Humping the bar

30 Oct

First, I need to get out of the way my recent PR, since I just updated my status on my goals for the year – I hit my bodyweight on my floor press 1 rep max! Soon I need to retest actual bench press, since that was the official bodyweight goal. I think floor press is more difficult than bench, so hopefully that means bench is even higher!

Onto business – I’ve gotten addicted to getting stronger and watching all my weighted numbers go up. It’s incredibly motivating. Problem is, on some lifts, my rush to get a heavier weight on the bar than last time has caused me to overlook some technique and form work. Things that could actually catapult my strength numbers if I could learn the technique better instead of always just relying on raw muscle strength.

For example, cleans. The way I clean, it’s all in my shoulders. I don’t have a powerful opening of the hip, where my thighs come in contact with the bar forcing it upward. Because of this, I’m not getting the most out of what my body could do. For me it’s a coordination thing – figuring out the timing of when to pop the hips forward and propel that bar up and then get my hips back into a power position to balance the catch. I have the same challenge with snatching. So I’ve added a couple lunch hour dates with myself to just practice technique work with lightweight. I’m practicing lots of cleans and snatches form the hang position to get used to using my hips more. I’ve actually PR’d on my hang clean just doing this (95 lbs). I used to hate the awkwardness of starting with the weight of the bar pulling down on my shoulders and back, but now it’s feeling a little more natural. Next I need to work on my pull, and actually getting the timing from the ground to when my hips need to go. I’ve found really focusing on keeping the bar right next to my body is helping (duh – they told us this back in On Ramp a year and a half ago and I’m finally taking it to heart). I’m going to have to be ready for some bumps and bruises. Ronnie’s cue to help me? “Hump the bar!” And I’ve been focusing on that, every single rep.

I’m enjoying my little technique lunch dates – it’s nice to have no pressure of what weight is on the bar – just focusing on getting smooth, purposeful but natural movements. I’m hoping these practice sessions will help make the work we do in regular class more beneficial and not so awkward and frustrating for me. I already felt better during today’s heavy-ish hang cleans (ok heavy for me, I PR’d!) after both last week’s clean practice and this week’s snatch technique work.

Also, this was a really boring post. I’ll probably never go back and read it again :-)

Checking in

22 Oct

It has been over five months since my last post, almost six! It’s not for lack of activity, but lack of time and energy to put the words down. I’ve had lots of ups and downs and some PR’s in there. I’m in one of those “downs” right now, which is silly because in the last week I have celebrated two PR’s. I’m mostly bummed because I was on my way to the gym tonight, excited to work on some challenging things, and my stomach was just in bad shape on the way there so I turned around and came home. The side effects of my off-track nutrition for the last few weeks has been difficult to shake, and has been putting a damper on my fitness. This should be sign enough to get back to it, no excuses.
My purpose here is to log my progress for the year, which will hopefully give me that extra fire I need to keep pushing for my goals before the year is up. There is barely two months left. So here goes, with goal first, most recent status next. A lot of my stats are actually several months old. Would really like to retest these soon to gauge how far I have to go before the end of the year.

Back squat: 200, 180 (July)
Dead lift: 200, 190 (June)
Front squat: 150, 135 (February)
Bench press: 130, 120 (March)
Shoulder press: 90, 80? I have no idea, I really don’t remember or have record of the last time we did this. It was for 3 reps, and I did 75 for three…
Overhead squat: 100, 105 (June, though I’ve struggled with this as of late and have only been able to do 85 for a few reps)
Pull-ups: entire wod unassisted, check!
Double unders: be able to do them, I’m doing them! Did 2 in a row for the first time last week, then proceeded to do 12 in a row! Still need so much work as I have zero consistency, but these are slowly but surely improving. It helps when I actually practice them…

Below are things I didn’t make goals for, but am fairly happy with the progress I’ve made from the beginning of the year. Except snatch – I know my form has improved a little, but I’m still scared to add weight. It is what it is, I’m not trying to be an Olympian, but I do want to get better.

Clean: 115 (August)
Clean & Jerk: 110 (August)
Power clean: 105 (August)
Snatch: 75 (May)
Handstand push-ups: Surprised myself being able to do several of these over an Abmat a week ago, no kip! Now to get rid of the Abmat…
Atlas stone: I managed to shoulder the 115 several times last month, and one-timed the 90 several times.
Yoke: I think I carried 210 or something like that.

Clearly, looking at some of these dates, I need to retest! Theoretically I should make some of these numbers laughable, but I also know that I’m a mental case…

 

Break on through to the other side

8 May

I’m closing in on my first “official” year of CrossFit. I think our first On Ramp class was around May 15th. Holy Self Discovery, Batman, has it been a year?!?! I wrote this post about my honeymoon stage with CrossFit nearly a year ago, and unless I’m still stuck in the warm fuzzies of a relationship, it is everything I had hoped it would be. And more. I’m just thinking through all the things I can do now that I couldn’t do a year ago:

- Overhead squat: I wobbled through 30 lbs a year ago. Now I do 65 lbs in a workout and can do 100 lbs for one rep.
– Back squat: I started at 135 lbs, now I’m at 175.
– Front squat: I was dropping the bar at 95 lbs in September, and did 3 reps for 130 yesterday
– Dead lift: 155 lbs for 1 rep to 175 for five reps (last one rep max before that was 170, so I’m sure it’s higher now too).
– Bench press: 95 lbs for 1 rep to 120 lbs
– Clean: I remember flailing and struggling through 55 lbs a year ago. Now I do 75 in a workout and have maxed at 100 lbs.
– Jerk: Last summer or fall I could barely jerk 85 lbs, a few months ago I easily had 100, and could’ve had more if I could’ve cleaned more.
– Kettlebells: Started with the 25 lb, now alternate between the 35 and 45 lb bell, depending on the wod.
– Wall balls: I was falling all over the place with a 6 lb wall ball when we started, now I power through solidly with a 14 lb ball.
– Pull-ups: Couldn’t do a single unassissted pull-up, chin-up, or kip a year ago, now I flail through the wod’s with kipping pull-ups, and can do several strict pull-ups and   chin-ups with no assistance.
– Push-ups: I always had a few full push-ups, but always dropped to my knees, now I can finish nearly every workout with no knees.
– Ring dips: I couldn’t even hold myself up steady on the rings when I started, and now I can do a couple ring dips in a row.
– Double unders: I have unsuccessfully attempted double unders for a whole year, making zero progress, not even able to make a single purposeful double under happen, until LAST WEEKEND. Finally got a hand position tip from Ronnie that made all the difference in the world. I made one happen in a giant stomping jump, and repeated that a few times to make sure it was real. Once I trusted myself, I started putting them together with with singles in between and was able to get a short rhythm going. It was one of the best accomplishments I’ve ever had, coming from a year of frustration and zero progress. I was honestly beginning to think I was missing a part of my brain, as the longest running no-double-under-fool in the gym. But no more! I’ve got them, and now I can practice and only get better, just as I have everything else.

When I started CrossFitting, I didn’t really consider myself a CrossFitter. I was just a woman trying CrossFit, but I wasn’t good enough or cool enough to actually BE a CrossFitter. I felt like a wannabe. Somewhere along the lines I embraced it, and I learned that CrossFit isn’t just for the elite athletes. It’s for anyone who wants to grow, change, get stronger, embrace the hard work, and have fun doing it. Looking back on my accomplishments, I actually have some skills up there that I foolishly told myself that once I gain those skills, I can call myself an official CrossFitter. It’s funny, now, but what I didn’t realize is I already had the skill of CrossFit within me all along, DESIRE and WILL. From the first time I attempted a CrossFit workout and went back for more, that was it. I am CrossFit.

Mixed feelings

11 Apr

First of all, I finally got some brave words and feelings out on a blog post on my other, more general “life” blog. The topic is very relevant to this blog, but honestly I have a wider audience over there and wanted to make sure it was shared. It would have been easier to post it here, but I chose to post it there because it was out of my comfort zone and something I wanted to find a way to share. I shivered when I hit the “publish” button on that one. Sometimes it’s so hard to be honest about things that are so personal, but I’m glad I did. My words there have already inspired a small handful of people who needed to hear that kind of simple and good story, so I have no reason to fear. I’ve begun to counteract my fears and worries of what people will think of me about certain things by focusing on what I can do to make my life better and positively influence the lives of those I have contact with. When my cup runneth over and I feel like I might be spilling, I just remind myself of that goal. And it always works – inevitably someone will tell me how I inspired them to make a healthier decision or try something new, and they thanked me for it. So I’ll continue to share the love.

In performance news, I crested the summit of the most recent mountain, and began my journey into the next valley. It hasn’t been a horrible set of workouts, but I haven’t been at my best. I’ve been neglecting to get to bed as early as I should and have had a little extra stress, and my body has been feeling it in lack of strength and stamina. But I went, I survived the workouts, and I tried. I didn’t PR on back squat, which I was really hoping to do on one of my favorite lifts. And generally the WOD’s have been especially challenging for me. But I’m going, I’m persevering, and I know I’m getting better. Sometimes we just have to push through our not so awesome times, knowing there will be a breakthrough eventually that will be worth it. I’ve been through this cycle a couple times before now; I’m learning to not let it get me down.

Sure enough, this week I got a couple nice PR’s, hitting a 100 lb clean & jerk, and 100 lb overhead squat for 2 reps. I always love hitting the triple digits on stuff, especially when it involves upper body strength. I’ve come a long way, and continue to enjoy this journey. What will be next?

Summit

26 Mar

I’ve been quiet lately. Life has been busy. Good busy, but busy nonetheless, and I just haven’t wanted to end any of my days these last two weeks trying to be creative with my words. I’m not trying to be creative tonight, but I need to get some stuff down here for posterity.

There have been some moments lately, the kind that fire me up and keep me going strong. The kind that pick me up after a rough day. I’m in one of those peaks right now where I’m improving at the things I try, fascinating myself yet again with the things I can do. I don’t know when I’ll travel back to the next valley, but I’ll enjoy the air at this altitude as long as I can.

Last week, I did 30 back squats in a row, without racking the bar, at my bodyweight of 130 lbs. It was the hardest I’ve ever pushed myself in a strength workout. Once I hit 18 reps (the number I got last time I attempted this) and began to struggle, I lost confidence and began to settle thinking maybe low twenties would be good enough to finish. But I had the rare and awesome experience of having my husband there by my side, coaching me. Normally this is not a situation I like to be in, but he was all encouragement, giving me just the cues I needed, along with inspiring my need to impress him. I lost count after 20 because I went all cloudy, only hearing his voice, pushing me through one rep after another. All I could do was get one more rep until he told me to quit. When he finally announced “30,” I went to rack the bar and couldn’t. I was stiff and weak, and needed help from the others to guide the bar back into the rack.

Once free of the weight, my vision was black and blurry, and I thought I might hurl. My shoulders and neck were tense from holding the bar, and my hamstrings had no idea what had just hit them. Ronnie said “that’s how you know you had a good strength workout and really pushed yourself! That’s how it should feel.” It took awhile to get ready for the actual wod, which was 65 reps of pull-ups, kettle bell swings, and hollow rocks over the course of 9 rounds. I RX’d this wod, even after my back squat exertion, and actually improved on my pull-ups, stringing 4 – 5 in a row for most of the wod, and much faster with better form than my recent pull-ups had been. They felt good for a change.

Tonight, I enjoyed another PR, by way of bench press. Last time we did 1 rep max, 3 months ago, I broke a hundred by hitting 105. A couple weeks ago, I did 105 for 3 rep max. Today my goal was 115, but then Coach had us thinking of our goal and then warm up with a weight that was 25 lbs lighter, so I thought I’d push myself and go for 120. It seemed like a dream, but why not go out on a limb? That’s where the fruit is (thanks Mark Twain). I busted out my 5 warm-up reps at 95, and then went straight for 110. It was a surprising struggle, as I got caught halfway up but then somehow managed to power it through. I wondered if I should call it a day, since that wasn’t pretty. But no, I couldn’t stop there. I wasn’t stopping until someone had to lift the bar off my chest. 115 happened the same way. In fact it looked and felt just like 110. So why not go for 120? It came down and I fought to make it move off my chest, but it wasn’t going very far. My spotter reached out his hands to catch the bar, so I fought back by pushing it up. His hands floated beneath the bar as I managed to move it up, inch by inch, in slow motion. He never touched the bar. It just took that nudge, that thought of not wanting him to help me up with it, to drive that thing off my chest. It was an amazing feeling – that number seemed so impossible to me even a few hours ago before I attempted it! My goal of bodyweight bench press is not far away. In fact, next time, that will be my goal. It’s only ten pounds away.

Tomorrow we have Nancy, a workout that I’ve been dreaming of RX’ing. Overhead squats at 65 lbs and running. My favorite lift, but it will be a challenge. I’ve attempted 65 lbs in a wod before, but couldn’t finish without dropping to 60 halfway through, and that was fewer reps than what Nancy calls for. But, I’m stronger now, so I will attempt this again. Hopefully I won’t hit the inevitable valley of struggle till after I RX Nancy tomorrow!

I’ll show you how great I am

14 Mar

My friend sent me this motivational video a few weeks ago, said she watches it nearly every day. It has many of my favorite quotes, and it gets me all choked up. But the one that she always says, she’s got me saying: Muhammed Ali’s “I’ll show you how great I am!”

Try saying that just before the 3-2-1 go. Or before a heavy lift. See if it doesn’t light a fire. I’ve found myself saying it (in my head of course) right in the suck of a WOD, when it hurts, when I’m tired. I shout that in my head, I hear my friend’s voice saying it, and Ali’s voice saying it, and my voice saying it. It makes me smile, and it gives me new energy to power through. Sometimes just the smile it brings is what I need, to remember that what I am doing is good and strong and worth it, even when it sucks.

I said it today on the last leg of the one mile run we had to complete after 50 ground-to-overhead with a plate, 50 sit-ups, 50 kettle bell swings, and 50 box jumps. My legs, still sore from Monday, and spent after KB swings and box jumps, were wobbly as I started out, but I found a stride and pace that I could keep up. I tried to pick up speed on the last leg, with my lungs gasping, and could see fellow athletes resting at the finish line, cheering the rest of us to the end. I’ll show you how great I am I thought, as I cranked my arms and busted out what little “sprint” was left in me (it felt like a sprint, but was probably a slow jog, haha). I felt the smile and the strength, it never fails. Thanks, Maria, for the voices in my head. They speak up at the perfect time!

Things I don’t suck at.

8 Mar

Squats, both overhead and back squats. Front squats are coming along. I still love squats. I feel strong while squatting. It’s not easy, but I feel like I get it, and I continue to learn and get better. I trust my thick legs and rounder rump to not let me down. Tonight we did 3 rep max and I got 165. My previous was 155, with 1 rep at 175. I really wanted to try 175 for 3 tonight, but we ran out of time. I was definitely not done. Last week I hit 5 overhead squats at 95. This means I WILL be breaking 100 lbs on my next max set. I am so close and that just seems bada$$ to be able to do that.

Kettle bell swings. The coaches say I’ve got the best form in the house, and it’s strong. I love and hate KB swings at the same time – they wear me out, but I love the focus on posture and momentum and control. There’s also something mesmerizing about swinging a kettle bell.

Squat cleans are a new favorite. I haven’t done a lot, but today got to do them in a 21-15-9 wod, so I got tons of practice. I challenged myself with weight so I’d be forced to drop low in the squat to get under the bar, because that is the hardest part to learn. And it worked – I felt really good about them and got positive feedback from the coaches tonight. The wod was actually both KB swings and squat cleans, so it was a burner and my shoulders, back, butt, and legs will be toast tomorrow, but it was a love-hate kind of wod pain.

Push-ups, especially clapping push-ups, which I did last night for the first time in my life, and did a whole 40 of them to complete the wod. I figured I’d only get a few before switching to regular push-ups, but I managed to keep going and bust out all of them with a clap. And I learned it’s a great pick-me-up to do clapping push-ups. You really have to put some joy and energy into it to make it work. It cured my bad mood last night and got me actually laughing during the wod. That’s a rare occasion! I felt a little crazy. Maybe I am.

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