November 18, 2011
November 23, 2011

This was no episode of “The Dr’s,” but I trust it was enough to leave everyone with a good reminder of where our hamstrings are located (if you didn’t quite get the reference at the beginning of the sentence, don’t worry, there’s a nice little rant at the end of this post that will clue you in).

Strength 1:
6 x 3-5 Heavy Good Mornings

Increasing weight across sets, work through 6 sets of between 3 to 5 good mornings per set – all reps must be performed with good form (no rounded backs, no hinging at the waist, no squattish-GMs).

and since Good Mornings are to Deadlifts what Apples are to Apple Pie, it’s only appropriate that we followed up with a little bit of deadlifting.

Strength 2:
3 x
AMRAP Deadlift (Max 15reps), Rest 45 sec,
Hollow Position Hold for Time, Rest 45 sec,
Handstand Hold for Time, Rest 45 sec

Weight for the DLs were set at a minimum of 100% of body weight and a maximum of 150% of body weight. To complete the workout, perform as many DLs as possible (up to 15 reps), then rest 45 seconds before attempting to maintain a good hollow position for as long as possible. Then rest another 45 seconds before attempting to hold a good handstand as long as possible.

This triplet really emphasized the importance of postural control and it’s relationship among seemingly unrelated exercises. Sure it’s easy to concentrate on your form during the deadlift – we tend to harp on it enough. But the need to control the midsection isn’t a one-time deal, nor is it a one-way deal (and by one-way, I mean it’s not only about creating and keeping that beloved lumbar-arch position). If you don’t have enough control over your mid-section to keep your back from arching in the hollow position, or over-arching in the handstand, you probably won’t have enough control to keep it from rounding during a DL.

Now, speaking of maintaining good form…

If, by chance, you don’t follow the daytime talk-show “The Drs” (and I can’t imagine why any of you would), then you may have missed that most frightful of fitness flunkies, Jilian Michaels, giving CrossFit a try on national television last week. Please, feel free to catch up by watching the clip below:

Now, admittedly, I am not a fan of Ms. Michaels, and I loathe the show the Biggest Loser due, in large part, to her horrifying approach to training (coupled with her sicky-sweet screeching). However, all personal sentiments aside, that performance was abysmal. Her mechanics were what I would expect from someone beginning Foundations rather than a nationally recognized “fitness trainer” with, supposedly, at least 17 years of experience. Watch the clip again: see her knees caving in on every box jump? How about a complete inability to lock out the push press? Or to simply catch a dyna-max thrown at the ground? And on top of that, she was utterly gassed by a 2min workout.

Maybe you think I’m writing this to make fun of Jilian Michaels, and, well, you’d be right to some degree. However, there is a larger issue beyond pointing out that all of you are more technically proficient and fit than Jillian (and, after watching that video a few times, I do mean ALL OF YOU). It’s this: our collective-job as CrossFitters just became that much harder, because there are now thousands of people out there who are thinking to themselves “well, if an all-around awesome arrangement of awesomeness like Jillian Michaels struggles that much with CrossFit, I’ll never be able to do it!”

Although CrossFit isn’t for everyone, everyone CAN do CrossFit. Sure, there are people out there who like their routines and cling to them like a baby koala. There are people who don’t want to touch a weight, let alone clean and jerk a loaded barbell; they’re perfectly happy to run, /elliptical/yoga themselves into oblivion. That’s fine. Hey, at least they’re doing something. But that doesn’t mean they can’t. Nor does it mean anyone else can’t. Age, weight, sex, previous athletic experience (or lack there of) – none of these prevent anyone from doing CrossFit.

With the inexhaustible ways to scale a workout or substitute exercises, any movement, any workout, can be made to suit a persons abilities. We take pride at CFDC in practicing the “infinite scaleability” so many are quick to preach. There is little else that makes us as happy as being able to make things work for everyone who attends a class. True, not every coach out there will do this, and some are better than others, but now, because of Jilian Michaels gross display of coordination, it’s likely that few will even bother looking for a good coach. As such, we must now task all of you with the responsibility of assuring everyone with whom you discuss CrossFit that they CAN do CrossFit, and that there are coaches who can ensure that. Cheers.


  1. SBV says:

    Good mornings with the safety squat bar were absolutely brtual. Positional flaws are really amplified by that bar as it makes it incredibly difficult to maintain a tight position of both the upper and lower back. My magic number was 120 pounds. I could keep a tight back up to that weight, but anything over resulted in a loss of tension. It was actually really easy to feel — either the tension stayed on your hamstrings or it didn’t. Once I started losing it, I dropped to 120and worked at that weight for most sets.

    I worked at bodyweight for the deadlifts. I’d like to start pressing the issue with this movement, but didn’t think that 15 reps was the right time to really pile on the weight. I’m looking forward to measuring my progress on a 1-5 rep effort in the future.

  2. Erica says:

    As a devoted BL follower without shame, I was quite surprised by Jillian’s poor showing on the Drs…However at the risk of starting controversy, I believe that if Bob had coached her properly and told her to lock it out or push her knees out, then she would have made corrections (assuming she could check her ego at the door) and done better. I thought I was a tough athlete until I came to crossfit and still find myself getting fatigued by new movements (and often old ones as well) so I’m empathizing with Jillian’s exhaustion after trying something new. I’m feeling relieved that my first CF experience was not broadcast on national television. But don’t worry, I am not throwing her a pity party and think she should leave the therapy to the real therapists…

    But MORE importantly, I agree whole heartedly about the infinite scaleability of crossfit, which really is the only way that I could stay at Crossfit, given that I can do zero exercises at the prescribed weight for females. But it’s all about the coaching. It has been said numerous times before, but CFDC’s coaches allow all of us to do crossfit, regardless of our ability to hit prescribed weights, and to get better every time by not sacrificing quality for quantity. I am constantly telling people that everyone can do CF because everything is scaleable. They don’t often believe me…

    Switching gears…I’m hurting today. My lower back is sore, which suggests that my good mornings and deadlifts did not have the best form. I got ambitious on the deadlifts and had to drop to 130 I think (or maybe 120). I was proud of my handstands though…


  3. Ethan says:

    My hamstrings were absolutely shot after the GM’s. As a consequence, I scaled the weight down a bit on the Dead lifts.

    I also appreciated the break on the upper body(for the most part) to get my body back into normal working condition.

  4. Katie says:

    Good placement of the photo of me! I’m happy to be the poster child for infinite scalability. :o) I feel really fortunate to have found a box that is truly accepting of all levels and has coaches who are so great at scaling!! Before I started, I doubted movements could be scaled to my level, but Chris and Tom have been outstanding and found a way for me to scale everything. However, EVERYONE has played a huge role — I don’t feel bad about scaling or finishing last, because everyone is so encouraging. I don’t know that I would feel so comfortable and accepted at other boxes, so thank you all!

    I felt good about Sunday’s class. My squats are finally getting closer to where I want them to be. In the 9:00 class, we did thrusters, which also felt good and I think I was getting the hang of the explosiveness toward the end.

    I really liked Good Mornings! Thank you to Steph for coaching me on those and being my human rack. I think I was at 55# by the end, and maybe could have done a little more, but as this was my first time with GMs I wanted to be sure to get the form down.

    I worked with Christian on the deadlift/hollow/hold sets — he was pushing so hard, it was awesome! I used the blue KB for deadlifts, and scaled with an “elevated pike hold”, as pictured, instead of the handstand hold. I needed to draw my knees in a little on the hollow position because my back was coming off the floor.

    My hamstrings are really feeling it today!

  5. edgy reggie says:

    I absolutely loved yesterday’s workout! Good mornings + deadlifts = me likey! 🙂

    For the good mornings, I worked up to 80 kg (176 lbs.) For future good morning attempts, I will have to remember to maintain a slightly narrower stance and to push my knees out while performing the movement (it was pointed out on a couple of occasions that I tend to be knock-kneed; therefore, I will need to be more aware of that in the future).

    I really liked the deadlift, handstand hold, and hollow-rock hold combo. I used slightly more than my bodyweight (100 kg/220 lbs.) for the deadlift; I did fifteen reps for all three sets. My upper back told me that I performed the movement correctly; my hamstrings will probably talk to me tomorrow. For the handstand hold, I was able to perform that for a minute (and some change) for all three sets. For the hollow-rock hold, I was able to do 1:00 for the first set, 0:45 for the second set, and 0:30 (cramp! cramp!) for the third set.

    [A quick inspirational note on handstand holds: They used to be a “goat” for me. The only way that I got better at them is to practice, practice, practice (to get comfortable at being upside-down). :-)]

    I worked on my double-unders after class. I was able to get a couple of unbroken ones in here-and-there. Baby steps. 🙂

    As for promoting CrossFit: I do (and have done for quite some time) exactly what Salty’s post mentions. In fact, CrossFit DC is, for the most part, the only affiliate I will promote (for the numerous reasons mentioned in prior comments). We are the living, breathing testimonals to its benefits, after all. 🙂

  6. Ben says:

    My workout started with Tom saying “do you guys want to do something fun?” in reference to the good mornings. Which was concerning to me given that “fun” is in the eye of the beholder. BUT, Tom was referring to GMs with the safety squat bar. The positioning of the safety squat bar really made me focus on maintaining the lumbar curve throughout the entire movement. It was definitely a good workout and helped to focus on my form.

    On the DLs I used 100 KG and was able to get 15 reps in for all three rounds.

    Got in some DU practice after class. Thanks to the recent skill work with DUs I think I am finally starting to get better (def still not there yet).

  7. Steph says:

    Cannot agree more with Chris on that CrossFit is infinitely scaleable and everyone can do it. Before I got injured, when I thought of scaling I only took into consideration of scaling the weight, never the movement. Not able to do almost all of the movements in class as prescribed after the injury, Tom and Chris really showed me that you not only can scale the weight but also every movement to get the same effects. Thank you very much for keeping me active during my recovery!

    Katie, you’re welcome, I really enjoyed working with you!

    As Katie said, we worked together on the GMs. Worked with light weights and felt better than when we did them with the bands last time.

    And speaking of scaling…

    For the metcon, I did manual glute-ham raises instead of dls, planks instead of hollow rocks, and wall walks instead of HS holds.

    Looking forward to tomorrow and can’t wait to see what the Thanksgiving day workout will be!

    Safe travels to everyone who is leaving town early!

  8. Sara says:

    WOW! My Hamstrings and lats are sore. I worked up to 135 for the good mornings and stuck there for 3 sets. I choose to stick with that weight for more ROM as well as focusing on pressing the knees out. Tom mentioned my knees were caving in on one set (a set where I could feel a little pain in my left knee) and told me to focus on pressing the knees out and external rotation. I did just that and there was no longer knee pain.

    I used 185 for the deadlifts and definitely wasn’t feeling completely all there on them. Form was not my problem I think I was just lacking a bit of energy. I got 6-7-8 reps for the sets. When I am not tired I can easily get 15 reps for at least 1 set at 185.

    With a number of ailments over the last year I am also a poster girl for the infinitely scalable workouts. While I tell everyone I know that CF with the right coaches is infinitely scalable I am pretty sure they don’t believe me.

  9. Tom Brose says:

    This workout really emphasized position above all else, and I was happy to see the focus manifested in peoples form. Actually, every workout is all about position, its just more of an obvious focus here.
    Hamstrings should definitely be feeling it today.

    Erica, I appreciate your perspective on the Biggest Loser. I’ve never really followed the show, but Jillians screeching and demeaning attitude always bothered me. I would have liked to see the Doctors segment highlight some technique and progressive movement, but I guess that wouldn’t be good TV for the general public. I do have to say though, as someone who has instructional videos out (even though they look terrible), I assumed Jillian would be at least athletic herself. Without trying to come across as judgmental, I was shocked at how inept she looked.

  10. tara.k foto says:

    The workouts are tough, no joke about that, but the other thing that CFDC does really well at is build community. As a newbie coming in for the first time, I could sense how tightly knit the group is, and I was honestly (and happily) surprised at how welcoming and encouraging CFDC is, despite someone’s skill or strength.