I had no idea

… how much the chest and back are involved in bicycling.

I biked to the gym today. We did 20 minutes of 3 barbell cleans, in pairs. Myra and I got 15 sets in the 20 minutes. Scott finished us off after a five-minute rest with 100 push-ups. I can’t remember the last time I was so miserable. It took me 10:15 if I recall correctly. I was doing singles after about 50.

I hung around for a while before riding home (only 7.5 miles). As soon as I got on my bike I was already fatigued from supporting a small portion of my weight on my arms (via chest muscles).  I soon learned I also have a tendency to shrug, or something, which instantly made the center of my back between my shoulder blades ache. (Boohoo.) I made it home. It was a beautiful evening.

Two unassuming, inspiring CrossFitters

Bill, who has had 18 personal training sessions with me so far, is a great example of the hardworking, can-do attitude that allows beginners to get fitter with CrossFit rather than being intimidated by it. Bill started coming to CrossFit Seattle twice a week because he wanted to try kettlebells. Naturally I used CrossFit training methods, with kettlebells as the tool.

Bill saw all the other equipment in the gym and was perfectly willing to go full-on CrossFit when I eventually suggested it. For him, this doesn’t mean 400 meter runs and handstand push-ups. He is about 60, knows he has some weight to lose and that this is tied to diet, but is as hard a worker as anybody and his improved movement skills show the results of his workouts.

One day this week, Bill did about five 45-second rowing intervals with 30 seconds of rest between them. On a few of the intervals I asked him to go slow and focus only on being patient on the knee bend in the recovery phase. Then he did a lot of sets of 10 box squats, without and with a kettlebell.

We tried using a lower box next, because his box squats are so much more solid than they used to be. The lower box threw everything out of whack at first because although WS now has the flexibility to get down there safely, it was hard to get up from that low position. With balance assistance, he practiced this lower squat by sitting down on the box and then standing up using his heels and not pushing his knees forward. His technique is decent at the higher box squats, and this paid off on the lower box as well. We did a lot of other exercises (push-ups with the hands elevated; sit-ups) and had him return to the low box squat every so often. Each attempt improved.

Bill has never once said he can’t do something I asked him to do. We modify the exercises to make them do-able though difficult, and he just does them. I see his movement improving and his work capacity and perseverance improving as well, and I’m so impressed with his hard work. The finisher to his workout today was 10 sets of 10 light kettlebell swings. This was hard, but he would not have quit had I suggested it. Now he can say he’s done 100 kettlebell swings.

If Bill would plug into the Zone diet or some version of it, I’m sure he would see more dramatically visible results, but that’s up to him; the exercise is still good and this shows in his skill and stamina. Anyone who thinks maybe they can’t do CrossFit could take inspiration from Bill.

Another inspiration is June, who comes to the workout classes at CrossFit Seattle. She had her four introductory personal training sessions with me, and this week (about four weeks later) I ran into her in a workout class of Scott’s. June is middle aged and came in to get back in shape after cancer treatment. From the start, her movement skills and ability to make corrections were good on most exercises, but her stamina was pretty much gone. No problem–take breaks when needed. Today, she said to me, “I’m just loving these classes! I feel like I’ve been working really hard and it’s so much fun!”

In Scott’s class on Monday, June did the workout I described in my last post, below. She modified a few of the drills as needed, such as doing squat-thrusts instead of burpees, and using a light barbell for the push-presses. This was smart, and Scott encouraged these modifications. June did the tire drag portion also–twice! (Once was enough for me.) I’m impressed with her and she sets a great example for anyone who’s considering starting CrossFitting but is having doubts.

This entry is cross-posted on the CrossFit Seattle blog.

Postvacation Reinitiation

Tom and I spent two weeks on vacation in Utah. It was far from a sedentary vacation. Our young nephews in Salt Lake City made every day a CrossFit workout, with tag, basketball, hide and seek, running around the block, kite flying, and most of all the Total Ownership of the playground equipment at the park! Then in Moab we hiked dry creek washes and slickrock in national parks for hours and hours and hours and hours and…

And came back in time for the CrossFit Championship yesterday at Carkeek Park. Tom did the workout and I didn’t. I operated the stopwatch for the start times instead and was secretly relieved not to have to participate in the actual work! It was a beautiful day and a great time.

Today’s 5 PM workout in Scott’s class: an abridged version of the championship workout:
50 kettlebell highpull deadlifts
Run 800 meters (twice around the block)
25 pull-ups
50 push-presses, 45-lb barbell
25 burpees
Tire drag to the bottom of the parking lot and back.

The timer stopped after the burpees. The timed portion took me 14:44. The tire drag was awesome. I thought my legs were going to break off at the knees on the return trip, when my quads took over from my tired rear and promptly gave out. It’s good to be back!

CrossFit Total at Local’s Gym

Local’s Gym, the Lynnwood CrossFit affiliate gym, hosted a CrossFit Total yesterday. Scores are posted here. I squatted 175, 210, and 222 pounds; pressed 75 and 89 pounds (and missed 91); and deadlifted 220 and 255 pounds and missed on 266, which would have been twice my body weight. Guess I better work on that. My total was 566, up from 523.

Jenny O. was especially impressive among the women, deadlifting about 302 pounds at about 128 body weight. Awesome. 

Kettlebell class series 2 wrap-up

Tonight was our last class meeting. It was beautiful and cool out, so we grabbed a light and a medium kettlebell each and walked 3 blocks to the park. On the big cement apron between the basketball court and the restrooms they did kettlebell drills, in between which they would run to various parts of the park to do other exercises: push-ups on the bleachers (elevating the hands), jumping pull-ups on the monkey bars, step-ups on this weird round concrete thing that was just the right height, and back and forth.

I was so pleased to see in these last few sessions of the class that people are doing just fine at all the moves we’ve learned, even the harder ones like the clean and the snatch, which require more technique practice than the basic swing and deadlift. The clean and the snatch, when I introduce it, I almost hate to make people practice it because when you’re new to it, it kinda hits you in the forearm or shoulder in a relentless and uncomfortable way. But they have to practice to get through that, so we do a little in several sessions and that seems to be what it takes. There are lots of partial and unweighted moves that lead into it so that helps at first.

I hope to start a new six-week class around June 2 and am firming that up.