A week of PRs is a week to celebrate. I love to see those little yellow lightning bolts which signify a personal record.
A week of PRs is a week to celebrate. I love to see those little yellow lightning bolts which signify a personal record.

Over the past two weeks, all of a sudden all of the mobility drills, yoga, weightlifting workouts, and time spent reading Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe and Olympic Weightlifting for Masters by Matt Foreman has finally paid off. It took 7 months for me to be able to do a 45 lb overhead squat and a 44 lb squat snatch. In fact, just this past October, I was unable to do even a half squat while holding a 15-lb bar over my head.

So, here are the reasons for my brag:

1. Progress should always be celebrated. A part of me wants to wait until I can put up some big numbers before I put my performance on blast, but I know that each milestone is worthy of being acknowledged. The same holds true for weight loss. Just because you have 100 pounds to lose doesn’t mean that you should not celebrate losing your first ten. Recognizing the small victories provides the fuel to keep at it if the progress slows.

2. You never know who’s watching/reading. My goal is to inspire others. This post is for the middle-aged, overweight, non-athletic woman who has never touched a barbell in her life and cannot imagine herself doing the things she sees on the Crossfit pages.  (FYI-I am a middle-aged, overweight, non-athletic woman who picked up a barbell for the first time at the age of 46.) This is for the Crossfitter who is ready to give up Crossfit because he/she still cannot do a squat snatch after months of training. (Although I’ve been doing Crossfit for 2 years, I’ve only been working on the overhead squat and snatch for 7 months because I had so many other things I needed to work on first.)  Finally, this post is also for the very strong and fit Crossfitters who may not understand how one of their fellow members is still struggling with things they mastered ages ago.

Go to any Crossfit site and you’ll see lots of young, buff athletes training like crazy. You might see a few older ones, but often they are in incredible shape too. Sometimes you’ll see a feature story about someone who overcame many odds in order to excel at Crossift. Maybe they were morbidly obese, smoked, had a disability, or were overcoming an emotional crisis. These stories are often told once the person has reached a high level of accomplishment. Somewhere in their past, though, was the day they did a full overhead squat for the first time. Of course a success story is a much better read when you know the outcome, but that doesn’t mean that we have to wait until we have achieved the “ultimate success”- whatever that is.

Here’s How I’ve Gotten to This Point

1. Mobility!!!! That was my biggest issue. I am certainly strong enough to pick up more than 45 pounds and lift it in the air. I am just flexible enough to do a full squat. What I hadn’t been able to do until now is to go into a full squat while holding a bar over my head. I just didn’t have the shoulder, hip, and ankle flexibility. I’d get into about a quarter squat then tip forward.

I started doing yoga in November, and it has made a huge difference in my mobility. Initially, I took a few weeks off of Crossfit to do yoga 3x/week. Now I do it just once a week, and I incorporate some of the poses in my cool down stretches. I’ve also started doing some of the warm ups in the Foreman book I mentioned above.

2. Very Knowledgeable Coaches: This is a given. In order to learn to do something better, you need a teacher who knows what he/she is doing. (And you need to be a good listener.) I am fortunate to get to train with some excellent coaches. They are not coaches who took a specialty class and called themselves specialists. They have an extensive background in weightlifting and still compete in meets. They live and breathe weightlifting. They know their stuff. The feedback I’ve gotten from them has been invaluable.

3. Slow and Steady Wins the Race” I try to make the time to get in at least the minimum recommended amount of physical activity. I’d love to be able to devote 4-5 days/week to Crossfit and weightlifting, but that’s not my reality. I have a daughter who plays high school sports which means I spend a lot of evenings at her games or waiting in a parking lot for the team bus. I have a full-time job with duties which rarely can be completed in an 8-hour day. I also have a finite amount of energy in my rapidly-approaching-fifty body. I’m sure I’d be much further along in my lifting if I put in more time, but I’m ok with that. I’m still making progress and have remained injury-free.

On a good week, I do 2 WODs, 1 barbell club (Oly lifts), 1 yoga class, and 2 days of cardio (primarily walking, sometimes Zumba). On a not-so-good week I do 2 Wods, 1 yoga, and 1 cardio.  On a really “bad” week, I do 1 yoga, 1 cardio, and several hours worth of deep cleaning my house or doing community service (which involves lifting boxes).

My Next Goals:

  1. Overhead squat 65 pounds
  2. Snatch 65 pounds
  3. Power snatch 100 pounds
  4. Do at least one atomic sit up. (Flexibility is my issue here too.)