Monthly Archives: October 2013

11-1 WOD

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10 Hang Power Clean
10 FR Push Press
10 BTN Push Press


30 Clean and Jerks (135/95)

Cash Out…
*Optional 500 Meter Sprint

Bridge Work
Ball on Hammy

Courtesy of Zach Forrest at CrossFit Max Effort…

Foreword: These are my personal opinions about the general population in CrossFit training…there are always “exception(s) to the rule.”

Recently I noticed an increase in the amount of people wearing weightlifting “gear” – specifically knee sleeves, belts, and wraps. I just want to clarify a few things and make sure people understand why they should be used and when they SHOULDN’T be using them.

Knee sleeves = AUTO-PR! Not…

The primary purpose of knee sleeves is to keep the joint warm during activity. Weightlifters have a tradition of lifting really heavy weights, in short bouts, with lots of rest in between sets. That “lots of rest” sometimes works against the lifters joints, as the body’s inflammatory responses can start pretty quickly and cause the knees to “tighten up” so to speak.

The knee sleeve should JUST be used for keeping the tissues warm. You should AVOID buying a couple sizes too small, working them over the joint, and relying on them to spring you out of the bottom position of a squat – at least on a regular basis. What you are doing is de-training the tissues in your knees to handle the load you want to be able to squat.

The same thing occurs with weightlifting belts and wrist wraps.

Keep it tight!

Total support!

A common misuse of these pieces of equipment is to, literally, compensate for a shortcoming in your body’s capacity to perform a functional movement. The weightlifting belt is meant to reinforce the posture that your ABS and LOWER BACK should be working to maintain. If you need a weightlifting belt to train the deadlift, then you’re going to heavy. Notice I used the word “train”. If you are testing a new 1RM or you’re in a competition pushing the limits of what you know your body can handle, then by ALL MEANS, use a weightlifting belt (if the rules permit it).

Wrist wraps used for push press/jerk lifts typically compensate for bad positioning of the shoulder (who would of thought!), but I will concede that it may be necessary to use them for comfort in the wide grip of the Snatch and overhead squat.

But if you regularly train with these things, you are effectively reducing your body’s own ability to maintain strength in position and functionality as a whole.

“Come on Zach, surely you think Weightlifting shoes are a piece of equipment I should use! YOU use them!”


Correct, mostly. Just like you should be able to deadlift without a belt and press without wrist wraps, so should you be able to perform a good (i.e. correct) squat without the aid of O-Shoes. Or a clean. Or a snatch.

This shoe does two things: 1) It gives you a very stable heel position for receiving weight. More stability is a good thing! But it also 2) compensates for lack of ankle mobility/range of motion.

What I’m sick of seeing is people using O-Shoes to do “Cindy” or things that aren’t even heavy squatting – you need O-Shoes for sets of 15 AIR SQUATS?! Come on…just get your squat better.

OR people that need to wear these things for workouts like “Grace”. You don’t even have to squat in that workout – it’s power cleans (in case you didn’t know, Weightlifting shoes typically put you at a mechanical disadvantage for pulling off the ground…they are meant to help the squat position mostly).

Anyway, the point of this post can be summed up with this sentence: Stop relying on equipment and gear to help you perform basic movements better. I’m not saying NEVER use them. Just don’t let them turn into a crutch!


10-31 WOD

Remember no 5:30 or 6:30 pm classes

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Jumping Jack

15 Russian Swings (53/35)
10 Box Jumps (24/20)
Rest 2 Min
Row for Calories
Rest 2 Min
15 Sit Ups
10 Walking Lunges

Cash Out…
100 Meter Farmer Carry
Group Moblity
Quads and Hips



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5 Bar Complexes
5 TTB or TTR

Skill Strength…

EMOM for 8 Min
3 Front Squats (try to add weight ea min if form is solid and you feel good)

25 Wall Balls
25 Ring Rows
20 Wall Balls
20 Ring Rows
15 Wall Balls
15 Ring Rows
10 Wall Balls
10 Ring Rows
5 Wall Balls
5 Ring Rows
* For Rx Plus sub 5-1 Rope Climb

Cash Out…
Easy 500 Row
Group Pec and Shoulder work with a ball

Courtesy of Breaking Muscle…
The following is a guest post by Amber Larsen of Massage and Health by Amber Kim:

It seems as of late, especially with the boom of the CrossFit Games, the Rx element has become more important in a CrossFitter’s daily workouts. We can admit, we were all beginners at one point in time, and the first time we were able to Rx a benchmark WOD was a huge milestone. The Rx factor means we have gotten stronger, faster, or have built endurance, but what about after we’ve been doing CrossFit for a while? What about when we athletes have been doing CrossFit long enough to Rx most WODs, but some still throw us for a tailspin with either a heavy load or a long distance?

It seems for many that having “Rx” written next to their name on the whiteboard is more important than skill, form, ability, or having the proper foundation of movement and strength. The cold, hard truth, though, is that having the Rx by your name should never be your number one goal in any given WOD. Here’s three reasons why:

Reason #1: Safety

Probably the number one reason why Rx should not be the number priority on your list is safety. Some athletes will try to Rx a WOD even though the load may be too heavy for their current ability level. Doing this can lead to major injuries. For example, when there is a heavy deadlift, most will try to Rx the workout with the assumption that they are able to perform the prescribed deadlift because they have done that weight maybe once or twice before. Some coaches will allow for the athlete to Rx the WOD even with this information on hand.

Common faults that we will see as a result are the rounded back and the jerky movement because the athlete needs some momentum to get the bar up and into full lockout. The massage therapist and biologist in me scream, “No!” It’s so bad for your body to be in that position, and in most cases, I end up seeing those same people in my office a few days later complaining of back problems.

As coaches, it is so important to gauge where athletes are actually at in relation to their goals. When people want that Rx so bad, it’s up to you, the coaches, to let them know it may not be in their best interest to Rx that day because you have been keeping track of their progress. As for you athletes, you must be accountable and honest with yourself about the same issues that concern your coach. Having an Rx by your name is not worth injury.

Reason #2: Ability Level

Another area to keep in mind is your ability level. Everyone has something they need to work on. A great example is the pistol. The pistol is a difficult movement that requires balance (requiring heavy core stabilization), strength in the grounded leg, and flexibility in the hamstrings and quadriceps in the lifted leg. This movement is like a strength movement and dynamic stretch built into one. I often see poor form in the pistol because most people lose core stabilization or come up onto their toes because it’s difficult to stay on the heels. But coming on to the toes can lead to serious knee injury.

For some, it may not be the time to Rx the pistol, but because they give in to desperation and ego, they will attempt to do it anyway. Athletes, please know that it is okay to go back and work the movement from the ground up. If you have not done that, you only cheat yourself. You must perfect the basics. As coaches it is our responsibility to recognize where the athlete needs improvement and where they need to go back and work on the progression.

Reason #3: Quality of Movement

Another reason why scaling should always be an option is in regards to the quality of the movement in the workout. This ties in ability and strength – both are needed to have high quality movement. When people are doing advanced movements without these two attributes, the athletes will have poor form. This reinforces bad habits. Let’s face it, in most cases people are going as fast as they can in time-sensitive WODs. If the athlete has poor form coupled with a time constraint it can be dangerous for everyone involved, especially the athlete.

Take something as simple as a front squat. In a poor-quality front squat, the most common fault I see is that the athlete will lean forward and lead with his or her butt rather than the elbows. This forward lean is damaging for the athlete’s back and knees. As a coach, it’s important to find where the athlete lies in their technical ability and ability to withstand volume and load in order to improve the quality of the movements and reinforce good habits that will stick with them as they progress.

Athletes, when we CrossFit in our home boxes, we are training, even as we compete with our own times and our fellow athletes. When you train, realize that we will not be perfect at every movement, and some movements require more work then others. It’s more important to improve the quality of your WOD than it is to have the Rx by your name.

For the more seasoned CrossFit athlete, it can hurt not having the Rx by your name, but you have to put your pride aside and realize it is virtually impossible to be perfect at every movement. Make sure you build your foundation first. Having the necessary baseline strength and technical ability will affect the quality of your form and ultimately your WOD, in training or in competition, for years to come.


We won’t have a 5:30 or 6:30 pm class on Halloween! Thanks

10-29 WOD

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250 Meter Row
40 Russian Swings
10 Slow Mo Burpees


30 Min EMOM
Min 1 – 20 Double Unders
Min 2 – 10 Push Ups
Min 4 – Wildcard
* In Min 1 work on doubles for 30 seconds if you don’t have them
* In Min 2 if 10 Push Ups are easy then do 10 with a vest, plate or Rings
* In min 3 choose either Russian Swings, Power Cleans or Power Snatch. We’ll go over rep options at the box.

Cash Out…
Couch Stretch with the group. 2 min ea side

10-28 WOD

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KB or DB snatch
Push Up


10 Min to work up to a heavy STO. You choose… Strict, Push Press, Push Jerk or Split Jerk.

700 Meter Row
5 Shoulder to Overhead (115/75)
7 Pull Ups
9 Deadlifts (115/75)

Cash Out…
10 Supermans (3 count)
10 Hollow Rocks
Mobilize quads

Courtesy of breaking muscle

10-25 WOD

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5 Bar Complexes

Spend 5 min loading the bar and do some tech check and efficiency tips.

“Death by Thruster”

Cash Out…
Row an easy 500
Group Mobility

Courtesy of CF Verve
The Thoracic Spine ~ Luke Palmisano
Each part of the spine plays a different role for you, and is built differently. The cervical spine is built for flexibility (the actual vertebrae are smaller) and not for load. The lumbar is designed for power (as in lifting heavy objects), as the vertebrae are much larger. The thoracic spine is built for stability. Because of that, the T-spine by definition would have less flexibility than, lets say, the C-spine. The thoracic spine is also designed for protection. They wrap all the way around from the front of the body to the back. This also contributes to their relative inflexibility. So therein lies the rub: we need flexibility out of an area of the body that by its’ very definition is built for stability and protection. Also of note is the fact that you have a beautifully arrayed group of muscles supporting the T-spine. The trapezius muscle goes from the top of your shoulders and tapers down all the way down to the beginning of your lumbar spine. Underneath that lies the lumbo-dorsal muscle, and the rhombideus minor and major muscles. When these muscles are tight, they contribute towards the inflexibility of an area of your body already limited in its’ range of motion.
The trouble with thoracic spine immobility is that we don’t know we suffer from it until we need it. Let’s face it: we sit with poor posture, slumped shoulder, and non-activated glutes and abs. Then you go to a CrossFit gym and try to perform all sorts of gnarly movements with range of motion requirements that day-to-day life doesn’t ask of us. As a CrossFit trainer, I’ve gotten used to having people come into our gym and have their eyes opened as to the vast arrays of immobility the lies within their tight, tacked down body. Often times, it is expressed in shoulder range of motion. Maybe they can’t lock their elbows out in the overhead squat. Maybe they can’t get a good overhead position with a kettlebell swing. Maybe when they come to the “chest through,” or “superman” position in a kipping pull-up or toes-to-bar they have to bend their elbows to attain that position. Even worse, maybe they try these movements and start having shoulder pain. Yikes.
Point is, the thoracic spine is in the middle of it all, hanging out, blowing you kisses of sweet immobility. Often times, if your shoulders feel tight, if you work on your thoracic spine, your issues immediately start to improve. After you unlock those mid-back muscles, then you can really get to work on those shoulders.
Here’s an idea you can try (Poached from watching K-Star videos. I wish I could take credit for being this smart.): Hold both arms overhead, and take a look at the position of both arms. Now take a lacrosse ball. Feel for the muscles that run in between your scapula and spine. Start on one side of the spine. Pick three spots on the aforementioned area. Dig the lacrosse ball into those areas, two minutes at a time minimum. Lift your hips off the ground. Now move your arm around, looking for the tight spots. When you’re done with that side of the spine, stand back up, and compare your overhead positions. See how much range of motion you just bought yourself through six minutes of pain. Then work the other side of the spine.
Thoracic spine mobility leads to many benefits for other areas of the body. Included are: decreased kyphosis, less lower back pain, less shoulder pain, greater overall range of motion, and greater lung capacity. Mobility is kinda like nutrition: making changes can be annoying, difficult, and not enjoyable in the short term. Once you see the benefits of said changes, however, you’ll never want to go back. So take the time to perform some basic self-maintenance of your body. You won’t regret it.