It has been a couple of months since I finished the Tough Mudder NorCal 2011 event in Squaw Valley, CA near Lake Tahoe. I’ve had some time to think about that day, the obstacles that I faced, and the overall experience. All in all, it went very well. I had a great time and, to be honest, it wasn’t that hard for me. That’s a good thing. That means that my training worked and preparation paid off. That doesn’t mean that it was easy. By no means was it easy! It was definitely a test of your strength, endurance, teamwork, and your willpower to continue despite fatigue, hunger, pain, and extreme discomfort. For example, I don’t think there is any way to really be ready to enjoy the icy cold water of the Chernobyl Jacuzzi and the Underwater Tunnels obstacles, unless you’re a member of the Polar Bear Club and get off on that type of thing. I hate being cold, so I was careful about the gear I chose to wear that day (Read more about my Head-to-Toe Gear here).
I’m still ramping up my training for the Tough Mudder event in NorCal this September. I’m wearing my Vibram FiveFingers much more regularly and did another 4 mile trail run in a pair of the KSOs. You may recall that I did buy a pair of the KSO Treks earlier and did a trail run in them as well. The fit was a bit too large. They felt fine for walking around, but my smaller toes kept slipping out of their pockets as I started running harder and climbing. So, I bought a size smaller of the KSOs, which are a bit different (better for water, thinner sole). Now my big toe is a bit cramped. Guess I have weird toes.
Dear readers, I would like to hear from you! What do you think are the best bodyweight exercises? In the poll below, select the one bodyweight exercise that you think is the best or write in your own answer. If you could only do one bodyweight exercise, what would it be?
Well, today was the last day of my Paleo Challenge. So we took photos and measurements in CrossFit this morning. We won’t know who the winners are until next week. But, I wanted to do a quick post and share my after photo. The Paleo diet helped me bring out more definition. I lost about 4 pounds that I just couldn’t seem to gain back, but maybe that’s ok.
Sorry, I feel the need to rant a bit today. I just keep seeing too many tweets on Twitter about how proud some CrossFit folks are of their blistered and bleeding hands from doing pull-ups. They are usually referring to high reps of kipping pull-ups. Bleeding hands from pull-ups aren’t some CrossFit “badge of honor”. It’s actually an indicator that you aren’t gripping the pull-up bar correctly. Now, before you get your hackles up and puff out your chest, I had the same problem. When I started CrossFit last year and began doing a high volume of pull-ups, I built up calluses and blisters. I noticed that it kept hurting more and more as that new callused area was getting pinched between the top of my palm and the bar. So, I did some research before it became a bleeding issue and I’ll share what I found below in some photos and a video. You really can avoid it! It’s all about your grip style and it builds up your grip strength and toughens up your hands more evenly.
I totally spanked “Cindy” yesterday at CrossFit. It was my best performance with her ever! It is a 20 minute AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) of 5 Pull-ups, 10 Push-ups, and 15 Air Squats. Breaking the pull-ups into sets of 5 like that made it feel pretty easy and I switched my grip so that I was alternating pull-ups and chin-ups. Funny how squats start to feel like a break when you do them right after push-ups.
My CrossFit workout this morning really hit my overall body with a variety of exercises that worked the core, arms, and legs. I felt it all over! Made me also realize that my forearms were more sore than I anticipated from the 32 Kg kettleball farmers walk and hammers yesterday. I really felt it on the pull-ups and performed a bit weaker than I had hoped. Oh well. Every day can’t be the best day for a given exercise. We did this same workout back in November 2010, so I was able to compare my performance. This is so critical for your motivation!). I took 17 seconds off my time and did much better on my pull-ups this time. Now my goal for the next time I do this WOD is to do everything unbroken. No breaks!
I described what a Tabata workout is in an earlier post. A Tabata is high-intensity interval training (HITT) and is basically 20 seconds of ultra-intense exercise and then 10 seconds of rest, repeated for 8 cycles continuously for 4 minutes. It really packs a ton of cardio and fat-burning exercise into the longest 4 minutes of your life. Today we did it for 4 exercises back to back (Squat Cleans, Pull-ups, Burpees, Kettlebell Swings), so that makes it the longest 16 minutes of your life. Who would think you would be completely drained after just 16 minutes of exercise? But, try it sometime and I think you will discover the same thing. I have a love/hate relationship with the Tabata. More than a lot of other conditioning WOD’s, you really do feel like you’re competing against yourself (if you track your progress as you should be doing!). I love that and, looking back at my past performance, I see improvements that motivate me a lot. That includes physical changes that I can see; burning off fat and getting a lot more muscle definition. The hate? The Tabata workouts really wipe me out and, like I said, you would never imagine how long 4 minutes can feel.
I apologize for not posting in a while. I was traveling in Europe and playing a bit of catch up over the past week. The business trip and my stay in a very small, somewhat authentic, Parisian hotel made it a bit too challenging to keep up with any CrossFit travel WODs. But, despite a week of French food and no high-intensity exercise (although I did walk for about 10 hours each day!), I only gained about a pound and getting back into the swing of things at CrossFit last Monday wasn’t too painful. It wasn’t easy! But, it wasn’t as bad as I feared it might be.
I actually like all of the exercises that we did for our CrossFit workout of the day today (WOD): Push-ups, Chin-ups, and Dips. I’ve been practicing the kipping pull-up and chin-up, so it was a good day to put it to the test. This WOD is a great way to work on your chest, triceps, and biceps. The chin-ups, in particular, also help you perform better on rope climbing.