March 19, 2011
March 23, 2011
Boxing Day

While boxes would figure prominently into CFDC’s workout on Sunday, class began with everyone’s feet off the ground entirely.

Part 1: Ring Work

Inversion – with a firm grasp on the rings, tuck your feet in, lean back so that you invert your body, and then attempt to straighten your legs (up towards the ceiling).

Inversion to Tuck – from the inverted position, tuck your legs back into your body and roll backwards just slightly till you are almost looking down at the floor, and then roll back to the inverted position.

Skin the Cat – following the progression above, you should get yourself inverted, roll back, and now allow your legs to un-tuck, reaching your toes towards the floor; when you’ve reached your limit, bring your legs back in towards your body, roll back the inverted position, and then lower self down.

For more explanation, as well as pictures, tutorials, and a lot more basic ring exercises, check out Drills and Skills (, and especially this article entitled Got Rings?

Part 2: Box Squats

Box squats are tremendously valuable for developing explosive strength – by deloading the legs in the bottom of the squat, you force the muscles of the posterior chain to work extra hard to re-tighten before pushing the weight back up to standing. A few reminders about box squats:

– The box should be low enough so that the crease of your hips is just below your knees when sitting;

– As with ALL squats, your hips should move back first, rather than knees bending first, and your shins should stay perpendicular to the floor (his will probably require a slightly wider stance than you are used to using);

– Continue to push the hips back and slowly control your descent until you are sitting on the box, do NOT flop onto the box;

– Sit back slightly until you feel your legs are de-loaded (you should be able to raise the balls of your feet off the ground if someone were to ask you to do so) – don’t bounce on the box, and don’t touch and go;

– Most Important when box squatting, when you sit on the box, and de-load your legs, you are NOT deloading your upper body! The trick is to allow the legs to relax while maintaining a tense upper body – tight arch, shoulders retracted, and a big chest;

– Now, really tighten up the legs, and without leaning forward, drive the weight up off the box, exploding upwards as fast as you can move the weight.

Check out this great video of Dave Tate from Westside Barbell reviewing the box squat:

Part 3: 1 x AMRAP Pull-Ups

One shot to get as many pull-ups as you can.

Part 4: 50 Burpees for time

Awesome, awesome work all around. You are sure to be sore, so please take in all the necessary fluids today. Also, check out yesterday’s post regarding the change in schedule for the CrossFit Games Open Qualifiers first workout!

See everyone Tuesday; until then, please post weights for the box squats, number of pull-ups, and time for the burpees to comments.



  1. Steph says:

    I really liked the box squats, it was my first time doing them, I worked with Amelia and Diane.

    I was able to comfortably get 124lbs. I think I could’ve gotten at least 10lbs more, but that was our 8th set and since it was the first time all 3 of us had done them, we made our jumps small at the beginning not knowing what we were getting in to.

    Are box squats supposed to feel easier or harder than regular squats? They felt easier for me. Does that indicate that I’m doing something wrong for my regular squats or that I am weak in certain muscles used for regular squats but not box squats? I feel for the box squats I used my inner thighs a lot more with the wider stance. It was also easier to push the knees out, which is a point we stress for all kinds of squatting movements.

  2. Julia says:

    Great review – thanks, Chris!

    On the box squats: the wide, toes-out stance took some getting used to. Never had to think about channeling my inner ballerina in the weight room before. No matter. I’m always up for trying something new!

    More to the point, I can see how they reinforce good squatting mechanics, especially when it comes to controlling the descent. Having to sit back onto the box forced me to push my hips (and center of gravity) *back* on the way down – rather than simply dropping below parallel. When I get sloppy on conventional back squats, it’s often because I’m rushing the descent – bouncing down (and counting on being able to bounce back up), which tips my weight forward, onto my toes: not ideal. So for me, at least, box squats should be really helpful in ‘grooving’ better movement patterns.

  3. Tom Brose says:

    Steph, overall we can expect the box squat to max out about 15-20% lighter than a back squat, so in this sense they may be “harder”. For YOU, where hyperflexibility (to the point of lack of stability) is the limiting factor, the limited ROM may make this a lot more manageable. I’d definitely expect that everyones inner thighs will be feeling it today.

    Julia, as we discussed, this will help move you away from a bit of quad dominance. The key to all squatting is maintaining the rigid spine under load, and this is a great way to get that feel.

  4. Sara says:

    So I worked up too 155 on the box squats. Initially I was not exploding off the box on my way up. instead I was moving as controlled as I did going down. Then Tom corrected me and I saw a big difference. Felt that the most difficult part for me was having the bar sitting higher on my back than I am use too.

    I finished with 23 pull-ups. This was not a PR but is the most I have done in a while.

    I think I finished the burpees in 3:47 or 3:49.