June 1, 2011
June 6, 2011
Rap Your Overhead Around This!

For many of us, OHS are not what we would consider a “fun” movement. They’re a technical nightmare, requiring all sorts of mobility and balance, on top of flexibility, strength, and coordination. We’ve covered set-up and execution (See blog post from Friday, February 11, 2011), as well as why OHS and other overhead exercises can be so damn frustrating (See blog post from Sunday, November 14, 2010).

However, I’ve never tried to explain OHS in a way that would make it fun for all of us. I then devised a plan to write a cool OHS rap, post in on You Tube, garner a legion of fans who think I’m not only strong as hell, but also witty and cute. Sadly, Sage Burgener beat me to it – yes, THE Sage Burgener, Olympic lifter since the age of two, USA National Jr Weightlifting Champ, daughter of Oly God Mike Burgener, CF Invictus Coach and all around fitness rock star (or rap start I guess). And since she is stronger than I am, wittier than I am, and definitely cuter than I am, so it’s probably best that you just jump to her blog and check out her rap: OHS-where you’ll make your “chedda”

Rapping aside, Sage goes on to further explain the OHS this way:

“If you can hold a barbell overhead with heavy weight on it, comfortably, then you are on the right track. Its all about holding it with your body. Let me repeat that so I can make this more dramatic.. ITS ALL ABOUT HOLDING IT WITH YOUR BODY. Too many times we try to manipulate that bar overhead with our arms. We think that all those curls for the girls will finally pay off and we start relying on “muscling” that bar into place. If you do that, you will fail miserably and may possibly become a worse person. The key is to find the right place overhead (typically right behind the ears), and hold it there without letting the bar move ONE millimeter. You want to feel your traps, your lats, EVERYTHING pushing straight up on the bar. You need to be in control of the bar, do not let the bar be in control of you (deep…i know…)”

Well said. Of course, the OHS aren’t made any easier when the workout combines them with running, which is about the fastest way to demolishing your mid-line stability for the OHS.

Workout: 3 x 400m run, 15 OHS, 15 K2E/30 Sit-Ups, 15 OHS, 15 K2E/30 Sit-Ups

The workout was done in teams of 2 or 3, with teammates rotating through the OHS and K2E/Sit-Ups before hitting the run together (i.e., each run had to be started as a team). Time was kept, but not recorded, so if you can remember your team’s time, post it to comments.

Great work all around – a lot of attention to form, and a lot of wise decisions in choosing or switching to manageable weights. There were a few announcements made at the end of class that are well worth repeating:


CrossFit Mid-Atlantic Regionals

The Mid-Atlantic Regionals are being held this weekend out in Fairfax, Virginia at the George Mason University Field House Complex. The competition begins this Friday at 10:00AM and runs until roughly 3:30PM. You can find more information on the Mid-Atlantic Regionals by clicking on the image above and jumping to the Games website.

I would highly encourage any and all to go watch at least a bit of the competition, as it is truly inspiring. Better yet, coordinate your efforts and go cheer on our own Dan Samarov! Dan is scheduled to start at 2:00PM today, so be sure to wish him luck.


CFE & Competitor Magazine

Be sure to grab a copy of this month’s Competitor Magazine highlighting Brian McKenzie and CrossFit Endurance. We are lucky to have a number of endurance athletes at CFDC, and we are beginning to incorporate more endurance aspects into our training , especially run mechanics, and this article really lays out the benefits of the CFE training regimen. Copies of the magazine are free, and you can find them in the Balance Gym lobby, as well as at any local athletic store (City Sports, Fleet Feet, etc.) If you have any questions about the article, run mechanics, or how to start incorporating more of the CFE regimen into your workouts, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment or shoot me an e-mail.

CFDC Social

It’s been way too long since we had off-site get together, and Brendan has been kind enough to take the lead. Here are the details:

Date: Friday, June 10th
Time: 7 pm to ?
Place: Ireland’s Four Fields
3412 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC 20008

Ireland’s Four Fields is located 2 block’s north of the National Zoo and right next to the Uptown Theater. It is extremely metro accessible; just get off at the Cleveland Park Metro Station On the Red Line and walk half a block south on Connecticut Ave. An evite should go out shortly, so be sure to respond so we can have a good estimate of how many to expect.



  1. Kenna says:

    Do first commenters get a prize? or maybe are exempt from any blourpees (burpees as the result of a blog)?

    The Crossfit Endurance stuff sounds awesome! I’m glad we’re incorporating more into our workouts.

    OHS are definitely challenging. I was lifting 35lbs, and I had to cut the reps down to 10. Stabilization is definitely hardest thing on these for me.

    Also, yay DCFC Social!

  2. Julia says:

    This was great! I really like the challenge of OHS, and it was great to do some running on such a beautiful evening.

    Quick question – why use abmats for situps? Is it a safety thing?

    Nice job Anthony and Ben for working through the OHS, and good luck to Dan this weekend!

    Also – Brian McKenzie/CFE feature available for download here: http://www.competitor-digital.com/competitor/201106#pg46

  3. Kenna says:

    I’m lysdexic. *CFDC

    @Julia Thanks for the link!

  4. Nick says:

    Ok, I was told to leave a post so we do not have to do burpees (or bends and thrusts as we called them in the Marine Corps).
    The class was great and I am learning a lot about proper techniques when lifting. Thanks!

  5. Ethan says:

    That was the worst workout for me in months….mostly because my right arm went numb from the OHS. Still some lingering numbness today. Hopefully will be back at it on Sunday.

  6. Dian says:

    Best of luck this weekend Dan!

    So OHS are not my favorite but I think I am slowly improving. It was great working with Stephanie who was very patient with me. Many thanks to her and Chris for the coaching. I used the 30lb bar. I did only 2 sets of 15 reps. I cut the reps down to 10 for the remaining 4 sets. I enjoyed how this workout was structured with the run and the situps.

    Printing out the CrossFit Endurance information now (thanks for the link Julia).

    And, I ordered Nick to leave a comment. 🙂

  7. edgy reggie says:

    I’m glad “C-Bass” (Sebastian/SBV) chose the weight for the overhead squats; though I believe that I could have added an extra 2.5 kg on each side. 🙂 (Brendan, Sebastian, and I performed the OHS at 40 kg.)

    I think that we finished the workout in 27:00 and some change (correct me if I am wrong).

    I’m one of the few who enjoys performing overhead squats (challenging as they may be). These were the first overhead squats that I have done while wearing cross-trainers, and they weren’t too bad. Once I got into my groove, I was fine (even though I still hear Coach’s voice in my head tell me “Deeper!”). 🙂

    I wasn’t feeling the run last night even though it was short, and the weather was very conducive to running. [That’s all I’m going to say; I may get some eyerolls (and sighs) and a few “Yes, Reg(gie), we get it: You hate running.”]. 🙂

    All-in-all, it was another “someone-pissed-in-Coach’s-Wheaties-so-he-will-take-it-out-on-us-ass-kicking” workout. 🙂 🙂 Everyone did a great job in finishing under 30:00.

    Thanks to everyone for the enouragement. 🙂

    Post-class: Iyengar yoga with Winnie in Bethesda. With respect to the squat (be it back, front, or overhead), I have noticed an increase in flexibility (and range of motion) in my shoulders, ankles, and hips as a result of performing yoga. I also feel that yoga has helped with my balance in the overhead squat. Just sayin’. 🙂

    Regionals at GMU: I’m planning to see “Dan-imal” (Dan) and Josh Courage (who is a friend of CrossFit DC) this afternoon (June 3). Maybe I’ll see some of you at GMU (that’s assuming that I can get in the front door). 🙂

    “Not too bad for an old man” -CFDC’s own ODB

  8. edgy reggie says:

    @Salty: I think that you could make a better rap than Sage. Her rap was a little “whick-whick-whack.” 🙂

    Her blog on the overhead squat, on the other hand, was not. 🙂

  9. edgy reggie says:

    Here’s a link to another good CrossFit-related article: http://www.competitor-digital.com/competitor/201103#pg42

    A link to Kelly’s Mobility WoD website is available on the CrossFit DC blog website. 😉

  10. SBV says:

    Ethan and I are heading over to Regionals on Saturday morning. It’s fun to watch the top athletes compete, but I particularly enjoy watching how they warm-up, fuel, and cool-down. There’s definitely something to be learned there.

    Also, I had the same numbness in my shoulder/arm last summer at CrossFit Charlottesville after a similar workout. I remember it being still numb the next morning. I’m pretty sure it’s just a minor impingement of some sort in the shoulder due to the excessive strain on the shoulder joint during high-rep OHS. I’d trade some numbness any day, however, to have Gretchen be my coach again. Sigh.

  11. Mark Minukas says:

    I liked this workout. It was definitely a solid test of midline stability to go from runs to OHS to situps.

    I surprised myself by getting all of the OHS’ unbroken. I think a lot of this is due to off-day stretching I’ve been doing in the shoulders and hammies and generally trying to improve my squat technique – particularly staying back on the heels and maintaining the lumbar curve in my back. The form breaks down at times still, but its getting better.

    Nice job all around from everyone. Ethan fighting through numbness may not have been the smartest thing, but it was still motivating! Salty made the OHS’s look too easy too.

    Julia – I saw your question on the Abmat. From what I know, the Abmat is used on the situps to force the mid-part of your abs to engage. Without it, only the top of your abs, then your hip flexors get engaged. The Abmat fills that gap between your lower back and the floor and gives your mid-abs something to work against. Anyone else have a different understanding?

  12. SBV says:

    I think that’s correct, Mark. I also find that an Ab-Mat forces your stomach to fully extend, similar to GHD sit-up. That’s assuming the particular Ab-Mat hasn’t been flattened down after six years of abuse at Balance Gym.

  13. Julia says:

    Thanks, guys.

    So here’s why safety was my guess – I’ve heard coaches talk about situps and the negative long-term consequences of doing them at high volume, due to excessive lumbar loading. I won’t pretend to understand the physics and physiology involved in that discussion, but is that concern still relevant today? (should I be very, very afraid of doing situps?) and do abmats make any difference?

    Much of this is beyond me, but here’s Stuart McGill on situps and lumbar loading: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11415551

    And here: http://www.newsweek.com/blogs/the-human-condition/2009/06/03/stop-doing-sit-ups-why-crunches-don-t-work.html

  14. Brendan says:

    Good Luck Dan! Great work by everyone on the OHS.

  15. Sara says:

    Well I have to say… I Love OHS even when I have a bad day with them. I did OHS 2x on Thursday. In the metcon I used 65lbs. They were pretty good I got all sets unbroken. I probably could have gone heavier but didn’t want to push cause I have been having a little wrist soreness with OH things such as OHS, pressing and jerks. This was the first time I did a OHS-running workout where my back didn’t completely tense up.

    I will be at the regionals all weekend. Congrats to Dan on his first day at regionals.

    Nice work to everyone in class. Way to push through the tough workout Ben. It was great to work with you and Julia.

  16. edgy reggie says:

    Regionals update: Watching these athletes perform was fun (in a crazy, CrossFit way).

    I missed the ladies performing workout #1 (1000m run, 50 handstand pushups, 1000m row), and I missed Josh’s and Dan’s first workout.

    But I did get to see the second workout (single barbell thruster ladder performed within twenty seconds; gradually move up in weight) for both the ladies and the fellas. I sense that we may see a workout similar to this at CrossFit DC.

    It was also great to see Jerry Hill, Brian Wilson (though I didn’t get a chance to say “Hello”), Alex “Red Viking” Lofgren, and Andrea Seward.

    [Josh and Lindsay: If you are reading this, welcome back to the East Coast :-)]

    My impression is that this regional is well-run and that the GMU Field House is an excellent venue for an event like this. If you can make it there on either Saturday (June 4) or Sunday (June 5), go. 🙂

  17. SaltyHat says:

    Mark, way to put that L1 to good use! So, yes, as Mark pointed out, the primary function of the abmat is efficiency of movement, although I would also agree with Sebastian that it helps open up the midsection on the eccentric phase as well, provided you lay all the way back. There is some safety benefit to the abmats, but probably not as it concerns the articles Julia posted links to – I’m guessing those focus on unnatural curving and loading of the spine during the setup (guessing because I don’t have computer access at the moment and so am simply typing this out on my phone).

    And Mark, if I made the OHS look easy, then you made the runs look doubly so, especially that last one.

    @Kenna: your reward for being first to post is being placed in charge of ensuring that Anthony leaves a comment! And don’t word, my mom was also part of D.A.M.:Mothers Against Dyslexia…

    @Julia: thx for thinking to put up the link; clearly I was not on top of my game this morning.

    @Nick: nice to have you commenting, even if it was under duress from Dian (you definitely would not want to be responsible for making her do burpees!)

    @Ethan: hope your elbow’s feeling better. Way to be smart and switch over to front squats for the last round.

  18. Ben says:

    Thanks, Sara! It was good working with you too. I definitely appreciate all the tips/patience on technique – I want to be sure to get it right!

  19. SaltyHat says:

    Ben, nice to have you commenting! Great work on the OHS; your attention to form and desire to improve show, and your lifts are coming along really quickly. Nice work.

  20. Hey guys – I really did try to get in one of these earlier… guess it didn’t take. Looking forward to getting back into the crossfit routine tonight! I decided it would be bad form to begin by inaugurating my return with communal burpees…