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7 Things I’ve Learned from Garage Games Training

Liftweight

Photo courtesy of Glen Jones

The Mid-Atlantic Garage Games are creeping up on us! We’ve been training hard for about two months now, and we’ve got one left to go. So here’s what I’ve taken so far from my experience training for this competition:

  1. Two- and three-a-days are rough. And time consuming. I’ve spent more time at the box than I have at my house some days. Extra volume takes a lot out of you. I’m at the point where my days with only one workout and a skill feel like rest days. If you had told me a day with a WOD would feel like that two months ago, I would’ve laughed at you.
  2. More training = more food. OMG – I thought I ate a lot before. Ha! I probably eat the equivalent of one extra meal more everyday than I was eating before I began training for this competition.
  3. If I don’t sleep, I can just forget about it. There’s just no way to do 2 or more WOD’s in a day and work on skills if I don’t get at the very least 6 or 7 hours of sleep. I will bomb. Sleep is CRUCIAL.
  4. Sometimes when I think I’m giving 100%, I’m not. Really pushing myself these last two months since I signed up for the games has made me realize the distinction between my potential (what I can give) and my performance (what I choose to give). Sometimes these are vastly different. I’ve been trying more and more to make them match up, but it can be incredibly hard to do that. Some days you just don’t feel like pushing through the pain barrier to crank out those couple extra reps. Maybe you ate a little too heavily beforehand, or you had one too many shots the night before. Whatever the reason, you make up excuses in your head during your workout for why it’s okay for you to give less than your best. That’s not going to fly when you’re neck and neck with someone at the competition. This is my biggest area of struggle right now – envisioning what it will be like when I’m there, and trying to figure out how I’m going to out-perform that other person. I am definitely my own worst enemy.
  5. Go hard, but don’t go overboard. Two- and three-a-days are necessary when training like this, but it’s important to realize your limits and the rest your body needs. I’ve been pretty consistent with a 3-on, 1-off, 2-on, 1-off scheme for my week, and it seems to be working well. Rest days aren’t binge drink in front of the TV days, though. If I’m not mobilizing properly on my rest days, the next day I’m still just as sore as I was before.
  6. I’m not very competitive. Yikes, right?! Yes and no. I am slowly learning what it means to really have the desire to win. I never played sports as a kid, so the closest I got to competing was trying to move up levels in my dance classes. It’s not really the same thing. It’s been fun and challenging trying to change my attitude about my performance, because I’ve really never had to do something like this before. More than anything, I hope becoming a little more competitive will help improve #4, and push me to give as much as I can, instead of as much as I want to. That might be the difference between winning and losing.
  7. I love Crossfit. I knew I loved it before, but this has changed it a lot for me. It’s just such a great thing, from the camaraderie to the physical transformation to the overall healthy atmosphere. I find myself more and more advocating that others join, or at least try it out, because I really feel strongly that Crossfit is the best way to get in shape, stay that way, and feel good about all the hard work you put in. And I’m sure everyone thinks this about their home gym, but my box really is the best.

As always, please feel free to leave some love! I would love to hear about other experiences you’ve had training for competitions or whatever else you have on your mind.

Weekly WOD Rundown

Hi there, faithful followers. Please excuse my absence the past few weeks. I was super busy with finals and such, but I’m happy to report that I’m all graduated with my BA in English, and the next stop is grad school in the fall!

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about the format of this site, and I think it’ll be best to change the weekly WOD’s from just a rundown of every single workout I do (cause I do a lot of them, and it’s probably pretty boring to read if I don’t have much to say about a particular one) to focusing on two or three from that week that have particularly stood out. So we’ll see how that goes.

I have also begun training for the Mid-Atlantic Garage Games in August, which will be held right here at our awesome Virginia Beach Sportsplex. I’m going to be competing with a team from my box – two guys and two girls, including me – and I’m incredibly excited for it! It’s already proving to be challenging and demanding, but I’m loving the added motivation that comes with pursuing a goal like this. So anticipate hearing lots about my trials and successes with that extra training too.

WODs that sucked this past week:
Tuesday, 5/14
“Tabata Something Else”:
Max reps of tabata pullups, pushups, situps, squats with no rest in between.

You probably know, but tabata anything is 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest for 8 rounds. If you haven’t done this with any exercise yet… please go experience it. It’s just insane. Unfortunately I ripped my hand by the third round of pullups, so the next five rounds were pretty painful. And the pushups! If you really want a humbling experience, do tabata pushups. I was down to 4 a round by the last couple sets. Situps and squats were a nice break, until the very end when I was about 90% sure my legs were actually on fire. At the end of this, I’m sure everything hurt but the only thing I noticed were my poor legs. So yeah, this is a great workout if you want to completely burn out your major muscles. Just remember each time – you can do anything for twenty seconds, right?
Result: 285 reps + one gross ripped callus

tabatacallus

Wednesday, 5/15
5 Rounds for time:
9 Deadlift (95/135)
6 Hang power snatch
3 Overhead squat

This sucked because, plain and simple, my overhead needs serious work. Snatches are a definite weakness, meaning hang snatches are just a total nuisance for me. After ripping my hand the day before, I could barely grip the bar properly either, which is part of why this wasn’t a great workout for me. I definitely can’t blame it all on my hand, though. I’ve got to work on my stability and confidence in my overhead squats and snatches if I want to improve here.
I’m not sure of my exact time for this, but I know my weight was only a disappointing 65 lb.

Favorite WODs this week:
Monday, 5/20
“Elizabeth”:
21-15-9 reps for time:
Clean (95/135)
Ring Dip
Then rest until 10-minute cap reached
Run 1 mile

I liked this because I’m pretty comfortable with a 95 lb. clean, and because I really need work with ring dips if I ever want to get a muscle-up.
Result: Elizabeth – 7:55, blue band for ring dips. Mile – 7:22

Tuesday, 5/21
5×3 Back squat, Increasing
Then 3 rounds for time:
12 Wallballs (16 lb/20 lb)
12 Box jumps (20 in/24 in)
12 Toes to bar

I didn’t think I would like this WOD because of my intense hatred for wallballs. But all my hatred has turned into hard work to get better at them, and I did the first two rounds of wallballs all unbroken and the last round in two sets of 6. I actually surprised myself with my time on this one. Yay!
Result: 5:44, Rx

Alright, I’m off to do some heavy push presses and front squats, then a surprise team workout that I’m sure will be just as fun-filled. As always, feel free to leave your thoughts or advice! Ideas for a team name are also welcome!

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!

Man up and lift like a lady

Alright, ladies, this one’s for you.

Photo by Greg Westfall

Photo by Greg Westfall

Let me start off by saying I completely understand the apprehension you might feel about even the idea of starting a rigorous training program like Crossfit. Whether you’re intimidated by the heavy looking weights, the sweaty – often loud – men, or the women who look like they could beat you up, I understand your anxiety; I have been there. In fact, we’ve all been there, because we all had to start somewhere.

Before I started Crossfit, I had a million reasons why I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t like the idea of people watching me attempt to do things I thought my body was incapable of doing. I was afraid of hurting myself, of looking stupid, of doing something wrong, of breathing too hard and everybody hearing – of everything, basically. So I get it.

But if Crossfit has taught me anything it has been to question my assumptions – assumptions about myself and about other people. It has taught me that I can’t know my limits if I don’t test them. It has forced me to reevaluate my ideas about my own strength and my capability to improve, as well as challenged me to question my assumptions about the capability of others. Before Crossfit, when someone I’d never seen work out before would walk into the gym, I would look them up and down and make a quick judgment about what I figured they’d be capable of doing. Not anymore. In the box, we’re all equal. By that I don’t mean that we can are all capable of the same level of work. But we are all capable.

Now, I don’t expect to have won you all over with my attempt at being inspirational, so I’ll try to address some common concerns that seem to exist for most women nervous about starting Crossfit.

“I don’t want to get bulky.”

The truth is you most likely have years of training before you even have to think about becoming “too bulky.” What’s more, it’s basically genetically impossible for you to get unreasonably large without performance-enhancing drugs. You’re not going to look like a female body-builder unless you juice like one, or you’re a direct descendant of Goliath.

“I can’t lift that cause I’m a girl.”

Pish posh. You must lift that cause you’re a girl. That’s right – weight-resistant activity is essential for your health as a woman. It will improve your bone density, cardiac health, and – the best part – will help you lose weight because you will burn a greater amount of calories at rest. Women who lift greatly reduce their risk of osteoporosis, heart disease and even diabetes.

“I just want to be skinny.”

Unless you want to develop an eating disorder, this probably isn’t going to happen, nor should you want it to. Just dropping a lot of weight with a nasty calorie-counting fad diet and doing obscene amounts of cardio is not a healthy way to become fit. In fact, you are far more likely to gain the weight back if you try this because you’re depriving your body of nutrients, and you’re basically guaranteed to crash and burn after you quit. The art of fitness is making a change in your lifestyle, not cycling through various 30-day starvation diets. Don’t worry about being skinny; worry about being healthy, and you will see results. Your body will take care of you if you take care of it.

“I’ve had kids.”

Cool, me too. Next?

“I’m worried about people watching me work out.”

My number one problem before I joined Crossfit. I was the kind of girl who would hang out on the elliptical until the weight room was free because I just felt so uncomfortable knowing people could see me. And I think the main reason for this was because I thought they might think I was doing something wrong.

Crossfit eliminates this problem because it teaches you the right way to lift. You don’t have to worry about people thinking you don’t know what you’re doing, because you will be taught how to lift properly before your first class. As far as having other people watch you goes… yes, they will see you, but I can almost guarantee no one will be focused on watching you. Why? Because everyone is doing the same high intensity workout as you are. Do you really think that while they are busy trying to complete 150 wall-balls for time they are going to be assessing what you are doing? Yeah right. Most of them won’t be able to see you through the sweat dripping into their eyes.

I hope this is helpful to you ladies who are thinking about joining Crossfit. Just know that you are not alone in your anxiety, but also understand that we have all had to start from somewhere. As always, if you have other issues you would like me to address, questions, comments, pictures of you using your kid as a kettlebell, etc., please do not hesitate to respond.

Photo Credit: Greg Westfall, flickr