I really wanted to do my first CrossFit Group Session and WOD with the coach that guided me through the CrossFit Fundamentals course, as I figured she would be able to scale the WOD for me without hesitation and would know what I know/don’t know in terms of lifts, my form (or lack thereof), etc.
But my Fundamentals coach wasn’t doing any sessions today. So I signed up for the 4:30 session, coached by the fellow who administered the Baseline WOD to me last Monday. I knew I was in for pain. Alas, I just jest – he turned out to be a very helpful coach, and within minutes of the session starting, he knew he’d have his hands full helping me…
So I show up 15 minutes early. I walk in and there are about 10 people standing around in the ‘foyer’ (the actual workout area/’box’ is behind a glass wall/doorway and the ‘foyer’ contains some side-rooms, t-shirt/swag stand, and check-in desk. The reason everyone was hanging out in the foyer instead of warming up inside was because there was a CrossFit Kids session in progress, and apparently non-parents aren’t allowed in there until they’re done.
So I look around while waiting, and immediately notice that every freakin person in there, waiting to go in for the same session as me, was absolutely ripped. We’re talking natural ripped – not steroids/ Schwarzenneger. Both men and women. Most in their mid-20’s max. A couple older folks. All were in impeccable shape. I was nervous.
Just then, I notice an obese lady waiting too. I was thrilled, figuring I wouldn’t be the slowest and weakest in the session…until the CrossFit Kids session ends and her kid comes out and they leave.
So we go inside and the coach, an exhuberant fellow, guides us through a warm-up consisting of:
Those bend-over to touch your toes then walk-out your hands to push-up position, do the push-up, then walk your hands back, keeping your knees as straight as possible for as long as possible.
Spidermans (these are a very difficult stretch, where you pose on the ground like Spiderman)
Some arm circles
I was already pretty nervous about this whole thing. And my gut was still grumbling from the big-ass sweet potato I ate too quickly a couple hours prior. So I was already short of breath by the time the 400m run was over, and I started to sweat. The run wasn’t very long so I would have been fine had I not been so nervous or had an upset stomach.
Then, with the warm-up complete, the coach talked us through today’s WOD:
5 Rounds for Time…
5 Hand stand push-ups
10 Hang power snatch (115/75#)
20 Double unders
Truth be told, although probably not in the spirit of CrossFit, I did look on the WOD blog earlier today and knew that this WOD almost couldn’t have been a worst first one for me. I’m sure there are many harder ones, but push-ups (let alone handstand ones), then one of the more complicated olympic lifts, and then double-unders: jumping rope so that the rope goes around TWICE for each jump. I hadn’t jumped a rope much ever in my life.
The coach spent a good deal of time talking us through how to do the Hang Power Snatch correctly. I followed along and felt like I knew what I was supposed to do, but as I found out during Fundamentals, knowing what to do and doing it are two different things. He must have sensed that I was clueless and asked me if I had tried these before, which is when I told him this was my first class and I’d never done any olympic weightlifting. He then had everyone practice a bit – by this time there was at least 15 or 20 ‘athletes’ there, and space was pretty darn tight. Especially when you consider everyone’s throwing down the weights when done, jumping rope, etc. I’m surprised more people don’t get hurt – I felt like I almost hit the coach once when doing a rep of the power snatch.
During the practice reps, I stuck to the bar only. The coach came over and worked with me for a few minutes and then told me to stick with just the 45lb bar and focus on form, and if he saw it was too light for me he’d add some weight during the WOD. I knew there was no way I could handle any weight on the bar yet…
After that, the coach urged everyone to really try to do the Double Unders and not wimp out. I got the sense that a lot of folks don’t bother and just go for standard ‘single under’ jump rope.
Starting The WOD
Next thing I know, it’s “3-2-1-GO!”.
First up is the handstand push-ups. The coach had mentioned that there were 3 levels of ‘scale’ if you couldn’t do the real handstand PUs – first was to use a lumbar-looking pad thing that rests under your head. I don’t get how that scales anything – looks to me it just makes it so if you fall you won’t crack your head as it’ll just bonk onto the padding of this thing. He then said the next level of scale is to do a “Stinkbug” – basically a push-up in the pike position. Last option for scaling was to use a box to support your lower body.
He came over right away and told me to do the Stinkbug style. I did alright with them the first round of five, though they were much harder than regular pushups. I then went to the power snatch and struggled at first but eventually got the hang. The coach spent quite a bit of time with me at that point. 10 reps, plus add 4 or 5 more that he said weren’t right so I re-did, and it was on to the Double Unders. I really screwed myself with these. I should have just ignored his plea for everyone to really try the Double Unders and just do regular jump-rope. But, like a buffoon, I was attempting the Double Unders. And I’m lucky I didn’t Double Over…Eventually, I was able to do a real Double Under once every 2 or 3 tries, but only for a single jump. I’d then lose momentum and trip. And this constant struggling to do them really took a lot out of me, particularly as the rounds continued.
By the time round 1 was finished, I was toast and I knew it. I was sweating like a pig, and gasping for breath. Still, I pushed on. Once in a while the coach would come over and try to inspire me. The first couple of rounds he did. By the third round, I was in a daze. Not truly dizzy or sick or anything. Just spent. Fortunately, I had the discipline to just keep going, but with a healthy dose of leaning over and taking breaths, short pauses.
I finally get to the 3rd round. I look around and see that half of the people are already done. I remember thinking, “These fucking people are freaks of nature!” To put it in better perspective – I was the ONLY one I noticed that didn’t have the prescribed 115lb (men) or 75lb (women) on their bar.
By the end of the 3rd round, doing the jump rope and still trying double unders every 5 or 6 revolutions (a major mistake), I was so drained I wasn’t sure I could finish. But I knew there was no way I was quitting. No fucking way. I asked during the Intro session if there was a portable defibrilator on site and the coach said there was and they were trained on how to use it. I wasn’t that bad today but it crossed my mind.
The coach comes by and asks me what round I’m on. I tell him 3. He tells me 4 will be my last, as there is a 20-minute time limit. I didn’t argue.
The 4th round (for me – most everyone else was done) starts and I am doing the box-assisted handstand pushups. I’m hurting bad. I could barely get on/off the box. I stumbled through the pushups and then did the power snatches. The coach kept coming over and checking my form and this round he kept saying I had it down, but I could tell it wasn’t great. I was too weak by this time to do it right. On to the Double Unders and by the 20th single revolution, after some failed attempts at true double unders thrown in, the coach tells me to quit trying double unders and just do single. I forgot to mention that if you don’t do double unders you have to do 60 single jump rope revolutions. I got on a roll and, maybe it was knowing the pain was almost at an end, I nailed the final 20 jumps in a row.
With the WOD done, the coach had us put the equipment away and then he led us through some stretches.
With the session over, he came over and asked me if I was okay. I said yeah and he replied, “Are you dizzy?” LOL. I was so weak I couldn’t laugh. But I could tell he was concerned as I was so spent by then that I couldn’t muster any emotion in my face to let him know I was okay. He told me to hang out a bit after the WOD before getting into my car but I had to get home to take my son to baseball, so no chilling out and watching everyone else put themselves through torture for me.
I got home and then went to the baseball field with my son and was still sweating like crazy, still recuperating for about 45 minutes. I then decided to walk (there is an excellent walking/running track at this park). I figured it would mitigate soreness and I felt like moving (believe it or not) anyway. I walked for about 40 minutes and started to feel great. Humiliated at how weak I was, and how poorly I felt I did on the WOD. But then it hit me – I’m 40 years old, in the best shape of my life, and I’m CrossFitting. I’m a fucking CrossFitter. A sorry excuse for one, but one nonetheless.
The coach told me, after I assured him I was okay, that “it gets easier.” I don’t really believe him. My competitive nature will just make me push harder. At this point I could give a shit about time or points (all CrossFit workouts are timed or scored). But it will bother me if I’m not at least completing the workout with scaling. Today I only finished 4 of the prescribed 5 rounds. Not cool. I will keep pushing and hopefully within a month or two I will be at least getting through the complete workout, even if scaled heavily.
Next WOD will be Saturday. And wouldn’t you know it – I just checked tomorrow’s WOD (it is posted at 10pm precisely the evening before) and it plays to all my ‘strengths’. Oh well. Hopefully the luck will be with me for my next WOD, which will be Saturday.
Tomorrow’s WOD –
AMRAP in 20 Minutes of: (AMRAP = As Many Rounds As Possible)
10 Chest to Bar Pullups
20 Pistols (10R/10L)
30 Box Jumps (24″/20″)
Teams of TWO with ONE person working at a time
The workout can be broken up in any way. Athletes can alternate rounds or break up each individual round as they see fit. If a three person team needs to be created, the rep scheme should be 15, 30, 45 with two people working at a time.
I ‘graduated’ from CrossFit Fundamentals today, after a lengthy 1.5 hour session this morning.
Very proud of my accomplishment, particularly considering the past year’s difficulty with figuring out and dialing in the proper nutrition for these types of workouts. It is a very difficult and individualized thing to ascertain the right balance between physical activity and food intake to maintain both peak performance and bodyfat at the desired levels. I’m only just beginning but I think I’m on my way. After just a week of CrossFitting I’m already noticing more muscle definition and some loss of belly fat.
I’ve been meaning the last few weeks to check on his progress. I have no doubt he’ll ‘miraculously’ return to Jersey Shore shape quickly. And, as I suspected, he’s got all the ‘As Seen On [insert TV show]!’ ads lined up already for his future benefit on his site, which, let’s be honest – that’s what this is all about. A publicity stunt.
But, here’s where it gets interesting….I just looked at some of his daily meal plans on his site, that outline what he’s eating every day in order to get back to his ‘fit’ state. And guess what? He’s not only doing low-carb….he’s doing VERY LOW CARB. Isn’t that interesting? Looks like he knows how to lose weight very effectively.
Here is a typical day’s worth of food for this guy. It’s super low carb. Full of processed junk, but if your only goal is to lose weight then there’s nothing wrong with eating shakes, ‘protein bars’, etc.:
From https://www.fit2fat2fit.com/Post/667/day-182 –
First thing upon waking up is to chug a 16 oz bottle of water
Meal 1 approximately 375 calories- Spinach Shake without the ½ banana– (1 scoop of IsaPro Vanilla Whey Protein (or whatever kind you decided to use), 3 cups of spinach, 2 tbsp. of peanut butter, ¾ cup of unsweetened almond milk, 2 cups of ice
-Men’s Essential with Product B from Isagenix (or other multivitamin after your shake)
– 1 serving of Ionix Supreme (For those that bought it. If you did NOT then don’t worry about taking it)
Meal 2 approximately 350 calories (Approx. 3 hours later) – 1 can of tuna with 2 tbsp. of mayo with olive oil, 1 handful of almonds
Meal 3 approximately 500 calories (Approx. 3 hours later) – 2 cups of leftover Low Carb Turkey Chili with 2 cups of kale/broccoli mix with zero calorie butter spray.
Meal 4 approximately 250 calories (Approx. 3 hours later) – 2 scoops of WholeBody Green (or protein shake of your choice) mixed with 1 scoop of Vanilla Whey Protein with water and 1 packet of naturally sweetened powdered drink mix
Meal 5 approximately 500 calories (Approx. 3 hours later) – Caramelized Onion Glazed Salmon- 4 filets of salmon, 1 white onion, 8 slices of turkey bacon, 1/3 cup low calorie brown sugar. Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the onion into small slices. Cut the slices of turkey bacon into thirds. Spray 9×13 pan with cooking spray. Place filets of salmon in the 9×13 pan. Place slices of onion on each salmon. Next, layer each salmon with turkey bacon. Then, sprinkle the low calorie brown sugar on top of each salmon. Cover the top of the pan with foil and cook for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 10 more minutes or until salmon is cooked all the way through. Eat 1 Filet tonight with about 2 cups of steamed green beans on the side. Save the other filets for tomorrow.
Meal 6 approximately 250 calories – (This meal will be used as your pre and post workout meal depending on when you work out during the day) – 2 scoops of Isagenix Vanilla Whey Protein. Drink ½ of your shake 30 min. before your workout and the other ½ immediately after
The above daily meal plan is typical, based on the handful of other days I looked through on his site. Aside from some misguided, senseless decisions he’s making (egg whites instead of the whole egg), he’ll surely drop lots of weight on that plan, and if that’s how he’s directing his clients to lose weight, then I’m all for it. I applaud the guy. And I sincerely hope that that is truly how he’s been telling his clients in the past how to lose weight, instead of the ‘low fat, calories-in/calories-out’ mantra that Conventional Wisdom dictates.
Of course, his current diet is not a practical long-term way of eating, in my opinion, unless he wants to eat Quest Bars and protein shakes every day for the rest of his life. But for an initial phase of a diet, it’ll do. And do well. Of course, he could be eating tons more dietary fat and be feeling more full/satiated and lose weight just as quickly yet more comfortably, but that’s his business…
I gotta admit – I’m both very disappointed and encouraged at the same time. On one hand, I wanted to see him go on a low-fat diet, do lots of chronic cardio, count ‘points’ or some other assenine diet, etc. But when push came to shove and he knew he had to lose weight, he’s doing it – low carb.
He’s set to ‘unveil’ his new-found body on national TV in a few weeks. And, I’m sure he’ll say it was all about watching calories, etc. instead of the real reason he’ll inevitably return to Mr. Atlas form – he’s doing a very-low carb diet. Will he be allowed by the network to admit that? Will he call it something else? We’ll see!
“If you are going to do high-intensity exercise, you should eat the carbohydrate that goes along with it.” – Matt Lalonde
<UPDATE – 05.28.2012 1600>
DISREGARD THIS POST UNTIL AFTER YOU READ THIS THREAD:
Notice that the one reply mentions that Mat Lalonde eventually came to the conclusion that carbs were necessary to sustain CrossFit workouts. I will look for the podcast that the thread mentions to confirm, but in the meantime, I am going to either increase my daily carb intake or do carb ‘refeeds’ a couple of times per week to ensure I don’t ‘bonk out’ doing CrossFit.
<UPDATE – 05.28.2012 1600>
I found the podcast in which Matt discusses the ramifications of going low carb while doing CrossFit. You can listen to it here:
The relevant section where Matt speaks to when he finally ‘bonked’ (my term to describe it, and based on his telling of what happened to him, an understatement) starts at 44:07. Key summary:
“If this article had been a published piece of scientific literature, I would have retraced it….it was foolish, stupid, and naive….and no one should attempt what I did…”
Was seeing results improve, but after writing that up “I completely crashed”
A workout consisting of rowing and sumo-deadlift high-pulls caused him to fall to the floor and go into and out of consciousness. He realized his brain was running out of glucose.
He composed himself and quickly went to the nearby Ben & Jerry’s and picked out 3 pints of gluten-free ice cream. He ate all three right at the counter “in a matter of minutes…and I could feel my body soaking up the sugar”
Bottom line from Matt – “Don’t do that.” “If you are going to burn carbohydrate, eat carbohydrate.” He recommends starchy stuff like yucca root, peeled potatoes for this. “If you are going to do high-intensity exercise, you should eat the carbohydrate that goes along with it.”
As for me….once I heard this you know what I did? I went to the local store and bought a pint of Ben & Jerry’s “Everything But The…” (Kitchen Sink), gave 1/3rd of it to my wife, and then ate the rest in anticipation of tomorrow morning’s CrossFit. And, so long as I am still seeing the muscle definition/toning as a result of the super-intensity CrossFit, I will continue to indulge in a super-sugar treat like this once a week if I feel it’s necessary : ) Otherwise, it’ll be a mashed large sweet potato (with butter, heavy cream, and cinnamon) per day to supplement.
So I’ve finished week one of CrossFit and, so far, am experiencing some amazing changes already. I’m very surprised to see a ‘V’ shape starting to form from my chest/arms down to my ‘still-10-extra-pounds-around-it’ of gut. The strength training from the two sessions, which admittedly weren’t really full WODs even, have been enough to stimulate some serious and noticeable changes in my body already and I’m really stoked about that. Yesterday I did 50 air squats consecutively (was easier than I thought it would be), as well as some shoulder dislocations. I’ll continue to do that through this weekend minus Monday, so my body is well rested for Tuesday’s CrossFit session. I gotta admit, if it’s not obvious already – I’m already obsessed with CrossFit and I haven’t even done a group WOD yet. I have my final Fundamentals personal training session on Tuesday, which should be a real monster of a session since my coach is fixing to fit in Fundamentals 2 and 3 into a single session. From there, she said I would be ready to join the group sessions for WODs. I don’t think I’m ready, but what the heck.
Back to the topic of this post. A very important topic that has never been answered fully. At least not that I can find. Conventional Wisdom on diet/nutrition/fitness is dead wrong on most things, so I can’t turn there for any legitimate, research-backed advice on this simple question:
Can I Do CrossFit While Continuing on a Low Carb Paleo/Primal Diet?
With the exponential increase in physical activity that something like CrossFit (or P90X, etc.) incurs, is a low carb paleo (or primal) way of eating still ideal? I know it’s ideal for the day-to-day, and I know it works for active weight loss if one restricts carb intake appropriately. And for those not looking to lose weight, I know that a Paleo/Primal diet will result in that person feeling better overall, with more energy.But what about when one decides to make the jump from a reasonably fit (for a 40-something year old) person to a hardcore athletic training program such as CrossFit?
Do I need to carb-load before or do carb refeeds or just generally increase my carb intake daily to supplement?
Or do I up the fat and protein? Or just the protein? Natural gluconeogenesis, theoretically, should be enough to replenish my glycogen stores without adding any extra glucose (i.e., sugar aka carbohydrate) back to my diet.
This article by Mat Lalonde is the best source on the subject I’ve found:
I felt a little sluggish for the first two weeks and CrossFit metcons really kicked my butt. It seemed like I had to work twice as hard only to come up a few seconds, sometimes a few minutes, short of a PR. However, my energy levels returned between the second and third week of low-car paleo eating. At this point I felt no energy slump in the afternoon (a problem I had previously) and I was having much less of a problem matching my PRs on CF metcons. Most important were the noticeable increases in strength and loss of body fat around the abdomen.
Mat goes on to say:
So where to go from here? I’m going to keep this up because I know I’ll be healthier in the long run by consuming fewer carbohydrates. Does this mean that post workout carbohydrates are bad? Absolutely not! In a situation like the CrossFit games, with multiple workouts throughout the day, PWO carbs are essential. Replenishing glycogen stores takes approximately a day on a low carb diet whereas wolfing down some mashed sweet potatoes will get the job done in a few hours. In addition, the fact that fat slows down gastric emptying probably means you don’t want to be eating a whole lot of it during competition. Easily digestible protein and carbohydrates are still the way to go in a games setting. However, I think my experiment highlights the fact that PWO carbs are a powerful tool that should be used sparingly under the right conditions. Avoiding a carb load after a workout will allow you to hold on to the insulin sensitivity you gained from exercising. This is a huge boon, especially for clients who are trying to improve their body composition.
I urge you to read the full article! It’s well done and gives the proper context.
My Conclusion (For What It’s Worth)
So what does Mat’s experience tell me? I need to stick it out for a couple of weeks eating the way I’ve been eating for the past year and a half, which has been successful for me and, most importantly, I *feel best* day to day as a result of.
But last night I went out to eat with my family with the sole purpose of doing something I haven’t done in months – eat a high-carb, junk food meal. Thinking it would ‘replenish’ the glycogen stores. It resulted in a shared appetizer of nachos piled on with cheese, peppers, chicken, guacamole, etc., one of those big ass cheeseburgers with fries, a ‘Kolsch’ beer (I think Rock Bottom Brewery’s beer generally sucks, and this one didn’t change that opinion) and then a kid-sized TCBY Greek Yogurt (garbage worse for you health-wise than straight-up ice cream). Felt like shit afterwards (physically, not mentally – I know I can absorb meals like that without issue). Very sluggish, and my heart was racing as a result of the influx of sugar from the carbs. We ate at ~7pm and my heart didn’t stop until ~10pm.
And, quite frankly, the meal wasn’t all that good. I only ate half the fries. When you eat healthy, consistently, for as long as I have now, stuff like that loses its appeal. Especially the fries. The burger was decent.
So, I’m gonna try to stick it out and hope that, after a couple of weeks, my body will adjust to the rigors of working out hard and legit while still eating healthy. I just want to avoid getting on the hamster wheel – eating bread, rice, and other poisons only to *have* to workout just to mitigate the effect. That’s not a way to live, but unfortunately it is Conventional Wisdom’s prescription – eat shitty food under the pretense of ‘Healthy Whole Grains’, etc., and then burn it off on a treadmill. How’s that working out for ya?
I’ll be sure to post often as I continue through the CrossFit experience. Jumping into it has reinvigorated my focus on sharing my story via this blog.
In my prior post I talked about how devastating the CrossFit Baseline workout that I endured during my “Intro” session was. That night, I was freaked. I was worried I was not going to be able to sustain that kind of intensity even a couple of times per week. Still not sure, but I completed my first CrossFit Fundamentals class today and it was perfect – both very intense but not so intense that I couldn’t function the rest of the day, unlike the Intro!
Because of my schedule, the kind folks at my local box were very accommodating and allowed me to pick the date and time for my first session. I showed up for what was a one-on-one with the trainer (I won’t include her name here as I didn’t get permission from her first) – a wonderful lady who was very friendly, clearly very knowledgeable, and patient with me. As I was getting my dues paid, she handed me a pamphlet for the Philly CowShare – a way for members to band up and get a group discount on local grass-fed beef. I asked her if most of the people at this box were Paleo and she said with a smile and half-jokingly, “Yup. Almost everyone is in the cult!” I started telling my story and she said, “Primal?”. Yup.
I did very well at this. The trainer said my form was excellent, and although I was out of breath towards the last 100m, all in all I guess I’m a decent enough rower and I was able to recover pretty quickly.
2. 10x Stretching and Push-up Thingys (Don’t remember what they’re called)
Then she had me do a traditional ‘straight leg bend over and touch your toes’ (which I can’t do), followed by walking my hands up to put my body into a push-up position, do a push-up, then at the top of the push-up, slowly walk my hands back into the standing position. Repeat. She had me do a few to make sure my form was right, corrected some things I was doing wrong, then told me to do 10 of them.
3. High Leg Kicks
I’ve never done these but have seen athletes do them. Basically just kick your leg up as high as you can as you step forward (holding your hand out in front of you as a target), then do the opposite leg, then repeat. I’ve seen pro baseball players do this before games. She had me do that for the length of the box (30 yards?). It was kind of tough but not nearly as tough as….
This is where she had my walk in tiny steps and, with each step, kick myself in the ass. During today’s session I learned two things, and one of them was that my balance isn’t as good as I thought it was. So keeping my balance while kicking myself in the ass wasn’t so easy. She had me do this the length of the box.
That concluded the warm-up. I was in a pretty good sweat and breathing hard, but not dying. It was time for instruction on the olympic weight lifts.
I said previously that I learned two things about my body during this session, with the first being that my balance wasn’t so hot. But the biggest one, by far, is that I am now certifiably one of the most inflexible people on the planet. The look on the trainer’s face when she realized this was half-funny and half-scary to me. For about 15 minutes or so I was seriously wondering if my lack of flexibility was going to disqualify me from continuing on with CrossFit, but she assured me I’d be fine given time.
It All Went to Squat From There
I knew from The Primal Blueprint that the squat was the single most important movement for fitness, but until today I didn’t realize just how important. Every lift we covered today was based on the squat.
The trainer asked me if I had every lifted weights before. I explained that I had enthusiastically attempted the StrongGains program, but after a couple of sessions trying my best to execute a proper back squat, I knew I just either couldn’t do it right due to inflexibility, or was doing something seriously wrong. She then handed me a thin PVC bar and demonstrated a proper back squat and had me try a number of times.
My lack of flexibility, which is throughout my entire body, is pretty startling. I think she realized this and at first didn’t believe it. Throughout the different lifts, she was doing all kinds of tricks to get my body stretched – pulling on my arms, she had a lacrosse ball and was needling my shoulders/biceps (which hurt but worked surprisingly well), and at one point had me doing weightless bicep curls with my arm resting on the bar – that HURT LIKE HELL. 3 reps, then move my arm back a half-inch and repeat, until I get to the end of my arm. Then switch to the other arm. Hurt. After the trainer needled my shoulders/biceps with a lacrosse ball for a bit, I was finally able to get the bar comfortably in the right spot on my back for a back squat.
It was around that time that she told me that, in CrossFit, intensity/adversity/”pain” is okay, but real pain is not, and once I feel real pain I need to stop. I replied, “Okay, we’d better stop the workout now then.” I don’t think she got my humor. We moved on to the front squat.
With the back squat the problem was the inflexibility in my hips/back/lower body. With the front squat the inflexibility in my shoulders and arms was even worse. It’s pretty clear that my lack of flexibility is not normal. When I first tried squash, about 12 years ago, the instructor, who was a world-ranked player from Europe, told me that I had the most inflexible wrist he’d ever seen in his life. And he’d been teaching squash for decades…
The front squat required flexibility in my arms/shoulders that I just don’t have, and the trainer made it pretty clear that I’ll likely be limited to the PVC pipe and maybe the bar with no weights for quite some time until I gain the flexibility to safely do heavy weights. My front squat is so inflexible that I can’t get my elbows forward enough to rest the bar on my body instead of holding the weight in my hands, at a downward (and dangerous) angle. Sad but true.
This was posed the same problem – my inability to do a squat low enough. But I surprisingly had another problem – getting my face out of the way when extending the bar up and bringing it back down. It’s tougher than it looked (to me, anyways) and I struggled with it. Eventually I ‘got it’ but I was brushing my nose with the bar and I know that can’t be good. It’s fine with a piece of plastic pipe but not when a steel bar with weight on it is slapping my nose/chin! the trainer said she’s almost broken her nose doing them. I can see a broken nose in my future….
For each of these olympic lifts, the trainer would demo the form, then have me do them a number of times, correct me during until I was able to execute them safely, repeat, etc. We spent about 45 minutes on the olympic lifts.
With the squat-based olympic lifts in the bag, it was time for my WOD. I was surprised by this – I figured I’d worked enough, but really, I knew it was coming. How could anyone escape ‘the box’ without a serious dose of pain on the way out? : )
Introducing the Wall Ball
I’d seen the wall ball on television during the 2011 CrossFit games. If you don’t know what a wall ball is, it’s a medicine ball. In CrossFit, you have to throw it from the deep squat position, up to hit a wall ABOVE a line that is painted on the wall. For men, it is 10 feet. For women I believe the trainer said it was 9 feet. Here is a video demonstrating the form, if not the height requirement:
Although I knew I was in for pain, I was happy to try one of the core ‘skill’ things like this. Looked like fun!
The trainer handed me an 8lb ball and showed me the form and talked about the height requirement, then had me do a few throws. After the first one or two she said, “Whoah! Way too light for you.”, and handed me the 10lb ball she had grabbed for herself. She had me do 5 reps of that and then said that was too light and handed me the 14lb ball. She then told me my WOD was to do 50 wall balls for time. I was figuring 25, maybe 30, but 50?!? Damn. She counted down and said, “Go!”
The first 10 went okay. By the 20th I was hurting. I just did what I had to do during the Baseline WOD to get through it – just don’t even think about it and keep going. When I got to the 25th, I took a short 5 second pause to catch my breath. I then kept going. The last 5 I really pushed the pace to finish. I was spent. Some people behind me were cheering and congratulating me. It was cool. After the humiliation during the lifting training due to my lack of flexibility, I felt like I was a wall ball champion : )
So that was Fundamentals One at CrossFit King of Prussia. When I left I was pretty stoked that I not only survived without them needing to pull out the portable defibrilator, but that I felt pretty good. Sweating my ass off, and soreness was already kicking in, but I wasn’t SO spent that I was worried I may not be able to continue with CrossFit (like I felt after the Baseline WOD). I’m excited to go again, but unfortunately have to wait until Tuesday due to my being scheduled to play golf on Friday for the first time in years, and then the holiday weekend.
But my weekend won’t be pain-free/CrossFit free – the trainer gave me homework: 50 air squats (consecutively, not “10 at a time or any of that stuff”) 3 times per week, in order to increase my flexibility. I will definitely be doing them. Gotta get my flexibility improved. May throw in some video yoga too…
As I wrote in a post just 45 minutes prior to my first Crossfit WOD, I was very nervous about what I was walking into.
As I Was Worried Would Happen…I Got My Ass Kicked
Believe me when I say – it was much more difficult than I had every imagined it would be. It was absolute torture, to be honest. On paper the “Baseline” workout didn’t sound so bad. In reality, it literally kicked my ass. Before I get to the actual workout, here’s what happened –
I have an introductory Crossfit session tonight in about 45 minutes. To be honest, I’m scared shitless. Excited too.
If you don’t know what Crossfit is, then here is a quick video intro:
I’ve been wanting to try Crossfit for a year now. There have been two reasons I’ve avoided it:
My fitness level wasn’t up to snuff. (in other words, I’ve been too much of a wuss)
Yeah yeah yeah – “Crossfit can be scaled to any fitness level!” That’s cool and all, but I didn’t want to be the guy who can’t do a single pull-up unassisted, coming in dead last for months, etc. While I know I’ll be forced to throw all pride out the door as I enter tonight, I can now go in there with the confidence of knowing that for a 40-something dude I’m in half-decent shape. Just not Crossfit-level shape. Likely nowhere near even “Level 1”.
It’s dang expensive.
My local box is $125 per month for only 2x per week. That’s much more than double for an unlimited membership to the local “Globo” gym. But, if I enjoy Crossfit as much as I hope I will, then it will be worth it. Sacrifice doesn’t just have to come from the working out itself but from my wallet, too : (
My main goals for tonight are to: 1. Get past the fear of getting my ass kicked badly, and 2. To not throw up more than once before the workout is done.
So here I go. Wish me luck. I’ll blog about my experience after…so long as I don’t wind up like this guy and can still muster up the strength to write:
It’s been a month since my last post, and I apologize for that!
So what’s been happening?
Well, let me start by saying that I have not regressed, and have noticed a marked improvement in my overall health, as judged by the simple question I ask myself multiple times per day now – “How do I feel?”
The answer? I have been feeling GREAT! I have been for well over a year now. But I assure you it’s not just because I dropped ~65 pounds and have effortlessly maintained it for the past 6 or 7 months. It’s because I’m constantly tinkering and improving my lifestyle choices around:
A month ago, I was focused 100% on really hitting the weight room hard. I cancelled the membership to a nice but pricey local squash club (I was playing squash for a while but my partner, once I got good enough to start winning more than half the time, punked out on me and decided he didn’t want to play anymore). I switched to another local gym that was half the price and offering a 30 day trial. The weightlifting area of this new gym was far superior, and I was very enthusiastic to start doing the Stronglifts routine. Problem was…I learned that I just can’t do a barbell squat. I know the proper form, but physically my body is not flexible enough to do it correctly, or even close. It is downright painful. So I switched to doing body squats, under the guidance of Mark Sisson’s site/fitness recommendations. While I don’t get as low in the body squat as I’d like, it’s getting better. And what I found was that, particularly with the mostly great weather here now, I just don’t need a gym. With constant baseball/softball games (3 days a week) that I have to bring my kids to at a local park with an awesome track, fields, etc., there’s just no reason to pay money to a gym.
So I canceled the membership trial (had to jump through some hoops – boo to you, SWEAT Fitness). I’ve been more active the last month just keeping busy with the usual stuff. So much so, that I try to avoid just ‘sitting at a computer’ much. Hence, no blogging. And my day job has been so hectic, so busy, that I can’t even sneak in a post during the day.
Enough with the Whining…What Have You Done This Month?
Sleep – I’ve been making sure to get to bed by 10pm. Usually I can’t sleep until closer to 11, but that’s okay. I’m getting 8+ hours per night. I’ve noticed a definite better overall feeling when doing this.
Introduced “Safe Starches” and Greek Yogurt – when I was still weightlifting, I introduced a routine of eating a big ass sweet potato within an hour of finishing a heavy lifting routine. That infusion of quality starch/carbs did wonders and my body tolerated it just fine (gas aside). Since I’m not doing the heavy barbell work anymore, I don’t need to eat them and haven’t, but have added more quality carb sources like greek yogurt (the Fage brand, with some honey squeezed into it, is incredibly good). It’s hard to find the full fat greek yogurt (or any full fat yogurt for that matter), but it’s worth the hassle. It is great tasting stuff – with the honey it is basically a desert and tastes like ice cream. Love it.
My weight is at 193. I’m guessing I’m in the 16% bodyfat range, but have no way to test that. I haven’t weighed myself very often – maybe once every 10 days. I am so active, and so in tune with my body, that I just don’t worry about it. At all.