Ever since seeing the CrossFit Regional workouts, I’ve been wanting a bigger sandbag to do cleans, holds, squats, and carries. Rogue has been sold out of their strongman sandbags for months, so I bought one of the StrongFit sandbags for my garage gym. The Gorilla tape pictured is mine and I added the second zip tie, but the lacrosse ball, ring, and one zip tie all came with the bag.
It was less than $6.50 for two 50 pound bags of Play Sand at Home Depot.
Filled up the bag, followed the instruction video, and it seems solid.
I tweaked my back pretty bad during the CrossFit Open this year. It seemed a good opportunity to lay off the squats and deadlifts to ease up on my back. I found what looked like a good upper body focused lifting program from Hybrid Performance Method, which they call their Push Only program. The main focus was on bench press, but there was also a fair amount of overhead pressing, pull-ups, and accessory work as well. I started it on 4/4/2017.
The program was structured to be 4 workouts a week for the first 10 weeks, a 3 workout deload week, and then 3 days of testing max lifts in the 12th and final week. Since I still wanted to attend a couple of CrossFit classes a week and not lose too much conditioning, I planned from the start to stretch out the program. It usually took me 8-9 days to complete a full week of the programming. Today, 109 days (15 weeks + 4 days) after starting, I finished.
Before following this Push Only program, the longest special program I’ve followed is my Thruster Attack, which takes 10 weeks, but is only two workouts a week that take 20 minutes or less. This program was a total of 46 workout days and I did 44 of them. I skipped two of the pull-up focused days in the last four weeks and I think I skipped some accessory stuff on two of the lifting days. Well, I skipped a lot of the accessory stuff in the final week, which was all about hitting maxes. At that point I was ready for the program to be over and change my focus.
Overall I really enjoyed the program. For the first 7-8 weeks, each workout was taking me about an hour to complete. Once the weights got heavier, the time commitment increased. All of the upper body accessory work was perhaps the best part of the program. My shoulders have never felt this good for so long.
If I had to go back and change something, I wish I had increased some of the weights 10# instead of 5# from week to week, because it seemed like I wasn’t lifting anything heavy for the 3 main lifts until the 8th or 9th week. That very well could be by design though. I can’t help but wonder if stretching the program out over 15+ weeks affected my results in a positive or negative way? I’ll never know.
I saw improvements across the board (all weights are in pounds)…
- Push Press: 245 -> 260 (video)
- Bench Press: 275 -> 290 (video)
- Shoulder Press: 180 -> 185 (video)
- MAX Strict HSPU: 11 -> 17
- MAX Kipping HSPU: 14 -> 23 (video)
- 100x Bench Press @ 135#: 9:37 -> 8:43 (video)
I highly recommend checking out any of the Hybrid programs, which only cost about $35/month.
The other day I saw CrossFit Games picture of an athlete wearing a weight vest, which they’ve used when performing versions of the hero workout “Murph” in 2015 and 2016. It got me thinking of alternate versions of the workout “Cindy”, which is a 20 minute AMRAP of:
- 5 Pull-ups
- 10 Push-ups
- 15 Air Squats
Most people do the 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, and 300 squats during “Murph” by completing 20 rounds of this format.
My initial thought was, “How can you make a harder version of Cindy without resorting to other equipment, such as a weight vest?” The first two movements were pretty easy to replace, but the squats were tough to ramp up. I came up with:
- 5 Bar Muscle-ups
- 10 Handstand Push-ups
- 15 Squat Box Jumps
Yes, I know a box is other equipment. I’ve never attempted a squatting box jump (though I have done seated box jumps for height), but judging by the increased intensity of squat jumps, I think this would be a suitable increase in difficulty. I didn’t want to select squat jumps because it’s too easy to barely jump off the floor.
What do you think?
If you give this a try, let me know how it goes.
Each time I watch something with Chris Hinshaw of Aerobic Capacity I learn something new. Brute Strength had him on their podcast again for a great episode. There is some good stuff about lactate in this one.
You may recall that my Thruster Attack program is based on Chris’s work.
Following up on my post about Online CrossFit Programming, I wanted to write some thoughts about how affiliates program classes for the general population, like you or I.
CrossFit is meant to be a conditioning-biased exercise program. Look to this pyramind illustrating a theoretical hierarchy for the development of an athlete. It comes from Greg Glassman’s “What is Fitness”, which was published 15 years ago in the CrossFit Journal.
Nutrition is the most important and then it’s conditioning. Somewhere about 5 years ago CrossFit affiliates started to shift the importance and focus of their programming to be strength-biased. This probably had something to do with the rise in popularity of the CrossFit Games; people wanted to train like the elite Games athletes.
Since day 1 and still today, the WOD posted on CrossFit.com is only one workout. They doesn’t suggest performing a strength piece, a skill piece, and a conditioning piece every day like you see in almost every CrossFit affiliate around the world. If you attend a Level 1 seminar, during the programming lecture they don’t teach you how to jam pack an hour with as much exercising as you can. Sure some of the Main Site WODs are strength focused, as they should be, but the majority of days the workout is a conditioning based one. Are we causing ourselves to get injured more and limiting our potential as human beings by doing too much?
Here’s a great podcast episode with Ben Bergeron, who is one of the top coaches in the sport. He explains a lot on the topic and makes a lot of great points for conditioning-biased programming.
What do you think?
Once I finish up this Push Only program I’m following (about 4 more weeks), I might experiment with some conditioning-biased programming like CrossFit teaches us.
I’ve used a couple of online CrossFit programs this year that I’ve really liked. The first is Hybrid Performance Method. For about $35/month you can choose between 8 different programs and you can switch anytime you want with a few clicks in your profile. For a few months at the beginning of the year, a couple of friends and I were following the Hybrid WOD program to prepare for the CrossFit Open. It was hands down the hardest, but also the best programming I’ve followed. We averaged about 90 minutes in the gym, 5 days a week and saw big improvements in our fitness.
After I tweaked my back, I switched over to Hybrid Push-Only, which is all about the upper body and runs 4 days a week. It rarely takes me over an hour to finish the assigned work. I’m really loving it. Bench press is the main lift, but there is also a fair amount of overhead pressing, a ton of accessory work, and a day focused on pulling strength, mainly pull-up type movements. We’ll see if I can’t hit a 300 pound bench press at the end of 12 week program. I’ve been spacing out the 4 days a week so I can still go to a 2-3 CrossFit classes. I think I’m averaging about 9 days to get through a week of the program and am finishing up week 8.
The other program I’ve used this year is Performance Plus Programming. It’s focused around gymnastics type stuff and using movements to create stability and support. It runs $20/month, has 4 workouts per week, and almost never takes me more than 10 minutes to complete. The first month was focused on shoulders, which paired up really well with the Push-Only program. I need to loop back around and repeat that month of programming before I try out the core focused month.
The start of men’s event 5 of the 2017 CrossFit Games Central Regional at the Music City Center in Nashville, TN.
At the Music City Center in Nashville, TN.
In addition to making my own Farmers Carry handles, I’ve picked up some new items to expand the garage gym.
I bought this 10 foot climbing rope on Amazon. The ceiling obviously isn’t high enough for rope climbs, but I can use it for legless climbs starting from a seated position on the floor or simply do rope pull-ups. Can never have too many ways to do a pull-up or hang!
An upper body lifting program I’ve been following assigns half kneeling single arm bottoms up kettlebell presses every week. When I’m at home I’ve been using a dumbbell, but it’s nowhere near the same stimulus as stabilizing the uneven weight of an upside down kettlebell. It’s a very challenging exercise; if you’ve never done them before you’ll have to start much lighter than you’d expect.
I picked up this adjustable kettlebell from Dick’s Sporting Goods plus two 10 pound plates and a 5. As pictured I took out 3 of the spacers, which are on the right side. With this combination I can adjust it anywhere from 20-45 pounds in 5 pound increments. I already have a 50# kettlebell at home as well as a 53# and 70# I keep at the gym since I use those a lot more there.
These furniture movers, or SuperSliders, work really well on the rubber gym flooring. You can put your heels or toes on one of these and slide your legs in and out for core work.
As previously mentioned, due to tweaking my back, I wasn’t able to do the 5th and final workout of the Open this year. I’m feeling good to go now and didn’t want to delay my attempt on 17.5 any longer, so I did it in my garage yesterday.
When the workout was announced I knew everyone would be tricked into thinking they had to do the thrusters unbroken. It’s the beauty of the workout design. Change it from 9 to 10 reps and people would have thought different about it. I tried to convince people breaking up the thrusters would be beneficial, but nobody believed me. I certainly didn’t plan to do 10 sets of 9 unbroken thrusters.
I split up the first 9 sets into 5 reps, a strict 3 count to rest, and a set of 4 reps. I did the 10th round unbroken. It worked out great and allowed me keep a steady pace through the entire workout. I geek out a bit on split times over on my workout blog if you’re interested in that kind of thing. Finished the workout in 13:28.
While not official results, I calculated where I would have ranked this year if I had been able to submit this score. Overall through the 5 weeks I would have had 139,975 points in the Open division, ranking me 20,616 / 201,951 (10.2%) and 18,825 points in the new Masters 35-39 division for 2,455 / 38,106 (6.4%). My best year yet!
CrossFit Games Open Ranking History
- 2012: 16,395 / 20,857 (78.6%)
- 2013: 9,251 / 43,479 (21.3%)
- 2014: 13,721 / 66,904 (20.5%)
- 2015: 13187 / 118,237 (11.2%)
- 2016: 19,060 / 139,037 (13.7%)
- 2017: 20,616 / 201,951 (10.2%)
I don’t know why, but a bunch of these previous year numbers are substantially different in terms of participation (lower) that I’ve written about before. According to the current CrossFit Games Leaderboards it’s the data I come up with though. I always base it off the number of men who completed at least one of the workouts.