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Welcome to the Champions Club Summer 2018!

Next Theme Workout: Shark Week/Hawaiian Mashup - Saturday at 10 am!

Entries in carl paoli (69)

3 Stages of Students w/ Carl Paoli

The original Champions Club celebrity friend Carl Paoli has been somewhat out of the fitness spotlight for a little bit now, but it looks like he is on the uptick with the relaunching of his site,

He just posted a really cool article about something he actually discussed with me a long time ago when I asked him about the trouble I was having coaching a few athletes. Basically the learning process goes through  stages:

  • Beginner - totally dependant on a coach
  • Intermediate - kind of the rebel teen stage
  • Advanced - interdependent with coach

He talks about this in more detail in his most recent post on Freestyle, The 3 Student Stages. Check it out.

Movement Shapes pt. 19: Chris on the Court

Dead ends are the worst possible thing to practice in a general strength and conditioning program. If a clean technique only applies to a 1 rep max, minimum fatigue, Olympic lifting shoes clean, then it is worthless (unless you are a professional cleaner). A coach's progressions and methods to teaching a clean should apply to a 1 rep max clean, and Elizabeth (the benchmark workout or the person), and light weight power snatches, and bringing a sandbag to your shoulder, and throwing, and jumping, and basketball. If it doesn't, then the coach is caught up too much in the specificity.

Basketball - being the greatest thing ever invented - is a great arena to showcase the physical and neurological adaptations we make in the weight room. But regardless of what arena you are in, or what you may think of basketball, one thing that is not up for debate is how our role with nature works; in this case, "nature" refers to our anatomy and gravity. Our job is to obey the principles of nature regardless of what movement we are doing. The more we obey, the better the result. Olympic lifts are a very good way to train this, and we use a method called "unweighting" to do so. As I wrote about in Conor and Mr. Carey's split jerk post, the most efficient way to move is when there is no body weight. So often times we need to be patient enough in our lifts to allow a full unweighting of support (hands, feet, and shoulders) before moving to the next pose. It is pretty easy to spot in the weight room, but a little more difficult to see in other areas.


Last week I was messing around with max height box jumps where I took a rolling start from an angle. I got the idea from watching our Groves kids try (and fail) to dunk after practice, and realized that the best jumps happen from this kind of rotation. Then I wondered how this would look on the basketball court, so my old pal Jacob, Lord of Scotland, volunteered to record a late-night basketball shooting session. Here's a few clips of each:

As with all movements we look at skill and strength when determining whether it is good or not; skill = working with gravity (timing) and strength = resisting gravity (anatomical position).

Box jump skill. First, notice that when I jump, I plant* with my inside foot (left foot in this case). As I round to my right, I plant with the left foot, then allow the right foot to come in front slightly; this produces a rotation that gives me momentum to jump on the box. If I were to plant with the outside foot, or do a jump stop, it would dull a lot of the momentum. More on that later. Also, I use a very exaggerated unweighting of the shoulders to help me pull up. In both slow-motion segments, I remember trying to wait as long as possible before bringing my knees up. It was scary, but it helped. I showed Dr. Romanov these clips for analysis and he recommended making my unweighting quicker (like the quick down-up on hang cleans, or on my jump shot). That makes sense, as it helps with muscle-tendon elasticity, so I will be sure to try that next time.

*"plant" is probably not the best word to use - as it implies a hard stop - but it's common lingo, so I'll use it. More like the "roll" or "pivot" foot, though.

Basketball skill. There are two main parts to getting the timing right on a shot; the most important is the footwork. Left foot-right foot when moving to your right, and right foot-left foot when moving to your left. As mentioned above, this keeps the point of support closer to under your hips than if the footwork was opposite, and therefore gives us more momentum to elevate. The next part is the unweighting, and I finally figured this out as the video was being recorded. In the last shot I take, watch my head relative to the wall and notice the point where it stops moving; this is a moment of being weightless and it's also the point where I do the most pushing. This is the ideal timing for a jump shot and why a lot of coaches say, "shoot it at the top of your jump." But this is the first time I felt the same thing I feel on cleans, and it's because it was the first time I was looking for it.

Box jump position. When your skill is good, you can get away with having less than ideal anatomical positions because all injuries have to do with gravity. Strength is for when we have to work against gravity, or extra bodyweight. But the thing is, having good positions will help maximize our work with gravity. On my jump, notice the loading position: hips back and shins pretty vertical. This is also the same for basketball.

Sounds an awful lot like the squat we teach. Also, my torso is not what many coaches would call "upright." In fact, most squatting in sports does not happen with an upright torso; this is signature to the professional cleaners mentioned at the top of this post. Even though we always work towards having the capacity to squat like a Banet or Mrs. Carey, this is why Kroll and Mama V squatting like this is not always a bad thing. Since a straight-on video would have been blocked by the plates, I only got the side position. Luckily jumping is jumping, so we get to see the same positions and faults on the court.

Basketball position. You could look at a freezeframe like this...

... and be like HOLY CRAP THOSE KNEES! And that was my first reaction. But then after analyzing it, I don't think it's a bad position at all. First off, consider that my plant foot was my left  (the one that took the most force). In the freezeframe, my left foot is straight and my knee is out over the little toe (a good thing). The right foot lands straight forward, completing the redirection, and the knee is projected in the direction I am changing. Two things that could have made this a bad position are 1) my right foot being turned out instead of straight or 2) planting with the right leg first and taking all that weight abruptly instead of rolling through it; in other words, bad strength or bad skill.

The actual bad part, in my opinion, was the left foot. Remember, the left foot is the one that begins the change of direction and takes most of my weight. If you watch the video below, my left knee gets the speed wobbles when loaded. This is a problem that needs to be fixed. It doesn't seem to do it as much on the right (which might be why I prefer to pull-up that way). This lowering down motion on one foot - in weight room lingo - is known as the pistol, and luckily my hips are back and taking a lot of load off the knee.

Analyzing movement in terms of skill and strength is what helps me determine what an athlete needs to work on. That idea came from Carl Paoli back in 2012 when he came to visit, but it is finally becoming clear(ish) in the entire movement spectrum. This is only possible when looking past the "code" of the weight room. When you can see that front squat, back squat, clean, kettlebell swing, and box jump are all the same freaking thing, then you can start to make connections and define best practices. It's Hermione's Law: keep zooming out until you can see the entire picture. The best place to start is with gravity, then work your way down until you reach the thing you care about.


As a bonus, here's the full 8 minute video. Two notes: first, I was broke as a joke before this segment, then I fixed the unweighting part. Second, Jacob was really hungry: Vulgarilly so.

The Famous Poll

This one is a two-parter:

1. Who is the most famous person you have ever met?

2. What famous person would you want to have dinner with?

Obviously this is not just including CrossFit people.

Quote of the Week vol. 209

It has been a long time since Mel came out with one of his periodical guest posts. His new one will be posted tomorrow at 5 pm. It is about fat, and other synonyms.

If you were up here earlier, I had a different quote from Bill Self. But I hate Kansas basketball, and I just heard this one from Carl Paoli as I was watching a video that I like better.

"So many people say 'Leave your ego at the door'... but if you don't have your ego, you can't actually make decisions. Your ego is the axis on which your moral compass spins. You just can't become your ego."

- Carl Paoli. Barbell Shrugged podcast.

Quote of the Week vol. 203

"As someone who is a coach and a teacher, my main job is to be a student... What you are seeing right now from me is just work in progress, and so is everyone else."

- Carl Paoli

Quote of the Week vol. 201

"True human performance can only be measured by feel. If the numbers are not there, but it's feeling right, you're trending in the right direction. The numbers are going to follow, and you need to tust that."

- Carl Paoli

Handstand Walk w/ Carl Paoli

I know people like Kroll, Shakes, and Mr. Wonsil have talked to me recently about their desire to be able to handstand walk. It's a fun skill to learn and very demanding of the shoulders and midline. It's also a good drill to reinforce the falling feeling you need while running. Still, it's a tough skill to master because we just don't spend that much time upside down on our hands (at least, compared to our time on our feet).

With that being said, Carl Paoli just posted a goog video from one of his seminars where he helps an athlete go from barely a handstand walk to being able to basically walk out the door - all in about 3 minutes! Check it out.