Another benchmark WOD that I haven’t experienced before today. It’s turning out to be a very entertaining week.

WOD for Thursday 010313
CrossFit Total
1RM Back Squat
1RM Press
1RM Deadlift

So for this workout after doing a thorough warm up, athletes get 3 attempts at each of the lifts listed above to establish a 1RM. Then you add up the highest successful 1RM for each lift for your final score.

I’ve never experienced this workout before, so I was very excited when I saw it posted last night.

I wasn’t sure how to approach it though. First reaction is to think, “Well of course I want to PR each lift and that would be the highest possible score I can get.” That’s just not realistic though.

In looking at my current 1RM’s for each lift, I concluded that 800 would be an aggressive but realistic goal on the day. Here’s how it broke down.

Coach Rachel provided some guidance on strategy that was much appreciated. She advised that a commonly accepted approach was to make your first attempt at a weight that you’re confident you could do 3 times. Make the second attempt at a weight that you’re confident you could do once. Presuming the second lift is successful, then use the final attempt to go for the gold and attempt new PR’s. It seemed sound to me, so this is the logic I tried to apply across the morning.

Back Squat — My current 1RM for this lift is 305. I did warm up sets of 5 reps each at 45# and 95#. Then moved up to sets of 3 reps at 185# and 225#.

First attempt for 1RM was done at 275#. It was shaky. Rachel observed this lift and commented that it seemed like I’ve modified and widened my stance, suggesting that perhaps I was too wide. In considering that, I realized while I’d been very careful to screw my feet in and stay back in my heels, I had not really considered the width. So I made a note to pay attention on the second attempt.

I moved to 285# (93% of 1RM) for the next attempt. With my feet a bit closer together, this felt more stable. I got stalled 2/3rds of the way up and realized that I was fighting myself again. When the weights get upwards of 90% of my 1RM I have a habit of using a death grip on the bar. The result is while my legs and hips are driving up, my hands and arms are actually pulling down! Totally counterproductive. When I realized this, I was able to relax my grip some and use my entire body to drive upwards. I was finally able to stand the lift up.

With a solid lift established, I tried to apply Rachel’s logic and go for a PR lift. I loaded 310# on the bar, prepared myself mentally and took a shot.

I never stood a chance. As Coach Erin said afterward “it looked like you were about to hit terminal velocity.” She’s absolutely right! The weight drove me straight to the floor. Thank goodness Rachel and Erin had planned ahead and set up the safety bars for all of us. When I felt my butt pinned firmly against the backs of my calves, I knew the lift was lost. I bailed allowing the bar to slip off onto the safety bar and slipped out from under it.

Press — warm ups for this lift were pretty efficient, 3 reps at 95# and 115# respectively, then straight into the 1RM attempts.

My current 1RM for this is 145#, set back in July. I was sure that I should be able to improve on that, but wasn’t sure how much.

First attempt at 135# went smoothly. I think I got forward on my feet a bit, but nothing too severe.

Second attempt – moved up to 165#. This was a much tougher lift. I stalled a bit overhead, but was able to drive it up and lock it out. So that was a 20# PR. Not bad for a lift that doesn’t get practiced too frequently.

Third attempt – There was nothing to lose, so I added 10# pounds to the bar and made an attempt at 175#. Failed it miserably. The take away lesson from this lift is that I need a new cue for the strict press to prevent myself from dipping and driving like a push press.

We practice the push press far more frequently and at this weight I knew I would be tempted to dip and drive with my legs and hips. So after removing the bar from the rack, I stood there telling myself, “Don’t dip. Don’t dip. Don’t dip.” This meant the last word through my brain before setting my body in motion was, “dip,” and that’s exactly what I did!

As soon as my knees buckled, I called out loud, “NO!” Because I was already in motion, I pushed up on the bar slightly, but I’m not sure it even cleared my lips. I re-racked the bar on the pull up rig and walked away. I was disappointed, but kind of amused at how I tricked myself. In discussing it later with Rachel, she offered that Coach Stew uses the cue, “big breath,” to set himself up to initiate this lift. I may have to try that next time.

Still with a 20#PR in my pocket, I was feeling pretty good about the morning. Then I did some quick math.  285 + 165 = 450. To hit my goal of 800 on the day, I would need a 350# Deadlift. This could be close.

Deadlift — My current 1RM is 375#. 350# or (93% of 1RM) should have been attainable, so I was feeling confident. But after the effort of the other lifts, I wasn’t certain how things would play out.

I did warm ups of 275 and 315#’s 2 reps of each. I decided that I was going to be somewhat aggressive and hit my goal on the first lift. So I loaded the bar to 355#. It was not an easy lift, but neither was a true max effort. Most importantly, it was successful!

So the total so far was 805#!

I made two attempts at a PR of 385#, but barely got the bar off the floor. I’d exceeded my overall goal for the day. I’d PR’d one lift. My head wasn’t truly into those last two lifts. Partly, I felt that same muscle just north of my right butt cheek start to knot and as soon as I felt that twinge I bailed. You could make the case that I left weight on the table for the CF Total by not attempting something like 365 or 375, but I really wasn’t too concerned about that.

All in all, it felt like a successful morning. I’m really looking forward to seeing what’s on the schedule for Friday.