the spaz of fitness has arrived

Strength Losses and Women’s CrossFit

In Training, WOD on June 3, 2012 at 1:37 pm

Well, I’m back in the States but not at all feeling normal yet. I’m still trying to shake the jetlag and general headfog of being relocated by 7,000 miles and 15 hours. Despite that, I thought I’d write you all a general fitness update. My lifts are actually… tragically disappointing at the moment, though I’d anticipated a measurable setback. After some tentative testing at LA fitness, I’ve found that my squats still feel strong, but my press 5rm has dropped by at least 5 lbs and my power cleans by 10lbs. I’d really like to attribute that power clean loss to the lack of bumper plates, but I suppose we’ll find out. I have another week here in Arizona before I return home and reacquaint myself with the comforts of the Rogue rig and rubber plates.

Speaking of bumper plates, I did manage to pay a visit to a local CrossFit gym. I won’t name them here due to the nature of my commentary, however. For a while, I’ve been nervous about visiting another affiliate. Worried that I’d both embarrass myself and my gym. When I rolled my jetlagged butt out of bed and realized I had only ten minutes to get dressed and get to the box for the scheduled class time, I deliberated over whether or not to wear my Lionheart shirt for fear that I’d make a fool of myself. Again, I overthink things. At any rate, I eventually shoved on the Lionheart shirt and sped my way to the gym where I was told to hop in during their WOD.

The owner/trainer of the box was very inviting. She allowed me to work out for free and after my WOD actually invited me to return and join them anytime I’m in town. This gym is actually a “women-only” CrossFit gym. I didn’t attend it for that reason; I chose it because it was closest to my house. Structurally, the class wasn’t all that different from that of my own gym. We started with a warm-up that involved tabata-based core work, then we moved to 5/3/1 deadlifts. However, instead of having each individual class member lift according to her own strength stats, there were only three “tiers” with prescribed weight numbers. For me, the tiers seemed surprisingly low. I lifted the prescribed weights for the top “tier,” which was actually still lower than what my actual 5/3/1 programming would be. I say this without any sort of an inflated ego because my deadlifts are on the low end among the women at our gym. Yet, in a class of maybe 12 women, I was one of only two that lifted in “tier one,” and I was still easily one of the smallest individuals in the gym.

The WOD that followed was rx’d at:

5 Rounds

10 clean and jerks (55lbs)

15 squats

The board simply stated “squats,” so with that weight, I actually assumed front squats with the bar. However, the intended prescription involved air squats. Again, I was only one of two attendees lifting the prescribed weight.

Now, I’m the last person to recommend rash entry into the world of lifting heavy…. and I’ve had my ruminations on the dangers of the too-much, too-fast CrossFit attitude, but I almost felt as if this class had underestimated the women in the room. Looking around, I felt as if a number of the girls could be/probably are more powerful athletes than I. They were simply fearful of adding weight to the bar. Similarly, I was a little stunned when a couple women paused mid-wod to start a casual conversation. It’s not that I think CrossFit should involve “killing it” every second. I don’t think every workout needs to leave you breathless, slack-limbed, and incoherent. But I also felt a little strange lifting more weight than women twice my size who were sort of halfheartedy swinging up 30lbs with poor form.

I guess it was just a very different environment than that to which I’m accustomed. I’ve heard visitors remark that our gym is already a lot less competitive than other CrossFit gyms (which I love), though we also know how to bring the intensity. I could see how someone might feel more comfortable in a low-key environment. Considering the fitness woes faced by our country, I think most activities that get people up and moving are fairly commendable. My bigger disappointment was that the athletes weren’t given much advice on form for their lifts– in which case, it’s probably safer that they remain with lighter loads. It’s just also a shame considering that I could see how much stronger some of these women were; they just don’t know it.

That said, I’d like to revisit this gym–perhaps just because they were kind enough to invite me back. But they don’t have open gym hours and I can’t do anything there but the prescribed WOD, so… for right now, I’m a little more concerned about getting back to my linear progression program– of which I’ve been entirely neglectful for the past two and a half weeks.

This morning’s visit to LA fitness (whereupon I swear I witnessed a man standing in front of the dumbbell rack, conducting pelvic thrusts with a dumbbell held to his crotch….) involved the following (after I finished gawking at the dumbbell-violation)**:

**For once I wasn’t the most noticeable weirdo at the LA Fitness…

Power cleans: 5×3 (had to drop 10lbs lower than my pre-vacation weight… not thrilled about this… hoping to recover soon)

Dips (also felt very weak)

WOD: 15 min EMOM

2 power cleans (2x @ 60% 3RM)*

5 pull-ups

* I have to admit I succumbed to my ego a bit here and used my old 3rm rather than my shitty one from this morning…

Also, for the hell of it, I tried tabata sprints on the treadmill (just four minutes worth) 12% incline on the 6.5 setting. If you want to meet Jesus in four minutes of running, I’d say that’s the way to go.


EDIT: On an unrelated note, if you’re wondering where you stack up against the average Games athlete, here’s a nifty breakdown of the “average” 2010 Games competitors:,614/


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