CrossFit Total is one of my favorite workouts at CrossFit. First of all, it's a test with very tangible results. And, everyone is doing movements they can handle with no scaling. Comparisons are easy.
Many CF workouts are scaled, at least by me. I can't do lots of unassisted pull-ups or push-ups. So, I alter those movements. I can't do muscle-ups or unassisted ring dips or handstand push-ups. But, with CrossFit total, the workout is simple, and there is only one real place where you can cheat - by not doing squats to full depth. Well, you could introduce some illegal movement into the strict press, but that's easy to feel and for others to see.
Also, I'm stronger than most people my age, and I'm not a skinny guy. So, my CF Total tends to be pretty solid with respect to other people in the gym. Yeah, my competitive past as a runner is not gone, only transferred to a new sport. The workout itself is simple:
Build to a 1 rep max back squat
Build to a 1 rep max strict press
Build to a 1 rep max deadlift
Add the three numbers together for your final score.
We just completed a 12 week cycle at the gym focusing on squats. One of my major weaknesses in the squat is my lack of mobility, especially ankle dorsiflexion. I have done a back squat as heavy as 375 pounds in the past, but I know that my depth was not good. I did not reach the point where my femurs were parallel to the floor. It's legal to go lower than that, but with limited mobility, I've struggled to get that deep.
For the past 12 weeks, I changed my approach to squats. Each workout used weights based on your current 1-rep max weight. Instead of using 375 as my max weight, I pretended that 315 was my max. That meant I would lift lighter each workout. I also bought Olympic lifting shoes, which help with depth and the ankle dorsiflexion issue. And, I spent a lot more of my warm-up time on mobility issues.
All of this allowed me to go through the 12 weeks working on my form and squat depth. If I had used higher weights, my form would have degraded as I was at my strength limits. By using lower weights, I was able to focus much more on form. And, it helped a lot. Last week, another member of the gym commented that my front squats were much improved. A number of coaches noticed better form at depth on my back and front squats.
So, last night was a chance to put it to the test.
I warmed up for the squat at 45 pounds, then 135, 185, 225 and 275. After that, it was time to do single reps at higher weights. I did one rep at 305, focusing on form, and it was hard but I got it. From there I moved to 325 and then 335. That 10 pound increase was difficult, but I was pretty sure I had one more rep in me. I moved to 350 - a nice "round" number and hit the rep. I was a bit worried about my depth, but before I could even think much about it, one of our coaches complimented me on the lift and my depth. So, that might be my legitimate PR - highest weight lifted to full depth.
From there, I moved to the strict press. This is a major weakness of mine. Years of running and skiing, plus a shoulder injury that I fought in the past year haven't helped much with my upper body strength. I've lifted 140 a couple times, but never higher. Yesterday, I warmed up at 45 and 95, and then moved to 115. That went fairly easy, so I moved to 125 and 135. The latter was a struggle, but I was sure I hadn't maxed out. From there, I decided to go for a minimal PR - 142.5. And, I nailed it. I later failed at 145, but I had a new PR.
Next was the deadlift. I had lifted 435 in June and 440 in July, but I've done very little deadlifting since then. I had no idea what to expect, but I knew I needed to get a little beyond 400 to get to a total of 900. And, I needed 427.5 to equal my previous CF total of 920. I warmed up at 135, 185, 225, 275, and 325. From there, I jumped to 375 for my first working rep and that was a struggle. I then moved up to 405. I was able to lift this weight, but it was incredibly hard. I knew I was done at that point.
So, I got to a total of 897.5, which was 22.5 pounds less than last time.
But, given the craziness of my life over the past few months, I'm not really unhappy with that effort. My 920 last time was probably based on a bogus 365 in the squat. I have a new "legit" best there. And a new strict press PR. And, I hope to get back over 900 the next time we do this.
Also, my wife managed to beat her previous best by a single pound for this workout, so we each went home happy.