I’d never heard of the CrossFit WOD “Gator” until this morning. Front Squats and ring push-ups seemed simple enough. Besides I am probably better at front squats than most guys that I train and compete with and what man doesn’t think he can rock push-ups So I launched into this workout with a cocky swagger and a puffed out chest ready to lay waste to the barbell. Eight rounds later I was begging for mercy and could barely push myself off the floor. My masochistic streak had apparently found its match. I guess that’s one of the things I have to love about CrossFit, even if you don’t like it or agree with it; you can’t argue with the results.
Gator has only two moves. The Rx calls for 8 rounds of 185 pound front squats and 26 ring push-ups either from the floor or feet on a box. This is supposed to be a workout for time but I’ll be honest with you; after the first two rounds I reset my goal to simply finishing all 8 rounds. I did finish somewhere around 43 minutes though for those of you keeping score.
I prepared for this workout with a 250 meter row followed by 20 air squats then one set of front squats at 135lbs. followed by 30 chest-to-ground push-ups From there I set up my rings and squat rack as close as possible and got ready. Now as far as set up goes, ideally you want your stations as close together as possible. If you don’t have a squat rack you can move around or if you want to work on your Power-cleans then you can always just move your loaded barbell over to your ring station and simply power clean it up to begin your set. This is actually how I should have done it but we had some personal training clients in the facility at the time and I didn’t want to interrupt the other trainer with the sound of crashing bumpers.
Remember when front squatting with this kind of weight, to brace your core and sit back on your heels. The idea is to keep your torso vertical, with the weight resting on your shoulders. Athletes who haven’t mastered the “high elbow/loose wrists hold” will have trouble with front squats as there’s really no way to balance that kind of weight while holding it up with your arms and front deltoids. More than likely your wrists will give out or the bar will pull your forward and you’ll have to dump it. Front Squats are also good at building the proper foot stance that enables maximum range of motion; just over shoulder width apart feet pointed out at a 45 degree angle.
My front squat sets remained unbroken until the last 2 rounds then I had to split them up into one set of 3, rest 5 seconds then finish the last 2. My first 5 rounds of ring push-ups were pretty straight forward. Be sure to go as low as you can, burying the ring in the pocket between your chest and shoulder then push up and away from the rings by squeezing your chest and driving your arms down. Doing push-ups and especially dips in this manner is great practice and preparation for muscle-ups. My last 3 rounds got ugly real fast. My core was exhausted from the squats and keeping my body rigid became difficult. I decided to break down my reps into 2 sets of 10 then one last set of 6 to finish. By the end of the final round there was an 8 inch puddle of sweat beneath me and I collapsed to the floor and lay there for the better part of 4 minutes before I could push myself back up again.
Just as Karen was a serious gut check yesterday, Gator was a test of determination. Overcoming that desire to stop and moving past your pain threshold is always the biggest barrier to finishing these workouts quickly. I think too often athletes confuse discomfort for pain and often quit just at that moment when they’re really about to discover something about themselves; that they are stronger than they ever thought possible. Tomorrow is a rest day for me but I’ll be back with another workout breakdown on Friday.