200 Pounds of Accomplishment

How One Weightlifting Success Makes Crossfit Seem Less Like Torture

Before first stepping foot into the Crossfit Pacific Coast gym on Anacapa Street nearly one month ago, I had no idea how much weightlifting was part of Crossfit. But with snatches, clean and jerks, push presses, and other techniques having been hammered into my muscle memory at each of my four official sessions to date, I’m starting to get the hang of at least the bottom-floor basics of lifting. And thanks to a reaching a milestone of sorts last week, I dare even say that I might like some of the weights, too.

The episode was on Wednesday, the only day I made it last week due to deadlines and such early morning considerations as letting my sick/nursing wife sleep in past 6 a.m. That morning’s Crossfit menu called for box squats, which are about what they sound like: putting a barbell atop your shoulders, squatting down to a box that sits slightly above knee level, and then standing up to lift the weights. The technique is designed to strengthen what the Crossfit coaches keep calling your “explosive power,” that strength that allows quick but powerful movements from your core.

As usual, my coach, Jeff Baker, started me with some smaller weights. They were easy. He then kept tacking them on. To my surprise, they were still kind of easy, probably because my thighs are the strongest part of my body due to years of biking, hiking, light jogging, and walking as my main means of exercise. After a few turns, Jeff had my weights up to 200 pounds. The hardest part was making sure that I could lift them up and get back to the box okay. But once there, I was able to do the series of lifts again with relative ease — although at that weight, I had to focus much more on keeping my core stiff and taking things slowly. And I certainly felt it later, but not in any sort of excruciating way.

When Jeff penned my 200-pound mark on the whiteboard, it felt pretty good. No matter that the box squat is probably the easiest way to tally up the weight, there was a definite sense of accomplishment in that day’s workout. We finished up with 1000 meters on the rowing machine, 50 meters of weighted lunges in the parking lot, and then 25 burpees, where you do a push-up and then jump up to your feet and clap your hands over your head. (You would think the push-up would be the hardest part of the burpee, but oddly enough, it seems that the clapping is really where your body starts to slow down.)

Altogether, it was exhausting as ever, but I left feeling a bit more confident about Crossfit. Now if I could just manage to make it more than once a week, I might start to see some serious improvements in my physique.

Follow Matt Kettmann’s foray into Crossfit Pacific Coast with regular updates at independent.com/crossfit.


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