Belly Grinders

I was so worn out from Thursday’s workout (with the pull-up burpees) and Wednesday’s 50 slam-balls that I couldn’t fall asleep Thursday night. My whole upper body felt like it was humming. On Friday I pooped out on the warm-up, which was pistols (one-leg squats). My left hip/rear in particular had an unfamiliar deep ache when I tried to squat on that side.
Instead of doing pistols, I went to the pull-up bar to try to spot myself on the belly-grinder, as my friend suggested. Here’s a pic of the belly-grinder. The idea is to lift your feet, legs, and then hips higher than the bar, pull upward, continue to tip your lower half above and over the bar until they come down the other side, and finally straighten up over the bar with hands on the bar at hip level.
I haven’t yet mastered shifting the weight of my lower body over the bar to get myself on top of it. So my friend suggested I grab the bar, run my feet up the wall, and kick my legs over the bar while pulling up. (My head would then be toward the wall once I flipped on top, the opposite position of the guy in the photo.) Running up the wall would give me enough momentum to throw my hips over. After two false starts, that worked just great, and looked like a Jackie Chan move. So that was fun.
Anyway, I was tired enough that I used only an 8-kg kettlebell for Friday’s one-armed lifts. The workout was:
30 straight-leg kettlebell deadlift followed by one-arm snatch, right arm
30 of the same, left arm
50 sit-ups
30 pull-ups
30 push-ups
Twice through.
This took me about 32 minutes. In spite of using the light kettlebell, I was happy with this workout. I breathed well on the sit-ups and so didn’t have too much trouble with them. On the pull-ups, I broke up both rounds of 30 but not too much, for me anyway. I think I did 10, 10, 5, 5 on the first round and 6, 6, 6, 6, 6 on the second. The push-ups hurt as always but I didn’t break up those too much either, doing 15 at first in each round and following with groups of 5, except on the final 5 reps of round 2 in which I broke those final 5 reps down to 2 and 3.

Burpees for the New Century

To do a burpee, you drop to a squat, shoot your legs back so you’re in a push-up position, do a push-up, shoot your legs back up by your hands so you’re in the squat again, then jump in the air. And repeat. Tonight’s burpees added a pull-up at the end of each rep: when you jumped, you had to jump for the bar and do a pull-up. The workout was:
25 kettlebell swings to straight overhead (“American-style” kettlebell swings)
15 burpee plus pull-up
Four rounds.
I kept up with the guys pretty well and finished in 15:42. Doing all those pull-ups one at a time was awesome. Given all the work we did besides pull-ups, I would not have been able to do 15 pull-ups in a row if they were grouped together. But since they were mixed into the burpees, I kind of chugged along. I did not manage to jump straight from the squat to the pull-up. Instead I popped out of the burpee with a slight jump to standing, then jumped to the bar. I felt like my arms were going to fall off.
Last night I went for the gymnastics section of the class and we tried some “roll-to-supports” on the rings, using the harness and/or spotting. It was fun but I wasn’t very tired out from it afterward, so I did something that several other people had been doing, which was 50 slam-ball for time. It’s a basketball stuffed with sand and it weighs about 23 pounds, Scott told me. The idea is to raise it high overhead, slam it to the ground while picking up the feet and dropping to a squat, scooping up the ball from its very slight bounce, and raising it all the way overhead again, 50 times. By 25 I was sorry I’d begun and was kind of lightheaded when I finished, just under two minutes at 1:55. Tom did it in 1:29.

Run a Mile (Three Times)

Last night Dave had us run three one-mile runs, the first one as a warm-up and the last two for time. My first timed mile came in at 6:40 and my second one at 7:20.
We did this back in June, I think, although I can’t find it in the blog. My mile time then was just under 7:30 for both runs; I remember that because Dave said it looked like I was a solid seven-and-a-half-minute miler, not really fast but not slow either. Last night, I was happy to have cut 50 seconds off of that for my first run, but it was no less miserable and I had no sense of whether I was going any faster.
I have a hard time running anything longer than a sprint. I’ve been trying to focus on some of the Pose Method running tips that Dave’s been giving us: lean forward slightly to work with gravity; emphasize the front of the foot instead of crashing the heel into the ground way out in front of the body; pick up the foot again the instant it hits the ground. This does help me run more smoothly and apparently faster, and it possibly doesn’t wear out my upper hamstrings quite as much.
I also focus on breathing by purposely sucking my diaphragm down instead of lifting my chest and shoulders. People say this can help stave off side cramps, which I have a big problem with when I’m tired. Last night, in addition to trying to stick with that breathing technique, I consciously speeded up my breathing right from the start to double the rate I naturally wanted to use (especially while we were just jogging). I wanted to see if faster breathing–in two steps, out two steps, instead of four–would help keep the cramps away a bit longer. It worked. I didn’t have any cramping until the final run, which was my slowest by 40 seconds.
Last Friday, the 14th, we ran several relay sprints around a loop. We split into two teams and raced each other. I love to sprint. In the final relay, Sean and I took off at the same time and I finished first, so I was a little puffed up about that. It was a lot of fun. Strangely, while we were out there, a covered wagon went by pulled by two big-footed brown horses! It was full of passengers. We though they must have been giving rides around the park as part of some event at the community center. We saw the horses and wagon three times that night. Their clip-clopping shoes sounded great on the pavement. I’m glad I don’t have to wear metal running shoes, though!

Fran: the Sequel

Scott had us warm up by doing “Fran” with only a PVC pipe. To simulate the pull-ups, we pushed the pipe up and pulled it down. When you do these things fast they do warm you up even though it feels silly at first. Fran consists of:
21 thrusters (65 pounds for women, 95 for men)
21 pull-ups
15 thrusters
15 pull-ups
9 thrusters
9 pull-ups
I finished in 6:45, which was more than a minute faster than my last “Fran,” in June. Tonight, I did the set of 21 thrusters unbroken, as well as the 9. I broke up the 15 into, I think, 11 and 4. I did three sets of 7 pull-ups for the 21, and I broke up both of the other sets of pull-ups too.

Thursday and Friday: Heavy Lifting

I worked late on Tuesday and Wednesday–ugh!–so I missed my regular Wednesday butt-kicking. I went on Thursday and Scott more than made up for my missed workout. Five rounds:
12 dumbbell cleans and front squat with 25-lb dumbbells
12 push-ups
Then one set of 30 pull-ups.
Yikes! Those 25-pound weights were heavy. Letting them down by my sides after each rep felt like the most fatiguing part. And five rounds, my goodness, I wasn’t surprised I was the slowest person to finish!
This was followed on Friday night by shoulder presses, also with dumbbells, and I was still tired enough that I wimped out and used 15-pound ones. Friday night we did several minute-or-shorter alternating intervals of shoulder presses, side-to-side jumping lunges with a medicine ball (like something from the boxing gym!), dips, and rowing. Then Dave told us to get some heavy kettlebells out–32 kg ones for the guys and 24 kg for the women. Our “assignment” was 100 kettlebell swings.
One hundred! That took a while. Twenty-four kilos is pretty heavy. I think I did 25, then sets of 10 or fewer. My frequent Friday workout partner Erika finished ahead of me.
After we recovered and goofed off for a little while, Erika and I started warily circling the 32-kg kettlebell that was still sitting out, which Tom had used. We joked about not even being able to lift it; Erika pointed out it is more than half our bodyweight. I pretended to make it talk to us, calling us wimps. Finally I picked it up and gave it five swings. Hey! That wasn’t so bad. Then Erika took a turn. We did sets of five until we’d done 35 each. It was gratifying to be able to control that heavy thing after trying it a few months ago and almost being pulled off my feet. I can tell I’ve gotten stronger that way, even though the workouts don’t get any easier, and today I’ve got very sore muscles in the rear.
Video and an article on how to do kettlebell swings. The guy in the video swings it over his head; in our gym we only swing it up to about eye level.

CrossFit Championship

Last Saturday was the annual CrossFit Championship at CrossFit North. Last year, Tom and I were there as spectators because I had just joined the gym. So this year marked my anniversary. We weren’t able to go last Saturday, though, so Dave put us and several other people through it on Monday night:
A balance drill involving hopping 40 feet along a rope
Two consecutive rope climbs
30 dips (or 50 jump-to-support, negative dips)
Row 1000 meters
30 sumo high-pull deadlifts (with two 12-kg kettlebells)
30 push-presses (55 pounds)
50 wall-ball
Spear throw (hit the bale with the pointy stick, or else do 3 burpees and try again)
The clock stopped after a successful spear throw, or after an unsuccessful third try. Then you rested five minutes and did five deadlifts, going for your max. If you lifted over your bodyweight, a formula was applied to lower your total time, and everyone ended up with a calculated score (lower was better).
This workout hurt. Going from rowing to high-pulls was deadly, as were push-presses followed by wall-ball. My results were about 17:40 after making the spear throw on the first try. I deadlifted 100 kg, which is about 165 percent of my weight. My score was 11.01. This made me the second fastest female after Heather (Saturday’s results are here), who is both bigger and younger than I am. There was an excellent variety of ages in the participants and in the top scorers. Check out this great pic of the winner!