“Karen,” we’ll meet again!

Karen-designstyle-badge-m“Karen” is a deceptively simple CrossFit workout. 150 wall balls. That’s it. The rx, or recommended, weight for women is 14 lbs. I modified that to 10 and still found it hard when I did it yesterday.

What’s a “wall ball”? Here’s a good explanation from Muscle and Fitness:

Done right, wall balls are a great all-around conditioning movement. Start with your feet shoulder-width apart, your shoulders pulled back and down, and a medicine ball held at chest height with your elbows under the ball.

When you descend into the wall ball squat, the idea is to get proper depth the same way you would with a back squat. Keep your weight over your heels with your knees tracking your toes, and aim to lower the crease of your hips below your knees. Make sure to hold the ball at chest height throughout the downward movement, as letting it dip will cause you to round your back and shift your weight forward. Drive through your heels on the way up, using hip action to throw the ball into the wall. Catch it on the rebound, squat again, and repeat for reps.

Why women’s names? Why “Karen”? I talked about “the girls” in my post about thing s I like about CrossFit and things I’m less keen about:

An answer to the girls’ names for workouts: “Many have asked, “Why are the workouts named after girls?” Coach Glassman, the founder and President of CrossFit explained it best. “I want to explain the workout once and then give it a name. I thought that anything that left you flat on your back, looking up at the sky asking ‘what just happened to me?’ deserved a female’s name. Workouts are just like storms, they wreak havoc on towns.”” Hmmmm.

I don’t like that explanation but I do like the idea of naming the workouts. After awhile you know what Fran is and you can easily keep track of your time/reps etc. And in terms of involving women, CrossFit does really well. And of course they’d be other problems if they all had tough, manly names too.

London CrossFit Coach Dave Henry had some words of wisdom about “Karen”: The worst thing you can do, he said, was go at it like a hero for the first 30 and then collapse. That’s the most common mistake. He must have seen me climbing hills on my bike. “Attack and die” seems to be my strategy! That’s why I’m good at short, steep climbs. No pesky shifting and spinning for me, just fast up and over. It’s also why I’m dreadful at long, slow climbs. So I knew what my temptation would be with a 150 wall balls. Instead, Dave suggested we do sets of 5. He also said that when we rested, just lean into the wall with the ball. Don’t put it on the ground. That’s like the best piece of burpee advice I’ve gotten. Speedy, at CrossFit Dunedin, told us that if you’re breaking burpees up into chunks to never rest standing up, always rest on the ground. Smart. You have to get up again anyway. May as well do another burpee. I followed Dave’s advice for the first half and again at the end. In the middle I opted for sets of 10 because starting again after taking a break seemed painful.

My time was 11:41. The speedsters in our group seemed to come in around 9 and I was in the middle, I think. I look at the whiteboard but I don’t obsess and I don’t let comparisons ruin my workout.

One challenge for me with wall balls is my glasses. I’ve had two CrossFit injuries. One was when I missed catching the medicine ball and it came down crashing into my face. Ouch. My glasses cut the bridge of my nose and twisted out of shape. Luckily, they were an easy fix. And my nose healed.  So now I do wall balls without them. Blurry but safe. (The other injury involved box jumps. I still have the scar.)

I’ll do it again. I hope next time to use the 14 b ball. My plan is to practice with the heavier ball during warm ups.

This guy looks to have good form though I don’t look forward to burpee wall balls!