I had to take a week off of my workout, because I had some things going on. Also, not this past Sunday, but the one before, after I had completed the workout of the day, I found I was in too much pain to keep going. I usually do the workout first, and then do my Spartan preparation workout during Sunday’s open hour at my CrossFit box, but I felt like I was going to vomit and I went home instead.

So, I took a week off, and the numbers I put up this last Sunday, the last day of week 13, were not exactly where I wanted them to be. But they do look a lot better compared to week 1, so I’ll focus on that.

This day’s workout is grip intensive, and it starts with a bang. A tabata of alternating single arm holds. That’s 20 seconds on, 10 seconds of rest, 8 times, which makes 4 times each arm. I’d have to say that this one is a pretty big struggle. The first time I tried it, I was able to do okay, maybe hang on the full time once with each arm. But after that, I found that I wasn’t able to hold on very long and I ended up going onto my toes for support. At this point, I try the first round for each hand as long as I can, and then go to toes for the remaining rounds. In week 12, I managed to complete those first two rounds, but last Sunday I was not. It’s a hit or miss kind of exercise for me right now.

Next, I use the two staggered height bars to do some monkey-bar’ing. I go forward and then back down, and completing both of those counts as one rep. For this, I’ve definitely improved my form. I can feel that I’m stronger in my ability to stabilize with one hand low and one high. But I haven’t really grown my number of reps. I can get two pretty easily, but then I get tired. I got 5 once. I’ve been thinking about trying to turn around so I’m facing forward going down, but I haven’t quite gotten the nerve up for that yet.

Then I spend some time trying to hold onto the bar with my arms bent (L’s). Ideally, I should be able to monkey bar with L’s, but I’m not there yet. But I have improved my hang time from 11 seconds the first week to 30 seconds. And one of my friends took a picture of me hanging from the bar like that because she thought it looked cool.

Next, I attempt to hold onto a climbing rope for as long as I can with my arms close to my chest, not straight and extended. The first week, I maxed out at 4 seconds. Week 12, I got all the way to 19 seconds (a mere 14 seconds last Sunday). I have lately been having issues with this one because my hold squishes whichever index finger is under the other hand. Squishes it so much it stays squished for like 30 seconds after I let go, so that’s not pleasant and I need to figure out how to adjust.

Then I do 1 to 5 rope climbs. Well, that’s the plan. I started doing 1, and then moved to 2, and in week 12, I did 3 (using only 3 pulls on each climb, which, if you don’t know what that means, is really good for a short person). Last Sunday, I only did 1, because I kicked myself off the rope on my first attempt and figured I shouldn’t push myself. Have I mentioned I also have a cold/sinus thing going on?

Peg board holds come next. I don’t have any illusions that I can actually climb a peg board, but I can hold onto the pegs. I started this one using straight arms, but my times were getting pretty long, so I started incorporating bent arm holds as well. My first straight arm hold came in at 36 seconds. The last one was 84 seconds, and my longest bent arm hold is clocking in at 39 seconds.

I do actually make an attempt to move the pegs on the board, but I haven’t gotten any farther than moving a single peg before falling. Yet!

Two grip carry exercises come next. First, a farmer carry with kettle bells, and then a pinch grip with plates. I started with the 53 pound kettle bells, but now I’m using the 70 pound ones, which makes me feel like a badass. I mean, that’s almost my body weight I’m carrying for a good 70 or so steps. With the plates, I’m still working on the 25 pound plates. They are thick enough that the pinch grip is hard to hold with my small hands, so they remain a challenge. I also try to use that grip to carry weights during everyday workouts, because I’m weird.

And, finally, it’s time for GHD sit-ups and GHD back extensions. I started with sets of 10 and have been steadily increasing by a single rep at regular intervals. Week 12, I was up to 14, but last Sunday I scaled back to 10 because of not feeling one hundred percent.

It frustrates me that I can’t just do all the things I want to do. But by looking back at this, I can at least see that I have improved. Even when I was feeling sick, I still increased most of my hold times. And the monkey bars are feeling easier, even if I lack stamina. I really need to find some good monkey bars to practice on, but most parks don’t have the kind that go up and down, or ones with thick bars like the Spartan Race has. Still. The motion should help.

I also need to get out there and practice the spear some more, but I figure that can wait until it’s not quite so cold. And once it starts getting light out around 6 in the morning, then I’ll start doing some running after CrossFit instead of stretching.

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