“Would you consider me a nice guy?”  Coach Max asked.  How else do you answer that but, “Sure.”  “Well, you’re not going to think I’m such a nice guy after this.”

Then, he unveiled Grace.  Clean and jerk.  135 lbs.  30 reps for time.

Within seconds my heart was pounding with nervousness.  It took considerable effort and focus for me to clean and jerk less weight – once!  He wanted me to do this 30 times???  Was he planning on being here all day?

Again, the voices in my head.  I took a deep breath, channeled GSP (he’s been my mind’s picture when I need to dig deep), and went.  Ugh!  Clean.  Now… jerk.  WHAM!  Weights fall to the ground.  Seriously, how am I going to do this?

I heard Coach Max call out.  “Again.  Don’t step away from the bar.  Stay there.  Don’t run away.  Stop thinking and just go.  Go now!”

I went again.  …WHAM!  Weights hit the floor again.

“Ok, you’re doing fine.  Now, the goal is to string two together.  Lift, touch back down, and go.”  It took nine reps before I was able to string two together.  From there, it was a pattern of one, then two, back and forth until I battled my way through all 30.  10 mins. 58 sec.

Why is it that each workout feels harder than the last, I asked myself?

Here’s a CrossFit guy in Austin doing what took me 11 minutes to do in under 2 min.  I hate him.


– The technical instruction of this personal session was really engaging.  Apart from the fact that I’d always wanted to learn how to clean and jerk correctly, we also worked on handstand pushups (and modifications for these since my extremely tight shoulders make the movement almost impossible at this stage) and muscle ups on the gymnast rings.

CrossFitters working on muscle-ups.

– Muscle-ups are pull ups to dips, performed on gymnast rings.  Very difficult.  I was swinging all over the place.

– The little work I’ve done on gymnast rings has engendered in me a deep respect and sense of awe for gymnasts.  The sheer strength, balance, and coordination to work the rings is a bit daunting for me.

– Keys to the clean:  Feet in “jumping position,” shoulder width apart.  Head up, back straight, knees bent and quads ready to fire, hands on bar, thumbs inside the fingers, shoulders over the bar.  (The thumb-in grip felt very foreign but is supposed to prevent the bar from flying out of your hands when you start working with heavier weight.)  The distance between the hands should be roughly equivalent to what they would be if you gripped the bar and then extended your thumbs along the bar so that they just hit your waist.

– Here’s a great video on the CrossFit site demonstrating the movement.

I wouldn’t try this movement unless you sought out instruction in how to do it.  But, if you know how to C & J, try this out (with a good warmup beforehand) and post time to comments.

Next week, back to BJJ!