CrossFit Plus 17 Miles

Tom and I went for a 17-mile bike ride down to Boeing Field, around its south end and back home, and later on he came with me to the CrossFit workout. He’s eventually going to sign up for regular workouts, but today was a drop-in because he had the day off work. He’s been working out independently in the evenings at a regular gym, doing a not-so-regular program from a book called Stew Smith: 12 Weeks to BUD/S. The program is designed for guys who want to become Navy Seals. Tom is having to spend longer than 12 weeks on it because of vacations, late nights at work, and all the other life logistics. I think he’s getting a little antsy to have it done and start working out in a group again, which is a lot more fun. I admire his self-discipline for sticking to this difficult program all by himself. (He’s not planning to join the Seals!)
Tonight at CrossFit the workout consisted of one round:
Tabata reverse squats; Tabata medicine-ball situps against the wall; and either row or run 800 meters in under 4 minutes.
Before we started that, we had a challenging warm-up of kettlebell jerks: one jerk every five seconds for four minutes, holding the bells in the rack position for the five seconds’ rest.
Tom had never done kettlebell jerks before, so right off the bat he had something brand-new to get accustomed to at a very fast pace. He was game for it and a good sport. Dave and an assistant coach, Michael, were helpful in reminding everybody to use their legs for the lift instead of turning the jerk into a press. I’ve been scrutinized for the proper form on the jerk several times and although far from consistently good, my technique at least allowed me to finish the four minutes without really distressing fatigue setting in. (In other words, I didn’t have to quit early!)
So what do all these funny-named exercises look like? I can’t find a good slide show of the kettlebell jerk so I’ll try to describe it:
Take an 8-kg kettlebell in each hand and swing them up so that they’re held in your fists at your collarbone, close enough together to clank. Assume a posture, with arms against the body, that allows this hold to feel well enough supported by your body so that it’s more or less a resting position for the arms. This is the racked position. For the jerk, dip down with a straight-backed knee bend, fairly deep but not a full squat, and pop your hips forward so that you pop up. Extend your arms overhead. The kettlebells fly up, weightless for an instant, as you pop your hips and dip down under the weight and lock your arms. In the same motion, stand straight, bells overhead. Immediately lower them in a controlled descent into the racked position. The coach calls “Jerk!” every five seconds for four minutes and you keep repeating this move. (Yikes! That’s just the warm-up!)
Tabata reverse squats: Tabata is the name of a Japanese exercise researcher. Reverse squats start in the bottom position, not at the top. “Tabata” means go as fast as you can for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, go fast for 20, rest for 10, for eight rounds (4 minutes). Count your reps. The score that’s recorded is your lowest one out of the eight rounds. So, Tabata anything means the same pattern for whatever exercise. Go 20, rest 10, eight rounds, take the lowest score as the measure of your performance.
See the video here of Tabata squats (warning: headbanger music). This athlete starts and rests in the standing position, but we had to start and “rest”—not a rest really—in the squat position without rounding backs, resting weight on heels, etc. It was painful! My low score was 16, which surprisingly was the highest low score of the group. I had to shake out my legs a few times but then each time I started up I was surprised how fast I went. I concentrated on using the hip-pop technique, like in the jerk, to stand each time—popping my hips forward hard enough to lift my feet slightly off the ground—instead of focusing on my thigh muscles. Nevertheless they were burning like crazy, of course.
Tabata medicine-ball sit-ups against the wall: We tucked our feet under heavy barbells, did sit-ups, and fired the ball at the wall at the top of the sit-up. The aim is to think of shooting the ball through the wall for a good hard bounce. For the 10 seconds of rest between each 20 seconds of full-on performance, we were to sit straight and hold the ball overhead on locked arms. I blew it on this one, never sitting straight enough in the rest periods, burning out my hip flexors by using them to hold myself up in a tilted position. I then needed the hip flexors for the sit-ups, which meant I was resting flat on my back in between reps. My low recorded score was only 6 on this drill, the lowest in the group.
Next we rowed 800 meters, which took me 3:30—slow! Oh, well.
Tom and I then practiced some dips on the parallel bars. I was really hoping Nancy or Dave would configure the bars so that we could try kips, but the place was busy and this wasn’t gymnastics night, so no kips for us.
To my relief, during the Tabata squats, my kneecap didn’t hurt like it did on Wednesday night’s workout and yesterday’s and today’s walking around. We went for a 17-mile bike ride today and it seemed to work the kink out of my knee. I’m going to focus on warming up my knees before each workout from now on.