Thrusters and other Olympic Lifts

So far I remain at novice level in Cross-Fit inspired workouts. But today I did some stuff that made me feel tough, and made me think about the virtues of Olympic Lifting.

The Olympic bar is used in regular gyms primarily on bench press set ups or, increasingly, in highly controlled smith-squat machines, where the bar is really a part of the machine. In other words, your standard gym doesn’t actually let you use the Olympic Bar as it is designed to be used: for “Olympic lifting.”

So far, by being in cross fit, I have trained with the free-floating 45# and 35# Olympic bar plus weights on the following exercises: deadlifts, front squats, hang power cleans, and thrusters (a combination of front squat and push-press). Today we did “thrusters.”

Thrusters can be totally outrageous or more controlled and even aerobic.

What I can’t believe, looking back on my morning, was that I was taking a 90# weight and pulling it off the ground, bringing it to my shoulders, front-squatting with it, and then “thrusting” it overhead.

Ninety pounds is a lot of weight man.

The virtue of so-called “Olympic” lifting is that it is about full range of motion and full body exercise. Every Olympic weight lifting movement combines major muscle groups from front and back, top and bottom, and involves the stabilizers and small muscles throughout the system. The result of training in these movements is “functional fitness” and a feeling of real body confidence. Not to mention you can get big.

CrossFit is Awesome

So, CrossFit is kicking my ass. The past few days, we’ve been doing some hellishly great workouts. I am feeling revved up on hormones and endorphins, and filled with that good sore, all the time.  Since returning from Oregon, I have done four of them, last Wed, Fri, and Mon and Wed.  Four kick ass workouts in the past 8 days!  That makes me feel pretty bad-ass, for a 40 year old desk jockey.

Today, this was our workout: we start with a warm up which includes some marching in place, push-ups, pull-ups, air-squats, and full sit-ups (3 sets of 10 each, broken up by movements), along with some sort of side-to-side dance moves (I’d have to show you) where you swing hands and arms on either side; also some hip and shoulder opening stretches.  Anyway, this “warm-up” lasted about 10 minutes and got my heart rate up near 160.

Then we did the CrossFit workout from Monday.  It’s called “Virtual Shoveling.” Virtual Shoveling was 6 sets — of 30, 25, 20, 15, 10, 5 reps each — of two exercises.   Each set consists of first the “virtual shoveling” exercise (see the official video here) and then push-ups, same number of reps each. So, that was another 105 pushups on top of the first 30, plus this crazy shoveling thing. I used a 35 lb long bar and a 15 lb olympic weight (same shape and size as 45, but thinner; a rubberized disk). This hellish workout took me about 14m20s. Then, warmdown for about 20 minutes.

I stopped my heart rate monitor after 55 minutes, so it included a few minutes of rest between “warm-up” and “workout,” and about 20 minutes of laying around stretching. STILL: the average HR was 148 and the max was 189. OW.

Matt

"Optimistic"

6:00 am workout. Randy, the coach at CrossFitAsheville, made this up.  Officially this was a CrossFit “rest day,” but Randy knew he had a few people in their late 30’s and early 40’s who needed a good, aptly named workout.  The workout space is cool. Randy likes good dance and alt-rock music, and I find that the padded floor of the gymnasium helps a lot.  Besides that, a kettle ball and a medicine ball are the only special equipment needed.

Warm-up: first stage slow: vigorous marching in place, 10 push ups, 10 sit ups, 10 air-squats, vigorous dancing cross-steps, hip flexor stretches, then, second stage quickly: 2 sets of: 10 pushups, 10 pull ups, 10 sit ups, 10 air-squats, followed by hip-flexor stretches (Sampsons, etc.)  About 10 minutes.  The warm-up left me feeling winded and sweaty.  Time for a warm down?  No.

The Workout: do this for time: 3 sets of 30 reps each of (a) pushups, (b) kettlebell swings, (c) wall-throw medicine ball sit-ups, and (4) air-squats.  It took me 15:55 to do all three sets and I used a 15 lb (very light!) kettle ball; we all used 10 lb medicine ball.  I did not come in last.  My heart rate AVERAGED 165 during this period, and maxed out at 172.  Intense.

Stretching: we do a yoga and tai-chi inspired routine that hits shoulders, hamstrings, back, and hip flexors.  About 15 more minutes.

Participants: Shanna, Corey, Alaska Mike, Tom, Matt, and Rustan.  Coach: Randy.

The "Hummer"

Completed Jan 6th, 2009, Matty B.’s 40th birthday.

This one involves a 2.5 mile run/jog/walk (as needed) in 3 to 5 minute spurts, interspersed with 7 sets of: 5 burpees, 10 jumping jacks, 10 air squats.

Try it!  You might like it.  It gets the blood going and it’s fun, but it won’t kill you.

Participants: Matt B., Grant Gosch

The "Betsy"

First completed Jan. 1st, 2009, this one was the brainchild of MCB.  Ideally, this should be done in the foothills of Mount Onion, in Arch Cape, OR.  But any gravel road heading up a steep hillside will do.  Oh, and it has to be raining.

Run/Hike: about 1.5 miles, up a steep hill, on a gravel road, in the rain, about 750 vertical feet in elevation.
On the Way Up Do: 100 pushups, 100 situps, 100 jumping jacks, 100 air-squats.
Run/Hike: down the hill.
We divided this one into about 7 sessions, most were 1 set of 10 each, a few were 2 sets of 10 each.  Since it was raining we actually did the situps last in a dry room at home, but depending on how badly you want to feel like a toughman, you could get your ass and back wet on the road.

Participants: John C., Matt B., Ben W.