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Workout of the Day Questions & performance regarding CrossFit's WOD

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Old 01-05-2008, 11:29 PM   #1
Jacob McBride
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Unhappy Questions

Well, today is the first day that I attempted the WOD.
A little background. I was a soccer player and still play recreationally, I ran track through high school, and I was a bit of a uh... lazy slob from the time I was born until about 6th grade. I got passionate about running and I've always loved soccer.
While upper body strength plays a role in running and in soccer, it's not a key element, so I've never really had any.
Now that I'm looking to be competative in the 400m for Division 1 Track, I've determined that I need to develope upper body strength and power. I just started going to the gym with my friend John, but so far I've only been twice, which means next to nothing.
The WOD for today was Tabata Something Else; 8 20s intervals of pull ups, push ups, sit ups and squats.
The push ups was fine, the sit ups was fine, the squats were fine, even despite my really screwed up knees. Obviously I need a lot of work on all 3, but I was able to do them at least, and, like my friend John says, everyone starts somewhere.
The pull ups were a bit of an issue for me. It's not like when I was in middle school and high school, I can do 4 or 5 pull ups on a bar. Today I didn't have access to such a thing, so I was doing it on the old swing set in my backyard. The swingset is wooden and so it's made of rectangular segments. When doing a pull up, the grip is... bad. I can barely hook my thumb around the bottom, so my hand ends up being spread wide open. I don't know why, but that makes doing pull ups incredibly hard and the measly 4 - 5 pull ups I can do on a bar is reduced to a sad, sad 1, maybe 2 if I really go at it.
This is where my concern lies:
What do you do if you cannot complete all the intervals? Do you do as many as you can and stop or do you just increase the waiting time and really try andget a good number of each thing in? I only ended up doing 2 pull ups, and then my dad suggested jumping to the bar and jut going all te way instead of dropping to rest and then doing a pull up, so that you get a momentum boost from the jump. I did about 5 of those, but then I got so frustrated by my complete lack of upper body strength that I just gave up.
Also, when I finished, I was a bit confused. I'd go all out and do as many of each thing as I could, and I'd slow down, obviously, as I got into the later intervals, and it'd get to a point where it was really a struggle, but a short time after I finished I felt fine. Is that normal?
I know when I go to the gym with my friend and lift, I'm sore in the areas I was working for 2 - 3 days so I really know I did something, so it's a bit underwhelming that this isn't the case with CrossFit so far. My dad used CrossFit and says good things about it, so I'm wondering if I'm doing something wrong or if doing the best I can and not being sore afterwards is fine.

Any additional words of advice for someone who's just now starting off with all this without much confidence are appreciated, and sorry if this post seems like a disorganized rant. I'm really confused and REALLY frustrated right now. I have to cut 5 seconds off my time for the 400m by September, so I'm under a lot of pressure and stress right now, and I just want to be in really good shape in general, not just for Track.

Thanks.
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Old 01-05-2008, 11:38 PM   #2
Steven Low
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Re: Questions

Jumping pullups are fine for now for tabatas.. but these generally don't come up often so I wouldn't worry about it.

You should work towards getting good kipping pullup as well as grease the groove the hell out of your deadhang pullups. You should be able to work up to a fair amount in no time at all especially with a decent base of 4-5 already. All of the workouts are kipping pullups, by the way, unless otherwise stated.

As far as soreness goes, you don't want to be sore. As long as you are gaining strength then it's good. Soreness doesn't mean you had a good workout or anything -- just that you body was not used to the given stimulus for one reason or another. Soreness is generally a hindrance to higher frequencies of workouts and therefore bad.


How fast is your 400m time right now? You need to do sprinting if you're not already doing it... the best way to improve running is running.
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Old 01-05-2008, 11:47 PM   #3
Jacob McBride
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Re: Questions

haha, well, I'm a bit... completely out of shape right now, and I was a distance runner for the first 3 years of high school. Since I ran a lot, the 4x400m relay needed another person when I was a Junior. I joined the team, we set a school record and went to the State Open. So Senior year I decided to try out the 400m. Now that you understand that I was only doing it for 1 season, I'll say that I was only able to manage a 53.5

But I think with enough effort and if I build some upper body power (when it comes to sprinting, strength in general is a good thing, especially in the arms and legs) I think I can get below 50 seconds. There are currently 3 people at my school who are running ~ 49s. I'm not on the team this year because of a clerical error combined with the whole college sports doing whatever they want if you're not heavily desired.

Thanks for the help, I'll be sure to take what you've said into consideration, and I'm glad that it's perfectly okay that I can put tons of effort into the tabata workouts, wear myself out and feel perfectly fine 5 minutes later because that was really upsetting me

EDIT: I'll just post some times of mine that I remember. Note that I was never really in good shape, but rather I spent 4 years of high school in decent shape.
300 - 39.1
400 - 53.5
800 - 2:05
1600 (mile) - 5:00
3200 (2 mile) - 11:15
5k (Cross Country) - 17:05 (or 18:05; I know that's quite a difference but I honestly can't remember if it was 17 or 18)

EDIT2: I just watched the video on Kipping Pull Ups. I'll have to try those next time. I'll also make sure, next time, that I either have access to my local high school (there's a random pull up bar in the corner of the basketball gym) or the YMCA (hey, I just paid for a 6 month membership, might as well go make use of their pull up bar, among other things).

Does it make any sense that the shape of the bar I'm using (very tall rectangle in this instance) and the effect it has on how I'm able to grip it makes it insanely hard to do pull ups on it? Or is there no difference at all and I'm just losing my mind?

Last edited by Jacob McBride : 01-06-2008 at 12:15 AM. Reason: times
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Old 01-06-2008, 12:27 AM   #4
Jon Heron
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Re: Questions

Jacob
Welcome. Those are some pretty respectable times. Yes a square bar does make a big difference in pullups. I find it quite a bit more difficult to hang on and especially to kip with a square bar.
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Old 01-06-2008, 01:01 AM   #5
Jacob McBride
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Re: Questions

Well that's certainly a relief. I got really frustrated tonight when I went out and only managed to do one and a half pull ups from a hanging start. I'll stick to the traditional pull up bar and adapt the kipping style of pull ups from now on.

Thanks, Steve, for answering most of my concerns, and Jon for reinforcing my sanity.
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Old 01-06-2008, 10:50 AM   #6
Steven Low
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Re: Questions

Yep, definitely keep running a large part of your workouts.
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Old 01-06-2008, 12:27 PM   #7
Shane Skowron
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Re: Questions

Try putting your thumb over the bar when you are doing pullups. Not everyone does this, but it is worth a try. For me, hooking my thumb around the bottom weakens my grip and makes me want to drop off.
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Old 01-06-2008, 12:30 PM   #8
Jacob McBride
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Re: Questions

hmmm... I could try that, but it doesn't sound very comfortable for me. If I could get used to it, though, then that might make the swingset a valid option for pull ups. Hmmmm... maybe I'l try that tomorrow before I go to work.
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Old 01-06-2008, 09:20 PM   #9
Jacob McBride
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Re: Questions

here's another question.
If you don't have access to a bar, could you use hand weights (I don't know what/if the technical term is for them, but I'm talking about the free weights that are meant to be held in individual hands) as a substitute?
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Old 01-06-2008, 09:22 PM   #10
Steven Low
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Re: Questions

Dumbells to sub for pullups? Only if you hang upside down...
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