October 14, 2011
October 19, 2011

The title of today’s post should indicate that two pieces of equipment were prominently figured in Sunday’s class: barbells and plyo boxes.

6 x 2 Power Cleans + 3 Seated Box Jumps

An interesting combination to be sure, but one that definitely had it’s desired effect of over-emphasizing the correlation between the two movements.

Both movements start at the bottom in an unloaded, but contracted position. What does that mean? Unlike a squat, where you descend into the contracted bottom position with the weight (thereby creating an elastic tension in your muscles), both the clean and seated box jump begin in the bottom position, but with no elasticity built up in the muscles. Instead, a lifter must attempt to heavily contract their muscles in order to move the weight, and whether that’s moving a barbell off the ground or moving their body weight off the ground, the demands are extremely similar.

Another similarity between cleans and seated box-jumps is the demand for “full extension,” that key point in a lift where an athlete’s shoulders are driven sky ward by the force of their hips exploding into the fully open position. Hitting full extension ensures that we are being as efficient as possible, and requires that we avoid pulling early in either movement (with the arms in the clean, or the legs in the box jumps).

While the clean and seated box-jump both avoid the building up elastic tension in the muscles by starting in an un-weighted, bottom position, there is a way to remove that tension from the squat: the box squat.

3 x 5 Box Squats

We’ve followed seated box jumps with box squats before (see our August 22 blog-post), but the box jumps weren’t paired with power cleans in that workout. Would that make a difference? Bet on it.

The box squats also gave a few CFDCers a chance to play with the safety-squat bar, something Ben’s been intimately familiar with for a few weeks now:

Hollow Position Progression

Class closed out with a review of the hollow position – with the low pressed into the floor rather than arched – using the progression as a finishing core workout, with each of the following positions held for ~30sec:
– Knees bent and both feet & hands on the floor with back pressed into the floor;
– Knees pulled into the chest, shoulders up and hands over head;
– One leg extended with shoulders up and hands over head;
– Alternate leg extended with shoulders up and hands over head; and,
– Both legs extended with shoulders up and hands over head.

No met-con this time around, which usually means that something fun is lurking around the corner. Hopefully everyone was able to get out and enjoy the awesome fall weather DC is experiencing right now. Speaking of enjoying, aren’t we past due for a CFDC get-together?


Join us for a CFDC Happy Hour this coming Friday at Madam’s Organ!
Time: Friday, October 21st, from 6pm onwards.
Where: Madam’s Organ is located at 2461 18th Street NW, in the heart of Adams Morgan.
Many thanks to Erica Merson and Adam Smith for helping arrange and secure us a few spots.


  1. edgy reggie says:

    Power cleans & seated box jumps: The power cleans were a continuation of my “regular” Olympic weightlifting training (and contest preparation for Saturday, October 22). I worked with “Easy E” (Ethan), and we used 60 kg for the cleans and the 26″(?) box. As the sets progressed, I felt better with my performance on the cleans. I noticed that Sara’s form and technique for the squat cleans were on-point (and I was admiring them from a distance). I also noticed that everyone was utilizing better technique as the sets progressed.

    Each time I use a taller box, I feel more confident in my box jumps (especially while wearing weightlifting shoes)…until I was an unintentional recipient of Sara’s and Ben’s “jinx” (i.e., slamming one’s shin into the box while attempting a seated jump). Fortunately, all of us recovered and finished the workout. [I noticed that “Ms. Badass Giggles” (aka Julia) utilizing the box Ethan and I were using for seated box jumps. Hey, three is a magic number. :-)]

    I felt so good (shin-slam notwithstanding) that i did seven sets. 🙂

    Box squats: I used the safety squat bar for the first time in a long time. I had forgotten how useful it is; everyone should try box squats or back squats with the safety bar (it weighs eighty pounds unloaded, by the way) at least once. My sets were 130# x 5, 170# x 5, and 190# x 5. I used the smallest box with a 45# bumper on top for the seat.

    No met-con? Say whaaaaat? 🙂 I was ready for one. Oh well, I know that Tuesday’s class will be a “fun” one.

    I made my contribution for a blourpee-free class on Tuesday (and I’m not even in one of the photographs). 🙂

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

  2. Steph says:

    First Sunday back from China, it was good to get some lifting in after watching Chris lift so much in Beijing.

    I worked with Dian. We used 60lbs for the cleans. Tom was calling me out on not moving my feet into the squat position after the power clean and I had trouble doing that repeatedly so in the end I just did squat cleans. Squat cleans felt good, 60lbs didn’t feel heavy and the hip feels good today so will up the weight a tiny bit next time we do cleans. I skipped out on the seated box jumps but tried a few regular box jumps and feel like I might be able to do low-rep box jumps in the not too far future. Yay!

    For the box squats, Dian and I worked up to 85lbs and stayed there. I haven’t done heavy squats in awhile and even 85lbs felt heavy. Time to get back under the bar! Chris had a good tip that I should take a deep breath in to my stomach instead of just in my chest, that it will help keep my core tight and stable. Need to remember that.

    Looking forward to a sweaty metcon on Tuesday and very excited about the CFDC HH on Friday! Thanks to Erica, Adam and Chris. Adam, ribs please!!!!

  3. edgy reggie says:

    On a different subject: Isn’t “Today’s Daily Workout of the Day” (or TDWoD) a title that comes from the Department of Redundancy Department?

    Just sayin’… 🙂

  4. Katie says:

    No blourpees!

    Thanks for capturing one of the few box squats I did on camera. Tom was right, even if I don’t look down, the box is still there!

    I think the Elements met-con needs to be posted so everyone can scale it and feel the love. Thanks to everyone for the encouragement, I can’t believe I finished that one!

  5. Dian says:

    It was great working with Steph on her first Sunday back. I swam before class which may not have been a particularly good idea. My legs were feeling pretty wobbly by the time we got to the box squats.

    I really admired everyone’s form on the cleans. Stephanie gets set so nice and low at the bar while my butt is just swinging in the air. I had varying degrees of success on my cleans. Always fun to practice them.

    Gosh, holding those positions in the hollow position hurt like heck.

  6. Erica says:

    Funny how cleans always seem to be on the agenda when I’m not there…

  7. Julia says:

    Really helpful explanation – thanks, Chris.

    Great working with Adam on cleans (give or take 50#, anyway…), and Greg and Sara on squats. And Reggie, of course I couldn’t do box jumps without my box jump buddy!

    Nice solid Sunday, looking forward to Tuesday, and HH on Friday!

  8. Sara says:

    Katie-you did great on the workout bs stuck around for more afterward. Nice job and nice photo of you with the box squats.

    I was really focusing on my sweep into the pocket for cleans. I have been getting pretty comfortable with that for snatch (although still a ways to go with snatch) but just started focusing on it with cleans. It’s a little tougher with cleans because hands have a more narrow grip on the bar. They felt much faster than my cleans have been and more in control. I started with About 49kg on the bar. Dropped to 45kg after 1 set cause I wanted good form and to continue focusing on the pocket position so I used a lighter drill weight. On the fourth set of seated box jumps the seat was too close to the box for me and my left leg lagged a bit on my jump so I got it under the box I was jumping too and scrapped my shin all the way up. That hurt all the way down to the bone and even in the ankle a bit. I had to walk it off and then I was able to do another set.

    When I got to box squats I was only able to do a couple sets. The last couple times I have tries them I have noticed that even with the focus on pressing the knees out and reach the hips back I would have pain in my knee once I got about 1/4of the way on the squat. Not sure if it is the really slow controlled decent or what but it made me stop when I felt in in the knee.

    I really like the hollow position holds. It feels so nice on the lower back.

    Thank you Reggie for the compliment. Working hard to build that muscle memory and CNS conditioning.

  9. edgy reggie says:

    @Erica: Hmmmm… 🙂

  10. Ethan says:

    Good workout to get out all of the “kinks” in my body. Really needed that stretching session at the end as well.
    Going to be a tough workout tonight I think.

  11. Ben says:

    It was fun to get some power clean work in on Sunday. Enjoyed the seated box jumps and I was able to add some height toward the end of the workout as I started feeling more comfortable.

    This was my first go-round using the safety squat bar for box squats. Still feel like I am trying to get the hand of the box squat movement, but if soreness is an indication of effectiveness, I am doing something right.

  12. Greg says:

    Thanks to Sara for helping me with my box squats. I’m getting more comfortable with them, but I could feel it yesterday.