20 – Thrusters (95,65)
20 – KB Swing (53,35)
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CrossFit: How To Build Muscle With The Popular Workout
Posted: 06/26/2013 10:16 am EDT | Updated: 06/26/2013 9:58 pm EDT
One woman was naturally slender and woefully weak — until she discovered the singular rush of heaving barbells toward the sky.
By Karen Valby
For years, my version of strength training involved lazy biceps curls with a pair of canary yellow two and a half-pound weights during commercial breaks. “You’re so teeny,” people would say when they hugged me, as if talking about a baby bird. I took their comments as praise, even as I stewed over the imperfections (short legs, thick ankles) beneath my delicate shoulders.
But two years ago, drained by work and motherhood, I’d shrunk to an angular 110 pounds. Though I admired my slender arms in pictures, I felt listless. My neighbor JoEllen suggested I check out a CrossFit gym she’d joined (the gym, which offers intensive strength and conditioning training and is popular with the Marines, has locations all over the country). “I hate working out, but I love lifting heavy shit,” JoEllen told me. Her passion was appealing: I wanted to feel that turned on by my workout.
During my first few classes, the humiliations were endless. I whimpered while squatting a 25-pound “training” bar as the women around me — mothers, surgeons, musicians — pressed 100 pounds or more over their heads and then threw their bars down like used tissues. Attempting a back squat, I fell forward and became pinned under my bar, requiring my coach, who conjured the cranky drill sergeant in Private Benjamin, to rescue me. I thought often of quitting — until the morning I added a five-pound weight to either end of my 35-pound bar and timidly heaved it into the air. My classmates cheered like I’d just medaled at the Olympics. Suddenly it didn’t matter that I was the weakest person in the room. I was stronger than I’d been the week before.
Over the next several months, I came to appreciate that my barbell left no mental space for anything but my quivering arm muscles and tightening core. When I got home I’d admire the broadening V of my back, the pronounced curve of my hamstrings. And when my four-year-old daughter drew a picture of me with a crude barbell at my feet (saying, “When I grow up, I’m going to be strong like you”), I knew there was no turning back.