Monthly Archives: March 2013

The Best Laid Plans…

Happy Almost Friday!  No class tomorrow so we got in some work today.

Tried something a little different today.  We threw in some Max Height Box Jumps in front of our max out attempts for the clean and jerk.  Not sure if the extra nerve recruitment from the box jumps was the major reason, but we had tons of PRs on the Clean and Jerk today.  In fact, I think everyone PR’d.  That’s how you close out the week.

No class next week.  Spring break.  Rest up, stay mobile, ice any banged up bits!



5 Pop up and sprints.

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

Barbell Mechanics

5 attempts of the following combination of work:

1 Max Height Box Jump + Clean and Jerk.

*The CJ should be performed within one minute of the box jump.  Attempt to establish a new 1 RM.  Banged up?  Keep it as close to 90% as possible.

3-21-13 MOVE63-21-13 MOVE13-21-13 MOVE2 3-21-13 MOVE3 3-21-13 MOVE53-21-13 MOVE4


Failure is an option

There’s an old saying, “Failure is NOT an option.”  Anyone who has been around The Movement Program long enough knows that failure is inevitable.  It is incomprehensible to think that you will be able to make every single lift or crush every single workout.  Failure is an option.  In fact it is the option that you will face most of the time when you train.  Of course, we want to see improvements in strength and consistency.  However, to get to that point, you will taste the bitterness of defeat, daily.  If you can stomach it, in time the victories will be that much sweeter.  Embrace your failures.  They are your greatest teachers.

We worked on some heavy squat snatches from the hang today for our barbell mechanics.  Working from the hang is important as it teaches the importance of good position before entering the tunnel for the second pull.  Prior to starting, are your knees back and shins vertical?  Are you keeping the weight back on your heels before you punch them through the floor?  Is the bar coming back into your hips?

For our conditioning work today, I broke down the snatch into some of its component parts.  From your responses it sounded like the OHS were the worst.  That was surprising to me.

Lots of shout outs today.  Xuan earns some praise for battling back some self doubt.  Way to stay calm and get your head back in the game.  “Knick ” is back!  First workout in over a month if not longer.  Gerald was able to get under that bar a lot quicker on his third pull for the snatch.  A little bit of mobility work and you’ll be putting some more weight on that bar soon!  Mike…well the journey continues.  Mike crushed his clean PR the other day and then  finally realized what driving up and back on the finish of the second pull meant in the snatch.  He also did this for the first time:

Damn kids…

Want to get to know Mike better?  Watch the video below!



10 Rotating Ball Slams each side (20/10#)

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

Barbell Mechanics

Hang Snatch

6 sets of 1 @ 85-90% 1RM

*Rest two minutes between each set.


3 Rounds for total score

1 min Hang Power Snatch (75#/45#)

1 min Overhead Squats

1 min Push Press

1 min Bent Row

1 min Double Unders

1 min Rest

*No substitution for Double Unders.

3-20-13 MOVE1 3-20-13 MOVE3 3-20-13 MOVE4 3-20-13 MOVE5 3-20-13 MOVE6 3-20-13 MOVE7


It ain’t all glitz and glamour!

We clean and jerked heavy.  We squatted heavy.  That’s it.  It might not be fancy, but then again we have never been about fancy, here at The Movement Program….

Mike is strong.  Mike will get stronger.  You should be scared.

Welcome back, Knick, and welcome Rocky to The Program, too!



10 Lateral Ball Tosses (20#/16#)

1 Round Snatch Warmup:  Lift Off Transitions, Drop Snatches, Punch and Catch Progressions

Barbell Mechanics

10 x Clean and Jerk @ 90% 1 RM

*Two minutes rest between each set.


5 x 5 High Bar Back Squat

*Start at 80% of 1 RM and work up 5 pounds each set.  Each set should be heavy, but all reps should be made.

*Two minutes rest between each set.

3-18-13 MOVE1 3-18-13 MOVE2 3-18-13 Scores


Happy Friday!  It was quite an energetic class today.  Loved every minute of it and from all of the laughing, the quoting of horrible lines from Batman Forever, and smiles, it would appear my athletes enjoyed it as well.

Today, we went after a modified version of The CrossFit Games Open WOD 13.2.  My reading of Siff and Verkhoshansky and Siff’s excellent Supertraining (See page 274) as well blogs like this have me convinced to never program high rep box jumps again.  For today’s workout we substituted single leg step ups onto a 20″ box for everyone.  After watching it, it looked just as tiring if not more so than a box jump.  Everyone moved very well through this one.

Remember, chest up and back tight on those deadlifts.  Some of you are really struggling with that.  Why?  You lack hamstring flexibility.  Start doing some light static stretches before bed and start working on that weakling range of motion!

Rest up and enjoy the weekend!



10 Rotating Med Ball Slams – Each Side (20/10″)

1 Round Clean and Jerk – Sub 5 Push Press for Jerk Step Throughs.


CF Open WOD 13.2

10 Min AMRAP

5 Shoulder to Overhead (115/75)

10 Deadlifts (115/75)

15 Box Jumps (24″/20″)

*No box jumps permitted during the workout.  Sub Step Ups on 20″ box.

3-15-13 Scores3-15-13 MOVE63-15-13 MOVE53-15-13 MOVE43-15-13 MOVE33-15-13 MOVE13-15-13 MOVE2lionel

Thank Your Walls

...But I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep.  And miles to go before I sleep...   – Robert Frost

The scene in Frost’s poem elicits a scene of tranquility.  It’s quiet, peaceful.  The character however, cannot stop and enjoy the moment.  Much like him, we have places to go.   We have things to do.  We must do them, now, and damn the World if it stands in our way.


Our life is littered with walls.  We struggle to climb them, to go around them, to smash through them.  We look at our walls as obstacles, impediments, things that stop progress.  They prevent us from doing what we want.

But what we want is not really what we need sometimes and, as such, walls can be misunderstood.  True, walls often stop us from achieving our goals, but they also protect us from  harm.  Have you ever paused to consider that the wall confounding you is preventing progress because it might not be the right time to move forward?  Sometimes we just can’t understand the words that life is speaking to us.  Things get lost in translation.  We strain to hear what we want to hear, but in the process we become deaf and blind to the teachings of these struggles.

Long story short:  thank your walls.  Frustration is unavoidable sometimes.  Remember,though, life won’t let you proceed until you have learned whatever lesson it is which you NEED to learn.  Be patient, keep perspective, and in time your struggles will reveal their true nature.

We scaled down on the complexity of our barbell mechanics, focusing on the “simple” dip-drive in our strength work.  To target this piece of our weightlifting, we hit the push press.  Why the push press?  It is perhaps the simplest movement that has immediate transferability to the jerk, a movement which demands greater coordination and speed.  If you seem to be struggling with missing your jerks out in front, chances are that the weight is shifting from your heels to your toes during your dip.  A dip that shifts down and forward does not move the bar straight up.  This translates into missed lifts in front.  How to fix it?  Sit back on your heels when you dip and continue to drive through them when you finish.  This will ensure an upright torso that moves the bar straight up.  When the time comes to jerk, this correct movement pattern will (with enough practice) be ingrained into your nerves and help you lift the big loads.

Conditioning today was a bit interesting.  Originally I had wanted to make this workout a triplet, but given the scarcity of resources at our disposal, adding pullups into this workout would have been a logistical nightmare.  So I bumped up the rounds and lengthened the carry a bit.  How often have you had to pick up something heavy and carry it a ways?  If “not often” was your answer, well, you at least had a chance to practice that yesterday!



10 Rotating Ball Slams (20#/14) – Each side!

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


5-5-5-5-5 Push Press

*Work up to a new five rep max.

*1-2 minutes rest between sets.


6 Rounds for Time

200 Meter Single Hand Farmer’s Carry (24/16)

5 Deadlifts (185/135)

*Each round of the carries must use one hand only.  Alternate  arms  each round.

3-13-13 MOVE13-13-13- MOVE33-13-13 MOVE43-13-13 MOVE23-13-13 Scoresdonahue


Thank Dear Lord Baby Jeebus!  Spring has arrived.  Well, not quite, but it sure felt like Spring today.  Consequently, we headed outside after our strength work for a pleasant stroll amongst roses, butterflies, and lollipops.


All these flowers make me want to pick up heavy things.

Along our saunter throughout these pleasant parts we also stopped along the way for some pushups, wall balls, and running.  Oh, the sheer delight!  Everyone was so happy.  Even I was!  So happy that my phone’s battery died and I couldn’t take pictures!  But who has time when you are dancing with daffodils and delighting in…blah, blah, blah.  This workout sucked.  Big time.  You’re welcome!

Shout out of the day goes to Ham who went HAM on this workout.  Way to find that new limit and make it your…friend?

Also, we will be giving a new go with some pushup scaling.  Check out the following video from Kelly Starrett and Mobility WOD to help understand why we will be trying out this scaling.



5 pop up and sprints (40 yds)

1 Round Clean and Jerk Warmup:  Lift off transitions, rack delivery, jerk step throughs, punch and catch progressions (45/35)


5 x 5 High Bar Back Squat

*Start at 75% of 1 RM and work your way up five pounds each set.


4 Rounds for Time

12 Pushups

15 Wall Balls

150 Meter run


Stuart McGill and Why I’ll Never Do Another Situp in Training.

Done.  Finito.  That’s all folks.  As far as I’m concerned, the pile of abmats will from henceforth on (unless convinced by peer reviewed studies and other experts in lower back performance)  be used only as mobilization aids for our QL’s (quadratus lumborum – here’s a good video).  The situp is dead to me and it should be to you.  Why?  Dr. Stuart McGill told me.

In all fairness, he didn’t personally tell me, but his message was well received. After being steered in this direction by Steelworks CF Super Friend, Todd Fluck, a little further digging upon a recent evening’s knowledge devouring session resulted in a total mind blow.

Screw the peer reviewed journals!  I trust the 'stache!

‘Stache afficianado and did I mention he will save your back from exploding?

Stuart McGill, professor of kinesiology at the University of Waterloo, in Ontario, Canada and perhaps the most renowned expert on the spine and lower back made a convincing case on the avoidance of certain movements that have been improperly used by coaches to strengthen the muscles traditionally associated with the core (abs, lower back).  You can read part 1 and part 2 by simply following the links.

I highly recommend you read both articles.  They have given me pause with how I program for my athletes and challenge preconceived notions as to the type of strength demanded by the “core” and how to achieve this desired strength.  For those of you who don’t feel like reading the two articles above, here’s something that will convince you to never do another situp in training:

The NIOSH [National Institute of Safety and Health] have sponsored research that surveyed workers, and their data show that when lumbar loads exceed 3400N, the injury rates go up and interventions are recommended. The problem is that these are for average workers. Who’s average?

Now, the sit-up recruits torso and hip muscles that impose compressive load on the spine for the average male of about 3400N. Performing sit-ups uses some training capacity – compression plus repeated bending – to achieve training of the torso and hip flexors. But remember that this combination of load and motion is a potent cause of annulus collagen delamination.”

Too difficult to understand?  Situps are bad for your spine.  Stop doing them.  I will and so will my athletes.  Instead focus on movements that strengthen the core without compromising the spine.  The above articles are chalk full of possible exercises worth doing, but below you’ll find some videos illustrating more effective ways to achieve the desired core strength and endurance.

1.  Stir the Pot – Use a softer body ball and find out just how weak you are in your core.

2.  Landmines –  When done right, it helps work muscles in the transverse plane of movement (rotational strength), but also protects the spine.

3.  Side Planks – This video really looks at strengthening the QL’s.  An important component of that strength is the side plank.  Other useful drills for strengthening the QL’s are included. 

Today was a bit of testing a hunch.  We started off with our normal lateral med ball throw and clean and jerk warmup and then transitioned to some front squats.  The conditioning workout was my first stab at including isometric strengthening exercises within a metcon.  I kept the weight low on the power cleans as I was more concerned with how the athletes would  be able to perform the power cleans with solid technique after being fatigued by the planks.  First couple sets seemed to be pretty easy, but the athletes seemed to have run into a wall right around the fourth round.  I’ll be slowly interspersing this kind of work into our metcons.  The results look promising.

Oh yeah, here’s workout 13.1 for the CrossFit Open.



10 Lateral toss with med ball (#20/16) – Each side.

1 Round Clean and Jerk Warmup:  Lift off transitions, rack delivery, jerk step throughs, punch and catch progressions.


Front Squat

3 x 5 reps @ 65% of 1RM

*Sets across.  1-2 minutes between sets.


10 Min EMOM.

3 Power Cleans (65% of 1 RM Clean)

Remainder of minute to be held in plank.

*Score is lowest amount of time held in the plank throughout the workout.

3-6-13 Scores3-6-13 MOVE63-6-13 MOVE53-6-13 MOVE43-6-13 MOVE33-6-13 MOVE23-6-13 MOVE1

Dem’ Empty Barbells

Ever wonder what you should look like when you are in position two of the clean?  I give you exhibit A:

3-4-13 MOVE1


You’ve probably heard me yell countless times to stay over that bar as you come up from the ground to position 2.  Xuan illustrates this beautifully.  Notice that the weight is on her heels as the bar is being actively guided back with the lats, coming to rest right above the knee.   Remember, get those knees back as you rise up, guide the bar back into you as it breaks from the floor, and stay over the bar as long as possible before accelerating the bar back to the power position!

We spent 15 minutes today working with 90% of our 1RM  for the Clean and Jerk.  Emphasis was on being consistent with each lift while under a heavier load.  Saw some drastic improvement from last week.  Light bulbs were going off; finally understanding what it means to “stay over the bar”, “punch and shuffle”, and “shoulders back”.

Our conditioning’s main focus was on muscular endurance.  Oh how an empty barbell can suck the life right out of you!  Max effort work also plays games with your mind.  You have to keep moving until you totally deplete whatever stores of energy exist in your muscles, until you can’t go anymore.  How tough are you?  How much are you willing to endure?  Hope you found the answer today!

Great work everyone!

See you on Wednesday!  Remember Friday we will participate in the CrossFit Open Workout 13.1.  The movements are released on Wednesday.  We’ll talk strategy and game plan then.

Rest up!



3 Push up and Sprints.

*Athlete starts in the bottom of a push up position.  On the command of “go”, the athlete quickly rises to his feet and sprints in the direction opposite from where his head was pointing.  The sprint lasts no more than 40 yards.  Athlete walks back to the start for recovery.

Clean and Jerk Warmup:  Lift off Transitions, Rack Delivery, Jerk Step Through, Punch and Catch Progressions.

Barbell Mechanics

15 minutes of Clean and Jerk 90% 1RM

*2 minutes recovery between each attempt.


4 Rounds not for Time

ME Press (45/35)

50 Double Unders

-3 minutes recovery, then –

50 Burpees for Time

*Record score for presses after each round of double unders.  Athlete begins next round after returning from white board.  Once four rounds have been completed, the athlete must rest for three minutes and then begin his or her burpees.

3-4-13 MOVE63-4-13 MOVE53-4-13 MOVE43-4-13 MOVE33-4-13 MOVE23-4-13 Scores

50 degrees and “Helen”

The great thing about global warming is that it allows us to get back outside into some fresh air much, much sooner than usual.  Being from Michigan, the first day of March was still pretty bitter cold.  How spoiled I have become since being on the East Coast!  What better way to greet Spring than with some running, swinging, and pulling?!!!

Given that this week is a deload week in our strength program, I decided to program the famous CrossFit benchmark workout, “Helen.”  Being a mid-distance runner in another life, coupled with my affection for pullups and kettlebell swings, this is arguably my favorite benchmark workout.

We started off the day with working on a new skill:  the kipping pullup.  For many of the athletes, today was the first time experiencing the kip.  I seldom program workouts with kipping movements as I feel that the benefit:risk ratio leans more towards the risk side of the scale.  With strict pullups, I believe that the athlete will have less potential for shoulder injuries and more potential for greater gains in shoulder strength.  Why even do kipping pullups?  The simple answer is that it is a skill unique to the sport of CrossFit.  Therefore, a basic competency of the movement must be had by the athlete to perform in the sport.  Some benefits of the kipping pullup are that it does develop body awareness and coordination in the athlete  and it also highlights the importance of total body tension in producing force.  With all of that said, my programming philosophy does not encourage beginning athletes to use the kip in their pullups.  Paramount to me is the development of shoulder strength.   That is best served by strict pullups.

“Helen” is quite the a$$ kicker.  Hope you enjoyed it!  Rest up and have fun  this weekend.  We go heavy next week!



2 Rounds

3 strict pullups

8 American Kettlebell Swings

150 meter run


15 Minutes Kipping Pullup Progressions

Hollow Body, C’s and D’s, Hip Swings, Kip Practice



3 Rounds for Time

400 Meter Run

21 Kettlebell Swings (24 kg/16)

12 Kipping Pullups

3-1-13 MOVE1 3-1-13 MOVE2 3-1-13 MOVE3 3-1-13 MOVE4 3-1-13 MOVE53-1-13 MOVE6 3-1-13 MOVE7 3-1-13 MOVE8 3-1-13 MOVE9 3-1-13 Scores