More Lifting, Some Travel, Etc

Yesterday I participated in something awesome. It’s known as the “CrossFit Total” and it’s a strength workout that CrossFit gyms do on occasion. The gym that I attend is called CrossFit Center City and they do the CrossFit Total every six months. The workout itself is very simple. You get three attempts at squat, deadlift and press to set your maximum successful lift in each discipline. Of course you also get to warm up and figure out what sort of attempts you’d like to make. I will list out my attempts in pounds because the workout was recorded in pounds — I usually lift in kilos though as they are the standard measurement in the lifting world as a whole.

We started off with squats. I did a few easy warmups with 0 (ie, air squat), bar, 135 and 185. By this point my motion felt good and I felt warmed up so I wanted to keep things low in volume from that point forward to not wear myself out at all. I did one rep at 245 then another rep at 275. Both felt pretty good. I decided to open at 298 (the weights were in kilos so it was 135kg with a 45lb bar). It felt pretty good but not easy. I then jumped to 307 (139kg with a 45lb bar) and made it but it required a fair bit of hyping myself up. This lift was just over my PR but I usually train in a slightly fatigued state because I lift every weekday. So my true PR is obviously higher than my training PR. Therefore I ended up going with 315 for my final attempt and it was a pretty epic struggle. It was very slow. But I ended up making it for a new PR. I was really happy with this result.

The next lift was the deadlift. I never really test my deadlift PR because it isn’t something that you can recover from as easily as squats. A few weeks ago (in December) I tried doing some pulls with lifting shoes on (ie, they have a heel so they make it harder to pick a bar up off of the ground) and I had no real trouble doing 165kg (363lb) outside of some grip issues. But I decided to deadlift in socks at the CrossFit Total to make it easier. I did three warmups with 185 then maybe a few more at like 205 or something. I can’t remember if I did a second set of warmups at a light weight. Then I did one rep at 255 and it was ridiculously easy. Like I didn’t even notice the bar. I knew it was going to be a good day. I did another easy warmup at 305 and then another one at 345. 345 started to feel like there was some weight on the bar but I knew I could open at 375 without much trouble. I ended up having to open at 365 because there was a long wait (like 15 minutes) to get to the area where we could actually take “official” attempts plus the right weight denominations weren’t available and we were running out of space on the bar because of the size of some of the bumper plates. 365 was easy. I did 385 next and it wasn’t bad at all. I decided to go for 405 for my third and I made it as well. It’s hard to say how a rep like that was because I was so focused that I wasn’t really paying attention to anything except for pulling. It’s hard to describe but on a near-max or max attempt, the lift itself is kind of a blur in your memory. Either way, 405 was a new PR and I was really happy with it. I can do more though so I’m excited to put at least 50lbs on that number by the next CrossFit Total in six months. Maybe 100lbs.

One factor is that I deadlift with “double overhand” which means that both of my palms are facing me. Most people pull their max deadlifts with a mixed grip where one palm faces away. The reason is that it’s easier to grip the bar with a mixed grip. For me, pulling 405 with a double overhand grip isn’t a problem at all. I never felt like I was in jeopardy of losing my grip because I was using a “hook” grip (ie, putting my thumb under my fingers). But it may become an issue once I get into the 450 or 500 area. We shall see.

Anyway, it was pretty forgettable, but I did a 130lb shoulder press (ie, a strict standing barbell overhead press) for my last lift. I don’t ever train this lift so I didn’t have particularly high hopes for it. It ended pretty much as I expected. I do want to train it more though so hopefully I can do a good amount more at the next CrossFit Total. Something to improve on. Here’s an image of the final scoreboard with a few of the other participants (click to enlarge):

In other news, I have some travel coming up. A few days ago I happened to be browsing the website of The Daily Show and I noticed they had two tickets for Feb 2nd. Easiest decision ever. I grabbed them without a plan for who to go with. Within about 5 minutes of posting on Facebook I’d found someone to go with. I’m going with my poker friend Roman Yitzhaki (aka Empire2000). I have no idea who the guest is going to be but I’m excited to go. I’ve actually been to a Daily Show taping before. It was back in September 2004 shortly after graduating college and just before I started my job with Deloitte & Touche. A lot has happened since then! It should be a great time although I’m hoping that waiting outside won’t be too cold. I’ll dress warm.

I’m also going to Florida for a few days in February. I’ll be staying at this place called Canyon Ranch which is some sort of yuppie-ish wellness hotel/spa/resort/etc. It isn’t exactly my choice. They claim to have free weights in the gym so I’m just really hoping for some sort of barbell that isn’t attached to a Smith press. If nothing else I’ll just relax like I did at the Grand Hyatt on my last day in Hawaii. I’m also currently contemplating adding on a trip to Grand Cayman at the end of my Florida trip. It’s really close to just fly down to Cayman from Miami and I also have some American Airlines miles that I can burn to get a first class trip home. So we’ll see.

Lastly, I wanted to give a plug to a great designer in case anyone out there is looking for some web design, branding, whatever. His name is Joseph Sorensen and he’s a Chicago-based creative. I’ve worked with him on a bunch of projects at this point and I can say with a high degree of certainty that he’s the best designer I’ve ever worked with. I don’t say that just because he’s got a great eye for design. I also say that because he’s available at all sorts of strange hours (he doesn’t sign off at 5pm local time and not show up until the next day), he is more than willing to get on Skype calls whenever, he has a great understanding of user friendliness, he’s got a great attitude about making changes, he doesn’t charge anything astronomical, etc. Joe is shockingly good at taking a vague idea with nonspecific descriptions and turning it into a great design with amazingly good details fleshed out in full. Anyway, I couldn’t recommend the guy higher and I told him I’d be more than happy to recommend him here. Although I am a little worried that he’ll have some trouble doing work for me if he gets too busy so hopefully not too many people contact him. You can get in contact with him via his website. One example of a site that he’s designed for us is in case you’re looking for an example of his portfolio.

7 thoughts on “More Lifting, Some Travel, Etc

  1. todd

    nice lifts! you’ve made some huge gains. the double over-hand is also impressive for that weight.

    a few years ago i changed from doing traditional workouts to focusing just on compound lifts. i changed my body composition more in 1yr, than i had in the previous 5 years of lifting. i also starting using a 50lb kettlebell for cardio which uses very similar motions to the olympic lifts you’re using.

    all in all, i can’t bench press as much as i used to, but my functional strength is far superior.

    congrats on your gains!

  2. Nat Post author

    Thanks Todd, appreciate it. Totally agree with you about the usefulness of compound lifts. I will never go back to what I was doing before. I actually have a 50lb kettlebell also (probably the same one, made by jfit, got it on amazon) and I use it for some metcon stuff in my apt. Things like 100 swings for time are a good cardio workout. Good luck with your future training!

  3. Jim


    Just wanted to leave some feedback on Joe. I contacted him for design work. He stated he was interested and would get me a quote but then I could not get him to return emails. After several attempts I gave up.

  4. Paul Nobles

    You probably lift a lot heavier on the Dead with a cross grip, I did straight grip in Vegas and it felt awkward but it also felt very heavy. My PR is 385. I just started doing Westside Barbells Conjugate System, really like the dynamic effort days. Thinking about getting a platform for bands or talking my gym into doing it.

  5. Nat Post author

    I don’t want a torn bicep. Would rather lift less with a double overhand and protect my bicep. I know I could do 450ish right now with a mixed grip though, if I wanted to.

  6. Nat Post author

    Also, the whole Westside system is fine but I don’t really give a shit about systems at this stage in my lifting process. All that really matters is challenging myself with heavy weights (for me) often. Once I can squat 400, deadlift 500 and so on, I might consider some other programming system if I can’t make progress on my normal programming.

  7. Paul Nobles

    that’s cool, definitely seems to be working. I have bumpers at my house so I work on lifts in the AM and Crossfit in the evening. I am mostly just trying to get my lifts high enough to perform better in WOD’s. Too old for loftier goals than that. BTW, I weigh 155 now, so I am a lot smaller guy than the last time you would have seen me. You definitely look strong. Interested to see how comes along, good luck with that.

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