Thursday, December 31, 2009

DEC 30 2009 - Tabata Deadlift

I'm running a day behind the CFFB site, which gave me plenty of time to dread this workout.

Power Snatch 5 sets of 3 reps (55kg)
Strict Pullups 3 sets for max reps (15,11,12)

Tabata Deadlift at 100kg/225#
8x[20sec DLs for max reps, 10sec rest]
(9,6,6,7,6,6,4,3 = 47 reps)

I used my new weightlifting shoes for the power snatches. They definitely make it easier to get into a deep overhead squat. In fact I think I did my first legitimate full squat snatch during my warm-up sets with 45kg. I wish I'd had it on video, but my camera battery was completely dead. Landing low in the new shoes is still taking some getting used to.

Tabata deadlifts are crazy hard. I'd done them before as part of a DL/burpee Tabata mash-up called "Death by Tabata." That was with 85kg and the relative rest of burpees every other round. By round six today my back was screaming at me (tired, not injured) and it took a lot of effort to keep picking up the bar. Glad of the rest day tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

DEC 29 2009 - Back in Chattanooga

Yesterday was a bonus rest day. My recovery has been poor due to lost sleep from travelling and lots of sugary holiday food. Now I'm on a one day delay from the CF FootBall site. I'll stay on the delay until the end of the week, rest Sunday, and be back in synch on Monday.

Squat 3 sets of 5 reps (99kg)
Press 3 sets (5,3,5 reps at 49kg)

As Many Reps As Possible
10x [1 min Sumo DL High Pull (20kg), 1 min Rest]
Goal = 300 reps

My pressing irked me. I don't know why I missed 2 reps on the 2nd set. The last rep of set 3 was ugly, too. The squat went fairly well, I'm starting to get the hang of the belt and shoes.

The conditioning workout got scary reviews in the CFFB comments section yesterday, so I thought I'd be well below 300 reps. Turned out I got 342. I'm guessing there's a disconnect between using the C2 rowing machine and my sumo deadlift high pulls with a kettlebell. I'd love to do this workout on a C2 and compare my score.

DEC 26 2009 - Tabata Run

Squat 3 sets of 5 reps (215# / ~97kg)
Bench Press 3 sets of 5 reps (180# / ~81kg)

Tabata Treadmill Run
8x [20sec running, 10sec rest]
at 15% incline, 7.7 mph

I squatted in my new weightlifting shoes and used my new belt. The support felt good, but I wasn't used to the increased pressure in my face. My face actually tingled from all the extra blood in my head. I contracted slightly less on subsequent sets and experienced no ill effects. It makes me wonder about using the belt, though. I'm most excited to try it on the next really heavy deadlifts I do.

The Tabata run was extremely hard after squatting heavy. I called it quits after seven rounds, since my feet started coming off the back of the treadmill. I had no desire to be flung accross the YMCA.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

DEC 24 2009 - New Shoes!

Thanks to a family member's travel plans we got to open Christmas presents early. (Thanks Courtney!) What was waiting in that shiny box for yours truly? A brand new pair of Rogue Do-Win size 10s! (Thanks Mom & Dad!)

I got to play with my new shoes at the local YMCA, since it is a facility enlightened enough to have bumper plates and rubber flooring. I put 40kg on the bar and pulled a trial squat clean and promptly pitched forward and dropped the weight. Grrr. Second try I overcompensated and almost fell on my butt. I pushed the weight out front and stepped back to save myself the indignity of winding up on my back under the bar. But really, 0 for 2? I tried a few more squat cleans before realizing that I wasn't going to be able to put up any serious weight today.

I played around with power cleans and worked up to a 70kg power clean & jerk. Next I tried power snatches and overhead squats. Again, my balance was off for the overhead squats. At least I was ready for it.

After 30 minutes of play, I'm really happy with the shoes. The power transfer through my shoes felt solid on all the pulls. I just have to work on the new landing platform and adjust my balance. I recommend that anyone lifting in new shoes take a couple sessions to work on balance at really light practice loads before trying to lift heavy in them. After a few more sessions in the new clogs I'll post a full review.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

DEC 23 2009 - Why I hate Mirrors

No, it's not 'cause I'm ugly, but nice try. I hate mirrors in the weight room because they mess with my balance. I learned to squat by reading Mark Rippetoe's excellent book Starting Strength, and he is vehement about looking at a spot on the ground six to ten feet ahead while squatting. His reasoning is that it makes balancing a little easier to have a fixed reference point at about that distance. Since reading that I have not squatted at a facility with mirrors right in front of the squat rack. Until today.

When I squat at home I have a little water mark on the wall that I like to focus on. At the YMCA, the mirror stopped at about the same height as my happy little water mark, so I picked a spot just below the mirror as a point of reference. As soon as I started squatting, I saw myself move in my peripheral vision and couldn't stop from looking up. I wound up with my weight too far back and wobbled a bit in the bottom. Fortunately, this was my first warm-up set, and I had about four more sets to correct my tendency to look up.

But the mirror made it so hard to not look up. It seemed there were two types of distracting thoughts runnning through my head. One is the visceral "look out for danger" response that I have to anything moving in my peripheral vision. The other is more cerebral. I want to check my form. Are my knees staying out? Is my chest up? Did my lower back round at the bottom? It was actually easier to ignore the distractions caused by the mirror once the weight got heavy. The last two reps of each work set were hard enough that all I could think about was driving up.

But I still hate the mirrors. The only reason they're in the weight room is so the boys doing their alternate dumbbell bicep curls can 1) make sure they're flexing their glutes or 2) make sure someone else in the gym is looking at their glutes.

Squat 3sets of 5 reps (210# / ~95kg)

As Quickly As Possible: 100 Pullups

DEC 22 2009 - Bench Reunion

My last bench press was sometime in September, so I wasn't sure how today would go. I was, however, very happy to have the opportunity to push more than I can press overhead. I used the equipment at the local YMCA, so my weights are in pounds.

Bench Press: 3 sets of 5 reps at 175# (~79kg)
Deadlift 5 Rep Max: 315# for 3 reps (~142kg)

Benching felt good. I'd like to be able to do as much benching as the CF Football site programs. It is a very satisfying movement.

The deadlift concerned me. I didn't expect it to be as hard as it was. What I had forgotten is that at home I have a 25mm bar, while the bar at the Y was either a 28 or 30mm powerlifting bar. The extra grip diamter made holding on difficult. I used a mixed grip (one hand pronated, one hand supinated) and alternated which hand was supinated each rep.

DEC 20 2009 - Travel Workout

We were on the road for the holidays, so I made up a kettlebell workout. The heavy lifting will have to wait until I get near a gym.

As Many Rounds As Possible in 15 minutes:
1 Round =
. 2 KB Thrusters (1 per arm)
. 5 KB Swings
. 4 KB Thrusters (2 per arm)
. 10 KB Swings
. 6 KB Thrusters (3 per arm)
. 15 KB Swings

I used a 24 kg kettlebell, which felt very heavy. I spent more time catching my breath than I would have liked, but it was probably good for me. I finished 3 complete rounds and got all of the fourth except the last 15 swings.

I spent yesterday driving, and I'll do the same tomorrow, so it was great to have a workout. If you're travelling by car a kettlebell or dumbbell is a handy impromptu workout tool. Bring it along. For a wide variety of workout options google "kettlebell complex" for a host of different workout schemes. My travel kit consists of a kettlebell, rings, a jumprope, and a programmable timer.

Friday, December 18, 2009

DEC 18 2009 - My First CF FootBall Total

CF FootBall Total:
The total is the combined weight from 1 rep max lifts in each of the following 4 lifts : power clean, back squat, bench press, and deadlift. The lifts are done in that order, with 3 attempts allowed in each lift. Only the best 1RM weight counts toward the total.

Lacking a bench, I substituted the press, which brought down my potential score. On the positive side, I can compare my strength gains to previous CF Totals (squat, press, deadlift) more easily, since that workout uses the press.

Power Clean - 75kg / 165#
Back Squat - 111kg / 245# PR!
Press - 55kg / 121#
Deadlift - 149kg / 328# PR!
Total - 390kg / 859#

I've cleaned 170# before, and pressed 130#. I think my press would have progressed more if I had been able to bench press when the CFFB program called for it. Nevertheless, I'm a lot stronger than I was at the beginning of November, when I started following the CFFB site. On November 1st I squatted a 1RM of 95kg (209#); I'm happy with a 16kg (36#) increase. It's a 15# increase over my previous PR back in April. The deadlift is a 13# increase over my previous PR, also from April.

I'm pleased with the effect that CrossFit Football has had on my body, and will stick with the programming once I return from Christmas travels. Blog posts may be sporadic until the first week of January. Thanks for following, and have a merry Christmas!

DEC 17 2009 - Snatches & Sprints

Power Snatch 5 sets of 3 reps (51kg)

20 x 40m Sprints (on 20 sec rest)

This was a pretty light day by CrossFit Football standards. There's rumors of a CF Football Total tomorrow, so I'm avoiding any extra exercise and saving my energy for tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

DEC 15 2009 - Double Trouble

Strict Chin-ups 3 sets for max reps


5 rounds As Quickly As Possible
. 7 Deadlifts (115kg)
. 21 Double-Unders

I was ready for the double-unders to give me fits. During my warm-up I did several sets, made some adjustments to the rope length, and began cussing. I couldn't seem to string more than two double-unders together without tangling the rope. Oddly, they went pretty smotthly during the workout. Maybe double-unders are like jokes, the more I think about them, the worse I perform.

The original prescription for thw deadlifts was 315 pounds, which is the heaviest I've ever lifted for one rep. I scaled to just over 80% of my most recent 5 rep max. It was heavy enough that I spent slightly more time on deadlifts than double-unders. Total workout time - 18:11.

DEC 14 2009 - Press Progress

Squat 3 sets of 5 reps (91kg)
Press 3 sets of 5 reps (49kg)

4 rounds As Quickly As Possible:
. 5 Clean Pulls (90% 1RM Clean=65kg)
. 10 Strict Pullups
. 15 Back Extensions (Superman)
. 27 Sumo Deadlift High-Pull (20kg)

Even though I didn't get all 15 reps up on the press (missed the last one), I feel that I'm making progress on form. Heavy weights force improvements in form - you weed out inefficiencies or miss the lift. The head-bob that I was doing earlier is much diminished. I'm pretty happy with the lockout position. Also, watch the change in elbow position between when I clean the bar up and the first rep of press.

press 49kg 12 14 2009 from Scott Francis on Vimeo.

The conditioning workout required me to make some substitutions. The original called for back extensions in a roman chair or GHD while holding a 25# weight. I had to make due with Superman back extensions on the ground without the extra weight. The posted workout also called for rowing, which I replaced with 27 reps of Sumo Deadlift High-Pull with a 20kg kettlebell. It took me 13:17.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

DEC 12 2009 - Gardening and Roller Derby

5 rounds As Quickly As Possible
. 3 Power Snatches (75% 1 Rep Max)
. 6 Ball Slams (40# ball)
. 9 Ring Dips
. Rest 45 sec

Compared to the power cleans yesterday, the snatches were much more smooth. The rest period after each round let me push through a little harder. The dips were the sticking point yet again. They got hard after the first round, which was sooner than I expected. I used 45kg for the power snatches and a 20kg kettlebell for the ball slams. The kettlebell left some decent-sized craters in the flower bed.

This evening I got to see Chattanooga's roller derby gals at their first home bout - an exhibition event drawing a crowd of about a thousand. It was good fun. Looked like the gals were working hard and having fun smashing each other up. The rules are still a bit beyond me, but it looks like the female equivalent of hockey, in that fighting is an encouraged part of the game.

Friday, December 11, 2009

DEC 11 2009 - Power(less) Cleans

Power Cleans 5 sets of 3 (67kg)
Strict Chin-ups 3 sets for max reps (7chest+7chin, 4+5, 5+4)

10 x 150m Sprints (on 60sec rest)

My form was a bit squiffy on the power cleans. I've been working up to a 65kg clean & jerk as a regular part of my warmup, but after yesterday's painfest I lacked the snappiness usually present in my cleans. I should have taken video to see how bad it was. But I didn't feel like messing with the camera today.

The chin-ups went better than expected. The fact that I did more than last time means at least I wasn't pulling with my arms on the clean (which is a cardinal sin of weightlifting).

Spirints took between 21.5 and 28 seconds. I have a slight grade on the street, which widened the gap between my splits. Happy it's over. I'm ready for a Guinness float tonight!

DEC 10 2009 - Monster of Another Sort

7 rounds As Quickly As Possible:
. 6 Back Squats (115%Bodyweight = 85kg)
. 8 Broad Jumps (6ft. minimum)

It doesn't look too awful, does it. Trust me, it's a beast. Something about the broad jumps makes everything harder. My thought is that the back & abs get a double whammy from stabilizing the explosive jump, then the landing, and it leaves them whining when it comes time for another round of heavy squats. 85kg was a 15 rep (3sets of 5) PR for me, just a couple weeks ago. Now I got to do 42 reps! Super-happy-fun-time! I finished in 19:30 and went to bed.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

DEC 09 2009 - Zombie Attack Preparation

It has recently been pointed out to me that a 300# deadlift is really only the equivalent of 2 zombies, and that practicing picking up a mere 2 zombies will not help me much if I am being rushed by a crowd of undead. So I'd like to use this rest day to discuss the efficacy of different training methods as preparation for a zombie attack. Feel free to post suggestions for surviving a zombie attack to comments.

Deadlift - Develops strength for moving furniture or broken-down cars to block entry points.

deadlift from Scott Francis on Vimeo.

Power Clean and Jerk - Throw zombies (or parts of zombies) at the attacking hordes.

clean and jerk from Scott Francis on Vimeo.

Press - To push a door closed on an encroaching zombie horde, you'll need functional upper body strength that's supported by your hips and legs. Nothing builds zombie-fighting pushing strength like the press.

press from Scott Francis on Vimeo.

Ball slams - An ab exercise with plenty of crossover value. Trains for the coordination and strength to bash a zombie with a rock on the first try.

slam ball from Scott Francis on Vimeo.

Slasher - This aptly-named exercise develops power in the backswing for destroying the brainpan of zombies with anything from cricket bats to crow-bars.

slasher from Scott Francis on Vimeo.

Thrusters / Wall-ball - Launch supplies or small friends over walls or to the upper level of a stronghold.

thruster from Scott Francis on Vimeo.

wall ball from Scott Francis on Vimeo.

Pullups - Get over that wall or into the stronghold. Strict pullup develops arm strength. Kipping variety trains for power and endurance.

pullups from Scott Francis on Vimeo.

Burpees - After playing dead to allow the hordes to pass in favor of fresh victims, hop up & run away.

burpee from Scott Francis on Vimeo.

Sprints - Obvious. Distance running can help, but the initial speed to escape the zombie's grasp is most important. Their shuffling gait is an impediment to their endurance.

Jumprope - Agility training. Avoid ankle-clutching zombies hidden in sewers, reaching under fences, etc.

jumprope from Scott Francis on Vimeo.

Box jumps - Hop over obstacles. The more difficult your escape route, the more it'll slow down the zombie horde. Obstacles buy you precious time to reload or check the map.

box jumps from Scott Francis on Vimeo.

Farmer Carry - Be able to drag a friend to safety.

farmer carry from Scott Francis on Vimeo.

Knees-to-elbows - Besides being a great ab workout, it's excellent practice for keeping your legs out of reach as you're clutching the skid of the rescue helicopter. There's alway one guy who gets pulled back into the waiting arms of the hungry horde. Don't be that guy.

knees to elbows from Scott Francis on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

DEC 08 2009 - Return of the Deadlift!

Deadlift 5 Rep Max (139kg)
Max Reps Strict Pullups x 3 sets (on 2:30 rest)

As Quickly As Possible:
30 Push-press (55kg)
10 x 40 meter Sprints (on :15 rest)
30 Push-press (55kg)

I got my deadlift back over 300 pounds! Last time I lifted this much was May, when I set my current personal best. Since I was able to get 5 reps, I feel like I could set a new PR as soon as next week. I'm hoping for a CFFB Total so I can give my 1RM a try.
My pullups are suffering a little for now, since I'm gaining bodyweight. I'm up to 73kg (163#). Pullups: 4 chest-to-bar + 7 chin-over-bar, 3+5, 3+5.

I had to make some substitutions to the CF Football conditioning workout. It called for 30 reps of bench press at bodyweight. I have no bench, so I opted for push-presses at 75% of my bodyweight. 73kg x 0.75 = 55kg. Finished the conditioning workout in 17:37.

Monday, December 7, 2009

DEC 07 2009 - Press Trouble

Squat 3 sets of 5 reps (89kg)
Press 3 sets of 5 reps (49kg)

As Many Rounds As Possible in 15 minutes
1 Round = [10 Ring Rows, 10 Ring Push-ups]

I felt good on the squats. The press was hard, I got 4, 3 & 3 reps. Didn't complete any of the sets. If the pattern holds, I'll get all 15 reps next week. If not, I'll have to re-think what to do for the pressing exercises. CrossFit Football prescribes press on Mondays, bench press on Thursdays. Since I have no bench, I've been playing around with different substitutions. At first I also pressed Thursdays, but hit a wall trying to increase the load twice a week. Next I tried 5sets of 3 split jerks, on the theory that supporting a heavier load than I can press would drive improvement on my press much like the bench press would. It'll be interesting to see how that works out.

I finished the conditioning work with 11 full rounds and 2 more ring rows.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

DEC 05 2009 - Social Suffering!

Our neighbor Bryce invited us to the local CrossFit affiliate (Get Built Chattanooga) for their running of "Fight Gone Bad" a notorious mainstay of the CrossFit community. It was great to work out in a group again. Shared suffering is great for bonding with one's fellows, and it's a little easier to find the motivation to push hard when other athletes are putting up inspirational efforts and there's a cheering section. (Thanks, Hope & Robbie!)

Fight Gone Bad:
Five stations:
. Rowing machine (count calories burned instead of reps)
. Sumo Deadlift High-Pull (75#)
. Push-Press (75#)
. Wall Ball (20# ball, 10 ft. target)
. Box Jumps (20" box)
Spend one minute at each station; do the maximum ammount of reps. After all five stations, rest exactly one minute. Repeat for a total of 3 rounds. (18 minutes)

Audrey did a great job at her first official FGB, scoring 225! And I put up a personal best of 266. Many thanks to Bryce for bringing us; we had a great time working out and meeting people.

DEC 04 2009 - Runnity-Run-Run

Power Snatch 5 sets of 3 reps (49kg)
Strict Chin-ups 3 sets for max reps (14,8,8)

8x 200m Sprints on 2:30 rest

I tried the first set of power snatches at 55kg, but it was too heavy. Once I learn enough technique to get all the way under the bar in a full overhead squat I think I'll have no problem with that weight. But for now, it was too much to lift 15 times.

I did as many chest-to-bar chin-ups as I could before resorting to chin-over-bar. For some reason I find it easier to get strict chin-ups (palms facing me) chest-to-bar, than strict pullups (with palms facing away). Thinking back on it, I'm curious if it has to do with different grip width on the bar, range of motion from the wrist rotation, or different muscle involvement. Any guesses?

The sprints workout was more running than I'd done in a while. It totaled a mile. I ran up hill from my house 200m (each took between 41 and 44 seconds), and walked back for the next one. The return walk usually took about 2:15. I don't think it was the best rest pattern. I would have gained more benefit if I had lied down or sat for 2 minutes, but the workout took 25 minutes as it was, and more rest would have cut into my supper time. I could have rested at the far end of my sprint, and run the even sprints downhill, but I don't really care for downhill sprints. It's harder on my joints and gravity is doing most of the work.

It was interesting to note how long I could go all-out. It was only about 120 meters. After that my leg cadence slowed noticeably. I was able to keep my speed up longer towards the middle of the workout, once I focussed on it. Then I began decelerating sooner as I fatigued. Makes sense, but it was good to feel, so that I know to watch for it in others.

DEC 03 2009 - Substitutions

Sorry for the delay in getting these posts up.

Squat 3 sets of 5 reps (87kg)

As Many Rounds As Possible in 15 minutes:
1 Round = [3 Handstand Pushups, 5 Strict Pullups, 7 Knees-to-Elbows]

I made two substitutions: I did incline push-ups (feet 4' off ground) as I don't yet have a handstand pushup, and I counted pullups where my chin rose above the bar but where my chest failed to touch the bar. Since this Summer I've been doing chest-to-bar pullups and feel that it's been a tremendous aid in getting my first muscle-up, and improving pulling power all around. But I have a hard time getting chest-to-bar without kipping. So I still do strict pullups to the chin-over-bar standard.

10 rounds + 2 incline pushups.

Friday, December 4, 2009

DEC 01 2009 - Need Help Counting

A condition I refer to as the deadlift dumb-dumbs set in almost immediately. I have my deadlift 5 rep max very close to my past personal best. As soon as I set down the 5th rep I was overcome by a desire to go to bed. No shower, no stretching, certainly no conditioning workout. But I settled for 5 minutes of laying on the floor, then geared up for a big, heaping serving of power cleans & push-ups. The amount of reps decreased by one in each set. I used to know the mathematical formula for figuring the total number of reps, but it eluded me tonight. Thankfully, my lovely assistant handled the counting.

Deadlift 5 rep max
As Quickly As Possible: Alternate sets of Power Cleans and Push-ups
. PwrCLN - 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1
. Push-ups - 20,19,18,17,16,15,14,13,12,11

I used 55kg for the power cleans, and finished in 14:22. Out of curiosity I used Catalyst Athletics' on line power calculator and found that I averaged 122 watts for the conditioning workout.