Category Archives: Gymnastics

The CrossFit Open… coming sooner than you think

 

The CrossFit open is the first step to the CrossFit Games

Your final finishing place in the CrossFit Open is never determined by the workout you find the easiest or even your favourite movement. Usually is comes down to your weakest movement bumping you right down the leaderboard.

Identify your weaknesses

Having great conditioning and being able to throw a bar around with ease do help a lot. But the most common factor letting people down in the CrossFit open are their gymnastic skills. From toes to bar, chest to bar to the harder muscle up moves… these are the biggest separators in the CrossFit open. You could be flying on week one and two and then the handstand push ups appear and your goal of getting top 200 in your category is gone.

Ring or bar muscle ups are always a huge separator in the open

Attack your weaknesses

Right now is the perfect timing to get onto the gymnastic skills – start hitting emom’s, practice your kips, hit some strict strength work to boost your kipping numbers. Only then can you start to put your new skills into conditioning formats and start smashing every workout. If you can finish well on every workout rather than being great on some and really bad on one your final finish will be much better.

The open always brings out that extra effort

Test yourself

I have competed in the CrossFit Games open stage, injured or not since the beginning – including two years before the open was even called the open. I’ve qualified for 3 individual regionals and 2 CrossFit Games. The open is a big event for us at CrossFit Blackwater – we encourage everyone to get involved and join us on our special CrossFit open workout days every Friday during the season.  Whatever your goals it is a great way to benchmark your progress from one year to the next, see how you stack up against the competition in CrossFit Blackwater, Witham, England, Europe and even the world!

Get started now!

I’m now beginning to launch some special PT sessions to get people ready for the open in 2018. We can focus on your personal weaknesses and bring them along in time to get your best ever open finish or, if it’s your first open, to start out in style.

Thursday night open gym club

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The calm before the 12 days of Christmas workout

Every Thursday a group of our members plan an extra long metcon. They take it in turns to programme the workout and surprise eveyone else on the night. Luckily I get to check it over a couple of days beforehand just to make sure it’s not too crazy. The first week ‘The James’ got a little over excited with the rep scheme. Since then the programming has been great, very hard, mostly very long but nothing that will leave them all unable to train for the rest of the week.

Last Thursday was programmed by James Deags. A ’12 days of Christmas’ workout. What impressed me mostly was not the workout or the great effort everyone put in but the fact he bought everyone who finished a Christmas present, I overheard someone say you’ve raised the bar for the rest of us. Also the print outs of the workouts are getting more and more eccentric, another brilliant touch.

Strength

Push Press – 3-3-3-3-3 ascending weight

Between sets hit max strict pull ups / ring rows

Conditioning

4 RFT:
600m Run
25 Burpees
15 Shoulder to overhead 60/40

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

The History of CrossFit and Hips

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Simon admires Steve’s body position on the strict chest to bar pull up

When I first started experimenting with CrossFit my background had been mostly isolation exercises. As far as I was concerned using your hips was cheating. Getting that last bicep curl by leaning back a bit and doing something strange with my legs… Or as we now know it using our hips. My body seemed to do this on it’s own without any direction from my brain, it was like there was an inbuilt method in my genetics kicking in and getting that last rep done.

This was widespread in CrossFit competitions in 2009 – Olympic lifting was basically ‘get it up there anyhow’, kipping handstand push ups had not been invented and a muscle up was done with very little kip in a false grip using mostly biceps then triceps to finish off. Happy days :)… for me.

Then slowly over the next few years people started taking Olympic lifting seriously – getting actual REAL olympic lifting coaches in to teach them and inventing newer, faster ways of doing the bodyweight exercises. The `Hip Revolution`, as I call it, was born.

Everything was about the hips. Ring dips, hspu, muscle ups, olympic lifting of course, no longer could you get away with muscling a 80k snatch to win a Throwdown. CrossFitter’s were shouting ‘hips, hips, hips’ on everything.

Our hips do produce the most power and are essential in Olympic lifting. But this power comes at a cost, just like gas guzzling cars they eat oxygen as fast as a Bugatti sucks down petrol. On the longer conditioning workouts they are going to burn a lot of fuel and you’re going to need the help of the smaller muscles, the old fashioned musclers.

That is why we programme for both at Blackwater. Olympic lifting specialised days refining your technique and explosive speed, strength days with the big lifts like squats and deadlifts and on top of that isolation exercises to keep tendons and joints strong and every muscle ready to take big lactic acid hits.

Giant Set

3 rounds – Move with purpose between exercises, rest 2 mins between rounds.

Strict Press – 10-10-10 – ascending weight. Build to a heavy 10 reps.
DB/KB rows – 10-10-10 each arm
Hand Release Push ups – 15-15-15
Bicep curls – 10-10-10 each arm

Conditioning

15 minute amrap:

5 Burpees
10 Wall Balls
15 Air Squats
20 Sit ups

Finisher

Band arm extensions

 

CrossFit Nasty Girls

This was one of the first CrossFit videos I watched. This is also the original CrossFit gym in Santa Cruz. Annie, Eva and Nicole all trained here together and regularly hit main site workouts that people would copy all around the world.

Back when this was filmed around 2008 if you were close enough to an affiliate to train there with other Crossfitters you were truly blessed. So what the rest of us did was follow crossfit.com. Every morning a workout would appear on main site then you would get yourself to your local globo gym and do it to the best of your ability and rush back and post your times on the main page comments -scrolling up and down seeing who you beat or who beat you. Just like at the gym now, I had my names to look out for, people I would do my best to beat every day. Nik ‘Alan’ Nichols from Texas and Richard Vanmeerbeek from Belgium were my main contenders and like me they posted a score every single day… apart from the rest days of course when we made our own workouts up.

Fast-forward six years from my good old days, and where
is CrossFit now? There are over 4,000 CrossFit gyms spread across the
entire world. There are now hundreds of thousands of
CrossFitters, and it seems like there are hundreds more
every single day.
I hope you enjoy the video… And yes the form’s not always great 😉
Strength
Hang Power Clean 3-3-3-3-3 – Build to a heavy 3 reps
Conditioning
‘Nasty Girls’
3 rounds:
50 Air Squats
7 Muscle Ups / 21 Ring Rows
10 Hang Power Cleans 60/40k
Finisher
Tabata Sit ups

Bench and a look at Tabata Training

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The class hangs on for the beep with the tabata core holds

Tabatas are a great way to distinguish between the different thresholds we get during conditioning workouts. They test two very different beasts. The first variation is the breathy one, this could be tabata burpees, tabata box jumps or maybe tabata double unders once you can string them together well. The other kind is the lactic acid bringers or burn outs. Push ups are a great example of this. You’re not breathing hard, you’re not in any uncomfortable, tired state, you just cannot push out another rep… Not for 5-10 seconds anyway.  And of course one of my favourites – the tabata core hold tests mostly willpower.  I can see this as you all stare up at the clock wishing the seconds away.

Strength

Bench Press – 20-15-10-5

After each set hit a set of max strict c2b pull ups / pull ups / negatives / strict ring rows.

Conditioning

12 minute amrap:

10 Push Press 50/35
10 Toes to bar / 20 Sit ups
30 Double Unders / 90 Singles

Finisher

Tabata week continues…. Tabata KB Swings