Internalizing the Harangue

Today I wore myself out lifting weights and doing bodyweight stuff on my own, without any of the usual friendly haranguing from the CrossFit guys. I went with Tom on a day pass to the gym he belongs to through his work. I planned to use their huge free-weight room. Having recently tried back squats with push-press, which hurt my shoulder a bit, I wanted to try that move again with an empty 45-pound bar and then also to see what my max weight would be on the back squat (without the push-press). First I warmed up with a 500 meter row (in 2:02), a few push-ups, and some medicine-ball thrusters, throwing it straight into the air from a squat and descending into the squat again upon catching the ball. It was wall-ball without the wall, a good way to warm up the knees and hips. I did some push-ups too, hoping to get my shoulder as limber as possible.
The back squat to push-press went pretty well with the empty bar. I went all the way down into the squat and then jumped up by popping my hips forward, getting under the bar at the same time and straightening my arms under it. Then I lowered it slowly down to the top of my back. My right shoulder did not object as much as it had before, when I was already fatigued and Dave had weighted the bar a little. So today I just did a few sets of three to five reps with the empty bar to test the shoulder. It definitely has some weakness. I need to practice this empty-bar lift until it’s comfortable before adding weight.
Then Tom came into the weight room and offered to spot me on the bench press, since I was standing next to it and using its bar already. I was cockily certain I could bench press my body weight, silly considering I’d never tried a bench press. My max turned out to be 85 pounds. It was fun to try.
Then Tom went to work out on his own and I claimed a squat cage. I’d heard that normally one can back-squat more weight than the front-squat, and my max front squat recently was 158. So I started with three reps at 95 pounds. I added 50 pounds and did one rep, then started adding tiny increments of weight.
I had neglected to check the height of the low safety bars with the empty bar, so I didn’t know exactly what would happen when I reached beyond my max weight. I’d squat, not be able to get up, and would have to set (hopefully not drop) the bar onto the safety bars to get out from under it. This was new to me because at CrossFit we just drop the weights onto the mats if we can’t lift them. I was feeling a little flustered because I really didn’t want to have to drop the weights noisily onto too-low safety bars and look like a dummy. Luckily then Tom came back into the room and suggested I move to another rack temporarily and test the safety-bar height with an empty weight bar. Doing that showed me that I needed to raise my safety bars to put them as close as possible to the height of my lowest squat. Then I could confidently release the weight bar if I needed to without making tons of noise.
Tom went away again and I continued adding weight. I remembered to hold my breath and create a lot of abdominal tension at the top, hold the tension all the way down, go low, and drive up immediately. This worked well, and I felt comfortable adding weight (while thinking, “Dave would be so proud!”). This went on until I got to 175, which I couldn’t lift out of the squat. I set the weight down on the safety bars and ducked out from under it, planning to remove enough weight to be able to re-rack the bar and try again. Just then the guy using the next rack persuaded me to try using a belt and to let him spot me. I put the 175 back on the bar, wore the belt, and squatted the 175. He stood in back of me with his fingers under the bar in case I couldn’t lift it, but I lifted and racked it just fine. Whew! My legs were tired. The guy then asked me all about where I was learning to lift and whether my coaches “know what they’re doing.” He said he’s seen CrossFit and isn’t into it because “they don’t give you enough time to rest.” That’s for sure! Fair enough, there are plenty of fitness routines to choose from.
I extricated myself from the conversation, eventually, without offering to spot him if he needed help. I feel sort of rude, but he was way taller than me and I assumed that it would be like a joke for me to offer to spot him. I need to learn the etiquette of these situations.
Tom and I practiced some handstands and handstand rolls until we got tired and knocked the wind out of ourselves—oof! (Maybe I should speak for myself only.) I then rowed another 500 meters (in 2:06) and headed off to the deluxe locker room. I sure wish spouses got free membership at this place!
I’m pretty stiff now, but considering my weekend, I’m really glad I worked out today. I’d had migraines and/or migraine hangover since Tuesday night. Migraine hangover is my word for the nagging discomfort, physical weakness, and depletedness I feel while the migraine is trying to come back. It usually tries to come back for three days, but this time it just nagged for three days and came back on the fifth day—Christmas Day, when I had plans to bake for the neighbors’ party. Instead I took my Imitrex (migraine pill) and slept until 2:30 PM. I hate and love that drug for knocking me out and for taking away the headache pain after what feels like a bloody internal battle. We did make it to Christmas dinner, without the homemade bread I was planning, and I could tell the migraine was really gone. No more hangover. Today I was back to normal.

2 thoughts on “Internalizing the Harangue”

  1. When I read your workouts, I always feel like I’m there, watching from a safe distance. It’s neat to read. I like how you blend in the parts that didn’t work as planned with all the incredible accomplishments you make. I particularly enjoyed the squatting of the 175, because I just assumed that the story would end at you leaving it at “good enough.” I should’ve known better.
    Great read!

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