Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Another deadlift PR and some thoughts about CrossFit

After a rest day Monday, and a moderately tough CF workout on Tuesday night (snatch complexes, and 100 reps each of pull-ups and box jumps), I woke up feeling tired this morning. Because of an obligation after work today, I either had to work out this morning or not at all. So, I drank a cup of really poor quality hotel coffee and headed to CrossFit.

After our warm-up, which cruelly contained more pull-ups, the strength work today was deadlifts. I was expecting deadlifts next Wednesday and strict presses today, so this caught me a bit off guard. I was hoping to structure my training a bit to go for a deadlift PR next week. Our rep pattern this morning was 5-5-3-3-1-max, starting at about 65% of our one rep max. This is not an ideal rep pattern to get a PR and I felt tired from last night, so I decided to just concentrate on the lifts as programmed.

Here are my first four rounds:
3x305# (math error - should have been 295)

At this point, I felt pretty good, so rather than finishing at 335 and 355, I decided to jump up a bit. I did one rep at 365# and I struggled a bit. But, I was now committed to at least taking a shot at my PR, which stood at 385#. I'd failed at 405# a few weeks ago, so I opted for an attempt at 395# this morning. I took about four minutes rest after my 365 rep, and I also removed my shoes - a trick that allows you to pull the bar a little bit less distance.

With the gym owner/coach cheering me on, I nailed the lift, and I'm sure I could have done 405# today.

From there, we did a main workout of power cleans and hand-stand push-ups (I do an easier variation on these), but my deadlift PR had me thinking about something I'd read recently on a web forum devoted to lifting as much weight as possible.

First, to be honest, a deadlift of 395 is barely entry level for a serious male lifter, especially the guys who focus purely on power. But, for a 50 year old male who has been lifting about 5 years, it's a respectable lift.

On the forums I was reading, I found an anti-CrossFit thread. Basically, the summary of the thread was as follows:

CrossFit makes women lean, strong and really good looking
CrossFit makes men skinny and they never get strong
CrossFit injures everyone over the age of 35 who tries it

I won't disagree with the first point at all.

I don't even want to discuss the last point.

It's the second point that is interesting to me.

First of all, after a year-plus of CF, I am not skinny (the people on that forum consider skinny to be an insult - a crime against the gigantic muscles that lifters want to have). But, it's the strong part that surprises me.

Before I started CrossFit, I was doing lots of strength-focused work on the primary power-lifts - squats, deadlifts, and bench presses.

I started lifting regularly early in 2007. Late in 2009, I got my deadlift to 355. And, 10 months later, when I started CrossFit, I'd actually regressed somewhat in the deadlift. My squat was stuck at 275#. My bench press was stuck at 185#. It took a while to re-gain my strength, but here is how my deadlift has progressed since I started CF:

10/2010 - Started CF, deadlift max below 355 and 335 was tough
5/2011 - 365#
6/2011 - Repeated 365#
8/2011 - 375#
9/2011 - 385#
1/2012 - new 3-rep max of 355#, missed 405#
2/2012 - new PR of 395# and 405# is imminent

Since joining CF, my squat has gone to 320# from 275#. We don't do bench presses very often, so I have no idea where I am on that list. In just over a year of CF, my deadlift has increased 40 pounds - over 11%. During the 50th (and now 51st) of my years on this planet.

So, while I'm not going to be winning any power-lifting meets, I have definitely gotten stronger while doing CF. Now, if only I could get skinnier...


Dr Andy said...


Nice job. I think as a 21 year old I deadlifted 450, but today I'd be lucky to do 300.

I thought the criticism of CrossFit was funny because my criticism of it (besides the cult aspect) would be that it makes you strong and fast, but doesn't do much for endurance and it leaves you too tired to train seriously for anything else (running, biking, rowing, etc). I guess everything is perspective!

Dr. A

Damon said...

As I walked into the instructor locker room at Sugarbush this past weekend, I saw may boss. I mentioned to him that I knew I was getting old, because the workouts I do mid-week to keep me strong for skiing are leaving me tired for the weekends as well. CF does take a lot out of me, and it does affect my ability to do endurance work. But, I had a good summer of road cycling last summer, my rowing is slowly improving, and my running...

My running certainly isn't what it used to be. And strangely, that doesn't seem to bother me at all.