Month: February 2011

First of all, thank you everyone for reading and commenting on my blog! It’s so awesome to know that people actually visit the blog and care to see what I’m up to! Super cool.

Friday, I worked on pressing. I did something a little different. Instead of the traditional starting position, I set the guards on the power cage at my forehead and pushed from there. The goal was to get the same range of motion I would have in a handstand push-up. There is no momentum to be found when the bar descends onto the guards for the next rep, so it’s very much like doing a strict rep. I started at 95 lb., then 100 lb., 105 lb., 110 lb., and finished my last set at 115 lb. I missed the fifth rep, but I was very happy with the work overall.

My upper-body strength is definitely increasing. I am working with a tender back right now, which only bothers me when I put weight overhead. I have paid close attention to stretching, foam rolling and lots of work on the lacrosse ball (ugh!). It feels stronger every day, but the single most important thing for me is to be healthy and functional. I won’t jeapordize that for anything. I followed the presses with a 1K row at about 80 percent effort and finished with 3:48. Rowing is feeling great. I finished with 2 x 10 triceps extensions, and 2 x 10 deltoid flies.

Saturday I rested and hit the stretching and rolling hard. Sunday was Oly day, and skills. Fortunately I can pull medium to heavy weight and my back is fine. I worked on power cleans and snatches. It might be the last day I get to do power cleans as Mike says we’re bagging them indefinitely and I am only allowed to squat clean. I worked up to 145 lb. on the cleans and 95 lb. on the snatches.

I finished with HSPUs and pistols. The pistols are definitely better when I’m really warm. I need to hold a 15-lb. dumbbell when I do my left leg, which frustrates me a bit, but all good things take time. There was a time when a pistol was inconceivable to me. The kipping HSPUs are getting stronger and stronger. It’s all in the kip. When I time it correctly, it’s effortless! I just have to keep working. I finished the day playing around with free-standing HSPUs which I attempted to get into from a head-stand with a kip. Almost had a couple of reps! Next week!

Mike’s Note: Power cleans are banned.

(photo by Sandra Benz)

Winnipeg-Working on Oly technique at CrossFit 204 in Dale’s Garage.

Brett is dialing in the technique on the power clean, and he’s strong enough that he can basically curl the weight up–even at 155. We’ll keep drilling and then unleash him on some heavy weight soon! Big numbers to come!

Mike is working on heavy overhead squats and overloading the snatch high pulls.

Crystal is working hard on keeping the weight back and generating a ton of speed through the middle.

Great work!

Sorry for the delay in posting this week. I have been swamped with school and work! I won’t recount everything I’ve done since last Thursday. Instead, I’ll start fresh with today.

I ran for 45 minutes outside. I don’t know the exact distance, maybe around 10K.  I start at my house downtown, run up Wolseley, through Omand’s Creek, back down Wellington Crescent, over the Misericordia Bridge and home.

The rush of endorphins I get from running is amazing. It just feels natural to me. The nice, long, hard, steady pace is what feels most comfortable. This would explain why the workouts in the short power time domain feel particularly terrible. But they’re improving all the time.

The highlight of my run was on Wellington Crescent when I was cruising along, and I was suddenly passed by a man who was clearly a seasoned all-weather runner decked out in his Running Room gear and rocking a pretty good pace. As I watched him get further and further away, I asked myself, “When did that become OK? Some dude passes you and you just let him?” Ha!

So I kicked it up a few notches and chased him down for the next three to four minutes. When I came up behind him, I think he was a bit shocked to see me, and as I cruised by I thought, “Serves you right for trying to show me up!”

I finished my run strong and happy thinking, “Maybe I’ll race again this year at Birds Hill in duathlons. I am clearly addicted to competing.”

Mike’s note: If Crystal does a duathlon, there will be a barbell loaded with 225 lb. waiting for her at the finish line. If you run, you have to deadlift. If you don’t run, you have to deadlift.

I love squatting, but I really love overhead squats.

I love everything about the movement. I love the fact that it’s hard to do. I love the way it feels to hold heavy weight overhead. I love that it’s part of the snatch. I love that you have to jerk the weight before you can squat it. I love the feeling of a good rep that rides right in the perfect groove.

I love that you have to squat perfectly to complete a set. I love that you can’t relax at any point and have to fight with the bar for the whole time. I love the sound bumper plates make when you drop them from about seven feet up after a successful set.

The whole movement is simply awesome.

I worked up to a heavy triple yesterday after about 20 warm-up reps, most of them very light. I did exactly two heavy sets of 3. The second one was a record, so I took Louie Simmons’ advice and stopped for the day. That’s 23 reps total, and only 3 of them were really heavy.

Yet as I type this, I can feel my traps, deltoids and rhomboids tightening, and some of my abs feel righteously worked over. My legs and erectors are reporting that they put in some effort yesterday. I’ll probably be even more sore tomorrow.

The overhead squat is a full-body movement that teaches you to hold every part of your yourself tight when you do a set. It also teaches you to focus on the task, because the bar will be on the floor the second your mind drifts away.

Too many of us—myself included—relax at the top of a rep when the barbell is resting on our backs, and too many of us don’t set our backs and cores properly for each rep. We relax our shoulders and abs and loosen our cores between reps. We lose focus and we get lazy. And we get away with it because the bar can just sit on our traps while we mess around underneath it.

The overhead squat isn’t so forgiving. It’s about tough love, and it punishes every fault ruthlessly, reminding you of exactly what your body should be doing every time you squat. It’s like a teacher who demands the best of you and ends up teaching you more than anyone else.

Here’s some overhead work from Dale’s Garage this weekend: