For those of you who don’t know, I do CrossFit with a heavier lean toward weightlifting because cardio is awful. Short twitch all the way. I know a lot of authors are big into running because they can get into their heads and just zone out and work plots out. What I think about when I do a wod (workout of the day) is surviving from one end to the other and not projectile vomiting in front of my peers. Simpler things. I like CrossFit because I can’t think about anything when I’m doing it. It’s a good reset for me, especially if my day at the office was particularly mind fucking (I’m an evening workout person, fuck getting up at 4 am to workout). If I’m dwelling on something, the wod kicks it right out. Because my brain literally goes into survival mode.
I’ve come to find out I like weights. Wods can be fun in a masochistic sort of way, but weightlighting is funner (intentionally using that word). I used to hate snatches (a technically complex Olympic lift) but once I stopped completely eating shit at form, I grew to like them. I still have room to improve, absolutely. But I at least have the basics of the movement down. I’m still not the biggest fan of a clean and jerk (another Olympic lift), but it’s still fun. There’s something to be said about jerking a weight over your head that you’re actually incapable of lifting off yourself should it fall on you. Talk about a proper brain fuck. And if you’re thinking, “How can you lift weight without being able to lift the weight?” A lot of people think of bench pressing and curls as weight lifting. Bench pressing is a power lift, but there’s more to lifting than that and in something like a clean and jerk, it’s less about brute strength to lift a weight and more about movement, motion, and throwing yourself under the bar.
Yes, it’s about strength, but technique with these complex lifting movements is key. When you jerk a bar, you’re only actually lifting it up to about your eyes. Once it’s there you’re dropping yourself under the bar and using your legs to lift it back up. My clean and jerk one rep max is 95 pounds. My bench press is only 65 pounds. So you can see how I get into my head about that.
I like leg and back movements, though. Deadlifts FTW. My deadlift one rep max is 202 pounds (I’m 150 pounds, was probably about 162 when I did it). Here’s a video of me doing that. I make it look real hard. But, when your back is stronger than your legs, your deadlift is going to outperform your squat, which is what’s happening to me right now. And that surprised the crap out of me. Forever I’ve known my legs are strong, at least comparatively to my arms and pretty much anything else on my body. But to find out it’s actually my back that’s strongest is mind-blowing to me.
We one-repped back squats late in the spring, early summer, about around the time I did my deadlift PR. I hit 165 on my back squat then and I know I failed my attempts at 175 not because I couldn’t lift it but because I got down in the hole and my brain thought I was being crushed by a car so I bailed the bar. I definitely have some bar fear going on with pretty much every lift except deadlift because no risk of being crushed to death there.
So we worked through maybe four weeks of squat complex at my CrossFit box this past month, the last one completely blowing up my legs because it was awful. And then yesterday was one rep max day. Yay! It’s fun finding the limits of what your body can do. This time around I’ve been seeing a nutritionist and doing macros. I’m 11 pounds lighter than I was last time and I’m currently at a calorie deficit, so underfueled for proper weightlifting. Still, I wanted to hit 175, maybe get into 185 or 190. Not unattainable but definitely a bit of a stretch. I like to think myself stronger than what I am.
So I work up and hit 165. First attempt at 175 I get it up, but I don’t quite get low enough. My depth was where it needed to be, but because I was dropping my chest my hips were coming up and I wasn’t getting in the hole. Damn hole! Second attempt at 175 I get into the hole and promptly get stuck, PUSH PUSH PUSH. Bail. Nope. One way to determine whether your back or your legs are stronger: if you get stuck in the hole in back squat, your back’s stronger; if you get stuck halfway up, your legs are stronger. Knowledge is power.
Final attempt at 175, get into the hole again, squeeze every back end muscle like I’ll shit myself if I don’t. PUSH PUSH PUSH. Bail. Nope. Not getting out of that damn hole. For where I am in my nutrition and where I’ve come with my weight I shouldn’t be upset that I didn’t hit 175 and I should be proud that I hit the same PR I did 11 pounds and more mass ago. It shows that any strength I did lose when I lost weight I regained and at least my legs and my back are just as strong as they were before. Look at my husband who’s down 30 pounds and missed his PR by 39 pounds. More significant weight loss, more significant drop in strength as a result. It comes with the territory. You need to build it back up and that will take time.
Luckily for me I’m not really starting from much. Like one of the women at the gym said, I have newbie strength. So this year alone I made a 30 pound PR on my backsquat (and 50 on my deadlift), but it’s fair to say when I first searched for it back in December that 135 pounds probably wasn’t my true one rep. But it’s what I did that day and it set my baseline. Everyone makes huge gains in CrossFit and lifting when they first start out because you have no idea where you are in the spectrum. You have no idea what your body can do. Really fucks with your expectations too, because I’ll look at this year and go well I had at least a 30 pound gain in 2017. I should hit that much in 2018. Considering I’m a casual participant in all of this, and lifting isn’t technically my focus, AND and I’m actually finding my true numbers now, that probably won’t happen until I get more into it. Which I won’t. Probably.
So right now I’d like to hit at least 200 on backsquat, 300 on deadlift, maybe 100, 125 on snatch, 150 on clean and jerk. Not going too crazy here. Just gains goals, you know. Aim for something.