Last year I did a post on my first year in CrossFit, and I thought it would be helpful to do a follow-up post. I started CrossFit two years ago and had some fantastic gains in my fitness the first year. My second year was marked by even stronger gains in performance.
Second Year CrossFit Strength Gains
I went from deadlifting 205 to deadlifting 255. Given my back injury, this is quite amazing. (I had a back injury when I was 16 that has been with me since then.) Bending over and lifting heavy weight like this is always a little terrifying for me. That said, I am hoping that with consistent training, I hope to break 300lbs on my deadlift this year. The rest of my lifts have also improved dramatically as you can see below.
When I started CrossFit, I could do three pull-ups. After a year I could do 10 (barely), and the 10th one looked pretty bad. Now I can do 20 kipping pull-ups, unbroken. My goal in year three is to do 30 pull-ups unbroken. For a 51 year old, I think that’s pretty respectable :)
When you look at all these numbers, you could say to yourself, “Bryan’s a complete wuss. I can do better than that.” Or you might think, “Bryan is a god.” The fact of the matter is that there is always somebody far worse than you, and there’s always somebody more fantastic than you could ever imagine.
I don’t compare myself to anyone. I do my best with what I have to work with and strive to always do better. I’d encourage you to do the same. I am challenged and encouraged by the performance of others, but as we hikers often say, “I have to hike my own hike.”
CrossFit Cardio Performance Gains
I love CrossFit, but it’s not my hobby. It’s the way I stay in shape for weekend adventures in the mountains like hiking, climbing, and mountaineering. I found that the consistency of the cardio really allowed me to hike a lot stronger than I used to. CrossFit was a key part of my training plan for climbing Cotopaxi this year, a 19,400-foot glaciated volcano in Ecuador.
Locally, there is a hiking trail loop that I use as a benchmark for myself on Mount Baldy. I ascend up Register Ridge, a very steep un-maintained trail, then come down the Ski Hut Trail. For the first time, I was able to do this in under four hours. Now, there are people 15 years my senior who can do it faster, but for me it was a big improvement on my cardio performance.
It would be dishonest if I did not mention the soreness. Some of the time I feel like I’m 25 years old. But most of the time I feel like I’m 90 years old and I can barely bend over and tie my shoes because I’m so sore.
I remember being really sore when I was in my forties, and I was just sore for no good reason. I sat at a job all day, then came home and sat on a couch, letting myself atrophy. Today, I have resigned myself to the fact that getting old hurts.
I don’t consider myself “old” right now, but the older I get, the more I feel the aches and pains of age. I’ve decided to feel the aches and pains because I am pushing the limits of my fitness level, rather than feel the aches and pains because I have let myself go.
Here is My “Big CrossFit Why” – What’s Yours?
If you have not made your midlife fitness pivot, I hope this encourages you to see what’s possible. It’s not the numbers that I’m doing, but it’s the progress. I feel so much younger than I did 10 years ago. I can do things now that I’ve never been able to do in my life. There’s no point in my life that I’ve ever been able to dead lift 255 pounds – and I’m only getting started.
Here is what motivates me. Here is my “big why”: I’m going to be a granddad this year and in 20 years I’m going to be taking little Conrad and his cousins, brothers, and sisters on adventures in the most beautiful and remote parts of the Sierra Nevada. We are going to walk the John Muir Trail together, climb big, scary, exposed mountain peaks, and camp under a billion stars.
That’s the kind of grandpa I want to be, and I am going to train every day to get there. How about you? What’s your “big why”?
If You Live in Riverside, Join Me for a CrossFit Session at Centric Athletics
I work out at Centric Athletics. If you live in the area, join us for a workout session and see how you like it. You get the first three sessions for free. And for the record, I don’t get paid to endorse Centric Athletics, I just love it that much :)