I Just Finished Murph…

First of all, to all of you who did Murph this Memorial Day weekend, Congratulations!  Nothing about this workout is easy and it’s such an amazing way to remember first off Lieutenant Michael Murphy who died for our freedom and all the amazing and wonderful men and women who sacrifice every day for our freedoms.  Thank you, service personnel past and present!murph-700x587

Here’s a short video with the history of the Workout and of Lt. Murphy.

http://www.menshealth.com/fitness/the-history-behind-murph

Also, I would highly encourage you to visit The Murph Challenge is the Official annual fundraiser of the LT. Michael P. Murphy Memorial Scholarship Foundation, presented by Forged, and helps kids attain their college dreams.

This was the first time I have done Murph as prescribed (RX’ed for short) with a 14 pound weight vest (I discuss this HERE).  I beat my previous Murph time by almost 2 minutes when I did it 6 months ago on Thanksgiving!  I was shocked.  I have gotten that much stronger.  I now have butterfly pull-ups.  And I partitioned the push-ups to 5 and 5 with the squats in-between.  I am so happy!

I think a lot of us underestimate ourselves.  I just wasn’t for sure how I’d do with the extra weight and it wasn’t that bad at all.  But in my mind it was gonna be bad.  It’s funny how the human mind talks us out of success.

It’s also funny how at the start you think, “How am I ever gonna do this?”  And then once it’s done, you realize you did it.  What a boost!

Lesson of the day:  Quit underestimating yourself and fake it till you make it.  Cause you will make it.

The Coach is the Thing…

I’m disappointed in myself.

Very.

I’m still working my way through Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe (see review HERE), and I’m learning things I was never taught by my coaches at my box.  Things I never knew that has revolutionized how I’m going to approach lifts in the future.

  1. I’m disappointed in my coaches because I know for a fact they have not read this book (I asked them).
  2. I’m super disappointed in myself.

I’m a perpetual learner and researcher.  When I first began CrossFit, I’d look up every move on the Internet and study it.  I’d practice the moves at home before I went to the box.  I’d read articles.  I’d do it all.

But I’ve never read a book on strength training and I don’t know why.  In fact, it was my husband who ordered this book and it’s been lying around my house for 6 months until I ran out of books to read and not wanting to spend any money on any more books I picked this one up.

For the past 10 months, I’ve been in my box’s coaches development program (which I have since completed).  It entailed shadowing classes for 60 hours and watching the coaches coach and the athletes train.  I’ve learned a lot from doing this.  I’ve watched others do toes-to-bar, and I learned how to do them.  I’ve learned that in the middle of a WOD most everyone’s form sucks because of the hurry to finish the reps.  I can now spot faults and tell you why you’re doing them.  However, this all pales to what I’m learning from this book.

Maybe my mind wasn’t ready for it.  Taking my L1 CrossFit certification when I was brand new to CrossFit probably wasn’t the best idea I’ve ever had.  I would have gained a lot more waiting.  This is my logic for this book right now.  It all makes sense to me probably because I do have the background of having done these moves.  However, that doesn’t erase the fact I wish I would have read this sooner in order to improve my personal lifts.

Most coaches at boxes do the best they can.  Some are good.  Some are terrible.  Some care.  Some don’t and are just there for a paycheck or free membership.  Most learn through a weekend course where you don’t really learn anything and through shadowing, watching, and giving cues themselves.  This in no way substitutes for professional coaches who have been trained how to properly coach Olympic moves.  Most haven’t.  It takes years of learning and practice to become proficient at spotting nuances in others’ moves and giving the right cues that will click with each individual.  You need one on one attention to get better.  And in a class of 20 people that’s never going to happen.

So take the initiative and do it on your own.  Search out the quality, professional coaches and learn from them.  Perpetually learn and read and study and put into practice what you learn. With CrossFit, you’re never an expert.  There’s always a weakness to work on. It’s what attracts so many people to the sport.  Never boring.  Always different.  Always challenging.

Once I get past the disappointment, I’m excited.  Excited to improve my form, my lifts, and my PR’s.  Excited to do it right the first time and every time thereafter.  I’ll have to take a step back in order to move forward but that’s ok.  That’s what learning is all about:  doing something better when you know better.

What is a CrossFit Benchmark and, more importantly, Why Should You Care?

CrossFit is known for constantly-varied, functional exercises in many different time modes and sequences.  There are an infinite number of workouts so odds are you won’t ever do the same one twice–except for Benchmark Workouts.

bcef77c41cc81725d60ba2400bea3b09So what is a Benchmark Workout in CrossFit?   Benchmark workouts are designed to measure improvement through repeated, regular appearance in your medium- and long-term regimen.  They first appeared officially in the CrossFit Journal in September 2003, and that early list included Angie, Elizabeth, Barbara, Chelsea, Diane and Fran.  The motivation for naming them, as Glassman said in December 2009 discussion, was simple: He wanted to be able to explain the workout once to his group, give it a name, and then refer to the name next time the workout came up.  It’s easier to say “Fran” than to say “a front squat into push press followed by pull-ups.”  Why girl names?  Well, think of hurricanes.  Greg Glassman, the founder of CrossFit, has said, “any workout that leaves you flat on your back, staring up at the sky, wondering what the hell happened, deserves a girl’s name.”

Why should you care?  Because these workouts is what tells you you’re improving.  You’re getting stronger.  You’re getting fitter.  Because when you stare at yourself day-in and day-out, you seem the same.  Someone else has to tell you.  Someone else had to tell me I was gaining muscle.  Someone else has to tell me my stomach is leaner (because to me it’s always fat).  Some outside source has to be your guide or you’re stuck in a mindset of uselessness.

Benchmark workouts do just that.  This week we did Helen.  Helen is three rounds for time of 400 m run, 21 kettlebell swings, and 12 pull ups.  I beat my time by almost a minute from just 2 months ago.  I know this is due to the fact I now have butterfly pull-ups; whereas, before I did not.  It makes you feel good when you beat your old time of a timeless workout.

CrossFit works.  You change.  You grow.  You’re stronger.  You’re healthier.  You’re amazing.  And benchmark workouts verify just that.

Always Go the Extra Mile…

Frequently in CrossFit I lap others when the Workout of the Day is five rounds or more.  Today we did Helen which is three rounds for time of 400 m run, 21 kettlebell swings, and 12 pull ups.  I PR’ed in just under 10 minutes and beat some by a full round.  Usually, I do an extra round.  I do this for many reasons:

1)  I can’t stand to stand around.  I have to be moving all the time.

2)  I become bored easily.  Hence, the have to be moving all the time.

3)  For me, 3 rounds is not enough.  I love the long workouts (why I can’t wait for Murph)  A short workout makes me feel like I’m not working out.  So I keep going.

Today I did an extra round of Helen.  I had planned to do 5 rounds but stopped at 4 because I hate kettlebell swings and wanted to work on my butterfly pull-ups more than I wanted to do another round.  I do CrossFit because I love the workouts–so much so I don’t want to stop!

Call me crazy or what have you but this translates to life.  Always go the extra mile.  In your job.  In your relationships.  In your workouts.  In life.  You will be rewarded.  Do something special for other people.  Help a co-worker.  Burn a few more calories.  You will feel better because of it.  And that’s what life is all about…

The Difference 5 Pounds Makes…

Five pounds.  That’s not a lot, right?  Most people would agree with you.  Not lifters.  Not at all.

Five pounds DOES make a big difference as you’re approaching your max in any olympic lift.  I can’t explain why but it does.

Several months ago, frustrated by my gym’s 2.5 pound weights, I bought a set of 1 lb weights, 1/2 pound, and 1/4 pound weights.  Then I can push my max incrementally and not stagnate at a certain weight.71zh602bopsl-_sy355_

This has been one of my best investments hands-down in CrossFit equipment.

Today we had a WOD with 10 jerks at 95 lbs for women.  The last time we had a WOD with jerks at 95 I had to drop.  First I dropped to 90 lbs and then finally landed at 85 for the remainder of the WOD.  It was very frustrating for me.

So I decided to push my jerk weight slowly in order to reach 95, a popular weight for women’s WOD’s.  Today, I used my 1 lb weights and did the whole WOD (30 reps) at 87 lbs.  Next time, I’ll go up to 88 and so on and so forth until before you know it, I’m at 95.  The extra 5 lbs makes a huge difference, especially when you’re talking dozens of reps.  But I’ll get there.  Smartly.  And not be stuck at 85 lbs for the next 6 months.

I would suggest the same thing for others.  Invest in the smaller weights (they weren’t that expensive) and see your max rise–slowly.  And slowly is better than not at all.  Just ask the tortoise.

Overcoming Muscle Memory…

Muscle memory.  Love it.  And hate it.

Today during my power snatches, I reached my max.  In order to land it proficiently, I had to drop lower in my squat.  Well, it’s really, REALLY hard when my muscle memory hits the same spot every time.  I have to focus on it in order to land lower.  But I also have to focus on bar path and lock out, etc.  Ugh!!!

You want to train muscle memory and rely on it when the weight is heavy.  Yet in this instance, it’s not such a good thing.  So how to overcome it?tip-do-the-power-snatch-from-the-hang

My plan is to train it with low weight.  Drop lower than I need to with an empty bar and then gradually add weight.  And of course to do this over and over again–to reprogram the memory so I can drop lower when it’s heavy.

It’s why I’m seeking a CrossFit coach for my girls.  So they learn it correctly the first time. However, I’m finding it extremely challenging for private lessons when they are teenagers.  No one wants to do it.  Or they want to charge me a fortune.  Very frustrating for me.  I’m L1 Certified and can.  I’m just unsure of my skill level.

With CrossFit there’s always something to work on.  ALWAYS.  Never boring that’s for sure.

The Days I Wish I Didn’t Go to CrossFit…

Today was one of those days.  It was a partner WOD (which aren’t my favorite because I can never find partners at my level–see post HERE).  I went however mainly because that’s what I always do.

I regretted it.

I should have hit the pool instead.

I was swimming regularly until I got my tattoo and it’s completely changed my swim schedule (you have to wait until your tattoo is completely healed to expose it to chlorine).  I have one more session to go in June on my tattoo and then I should be back to normal.  But that’s beside the point…

The workout was dumb:  100 cal row, 100 box jumps, 100 deadlifts, 100 wall balls, 100 burpees and back again.  Partners of 3.

I felt I didn’t get a good workout.  I hate standing around.  I didn’t enjoy it.  It was all cardio.  Which I could have accomplished in the pool.

Yes, there are WOD’s I don’t like.  And this was one of them.  Unfortunately, you usually don’t realize this until it’s over.

So, on those days of partners, I will be in the pool instead (as long as the timing is right).  I’m such an individual competitor.  Teams drive me up the wall.  The last partner workout I actually enjoyed was one I was with a gal who was a bit above my level and we pushed each other.  And this is rare…because at CrossFit, you never know who’ll show up.