Getting CrossFit, Day 16: The Filthy Fifty

Thursday, June 25

     When I awoke this morning to see "The Filthy Fifty" as the WOD for Guerrilla Fitness, I felt downright giddy. Gone are the days of moaning and groaning when a potentially fatal WOD appears, I immediately felt pumped and let out a war cry. I couldn't wait for 7:00 PM when I would take on "The Filthy Fifty."

Wod

"The Filthy Fifty"

50 Box Jumps (24in box)

50 Jumping Pull-ups

50 Kettle Bell swings (16kg)

50 Walking Lunges

50 Knees to Elbows

50 Push Press (45lb)

50 Back Extensions

50 Wall Ball shots (20lb ball)

50 Burpees

50 Double Unders

    The question must be going through your minds, "why in the world was he excited for this?" And to be honest, I have no idea. The Filthy Fifty had a little bit of everything. Scratch that, it had a LOT of everything. It would be a war. I couldn't wait.

    However, there was one set back. Despite my yearning to do this WOD at RX, I have yet to figure out double unders. I arrived ten minutes early to Guerrilla Fitness and did my best at trying to find a rhythm for the DU's but come WOD time, I realized that I'd need a lot more time to master them. Instead, I'd do the alternative workout, 150 single jumps. No matter. I set up my box and crouched down, ready for what would surely be the most difficult WOD I have done.

    "3, 2, 1, GO!" Carlos yelled, and we were off. I came out of the gates flying. As I have mentioned before, box jumps are a forte of mine. I came out of the fifty reps in the lead and hopped on another box for the jumping pull-ups. These are far more difficult than they look. Essentially, you stand on a box with your arms locked out, then jump up into a pull-up. My soccer coach uses them as an alternative exercise for guys who can't do real pull-ups. Well, once you have to do fifty reps, they're not a whole lot easier than conventional pull-ups. They required some strategy. As my legs were already burning from the box jumps, I used my arms to power my first twenty five jumping pulls, then once my arms started to burn, I used the legs again. I had to stop several times throughout the jumping pull-ups, and likely would've stopped more had it not been for Joe G's "COME ON YOU BUMB!" It certainly felt good to be back in Guerrilla Fitness.

    To be perfectly honest, I had never worked with kettle bells before this workout. I don't know how I managed to escape them for this long (as I've seen them in use countless times), but I never actually did any kettle bell work myself. The swings were minimally difficult as the prescribed kettle bell weight was light. I broke them up into three sets with a two or three second rests in between each. Still relatively unchallenged, I continued on to walking lunges. Though these SHOULD technically be another forte of mine, I hate walking lunges with a burning passion. I will probably always hate them after the quarter mile of them I had to perform for a WOD with Sean. Nonetheless, I labored through them. Upon completion, my legs were thoroughly on fire. Panting, I looked at the white board and was glad to see that the next few exercises were light on the legs.

     After the lunges, which I broke up into three sets, I began the knees to elbows. Knees to elbows, or "K2Es" to the adept CrossFitter, is an exercise where you hang, suspended from a pull-up bar, and lift your knees up to your elbows. Taking a step back from today's WOD, I had always wondered about core work for CrossFitters. Though all Olympic weight lifts mandate a firm core, CrossFit never isolates the core or does any exercise that will really leave your core burning. Would we ever do one of those exercises? The answer came with knees to elbows: a resounding yes.

Note to newbies: There are really two different kinds of abs that "fit" people can have. I learned this when reading a Men's Fitness article that interviewed Ray Lewis. You can have "work abs," or you can have "show/pretty abs." I have show abs. While the poor girls at the beach never stood a chance after seeing these babies, they're not necessarily the type of abs that you want for wood chopping, heavy lifting, or knees-to-elbows as I would find out.

     I knew five reps into the knees-to-elbows that they weren't pretty. When Carlos demonstrated the exercise to the class, he was able to come all the way back over his shoulders using his abs. In order to reach the same height with my K2E, I found I had to use my lats a considerable amount. I broke K2E's up into four sets. The K2Es destroyed me, six pack and all. By the end I couldn't even tell what was burning anymore. Arms? Abs? Back? In my exhaustion, I didn't even care. While catching my breath, and cooling my burning muscles, I watched Doug perform K2E's with perfect form. He got all the way back and touched his knees to his elbows in a controlled, efficient motion. Doug has work abs. I envied him.

    On to the push press! Normally fifty reps with an empty 45lb barbell would be no problem. However, following the various exercises we had been doing, I felt about as strong as Popeye the Sailor BEFORE he delved into a can of his patented spinach. The lift itself was one of the easier ones on the filthy fifty, but that didn't mean that banging out fifty reps wasn't complete agony. "Come on Pete!! Pull your head through at the end. Drive from the heels!" Carlos instructed. I was able to knock it out by breaking it up into four sets. My shoulders and back muscles were screaming for mercy as I finished rep number fifty.

     Back extensions involve lying on the floor, face down, and picking up your outstretched arms and legs simultaneously. I've heard them referred to as "supermans" before. Normally this exercise is almost comically easy for me, but normally I haven't gone through half of the filthy fifty before embarking upon them. I had no problem getting my legs and arms up off the ground, but keeping them there for a pause was very difficult. Though I fought valiantly to avoid doing what Gregg calls the "beached fish" (merely flopping up and down without a pause at the top), I can't say I was completely successful. Relatively speaking however, they were by far the easiest lift of the day though, so I went into wall balls almost a little refreshed.

     And by God, on the Wall balls I could use whatever refreshment I could get. It was about 17 minutes into the workout, and I was on pace to beat the likes of Mickey and Carlos! But I knew what lay ahead of me: wall balls and burpees. Believe me, when paired, the two exercises combine to make one of the most miserable experiences mankind has seen. I whimpered as I set up for my first wall ball. "LETS GO PETE, NO REST!" Gregg yelled.

     The wall balls had me the closest I've ever been to tapping out of a CrossFit WOD. I had never even considered it before, but when I hit fifteen wall balls, there was no end in sight. That being said, I had no where to run. I told myself that life simply wouldn't continue until I performed thirty five more reps. Though realizing that nearly brought tears to my eyes, it pushed me to keep going. "Come on, Pete, get close to the wall and explode," Carlos said. I did. Though through sets of three, two and even one, I persevered through the most difficult obstacle I had faced thus far at CrossFit. I was becoming a man.

     After three burpees, that little bit of confidence I amassed after the wall balls had completely diminished. Manhood was very, very far away. Though wall balls had been the hardest thing up until that point, the fifty burpees would prove to be nearly twice as hard. Had I been alone doing this WOD, I most definitely would've tapped out. The fact that I battled on is a testament to the benefit of CrossFit Montclair's environment. Carlos had my back the whole way. When I said "after three," at the beginning of this paragraph I meant it. I honestly could not see how I would do forty seven more. I developed a strategy of doing one or two, then walking around for a couple seconds before jumping down and suffering through a couple more. It made for a long, forlorn fifty reps, but at least I'd live through it. At least I hoped I would live through it.

    During the burpees I reached a level of exhaustion I had not even contemplated before in my CrossFit experience. Not only was I completely winded, but my entire body felt as if it was engulfed in a scorching fire from which there was no escape. When I would perform a burpee, I would go down on the push-up part, only to realize that I lacked the strength to push my body back up. I would collapse, face down in the thick, black rubber and rejuvenate for a moment before pushing back up and competing the rep. That practice became relatively commonplace as the fifty reps continued. There were times where my exhaustion-induced thinking lead me to seriously consider if the burpees would ever end. As I reached the second half of the burpees, it became harder and harder to push up and out of the bottom of a burpee. I badly wanted to simply stay down on the ground and just pass out, but I would always manage to get back up in the midst of an onslaught of "COME ON PETE!"s

    What finally dug me out of my rut was competition. Other CrossFitters were catching me. Inspired by encouragement and competition, I managed to bang out the final ten burpees relatively quickly and then began the jump ropes. Jumping rope was a great way to end this workout. While the RXers did double unders, I knew that given my lack of practice and current level of exhaustion, even thinking of double unders was out of the question. I steadily knocked out 150 jump ropes, before completely succumbing to gravity's clutches. It would be a while before I could muster enough energy to pry myself off of the floor. Once I finally managed, I spent the next few minutes cheering the rest of the guys through the incredibly difficult WOD. After we all cooled down, I wandered over to the white board to check the results. "Peter 28:26 RX," was written in bold. As proud as I was to have competed the workout, I didn't deserve the RX. Not without double unders! I erased the symbol of CrossFit honor. It will mean that much more for when I actually compete the filthy fifty properly. But Carlos, I certainly appreciate your charitable generosity!

    In summary of my WOD, it was easily one of the most physically demanding tasks I have ever done, inside and out of CrossFit. Though the temptation of tapping out was incredibly strong, I'm very proud to say that I didn't; I weathered the storm. In addition to my physical fitness, my confidence and mental fitness increased expotentially throughout the WOD. It's this sense of accomplishment that keeps CrossFitters coming back to get their butts kicked. It's why I was so pumped and giddy this morning, and it's the reason I'll wake up tomorrow morning the exact same way. I'm becoming CrossFit.

Pics will be up by the end of the day!

My time: 28:26

Next Workout: Saturday, 9:00

Want more Men's Fitness?

Sign Up for our newsletters now.