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CrossFit Challenge – Week 6: Humbled by Overhead Squats

Another week and another 2 wicked CrossFit workouts from Katie at Nanaimo CrossFit. This week definitely had tough workouts and I really gave everything I could. It got me thinking about how hard I was trying with the workouts and how hard they (might) sound in my writing about them.

You Choose Your Workout

Someone mentioned the other day after reading a few of the Challenge Posts that it sounded really hard. I agreed that it was tough but it got me thinking about how that affects new people coming into CrossFit.

Before I started CrossFit I had heard it was this workout-till-you-puke kind of system that sounded super intense but got killer results. I liked what I heard about the results and was curious (scared?) about the puking part. I’m not a fan of puking. I don’t know anyone who is.

When I started though, it was very obvious that it’s not a workout-till-you-puke activity. Unless you want it to be. You can make CrossFit as hard as you want. You can let it be an easy warm-up activity for something else where it gets your heart going but you don’t really push yourself. Or you can make the most intense hour of your life. It’s all in how hard you push yourself.

When you get set up for the workout there are always 2 related variables that you can adjust: weight and speed.

For weight, you can choose the amount you do a workout with. More weight will make it harder, less will make it easier. But that’s not the whole story, there is also speed to consider.

When you complete any workout, you’ll do the movements at a particular speed. Faster movements are more work, slower movements tend to be less work. Faster movements will let you finish the workout in a lower total time. Slower movements will increase your time.

Getting back to the workout, you can adjust these 2 variables all you want. You could use a heavier weight and decrease your speed or use a lighter weight and increase your speed. Either way you’re getting a great workout. One catch though is that if you use a lighter weight and choose to push yourself faster, you may or may not push yourself as fast as you can go. Weight is a more concrete number to use than internal motivation for speed. Either way, you can play with how fast you go and your workout weight all you want.

What that all boils down to is that you can choose to workout exactly how you want to.

If you want to push yourself you’re on the floor afterwards, you can. If you want to get a nice workout in but still be able to mountain bike and walk the dog after, you can.

Onto the WODs!

Tuesday’s WOD was 4 rounds of 4 exercises with the plates we usually put on the bars. I grabbed the 35 pound plates for these exercises. The recommended weights were actually different for each exercise but I just used the 35 pound plate for all mine to keep things simple.

So we had 4 rounds of 20 Overhead Weighted Lunges, 20 Plate Sit-ups, 20 Plate Thrusters and a Farmer Carry to do.

Overhead Weighted Lunges are a lunge with the plate over your head, elbows locked and knee to the floor.

Plate Sit-ups are a sit-up with the plate over your head the whole time, elbows locked.

Plate Thrusters start with the plate held in front of you shoulder height in a squat stance and then rising out of the squat stance and using that momentum to get the plate up and over your head.

A Farmer Carry is just carrying 2 plates 20 metres. We were able to put our fingers through the holes instead of gripping the edges of the plates like some workouts make you do (killer!).

I really liked this workout especially the Plate Thrusters. My arms were toast by round three so I really had to concentrate for the last 2 rounds on getting the momentum from my legs and carrying that through into the plate and getting it above my head. There was no muscling it up with my arms any more, they couldn’t do it on their own. All the power had to come from my legs. I wish I had known that early on and saved some energy for the other exercises.

The Plate Sit-ups are killer. I’m not great with a sit-up as it is if no one is holding my feet down but 4 rounds of 20 of them with a plate above my head. Wow! Intense workout. I was down to 1 at a time by the end of it. 1, rest, 1, rest.

Everyone gets cheers

Even the coaches are working their tails off when they participate in the WODs. They aren’t in this to look good, they’re in it for a killer workout. Adam was hurtin’ on the Plate Sit-ups just like I was but we were cheering him on as much as we could after we finished our rounds.


Thursday’s WOD was the hardest one yet.

The first section to the WOD was a partner row and 200 metre run. One partner rows while the other runs. When the runner is back, they switch off. After 4 rounds our time was taken in combination with our total rowed metres for a score. My partner and I did pretty well. I was saving a little bit for the next part of the workout though.

This is the part where I get humbled trying to do 100 Overhead Squats.

An Overhead Squat is an exercise with a bar (or a PVC pipe if you’re just starting or warming up). You Squat Snatch the bar (and weight if you have some) over your head and then drop down into a squat, then come back up. The squatting and raising of the bar is the Overhead Squat and you have to 100 of them. But there’s a catch.

The hard part comes in when you’re deep into your squat and your body is tilted forward. That weighted bar above your head has to be directly above your body. So that means when your body is tilted forward, your shoulders have to be wide open while supporting the weight above your head. Your elbows have to stay locked the whole time. If you can, give it a try right now. Grab a broom with a really wide grip above your head with straight elbows. Squat down keeping your knees above your toes until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Make sure your arms stay perfectly vertical even while your body comes forward with the squat. Not so easy.Now do 100!

I just used the bar for this one which was 45 pounds. I probably could have used the lighter bar for it to. By the end, I was doing 1 or 2 at a time to be able to do it. The mobility in my shoulders to keep my arms straight up while weighted just wasn’t there. If I pushed my hands out further on the bar my wrists couldn’t hold the weight. It was a workout of balance.

But I did it. I was last through and everyone was cheering me on. I couldn’t give up. I managed to push through and just finish off the last one.

I have found my new Goat. 

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