May 11, 2009
May 18, 2009


500 M ROW
21 PUSH PRESS (men 135/115/85, women 85/65/45)

Great to see people step up to a heavier weight for this, highlighted by Steph picking what was basically her max overhead weight to knock off 21 times. Also a strong showing from Michelle, our guest from Combat CrossFit in KC.

Finished with a little team challenge of:
3 rounds
21 swings
15 ball slams
9 burpees

Which leads me to a question. Why 21-15-9? I’ll give you a reminder, I mentioned last night that the reasoning did not apply specifically to this workout. However, its a # scheme most CrossFitters have stuck in their head. So whats the basis of it?



  1. Jade says:

    I agree — it was inspiring to watch Steph push through!

    Zach told me that my form isn’t correct on push presses, so that is another goal for me to work on. My shoulders are just weak! It’s amazing how I can be so sore after about 15 mins of total work!

  2. edgy reggie says:

    I arrived late, but I managed to knock off the row, the 115# push press/push jerk (I think I did both), and some strict pull-ups in about eight minutes (plus some change) time (or, at least, that what I thought I heard called out).

    I was thinking about doing 135# for the push press, but I’m glad I didn’t because I was struggling a bit on 115#. I didn’t feel that my strength was lacking; I felt that my energy level was low. Plus, the bar that I was using felt different (read: strange).

    Steph, watching you last night reminded me of…me after one year of CrossFit (DC). 🙂 Great work!

    Coach, I’m glad you mentioned the 21-15-9 sequence because I was wondering about that for a long time. Hmmm…they are all numbers divisible by 3. 21 + 15 + 9 = 45. 45 is divisible by 3, 5, 9, and 15… 🙂 Hmmm…

    CFDC’s own ODB…has a workout request on Facebook.

  3. edgy reggie says:

    I almost forgot: Thank you to everyone who encouraged me on my push presses/push jerks (yes, I heard you). 🙂

    Props to Rob and Zach for not listening to the directions for the second part of the workout, doing more than what was required, and still finish in a decent amount of time. 🙂

  4. Monica says:

    Great workouts over the last week!

    I am going to do the Cindy warm-up today to start off with…I like that a’s actually the WOD also.

    So here is what I was thinking about 21-15-9…it equals 45, which could be broken down to 3 sets of 15 (which is traditional, endurance lifting, etc. etc.) So by breaking it up as 21-15-9, you can work on endurance and big ole strength in the same series, by fatiguing early (cuz you’re still using heavy weight), and then relying on pure strength at the end. Or, you could increase the weight with each set, for extra challenge. And psychologically 21-15-9 is good for the soul, because there’s some mental relief after the first set 😉 Am I on the right track?

  5. SaltyHat says:

    great two-prong workout last night. definitely felt gassed by the end. finished the first workout in 4:02, and worked with Steve O. and Tom A. for the second workout using 32kg KB & 40lb slamball, finishing at 8min something.

    Also – a huge kudos to Michelle who has been doing CrossFit for only about a month!

    Per the 21-15-9 rep scheme, I know I have had this discussion before (probably with Brose), and other than the math aspect, the plain and simple answer is: it just works. More than that, I think it goes to the heart of muscle fatigue, power decay, or whatever semantic description you want to use. The idea is, you can still put maximum effort into each round as your muscles & energy decrease, and thus realize a greater gain than multiple rounds at the same number of reps. For example, if you were to try 21×3 at the same weight, your muscles would probably exhaust, meaning more rest, and thus less metabolic conditioning as your heart rate drops.

    Of course, you could always hunt around on the CFHQ msg boards and find this little gem posted by one Tom Brose on 08-16-2006 at 12:21 PM:
    I think its a “why not” type of thing, nothing magical about those exact numbers. I believe that part of the reasoning is that for an exercise at a load someone could just get 21, by the second go 15 would be the max, and by the third round maybe 9 reps.

  6. Rob says:

    I like the “science-ish” theory behind it.

    Reggie is right that Zach and I misunderstood the instructions for the second set of excercises. We thought it was 21 swings/slams/burpees, followed by 15 swings/slams/burpees etc. We didn’t realize this until we had finished our set of 15, and then we had to go back to 21 for the swings. Serves us right, I suppose!

  7. ppetersan says:

    I agree with everyone. I thought both work outs were great. I don’t know my times (Tom: will the times be posted?)

    On the first work out I used 85lbs for the push press. I definitely could have gone heavier, but I think 115lbs might have been too big of a leap.

    On the second workout we used a 25lb ball for the slams (definitely could have gone heavier, but there weren’t any other balls available) and 16kg kettle bell.

    I won’t be in class Thurs or Sun and may not be in class next Tues but will do the WOD’s. See you next Thursday.

    Oh yeah, I don’t know the rationale behind the 21-15-9. It seems like I have read the explanation before, but don’t remember now.

  8. Sara says:

    First off – Congratulations to Steph. You pushed through and suceeded. As Jade said – it was inspiring to watch.

    I enjoyed this workout both parts of it.

    I used the 85# bar for the presses. I think I finished the workout in 7:44. I felt good on the row and was on pace for a sub 2minute 500m till I hit around 200m to go. I guess I have to work on that. I seemed to have lost my swing on my kip (probably from doing pull-ups so close to the wall.)

    I was in a group with ami, steph and michelle for the second part of the workout. I used the 30# slam ball and 45# KB for the swings.

  9. Steph says:

    Thanks to everybody for cheering me on and to the guys for helping me readjust the bar every time I dropped it. Couldn’t have done it without all the encouragement!

    It was great having Michell work with us, she’s tough! Like Sara said we had 4 people in our group but we made it work. I think this was one of those rare times where I was actually looking forward to the burpees, only 9!

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