T Nation

A Crossfit Adventure - 8 Week Update

Crossfit, crossfit, crossfit. I know, its been discussed and dissed in the past and perhaps for good reason, but most people on this board will admit that there are at least some benefits to training in the crossfit style…

Questions have been raised about its effectiveness for enhancing strength and muscular size but most agree that in terms of general conditioning, lactate tolerance, and high degrees of muscular endurance, crossfit can produce results. The debate is whether their claims of increased strength and power are credible, and can crossfit increase muscle mass?

With that in mind, my girlfriend and I are offering ourselves up as guinea pigs of sorts for a crossfit experiment. I know it’s been done in the past but everyone who has tried it has not strictly done crossfit they’ve added strength work of their own to the program. We’re going to do crossfit pure… no additional strength work and following the Workout of the Day (WOD) to the best of our abilities, recording our times and weights here in this thread.

To keep the results as objective as possible, Tanimal and I have done a range of strength, muscular endurance, body composition, and anaerobic/aerobic tests to judge the effects of an 8 week crossfit experience. We will be repeating the same tests at the end of the 8 weeks.

For the first week, Tanimal and I will be doing the crossfit WOD every second day to ease into the routine. After that, we plan on doing the WOD every day, scaling the workouts where necessary.

Backgrounds/starting numbers:

Thirteen

Sports/Training Background:
13 years of rugby playing at university, provincial representative, and premier level.
Competitive BMX rider for the past 2 years, 5th in UCI Worlds 2007 (25-29 amateur)
Training: 9years+, most for rugby (relative strength/power), but tried “everything” in the book from HIT to high volume to Olympic lifting to bodyweight.

Injuries:
Unstable shoulder due to rugby, (repeated dislocations lead to surgery in 2005 and a year off training in 2006). Still working to regain prior strength.
Wrecked foot in BMX race in October, undiagnosed 5 fractures until this month (three rounds of xrays fooled by excessive swelling and no displacement) no running or racing since.

Crossfit Adaptations:
Whenever running is part of the workout, I will be doing stationary cycling (seated) or rowing, scaling of weights/reps where appropriate.

Other (non-strength) Exercise:
3-5 days per week of cycling to work (equal to only about 30 minutes per day)
3-5 days per week of water running
Prehab/rehab work for shoulders, foam roller, easy swimming for recovery

Other notes:
I am coming back from being fatter than I have ever been (thanks to foot injury), heavier than I have ever been, but am not weak or that unfit (due to water running, cycling, and 2 crossfit style workouts per week over the past 2 months). I have always been an “all-rounder” and pride myself on being moderately good at a range of strength, speed, endurance, and power activities.

Goals:
Drop bodyfat down to 11% by the end of 8 weeks, maintain (at least) or increase LBM
Improve ALL my numbers in the below tests and other benchmark workouts that Tanimal and I have with a goal of 5% improvement. This is an obvious challenge to the crossfit claim to train all components of fitness effectively.

Current Stats and Personal Bests

MAX STRENGTH
Test Current Goal PB (alltime)
BP 1RM 265 280 295
Back Squat 1RM 335 350 400
Standing Press 160 170 175
Deadlift 365 385 385
Chin-up BW+85 BW+90 BW+100

REPETITION STRENGTH
Deadlift 315x9 315x12 315x12
Bodyweight BP 195x12 BWx15 195x12

MUSCULAR ENDURANCE
Chin-ups Current 15 Goal 20 PB 24reps
YMCA BP Test Current 40reps Goal 50reps PB 40reps
(check exrx.net)

ANAEROBIC PERF Current Goal Best
250m Row 44.6sec 42.4sec 44.6sec
495 W.AVG
Bike Test TBD

AEROBIC PERF
5min row (m) 1310m 1376m 1310m
Bike Step Test 13:04 14min 13:04

Bodyweight AM, nude 196lb
Bodyfat 7 Site J-P 14.8% 167lb Lean 29lb Fat
Goal 11% 167lb Lean 21lb Fat
Best 6.3%

Measurements
Bicep Left: 15 5/8" Right: 15 7/8" Best 16/16.25"
Waist Current 36.5" Goal 32.5" Best 31"

…Tanimal…

Sports/Training Background:
Fastpitch softball player up to university level
Varsity rugby player, 2 seasons, number 8
Competed in FAME Fitness Model Competition April 2007
Competitive BMX Racer (competed at UCI Worlds 2007, 2nd at ABA Canadian Champs)
4 years training, 3 off an on, past year consistent

Injuries:
Bone chip in right ankle, requires surgery (April 21 2008 surgery date)
Bad ankles in general!

Crossfit Adaptations:
Will be doing stationary cycling (seated) or rowing instead of running, scaling of weights/reps where appropriate.

Other (non-strength) Exercise:
3-5 days per week of cycling to the gym, incline treadmill walks 3-5 days per week.

Other notes:
I have been working on max strength over the past three months and have seen good gains. My ankle limits my ability to run (we are a pair of gimps!) but my surgery in April will hopefully start that back on the recovery road.

Goals:

Current Stats and Personal Bests

MAX STRENGTH
Test Current Goal PB
Bench Press 1RM 140 150 140
Back Squat 1RM 250 265 250
Standing Press 87 95 87
Chin-up 2 4 2

MUSCULAR ENDURANCE
Current Goal Best
Chin-ups (purple band assist) 9 12 12
Pushups from knees 40 45 40

ANAEROBIC PERF
250m Row Current 58s. Goal 55s.

AEROBIC PERF
5min Row (max m.) Current 1216m Goal 1275
Bike Step Test Current 14:00 Goal 15:00

Bodyweight AM, nude 175.5
Bodyfat 7 Site J-P 20.6% 139lb Lean 36lb Fat
Goal 18% 139lb Lean 30.5lb Fat
Best 13%

MEASUREMENTS
Waist Current 31.5" Goal 30" Best 28.5"

Let the games begin!

should be interesting to watch. i dont know why everyone rips on Crossfit, its probably one of the best ideas to come out of America in the recent past.

I’ll be watching this.

I followed Crossfit for about a year (moved on to Olympic Lifting and Ross Enamait’s stuff from there). Granted, I was trying to lose weight and increase conditioning, but as a relative beginner to intense training, I did experience some strength gain.

However, over time, I found that while my conditioning was through the roof, my strength was lacking significantly. It’ll be interesting to see how someone with a good base like yourself does with it.

The workout’s do hurt like nothing else though. One of the reasons I dropped it was I found I was generally too sore/beat up from the WOD to put in any concerted effort into my boxing/martial arts, which was my reason for getting into Crossfit in the first place (along with losing weight).

Thanks for the comments guys…

Yeah the soreness is a big deal with this type of program - and I’m the kind of person who gets pretty sore from training unless I do a high frequency of the same lifts.

Recovery strategies are going to be key… fortunately we have a pool in our building and we’ve got a foam roller and dowels etc. at home to work with.

Workout #1 (Wed March 12)
WOD as posted:
for time -
21 Thrusters 115lb (deep front squat into push press)
12 rope climbs (15ft)
15 Thrusters
9 rope climbs
9 Thrusters
6 rope climbs

We both subbed sled pulls with a rope for the climbs, weights and times below:

Thirteen
110lb Thrusters (parallel grip bar)
115lb on sled
Time: 15:24
Hands damn sore from rope, 198HR at end

Tanimal
75lb Thrusters (Olympic Bar)
45lb on sled
Time: 9:15
(she killed it)

cb.

Meh, screw the pool, foamies, and dowels lol. I’ll cycle it off…

Hello! I am Tanimal and here is our workout from today:

Workout #2 (Thurs March 13)
WOD as posted was:
3 rounds for time of -
800m Run
50 Back Extensions
50 Crunches

Since we are both gimpy and unable to run, we subbed in rowing for the running. And, since we are wimpy, we subbed 25 extensions and double crunches per round instead of the proposed 50 each round…Just kidding, we’re not wimps, we did say we were going to do it every second day to begin with but this was our second day in a row!

Thirteen
1st 800m - 2:55m
2nd 800m - 3:02m
3rd 800m - 3:03m
Total Time - 18:20m

Tanimal :slight_smile:
1st 800m - 3:14m
2nd 800m - 3:17m
3rd 800m - 3:12m
Total Time - 19:18m

I hope you liked my workout log. Until next time…Yakshemesh

Cool! I will be watching as well.

Thanks dudes.

do a search of “my crossfit experience”, i trained with rob wolfe up here in crossfit norcal for about 6 months, and though i had “assistance”, i was bigger, leaner than i had ever been. i was 250lbs and had visible abds.

good luck guys, crossfit protocals are not the only way to go, all of the time, but it can be fun and very useful and effective.

I’ll be watching with interest…

I’ve never really followed crossfit, but I am strangely intrigued by your experiment. Good luck on your adventure! I plan on keeping up with your progress.

It’s not too difficult to gain back strength you’ve lost, but gaining strength after that… that is the tough part. We’ll see.

Good luck.

Good luck, I too have “dabbled” with crossfit style training and it does wonders for your conditioning. The one aspect that I don’t like is when they perform olympic lifts for reps. They have one WOD that has the trainer doing 21-15-9- of power cleans. If you look at the video that they post, the trainer looks as if he doing cheated reverse curls. Same with the deadlift in the same rep scheme. Form breaks down to quickly and you begin to perform RDLs. But the kettlebell stuff? Love Em.
Don’t be intimidated by the weights that they suggest, just comlpeting the WOD is a proud accomplishment with any weight.

Today is a rest day. Thank god. My spinal errectors feel like they are going to burn right off this morning. The plan for me is to maybe do a lil hike on the treadmill and I think thirteen will be doing some shoulder rehab exercises.

One more note: Should be interesting to see what happens with my strength because, at this point in time, I am the strongest I have ever been (In terms of absolute strength and strength to body weight ratio strength…).

Scaling = good. I made the mistake of NOT scaling the first time I did a Crossfit workout, I seriously thought I broke myself.

What will your warmups consist of? I personally find the official Crossfit warmup to be pretty demanding and would leave me in a state that I couldn’t do the WOD at full steam.
3 rounds of:
sampson stretch
15 pullups
15 dips
15 sit-ups
15 back extensions
15 overhead squats

Are you going to be adding any skill based work prior to your workouts? It looks like you guys have a pretty solid athletic background coming into this so you may be set for most of the exercises but it’s been recommended to work skill stuff prior to the WOD i.e. gymnastic skills, olympic lift practicing, double unders…etc

Best of luck, like some of the others here, CrossFit has it’s good and bad points. I’d say more good than bad. I too found there wasn’t enough strength focus for my liking and started to drift away from doing the WOD’s as prescribed. Though right now I’m really deconditioned and could probably use some strict WOD’s to whip my ass into shape.

I bet crossfit would be killer for overall health and appearance. That said, that kind of volume with light lifts would kill my strength levels. Good luck man.

[quote]Pinto wrote:
I bet crossfit would be killer for overall health and appearance. That said, that kind of volume with light lifts would kill my strength levels. Good luck man.[/quote]

You’d be suprised.

[quote]triple-10sets wrote:
Pinto wrote:
I bet crossfit would be killer for overall health and appearance. That said, that kind of volume with light lifts would kill my strength levels. Good luck man.

You’d be suprised. [/quote]

You really have no idea what sort of numbers he’s putting up do you?

[quote]Hanley wrote:
triple-10sets wrote:
Pinto wrote:
I bet crossfit would be killer for overall health and appearance. That said, that kind of volume with light lifts would kill my strength levels. Good luck man.

You’d be suprised.

You really have no idea what sort of numbers he’s putting up do you?[/quote]

hmmm, though with exception to the deadlift, i have never hit numbers anywhere near what pinto has(though i still would put my 600lb squat, at a drug free 192lbs, in the now defunct ADFPA, with equipment that would be a joke in todays PL world, and IPF-ish strict judging, against anyone on this board), i did not see and strength decreases as far as “real” strength is concerned. if you are talking about your geared max pl numbers, yes if you abandon chains, bands, boxes, boards, and practice in your gear, of course those numbers will go in the toilet, and if you are a serious PL, then that is a no-go.

i bet his power clean, raw free squat,raw conventional pull, and overhead power will maintain or maybe even go up some. mine did. but i threw in more heavy lifting for singles and triples than they prescribed.

[quote]heavythrower wrote:
hmmm, though with exception to the deadlift, i have never hit numbers anywhere near what pinto has(though i still would put my 600lb squat, at a drug free 192lbs, in the now defunct ADFPA, with equipment that would be a joke in todays PL world, and IPF-ish strict judging, against anyone on this board), i did not see and strength decreases as far as “real” strength is concerned. if you are talking about your geared max pl numbers, yes if you abandon chains, bands, boxes, boards, and practice in your gear, of course those numbers will go in the toilet, and if you are a serious PL, then that is a no-go.

i bet his power clean, raw free squat,raw conventional pull, and overhead power will maintain or maybe even go up some. mine did. but i threw in more heavy lifting for singles and triples than they prescribed. [/quote]

I’d say you could put it against anyone on the board and win!! I’d say you’re right about the raw numbers, maybe not sticking strictly to the WOD, but if you added in some singles and triples like ya did I’m sure it’d help.

Btw, the ADFPA isn’t dead. They’re just hiding…

[quote]romanaz wrote:
should be interesting to watch. i dont know why everyone rips on Crossfit, its probably one of the best ideas to come out of America in the recent past.[/quote]

They rip on it because of statements like this. There is no reason to overhype it. Crossfit is very good for what it is.