Saturday, November 29, 2008

Saturday 081129: Rings Strength

One-Arm DB Snatches: 1-1-1-1-1-1-1

Lynne's Pretty Sister
5 rounds for max reps, no clock running of:
Bodyweight deadlift
Ring dips

Got the one armed snatches up to 100lbs. with the left arm, 85lbs. with the right arm. Could have gone up a bit with the left, but the next size db was 125lbs.


Had to use regular dips, as rings were unavailable. After the second round, I cut the deadlift reps intentionally, as technique was getting pretty ugly. Followed everything up with some handstand work.

Friday 081128: Light Strength Work

Team Workout with the GF
4 Rounds Individually for Time:

Him: 1 HSPU
Her: 3 Burpees
Him: 3 Pushups with her on my back
Her: 3 Burpees
Him: 5 Squats with her on my back
Her: 3 Burpees

Times were 1:25, 1:19, 1:12, 0:56.

Thursday 081127: Rest Day

Took a rest day for Thanksgiving.

Wednesday 081126: Lifting, Rings Strength

Did a number of random gym activities in Philly. No rings available, but used the dip bar for V-sit and tuck planche work. Also worked HSPUs and some cable machine simulated cross pullouts. Finished off with weighted pushups, made it up to 105lbs.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tuesday 081125: Light Strength Day

Got some pics from Sunday's deadlifts. There are a few more over at as well as some great commentary from Binhong. First photo is 168kg (370lbs.) and the second is 185kg (407lbs). Form was good on the 168; back rounded on the 185 but not much.
Travelling complications meant no workout today; but did 5x1 HSPUs upon arrival in Philly.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Monday 081124: Rest Day


Sometimes we never really know what we can do until we push ourselves. It would make sense to me that nature generally tells us to never quite give our all when we're working out. Think about it: I just got myself a woolly mammoth and am about ready to drag it back to my cave. I should probably still be able to defend myself if a saber-tooth cat decides he wants my dinner.

It is only in the extraordinary circumstance that we find out what we're really capable of. Take, for example, the other day when I was doing a workout that involved rope climbs. For the first two rounds, I went half-way up the rope rather than all the way. I rationalized this to myself "oh, my forearms are pretty tired, and it's quite a drop in case I lose my grip at the top." Was there any danger of me actually losing my grip? No. Was there a relatively large crash mat under me even if I did? Yes. But yet I still persisted in convincing myself that going all the way up really wasn't necessary.

But it is necessary. Climbing a 10 foot rope twice with a break in the middle is a lot different than climbing a 20 foot rope once.

Half-way up the rope for the third (and final) time, I realized this. I thought to myself, "What if I ever have to climb a rope like this? What if I had to climb this rope to get to someone I care about?" And up I went.

Now, I'm no fireman, policeman, or member of our armed forces. I'm just a regular guy (the extent to which I can be called "regular" is a debate for another day). Things happen to all of us that require us to give 100%. Maybe it's a car accident, or a fire, or an earthquake, a terrorist attack, or a tornado. In the moment, the reason isn't important. Lots of people have been in the situation where the world thrusts them into a life or death situation. Climb something. Run somewhere. Carry someone else. Lift something off of someone. Bust down a door. Sprint to get help. Sprint to save your neck.

In trying to explain to a close family member why fitness is important, I used the example, "what if the house were on fire and your wife were unconscious in the basement? Could you pick her up and carry her up the stairs?" His response is always, "sure." When I challenge him to do it, the answer is "I could do it in an emergency." Well guess what? That adrenaline is a great thing, but it's not going to give you anything you don't already have. What if a 300lb. piece of house had fallen on her that you'd have to remove before the trip up the stairs? Can you do that with the adrenaline? What if it were three people? What if it were three flights of stairs? What if it were a 400lb. piece?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sunday 081123: MetCon, Rings Strength, Lifting

First, with the Charlottesville Crossfit crew:
3 Rounds For Time
21 knees to elbows
21 kb swing (1.5 pood)
21 pushups
1 rope climb
21 box jumps (20")
21 back extensions
150' walking lunges

Ended that one in approximately 24 minutes. MetCon capacity has dropped noticeably. Pukey paid a visit. That said, I did all of the swings as one group each round, which was a goal I had at the beginning.

Then, after a recovery period, I got on the rings and did the following (numbers are approximate):
15 muscle-up
12 kip
10 forward roll to muscle up
8 L-sit
6 tuck planche
4 front roll to front lever
1 back lever
"...And a partridge in a pear tree."

After that, I did some lifting:
Shoulder press: 1-1-1
Deadlift: 1-1-1-1-1

Worked the deadlifts up to two reps of a max at 185 kilos (407 lbs). Photos forthcoming.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Saturday 081122: Rest Day

Ended up having a lot of random things to do today, took a rest day. Was pretty sore anyway so the rest might have been a good thing. Not quite a full rest day, ended up doing the walk up a steep hill and a nice little hike through the woods. That was just enough to keep the blood flowing and use some extra energy.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday 081121: Rest Day

Got a couple pictures from today, first is a back lever, second is me with a bear. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thursday 081120: Rings Strength, Rings Technique

In Any Order
Felge, forward roll, dismount: 7x1
Dislocate: 10x1
L-sit press to handstand: 7x1
Cross pullout: 3x1
Tuck planche: 6x10sec.

Complete 32 intervals of 20 seconds of work followed by ten seconds of rest where the first 8 intervals are burpees, the second 8 are one-arm snatches, the third 8 intervals are pullups, and finally, the last 8 intervals are candlesticks. There is no rest between exercises.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wednesday 081119: Rings Strength, Rings Technique

L-sit to handstand: 1-1-1

Dislocate practice: 5 mins.

2x of practice routie #6.1 (slight modification from yesterday):
Straight body pull to inverted hang
Inverted pike
Swing forward
Press handstand
Front roll to muscle-up
Front roll to front lever
Tuck planche
Forward roll to swing

Dislocate practice: 5 mins.

Cross pullout: 3-3-3
Spot maltese: 3-3-3

Monday, November 17, 2008

Tuesday 081118: Rings Strength, Rings Technique

First day at the gymnastics gym in the second technique cycle. Haven't put together a long string of moves in 4 weeks, but the moves themselves have improved in a very serious way.

5x1 of Practice Routine #6
Press handstand
Front roll to muscle-up
Front roll to front lever (1-leg tuck)
Tuck planche
Forward roll to hang

Cross pullout: 1-1-1 (5 sec. hold)
Harness ring handstand (toe awareness drill): 3x10sec.

Monday 081117: Rest Day

Now that I'm in the start of the second technique cycle (11 weeks in, as the second technique cycle was only 3 weeks long), I'm going to take stock of what I've got.

At the end of the last technique cycle, four weeks ago, I had the following moves:
Back lever
Forward roll
Kip (got it right at the end there)
Tuck planche

Now, at the start of this technique cycle, I can add to all of that the forward roll to muscle-up and the felge. Additionally, the L-sit press to handstand is close enough that I can train it in practice routines, and the cross is, according to my spotting buddy, getting close.

For the routine, the two things that I am seriously lacking right now are the handstand move and the swing to strength move. As mentioned, the handstand is getting closer, but for the swing to strength, I am planning on doing kip to cross.

In light of this information, I'm going to be working this technique cycle on five things.

1. Kip to cross. My kip isn't that bad, but if I'm going to do kip to cross, getting that cross down solid might be a good start.
2. L-sit press to handstand. I just need to get a little better technique on it and it'll be there, right now I'm trying way too hard to simply press the whole time. That's bad for two reasons: first, I'm simply not strong enough to do it. I can shoulder press a max of 140 lbs; I weigh around 175. Second, apparently to count as an A move, it needs to be a swing with a push-assist, not a mere show of strength.
3. Dismounts. A stuck flyaway would be nice, but a stuck twisting flyaway or a double would be better.
4. Practice routines. I've got to get the body used to connecting all of these different elements in order to do well in competition. On the plus side, I can train all of the skills I already have plus add the aforementioned parts into the practice routines as well. I can use a spotter for crosses, make attempts at handstands, and there's no sense in not ending each practice routine with a dismount, even if it's just a flyaway.
5. The other moves which I want to include in the routine but are not crucial should not be ignored. These could be the ones that can really make a score difference. These would include planche, maltese, and front lever. In this category can also work on the kip to L-sit or kip with straight arms (although those could equally be justified under the kip to cross category as well).

This is going to have to improve. A lot.

Sunday 081116: Lifting, Rings Strength

Shoulder press: 1-1-1-1-1 (125-130-135-140*-135*)
Deadlift: 1-1-1-1-1 (325-345-365-385*-365)
Front lever row: 3x8
Tuck planche (4 sec.): 8x1

Saturday 081115: Rest Day

Very sore and with somewhat of a stomach ache, took the day off.

Note that today marks the start of the second technique cycle (more to come regarding that).

Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday 081114: Rest Day

Thursday 081114: MetCon

Last day of the second strength cycle, going to do something to cling to my Crossfit roots. Plus, I hate to miss a hero workout.

For time:
100 Squats
5 Muscle-ups
75 Squats
10 Muscle-ups
50 Squats
15 Muscle-ups
25 Squats
20 Muscle-ups

Then some kips and cross pullouts.

Ex post comments: 34:50. Wow, my endurance has really dropped off over the time in which I've been doing this gymnastics hybrid. The last six muscle-ups took approximately 10 minutes. Ouch.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wednesday 081112: Rings Strength, Rings Technique

40 minutes technique work, focus on swings and dismounts with a few kips and felges thrown in as well.

Kip, then 3x of L-sit, press handstand, hold shoulder stand (3 sec.): 5x1

Band cross pullouts 1-1-1-1

Ex post comments: Getting higher on the press handstand from L-sit. I know I have the strength, it's just a matter of moving the right muscles at the right time.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tuesday 081111: Rings Strength, Rings Technique

3x each of:
~Twisting dismount into pit

Front lever: 1-1-1-1-1
Cross: 2-2-2-2-2
Tuck planche: 1-1-1-1-1
Spot jump to maltese: 3-3-3-3-3

Monday, November 10, 2008

Monday 081110: Rest Day

From a post at SF Crossfit, something for which we can all use reminder: "It is far easier to talk about, discuss, argue and try to find 'the-one-secret-technique-that-will-make-it-click' than it is to put the work in and learn something new."

Whole article is at:

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sunday 081109: Lifting

Back squat: 3-3-3-3-3
Push press: 3-3-3-3-3
Maltese db press (25lbs.): 4x4
DB row: 3x5 each arm

Warmed up with some light deadlifts.
Didn't get very heavy with the back squats (up to 215), but got them very low and with relatively good technique.
Push presses were 135-155-175-195*-175. Got the 195 for only one rep. However, that's still a max for me on the push presses by quite a bit.
DB rows were 60-70-80, done as continuing rehab for the winging scapula.
Also messed around with a few L-pullups and some back levers on a pullup bar.

Saturday 081108: Rest Day

Still not recovered from the previous week, and I'm starting the last week of the second strength cycle. Going to take an extra rest day.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Friday 081107: Rest Day

Thursday 081106: Rings Strength, Rings Technique

50 minutes technique work, working on getting more height on the dismount to prep for doubles. Also worked felges, kips.

Muscle-up, forward roll to muscle-up, tuck planche 1-1-1-1-1
Cross pullout 1-1-1-1-1

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Wednesday 081105: Rings Strength, Rings Technique

Rings Technique
45 minutes on pit rings

Rings Strength
Spotted jump to maltese: 5x3
Muscle-up to L-sit (5 sec.): 5x1
L-sit to handstand: 5x1
Front lever pull (x4), ice cream maker (x4): 4x1

Great link over at to check out today (found via Crossfit NYC):
You Need Me

Seriously, I love this article. I'd love to apply it to gymnastics and my workouts. This type of mentality doesn't seem to apply to my current coach (not that there's anything wrong with him, it's just not his style) or anybody else on the team. How much the approach in that article would help them, I can't say. But for me, you better believe it helps. Some of the other gymnasts look at me funny when I get pissed off from missing a move, when I walk out of the room with headphones on to get in my head, or when I encourage myself out loud. All that stuff works.

Come on coach, someone like me needs to be pushed and pushed hard. Shout. Yell. Scream. Get in my face. If I can do something, make sure I do it. Don't accept failure. I'd rather a coach give me a caning than accept anything less than my best. And, seeing as how I'm effectively my own coach, I gotta give it to myself.

The guy busting his ass, ripping his hands open, yelling while he pushes himself to give his all shouldn't be the one to be embarrassed. The ones who should be embarrassed are those who give a half-effort every time, who stare and gawk, and rest on their laurels, confident that the new guy will never be as good as they are.

Then again, who am I to judge? I guess that's the beauty of competition. You get on the apparatus, under the lights, you give your all, and leave the judgment to the judges. Some of us are here for different reasons. I'm here to give 100%. I'm here to prove that you can take some 6'1" 175lbs. 25 year-old guy and turn him into a competitive gymnast. I'm here to win. What are you here for?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Tuesday 081104: Rings Strength, Rings Technique

Rings Technique
Swings, felges, and kips: 45 minutes

Rings Strength
Forward roll to muscle-up, forward roll to front lever (one leg tuck): 5x1
Cross pullout (spotted): 1-1-1-1-1-1-1
Parallel bar situp: 3x10

Monday, November 3, 2008

Monday 081103: Rest Day

This week, I will get a good dislocate.

Sunday 081102: Rings Strength, Lifting

Weighted muscle-up: 1-1-1-1-1
Front lever: 2-2-2-2-2
Deadlift: 1-1-1-1-1

Ex post comments: Made it to 35lbs. on the muscle-ups, and 365lbs. on the deadlifts.

Saturday 081101: Rings Strength, MetCon

Today is the start of the third week of the second strength cycle.

HSPU: 1-1-1-1-1
Maltese press on Swiss ball (25lbs.): 4x3
One-leg squat: 6x3

4 minutes of alternating 10 sec. L-sit, 20 sec. plank hold.

Breathing ladder: Burpee+clean w/25lbs. dumbbells.

Ex post comments: Did the workout in my living room with the girlfriend (for you all who think I'm crazy, you should see her press handstand!). Made it to 14 rounds on the breathing ladder, Laura made it to 6. Gnarly, gnarly stuff there.


The current goal is to put together a competition-ready rings routine for club-level competition. There are a number of meets in the first few months of 2009 where this will be possible.

I am developing my own programming, but am actively seeking out assistance with this. I have drawn guidance from Crossfit, Performance Menu, Gym Jones, postings on various message boards, and numerous other fitness blogs. My thanks for making their information public, I hope to continue in this same spirit with my own experiment.

Note that I will be changing this plan as time goes by and I get advice from the many people who have offered their help with this process. I will be making notes for changes in italic font; anyone using this blog in the future will be able to gather more information by looking at the process of what I've learned and changed than by just observing the finished product.

The plan is for a 2/1/3/1 schedule. The reason for this is that the gymnastics gym is going to only be available Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. The equipment available there is far superior to that available elsewhere, both for skills and strength work.

Here’s the main idea of the programming:

Saturday: Ring Strength, MetCon
Sunday: Lifting
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Ring Technique, Ring Strength, MetCon
Wednesday: Ring Technique, Ring Strength
Thursday: Ring Technique, Ring Strength, MetCon
Friday: Rest


Once a week perform Olympic lifts and their component parts, as well as other activities using the big muscle groups. Go heavy on these days, but also use the time to make sure that technical proficiency on these lifts does not backslide during this period of stepping out of normal programming.


Two or three times per week, perform a short, intense workout, generally a combination of multiple exercises. The workout should last between three and ten minutes, and should be done at a very high level of intensity. Combinations of different movements, not necessarily all ring-focused are favored.

Ring Strength

This is the main portion of the programming geared exclusively to reach the goal of building and perfecting a routine. Inspired by Catalyst Athletics / The Performance Menu, the idea here is going to be to program in 4-week intervals.

Strength elements will generally be trained at relatively low volume and near-maximum capacity.

The odd-numbered four week cycles focus on building strength for the individual components of the routine while improving technical proficiency throughout. For elements already learned, this means repeating them, sometimes with weight added, with an emphasis on holding correct form. For elements which have yet to be learned, this cycle will focus on developing the correct form and technique, which means more assistance and repetition, and repeating the same exercises more often through the week. Expect a great deal of work with elastic bands and harnesses as well as work with weights and other exercises off the rings.

The even-numbered four week cycles focus on developing the entire routine, connecting elements together, and increasing the ability to train elements at or near maximum exertion on a frequent basis. For elements already learned, this will mean connecting all of them together in a single effort to practice execution of a competition-length routine. For elements which have yet to be learned, training will be low in quantity but performed at a maximum level of execution, preferably with a spotter rather than bands or a harness.

Ring Technique

Practice the more technical elements of the rings routine in large quantity. Focus on swinging, balance, and dismount elements, repeating them at great quantity, limited generally by fatigue preventing proper execution technique.

These will require strength but also focus on form and will generally be done when fresh.

Other Elements of Programming

In addition to this schedule, at least twice a week, do other activities such as swimming, running, or playing any sort of other sport. Keep lose and keep sane. Make sure that at least one of these activities is some sort of outlet in which performance is not tightly tracked and measured and is instead done just for the fun of it. For me, that’s playing volleyball or going hiking. The concept is to retain sanity and prevent burnout; although that does not mean that this part is less important than any other component of the programming.

Additionally, and somewhat conversely, do a mental workout once every few weeks. These are workouts that, while not necessarily physically draining, they are mentally demanding. Examples serve more for definition than anything else: 10x25 meter underwater swim on 1:00 intervals; muddy trail run during a rain storm with belly-crawl component; or a mile sand bag carry.

The idea is to push yourself toward a goal that you know you can physically do, but may or may not be able to push through mentally. You have to keep your mind sharp and will yourself to finish the workout. Once you’ve gone through this type of thing to reach your goal, you will be less likely to drop out of the program. You’re quite literally hazing yourself.


That is the programming schedule in a nutshell. I am very much open to feedback on this: it’s the primary reason I started this blog in the first place.