Back Squat & Helen

OPT does Helen in 2008. One of the first CrossFit videos I watched

James (OPT) Fitzgerald won the CrossFit Games in 2007. That was the very first year of the games. Back then it was like a bunch of friends throwing down with each other. If you happened to drive past and recognise what they were doing as CrossFit you would have been welcomed to join in. OPT is now 41 years old so eligible to come and try and join me at the CrossFit Games this year or next.

Today’s gym benchmark  at Blackwater is Helen. One of the most popularly programmed ‘Girl’ WODs. There’s been a huge number of variations of Helen, ‘Fat Helen’, ‘Fatter Helen’ and of course ‘Eva’ which is basically double the reps, double the running and at an RX+ standard with 32/20k swings and chest to bar pull ups.

However, out of all of these, the basic ‘Helen’ puts the biggest knot in my stomach. Knowing I am expected to go all out without any excuse of weight or skill slowing me down is more scary than plodding through a 40 minute marathon paced with a high but not at my limit heart rate.

This is exactly why good scaling is essential. I have seen so many people make up ridiculously hard workouts with movements and weights that are almost at their absolute limit. They think that they are being total beasts by making things so hard for themselves but actually all they are doing is making sure that the stimulus from their workout will be remarkably small. Yes they will still get a good strength workout but as far as cardio goes their heart’s not going to get out of third gear.

So next time you open up the CrossFit Blackwater page, look at the WOD and think how easy it looks, be very very wary… Sometimes the easiest on paper can be the hardest. Something you can fly through weight and skill wise bites hard. Lactic acid shutting down your muscles is at most uncomfortable, missing a lift is often annoying, but nothing hurts like getting into that max heart beat, pushing hard as you can zone, that’s when you find out how much you want it.

Hope you enjoy Helen today, your scores are going to be written down and kept for the next time we programmes the benchmark.

Strength

Back Squats – 3-3-2-2-1-1 – Build to a heavy single.

Conditioning

Helen

3 rounds for time:

Run 400m
21 KB Swings 24/16k
12 Pull ups

Finisher

Bench Press – max reps 50/30k

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