When Good WODs Go Bad Part I
I felt worse than my hands looked
While I was home on leave I go to the same box that I started Crossfitting at. Crossfit North Atlanta has been my home away from home ever since they let me do my first real WOD two years ago when I was on R&R from Iraq. Since than, the folks at team Cock Diesel have been like a second family to me. So much so that my actual family now goes there.
One of the best things about working out at consistently at another box is having someone give you new coaching cues to help you with your weaknesses.
Its a well known fact that I am terrible at anything that goes overhead. The overhead squat is literally the bane of my existence. Its so bad that I hate overhead squats more than almost all things work and life related.
I visited a few different gyms while I was on leave and had a lot of my weaknesses seen by several sets of eyes and in each case it was very beneficial. Its also good to get some new tricks added to your coaching kit bag.
Everyone learns differently, which is even more true when its something that they have to learn and than do. There really is not much time during a workout to fully comprehend a discussion of your end range of motion or why its more important to keep your weight on your heels.
Since I’ve been going to CFNA for a while, they as much as anyone in Columbus, knows of my hate-hate relationship with overhead squats.
This week, in preparation for the Crossfit Games Regional competition, all of the WODs at CFNA were the ones from Regionals.
Since these are designed to flatten the best athletes in the world, the athletes had the option of doing the scaled or the prescribed version. I saw one hundred overhead squats at ninety-five pounds at the end of a horrible chipper and nearly crapped myself.
I spent the better part of the night and the morning justifying to myself why it was a bad workout, or that I should focus on strength, or that I needed to hit my neglected running, or that I would do the scaled version so that I could preserve the intensity.
Frankly, my logic was probably smarter than I was and I decided to go for it.
On the other hand, there is no way to be a Crossfitter and look your weakness in the eye and run away from it. I definitely buy the message that the biggest adaptation in Crossfit happens between your ears.
The workout was:
100 Chest to Bar Pull-ups
100 Kettlebell swings (53lb)
100 Overhead squats (95lb)
I thought it was regular pull ups all the way until the WOD started and I did my first set just like they were because…hmm no reason.
I did the first thirty-five unbroken, a few sets of ten, and the rest in sets of five. Around pull up sixty I saw blood. Not like a metaphorical motivation Rockey-esque thing, but literally from my hand.
The kettlebell swings were not bad, I broke them up more than I should have and tore the callous on my other hand. Even with that, something I am pretty competent at, there is room for improvement. I was not optimizing the back swing, letting the bell drop too vertically and making the movement less efficient. I do not think I do this at early reps, but like everything form goes to hell once fatigue sets in. This exposes your worst tendencies and form flaws.
I love double unders. All the time. Always.
Than came the overhead squats. If I ever take over the world I would forbid them, issuing a decree against them. Although this would probably lead to my overthrow by people who are much fitter than me.
Why am I so bad at overhead squats?
Poor shoulder range of motion, weak shoulders, not breathing efficiently during them, avoiding them like a dimly lit truck stop for my first two years of Crossfitting, poor thoracic mobility, and a mental block bigger than my mouth.
Everyone knows it and I willingly and openly have been taking tweaks and advice for months with a lot of success. In October I could not finish Nancy, a few weeks ago I did it in a decent time RX’d. I’ve been playing with hand position, keeping my shoulders tight, and showing armpits.
Well my friends at North Atlanta had 100 reps over fifteen horrible minutes to cue and dissect the worst overhead squats in the business.
The things to work on: I spend too much energy fighting against my posture aka I try to squat too upright.
image from: http://karmacrossfit.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/ohead-squat.jpg
Looking at the diagram… I look nothing like this when I overhead squat.
When I overhead squat my hip angle (angle A) is too open. Conversely, my knee angle is more closed than it should be. I do this (subconsciously) to make up for the poor thoracic mobility that I have.
Plainly put, I keep my back too upright and I’ll try to squat the bar in the same position it would be if I were pressing it.
This is not efficient and the result is that my overhead squats suck.