Monday, June 15
As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, cleans are arguably my weakest lift. Today, I arrived at Crossfit to see a white board WOD that made me want to turn tail and run.
"Grace Football Style"
15 Clean and jerks 155RX
200 Meter run
10 Clean and jerks 155RX
200 Meter run
5 Clean and jerks 155RX
200 Meter run
Well, that's a lot of cleaning and jerking. Luckily, my weak point at Crossfit was being combined with my strong point: running. After I glanced at the white board, I immediately made a B-line over to Gregg to get the foundation training for a clean and jerk. Since he had already taught me the hang power clean, Gregg told me it would be best to stick to them instead of a full clean for the WOD. Great. Hang power cleans were a nightmare for me last session. Regardless, I cooperated and mimicked Gregg meticulously as he dutifully gave me a run down on the jerk.
"In a jerk, you've got the bar up in rack position at the base of your neck," he said, "you're going to bend your legs a little, and shoot up from the heels. As you shoot up, explode with your arms and jerk the bar up, over your head. Catch end the jerk with bent legs, then straighten up to complete the lift."
Note to newbies: Here's the jerk that I'm describing done by a hilarious meat head.
A jerk doesn't seem very complicated. All you need to do is shoot from the heels, catch the jerk with bent legs, then straighten. However, as you fatigue, it becomes more and more difficult to focus on even the slightest things (the problem for me was remembering to catch the bar with bent legs). Once you add another part of the lift into the equation, it becomes very difficult to perfect form as there are multitudes of subtleties in the movements that must be carried out perfectly to get the full benefit of the lift.
After fifteen minutes of coaching from Gregg, I jumped right into the WOD with the Monday at 5:00 crew. My brother, Brian, accompanied me again for this workout, so I had a definite goal for the day even in the absence of Mickey: dust Brian. I loaded a regulation barbell with twenty five pound weights, and was ready to go. Granted, while 95 pounds is not the RX, it was appropriate as I am about as good at cleaning as Mike Tyson is at grammar. Brian, more of a newbie than I, used 75 pounds. Perfect. Now, in the small event that I lost, I'd have the excuse of using more weight!
I tried my best to use perfect form with the hang power clean to a jerk, and was relatively successful at least in the beginning of the workout. The fifteen clean and jerks were a struggle for me, I'll admit it, but what really floored me was the running. Everyone understands that running is a phenomenal form of exercise. Well, add lifting in with running and you're working out on a whole new wavelength. The clean and jerks caused the majority of blood in my body to accumulate in and around my shoulders, chest, and traps to support the hard working muscles. Blood provides oxygen necessary for muscles to expand and contract, but once you immediately engage in another exercise, working out muscles at the completely opposite end of the body, it takes a while for the blood to circulate from one end to the other. To put it in laymen's terms; your feet feel like lead. Forcing your body to engage one end quickly followed by the other makes for an incredibly difficult full body workout. It certainly makes for an interesting experience for someone used to taking long breaks in between lifts at the weight room. Even the mere 200 meters to "Bloomfield Ave" (the 200 meter marker) was a miserable, laborious effort. All in all, while this workout looks simple, it is extraordinarily difficult if you push yourself.
As the workout progressed, I caught myself letting my form slip. Though I'm sure it was far from perfect, I made the effort to focus on maintaining my form. Mental toughness is necessary to keep you focused and sharp even when your pushing yourself to the limit. In Crossfit, perfect form is equally important to the time/speed/weight of an exercise.
Come the end of the workout, while my muscles were on fire, I felt as though I could have done two or three of these workouts back to back. It was simply too quick. The good news was, Brian ate my dust.
My time: 4:57
Next workout: Wednesday, June 17