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CrossFit Games Open & Meet My Nemesis

I entered the Reebok CrossFit Games Open which is a 6 week open competition in the sport of fitness.  It’s open to anyone in the world and runs from March 15 to April 24th.  Each week a CrossFit workout or “WOD” will be posted and participants can do the workout at a CrossFit gym, or video the performance and upload it to the Crossfit Open website.  There are over 20,000 registered participants!  The athlete’s performance will be judged to make sure the movements are correct and to see how quickly or how many reps you completed in the workout.

The top people in each division then go on to a CrossFit games regional qualifier and the top from there go onto the CrossFit games at the end of July.  The first WOD was published on the 15th of March and consisted of the following:

  • 30 Double Unders (Skipping, 1 jump 2 turns of the rope)
  • 15 Power Snatches @ 75lbs for men and 55lbs for women (Bar to overhead, clean and jerk is fine too, etc)

AMRAP (As Many Rounds as Possible): 10 minutes.

On the surface this sounds rather innocent as the weight isn’t that heavy the time isn’t that long.  It only takes doing this workout once to realize how good a measure of fitness this workout is.  This workout isn’t about strength, its about breathing.  After about 2 rounds your heart rate and breathing WILL NOT slow down for the entire workout, and since you’re trying to get as many reps in as possible, you don’t have the luxury of being able to rest to get your heart rate to slow down.

I’ve done the workout 2 times so far, and am considering trying it again on Sunday as a last attempt, I want to be able to do 5 rounds minimum and really am not happy with anything less.  At my first attempt my double unders were awful, 1, 2, trip, 3, 4, trip, 5, trip.  Frustrating since I’m very good and VERY fast at double unders.  I only managed 3 rounds and 24 double unders in my first go all because of my double unders.  In my second attempt my double unders were much better, not perfect, hard to be perfect at double unders when you’re rocking a 175+bpm heart rate, but much better.  However I was getting tired and took too many breaks.  The only way I’ll make my 5 rounds is to push myself where my mind doesn’t want to take me, but in the end that’s the place that will make me stronger.  I managed 4 rounds and 11 double unders in my second attempt.  I believe I need to recover one minute, I need to be one minute faster and take less breaks.  If I decide to do the workout again, I’ll do just that and I’ll get whomever is around me to yell at me if I take more than 5 second breathers.

I didn’t enter the CrossFit Games Open with any dreams of qualifying for the games or regionals.  I did it for one simple reason, it will push me to do better, and work harder.  Without risk there is no reward and without trying there is no gain.

Open Workout #2 is a week delayed because of some technical issues with the Reebok CrossFit Open website.  If I have one big worry for the following WODS it’s got to be Handstand Push-ups.  They are a big weakness of mine and the last thing I still have to scale at my gym. I can do ring dips, muscle ups, and pull-ups until the cows come home but HSPU are my nemesis.  My issue is technique and not strength, I know I can do them, I just don’t do them well which means I burn out quickly and have to result to a “kipping” type of HSPU which means I’m not doing them RX.  I did find a great CrossFit Journal video (membership required) that gave me some pointers that I plan to try at Square One CrossFit tomorrow, starting with wall position, having my toes against the wall rather than heels.  With any luck I can get my HSPU worked out before they show up in one of the Open WODs.

Why I CrossFit

November 4, 2010 1 comment

I haven’t blogged in a while but a recent thread in a CrossFit group on Facebook had me thinking; why do I crossfit?  Here is my reasoning:

I typically find myself at a loss for words, when asked to explain it.

I can talk about losing ~50-60lbs, gaining muscle, stamina, loosing 5″ from my waist, etc etc but that doesn’t explain how different CrossFit work outs are. How each and every one of us encourage each other to push hard through each work out. Working out at Globo gym is done alone, there is no team, it’s you and the weight, solitary. In CrossFit my peeps at the gym are my teammates, not competitors, they want me to do the best I can possibly do on a WOD as I can.

Like many sports one does not get beat by the competition, you only have one person to blame for losing, yourself. One does not lose a round of golf because Tiger played well that day, you have no control over that, you didn’t play well enough is why you lost. In CrossFit it’s the same thing, if I come second in a WOD or last in a CrossFit Comp, I wasn’t beat, I beat myself.

Doing the best I can is why I keep pushing and why my team mates keep pushing me and THAT IS WHY I DO CROSSFIT.

Granted the results do speak for themselves too:

Paul Before CrossFit

Paul Results

CrossFit: Shaping Paul 4.0

January 16, 2010 Leave a comment

We all go through various phases of our lives, childhood, adolescence and so on.  I believe I’m entering my fourth “version” or as I recently started to refer to it, “Paul 4.0.”  Granted my wife and friends might be referring to this as “Mid Life Crisis” but at least I haven’t bought a sports car or motorcycle, yet! 😉 I’m 3 months into the development of Paul 4.0, this “release” of Paul isn’t complete yet but I’m making great progress.  In the last several months I’ve progressed both physically and mentally, I’m still enjoying my CrossFit workouts as much as I did back in October.  Previous releases of Paul are as follows:

1.0: Childhood, we’re all pretty much the same when we’re 1.0.

2.0: Adolescence, I was skinny, really skinny and by the time I was 17 I was also really tall (6’3″ ~155lbs).  When I was 20 I was in great shape, I could swim 2km non stop, and I had put on about 10-15lbs.  I had ~11% body fat.  I still wasn’t very strong, but I was in good health.

3.0: Geek.  I’ve always been a computer person dating back to my days of my C=64.  However I consider “Paul 3.0” my real “Geek” phase.  When I was about 21 I started a BBS and got heavily into my computer, as this is where I saw my career.  It didn’t happen over night but I gained a ton of weight though the 90’s by about 2000 I had reached as much as 265lbs with a 43″ waist, I was BIG and I wasn’t healthy at all.  Drinking in excess of 3-5 cans of POP per day.  Ugh. During a physical in 2003 I was diagnosed with VERY high Cholesterol so high that I had to be put on Crestor, this is what led to Paul 3.5

3.5: Geek IMProved (aka GIM for those Linux Geeks): I consider v3.5 not a full new release of “Paul” but rather a little improvement.  I cut drinking sweetened POP, and got used to sweetner.  Started to watch what I eat, my weight started to fall getting to around 225lbs and a about a 38″ waist.  I barely drink POP any more, diet or otherwise, perhaps 3 can per week of diet Coke a far cry from the 20 or so cans of full sugar fructose laced pop per week I used to drink.  I maintained this pretty good for a couple years; however, watching what I ate was becoming difficult, I like food too much, I’m a foodie.  By  the summer of ’09 I was at 237lbs and 40″ waist.  It was at this time I decided to take up exercise so I could have some foodie fun and generally feel healthier.

Black Tux4.0: Fit Geek: I started to run in late July of 2009 with a training plan designed to work up to a 5k.  Called the “Couch to 5k” I followed this for a few months, highlighted by a 5k run over the Golden Gate Bridge during VMWorld in early September.  I was running ~3-4 times per week.  By October it was starting to get cold outside and I knew that the running wouldn’t extend through the winter, not to mention running wasn’t giving me the results I wanted.  It was at this time that I was introduced to CrossFit.  I won’t go on about that, I’ve posted about that previously.

Now that I’m 3 months into doing CrossFit where am I now?  I’m down to 219lbs and if my Omron Body Composition Monitor is to be believed I’ve put on around 5lbs-6lbs of muscle, my waist is now down to around 37″ and still shrinking.  My resting heart rate is now 62 beats per minute according to my Garmin heart rate monitor, that’s considered “Excellent” according to various sources I’ve Googled.  I’ve got FAR better definition in my chest and shoulders and my build is starting to show that classic “V” shape rather than my previous “b” shape. 😉  I can now see my traps poking up above my shoulders, my arms are more cut, my chest is hard.  My endurance has increased, my strength has increased, granted sore muscles have increased too, but that goes with the territory.  No pain no gain really does apply here, but it’s good pain, it’s discovering muscles you didn’t know you had, it’s looking in the mirror and being proud of what is looking back at you. Hard work pays off.

I credit CrossFit format with keeping me interested in staying in shape this long.  The difference between Square One CrossFit, or any CrossFit gym, and a regular “big box” gym is what has me coming back.  Constant encouragement, not just from Kristine, Chris and Scott, the trainers at Square One CrossFit, but from the other members too.  We all push each other and we all congratulate each other for a job well done, we actively want to see each other succeed.

I’ve completed some grueling workouts lately including the infamous “300 Workout” made famous by the movie.  I’m going to the gym now 4-5 times per week.  I’ll be working on Paul 4.0 for a good long while, but I’m still that geek, I just don’t fit the stereotype as closely as I used to.

Categories: CrossFit Tags: , ,

The CrossFit Continues…

November 7, 2009 Leave a comment

Back in the gym after pulling that muscle it felt real good to get back.   Two WODs this week, Wednesday and Saturday both killers but of a different sort.

Wednesday:

5 Minutes Max Push-Ups

21-15-9:

Box Jumps & Wall Balls

This was one hell of a core work out but I didn’t know it at the time.  The next day my entire core was sore, and the shoulders were screaming after the pushups.  I’ve got a lot of work to do on upper body strengths, only managed 28 in 5 minutes.  Then it was onto the wall balls and box jumps.  Box jumps are pretty self explanatory, jump from a stand to a box, jump off.  Wall balls involved throwing a 15lbs medicine ball at a high of about 8 ft, catching on at squat down and exploding up with your legs from the squat to throw the ball.  It’s a HELL of a core work out.

Today was a much longer WOD that I’ve done before.

Saturday:

  • 100 Squats
  • 100 Pull Ups
  • 100 Push Press

The above was for time, alternating between each activity every minute.   Took me just over 23 minutes and I was DEAD at the end.  I’m sure this one will have me sore for a few days, but I must admit that some of this is getting easier.  Squats aren’t as bad as they were, today was with some weight, only the 15lbs bar as I’m still a little worried about my wrists and I think I’ll progress up quickly on the squats.  Pull Ups still kick my ass, my main weakness is upper body strength.

All in all a good couple of days.  Back at the gym on Monday assuming I’m not too sore after today…

Injuries Suck aka CrossFit WOD 3

October 24, 2009 Leave a comment

Today was suppose to be Square One CrossFit WOD #3:

  1. 10 box jumps
  2. 10 knees to elbows

Unfortunately it became quite clear during the warm-up push-ups that I pulled something, what seems to be a lower part of the abdominal muscle.  I couldn’t do any push-ups without serious pain, skipping (practicing double-unders) wasn’t a problem, rowing was a little tough,  certainly seems to be a muscle pull.  Box jumps were a little uncomfortable, but knees to elbows on the chin-up bar was excruciating.  Unfortunately when you’re going from “Couch to Active” your bound to get some “bruises” along the way, all one can do is try to minimize the damage, and with that we decided that today’s WOD just wasn’t in the cards for me.

So today we kept it simple, I gave a Tabata Squats a try, here’s how to do them yourself:

Alternating 20 Seconds of Squats, 10 seconds rest for total of 4 minutes.  Your “score” is your lowest number of squats from any 20 second period.  The secret is to pace yourself, but the 3rd or 4th set you will REALLY start to feel it.  I was doing pretty consistently 10’s and 9’s but dipped to 8 and finished with an 11 so my “score” is an 8.  I will improve on this, but it was a good constant pace.  I really am disappointed I didn’t at least do 10, but I’m sure I’ll do much better than 10 next time.  Secret is to not rush out of the gate and do 20 in the first 20 seconds.  Feel free to try Tabata with push-ups, sit-ups or whatever else you can come up with.

As for my injury, I know I did it with the kettlebells from the other night, I remember a sudden “tug” but didn’t think anything of it.  That’s a lesson to listen to my body!  So no WODs for me until next weekend at the earliest, in the mean time I’m going to take it easy and do some running which doesn’t seem to cause me any pain, plus with running I get to play with my Garmin Forerunner 305 which is totally cool! 🙂 Now I only ask that mother nature cooperate.

I’m really enjoying this!

Categories: CrossFit Tags: , , ,

CrossFit WOD Number 2

October 21, 2009 Leave a comment

Today I managed to finish my first CrossFit WOD, had to make some changes due to my gimpy wrists, but finish it I did.  If you recall from my previous post, I couldn’t finish the previous WOD due to my wrists.  Today’s WOD started with the following warm-up (two times):

  • Suicide
  • 10 Dislocates
  • 10 Lunges
  • Samson Stretch
  • 5 Push-Ups
  • 5 Squats
  • Pigeon Stretch
  • 5 Negative Pull-Ups

The WOD only involved two things, but it still kicks your ass, 21-15-9 repetitions of the following:

  • 12Kg Kettlebells (I think I will move up to the next heaviest kettlebell next time)
  • Push-ups (Called for Burpees but after two I could tell the shock to my wrist was too much)

It was a struggle to finish, it was the push-ups that really did me in, but finish I did.  The great thing with CrossFit is the encouragement the other CrossFitters give you to push through to the end, something you don’t typically get at a traditional “big box” gym.  That encouragement REALLY helped without it I wouldn’t have finished.  Total time for the above was approx 8 minutes (forgot to write it down before I left).

Next WOD Saturday morning, why not join me at Square One CrossFit in Mississauga and give it a try yourself?

CrossFit My First Experience

October 18, 2009 2 comments

A friend of mine recently opened a CrossFit gym called Square One CrossFit.  Located in Mississauga, my involvement started when I offered my assitance in helping them create a website, far from my specialty but I’ve always been a jack of all trades.  Since being involved in creating the website and coupled with my constant search for information I started to learn more about CrossFit and finally decided to give it a try myself.  Before going into more details I should start off with what on earth CrossFit is, to that end I suggest you read this.

Knowing you didn’t read the previous link I will go into a small general explanation.  The easiest way to explain CrossFit would be: A back to basics approach to physical fitness.  One where machines don’t rule (aside from rowing machines) but hard intense effort is rewarded with well rounded fitness.  Push-ups, chin-ups, Squats, Sit-ups, lunges, Weighs, kettlebells, rowing, running, the list goes on, are all employed by the CrossFit athelete.  One doesn’t speacialize, every workout is unique.  The workouts are intense, but are generally comprised of what is called the “Work Out of the Day” or “WOD” for short.   Many of the standard WODs as posted daily by Crossfit.com have names.  An example of a WOD would be “Tyler” which comprises five rounds for time of, 7 Muscle-ups, 95 pound Sumo-deadlift high-pull, 21 reps.   The following day the WOD might look something like this:

For time:
21 Hip-Back Extensions
Run 400 meters
18 Hip-Back Extensions
Run 400 meters
15 Hip-Back Extensions
Run 400 meters
12 Hip-Back Extensions
Run 400 meters
9 Hip-Back Extensions
Run 400 meters
6 Hip-Back Extensions
Run 400 meters
3 Hip-Back Extensions
Run 400 meters

The next day would be equally something as grueling, rewarding, and different.  CrossFit is NOT about speacializing, just the oposite, the goal is being a rounded athelete.  For example, someone doing CrossFit would more than likely not try “Tyler” again for 2-3 months.

Ok, now that you know what CrossFit is you might ask yourself why on earth someone would try this.  Quite simply, it works, but I have to admit, it isn’t for everyone and so brings us to the point of this post, I’m giving CrossFit a go.  I started yesterday. First I should give you some background about me, I’m 6’3″ and 225lbs and not in great shape, not completely out of shape since I started running about 3 months ago, but I’m far from in shape too.  Cardio wise I’m starting to improve but when you’re a life long geek that hasn’t had much if any physical activity in 15 years, it takes a while to get back on the horse.  My road to better health started a few years ago, I was at 260lbs and had high cholesterol and HAD to do something about it, mostly through diet I dropped down to 225, lost 6″ from my waist and had my cholesterol under control in 6 months.  I noticed recently that I was starting to “fall off the horse” – My weight went up to 237, so I started to eat better again and started to run 3 months ago.  My goal is a weight of 205 and with CrossFit’s help maybe another 10lbs of muscle for a total of 215, I’m 6″3″ so I don’t want to be too skinny.  So yesterday I started with Crossfit.

Yesterday’s workout started with a “simple” warm up:

  1. Suicide
  2. 10 Sit-ups
  3. 10 Push-Ups
  4. 10-Pull-Ups

Do the above twice – That was the warm up, for someone not in the best of shape that isn’t just a simple warm-up.  After the Warm-up we moved onto some instruction on how to do a proper squat, it’s harder than it looks, and a push press (see this Youtube video for what a push press is).  We then moved onto Saturday’s WOD:

  1. Row 200m
  2. 10 x Front squat 65lbs
  3. 6 x Push Press 55lbs

5 Rounds of the above.

Honestly it doesn’t sound like much but I promise you no matter who you are it will KICK YOUR ASS.  Unfortunately I couldn’t finish the WOD, not because I ran out of steam, but rather due to previous injury, a series of breaks (5 of them) to my wrists and various parts of my hand from when I was younger.  Unfortunately the squat and push press involved weight on a bent wrist, something my wrists can’t handle.  I got through 2.5 rounds of the WOD and had to stop.  Does that mean I can’t do CrossFit?  Nope.  CrossFit is all about scalability, I spoke with the folks at SquareOne CrossFit and we discussed what I could do next time to get around my injuries.  We’re going to change the barbell in the push press for a pair of kettlebells which will allow me to do the press without needing to bend my wrist.  Likewise for the squat I can start by holding a medicine ball or some other substitute for the weights.  Scalability is one of the hallmarks of CrossFit and one of the reasons this works for young and old alike.

I have to admit even though I wasn’t able to complete the full workout I’m still feeling it like crazy the following day.  Interesting my previous experience with weights was quite different with muscles hurting in very specific areas – one day was upper body following day lower body – However with this CrossFit WOD I don’t just feel it in one muscle but just about EVERY muscle.  My quads, my abs, traps, glutes, and various other smaller muscle groups were all woken up like nothing I’ve ever felt.  Oh, and I FEAR the stairs today, my legs think I’m insane.  But it feels GOOD!

Will I stick with CrossFit?  It is too early to tell, it is VERY intense and I can tell you it certainly isn’t for everyone.  That said, I’m going to give it a fare shake and hopefully get rid of this extra 20lbs, and ideally put on that 10-15lbs of muscle in the process, if I decided it isn’t for me, I’ll always have my running.

Another post to come later in the week following my next WOD.