WODs 29 & 30 November: Unstoppable

30 Nov

 That’s right, unstoppable. That’s what we are here at CrossFit London. The Unions and their tube strikes couldn’t stop the Monday night session. The forces of nature (i.e. snow) couldn’t stop us on Tuesday morning either. Now lets all flex our guns and growl. GRRRRRR!

Since I had a late night session followed by an early morning one, I won’t ask for sympathy but just that you’ll forgive me for cramming both sessions into one post, and so…

Monday Evening Strike-Defying Workout: Warm up. Thruster 5-5-5-5-5. “Burping Eva” 5 rounds of 20 burpees, 30 kettlebell swings and 30 pull ups. Now this probably seems evil but I feel that my hand has been pushed. I’m always told how cruel Sally is to her classes and don’t want to seem like a softie. Plus my morning sessions are mostly strength with hard and heavy met cons now and then, so evenings are my perfect opportunity to unleash a chipper on you guys.

First up was Aaron and Vincent. We got through the thruster element quickly so we had time for the met con. By the time I stopped them after four rounds of ‘Burping Eva’ (FYI: Eva is usually an 800m run, not burpees – hence the name), I think I’d made my point and Aaron and Vincent left shaking their fists at me. Well, not really.

By the second session the curse of the tube strikes had really struck and it was just me and Ben. As a one-on-one I offered Ben the chance to do anything he liked in addition and we’d scale the met con back a bit to make time. Doing ‘Burping Eva’ alone wouldn’t have been pretty. So we threw in some weighted pull ups and I joined him for the met con since nobody should have to do one alone.

By the third Monday night session it was Cindy and Edd. Thrusters, check. Met con, check (again scaled since they saw what Ben had done – Aaron and Vincent apologies, you probably hate me even more knowing you suffered alone) and then Cindy wanted to do some dishes, so we did them. Tabata style. Followed by Tabata sit ups. Ouch. I’m certainly feeling the abs today.

No Close Ups: Helen Wasn't Hair Proud Today

Back again at the crack of dawn and the Tuesday Snow Pain Snow Gain Workout (what a wit!) session looked like this: Warm up. Back squat 5-5-5-5-5. Met con of 21-15-9, deadlifts (60%) and ring dips. Finisher: 10 laps of bear crawls.

Well done both groups – was great to see the return of Trevor in the 7am group following knee injury and fever over the weekend. It seems to be that time of year since some injuries and weekend training induced soreness meant many went a little lighter than usual on the back squats and chasing depth at the bottom of the squat instead. The met con worked as a nice reminder of how hideous ring dips are. And Helen let everyone know how much she despised bear crawls.

With a pretty snow fall greeting us on the way out – a great winter’s morning session. Go TEAM!

WOD 28 November. No, it isn’t that cold.

28 Nov

WOD: 28 November. No, it isn’t that cold.

Today was one of those days where as soon as you stepped out of the house, the cold decided to come out and kick you in the shin like a bratty kid. That meant that the gym was going to be about as warm as a meat locker, and that means it was the perfect time for Crossfit because:  Cold + Crossfit = Character building.

Because I care and want the best for everyone. (As usual.) I decided that a good way to warm everyone up was to throw them straight into the WOD after working on their baseline skills, and then immediately afterwards, hitting some heavy back squats.

Todays WOD was:
5 Rounds for time, 15 min cut off.
1, 3, 5 Push Press and Strict Pull ups.

The tricky part of this WOD wasn’t so much the rounds or rep scheme. It was not losing count of where you were in the reps.

I speak from experience as about halfway through round 3, I forgot how many push press I was doing and had tossed in an extra rep or two to be safe. Lucky for me, I’m not the only one this happened to, so it wasn’t just another example of my inability to count. To those of you who managed to power through without any issues, counting for the win. Someone was paying attention to the Count on Sesame Street.

1! 3! .. 3? Dammit.
1! 3! .. 3? Dammit.
Right after the WOD we went right to the heavy back squats, hitting a PR along the way (good job April.) and in some cases, realizing that performance on Sunday tends to be compromised. (Crappy food, no sleep and shots. Not the best way to get a PR on a lift.)

All in all, very nice job to everyone for suffering through the WOD and the Squats and not complaining about anything. (Well. Not complaining more then usual in any case.)

See you Tuesday.

Arbitrary Awards:

“The Red Shirt” To Jan, not because she has a habit of getting killed off early on ground missions, but because she understands the reference.

“Hit and Run” To April, who decided to slap my black shirt with white chalk filled hands. Obviously, this means war.

“Strict? Of course.” To Helen, because pull ups are pull ups. Right? 😛

WOD 27 November: Freddy C

28 Nov

Saturday 27th November 2010

Wow two full classes today with people on the waiting list!  I was feeling really good about this, its a kind of confirmation that I must be doing something right. Todays WOD is borrowed form “Freddy C” a very big name in the world of Crossfit.  I really enjoy his blog as he is in the same line of work and of a similar age we share many of the same view points and frustrations.  He often programs WODS with a push pull theme and todays was no exception.

So we started of with a warm up of small movements progressing into larger movements then on to some swimming, observing correct lane discipline.  Finishing with some silly races, Brie you are still the benchmark for bum racing.

Skillz and Drillz

Once warmed up on to the Front Squat. Working up to a ten minute ladder with about 50% of your one rep’ max’. Just wanted you to concentrate on keeping your form as you became more and more tired.  Ladders are fantastic.  Nice gentle progression towards some really hard hitting met con.


Its all about counting the reps done a bit like fight gone bad.

3 minutes of shoulder press 30kg

1 minute rest

3 minutes strict pullups

1 minute rest

3 minutes of push press 40kg

1 minute rest

3 minutes kipping pullups

1 minute rest

3 minutes of push jerk 50kg

There was some great gurning going on here during the push jerk, anyone scoring over 120 was working fantastically hard.

Short and sweet today as I am off to celebrate my sisters wedding.

Tube Strike and Big Freeze

28 Nov

Hi all. A couple of quick notes for your attention:

There is another tube strike on Monday which will hamper efforts getting across London. Please let us know if you can’t make your sessions, or feel free to early cancel them on the system.

Secondly, because some of the water mains in Gales Gardens run overground, the pipes in the gym have frozen (again). We seem to have enough reserve water to flush loos, but not for the showers. So, if you need to shower, you will need to make alternative arrangements.


WOD 26 November: Olympic Lifting and Back Test Night

26 Nov

Friday night as normal is Olympic lifting night. Tonight it was the dreaded snatch, so we kicked off by a quick drill refresher session, then cracked through with a few sets of “Efe’s Revenge (aka Sott’s Press)


This was followed by 6 -8 (ish)  single rep sets of the full squat snatch, followed by a few sets of high pulls. And nicely topped off with some snatch balances. The aim of this selection of drills was to identify your weak spot in the snatch: is it shoulder flexibility, the pull from the floor, or is your problem “getting under the bar”? All through this session we stressed proper squat form in the receiving position: bum back, weight on your heels.

You have to remember what joint to bend first on your legs when carrying load. You have three joints, which should move first? Think of it this way; whatever joint moves first, takes the whole weight of the move upon it. So think it through: should you move your ankle joint first? Have  a look at that tiny, dainty joint– not really that good a choice. How about getting the infamous injury-prone knee to be the focus of all the stress your body and a bar can generate? Or how about, initially, using your massive hip joint? (a tennis-ball sized joint buried in a secure acetabulum,  supported by a a massive bum muscle. ( And of-course, I’m not saying your bum is too big).

But here’s the “thing”: God knew you would be confused as to which joint to use, so she “flagged it” with a giant arse-shaped “post it note” in case you forgot. This is the joint strong enough to take all the grief when you begin to squat. Hence  we say “bum back” first..

Anyway, after that it was the Sorensen Test

The race has always been on to firstly predict,  then inoculate against,  back pain. A test known as the “Sorensen test” based on the work of Hansen in 1964, has been popular since 1984.

According to Demoulin et al 2006  “The test consists in measuring the amount of time a person can hold the unsupported upper body in a horizontal prone position with the lower body fixed to the examining table”

The test is accepted in its discriminative validity, reproducibility, and safety. However debate continues to surround its ability to predict low back pain. No firm explanation, beyond “women rock” , has been offered as to why “chicks” can hold it longer than guys.

Naturally motivation and discomfort tolerance are confounding factors.

A interesting review is available in PDF form at Isometric back Extension tests: a Review of Literature Maureau et al Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics Volume 24 • Number  2001, But in essence,this report says this….(yawn….)

For men, the mean endurance time is 84 to 195 seconds; for women, it is 142 to 220.4 seconds. For subjects with LBP, the mean endurance time range is 39.55 to 54.5 seconds in mixed-sex groups 80 to 194 seconds for men, and 146 to 227 seconds for women” whether thats remotely useful lm not sure, but if you suffer or are prone to lower back pain, (you tend to know by your appalling posture), im going to suggest you move this figure up.

Demoulin C, Vanderthommen M, Duysens C, Crielaard JM.  2006.  Spinal muscle evaluation using the Sorensen test: a critical appraisal of the literature. Joint Bone Spine. 2006 Jan;73(1):43-50.

Are still awake! Then all that remains to say is: good job everyone!

WOD 25 November: King for a Day – Part 2

26 Nov

So aside from the fact that I took all the Thursday classes, 25 November was also Thanksgiving. Just, if not more, important I would say. So I tinkered with my morning class format to celebrate this American harvest festival.

We hit the same overhead squat warm-up drills and strength workout as the morning class. Working through 5 sets of heavy 3’s. This unforgiving movement won’t allow for any weak links – the whole body needs to be engaged or you’ll know about it. Some went for it whilst others kept the weight low for confidence and technique.

The Pilgrims would be proud

So I gave a choice: the L-sit/Tabata pull up combo that the morning class enjoyed. Or The Thanksgiving Mystery Met Con. What is it? Well that’s a mystery. Do you want it or not? And they did! So: 3 rounds of 10 hang power snatches, 20 box jumps and 30 lunges.

The signifcance to Thanksgiving?  Well snatches were very popular with pilgrims – particularly the hang power variety. Fact. The box jump is the favoured plyometric movement of Turkeys. Also fact. And well… you can make something up yourself for lunges and there we have it: a Thanksgiving Met Con.

Turkey Box Jumps

Well done to Joe, Cassie, Matthew, Colm and Cindy for getting through this and politely ignoring the fact it had nothing to do with Thanksgiving but the name. Go TEAM!

The not so great date with Jackie.. WOD 24th Nov

25 Nov

This was a bit of experiment that, frankly, didn’t work.

Jackie is a main page WOD that consists of one fast round of

1000m Row

50 x 20kg barbell Thrusters

30n pull ups.

Its a beautifully crafted experience. Most of our heroes managed a time of between 11 and 16 minutes. However, you will notice the set up issues. At the moment we have just two rowers, which meant we needed to split the class up and send them through the workout two at a time.

On paper it seemed easy, the rest of the group could do, er…… handstand practise,  then duck out to do their turn on the WOD. But this  became very difficult to manage. Those who did the WOD 1st had to confront  handstand practise pretty shagged, while those at the end had an awfully long, uninterrupted handstand session of 45 minutes. Some broke it up with some muscle up practise. Still the room lacked atmosphere, inspite of some very impressive Jacki-esque efforts

Still it brought home to me one of the key aspects of Crossfit london workouts and sessions. We get everybody to do, roughly,  then same thing, at the same time: it creates social excitement.

So, to those who showed on Wednesday, thanks for  wading through this with me. Its not a format Ill use again

WOD 25 November: King for a Day – Part 1

25 Nov

So it’s Chris all day today. Yey! And I kicked off the morning with an enthusiastic crew. Now it’s always nice to see an evening face turn up to a morning class. Tuesday it was Helen and Ruairi and today it was the turn of Rosie. Despite declaring this would NOT be happening again after five minutes through the door, I live in hope this was early morning grumbles and upon reflection she realises that mornings RULE! Though to be fair, evenings are pretty damn cool too (I have to say this or Phil, Andrew and Sally will start deleting my posts ‘by accident’). 

Thursdays are my strength and skills day. The strength: overhead squats 3-3-3-3-3 and skills: L-sits 3 x max time. And who doesn’t like a little finisher, so I carried on my month-long Tabata love affair with pull ups. 

The warm-up consisted of the rotations/dislocations, overhead squats, overhead squat wall drills and some further rotations but in the bottom of the squat. If they didn’t realise it was overhead squats before, that warm-up should certainly have thrown up some clues! 

Before we hit the meat, we did some stacking practice. That is, getting rid of the bar both forwards and backwards. The aim was to give everyone some confidence in case of a wobble. 

STEELY determination at work

On to the squats. Ruairi looked very strong with 60kg: bang, bang, bang. Rosie too with 35kg. Helen took away 27.5kg with some steely determination to nudge that up next time. Cian and Grant both showing good movement and finishing on 45kg and 35kg respectively. Finally Nadia making 30kg look like a breeze. 

Quick clean up and it was time for L-sits. Everyone grabbed their box and we knocked out 3 max time efforts. Joint prize for the Most Fearsome Expression During an L-Sit went to Helen and Cian. So much so Helen was keen to face the wall as was concerned she was distracting Nadia. 

L-Sits: Weird Faces Compulsory

 And finally – the finisher. Four hellish minutes of 20 seconds of pull ups, 10 seconds rest – repeated 8 times.  Lowest score in any of the rounds = your score.


Well done everyone for pushing yourselves really hard for this – it’s just not CrossFit if you don’t finish with a little bit of suffering. Despite this – there was still smiles to be had: 

"Tabata Don't Scare Me"
Smiling through adversity

 Go TEAM! 

WOD November 23: Not quite the Mogadishu Mile.

24 Nov

WOD November 23: Not quite the Mogadishu Mile.

Today was a good day to be a tyrant.

After an easy baseline training of PVC overhead squats, Kettlebell swings and Max rep Strict pull ups, everyone went ahead and worked on front squats. The regulars who knew their 1 RM front squat got to have fun with straight reps, while those who didn’t know what their 1 RM front squat was had fun working their way up to a decent, if not quite a 1 RM front squat.

Then, the work out. And what a workout it was.

15 minute AMRAP,
19 Swings
19 Squats
19 Push ups per hand.
40 Double Unders.
Hand in contact with the kettlebell at all times during the first three movements or incur a penalty.

Pain induced hilarity.
Pain induced hilarity.

This “Mog lite” was inspired by the Mogadishu Mile over at Crossfit KMSF. (http://www.crossfitkmsf.com/my_weblog/2010/10/mogadishu-mile.html)

The Rx’d WOD is 4 rounds for time with a 400 Meter block run instead of double unders, all done while holding the kettlebell. Letting go of the kettlebell would incur a penalty, in the original WOD, you start over, in my (less horrible version.) letting go of the kettlebell before the double unders was 10 burpees.

When I tested it the first time, I did it with 40 tuck jumps done while holding a kettlebell instead of the run. ( I wasn’t going to let go of that kettlebell if it killed me.) I thought it was a brilliant example of the random events life could throw at an individual, and that it had just the right amount of cold terror associated with Tuesday nights. However, cooler heads did point out that it was highly likely that someone was going to lose an eye, and I (reluctantly) scaled it down to double unders.

Daniel with excellent depth on the push ups.
Daniel with excellent depth on the push ups.

I was lucky enough to have Micheal Yuen from Crossfit KMSF come by for the last class of the night. The poor guy has done the original workout and recommended it that I try it “for fun.” (I classify it as an attempt on my life.) After suffer through “Mog lite” he agreed that while it wasn’t nearly as hilarious as running around with a kettlebell in alleys and up hills for forty minutes (and people think I’m a masochist.) it did capture a taste of the “soul crushing” aspect so prevalent in the original. Thanks to Micheal and the CF KMSF guys for the inspiration.

Self Reflection:
I had a moment of clarity today.

Before the Tuesday class, I show up early to test the class I want to subjugate everyone to in the upcoming weeks. As I suffered through round 3 of my WOD, I had a moment where I thought, “This is really hard. Maybe I should scale it down…” And the thought that immediately preceded, which I’m going to make into T-shirts and bumper stickers, was this: “If it were easy, it wouldn’t be Crossfit.” Now granted, my original thought was much more “colorful” then that, but I figured that variation is a good way to stay inspirational without inspiring lawsuits. Not to mention that it got my ass in gear for the end of that workout.

“If it were easy, …” Who has a great way to finish that sentence? Post in the comments.

Arbitrary Awards:

“Full Metal Jacket.” To Mark, for the best timed one liner of the night: “This is my Kettlebell. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My kettlebell is my best friend.” – Epic Bonus points.

“Respect thyself” To Adreinne, for deciding that “good enough” isn’t the same as “Good.”

“No holds bar.” To Kirsty, who decided that she was going to decimate everything life threw at her today and made a killing. Keep it up.

“Unfuckwithable”: To Naim, who came back after a few weeks off and proceeded to decimate his previous front squat record, did awesome in the WOD and all while shrugging off an injury like a minor annoyance.

“Crafty aren’t we?” To Cindy, Nick and everyone else who figured that there was no reason to hold up a kettlebell when they had a perfectly good shoulder to put it on.

Being crafty.
Being crafty.

“Stockholm Syndrome” To Joe, Chris, and Daniel, who wouldn’t let go of the kettlebell. Even after the WOD was over.

See you on Sunday.

WOD 23 November: One… Two… Three Big Lifts

23 Nov

Three big lifts aka CrossFit Total. Is there anyone who doesn’t love it? Seeing what you can do on all three big lifts. For one rep. In ONE workout! Please tell me it’s not just me. Just in case you don’t know what it’s all about, in the words of Mark Rippetoe:

The CrossFit Total is the sum of the best of three attempts at the squat, the press, and the deadlift, the three most effective lifts in existence for developing and testing functional strength.

So we warmed up with the Burgener Warm Up. Working the snatch drills to get us toasty on a chilly morning. Since Helen had to remove her jumper in the middle of it, I can confirm that it does, indeed, warm you up. First success of the day.

I then moved on to some hip flexor activation drills. It becomes all too apparent that most people get lazy with their squats – and it seems without exception. The squat is not a freefall into the bottom position, it’s about pulling yourself down using the hip flexors and maintaining spinal erector contraction. Otherwise, we get a big ol’ butt wink.

After a few drills on the floor to get everyone thinking about what it feels like to have your hip flexors working  – we worked the air squat for reps. Vast improvements all around. Now to carry this over to the first movement in the CrossFit Total, the back squat.

Trevor and Ruairi hit the big-boy-rack. Grant, Helen and Nadia took to the stands, where we also did some spotting practice before going into the lifts. PRs aplenty – Helen took 65kg, Grant 70kg, Trevor 160kg (jeeeezzz louise) and Nadia proclaimed that her new 1rm was 55kg, though she did 2 reps. Still a PR for her but not quite a 1 rep max – great information for the next time she hits the total.

Next up the press. Everyone blasted through knowing that time was running out and that deadlifts awaited. Some more excellent numbers: Helen 30kg, Nadia 27.5kg, Grant 40kg, Trevor 60kg (after a slight knee-bended start robbed him of his 62.5kg) and Ruairi getting an impressive 67.5kg.

Finally deadlifts – we took the session right to the nose with Grant and Helen pleading to have one last attempt. Oh go on then. Numbers: Helen 90kg, Nadia 70kg, Grant 90kg, Trev 177.5kg and Ruairi 140kg.

So, ladies and gentlemen – your totals:

Helen: 185 (kgs) or 408 (lbs)

Nadia: 152.5 (kg) or 336 (lbs)

Grant: 200 (kg) or 441 (lbs)

Trevor: 397.5 (kg) or 876 (lbs)

Ruairi: 332.5 (kg) or 733 (lbs) (unfortunately squat attempts failed but estimated this based on a 125kg squat. Top efforts nonetheless)

Well done class 7am, class 8am was just me and Jan so we hit the technique on all the lifts rather than try to do anything too fancy. Great effort on the press (22.5kg for 1rep) and the deadlift (60kg for 1 rep).


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