Evolution and Iron

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I am currently at a place in life where I sometimes literally cannot believe how different I am compared to who I was even one year ago.  So much has changed – I don’t let fear and discomfort limit my life experience, I use them to enhance and enrich it.  I have a professional and personal confidence and feeling of empowerment that I never possessed before.  My spiritual beliefs have done a complete 180, and I take comfort in living life with purpose and faith.

My approach toward training and eating have changed a lot over time as well.  In my last post, I talked about how my attitude and approach toward cardio have evolved over time.  After today’s workout at my regular gym, I started thinking about how my approach toward lifting weights has changed too.  Although I have been doing CrossFit for a few months, I still go to a regular gym (for lack of a better term)  to train a couple of times per week.

After my first figure competition in November 2011, I was featured as Bodybuilding.com’s Amateur Fitness Competitor of the Week.  You can find the feature here.  It includes a run down of what a typical week of training looked like for me at the time.  For those who don’t want the play-by-play, I’ll give you the highlights – high reps (15-30 reps per set), lots of isolation exercises (i.e. bicep curls, leg extensions, lateral raises, cable cross-overs), cardio and/or lifting 6 days per week with one rest day, and plenty of time grinding out some cardio for time on a machine.  I couldn’t do unassisted pull-ups, so I relied on using the assisted machine.  I only did stiff-legged deadlifts and used maybe a 50 lb barbell when doing them.  I was training at an Anytime Fitness at the time, so there were no squat racks, no place to barbell bench press unless you want to do them on the Smith Machine, no kettlebells, no Prowler to push, and I didn’t have the faintest idea of what a snatch, a clean, or a jerk was.

Now a week’s worth of training looks quite a bit different.  Below is a sample week from my training log (which I keep religiously):

 

Monday – CrossFit

Front Squat – 3 X 70% of 1RM (one rep max), 3 X 80% of 1RM, and 3 x 90% of 1RM

AMRAP (As Many Rounds/Reps As Possible) – 7:00 min

7 hang cleans (55#)

7 burpees

(I did 4 rounds + 11 reps)

Max Reps – 4:00 min

Thrusters (35#) – every time you have to drop the bar, 6 ring rows

(I did 46 reps and dropped the bar three times)

 

Tuesday – Rest

Wednesday – CrossFit

EMOM (Every Minute On The Minute) – 11:00 min

Banded Sumo Deadlifts (purple band/95#) X 2

Metcon (Metabolic Conditioning) – “Diane”

21-15-9

Deadlifts (125#)

Handstand push-ups

Metcon – Time

100 ABMATS

 

Thursday – Rest

Friday – “Globo Gym”

Ass-to-calves heavy barbell back squats (4 sets of 5)

Sumo deadlifts superset with walking kettlebell lunges

Lying leg curls superset with burpee box jumps

Standing calf raises superset with T2B (toes to bar)

Weighted prowler push the length of the gym X 3

Cardio:

2000 m row for time – 11:17

 

Saturday – “Globo Gym”

Snatch grip high pull superset with pull-ups

Close grip bench press superset with Hammer Strength row

Lateral dumbbell raises superset with TRX face pulls

Barbell curls superset with rope press downs

Single arm dumbbell snatch superset with Battle Ropes x 45 secs

Cardio:

20 mins speed intervals on the stairmill

1000 m row for time – 4:56

Oh hey, that's me at the CrossFit competition a few weeks ago!
Oh hey, that’s me at the CrossFit competition a few weeks ago!

Some vestiges of CrossFit have infiltrated my “Globo gym” workouts, which is the way I prefer to train.  I think the best workouts are the ones that incorporate some of the traditional bodybuilding approach and some of the CrossFit approach.  I can guarantee you that I am in the only person in that entire gym who ever does snatch grip high pulls!  My training has become more functional, my strength has increased ten-fold, I have more awareness of my mobility, and I place greater emphasis on the importance of correct movement in my training.I am still in the process of rehabbing my left shoulder and have been going to physical therapy that is geared toward athletes.  Part of each physical therapy session is me doing CrossFit movements, like push press or wall balls, focusing on executing the movements properly in order to build the strength and mobility I need to continue to progress and to avoid aggravating my shoulder.  I’ve learned that I commit some faults when I’m training – I will engage my upper traps to compensate for the lack of strength and stability in my shoulder, and I will hyperextend my lower back to compensate for my lack of overhead mobility.  Movements I used to do without thinking, even push-ups, require conscious correction.  It is kind of exhausting, but I know that putting in the work to correct my bad habits now in order to develop optimal mobility and strength are in my best long-term interest.

Going through this shoulder rehabilitation has been a lesson in humility.  Using an empty 35 pound bar when the RX is 95 lbs.  Sitting out of team WOD’s relegated to referee because my shoulder is too inflamed to perform the movements.  Substituting kettlebell swings while everyone else is throwing some serious iron overhead.  Every time I train, I pray for the humility to put my ego aside and use good judgment about how heavy to go and how hard to push.  The CrossFit culture is all about intensity, hard work, competing with yourself, and to a lesser degree, healthy competition with others.  It’s difficult for me to not push the envelope every time.  It’s unfulfilling to finish the WOD first knowing that I used a third of the weight that everyone else did.

I am thankful that there is nothing seriously wrong with my shoulder and that I received this wake-up call now, before something catastrophic happened.  Although I’ve had shoulder problems for years, I was always able to adapt my “Globo gym” workouts to avoid aggravating it and was able to delude myself into thinking it was a minor issue most of the time.  It wasn’t until I started CrossFit that my bubble burst and I realized how big of a problem it really was.  CrossFit didn’t cause my problem, but it definitely exposed it, and for that, I am grateful.

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