I wanted to throw up, came away with whip marks all down my arms, had moments of pure frustration, and moments of proud elation. Several times I questioned my own sanity as I tried to do things I’d never done before, but I achieved new skills, and forced out a personal best lift. All of this while watching the world’s fittest CrossFit men and women perform the same workouts as me (albeit a hundred times better and faster!).

Wow. CrossFit Games Open… thank you.

Happy WOD

Where The Story Begins

“You never know, you might just get a PB out of it”.

These were the words of Annie, my CrossFit coach. For a few weeks her and Lee, owners of CrossFit Raeda, had been talking about the CrossFit Games. The world’s elite men and women of CrossFit, battling it out to achieve the title of The World’s Fittest Man and Woman. Surely this is no place for me, a slightly soft CrossFit noob?

That’s the beauty of the Open.

See, the first round of the CrossFit Games is an online shortlisting process. As many people as want to can sign up to have a stab at 5 weekly WODs, announced in the early hours of Friday mornings, and submitting scores to the leader board by Monday night. I knew the WODs were going to be hard looking at previous years, and I knew my limitations, but I wanted to challenge myself and set a baseline from which to track my CrossFit progress, so I signed up anyway.

Bring it on.

Whipping Donkey Kicks

Along came 14.1… and my heart sank.

A combination of double unders and snatches, I’d fallen at the first hurdle. I’d never successfully gotten a double under. Double unders, for those who don’t know, are a skipping technique where you spin the rope twice for every jump… F***.

With a zero score looming in the very first WOD I knew I had to try. I had three days to learn. By Sunday afternoon I’d managed it, I’d got my first double unders. Sure, they weren’t pretty, and they bloody hurt when I caught myself with the rope, but I’d got them.

Monday came around and it was time to WOD. After much arm whipping, and flicking my legs behind me like a crazed donkey, I battled my way through just over two rounds.

The Zero Score

And then it happened. It had to really.

14.2 brought with it overhead squats and chest to bar (CTB) pullups. Fail on both counts.

For as long as I can remember I’ve never been able to squat full depth. In CrossFit, a full squat is defined as when the hip crease goes clearly below the line of the knee… aka “Ass to Grass”. But, for reasons too lengthy to go into right now, this just isn’t possible for me at the moment. Because of this, every rep would have been a “no rep”.

At this point I became stroppy. If I could just get one rep out, one measly rep, I would still have been able to register a score and stay in the Open. But with a zero score you’re automatically off the leader board. There is no scaling in the Open, and this caused a fair deal of frustration – both via social media, and in my own defeatist mind-set. But after a slight tantrum I came round to the fact that the Open is designed to wittle down the masses to the fittest men and women in each region – it should be tough.

I brushed myself off and scaled the WOD to partial squats and jumping CTB. But I was out.

Picking Myself Up Off The Floor

Having bombed in the Open already, I was feeling deflated. Why did I bother signing up? And then 14.3 came along. Now this is my kinda WOD!

Deadlift

A progressive set of deadlifts and box jumps this was something I could do. Feeling a bit perked up I was eager to start Friday morning. Each round of the WOD the deadlifts went up in weight, from 43kg, to 61, 70, 85 etc. With a previous one rep max of 80kg I didn’t hold out much hope of going beyond the third round, but I set the weights out anyway.

And good thing too! A minute to go and I’d finished round three. I loaded the extra 15kg, set myself up and pulled…. Nothing. Shook myself off, dusted my hands and tried one last time to shift this bar that weighed more than I did, and I did it! Just one rep, but a new one rep max! Yesssssss.

Scaling My Way Home

It is well known that towards the end of the Open is the real crazy stuff, and Dave (Castro, CrossFit Games Director) didn’t disappoint.

14.4 was a chipper of rowing, toes to bar (TTB), wall balls, cleans and muscle ups.

Having already bailed out of the Open I decided to scale this one. TTB was another skill, like double unders, that I didn’t have under my belt before the Open, so I went for hanging leg raises instead – and this got me through to the end of the cleans.

Rowing

14.5 was the first “for time” WOD in CrossFit Games Open history, with a descending ladder of thrusters and bar facing burpees to complete.

Poor flexibility caught me out again, and without a full depth squat, my thrusters would have been no reps. I did as much as I could with a lesser weight and partial squats. I came in at just over 19 minutes, and my god were those bar facing burpees tough!

What I Achieved

As the title of this post suggests, I’m not going to Regionals any time soon (or ever haha!) but I can tick off a few firsts and PBs:

My first CrossFit Games Open. Yes, this counts! And I’m already excited for next year… hopefully I won’t get any zero scores.

My first Double Unders. Just don’t judge the technique. I’ll work at it!

PB Deadlift 1RM by 5kg. Annie was right… I got a PB out of it! I’m hoping to re-test this soon as it may be higher considering it was at the end of a WOD.

My first TTB. Since deciding not to attempt them in the WOD I tried TTB in practice at the box and can now do a few.

That feeling of community in a worldwide competition. The Open brings you together with athletes of all levels and allows you to compete as one.

If I Was To Sum It Up

I may not have earned a place on the leader board, due to my zero scores, but I still loved my first CrossFit Games Open experience. To me, it pushed me hard enough to make me appreciate how much harder I have to work to really call myself a CrossFit athlete, but also gave me a taste of what it could be like to compete against the best in the world. No other sport can do the same. Even in running, the elite start at a different time, and place on a different leader board.

And that’s what makes CrossFit so inclusive.

Did you take part in the CrossFit Games Open? How was your experience? Did you achieve any new skills/PBs?

Credits

Photos courtesy of CrossFit Raeda.

Next up to show you girls how it’s done is CrossFit and pole enthusiast Nikki Burton…

Nikki Burton

Nikki Burton attends CrossFit sessions at her local box like clockwork. Putting in a number of sessions a week she has seen her strengths grow and skills develop. Nikki also has a passion for pole fitness, and attends classes to develop her strength, flexibility and gymnastic movements on top of her CrossFit devotion. Here, Nikki proves that women can lift like a boss in the box without developing arms like Arnie!

Nikki’s “Yeah, She Lifts” profile…

Nikki Burton Cover

Full Name:

Nikki Burton

Twitter:

@Nikkilou85

CrossFit Box / Lifting Gym:

CrossFit Raeda

Nikki 1

Deadlifting at CrossFit Raeda

Location:

Essex, England

Height:

5’6″

Favourite Fitness Clothing:

Reebok

Favourite Lifting Footwear:

Soon to be Reebok Crossfit Nanos!

Time Lifting:

3 months

Favourite Exercise / Sport:

Crossfit, Pole Fitness

Nikki 2

Nikki showing off some impressive pole skills

Favourite Lift(s):

Hip Thrusters

Lifting PBs / 1RMs:

80kg dead lift, 40kg push press, 42.5kg bench press, 6 unassisted kipping pull ups

Lifting Goals:

Short term to increase all 1RM within allotted time, long term to do unassisted pull ups in all WODs that require pull ups

Favourite Food:

Tuna

Most Embarrassing Fitness Moment:

The first time I fell from the top of the pole to a chorus of gasps. This has become less and less embarrassing as time has gone on as it happens more frequently!

Has Nikki’s profile inspired you? Let me know, and stay tuned for more lifting ladies, coming soon!

Last time on Yeah, She Lifts we met Nicola Joyce, natural body builder and INBF Women’s Bodybuilding World Champion for 2013. She showed us how hard she works to maintain her body building figure, and how girls can hold their own in physique competitions. Check out Nicola’s profile here.

Do You Lift?

If you’re a Lady That Lifts and want to be featured in “Yeah, She Lifts”, please feel free to get in touch by emailing georgina@fitcetera.co.uk

Ok, so the connection may seem unlikely. Van Wilder, the 2002 film starring the oh-so-gorgeous Ryan Reynolds *drool* features an outgoing student who has spent the last seven years at college. Instead of focusing on studying and graduation, he throws parties and “fundraisers”, all the while his dad pays for his tuition. Not exactly the inspiration for hard work that you would expect from a CrossFit goal progression post.

Yes, he may be lacking in drive and dedication, but to give him credit with years of college experience behind him he gives out the occasional nugget of wisdom… however it’s not his life lessons that make him the talking point of this post. It’s what he says after each golden truth…

"Write that down"

“Write That Down”

When I first started CrossFit I felt a massive buzz of doing something I’d never done before. The mix of strength training, high intensity WODs and technique work made me feel a sense of achievement like running a race every session. But soon I started to come across things that I couldn’t do, or couldn’t do well. I quickly realised just how much space there is to grow in CrossFit, and how much progression can be made.

And we’ve all had bad days, that’s for sure. Going in for a lift and bottling it last minute. Doing a WOD and getting a score you weren’t too happy with. It’s the hard sessions that always stick in our minds. But how can you let a single session get you down if you can’t compare like for like? Did you lift the same weight in the WOD as the last time you did it? Was your time actually any slower than before, or was it just slower than someone else?

This is where Van comes in… write that down!

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A training diary can be the difference between losing motivation and achieving your goals. I once heard someone say:

What gets measured gets managed

A good training diary is a living breathing journal of your training sessions. Whether it’s the squat session you did followed by a killer box jump and wall ball combo when your legs felt amazing and you practically flew through the session with a flowing cape behind you, or the 20 minute technique work you did at the box after a WOD. Write that down! How else are you going to keep an accurate track of what you do?

Benefits of Keeping a Training Diary

As well as just being a good way of keeping track of the sessions you’re doing, there are loads of other ways keeping a training diary can benefit you:

1. Ensuring you get a good mix of training sessions

Have you ever looked back on your week’s training and realised you worked on pushing movements every session, but missed out pulling? Or you went heavy with cardio WODs but skipped on strength? This is where keeping a training diary can help. When I wondered why my bench press hadn’t improved 6 weeks after our 1RM (1 rep max) testing, I could look back at my training diary to see I’d only trained bench press twice. If you’re not following a specific plan you can easily lose track. Look back at your sessions, assess, and plan.

2. Setting realistic and achievable goals

When I first started CrossFit I had no idea what I could lift. I went entirely on what those around me were doing. Soon, with a training diary slowly building, I learned what weights I was capable of shifting, and what movements I could and couldn’t do. I can now use the information in my training diary to gauge the speed at which I am progressing to predict and set goals which I know will challenge me, but that I can achieve if I work hard. If I wasn’t keeping track, it could be all too easy to set a goal that my body’s rate of adaptation will not allow me to reach.

3. Celebrating achievements and personal bests

Yesterday I climbed up a rope for the first time. On Saturday 1st March I got my first double under. The other day I cleaned 40kg no problem but two weeks ago I struggled with 35kg. I know all of this because I made a record of it. Without this information to hand it would be difficult to keep track of my progress and see how much I’ve improved. I know that when I look back on my training diaries from now in 6 months time I hope that I will be lifting heavier weights and performing movements I never could.

4. Spotting patterns in your strengths and weaknesses

By recording information about your lifestyle around your training you can spot and monitor patterns. For example, I usually workout at 6am on weekdays, and after a late night my training can be affected. Or if I’ve eaten a heavy meal the night before. By recording this information in my training diary I can see what helps me perform my best, and what makes me lag. This is especially powerful when you know what to record. See below for tips on what you should log.

5. Being accountable for your training

Keeping a training diary makes it harder for you to blow off a session. If you know you’ll have a gap in your diary where your session should have been, or (even more likely to keep you accountable) a missing entry in an online training diary, you’re more likely to push the excuses aside and get yourself down to the gym. Sometimes your best sessions can come out of the almost missed sessions!

What You Should Log

This depends on what level of detail you want to go to, but in general it’s a good idea to record:

  • Date and time – comparing a morning session to an evening workout is not going to work, likewise different days if you work on shift rotation for example
  • Energy levels
  • Duration of session
  • Heart rate
  • Fuel (pre, during and post)
  • Session details (what did you do? E.g. snatch technique followed by Fran)
  • Score (e.g. time or number of reps)
  • Weights used (or assistance e.g. pullups with a band)
  • Solo training or with a group?

Do you keep a training diary? What do you include? Have you found it helps you to stay motivated and on track?

In this new series on Fitcetera, I will be sharing the profiles of Ladies That Lift in an attempt to show other women that not only can girls lift weights, but they can do it well. Women often seem to have a fear of the weight room when they first start to train, whether it’s the “gun show” men that hang around, or a fear of turning into a slightly feminine Arnie, something holds them back.

But, lifting weights is a fantastic way to burn fat and build lean muscle mass (something we all want, trust me!). Not only that, weight training also helps prevent injury by strengthening connective tissue, tendons and ligaments, and it helps ward off bone loss by improving bone density.

So, get ready to feel inspired with our Ladies That Lift in “Yeah, She Lifts”.

Gemma Bailey

Gemma Bailey (Nike trainer, CrossFit coach and sponsored athlete) proves that women can lift heavy… really heavy! Gemma works hard to maintain her amazing physique, and believes in empowering women to lift and be strong, something she proved through her time teaching GymBox’s Wonder Woman workout (my first introduction to CrossFit style training!), and as a coach at CrossFit Dublin.

Gemma’s “Yeah, She Lifts” profile…

Gemma Bailey Cover

Full Name:

Gemma Bailey

Website:

itsgoodtotone.co.uk / crossfitdublin.ie

Twitter:

@GoodtoTone

Facebook:

Good To Tone PT

CrossFit Box / Lifting Gym:

CrossFit Dublin / CrossFit South London

Gemma 2 Yeah

Location:

Currently Dublin, Ireland and London, UK

Height:

5ft 4″

Weight:

63kg

Favourite Fitness Clothing:

Nike

Favourite Lifting Footwear:

AddiPower

Time Lifting:

CrossFitting for 8 months

Gemma 3 Yeah

Favourite Exercise / Sport:

Crossfit

Favourite Lift(s):

Clean and Squat

Lifting PBs / 1RMs:

Strict Press 50KG, Back Squat 120KG, Front Squat 100KG, Clean 70KG, bench press 70KG, Overhead Squat 60KG, Snatch 60KG, Deadlift 120KG, butterfly pull ups, handstand walk

Lifting Goals:

To increase lifts and get stronger and more efficient with them

Favourite Food:

(Silly question!!!) Bacon & Chicken

Ed: Gemma recently shared this pic on Facebook…

Most Embarrassing Fitness Moment:

I don’t really have one personally but I have witnessed a fair few. I mostly like the ones where people have holes in their shorts or leggings, great being a coach with that in front of you!

Has Gemma’s profile inspired you? Stay tuned for more lifting ladies, coming soon!

Do You Lift?

If you’re a Lady That Lifts and want to be featured in “Yeah, She Lifts”, please feel free to get in touch by emailing georgina@fitcetera.co.uk

Gymbox_Georgina_03_low_res

Alex demonstrates a full-on burpee

Frame Fitness is GymBox’s answer to the CrossFit buzz ringing in everyone’s ears. Combining the key elements for fitness – pulling, pushing, climbing and lifting, all using specialised indoor training frames – Frame Fitness is a playground for training techniques that not only build strength, but train skill as well.

Fitness classes, for me, have always been about working hard, group atmosphere, and doing something you wouldn’t normally do when creating your own workout, and GymBox’s Frame Fitness ticks all three boxes with ease. Having an instructor there to give you a nudge when you’re slacking, and advise on technique when you get a bit sloppy, and having other people taking part in the gruelling workout who you can pull “I’m going to die” faces at is all part of the appeal of group fitness.

I booked in to try this class at the Bank GymBox, residing in the vaults of the old Lloyds Bank head office. The class was taken by Alex, who was motivating throughout and gave clear instructions and super-charged demos for all the moves. We started the class with some mobility warm-up exercises including crawling hamstring stretches, walking crabs and “opening” and “closing the gate”.

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The main workout was split into two halves; the first half was 10 x 1 minute rounds within which we had to complete 10 air squats and 15 sit-ups – the quicker we completed our exercises, the more rest we had between sets.

The second half of the workout was 25 minutes of 5 pull-ups, 10 kettlebell swings or sandbag slams, and 15 burpees repeated as many times as possible. We got into groups of three, completing a little circuit of the moves between us. Each move was scaleable, with an option to use resistance bands to aid pull-ups, and different kettlebell and sandbag weights available, so no-one felt out of their depth.

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By the end of the class I was completely spent and sweating beyond belief! The 45 minutes had flown by and felt like I had had a really good workout. Frame Fitness would be perfect for anyone looking to get a real blitz workout in a short space of time, and is great to shake up that dull gym rut we can all-too-easily find ourselves stuck in.

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Post-workout “glow”…

Check out http://gymbox.com/classes to find a Frame Fitness or Frame WOD class at your favourite GymBox.

Credits

Photos by Vesna Nikolic