November 21, 2011
November 25, 2011

Explosive, Olympic-style movements took on a slightly different flavor with Tuesday’s programming, including Pendlay Rows and some DB Snatch work.

5 x 5 Pendlay Rows

We last visited the Pendlay Row a little over a month ago, and the following blog post included a short paragraph about set-up and execution (you can jump to it HERE if you want to review it). One key reminder about performing Pendlay Rows: it’s not about the weight you move, it’s about how explosively you move it. As such, you’re not looking to stop or back off the weight when you can’t get the bar to your chest, you should stop/back-off when the bar slows to a grinding pull.

Instead of mixing the Rows with an accessory lift, we used the intervening time between lifts to work some thoracic spine and shoulder mobility. Thus, everyone hit the gym floor in between sets to carry out alternating sets of the overhead thoracic spine opener with the aid of some ab-mats and bumper plates (photo above) and a supine version of KStarr’s “Bully Shoulder Drill,” with both hands behind the back, as high up towards the scapula as possible, and hips pressed down into the floor.

4 x
6 DB Snatch Rt. Hand,
Rt. Arm OH Lunge 20ft,
6 DB Snatch Lf.,
Lf. Arm OH Lunge 20ft.

The DB snatch is essentially the same movement as a full-blown Olympic Snatch, except it’s done with the weight in just one hand instead of two. In fact, read through the Points of Review for the Snatch list posted last week, and simply replace the word “bar” with “dumbbell,” and you’ll have an excellent set of reminders on how to properly perform a DB Snatch.

The workout called for everyone to perform 6 DB Snatches with their right arm, leaving the weight overhead on the 6th rep, and then lunge 20 feet(with the weight held overhead), before turning around and doing the same thing, but with the DB held in the left hand. RX’d weight for guys was ~30% of body weight, and ~20% of body weight for girls. Points of Performance, as always, keyed in on full range of motion for both exercises; i.e., standing all the way up with the weight overhead on the snatches, and knee to the floor on the lunges (with the weight locked out overhead). In order to complete the lunges, feet had to come in contact with the line, and you must stand all the way up (no dumping the DB while still in the bottom of the lunge).


I was super excited to see a lot of people doing an extra full lunge to cross the line when their toes were inches away on the previous attempt, and at least two people (John and Katie) no rep themselves on lunges because they bailed out before they came all the way to standing or the lost balance and had to stutter step. Truly awesome on all accounts!

Shoulder Mobility Work

Class closed out with some much needed shoulder stretching and mobility work.

(1) Partner Assisted Assume the Position w/ PVC

(2) Partner Assisted Rearwards External Shoulder Rotation w/ PVC

(3) PVC Kimura-ish

REMEMBER, we will be having a special Thanksgiving class on Thursday starting at 10AM at the gym (all other classes are cancelled – there will be Friday evening classes at 6 and 7PM, but no morning classes). If you’re in town, come throwdown with us and really earn that holiday feast you know you’re going to put away! Otherwise, enjoy the holiday.



  1. SBV says:

    Great session last night. I enjoyed the challenge of performing the Pendlay rows without generating the explosiveness from the hips/dropping of the chest. I could really feel the positional carry-over to the deadlift and welcome any opportunity to develop my puny torso. Also, as my thoracic spine sprine is made of concrete, I welcome any opportunity to stretch it. Last night’s stretches really helped to open things up.

    As for the metcon, I’m not certain whether I performed the dumbbell snatches correctly. They felt more like a muscle snatch than anything, almost like pulling a sword out of my pocket and extending it overhead. Definitely nothing resembling a snatch with a barbell. I guess I kind of likened them to kettlebell snatches moreso than barbell snatches. In any event, it was a challenging metcon and I enjoyed it.

  2. Julia says:

    Chris – PVC catalog cover boy material!

    I really like alternating major lifts with corresponding mobility work – good way to make the most of training time.

    As far as the metcon goes, I really underestimated this one – DB snatches went alright, but the lunges got uncomfortable much sooner than expected. Nice work to everyone for pushing through this one.

    Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

    P.S. @SBV – I’m totally at a loss for words. Drawing a sword and stabbing overhead? Guess I’m just not familiar with the kind of role-playing games you indulge in during your off time…

  3. Amelia says:

    Did the rows with Dian and Steph – I think we used 65lbs for the working sets. Felt about right – able to still be a explosive.

    The metcon was a tough one. Godo combination of movements. The lunges were definitely the tough part for me – making sure to stay strong through the core and not overarch my back.

    My legs are feeling it today.

    I’m off to Boston this afternoon – have a great Thanksgiving everyone!

  4. Katie says:

    I was happy with my work on the Pendlay rows; after corrections from Chris I think I was getting them down pretty well. I was lucky enough to get to do a 6th set, too!

    The metcon totally slaughtered me. I was okay with the snatches, but holding that weight over my head was brutal! It was incredibly difficult, but I did my best to do a full lunge every time, and even though it took me a long time, I FINISHED! Similar to the OHS last week, keeping weight extended overhead while working my legs is extremely challenging for me — something to work on. Working next to Lizzie definitely helped me to keep going, she was pushing so hard!!

    Thanks to Coach Steph for the assistance on the mobility as well as adjusting my jump rope.

    Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! See you all next Tuesday.

  5. A.T. Alden says:

    Great metcon, much harder than what I thought at first…kicked my butt, especially the second half of the last round, I stumbled across the finish line (note to self, keep wrist in line with forearm for DB overhead lunges).

  6. edgy reggie says:

    Another kick-arse session that I enjoyed.

    I worked up to 155# on the Pendlay row. Thanks to Coach for tweaking my form on the rows (i.e., having me drop my hips lower). The mobility work between sets was a good change-of-pace (thank you Sara for your assistance).

    Simple met-cons are at times the most challenging workout for me. Last night’s was no exception. My snatches were fine. My walking lunges s-u-c-k-e-d. Tight hips and too much weight were the co-conspirators. After round two, I dropped my lunge weight from 50# to 25# (thanks again, Coach); this helped my form quite a bit (but my lunges still need work…it’s usually hit-or-miss with lunges).

    Still, it was a good class with a lot of personal take-aways.

    I’m coming in for the Thanksgiving beat-down, but I do dread what will be in store for then. 🙂 “Jeremy” and “Fran”? “Murph” and “Elizabeth”? “Cindy” and…aw heck, I’ll just see everyone tomorrow. 🙂

    Days left until my fifth anniversary at CrossFit DC (and with CrossFit in general): Four

  7. SaltyHat says:

    Don’t tease Julia, you know that’s just a pipe dream…

  8. Tom Brose says:

    The metcon caught just about everyone by surprise. While the snatch numbers were low, they still were enough to add on to the challenging part, the OH lunges. The OH hold position in a lunge acts as the same form checker/fault highlighter that the bar does in an OH Squat. Any deviation in posture or loss of stability through the core or shoulder will ruin you.

    That said, great job and nice to see some people really hold themselves to the highest standard. That is they way to make progress!

    Sebastian and Julia, I’m going to leave the jokes alone on this one, too easy…

  9. Steph says:

    Great workout last night, and really good energy in both classes!

    No one really mentions the warm-ups unless they are super long or special, but I just wanna say last night’s jogging in the warm-up made my night as I was able to do all 3 rounds without hurting or feeling my hip was going to dislocate. Yay! Baby steps!

    The metcon was fun! I used a 25lb dumbbell. Did clean and jerk for the right side and snatches for the left side. Lunges were fun but Tom pointed out that I needed to focus on now bowing and keeping my mid section tight.

    It was awesome to see John and Katie staying honest and no-repping themselves on those reps. It was inspiring!

    Really looking forward to tomorrow’s workout! This will be the first year that Chris and I are in town, can’t wait to get my ass kicked!

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone and safe travels!

  10. Sara says:

    I hope everyone has a great holiday. This is the first year I won’t be able to join for the thanksgiving workout. I am heading to check out Crossfit mercer today.

    I really like the pendlay rows. I think I actually was a bit too explosive on them because I am bruised where the bar made contact with me. I went up to 115lbs I think. I really liked doing the mobility stuff after each set. Thank you chris for the assist/additional resistance on the bully stretch.

    I scaled the metcon by subbing OH step-ups for lunges. I did 12 step-ups per arm. That was tough. I used the 30lb DB for the first time on those and had to drop to 25 after round 2. Both weights were fairly easy for the snatch. I mostly felt as if I was muscle snatching them.