Go Big or Go Home (Grace)

Training Cycle: Week 3/6 (Work Week)
Dietary Cycle: Week 3/3 (Cutting)
Daily Calorie Target: 2800
(Zone “blocks:” approx 24, 2.5x fat)
Third WOD of this Week

I was excited going into today, knowing we’d be doing “Grace,” one of the simplest and straightforward of the CrossFit Benchmark workouts.

I had a decent sleep, not too bad, with only slight, normal interruption. I had coffee and a 1 block breakfast. And went off to the 6:00 am CrossFit Asheville class.

It was a huge group of great people this morning at 6:00! What amazing energy! What a powerful experience to be with so many people so dedicated to living out the advice of Coach Corey: “Just be awesome.”


Agility Ladder. Stretching. Push-ups (20, continuous); Sit-ups (20, continuous); overhead squats to pad (20, continuous); dead-hang Pull-ups (10, in two sets: 6, and 4).

Note well: 6 is the largest set of deadhang pull-ups I’ve done in a while! I’ve been slacking but I’m coming back. I am steadily working my way towards an unbroken set of 10. Once I get there, I’ll start doing 20 pull-ups as a part of the warm-up. (Which, for me, will actually constitute some heavy strength work.)

Skill: Handstands

We worked on some handstands. Among other things, I worked on kicking up to freestanding handstands, did a handstand hold for time (result: 1:33), and did a set of band assisted (green as the vertical, purple as the harness) handstand push-ups (10).

WOD: Grace

30 clean and jerks for time.
Rx’d weight: 135 for men, 95 for women

I last did Grace on June 9th, 2009. I love the simplicity and focus of this WOD, and was happy to see it, and the handstands, on the menu for today.

For today’s WOD I decided to follow coaches’ advice from last time and bump up my weight to 50 kg. I was the only one doing that much weight this morning; even though Tom Rehm is more than capable of putting up 30 reps of 135 lbs, he went for form and speed at 95 lbs. Most members were approaching the WOD in that way too. I was ready to go heavier AND focus on form, and knew I might sacrifice some speed.

Result: 5:55 w/ 50 kg (110 lbs).

Power Analysis and Comparison with June

My last Grace came about a month before the start of my seven week long summer pause for surfing. During that time I lost weight and strength, although I was very active. I’ve noticed that, since my return, in some areas I continue to set new PRs, whereas and in others, I have seen measurable decreases in power output.

In order compare today’s “Grace” with my “Grace” from June 9th, it’s necessary to do some math. Several issues complicate the matter.

First of all, one issue is that I weigh about 7 pounds less today than I did back then. This is good for my appearance and for certain aspects of my athleticism, especially since today I have approximately 12% body fat as opposed to 14% body fat then. But the numbers aren’t that favorable: my lean mass then was 158.2 but today is 155.8. 2.4 lbs of lean mass is probably a significant difference, even though not all of the lean mass is muscle. This difference is actually a good predictor that I have lost capacity for power output. And the numbers bear that out.

A second factor is that I have changed the weight I used, increasing it by 5 kg (about 11 lbs).

A third complicating factor is that my result, in time, also increased.

It would be easy to compare these things if my body composition had improved, my weight used increased, and my time decreased. But it’s a mixed set of factors, so I have to resort to math.

Power output is equivalent work, which is weight x distance over time, and the two WODs can be compared by dividing some calculation of WxD by Time. In the analysis, distance can be regarded as a constant, 30 reps.

For my first calculation I will disregard the difference in body weight, since I have the same frame today, and my mass doesn’t affect the form of the lift or the distance.

Previous Grace: 45 kg (99 lbs) in 4:48 (at 184 lbs, 14% body fat). Power output: 281.25 (kg*rep/min).

This Grace: 50 kg (110 lbs) in 5:55 (at 177 lbs, 12% body fat). Power output: 253.81 (kg*rep/min).

According to this analysis, today I put out 9.7% LESS power than last time. An almost 10% drop in power from June? That sucks. I am pissed off. Should I blame a 7 week pause for surfing? You bet. I have to figure out how to hold steady or increase power even while surfing the summer away.

If I change the calculation to use a “percent of bodyweight” factor instead of a kg factor, things improve slightly, but still indicate I am relatively weaker, or wimpier, today than I was in June. In that case the numbers are 336 in June vs. 315 in Oct, a 6.2% drop in power.

A fourth complicating factor for the comparison is that my form and athleticism has improved overall since June. I went slower today because I was more focused on using proper form. In several places slowed myself down in order to maximize the training impact of the benchmark. Also, where I was more conscious of weaknesses in my form, I got frustrated and lost energy to wasted anger.

But there is one other way to compare these attempts at grace that is worth thinking about. Granted that “intensity” or horsepower is calculated with a time factor. If you took all day to do Grace, it’s worth less in terms of power output than if you do it in under six minutes. But the fact remains that from a certain perspective the time frame of the two events is quite similar (4:48 vs. 5:55); both times were under six minutes. And this time, the total VOLUME that I lifted was greater. So, even though I was slower and my power output was less, I lifted more. Last time: 99 lbs x 30 reps = 2970 pounds from ground to overhead. This time: 110 lbs x 30 reps = 3300 pounds from ground to overhead.

I don’t think there is any way around that. The 1:07 difference in time between the two events could be disregarded, and we could talk about putting 330 more pounds overhead this time.

I really look forward to my next opportunity to rock out “Grace.” I will use 50 kg again, to prove that I can push this weight faster through 30 reps, before I move up in weight again, towards the prescribed 135 lbs (61.23 kg).

Bring Your Best To Everything

After the WOD I was talking to J-Money (J$), Jessica Tonner-Mintier, and grousing about dreading my coming day at work — kinda wishing it was over before it began, and remarking that I would miss the incredible energy of our 6:00 am class. She said something, I forget exactly what now, but in essence she pointed out that I was full of shit. We should learn from the passion and intensity we uncover in CrossFit. Why not bring that intensity to everything we do. I translated this to the idea that the philosophy “Go Big or Go Home” should apply to everything we do in life. Don’t complain that you have to do your work. Either bring it, and bring it all full blast, or get something else to do. Wise woman, that Jess. She’s given me something to think about today.

Warm-Down at Globo-YMCA

When I got to the YMCA for my customary post-WOD shower and shave, I remembered my commitment to do some warm-down running, for my leg. The leg was feeling good.

I didn’t bring my shoes, though.

So I found one of the personal trainers who was working in the fitness center, and asked him for permission to run on the treadmill in bare feet. Long story short: he was a dick, and denied permission. Typical globo-gym bullcrap. He actually said: “you might catch a toe, and then…” I might catch a toe? seriously? Do you really think I might catch a toe?

In my mind I was ROTFLOL, and also retching.

Then I remembered that there was a treadmill near the television in the Men’s Locker Room, with no supervision. So I just went and ran on that.

Results: Treadmill, 6.0 mph, 7 minutes, in bare feet. And with no shirt on.

Take that, Globo-Y.

Let me know what you think...