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Welcome to the Champions Club Summer 2018!

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

Entries in front squat (35)

Coach's Corner: Avery

When people start to come in more often and their technique gets consistent, it makes max effort days much more productive in the sense that we can actually get close to our max lift.

Avery Maslowski is about a year and a half into CrossFit and we are really starting to see her movement look good. Last week we did 5 RM front squats and normally she would have stayed around 45-lbs. and done more reps. But this time we were able to work up in weight. Here's her last set at 85 lbs.

By all accounts, she had that last rep. But this was her first time actually feeling weight that heavy, and she wasn't familiar with the strugle it can take to keep form and keep the weight moving. As we progress, this is now something we can work on, but only because - even at her failed rep - her form did not change. If Avery's knees were caving in and her back was rounded, we'd have to adjust. In short, good technique gives up options.

Coach's Corner: Josh's Squats

If anyone still has the email I sent out for the Summer 2011 back in the Fieldhouse, you'll find a part in there about attendance. The message has been the same and repeated since: just show up! We'll take care of the rest. And I have yet to see anyone go against the trend of their results following the same trajectory of their attendance. The Athlete of the Summer people are microcosms of that.

The interesting part about about this adaptation is it's a lot less physical than you think, especially in the early days.

Josh Howey was a Summer 2017 rookie who came in with the second-least body awareness and control of the group. By the end of the Summer it was improved after good attendance, but then he took September and most of October off because football practice was right smack in the middle of the afternoon. He came back at the end of October and his first workout back was a max effort back squat. Here's how it looked:

Not great with 65 pounds. But he was here almost every day, and here's what he looked like 12 days later on his max effort front squat:

Not bad with 75 pounds!

It's hard to know for sure, but I would assume the time it takes someone's muscles to gain 10 pounds of contractile potential is a lot longer than 12 days. So my guess, and other coaches I talk to agree, that this adaptation happens between the ears. We teach movement above all else with CrossFit, and the Champions Club, in specific, emphasizes that about as much as any other gym I've seen. The pathways from your brain to your arms, legs, and midline needs to be continually reinforced, and every time a movement is completed it's like hitting Save on a Word document. Between the first video and the second, Josh probably did 300 squats in the form of air squats, front squats, burpees, deadlifts, and box jumps (all variations of squatting). With that repitition he was able to show more control over his body, and that expressed itself in a little more weight and a much cleaner-looking movement. Watching Nick Bewick through Fundamentals and going from not being able to hollow rock on Day 1 to doing 4 cycles of Tabata on Day 7 is another example.

Movement = skill. Skill = reps. Reps = attendance. Attendance = get your lazy butt to the gym! 

Beast Mode: Danielle

It usually takes a bit for new kids to warmup to our tightly knit community. Danielle is no exception. Slowly but surely, "Woorden" as Coach T mistakenly spelled her last name to me, has been making herself at home since September. Naturally, that has come with consistent attendance. Most notably, she has been at nearly every mobility session, making the half-hour drive just to mash, band distract, and do that t-spine crucifixion thing on the GHD machine.

Last time we did front squats, she could not do 65 lbs. for 5 reps without her wrists feeling like they were going to snap off. On Monday, she topped out at 140 lbs. on her 3 rep max. Check it out:

Coach's Corner: More With Tempo

Among other things, this has been the Summer of tempo lifts. On Tuesday we worked slow sets of 5 front squats with everyone in our constant attempt to develop more movement control - and therefore strength. Here is the last sets from the 11 am and 6:30 pm sessions.

Carter: "OOWWWWW"

A couple points of note:

Rack position. The front rack archetype is one of the fundamentals shapes our shoulder need to be able to go through, and is very prominent in things like throwing and tumbling. In the front squat, the main limiting factor for most in keeping the elbows up isn't the wrists, and it's not necessarily the shoulders (although improved mobility will help). It's actually midline strength. At the bottom I yell out "elbows up" as a means to make sure the athletes are not breaking any position of the midline. I'm sure they noticed how much harder this made the lift.

Gravity. The more I am learning about strength and conditioning, the more I am beginning to realize the role of strength: resisting gravity when needed. If we are exaggerating the skill/technique of a movement, then we are working with natural forces (gravity, muscle/tendon elasticity). But in real life, we will not always have the perfect technique to serve what nature is offering us. Or maybe we will be blindsided by a linebacker. This is where strength comes in to help us keep our position relative.

Movement control. In order to keep position, we need to control how our body moves. This is what I refer to as movement control. This can be as simple as bracing the midline, or holding the figure-4 Pose in running. When you speed a movement up, athletes can find flow that can help them with the skill/technique; when they slow it down, it helps on the other end of the movement control spectrum. The front squats in the video above are a great challenge to the athletes' position. Watch Elizabeth go through her front squats; how many moving parts are there? Is her head moving? Her arms? Her belly? Not really. Watch Crawford (with 3 years less CrossFit experience); how many moving parts do you see? Was he able to control the squat movement to the tempo of my counting? What about Kroll?

Now this is all fun for me to talk about, but the thing I really value is intensity. So when we see movements with the squat performed at high intensity, I am interested to see if this translates as well as I think it will. Just some things to keep in mind...

Beast Mode: Shakes and Kris Modify

On Tuesday's max effort front squat, the limiting factor in some people was the mobility to stay in a good rack position. Most of the time, this is limited by the shoulders missing external rotation. For Kris Campbell and Katie Shakes this was definitely the case, so we modified things.

This variant of the squat is called the Zercher squat. Not sure where it came from, but I remembered we did them in 2013 after it was featured on the main site and those are not something you forget. Shakes's wrist was really bothering her in the morning so I tested the Zercher squat out on her. It went well so we used is in the afternoon for Kris and Reggie (not featured in the video).

Good job with the modifications and keep working to get a better rack position!

Beast Mode: Crawford

Remember, More Program than Gym comes out tonight at 7 pm.

Do you guys remember when Crawford could not perform an air squat without his knees touching each other? I can't. Because now we get things like this:

Crawford topped out at 135-lbs. last night on his 3 rep max front squat. He has been really on point with his training ever since Cross Country ended. Be on the lookout for this one...

Beast Mode: Mrs. Kroll

During the technique partion of the 8:30 as session yesterday, Mrs. Kroll almost fell backwards when trying to bring the bar up to her shoulders. Needless to say no squatting took place and I thought I was in for a long session.

Fortunately, Mrs. Kroll suddenly got comfortable with the rack position - helped by some Voodoo band to the wrist - and was able to work her way through the 5 rep max workout. In fact, she kept going up and up until she topped out at 80 lbs - which, I believe, is more than she has done any style of squat for any amount of reps.

Great job kiddo! Robert and Rachael should be proud of their mama.