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Old 07-23-2011, 05:05 PM   #1860
Andrew Wilson
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
Posts: 1,132

Originally Posted by Matt Thomas View Post

Excellent article everyone should read.
My track coach encouraged me to be an 800-meter sprinter. He believed the anaerobic time domain would improve our performance on other events. And at local meets there was little competition in the 800 meter event. At 16 years old, I ran a 2:07 800m, was a decent hurdler (100m and 400m), and threw the discus.
I started my CrossFit career in March of 2008 with a 300lb deadlift, 200lb bench press, and an unknown squat; unfortunately I can’t give you numbers on a squat or press because I previously trained with less than full range squats and seated dumbbell presses. I was capable of stringing together 30 dead-hang pull-ups with ease, 100 plus push-ups, and walking long distances on my hands. I found myself in the top 1% of any physical challenge put forth (other than distance running, swimming, or cycling). In the first weeks of CrossFit I had a sub-3-minute “Fran” (21 65lb thrusters (front squatto-press) and 21 pull-ups, 15 thrusters and 15 pull-ups, 9 thrusters and 9 pull-ups) and 25 rounds of “Cindy” (as many rounds as possible in 20 minutes of 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, 15 squats). I could handle most of the workout at the men’s prescribed weights despite the fact that many of the movements were new to me.
The journey to WFAC began this past April when we became frustrated with recent injuries, stagnant results, and overall lack of any direction or clearly defined goals. At the time, I was questioning how I could train for the unknown − particularly in the context of training for competition. Would I ever go to a gymnastics meet without knowing my routine? When I objectively evaluated my performance, I discovered that I had not made any significant gains since my first six months of CrossFitting. I realized CrossFit had become another means of maintaining an aesthetic appearance for me. Additionally, I had suffered a catastrophic injury 16 months prior, herniation of 5 cervical and thoracic discs from a combination of excessive volume muscle-ups and a very high rep, heavy barbell workout performed for time with extreme fatigue and faulty mechanics. I’m guessing now that one should never do 50 bodyweight push presses at the end of a workout already preceded by 200 reps − 50 each of 1.5x bodyweight deadlifts, bodyweight back squats, bodyweight bench presses, and bodyweight cleans. Mac tried getting me to quit when I lost feeling in my right arm and the time on the clock started to approach the hour mark, but I insisted on finishing the challenge – I yelled at him through my mess of snot, sweat, and tears. During the recovery from this injury I decided that it was best not to compete in the CrossFit Games again because I did not have enough sense to stop when I should. I would sooner die than quit, and I lacked perspective when it came to competition.
I decided it was more important to live. I am also happy to say that I made a full recovery − the facial paralysis was temporary.
I half-followed Starting Strength with my training partner Staci in the weeks that followed my certification, but I refused to stop CrossFitting. As a result my strength gains were stunted, particularly regarding the Olympic Lifts. In my experience, CrossFit places emphasis on initial instruction that included some rudimentary advice on the barbell lifts. However, form is later sacrificed in the pursuit of a better time. Consequently, I performed the Olympic Lifts with little to no coaching in the “ground to overhead, get it there anyway you can” method. All that mattered was how fast I could do lots of them. My form was an abomination, but my fast Grace time (30 Clean and Jerks, 95lbs for women) was celebrated, and the loss of form due to exertional fatigue was equally celebrated. After all, I could move 95lbs from ground to overhead 30 times in under two minutes! That does not make me an athlete; it makes me a very fit exerciser with total disregard for the potential for injury and a lack of respect for the sport of weightlifting.
My horrible technique had been ingrained by the thousands of reps that I had done during my time CrossFitting
I decided to temporarily quit lifting and just go back to CrossFitting for a few days until my frustration with snatching wore off.
The next day I jumped into a CrossFit workout that contained 150 burpees and 150 pull-ups for time. Guess what? To my surprise I hadn’t lost any fitness, and was in fact stronger and even more capable of obliterating myself. I finished first ... wait, I may have been one of only a handful of people stupid enough to finish at all. I ruined the rest of the day by being physically ill and unable to eat our fancy sushi dinner at Nobu, or enjoy the Padres game that followed.
The real pain started 30 hours later. I was unable to straighten my arms for 5 days and was rendered essentially immobile.
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