Tuesday, February 15, 2011

What's Your CrossFit Style?

By Diana Hsieh

This post by Kelly and Jenn on the very different things they enjoy about CrossFit -- CrossFit Is Fun For All Personality Types -- nearly killed me with its sheer funny awesomeness.

As many of you know, I've been training at CIA FIT Gym in south Denver since mid-May. My appoach to training seems to be somewhere between Jenn and Kelly on many of the dimensions that they list, although definitely tilting toward Kelly. (I have a sneaking suspicion that they might have exaggerated a wee bit for dramatic effect!) So... what do I do?

I keep some records, but very few. I like to know my limits for a power snatch, for example, so I try to write down those weights. It's motivating to see my progress in objective terms. Plus, it's convenient to know about what weight to rack on any given day. I keep track of the medicine ball I use for wall balls, what bands I use for pull-ups, etc. -- but only in my head.

That's as much as I track my workouts. I often like good records of my doings, but sheesh, the workouts seem dang hard enough to do on their own! I don't need the added task of trying to remember or write down what I did, as that would only distract me from the workout itself. Seriously, I often have trouble counting to ten or twenty while doing burpees or ball slams. So the idea of trying to rigorously track everything about my workouts seems like more than I could manage.

For my overall strength, my standard measure comes outside the gym: it's my time for a one-mile sprint on our home rower. I do that about three times per week, so I can see the trends clearly. And I've been doing it for years, so it's a good long-range benchmark. Recently, I did an 8:00 mile for the first time ever, shaving about 45 seconds off my time in just a few weeks. That was pretty damn awesome, I must admit. Those gains are mostly due to the fact that we're doing more strength training at the gym. (Yay o-lifts!)

Also, I love the never knowing what we'll be doing in class. Usually, I don't know what we're doing until owner/trainer Kelli gives us our instructions. The workouts on the board are often so abbreviated that we can't do more than guess beforehand. (We don't follow the CrossFit WOD because Kelli trains us more broadly than just CrossFit. We do more kettlebells, more core work, less rushing for sheer time, etc.)

As for my goals in the gym, I must admit that I'm pretty lax about those too. I've got some goals, but not too many. Right now, I'm very consciously working on my form: with certain movements, I'm pulling up from my shoulders rather than using the upward thrust from my hips. So we're deliberately tweaking my movements to try to get the right effect. For example, I'm not doing kettlebell swings to vertical, but rather only as high as my hips will take me (now, to about 135 degrees), so that I use and feel my hips without pulling from my shoulders at all.

With a few movements, I have clear goals. I can do 27" box jumps, but I want to get up to the seemingly impossibly high 30" box. I was downright horrible at box jumps when I started, so I really like that. I like the fact that I'm scared to jump that high, but then I do them anyway and I don't crash! Yay me! Also, I want to be able to do unassisted pullups, but that's merely a wish right now, since I'm not doing anything special to work on them.

Of course, I have my global goal of being capable of doing all the things required for my life (e.g. farm chores) and happiness (e.g. crazy vacations like this snowshoeing hut trek). And for that, my time in the gym is exactly what I need.

For the other CrossFitters, what's your approach? Are you more like Kelly or Jenn?

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