Friday, July 15, 2011

Friday's Workout: Rope a Dope

I'm a big fan of Cindy, the CrossFit WOD that calls for cranking out as many rounds as possible of 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups and 15 air squats in 20 minutes. It's pure sweetness.

What explains my fondness for this workout? It consists exclusively of three fundamental bodyweight movements -- and all three are right up my alley. I love kipping pull-ups, and can whip through 'em without pause. The pull-ups and air squats get more challenging as the WOD progresses, but in the early rounds, I can dash those off fairly quickly, too. 

My affection for Cindy extends to the many different variations of this workout I've tried. I've done a task-priority Cindy, a half-Cindy, a three-quarters Cindy, and a full Cindy -- all of them were fun. And my favorite Hero WOD is Murph, which is basically 20 rounds of Cindy sandwiched between two 1-mile runs. Each time I've done a Cindy-esque workout, I've averaged about one round per minute -- not elite by any means, but not too shabby, right?

So imagine how happy I was to see Tim write this on the whiteboard this morning:
AMRAP in 20 minutes:
  • 5 pull-ups
  • 10 push-ups
  • 15 pull-ups
...but he didn't stop there. He added one more line:
  • 20 double-unders.
Holy moly. I should have known. After all, we'd kicked off today's class with some double-under practice, during which I clumsily tripped all over myself and my rope. But hey: There's no time like the present to squeeze in more double-unders -- even if it means doing them in a WOD.

Here's how the workout went down:
  • Pull-ups: Great! They came fast and easy, and I went unbroken with each round. Bonus: No torn skin!
  • Push-ups: For the first four rounds, the push-ups weren't a problem -- I got through each set of ten quickly and without much of a struggle. But by the fifth round, I was pausing after every few reps, and Tim was reminding me to make sure my chest touched the floor. And by the end of the WOD, my shoulders were utterly fried. In a good way.
  • Squats: The squats didn't bother me much (at the time -- my legs are incredibly sore right now, though). I broke them down into three sets of 5 reps per round, and just pounded them out. 
  • Double-unders: They went surprisingly well. Shocking!
For the first few rounds, Tim had to keep cueing me to keep my elbows tucked in close to my sides ("T-REX!" he yelled, reminding me to whip the rope with little itty bitty baby dinosaur arms instead of violently jerking it from my shoulders). During our pre-WOD practice, I'd failed to implement this advice.

But during the workout, the pulling, pushing and squatting were so exhausting that I couldn't help but relax a bit and settle into the double-unders. Frankly, I was too tired from the pull-ups and push-ups to flail my arms around, so I had to rely on my wrists to move the rope. And because my legs were burning from the squats, I didn't (couldn't!) rush my jumps, resulting in a much more sustainable double-under pace.

By pacing myself, I managed to fly through most of the double-unders. Yes, I got tripped up an average of once or twice per round, but for the most part, I was able to reel off at least 10 or 12 in a row each time.

My proudest moment: With a little less than 60 seconds left in the workout, I did 15 squats, 20 unbroken double-unders, 5 pull-ups and 1 push-up. As soon as the clock beeped, I collapsed on the floor, but I was happy to have finished strong.

Result: 11 rounds + 6 reps as RXed. Cindy plus 220 double-unders equals magic.