Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wednesday's Workout: Sweet Bali Hai

More evidence that I've become hardwired for the 5 a.m. class at CrossFit Palo Alto: My eyes popped open at exactly 1:20 a.m. Hawaii time -- 4:20 a.m. Pacific time. It took me a second to remember that I wasn't in California, and that I could conk out for another three-and-a-half hours. Ah, vacation.

Still, at 5 a.m., M and I hauled our sleepy butts out of bed, threw on some clothes and drove down to Kauai CrossFit.

Today, Jerome started us off with some light stretching, and then we transitioned into a nice, blood-pumping warm-up consisting of a 400-meter run (again, along a path with ridiculously beautiful views of the Pacific expanse), and then three rounds of:
  • 7 push-ups
  • 7 knees-to-elbows
  • 7 medicine ball cleans
And then the workout began. No long chipper today -- instead, we did something a bit more familiar to us: Some strength skill work and a short, intense triplet.

Strength Skill:
  • Strict Shoulder Presses (3 sets of 5)
Yeesh. Strict presses have never been easy for me, and I still haven't yet hit my goal of pressing my bodyweight overhead without using my legs to boost up the barbell. But I think I've figured out why I can crank out a good number of handstand pushups but remain unable to press the equivalent weight on a barbell above my head: It's 'cause strict presses demand a greater range of motion. I think. I haven't tested out this theory yet, but I'll bet that I can press a heavier weight with my hands starting at top-of-head level than I can when the weight starts in rack position across my shoulders.


Three rounds for time:
  • 30 overhead kettlebell swings (53lbs / 35lbs)
  • 25 wallball shots (20lbs / 14lbs)
  • 20 pull-ups

At first, even with the RXed weights, this seemed pretty manageable. In the first round, I managed to crank out all 30 kettlebell swings unbroken, and felt damned good as I walked over to my medicine ball. But as I began hurling that ball up against the wall, my hammies caught on fire. After the first 15 reps or so, I paused to stretch out my legs -- and for the remainder of the WOD, I'm not sure I strung together more than 5 wallball shots in a row again. Some of the folks in class got through all the wallball reps without stopping(!); they were already well into their pull-ups by the time I stumbled over.

Thankfully, my arms were fresh enough to get me through the pull-ups quickly. But then it was back to the swings and wallballs for Round Two. As M later put it: "Before I was done with the second round, I was already thinking about how the fuck I was going to get through Round Three."

It was a doozy, but on the whole, this WOD was right up my alley. I've always found wallballs to be challenging, but they're also a fantastic full-body movement -- and one I need to practice more anyway. And kettlebell swings and pull-ups are two of my favorites.

Result: 16:10 as RXed.

Over on the other side of the box, M went RXed with the kettlebell swings. It was great to see her heaving around the 35-pounder like a pro -- especially considering that just six months ago, she was tentatively swinging a half-pood (18 lb) kettlebell and declaring that it was "HEAVY!"

Given our schedules, M and I hardly ever get a chance to exercise together these days, and I've really enjoyed sharing this experience with her here on Kauai -- from the pre-workout protein-and-fat fueling to the post-workout breakfast of sweet potatoes, eggs and meat.

And that's not the only great thing about CrossFitting on vacation: Today, once we got back to the house, my recovery protocol consisted of sitting in the hot tub and sharing copious amounts of beef jerky with my six-year-old and then watching him practice underwater handstands in the pool.

It doesn't get much better than this.