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CrossFit Challenge Week 3: Endurance Tests

[Update] This is actually stuff from week 4. Apparently I’m not good at my counting and skipped last weeks workout in a post!

I’m pretty stoked with this week. Back at Nanaimo CrossFit with Katie whipping us into shape.

The heat started to cool down a bit so we could think without overheating (not that I’m complaining about the heat, it finally arrived for our 2 week summer! It just makes it a little hard to do anything strenuous… like CrossFit). My ideal conditions are sunny and cool.

This weeks WODS were crazy endurance tests.

This is part of the reason why I love the idea behind CrossFit. There’s a nice mix between endurance (not that it’s marathon-like, just longer sustained workouts) and strength. I always love finding my one rep max one some workout but in real life it’s not that useful. For those that don’t know your one rep max is the heaviest weight you can do once for an exercise. It’s basically the highest weight you can lift for that exercise. It’s a nice number to work with when you’re trying to improve your workouts. The endurance part to thinks makes it more useful. If you’re carrying some weight during the day during any tasks it’s most likely going to take longer than 4 seconds. Most of what we do takes longer than one rep of an exercise would.

With that said, the higher the reps on an exercise you have to do, the more tiring it is. For example in our Tuesday WOD, we had to do Air Squats and Shoulder to Overhead. Normally Air Squats are easy to do. This time we had to do 180 of them.

Air Squats are a squat with no weight. Think of sitting down on a chair with no chair underneath. You hold your hands out in front of you to keep you balanced. Your knees shouldn’t go past your toes and your weight should be on your heels. Try one now if you want. It’s a great exercise to do when you don’t have weights and have a limited amount of room. Crazy workout experimenter Tim Ferriss has a story I read somewhere about doing air squats in a bathroom stall during a concert because that was his scheduled workout time, damned if he was going to miss it. So you can do them anywhere, anytime.

So back to numbers. 1 Air Squat is easy. 180 of them? Not so easy. We had them broken up into 90, then 60, then 30. In between those we had to do 9, then 6, then 3 Shoulder to Overhead. Totally different muscle groups right? Wrong.

With lower weights, it’s not that hard to just muscle up the bar from your shoulders to overhead. When you have a heavier weight on the bar, there’s no muscling that thing up, you need a more efficient method. Bringing the bar above your head is a move called a snatch and there is the Squat Snatch and the Split Snatch.

Before we get into any more details, these are tough moves to perform properly on your own and it’s a really good idea to head into a gym and have a trainer watch your form with these. The whole idea is that the weight is too heavy to lift on your own so you need special techniques to get it above your head. That means if you do it wrong, you can really hurt yourself.

The Squat Snatch starts with the bar on your chest and then in a smooth, quick movement, you bring the bar above your head at the same time you squat down, basically putting yourself under the bar without having to move it much. The Split Snatch is similar but requires your legs to drop into a lunge position with one foot in front of the other. Once you stand back up straight again, you’ve completed a Shoulder to Overhead. Fun right?!

So:90 air squats9 shoulder to overheads60 air squats6 shoulder to overheads30 air squats3 shoulder to overheadsI thought the Shoulder to Overheads were going to be the tough part (they were tough), but the really hard one was all those air squats. Do something enough times and it’s really hard!

Thursday WOD

Thursday’s WOD was another endurance workout. I like them not so much because they’re easy but they’re easier to figure out. The heavy weights require a lot of technique to get it right and the consequences of mishandling 200 to 300 pounds on a bar can be bad. Jumping over a box many times with 25 pounds in your hands? Can’t do much damage there. Do As Many Reps As Possible (AMRAP) for 7 minutes though and you’ve got yourself a hell of a workout.

So this workout was 7 minutes of 7 over the box situps, 7 Sots presses, and 7 knees to elbows. After that was done it was 30 deadlifts.

The whole 7,7,7 setup was new to me. Over the box situps is a fun one but really gets you breathing. Grab a box you can jump on top of and down the other side. Mine was about 2 feet high. For an Over the Box Situp, take the weight if you have one step up and over the box and then do a situp on the other side. When you do the situp hold the weight above your head the whole way up. Pretty solid weighted situp. Sots presses take some explanation too.

Sots presses are basically holding the weight on your head, doing a squat, then doing 7 presses above your head with the weight, staying in the squat position the whole time. Once you’ve done the 7 presses, you can stand up and you’re done.

After the Over the Box Situps and the Sots Presses, it’s on to the Chinup Bars for some Knees to Elbows. They’re exactly how they sound. You swing your knees up and touch them to your elbows. Don’t knee yourself in the face doing this.  That would hurt. If you need to, it makes it easier to make grunting noises when you’re getting tired. It helps you do more. At least that’s what I was doing.

After all our breathing came down to a semi-normal level we moved into the deadlift portion of the workout. 30 deadlifts is a solid workout on it’s own. I’m always debating how heavy to go because you want to push yourself but you want to finish the workout as well. Being the last person to finish the workout does have it’s perks though. Often when we’re doing something that is timed and there are only a couple people left, the people already finished cheer them on. I’ve seen it in competitions too. Pretty cool way to finish off a workout. Pays to be last?

I felt great after this week and I’m hoping that’s going to continue into the weeks to come. I’ve just started tracking all my weights and times in a book at the shop and at home. One of my goals in these 3 months is to see how much I can push myself. So many of the workouts will be just to learn how it’s done but the more I do, the more I can push myself for Personal Records or Personal Bests. Beating those are what keeps everyone going. I’m excited to smash some of my own in the next few weeks.

Throw your comments down below or shoot me an email if you have questions about CrossFit. I’m sure you have some lurking somewhere!

Happy CrossFitting,


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