaw while doing a bench press. In college I took bowling (twice) and volleyball as my PE credits. And I played a little softball (poorly) on a team with my wife in Arizona many years later.

Crossfit has never been about the competition. I don’t really compete in anything. I’m more in it for having a good time and getting some physical activity out of it. And I have managed to do that for the most part.

Occasionally I push a bit. Since crossfit, I’ve done a Lurong challenge and even participated in the 2014 Crossfit Games at our box. Nothing major. It was more to add a bit more of a challenge to what was already a challenge for me as an uncoordinated, overweight geek who sits at a desk all day.

gears-head (Small)But what I have discovered was that those challenges seem to offer even more opportunities to get in my own way. It’s insidious. Sometimes it’s the clock. I’ll stare at it as time ticks off. Sometimes it’s my body rebelling through a lack of mobility or facing an old injury from a prior life. Sometimes it’s about the rep count.

So what does all this mean? Same as I said at the beginning – I’m not an athlete. I leave that to my wife and daughters, who all play soccer and do like to compete. And I don’t like pain. So convincing myself to keep moving some days is a challenge in and of itself.

With Murph this year, I think I set myself up for failure because I drew a line in the sand and it turned out to be the wrong damned line.

Let me explain.

Murph starts with a mile run, then you do 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, and 300 air squats before running another mile. It’s a serious challenge. I have never liked running. And all those zeroes psyches me out a bit.

Mondayย however I managed to put a number in my brain and then get completely flummoxed when I figured out that that number (10 – as in 10 rounds of 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, and 15 air squats) was only HALF the bloody reps I needed to complete. As we say in computer land, it was a logic error.

My wife (who completed it in a bit over an hour) pointed out that I was only almost halfway done when I was at round 8. And that took all the wind out of my sails. Not her fault. She was merely pointing out the obvious.

So when I got through 10 rounds and faced the bar again, I couldn’t do it. I could not convince myself to get back up and do another pull-up. Instead, I walked out and sat my ass down to enjoy a bit of sunshine, the breeze, and pondered my failure.

Even after the rest of our heat was done, I couldn’t bring myself back to face the people in the box. I pouted and camped out in the car until the rest of my family was ready to head out. Like I said before – very mature. Not.

Was I tired? Hell yes. Do I like running? Not ever. Did I have more energy in my tank to go back and keep chugging through the damn thing? Probably. But I gave up.

Now I need to figure out some way of dealing with this failure to finish that I’m suffering of late.

Anybody else deal with this kind of negative self talk, self-sabotage, and guilt? If so, how do you do it? I’m not an athlete. I don’t like pain. It’s not a motivator, it’s a demotivator.

Tomorrow I will drag my sorry butt back into the box and do a workout not because I feel like it, but because I feel like I have to redeem myself again. One of the guys at our box took a bunch of pictures as well and there’s one of me running – I don’t even want to claim it. Like that’s going to sweep it under the rug or something.

It’s the silliest thing in the world. The only person I failed was me. And I completed half of the workout – that means 1 mile run/walk, 50 pull-ups, 100 push-ups, and 150 air squats. And I think I was about 25 or 30 minutes into the time. So it wasn’t like I sat on my butt.

So why the guilt? Is it just me overthinking every damned thing?

A site about my crossfit journey…