Karen Capacity Test

Visit Bonnie at Venice for gymnastics or Mccoy at VBC at 8pm

Go to swim night at Culver City Plunge at 7:30pm

Thursday November 13, 2014


Foam Roll Calves + Calf stretch
Bird Dogs
Hip Bridges

Warm Up

1 minute double under test
2x 10 second tempo squat
10 air squats
10 squat jumps
1 minute plank

Cool Down

Do extra work towards a 6-week goal, or set a 6 week goal

2 Rounds:
10 Wall Extensions
10 GHD Back Extensions


Benchmark Conditioning:


50-40-30-20-10 reps for time:

Double Unders


-10 min cap-

Notes:  Prescribed situps include anchored feet under dumbbells and an abmat, with the hands touching the ground behind the head and the shoulders coming in line with the hips at the top of each rep.  Just touching your feet does not count as full range of motion.  If you cannot perform high volume Dus yet, scale the reps down to something manageable like half the reps or practice for :45 each round.  Scale the situp reps down if needed to finish under the time cap.

-Rest as needed to recover fully-


150 Wall Balls for time

-15 min cap-

Notes:  Prescribed is 20/14lb ball to a 10′ line with a full depth squat.  All new athletes should scale the weight and perform 75-100 reps only.  If you struggle to maintain depth, scale by using a “butt ball.”  You may also scale down the height if needed, but be sure to make note of height.

Advanced – Active Recovery Day!

Two sets of:

25 Meter Finger Tip Drag
(FTD: Drag your fingertips along the surface of the water as you recover. This drill encourages high elbows.)
Rest 20 seconds between each 25 Meter efforts

Two sets of:

50 Meter Thumb to Thigh
(TT: Brush your thumb along your thigh as you finish your arm stroke. This promotes a longer finish and proper hand position.)
Rest 30 seconds between 50 Meter efforts

Two sets of:

25 Meter (½ length closed fist, ½ length swim)
(Closed Fist: Ball your fist up and swim – helps you feel the water with your hand when you un-ball your fist.)
Rest 20 seconds

100 Meter EZ Swim
(count your strokes and stretch it out)
Rest 2-4 minutes

Time Trial – 250 Meters @ 100% effort
Rest 4 minutes

50 Meter Kick Only

100 Meters – Drill of your choice

Mobility and Maintenance:

Choose 1-2 Thoracic Mobility Drills and spend 5-10 minutes with them
Choose 2-3 Lower Body Mobility Drills and spend 10-12 minutes with them
Choose 1-2 Upper Extremity Mobility Drills and spend 5-10 minutes with them.

– AND/OR –

Body work from a licensed body worker (ART, Graston, acupuncture, etc…)

I have been seeing a Rolfer weekly and have seen measurable improvement in the mobility of my structure and quality of movements (like running, airdyne, walking). I highly recommend finding a body worker with knowledge of both myofascia and human movement.

Inflammation Maintenance:

This could be a lot of things, but think in terms of compression, contrast baths, salt baths, castor oil packs, etc….

Don’t forget the role diet plays in inflammation! Drink your fish oil and eat your veggies. I have also found EMS (electro muscular stimulation) to be quite effective as well.

Nutrition Preparation:

Ensure that you have quality foods prepared in the appropriate quantities to fuel your efforts for the remainder of the week.

A slow cooker is key to making sure you have plenty of good foods (especially meat) convenient with little effort. You can get 7 quart hamilton beach models on amazon for about $35. If you struggle with your nutrition or planning for the week, set up an appointment with me for help.

Mental Restoration:

Different for everyone – could be meditation or could be gathering with friends; the key is to engage in activities that make your life full and help you recharge your batteries.  

I’d like to repost an old blog that I wrote the first time I coached “Karen” at Paradiso, with some additional insight to follow:

One observation I made on Monday coaching Karen is that some of you, even you competitive athletes, do not want to test what this resilient piece of carbon technology we have each been blessed with is capable of. This is a problem that transcends the gym. For some reason, we as a species listen to this little reptilian part of our brain that seeds limiting beliefs in our head. Ever get 1 mile into a 5k and start the negative self talk? Tell that little lizard to shut up, and shatter the limiting beliefs it imposes upon you. This is incredibly difficult to do when your body is tired, but if you can do it you will not only make gains in your athletic performance, but you will be cultivating a skill you can use when the going gets tough outside the gym.

Now back to my Karen analysis. We as coaches we told you to make a plan for work/rest and stick to it, but I saw far too many experienced athletes doing 15 sets of 10 with too much rest. If you are new to the gym, this 15×10 plan is a great approach to Karen, and you should do EVERYTHING in your power to stick to your plan and shut that devil on your shoulder up for the next <12minutes. If you are an experienced athlete and you chose this strategy, I think you severely limited yourself before the clock had a chance to count down from 10. What were you afraid would happen if you did bigger sets? Think about it for a second. Is the fear rational? Probably not unless you were afraid of aggravating a preexisting injury.

I know sometimes it is hard for me to take an honest look at what I am capable of when going 100%.  We all want to think we are invincible, and some of us create an excuse when we’re not. Sometimes that excuse manifests as a mid-workout “well I am really sore from yesterday so I’ll just go 80%” or a “tomorrow’s WOD looked more fun so I’ll just scale it back here and go hard on that one”. I’m guilty of this thinking, but far less frequently because I have been consciously working on squashing that type of thinking and behavior.  I want to help you end this thinking as well because limiting beliefs are poison. To do this I need to illustrate a point, which to some will look like I am tooting my own horn (maybe I am… celebrate every win), but I have the best Karen time in the gym by about 40 seconds.

I know I am not the most capable athlete in 2 of the top boxes in the world. If you held a gun to any of our advanced athlete’s heads and told them beat my time or die, they would definitely go sub-5minutes. I do however think I have a strength developed over time that gave me the edge without the aforementioned ‘PR or die scenario’, and you can cultivate it too. That strength is what I consider the ‘unbroken mind’.

I will start to intersperse some posts to help you develop the ‘unbroken mind’ with my normal nutrition deal. I think it is a skill that is important for every member to develop because of its transferability to success in other aspects of your life. It starts today with this challenge: next time you see a benchmark workout, see how far you can get into the WOD unbroken.

This post sparked an interesting point from Dutch, the Mathcon master and respected Paradiso athlete. For those not familiar, with Mathcon, it is “RX strategies for amateurs by amateurs. Mathcon is a calculated approach to metcon workouts. Mathcon strategies aim to minimize the accumulated rest time.” Dutch rebutted my argument, saying “My Question is: If we deem it’s more valuable to test how long you can go unbroken on a movement rather than chipper your way to the best time, I’d like to see the WOD programmed as such. i.e. 5 sets of ME Wall balls with maximum of 20 second break between sets. Not even Rudy recommends going unbroken when doing Karen for time (@13.3; don’t fall behind the suck).”

I would like to acknowledge this rebuttal, and say that for the many athletes who would rather test their capacity and improvement on this workout, there is no reason you should attempt my strategy which might make you redline and accumulate more rest towards the end of the workout, leading to a worse-than-anticipated performance. I will, however, say that if you do not know your true capacity because you always pace conservatively, this is a great opportunity to see what you’re capable of by chipping away with larger unbroken sets to start, and staying just behind the suck. You have to overload to progress.

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