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Old 08-14-2013, 02:53 PM   #1
Chris Greenwald
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Reasonable amount of progress 4.5 months in?

I started crossfit in March. My gym is fairly well known. the coaches are competitive and helped the gym qualify for the national crossfit games. when I started, I was not obese or embarrassed to take off my shirt, but I really never worked out hard, either. I basically never did any of the core movements ( squats, cleans deads etc). It's not been an easy process at all as this is not natural to me. I started with a long way to go and have understood that patience and resilience were important. However, I fear I'm not making enough/any progress in some key areas. I'm not able to do a single pull- up. Not close and no closer than I was in March. The reason is I'm not able to get into proper position. All my Weight ends up on tendons in my forearms rather than my back etc. I'm not generating any real power on cleans, I'm just pulling with my arms. So, I'm still cleaning at 95 lbs as a grown, healthy man with no injuries.

Given that I've averaged 4+ days a week of going in since late March, how much further along should I be, if any? At what point should I consider that either a) another gym may be better or b) crossfit isn't for me? I really only want to look good and be healthy. Competing in crossfit competitions is not really of interest.
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Old 08-14-2013, 03:21 PM   #2
Cody Lichtenwalner
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Re: Reasonable amount of progress 4.5 months in?

Well I'm sorry to hear of your experiences and that you are considering quitting all together. Especially since I owe my health to a crossfit regime topping the scale out at 260lbs at 5'9" just a year ago and now im in the high 180s and healthy and strong as a horse (tooting my own horn a little there).

Lets take each thing you said one at a time, the main thing that sticks out is the desire to look good. A wise man once said if you only ever train for looks that's all you will get. So if thats your real goal then a body building plan of loading and cutting may be more up your alley. But if you want the strength and overall fitness (which i gotta say is really really addicting once you break the plateau) then stick it out and the body will come on its own.

Second the core movements. The clean is a core olympic lift yes, but what's at the core of the clean? The power generated from your legs. So what is your squat like? Your leg press? Those shoudl be the focus so you can generate the power to move the bar off the floor with your arms only as a guide. Same goes with the pullup. Have you ever done barbell rows? T rows? Lat pull downs? Lawn mowers etc etc anything where you are pulling weight toward you? How about jumping pullups? Does your box give you bands to assist in your pullup and helping your progress and become less dependent on them? (I hate to say it but some times places that train for competition can forget the little guy who is funding it). Have you tried a grip change with your pullup. I used to get terrible pains in my forearms from pullups because I wrapped my thumb under the bar and fingers overtop. When I switched my thumb to the top as well, no more pain.

I guess my main concern is do you feel your coaches are helping you progress? If they aren't they aren't worth your time even if they coach froning, kalipha, baker, and chuck Norris. If the answer is no try a different box, or try digital coaching. I have never stepped foot inside a box, and I started without being able to bench 75lbs and without knowing what clean,jerk, snatch or AMRAP meant. But Google and YouTube were great friends and my own drive to be stronger and stickler for form and I'm progressing nicely.

The choice is yours but if you choose to stick around, there is a lot of help on here.
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Old 08-14-2013, 03:36 PM   #3
Chris Greenwald
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Re: Reasonable amount of progress 4.5 months in?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cody Lichtenwalner View Post
Well I'm sorry to hear of your experiences and that you are considering quitting all together. Especially since I owe my health to a crossfit regime topping the scale out at 260lbs at 5'9" just a year ago and now im in the high 180s and healthy and strong as a horse (tooting my own horn a little there).

Lets take each thing you said one at a time, the main thing that sticks out is the desire to look good. A wise man once said if you only ever train for looks that's all you will get. So if thats your real goal then a body building plan of loading and cutting may be more up your alley. But if you want the strength and overall fitness (which i gotta say is really really addicting once you break the plateau) then stick it out and the body will come on its own.

Second the core movements. The clean is a core olympic lift yes, but what's at the core of the clean? The power generated from your legs. So what is your squat like? Your leg press? Those shoudl be the focus so you can generate the power to move the bar off the floor with your arms only as a guide. Same goes with the pullup. Have you ever done barbell rows? T rows? Lat pull downs? Lawn mowers etc etc anything where you are pulling weight toward you? How about jumping pullups? Does your box give you bands to assist in your pullup and helping your progress and become less dependent on them? (I hate to say it but some times places that train for competition can forget the little guy who is funding it). Have you tried a grip change with your pullup. I used to get terrible pains in my forearms from pullups because I wrapped my thumb under the bar and fingers overtop. When I switched my thumb to the top as well, no more pain.

I guess my main concern is do you feel your coaches are helping you progress? If they aren't they aren't worth your time even if they coach froning, kalipha, baker, and chuck Norris. If the answer is no try a different box, or try digital coaching. I have never stepped foot inside a box, and I started without being able to bench 75lbs and without knowing what clean,jerk, snatch or AMRAP meant. But Google and YouTube were great friends and my own drive to be stronger and stickler for form and I'm progressing nicely.

The choice is yours but if you choose to stick around, there is a lot of help on here.
I've been paying $200 a month for 4.5 months and have consistently been in an average of 4 or more times a week. Should that be worth a minimum level of progress?

Yes, bands are available for pull-ups and I've tried jumping pull ups. Bands don't change the fact that my shoulders/back aren't properly positioned or engaged. So, it's just help for my forearm tendons lol.

I'm aware that there are ways to evaluate what I'm doing and possibly coach me into doing these movements properly. I'm just questioning whether paying $200 a month to not be able to do exercises properly is worth it. Especially given my goals, which are health and appearance only. I like the opportunities crossfit affords ( though I'll say I haven't felt a ton of camaraderie from others at the gym as others have at other gyms). The bummer is this gym is insanely convenient for me. Other gyms, while not that far, still end up much less convenient as they mean I'd have to drive and find parking in an area where parking is scarce.
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Old 08-14-2013, 03:42 PM   #4
Joe Spinelli
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Re: Reasonable amount of progress 4.5 months in?

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Originally Posted by Cody Lichtenwalner View Post
I guess my main concern is do you feel your coaches are helping you progress? If they aren't they aren't worth your time even if they coach froning, kalipha, baker, and chuck Norris. If the answer is no try a different box.
This part really stands out to me. Cody posted almost the exact reply that I would have given. The big questions is: DO YOUR COACHES TRY TO HELP YOU GET BETTER? Are they encouraging you to get better? Do they offer solutions to help you learn the moves you are lacking? Has anyone suggested working on negative pull-ups (hanging from the bar in a pull-up position and slowly lowering yourself). Are you getting any tips on the Oly lifts? Is there any weightlifting training available that you can attend? Is anyone pointing out what you are doing wrong and helping you to figure out how to fix it?

If the answers to all of these questions is "no," then it's time to find another box.

I am thinking of when I started (I've been doing CF for a little over a year). I came from years of sitting on the couch and couldn't run 400m. Not terribly overweight, but feeling like crap. By 4 months, I' sure I was doing banded pull-ups.

My coach and the guys at the box helped me work on something every day that I came in. Even it it was just a little tip: "you're pulling too late, get your a$$ down, let's work on your grip position, try the hook grip" etc. I felt like my coach was vested in me, cared about me making progress, and cared that I did so in a safe way.

If you're missing all of this, and it sounds like you are, it's a no brainer for me. There are probably 3 other boxes within walking distance. It's time to call each of them, tell them what you're lacking, and try with one of them.

Good luck!
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Old 08-14-2013, 03:43 PM   #5
Cody Lichtenwalner
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Re: Reasonable amount of progress 4.5 months in?

Is it possible to post a pic or video of your attempts at a pullup? I'm not quite understanding the alignment issue, maybe mobility training is in order. $200 a month is based on personal value. If you have to question its worth then it isnt showing you value, especially if your are questioning gains. For others $200 a month to meet their goals is cheap. And yea I think you should be seeing gains after 4 months.

I really think the danger is that your coaches which may be world renowned, aren't there for you, which is what your paying for. Convience or not, not getting the attention $200 ought to buy you is pointless
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Last edited by Cody Lichtenwalner : 08-14-2013 at 03:46 PM.
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Old 08-14-2013, 03:57 PM   #6
Chris Greenwald
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Re: Reasonable amount of progress 4.5 months in?

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Originally Posted by Joe Spinelli View Post
This part really stands out to me. Cody posted almost the exact reply that I would have given. The big questions is: DO YOUR COACHES TRY TO HELP YOU GET BETTER? Are they encouraging you to get better? Do they offer solutions to help you learn the moves you are lacking? Has anyone suggested working on negative pull-ups (hanging from the bar in a pull-up position and slowly lowering yourself). Are you getting any tips on the Oly lifts? Is there any weightlifting training available that you can attend? Is anyone pointing out what you are doing wrong and helping you to figure out how to fix it?

If the answers to all of these questions is "no," then it's time to find another box.

I am thinking of when I started (I've been doing CF for a little over a year). I came from years of sitting on the couch and couldn't run 400m. Not terribly overweight, but feeling like crap. By 4 months, I' sure I was doing banded pull-ups.

My coach and the guys at the box helped me work on something every day that I came in. Even it it was just a little tip: "you're pulling too late, get your a$$ down, let's work on your grip position, try the hook grip" etc. I felt like my coach was vested in me, cared about me making progress, and cared that I did so in a safe way.

If you're missing all of this, and it sounds like you are, it's a no brainer for me. There are probably 3 other boxes within walking distance. It's time to call each of them, tell them what you're lacking, and try with one of them.

Good luck!
The answer to the questions is a mixed bag. Yes, there is willingness to watch me some, offer tips and encouragement. But, the classes typically have ~20 people and with 2 coaches, they obviously can't spend too much time with me. It has gotten to a point where I sense there is some feeling among them that they don't know what else to tell me. I have gone seemingly long stretches of not doing movements correctly or even switching to something else mid-WOD when I feel I can't properly do the exercise and may get injured and no coach is near me. I do tend to stand out as a clutz with many movements. My ego can handle that. But, I need to see more improvement than I have to justify $200 a month.

This is a very competitive gym and I wonder if they just aren't equipped to deal with a lay person who struggles to get things. I'd hate to have to find another CF gym honestly. But I hate showing up consistently and feeling I simply can't physically do key parts of the WOD. I spent all of Mondays WOD doing power cleans wrong, and spent yesterday not able to do pull-ups (81 were called for in the WOD) and just switched to ring rows. I'm present, ready and willing to do the workouts. Yet, 4.5 months later if coming in 4 times a week, I can't come close to doing a single pull-up or clean properly. What has the $200/mo gotten me?

Last edited by Chris Greenwald : 08-14-2013 at 04:04 PM.
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Old 08-14-2013, 04:01 PM   #7
Chris Greenwald
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Re: Reasonable amount of progress 4.5 months in?

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Originally Posted by Cody Lichtenwalner View Post
Is it possible to post a pic or video of your attempts at a pullup? I'm not quite understanding the alignment issue, maybe mobility training is in order. $200 a month is based on personal value. If you have to question its worth then it isnt showing you value, especially if your are questioning gains. For others $200 a month to meet their goals is cheap. And yea I think you should be seeing gains after 4 months.

I really think the danger is that your coaches which may be world renowned, aren't there for you, which is what your paying for. Convience or not, not getting the attention $200 ought to buy you is pointless
With pull-ups, you have to align your shoulders such that your lats are engaged, right? I can't figure out how to get in that position. My lats aren't being used at all. And I can't figure out how to lipping swing or butterfly. It's abundantly obvious I'm struggling mightily and failing. I can do that for $30 a month at 24 hour fitness. And I'm not convinced cleans are absolutely essential for anything beyond competing in crossfit competitions.
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Old 08-14-2013, 04:19 PM   #8
Cody Lichtenwalner
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Re: Reasonable amount of progress 4.5 months in?

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With pull-ups, you have to align your shoulders such that your lats are engaged, right? I can't figure out how to get in that position. My lats aren't being used at all. And I can't figure out how to lipping swing or butterfly. It's abundantly obvious I'm struggling mightily and failing. I can do that for $30 a month at 24 hour fitness. And I'm not convinced cleans are absolutely essential for anything beyond competing in crossfit competitions.
Oh thats all? Ill tell you the key to a pull up, stop pulling up and start focusing on pulling down. pull the bar to your chest not vice versa. Go to a bar where your feet are flat on the ground and you can grip the bar. engage your core (flex your abs) and pull imagining bringing the bar down. Or try a negative, stand on a chair or box and grab the bar with you chin above. step off the box/chair and hang and slowly lower yourself.

Hold the phone, You shouldnt be kipping or butterflying yet and if thats what they are trying to have you do, run the hell away. You will get hurt before you get the timing right.

And cleans arent just for competition they are for explosiveness and a full body movement. You have to generate power to start the lift, accuracy and concetration to guide the bar to the rack postion, speed to get under the bar , balance for the catch, and strength to push out of the squat. That one quick movement activates your whole body and if your looking for a nice body then you want movements that hit multiple areas at once
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Old 08-14-2013, 04:24 PM   #9
Chris Greenwald
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Re: Reasonable amount of progress 4.5 months in?

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Originally Posted by Cody Lichtenwalner View Post
Oh thats all? Ill tell you the key to a pull up, stop pulling up and start focusing on pulling down. pull the bar to your chest not vice versa. Go to a bar where your feet are flat on the ground and you can grip the bar. engage your core (flex your abs) and pull imagining bringing the bar down. Or try a negative, stand on a chair or box and grab the bar with you chin above. step off the box/chair and hang and slowly lower yourself.

Hold the phone, You shouldnt be kipping or butterflying yet and if thats what they are trying to have you do, run the hell away. You will get hurt before you get the timing right.

And cleans arent just for competition they are for explosiveness and a full body movement. You have to generate power to start the lift, accuracy and concetration to guide the bar to the rack postion, speed to get under the bar , balance for the catch, and strength to push out of the squat. That one quick movement activates your whole body and if your looking for a nice body then you want movements that hit multiple areas at once
Thanks for the tips on pull-ups, Ill give it a try.

I'm aware of all you say on cleans. But if I'm not able to perform/align properly, I'm not getting those benefits. It's really all pulling with my arms at this point. I know that's wrong and I can speak what it is I should do. I just can't actually do it yet.
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Old 08-14-2013, 04:25 PM   #10
Cody Lichtenwalner
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Re: Reasonable amount of progress 4.5 months in?

without video or pics its hard to correct technique but how wide is your grip? the closer the grip the more you activate your forearms and biceps, the wider the lats. also can you do a chin up?


sorry im kinda bouncing all over the place but my thought process is screwy sometimes
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