the joy of strength training


December 22nd, 2007 at 2:35 pm

Crossfit London sunday workouts

Crossfit London
Crossfit London does Fight Gone Bad

I’m in London for the festive season so I have grabbed the opportunity to get some quality Crossfit sessions in. I’ve been going to the weekly Workout On Sunday sessions down in Stratford, east London. As you can see from the picture above, there’s no poncing about in gyms, we utilise nearby parks and back streets to the – well, disinterest of the locals, to be honest. Eastenders are not easily impressed!

We usually start with a session on technique – last week it was kettlebell swings, this week it was the concept2 rower. Then we move on to the main workout, up to 20 minutes of highly intensive exercise.

I’m not sure if last week’s workout had a name but it consisted of:

  • 20 kettlebell swings (weight of your choice)
  • 5 pull-ups
  • 5 ring dips

Maximum rounds in 15 minutes

My word, ring dips are humbling! It was my first time on gymnastic rings and I was a bit rubbish. Normally I can knock out 10-15 bodyweight dips on parallel bars with no problems but on the rings I barely managed 2 full range of motion efforts. The instability of the rings is a big factor, and the range of motion expected by Crossfit is greater than I am used to. The rings have to go right into the armpits. Since I couldn’t manage that many ring dips, I did 5 negatives instead. This entails just doing the lowering part of the dip, and putting my feet on the ground to get back up to the top position.

Kettlebell swings are an absolute beast but a fantastic leg exercise. They leave your legs like jelly. I have been doing dumbbell swings for a while so I was keen to try the kettlebell version. I actually now prefer the kettlebell swing because it’s more, well, swingy.

This week we did Fight Gone Bad, a Crossfit classic. This consists of:

  • Sumo deadlift high pulls
  • Concept2 row
  • Tree ball (our outdoor version of wall ball)
  • Push press
  • Box jumps (24 inches)

1 minute each exercise, 3 rounds
1 minute rest between rounds

Andrew demonstrates the
sumo deadlift high pull

I used a 20kg olympic bar for the sumo deadlift high pull and the push press. I found the push press the most challenging exercise because it has the least leg involvement and my legs are comparatively much stronger than my upper body.

I also found tree ball surprisingly challenging. I thought it was going to be one of the easier exercises – how hard can it be to throw a med ball at a tree?? But the effort of throwing and catching a 5kg ball when you are already fatigued, plus doing a full squat is deceptively hard. Added to that the fact that you are trying to hit the tree and not passers-by so your aim has to stay true, you can’t just chuck the thing in the right general direction.

Tree ball 1 Tree ball 2
Steve performs tree ball

What I love about Crossfit and similar systems is how seemingly innocuous exercises can turn out to be quite difficult. It keeps you on your toes, constantly challenged. If you’ve got used to doing a familiar exercise one way and you are suddenly expected to do it another, it can be like doing the exercise for the first time. You can’t be too cocky in this situation!

Crossfit is growing in the UK, although it is confined to a few big cities at the moment. For a list of current Crossfit affiliates, click here.

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