Friday, October 19, 2012

CrossFit Total (Or, The Barbell Method)

According to Mark Rippetoe, "[t]he CrossFit Total reflects an athlete's functional strength capacity more accurately than any other test."
The CrossFit Total is the sum of the best of three attempts at the squat, the press, and the deadlift. All three lifts are done while standing on the floor. They require minimal and inexpensive equipment. They are not technique- dependent to the extent of the Olympic lifts, yet they require technical proficiency beyond mere passing familiarity. They are safe when performed correctly, since they can all be performed without spotters—alone in a garage if necessary.
We did the Total for the first time at CrossFit Palo Alto on Wednesday -- with a couple of slight modifications. Instead of having an indefinite period of time to establish a one-rep max for each of the three movements, we were allocated 15 minutes for each. And we subbed front squats for back squats.

Front Squat:

I was excited by the prospect of tackling this workout, but it didn't start auspiciously. My eagerness got the best of me, and I totally squandered my opportunity to set a new PR on my front squat by loading up too much, too soon. After matching my previous PR of 205 pounds with a couple of minutes left, I stupidly added another 20 pounds on the bar -- which I ended up dumping, of course. I'd like to blame it on the lack of sleep and the early morning hour, but frankly, I just got greedy.

Strict Press:

Thankfully, by the time I got to the strict presses, I had my head screwed on straight(er). With one eye on the clock, I managed to work up to a new PR of 130 pounds -- 10 more than my previous best.


But the achievement that made my week? A new deadlift PR of 305 pounds! Okay -- objectively speaking, 305 pounds ain't much. But call me what you will (shrimp, weakling, lightweight, whatever); I'm still proud I FINALLY got over 300 pounds off the floor. My prior best was just 285 pounds, and it was set back in February of 2011. You can imagine how much I enjoyed smashing it in the face.

My CrossFit Total: 640.

Everyone had a blast doing the Total, and setting tons of PRs, too. After our post-workout coffee, I returned to CFPA in time to catch Kevin setting a new deadlift PR of about a gajillion pounds.

By the way, if you've done a Total and want to see where you stack up against Rippetoe's basic strength standards, check this out.