CrossFit Diary: Week 2

In week two of my entrance into the world of CrossFit I finish fundamentals and start hitting some real WOD action. For the previous diary entry (week 1), click here.

After hitting the Olympic Lifting fundamentals session a second time, I felt a bit more confident with the movements. I mean, they’re still really tough to learn and the hand positioning for the snatch feels pretty uncomfortable and weird to begin with – I spent most of the lessons questioning whether I was actually doing it right. Apparently I was and it just takes a few weeks to feel normal.

So, with my fundamentals ticked off I was ready to hit the real WODs. Based on the fact I’d been watching some of the other classes taking place as I waited to do fundamentals, added to what I already knew about CrossFit, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t actually nervous about hitting the first session. An odd feeling considering I don’t even get nervous before marathons or fairly intense class workouts.

Aside from the fact it looks really hard, I think the fear largely came from how focussed CrossFitters are on technique and form. It’s like you’re desperately trying to push yourself to the limit of what you can physically do, whilst at the same time you want to make your movements perfect. It’s a weird dichotomy that inevitably comes with time, but one my competitive mentality has been struggling with. I see some of the more advanced people in the classes doing the tougher exercises and immediately want to do them as well. I may physically be able to do them, but I lack the form and experience to do them effectively and safely.

Anyway, I did five WOD sessions over the course of week two. The format of the majority was relatively simple. The first half of the 45-minute sessions was a more technique focussed workout. No rushing or pushing trough pain barriers but more aimed at learning how to effectively develop movements. These mainly focussed on the tougher compound exercises like squats, cleans, jerks and even muscle-ups (which I’m desperate to be able to do). The second half of the sessions was generally some sort of AMRAP (as many reps as possible) or EMOM (every minute on the minute), normally lasting between about 10 minutes and 16 minutes – you can see a list of the sort of stuff here.

Most of these second sections I found pretty tough. As people go, I’m pretty fit. But due to how specific the workouts are in CrossFit are, I pretty much always start strong then end up dying as the clock ticks away. Need to build up that stamina and work out the best weights to use so I’m not destroyed early on. As I mentioned before I have a constant need to do the heavier weights or tougher exercises, which as a weight lifter is feasible because you have a load of rest. I just can’t maintain heavy weights for very long.

As you may or may not be aware, CrossFitters tend to have quite specific titles for their workouts. Some of these are names after people (Murph), some after qualifying rounds for the CrossFit Open (I’ll attempt to explain that at a later date) and some that just seem to be random. The workout that sums up my first proper week was one called “Tyson”. A 36-minute session where we paired up to do 7 barbell thrusters and 7 burpees in two minutes then 30 seconds on a cardio machine in the third minute. That’s 12 rounds per person with breaks throughout each three minute block as we swapped over with our partners.

For the first three of four rounds it seemed relatively doable. We loaded up the barbell to be 40kgs, which initially felt fine, and banged out the 7 burpees as quickly as possible. As soon as we hit halfway that barbell suddenly started to feel very heavy and managing to burpee over it got a hell lot harder. By the end I felt awful. 36-minutes of it was an absolute killer.

The majority of the workouts I’d done over the week were tough, but they felt manageable (although the first one did rip a chunk out of my hand – see below), this however was the first workout we’d done that made me feel like I was completely out of my depth. My body was pretty ill-equipped to maintain that level of strength and cardio work for an extended period – it was exactly what I expected from CrossFit when I joined and I loved it.

So week two was a fairly full on one. I feel like I’m learning a lot, I’m aching a fair bit and I’m really enjoying the style of training. Oh yeah, I also signed up to the CrossFit Open – to be honest I don’t know a lot about how that works yet. As soon as I do I’ll fill you in.

Oh yeah, one of the main exercises that crops up in CrossFit are skipping rope double unders. I only really learnt to skip a couple of years ago and I’m having major issues trying to get to grips with going fast enough to do double unders. As a result I picked up one of these ropes for £12.97. Some of the more expensive ones on the market go up to about £40 – I wasn’t willing to fork out that much. Seems pretty good though, although I’m still not quite at double under level yet though. Might do a whole post on skipping at some point.

For more information on CrossFit Aldgate/Aldgate East, head to their website here.

Picture Credit: Pond5

Published by Tom Wheatley

All round web chap. Editor of The Allrounder and Get Sweat Go. Loves a pizza, Howard Hawks films, fitness and old British sitcoms. Not a fan of cucumbers. Level 3 Personal Trainer and massively mediocre runner. Recently launched The Run Testers video channel.

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