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Friday, January 30, 2009

1 Year of CrossFit: A Review

To those who are new to CrossFit and the other CrossFit addicts like myself, I thought you might find it interesting to read about my 1st year of CrossFit…

What a year, what a year.  Its been quite an experience for me to discover CrossFit.  Little did I know what I was in for when my cousin first told me to check out in mid January of 2008 for some workouts he thought would be good for a Cop like me.  I then completed my first workout on 1-23-08.  First a little backstory to give the setting…

I’ve had a number of injuries and setbacks to my fitness over the last few years including a fractured wrist snowboarding (in a cast for 8 months), and a dislocated shoulder mountainbiking (required surgery and 3 pins).  During my Police Officer hiring process Dr’s physical exam I came to the shocking discovery that I only have the lung capacity of about 65-75% of the average person which Doctors have yet been able to explain/diagnose and which came very, very close to preventing me from getting hired as a Cop.  I dislocated and fractured my right ankle in a dirtbike accident in January of 2007 and hadn’t worked out a day since then.  Before my dirtbike accident I mountainbiked 1-3 times a week and did a little bit of pushups and situps sporadically.  To give you an idea how bad my fitness had sunk to after the dirtbike accident, I went mountainbiking for the first time in Oct of 07 and threw up after riding up a hill which I had previously considered a warmup.  Sad and pathetic, especially considering that is the first time I can ever remember throwing up during or after a workout…

After hearing about CrossFit I dove into and started reading everything in sight.  I was immediately drawn in by the sound fitness philosophies I found and the killer workouts which from the videos it was obvious developed an elite level of fitness.  It all just rang very true to me.  I found Brand X that first day and found a home here.  That first day I read about the importance of scaling the workouts down to a level where the intensity was high and you were able to stay within the intent of the workout (most workouts are NOT a long, slow grinding effort of muscle fatigue with no metcon hit.  I see many, many people miss this crucial point).  I got the bug big time and was instantly hooked.  Within that first month of hearing about CrossFit I bought a rower, rings, Pendlay bar and bumpers set and my Garage Gym was up and running.  I’ve now spent a total of somewhere in the ballpark of $3700 on my garage gym, and 26 people have worked out there, 17 of which experienced CrossFit for the first time.  I convinced my Wife this summer to a vacation in San Diego in large part so I could sneak over to Brand X for a couple of workouts.  What a privilege that was.  Along with my Level one Certification visiting Brand X was the CrossFit highlight of the year.  I now have 2-4 regular workout partners.  Very, very rarely do I workout alone anymore.

The following is a before and after snapshot to help paint the picture of what CrossFit has done for me:

From 12 deadhang pullups to 17

From not knowing what a Kipping Pullup was to 30

From a high bar back squat 145lbs x 5 with improper form to learning how to low bar back squat with 235 x 5 and 285lbs x 1 which is just over 1.5 times my bodyweight.

From never doing a Front Squat to Front Squat of 230

From 0 Double Unders to 14

From Deadlift 210 to 365

From not having the slightest idea how to Clean correctly to Squat Clean 190 and squat clean and jerk 185

From not having the slightest idea how to Snatch correctly to Snatching 155

From not knowing what an Overhead Squat was to OHS 165

From not knowing what a Muscleup was to 4 consecutive arms locked and hands turned out Muscleups

From never having rowed anything in my life to getting a C2 rower and a 500m row in 1:35

From getting anywhere from 3-7 hours of sleep a night to 7-8 hours a night

From being embarrassed and self conscious about my lack of fitness because I knew the importance of a high level of fitness and knew how far short I was living off that mark to it being one of the highlights of my day and one of the most enjoyable parts of my career to be able to share what I’ve learned with others.

From having a piss poor diet to being on an eyeball measured zone and paleo friendly diet

From starting as a Buttercup to being a Pack/Porch half the time and a Big Dawg the other half

From not being able to do a single WOD as RX’d to having a 9:59 Underdawg time on Helen, a 5:44 Fran, Grace with power cleans of 4:50 (couldn’t clean 135 once when I started and my first RX’d Grace attempt with squat cleans took 21:19) and completing a number more WODs as RX’d. 

From knowing very little about the wonderful world of fitness to getting my Level 1 Cert and working as a PT Instructor at my Police Department’s Academy.

I’m thrilled with my progress thus far, but the way I see it, I have little to brag about.  Instead I have a TON to work on and improve.  I’m far from where I want to be, but now I can see myself eventually getting there.  Attaining elite fitness before discovering crossfit just seemed like an unattainable lark, but now I know I’m on the right path to do it.  I love to track my workouts and examine what I’m doing and what can be done better.  I’ve discovered how crucial this is to a successful program, so in light of that I wanted to include details for you guys to help assess one person’s progress that was made in a year.

Looking back there are a few things I would have done differently, namely getting in to see a coach sooner to square away the fundamentals on the core lifts.  I still have a need to do this on a few lifts (deadlifts and O-lifts come to mind).  If anything though, any and all success has been because I’ve simply showed up.  Consistency is king.  I’ve been consistent with crossfit and crossfit has been consistent with giving back to me what I consider some substantial results that I wouldn’t have reached with the other fitness programs out there.

I have a nice long list of goals for this next year and beyond, and I’m excited to continue hitting it hard.  I truly look forward to being at the solid big dawg status.  When I first started it bothered me a lot to not be there.  I’ve certainly learned how to check my ego at the door and know that one day if I do my part, staying consistent and putting in the hard work, I will be living out the elite level of fitness which CrossFit forges.  There are not many things that I can apply myself to that could potentially save my life at work, but CrossFit is one of them!  Not only has CrossFit filled the niche of being my workout program, it has also become my sport which I just plain love to do. 

Its been an incredible ride so far and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.  A huge thanks to all those here who have helped, taught, private messaged, coached, inspired, and sweat along side with or via the web.  I truly appreciate the Brand X crew that runs the Forum and is so welcoming to complete stranger newbies like all of us start out as.  Thanks specifically to Coach Glassman and Coach Martin!! 

As so many others have said before I only wish I had discovered CrossFit many, many years ago!  Here is to the next successful year of CrossFit for all of us…. I can’t wait to see what it has in store!!!

Weighted Dips 1-29-09

Weighted Bar Dips

3 x 3 35lbs

Then max no weight bar dips - 11

Had very little time so did this on Jerrod's suggestion before I took him to the airport.  It was a lot of fun working out with you bro!  Wish we lived closer so it could be a regular occurrence.  

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bozman teaches Deadlift & Snatch then Tabata Shuttle Run/Pushups, Bench Press, KB Snatches

Forgot to mention that I went Snowboarding for two days over the weekend at Bear Valley in the Sierras.  Not too shabby of a view:

Treated myself today with some personal coaching.  My cousin and I drove over to San Francisco Crossfit and got an hour and a half of coaching from Adrian Bozman.  He's super sharp and an excellent coach, not to mention a firebreathing crossfitter himself.  Worked on deadlifts and snatches.  Learned a few good cues for each lift that I'll start integrating.  Then he ran us through a short metcon of 8 rounds each of tabata (20 sec work, 10 sec rest = 1 round) 5 yard shuttle runs and pushups.   It was as usual much more brutal then it sounds.  Thankfully I didn't keep track because those pushups got pretty pathetic.  Jerrod and I had a great time at SFXfit, and I highly recommend seeking out a good coach to help you work through new lifts/weaknesses that you might have.  Amazing how fast it accelerates the learning curve.  No replacement for good coaching!  Thanks Boz!!

Then came home, had dinner and on a whim joined Josh and Alex in a search for a new 1 rep max...

Bench Press 

120 x 5
135 x 3
155 x 1
175 x 1 (PR + 10lbs)
185 x 1 (PR +20lbs)


Max 53lb Kettlebell Snatchs in 5:00 min:  85

Boy was that a suckfest.  Probably did too much volume today, but oh well it was fun.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Back Squat/Push Press 1-27-09

21 - 15 - 9

Back Squat - 135lbs (75% bodyweight)
Push Press - 95lbs


This was a good one.  Felt a lot like Fran.  Short and Brutal.

Friday, January 23, 2009

OHS and Elizabeth 1-23-09

Overhead Squat

65 x 5
95 x 5
115 x 3
135 x 3
145 x 3(PR)
155 x 2 PR (failed on 3rth rep)
155 x 3 (PR)


21 - 15 - 9
135lb power clean
Bar Dip

10:50 (PR)

Compare to 11-21-08 with 115lb power cleans and bar dips.  Most dips I put my foot down for help out of the bottom: 8:34

Very pleased with my dips today.  I didn’t put my foot down once.  Thats the first time ever in any named WOD.  All reps were clean and full ROM.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Heavy Bag 1-19-09

Uggggh  Felt crappy tonight.  Shouldn't have waited to workout so late at night.

Warmup:  3 rounds: 10 box jump, 7 toes to bar, 10 pushups

Ended up just doing 4 min of work on the Heavy Bag Tabata style.

Did about 20 handstands and then 1 min 30 sec total of handstand holds against a wall and called it a night.  Wrists are feeling it a bit.  Going to take 2 rest days...then my Cousin Jerrod and brother Jake fly into town for a nice long weekend of working out and 3 days of snowboarding.  Wahoo!  I'll start my 2nd CFSB cycle after that.  Stay tuned for a Fran battle on Thursday!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Snatch and Row 1-18-09

Warmup:  50 jumping jacks.  20 Handstands, 15 squats

Power Snatch

65 x 5
95 x 3
105 x 3
115 x 3
125 x 3
135 x 3
145 x 1 (PR)
155 x 1 (PR + 15lbs)
160 Failed twice

Compare to my previous PR of 140 x 1 on 1-1-09.

Taught my brother Josh and Alex how to Snatch.  Had planned on doing a real metcon after, but just felt out of it after how long it took with the snatches.  So just did a sluggish row.

500m row:  1:37  

10 min of Handstands

Handstand PR of 4.35 seconds.  I'm no good with handstands, but hopefully they will come along.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

California Strength Academy and Tire flips/Pushups 1-17-09

Spent an hour and a half in a private lesson working on power clean technique at the California Strength Academy located in San Ramon where San Ramon Crossfit shares the gym space.  The trainer/lifter who I was privileged to learn from was Martin Pashov "Squat Specialist".  He is Bulgarian and has a 660lb Olympic style back squat.  His father was the bronze winner in Olympic Lifting in the 1980 Olympics.  Enough said!  Learned a couple of good things to start implementing into my clean.  Unfortunately its a bit too expensive for me right now to get private training, otherwise I'd be all over it.  Its definitely a high caliber gym.  6 or so lifting platforms with Pendlay Elite bars, werksan and eleiko bumpers.  Very nice setup with some top notch lifters training there including Donny Shankle "The Giant Killer" who is one of the best 105kilo lifters in the US.  He was built like a nasty cross between a mack truck and king kong.  What a beast!  And a nice guy to boot.  When I met him he said "You've come to train with the best!"  There was also a high school kid who was back squatting 445 with a belt.  Some serious muscle walking around that place.

HERE is their website.

I ended up working on my form half the time with 55lbs and half the time with 115lbs.  Did somewhere around 50-70 power cleans.  Uggh.

Then went to a local park and did a fun metcon.

With a partner did:

5 Min AMRAP:
1 300lb tire flip
2 pushups

28 rounds

5 min rest while Josh and Alex did their tire flips

5 min AMRAP
1 300lb tire flip, 2 pushups

1 Pushup shy of 31 rounds

While I flipped the tire my partner was doing 2 pushups and while he flipped the tire I did my 2 pushups.  The timing of that rep scheme worked out well.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Grace 1-15-09 Squat Clean and Thruster/C2B Pullups 1-14-09


Warmup Up:  10 K2E's, 20 Handstands, 10 squats, Burgener warmup, 95 Pwr Clean & Push Jerk x 10


30 Power Clean and Push Jerks 135lbs

4:50 (1:43 PR!!)

Woah!  Smoked this one!!  Sub 5!  Felt solid throughout the entire workout.  I'm super excited about this PR on probably my favorite workout. I was looking forward to do this one, thinking about it all day.  Was a little nervous right before the workout, as I felt the adrenaline tingling in my hands just like before a big playoff game.  It helped to be the last of 4 guys to go.  The anticipation built up and was ready to roar at the call of 3-2-1-Go!

Cashout: Pushups 30 - 25 - 20 ~2 min rest in between

12 Muscleups broken/untimed

Compare Grace to 12-21-08 at 6:33

Warm Up:  10 Toes to bar, 10 air squats, 15 handstands, 10 Cartwheels then Burgener Warmup

Squat Clean

95 x 5
115 x 5
135 x 3
155 x 3
165 x 3 (PR)
175 x 3 (PR + 20)

7 Rounds for time:

5 115lb Thrusters
5 Chest to Bar Chinups


I've never really do any chinups and what better way to introduce them into the repertoire then chest to bar chinups?  This was a good heavy metcon.  Plenty of pain filled fun.  Got my second large tractor tire today.  It weighs 275-300lbs.  My other tire weighs 375-400lbs.  Stacked on top of each other they stand 34" high and make for a great tire jump.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Lunges, C2B Pullup, Dumbell HPC 1-12-09

Warmup Cacophony:
5 one leg 20" box jumps each leg, 10 Handstands, 30 sec L-sit progression on parallettes, 5 dips, 10 Handstands, 5 KB bottoms up clean and press 35lb, 10 HPC with 2 45lb Dumbells

3 Rounds for time:

30 Lunges with 50lb Sandbag on back
10 Chest to Bar Pullups
10 Hang Power Clean 2 45lb Dumbells


Rd1 - 2:48, Rd2 - 2:55, Rd3 - 2:44

Still going easy on my back so I didn't want to do any heavy metcons or heavy lifting.  This was a decent one.  Could have gone a little heavier on the HPC.  This is designed to be done with 1/2 your bodyweight but I didn't have 45lb dumbells.  It was more taxing on my grip then I was expecting.  Somehow this is the first time I've ever done C2B pullups.  A little harder then I thought.  Thats not good.  They will definitely become a regular part of my CrossFit diet.

Cashout: 10 Handstands, 1 bar muscleup, 10 Parallettes Handstands, Bear Crawls

Sunday, January 11, 2009

OHS 1-11-09

Warmup:  21 Hanging Straight leg raises (waist high), 15 Dips, some air squats

Overhead Squats

45 x 5
65 x 5
95 x 5
115 x 5
135 x 4 (PR)  Failed on 5th rep - Dropped on the way up
145 x 1
155 x 1
165 x 1 (PR)
170 x 1 - Josh called the depth as parallel
170 x 1 - Failed - Dropped on the way up

Annoying to get called on depth on the first 170 attempt.  I felt pretty solid on it and could have gone deeper.  Coulda, shoulda, woulda.  Oh well.  Next time I'll have it and maybe 175.  Creeping up on my goal of bodyweight x 1 (180lb)!!

500m Row - 1:42  I was shooting for 1:32 to hit my goal.  I went out hard, holding the pace at the 1:32/33 range.  With about 175-200m to go I had slowed down a lot and had a major character failure.... I knew I wasn't going to hit 1:32 and was on track for 1:35-1:37 range.  Josh and Alex started yelling at me so I finished up sheepishly.  Truly pathetic.  Once again underestimated how difficult a 1:32 row would be for me, especially since I haven't been rowing much at all.  I think next time I should set the pace boat at 1:35, try and hold it there and kick it hard at the end to try and sneak in under 1:35.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Kettlebell Shenanigans 1-9-09

I got some new Kettlebells yesterday.  Another 35lb and 53lber.  Also got a 62lb, 70lb and 88lber.  Saweeeet!  Still on my CrossFit Strength Biased rest week so I just played around with the new iron.

Turkish Get Up - from floor to standing and back down to floor with each arm = 1 rep

35lb x 2
44lb x 2
53lb x 2
62lb x 2
70lb x 2 Got it right handed. Got it once with my left arm then failed twice on the way down with left arm
88lb x 1 with right hand stood up but failed on the way down.  That sucker was heavy!  Almost got it.  Didn't try with left arm.

Two 53lb KBs Power Clean 3 sets of 5

KB Power Clean and Jerk
53lb x 2
62lb x 2
70lb x 2
88lb x 2 -  Right arm only.  Failed twice with left arm at the rack.

KB's are good, clean fun for all you hard living comrades.  If you don't have any you should go out and get a truckload of them.  It's official... I have the Kettlebell bug!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Death by Pullup 1-8-09

With a continuously running clock do one pull-up the first minute, two pull-ups the second minute, three pull-ups the third minute . . . continuing as long as you are able. Use as many sets each minute as needed.

14 rounds + 14 pullups.  Missed 15th rep by one second!  Doh!

Compare to 7-3-08 where I barley got 14 rounds in with 3 seconds to spare

Not real pleased with this.  Was hoping for a better performance here.  Pullups used to be a strength of mine.  But I haven't included them in nearly enough workouts recently.  For a year of Crossfit under my belt I should be further along with them.  

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Tabata Squats/Muscle Ups 1-7-08

Taking it easy this week before the start of 2nd Cycle of CFSB

Chose to do a workout from the CrossFit Journal Issue #08 - April 2003 article [i]How Fit Are You[/i]?:  

4:00 min Tabata Air Squats - 23 - 22 - 21 - 20 - 19 - 19 - 18- 16 
10 Sec rest 
4:00 min max Muscle-Ups* - 10  
*Muscle-Ups were done with bent arms, not completed with arms locked and hands turned out  

Score is found by multiplying lowest number of air squats by muscle-ups  

16 x 10 = 160  

This didn't even rank on the Journal article's ranking system. The lowest score recognized was 180. Had I gamed the squats and paced myself at 18 or 19 throughout, I would have fared better according to this scoring system and I'd have made it on the board with a score of 18 or 190. But I ended up with a greater overall number of squats and I was pleased with my effort at going for broke from the gates and not looking back. Nearly there. On the last set of squats I started letting my upper body lower at the bottom of some of the squats far too much due to what I believe was midline fatigue. Anyone else noticed this as a common issue? 

What a brute!

Check out the article for 4 other killer workouts that when combined are as good a test as any in determining one's fitness level. Pretty brutal to even get to the point where you make it onto the ranking system.  

Cash Out - Max Toes to Bar - 22 .... Weak sauce. Break in character caused me to stop there.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Weighted Ring Pull Ups 1-5-09

Taking it easy for a recovery week.  And chose a workout to not stress my low back.


2 Rounds
2:00 min jumping jacks
10 Handstands

10lb x 1
20lb x 1
30lb x 1
35lb x 1
40lb x 1
45lb x 1
50lb x 1
55lb x 1
60lb x 1
65lb x 1
70lb x 1 - Failed...Got 90%, just not the last final couple of inches

Missed my straight bar pullups PR by 5lbs which I got on 7-30-08

2 sets of 30lb x 5

Cash Out:  Max Skin the cats on Rings - 34

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Front Squat and Deadlift/Dips/Box Jumps 1-4-09

End of CrossFit Strength Bias (CFSB) Cycle 1 Week 6

Front Squat

45 x 8
95 x 5
135 x 5
155 x 3
170 x 1
185 x 1
200 x 1 (PR)
210 x 1 (PR)
225 x 1 (PR)
230 x 1 (40lb PR)

5 rounds for time:

7 Deadlifts 225lb
7 Bar Dips
7 Box Jumps 36"


This was a pretty good one.  First round unbroken in 54 sec.  Finished third round at 4:32.  Last two rounds took 5:30.  Tweaked my low back on the second to last deadlift.  Hopefully its not too bad.

Shoulder Press and KB/Sandbag 1-3-09

Shoulder Press

45 x 10
65 x 5
95 x 5
105 x 3
115 x 1
125 x 1
130 (failied twice)
127.5 (failed)

Ughhh.  Was really hoping for a PR in this.  Its so hard for me to improve on my shoulder press.  After 5 weeks of focused work with it and some PR's in the 5 rep range, I was thinking I might hit 130 today.  Nope.  Bar stopped at about my nose and refused to budge.  Attempt at 127.5 was even weaker.  

1 Min max 1.5 Pood one armed Snatch (either arm)  - 24 reps
1 Min max 35lb Sand Bag halfmoons - 21 reps
1 Min max 1.5 Pood one armed Snatch (either arm) - 10 reps
1 Min max 35lb Sand Bag halfmoons - 16 reps
1 Min max 1.5 Pood one armed Snatch (either arm) - 10 reps

See a video of what a Sandbag halfmoon is HERE.

That metcon completely sucked.  I didn't bring it to the gym today.  Emotionally drained and tired from a lack of sleep from being at the hospital for 3 days.  I don't know if it was just a lackluster day or if the movements were too similar, or if the KB weight was too heavy, but I died hard in the second round of snatches and didn't recover.  Thats also the risk when you make up your own WODs.  Its fun, but a bit risky.  I'd like to keep working in some different types of movements like sandbag work and different KB work that isn't your standard mainpage crossfit material.  A little more focused towards MMA fitness that prepares you well for a fight.  Working my grip strength is a good idea.  Some rounded back type work is a good thing.  Training for the real world when you aren't going to be able to use 'proper' form when lifting a 250lb stoopid drunk off the ground in cuffs who is refusing to stand up while drooling chunky barf all over himself with wet piss stains in his pants.  Should probably peruse the crosspit stuff and use some of it.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE all the barbell work, but its good to mix things up.  Its all about the Black Box baby.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Power Snatch 1-1-09

Power Snatch 

65 x 5
95 x 3
105 x 2
115 x 2
125 x 1
135 x 1 
140 x 1 (PR)

Didn't have much time at all today.  Planned on doing a metcon, but didn't have enough time.  The program called for front squats, but yesterday did those heavy squat cleans and 190 was a 15lb front squat PR as part of the squat clean.  Didn't think I should try front squats after that.  Attempted shoulder presses but at my first work set of 95 x 5, felt weak and decided to just snatch instead.  At least I got some work in today.  The last snatch was the ugliest thing you ever did see as I caught the bar with arms totally bent over my head and just then muscled it up from there.  Wow was it pathetic.  Really need to keep on working on these and develop the ability to commit to getting under the bar into a good OHS when it is heavy.  That is just not clicking yet.