Just one pull-up

…unassisted with no kicking legs. Just one, clean, chin over the bar, pull-up. That’s what I told the Crossfit coach yesterday, as I prepared to do my very first Crossfit workout. That has been on the top of my personal “bucket list” for eons.

Yes, I am doing Crossfit. No, I haven’t lost my mind, although my body today is telling me that perhaps I have. I’m doing Crossfit because I want to be strong, lean and healthy. I’m at an age where strength (weight) training is crucial – plain old cardio is not going to get me strong or lean, build muscle or strengthen my bones.

Not enough “manly” hormones to worry about

Contrary to popular belief, weight training will not bulk me up. I don’t have enough testosterone in my body to become the “hulkess,” and I’m not adding “those” supplements to my routine either. What I’m doing is using what my body provides to build muscle and get lean, along with some wicked and very effective workouts. I also changed my eating lifestyle (Paleo) which will help as well.

I have always worked out in some form or another – I can thank the Army for getting me into that mindset. Prior to the Army, you couldn’t get me to do any form of exercise. The Army created a love of running for me, that sadly, I can’t do anymore. I have always preferred a more high intensity workout – the ones that really make you sweat because you’re giving it your all. Running trails would give me that sort of workout as would high impact step aerobics. Now it looks like Crossfit will replace that feeling. Besides, I need a good challenge, physically and mentally.

Crossfit is very high intensity, and even though I’m not in the best shape at the moment (I’m in ok shape), I worked really hard yesterday. This is not for everyone – it’s a tough workout (workouts change daily), and you’re expected to participate when you show up; whether you’re doing the Workout of the Day (WOD) as written, or modified/scaled down, as I’m currently doing.

Do or do not, there is no try

Honestly, I had no idea what to expect from my workout yesterday. The coach told me she was going to modify things for me (thank you Sarah!) because I was new and some things I have never done, and even though the weight was less on the barbell and the Kettlebell, I was going to have to work hard, and I did.

Part of the workout yesterday involved pull-ups. Now, I’ve never done a pull-up in my life. I can’t tell you how many attempts I’ve made over the years, kicking legs and all. I just couldn’t get my chin over that bar. Honestly, my chin never got close to the bar.

Enter the “band.” For people like me, using a band to do a pull-up is kind of cool. To be fair, I had a choice of doing a band pull-up, jumping pull-up or a pull-up with a kip (a jump with a twisting kind of move which does not look easy). I chose the band, because I needed the help.

Simply put, the band (using one foot/one band), allows me to do an assisted, but correct pull-up. It was an awesome feeling to actually get my chin over the bar! I did 18 (my set was 6,5,4,3), when I should have done more (my original set was written as 21,15, 9, 6).

Am I upset that I couldn’t do the original set? Yes and no. Yes, because I’m competitive and it also would’ve meant I was in better shape. No, because I have to build up my upper body strength (always a weakness for me), and I gave it my all. I was literally shaking on my last attempt.

My first Crossfit workout

Warm-up – five different sets of exercises performed on the balls of the feet (no clue what you would call it, but it got my heart rate up and my quad’s started to burn).

Clean pulls: 5 with a PVC pipe (to learn proper technique), 25 with a 25# barbell (a first for me, I’ve never worked with a barbell before).

Kettlebell swings: The coach wanted me to use an 8kg (17# bell) which I tried. I couldn’t get consistent good form, so I went down to the 4kg (8# bell), but added an extra six (6) swings with the 8kg bell, for good measure. I did the original set as prescribed (above), plus 6. I’m thankful that I’ve been using a 7# kettlebell at home for the past few weeks. One of the best workouts (all by itself) that you’ll ever get. It really helped me yesterday.

Pull-ups: see above. I’m extremely proud of that set, even if it wasn’t the number it should have been. I did my best and to me, that’s what counts. I will eventually scale down and then off the band to regular pull-ups. I’m hoping that day comes sooner, rather than later.

For each set, we alternated between Kettlebell swings and pull-ups. It was intense and very hard work and it was for time. Just call me “turtle!” Slow and steady for sure, and for now. Along the way, I will increase my rep’s and my speed, I know that. And, I will be getting stronger and leaner as well.

For the finale, we did 4 sets of 25 sit-ups – the faster you could do them in a minute, the more rest you received between each round. I have no clue how many I did, I was out of juice! I do know, I did my best.

Tomorrow (Friday), is my second class. Funny thing. As sore as I am, right this minute, I can’t wait.

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