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The Importance of Girls Going Heavy
Written by Dani Dufrene
Sorry guys this one is for the ladies.

I realize that not all of our CrossFit gals are opposed to going heavy; however, it is common for women to feel less comfortable going heavy than participating in met-con WODs. Women who were not engaged in team sports growing up have rarely been exposed to weightlifting. I know I wasn’t. I grew up dancing and dabbling in long distance running. Before CrossFit I certainly never lifted heavy loads overhead.

I think because going heavy is less familiar for women, we have a tendency to either avoid it all together (strategically making heavy days our rest days) or to not push ourselves to our full potential. I believe that is a great disservice to our overall performance both physically and mentally.

Why I think it is important to go heavy:
-Going heavy builds confidence and is very rewarding for women: There is something extraordinarily empowering about being able to perform a body weight overhead lift or twice your body weight deadlift. It reassures you that when you are out in daily life you can hold your own – lug several bags of groceries into the house, then balance them on one knee while you open the door; squat down and scoop up your kids one in each hand or change the water jug at the office.

-It helps build muscle and increase bone density: Muscle burns more calories than fat. The higher your lean body mass is the more efficient your body is in burning calories. As women get older their bodies produce less estrogen, which helps to keep bones strong. The strain that is placed on your bones during weight bearing exercise promotes bone strengthening and can help fight against osteoporosis.

What it feels like to go heavy:
You will have to dump the weight at some point in time: If you are successful in all of your lifts you are not pushing hard enough. Some women are afraid to test their limits, because they think they won’t make the lift. That should never be a concern. If you can’t make it – you dump it. But you will never know if you don’t try.

-You might feel a little dizzy or light headed: If you get dizzy or light headed it is to be expected and you may be able to lessen the effects if you focus on your breathing. The dizziness is due to a lack of oxygen and won’t be as much of an issue if you make sure to take a deep breath at the beginning of each lift.

-The last rep of a set should be questionable: When you are truly going heavy, it is work. It should not be performed with the same ease as the weight you use in a met-con WOD. You should have to fight. If you are doing 5×5 it should be a gamble whether or not you make that last repetition. If not, add some weight.

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courtland creekmore
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courtland creekmore

Not having done them in a while, I started light:

DL 7 sets x 3 @ 135, 225, 275, 295, 305, 305, 315

Coach Hammer – thank you for the help and encouragement.

It was the sweats.

Jillianne
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Jillianne

Frank, that’s some solid deadlifting brother.

Barry, nice job on the 315 DLs this morning!

I had the privilege of joining the 5:30 class tonight. My buddies Courtland and Mark were getting over 300 lbs. We all benefited from the expert coaching of Hammer, Cal and Nick. I worked up to 335 lbs. Nice work to the whole class. Lot’s of effort!

What do our nutrition experts have to say about chocolate milk as a post WOD recovery meal?

~BC

POS
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POS

Dani, it is funny coincidence that you write this article just a day or so I was admiring some photos on some affiliates website of women doing cleans. I was thinking that it is awesome that women are lifting heavy weights.

Kelly
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Kelly

Happy Birthday Lindsay!! We miss you, and I’ll pass on doing CrossFit or any other workout in the snow thanks. Just glad I finished my run before the rain started.

Frank
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Frank

BW: 170 lbs Age: 31
225, 245, 275, 315, 335, 345.
Sorry 6 a.m. crew for not being able to attend. Did this at Miramar along with 4x400m sprints on the track. See you tomorrow morning.

Frank
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Frank

Sorry 6a.m. crew for not making it there this morning. I ended up doing this at Miramar during lunch. It was a beautiful day for some sprints so I did 4×400’s w/ 2 min rests in between. I also weighed myself too – a skinny 170 lbs. (pre-deployment weight was 205 lbs – yikes).
[ 225, 245, 275, 295, 315, 335, 345 ] last set was rough but managed to hold it. I pray I can walk tomorrow.

courtland creekmore
Member
courtland creekmore

I note in my mind the contrast between yesterday’s gut-wrenching anticipation of the OHS/500m row WOD and today’s actual craving to do DLs….T minus 5 hrs. 14 mins.

Cynthia
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Cynthia

Lindsay! Happy Birthday from the other side of the country!

Don’t complain about your 5 degree weather, missy. We might actually get rain tomorrow. YES—RAIN.

I hope you and Dan are doing well.

Cynthia

Lindsey & Dan
Guest
Lindsey & Dan

Thanks Court!!! I miss you all, especially today…it’s 5 here! Yup I said 5! You guys should try doing a WOD in 5 inches of snow with it still coming down, it’s a whole new element!
Anyway, I hope you all are doing well, it looks like you have an amazing place to work out. You’re very lucky.
I miss you Court, Thanks for my birthday wishes. I’ll see you soon I hope.

Courtney
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Courtney

I just want to wish my sister a very Happy Birthday today! She isn’t with us anymore in San Diego but lucky Boston gets to have her. She still checks the Invictus site all the time though and even wrote on her Crossfit’s blog, Crossfit Cynergy, all about how awesome our blog is.

So Happy Birthday linz! I miss you, wish I was there to celebrate with you but I’m pretty happy not to be in all that snow! 🙂

Chris F
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Chris F

Confucius say:

“Sparrow pooping on head much better than pterodactyl……or cow…… pooping on head”

Dani
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Dani

Indeed it was a good morning and knowing that Patrick got pooped on makes it even better. Wait, that isn’t very nice – but Patrick you must admit it is funny. Jillianne – that is the right mind-set. I truly believe that we are always capable of so much more than what we think. You will never know if you don’t try. Keep up the good work and I will enjoy watching you get stronger. I’m always rootin’ for the little gals. 😉 Small but mighty – that’s us. Jessica, excellent work this morning. Your form improved each set. Not… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

Haaaaaa Patrick! A bird pooping on your head is good luck in some cultures. Not our culture, but some other one!

My big strong husband Barry! From now on I am not walking anywhere. He must carry me everywhere we go.

Mary
Guest
Mary

So not only was it a good wod today (great job strong man Barry), but the morning was made even better when we got home and right after we got out of the car Patrick had a bird poo on his head! I was laughing so hard it hurt.

M’s chocolate PB breakfast shake was great-highly recommended.

Jillianne
Guest
Jillianne

Awesome post, Dani! I’m totally printing this one out.
Since I’ve been keeping notes in my fancy CFI log book, I noticed how often I was writing “5-10# heavier next time.” So a couple weeks ago I decided to start out a bit heavier than what I normally would on each WOD and, yeah, I’ve been dumping it a bit more than usual (and I have the bruises down my back to prove it!) But I am confident I’m going to keep setting new PRs, rather than just survive the WODs. And that’s fantastic.

Mary
Guest
Mary

Great blog Dani! Like you, I did very little heavy lifting prior to Crossfit….just comfortable lifting at the gym and for swimming cross training. I’m so used to doing multiple reps, so it has been a big adjustment trying to load the bar and work for only a few reps at a time. But I understand the importance of heavy lift days and am trying to push myself harder each time…it’s just a work in progress though. I like the note about building bone density-just another reason to show up on lifting days.

mike
Guest
mike

Hell yes! Women who go heavy are strong and beautiful!

FAQ - Workout of the Day (WOD)

What does WOD mean in CrossFit?

WOD stands for Workout of the Day. Most CrossFit gyms post one workout each day for their members and online followers to complete. Invictus currently offers THREE free programmed WODs each day (shown above)... and even more personalized and online supplemental programs through Invictus Athlete.

Which program is right for me? Can I move between them?

One thing that sets Invictus apart from other CrossFit gyms and online training programs is that we recognize everyone has different fitness goals, abilities and needs. Be sure to pick which programming is right for you so you can get a great workout that meets your needs.

What does 30X0 mean? (How to read the WOD)

Another thing you might notice that’s different about our programming is that we use ‘tempo training’ - almost always in the Fitness programming and in various cycles for the Performance and Competition programs. Those extra numbers (ex: @30X0) might seem confusing at first glance but you’ll totally get how it works and why we like to use it after reading this. Trust us, you’ll soon witness the many benefits firsthand. Learn more about tempo training.

I need help with some standard movements and warm-up ideas!

Whether you’re new to CrossFit or have lots of experience with the WOD, our coaches will help you get the most out of every workout. It doesn’t matter if you struggle with a particular movement or if your goals are pushing you toward the higher skilled and more elusive movements, our professional coaches support everyone with advice and feedback.

They have worked with all athlete levels and know what it takes to get people moving to the best of their abilities. Whether it’s burpees, double-unders, muscle-ups, or tips for the Assault Bike - we’ve got a coach who can help you.

Don’t worry, we’ve got your warm-ups covered, too. Our coaches are constantly learning from other modalities and love to use what they learn in innovative warm-ups focused on both preparing for the workout at hand and maintaining the body for a pain free life. Check out this full body routine to keep your joints functioning and free of inflammation. We also post warm-up suggestions in the Workout of the Day for each of the programs that are tailored to that day’s movements.

Workout on your own and don’t have much time for your warm-up? Here’s a couple of quick and simple ones for your shoulders, squat day, deadlifts, and everyone’s problem area, the thoracic spine.

What if I can’t lift the weight or do the movement as prescribed?

Scaling is part of the beauty of CrossFit because it enables workouts and programming to be tailored to anyone’s ability. When it comes to weight, you can and should ALWAYS scale the weight down if it is unsafe for you to lift it, or if it changes the intended stimulus of the workout.

Here are some rules of thumb for scaling weight in metcons (lifting for time). For gymnastics movements, there are some simple scaling solutions as well. If you are unsure, reach out to your Invictus coach! We are here to make sure you get the safest and best workout possible - proper scaling allows for that.

How many days per week should I train? / How many rest days should I take?

At Invictus, we offer programming 6 days a week, Monday-Saturday and we realize not everyone’s schedule - or training needs - are the same and therefore, you must use your best judgement and listen to your body when it comes to deciding how often to take a rest day.

If you have been doing CrossFit for a while now, you recognize that our program excels due to the high intensity component. With that being said, one thing you have to keep in mind is that you can’t sustain that high intensity every single day; otherwise your body ends up breaking down.

You can learn more about how often someone should take a rest day in this article.

What does EMOM stand for?

EMOM stands for Every Minute on the Minute. When you see that come up in a workout, you have up to one minute to complete the exercise required. Normally what’s prescribed won’t take the entire minute so you also have whatever is left of the time to rest until the next minute starts and you do the next set of prescribed work. And so on.

What does AMRAP mean?

AMRAP means “As Many Rounds (and Reps) as Possible” in a certain time period. For example, the workout might say...

AMRAP in 10 minutes of:

30 Double-Unders
20 Pull-Ups
10 Thrusters

So you would keep going through the cycle of those three exercises until the 10 minutes is up. Your score is the number of complete rounds plus any extra reps you did. So if you did four complete rounds plus 15 Double-Unders in the fifth round, your score would be 4+15.

What does OTM mean?

OTM stands for “On the Minute” and is the same thing as an EMOM. When you see that come up in a workout, you have up to one minute to complete the exercise required. Normally what’s prescribed won’t take the entire minute so you also have whatever is left of the time to rest until the next minute starts and you do the next set of prescribed work. And so on.

What does NFT mean?

NFT stands for “Not for Time” and means that you shouldn’t rush or try to go fast, but instead, focus on technique, skill, form or whatever you are working on for that movement.

How heavy should my first set be?

You might also be wondering where to start your first set if, for example, the workout of the day calls for 5 sets of Deadlift x 5 reps. Is the first set a warm-up or is that the first working set? Here’s our recommendation for how to properly build to your starting weight and what we consider warm-up sets and working sets.

How can I figure out my 1RM?

We frequently use percentage references in prescribing the number of reps to perform, so it’s essential that you have a good idea on most of your maxes.

Let’s say it’s been awhile since you have attempted a 1RM; maybe you had an injury a few months ago, or maybe you just somehow keep missing the 1-RM test days, or maybe you just forgot to write it down in your log book. If you have a multiple-rep max, you’re in luck. There’s actually a simple equation you can use to calculate an estimated 1RM based on the max number of reps you can do at a given weight.