Nearly six months of formal Crossfit training and the results are pretty remarkable. I won’t post pictures of my oily muscles, but let’s just say the day I was able to execute an unassisted classic pull-up was a big personal victory. Now, it’s all about the Work Out of the Day and getting stronger and ready for the next big Churbuckian athletic goal — the 2012 World Indoor Rowing Championships.
Yesterday I embarked on what may prove to be my undoing: the 100 Day Burpee Challenge. If pull ups were my first goal, mastering burpees is next on the list (that and doing a lot of consecutive double-under rope skips, but that’s a digression for another day). What is a burpee? The New York Times recently asked the question : “What is the best single exercise?”:
“Ask a dozen physiologists which exercise is best, and you’ll get a dozen wildly divergent replies. “Trying to choose” a single best exercise is “like trying to condense the entire field” of exercise science, said Martin Gibala, the chairman of the department of kinesiology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.
“But when pressed, he suggested one of the foundations of old-fashioned calisthenics: the burpee, in which you drop to the ground, kick your feet out behind you, pull your feet back in and leap up as high as you can. “It builds muscles. It builds endurance.” He paused. “But it’s hard to imagine most people enjoying” an all-burpees program, “or sticking with it for long.”
Burpees suck. Especially for big, tall people like me as it involves throwing oneself to the ground into a planked push up position, performing that pushup, and then leaping to one’s feet and jumping in the air with an overhead hand clap. Here’s the video demonstration:
I hate burpees. Dread them. Nothing destroys me faster or more completely than a round of burpees. They make me feel sick, panicked, and woefully old. Hence I love them. This morning’s Cape Cod CrossFit WOD (called the “Airforce WOD”) was a simple round of five relatively light weight exercises, 20 thrusters, sumo high pull deadlifts, push presses, front squats and overhead squats at 95 pounds. Doing 100 lifts against the clock is hard, very hard. But leave it to CrossFit to make it horrible by specifying that every minute, on the minute, you stopped what you were doing to perform four of the evil Burpees.
The origins of the Burpee are in dispute, but I like this explanation:
“The exercise may have been originated by a man named Lieutenant Thomas Burpee (1757-1839). He was an officer in the New Hampshire Militia during the Revolutionary War and was described as “having the innate Burpee fondness for martial exercises” in A History of the Town of New London, Merrimack County, New Hampshire. Lt. Burpee may have used the combination of pushups and squat thrusts as a means of drilling, conditioning, and disciplining the troops under his command. In addition, the exercise may have also been used by the troops as a way to stay warm during the winters in wartime New England.”
Being who I am and believing in attacking weaknesses head on, I am embarking on the dreaded 100 Day Burpee Challenge. Simple enough. One burpee on day one. Two on day two ….98 on day 98, 99 on day 99 ……
I am on day two and all is well with the world. Then again, I managed to have 52 inflicted on me this morning at while doing the aforementioned “Airforce WOD.” I promise not to blog every dreary day ahead. And yes, there is a cult around this particular silly challenge or, at the very least, a blog.