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My Crossfit Experiment

Possibly the LAST thing you might expect me to be talking about less than 6 months post three spinal surgeries is doing a Crossfit WOD. Well, at least if I still had any sanity left (which is always debatable). However, when Crossfit posted their first open for 2016 I was pretty intrigued. I am a sucker for anything overhead lunges (I think one of the best and most underrated exercises) and pull-ups…..SOLD!

STILL, less than six months ago I could’nt lift my right leg out of bed and doctors were testing if I could use my toes. Don’t worry, I wasn’t being stupid or trying to prove anything rather pointless. Yet, I like a good challenge and knew I could do whatever felt right to me. It would be a good measure to see where I am at as I felt like my leg has been well over a year ahead of where doctors thought I would be. 

Plus, it gave me an opportunity to do a little DVRT Ultimate Sandbag mad experimentation AND get the wife a bit pissed (she LOVES really challenging workouts, wink, wink). 

So the workout was the following…

20 minutes

25 feet of overhead walking lunges

8 burpees 

25 feet with overhead walking lunges

8 chest to bar pull-ups

As many rounds as possible.

Men are suppose to use a 95 pound barbell and ladies a 65 pound barbell. To be honest I haven’t done overhead lunges since my surgery as I didn’t know if I had the stability yet, so this WAS going to be REALLY interesting. 

I also put to test a fun little gadget which was our new Athos EMG gear. This simple units are suppose to measure muscle activity during training. Of course, one could argue the accuracy, but we were using the same standard so either way it would give us information that would be very telling. 


Cool part is the shirt makes you feel a bit like Iron Man, so bonus there!

Not being super sure how this would go I would build up in some load depending how I felt doing the overhead lunges. I started with a 50 pound Force Ultimate Sandbag, a 65 pound barbell, a 60 pound Burly, a 95 pound Barbell, a 70 pound Strength, and a 40 pound slosh pipe (you know those funny water filled pvc pipe things). 


Yes, my loads were all over the place, but that was really for two reasons. One to make sure I didn’t end up back in the hospital because pretty sure Jessica would have killed me before I made it there. The other was to give me an opportunity to get some testing. After all, I had no illusions I was going to be really an ass kicker. Good for me would be able to do the whole workout with minimal rest. 

I did the whole workout! It wasn’t always pretty as my right leg still found itself struggling as I got tired, but I held true to being smart and keeping good technique. 

What was just as good as me doing the workout (I am not above high fiving myself on that) was the results I got for muscle activity. For the sake of the blog, I think the easiest is to focus upon the deltoids. So, a little drum roll…..

65 pound barbell: 74%

50 pound Force USB: 89%

95 pound barbell: 94%

60 pound Burly USB: 79%

70 pound Strength USB: 99%

40 pound Slosh Pipe: 67%

Am I ready to go to publication with this “study”? No, not at all, but it definitely was interesting. What did we learn?

Load is important, but load with some instability is even MORE impactful. I was actually surprised how challenging the Force Ultimate Sandbag was because of the smaller dimension it was hard to keep the weight in position. This was different than the barbell that even with the length, doesn’t have the instability. 

On the other hand, just more instability doesn’t equate to more muscle activity, at least not in this case. The slosh pipe was ten pound different than the 50 pound Force Ultimate Sandbag but the difference in muscle activity was huge. Makes sense though, that is why really unstable surface objects don’t stimulate the same muscle activity as the same exercises on the ground with more load. 


What did we learn here today? 

A combination of load and instability are ideal for getting the most muscle activity. 

Weight is not all the same!

Josh is getting better!!! While this may not seem important, but I share this with you because we focus so much on long drawn out programs to help people feel, look, and perform better. Imagine if we could just use smart training to accomplish this in less time. 

I hope at least this makes you think and maybe consider re-thinking how you see fitness and performance training. 


How can you learn how to redefine what you know about movement and fitness? Check out some of our upcoming DVRT certifications coming to Southern California, New York, and Chicago HERE