Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Thoughts on CrossFit Open Sectionals WOD #11.2

a perfectly plank push up at CrossFit KoP

AMRAP in 15 minutes of:
9 deadlifts (155# for men, 100# for women)
12 push ups (release hands at bottom of the push up)
15 box jumps (24" for men, 20" for women)

UPDATE (see at bottom)

This is the second of six workouts posted by CrossFit HQ for over 23,000 people that have registered for the CrossFit Open Sectionals. Folks will have from Tuesday night until Sunday to post their times on the official Crossfit Games site. They must either do the workout at a registered affiliate or video tape themselves with strict standards in each case. The first WOD was AMRAP in 10 minutes of double unders and light power snatches. A definite gut check and lung burner. This one is not too different, although it has some elements that need to be considered. Let's dive in. 

Folks are going to start out gun-ho, especially those on the lighter side. People that won't be happy are those looking for strength-based WOD with a heavy element. Lets face it, 155# deadlift is not that heavy at first glance. This was done with intention. CFHQ wants everyone to participate and NOT scale. A 155# deadlift will be achievable by the majority of competitors. Even if it's not, they have 15 minutes to set a PR and even if they get one single rep, that person is still in the running. Deadlifts cannot be bounced off the ground, nor can you use a sumo deadlift position, meaning hands need to be outside the legs. Deadlifts CAN be dropped from the top which may come into play later in the workout. 

After the deads come 12 push ups. Again, not incredibly difficult, although women will have a harder time than usual since one of the standards is no "snaking" or bowing of the body. The body must be fully plank and straight through the entire range of motion which will be tough for those used to getting away with the snaking. Other standards include feet no wider than shoulders and hands can't be so wide that their elbows form an angle greater than 90 degrees at the bottom of the push up. Another thing people might not be used to is the "Games standard" push up introduced in the summer of 2010. At the bottom of the push up, athletes must release their hands off the ground. This ensures that they are fully on the ground at the bottom and not "shorting" their push up. It will take some time away from people, so practicing and getting a rhythm will be important. 

Lastly, the athlete must complete 15 box jumps at 24 or 20 inches. You may not step up on the box (unless in the two older Master divisions) and hips must be completely open either standing on the box or jumping off and above the box. Heels do not have to be completely on the box although it is recommended for safety. At CrossFit King of Prussia we use 25in. and 21in. boxes, respectively, so we will need to configure them in a way to achieve standards. Hopefully regularly using them will make the 24in. seem easy!

Although the main critics are those who want to display their raw strength in a max deadlift or at least heavy dead rep scheme, the fittest will still come out on top. 15 minutes is a long time and if an athlete reaches 10 rounds (entirely realistic since the first posted result is 10 rounds, 9 deadlifts by Paige Nutt) then they will have completed 90 deadlifts, 120 push ups, and 150 box jumps. Athletes will want to come out and go nuts on the first few rounds, but they should be careful to save some gas for minutes 10-14. Minute 15 is just adrenaline and I wouldn't be surprised if they get more work done in that last minute than the middle rounds. (This typically happens for every workout) Consistency will be key. Being able to drop the bar from the top may sound good, but those who do the best will be holding onto that bar and completing all 9 deadlifts in one shot. Same goes for the push ups and box jumps. There is a lot of transition and places in this WOD to rest and your body will be telling you to do just that. Those who rest less will come out on top. By minute 6 or 7, the lower back will be on fire from the deadlifts and this in turn will affect box jumps and somewhat push up stability. Deadlifts will get ugly with rounded backs, but perfect form is not a requirement of the WOD. Also around that time your chest will be blown up from the push ups. Having hands off at the bottom will become a welcomed rest station in between reps, but again, tell yourself not to rest too long. The plank position will be a problem, but must be maintained for submitting an official score. Frustration might set in during the push up station, but you must remember that it's twelve reps and one by one they should be done. For box jumps, resting at the top will allow the reflex reaction at the bottom to spring back up.

One of the hardest things to do for this WOD will actually be: judging. Deadlifts will get ugly, but making sure people open the hip at the top in the beginning when they are flying through will be tough. Also tough will be making sure athletes don't bounce the bar off the ground intentionally. As for push ups, there's so much grey area as to what is "snaking" and what is not that I can see people arguing, especially those that might do it without the self-awareness to know what they were doing. Box jumps will be like the deadlift: needing to make sure the athlete opens the hip at the top even if they are moving fast in the first rounds. A big piece of judging is telling the athlete what they need to correct and in the first round or two, this can be tough with speedy athletes. Being able to count current reps, keep track of rounds, AND tell the athlete in a split second what they should or shouldn't do is a tough thing! Judging at Central East Regionals last year taught me that.

In the end, I think the folks who have the strength endurance to get through 100+ deadlifts and 120+ push ups will come out on top. Those with good box jumps might prevail since they have the most reps, but I think these people's lungs and fast twitch will suffer from the deads wrecking their back. This is also not a workout I expect people to do twice (as they may have done for the first WOD) since they will need a few days to recover. Strategy should be nice and steady, trying to complete each section unbroken. This will cut down on rest and ultimately increase rounds. Remember, each rep counts, so even one more box jump could put you ahead of 10 or even 50 people. Total reps in one round is 36. Each deadlift should take about a second, each push up slightly less than a second, and each box jump a little over a second. Top people simply won't stop the entire 15 minutes or if they do, it will be very short rest time. Placement of the equipment is also key. Have the bar and box close to each other so you don't waste time transitioning. After the box jumps, your lungs will be burning and you will want to rest before picking up that bar, but it must be a quick transition in order for you to stay competitive. I predict top men will have 14+ rounds and top women will have 12+ rounds. 

 I like that it is a workout that is similar to a normal mainsite WOD. Classic CrossFit. Although critics say that it is too much like WOD 11.1 and favors light guys/gals, it is doing what HQ wanted: including 99% of those who paid $10 to register and compete among the best in the world. There are professional athletes competing with soccer moms and grandads and that to me is pretty cool. I predict that there will be opportunity for stronger folks to display their power, but it will most likely be in a CrossFit Total (max shoulder press, back squat, deadlift) or max lift (clean and jerk, bench press, etc) so that grandma can still be in the competition with a PVC bench press. (although there are plenty of grandmas out there with impressive bench presses!)

What are your thoughts on WOD 11.2? Happy with it or not? Plays to your strengths or weaknesses?

UPDATE:  thoughts on the Sectional WOD push up standard for women: watching some girls try it tonight, I noticed that at the bottom of their push ups they were, uh, anatomically already in a "chest up" position. Even if you don't move at all during the push up, you will still have your shoulders way above your hips. To mitigate this (and avoid a 'no rep') you should both ‎1. lift your butt up to become level before the actual push up and 2. keep your head DOWN (look down at the ground) instead of looking up or forward. This will keep your spine aligned correctly and allow you to stay in a plank position for the push up

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Minimalist Shoes for Running, CrossFit, even Work

New Balance 101's. Going back to the basics

By now you should know realize that a lot of running injuries are related to the type of shoe runners wear. Big, soft, cushion-y heel = heel striking = impact on the knees = "I have knee problems and can't run even though I'm 35 and should be perfectly healthy." In "What Shoes Should I Wear?" I explain why having a minimalist shoe helps maintain proper posture and form while running, thereby decreasing injury. Yes, even for a marathon it is ok to wear shoes with little cushioning.  

This is a link for a pretty darn comprehensive and up to date list of minimalist shoes. It's a very thorough list with brand names that you will recognize and ones that you won't. It also lists data such as weight, cost, and "drop." The drop refers to the height of the heel vs. the height of the toe off the ground. If it's a big drop (greater than 10mm), those refer to the traditional running shoe with lots of cushioning. Medium drops are around 4-8mm and low drops are below 4mm or even 0mm. Although there has been supply for minimalist shoes from Vibram and Terra Plana, there is now a huge surge of "barefoot running" shoes or "zero drop" shoes. Merrell, New Balance, Inov-8, and even Fila have been pushing their minimalist shoes and with spring here, runners are looking for new gear. 

 Inov-8 Road X 222

Although the intention of these companies is to hop on the bandwagon of barefoot running, I do think that they are heading in the proper direction. So whether people are joining the movement because they think it's cool or because they know it's anatomically more correct to have less padding under their heels, the net effect is a positive change. I just hope it doesn't swing back to the chunky heels of yesteryear. 

Fila Skeletoes: Because four fingers is better than Five Fingers (apparently)

Remember, if you are starting out with these new types of shoes, do NOT do any long distance running at first. Gradually work your way up to your normal mileage. Also be wary of shoes that may market themselves as "barefoot," but aren't really. Nike Free shoes are a good concept, but there is nothing barefoot-like with their 7.0's. If you go Nike Free, go with 3.0, the lower version of their Free line.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Homemade Sliced Grass Fed Roast Beef

It should be no surprise that I'm a fan of red meat. And contrary to popular belief, eating saturated fat does not necessarily raise cholesterol nor does it make you fat (or give you a Fat Face.) Deli sliced roast beef is a great option since it is portable and delicious. However, if it comes from traditional grain-fed beef, you might be concerned about the omega-6/omega-3 imbalance (too much o-6 = inflammation). Even if you're not, roast beef is overly priced compared to how easy it is to make your own. Here are the steps.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Almond Butter Banana Mousse Raspberry Shots

shots anyone?

Almond Butter Banana Mousse Raspberry Shots. I was going to originally call this one Almond Butter Banana Mousse Raspberry Shots with a Walnut Crust, but I figured that was too greedy. Melanie A. from CrossFit King of Prussia is a fiend when it comes to Paleo recipes. I'd like to see a cook/bake off between her and Jaime S. Aaaaanyway, here is another goodie. Hit the link for the recipe. 

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