Big Gains!

By Mike Warkentin

Sunday was a great day at the gym. True to my programming, I worked on gymnastics, kipping ring dips, kipping handstand push-ups and some L-sits. My hands were torn from 100 pull-ups, so I took it easy with the pull-ups and muscle-ups. I finally figured out the kip for ring dips after some excellent coaching, and I also locked out one kipping handstand push-up. I feel by next weekend I will be doing handstand push-up reps, baby!

Monday was pretty awesome, too. I hit 225 lb. on the high-bar back squat, which is another 5 lb. increase from last week, and I also did 270lb for a set of 4 on the deadlift. The goal was 5 reps, but I felt my back rounding, so I didn’t finish the set. Sometimes it’s just a mental battle, but with my back, I’m not willing to risk it. I finished with 3 x 10 glute-ham raises and stretching and mobility work.

This weekend I had my staff Christmas party, and I was able to treat myself to two glasses of wine and a nice meal. It was a nice reward, and I think it contributed to my success on Sunday and Monday in the gym. Sometimes a little break in the regime of training hard and eating clean is good!

Here’s a selection of videos filmed during a morning CrossFit 204 workout.

The first is the culmination of a ton of work on freestanding handstand push-ups.

The second shows a few pull-up variations with a weight vest. Kipping pull-ups are great, and butterfly pull-ups are even faster, but we believe that if you can do a load of strict, heavy pull-ups, kipping pull-ups will only get easier.

The third clip is Crystal doing handstand push-up work. HSPUs are a real challenge for taller girls, and Crystal’s worked hard on these for the last year. With a more powerful kip and a tighter core, she’ll be able to kip these out soon as we continue pushing toward the strict version.

Tuesday was a double workout day, and I haven’t had one of those in a while because of a very hectic schedule. The evening was the CrossFit 204 class, which consisted of AMRAP in 20 minutes of 8 thrusters at 75 lb., 8 sit-ups, 8 push-ups, 3 laps (70 meters a lap) and 8 pull-ups. I managed a solid 7 rounds. I used butterfly pull-ups and did all reps unbroken. The longer chippers are really up my alley.

Thursday I switched my squat up by doing 10 sets of 2, at 160 lb., to a box just below parallel. I took 30 seconds rest between each set. At the end of 20 reps, I was feeling the burn, especially in my posterior chain. I followed this up immediately with a 1000-meter row. I recorded 3:46, which is a solid improvement. My goal for the next time is to get my row into the 3:30 range. I completed the workout with 3 x 20 GHD sit-ups, 3 x 15 leg raises on an incline and stretching.

Today I did a WOD I’ve been itching to try for a couple of weeks after seeing it on the Again Faster Facebook site. It was 10 rounds of 10 pull-ups and 10 box jumps (24 inches). My time was 15:08, and my average round was 1:30. I was definitely not happy about this, as my goal had been 10 minutes. The problem was my confidence. All my box jumps were unbroken, and I didn’t miss a single pull-up. I did the first 4 rounds unbroken (pull-ups) and switched to 5-5 after that.

After the second round, I told myself I couldn’t do this workout. I thought I was crazy for trying. Mike thought I was crazy for doubting myself. The point is that, once again, I defeated myself and wasted precious minutes fighting a mental battle. My body is already doing more than my mind says it can. The new rule is this: if I utter the words “I can’t” in a WOD, I get 3 burpees. Simple as that. It will be in my best interest to keep my mouth shut and just get the work done.

Mike’s note: I’d guess Crystal actually lost about two minutes fighting a mental battle in this workout. Physically, she was doing very well, but mentally she was struggling to get past the difficulty of the workout and the nasty physical feelings that come in a high-rep, high-power workout. Crystal gets better as things go longer, and she’s still getting used to that speedbump when the aerobic system really has to start doing some heavy lifting at about 2 minutes in or so.

But we expected this. We’ve just come off a successful strength cycle, and we’re introducing a lot more power demands into her training. It will feel horrible for a while, but in less than a month she’ll be very comfortable working the high reps. The best part is that her strength will still be there if a heavy workout comes around.

The 3-burpee rule is now in place as “mental training,” and once Crystal’s body adjusts to the change in training, she’ll get the eye of the tiger back. I’m pretty excited to see what happens at that point!