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CrossFit "Karen" - Functional Movement Gone Wild
A 10-minute test of physical and mental grit
Team! Meet "Karen"! She is a CrossFit benchmark workout for the ages. There's no better way to start off your week than with a total body, functional movement workout that challenges your muscular and cardiorespiratory fitness, neuromuscular adaptation and mental grit all within the simplicity of a single movement! Enjoy! -Carla
Today is all about doing something different and coming out of your comfort zone. This week’s workout is inspired by this foundational piece in CrossFit Journal Articles Issue 12 2003, “Functionality and Wall Ball”. This article is quite old but is a seminal piece about a functional movement called the Wall Ball Shot. Many of the principles described here also pertain to its sister movement, the dumbbell thruster.
Here’s a quick refresher. “Functional movements” are movements we do every day and are also the foundational movements upon which other more complex movements are developed. These movements include squats, deadlifts (picking your grocery bags up off the floor), cleaning (when you lift a toddler from the floor and hoist them up to chest level and secure their bottoms under your forearms), lunging, running, jumping, walking, throwing, climbing and pressing, and I would also add swimming.
What’s special about functional movements is that their execution requires the recruitment and coordination of multiple muscle groups and joint complexes. This is a big job that requires coordinated muscular strength and stamina, effectively fueled by the cardio-respiratory system and orchestrated by the neuroendocrine system.
When incorporating functional movements into our fitness programs, we create a stimulus that trains multiple muscle groups, challenges the cardiorespiratory system, and elicits a substantial neuroendocrine response. The confluence of these factors is where fitness magic happens!
All these components serve mid-life women (and any aged athlete, male or female) very well because they promote bone, muscle, and cardiovascular health and provide a neuroendocrine stimulus which is our end-run around the menopause transition!
Today’s workout is CrossFit “Karen”: 150 Wall Ball Shots to a wall target for time (Prescribed: 14lb med ball to a 10ft target or 20# dumbbell thruster).
This is NOT in all one set! You need to strategically break up the 150 repetitions into smaller sets to maximize time efficiency.
Dumbbell thrusters are equivalent if you do not have an area/equipment for the wall ball shot. That’s it! Just one movement. But don’t let the simplicity fool you! To do a single complex movement at high intensity requires not just physical fitness, but mental grit to stay focused and deliberate.
If this seems out of the stratosphere for you, I’ve got you! The Movement Practice guidelines will help you find the weight/options that are appropriate for you, no matter your fitness level or limitation!
This workout is relatively short. Most participants will complete this in 10-15 minutes. More experienced CrossFit athletes will complete this in 5-10 minutes at the prescribed weights above. For my friends who are endurance athletes, this will challenge you very differently compared to an ultra run or Iron Man.
Because of the high level of neuroendocrine stimulation, I included a 24 min yoga cool-down to bring your stress response back to Earth. Please don’t skip it! The recovery piece is critical for us at mid-life. Be kind to your cortisol and it will be kind to you!
TABATA - 20 seconds of work/10 seconds of rest. Perform each movement in sequence for a total of 5 rounds of both movements. (5 minutes)
Air squat (20 seconds of work/10 seconds of rest)
Push-up (easy option) (20 seconds of work/10 seconds of rest)
Watch the video of the Wall Ball Shot and the Dumbbell Thruster and select your option. Take 5-10 minutes to select your weight/option for the workout. Select a dumbbell weight/medball that allows you to complete 15-20 repetitions unbroken during this practice period. This is a lighter-weight workout!
If wall ball shots and dumbbell thrusters are inaccessible to you, here are some alternatives:
150 air squats for time. Focusing on appropriate depth and mechanics over speed. If you have mobility limitations, set up a bench or chair behind you to serve as a target for your depth. Sit down in the squat, touch the target with your bottom then rise.
150 dumbbell front squats for time. Choose a light set of dumbbells to hold in the front rack position for all repetitions, again, focusing on depth and mechanics. Refresh your memory by watching the video.
For an endurance kick and some plyometric work, perform 150 jumping air squats for time!
150 Wall Ball Shots for time (14 lb medball or 20 lb dumbbell thruster)
TIP: Go in with a strategy! This serves the mental component of this workout. One approach that works well for many (including myself) is to start off with your biggest sets while you are still fresh. Two or 3 sets of 15-20 repetitions at the outset will get you a big chunk of repetitions behind you and it will become more tenable to break sets up into 5-10 reps to chip away at the remainder of the repetitions.
Did I mention that you should not skip the yoga? This was a short workout. No excuses.