How I Lost Weight and Gained Health with Crossfit Workouts: Part 2, All About the Program
© 2012 by Aurelio Locsin.
This is part 2 of the series that began with How I Lost Weight and Gained Health with Crossfit Workouts: Part 1, Starting from the Bottom. You may want to read that part first, so you can understand this part thoroughly.
The email came from Darla, the wife of the Crossfit Brea owner. She expressed concern over my bad workout experience the previous day and asked how I was feeling. She said that not completing a workout was common for new clients, especially those who hadn’t exercised for most of their lives. There was no need to feel embarrassed because everyone knew what it was like to start and would be supportive. I could either see the workout as something impossible or something that could be conquered.
Her email impressed me because no gym had ever personally contacted me though I had joined a couple in my twenties. My partner had also earlier reminded me that my decades of inactivity could not be overcome in just one evening: I should be proud of even completing the warm-up. Both their acknowledgements made me feel good about my trying the previous day.
Darla talked about scalability, an important component of Crossfit. Though everyone performs the same exercises at the same time, the movements are normally adjusted for fitness level.
- For example, during a deadlift, the veteran fireman can hoist 400-pound barbells while the 65-year-old grandma startts with a PVC pipe.
- In addition, rookie and veteran versions of the the day’s workout are often written side-by-side on the whiteboard. Thus, the newbie preforms fewer reps with slower movements, while the vets goes gung-ho.
You can only participate in Crossfit as part of an organized one-hour class held several times a day unless you are highly experienced or training for a special event. The WOD or Workout of the Day uses the same exercises performed in the same sequence for a particular day. But then it changes completely the next day. You could be running for endurance one day; hauling weighted sleds and kettle bells the next day; and doing jumping jacks, pushups and pullups the next.
This variety keeps each workout fresh and stresses different parts of your body to encourage muscle growth and endurance. The training also emphasizes whole body fitness rather than specializing in any muscle. Unused parts are given the chance to recover from the previous day’s WOD as new body parts are used..
A list of exercises for a sample WOD can consist of the following:
- Jumping rope vigorously for 30 seconds and then slowly for 30 seconds. You do this for five rounds as a warmup.
- Stretching. As the transition between the warmup and the WOD, this remains the same for each workout. It consists of ten reps of ten easy movements such as lunges.
- Pass through (3 sets x 10 reps). A stretch specific to that day’s WOD where you hold a long wooden dowel horizontally in both hands and move the dowel from your front to overhead to your back.
- Drop snatch (3 x 5). To review and develop technique for the Olympic weightlifting snatch, you hold the barbell overhead and then drop into a squat position. You start the first set with a dowel, continue with barbell sans weights and then finish with a set of weighted barbells.
- Snatch balance (3 x 5). Continuing the review, start with the bar behind you on the shoulders, you drop into a squat under the bar, while extending your arms so the bar is overhead. The bar does not move. Instead, you change position by going under it.
- Hang power snatch (3 x 5). This is essentially the snatch bent over from the standing position. Using your hips, you pull the barbell overhead as you drop into a partial squat.
The actual timed workout then consists of eight sets of the following exercises performed as quickly as possible:
- Hang snatch 75 lbs./45 lbs. (8 reps). The first weight is the prescription for men and the second is for women. Technique is more important than load. The trainer asks you to reduce the plates if your form suffers.
- Pushups, hands up (8 reps). This is a standard pushup, but when your chest hits the ground, you lift your hands slightly to fully release the load on your hands.
- Double-unders (40 reps). This is the standard skipping rope movement, but the rope passes twice under the foot with each jump. You can substitute 120 single jumps instead.
The average time to complete this is about 20 minutes. Though you could write down your time in a notebook for record-keeping, there would be no point. You would probably never perform this sequence of exercises again.
You’re not allowed to participate in the regular WODs until you complete a week’s worth of learning workouts. These generally consist of three classes where you learn the fundamentals of Crossfit exercises such as Olympic weightlifting, kettle bell swings and calisthenics. Though the beginning sessions end with a light workout, they’re mostly about learning new techniques.
I’d started with such a beginner’s session but found that difficult. Darla said she could scale even the warm-ups down, perhaps starting me on one round of runs rather than three. With this assurance and my partner’s encouragement, I resolved to start at Crossfit again with the next beginning session.
You can continue this series in Part 3, Results.
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