Table of Contents
Body weight: 162.8
Upcoming competitions: N/A
2022-Early 2023 Year in Review
2022 was a good year for my training. I finally had the home gym I had been itching for!
Although not ideal (I cannot do bar or ring muscle-ups, other than a weird, semi-strict “L” version and have to go around the corner to throw my wall ball), I’ve been able to do about 90 percent of my programming from the comfort of my basement.
In March of 2022, I started Mat Fraser’s HWPO Flagship programming. It took a few weeks to get adjusted to the volume and intensity (to be fair, Mat foresees this and looking back, those first few weeks weren’t that bad), but from then on, it was game on.
I didn’t participate in the 2022 CrossFit Open nor did I take part in any competitions. It was more of a “do work” kind of year and I think I made good progress, for the most part.
I recently set a squat PR (~336 pounds). This is significant in itself, but is especially cool for me since I did it at a pretty low bodyweight for me (162 pounds that day). My deadlift max is also at its all-time high right now (~430 pounds) and my cardiovascular capabilities in metcons and WODs have felt good, although maybe not at their all-time highs.
I would recommend HWPO to anyone looking for something other than CrossFit “classroom” programming, but who may not be ready to program for themselves. I have preferred it to my previous CompTrain and Functional Bodybuilding experiences, although, as the name implies, you gotta put in the work.
2023 CrossFit Open
Not having aforementioned adequate ceiling space for muscle-ups or convenient wall ball shots, I decided not to formally sign up for the 2023 CrossFit Open.
I technically could have tried to participate at a local “CrossFit” gym (it’s actually a semi-functional, functional fitness gym improperly using the CrossFit name…but you didn’t hear that from me!), but I don’t know any of the people, don’t really like the vibe, and wouldn’t want to have to wait or fight to use the single rower and single set of rings (which, as we saw from 23.1, were big components of the Open!)
Even with my “unique” floor arrangement, need to waste ~25 second walking to and from my wall ball wall (outside and around the corner), and L-sit ring, semi-strict ring muscle-ups, I managed 194 reps on 23.1.
Wow…hard work does pay off!
I didn’t experience any glaring deficiencies (other than technical limitations that the muscle-ups set-up created) and was quite pleased with my performance.
I stayed up late (the Open premiers late…ish in Central Europe) to watch the 23.2 announcement with my wife.
And regretted doing so.
Shuttle runs…are you serious?
I changed my training plans for the next day. I was not going to do 23.2.
And that was that!
The 23.3 announcement the week after was bittersweet for me. My beloved strict handstand push-ups had returned (albeit with a slightly tougher standard) and I got to put my extra wall walk practice to the test (passed with flying colors I might add!)
I knew my max snatch was probably just hovering at 185 pounds and my double-unders were going through a…difficult phase at the time. Hopefully my upside down prowess would balance these deficiencies out!
…and they did! But just barely.
The wall walks and handstand push-ups were pretty fast. Snatch cycling for the first 2 barbells was good.
I got to that 185-pound barbell with about 5 seconds left for a single attempt.
It wasn’t even close.
But 207 reps, albeit with a bad tie-break score, wasn’t the end of the world for me. Plus now, I had more concrete, action items in place.
- Fix the double-unders
- Olympic lifting…yes…finally learn how to use these things correctly!
Now I had two tests down and was actually feeling good about myself. I figured I’d be solidly in the 5th-8th percentiles within the 35-39 age group and was proud of my performances 23.1 and 23.3.
I wondered where my final placement would have been had I completed all of the workouts…
You knew I had to do it.
Two days after completing 23.3, I bit the bullet and decided to give 23.2 a shot. This was going to prove to be an even more polarizing expderience than 23.2 was.
The first major obstacle was going to be the set-up.
I don’t have a clear, 25-foot lane to endlessly run back and forth on. I had the option to run straight to the pull-up bar and back, but this would require me to do a small jump out my glass door at the beginning and end of each rep. I tried it a few times and didn’t like the thought of how this would go down once I was fatigued…
So I went for the “all indoor” option where I would essentially have to almost face-plant into the wall at the end of every rep and do some moonwalking back to the pull-up bar to start the burpee pull-ups.
The second dilemma arose later in the game when I came across Andrew Hiller’s video advocating for…walking the shuttle runs.
Hot dog did this sound interesting!
I listened to what Hiller had to say and watched his sped up 23.2 walking attempt (the vast majority of the video above).
Man did his reasoning make sense…and he had the video to prove it!
I knew I could push myself to keep moving on the pull-ups (something Hiller emphasized was necessary if taking this approach) so…walk 23.2 I would!
…and I had my best individual performance on any of the Open 2023 workouts! 152 reps of shuttle “runs” and burpee pull-ups!
It was a good feeling…but I knew it wasn’t over.
Cycling light-weight olympic lifts isn’t a major problem for me. The cleans in 23.1 and even the 135-pound snatches in 23.3…no major hiccups.
As soon as things start drifting into even “intermediately-heavy” territory, though…
My 198-pound thruster did not do me any favors on the leaderboard.
Man…I think it ended up accounting for, like, 90 percent of my total points (in a the “more points are bad” scenario).
(Underline, “Olympic lifting…yes…finally learn how to do these things correctly!” on my concrete action items).
I finished the Open without injury, in pretty high spirits, and with an idea of what I needed to improve on.
This gets us to today…
April, May, June:
Rowing (improved stroke technique and pacing)
Double-unders (improve technique)
Bodyweight (start beginning calisthenics)
Strength (maintain powerlifting gains)
~July, August, September, October, November, December:
Olympic lifting (improved technique)
Strength (maintain powerlifting gains)
I won’t be in my current home gym for much longer and there is a good chance I will be without most of my equipment for a month or longer. April and May should be “business as usual”, but June and July could be a bit off as my family moves to our new home. Thankfully, I will be able to work on all of the action items with limited equipment.
At the end of February, I contacted former U.S. National Rowing team member Jack Nunn for a rowing assessment and programming. Nunn is the founder of Roworx and offers personalized rowing assessments (along with in-person coaching, classes, and seminars) in coordination with his F.A.S.T.E.R. program.
I sent in a video of me attempting to do the “pick drill” for him to assess. Try not to cringe!
After reviewing the video with his father (a Olympic medalist in rowing, himself), Coach Nunn sent me this video, gently breaking down my numerous flaws while providing immediate action items. I quickly put his instructions to work and have already seen my average 500/m splits drop by 3-4 seconds.
The following day, Coach Nunn sent me a 30-day rowing plan which I plan to implement in the coming days.
(Thanks, Coach; this is awesome!)
The new stroke technique will take some getting used to (it incorporates much more legs than I had been using and I need to learn how to pace myself with the new stroke), but I am confident that I will see significant improvement in my rowing. The 60 calories in 23.1 was no problem for me, but anything longer could have been a problem. At 5’7”-ish, my rowing really has to be dialed in to make any kind of run at the quarterfinals next year.
I scoured the Internet for different double-under progression programs in an attempt to follow some concrete guidance on getting better at these. However, just about everything I found was either “get your first double-under!” or “learn to do the Ali Shuffle while trip-undering in a cross-over!”
I need something…in between.
First off, I decided to get serious about my rope. The $6 department store version I’d been using for awhile is good for what it is and is definitely punching above its weight and price range. I’m probably a bit too rough on mine and half the time, the ball bearing explodes off, leading to a 10-minute search-and-rescue mission.
I went with the Bear KompleX Speed Jump Rope. This was mainly because I could not get an RPM rope at the time (I might revisit this in May). I have not used it yet, but am excited about the reviews I’ve read.
I also settled on Brent Fikowski’s “Improve Your Double-unders” program. The program seems to assume some level of competence with double-unders and I am hoping that it’s 2-days-per-week program will be sufficient for seeing some improvement over the next month or so. I start the program next week.
I have been interested in bodyweight work for some time and have always been pretty good at strict movements. I know that developing better body control through these movement will help me with high-volume bodyweight work and kipping movements. Most importantly, I have always thought the Convict Conditioning guy (“Coach” Paul Wade) and the Kavadlo brothers were pretty funny, over-the-top, caricatures of “tough guy, no equipment” fitness doodz.
I started the Convict Conditioning “Step 1” movements (wall pushups, shoulderstand squats, vertical pulls, knee tucks, short bridges, wall headstands) a few weeks ago. For the most part, these haven’t been difficult and apparently, a lot of people skip these steps. However, author Paul Wade advises against this, arguing for better body adaptation and muscle memory by taking the time to master even the easiest movements.
I agree with him: 50 wall push-ups is actually a lot more taxing than you would think!
I added the Kavadlo brothers Next Level Strength regimen last week. These progressions are interesting because there are only 3 levels for the various ring and parallette movements, although the movements themselves seem to be more challenging. To be fair, each level is supposed to take a few months (as opposed to ~1 month with the Convict Conditioning progressions) to give more time to master each step.
My parallette work ahs been pretty non-existent so even the beginner movements (particularly the table bridge to grounded L-sit) has been kinda tough for me.
My wife is still following HWPO so I still have access to these workouts. Before my rowing piece each day, I am doing the strength portions of the HWPO workouts (specifically the squat, front squat, deadlift, bench press, and strict press pieces). Although not perfect, I think this should be sufficient work to at least maintain my strength gains without overly fatiguing me for the “skill” work that follows.
I have not decided on how I will be approaching my Olympic lifting work yet or where/when I will get one-on-one coaching, but will likely have a better idea come summer. I think this combination should be sufficient for helping me down my improvement path and to prepare me for the 2024 CrossFit Open and local CrossFit competitions that I will be participating in next year.
Here is to a fruitful April; best of luck to everyone competing in the quarterfinals (and beyond!)
P.S. I got a new phone last week. Resolution should be, like, 102384092314 times better moving forward!