20 back squats follow-up

I told my coach, Dave, about the 20 squats with 70 kg, and how although it took less than a minute, it made me feel like I’d been carrying a backpack up a steep mountain for three hours. He said this shows that I wasn’t using a true 10-rep max for 20 reps; doing so would have taken a lot longer. Doing ten would have been hard to finish, and each one after that would have been a “sheer, miserable act of pure will and struggle” or words to that effect. So what my endeavor actually was was a shot at homing in on my true 10-rep max, which might be more like 85 kg.

While I would have liked to think I really did something TOUGH, this information doesn’t surprise me. I’m not a real risk taker, don’t like to suffer (although that is relative–some people think I love to suffer!), and hate to even think about not completing a set. So, I did a set of 20 that basically I knew I could complete, though heavy. This weekend I’ll try to find a 10-rep max for real.

On the other hand, the CrossFit workouts at the gym are getting so good that maybe I should just do whatever’s on tap in the gym every other day like I’ve been doing lately, and let the results take care of themselves. We’ve fine-tuned our programming a bit and added a lot more joint planning of upcoming workouts. They’re more intense as a result of that and of adding more of a consistent, serious strength component, pursuant to the CrossFit Journal article “Strong Medicine.” I don’t want to beat myself up too much at home in view of this!

20 back squats benchmark

In the gym we’re supposed to try a long, hard set of heavy lifts once in a while, such as 20 squats at your 10-rep max. By definition this would be hard… and would show that your 10-rep max is bigger than you thought.
Recently I did 11 back squats at 60 kg as part of a workout, so I decided to make my first 20-rep workout weight be 70 kg. It was a pretty good guess. I had little doubt upon hitting 10 that I could make 20, but it was hard. If you haven’t tried this, it feels a lot like carrying a heavy backpack up a steep mountain trail. You’re breathless and you want to put it down, but you can’t!

Weighted pull-ups, 2000m row

Last week one of the workouts involved weighted pull-ups and rowing. I hadn’t done weighted pull-ups in a long time because of my elbow tendonitis. It’s so much better now (no symptoms 90 percent of the time) that I decided to try them. The heaviest and most I managed that day was 2 reps with 12 kg. Erika took my picture doing one with 8 kg. Photos and videos that I upload may seem vain; but now that I’ve had the elbow problem and felt like it was such a huge setback, I find it reassuring and empowering to see myself doing some of the difficult drills. So, I’ll use the Internet to indulge myself.

Rowing 2000m, I finished in 8:33.5. Not in the top three women’s times that day, but well under the women’s Level 2 time benchmark of 8:50. It sure was a long eight and a half minutes!

Backbend got a little better

I don’t work methodically on the backbend, but I have tried to get my shoulders, hips, and back to extend more. What a slow process! Still, I think my backbend/bridge is better than it was three years ago. My upper back is more flexible, and my shoulders and hips are just slightly more opened up. If the shoulders and hips improve more, I’ll be able to get my arms and legs a bit straighter and/or hands and feet closer together.
February 2009:

April 2006:

I’d like to be able to lift one hand at a time, even for a second, from this position, but right now it seems there’s no chance of this!

Clean Up Your Cleans

I practiced cleans yesterday with no weight, PVC, weighted PVC, and a barbell. I’m trying to find out if I can do barbell cleans at all without aggravating my elbow tendonitis. So I want to obsess on technique with light weight for a while. I took a lot of video so I could analyze what I’m actually doing. Maybe this can help somebody else too; lots of people have the habit of bending the elbows too soon. My specific goal in working on cleans is to eliminate that habit.
After watching this video, I’m not sure I should be practicing highpulls at all: maybe just straight-arm shrugs followed by hang cleans. That’s what I’ll do next time.

Heavy back squats, yay!

Yesterday in the basement was the first time I’d squatted 95 kg for 5 reps — and I did it twice. I am pleased! It would have been easier in my lifting shoes, but at least I was wearing flat sneakers. This video is of the second of the two sets, taped by Scott, a neighbor who trains with me in the “Dungeon of Dread” on Saturday mornings.

Interesting squat/rowing workout

We did this in Sean’s 7 AM class today but I think Matt came up with it at six.
Body weight back squats, as many reps as possible in 30 seconds
Immediately row 250m
Rest a few minutes
Four rounds. Record the numbers of reps and the row times.

I used 50 kg for the first three rounds, but felt really solid so I switched to 60 (actual body weight) for the last round.

Reps/Times:
8 / 57.3
9 / 58.2
11 / 59.3
11 (heavier) / 58.8

Then we did a kettlebell workout that involved one-hand swings, figure 8’s, clean and presses, halo, snatches, and lunges, and required not putting the kettlebell down for 12 minutes. I only used an 8. Felt great afterward, except for the migraine.