Not my strongest day in the gym but a valuable day all the same. The take away lesson? Listen to your coaches! They are there for a reason and they know what they’re talking about!

Strength Session
Cleans (from the position you’re most comfortable with, Hip, Knee or Floor)
Six sets one rep each

Normally, I’d tackle that kind of description as an invitation to go heavy. And when I saw it last night, that was part of my intent. I’d looked and verified that my 1RM is 135. I’d made a not in my journal to work at 125, then try to work past that 135. Well, what I intended on Sunday night and what occurred Monday morning were two very different things.

I started out just practicing my form with a PVC pipe. For this particular lift, I feel like I have to give that up. The actual lift with a barbell and weights is SO different from working with a PVC pipe that I feel like working with the PVC is counterproductive for me. I let myself get away with bad habits when I’m working with the PVC that carry over to the barbell. Working with a bare 45lb bar is far more effective.

In fact, Jack came by while I was working with the PVC and observed that I’m pulling the pipe too far out in front of me. I’m not keeping it close enough to my body. The result is I’m wasting energy lifting the bar away from myself instead of up and down. He planted a PVC pipe vertically into the floor a few inches in front of me and challenged me to execute the clean without hitting the upright PVC. When I did that, he moved it in a few inches closer on two more repetitions.

It was during these reps that I acknowledged to myself that I felt slow this morning, just kind of flat. So went from PVC to a bare 45 lb bar then from 45lbs, I jumped to 95lbs. That’s where I started recording the lifst and my notes look like this:

Lift 1: 95 lbs CRAP!
Lift 2: 95 lbs No Balance
Lift 3: 95 lbs Fail

It was about this time, Jack came back around observed that I was still pulling bar away and up instead of just up. His second observation was something we’ve discussed before. I’m still relying far too much on my arms to yank the bar as high as possible. I continue to haul the bar as high as possible with my initial shrug and arms. Then I’m just flexing my knees as little as possible to get under it. I’m pulling the bar near up to my shoulders without really making an effort to drop under it.

I did three more reps with the 95 lbs and executed decent clean lifts, so I left it at that. I was initially disappointed with my performance there, but after reflecting on it, I’ve got some things to work on to make it better, so I can accept that.

4 RDs for Time
12 push Press (Rx-95 lbs)
12 KB Swings  (Rx-75 lbs)

I’d decided Sunday night that I would use 75lbs for the Push Press and 40 or 44 for the kettle bell swings. I was pissed enough about the way the strength session went that I definitely attacked the METCON with a renewed sense of aggression. In hindsight, that was at least part of my issues during the strength session. I lacked aggression and intensity and my lifts suffered for it. Lesson learned. (That’s a point Stew likes to make to all of us. “Own the lift. Be aggressive with the bar from the very instant you decide to step up to it.”)

Before we got started Jack made a round of the gym and checked to see what weights everyone was working with. He saw the 40 lb kettle bell and asked me if I thought it was enough weight. Suggesting that he thought I could do more. I told him I was good with the weights I had, but I’d let him know how it went afterward.

I muscled through three sets of push preses unbroken. I’m not counting the rep where I clipped myself under the jaw with the bar as a broken set. I lifted and failed to pull my head back and ended up gnashing my teeth pretty well. The underside of my chin is still tender 8 hours later. But I didn’t drop the bar and I didn’t stop the set! I just went, “Shit! No rep!” Reset and continued on. It wasn’t until I finished the set, dropped the bar and was transitioning to the kettle bell that I ran my tongue around the inside of my mouth to confirm that everything was still in tact and there wasn’t any blood in my mouth. I consider it a matter of competitive pride that my first concern was for the set and my health secondary. That’s a killer instinct that I’ve lacked for quite some time.

The fourth set I needed to break around the 7th rep and then finished with sets of 3 and 2. I was again very conscious not to take an extended pause. I allowed myself 4 full deep breaths and then back to work.

Once again Jack was right. I should have gone with the 44 lb kettle bells. I got through all 4 sets of swings, American style, unbroken. METCON was over for me in 5:08.

I told Jack afterwards that I’d use 44’s going forward. He seemed pleased and mentioned that he figures I should probably be working with 52lb kettle bells in the next couple of months. I like that goal. He pointed out that the next couple of workouts with 44’s might be very tough, but not to get frustrated and to stick with it.

He also brought up the idea that he feels if I was working with higher weights on the cleans, it would help to correct the issues of pulling the bar too far out and too high. With more weight, I would not be able to rely as heavily on my arms and it would force me to improve the rest of my technique getting under the bar and catching it deeper. He’s brought up that idea before. And in fact, when I applied that concept the last time he brought it up that was the day I worked up to my current 1RM. I’d do well to pay closer attention and remember to apply the suggestions the coaches give. I’m making it a new gym resolution to do so.