I’m dealing with a calf strain as well as babying my back after a couple of tweaks, so I’m exercising in the garage more than normal. I don’t usually put workouts on this site, but what I came up with today was fun, so I thought I’d share.
The first workout was a pyramid of single arm dumbbell shoulder presses. Start at 5# and do 5 reps on each arm. Add 5# each set, continuing to do 5 reps per arm. Repeat all the way up to 50#. Do a second set with the 50# dumbbell for each arm and then decrease by 5# each set back down to 5#. It ends up being 20 sets for 100 total reps on each arm.
I enjoy creating workouts, or what we call metcons, short for metabolic conditioning, in CrossFit. I’ve been programming our Sunday workouts for several years and I’d estimate over 75% of the metcons we do are original creations pulled from my list of ideas.
Here are some of the workouts I haven’t used yet. If you try any of them, let me know how they go.
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:
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.
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 don’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 just finished my second go-round of the Thruster Attack program I created almost 2 years ago. I didn’t remember it hurting so much. I started on November 12th and had to stretch out this final week so today actually marks 71 days.
Basically you do thruster intervals twice a week. The days start on opposite ends of the energy pathway spectrum, aerobic and anaerobic, and meet in the middle during week 10. For specifics, read the original post (linked above). I’m really happy with how well the program holds up. I’ve seen solid improvements in my fitness both times I’ve done it and several friends who just finished or are in various weeks of the program are also seeing fitness gains.
Many of us who enjoy fitness say we’d pick a heavy squat if we could only do one movement for the rest of our life, but a thruster might be the better choice.
While I think the program as originally written is solid, I tried out some changes on myself this time:
During the first 3 weeks, I did 2 extra sets on the heavy days.
For the first 3 weeks of Tabata work I kept the rep count at 8 for every set.
In weeks 4-5 I started to increase the reps during later Tabata rounds.
For weeks 6-10 I did 9 reps for every set of Tabata work.
After the first week or two, I rarely did any other exercising on thruster days.
Until the last few weeks, I was only doing CrossFit 1-2 other days per week.
All of those changes worked well for me, but may not work for others. The rep counts were low enough in those initial weeks where I could recover fast enough to add in the extra sets on heavy days. During weeks 4-5 the heavy days were the worst and I had to break up some sets. When I originally wrote this program and was testing it out, I’m pretty sure I skipped one of those weeks due to a work trip. In week 4 I had to do the last set of 10 as sets of 6 and 4. Then in week 5 I had to go 6-4 and 4-3-3 on the final two sets. While some of the Tabata work gets boring and turns into a grind, I was never in danger of failing any reps.
How about some numbers? Over the course of 20 sessions, I completed 2,309 thrusters and moved 146,890 pounds! Warm-ups would push those over 2,400 and 150k.
Is it overkill doing so many thrusters? Maybe. Did I want to quit? Almost every workout. Does it work? Definitely.
While developing Pi AD2, 90+% of the testing was done on my Mac. Over Thanksgiving I did use the actual Pi for a 10 minute workout on Dad’s Airdyne, but the UI, code, and formulas are all completely different now. It was unclear how well everything would work on the Pi’s hardware. After a longer 20 minute workout yesterday, I couldn’t ask for better accuracy.
When I finished the workout, the Airdyne showed 458 calories and 6.68 miles, while Pi AD2 showed 455 calories and 6.68 miles. That’s an accuracy of 99.3% for calories and 100% for distance! See for yourself…if you can even see the display.
I did uncover some usability issues and determined I need to prioritize getting the production build to work. Having to wait for the development build to run can take a minute or more. I should also make the app launch on boot since I don’t use this Pi for anything else.
Last summer I read an article by Chris Hinshaw, from NorCal Endurance and Aerobic Capacity, about attacking weaknesses with a plan and I immediately thought of thrusters. I asked Chris a question in the comments and immediately started writing my own 10 week program based off his template for rowing. Over the course of the 10 weeks I was constantly tweaking the upcoming weeks based on how the previous sessions felt. The results were better than I ever imagined.
I finally got around to cleaning up the program so I could share it. I won’t go into detail to explain how/why it works because you can read Hinshaw’s article for all of the sciency stuff. I will give a couple of notes I think are important before you dive in though:
All of the Tabata thrusters (20s/10s) should be controlled with a focus on your breathing. These are not at 100% effort. Hit a number of reps (7-8 is ideal) in interval 1 of week 1 and try to keep that number throughout the entire program. Use a rack if you want.
Weights listed are in pounds.
Don’t be afraid to scale the weight! Workout 1 each week keeps getting heavier and workout 2 gets brutal.
Some of the women’s weights may be hard to hit depending on your equipment. Try to get close, but go lighter rather than heavier.
Spread out the two workouts each week, with ideally 2 days between them.
Have “fun” with it. If you make it through all 10 weeks and do 8 reps for each Tabata interval you will complete over 2,200 thrusters!
Leave a comment if you have any questions or to share results.
Wore a HRM for a garage workout today. This is some data from the Polar Beat iOS app. Pretty interesting to see how recovery changes over time and how long was spent in each zone. The workout was 14 thrusters with 105# every 2 minutes for 5 sets (10:00) and every set was unbroken. It took about 30-32 seconds each round to complete the reps.
Note: This workout is part of a 10 week thruster program I developed, which has been working great. When the last 2 weeks are over, I’ll publish the entire program.