Finish with Isabel

Last night my legs felt heavy going up and down stairs. Today my upper and middle abs are sore. Went to the 4pm class.


9:00 EMOM (alt)

  • 2x – 3 Wall Balls + 3 Burpees
  • Row
  • 2x – 3 Snatch DL + 3 Muscle Snatch (45#)

Then I did 3×95# and 3×115# power snatches.


  • 5:00 AMRAP
    • Wall Ball (20#, 10′)
  • 2:00 Rest
  • 5:00 AMRAP
    • cal Row
  • 2:00 Rest
  • 5:00 AMRAP
    • Power Snatch (135#)

Started with three sets of 25 and was feeling good. Planned to go to 15s next, but got math screwed up in my head and stopped after 10 reps at 85. So then I did 15 to get to 100 and looked at the clock. Took an extra breath knowing I would have to hold on to the buzzer. Got through 17 more for 117 total wall balls. I might have been able to keep going with a fourth set of 25. Makes a big difference being 20 pounds lighter than when I last did Karen almost 2 years ago. I definitely need to clean up the height on some of my throws though.

I thought I’d be able to hold a pace better on the rower, but after starting out > 1,100 cal/hour I slowly drifted down to around 950, before picking it back up in the final minute. Racked up 83 calories.

I thought it would be pretty cool if I could do “Isabel” after the other 10 minutes of work. Even though I was seeing stars with every rep through the first five I was on a good pace through 10 reps. The weight was getting heavy, but I kept picking it back up and really tried to generate power through my hips. Definitely did singles the entire way. With about a minute remainingĀ I realized I still had a shot, but I had to really get back on the bar after each rep in the final 40 seconds. Got number 30 with about three seconds to spare and collapsed to the floor. I immediately got the taste of blood in my mouth, which I don’t ever remember before.

230 total reps!


3 Sets

  • 10 Romanian Deadlifts (135#)
  • 40 Glute Bridges

Double Down

Stupid time change. I was very confused for a few seconds this morning when I woke up after 9, before I remembered the hour shift. Messed up my entire morning before the gym.


  • Crossover Symmetry Activation
  • Bottom Squat Hold
  • Snatch
    • 5×45#
    • 3×95#
    • 3×115#



  • 30 Snatch (135#)

Started with 5 doubles before switching to singles. Finished in 2:26 for an 11 second PR! At 1:00 I had exactly 15 reps done, compared to 17 when I did Grace. I really like this new strategy I mentioned in my last Grace post. Here’s more detail I just shared on Facebook…

For the last year, I’ve been thinking about a strategy for Grace/Isabel that I never really see. Just about everyone comes out of the gate hot, trying to get as many unbroken reps as they can. I think this is a mistake for the majority of us and with my recent attempts at both Isabel and Grace, I did a little testing. Let me explain…

My previous Grace was 2:17, done with 10 unbroken and 20 singles. I got the PR of 2:04 by doing 3×5, 1×2, and 13 singles. For Isabel I went from doing 2×2 and 26 singles to 5×2 and 20 singles. Ok, but what’s the difference?

Dropping the bar, getting (or waiting for) the bounce to settle, and grabbing it again takes the most time in workouts like these. In the first Grace, I dropped the bar and had to reset 20 times, but in the retest there were only 16 bar drops, resulting in a gain of 13 seconds. Isabel bar drops went from 27 to 24, for an 11 second improvement.

Heart rate isn’t all that important in a 2-4 minute workout, but I think it can help a little, at least from the point of how you perceive your level of fatigue. Smaller sets should keep HR down some. I think not starting with a huge set (to near failure) can help a lot with muscle endurance over those 30 reps though. The last 5 reps are going to suck no matter what, but they can feel just a bit easier.

Sure I could have gotten the same 16 bar drop Grace by doing 14 unbroken then 16 singles, but I would have been a lot more tired going into the singles, resulting in less motivation to pick up the bar with each rep. Starting off Isabel with 6 unbroken to make it 24 drops doesn’t sound very fun at this point in my fitness for the same reasons.

Would this work for you?

If either workout takes you more than 5:00, you should use a lighter weight. Check your ego.

If your time is 3:30 or longer, I’d recommend sticking to singles but speed up how long it takes you to pick up the bar. Anyone can get a time of 3:00-3:30 by doing all singles if you pick the bar up as soon as it stops bouncing. You can’t step away from the bar though, you have to be ready to go and pick it up every single time.

If your time is close to that 3:00 mark and maybe even all the way down to 1:40 (??), simply try to decrease the number of times you drop the bar, but keep your sets manageable. Switch to singles when you have to.

The tricky part is making sure you don’t pick something you can’t maintain. For example, I bet I would improve my Grace time if I did 15 sets of 2, getting me to 14 drops instead of 16. Probably wouldn’t be a very good strategy though, because I doubt I’d be able to maintain sets of 2 for the entire workout. I’d end up doing singles and then wouldn’t actually decrease bar drops.

Make sense? If you try it out or have any questions let me know.

On Your Hands

3 Sets

  • MAX Handstand Hold (facing wall)
  • ~2:00 Rest

I should have checked my PR before. Made it 2:36, just 4 seconds short of my best. Then 1:40 and 1:00. Not easy after Isabel.

Conditioning II

3 Rounds

  • 30 Wall Balls (20#, 10′)
  • 60 Double Unders
  • 1:1 Rest

Times were 1:36, 1:47, and 1:47. Unbroken wall balls each time with unbroken dubs in round 1, 2 misses in round 2, and 1 miss in round 3. Was fun to do some big sets of wall balls. If not for the shoulders being pretty wrecked from the earlier stuff, using 30# would have been a good challenge.

I tried the false grip bar muscle-up and it wasn’t great. I definitely was sliding off the bar on the swing and had to do kind of a chicken-wing attempt, which I never do. Going to start working on that false grip strength on the bar with some drills because I think it will eliminate the feeling I’m ripping off my entire palm with a full grip on the bar when linking them together.

Did Crossover Symmetry Iron Scap before leaving.


First real chunk of snow for the year is coming down today. February 1st and I haven’t even started my snowblower yet. Doesn’t stop us from having Super Sunday though.


  • 1,000m Row – 3:58.8
  • 100m Row @ 100% – 16.0 seconds
  • Bottom Squat Holds
  • Various Stretching
  • 5×45# Hang Muscle Snatch
  • 5×95# Muscle Snatch

Figured I’d give a 100m row time a go again. Beat my old time by 0.4 seconds.



  • 30 Snatches (135#)

First time doing this, so wasn’t sure what to expect. My plan was to do doubles as long as I could, but after 2×2 I abandoned that and did singles the rest of the way. Last 5-10 reps sucked and had to be so ugly. Time was 2:37.


12:00 EMOM

  • Odds: 10 C2B Pull-ups
  • Evens: 10 Box Jumps (24″)

Worked on an efficient butterfly with the pull-ups and fast cycling with my box jumps. Felt good!


Bench Press

  • 10×45#
  • 5×95#
  • 5×135#
  • 3×185#
  • 3×205#
  • 3×220#
  • 3×230#
  • 3×240# (PR)

I had my numbers planned out and they ended up being perfect for a 10# PR. Puts my estimated max up in the 260s. Not bad for benching about once a month.


  • 100 DU
  • 50 Wall Balls (20#, 10′)
  • 100 DU

The goal here was to do the wall balls unbroken and it sucked! Without setting that as a goal for the workout, I’d always split something like this up. It definitely made the last dubs a lot harder, but good to know what’s possible for future workouts. My time was 5:27.

13.1 Redemption

Another Competition Thursday at Survival Fitness and I was not excited about the WOD since I did horrible on it, but excited that I’d get the chance to improve my score. Went to the 5pm class.


  • 30 Air Squats
  • 20 PVC Pass-thrus
  • 30 PVC OHS
  • Snatches


The WOD for today was CrossFit Games Open Workout 13.1, which I scored a 142 on during the Open, with a 15:52 tiebreaker at the end of the 135# snatches.

17:00 AMRAP

  • 40 Burpees
  • 30 Snatch (75#)
  • 30 Burpees
  • 30 Snatch (135#)
  • 20 Burpees
  • 30 Snatch (165#)
  • 10 Burpees
  • Max rep Snatch (210#)

I was much faster today and didn’t die as bad on the burpees, although they still sucked. I finished the 75# snatches at 5:01, which I think was about 20 seconds faster than in the Open. Was on the bar starting 135# snatches around 8:35-ish and finished them at 14:58 (I’m going to call that a 6:23 “Isabel” PR, since I still haven’t done it standalone), nearly a whole minute faster, which gave me plenty of time to got those last 20 burpees. I was extremely slow on them though and only had 18 seconds to spare. I didn’t even bother trying to put weight on the bar and try 165# because I would have just ended up hurting myself. I’m glad I was able to hit 150 reps this time and do everything a lot faster.


Second week of my squat program and front squats were on the menu. Warmed up with 5 fast reps at 115# and then had to do 5 reps each at 160#, 175#, 185#, and 200#. Solid work… not too easy and not too hard.

Garage Work

Headed over to Kevin’s place and did a bunch of hamstring and low back work.

3 Rounds (not for time)

  • 10 Reverse Hypers (120#, 170#, 190#)
  • 7 GHR
  • 5 Good Mornings (135#)
  • 20 GHD Sit-ups

Low back was already feeling a little spicy from they heavy cleans yesterday and today’s WOD, so this just lit it more. Good stuff though. Those GHR are rough and my form isn’t very good on them.

2013 CrossFit Games Open Workout 13.1

The 2013 CrossFit Games Open is upon us. My goal this year is to beat 50% of the men, which might not be a lofty enough of a goal, but considering I only beat about 25% of the guys last year, that would be a huge improvement.

Yesterday I wrote the post Why I Compete in the CrossFit Games Open, which explains a lot of my motivation for competing. You can also check out my Games Profile.

If there were any WODs I didn’t want to see come up again from 2013 it was the snatch ladder and the combination of thrusters and C2B pull-ups. Well, 13.1 brings back the snatch ladder, but pairs it up with burpees. A brutal combination.

Open Workout 13.1

17:00 AMRAP

  • 40 Burpees
  • 30 Snatch (75#)
  • 30 Burpees
  • 30 Snatch (135#)
  • 20 Burpees
  • 30 Snatch (165#)
  • 10 Burpees
  • Max rep Snatch (210#)

My goal was to get to the 165# snatches and get at least one, which would have been a PR. I had several days to prepare, and obsessively mapped out a strategy based on tips I read online and chatting with friends who had already done the WOD. But it’s impossible to know how your body is going to react, so planning can only do so much for you.

I hit the pace I wanted to for the 40 burpees and felt good going into the 75# snatches. Broke it up into sets of 10-8-6-6 and they crushed me pretty bad. I wasn’t expecting them to get to me. Even so, I was only 15 seconds behind the pace I was hoping for at this point. But I was pretty dead already and the 30 burpees ended up going pretty slow. After changing the weights, I started the 135# snatches at around 9 minutes, now a minute behind the pace I wanted.

I did all singles at 135# and tried to get right back on the bar, but they were taking a lot out of me and I was already dead. I finished them at 15:52, almost 3 minutes slower than I wanted to. Managed to get 12 of the 20 burpees for a final score of 142. There was no way I would have been able to get a 165# snatch (10# PR) after all that work, so 150 was the best score I could have gotten.

I was disappointed (and still am a bit), but then I realized that last year in 12.1 I got 92 burpees in 7 minutes and in 12.2 I got 36 snatches in 10 minutes. In this combined 17 minute WOD I got 82 burpees and 60 snatches. Hell of an improvement, so I’m going to chalk this up as a win. The snatch is one of my weakest movements, so I ended up pretty well and I’m way ahead of pace to finish above average in the Open.

I guess I can count that as a 6:52 time for “Isabel” since it was 30 snatches. Shouldn’t be hard to beat whenever I do the benchmark on it’s own.

Bring on 13.2!