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Congratulations to David Saporito, Athlete of the Summer, 2017

See his feature editorial here.

Entries in max effort (194)

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?

Beast Mode: Conor

Don't look now kids, but Conor has been about as consistent as anyone since July. And go figure, his workouts have been reflecting it. For some reason, he still can't string together more than 4 pull-ups to save his life, but I have been seeing a lot of improvement in midline strength and jumping mechanics. Both of those were on display last night at the 6:30 session for 3 rep max hang cleans. It should be noted that the workout called for hang power clean - meaning you're supposed to catch above parallel - but in his case I was a tad bit lenient. As for the "hang" part of it, we allowed athletes to regrip once the weight got heavy.

This is Conor's last set - topping out at 150-lbs.

Keep it going Panic!

Beast Mode: Jay

Jay Junkin is back in action full-time with the Champions Club after landing a local engineering job in the Madison Heights area. He is trying to get in his Summer 2015 shape and he's been off to a good start since early August. Last time today's back squat workout came up it was May 2015 - aka Jay's prime form. He started off at 225-lbs. for his set of 10 last time, and worked up to 275 for his 3 singles.

Today he low-balled his first few attempts, then on the way back up the ladder he finished the day with a set of 10 at 205 lbs. Check it out.

By the looks of it, 225 might have been a possibility. Either way, he's not too far off.

Recommended reading: The Z axis

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: Avery

10 am/11 am roamer Avery Maslowski may be on pace to win the Summer's coveted M.I.L.F. award first claimed by Mikey Peterson (Most Improved Limb Function). It has been fun to watch her improve at the rate she has this Summer.

Last week she kept moving up, and up, and up, and up in her max effort deadlifts - starting with the 15-lb. bar, and leading up to 125-lbs for 2 reps in her final set. Check it out.

This is about as Katie Bromm as you can get without ginger hair. Great job Avery!

Beast Mode: Elizabeth

At the 9 am session today I had the opportunity to do some individual work with the four athletes in attendance: Jacqueline, Elizabeth, Sap, and Mrs. Kroll. We did some tempo stuff before letting them go at their 1 rep max deadlift, and their firm stayed really good. Elizabeth hit a 30-lb. pr with her last lift, topping out at 230 lbs. Check it out: