Monthly Archives: April 2013

What to Want from Your WOD’s: 4 tips for setting crossfit goals

Just like paleo is more of a lifestyle overhaul than a diet, crossfit is more of a reinvention of your fitness standards just a type of workout to help you look good. That being recognized, setting goals for crossfit can be difficult because improving is more than just losing a certain number of pounds or gaining a particular percentage of muscle.

Here are some ways to change your fitness goals to better fit the crossfit life. (The examples are using numbers somewhat conducive to my own strength goals… mainly because I don’t do a very good job converting to similar guy goals. Sorry.)

No: I want a six-pack by summertime.
Yes: I want to have a 180 lb. back squat and be able to do 20 unbroken toes-to-bar by summertime.
Why? Because goals like a new PR for a power lift or an improved Fran time are going to get you a lot further in your crossfit journey than goals based on how you look. You can’t necessarily guarantee exactly how your body is going to change over a certain amount of time, so setting goals based on appearance might only serve to discourage you if you can’t obtain exactly what you want by your goal time. Besides, if you’re training properly and eating right, your body will get in line. Just give it time.

No: I’m going to get a 300-lb. deadlift by the end of the month.
Yes: I’m going to get a 300-lb. deadlift by the end of the year.
Why? It’s awesome to set big goals for yourself – but be realistic. If you’re at a 200 lb. deadlift today, you’re probably not going to make those kinds of gains in such a short amount of time. Set interim goals to make sure you’re working toward your big goal – 225 by three months, 250 by six, etc. Work hard, but be realistic about your gains and don’t injure yourself trying to get there too quickly.

No: I’m going to run a marathon, get a 300 lb. deadlift, and a 200-lb. back squat.
Yes: Uh… well, one or other, really.
Why? You should really set goals that are mutually agreeable. If your goals differ so greatly between the strength and endurance aspects, you probably won’t achieve any of them to the extent that you want. If running is important to you, maybe instead settle for a good 1-mile time while you are do your hard strength training. That way you won’t be upset that you’re not making the gains you want in both areas.

No: I’m really good at double-unders, so I’ll just do those every time I have free time at the box.
Yes: I really suck at handstand pushups, so I’m going to do those with my free time at the box.
Why? Don’t you hate those people who know they’re really good and something at the gym and that’s all they do? Like, that one bro who comes in and always does a million reps on the bench press, wipes his forehead, and leaves? Don’t be that guy. Spend a little time with the things you like and are good at – but devote extra time to your weak areas. Otherwise, you’ll end up cherry picking your workouts and only coming when the WOD has stuff you’re good at.

I hope this helps put into perspective the kinds of goals you should be setting for crossfit. If you have any additional advice, examples of goals that you’ve set and achieved, questions, concerns, or anything in between, please feel free to leave some comment love!

This Week’s WOD’s

This past week was particularly challenging because, once again, I was sick for half of it. I am just so elated that it is finally warming up and I can hopefully put this horrible season of flus, colds and obnoxious winter allergies behind me. Here are the WOD’s I somehow made it through this week:

Tuesday: 40-30-20-10 reps, for time:
Wallballs (16 lb./20 lb.)
Kettlebell swings (35/55)
Result: 13:28, Rx
Unfortunately, I went back to the gym way too early for how sick I was over the weekend. The result was this terrible time. I felt like I had to pass out/throw up the whole time. Lesson? Take your rest days when you need them! Working out sick SUCKS.

Wednesday: 5 rounds for time:
5 power cleans
5 front squats
5 push jerks
10 pullups
Rest 90 sec.
Result: 22:49 @ 95 lb.
Okay, no one took longer than me to do this. Proooobably because my max clean is only like 15 pounds heavier than this. I was literally throwing up in my mouth and thinking I was going to die. However, I feel quite accomplished… and sore – reaaallly sore.

Thursday: Could. Not. Move.

Friday: Open WOD 13.5
4 minute AMRAP of:
15 Thrusters (100 / 65 lbs)
15 Chest to bar Pull-ups
*4 minute bonus for every 90 reps (3 rounds) completed
Basically, unless you have a terrific Fran time, this was a 4 minute workout for you.
Result: 41 reps, regular pullups… Yeah, couldn’t get the chest to bars to save my life, so I figured I would at least get a decent workout, quit trying to get them and do regular pullups. So, for me this was fun and quick and relatively painless (compared to Wednesday, the thrusters were cake). For those competing and getting reps up in the 200’s, I imagine it was a bit more painful.

Saturday: Team open WOD at our gym for new people interested in joining. Basically lots of cardio – wallballs, burpees, box jumps, slamballs. A nice little break from my sore, sick week.

Choosing mental toughness over your inner whiner

I don’t know how it works for everyone, but my head REALLY tries to get in the way of my workouts. Here’s a typical conversation with myself when I’m getting fatigued, my heart rate’s unnervingly high, I can’t catch my breath, or am otherwise severely uncomfortable: “Oh, Chelsea, you should really fake passing out now cause this hurts way too much” – “Stop! Stoooo-oooo-oooop already, you idiot!” – “You will die. You’re gonna die. Look, watch this, dying, right now. Okay, you’re dead, now stop!” – “You can’t pick that up. No, literally, I will not let you pick up that stupid bar again. See that? You’re limp. You can’t move anymore. Nooooo, you stop right now.”

For real, it’s that bad. My inner voice isn’t a coach cheering me on… it’s more like a whiny seven-year-old utterly convinced the world is ending cause she can’t have another Snicker’s bar.

I have another problem. I HATE being cheered on. Weird, right? I really, really don’t like people telling me that yes, I can do it. Probably because the whiny seven-year-old doesn’t believe them anyway and it just pisses her off even more. And worst of all – I can’t have my caveman anywhere near me, cheering me on. The seven-year-old will not only rage, she’ll refuse to finish the WOD until he goes away.

Why am I telling you about the weird mental game I deal with working out? Mainly because being mentally tough is just as important as, if not more important than, having the physical ability to accomplish something. And if you have an inner voice that’s, well, let’s say similar to mine (because I really hope you don’t have the same ridiculous little kid screaming in your ear as I do) you’re not alone. Everyone has some kind of thought process going on when they’re working out at a very intense pace. Perhaps yours doesn’t necessarily beg you to throw up so you can stop – but maybe it demands that you slow down immediately, or that you lose momentum, that you walk away from the barbell, that you drop to the floor and rest instead of cranking out the rest of the WOD.

Whatever it is, it’s normal. When your body gets exhausted, your brain tries to protect it, so it is undoubtedly going to send you signals that you need to stop. So what do you do? Do you indulge the screaming kid in your brain and quit? Do you ignore it completely? Can you?

Here are some things you can do to try to keep the mental screaming under control and keep yourself coming back for more:

1. Remind yourself that you LOVE this.

People who do crossfit love crossfit. If they don’t love it, they quit (or at least they should). I’m going to assume if you’ve been doing it consistently more than a few months, you probably love it. You love getting stronger everyday. You love the camaraderie that comes with getting beaten up daily with a great group of tough people. You love the transformation you’ve seen in your body and your life.

But then the WOD comes. You know, that one. The one you maybe thought about skipping because you knew how hard it would be. The one that makes your bones ache to think about doing. Maybe that’s every WOD for you. Maybe it’s something with snatches, or thrusters, or whatever your crossfit demon is. Wherever you are with your fitness, there’s something that gets to you, whether it’s a specific movement or just that place you get to 5 minutes into a 10 minute amrap, thinking there’s just NO way you’re only halfway through and being devastating knowing you still have to push on until it’s over.

That’s the moment when you have to remind yourself of who you are and what you do. You’re a fighter. You’re a – well, let’s face it, you’re a freak who would rather do pullups while your ripped callus is bleeding out everywhere than take a nap on an elliptical. But you love that. Remind yourself when you’re on the verge of giving in.

2. Forget about the mistakes.

There’s nothing worse than a no rep to slow you down and make the mental battle that much tougher. As someone who frequently hits herself in the face with wallballs and the like, I understand. Pretend like it didn’t happen. If you focus on the fact that you failed, you’ll be overcome with the idea of failure. Then the negative inner voice wins, and it can be nearly impossible to finish the WOD, let alone finish it well. You’ve got to let the failure go and press on as if it never happened. This is hard for perfectionist-types who get really upset if they mess up once… not that I would know anything about that. Do the best you can to forget it and move on.

3. Stay calm, stay focused, stay present.

Yeah, easier said than done, I know.  Especially when your inner whiner is attacking you at full force. But try hard not to think about what you’re going to do after the WOD. Don’t even think about what it’s going to be like six minutes into the WOD. Take it one lift, one pullup, one lap at a time, and go from there.

This is probably just the beginning of what it takes to beat down your inner whiny kid, so if you have other ideas and suggestions, feel free to comment!

This Week’s WOD’s + Ripped Callus Remorse

Yes, I really like working out barefoot at Crossfit Great Bridge

Yes, I really like working out barefoot at Crossfit Great Bridge

So, the worst thing to happen to me this week was not 13.4. On the contrary, I think that was the least painful open WOD so far. The most painful thing to happen this week was ripping a huge callus on my left hand ten minutes before 13:4! And the subsequent horrible pain from having to apply new skin like three minutes before doing toes-to-bar. I don’t know if you’ve ever had to use new skin… but if you have, you know what I’m talking about. Yowwch. I even went out of my way the day before to buy gloves cause of my ripped callus on my other hand… then didn’t wear them, of course, cause – well, cause gloves suck.

Anyway, here’s this week’s WOD’s.

Monday: 3×5 Back Squat, then
3 rounds:
20 burpees
20 toes to bar
Result: 135 lb. back squats
9:52, Rx
Yes, commence the hand-destruction that continued all week and culminated in the holes in my right palm and left… whatever that area on your hand is where all your main calluses are.

Tuesday: 10 min Amrap:
5 power cleans 125/185
7 handstand push-ups
9 ring dips
Result: 2 Rounds + 1 handstand push-up @ 95 lb. + band for ring dips
So… I didn’t really try to get a lot of reps with this WOD. I basically used it for skill practice of my handstand push-ups, because… I’ve never done them before! It was rough – it probably took me 4 minutes at least to get through the first 7 handstand push-ups – but I’m proud that I got through them. Not bad for never having done them before!

Wednesday: Sequence of:
21-18-15-12-9 unbroken pull-ups for time
Result: 7:49, broken
Then: 10 100-m sprints with 90 seconds rest in between (not for time)
Well, this is how my palm ripped. 75 pull-ups later…

Thursday: Rest!

Friday: 13:4
Y’all can look that up here if you haven’t been paying attention.
Result: 41 reps, Rx

Unfortunately, I was more concerned about the horrible burning in my torn hand than throwing 95 pounds overhead. But I liked this WOD. I wish I had done it over after my hand healed, but it’s alright, I feel pretty good about what I did.

For those of you who are at this point annoyed with me going on and on about my ripped calluses… go somewhere else because you’ve obviously never ripped a callus! It’s a tragedy! You work so hard to get these wonderful, hideous, stone-hard, perfect-gripping monstrosities to help you with your WOD’s, and then all your hard work is nothing more than a disgusting flap of too-hard skin on the floor. Yes, friends, this is only a taste of my sure-to-be hit, Ode to a Callus, coming soon to Functionally Fit. 😉

As always, I’d love any input you have about the Open or whatever other primal things you’d like to discuss!