Clearly, we paleo women need to stop lifting heavy weights and start this 1940′s workout routine! (Really, it’s hysterical!)

On the plus side — definitely no pun intended — these women look so much healthier than today’s stick-figure models!

For more on women and weight, I’d recommend reading Why Women Need Fat by Melissa McEwen and I’m OK, You’re Fat by Crystal Meadows.

SuperSlow Achievement Unlocked: 300 Pound Leg Press

Mar 312012

For the past few months, I’ve been diligently working toward doing 300 pounds on leg press in my SuperSlow workouts. Lately, I’ve been making great progress, increasing by five pounds every session, yet doing between 2 minutes 40 seconds and 3 minutes each time. I was up to 285 pounds in my last session, so I figured that I’d hit 300 pounds in mid-April.

On Friday, I was supposed to increase to 290 pounds, but my trainer suggested trying 300 pounds, saying that often a person can make a big jump like that — of 15 pounds! — if progressing as regularly as I’ve been doing. And… I did it! I managed 2 minutes and 8 seconds under that load, which just amazes me.

In May of 2011, I started the leg press at 190 pounds, so getting up to 300 pounds is more than a 1.57 times increase in strength. Notably, 300 pounds on the machine at my gym doesn’t translate to 300 pounds on every machine. In fact, I should be able to do well over 600 pounds on the leg press machine at Doug McGuff’s gym when I visit EDan in late May.

So…. Yay Me! It’s so awesome to be making such clear and measurable progress!

Hitler Versus CrossFit

Mar 242012

Heh. Hitler is not a fan of CrossFit:

More seriously, here’s a segment of Robb Wolf’s podcast from 2011 on some common problems with CrossFit, as done by CrossFitHQ:

As happy as I am with my switch from CrossFit to SuperSlow, my year of periodic Olympic lifts at CrossFit enabled me to repeatedly pop a heavy box of food to the top of the fridge at SnowCon 2012. It’s all about that explosive power from the hips!

SuperSlow Update: The Second Sheet

Feb 042012

As you might recall, I quit doing CrossFit for SuperSlow in May for the reasons detailed in this post. (SuperSlow means resistance training to failure of major muscle groups using slow movements once per week.) In October, I posted

Here’s a summary of my progress on various movements, starting from Session 16 from find a gym in their area. That’s definitely a problem, and I’m lucky to have such an awesome SuperSlow gym just 30 minutes from home. (For me, that’s nearby!) If that’s your situation, then I’d recommend trying to find a personal trainer willing to do the SuperSlow / Body by Science method. Sure, it’s possible to work on your own, but I wouldn’t have made nearly the progress that I have without a trainer to push me to my absolute limit.

Also, if you decide to try my SuperSlow gym in south Denver, please tell them that I referred you!

Snowboard Girl, Powered by Bacon

Jan 212012

Last week, I had a great four days of snowboarding in Beaver Creek, then one final day of skiing. Much to my delight, the third day offered six inches of glorious powder — and that much powder transforms snowboarding from “yay fun!” to “OMG OMG OMG THIS IS THE BEST THING EVER!”

My snowboarding skills are definitely improving with every day on the slopes. (These were days five through eight on a snowboard.) My turns are much better: I can do pretty flat s-curves down the milder slopes, and I can do turns on steeper slopes now too. I’m able to get off the lifts reliably, thank goodness. I’m only falling on occasion now too.

Interestingly, I’m pretty much ambidextrous on the snowboard. I’m goofy-footed, mostly because the inflamed nerve (morton’s neuroma) in the ball of my right foot is happier when strapped in full-time. However, I’m happy to go down the slope with left or right foot forward, and my turns are equally good (or bad) on either side. That flexibility is good: I can face whichever way makes the most sense given the terrain, not based on my own body’s preferences.

I snowboarded or skied for four to five hours every day. I was tired by that, but not wildly exhausted. (The only exception was the first day, but that involved waking up early and driving three hours to Beaver Creek, then snowboarding.) Also, I was sore after the first day or two in my quads, but that faded. That tells me that my 20 minute SuperSlow workouts once per week are keeping me in as good shape as CrossFit did.

By the time we went home, the only thing that hurt was the backs of my knees. I couldn’t figure out why… until I realized that the problem was likely my construction-style knee pads, because the main strap wrapped around the backs of my knees. I’ve ordered knew knee pads, so hopefully those will work without causing strain.

Finally, due to my still-super-strict elimination diet, I cooked all of our meals in the kitchen of the condo. We usually had bacon and grapefruit for breakfast. (Hence, the caption on on the picture!) Paul had coffee, and I had my cinnamon hot cocoa. I packed some meat (ham or leftovers), plus sweet potato for lunch. Then we had yummy dinners: slow-cooked pork ribs, roast chicken, pork roast, and so on. That worked really well: I kept strictly to my diet, and I enjoyed what we ate. Also, we probably saved a few hundred dollars, since eating out anywhere neat Beaver Creek is ridiculously expensive.

Overall, I’m really happy that I took up snowboarding this season. I’m enjoying the challenge of learning a new snow sport, particularly that difficult process of forcing myself by sheer will to overcome my fears. (I hope to write more about that later.) Mostly…


Learning to Snowboard at the Ripe Old Age of 37

Dec 172011

Last Sunday afternoon, Paul and I headed out to Breckenridge for a few days of much-needed vacation. I decided to try to learn to snowboard on this trip. (I’m a pretty good skier, but I’ve not yet skied this season.) I wanted the challenge of learning a new sport, and snowboarding seemed like a good fit for me. Plus, I suspect that snowboarding might be easier on my increasingly painful Morton’s neuroma. (That’s an inflamed nerve in the ball of my right foot, acquired by wearing bicycle clip shoes.) So with three full days to play in the snow, I decided to take the plunge into snowboarding!

The first two days were pretty darn miserable. I’m not exaggerating. On the first day, I took a full-day lesson to learn the basics, and that was essential. (We had one instructor, plus an instructor-in-training, for four people. That was awesome.) The class worked on the bunny hill of Peak 9 for most of the day, but our final run was on a green slope. While I improved over the course of the day, I struggled to learn how to shift my weight properly in order to steer. Still, the green run was good… including the bit of real hill toward the bottom.

The second day — my 37th birthday — was the worst. I still struggled to steer, even just on my heel edge, and often I was sucked into the edges of the run by seemingly insignificant fall lines. Also, I had serious troubles “skating,” i.e. moving with one foot detached. That’s tricky to learn, and because I switched from regular-footed to goofy-footed after the first day, I had to relearn it. (I’m pretty sure that I could go either way in my stance, but my bad foot is always strapped in with a goofy stance, and that puts far less stress on my neuroma. So goofy I am!) Alas, I had lots of skating to do on this day because I was stupid enough to return to Peak 9, with its long stretch of flat with that strong fall line to the right. (I’d never even notice that skiing!) That was a mistake. However, the absolute worst was the platter-pull lift on the bunny slope: it was not merely ridiculously difficult to skate on a snowboard while being dragged uphill, but also extremely tiring. I was always more winded at the top of the slope than I was at the bottom. After switching to the green run later in the day, I got better at controlling my direction and speed, but I’d not even been able to think about turns yet.

On the third day, I dreaded returning to the slopes. Every muscle in my body ached, and after my first two days, I didn’t see much hope for fun. However, I was determined not to permit all of my pain of the first two days go to waste by my giving up, so off to the slopes I went.

Happily, I had a blast! I went to Peak 8, and I stuck with an easy green run and an easy two-person lift. (I could only stay for three hours.) That was perfect. The hill posed enough of a challenge that I never got bored. I worked on my heed-side traversing, then my toe-side traversing, then my j-turns, then c-turns, then s-turns. If I tried to turn on a steeper portion of the hill, I’d crash in a most spectacular way, but I was able to do the turns pretty well on the flatter sections. Control over my speed and direction began to come naturally to me, meaning that I didn’t have to think through every body motion. Also, I was able to practice my skating to get on and off the lift. I even managed to skate off the lift perfectly a few times. (Really, that was a feat!) Oh, and it was awesome to have an inch of powder on the slopes that day too!

I’m now eager to return to the slopes to continue learning the basic skills of snowboarding. Obviously, I have much to learn yet, but I think I’ve gotten over the painfully frustrating portion of the learning curve.

I’ve never fallen much in skiing, even while learning. I fell over and over again in my three days of snowboarding, often suddenly and hard. However, I didn’t suffer any other aches or pains or bruises from that, apart from muscle soreness. (The only exception is a dark circular bruise, two inches wide, on the side of my thigh. I have no idea how I got that!) I stayed out of trouble because I wore a slew of protective equipment, including:

  • A helmet. I bonked my head slightly a few times, so I was very glad to have protected my beloved noggin. I plan to wear a helmet whenever I ski or snowboard from here on out.
  • Wrist guards. They weren’t just useful for when I’d catch an edge, but also for helping to prop myself up when attempting to stand up. My instructor cautioned against relying on them for too long: to prevent broken bones, you want to learn to break your forward falls with your shoulder, rather than your arms.
  • Knee pads. I used some knee pads that we’d bought at Home Depot years ago, strapping them on over my ski pants. They definitely cushioned me on some very hard forward falls. I’ll likely wear these heavy-duty knee pads for a few more outings, then look for some snowpants with built-in knee pads.
  • Butt pad. This was sheer brilliance on my part, even if the ideas were borrowed from others. I secured the perfect pad to my rear by taking an inch-thick “kneeling pad” for gardening, again from Home Depot, and securing it in the proper place with spandex shorts. (It worked best to put it on over my long underwear.) It was sheer brilliance, I tell you! It really worked: despite some bone-jarring falls, my butt was never sore. The set-up did require large ski pants, however.

My only equipment failure was my mittens. My usual skiing mittens, which are lovely and warm, weren’t large enough to fit over my wrist guards, and the wrist guards weren’t large enough to fit over my mittens. Doh! Since the wrist guards needed a layer of cushion underneath, I decided to wear my warmer-weather gloves. It wasn’t too cold for that, but wowee, they got soaked. As a skier, my hands just aren’t in the snow. As a snowboarder, my hands were digging into the snow every time I’d fall, sit down to rest, or get up — meaning about once every three minutes. That meant soaking wet gloves. I was too cheap to buy new gloves in Breckenridge, but I found an excellent pair of large waterproof gloves and a pair of large mittens at Costco in Denver.

Now I just need to buy myself a used snowboard and boots… and get back out on the slopes!

So what are the lessons here for learning a new sport? I’d say (1) don’t give up too soon, (2) pad yourself like crazy, and (3) keep working toward the fun!

SuperSlow Update: The First Sheet

Oct 012011

In mid-September, I completed my first “sheet” with my SuperSlow gym in south Denver. That’s a milestone of sorts — 16 sessions in 16 weeks. Since I know that many people are curious about how I like SuperSlow compared to CrossFit, now seems like an excellent time to blog an update.

As you might recall I’d done CrossFit for a year as of May. I enjoyed it at the time, but I grew weary of it for all the reasons outlined in this blog post. In early June, I started SuperSlow — meaning resistance training to failure of major muscle groups using slow movements once per week.

So… here’s my sheet of 16 weeks. You can click for a larger version. The weight is in the top-left of each box, while the time under load is in the bottom-left. As you can see, I’m doing more movements than just the Big Three or the Big Five.

Here’s what I’ve done, with my progress in load from the first good failure weight (usually at week 3, 6/20) to week 16 (9/19). All the machines are Nautilus, except the lower back and torso rotation, which are MedX.

  • LE/LC: Leg Extension: 50 to 60 lbs. Meh on progress. I find this machine extraordinarily unpleasant. (LC is a 90-second Leg Curl of progressive intensity against a stable frame.) Only done every other week, alternating with Hip AB and Hip AD.

  • Hip AB: Hip Abduction: 55 lbs to 75 lbs. Good progress. Only done every other week, alternating with LE/LC.
  • Hip AD: Hip Adduction: 90 lbs to 105 lbs. Okay progress. Only done every other week, alternating with LE/LC.
  • LB: Lower Back: 108 lbs to 150 lbs. Good progress! You can see that I went from 128 lbs to 170 lbs to 150 lbs from 8/22 to 9/7. The 170 lbs was a mistake: my trainer forgot to adjust the machine. It was the day of Paul’s hip dislocation and fracture, and we were all a bit distracted. After that, we realized that I could do much more than what I had been doing, but 170 lbs was too much, so we went down to 150 lbs.
  • LP: Leg Press: 190 lbs to 225 lbs. Good! I love the leg press, and I hate the leg press.
  • PD: Lat Pull-Down: 85 lbs to 115 lbs. Good progress, particularly given how difficult I find this movement.
  • CP: Chest Press: 50 lbs to 55 lbs. Boo, almost no progress! I’ve not made much progress on the chest press, and we just realized that that’s probably because my seat was set too high to fully engage my pecs. That’s been fixed, so we’ll see how I do in future weeks.
  • Row: Row: 40 lbs to 50 lbs. Okay on progress, given that I’ve had a terrible time with proper form on this movement, but I’m finally getting the hang of it. Alternating pulling with a 2 minute static hold every week.
  • Ab C: Ab Crunch: 10 lbs to 15 lbs. Okay progress. Only done every other week, alternating with Rot T.
  • Rot T: Rotate Torso: 30 lbs to 38 lbs. Okay progress. Only done every other week, alternating with Ab C.

Overall, I’ve been very pleased with the SuperSlow method and with my SuperSlow gym. The competitor in me wants to make progress faster, but I’m pretty content, knowing that I’m pushing myself as hard as I can every week. (My absolute favorite thing to do is to tell my trainer that I can do one more rep!) Plus, I know that I started SuperSlow with a pretty darn good fitness base from my year of CrossFit.

Now that I’ve got 16 weeks under my belt, let me review my bullet points from my original post on switching from CrossFit to SuperSlow:

  1. Measuring Progress: I never bothered doing much measuring or recording in CrossFit because writing anything down would have taken time away from my workout. I’m pretty sure that I stalled out in the last few months of doing CrossFitting, but I couldn’t tell for sure. With SuperSlow, I like that my progress is clearly measured and recorded, but that my trainer does the measuring and recording for me. It would just be too hard to do myself in the midst of muscle failure. I’ve actually fallen to the ground after getting off the leg press machine. No, really.

  2. Time at Gym: I love going to the gym only once per week. That’s definitely helped me recover from my adrenal fatigue. CrossFit was not doing me any favors in that regard, not with its periodic “metcon beatdowns.”
  3. Sports for Pleasure: I’m happy to be doing the sports that I love, whenever I please, without trying to squeeze them into my CrossFit schedule. I don’t just save the time of two hour-long CrossFit workouts per week, but also I don’t suffer from periodic bouts of horrible muscle soreness. I’m usually a tad sore and weak for the day or two after a SuperSlow workout — and that’s it. Life is so much more bearable that way!
  4. Exhaustion after Workouts: Overall, I’ve been much less tired after SuperSlow workouts than after CrossFit workouts. However, for the past few weeks, I’ve found myself completely exhausted by my workouts for some hours afterwards, to the point of wanting to rip someone’s head off and then crawl in a hole. That’s not good! I think that’s happening in part because I’m getting better at pushing myself to full capacity in my workouts — which is hard, because your brain has been hollering for you to stop for a good 15 seconds by that point. So I’m more exhausted, but then I’ve added other stressors on my workout days, like not eating right away, shopping at Costco afterwards, and/or feeding all the beasts and making dinner immediately upon on arriving home. That needs to stop! So in future, I’ll do any errands before my workout. Then, afterwards, I’ll sit in the waiting room for a half hour, munching on some snacks. Once I get home, I’ll sit down for a bit if needed. That will help me feel reasonably good in my post-workout evenings, I think.
  5. Injury Risk: I love that I have zero injury risk. Zero. Think about that as you’re doing box jumps, oh my CrossFitting friends! (Seriously, I do worry about you!)
  6. No Summer Heat: I’ve enjoyed the air conditioning and fans in the SuperSlow gym all summer long! My trainer freezes herself for us — and I so appreciate that.
  7. Cost: I’m still saving money compared to CrossFit. Cha-ching!

I will say, however, that SuperSlow is damn hard, even harder than CrossFit in some ways. The last minute on every machine is seriously awful, and the last 15 seconds is pure agony. You have to learn to ignore that, knowing that you’re not doing yourself damage, so that you can push through to full failure. That’s not easy!

In getting to that point of utter failure, I benefit hugely from working with a trainer, rather than attempting to do the workout on my own. As with CrossFit, I just couldn’t push myself alone sufficently: I’d give up somewhere between 50% and 80% effort. If you don’t have a SuperSlow affiliate in your area, you might be able to find a personal trainer willing to use the SuperSlow methodology with you in private sessions. That’s really worth the cost, I think.

Overall, I’m extremely pleased with my current level of fitness on SuperSlow, particularly given that I’m only putting in 30 minutes per week. I’ve not done any test runs or rows to compare my capacity yet, but I suspect that I’d do as well with those as when I was CrossFitting. I’m able to easily carry two 40 lbs bags of horse feed a few hundred feet into the barn. I can sprint without getting winded. I’m very secure in riding, largely due to working my inner thighs. (That was wholly lacking in CrossFit.) So I can comfortably work my horse Lila for over an hour without stirrups, which is something!

Mostly, I feel healthy and strong — without inflicting any wear and tear on my body. And that’s really, really good!

Note: If you decide to try my SuperSlow gym in south Denver, please tell them that I referred you!

Crazy Ultra-Endurance Fun, CrossFit Style!

Jun 182011

Tammy was excited to discover that a local pack of ultra-endurance runners had set up a 12-hour event where participants try to complete as many laps as possible of a 6-mile trail right here in our foothills (Boise has a fantastic network of running/mountain-biking trails). This format lets ultrarunning crazies at different levels of development all play together: the newer crazies can do just a few laps, while more seasoned crazies can go for substantial distances, all in the same event.

As her “support crew,” I was thrilled that this would be happening just a couple of miles from our house (hey, it was a loooong drive to those the two 12-hour trail races in Moab she did, awesome as they were).

And Tammy was thrilled to report that they would have a mountain-biking division. Uh, oh.

But, dear, I’m the crucial support crew for you on your crazy ultra-endurance runs! See, I need to mix your custom goo for you and reload your water and… Well, yes, I suppose you could pre-mix it the night before and manage your own water… But you’re forgetting that I’ve only done maybe two quick rides this season. You know that with no conditioning my rear couldn’t handle any kind of time in the saddle, much less 12 freaking hours! Well, yeah, I suppose I could just do a few laps to participate a bit while I cheer you and the other crazies on…

So we took my bike.
6:00am Saturday morning. They all counted down and took off while I was messing with getting my front brakes to work right, and I was able to hit the trail 15 minutes later.
It turned out to be a moderate single-track mountain-bike loop, with about 800 feet of climbing and of course 800 of downhill. Soon I was back at the trailhead to record the lap, then I headed out again going the opposite direction.
My rear wasn’t complaining too badly after a few laps, so I thought I’d maybe try to work in a solid six laps over the course of the day. That seemed like a respectable amount of time/distance/elevation for the “support crew” to Represent. Besides, it was kind of fun checking in on all of the runners (especially my runner) with each pass of the course, going back and forth in alternating directions.

Soon I had been adopted as the runners’ Token Biker for the day. Many asked how many laps I was going for as I passed, and I would explain that I was just there with Tammy, having a little fun, and that I would stop when she did.
After five or six hours, though, I noticed that I still felt fine — and I wasn’t slowing down at all. So naturally I started flirting with the idea of just going for it and seeing if I could really keep riding like that for the entire 12 hours and complete 12 full laps, whether or not Tammy wanted to keep going! Since I had no ultra-endurance experience or preparation, this unusual effort would also be a great test of the “ready state” that CrossFit is supposed to be giving me.
Well, apparently Tammy knows me too well! She had mixed twice as much goo as she needed the night before, just so I could fuel a very long day right along with her.

In the end, we had a great time with a nice group of folks, and we enjoyed a clean sweep of both the running and the mountain-biking divisions that day. Woo! Team Perkins brings it! :^)
I was able to ride steadily through all 12 hours, from 6:00am to 6:00pm, covering 12 laps. That’s about 73 miles, and almost 20,000 vertical feet of elevation change.
More difficult in my opinion was Tammy running all 12 hours, covering 9 laps. That is just shy of 55 miles with almost 15,000 vertical feet of elevation change. On foot!
We were certainly depleted, but not disabled, and we recovered quickly. In fact, I didn’t suffer any soreness to speak of, despite becoming a spontaneous ultra-endurance athlete for a day. Heading as usual to the CrossFit gym early Monday morning, we turned in decent performances, smiling through the strain because we knew it was preparing us for the next fun challenge to come our way.
(Thanks to Longrun Picture Company
for photographing everyone that day!)

From CrossFit to SuperSlow / Body By Science

Jun 112011

After exactly a year of CrossFit, I’ve decided to switch to Body By Science / SuperSlow (BBS/SS). Yowza, what a change for me… and a good one, I hope!

I’ve been toying with the idea of this change in my workouts for a while now, partly due to concerns that the whole “metcon” aspect of CrossFit was exhausting me without improving my strength or fitness. Other reasons, as you’ll see below, grew on me too. Ultimately, I was convinced after doing an official BBS/SS workout with Ed at Doug McGuff’s gym Ultimate Exercise a few weeks ago, when visiting Eric Daniels before ATLOSCon. (Yes, the experience was seriously awesome, and I really enjoyed chatting with Dr. McGuff afterward.)

First, what is the Body By Science or SuperSlow method? Here’s how it’s described on the website of Ultimate Exercise:

I. High Intensity – To stimulate your body to make an adaptive change your exercise intensity must cross a certain threshold before your body will respond. By training to muscular failure, we send an alarm to your body that more muscle and improved metabolic are needed. Also, we use a training protocol called “SuperSlow” which involves lifting and lowering the weights over a 10 second time frame. This eliminates acceleration and momentum which keeps the muscle under continuous load and more effectively fatigues the muscle.

II. Brief Workouts – All of our workouts last 20 minutes or less. We desire the minimum amount of exercise that will produce the stimulus for adaptation. Anything beyond this amount of exercise only acts to consume precious recovery resources.

III. Infrequent Workouts – Reaching the required stimulus intensity threshold consumes a large amount of your body’s resources and the subsequent adaptive changes are metabolically expensive. Replenishing resources and making metabolic investments takes time. Reintroducing the stimulus (a workout) too soon will interrupt these processes.

IV. Precise Record-Keeping – Keeping precise records of your workout performance allows us to know if we are manipulating the variables of intensity, duration, and frequency appropriately. By doing this our clients can show progress on every exercise of every workout.

Second, why am I switching? I’ll tell you! But please keep in mind that these reasons are personal to me. I have no beef with my CrossFit gym, nor with anyone who chooses to CrossFit. If it’s working for you, keep working it!

  1. I’m enthused that my progress will be measured with every workout, but that I won’t need to do the measuring. I’ve been frustrated by my inability to easily tell whether I’m doing better or worse in CrossFit. Yet that’s important to me, given my thyroid problems. I’ll have noticeable gains or losses in strength, purely due to increasing or decreasing my desiccated thyroid. It will be good to track my strength, carefully and objectively — or rather, to have someone else do that!
  2. I don’t want to go to the gym more than once per week, and that’s all that BS/SS advises. I live in a rural area and work from home, so every hour-long CrossFit session consumed nearly three hours of my day — and seriously interrupted the flow of my work. I could manage that once per week, on Mondays, when I have my dog training lesson and grocery shopping to do. Twice per week had become a burden, due to changes in my schedule. With BBS, I’ll just be lifting once per week, for about 20 minutes, when I’m already in town. That’s a major win for me.
  3. I want to enjoy fun physical activities most days of the week! Whenever I’d CrossFit, I wouldn’t have the time or energy to ride my horse Lila. That began to seem like a sacrifice to me. With BBS/SS, I’ll have the time to do whatever sports I please on my six days off, so long as I’m not lifting weights.
  4. I want to leave the gym energized, not deliriously exhausted. Too often, CrossFit workouts would just beat me down, to the point where I couldn’t think clearly or work for hours and hours afterwards. That’s why I had to work out in the evenings, from 5:30 to 6:30 pm, because I couldn’t afford to spend the whole day in that state of exhaustion. Sure, we did a fair bit of strength training at CrossFit, but not as much as I wanted. The “metcons” just killed me — and I wondered not only whether they were providing any benefit, but also whether I was actively doing myself harm, particularly given my (still ongoing but better) thyroid problems. In contrast, after the initial recovery from my jelly legs with BBS/SS, I might feel a bit tired, but not beaten to a pulp.
  5. I’m excited to be able to push myself to full capacity without risking injury. With CrossFit, it’s too easy to injure yourself as you push yourself with more weight in lifts or kettlebells, more height on boxjumps, and so on. Yes, there’s lots of attention to form, but when you get tired, just one bad rep can do real damage. I strained the rotator cuff in my right shoulder in a workout this winter, and while it’s better, it’s still not great. As a result, I’ve been cautious about the weight I use, particularly with kettlebells, and that’s limiting my progress. From what I’ve read, the injury rate on BBS/SS is nearly non-existent, because you’re lifting the super-heavy weight so slowly and in such a controlled way.
  6. I’m enthused to be working out in air conditioning! I was not looking forward to hour-long CrossFit workouts in the broiling heat of Colorado afternoons. Yet I couldn’t switch to morning workouts, for fear that I’d be exhausted for a whole day rather than just a few hours at night. That might seem trivial, but working out in the heat is extra-draining.
  7. As the icing on the cake, SS/BBS will be cheaper per week than even my measly two sessions of CrossFit. Win!

So, given all that, I’m very excited to start BBS/SS. I don’t want to do it on my own: I need a trainer to push me to do my very best. Happily, South Denver has a SuperSlow affiliate, and my first workout was on Monday. That went really well, and I’m looking forward to future workouts.

As for the results… I’ll keep you updated!

What’s Your CrossFit Style?

Feb 052011

This post by Kelly and Jenn on the very different things they enjoy about CrossFit — CrossFit Is Fun For All Personality Types — nearly killed me with its sheer funny awesomeness.

As many of you know, I’ve been training at CIA FIT Gym in south Denver since mid-May. My appoach to training seems to be somewhere between Jenn and Kelly on many of the dimensions that they list, although definitely tilting toward Kelly. (I have a sneaking suspicion that they might have exaggerated a wee bit for dramatic effect!) So… what do I do?

I keep some records, but very few. I like to know my limits for a power snatch, for example, so I try to write down those weights. It’s motivating to see my progress in objective terms. Plus, it’s convenient to know about what weight to rack on any given day. I keep track of the medicine ball I use for wall balls, what bands I use for pull-ups, etc. — but only in my head.

That’s as much as I track my workouts. I often like good records of my doings, but sheesh, the workouts seem dang hard enough to do on their own! I don’t need the added task of trying to remember or write down what I did, as that would only distract me from the workout itself. Seriously, I often have trouble counting to ten or twenty while doing burpees or ball slams. So the idea of trying to rigorously track everything about my workouts seems like more than I could manage.

For my overall strength, my standard measure comes outside the gym: it’s my time for a one-mile sprint on our home rower. I do that about three times per week, so I can see the trends clearly. And I’ve been doing it for years, so it’s a good long-range benchmark. Recently, I did an 8:00 mile for the first time ever, shaving about 45 seconds off my time in just a few weeks. That was pretty damn awesome, I must admit. Those gains are mostly due to the fact that we’re doing more strength training at the gym. (Yay o-lifts!)

Also, I love the never knowing what we’ll be doing in class. Usually, I don’t know what we’re doing until owner/trainer Kelli gives us our instructions. The workouts on the board are often so abbreviated that we can’t do more than guess beforehand. (We don’t follow the CrossFit WOD because Kelli trains us more broadly than just CrossFit. We do more kettlebells, more core work, less rushing for sheer time, etc.)

As for my goals in the gym, I must admit that I’m pretty lax about those too. I’ve got some goals, but not too many. Right now, I’m very consciously working on my form: with certain movements, I’m pulling up from my shoulders rather than using the upward thrust from my hips. So we’re deliberately tweaking my movements to try to get the right effect. For example, I’m not doing kettlebell swings to vertical, but rather only as high as my hips will take me (now, to about 135 degrees), so that I use and feel my hips without pulling from my shoulders at all.

With a few movements, I have clear goals. I can do 27″ box jumps, but I want to get up to the seemingly impossibly high 30″ box. I was downright horrible at box jumps when I started, so I really like that. I like the fact that I’m scared to jump that high, but then I do them anyway and I don’t crash! Yay me! Also, I want to be able to do unassisted pullups, but that’s merely a wish right now, since I’m not doing anything special to work on them.

Of course, I have my global goal of being capable of doing all the things required for my life (e.g. farm chores) and happiness (e.g. crazy vacations like this snowshoeing hut trek). And for that, my time in the gym is exactly what I need.

For the other CrossFitters, what’s your approach? Are you more like Kelly or Jenn?

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