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Welcome to the Champions Club Summer 2019

See schedule here. Dancing, anyone?

Entries in power clean (13)

Coach's Corner: Loading Order

Loading Order is one of the three things we coach at the Champions Club. When the hips and shoulders do most of the work, things tend to go well, and they can only do most of the work if they bend first.

For the lower body, we exaggerate this by doing box jumps, squats, kettlebell swings, and lunges with our shin vertical. Again, in real life it will never be that perfect, but we hope the more we practice it that way, the closer we'll get to the standard.

Cleans, especially ones from the ground, pose a pretty difficult challenge for Loading Order; the weight is usually heavy, you're tired, the movement is relatively fast, and there are a lot of moviing parts. Depending on the workout I am either very strict about the landing or somewhat strict on it.

Yesterday I was somewhat strict because I wanted to keep the weight on the heavier side while also trying to reinforce the timing going from the ground. Here is what Jesse looked like on his first rep, set of :20, 3rd. round.

I would call this okay for Jesse. We know he's been working on this a lot since he came back from a 4-year hiatus this Summer, and it's my fault for not coaching this as much in his early years. Shins are not vertical by any means, but you can tell there is some semblance of hips loading back. For yesterday's workout, I can live with that.

Two reps later...

Not so much. Imagine if he needed to immediately push this rep over his head; which body shape would give him better leverage to do that?

Remember, the one thing we want to avoid is dead-end positions and movements. The squat position Jesse shows in the second picture is never good for anything. So keep working to reinforce the good shapes, and slowly but surely they will become the default.

Beast Mode + Workout Notes

The workout on Friday was probably the first time in a while that I felt like I really messed up at the sessions; we needed to do the back squats from the racks so we could go heavier. But this really got me thinking a lot about barbell strength and lifting heavy weights. This is a topic that I ponder and has been covered on this site a handful of times - most famously in the editorial What is Strength? from the glory days of 2015. This topic also popped up in my head while watching college football over the weekend and seeing players continuously tap their helmet to ask for a sub, and also at our basketball open gym while noticing how much more our kids complained about getting fouled when they were tired. And also watching Planet Earth II.

I really, really think CrossFit hit the nail on the head with how they approach building strength. If you can do a 400-lb. deadlift then big ups to you. If you can do a 300-lb. deadlift in the middle of a brutal workout with running and pull-ups mixed in, then you are a different breed of beast.

Strength, in real life, is very, very rarely expressed at full rest. The ability to be strong, - in as many varieties as possible, while being tired is something that I need, you need, my grandma needs, baby Josh needs, and Shea Patterson needs. (Chase Winovich seems to have that covered.) A lot of attention was given last year to Saquon Barkley cleaning 400-lbs.

This is absurd. I would also love to see what his capacity would be doing Elizabeth (even if he needed to up the weight to 155 or 185 pounds). I think most coaches and programs will be blending strength with conditioning sometime in the future - probably when the younger coaches move up in the ranks - but until then it's mostly theoretical, though backed with some good anecdotes.

As far as our gym goes, it's tough to judge purely by numbers because of the variety of athletes. Alexis Anthes is a high school sophomore with 3 months of CrossFit experience and an average strength base coming from Coach T. NuNu is an 8th grader who's feet might well have never both been off the ground at the same time before joining in May. Jay is Jay. Mrs. Pip is Mrs. Pip. Saporito, Elizabeth, and Cecilia are all back in college. I would say Katie Shakes has a perfect capacity of being strong while tired, but then I'll watch her do a push-up in Cindy and reconsider.

Mostly, I judge things based on my gut feeling. We had to get our technique on point at the end of the spring/start of Summer, then we needed to build some stamina in the legs and feet. Now I really think it will help us to feel some heavier weight in the workouts. I don't like it. And Murley/Shannon might not come back until we're through this phase, but I think it's a big part of getting a great effect from workouts like Friday or today. I don't really want any 500-lb. deadlifters, or 300-lb. cleaners, but I would like to see what kind of capacity we can develop with heavier weights within the confines of a workout.

What does this look like? Well as luck would have it, our 8:30 am session did a nice job of showing us this morning.

Normally, Mrs. Pip would have been at 65 lbs., Schornack at 25 or 35 lbs., and Mrs. Kroll at 35 lbs.; here they were at 85, 45, and 55 respectively. Not huge increases, not a weight that would be a big sick of injury, just a little extra something that might require them to slow down a bit and really zone in on the lift. I thought the technique was really good considering it was the third round. Yes, it was technically supposed to be a power clean, but as long as the squat position looked good I wasn't going to mention anything; they already had enough on their mind. Either way, all three were able to keep their positions pretty well with a weight heavier than usual.

More to come!

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: Parent Power Cleans

...well, kinda power cleans. We were a little bit lenient on the depth if everything else looked good. Either way all the parents at the 5:30 pm session on Monday did well. The standouts, in my opinion, were Mrs. Carey (as usual) and much to my surprise... Mr. Warthman. His form was about as good as I have ever seen from him and he seemed content with having some left in the tank after his last set at 135 lbs. I was thoroughly impressed. 

Mrs. Carey was Mrs. Carey; in other news, water is wet.

Beast Mode: Not Your Traditional 9 am Session

Yesterday's hero workout "1775" was made as a celebration of the Army's birthday. Here's the explanation from CrossFit HQ's Russell Berger (who was a former Army Ranger).

Due to time constraints, location, and overall fitness level, we modified the workout a bit. We went 40 minutes instead of the prescribed hour, and we made the run/carry to the dumpster and back. Overall I think the workout went well. Here's what the 9 am session looked like:

We are used to the 9 am session being filled to the brim with complaining chicks (the Aly, Marianne, Kavanaugh crowd). But since work is getting in the way, we have a pretty mixed crowd going into this Summer's 9 am session. Either way, there should be plenty of highlights.

New Kid on the Block: Coach Brad

Brad Nettles was one of the coaches that participated at the Coaches Clinic on December 21 at our gym. He is the head football coach at Warren Cousino, and is also the the Phys. Ed teacher. A Mandatory part of the clinic's participation was for the coaches to set up 7 one-on-one sessions with me to follow up and, hopefully, prepare to join the gym to practice what they preach. Coach Brad lives about 40 minutes from here without traffic and won't be joining obviously, but that hasn't stopped him from doing his individual sessions.

Two weeks ago he stopped by and worked on back squat technique. His squat is actually Mrs. Carey-esque. No joke. Perfect knees, perfect back, feet straight. We just focussed on keeping the midline tight as the weight increased.

His skilled movements, on the other hand, don't come nearly as natural. Yesterday we practiced cleans and broke it into two sections: strength and skill. For the strength, we were emphatic on the squat position and completely ignored the timing aspect of the lift. Here's how he looked his first set and last set.

Afterwards we stripped the weight back down and hammered the timing while ignoring position. After a few drills with med-balls, bicep curls (yes, you read that right Faust), and kettlebells HE GOT IT!! Six in a row.

I am extremely impressed with Coach Brad's ability to switch from coach-mode to student-mode. My first impression of his was a meathead coach who cared just about EXPLOSIVE WEIGHTS GET BIG. But I could not have been more wrong. Coach Brad is committed to teaching correct movement that translates to the field and keeping his kids safe. If he keeps up this enthusiasm for learning, there will be some great things to come out of Cousino's strength program.

We'll check back after Day 7.

Coach's Corner: We Still Need a Nickname for Ryan

This is Ryan Anderson's last set of yesterday's max effort Power clean workout. He worked with Murley up to 115 lbs. Check it out and see what you think.

The fault is obvious if you play the video in slow motion. You'll notice that he gets to Pose 2 in perfect position, but instead of unweighting, he bends his arms first - which is a core to extremity violation. This is interesting because not too long ago I used him as a good example of kettlebell swings in this post and mentioned that, judging by his swing, would translate to Olympic lifts. So is that wrong? Not necessarily. When Ryan goes from the hang position in cleans (Pose 1 being holding the bar at the waist), he has great timing on the movement. Since he has shown that consistently over the past four months, Murley challenged him today for the first time to go from the ground. Adding range of motion is one of the ways that we challenge movement, and in this case flexibility wasn't the issue, but having to control his body over a longer distance.

So if you are in the crew of people who either 1) did hang cleans yesterday or 2) have been stuck on hang cleans for awhile, it is because we are still trying to engrain the core to extremity principle in the movement so that it becomes second nature. Stay patient kids!