Kirk, I need you!

Jeff completed the 2-day CrossFit Level 1 training held in Wilmington. I’m very, very proud of him! He suggested that he shadow as I coach, offering suggestions to athletes regarding form when needed. I’m all for it. Jeff has heard me repeatedly say that proper form and technique trump all else.

I enjoyed hearing Jeff share his experiences, and it doesn’t appear that much has changed since I went through the training a couple of years ago. He said that the instructors emphasized focusing on form – and not necessarily cheering and/or encouragement – when coaching a session. An occasional “good job” is fine, and I’ll give you that. Jeff also said that the instructors also emphasized the importance of ensuring that athletes work on their weaknesses, and for me this includes but is not limited to pistols, snatches, bar muscle-ups (although in fairness I’ve only attempted once), and handstand walking. Faithful readers know that I’ve been focusing on snatches. I have much more work to do. Starting. Right. Now.

Uhm, yeah, so overhead squats used to be one of my biggest weaknesses.

As we traveled home this morning, I attended the 4pm session at CFBC this afternoon. I was immediately greeting – and hugged – by Nikki! I thought, “My day is complete. I should just go home now.” As overhead squats are almost as much fun as spending time with Nikki, I decided to stay.

Hell, I was bound and determined to attend today’s session if for no other reason than the strength was overhead squats. Read that again. I now wholeheartedly love overhead squats.

Kirk led today’s session, and began with an excellent warmup focusing on loosening the hips and shoulders. I can’t recall the last time I did jumping jacks. Good times.

Overhead Squats

“Kirk”, I asked, “what percentage of our one rep maximum should we work up to?” “Seventy-five to 80 percent,” he replied. Just as I suspected he’d say. That Kirk is almost as smart as I am.

I did 10 reps with the bar, and started light so as to ensure that my left shoulder was up to the task. I then completed 5 reps @ 65, 75, & 95. Reps felt the most solid that they’ve ever felt. I recorded each set and made sure to review before attempting the next set. I also selfishly asked Kirk to observe a number of times, either as I was squatting or the recording after the set.

“Kirk”, I asked, “should I go up 5 or 10 pounds?” Kirk replied, “How did that last set feel?” “Very good,” I responded. “Then go up 10.” And that’s what I did. I overhead squatted 105# for 5 reps, taking my time on the way down, ensuring that I broke parallel, keeping the bar in control, and rising to the top. As Scott F. would say, “Paul is awesome!” I am, Scott. I truly am.

I knew full well that I had 1 set left, but I needed reassurance. “Kirk,” I asked, “should I attempt another set, maybe just adding 5 pounds?” “Yes,” Kirk replied, “and even if you fail, it’s good to know your limits.” I added 2, 2.5# plates to the ends of the bar. I squatted beneath the bar and placed it on my back. I jerked the bar overhead, making sure I had active shoulders and that I thought to point the pits of my elbows toward the ceiling. I then remembered something. “Kirk,” I yelled, “I need you!”

I can be so damn selfish sometimes.

I wanted to make sure that the reps counted. I completed 1. Good rep. I completed a second. Good rep. I completed a third, although the bar started to go too far back and I almost lost it. I completed a fourth rep. I could sense all eyes on me. Normally I would assume that people were checking out my ass, but as I was facing them I safely assumed that they were checking out my awesome overhead squat form. I paused before the fifth and final rep and told myself, “Stay focused. Stay tight. Look straight ahead. Squat below parallel. Rise with force.” And that, ladies and gentlemen and Josh, is exactly what I did.

It wasn’t too long ago that 105# was my one rep maximum, and 110# is 81% of 1RM. CrossFit has made me a much stronger athlete.

In 5 minutes complete:
30 Power Cleans (155,105)
Max rep lateral bar jumps

For whatever reason I had in my mind that we were to do full squat cleans, and I was actually looking forward to it. I warmed up with 95 and then 115# and was ready to go. Josh happened to pass by and I asked, “Josh, should I just do 95# to make sure that my elbow and arm are up to the task?” Josh replied, “It depends upon your goal for today blah, blah, blah, blah. Yes, lift 95#” And that’s what I did and here’s what happened.

I completed 20 unbroken, 95# power cleans. I began to worry that I was going to be perceived as a sandbagger, so even though I could’ve completed 30 unbroken I did the last 10 in reps of 5. I glanced at the clock, and a mere 2:30 had passed. I thought, “Shit, now I’ve got two and a half minutes of lateral bar jumps.” I set my goal to complete 50 reps at a time, and I completed 5 sets for a total of 250 – and with a few seconds to spare. That’s 50 lateral bar hops, including a short rest, every 30 seconds.

I very much enjoyed today’s workout! Thanks, Kirk!

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