Crossfit Challenge Week 1

It has begun.

Last week the first of 12 weeks of CrossFit started. Why? I’m not really sure actually.

I’ve heard here and there that CrossFit is pretty crazy. Maybe not P90x crazy but pretty crazy. Some people have mentioned puking while trying it. I certainly had no plans to try it but I wanted to give it a go. And here we are now, week 1 is finished.

I’ll be writing about my 3 months of CrossFit on here under the CrossFit Challenge. You can follow along if you want to see what it’s like to hit up CrossFit for the very first time. You’ll get my commentary about what it’s like, what it’s not like, and what it can help you do. From what I’ve heard it helps with just about everything else you can possibly do. Not a bad deal if you ask me.

After 3 months, I’m going to re-evaluate and see what I’d like to do. If I’m getting a lot of the classes, I’ll continue them through the winter. I can already tell I’m going to have stronger legs and core and my arms have been continually sore (in a good way) since I started so those are going to be gaining some muscle too.

For each exercise we do I’m continually polling whether or not they’re going to help with skiing, hiking, kayaking, running and mountain biking. From the classes (read: punishment) I’ve taken so far, it feels like it’s going to help them all. If squats and lunges don’t help with skiing, hiking, mountain biking and running, I don’t know what will. And I’m pretty sure 70 pullups in a class is going to help my paddling (and climbing when I actually dive into that).To start lets dig into a class and what you get to do.

I go to the classes at Nanaimo Crossfit. Katie and the great team there are extremely helpful in showing you the exercises and the alterations you can do if you can’t do the recommended workout. I’ve done more than a few of those ones because the recommended workout would have just wrecked me. I’m working up to them.

Katie seems like a little dictionary when it comes to workouts and stretches for before and after the WOD (workout of the day) to help you warm up and cool down with a minimum of injuries. I’ve definitely been sore after every workout but in a good way. No injuries so far ( knock on wood….Ow…).I head to class Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4:15 and warmup before the WOD starts at 4:30. The workout of the day changes every day. That’s part of CrossFit. There is no time to get used to the workouts and get lazy and comfortable. Your body is whipped into shape with continual change. Regular gyms recommend doing this too but no one every does. They do their favorite exercises and then head home. No pain, no gain, my friend.

The warmup consist of things like sit-ups, pushups, pull-ups, air-squats with a pvc pipe over your head and Samson lunges, which are lunges while raising your arms above your head. Holds on the hanging gymnast rings are also part of the warm-up. I had never done those as a workout, nevermind a warm-up!

Then the Buy-In, another CrossFitism. It’s basically like a mini warm-up workout. You do things like pull-ups, hanging upside down from the gymnast rings (a move called skin the cat), skipping, running, air squats and walking on your hands.

After the Buy-In we move onto the WOD. It tends to focus on one area each day, sometimes being upper body and sometimes lower. Often, you get a whole body workout just because of how big the moves are. CrossFit focuses on big compound moves involving many muscles. Faster workouts that way, and much more practical. When has a bicep curl every benefitted you aside from making the ladies smile. What about lifting a fully loaded kayak above your head. Yup, way more useful.

Deadlifts, clean and jerks, handstand pushups, pull-ups, double-ups (skipping but twice around for each jump), rowing, running, squats and kettle-bell exercises are just some of the things included in the workout of the day. Often they are timed so you just work till the time is up or you have a certain number of reps to do in a certain time. Either way, it’s killer. You have to balance how much weight you can do with how fast you can do it. Sometimes you can go crazy fast but how long can you hold that pace? Can you lift the full weight for the prescribed time or are your legs going to give out before you hit your target.

A couple things you’ll see in CrossFit Lingo is AMRAP which means as many reps/rounds as possible. Usually that goes along with a time. You work until the time is up. Another interesting one is a Tabata.

In a Tabata you do 20 seconds of the exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest. Do that for 8 sets. Anything for 8 sets is rough. The first time we used it was in a WOD doing squats, lunges, situps and pushups. We only did 4 sets and I was wasted. And there’s a catch. You have a score at the end.

In a Tabata the score is the lowest number of reps completed in any one of those 8 sets. So say I did 10 situps for my first 6 reps and then got tired and did 4 and 3 for the last 2, 3 would be my score for situps. You don’t want to go out like crazy at the beginning and tank at the end, you’ll end up with a crappy score. If you do 4 exercises you’ll have 4 numbers to add up for your score. I think I got 2 my pushup score at the end. Arms no worky.

One thing that has really hit me starting CrossFit is that you can’t compare yourself to others. I try not to do that anyways but it’s really pertinent in the gym. If you end up down that hole, you may as well not go because CrossFit can be a huge blow to the ego. There I am struggling through each situp in my Tabata and Katie is ripping through them like she’s got an anti-gravity suit on. No comparisons = way more fun. There is an exception. Compare yourself to how much you lifted last week. More? Awesome. Less? Keep trying.

In conclusion, (do I sound like a professor?) CrossFit is awesome (there goes the professorism…). The next 3 months are going to be stellar. I’ll be touching on new things I’m learning in each class and how I’m doing. What I’m particularly interested in is how it’s going to benefit my other sports. Maybe CrossFit is something every outdoors person should take up during the week?

Now, off to rest my torn up muscles.

-Ross