Six Ropes, No Legs

Saturday, August 3rd, 2013


Mobility/Warm up:
2 rounds

15 Wall Facing Squats
15 Wall Extensions
15 Second Handstand against Wall 


Advanced Strength:

20 minutes to find 1RM Snatch

 Notes:  Stay on the heels and pull under the bar fast!  Be aggressive.

Advanced Conditioning: 


9-7-5 Reps

Muscle ups
Snatch 135/95


Classic Strength:

20 minutes to find 3RM Overhead Squat

  Notes:  Use this opportunity to work on quality positioning and depth.  The weighted barbell will almost act as a stretching partner for the overhead squat if you keep your shoulders and core active.


Classic Conditioning:

15-12-9 reps

Pull ups
Power Snatch

Cool down/Summer Six packs:3 rounds

Max Effort L-sit on rings
10 Prone Snow Angels
10 Prone PVC Dislocates
Couch Stretch 1-2 min (only 1 set)


Not cool Castro, not cool

Legless rope climbs

My greatest fear going into the games was not being able to perform a work out or a movement and have the team’s score suffer as a result. So I was feeling pretty good about all of the events leading up to the announcement for Friday afternoon’s surprise workout in the tennis stadium. I will never forget how I felt when Dave Castro announced our work out will consist of six legless rope climbs and a series of thrusters. For those of you who don’t know me, bodyweight gymnastics are not my strength, I am really efficient at rope climbs when I can use my legs, but without my legs I am virtually worthless. Not to mention I have a very large heat sensitivity that predisposes me to muscle cramping very easily, so after the first work out in the soccer stadium, my body was already not happy with me. All of these realizations came to a head as we entered the tennis stadium to complete the legless rope climb event. I’m sure my entire team could see that I was visibly quiet and anxiously nervous. I knew that I had to come up with a game plan and stick to it as best as possible if I was going to get through this.

The timer rang and Jesse and McCoy flew through the event. Jesse basically ran up the rope and McCoy slowed down slightly, but it was only to pace himself so he didn’t fail on a climb. When he touched the last 15 foot target, it was go time, no turning back now. I moved very slowly through the first set of 15 thrusters and managed to get through the first three rope climbs without too much of a problem. I continued to pace myself and attempted to keep my forearms as fresh and loose as possible.  I knew if my forearms and biceps hit the redline, I would be screwed.

Then the fifth rope arrived and my body let me know that it no longer wanted to do legless rope climbs. I began to reach failure. I’m not exactly sure how many times I failed on the fifth through but I know that each one felt worse and worse than the previous one. Knowing that we had such a commanding lead when I got to this point, to watch it all slowly fall apart was a feeling I hope no one experiences. In the gym you can kind of sit in the shadows if you aren’t doing well, but here, you are under the microscope. Cameras everywhere focused on you, knowing that everyone is watching you fall apart. To sit there in the middle of the tennis stadium with thousands of people watching/cheering you on as you continue to fail is a very lonely emotion. The target began feeling more and more impossible to reach the more I failed. It may as well have been a 20 ft rope, my biceps felt like they were going to burst, and I had no grip left in my forearms. But I finally saved up enough energy to reattempt the rope for the third or fourth time and somehow had just enough in my forearms to give it everything I had in reach for the target, which I just barely snagged with my right middle finger. I didn’t even have enough left to hold on to the rope on the way down so I just fell 15 feet to the mat.

Excited to move on my thrusters, my attitude quickly changed when the judge said “NO REP”. It was devastating. How could he not see it, the whole stadium saw it!? Not only did I touch it and get no rep, when I fell I partially dislocated my fourth finger on my left hand, so now I basically had no sensation on half of my finger. No more forearms. No more biceps. And I have to somehow get back up that god damn rope again. My memory pretty much blacked out at this point, but I just kept telling myself “Steve you can do it, just breath, just get six inches at a time, you can do it”.  To be honest, I really don’t remember touching the target on the fifth Rope but somehow I managed to do so.

However, It felt like déjà vu all over again when I got to the sixth rope, except this time it looked like it was about 30 feet in the air. I literally had nothing left in my arms. I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but I knew that I had to. Failed attempt after failed attempt I kept trying, trying to find the perfect balance between rest and recovery. I kept telling myself “Steve you can do it, its only one more, you can do it”. Then, a miracle happened, I had just enough strength in my arms and focus to get one hand over the other and smack the target with everything I had. I couldn’t believe that I made it through. I know how difficult it must’ve been for people to watch me fail over and over and over again, but I can assure you it was nothing like the feelings going through my head with that sense of helplessness and hopeless to complete my portion of the work out. 

When I finished, I was obviously disappointed that I did not do better for the team, but I also felt such a sense of accomplishment, I could not believe that I did it. I was so torn between overwhelming happiness and disappointment of a sub par performance. Very strange/unfamiliar situation. Had I not been at the Games in front of my teammates and everyone in the stands, I most definitely would have given up. Physically and mentally I did not believe that I could complete the work out after that many failed attempts. I can honestly say that was the most challenging workout I’ve ever done, and never have I gone through such a wide range of emotions in such a short period of time. To go from extreme nervousness to rock-bottom hopelessness back up to a unrelenting sense of accomplishment and achievement, It was quite an experience. At the time I really wish That Dave Castro gave us something easier, but now that it’s over, I’m so glad that I did it, because I proved to myself that anything is possible if you try hard enough.

Morals of the story:  You only fail when you quit, and you have no idea what your body is capable of mentally and physically until its tested under extreme stress. Thank you again to all the Paradiso fans that were there, I think that every single one of you helped get me up that rope. 

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