CrossFit Workout

Saturday was the free, monthly Suffer on Saturday event at CrossFit. It’s a timed workout that’s open to the public. They design very different workouts each month for the event. Last Saturday’s workout was done in pairs. Each pair had to carry a kettlebell (weight) around the building, about 400 yards; do 150 pullups; 20 deadlifts (80 kg for women); and 50 handstand push-ups. As fast as possible. There were no rules about how a team should divide the labor or what modifications we could use to make the drills possible rather than impossible.
Tom participated too, and at first we thought we’d work out as a pair, but changed our minds. Tom paired up with a nice guy who’s recently lost lots of weight and has a great attitude. I paired up with a woman who turned out to be one of the original CrossFit clients—which explained her focused, efficient strategizing before we started our workout.
“Can you do pull-ups? How many can you do?” she asked. I told her. “Okay, that’s pretty good. We’re going to spot each other the whole way, not wait ‘til we get tired and then start spotting. And for the deadlifts, we lift the weight and drop it. We’re not going to lower it down. That will save us a ton of energy and time.” I just kept nodding. “How about the handstand push-ups?” she asked. “How’s your handstand?” I told her I’ve been practicing against a wall and doing shallow push-ups. “Okay. I do my handstands away from the wall. Will you try that? It will be easier for me to spot you.” Glad to follow her lead, I willingly agreed to try that. Her concern with speed got me jazzed up to push myself not only to finish, but to work fast.
To carry the kettlebell around the building, we copied other pairs who started ahead of us, carrying the kettlebell together by its handle. We stayed in step pretty well and our pace was an efficient jog, I’d say. Halfway around we stopped to switch hands. By the end, we had passed a pair of men who started ahead of us. (Yes!) But it was hard to keep going. I couldn’t tell if I was pushing our speed or if I was struggling to keep up with my partner, but I was glad we passed those guys because then there was no way I could worry I was slowing us down too much. As it turned out, my partner said I’d been the faster one on the kettlebell carry.
We set the kettlebell down and hurried across the room to a pull-up bar in a corner, which was short enough that we wouldn’t have to share it with another pair and cause the bar to swing or move. My partner was concerned about that. I jumped up and started doing pull-ups as she stood behind me on a bench and pushed me up by my ribcage. I gave out at around 7, I think, and she took over. We somehow (mostly through her doing more than me) made it to 50 before we went to get a giant rubberband, which we looped over the bar and used as an extra spotter. Even with that modification, it was so hard to keep going. We tried to do ten at a stretch, but I often could only do seven or eight, and my partner often did 11. All in all I probably did 60 and she 90.
Next came our deadlifts. We grasped the bar side by side and doing 20 was easy. I think we could have lifted 20 kg more, but who knows. Some pairs of men, who were lifting 200 kg (!), grasped the bar by its ends, facing each other. At first my partner thought that isn’t a deadlift at all, but then we decided it was, with just a modified hand position.
Finally we headed over to the wall to do our handstand push-ups on the thicker mats. We took turns doing them ten or five at a time until we reached our 50. We held each other by the knees and went shallow. I only collapsed once. I’d done 7 and was going for 10, but on 8 my arms gave out and I fell over. We were proud of ourselves and finished with a time of 14:20—right in the middle of the pack. For myself, I was happy that my partner was pleased with my spotting and my ability to keep up reasonably well. I’d never spotted anybody on any exercise before so I checked in with her every so often to see if my grip was okay. We had fun.
Tom did well too, and someone commented that he’s in great shape. He’s been working really hard on his own and I think he liked the opportunity to do this stuff in a group for a change.
People with less practice on handstands were among the slower groups even if they were fast on the other drills. It’s hard to get up and stay up in a handstand, even against the wall, at first, and it’s really hard to spot somebody who’s falling. Both people can end up on the floor and starting over.
Unflattering photos of everybody working out and grimacing and sweating are on the gym website here. Especially note this impressive handstand push-up. Wow! But one thing I didn’t see was anybody doing those without a spotter.