Uneven Load Training: Underestimating Sandbag Sit-ups

CrossFit Babe doing wall balls in CrossFit Open 19.1
Perfect Wall Ball position in CrossFit

Today was a sandbag workout.

I decided to sub 30 v-ups for 30 sandbag sit-ups, mainly because I like sandbag sit ups.

Well, this was a mistake.

They were a lot harder than I thought and 30 of them about killed me. But it was good.

Lesson learned: subbing sandbags for other movements may not be such a good idea after all.

CrossFit: Update on Ring Muscle Ups

crossfit women practicing ring muscle ups in crossfit
Practicing Ring Muscle Ups CrossFit

I’ve been taking private lessons for over six months now to get my ring muscle up.

And I’m close.

Yesterday, my coach gave me a boost, and I did 10 ring muscle ups with his help. I definitely felt more confident, especially in the catch.

And it was fun!

The reason I do CrossFit is because I don’t ever get bored with it. And ring muscle ups are definitely not boring.

It’s been a long time coming, but I can’t wait for that moment when it happens!

The Pitfalls of Local CrossFit Competitions

I’ve done at least two dozen local CrossFit competitions, and usually in each one, there are some of the same pitfalls:

  • Unfair judging. With local competitions, you get judges who are graciously volunteering their time, but most of them have no experience judging CrossFit competitions and thus make mistakes. This ends up affecting the podium, and I have lost several times because of this.
  • Inconsistent judging. Again, due to lack of experience, athletes are not held to the same standards. Even though everyone knows the standards for a burpee, some competitors will cheat if they can get away with it — and a lot of the time, they do. No one likes to be the bad guy and “no rep” others. Hence, some athletes cheat themselves to the detriment of others who play by the rules, who have integrity, and who want to win fairly. I see this a lot, which is honestly, sad.
  • Improper equipment. Having to deadlift with a guy’s bar 20 kilos as opposed to 15 kilos) when you’re not used to it is a disadvantage to women whose bars are thinner and weigh less. When you’re outside in the blazing sun at 90 degrees and you’re trying to grip a guy bar and your hands are sweaty, it’s tough.
  • Unbalance programming. Due to time constraints, most of the CrossFit workouts are short. This plays to those who are sprinters and not to marathoners. Furthermore, the CrossFit programming is at the whim of the host box and is sometimes inconsistent as well. For example, one CrossFit competition I attended had no gymnastics work at all (pull ups, double unders, muscles ups, handstand push ups, etc). This is a separator for athletes and puts those who have these moves at an advantage. Same goes for one I attended that was all heavy bar work. That puts those who are strong at a disadvantage to those who are agile. Ideally, there should be balance in the CrossFit workouts at CrossFit Competitions.

    hotcrossfitchicks at local crossfit competitions in denver, co
    Local CrossFit Competitions
  • Poor management/getting off schedule. There have been some local CrossFit competitions where the CrossFit competition has run way off schedule and ended up finishing an hour or more behind — which sucks when you got at least an hour drive home ahead of you.

TIPS FOR BETTER CROSSFIT COMPETITIONS

  • Balanced programming. Workouts don’t need to be complicated, but they should challenge the athletes and test them across the ten CrossFit fitness domains.
  • Invest the time in finding good CrossFit judges. Ideally, you’ll want your judges to have taken the CrossFit Judges course. If not, to have at least some experience in judging CrossFit competitions. This eliminates disgruntled athletes who may be disinclined to attend your next CrossFit competition because they feel cheated at yours.
  • Adhere to your schedule. Hiccups happen out of your control the day of the CrossFit competition. However, you can plan ahead to minimize these as much as possible and stay on schedule. Make sure heats are not too close together to wear athletes out. Test your workouts with members of your gym of all fitness levels to figure out how much time you’ll need to complete them.  Consider recovery time, set up time, time for awards, and time for lunch as well.
  • Have the proper equipment. This doesn’t mean you go out and buy all brand new sandbags for your CrossFit competition. It does mean you borrow what you need from another local box or you program to what you have on hand. Trying to jerry-rig something from nothing will only give you poor impressions and a high likelihood no one will return the following year.

From an athlete’s perspective, I’ll return the following year to one with good programming, one that’s run efficiently, and one with at least judges who do CrossFit. I’ll stay clear of the ones where lackadaisical attitude toward the CrossFit competition by the box ruled.

My BMI, Body Fat Percentage, and Lean Muscle Mass

crossfit hotties doing back squats at a crossfit competition in windsor, co
CrossFit Back Squats

I am investigating nutrition coaching. Mainly to form an eating plan for life. Secondly, to try to put the finishing touches on how I want my body to look like for life.

I had a preliminary meeting with Colorado Nutrition and has my body fat, lean muscle mass, and BMI assessed. It’s been a year since I’ve done this.

The results were surprising.

In the last year, I’ve gained 10 pounds, and I thought mostly in fat. However, it turns out my body fat percentage is only 11.3%. My BMI is 21.0. I only have 15.2 pounds of fat on my body.

Still, all of my fat is around my belly, and I don’t like how I look. I’m trying to figure this out, so I can enjoy all of my hard work instead of be so critical of how I look.

CrossFit: Deadlifts and DT

CrossFit hotties doing Push Jerks at CrossFit competition
CrossFit Push Jerks

DT is a hero Workout by CrossFit that honors soldiers who have given their lives for this great nation. DT is also known as one of the hardest CrossFit workouts since it involves heavy weights.

CROSSFIT DT HERO WOD:

5 Rounds for time:

  • 12 deadlifts
  • 9 hang power cleans
  • 6 push jerks

Weight is 155 lb for guys and 105 for the ladies.

I PR’ed this workout (hit a personal record) by 2 minutes — only the 2nd time I’ve been strong enough to do 105 lbs. It was good, but it probably could have been better. I will add this one to my list of tests to do periodically. I like DT because it does challenge me as heavy weights is not my strong suit.

I also got some nice bruises when the hang power cleans got a bit too heavy!

I also did deadlifts for my strength since DT has deadlifts in them. It was a good combination to start off the week!

The Love/Hate Relationship CrossFit Women Have with their Bodies

I recently came across an article about how CrossFit women should be proud of their bodies, have less body issues than other women, and are strong. It was written very definitively about how women who CrossFit love their strong bodies.

I’m here with the counter-argument: CrossFit women have just as many body issues as other women (maybe more so since our bodies do change significantly when you continue with CrossFit). We struggle just as much with nutrition and food choices. We do care what we look like in terms of makeup. Clothes shopping is much harder with a CrossFit body.

There is one difference NOT noted in the article:

CrossFit women have a love/hate relationship with their bodies that other women do not.

WHY CROSSFIT WOMEN LOVE/HATE THEIR BODIES

  • We are stared at. Usually in a leering way, not in a healthy way. Women either are
    CrossFit hotties at CrossFit Competition doing box jumps
    CrossFit Box Jumps

    jealous or think we look gross. Men look at us like men look at other women — they just stare longer since we DON’T look like other women they see too often.

  • Clothes don’t fit. I have given up trying to find jeans that will go over my calves and my thighs. I live in yoga pants. I have given up trying to find nice-fitting T-shirts that are small but fit my shoulders. Dresses have to be the right cut or my muscles look horrible in them.
  • Food is a real struggle. Adhering to a strict diet is a test of mental strength, which after doing a CrossFit WOD which puts us on the floor, is a battle many of us don’t have the strength for. How your body looks is all about food. Period. If you don’t eat right, you won’t look right no matter the hours you throw down at the gym.
  • We are strong but still want to be delicate flowers. I am strong. I can lift heavy items. But I don’t outside the box. Why? Because I’m a woman who wants a man to lift heavy things for me when the need arises. I don’t want to have to lift MORE heavy items after the gym.
  • Our changing bodies yield body insecurities. When people first started telling me, “Hey, Jen. You’re ripped!” I didn’t realize how muscular I had become. It was definitely an acceptance process. Now, as I lift heavier, my lats are thicker, my shoulders wider, my legs bigger. It’s an on-going battle women CrossFitters face.

It’s a fact if you lift heavy weights, you’ll gain muscle. Muscle is bulk. You will look different than your average woman. Some women I know quit CrossFit because they don’t like what CrossFit does to their bodies. Anyone who tells you you won’t bulk up is lying to you. This is part of accepting your body as it does gain muscle. And this is part of CrossFit.

CrossFit will Change Your Body

Go into CrossFit with your eyes open. Learn about it. Read and study about lifting weights. Read about the metabolic pathways. Then decide if CrossFit is for you.

You all know I love CrossFit. I love what CrossFit does for me. I love how my body looks. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a struggle to accept how I look, to not be critical, to think I’m fat, etc.

We all have baggage we carry from childhood into adulthood and from society. It’s a mindset we all have to overcome.

CrossFit: How to Fill Sandbags

At my last competition, the Turkey Challenge, we had a WOD with sandbags. I fell in love — so much so I bought two sandbags from Brute Force for myself for Christmas. One I filled with 35 pounds and one with 62 pounds.

Filling sandbags is not as easy as it sounds. Here are the steps and methods I utilized:

crossfit chicks working out during crossfit competition with sandbags
Working out with Sandbags
  • Buy sand (play sand is recommended) from your local hardware store or superstore
  • Fill the filler bags accordingly. A less filled bag is more unstable and will tax your grip and balance more. We used a funnel and a measuring cup that had a pour spout. This enabled us to accurately fill the bags with the same amount of sand.
  • Use a scale. After filling the bags, we would weigh the bags on a scale to make sure they were equal.
  • These Brute Force bags come with military-grade velcro. Velcro the bags and place them in the outer shell bag, shaking to make even.
  • You’re ready to begin!

WHY TRAIN WITH SANDBAGS

Sandbag training is utilized for unstable load training which is the ability to unconventionally move or lift an odd object that is unstable or has an uneven load efficiently. This type of training provides a much more dynamic and challenging training experience. You must engage your body’s stabilizer muscles, building coordinated strength and balance throughout your entire body.

Unstable load training is definitely challenging, no doubt about it. And fun. Once I’m healed from my surgery, I can’t wait to get started!

Thanksgiving Day Murph

For the third year in a row, I’ve celebrated Thanksgiving by doing a CrossFit WOD called

crossfit hero wod murph crossfit hotties
Preparing for Work

Murph. A hero workout named for Lt Michael Murphy, who died in Afghanistan serving our country, it consists of:

  • 1 mile run
  • 100 pull ups
  • 200 push ups
  • 300 air squats
  • 1 mile run

This is one of the most famous CrossFit workouts and is traditionally programmed for Memorial Day around the country. However, I began doing this on Thanksgiving as well three years ago to commemorate the Fallen.

The weather was perfect: 55 degrees and sunny. I invited one friend and it was him and me who performed it. It was fun. It wasn’t my best time, but I wasn’t pushing all out. It was, again, just doing the movement and enjoying life. Thank you to all who have served our country and especially to those who have made the greatest sacrifice and given their lives. Words are not enough.

What CrossFit Moves Are in Your Wheelhouse?

I never realized the importance of having moves you dominate in CrossFit until my last competition. Called in your wheelhouse, these CrossFit moves are vital to winning workouts and, if you compete, to competitions.

hot crossfit chicks
CrossFit Pull Ups

CrossFit moves in your wheelhouse are moves you dominate every time they show up in a workout — moves you are really, really good at. I made up time in my CrossFit competition when one showed up in one workout, and I won the event where both moves were in my wheelhouse.

In CrossFit, advice is often given on how you need to focus on the moves you’re bad at, so you improve those. This is true. However, you need to make sure you don’t forget NOT to practice the moves in your wheelhouse, so you don’t lose those in sacrifice to others.

The fact of the matter is: you will improve those moves you’re not so good at, but they will never be like the ones you’re naturally good at, the ones you like, the ones you dominate.

CrossFit Moves in My Wheelhouse

  • Assault bike
  • Double unders
  • Rope climbs
  • Running
  • Thrusters
  • Burpees

As you can see, I’m not very good at most CrossFit moves. But these ones are popular and when thrown into a CrossFit WOD can make all the difference whether you win or lose.

CrossFit is constantly-varied, functional movements at high-intensity. Every CrossFit workout you do, you’ll get better. Know what you’re good at and add to them if possible — all the while improving all the other CrossFit movements. This is the key to winning at your box, in your heat, in your mind, and at CrossFit competitions. Good luck!

Being Physically Exhausted from a CrossFit Competition

Last night, I went to bed at 6:30 pm. I was physically exhausted — something I am definitely not used to.

After a 2-day CrossFit Competition, and I worked out yesterday morning with no rest day (I squatted and did a workout with a run, hang power snatches, and burpee box jumps), I was dragging all day at work and when I came home, I was tired. I couldn’t even eat dinner. I just went straight to bed.

CrossFit Competitions will wear you out — emotionally and physically. You want to do your best, you’re disappointed when you don’t do your best, you stress over the details like the drive down and when to eat, and then there’s the actual workouts themselves, which are bears to get through.

The Importance of Sleep after a CrossFit Competition

crossfit women
Preparing for CrossFit Workout

All of this equals exhaustion. When this happens, listen to your body and get some rest. Sleep is so important with CrossFit to let your body heal, recover, and rejuvenate. Here’s my advice after a CrossFit competition or some other grueling workout, such as a Tough Mudder or Spartan Race:

  • Get extra sleep. This will allow vital tissues and muscles to recover and recuperate after what you’ve just put them through.
  • Drink more than you think you’ll need. I usually lose about 4 pounds every CrossFit competition. Most of this is water weight. At a CrossFit competition, you usually don’t drink much because you don’t want to have to go to the bathroom, you forget, or you’re just too nervous. Afterwards, you need to replenish. Drink extra water and recovery drinks for optimal muscle recovery.
  • Take rest days. I’m a hypocrite. I don’t do this. I don’t like to get behind on my training. Yet, you usually suffer if you don’t (or you’re so tired you lose a whole night!). Give your body some well-deserved time off.
  • Take inventory of what you’ve learned. I learned a lot from this last CrossFit competition. I learned once again I’m stronger than I think I am when I flipped a 300 pound tire multiple times. I learned I need to practice on a bar that I can’t touch the ground on. I learned I can still kick ass when the I have to, especially if the moves are in my wheelhouse. I learned I still have the fire to compete that I thought I had lost from burn-out. I learned I’m just as good as others, if not better.

The whole point of CrossFit competitions is to learn from them, push yourself, and be proud of your achievement. You probably won’t win them all. But within each competition, there will be a personal victory — either a move you did you didn’t think you could do or a workout you annihilated.

Keep in mind why you compete in CrossFit, and you’ll just keep getting better and better.