3 reps. That’s how long it took Coach Jack to assess and suggest a remedy to my ailing back squat. I am so thanful for observant committed coaches.

WOD for Tuesday 091812 – Click Here For Today’s Schedule
Back Squat
12 sets of 2 reps @65%

So last week I lamented and speculated about possible causes for my failure to improve at the back squat. I didn’t write it at the time, but in my head and in some FB conversations, I speculated with friends that maybe I was descending too fast. I also know I have a bit of a hitch in my giddyup when I try to come up out of a heavy back squat. I hit parallel and then have a tendency to try and bounce out of it. That never works.  I’ve also been wondering about my footwear (I’ll clarify that shortly).

Today, as we were all doing individual pre-WOD warm up, I mentioned to Jack that I needed his help to observe and assess my technique to see if he could help my identify any problems. He agreed that he would and after group warm ups he came by and observed my first set of 5 warm up squats at 95#.

I did all back squats barefoot today. I haven’t yet replaced my defective lifting shoes and I don’t like the way my New Balance fit/feel when back squatting. To be clear, I’m not blaming my squatting woes on my shoes. But it’s a reality that I don’t feel comfortable/confident in my minimal shoes when doing squats. The shoes don’t close completely around my ankles. I’ve never had a problem, but I always feel like the potential to roll an ankle is higher in these shoes. I let myself get distracted by that. With that in mind, I ditched the shoes. Trust me, it’s relevant.

After 3 reps, Jack said, “I see the problem already.” I finished 2 more reps, racked the bar and he explained. “You’re letting your weight get forward on your toes. It’s subtle. You’re heels aren’t coming off the floor, but you’re definitely rocking forward into the balls of your feet. You can get away with it at this weight, but at anything near 1RM, would cause you to lose the lift every time.” He also pointed out that he wasn’t sure if he would have seen it as clearly if I’d had my shoes on.

So for all 12 sets today, my mission was to stay back on my heels. I focused on raising/wiggling my toes during all reps to ensure I was far enough back. I also made sure not to bounce any reps at the bottom. Jack came by and observed a late set near the end of the strength session and confirmed my depth was “perfect.” (His word.) So at least it seems I’ve got that part right.

By the end of 12 sets of 2 reps, the lift started to feel comfortable again. So now I have two goals to improve my back squat. One, replace my damaged weightlifting shoes as quickly as possible. Two, continue to focus on the cues Jack has given me correcting the bad habits I’ve developed.

For Time:
9 Hang Power Cleans (185/105)
10 Ball Slams (30/20)
6 Hang Power Cleans
15 Ball Slams
3 Hang Power Cleans
20 Ball Slams

This one was cool and went considerably faster than I anticipated. Remembering that I’d had some success with hang power cleans on Friday  at 155# for 10 individual reps, I scaled this WOD to 145#. I initially set up at 135#. 18 hang power cleans sounded like a lot. Just before we got started though, I got ambitious and added 10#. It was a good call and plenty of challenge.

The first round of cleans were done in sets of 4 and 5 reps. The round of 6 was done as 3 and 3 reps. I dropped the bar in between each set. The final round I never set the bar down but each clean was a very deliberate lift with ample time to consider and reset before the next one. Even so, my form was really ragged in that round of three. My elbows seemed to be very slow getting under the bar.

Ball slams were as always a treat. All rounds went unbroken and I grinned my way through each set, humming my ball slam song to myself, “ball slams in the morning, make me happy.” I’m going to have to record that some day.

Most folks tore through this WOD. I finished in 4:22 and was probably mid-pack! Folks were just flying. Particularly, Renee! As she mentioned later when I congratulated her, she felt this one was really in her wheelhouse. It showed. I don’t know how fast she finished, but it was FAST! She dominated this one!

Back Extensions
3 sets of 10 reps (weighted if necessary)
It’s been months since I’ve been on a GHD or done back extensions. I didn’t know what to expect. They turned out to be fairly easy. Next time I’ll need to add some weight.

Spare Time: we had plenty of spare time at the end of the WOD and Drew was gracious enough to let me use one of his sleds. So I took that outside and did a few 100M pulls up the sidewalk. I’ve never pulled a weighted sled before. So I had no idea what to expect or how to approach it. With that in mind, I took a 45# plate for the first haul. I just wanted to get a feel for things.

I tried to treat the first pull like a run, but that proved very awkward. There wasn’t enough weight on the sled for that. It kept jerking forward and the straps would go slack and then pull taut yanking me off balance. It was fun to do, but obviously ineffective and inefficient.

Jack came out and observed and offered some direction and demonstrated how it should be more of a march than a run. We also added and additional 35# to the sled.  With the additional weight and I believe the incline of the sidewalk, I found the straps stayed taut, but the front of the sled tended to rise and wobble from left to right. That threw my balance off and meant I tended to wobble in my stride from side to side. The effect was I had something of a swish in my hips that’s not part of my natural stride.

By the time I’d gotten around to the second pull, some folks had stopped to observe. .As I approached the gym Renee called out, “you’re walking like a runway model.” My answer was, “more like a drunken model.” We all shared a decent laugh over that.

I’ll be curious to experiment with the sled some more to try and figure out how it can be integrated into my training, as well as to figure out what the more challenging/appropriate weights will be. I think later this week, I want to experiment with the “inside” sleds.