January 7, 2011
January 12, 2011
Back In Action

Congratulations to all of the Olympic weightlifters for some great lifting on Saturday – be sure to check the end of this post for more on the competition. There was also some great lifting in Sunday’s class.

After warm-up, the entire class was given one goal: in 30min, find a one rep max back-squat. The time constraint and bar sharing meant that it would take planning to achieve a max effort number. For those who had never attempted a 1RM before on the back squat, it was a good time to see just what they were capable of.

1 Rep Max: Testing or Training
We spend a lot of time trying to get stronger, and use a variety of approaches, yet we rarely attempt 1 rep max lifts. As a training method, however, this is far from efficient. It is important to KNOW your 1RM; the vast majority of strength programs (and all of the proven upper-tier programs) base their workload off of it. When we undertake strength workouts, heavy sets should not be a random crap-shoot of numbers and missed lifts. Rather, it should be a logical progression of weight based on what you are capable of and where you want your program to get you to. As such, it is important that you remember your 1RM from Sunday – we will start working-in percentage-based lifts and exercises based on your 1RM.

Spotting: Part & Parcel to Max Effort Training
While the use of bumpers makes dropping the weights fairly easy and can promote safety, the back squat is one lift where spotting can be a necessity. Ideally, in a heavy back squat, the weight would be pushed backwards off the lifters shoulders when they were in trouble. However, in reality, the tendency of an exhausted body in a heavy back squat is to lose core (mid-line) stability, causing the weight to pull the lifter forward. In this position, dropping the weight behind is impossible. Instead, a spotter is needed to step in, curling their arms under the lifters and placing their hands on the front of the lifters chest and shoulders, thereby righting the lifter and then guiding them into the rack. For heavy weights, it is also a smart idea to have two additional spotters at each end of the bar to help lift the weight.

Some great work through-out class, and some great numbers; again – be sure to remember your final weight, as these will be used as a determining factor for an upcoming workout.

To finish things off, teams of four were created for a team met-con:
1-15 Squats, 1-12 Sit-ups, 1-9 Burpees; 2 teammates performed 1 squat, then the other 2 performed 1 squat, the the first 2 performed 2 squats, then the other 2 performed 2 squats. This continued until all reps in the ladder were completed.

Baltimore Open 2011 Olympic Weightlifting Championship Recap

CFDC rolled into Dumbarton Gym on Saturday with 6 lifters, 2 coaches, 6 supporters, and a lot of determination. It was a great experience; the Dumbarton crew put on really good competition and for those of us who competing for the first time, it was an eye-opening glimpse into a unique portion of the fitness community. Many thanks to Mike and Tom for coaching, including massive amounts of time spent coordinating warm-ups and lift-attempts, which is a confusing process of “hurry-up and wait” style-planning. Also, a lot of thanks and appreciation to Sara, Julia, Steph, and Sophia Arend & friends for cheering, encouraging, and picture-taking. Speaking of pictures, be sure to check back for results to go along with everyone’s photos:

Sebastian Vaneria: 6for6, 160kg total (S=65, C&J=95), 6th Place Novice, 85kg Division

Tom Arend: 3for6, 150kg total (S=60, C&J=90), 3rd Place Novice, 94kg Division

Steve Opiyo: 4for6, 180kg total (S=80, C&J=100), 2nd Place Novice, 94kg Division

Chris Sheppard: 5for6, 195kg total (S=85, C&J=110), 1st Place Novice, 94kg Division

Reggie Wallace: 4for6, 130kg Total (S=60, C&J=70), 3rd Place Novice, 105kg Division

Jennifer Sargent: 4for6, 97kg total (S=41, C&J=56), 1st Place Women’s Novice, 94kg Division

Mike Choi: Coach Extraordinaire!


  1. Maiko D. says:

    Congrats to all who competed Saturday!! 😀

    Funny “had to bail on back squat 1-rep max effort solo” story – A while back I got stuck at the bottom of a 175# squat and just couldn’t get up. Naturally I freaked for a few seconds. Fortunately I do high-bar back squats instead of low-bar, because I just let go of the bar and let it roll down my palms and back. Very uncomfortable though, and noisy. No slam against low-bar back squats, it’s just I don’t know if I could have done the same thing in that case.

    Ok, so it’s not a funny story. But yeah, get a spotter.

  2. TomandAmi says:

    Thanks to everyone for their support at the meet Saturday.

  3. SBV says:

    I had three reasons for competing in the Baltimore Open: (1) to focus on Olympic weightlifting for a few months; (2) to establish personal records in the snatch and clean & jerk in an effort to increase my capacity for CrossFit competitions; and (3) to gain more competitive experience. Rarely does it happen, but I met, and even exceeded, all of my goals.

    In addition to our regular CFDC classes, I spent Wednesdays and Saturdays working with Tom and Mike on technique. I learned a ton about the movements and how certain mobility restrictions were hampering my lifts. At the meet, I snatched 143#, a personal record by more than 5#, and I clean & jerked 209#, and personal record by more than 10#. And, of course, I gained amazing competition experience. The pace was fast and furious during the meet. To be honest, it was such a blur that I can’t remember my last two snatch attempts.

    Of course, many thanks to Tom and Mike for world-class coaching. I love that I’ve ended up in this amazing little community with such great coaches and people.

    The fun doesn’t stop! Sunday was another day, another 20# personal record on the back squat. I lifted 287#. I think 315# (3 wheels) is in the near future.

    No more heavy lifting for me over the next few weeks. Time to get the conditioning up to speed for Charlottesville. See you Tuesday.

  4. Sara says:

    Congrats to all the competitors this weekend. It was a blast watching your achievements.

    Well I work with a low bar back squat position. My sets were as follows:

    2×145 (or 150) don’t remember
    1×210 (with a little assistance)

    I had a very unusual sticking point. I got stuck about 2/3-3/4 the way back up. Chris indicated my chest came forward a bit at that point (the likely cause for getting stuck). I suspect it may have been because I was wearing my oli lifting shoes. I know that I have a bit of dificulty if wearing VFFs or barefoot to backsquat because I feel I don’t have as much stable base. But sounds like the heel lift on the oli shoes may be creating a different issue. Maybe I need yet another pair of shoes (chucks) for squats.

    There was some really great work being done in my group, as I am sure there was at everyone elses bar as well. Nice workout. It is not often we get a chance to attempt 1RMs.

  5. Jennifer says:

    Hey Everyone,

    Thanks so much for making me a part of the CFDC family!!! It was awesome being at the meet with so many supporters and friends. Congratulations to all who lifted and an abundance of thanks to everyone who showed up to support. and a special thanks to Sara for taking so much video. I can’t thank MIke and Tom enough for the coaching!


  6. ppetersan says:

    Wow! Congrats to everyone who competed. I continue to be impressed by the CFDC community. Unfortunately, I won’t see you folks tonight as I think I have the flu, but hope to be there on Thursday.