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Lifts 4 Gifts 2017, 9 am Sat. December 16 @ The Champions Club

See details here.


Entries in max effort (199)

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: Summer Rookies

Earlier this week we did 5 rep max deadlifts. It was our first time deadlifting in awhile and it was looking a little inconsisent as expected. For the most part though, everyone started to fix things up after a few sets. In fact, two of our best movers on the day were Summer rookies (and both Berkley natives) Olivia Harbert and Isaac Dawkins. Both of them topped out at 85 lbs. Check it out:

As much as I hate to admit it to her, Olivia moves very well for how new she is. Even during the Summer she seemed to come straight out of Fundamentals with a good sense of where her body was. She is coming back this winter after a fall packed with soccer stuff, so hopefully she can add some consistent attendance to go with her natural athleticism.

Isaac, on the other hand, had none of the coordination Olivia possesses. This might be due in part to the fact that he's a 7th grader with a size 12 shoe. During the Summer 10 am session, Isaac took a very long time to get a feel for what his body was doing for any given movement. He came back to us late last month and has been routinely at the gym 4-5 times per week. Slowly but surely, I'm seeing some improvements in his coordination and strength.

Keep it going kids!

Coach's Corner: Conor and Mr. Carey

Yesterday we did a max effort split jerk for the first time in forever. The main thing I was noticing was the disconnect on the timing between the unweight and the lunge, which is going to happen when you haven't done them in forever. I assumed there would be a translation from the cleans you guys have been doing - which are looking very good as a whole re: timing - but I didn't take into account that the fear component is multiplied because the weight is over our heads.

As I wrote about in the workout post, Conor and Mr. Carey were two of the crew that stayed extra to work on their technique. They both ended up getting 2/4 reps with good timing. Here's what their bad ones looked like:

From my viewpoint, it comes down to points of support. To be good at Olympic lifts, you have to remove all points of support completely (feet, shoulders, and hands). Call that triple extension, the second pull, or whatever. We call it unweighting because that's what it is: you are removing your bodyweight. Conor never removed the support from his hands or his shoulders, and this is evident because if he did, he wouldn't be able to push the bar upwards like he did (yellow arrow for reference). He does a great job to unweight the feet, and allows the bar raise up by his face, but his next direction needs to be down. Conor is afraid to fall, plain and simple, and this also shows up in his running.

Mr. Carey is trying to fall. Trying so hard, in fact, that he starts splitting his feet almost immediately after the bar leaves his shoulder (line and circle). If he waited even as long as Conor, then this would look better. But he doesn't want to because that would mean completely removing all support, which, in his words, "is really scary".

Is this picky? Yep. Sure is.

This guy below is Chad Vaughn. This video was taken a few years ago if I recall correctly, but it was just reposted on the CrossFit social media feed and Pat pointed it out to me. The timing on this is very good:


A post shared by CrossFit (@crossfit) on Nov 8, 2017 at 9:43am PST


Here is another good example from 2015. The movement is a push jerk, with is a lot tougher from a mobility perspective, but the principles are exactly the same.

Will somebody please bring Jennifer back in here! Volleyball is over!

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:

Beast Mode: Mrs. Kroll

Mrs. Kroll was the lone ranger at the 8:30 am session yesterday. We got the chance to get kind of picky on the timing going from the ground, which is something she doesn't normally do. So while that did look good, it means that we didn't spend a lot of attention on the position of the knees or depth because with the moms you can't really give them more than one thing to think about.

With that being said, I thought this looked very good. Fatigue is a great way to challenge mechanics, and Mrs. Kroll was on point for most of her reps. Her weight went 45x10, 55x5, 65x3, and 70x1. Check it out.

Beast Mode: Erica Overhead Squat

Last Friday we did max effort overhead squat, and this always proves to be one of the most challenging movements in CrossFit. Other than the deadlift, this may be the best "ab" exercise in our arsenal; you guys can no-doubt feel the amount of effort that goes into keeping your spine from moving in the deadlift, and with the overhead squat, the average distance from the bar to your feet is greater than any other movement, providing a unique challenge to your abs.

Erica Krueger has the mobility needed for the movement, but I didn't know she had the strength to progress very high in weight until Friday. She topped out at an impressive 115-lbs., and only showed a tiny knee wobble at the heaviest weight. While this is something to improve on, I felt it was more than okay for the session. Here's how her last few sets looked.

Coach's Corner: Shakes and Conor

In our expression of CrossFit, a squat should always look like a squat. This means the midline remains unchanged, loading order favors the hips instead of knees, and external rotation is constant. An air squat, front squat, wallball, power clean, and pistol all have the same rules apply because our hips are always our hips.

On Friday we kinda scrapped the max effort plan with Overhead squat, Snatch balance, and Hang snatch in favor of spending a ton of time on technique for each movement, especially the overhead squat. Once that looked good, we challenged that position by taking away connection; instead of slowly grinding down to the bottom, we had to drop there (snatch balance) and see if we could keep the same rules in tact. Here's what Shakes and Conor looked like:

With their shoes off, we got a chance to really see what was going on. Did you notice anything as they were moving up the difficulty ladder?