I just finished my fourth week of Crossfit so I thought it was time for an update. In four weeks, I have done a lot of different exercises and there are also a lot I haven’t done because the workouts didn’t line up with my schedule. So I am just going to run through my initial and current thoughts about the exercises I have done.
Pistol squat: First time through, I realized that my right leg is significantly stronger than my left, and I am also much more flexible on that side. Like, I can actually perform a proper pistol squat on the right side, but the left leg I can just barely get to 90 degrees. And my left butt cheek was really sore for three days afterward. Second time through: same problem. Guess I need to head to yoga.
Pullups: A staple in almost every workout, including endurance based classes. I couldn’t do one unassisted pullup before starting crossfit and I am pretty sure I still can’t. I haven’t tried. But, I can tell I am getting stronger because my assisted pullups are faster, and I can actually feel myself using my back muscles instead of just my arms. As I get larger and larger in the coming months, I am fairly certain my increasing strength will be quickly outpaced by my changing center of gravity and the difficulty one encounters when doing a weighted pullup. Guess this just means I will be able to kip 20 pullups in a row once I drop this baby.
Pushups: So, I have been doing pushups wrong for the past 25 years (that’s right, I did pushups as a toddler). I had my arms all wide and flared out, but the Crossfit way is more of a tricep pushup. Okay, so that’s a lot more difficult. I could do about 3 of those pushups when I first started and I can do 10 now, so that’s progress. I typically will just do a knee/”girl” pushup if it’s a workout with over 50 pushups total. I’d rather have full range of motion than do a wimpy 2 inch unmodified pushup.
Tire Flips: Let’s just say, my back doesn’t like these. I did them with Ironman champion (participant) Sherman Lee Criner for the first time last Thursday and it probably didn’t help that we were outside and I had running gloves on because it was an outdoor endurance workout and it was freezing. Tonight, we did 4 sets of 6. I did two sets then decided that I would have to substitute something else or just use a partner, because I am either going to throw my back out again or the baby is going to fall out. We don’t see tire flips that often- two workouts in the four weeks I have been there- so I’m not really concerned.
Kettle Bell Swings: I pretty much kick ass at these. The first time we did them in a workout, the Rx called for 16 kg bells. That 16 KILOGRAMS, as in 35 pounds. When I have previously done kettle bell swings, I used a 20 pound or maybe 25 pound bell. 16 kg is a big jump in weight, but after two workouts I felt very comfortable with the weight and now if I see kettle bell swings, I get excited. It’s pretty much the only exercise that I don’t have questions about my form, and don’t ever have to modify.
Power clean and hang clean: I pretty much suck at these. I have zero flexibility in my shoulders and elbows. So when I go up from the power position and have to whip my elbows around to rack the bar on my shoulders, it takes like 15 minutes. Not really, but it’s definitely not awesome. My max has improved but I think that is largely due to improving my form (marginally) and using my legs instead of my arms.
Back and front squats: I prefer this type of lifting to the cleans. It helps that my legs are like tree trunks. The previous back issue has had me hesitant to lift too much, and fear of the baby falling out at some point also keeps me from going beast mode on my lifts. I have just been working on form and again, have had a good improvement in my max. I will probably not lift too much more in the coming months simply because I want to protect my back (and my front).
Push press, thrusters, snatches, other upper extremity movements: Nothing too exciting here. I enjoy all these exercises. Have done them in the past so it’s just been a matter of moving up from 15 lb to 20 lb to 25 lb dumbbells or increasing load on the bar if the workout doesn’t call for dumbbells. But also I am protective of my right shoulder with these overhead movements.
Box jumps: I have always been awful at these because I have about a 16 inch inseam. I will probably switch to step-ups in a month or so, for safety reasons.
Turkish Getup- These aren’t so bad. I have only done them twice. Granted, maybe I didn’t loathe them as much as most people because I only used a 10 pound dumbbell instead of an 8 kg kettlebell. Again, I’m working on my form here. Also, getting up from the ground is not going to get any easier as the months progress.
HSPU (hand stand pushups): Haven’t done them. Never will, unless I get a shoulder replacement.
Farmer’s walk: Who invented these things? Can someone explain the purpose? Walking 40 meters with a pair of 24 kg kettlebells just seems like an exercise in who has the strongest hands? Oh, I guess that explains the purpose- to increase grip strength? And to help me understand how Jessica Simpson felt walking around when she was 40 weeks pregnant with her first child?
Rowing: I enjoy rowing because of the endurance aspect. I am not very tall so I feel like this is a disadvantage, but I can still generate some decent power and don’t get winded too easily. Haven’t seen much of a change because I have only rowed a few times.
Sled push: I am not terrible at these. Again, tree trunk legs. Also, low center of gravity.
Burpees: Love burpees, always have.
Double unders: Not happening. Y’all, I can barely skip rope. I think my record is 52 skips in a row without getting tangled in the rope. It is SO sad. I need serious help. Like a Sylvan Learning Center for jump roping.
Wall balls: First time, I thought “this is the worst thing that has ever happened to me.” The target was at least four feet higher than where I was hitting the wall. The second time I thought “this is the second worst thing to ever happen to me.” The target was at least three feet higher than where I was hitting the wall. The third time I thought “this sucks, but it doesn’t make the top 10 worst things to ever happen to me list.” I got within a foot of the target, I think.
Other things I have never done: muscle ups and rope climb. I can assure you that there is NO CHANCE I will complete a muscle up in the next year. My goal is to do two unassisted pullups before 2015. I am pretty sure you have to be able to do more than 2 unassisted pullups to do a muscle up, so I will push that goal to something I want to accomplish before 2017. Rope climb- not doing this one until after the baby comes out.
There are other exercises I am leaving out but whatever, my hands are too tired from doing those damned farmer’s walks tonight. Other random thoughts: much to my sister-in-law’s satisfaction when she accompanied me to a workout last week, most of the women do NOT wear sports bras and booty shorts. Only the women that I see doing the “advanced team/elite” workouts at 6am wear this attire, as well as knee socks. If I had those abs, butts, and back definition, I would wear the same thing. Speaking of the elite team that has their own special club and workouts, this one chick can throw a 16kg kettlebell over her head, one-armed like it is a bottle of yoohoo. I think she overhead squats my current body weight. Which by the way, has increased significantly over the past four weeks. Please someone tell me it is because I am getting shredded and have way more muscle mass than I did in October. I find this highly unlikely given that I have not changed my diet other than substituting salsa eggs and oatmeal for my morning Bojangles.
Okay, enough rambling. What are your favorite Crossfit workouts or exercises? What do you least look forward to?