October 24, 2011
October 28, 2011

Lots and lots of scapular work on Tuesday, with a wee little met-con tossed into the middle of class.

Kipping Progressions

We started off post warm-up working everyone through a few reps of the Supine Kipping Drill Blog. Back in July, we reviewed the supine kipping drill, accompanying it with a good three frame picture detailing set up and execution(you can review that blog post HERE). The one adjustment we made to the drill was to have everyone start from a good hollow position to better mimic the position from which you would initiate the kip you’re on the bar.

We followed this up with a few rounds of kipping practice hanging from the bars. Those athletes with less than 5 strict pull-ups started off with hanging scapular retractions. (Also covered in the same July blog post mentioned above, along with a great pic of Sara demoing the movement). The scapular retraction is an essential part of any pull-up, kipping or strict.

After that, we progressed into kipping on the bar. This involved simply the back and forth kip; no pull-ups were involved. Your progression to kipping pull-ups should logically follow a progression of (A) at least 5 strict pull-ups (to ensure you have the shoulder strength to stabilize during the kipping), (B) a proper kip (simply the back and forth motion), and then (C) kipping pull-ups. Often times athletes are tempted to skip part (B), or worse both (A) and (B), worrying less about the kip than about the kipping pull-up. Develop your kip, and the pull-ups will come; it’s all about efficiency.

There was a lot of improvement last night. This is a movement we’ll be revisiting soon. Until then, continue to practice and throw any questions you have our way.

15min AMRAP of 7 DB Thrusters, 1/2Ct Bear Crawl, 21 DUs

RX’d weight for men was 1/2 body weight in DBs; for women was 1/3 of body weight in DBs (i.e., as a 200lb male, I would grab 50lb DBs so that, together, the equal half my body weight). Sub for the DUs was 14 Mountain Climbers along with 42 DUs. Of course, if you were recovering from a torn pec, you really got off easy with med-ball cleans (for thrusters) and tire pushes (for the bear crawl) – mmmmmm, toasty quads.

Top score was 12 full rounds put in by Steph, with Dan not far behind turning in 11 full rounds plus 7 thrusters.

3 x 20 Scap Push Ups and 10 Paloff Press

Again with the scapular retraction! Just as important as the hanging scapular retractions are for pull-ups, scap push-ups are the key to bettering your push-ups. Pulling the scapula back and down prevents the shoulders from rolling forward during push-ups, keeping the movement based in your chest muscles rather than the muscles.

We combined with these with some partner-assisted paloff presses to help emphasize stability (you know, just a touch more core work to finish things off!)

Awesome work, especially on the kipping skill work. There is one thing that I would like to address though:

Substitutions for Exercises

In particular, I wanted to follow up on a comment that was made last night (which, I fully realize, was probably made in jest, but which brings up a good point that tends to arise at least once a year):

Subs for exercises are NOT punishment, nor will they ever be. In fact, the closest we ever come to punishment in class are blourpees (and, really, that’s more encouragement than punishment). Substitute movements approximate the energy required to accomplish the originally prescribed movement (assuming the substitution is being made for non-medical reasons).
So, for example, the sub for DUs last night included mountain climbers along with single skips. This was to raise the cardio/energy requirements of the sub to the level of exertion required by the DUs. Our goal as coaches is to provide everyone in class with an option that will allow them to accomplish the workout WHILE AT THE SAME TIME still meeting the energy requirements.

So, could we let/make you do DUs even if you are horrible at them? Yes, but then you wouldn’t meet the energy demands of the workout, ending up with 2 or 3 rounds because you were doing the DUs one-at-a-time. Conversely, could we simply have you do more single skips? Yes, but single skips, even in greater volume, don’t approximate the energy demands of DUs – and, again, it would take so long as to limit your number of rounds and so would be no different than forcing you to do single DU’s.
Having personally struggled with Double Unders for ages, I can tell you that Tuesday’s substitution was a good one. More importantly, I can assure you it was not prescribed as punishment.


  1. edgy reggie says:

    Ummm…blourpees are encouragement when the class does not have to perform them and punishment when the class has to perform them. 🙂

    For the jump rope warm-up, I concentrated on performing the running (in place)-with-the-jump-rope Pose drill that Coach Salty has us do last Tuesday (October 18).

    Kipping progression: I liked the drills. Thanks again to Coach Salty for correcting my kipping form; I will be sure to practice that more. Now if there was a pull-up bar that was about six inches higher… 🙂

    Met-con: I grabbed the 50# dumbbells (the largest hex dumbbells available at Balance) and my jump rope. I was determined to do my best at achieving consecutive double-unders; sadly, that did not work out. On the up side (if there is one), I did “single” double-unders in all of my (*cough*) four (*cough*) rounds.

    I would like to add my two cents on Salty’s substitution blog comment. I agree with and fully understand why there are substitution exercises. I never think of them as punishment.

    In my case with the double-unders, I wanted to challenge myself to see if I string a few together. I felt that if I could go from being frustrated with last Tuesday’s Pose drill to what I did with the jump rope warm-up last night, why not give double-unders a try? I accepted the fact that my total rounds would be low(er) than what I could have achieved with the substitution, but I made a conscious decision to get better at double-unders…regardless of the number of rounds I complete. I still feel that I got a good workout in the process, and I wasn’t frustrated (I smiled as lot as I was doing the double-unders).

    I’m still going to practice double-unders on my own.

    All-in-all, I liked the workout. 🙂

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

  2. SBV says:

    Tom must have been in a bad mood when he programmed this one. Dumbbell thrusters and bear crawls? Those movements are flat-out brutal. Probably beneficial for all of us, though.

    Dumbbell thrusters are my long-time nemisis. Something about holding the dumbbell is my hands makes its impossible for me to reach full depth without losing mid-line stability. I end up doing a host of weird things with my ankles, knees, and elbows to manufacture full depth. Because they’re so brutal on me, I have to go extra slow and concentrate on each rep in order to do them correctly. Needless to say, I struggled last night.

    Best part of the night was how Mackenzie’s dog was staring at people while they were doing bear crawls.

  3. edgy reggie says:

    I forgot to add to my earlier comment welcome back Andrew! The haircut suits you. 🙂

  4. Amelia says:

    I tried working on the running jump roping and still can’t get the hang of it.

    Completely lost track of how many rounds I did in the met-con. It certainly felt like a lot! Concentrated on pushing through the single skips unbroken each round. Double unders are still a long way off for me.

  5. Katie says:

    My “scapular muscles” are feeling this workout today!

    I scaled with scapular retractions (seeing as how this was my first time on the bar). Thanks to Sara for the great tips, particularly on not death gripping the bar. My non-torn-up hands are thankful as well.

    The metcon was a definite “nauseator” for me. I find bear crawls are incredibly tough, yet not as tough as they were when I first tried them 2 weeks ago, so that’s a plus. I was proud to complete 4 rounds of them. I used 12.5# dumbbells for the thrusters, which were feeling very heavy by the end, but overall good. The toughest part was going right into mountain climbers after bear crawl (even scaled at 10 mountain climbers). I was 40 single skips away from finishing 4 rounds…so close!

    Thanks for the comments about substitution, good to know.

  6. Ethan says:

    That workout murdered me. Like Sebastian, dumbbell thrusters are my nemesis. I can handle barbell thrusters, but when those dumbbells come out, its another matter entirely.

    By the midway point, my shoulders were wiped which in turn hurt my quest for 21 unbroken double unders.

    P.S. I watched the drag queen race last night. Some of those guys must crossfit, because they were fast.

  7. Dan Samarov says:

    This one hurt… a lot. Came storming out of the gates on the first 3 rounds and quickly sputtered out. Think a bit more warm up would’ve gone a long way, but still, the dumbbell thrusters are absolute soul crushers, combining these with bear crawls was a recipe for disaster. Finished 11 + 7.

    Btw, I think I may have mentioned this to most CFDC folks at one point in time or another, but Deepak, myself and two other friends have started putting together a web based application that will allow both workout and nutrition logging as well as analysis of the trends associated with these inputs. Below is a bit more of a detailed blurb. The website is


    If this looks like something you’d be interested in please fill out the short personal info sheet, it’ll probably be a little while before we have everything totally open to the public. We are, however going to be starting off with a pilot study which will last about 3 months starting at the beginning of November, please let me know if you’d be interested in participating in this. Thanks!!!

    Short description of the web tool:
    • Using state-of-the-art mathematical and statistical models this tool will allow the user (from people looking to generally get healthier to elite athletes) to find and understand the various factors impacting their athletic performance output. The user will input diet, training, sleep, water intake etc over time and the back end analysis will provide the user with rich graphical, easy-to-understand visuals on how these inputs quantitatively affect performance output.

    • In addition, using training data collected over time and taking into account the users height, weight, sex (and possibly other biometrics) we will predict performance on future events and help the user better understand where their relative strengths and weaknesses are and suggest additional work they could do to improve in these areas. If this performance isn’t met or is incorrect we will be able to make suggestions by comparing across population on how they may modify their input to achieve higher performance.

  8. SaltyHat says:

    As expected, the thruster-bear combo was a brutal one. Increased comfort with double unders (or just jump roping) helps to save the shoulders; I mentioned in conversation last night that I think Steph took top honors because for her, the DU’s acted as an “active rest;” she is so efficient that she keeps extraneous movement down to a minimum. That’s not to say it’s easy, however.

    Katie, great work, and way to keep pushing. I was really impressed with how hard you worked to master the thrusters through out the course of that workout.

    Reggie, you are to be applauded for you effort in attempting DUs for the workout, but I fear that the result you ended up with is exactly the point of the original post. As someone who also struggles with DUs, I understand the desire is there, but by deciding to go with DU’s, I fear you may have converted the met-con into little more than a lengthy skill-session.

    The average score was roughly 7 complete rounds, if not 8, utilizing the DU substitution. 7 may not seem like much more than 4, but when you consider that equals at least 21 more thrusters, 3 more bear crawls, 42 more mtn climbers, and 126 more single skips, I think all of us can agree that there is a significant difference in work totals (which, in turn leads to much greater gains in overall fitness, which is the general point to a met-con).

    I don’t mean to pick on Reggie, who is clearly committed to bettering himself, but this serves as an excellent example of when to push to complete a workout as prescribed, and when not to.
    I would say that, for any workout with DUs, an athlete should be capable of hitting between 5-10 DUs at a time in order to undertake the workout doing DUs. Any lower than that, and the athlete will fail to achieve the primary goal, which is improved conditioning.

  9. Sara says:

    Nice workout! I tried to stay just 1 round behind Shepth by speeding through the bear crawl and thrusters but there was no sucess. Her DUs are just way too efficient for me to keep up. I struggled to put my DUs togther with fried shoulders from the thrusters and bear crawls. I ended with 9 DUs short of 8 rounds.

  10. Erica says:

    I’ve posted twice and it’s been deleted!! Grrrrr, I want to take ownership of the “punishment” comment, that was me. But I totally see your point and appreciate the response on the blog, because it’s true, we’re not being punished.

    I loved the metcon component of the workout, my shoulders were burning, but I’m glad I pushed through with the 20lb DBs. I’m definitely feeling it in the back and shoulders today. I look forward to the day when I get finally get a (kipping) pullup…

    In Boston today-Sunday so will miss you guys tonight and Sunday. Happy Hallowwwwwwweeen

  11. Ben says:

    Chris and Tom substituted a tire push instead of bear crawls for me and it took a lot more out of me than I expected. I ended up with 9 and 1/2 rounds and my quads were fried by the end of the workout.

    DUs are still a huge challenge for me. I can’t seem to string more than 4 or 5 together. Sounds like I am in good company though on the “I’ll keep trying” boat. Maybe someday Steph will just let us in on the secret to mastering DUs.

    Anyway, just want say thanks to Tom and Chris for always having modifications. It has been two months since I tore my pec and every single workout has an innovative/evil/sinister substitution so that I can keep training. Not every box would go out of their way to do that. Really appreciate it.

  12. Steph says:

    The secret to mastering DUs is… going to elementary school in China! We were too poor to have pools and all the cool stuff for gymnastics, so we were stuck with the cheap jump rope.

    But seriously, if anybody is interested, and I’ve done this for others before, I’d be more than happy to offer tips. The tips don’t often work instantly but could be helpful in the long run.

    Tuesday’s workout was fun! I did go light on the dbs so that’s probably also why I beat Dan. Worked with 15lb dbs and tried to really control my descend instead of my usual collapsing. Was super slow on the bear crawls and was glad that it wasn’t any longer so I could go through them without resting halfway. I had a good night with DUs, went unbroken for all of them, which hasn’t happened too often lately.

    Enjoyed reading about substitutions, and thanks to Chris and Tom for always able to come up with substitutions that provide as much of a burn as the prescribed exercises. Looking forward to tonight’s class!

  13. Tom Brose says:

    Isn’t Chris banned from hanging around schools in China?

  14. SaltyHat says:

    If they ban me, what’s excuse will you provide when they catch you lurking about, eh?