In CrossFit, you’re technically not supposed to prepare for a specific workout. It’s probably even ‘cheating’ to some extent even looking at what the WOD is going to be in advance. I always look at what the WOD is going to be before I go, but I’ve been good at not cherry-picking. I promised myself I would never do that and I haven’t yet.
My Primary Weaknesses So Far
In the title above I say “Primary” because, to be honest, I’m weak at everything. I lift less weight (MUCH less), my technique sucks at all skills, I am a slower runner, etc. Now that I think about it though, I CAN do a handful of strict pullups unassisted. Apparently not everyone can when they start. And my rowing is okay for a beginner. Aside from that, I’m screwed.
This past week the two WODs I did (I’m still on a 2x per week membership) were focused on olympic lifts. One was the jerk. The other WOD focused on the front squat. In both of these WODs I found that just getting the technique down has been really challenging. The front squat came together after the first 10 reps or so, once I got my grip position sorted out. My hands/wrists were still aching, but it wasn’t too bad. The jerk never came together for me. And other skills attempted during prior weeks, such as double-unders, are a pipe dream. When I tried those I could barely string together a decent series of single-unders. And struggling with it took the wind out of me, which made it that much harder to do the stuff that’s supposed to be harder, like the handstand pushups (or stinkbugs, which is what I had to scale to) or whatever follows the double-unders in the WOD.
My body isn’t recovering quickly enough to do CrossFit 3x per week. That is my ultimate goal. Mentally I want to do it now, and I’m half-tempted to go for it, but my concern is getting injured. When you hit 40 years of age and you’ve never done any real athletics since your early teens, you can’t get delusional and think you can just jump in there with a ‘no pain, no gain’ attitude. Well, attitude is good but this shit is too damn hard on my body to just push through it more than I already am. It’s tempting, when I walk into the box and look around and everyone is so buff and lifting tons of weight. But some of these dudes are the type that will ride their mountain bikes home from a vasectomy. They’re badasses. I need to work up to that…slowly.
So my solution? I’m going to beat the system! Well, not quite. Looking back over the WODs I’ve completed so far, a few things stick out at me as clear problem areas I need to focus on:
- Olympic Lifting Technique
Today, along with a bunch of other errands I need to get done, I’m going to do what I’ve been meaning to do for a while now: go to Home Depot and buy a section of thin diameter PVC pipe. Same as they have at the box. For me, I think it’s important that I start using it as a stretching tool to get my shoulders opened up more. While I need flexibility work on my arms, hips, legs, etc., and especially my wrists (they are *really* abnormally inflexible), doing shoulder separations (commonly referred to as “Pass-Thru’s”) may help.
I’m not kidding about my wrists. I took an introductory squash lesson about 10 years ago and the instructor kept telling me to cock my wrist while holding the racquet. He grabbed my hand and pushed back and when it wouldn’t go any farther he proclaimed, “You have the most inflexible wrist I’ve ever seen in 20+ years of coaching.”
Here are my hands when stretched ‘back’ as far as possible. Not even close to perpendicular to the arm:
Now you try the above with your wrists, pushing back as far as you can, and compare the results.
Ideally I think I’d benefit from yoga, but I can’t afford to do both yoga and CrossFit, and I’m not one to roll a mat out in my family room and follow along to one of those yoga OnDemand tv shows.
Olympic Lifting Technique
Another big problem, particularly with the two very complicated (for me) olympic lifts has been my total inability to just physically memorize the movement, let alone worry about lifting real weight. I really didn’t expect so much technique would be involved in this. The lifts look so simple when others do it, but I’m finding it’s not as easy as it looks. And apparently it is a learned skill. I found this video of the snatch that seems to underscore that it is a learned skill and not simply something where you just need to know how not to injure your back. There’s more to it.
Another thing I did this week was to go out and purchase a speed rope like this one:
It was cheap at my local sporting goods store ($6), and if you have an Amazon Prime account you can get them for as little as $2 on there with free shipping. My local sporting goods store had some $15 ones that looked nicer but I took a chance going cheap and it definitely was the right choice as this rope is plenty sturdy. While I certainly won’t be doing double-unders any time soon, I can practice the single-unders so that I won’t have to worry about expending all of my energy during a WOD fumbling and tripping over a jump rope.
With all that said, the absolute biggest problem is that my cardio is just not up to snuff. After yesterday’s pre-WOD warm-up (200m run, followed by burpees, followed by broad jumps and spidermans), I was sweating like crazy and out of breath while everyone else looked fine. Gotta add aerobic conditioning to the list….
Would love to hear from other CrossFitters, especially those new to the sport. Leave a comment below. Do you work on skills/technique outside of the box?