January 18, 2012
January 23, 2012

As the title suggests, Thursday night was all about intra-abdominal control – mastering your midsection to maintain good form and posture throughout the entire 15 minutes of workout. This is inspite of the fact that the workout featured three seemingly unrelated exercises to accomplish this: deadlifts, wall walkers, and overhead carry.

15 min to complete 
(A) 5 x 9 Deadlifts & 3 Wall Walkers, then,

If you’ve been keeping track, twice in the past two months class has performed a workout with striking similarities to Thursday’s: the Deadlift, Hollow Holds, Handstand workout (first done on November 21st, and then again on December 23rd). The big difference, of course, was the pace.

The two originators were done with prescribed rest and with two of the exercises, the Hollow Holds and Handstands, done in a static position. Thursday night’s workout was an all out push over the course of 15 minutes with each movement done under load. The key aspect was of course the concentration required to maintain form and position through the mid-line (your “core”). Allow the mid-section to relax during the deadlifts, and the result is an overly rounded back. Conversely, allow the mid-section to relax during the wall walkers, and the result is an over-arched back (with the stomach sagging towards the floor and wall). Of course, allow the mid-section to relax during the overhead carry, and you could end up with either, although admittedly the tendency is to over-arch.

That’s Brendan starting his 8th rep on the 5th round – rep 44 of 45 – and still maintaining great control over his position and form.

A big factor in the workout was the selection of weight. Deadlifts were RX’d at 60-70% of your 1RM (if known), while the OH Carry was done with two DBs equaling roughly half BW. Points of Performance were reviewed, and guidelines established for what constituted acceptable form during the workout. Those points of performance also included a new time-out-style rule which allowed any coach to have an athlete pause during the workout for a given amount of rest time when (A) their form strayed beyond what was acceptable and (B) the athlete refused to stop themselves.

I can say with all sincerity that the over-all attention to form during Thursday’s workout was really impressive, especially by some of our more notorious individuals with uber-flexible backs. However, that’s not to say that last night’s new rule was a one-time only deal. Not by a long shot.

 The Forced Rest Rule 

For lack of a better term, we’re going to call this the new rule the Forced Rest Rule. It’s basically an upgraded version of the No Rep rule (as defined, and explained, in our ‘Standards, Progress and “No Rep”!’ blog post). The No Rep rule ensures full range of motion during a workout. The result of the No Rep Rule is that everyone is performing the same complete movements, and, consequently, finishing the same workout. That’s not to say that the Forced Rest rule can’t be used as a sort-of “No Rep Plus” mechanism, to be used when someone is repeatedly no repped. But its primary goal is grounded more in safety, rather than fairness.

The timing is not random, as it was just last week that we posted an extended post about regarding safety (WARM UNDER THE COLLAR). Specifically, we commented that a big part of a coach’s job is keeping all of you safe: showing you how to properly execute a movement, and then ensuring you follow through on that execution as you add weight or reps. The new Rule represents a rather blunt tool which helps us institute the latter.  It allows a coach to stop someone mid-workout to correct their form, or force them to take a breath and re-focus on their execution, or even adjust their weights.

Weights are prescribed, and adjusted, based on what will deliver the best results for your strength and fitness.  When we ask you to calculate weights based off a max effort lift, we’re looking for a max effort achieved with good form (not perfect form, I’ll grant you, but definitely good form). This is not done by using a weight you lifted with form that was so horrendous, the entire gym walked away doubled oevr in pain. Nor is it done using a weight you want to lift in the near future. It’s a weight you’ve achieved. With good form. Somewhat recently (not five-plus years ago. And preferably, with some consistency (i.e., more than once is great).

But Coach, if I want to hit a PR, why wouldn’t I train using that weight as my goal?

Because your body isn’t ready. You’d be over-reaching. Be smart, build your body up to sustain that weight. Just ask your friend and mine, Paula Deen. She liked burgers. She liked donuts. Don’t we all?! But then she decided to combine them. She over-reached. Did she make a lot of money in the process? Sure. But she also ended up with diabetes. So, could you make that awesome PR lift without properply preparing your body for it? Possibly. But is it also worth wrecking yourself permanently in the process? No, no it’s not. 

There really isn’t a person in our extended CFDC-family that isn’t getting stronger – just look at all the squat PRs continuously set over the last two months, as well as all the ladies now banging out legit strict pull-ups!  None of these people is getting there through over reaching.  They’re achieving this through smart choices (scaling and appropriate weights) and hard work.  We all have goals of where we want to get to, and sometimes those goals are strength based. However, the steps to achieve those goals are based on what you’ve achieved in the past, not what you want to achieve in the future. It’s the circle of lifts.
and cue the Lion King soundtrack


 First and foremost, best of luck to Sebastian and Tom A. who are heading off to Charlottesville to compete in the SuperFit Games this weekend.

 Also, regarding the Smackdown, I know there are still a few people either looking for a team to compete on, or looking to complete their team roster with one or two people. If you’re one of those, please feel free to leave a request in the comments section. If you need more information, you can find it here on this CF Balance webpage: http://www.crossfitbalance.com/balancecfbowl/



  1. Ethan says:

    Thank you Chris for the most unflattering picture that has ever been taken. On a serious note, I really liked this workout. I was able to string together unbroken DLs in all but one of the rounds.

    In other news, the swole patrol would like to announce that Mark has been replaced on the squad by the Hammer. As if the team couldn’t get any more swole.

  2. Katie says:

    Wait, Paula Deen’s butter-fried butter isn’t good for you? My bad.

    I really liked this workout, too. My abs were sore from Tuesday, so the first few sit-ups in the warmup were a little rough, but after that my core was good to go. (I guess the warmup was preparing us for the workout that night! Someone is pretty smart.)

    I did 65# for the DLs, which I was proud of…I think I maintained good form throughout, though the last few reps of sets 4 and 5 were tough. I scaled wall walks by just doing “wall holds”. I tried to get at steeper than a 45-degree angle when I could, and held it for as long as possible. I tried moving my arms, but there was just so much pressure on my shoulders it wasn’t happening. Something else to work toward.

    I used 15# DB for the OH carry…though I’m a bit heavier than 60#. :o) I had trouble keeping them stable, they wanted to wobble all over…keeping my shoulders shrugged helped, but these were still tough. I think I got 5 lengths of the court. I had to be very, very careful to tighten my core on these because I tend to overarch my back (which has resulted in it hurting a little at times). Luckily I believe I succeeded because my back doesn’t hurt.

    I didn’t do super-heavy weights, but it was challenging for me and I think I kept decent form. It’s good to hear the explanation of the forced rest rule, especially this:
    “However, the steps to achieve those goals are based on what you’ve achieved in the past, not what you want to achieve in the future.”

  3. Sara says:

    This was a tough but great workout. Like Katie I had some sore abs from Tuesday but what I noticed was how easy and open my hipflexors felt when I butterflied my legs for the situps in the warmup. I owe that thank you to chris for the mobility work he programmed for me on Wednesday during my cleans warmup.

    I used 185lbs for deadlifts which I can still handle pretty well and is just over 60% of my 1RM, however, I recognize that I am a bit slower with them. I use to be able to knock off 10-15 easily and fairly quickly with good form. I did not go unbroken on any of my 5 rounds. I did notice that they got better as the workout continued which tells me I just wasn’t warmed up enough for that weight at the beginning of the workout. I finish my 5 rounds at about the 10:30 mark. I started with 40lb DBs for the overhead walks but after 2 lengths of the court I dropped to 35lb DBs cause I felt myself having trouble holding the position.

  4. Steph says:

    Oh Ethan, you have no idea how many really unflattering pictures we have of everyone. That one of you is nothing! 🙂

    I subbed sumo-dl for conventional and stayed light. SBV, I’m telling you again, if DL comes up in the throw-down, you better hope it doesn’t require the entire team to participate!! For the db OH carry, I wanted to use 30s, but couldn’t, so ended up using 25s. The first length of the court after the wall walkers were really tough, everything felt wobbly. They got better as I got used to the weights overhead and really tried to focus on keeping the core tight. I think when I was trying to make it to the finish line as Chris called time, I arched my back quite a bit. Doh!

    Looking forward to Sunday! Hope it’s a grinder!! Or more heavy squats! OHS? 🙂

  5. TomandAmi says:

    And Steve O is competing. Thursday was a goo change up and primer for me using less weight for this weekend.

  6. Kenna says:

    I was still quite sore from Tuesday (in places I didn’t know I even had muscles), but I liked this workout a lot. I did deadlifts at 60# and scaled the wall walks back to two. They weren’t really full wall walks, but I did my best. I used 15# for the OH carry, and geez that was harder than I thought it was going to be. I really had to concentrate on not arching my back. I was wobbly and had to stop a lot, but I did make it the full length of the court without stopping twice.

  7. edgy reggie says:

    I liked this workout even though it did wear me out.

    I used 275# for the deadlift. Four of the five sets were unbroken. The wall walks were…ugh, tiring (I have work to do on these). I managed to get two overhead carries in (with 50# dumbbells) before the time limit.

    I went to yoga immediately after class and felt much better once yoga was over.

    Best of luck to Tom “Hammer” A., “Lil’ Swoll” (SBV) and Steve-Oh-oh-oh-my-gosh at the SuperFit Games.

    Time to chow down on some Krispy Kreme bread pudding (yes, it is an actual Paula Deen recipe) before the next CrossFit DC workout. 🙂

    Everyone knows the four basic food groups of the South: fat, sugar, salt, and (lots of) alcohol. 🙂

  8. Tom Brose says:

    Steph is not kidding, we have some amazingly awful pictures of most of you.

    One very important note: We pulled weight off more than a few peoples bar. If one of us decided that the weight you chose was not appropriate PLEASE understand its for your own good. I want everyone lifting heavy. I like squats and deadlifts where you feel like your teeth may crack. You still need to keep good form.