Amazing what a weekend off, a little bit of forethought and a relatively good night’s sleep will get you. Much better mindset and as a result a much better workout today.

Warm Ups:
Coach Paul lead us through a warm up jumping rope, stretching and jumping rope again. Coach Paul brings an amazing level of energy and personality to any workout. Today was no different. Although, for me, there is a point where I have to tune him out. For example, we’re all jumping rope facing a partner and he commented that one of the athletes (and I’m paraphrasing) “looked like a waterfowl failing miserably at taking off.” Now he followed that up with clear useful instruction on how to fix it and offered positive reinforcement as soon as the situation was corrected. But the initial comment was distracting  and funny enough that I got laughing, lost my concentration and failed out. At which point, I probably looked like a waterfowl trying to untangle itself from a fishing line, but no one commented on that. The truth is Coach Paul doesn’t need to change anything. I just need to grow up and focus more.

Strength Section:
Dead Lift: 5 sets of 5 reps. Have to admit when I saw that last night, I wasn’t sure how to approach it. That seemed like a lot of reps for a strength session, and I wasn’t clear in my mind how I was going to approach it. By the time I’d turned in, I’d made up my own mind that I’d start around 60% of my PR and work up, by set. But I didn’t have a clear goal or scale in mind. Coach Paul took care of that for us. When we got in, he provided additional direction: start the first set at 50% of your 1RM, second set at 60%, third set 70%, 4 set 75% and final set 80-85%. Cool! Now I’ve got a plan of attack.

So strictly speaking, my PR 1 rep is 295, but I was reasonably confident I’ve got more than 300lbs in me, and I elected to be a little aggressive. So using the chart on the wall that maps out weight to percentage conversions, I used the 310 lb scale and mapped out sets of 155, 186, 217, 232, 263 lbs respectively.

It was a fairly small group today and with the longer sets, Coach Paul was able to get around the gym a few times and observe all the athletes closely and offer detailed instruction. I really appreciated that because it gave me a chance to have some back and forth on why a change is necessary. We were able to discuss, “Ok, I understand that I need to improve my lumbar posture, but then I’m pinching my shoulders back, which I’m not supposed to do. So how do I fix it?” We don’t always get to that level of conversation in the gym and I find it very useful. So it was very cool to do today.

Don’t anyone think I’m criticizing other coaches. I’m not. On other days, the sets are typically much shorter and there are far more people in the gym. I think there were only 5 of us that were focusing on today’s WOD. Most days when there are 10 or more athletes and we’re only doing at most 3 reps per set, as a matter of function the conversations/critiques have to be simpler and shorter. Coach, “keep a neutral neck.” Lift. Me: “Better?” Coach, “yup.” Today we were just lucky to have a luxury of time given the circumstances.

In the end, I lifted as follows: Any variances between mapped out and actual lifts were simply a matter of convenience/efficiency in adding plates. With the exception of the second set I always exceeded the mapped out weights. So it looked like this: 155(mapped):155(actual); 186(m):185(a); 217(m):225(a); 232(m):235(a); 263(m):265(a). All in all the sets were solid. I’ve got plenty to focus on next time, like maintaining a neutral neck. Finding a balanced grip before lifting. Removing the tension from the bar before lifting. Finding a good lumbar back position.

METCON — For time alternating between Double Unders and Overhead Squats. DU’s 50-40-30-20-10; Overhead Squats: 20-15-10-5. So you begin and end with Double Unders.

Remembering my rant from last week, I was careful about the weight I selected for the squats. Prescribed was 115lbs. There was no going there. Knowing I maxed out on 2 rep sets at 80 lbs back on 9/8, I opted for 65lbs today. Honestly, during the first set of 20, I thought I’d done it again. That first set of 20 squats was tough! Somehow even with all the warm ups, the muscles along the insides of my knees were really tight making deep squats very difficult. They loosened up and my form improved in subsequent sets. Coach Paul advised me on several sets to remember to stay back on my heels. So I tried to focus there. He also warned me to lock out my elbows repeatedly. Tough to be concerned with and focused on both extremities simultaneously, but it’s certainly important. I’ll continue to work on it.

Double unders continue to challenge me. Conversion rate was 3:1 today and attempts did count, so there was plenty of incentive to push myself on them. In the end, I did a mix. There were times where attempting doubles just felt too slow and frustrating, so I’d do a set of unbroken singles for a while then mix in a few doubles again. Never did get more than 3 consecutive doubles today. Despite that, I feel like they are getting stronger, so I’m encouraged. By that I mean, most of the time when I decided to initiate double unders, I was successful. I didn’t trip on the rope on the first attempt.

In the end, I did the METCON in 11:25. I consider that solid. My form was not as consistent as I would have liked all through the squats, but I feel that means I selected a reasonably challenging weight. I got through the first set unbroken, but was not able to repeat that in any of the subsequent sets. Judging by the puddle of sweat I was able to wring out of my shirt at the end of the workout. I’m comfortable that my intensity level was very high.

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