A New Experience: Crossfit Destroyed My Arms


If you follow me on the twitter, then you might have seen me post this yesterday while I was standing in a gravel parking lot waiting for Steve to come get me. Posting this was actually quite challenging as I was having to hold one of my arms up by the wrist with my other arm, so as to support the weight of my phone, which I couldn’t do one-handed at that point.

Yesterday, after my super “big” run of Monday, I planned to continue this whole training momentum thing and bike home from Mill Valley — about an hour ride — and stop at the Crossfit gym halfway to do the 5:30 p.m. class. I really didn’t expect this to be a problem. Yes, Crossfit can be stupid, but generally I have no trouble doing the workouts.

After a warm-up and stuff, this was the workout for yesterday:

5 rounds of:

  • 20 pull-ups
  • 30 push-ups
  • 40 sit-ups
  • 50 squats

(3′ rest between each round)

Yes, that looks hard, but my logic was 1. the handful of times I have been to this Crossfit gym I have been solidly in the upper half of people in terms of fitness, so 2. they wouldn’t give us something more than 50% of people couldn’t do. You’ll be able to do it, especially since 3. you can modify things, so that (for example) I was doing pull-ups using a resistance band to give me support, since I can only do three pull-ups without support. And, 4. 3′ is plenty of time to rest in between.

I was totally wrong. My arms completely failed me, in a way I’ve never experienced before. By the end of the second round I was doing the push-ups on my knees. Poorly. I can’t even remember ever having to do push-ups on my knees. Not even that time I did 300 pushups (broken up on each yard line) as part of a challenge in high school and my arms were shaking so visibly people could see them wobbling across the football field.

By the third round, I was using the biggest resistance band I could find for my pull-ups and I was having to stop every two push-ups (still on my knees) because I couldn’t make it all the way up.

The last two rounds, I even switched it so the push-ups were first — on the logic that then they’d be easier because I wouldn’t be tired yet. (I had been doing it starting with the sit-ups and rotating through.) I managed about ten really bad push-ups on my knees and then I had to do them one at a time, stopping in between each one when my arms collapsed and I fell on my face. By the very last 15 or so, I basically just fell onto my stomach and then tried to push my chest up off the ground. AND I FAILED AT IT.

I have never not been able to push myself up off the ground.

The very last pull-ups of the very last round — my last thing — a decent number of people were already done, because either they had bailed or they actually had some arm strength. Everyone watched me, then, when I stopped to take a break halfway through my pull-ups and the super thick resistance band I was using for support snapped up and got stuck around my thigh. With one foot on the box I had used to reach the bar and one leg stuck in this band, I was hopping up and down. But, my arms were so tired (and the band was so thick) that I couldn’t pull it back down from where it was stuck on my leg. I flailed about and then I figured, ‘screw it, at least this is a break,’ and I just stood there until the instructor came and pulled the band down, so I could get unstuck.

And, then I did my last 10 shitty pull-ups.

Even after it was done and I was destroyed, incapable of picking up my water bottle to drink my water, I was still totally fine aerobically. You want me to squat for hours? No problem. So, after 10′-15′, I got back on my bike to head home, but my arms couldn’t even support the weight of me leaning on the handlebars. I was weaving back and forth in traffic for about 10′ before I stopped and made Steve come to get me.

I’m not totally sure if that workout achieved anything other than making it impossible for me to do any work last night. I’m not sure if I’ll be better at push-ups next time, because I’ve never been that bad before. Or, if the whole thing was just about a new experience. Yay.

2 thoughts on “A New Experience: Crossfit Destroyed My Arms

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