Tuesday, October 16, 2012

CrossFit Total

CrossFit Total is a workout we do fairly infrequently at CF.  I don't remember why, but I know I missed it that last time we did it.  I might have missed more than one.  Last night was the first time I'd done this workout since May 9, 2011.

The workout is fairly simple.  We don't have a fixed time limit to complete the workout, but it usually takes me 45-50 minutes to get through the warm-up lifts and the actual test lifts.  In a fixed time frame, the goal is to get a maximum weight back squat, a max weight strict (aka military) press, and max weight deadlift.

You are only allowed three attempts per lift, excluding your warm-up sets.  And, if you manage to fail on each of those 3 attempts, you can't count your warm-up weight.  You get a zero.  Your score is the sum of your three max lifts.

Given the limit of three lifts, there is definitely some strategy involved.  Essentially, I want the first attempt to be something relatively heavy, but something I know I can do.  The second lift should be a stretch, but with a decent probability that it will go.  If the second goes, the third is more of a stretch - something where I might fail.  If I fail on the second, I try to find something between the first and second that I think I can make.

I had three goals for the workout.  The first goal was basically something I was sure I could do.  The second was what I thought I could do, and the third was my "reach" goal - if everything went as well as possible.  Here are the three goals I'd established:

Goal 1: 345/125/385 = 855.
Goal 2: 350/130/395 = 875
Goal 3: 355/135/415 = 905

My score on 5/9/2011 was 315/125/365 = 805.

We have just complete a 12-week squat cycle, called a Hatch Cycle.  It was 2 squat workouts per week, doing back squats and front squats in each workout.  I started the program with a back squat best of 330 pounds.  During the program, I got to 340 pounds and that lift felt fairly solid; I knew I could do more.

During the workout last night, I spent way more time on my back squat warm-ups than the warm-ups for the other lifts.  Primarily, I used the first part of the warm-up not only to get ready for the heavy back squats, but also as an all body warm-up that had me primed to continue fairly quickly through the other lifts.

My squat warm-ups were as follows:


Because I was fairly confident from the work over the previous 12 weeks, my first attempt was at 345.  It went easily.  I felt confident after this lift and jumped straight to 355, not stopping at my intermediate goal.  I hit that easily.  I then wavered a bit, unsure if I should try 360 or 365.  I finally opted for 365, and although it wasn't easy, I got it.  All three of these lifts were PRs.

Already, I was above my best hopes for this lift and I immediately started thinking about the possibility of 900 pounds.

I warmed up for the strict press at 45, 75, 95 and 115.  My first test attempt was 125 and it went surprisingly easily.  This is a lift I've done very rarely in the past six months.  We did one workout of 5x5  seated presses recently, but I hadn't really tried any heavy singles in a long time.  I guess I really didn't know what to expect on this one.  I jumped to 135 (old PR of 130) and it also went easily.  I now had 500 pounds and I was thinking even more about 900.  I was positive I could deadlift 395, so rather than shooting for 145 on the next press, I went for 140.  It also went easily and I probably could have done 145.

Now, I was at 505 with just the deadlift remaining.  Of the three lifts in this workout, the deadlift is my best lift.  I warmed up at 135, 225, 275, and 315.  My first test attempt was at 375, a weight I knew I'd make and it went easily.  My plan for the next lift was 395, but I opted for 405 to tie my PR instead.  This seemed somewhat risky, because if I failed here, I might not make 395 for the 900 total on my third attempt.  I had only ever pulled 405 once before, on 2/29/2011, and it had been a huge struggle that day.  It seemed like that bar took forever to get to my waist that first time.

Yesterday, though, the 405 moved easily, and I was at 910 with one lift to go.  Here again, I was torn.  Should I go for 415 or 425 on my last lift?  The higher value seemed reasonable, but the lower value would give me a PR on all three lifts for the night, with less risk of failure.  So, I went for the 415 and while it was hard, I wasn't at my absolute limit.  I'm sure I could have done the 425, but there are other days to attempt that.

My final scores were 365/140/415 = 920, with all three lifts above my highest goal level.

My wife drove home from the gym, and I used that time to post my score on Facebook, so other CrossFit friends could see it.  The first comment I got was from a running friend in CA, and he asked if there were any steroids involved.  That brought me back to earth a bit because I cannot answer "no" to that question.

When I started taking testosterone at the beginning of June, my levels were clinically low and I was struggling in the gym quite a bit.  I haven't had another test to measure my testosterone levels since then.  Are the readings in the normal range now?  Or, are they in the high range?  Essentially, I am left wondering how much of this workout was me, and how much is due to the twice weekly injections of testosterone.

I did the work last night.  I did the training.  I work hard in the gym.  But, I am also fairly positive that I would not have lifted as much last night if I wasn't doing testosterone supplementation.

A tainted result?  Possibly?  Probably?  I'll probably have more of an opinion when I have my next set of lab tests done.  If my testosterone levels are above the normal range, the result will feel somewhat tainted.  At the same time, I certainly don't want to go back to how I was feeling six months ago.  It is certainly very encouraging to be making progress in the gym again.


Jeff Farbaniec said...

At the risk of starting down a slippery slope, is it really "doping" if you're merely returning a compromised T level to normal? Are climbing shoes "aid?"

Damon said...

I agree with you. I was just surprised by how well I did, which had me wondering if maybe I'm having a better than average dose response to the testosterone. The response to the medicine is very variable, so I could be above the normal high range right now and not know it. Or, I may be right in the normal range, and I get all the credit for the lifts. With climbing, everything is aid. The only valid climbs are done completely nude, with no gear at all, on a pitch black night, on a route you've never seen or climbed before. The weather should be unpleasant too.