Last week, I experienced my “first” CrossFit workout.
Yes, you read that right.
You see, when people start CrossFit for the first time, they always have that “one workout” that they’ll never forget. The one that kicked their ass so unexpectedly that the shock doesn’t wear off for days….weeks….months. Sometimes it’s the lifter whose conditioning needs work. Sometimes it’s the runner whose strength is low. Sometimes it’s the person brand new to exercise, period. I’m not trying to throw stereotypes out there–I’m just reporting what I see. But the bottom line is that everyone has that first workout.
I’ve been “crossfitting” for awhile, but I’ve never really had that “first workout” feeling.
Let me tell you a little bit on my relationship with CrossFit before I dive into yesterday’s workout story.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I’ve been “in-and-out” of CrossFit for over six years now. I’ve even been through the Instrcutor L-1 training course twice. CrossFit has always been tough for me–but in a really fun way. My background with exercise started with a passion for lifting heavy weights, so I was naturally strong when starting CrossFit for the first time. And because I was a group fitness instructor for a few years (I taught a lot of spin classes and kickboxing), my cardio was decent too. Again, CrossFit just always seemed fun…in a “tough is fun” kind of way.
My relationship with CrossFit is very much a personal one. I’ve loved it and I’ve hated it. I tell everyone to do it. I caution everyone against it. Some days I feel married to it. With CrossFit, you have great days, average days, and crappy days. You have days where you feel unstoppable and days when your jealousy, rage, anger, and self-loathing are embarrassingly tough. You talk trash sometimes and make mistakes. Then you help others and make people feel really good about themselves. You walk away, you come back. You get sick and you feel weak. You get strong, you plateau, you get stronger. Sometimes you cry, sometimes you shout, and sometimes you celebrate. You’re passionate, dedicated, and loyal–even when you want to give up. You work to strengthen your weaknesses and exploit your strengths. You overcome conflicts, you give advice to others, you brag a lot, post your accomplishments, and you hide the insecurities. You build, you love, you fall, you grow.
Those who feel married to CrossFit–can I get an “Amen” or something?
In the past, all the time I did CrossFit, I never really felt like I was doing “enough” in the gym. “This is too fun! I should lift more to get even stronger.” So I spent extra time lifting. “I should add more kettlebell work into my conditioning so I can get even faster and leaner.” So I added kettlebell work to my program three times a week. “And I should definitely work on my OLY lifts because they are atrocious.”
I always doubted what I was doing. There are too many programs a CrossFitter can follow. Too many exercises to do. Too many things you want to be good at and too little time to do it all. But that’s what I wanted: all of it. The end result: Overtraining, injuries, and well, less CrossFit and more specialized training. The more I tried to do CrossFit, the less I actually did it.
Is this wrong?
Actually, no. There are hundreds of professional trainers and athletes…maybe more…who will argue that CrossFit is nothing more than a conditioning workout and that if you have “specific goals,” you need specialized training. If you want to be stronger, powerlift. If you want to be faster, lift less and train yourself to become faster. Want to compete? Be in a show? Lift your body weight? Run a marathon? Look good naked? There’s always a way to train for your “specific” goals.
And that’s why I started powerlifting about a year ago. I LOVE being strong. I wanted to be stronger. I took up powerlifting and I had never been SO.DAMN.STRONG in my life!
I was also spending a couple hours a day in the gym, I felt like I was starving all the time, and when I realized my conditioning was suffering, I stepped up my jumping, rowing, sprinting, and swinging. And wouldn’t you know…before I realized it, I was WORN OUT.
After going back to physical therapy to get my heels checked out, I took off the entire month of November to rest. I needed a break. And I ended up taking half of December off too. I had a LOT of time to re-evaluate where I had been and where I was going with my fitness. And for the record, in over ten years, I had never taken this much time off from exercise! I already wrote a post on all that I learned, but in regards to where I’m headed with fitness….I didn’t really know what I was planning to do next.
So this January I decided that I wanted to take back more time in my life. I wanted to write more, train a little less, and find more “me/family” time in my days. I decided I would still hit the main lifts each week (bench, back squat, deadlift, and strict press) and that I would get to the CrossFit gym at least three times each week to keep up my conditioning. I wouldn’t spend more than one hour a day, four days a week, in the gym.
So what happened when I (re)started CrossFit (again) this January?
I finally found my “FIRST CrossFit workout.” That one that sucks you in and never lets you go. The workout you tell all your friends about–even the ones who don’t care. The one that makes you want to quit half way through but someone else won’t let you. The one that shows you how much you need to come back for more. The workout that marries you to the “sport of fitness.”
I felt it Thursday morning. It was a partner workout. And the owner of the gym was my partner. Working out with our owner is like what you do when trying to make your parents proud. I think I worked harder than I would have normally, and there’s no way I would have even come close to working that hard if I did the workout on my own.
The workout: For time, complete the following, only one partner working at a time:
50-40-30-20-10 reps of
- Power Cleans
- Box Jump Overs
- Push Jerks
- Kettlebell Swings
The owner used a barbell that weighed 135 pounds for the cleans and jerks and a 24 inch box for the jumps. I used 85 pounds and a 20 inch box. After the first round, I couldn’t breathe. I was gasping for air. The breaks I needed weren’t long enough. The box was too high–I had to step over instead of jump. My arms started to feel weak and my legs wanted to give out. My brain kept telling me to rest, breathe, even STOP, but Garth kept saying, “Just five more reps, Steph, you’re doing awesome!” At that time, it sure as hell did NOT feel awesome.
When it was over, I fell to the ground. My arms shook and my lungs gasped for more oxygen. My throat burned. I wanted to cry…out of joy that it was over or despair for the realization of just how hard that felt…I’m not sure which.
I walked away that day thinking to myself, “That’s how your first CrossFit workout feels. I get it now.”
When I made my resolution to hit the box three times a week no matter what, I told myself that I wouldn’t pick or choose workouts, I’d trust the box. I’d do what was on the board. I would make my conditioning match my strength. And I wouldn’t think too much about the rest.
I’ll be damned if it isn’t already working. It looks like CrossFit and I just got back together…again.
Your Strong Figure Conditioning Workouts for the week:
Workout 1: Inspired by Thursday’s workout:
For time, complete the following: 50-40-30-20-10 Reps of
- Kettlebell Swings
- Wall Balls
If you don’t have equipment, sub air squats, sit-ups, and lunges for the swings and wall-balls (or any combo of body weight exercises you need).
Workout 2: TABATAS
Complete 8 rounds of each exercise using intervals of 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest. (8×20:10)
- Kettlebell Swings
- Goblet Squats
- Push Press (Complete four rounds on one arm and then four on the other)
- Hollow Rocks
If you don’t have equipment, sub burpees, air squats, and push-ups.
Workout 3: 6 Rounds for Time: (I did this one last Tuesday–really tough!)
- 24 Air Squats
- 24 Push-ups
- 24 Lunges
- 400 meter run
You don’t need equipment for this one and let me tell you–it is rough! My chest hurt for days from the push-ups. If 6 rounds are too many, scale it back to however many are appropriate for you, or scale down the number of repetitions.
Have fun and enjoy yourself this week! And if you have a “first experience with CrossFit” story, I’d love to hear it! Tell us what your workout was in the comments section below!