The Garage Gym Hits Puberty

The Garage Gym definitely hit puberty today as we installed two 4-foot lengths of galvanized steel pull-up bars. It was "meant to be" for us to pick today to put them up and we need to note a conversation I had with Jefe during last night's expedition to get all the hardware we would need to complete the installation. I basically proclaimed that we were due for a sicky-style WOD stuffed to the brim with pull-ups and variations (very Messiah like, actually). Jefe naturally would be a "follower" and agree with me which inevitably sealed our fate. This workout was one of "those" WOD's that represented such a unique and brutal taste we knew we would never be able to totally forget.

David came by around 4pm to help me start setting things up and install the bars before everyone else arrived at 5 to kick the hellish festival off. By now everyone sort of has an idea of who everyone else is but I have been forcing introductions and today was the first time David got to meet the infamous Enrique, Jefe, and Hore-hay (who showed up late on their donkey's like usual).

Tonight was full of anticipation, even outside the fear inspiring WOD, as we brought together some heads that were mulling over potential game plans for launching Jefe and David well beyond the limits of human capacities for fitness in preparation for the CrossFit Games Regional Qualifier. They are both already known as bonefide "fire breathers", but the scope and intensity that this kind of undertaking encompasses requires nothing short of Epic Fitness in order to survive.

Today I also received some e-mails from some other CrossFitters around New England that happen to also be looking for a training dungeon chock full of challenging opponents that can provide a level of competition in order to ramp up the overall intense viciousness of the environment. This is pretty exciting to say the least, but for now I will leave things as a bit of a mystery...at least until all the details have been ironed out. Either way I volunteered to work the Games and pending CrossFit approval I will be heading out there in July for the event so any locals can count on a short, bearded, 1 man support crew waiting in the shadows.

After Enrique removed his coat in dramatic fashion everyone got set to launch the first of two "heats". It didn't take long for the level of anticipation to reach a fevered pitch as impending metabolic devastation broke over the horizon. Before we got started an interesting conflict was brought up in relation to possible effects rendered by taking a "time priority" WOD (like this) and adding additional constraints (like not being able to complete 15 reps in uninterrupted sequence) to its execution beyond the traditional "range of motion is paramount" mantra.

Concern centered around the ramifications to the intended stimulus if;
1. People can't complete the full 15 reps in a row on any given round and have to drop down to recover... do they stop and "disqualify" themselves?
2. The polar opposite reaction would be to give yourself so much rest that you were no longer anywhere near the stress intended for your body. Don't forget this is still a "time priority" training session.

I didn't initially notice the conflict here, but soon became fascinated with the underlying questions the guys brought up. After we debated for a bit I basically came to the conclusion that this was a WOD designed for the experienced/veteran CrossFitter (I am not saying that novices weren't meant to do it at all, read on) and required a deeper understanding of the body and how particular physical and mental sensations might represent "x" conditions inside a given organism.
How could we solve this problem without going into super-detail and debate? We figured that it should bear noting that there is a profound difference in

"Working as hard as you possibly can in order to try and complete a WOD."
"Working as hard as you possibly can over the duration needed to complete a WOD."

This verbal Venn-diagram is basically an allusion to the maturity of an individual who can recognize flash points in a WOD's structure and grasps the training concept responsible for their existence. The other side of this is the kind of person who doesn't want to bother thinking about anything other than winning and ends up with rhabdo instead of a great score that he/she was most likely capable of attaining before going down Dumbass Lane.
By the time we reached this juncture it was generally understood that no one was getting an Elite Fitness Capacity of the tongue and so instead of talking the training commenced.

CrossFit.com Mainsite WOD (01.08.2009)
Ten rounds for time of:
3 x Weighted Pull-ups (45lbs)
5 x Strict Pull-ups
7 x Kipping Pull-ups
"For weighted pull-ups place a 45 lb dumbbell between the legs above crossed ankles and jettison the dumbbell after third rep and continue with strict pull-ups and then the kipping pull-ups. Coming off the bar or going to ground constitutes termination of a set."

I always have a great time training and watching these guys tear apart WODs, today being a particularly awesome time. It was great to see everyone welcome David into the group and watch the competition and support rage through the Garage for the entire duration.
Like usual there is a plethora of strange facial expressions evident in the pictures that can't really be anything other than pain or near maximal effort ... I think haha.
It continues to be a constant source of satisfaction for me to watch everyone exceed their self-imposed mental concepts of ability and then smash apart WOD's that induced feelings of futility when read for the first time.
Badass effort tonight, you nut cases, I am already salivating for tomorrow.

MMA Fight Team's WOD (01.08.2009)
The poor fighters had to get along without me for a couple of days so I thought it would be prudent (just learned that word last night) to make it up to them by helping develop every one's favorite 9 Fundamental Movements. David Sailor came down with me to help out with the instruction and implementation of the training. Like usual he was invaluable in creating a professional and insane atmosphere that not only forced "metabolic adaptations" but also kept the Fighters' minds proactive in learning these challenging skill sets.

This ended up being the perfect WOD for some CrossFit Instructor back-up because it involved a host of primary functional movements which we consider critical to an athletes ability to excel in fitness. After we were done I was thinking about the educational and warm-up portions of the night and noted that it was interesting to see how two CrossFit guys instruct with completely different words and methods but arrive at the same definitive skill set in application. David is an excellent Coach and tonight I got to reap the added bonus of picking up some techniques and terminology that helped my understanding of how to impart knowledge through action.

When it comes to my training background and learning skills I am pretty much self-taught (more like "self-bludgeoned"...hours of watching myself on video next to CrossFit celebrities performing the same movements is great for self-esteem...) which obviously entails a ton of mental anguish and a "road" much longer and shittier than those lucky enough to attend certifications and Affiliates early on. David is the polar opposite of me and has actually met Coach Glassman and a host of other people that I feel epitomize Elite Fitness as well as Elite Instruction/Coaching. Naturally I get jealous when hearing about how he got to train and learn out at the old Santa Cruz location...bastard.

The most interesting part is that we both end up performing these "movements which share the traits of moving large loads, over long distances, quickly," with very similar technical proficiency. I have learned more in the last month from associating with people like David, teaching some intense groups of CrossFitters, and attending a Level 1 CrossFit Certification than in any other period of time that I can recall. Something that looks as simple as the "Push-Jerk" or "Kipping Pull-ups" have effectively been fundamentally broken down and rebuilt the right way for me and now contribute heavily to an increase in capacity that spans every aspect of my fitness.

Tonight the goal was to start providing this reconstruction of ability and skills in the Fighters. They have already shown a great ability to adapt and learn new things (significant progress has been made in Olympic lifting techniques from nothing more than 9-lb weighted dowel movements incorporated into daily warm-ups) so tonight we took advantage of the fresh Grey Matter present and began to connect the wires we deemed most important for foundational ability.

Skill Based Warm-ups and Technique Development
I have previously alluded to CrossFit's 9 fundamental movements, but in case you missed it they are described below. The movements are in 3 separate families but cross breeding between them is apparent. If you look at any one of them you will find familiar bio-mechanical similarities, the reason for this being that the human for has developed over thousands of years to work a particular way. If you needed to stand up, reach for high objects, lift things over head, or push someone's face in you could see portions of each physical task represented in all 9 movements. When practicing these exercises everyone used either a 45-lb barbell or a 12-lb dowel, and these loads remained constant through the WOD as well.

Run .25 miles at a moderate pace (incline @ 1%)
Drills for Set 1: Body weight (Air) Squat --- Front Squat --- Overhead Squat
Drills for Set 2: Shoulder Press --- Push Press --- Push Jerk
Drills for Set 3: Dead lift --- Sumo Dead lift High-Pull --- Cleans
(Since we didn't have medicine balls available tonight we used a Hang-Clean Front Squat with a Barbell to sub in)

David and I tried our best to keep things fast paced and active during the review and instruction on the movements above. Everyone had a chance to practice and drill quite a bit before we headed into the WOD. Things ran very smooth and we followed a format of one guy teach a movement and the other demonstrate, which we followed with direct 1 on 1 assistance for the fighters. This warm-up took a bit longer than those that adhere to the general format I use, but it was easy to see why with such a large amount of technical knowledge needing to be passed on for each movement. This time also allowed for a huge amount of repetition and practice...we could almost hear the delicious snap, crackle, and popping sound of neurons being connected in new and exciting ways. You can probably guess what was coming after the Skills and Warm-ups portions of training ...
a nice steamy cup of Metabolic Hot Cocoa (with marsh mellows on top... FYI: marsh mellows is code for "neuro-physiological adaptation")

"Thanks For Welcoming Me Back!" WOD
.20 Mile Treadmill Run (minimum incline of 1% always)
27 x Air Squats
27 x Dowel Dead lifts
(9lb dowel or 45lb barbell for all the movements that need them)
27 x Shoulder Press
.30 Mile Treadmill Run
21 x Front Squat
21 x Sumo Dead lift High-Pulls
21 x Push-Press
.40 Mile Treadmill Run
15 x Overhead Squats
15 x Hang Squat Cleans
15 x Push-Jerks
.50 Mile Treadmill Run

Dave 22:11
Ben 20:03*
Todd 24:44
Nuri 25:16
John 27:23

These guys did extremely well tonight with this challenging WOD. It wasn't difficult just because they were ramping up intensity and running their asses off. Despite the fact that the Fighters were faced with a new and foreign format of training they didn't hesitate to confront and excel regardless of the adverse demands that "time priority" type WOD's involve. They also managed to dedicate a serious effort to the "hybrid task priority" of executing the movements correctly and efficiently while adhering to a full range of motion.
(Based on the above statement it would be save to say that the guys obviously didn't have enough challenges so we sprinkled in some festive little sprints for additional "flavor".
Good work, crazies... I can't wait to see you all on Saturday.

Nuri's quote of the night: "So are we going from .30 to .40 on the treadmills or is it run .30 and then run .40 miles?" Hmm, lets ponder...


chris toomey said...

God Father (Samy),
dude, the website never siezes to amaze me. seriously. i wana make animal love to this website. pull up bars look freaking great man. seriously. give me a call tonight will ya so we can catch up and talk about the future for the savages. stay savage (especially you bam bam)

Melissa Byers said...

This is what I love about CrossFit, though... you make it your own. So for me, I would do that Main Site WOD as a strength/skill session. That's MY scale. I'd go as quickly as I could, without worrying about the "dropping from the bar" requirements. If I had to kip one pull-up at a time, that's how I would get through it, because my goal right now is to get STRONGER. And I'd be serving that goal far better to get through them slower, but on my own, versus faster (using a band).

I like that you are keeping these workouts open to interpretation, because what might be "right" for me isn't going to be "right" for the rest of your guys. Keep up the good work, Samy... and I'll be in touch for my drop-in soon.

PS THANK YOU for installing some honest-to-goodness REAL pull-up bars, instead of the bullshit hybrid split bars I have at the rest of my gyms.

sdaghir@gmail.com said...

Chris: It feels great to see you like what we are running with, dude. I am counting down the days til you move back up here. You having fun making the shirts yet? People are starting to ask about them and I think we might have a coup once we tell them you can't just buy them but have to actually earn 'em haha. I'll talk to you tonight and fill you in on everything else. You and Ben are going head to head so prepare yourself...
He is covered because I am going to make sure he DEMOLISHES you on a cellular level...heh...heh heh.

Melissa: I feel pretty strongly about what you mentioned with keeping things open to interpretation. I think a lot of people fear going outside the realm of RXing things and it's not a knock on anyone to say so...I just think it has an iron tight coorelation to the depth of understanding in the principles of physiology and CrossFit's various paradigms. Take x movement and run it through a filter to get ANY STIMULUS YOU WANT... the constraints here are usually self-imposed, don't you agree?

The Pull-up bars are pretty serious and heavy duty as hell. When you come here expect to develop some forearm strength, they are THICK. Plus I like the word Galvanized Steel ... If I were to procreate at some future date I might use that for a name.

Hmm, yup it's settled: First born named "Flesh Rended" Second Born named "Galvanized Steel"

Melissa Byers said...

Crap. I definitely need more practice on a bar with a thicker diameter. The pull-up bars at CF Potomac (where my gymnastics cert is being held) are thick, and I just know I'm going to end up kipping my ass right off 'em. Yet another reason why I need to come see you ASAP.

sdaghir@gmail.com said...

Hell yeah, I think "Jefe" is going to hit up that cert and you will meet him next Sat at the earliest. What are you doing tonight? Want to come meet the crew at 5pm? No worries if you can't, and with your grip I will show you kind of a progression to shift through as your arms give out which is kind of like the WOD yesterday where you went from one Pull-up to a variation of progression that let you get 15 reps even though you were gassed out at 3.

Oh wait, where are you going to your LVL 1? I read that a few days ago I think and we want to get him set to hit up that cert. It would be cool for you guys to know someone else there. I might volunteer and show up if you are both going as well. Was it in NJ?

Melissa Byers said...

1. I wish I could come by tonight! Scott is teaching karate, so I have to go home and let the dogs out. I'll send you a note - maybe I can come by tomorrow?

2. I'm doing my Level I at Guerrilla Fitness in Montclair, NJ on February 7/8. It's a fantastic box, great coaches and the hotels in the area are cheap. I can help him with arrangements if he decides to come along. Keep me posted.

3. Let me know if you've got someone coming to "my" gymnastics cert, too!


Kevin Daigle said...

Looks sick Samy, Can't wait to meet some of you guys next weekend for Melissa's KB thrashing. I read up on that WOD, and straight from Coach....the time component is there, and the objective is to complete the WOD as quickly as possible. Dropping off the bar doesn't DQ you though, it just ends a "set" where a "set" and a "round" are distinct. Therefore, the objective is also to finish the WOD in the FEWEST number of sets it takes to do 10 rounds. So you could do 2 rounds in one set....or take 3 sets to finish one round. So basically there are 2 distinct metrics in this WOD. I agree as posted, it's very confusing.

sdaghir@gmail.com said...

I agree with you 100%, Kevin. The way you explained it is how we ended up doing it (although trying to rep out through 2 rounds is pretty F-ing difficult!! haha)

The real point I think you are helping reinforce and that I want people to take away is that WOD's are designed as general guidelines. If they were intended to be interpreted as "Law" then CrossFit is no longer able to call itself "Infinitely Scalable" to the individual athlete. This is an interesting time for a conflict like this to come up as well, because I am already neck deep in bringing concepts and related anectdotal evidence to light in various posts we make so that everyone has the tools to educate themselves.

The more everyone peeks behind the curtain of "adaptation to training" and the related processes involved the easier it becomes to read a WOD once and not go OCD over some poorly worded semantics.

I like the way you think, dude, you are already an asset to our progress as a community here.