Establishing a Baseline

I feel like I didn’t accomplish any of my CrossFit goals last year.  In reflecting, I realized that this is because I didn’t establish any baselines and I didn’t really set any goals…I guess I just felt like whatever I did had to be better than I was (but how would I know????).  If you want to see your progress (in measurable increments) I do not recommend this approach and I decided to establish some of my own baselines (with my swole sister, of course) so hopefully in June and December we can remeasure and see if where we’re heading (if anywhere).

Of course the benchmark WODs are where we started when we wanted to establish some baselines….but which ones to choose?  We consulted our Sport Journals WOD Book (http://sportjournals.com/) which I highly recommend looking into if you are a “tracker” type of personality.  Together we decided to establish baselines for the following Girls:

Grace: 30 Clean and Jerks for Time (135/95).  

Grace Scaled to Perfection: My one rep max C&J is 85 pounds (6/30/16).  I think I’ll probably do Grace at 55 pounds.  Grace should last around 4:00 minutes, I don’t think i could do 65# in that time period but I might surprise myself (probably not).  Here’s a cool website that correlates 1RM for C&J with anticipated time to complete Grace which I thought was pretty neat: What’s a Good Grace Time? 

Cindy: 20 Minute AMRAP: 5 Pull Ups/10 Push Ups/15 Squats

Cindy Scaled to Perfection: No, I do not have pull ups but so many of these benchmarks mix them into the, well, mix.  My goal will be to get a resistance band so I could do assisted pull ups; if I can’t then, well, jumping pull ups it is.  I will also do the push ups on my knees because I get better upper body range of motion.

Annie: 50-40-30-20-10 Reps for Time: Double Unders/Sit Ups

Annie Scaled to Perfection: I don’t have consistent DUs yet so I’m going to do our box’s typical 3:1 single: DU ratio for this.  I can do sit ups, so no worries there.

Swole sista and I will be doing one of these per week, on a day that we don’t do a workout (this week it will be on Saturday).  Side project: we’re working on a jammin’ Spotify playlist to blare while we establish these baselines (and eventually smash them); we’ll share the link once it’s live.

On that note, what are your favorite songs to smash workouts to?  Leave them in the comments (you might find them on our playlist)!

Strange Feelz

This time of year always has me feeling weird, but lately I’ve been feeling weird because several of the newer folks in the gym have told me they look up to me and enjoy watching me work; that I am an inspiration to them.

Part of me is really proud of this. After all, I’ve been doing this crossfit thing for two and a half years now, so HOPEFULLY I have some skills. Deep down inside though, I don’t really believe in my own abilities (see Lack of confidence), so the fact that someone looks up to these non-existent abilities is very strange. I just want to say, “You should really find a REAL crossfitter to admire”. I mean, look at me. I weigh basically what I weighed when I started, I’m not really any skinnier (I mean, I am, but I don’t think I look like it); my belly jelly rolls are all still very much in tact and I still can’t do: pull-ups, rope climbs, hand stand push-ups, toes-to-bar, pistols, and my double unders are barely there. So why are these folks admiring me? What in the world is there to admire?

Some positives. I DO show up consistently. I rarely miss a day; when I do miss a day, some work thing (usually travel) has gotten in the way. I’m really quite strong; I’m almost always tops in the box at the lifting part. If one compares me to other women my age, I am certainly up there in terms of strength. I have improved my performance in so many things, in so many ways!  I’ve NEVER had good cardio ability, even in high school and college athletics. I always played the positions that didn’t really require a lot of running (keeper in soccer, catcher in softball, bench warmer in basketball and shot-put in track), but I have gotten better.

Proof of performance increases. During the 2015 Crossfit Open, for the very last workout, 15.5 (27, 21, 15, 9: Calorie row and thrusters at 65) I did the Rx weight and it took me 22:38. The ENTIRE box was cheering me on. My coach even took video of this. I was mortified. It’s cool, but embarrassing to have the entire group cheering you on. I was barely able to pull 500 on the rower by the end and was doing my thrusters in groups of 1. We did this same workout this week and I did it in 14:02. So this is a HUGE improvement; I was very pleased with myself. There was evidence that although I’m not skinny, I’m getting better.

Yet I still don’t know how I feel about being looked up to. Like they should look up to folks who are faster, stronger, better. But maybe, just maybe, I’m worthy of this and have something to offer.

Anything Worth Doing is Worth Scaling – Angie

Angie, Fran, Helen, Karen. Any CrossFitter knows these names and they can inspire dread. I did a little research (of course) and according to the National Weather Service, storms have short, distinctive names because they are less “prone to error” than other systems. The most destructive storms leave an impact and their names shall be forever remembered. Do many people remember the 1938 hurricane that devastated Connecticut, or the 1900 hurricane that nearly wiped out Galveston, TX? Probably not unless they are sciency, geeky types. They occurred before the modern naming system (The system started in 1953 with female names, added male names in 1978 for Pacific storms with the male names added to the Atlantic storms in 1979.) I would bet you can find a lot of people who know Hurricane Andrew, Superstorm Sandy, and Hurricane Katrina. You might find folks who know of Hurricane Camille, despite the passage of time. Why are they easier to remember? They wiped out a lot; AND, they have names.

Aside: for you geeky types, Andrew was 1992, Sandy 2012, Katrina 2005 and Camille was 1969. Look them up, they are all in the top 10 worst hurricanes in the United States ever.

I found an article by Greg Glassman from 2003, when the first Benchmark workouts were being created (Benchmark Workouts) and he said, “… anything that leaves you flat on your back and incapacitated only to lure you back at a later date certainly deserved naming” (Glassman, 2003).

When athletes look at these workouts they can certainly be intimidating! Anyone who has spent more than 2 minutes in a CrossFit box notices the leaderboard with these benchmark names and impressive looking times next to them. For us, when a woman’s name shows up on the WOD, we know we will be left a puddle of sweat, barely capable of movement in the classic ‘CrossFit Recovery Position’ crossfit recovery

But CrossFit is all about making everyone the best they can be. So we are going to show you how to scale these workouts (not all at once…don’t panic) so anyone can do them. And since we are also about data, science and classification, we will do them alphabetically! We’d also like to remind you that we are NOT coaches, these are just things our coaches have said in our box, either to us, or to other athletes.

Let’s start with Angie.

Angie was one of a group of the first named WOD’s. The link mentioned above provides a great explanation as to WHY they were created and how they are supposed to work your various muscle, aerobic and nervous systems, so there is no need to rehash that here. Seriously, go read the article. It’s good and explains a lot (just finish this first).

Angie is 100 pull-ups, 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, 100 squats all for time. Even the strongest, fastest folks around will probably have to break that up into various sets. (The Guinness Book of World Records has 232 consecutive pull-ups as the most and 7306 as the most in a 24 hour period.) So one way to “scale” this workout would be to do each move in sets of 5 or 10 or whatever number you could handle.

How to scale pull-ups: kipping, using various bands to remove some of the bodyweight, using multiple bands, jumping from boxes of various sizes and ring rows (move the rings closer to perpendicular to the floor to make them harder, move them to various angles to scale them).

How to scale push-ups: doing them on your toes, but not to full depth, on your knees, on your knees to less than full depth, putting your hands on a box, putting your hands on a wall.

How to scale sit-ups: less range of motion (hands to tops of knees). Your coach probably has some great ideas here!

How to scale squats: go to the depth the athlete is capable of doing, utilize a box to decrease range of motion, use a wall ball to help the athlete learn depth and keep good form.

Depending on the size of the class and the facilities of the box, one could break up the rounds into sets, 10 sets of 10 of each move. You could even do a “half Angie”, or a “partner Angie” utilizing the variations listed above for different athletes (we’ve seen this at our box with the Hero WOD Murph). You should do the scaling that works for YOUR abilities and above all, do what your COACH tells you to do. They are the experts, not us!

The point is, this is a benchmark workout, and if performed scaled, should still leave the athlete in a puddle on the floor, AND give them a point from which to know where to improve so the next time, they get faster, or perhaps do half the push-ups on their toes before going to their knees!