Monthly Archives: February 2013

Experience Defeat. Live Victoriously.

Everyday I have a chance to see people as they really are.  All the acting and posturing, evaporates into thin air the moment the clock spits click, click, click and the weight is lifted.  What remains is  raw humanity:  the fear, self-doubt, inadequacy, and weakness.   But then… at the same time I  see all that is simple and good and I rejoice.   I see self-belief, courage, and determination.  I feel victory.

Abandon your fear and embrace the suffering before you.  Let it wash over and cleanse you.  Become the person who you have always wanted to be.  Be strong enough to lift the steel and admit to others when you have made a mistake.  Be brave enough to confront the fires of the metcon and the bully who torments the weak.

We are in the midst of a deload week and so we had the chance to really drill positions and work on technique for our barbell mechanics.  The name of the game today was building some awareness of positions as well as some isometric strength which will serve us well as we move through each phase of our weightlifting.  Remember knees back and swoop the bar back into you as it breaks from the floor!

Coach Pat and I know that the conditioning for today was a deceptively sucky workout, hitting this one early in the morning before school started.  Handstand pushups, racked lunges, and lateral burpees over the bar and I (and you, too) am spent!

Mobilize and ice down any achy bits.  No training tomorrow, so rest up!

See you on Friday!



10 Rotating Ball Slams (Each side 20/10 lbs)

1 Round Clean and Jerk: Lift off transitions, Rack Delivery, Jerk Step Throughs, Punch and Catch Progressions.

Barbell Mechanics

5 sets of the following complex at 65% of 1 RM Clean

2 Clean Deadlifts with a two second pause above the knee + 1 Power Clean + 1 Split Jerk

*1-2 minute rest between sets




6 Racked Lunges (95/75)

8 Lateral Burpees over the bar

2-27-13 MOVE1 2-27-13 MOVE2 2-27-13 MOVE3 2-27-13 Scores


Let the Awesome In!

Keep sh*tty form, fear, and laziness out.  Let the awesome in!  Today, Ham went HAM on the 5 RM front squat.  I should have shot a video.  It was awesome.  No quit in this kid.  What was even more bangin’ was the fact that the entire training hall was helping him lift that weight with shouts of support and encouragement.  THAT…is what The Movement Program is all about!



We had quite the busy training session today.  Friday’s are always special days here at The Movement Program.  We spent 30 minutes going after some new snatch and clean and jerk 1 RMs!  The day was not finished there.  Our strength portion of the day was establishing some new front squat 5 RM PRs!  The max out days on the squats follow a template of three reps, two reps, and then an attempt at a 5RM PR.  My philosophy is that the three reps prep the nervous system for a little bit of volume.  The subsequent two reps stresses the system a bit more, but with the low volume I have found that the athlete is more sharp and less tired when heading into the assault on the 5 RM PR.

To close out the day, we hit up some sucky tabata mountain climbers to add a little bit of conditioning to this very heavy day!

Enjoy the weekend and these two videos of Coach Pat getting a new snatch PR at 210# and a new 5RM front squat PR at 275#



  • Twist, Step, and Throw:  Med Ball Side Hurls x 10 on each side.
  • 1 Round Snatch Warmup:  Lift off transitions, drop snatches, punch and catch progressions.

Barbell Mechanics

15 Minutes to establish a 1 RM Snatch.

15 Minutes to establish a 1 RM Clean and Jerk.

*2 Minutes rest between each attempt.


Front Squats

Senior Members:  1 set of 3 reps at 80% 1 RM, 1 set of 2 reps @ 90% 1RM, attempt to establish 5RM PR.

Junior Members:  5-5-5 Sets Across 75% of 1 RM.

*Minimum two minutes rest between each set.


Tabata Mountain Climbers

*8 Rounds of 20 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest.

*Score is lowest amount of reps from any round.


2-22-13 MOVE42-22-13 MOVE32-22-13 Scores



Keep the bar close to you when you lift, but hold your dreams even closer.

On the docket for today, we hit up some heavier hang snatch from below the knee doubles and a quick metcon.  I like (and concurrently hate) snatches and cleans from  the hang (and hang below the knee).  While lifts from the hang can take away some of the complexity to lifts (i.e. breaking the bar from the floor and getting the knees back while straining to maintain that pesky upright torso), doubles from the hang can be exhausting on grip strength and confidence.  Focus on keeping the weight back on the heels, shoulders back, and swooping the bar towards the hips as you begin to come up to the power position.

As for our conditioning work, we hit a feisty 8 Min AMRAP of side facing burpees, racked lunges, and push presses.  It seemed that the consensus was that burpees still suck.  They suck even more when you have to jump over a barbell.

We welcome Camry to The Movement Program today!  Be good teammates and help answer her questions about the movements when you can!



  • Twist, Step, and Throws x 7 on each side with 10 – 16# Med Ball.
  • Snatch Warmup:  Lift off transitions, Drop Snatches, Punch and Catch Progressions

Barbell Mechanics

Hang Snatch from Below the Knee x 2

2 sets @75% 1RM

3 sets @85% 1 RM

2 sets @75% 1 RM



8 Side Facing Burpees

6 Racked Lunges (115/95)

4 Push Press (115/95)

2-21-13 MOVE1 2-21-13 MOVE2 2-21-13 MOVE3 2-21-13 Scores


A glaring deficiency

Can you spot the similarity in movement between each of the figures below?

serena-williams-forehandmerrit hurdles

boxingjudo hip toss

lumberjackernie els swing

Once upon a time, I thought I was decently strong.   I can hold a sturdy back lever,  whip through muscle ups, and perform a body weight snatch.  Core strength?  Oh yeah, I got that.  It’s a funny thing, though:  injuries challenge our assumptions.

The Problem

Some recent muscle testing revealed that I have the quadratus lumborums, multifidus, and illiocostalis of a scrawny, skinny-jeans wearing hipster.  The core strength which I thought I possessed had been on vacation for quite some time.  Ask me to hold a side plank and then lift the top leg up a couple of inches and you might as well have asked me to deadlift a near maximal weight for reps.  It was a struggle.

But wait a minute!  Wait just a God damn minute!  I’m strong!  I lift every day!  I take care of my mobility!  How could I not hold a single leg side plank????

A clue lies in the graphic below.

planes of movement

I practice weightlifting and CrossFit.  Taken together, these two types of sports produce a lethal mixture of fitness.  However, there is a glaring weakness in both disciplines.  Think of all the types of movements one does in the aforementioned activities.  Whether it is a snatch or clean and jerk from weightlifting or  kipping pullups and ball slams in CrossFit, the majority of movements exist primarily in the sagittal and coronal (frontal) planes.

The Impact

So it is clear that not much movement happens in the transverse plane in my sports of choice.  Why should it matter?  Three reasons:  Power, stability, and longevity.  The commonality that exists in the pictures at the beginning of this article is that all of the activities show movement in the transverse plan.  Notice that each of those events require a tremendous amount of directed power at specific times.  For the purposes of weightlifting and CrossFit, the muscle groups involved in generating power along the transverse plane also have the ability to generate loads of stability while an athlete moves in the other two planes of movement.  Inattention not only to spinal stabilizers but also transverse plane movement patterns can be deleterious to an athlete’s long term performance and health.

For instance, the ballistic nature of weightlifting and some movements in CrossFit loads the body with a tremendous amount of force throughout various positions.  Without stressing the different areas of core strength, the athlete becomes susceptible to wholesale system breakdown.

The body is smart.  It knows which muscles are strong and weak.  Muscles which are weak are protected by muscles which are stronger, even though they might not be intended to do the other muscles’ work.  Once the assisting muscles have spent their time trying to pull along the weaker muscles, they fail and thus expose the weak muscles to work they simply cannot handle.  It is at this point that injury can occur.

The Solution

We ultimately exercise because it makes us healthier and helps us live longer, but if we want to live a long life free of debilitating injuries, if longevity is truly a goal of our fitness programs, then we need to address these undervalued areas of strength.  First, incorporate more movements that involve travel along the transverse plane of movement.  (A word of caution here:  do not include twisting movements that place axial loads on the spine i.e.  twisting your body with a loaded barbell in the high bar back squat position).

  • Transverse ball slams – Instead of simply lifting the ball over head and slamming it directly down in front, pick up the ball and rotate around your head and then slam it down diagonally.
  • Wall slams –  Take a slam ball and turning from your side, with both hands on the ball, hurl it aggressively into the wall, making sure to utilize your hips in the same way you would throw a ball.
  • Partner passes and shuffles – More of a movement to be incorporated in a warmup or as accessory lifts after a workout.  Much in the same manner as the wall slam, pass a medicine ball to a partner across the room as you slide side to side, making sure to alternate each side.  The side to side slide will also strengthen the hip adductors and abductors.
  • Sledgehammer drops and hits-  Simple: swing a sledge hammer down onto a tire or swing it into the tire, the same way CrossFit Games athletes did in the Double Banger Event.  See video below.

Second, when programmed correctly, curls and other isolation movements are beneficial.  Isolation movements are functional in nature insofar as they provide greater stability to the prime mover muscle groups.  These types of movements should be programmed as accessory lifts once the day’s primary training is over.  Movements like plank holds, leg raises, and/or single leg deadlifts can help provide the necessary core strength to stave off potential injuries, which could derail your quest for improved health and performance.

Now, if you program curls into a conditioning workout, do us all a favor and just kill yourself.

It was great to see such tremendous progress today.  For our barbell mechanics, we got after some split jerk volume.  Remember, the jerk is more about hip drive, footwork, and pushing actively under the bar and less about pushing the bar up with the arms.  The change in speed by lots of our junior athletes is something worth noting.  Most improved award on the jerk goes to Marinos.  That pesky back leg is finally turning in like it should on the split.  Nice work!

After our barbell mechanics, we hit a challenging conditioning workout involving a mixture of Russian kettlebell swings, tall box jumps, push jerks, and pushups.  Jacked to see people getting after it!

Unfortunately, this was the last class of the week.  We have half days and I have parent teacher conferences all week right after school.  Bummer…

Stay tuned, I might just cook up something you can do at home!



2 Rounds Jerk:  Push Press, Push Jerk, Jerk Step Throughs, Jerk Balance, Split Jerk

Barbell Mechanics

Split Jerk

2 sets of 3 @ 65% 1 RM

3 sets of 2 @ 75% 1 RM

2 sets of 2 @ 70% 1 RM

*1-2 minutes between sets.


For Time:

3 Rounds

15 Russian Swings (24/16)

5 Box Jumps (30″/24″)

5 Push Jerks (115/95)


40 Pushups


2 rounds of above complex.


30 Pushups


1 round of above complex


20 Pushups

*8 minute time cap for junior members.

*Note on box jumps:  Athletes must demonstrate control at top of the box and then STEP DOWN off the box.  A rep will not count if the athlete jumps off of the box.

2-13-13 MOVE52-13-13 MOVE12-13-13 MOVE42-13-13 MOVE32-13-13 MOVE2

2-13-13 Scores2-13-13 MOVE6


Squats and Annie

We are going to have to make this week count.  The screwed up half day schedule is going to wreck havoc on training.  Stay tuned to the class schedule for the rest of the week.

While we didn’t totally abandon the classic lifts today, emphasis was a bit more on brute strength and revving up our engines.  After a clean and jerk warmup, we went after some heavy sets of five for the front squat.  A good starting point for the first set after your warmups would be 80% of your 1RM.  Yes…these will be heavy and there will be lots of them.  Try and work up five pounds on each set.

For the conditioning portion of our day, we tackled “Annie,” a classic CrossFit benchmark workout that is deceptively challenging.

Shout out of the day goes to Summer for blazing fast single unders.  Realizing those were no longer challenging, she decided to work on getting her double unders after class.  She got three in a row.  Her monthly challenge is to get twenty in a row by the end of February!  Let’s go, Summer!!!

Now that I think of it,  February’s monthly challenge will be double unders.  Whoever makes the most improvement on their double unders by the end of the month will be eligible for a gift certificate to their favorite store.  Dollar amount will be decided in the next couple of weeks.  Get after it!


2-11-13 MOVE22-11-13 MOVE12-11-13 Scores

Stay tight or suffer.

The last time I checked, deflating balloons aren’t the sturdiest of objects.  Why then would you act like one when lifting heavy weights?  Stay tight or suffer the indignity of a missed lift or (even worse) a giant injury!  What can help us?  Take that deep breath, hold, and breathe stability throughout all your body.  More on that here.

With Monday comes fresh legs.  And so we embarked upon finding some new 1 RM front squats.  Shout out of the day goes to David Palidora who crushed his old PR by 60 pounds, hitting 205#!  (Note:  David hadn’t done 1 RM front squats since the summer….)

Barbell mechanics was folded into the conditioning work for the day.  Hopefully, the manner in which this workout was setup taught you all the importance of good form and relying on the most efficient movement patterns when executing repetitions.  Perform with poor form and you undoubtedly suffered….a bit.  This workout should not have killed you.  Luckily, the structure of the workout was designed for you to focus on technique while the work:rest ratio helped you maintain intensity.

Rest up and ice anything that ails you!  20 minutes on, 20 minutes off x 2!

See you Wednesday!



Snatch: Lift off transitions, Drop Snatches, Punch and Catch Progressions


Front Squats


*Establish new 1 RM.   Minimum two minutes rest between each set.


4 Rounds for Time

30 Double Unders

5 Strict Pullups

5 Squat Snatches (115/95)

1 minute rest.

*Score is total running time.

2-4-13 MOVE1 2-4-13 MOVE2 2-4-13 MOVE3 2-4-13 MOVE4 2-4-13 MOVE5

F*CK Football, weightlifting is the real game of inches.

My taxi was 25 minutes late.  I missed my train to New York.  I am, however, quite happy.  Why is this?  Because confusion as well as heavy weight was lifted.  The kicker though was that it  seemed so damn easy.

I’m going to say it right now:  Weightlifting is the real game of inches.  Everyday the athlete precariously glides along a razor’s edge separating the heights of triumph and the depths of despair.  With the help of Coach Mike McKenna, I realized that my own start off the ground was sabotaging me with every lift.  Apparently for the past two years, I have been setting up my lifts improperly.

Here’s what I’ve found (and you can read about it in more depth and detail at Mike’s blog here.  Really…do yourself a favor and read it.  Its simplicity will blow your mind!):  the barbell was too close to me at the start.  I always set up the bar as close to my shins as possible, one could say that I tucked the bar as close above my ankles as possible.  I knew I was guiding the bar back into my hips after the first pull, but because the bar was so close to my body, when it broke from the ground, it had to come up and OUT before it came back towards my center of gravity.

So what was the solution?  Step under the bar and have it directly above where your big toe joint meets your metatarsals (the long bones in your feet).  By giving some space between your shins and the bar at the start, you will be able to pull the bar back into you right from the start and be in a better position throughout each subsequent pull.  This small little change enabled me to hit a PR 2RM Snatch at 165#, not bad considering my 1 RM is a mere ten pounds more than that!

With results like this, I eagerly await next week’s Baltimore Open.

Great to see everyone getting after it today.  This week was a deload week, so instead of  going after a new 1 RM for the classic lifts, I decided it was better to cut the intensity down a bit and drill some repetition.  Our barbell mechanics focused on finding a new 2 RM for the Snatch and 2 RM for the Clean and Jerk.

We finished off the day with 10 sets of 2 speed squats from the high bar.

Welcome back Knick from his time away.  Be smart about your comeback!   TooCool, don’t sweat today’s shite session.  Remember the bad days will be more frequent than the good as your body adjusts with learning all of this new stuff.  Be disciplined.  Be determined.  Don’t get discouraged.  Maple Tied Ham, keep practicing at home with that broom stick!  Your first pull looked a hell of a lot better.  Palm Oil and Mad, get ready to do lots of tall snatches and tall cleans next week!  No more frankenstein arms!

Enjoy your Friday night and the rest of the weekend!  Remember, Sean Thomson from CrossFit Go Hard-No Limit Gym will be coming to the Program on Monday!  Be there and meet one of the best CrossFitters on the East Coast and maybe…the World?




Lift off transitions, drop snatches, punch and catch progresssions.

Barbell Mechanics


4 sets of 2 reps.

*Work up to a heavy double.

*2 minutes rest between sets.

Clean and Jerk

4 sets of 2 cleans +1 jerk

*Work up to a heavy double.

*2 minutes rest between sets.


Speed Squats from the High Bar.

10 sets of 2 reps @ 55% of 1 RM

*Each rep and set should be done with the same explosive speed, driving hard out of the bottom of the hole.

*Rest 1 minute between sets.  If speed diminishes on the latter sets, increase recovery time to 2 minutes.

2-1-13 MOVE1

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