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Sculpt your back and core. Humbled. That’s how Julian Alcaraz felt during his CrossFit baptism. Alcaraz was teaching military-style fitness boot camps in Los Angeles when he watched the 2011 CrossFit Games live and was inspired by the athletes who swam in the ocean, walked on their hands and swung across monkey bars. Becca Voigt placed third, and Alcaraz sought out her gym. His first WOD involved overhead squats. “Even though I was strong, I didn’t have the mobility to do the exercise,” he says. But the lesson he learned is how CrossFit can establish a foundation for functional movement. He worked out daily and in just three years qualified for the 2015 Games. Now he coaches at CrossFit Training Yard in North Hollywood, California. He’s inspired every day by the progress he witnesses in his students. One of his favourites is a grandmother in her sixties. She taught him the importance of being patient in the process. “All it takes is a willingness to learn and a desire to be stronger,” he says.
Alcaraz’s CrossFit Workout: Fran
Three back-to-back sets of thrusters (squat to presses) and pull-ups. “ I t’s a killer metabolic workout that’s also the cardio equivalent of a maxeffort, half-mile run,” says Douglas Chapman, a CrossFit coach. “It’s the worst of both worlds.” Alcaraz’s best Fran time is 2:24 (minutes; seconds) Do It:Alternate between thrusters and pull-ups for 3 sets, minimal rest.
- Set 1: 21 reps
- Set 2: 15 reps
- Set 3: 9 reps
Score: Time to completion: Under 5 minutes is considered strong. Thrusters – Using an overhand, shoulder-width grip, grab a 45kg barbell from a rack at shoulder height. Keep your elbows up and do a squat. Explode up and press the bar overhead. Lower the bar to shoulder height and repeat. Pull-Ups – Stand under a pull-up bar, jump up and grab the bar using an overhand grip that’s just beyond shoulderwidth. Pull up until your chin clears the bar. Then lower yourself until your arms are fully extended. Repeat. Beginner:
- 1 Use a PVC pipe instead of an Olympic bar for the thrusters your first few times; then gradually add weight as you develop strength.
- 2 While performing thrusters, elevate your heels on weight plates to make the squat easier.
- 3 Practice the two parts of the thruster – the front squat and the push press – separately until you’re comfortable with each phase.
- 4 Increase your pull-up power by securing a thick workout band to the bar and putting a knee through the loop.
- 5 Can’t pull off all the pull-ups? Do inverted rows instead so you can build up your back strength.
- 1 For thrusters, don’t just lower the bar after you’ve pressed it, Alcaraz says. “Pull it down actively to increase your speed.”
- 2 Perform the second set of the two moves in segments – say, 3 sets of 5 – gulping air deeply between mini-sets. If possible, don’t drop the bar during these brief rest periods.
- 3 For thrusters, push your head forward – through the “window” formed by your arms and the bar – once the bar is overhead for maximal efficiency on the lift.
Four Tips For The Crossfit Rookie: Find a box that prioritises you – “If the coach tells you to attend a group class before he knows you, your history, and your goals, stay away,” says Douglas Chapman of CrossFit Ann Arbor. Think low trajectory – “Form and frequency always come before intensity,” says coach Ben Bergeron. Attend class three days a week for at least five weeks before even thinking about adding weight. Scale down the WOD – Don’t be too proud to do an easier version of an exercise in your WOD. That’s how you improve.If you’re not sure a move is right for you, use this rule: If it causes dull pain in your muscles, go. Sharp pain in your joints? Skip. Boost your mobility hygiene – Practicing mobility should be like brushing your teeth, says PT Kelly Starrett. “Do it daily.” His 10-minute drills are available at Mobility WOD on YouTube.