Warm up and work up to a heavy single Power Clean.
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Choose one of the following scaling options, and spend 15-20 minutes developing your hand balancing:
A) Hand Walking (free or 2′ from wall)
B) Wall Inverted Hip Shifts with Hand Release (from a Wall Walk or Kick Up)
C) Box Piked Hip Shifts with Hand Release
D) Floor Piked Hip Shifts with Hand Release
Rest after each set or attempt and don’t turn it into a 20-minute AMKAP (As Many Kick Ups as Possible). If you’re not spotting someone, you can use the rest periods to do some light stretching or light rowing, jogging, cycling, etc.
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Open Diary 18.4
By Brett Ferguson
I’ll admit, writing my entry last week really made me take a step back to look at my mental approach to CrossFit workouts. I knew that I was hard on myself. But to see the exact same pattern repeat itself 3 weeks in a row exposed just how engrained this mentality was for me. I have to say, I absolutely loved reading the blog post the day it was posted. So many people were raw and vulnerable about their own struggles. To everyone who shared that day, thank you!
This week I decided to take a different approach. I wouldn’t set a goal for myself in the workout, and I wouldn’t look at the leaderboard all weekend. I would go into the workout on Friday, do the best I could, and see what happened. Then, I would try to approach it with a new strategy on Monday, see if that went better or worse, and treat it like a learning experiment. Progress, not perfection. This is what ensued…
“Well, there is the bending! Holy shit!” That was the text I received from my coach after 18.4 was announced. We had been talking for the last 6 weeks about what to do when a workout with a lot of hinging came up because my lower back had started to completely tighten up during these kind of workouts in January. “Diane” has been a great workout for me in the past. I’ve worked a lot on Handstand Push-Up volume and endurance this year in my programming. However, when you couple the spinal flexion and extension that happens during a kipping HSPU with 45 Deadlifts, everything affects the lower back. I was really excited to see the Handstand Walks as the new movement, but I told myself, “Focus on just getting the Deadlifts done first,” knowing the 21 reps at 315lbs would be a battle.
The Friday Night Lights sign up sheet filled up quickly this week. I knew the energy would be great, so I grabbed a spot in the 5:55pm heat. Strategy: break up the Deadlifts a lot in “Diane” to save my back for the heavier reps later on. As our heat started and I broke up 21 into of smaller sets of 6/5/4/3/3 reps, I could hear people around me running to the wall to start the HSPU while I was still on the bar. “Stick with your plan,” I thought. My tendency is always to come out fast. My coach knows this so he purposefully made me break into more sets than I wanted to. I had practiced the HSPU to the new standard several times, but things always change from practice/training to competition. Adrenaline and heart rate are up, normal breathing patterns disappear, and things that you didn’t anticipate always come up.
The new standard for HSPU forces the athlete to stay closer to the wall (harder for most people because the bottom of their kip will then take them off of the wall), keep their hands closer together (harder for people with poor shoulder mobility), and keep a straight spinal position (again, harder if you have poor mobility because hands overhead will cause your lower back to arch but also harder because people overarch in general when kicking up to a Handstand). As a result, I found myself staying upside down in the full lock out way longer on each rep, pressing out hard to ensure that each one counted.
I got back to the round of 15 deadlifts and started to go with my strategy of 4/4/4/3 for sets. But in the third set of 4 I could feel my back starting to take over the work, so I broke it up differently, forgetting my plan and going by feel. My sets ended up going 4/4/3/2/2. Not when I expected to feel my back starting to tighten, but all I could do now was try to keep it from completely seizing. Coach Whitney no-repped me several times in my next set of HSPU because I was too eager to get back to the barbell and wasn’t fully locking out. Fair enough… slow down. The last set of Deadlifts went 3/3/3, and I could feel my lower back arching with each lift of the barbell. Oh boy. Here were go.
I knew the reps at 315lbs would feel heavy, but I was not ready at all for how heavy they actually felt. A set of 4, then 3, then 2 all with significant rest in between and I switched my game plan to do singles with as little rest as possible. The last 8-9 reps of the 21 honestly felt like max-effort lifts. Those 21 reps took me about 3 minutes. That’s about a Deadlift every 8 or 9 seconds. Not the pace I was hoping for with “quick singles,” but it was the best I had in me.
I ran to the line for the Handstand Walk, really excited to be getting there at all. I’ve been practicing Handstand Walks all year and feel very confident with them. When your midline is completely shot, they are an entirely different experience. My form was all over the place, I was barely breathing, and I was walking like a drunk person. I got through the 50′ walk with just about a minute left before time was up. As I bent down to the bar my back was screaming in pain. Everything in my body was telling me to stop. My self preservation instincts were telling me to stop. The muscles of my lower back felt like there were needles sticking in them everywhere. I picked up the bar and dragged it up my legs, hitching for the last 10 inches of extension like you see in power lifting competitions when people are going for a max lift. I let out a yell when I stood all the way up and then repeated this another 6 times before time was up. I collapsed to the ground and immediately started doing some spinal twists and other back stretches. That was everything I had.
As the Monday redo approached, I worked on a few different techniques to save my back, knowing that it wouldn’t be fully recovered from the Friday effort. I tried things like faster eccentric movement, quick singles, and shifting my weight differently in my feet. I also decided to do some of the HSPU strict to maintain the integrity of my spinal position upside down. I thought that with all of these things combined, my back would surely feel better at the 315lb bar. False. These things all helped me to get to the 315lb bar faster, but instead of being able to do any touch-and-go reps there, I was at singles immediately.
The hitching that hadn’t happened until after the first handstand walk on Friday was happening 8 reps into the set of 21 dead lifts. I kept looking at the clock between each rep, seeing the time fade away. I should stop here and say that I had also judged Phil earlier in the day, and seeing him get to the second Handstand Walk immediately put that as a goal in my head. Between feeling like I wasn’t going to get there, or possibly not even beat my score from Friday, I could feel my body language change. The defeated feeling started to creep in. Coach Whitney was judging me again and started telling me to stay calm and just hit the next lift. This snapped me back to the present moment. I kept moving back to the bar, fighting through the mental storm going on between my ears. I got to the Handstand Walk. I knew what to expect this time so I was ready for it. Back to the bar with 80 seconds left. Keep fighting. Keep fighting. My last two reps were the ugliest Deadlifts I have ever done. I wasn’t able to stand the weight up with my legs or back so I popped up on my toes to get the last few inches of each. Time. Three reps better than Friday with a faster tiebreak time. “F*%$ that! That wasn’t worth it!” I yelled.
Then, like so many of us have experienced after a workout in 597, I was on my back staring up at the ceiling when a thought came in my head. “That was your best effort.” That was the best I could have done with that approach on that day. I hadn’t stopped. I hadn’t given up. I kept moving and gave it everything I had. I suddenly felt calm and, if I’m being honest, a little detached. Knowing that I had pushed myself the hardest that I could, the result seemed a little less important. I was sitting in the contentment of knowing I had laid it all out there. This was a huge mental win compared to one week earlier where I had given up in the middle of the work out. This feeling stayed with me the rest of the day. I also had a sudden desire to get back to training, having seen what I needed to work on in the first 4 workouts of the Open.
I’m really happy with how things went mentally this week. My feelings writing last week’s post and all of the feedback after helped me to start taking action with my mental approach. A little anger at the end of the workout tells me that I’m competitive and that I want more. That’s a good thing I think. But the acceptance of the result and contentment with my effort knowing I had nothing more to give tells me that I’m learning. That’s gold. It would be arrogant to say that I have completely changed in one week. I haven’t. I know my tendencies to compare myself to others and beat myself up will hit again at some point. But having some success with it this week is a step in the right direction.
News and Notes
- Come out to the gym tomorrow night from 5:30 to 8pm for the 5th and final Friday Night Lights event of the Open. Go HERE to sign up for a heat!
- Hey speaking of the Open, 18.5 will be the community’s choice! At 6pm our time, Dave Castro will announce 3 workout options. The CrossFit community will then have the chance to vote on it, and the winning workout will be announced at 8pm. More info can be found here.
Yesterday’s Results Board: Row, DB Snatches, Farmer’s Carry, Leg Raises | Front Squat
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