WOD (15/02/17)

I’m still trying to recover from that dreaded stomach flu so still feeling relatively weakšŸ‘ŽšŸ». But managed to fit in some good training!

Considering the Crossfit Open is literally around the corner – 7 days away to be exact- it’s time to kick it up a notch and start getting into the pain cave! Consequently, two past Open WODs were done back to back followed by some accessory work.

1. 11.6… 7 min AMRAP 

3 thrusters @ 30kg

3 chest to bar pull ups

6 thrusters 

6 C2B

9 thrusters 

9 C2B

… continue up in 3s until time cap 

I managed 15 thrusters and 8 C2B. The bar felt more like 50kgs than 30!

-5 minute rest-

12.5… for time

60 bar facing burpees

15/12 muscle ups

This took me 10:13. I felt surprisingly comfortable on the burpees and just kept a steady pace. The muscle ups felt decent today as I was using a lot more hip drive and power! 

2. Accessory work

4 sets

6-8 overhead stability lunge (see video) 

15 barbell hip extensions @ 45kg

4 sets

10 dead ball slams @ 20kg

20 weighted sit ups

20 weighted Russian twists 

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WOD (13/02/17)


I spent most of my weekend in bed as I had a pretty upset stomach (sad face) but it forced me to have two full rest days. So when Monday came rolling around my body was feeling pretty fresh but unfortunately my stomach was still quite upset. Nevertheless, I did the work and finished my training sesh! 

1. Front squat 5 min EMOM

3 @ 60%

3 @ 65%

3 @ 70%

2 @ 75%

2 @ 75%

– rest 1 min-

10 min E2MOM

2 @ 80%

1 @ 85%

1 @ 85-90%

1 @ 90% 

1 @ 90%

2. 12 min E2MOM clean and jerk @ 60-70%

3. 6 RFT

500m row

10 box over burpees

-1 min rest between rounds

>23:13 

The weight lifting did not feel great today but I blame that on the stomach bug. The cardio was alright, it’s just not my fave type of workout šŸ˜ 

Why do we do Benchmarks?


In Crossfit, we like to measure our progress through various benchmarks, 1 rep maxes and general ability to do certain skills. But why is it important for us to do this? And how does it make us better athletes? 

Well the obvious reason as to why we do benchmark WODs such as “The Girls” and “Hero WODs” is to reveal our strengths and weakness and determine our progress as an athlete. We can then see if we need to improve our lifting, gymnastics or metabolic conditioning and even determine if we are lacking in any of the domains of fitness (strength, power, speed, agility, balance, coordination, flexibility, endurance, accuracy or stamina. From there, we can then set specific and attainable goals. 

Benchmark WODs such as Fran, Nancy, Helen and Karen are used to test work capacity. 1 rep max power lifts such as backsquats test pure strength and 1 rep max Olympic lifts such as the Snatch and Clean test strength, power, flexibility and agility.

It is important to make a record of your different benchmark scores in order to keep track of your progress and achieve your goals. 

So, don’t shy away from testing your athletic potential. When you see a benchmark WOD or 1RM on the whiteboard, give it your best so that you know where your capabilities lie. 

Don’t Hit the WALL!

Have you ever looked at a workout and thought “chilled, I’ve got this one!” Then, five minutes into it you hit a wall. You’re dripping with sweat, you’re out of breath and your muscles seem to have lost all their ability to perform. Yup, I’ve been there. It’s not fun. But WHY does this happen?? How is it possible to feel insanely good in one workout and then completely and utterly useless in another?

Well, besides the fact that there are obviously certain elements to a workout that may favour or disadvantage you. Say, you are GREAT at heavy weight lifting, but when it comes to those sub 7 minute metcons you feel like you’re dying and your body is working against you. That’s just telling you to WORK ON YOUR WEAKNESSES! However, if it is a workout that you think you could crush, but for some unknown reason, it crushes you.. well that is likely to be a failure on pacing accordingly.

For me, one workout always comes to mind when I got my pacing strategy completely wrong. It was at a Crossfit team competition and I was honestly so excited for this workout because it had all my favourite exercises in it. We had to do 14 reps of deficit handstand push ups into 7 reps of overhead squats and the second part was maximum reps of muscle ups. I started the handstand push ups at full speed, made it to 8 and suddenly I could not push myself up anymore. I struggled through the last 6 reps, literally doing them one at a time. When I got to the overhead squats, I struggled to even get the bar above my head, let alone squat! Anyway, I eventually finished those two exercises and then it was my turn to do muscle ups. Well, this part was just embarrassing. After several attempts I managed to get a total of ONE muscle up, much to my dismay. I will admit, I shed a couple of disappointment tears after that one. But, this is a typical example of not pacing correctly. I went out way too hard on the handstand push ups which completely destroyed my muscle endurance for the rest of the workout.

So what is a pacing strategy and why do athletes use it? Athletes use pacing strategies during competitions and workouts in order to maximise performance and prevent failure of any physiological systems such as the heart and muscles. Therefore the athlete is self-regulated by an appropriate distribution of workload and energy in order to prevent early fatigue or significant deceleration late in the event (or early, like me!). A pacing strategy is a conscious and Ā unconscious system that uses knowledge of the end point of an event as well as memory of prior events to determine the best paceĀ for a specific workout. The subconscious brain uses the predicted duration of an activity in order to determine the appropriate pace that can be maintained without hitting that horrendous wall we talk about. When the workout begins, physiological feedback is used to monitor the pacing strategy which tells us if we need to slow down (to preserve our physiology) or if we can speed up.

So, lets take Crossfit as an example. The workouts are constantly varied right? So how do we know how to set a good pace? If you have been doing Crossfit for a while, then you will know what it feels like to do a longer workout such as Cindy (20 min AMRAP of 5 pull ups, 10 push ups and 15 squats) compared to a shorter workout like Fran (21-15-9 thrusters and pull ups). You will also know what a more strength based workout will feel like in comparison to a metabolic conditioning workout. So using these past experiences as well as your current fitness and skill levels, you should be able to determine how fast you want to move throughout your workout. There are four types of pacing strategies most commonly used:

  1. All out pacing strategy: this strategy is generally used for very short workouts that last between 10-30 seconds and utilise the Phosphagen energy system such as a 100m sprint or Tabata intervals (20 seconds on, 10 seconds off). Sometimes, due to excitement and adrenaline, this strategy is used at the beginning of a workout that lasts longer than 30 seconds which ultimately leads to that very hard brick wall we all hate. So try save this pace for those sprint events!
  2. Slow start pacing strategy: this strategy is used by more conservative people or those who aren’t quite sure what kind of pace is required by the workout. Basically, the person starts the workout at a slow pace and usually maintains the pace, or sometimes increases it. This pacing strategy is often seen in individuals who are new to a specific sports. This is fine for the first and MAYBE second workout… BUT the individual soon needs to be able to adjust their pace in order to complete the workout at the desired intensity.
  3. Even pacing strategy: this strategy is used for shorter and middle time/distance workouts. The individual maintains the same pace throughout the workout but is still working at the desired intensity. This pace is ideal for workouts that are about 20 minutes or longer as they use the glycolytic energy system and therefore the athlete will be able to reach the end of the workout.
  4. Variable pacing strategy: this strategy is used for long distance/time workouts. The individual will receive feedback from their physiological responses (heart rate, breathing frequency, body temperature, etc) which givenĀ them an indication of if they should speed up or slow down throughout the workout. Generally, athletes using this strategy will start at a faster pace, then slow down, and speed up towards the end of the workout.

So, next time you you walk into the gym and look at that white board, or decide to do a triathlon (whatever floats your boat), think about what you are about to do and the best way to go about doing it in order to really get the best out of your workout. Because damn, hitting that wall is painful and occasionally embarrassing and tear jerking…

Breakfast Omlette

For those of you who are like me and LOVE sweet breakfasts, this one is to die for! its the perfect balance of protein and carbs and amazing as a post workout meal.

Ingredients:

1 egg

1 egg white

1/4 cup oats

1 tbsp cocoa

1 banana

1 tsp honey

Method:

  1. whisk the eggs, oats and cocoa together and add a splash of water. Pour the mixture into a hot pan and cook until almost fully cooked
  2. place the chopped banana on one side of the omlette and flip the other side to close it up.
  3. cook until the inside is fully cooked
  4. top with a drizzle of honey.

Lifting heavy as a womanĀ 


As a coach, I often hear women saying that they don’t want to lift heavier weights because they don’t want to look ‘bulky’. Honestly, I made this comment countless times when I first started Crossfit. I was content to snatch 25kg and press 30kg… Until I realized that going heavier not only felt amazing, but it did amazing things to my body. 

Let me tell you, I have been trying to gain muscle mass for months and it is bloody difficult! I am now able to snatch 52.5kg, clean and jerk 70kg and deadlift 120kg… And I STILL struggle to put on mass. 


For most women it is extremely difficult to gain a lot of lean muscle mass. To do so you have to lift extremely heavy and be very disciplined when it comes to diet and lifestyle. I am now starting to see some changes in my body, only because I have been making a concerted effort to gain muscle.

I promise you you’re not going to suddenly wake up with massive biceps and quads from increasing number your weights slightly. Weight lifting is extremely good for the body and has many benefits. Women shouldn’t shy away from being strong. You say you want to be lean?? How do you expect to do that without building muscle? Having a greater percentage of muscle mass also increases the metabolism… Therefore burning more fat stores… 

So seriously ladies… Try putting a little more weight on those barbells and let’s get strong together.

The Crossfit Games OpenĀ 

  
For those of you who are die-hard Crossfit fans, you will know exactly what the Crossfit Open is. But those who have no clue what I’m talking about, the Open is the first stage of the Crossfit Games. It is a global, 5 week competition of fitness that consists of one workout per week. Each workout is released weekly and athletes have 4 days to do the workout and log their scores. The workout can be done as many times as one wants as long as a qualified judge with you to ensure that each rep performed is to standard. The top ten of each region then moves on to compete in the regionals, where only a few from each region will qualify to compete in the Crossfit Games (the Super Bowl of Crossfit) 

We are currently in week 3 of the Open, and so far the workouts have proved to be a true test of fitness. 16.1 brought us immense glute pain with 20 minutes of nonstop lunging, burpees and chest to bar pull ups. 16.2 was a true test of strength and speed with a combination of increasing weights squat cleans, toes to bar and double unders. We are now amidst 16.3 which is seriously testing our grip strength with a super quick AMRAP of power snatches and bar muscle ups. So far I have really enjoyed each workout and have done better than I expected to do. At the moment I’m sitting at 69th in South Africa in the RX women’s division which I did not expect at all! 

 

bar muscle ups during 16.3
 
I have learnt so much from the open so far with regards to my training and mental stamina. It truly highlights your strengths and weaknesses and forces you to push yourself past breaking point. I have realized what I need to work on for the next Crossfit open as I am determined to make it to Regionals in the next 3 years. 

The most amazing thing about the open is how it brings communities together and allows people from all levels of fitness to put themselves to the test. Each workout has a scaled option which anyone can do. As a coach, I love watching each athlete push themselves to their limit and fall even more inlove with the sport of fitness.

  

crossfit grahamstown
 
If you are competing in the Crossfit open, I would love to know about your experience so far. As for 16.4…there are bound to be wall balls coming up! Bring it on Dave Castro!