Sundays are becoming my favorite strength training day. I’m usually rested since I don’t WOD on Saturday and you get to pick your lift from any of the 5 lifts worked in the week prior. So you can go with what feels good.

Yesterday, I chose to work the clean. It’s one I’ve been itching to test. Technically, the assigned work for the clean from Friday was to work up to 4 singles at 95%. I took some liberties with that. I elected to push through for a 1RM.

I warmed up a few reps at 95, then 115. Then I just started working singles, 135, 155, 175, 185, 195.

The rep at 135 had me second-guessing my idea of testing a 1RM. It was just weird. When I jumped to 155 things straightened out and the lifts got better along the way.

I was shooting the breeze with my friend Craig between lifts and he commented that things looked good and asked about my 1RM. I told him, “Technically, one time, I’ve done 200# plus the washers, so call it 202 ish.” That was back in April and it was one of those ugly, “I just barely got away with that,” sort of lifts. You know the type of lift I’m talking about. It’s the kind where afterwards you say to yourself, “OK. I didn’t fail, so I’m gonna count it, but damn that was nasty.” It’s been niggling at the back of my brain since I pulled that one off, “could I do that again?”

The lift at 185 felt really good. It was about that time I told Craig that I was definitely going to make the run at 205. Part of me wanted to skip the 195 lift, but the 20# jump seemed overly aggressive. So I did 195 and again, it was a pretty well executed lift. That gave me confidence to go for 205#.

It felt so good to drop under that bar, catch it and know that I had it. There was no doubt in my mind. It was definitely worth the walk to the PR bell! There may be a bit more in the tank for that lift, but for now, I’m just enjoying the fact that I truly feel like I cracked the 200# ceiling. Back in April when I got that 202, I got lucky and I knew it. I didn’t believe I could repeat that lift.

Yesterday, I walked away from that 205 feeling like I could do that again. Now I feel like I can say with integrity that my clean is more than 200#.

Sunday, Oct 26,
[in Teams of 2]
40-30-20-10 reps of:
power snatch at 95/65 lb
24/20 in box jump overs

40-30-20-10 reps of:
overhead squat at 95/65 lb

40-30-20-10 reps of:
wall ball at 20/14 lb

The original post said there would be a 30 minute time cap on this WOD. Coach Lori cut us all off at 28 minutes. That was plenty long enough. This one was a meat grinder. To the best of my knowledge only one team in two sessions completed this WOD and that team had a Crossfit Regionals qualified athlete on it.

Erin and I partnered together and I think we did quite well. I scaled the weight on the bar to 75#. When we got to the second couplet we did Toes to Bar for the round of 40. As we were working through the round of thirty overhead squats, I announced that I was doing all remaining reps of T2B scaled on the floor. My grip felt like it was shot and something in my left side felt strained. I didn’t want to push things too far, so we reigned it in.

When time elapsed, we completed the first two couplets, plus 40 wall balls and 28 burpees between us. Not too bad.

Monday, Oct 27
EMOM for 8 minutes (each arm):
3 1-hand Russian Swings
2 KB High Pulls
1 KB Snatch
Use a load you can handle

Coming off of yesterday’s METCON I was quite sore starting the day. I used a 35# kettlebell for this work. It went ok.

Strength: Push Press
Work up to 3 attempts at a 1RM. Craig and I shared a bar today. My best lift on the day was 195#. That’s just less than 90% of my all time best. For today, it will do.

Craig PR’d with an impressive 205#! Way to go my friend!

7 minute AMRAP of:
5 reps of kettlebell snatch (right arm) at 52/35 lb
5 reps of kettlebell snatch (left arm) at 52/35 lb
30 reps of double under

This wasn’t pretty. I scaled the KB to 44#. I made sure to work my left arm (weak-side) first each round. Double unders were floppy and sloppy today. I was just flailing my arms all over the place. I muddled through the first round doing double unders. For subsequent rounds, I embraced Coach Rachel’s pre-WOD guidance and did 3:1 Singles for the remaining rounds. The METCON was just too short to waste time making DU attempts.

In the end I finished 4 rounds and 7 KB swings. I would have liked this one to be smoother, but no big deal. Rest on Tuesday, come back at it on Wednesday.

Yeah. A second date with the benchmark WOD “Grace” and some 1RM floor press fun. That comment is gonna come back to bite me.

EMOM for 8 minutes:
Clean DL
Clean Pull
Use 60% of 1RM

Done at 115# – It was obviously Monday in that the first two rounds were very tight, but after that that body loosened up and these seemed to fall into place.

Strength: floor press 1RM
3 attempts at 1RM

This is another one of those ghost lifts that I either never write my 1RM into my journal, or I simply haven’t tested it, even after three years. You can bet I’m going to write this one down! Regardless, I figured a 1RM of 220# ought to be attainable, given my all time best bench press is 250#.

Craig and I shared a rack and worked quickly through the warm up lifts and each made a first attempt right at 225. Pretty smooth, so we agreed to jump to 235#.

We both lifted that. Craig decided he was done and asked, “what do you want to do?”

I answered, “I kinda want to try 240#.”

Craig shrugged, laughed and answered, “Of course you do.”

As I walked away to the water fountain I answered, “Why not? It’s Monday, I’ve got all week to recover.”

When I got around to actually doing the lift, I got it. It wasn’t pretty. It was what Craig dubbed a ‘kipping floor press.’ One of those presses where you arch your back lifting your ass off the floor to drive your shoulders in deeper and generate the leverage you need to finish it out. Not pretty, but I got it. Very satisfied with that as I ended up lifting 20 pounds above and beyond what I anticipated. Have to be pleased with that.

30 reps of clean and jerk at 135/95 lb

My first date with Grace was in October of 2012. I finished in 4:54. I didn’t really have a goal today other than ‘be faster than that.’

I intended to do sets of 11, 10 and 9 reps each. Eh, not so much. I got the 11 and realized that I may have been over ambitious. I did a short set of 4, just to get on a 5 and then did sets of 5 to completion.

I was very careful to position myself where I would not see the clock. I didn’t want it to influence me. There are days where I say “I’m going to finish in 5 minutes” and then rather than go as fast as possible, even when the fuel is in the tank, I start budgeting the time and effort to work to that mark. Today I just wanted all the reps done and then I’d check the clock.

When the last rep was complete, I found the clock and it read 4:30. Also very pleased with that.

The goal now is to break 4 minutes on this WOD. Another friend, the ‘other’ Greg W has brought up the idea of a wager to see who can get to 4 minutes first. Greg, I’ve been mulling that over and I’ve decided that I’ve got to respectfully decline.

The last time I bet against a guy named of Greg in a WOD off, it cost me bottle of bourbon. Losting the booze is one thing. More importantly it added 2+ minutes to my Fran time! If you’ve read this blog at all, you know I don’t consider myself superstitious, but I do believe in mojo and the die has been cast. WOD offs against guys named Greg are not good for my WOD times.

Now, if you’ll excuse me I have another date, a threesome actually. Me, my foam roller and a lacrosse ball are gonna get intimate to ensure I don’t end up paying for my aggression for the rest of this week.

I set a new personal record on my clean today. I cracked the 200 pound barrier. 200 pounds plus the ‘washers.’ I’m calling it 201.5 assuming the washers are a half pound each. I don’t know for fact that’s what they weigh. All I know is that it was important that I clean more than 200 pounds..but somehow 205 seemed like setting myself up for failure.

I’ve hit 195 pounds before. I’ve hit 195 for singles repeatedly for well over a year, maybe closer to two years.  I have also repeatedly failed to clean 200 or more pounds for close to two years.

There are lots of folks, men and women, who can clean that much weight and far more.  John, the guy lifting alongside of me PR’d at 245 two minutes before me. My buddy Matt also topped the 200 pound barrier cleaning 205 immediately after me! We swapped high fives and laughs about having that monkey off our back. Seems he’s been chasing the 200 mark as long as I have.

It’s a 5 plus pound improvement, only 2.5% better than the day before.  I’ve certainly had bigger gains. Hell, I improved my overhead squat by 30 pounds this week.  So why have I been high fiving the dog all day saying, “201, Oakley. TWO. OH. ONE.” Why does this one PR feel like such a big deal?

Some times a METCON punishes you and you alone while everyone else cruises through. Those days suck, but they happen.

Other days the METCON is just brutal. Everyone gets laid low. Later on I offer a few tell tale signs that you just survived a truly wild one.

EMOM for 8 minutes:
1 Snatch Balance
2 Sots Press
Finish the OHS
Use 30% 1RM

I did these with a bare 45# bar. That’s a bit lighter than the weight prescribed. It was plenty for me. Took a round or two to loosen up the shoulders to really get good Sots Presses. Overall OK.

Strength: Clean

4 singles at 60%
4 at 70%
4 at 80%

These all felt pretty good today. Started losing my grip during the 70 and 80% lifts. No big deal. Time was becoming an issue and to avoid getting frustrated, I only did two reps at 80%. I was very satisfied with those two though, so all good.

Every minute on the minute (for 18 min):
3 reps of 1R m clean at 50 %
3 reps of pull-up (chest-to-bar)
3 reps of plyo push-up

Here are a few signs that you just survived an insane crossfit workout.

1) It hurts to drive yourself home

When you hit the stage where power steering  and power brakes are no help, you know you took part in something special. The moment you flex ANYTHING you wince.

2) Clothes are flying everywhere.

Some folks habitually prefer to work out bare chested. I have no issue with that. Most days I stay dressed.

But some days if you’re wearing the wrong shirt it feels like it impedes your movement. It feels like it’s constricting you. Or it just gets so soaked in sweat that you’re carrying an extra five pounds through every rep. On those days, my shirt has to go. But like I said, that’s pretty rare.

Today, if there were 12 people doing that METCON during the 6:15 am session, 9 of them shed their shirts! Me included. Guys, girls. It didn’t matter. The shirts were all coming OFF!

And you can’t blame the weather. It was not an especially warm day either. 50 something degrees in Durham today. That’s it.

3) The best tell tale sign that you just survived a truly wild one? The coaching staff changes the METCON after the fact!

See that rep scheme up there? 3 Reps each? This morning at 6:15 that read 4 REPS EACH! This METCON was scaled back for everyone else because it CRUSHED the first crew of the day!

I got through three rounds, maybe four as an EMOM. After that, this WOD became an AMRAP for me. I have no clue how many rounds I completed. I’d like to believe more than 10, but I just don’t know.

Mostly, I’m just glad I survived. And for anyone at Crossfit Durham who did the WOD later today. Thank your friends in the early morning crew for taking this one for a test drive. Or perhaps better stated as ‘taking a bullet.’ ;-)


Don’t know what’s different in the world, but for the first time in a long time things were just fun again this morning.

Skill: Ring Dips
3 sets of 8 reps

I did the assigned ring dips, as opposed to scaling to bar dips or something else. Truth be told, I only did two sets. One set of 4 and one set of three. Although I didn’t get all of the assigned reps form felt good today. I’m very satisfied with that as lately I’ve felt like I’m flailing in the rings and very unstable.

The family installed a rig in our backyard over the weekend which allows us to utilize either rings or a heavy bag. I’m very excited to be able to start experimenting with more gymnastic work on my own time. Should be cool. We used to do that stuff: skin the cats, levers, etc at CFD, but it hasn’t been a focus for quite some time and I’ve really missed it. Having the ability to work on those things at home will be a real treat.

Strength: Clean 1RM
1 rep of clean at 60 %
1 rep of clean at 70 %
1 rep of clean at 75 %
1 rep of clean at 85 %
1 rep of clean at 90 %
1 rep of clean at 95 % 185#

185# or 95% of current 1RM (195#) was the heaviest successful lift on the day. Missed it once and then really stuck it the second time around.

Dithered for a while about what to attempt for my 1RM attempts. I’ve been chasing 200# FOR. EVER. Decided to go right at it.

First attempt I pulled the bar so high that it struck me in the throat. Completely startled me. I don’t know all the physics of the actual weight near the apex of a lift, etc. So I can’t tell you what the bar “weighed” when it hit me.

I can tell you that I panicked when it did. Iron pressing against your throat gets your attention really quick. End result, I bailed.

The second time around I tried to temper my pull and ended up not pulling high enough so I missed again.

So it seems there’s a sweet spot somewhere just under a true 100% pull which is what I need to get that elusive 200# clean. Still trying to dial it in though.

Once again I missed my goal. This is another lift where my 1RM has had a birthday, but that’s ok. I haven’t practiced cleans as a skill  since the first of the year while pursuing my pistol and bar muscle up goals. Frankly, today’s effort went better than I was anticipating. So it’s all good.

6 minute AMRAP of:
10 reps of wall ball at 20/14 lb
25 m shuttle run [pullup rig down and back 1x]
10 reps of kettlebell swing at 52 lb

This one was a lot of fun! Somehow scurrying around gym floor up and down the pull up rig and shuffling between exercises really suited my mood. First time in a long time that a METCON felt fun. This one had that playground WOD vibe that I covet. So I was all in.

Got through 5 full rounds + 10 wall ball shots in the 6 minutes alloted.

Good good fun.


Has it really been 4 days since I wrote last? Sorry ’bout that. Life is good. Hectic, but good. Hasn’t really been much time for casual writing. Here’s the basics on what went down this week.

deadlift 4-4-4 75%

Done as prescribed at 290#. Felt pretty good. I got the number 4 stuck in my head and convinced myself we were doing 4 sets of 4 reps. I was pretty thrilled when I rechecked the white board on my way to the water fountain after the third round and realized I was done!

run, slams, double under
15 minute AMRAP of:
200 m run
10 reps of slams at 30/20 lb
20 reps of double under

Whew! This one was a grind! I completed 5 full rounds, not quite RX. Double unders have evaportated on me. After two rounds I went to single unders 3:1, just to stay in motion. I finished the 5 round with less than 20 seconds remaining on the time cap. Rather than start another round I decided to stay and continue to attempt double unders until time expired. It wasn’t pretty.

I seem to have lost all synchronization between my brain and hands. I can run off 150 single unders with my hands pinned to my sides. Soon as I think about picking up the pace for DU’s I start flapping my arms at the elbows and things get weird. More practice.

I now view double unders like my kids’ sleeping habits. When our kids were infants and we were sleep deprived from feeding them every 3 hours and then trying to get them back to sleep everyone told us, ‘just hold out until 12 weeks. When they hit 12 weeks, then they don’t need to eat every 3 hours and they start sleeping through the night and everything is fine.”

Sure enough at 12 weeks it came to be that we could all sleep through the night and life became normal again. What no one mentioned is that later on they again can’t sleep through the night because of teething, growth spurts, whatever and the sleep deprivation cycle starts all over again!

I vividly remember the first time it happened with our oldest and all I could think was, “NOT. F’ing fair! We made it to 12 weeks! We’re supposed to be past this bullsh*t!”

Right now I have the same attitude about double unders. I had them. I was getting decent. Stringing together runs approaching 20 reps at a clip. Now I’m foundering again. With practice, they’ll come back, I’m sure. I just hope it’s soon.

EMOM for 8 minutes:
2 Muscle Ups

Per the additional directions, since I don’t have muscle ups I did deadhang pullups. 2 per round. Although I confess, by round 6 I was doing on good deadhang pullup and one lips to bar pullup. Best I could do.

clean 1-1 90%
1 rep of clean at 75 %
1 rep of clean at 75 %
1 rep of clean at 85 %
1 rep of clean at 85 %
1 rep of clean at 90 %
1 rep of clean at 90 %

I got to 85% at 165#. 90% was too much on this day. On one of the reps at 165 I caught it DEEP. For a moment I thought I was pinned and would have to bail. Then I got pissed. I thought, “No way! That HAD to be one of the best technical catches you’ve ever done! By God,” and I shouted this part aloud as I rose, “STAND. UP!” So I did.

10 minute AMRAP of:
2 reps of double kettlebell clean
4 reps of double kettlebell push press
6 reps of burpee

Rx for this was “heavy as possible” on the kettle bells. I did a couple of practice reps at 52#. My left side wasn’t having any of that. So 44#.

I got 9 rounds and 1 rep. Guest coach Stephen said it best. This one was “spicy.” He warned us about pacing ourselves, but the first couple of rounds went SO fast and then there was the wall! Everything just slowed down SO much. Yeesh! I was pretty satisfied with the 9 rounds.

back squat 1-1-1-1 90%
5 reps of back squat at 60 %
3 reps of back squat at 70 %
3 reps of back squat at 80 %
1 rep of back squat at 90 %
1 rep of back squat at 90 %
1 rep of back squat at 90 %
1 rep of back squat at 90 %

Things felt GOOD here today. Worked up to the presribed 4 singles at 270#. Really felt like I could have had a banner day, if I’d tried.

Of course that was only after I put my lifting shoes on. Coach Rachel knows I get lazy about swapping from innov-8’s to lifting shoes and back and today was no different. I just didn’t want to be bothered. But in an early set she noticed I was forward on my feet and pointed out, “you know, a good pair of lifting shoes,” (or words to this effect) “would probably fix that.”

I just ducked my head and went off to change. Message received.

1 k row
rest for 3 min
3 rounds of:
10 reps of kettlebell snatch (right arm) at 52/35 lb
10 reps of kettlebell snatch (left arm) at 52/35 lb
10 reps of 24/20 in box jump

This was a cool METCON. I like to row and kettlebells are definitely to my strength.

I polished off the row in 3:39. That’s about 4 seconds off my PR and I wasn’t working THAT hard. I was pushing, but I wasn’t all balls out knowing the work that was going to come next. Makes me curious to test that.

The 3 rounds went pretty smoothly. Started the work at 6:39 and finished at 11:27. So average 2 minutes a round. I’m good with that.

All in all a good week. Except I could use some double unders and some sleep.

I had the audacity to go to the gym today dare I say, ‘expecting’ to hit a new clean PR. Some nerve.

Skill: Kipping Pullups

We worked on the 5 seconds on/5 seconds off kipping swing drill then 5 rounds of 5 of the ‘jump, push, swing’ drill. I confess, the utility of these particular drills is not readily apparent to me but knowing that they should be supporting my current goals, I try to take them to heart.

5 seconds of kipping swing, just doesn’t seem long enough to me. But that’s likely because it just takes me longer to get in motion and build up momentum.

Strength: Clean

I felt so good today. Rested, relaxed, loose, no aches, no stiffness. I walked into the gym thinking, ‘there are no excuses today. No reason why I shouldn’t clean 200# today.”  Then I started lifting.

Couple warm up reps at 95# – Nice. Everything felt smooth. ‘Aw, yeah, baby. Gonna be a good day!’ I call myself baby sometimes. Don’t judge.

Single at 65% – 125# – smooth. Good fast drop, flat feet, stuck landing. Now my confidence is climbing. “Damn, that felt nice! Gonna sprint to that PR bell today!”

Single at 70% – 135# – First lift – lost it forward. ‘It’s all right. No big deal,’ I’m thinking. ‘I was careless. Wasn’t focused. Pay attention this time’. Second attempt – sat on my ass in the catch. ‘Huh. Well sure. After being forward before, I was overcompensating.’ Third lift – nailed it. “Back on track! 200 here we come!”

Worked by 10# increments to 185#. 185# is 95% of my 1RM. Might as well have been 1850#. It wasn’t going anywhere. I missed all sorts of different ways. Rachel did her best to help me out, but it was in my head, plain and simple.

One lift it was, “my grip doesn’t feel right.”

The next time it was, “oh, I’m just too slow here.”

One time mid-pull it was, “is my left shoe tied? Because my right shoe is SO much tighter than my left. I’m not even sure that left one is tied. YOUR SHOES!?!?! Are you for real here?!?!?”

Up until I missed, I had been lifting with my back to the rest of the gym to eliminate visual distractions. Just me and the bar and the bare wall, you know? After the second or third miss, I turned around thinking, ‘well obviously I know what the problem here is. The feng shui of the gym is all eff’d up! This’ll get me right.” Like I said, all up in my head.

As time was running out, just before moving on to the METCON, I did strip the bar down to 155# and did one more decent lift. End with a hit, ya know? Definitely wasn’t the strength session I was anticipating, but that’s all right. I made up for it on the METCON.


5-4-3-2-1 reps of: double kettlebell thruster

100 m farmers carry (after each round of KB Thrusters

Then: 200 m run

Direction was use a KB weight that you can handle. I experimented with a couple of thrusters at 52#. Well, no. I considered experimenting with a couple of thrusters at 52#. I almost fell over backwards swinging them simultaneously up to the rack position. I went back to the rack for 40# kettlebells.

I really only had one goal. “Don’t put these suckers down.” Which I was able to accomplish. In fact, I was able to stay in motion the entire time going unbroken wire to wire in 6:58. I was very pleased with that.

It was an unexpected, but not a bad start to the week. Looking forward to seeing what the rest of the week holds.


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