Sunday, July 2, 2006

Again Faster in Chains

On Sunday morning they gathered. Seven athletes and two trainers. The objective: pummel the everliving sh*t out of two tires and beta test my newest piece of equipment.

Dave, Tara, and Dawn made the trip to the Pond from Crossfit Topsfield. Jo, Josh, and Sam represented Crossfit Boston, along with EC and myself. Pat rounded out the field, sporting an Ace Hardware hat that seemed all too appropriate given our choice of implements.

Again Faster was ready to rock.

We warmed up, and I gave a quick demonstration of proper sledge technique. The movement is very similar to a d-ball slam.

The hammer is fully extended overhead, with one hand on the pommel and the other against the hammer head. At this point, the athlete is at full extension. All the power is generated from the hips. The athlete explodes downward, sliding the high hand toward the pommel, forcefully closing the hips. Hopefully, he/she hits the tire. On the rebound, the athlete catches the hammer right below the head, ready for the next swing.

The men were equipped with 10 pound sledgehammers, and the women got the 8 pounder. After a little practice, I explained the workout. You should have it burned into memory by now--I've posted it ad nauseum:

5 rounds

20 sledge swings (10 left, 10 right)
5 burpees
20 knee-to-elbows
5 burpees
20 pullups
5 burpees

Everyone did the workout as prescribed, except for Sammy. I had a special treat for her. Sumo deadlift highpulls. With a twist.

Last week, we constructed a portable pullup bar that can be hung from any horizontal span. This week, we abandoned the lashing straps, turning my creation into a horribly masochistic barbell. We added 70 pounds of chain.

Chain is extremely unstable. It requires a ton of muscle recruitment to stabilize the load throughout the range of motion.

As the chain leaves the ground, the bar becomes heavier, each successive link contributing to the load. The higher it goes, the more it weighs. This is great as a training tool, because the load maxes out as the athlete reaches the apex of the movement. This requires more focus and effort than a static load. Plus, it makes a cool noise.

By training with an unstable implement with a variable weight curve, the athlete learns to perform beyond their current capacity with familiar movements. Muscle memory is disrupted, causing adaptation. When the athlete goes back to a stable load with a constant weight, the movement is easier. Awesome.

Variation in weight is great for training acceleration out of the bottom of the squat. In the bottom position, the ground bears the majority of the weight. As the athlete extends, the weight ramps up. He/she starts the movement quickly, and slows naturally as the load increases. This creates an acceleration pattern that should transfer to "regular" squats, promoting explosion out of the hole.

Everybody went hard. Josh and Dave put on a hell of a show with the sledgehammer, putting holes in my poorly-built tire. I don't think Michelin will be using us in a commercial anytime soon.

Halfway through the workout, Jo looked at me and said,

"This would be much easier without the burpees."

I smiled. "I know."

She kept going.

Once again, we inspired more stares and a little bit of slack-jawed wonder among innocent bystanders. Check out the pictures again--everytime you see anyone in the background, they're gawking. I love it.

Two Boston Police Officers on patrol asked if we were training for a competition. Nope. Just for fun, Officers. One promised to join us next weekend. If I was a perp, I wouldn't want a Crossfit Cop chasing me. Speed, strength, and power is a hell of a combination for a pursuer to bring to the table.

Everybody finished the workout in 20-30 minutes. It was a good show.

Afterward, we used the bar to practice some O-lifts. In theory, the bar travels in a fairly straight line from the ground to overhead during the snatch and the clean and jerk. If the athlete pulls the bar through a less-than-straight range of motion, the chains sway, giving instant force-feedback regarding the quality of the lift. More swaying equals poor technique.

Jo demonstrated good technique in the overhead squat. She has great flexibility and depth in the bottom position. I'm jealous.

We had a phenomenal day. Odds are, you weren't there. Next Sunday at 8:00, come out to the Pond. Doing the workout is more fun than reading about it.

Go faster!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Jon, it was a great workout and great fun. Can't wait to come back again... in the mean time I am going to practice my sledge hammering... anyone need a wall knocked down?

You rock!!!


7/02/2006 06:38:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Gilson said...

Thanks, Dawn. We might be able to find a wall for you to practice on...does the owner need to know first?

I'll have your AF Bar for you next time I see you.

7/02/2006 09:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the AF bar- I think my arms are definitely sore from the SDHPs that I subbed for the pull-ups (I'm saving my hands for Murph tomorrow.) I finished in about 24 minutes and had a great time!

7/02/2006 09:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

26:50something; subbed pushups for the pullups.

Thanks to Jon, I now know exactly how much fun a bar and chains can be.


7/02/2006 10:48:00 PM  
Blogger Josh Roman said...

Again. Faster. Again. Faster!

Loved the workout. 29-ish, I think, but in the haze of poorly executed burpees anything was possible. I'm getting a sledge this week. It's just too much fun, especially swinging lefty.

See you next Sunday!

7/03/2006 01:52:00 AM  

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