A Month of CrossFit

23:20 Thu 02 Jul 2009. Updated: 15:53 24 Aug 2009
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I started CrossFit proper, after having done three intro classes, on 01 Jun. I’ve managed to keep it going since, five days a week with Fridays and Sundays off. (I missed one Tuesday because of the first PyWebSF meetup.)

In that time, I’ve run a 5K, run a 10K, gained the ability to do overhand pullups, done some ridiculous number of burpees, and lifted serious weights for the first time in my life.

I was already more or less a CrossFit convert after my first WOD, and definitely after my first week. After a month? Even more of a convert. “Zealot” might conceivably be accurate.

I realize that in my previous posts about it I haven’t mentioned where I’m doing it: CrossFit KMSF. The atmosphere there has been great, and the instruction excellent, and I feel extremely lucky to have that available (and nearby!). The group of regulars is great, with competitiveness for the people who benefit from that and camaraderie for everyone.

Everyone’s been supportive and tolerant of me as a newbie, and (as I’ve emphasized before) the focus is on pushing people to their limits and appropriately scaling, not on driving people to attempt what is clearly beyond them.

The improvement I’ve felt in my fitness over that month has been rather significant. I’ve also done some other physical activity, such as Conditioning classes a few times a week, squash, and tennis, but I’ve done most of those things together before, and haven’t gotten anything like these results. It certainly feels to me that CrossFit is the difference.

While doing any physical activity for a month (more or less) solid is going to produce big improvements in fitness, one of the key things about CrossFit is that it doesn’t take all that much time. Many of the workouts have been finished in less than thirty minutes. Only two have taken me more than an hour. So it seems to me that the fitness return on time invested in CrossFit is rather high.

Just as I said after my first week, I recommend CrossFit to more or less anyone. If you’re lucky enough to have an affiliate nearby, I recommend trying it out. If you’re lucky enough to be sufficiently self-motivated to just follow the CrossFit.com posts on your own, I highly recommend scaling down generously until you get an idea of where you are. There are plenty of resources on that site to help you, including demonstration videos for a lot of the movements.

Here are some of the WODs that stood out for me (I’m not going to call them “favorites”…):

Sat 06 Jun: “Nicole”
As many rounds as possible in 20 minutes of:
400m run
Max rep pullups
6 rounds, 10 total kipping pullups, best kipping pullups 3, worst kipping pullups 0
This was my first exposure to one of the classic WODs.

100 jumping pullups
50 15lb wall-ball shots
70 jumping pullups
35 15lb wall-ball shots
40 jumping pullups
20 15lb wall-ball shots
This was my first time doing wall-ball shots, and they were a lot harder than I expected…

Wed 24 Jun: “Murph”
1-mile run
200 jumping pullups
200 pushups
300 squats
1-mile run
This one was nuts. It’s somewhat infamous as a WOD. I had a pretty hard time with it, even with the pullups scaled to 2x jumping pullups. The pushups took me forever. I was happy just to get through it.

Sat 27 Jun: “Nicole”
As many rounds as possible in 20 minutes of:
400m run
Max rep pullups
7 rounds, 28 total kipping pullups, best kipping pullups 6, worst kipping pullups 3
This is the only WOD that repeated this month, and in three weeks I managed to add a round, almost triple my pullup total, and double my best number of consecutive pullups. That seems like progress.

Tue 30 Jun: “Eva”
5 rounds for time of:
800m run
30 35-pound kettlebell swings (down for me from 70.2-pound kettlebell swings)
30 pullups (60 jumping pullups in rounds 2-5, for me)
This one was really tough. I scaled the kettlebell weight to half, and did 2x jumping pullups for the last four rounds, and it was still awful. Not quite as bad as “Murph”—although I might feel differently if I had to do real pullups for all five rounds.

Wed 01 Jul:
I’ve never run that far before, I’m pretty sure. Great route, great weather, and it didn’t kill me—all good!

Thu 02 Jul:
Each minute, on the minute, do 10 double unders (jumping rope where the rope passes under you twice when you jump), and then do as many burpees as you can in the remainder of that minute. Keep repeating this until you get to 100 burpees.
This one really did feel like it was going to kill me. At times I seriously wondered if I’d be able to finish, because it seemed like I could easily hit the point where it took me a full minute just to do the double unders. Before doing this WOD, I was only able to do double unders with about four normal jumps between them. During this WOD, necessity forced me to learn how to alternate one normal jump with one double under. That did help a lot. I still had to stop for a minute at around 70 burpees done, though. Also, perhaps just because it was the fourth day of CrossFit and the other days had been pretty hard, I felt worse after this one than after any of the others, even “Murph” or the 10K.

Admittedly, being slow at burpees and bad at double unders really didn’t help with this one.

I realize that I didn’t include any WODs that were purely weightlifting. That’s because my lifting technique isn’t quite to the point where I can do those, so I’ve been spending those sessions working on technique rather than doing the WODs per se. Apart from that, I think the above is a reasonable selection of the variety involved in CrossFit.

So I managed a week, and now I’ve managed a month. I intend to make it to a year—and then to just keep doing it as something that’s become simply part of my life.

Did I mention that I recommend it to more or less everyone?

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