WOD January 31: Death by Double Unders

31 Jan

WOD January 31: Death by Double Unders

Following the trend of fake coaches, I filled in for Sally on the Monday class. Double unders are one of the skills I tend to practice them most, they’re relatively simple when compared to the olympic lifts, and they aren’t too far off from single skips. But as Ben so eloquently put it, you think you know how to skip, and then you try double unders and you realize you don’t know a thing.

Today’s WOD served to emphasis that point fully:
Double Unders
Sit ups

My usual sub for double unders is either double the amount of single skips or tuck jumps. Considering that half the group can make Rocky look like an amateur when they skip rope, I’m officially modifying my scaling to triple the amount of skips or tuck jumps. The sit ups actually caused some degree of issue, which is surprising considering that everyone had their feet anchored. Rest assured, we will address this. Remember: I care.

Our fun strength work today sounded very simple: 4 rounds. Ten or less pull ups, and then dead hang for 1 min. Rest 1 min. If you dropped during the min of pull ups, you had to air squat as fast as possible until the end of the round. Repeat with Ring dips for 4 rounds.

It sounds really easy and the first round usually is. After that, everyone starts to drop like flies. Grip strength is an important component of training ability and the pull ups and ring dip positions are key to a proper muscle up.

Good Job and see everyone Tuesday.

WOD January 30th

30 Jan

Today was the first day of the new double WOD schedule. In true Sunday form, while both classes were fully booked when I checked the night before, they were only about half full when class actually rolled around.

Mysterious isn’t it? 😛

I decided to use the first class as my test subjects (as any good tyrant does.) to test different methods of skill work and methods of correction, mainly by using death by SDHP as a way to refine technique. Unfortunately, as with any new protocol in the mists of testing, there were some casualties. I offer my congratulations to the 10:30 class, your sacrifice will be remembered.

The WOD today was a slight modification off the main site:
AMRAP 15 mins vs 3 rounds for time of:

12 muscle ups
75 squats
36 pull ups
36 push ups
75 squats.

The crossfit substitution for muscle-ups is 3 reps of pull ups/ring dips per muscle up and that’s the rep scheme in use. However, unless an athlete has an impressive number of strict push ups under their belt, working on ring dips is a bit superfluous. Back to basics it is and we are all the better for it.

Arbitrary Awards:
“The Outlier” To Alex: Not only did he manage to complete the WOD using strict muscle ups, he was able to do so after drinking a liter of milk before class without being violently ill. Never thought I’d see the day.

“Sugarholics Anonymous” To Colm: The first step on the road to recovery is admitting you have a problem.

“Survivors”: To the 10:30 class, with special mention to Matthew and Cian. You made it through the horrible testing phase and are better people for it. (Or that’s what I’ll say if I’m ever questioned in any case.)

WOD 29 Jan: Fake Colin II: The revenge of Fake Colin

29 Jan

With the real Colin Menniss away on official business, I once again got to step into the role of Fake Colin for the day.

I was joined this morning by the always affable El Hefe (Efe), who did a sterling job of running the 0900 Beginners and 1130 classes despite my best efforts to distract him with inane mutterings and misinformation. Top show, big fellah!

We kicked off with a little game of “plank racing”, using the conveniently sited carpet tiles as makeshift slides. All went pretty smoothly with only minor debates about “faulty” carpet tiles, and “difficult” terrain.

Today also marked the official start day of the CrossFit London 100 Burpees challenge. Andrew had already jumped the gun the previous evening with a masterclass on removing all the fun from the burpee movement (because they really are fun). In my role as Fake Colin I felt obliged to remind the group of the military origins of the exercise…


WOD 28 Jan: Burpee prep, Grace and some muscle-up drills

28 Jan

So it all begins with some Crossfit London burpee philosophy:

Whats in a burpee? Surely a burpee, by any other name, would still be as sweet (thanks to Juliet for the inspiration for this line…shame about the dying thing)

Because it has a (heels down) squat,

We actually came up with some interesting names for this position: Angry Gorilla or Happy Alsatian. But whatever the name, and whatever coaching points used,  top marks go to Carolyn, Sophia, Kirsty and Kate for some beautiful lumber curves and proud chests. And to be truthful, a few “cough-cough’s” go to some of the boys, who need to be watching less mobility videos and focusing more on enforcing proper squat form. We had a few people deciding to book a place on the forthcoming mobility workshop.

Then it’s a simple jump back into the perfect plank.

Then a perfect push up (everything to then floor), a jump back to a squat position, then a hip-extending drive into the air with a shoulder mobilizing clap above the head.

A burpee is one thing! It’s the opportunity to express perfect movement, co-ordination and mobility, time and time again.

On to “Team Grace”: 60 clean and jerks (30 each). Some great efforts: the Superman award goes to Tom Henry, who was recently promoted to the Crossfit London Coaching team. More of him later!.

Sophia, Kate, Carolyn and Kirsty all cleaned and jerked beautifully. A mention in dispatches has to be made of Cian and Matt, while Efe and Alex threw the bar around as if it was a rag doll (a 60kg rag doll of course).


After that is was muscle-up drills with box push ups, the muscle-up push ups, armchair muscle-ups and Frenchies: then some full muscle-ups by Simon, Efe, Alex, Tom and Ruarie.


It’s like all my dreams came true at the same time [Meat Week 2011]

27 Jan

I’m pretty sure that this needs no further explanation. It’s awesomeness can speak for itself.

Meat Week London, 2011

This is the first time that the Meatcapocalypse (?) has ventured away from the shores of the US of A – exciting, protein-laden times abound for Londoners. The schedule passes through Bodeans not once, but twice – a fact that makes me almost lightheaded with meaty joy.

Therefore consider this post part of the pre-meat storm “hype week”:

Hype Week: During the week leading up to Meat Week, those involved in and those excited about the coming meat storm create graphical and video meat-hype that is plastered about the Internet to warn others that “Meat Week cometh.”

I’m probably going board the Good Ship Carnivore towards the end of the week as it sails closer to the middle of town.

Anyone else thinking about partaking? I could see a post-CrossFit London Coaching Academy trip on the Saturday being pretty timely…

The Burpee Challenge or 100 Days of Burpees

27 Jan

Life throws many challenges at us, a lot we don’t actually go looking for. As I write this its 0545 hours and I have been awake for hours with a fitful nights’ sleep full of cold and running a temperature. So I have made this moment that 5 minutes I have been looking for to write this post.

Crossfit is a constant learning experience. You learn a movement and spend time perfecting it maybe just one repetition. Once mastered you look to increase the reps, speed and or add weight.  And this progress can seem endless for some movements. The snatch and clean are examples of this.  For me a constant source of challenges.  Some movements seem fairly innocuous like the burpee. A combination of a dynamic plyometric press up into a squat thrust into a 6 inch jump.  All totally scalable and anyone who has attended my class will have seen plenty of alternatives demonstrated and turned into a coordination test with 6 count burpees.


So what can you get from a burpee? They can make you strong improve your CV efficiency, coordination and agility. They are a bit of a mind fuck too!  People do really hate them with a passion.  Expose yourself to these and soon you will embrace them as a thing of beauty.  Efficient, effective and performed anywhere from your prison cell to your local park.

So now I have convinced you of the need to do burpees and to get good at them how do we do that?  I first read about the 100 days of burpees on www.albanycrossfit.com and jumped in with a little help from my son Liam who put a spread sheet together to help keep track.  How does it work? Well for 100 days you do burpees yes over 3 months of burpees.  How many burpees? Oh just 5050 of them. That’s right Five Thousand and Fifty.  Every day? No. Day one you do 1 burpee.  Day two, 2 burpees, day one hundred, 100 burpees.  A slow progressive curve of increasing work load.  When do I do them?  Well that’s up to you.  In the early days it’s not really an issue, whenever you like. However, when you get into the larger numbers you do need to give it some thought.  You can spread them out across the whole day, guerrilla burpees can be fun. I’ve done them in the office, pubs and restaurants, that once got me a free beer.  You can make them part of your warm up, WOD or cool down. This becomes more necessary with the really high numbers. It’s very important to note that if you miss a day you have to make it up the next day.  Obviously only you will know the truth of this. Last year when I returned from holiday I had fallen three days behind and had to do 250 burpees to catch up, not fun.

I have done this challenge twice now and I have become very inventive at anti boredom strategies. Did you know the numbers 1 to 10 add up to 55?  A handy little ladder like this can help break up the monotony. Or try burpee combos, with pull ups, box jumps, tuck jumps, double press ups and many more.  Or volume ladders such as 7 burpees on the minute every minute for 10 minutes is 70. Flip that round though and those 70 burpees take on a whole new flavour.  I used these a lot in the later stages to expose myself to high numbers of burpees to prepare for the traditional 100 for time.  I was aiming for 15 burpees a minute, as in just over three minutes you will have done 50.  I can’t remember my first 100 for time, time but it did involve a bucket. My second taste of the challenge was achieved in 5 minutes 28 seconds.  I was very pleased as I had predicted a sub 7 minute time. However I did spend 15 minutes hugging the toilet after.  What were the benefits? I got very good at burpees and press ups and hitting a Fran hard did not seem so scary. Things to be aware of, RSI. My right shoulder and wrist suffered a bit from this.  Pay attention to your form, use a soft mat for your hands.  Don’t always go 100 percent have some easy days doing nice slow burpees, active rest.

Why am I posting this? God WHY am I posting this?  Well I have just read an article that talked about challenges an apparently a sub 5 minute time for 100 burpees is the norm’. Well, maybe not but it is a realistic challenge. For me it’s a 10 percent improvement.   So here I go again on my own…..or maybe you would like to join me?

I will post updates and host burpee parties and we can discuss it all on Facebook. Start date Saturday 29th January 2011.

Spreadsheet below.


WOD 26 Jan: Wall love and whipped dogs

26 Jan

Some people love walls so much that they will do anything to get close to them; even pretending to be doing “squat therapy” just to get a quick feel off a vulnerable wall.


Well anyway, once we had called the police, we got on with some snatch practice, followed by a really nasty WOD.

35 squats, 25 push ups 15 pull-ups x 7.

Times seven??? Oh, my giddy aunt. To save our members from themselves, we placed a 20 minute guillotine on this workout. Some got very near to 7 rounds but this workout whipped everyone as if they were dirty dogs.

See how others did back in May 2005

Crossfit Londeners being whipped like dirty dogs

Anyway, straight after we started work on my new pet project – back health!
I’m going to give everyone an indestructable back, and I don’t care if i kill you in the process:

simply lift your torso from the floor for 3 minutes

Get healthy or die trying!

WOD: January 25th: Tabata Tuesday Agony.

25 Jan

WOD: January 25: Tabata Tuesday Agony.

It’s Tuesday, and there’s a tabata  on the board. It must be time to weep again.

I was feeling in particular fine form today and felt like sharing my joy and enthusiasm with everyone. The easiest way to do this is of course, using the tried and true tabata. But not without brutally crushing everyone before hand.

The base skills we worked on today were squat cleans, ring dips and double unders. The general level of double unders is slowly improving, which means that all your suffering is serving it’s purpose. Soon, you might even be able to test your double under skills in the worst case senario, possibly in a WOD with a triple digit double under count? It could happen. It could also happen relatively soon. Remember: I care.

After our work on our skills, we moved straight to overhead squats. Overhead squats are a skill that I drill mercilessly, mainly because they’re hard. They’re very good at developing spatial awareness, control in the overhead position and they’re an integral part of the Snatch. Hence, everyone will get a decent overhead squat if it kills them. Although we’ve been working on low weight high reps for the past few weeks, today was a 3 RM day. Go figure, higher weight tends to make people suffer, however the overall ability demonstrated by the various classes was not overtly insulting. (I can’t give a general compliment. I have a reputation to uphold.)

And then the WOD:
Strict Press (20 KG)
Front Squat (20 KG)
Pull Ups (Strict as long as possible before using assitance.)
Double Unders

Oh the agony. The Fundamentals. Again. With the double unders at the end. Why on earth would anyone do this to themselves? The Tabata protocol is brutal, but attempting it with too heavy a weight can limit the power output of an athlete. Doing it at very low weight means that the reps should come out easily. Not the case. The strict press and the front squat are bad but they aren’t that bad. The pull ups are brutal. And to top it off: Double unders. Fun trend in the class. Everyone had issues in the first few rounds while they recovered from the pull ups. By round 4, everyone had caught their rhythm and finished off in style. Well done.

Arbitray Awards:
“Grade A” To Ben: Who trains in his garage with some friends. And not only crushed the 5:30 class but completely destroyed the overhead squat record of the day, setting the bar with 80KG. Whatever he’s eating, I want some.

Still kicking post WOD
Still kicking post WOD

“The Big Boys.” To Alex, Liam and Pat: Whats worse then tabata at 20 KG with a barbell? Tabata at 24 KG using a kettlebell. Unless you’re scary and have guts to spare.

“Accidental Badass.” To Adrienne: Who had loaded 27 KG on her bar before the pre-WOD double check.
“Best Bunny Hop” To Liam, who merits special mention for his technique for getting over barbells. Very creative.

WOD: January 23: Cruel. So Cruel.

23 Jan

WOD: January 23: Cruel. So Cruel.
Today was an easy day of training. Nothing too hard. At least, nothing like Saturday. As everyone noticed as per Colin’s post, Saturday involved a lot of SDHP. Enough that it would be considered cruel and unusual to have more SDHP on Sunday.

Which is exactly what happened. Because trainers, like life, have a cruel and unusual sense of humor.

We started off with some overhead squats (as per usual) with Max strict pull ups and some kettlebell swings. After some minor tweaks and shoulder engagment, we moved straight on to 3 rep front squats. The main focus being wrist placement and the rack position. A few changes were made, but overall everyone fought to grip the bar instead of letting their hands open up and ending up in an uncomfortable wrist postion.

Everyone had fun with some more time under tension work, again with front squats, hammering out 1 minute of work and 1 minute of rest for a total of 4 rounds. Enough to prepare everyone for the WOD and to reinforce their positions at the bottom of the squat as well as their grips.

The WOD was an easy couplet:
AMRAP: (Originally 20 mins cut down to 10 mins due to time.)
10 SHDP (45KG or 30KG)
10 Ring Dips
Doing the WOD at 45 KG means that the power output is lower (unless you’re Efe.) but doesn’t let you get away with using your arms. If you don’t use your hips, you don’t move the bar for long. The added bonus is that your posterior chain takes a beating having to control the weight at higher rep. Doing the WOD at 30 KG means that you can maintain a much higher power output because it allows you to use your arms. Not necessarily an advantage when you have to do ring dips right afterwards. As a general rule the ring dips were the weaker of the two movements so the combination meant that even if your SDHP’s were spot on, you were going to suffer hitting full range of motion in the ring dips.
It had just the right blend of horror that makes my workouts hilarious.
Sorry for posting late and see everyone tonight.

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