February 17, 2012
February 22, 2012

The goal for Sunday’s class was relatively straight forward: establish a 1RM clean. Class was split into groups of up to 4 athletes ahead of time with 4 coaches roaming the floor helping out – many thanks to Jenn Sargent for coming in, and to Sara for postponing her own lifting, in order to help coach!

1RM Clean 

Everyone was given roughly 20 minutes to warm-up on the bars, working through multiple reps (reps of 5 and 3) towards heavy singles. At the end of 20 minutes, each athlete was given 3 attempts to hit a max clean. Rather than having everyone go at once, however, we took a page straight from a weightlifting playbook, and had athletes work one-at-a-time while the rest of the class looked on. We cycled through the entire class three full times in this manner, although everyone was given a 4th and final try outside of the spotlight if desired. Once all was said and done, the results were taken down as follows:

A different approach, but well worth it. It can be a bit nerve-wracking, but approaching lifts in this style will help teach you to really clear your mind and think only about the lift. Lifting heavy weights for a max effort, whether it be for a single rep, three reps, five reps, or even 20 reps, is intense. Intensity demands concentration. You must create a solid connection between your brain and your muscles. This is especially true for complex lifts such as the Clean and Snatch. You must focus on what your about to do, to the complete and total exclusion of everything else around you. If you don’t, then your intensity will suffer, and without that intensity and concentration, your results will be minimal (to say nothing of the chances of hurting yourself).

Concentration during a lift, as well as between sets, is vital in order to reach the intensity you need for maximum muscle growth. Some athletes, especially the more experienced ones, are able to joke around between sets, yet immediately reset their mind when they grab ahold of the weight. Sadly, a great majority of us are not those people. The rest of us really need to focus, concentrating on what we’re about to attempt. Some athletes visualize themselves lifting the weights, some will visualize or even practice the form ahead of time without weight, and some will even try to mentally “feel” the muscles they’re about to utilize in order to prime their CNS.

Of course, none of these come naturally (that would be too easy, wouldn’t it?). Much like form and technique, mental focus and concentration must be practiced. Now, we’re not saying you have to turn into a human hermit-crab before each lift, but if that’s what works for you, go with it. However, if you are having trouble concentrating when heavy lifts come up, take the time to step back, flush everything else out of your head, and then refocus on the task to come. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how far a little devoted concentration will take you.

3 x 15 Burpees & 15 Hollow Rocks

A quick blast to finish off the class. Hollow rocks are an especially useful movement to follow up with after all the heavy cleans which are so dependent on anterior pelvic tilt (see our earlier post on anterior and posterior pelvic tilt if that sentence made no sense to you)

Great work all around – that’s a whole mess of PR’s on that white board. Remember, the 2012 CF Games Open starts this week, so be sure to check back for updates and announcements regarding the workouts, and how your fellow classmates are doing.



  1. Ben says:

    Great class and great post! I enjoyed the part about the mental aspect of the lift. The O lifts keep reminding me of a golf swing – taking a complex movement, involving multiple joints, and turning it into a precise motion(except the golf club doesn’t weigh 200 lbs). The hard part for me is finding the right balance between thinking about the movement too much and not focusing enough. The post gave me some tips for next time. Thanks!

    Anyway, I heard Kevin Durant (OK City Thunder) interviewed yesterday. He was talking about how much he had been working on one particular fade-away shot he was trying to perfect. After a sobering weekend of realizing how much more work I had to do on the Oly lifts, it did give me some perspective. Even though Kevin Durant makes it look easy, there is an incredible amount of effort and practice that goes on behind the scenes. That gave me some context for improving on these lifts. There is hope! (Although I don’t think I’ll be as good at Oly lifts as he is at basketball).

    Enough of my rambling. Great class Tom and Chris. See you all on Tuesday.

  2. Katie says:

    Wow, I’m never going to forgive either of you for that picture. :o)

    Cleans are still SO TOUGH for me (as you can tell from the photo)…I got one set at 50#, then I got tired and started psyching myself out and kept failing. As with all my lifts, the weight isn’t heavy, but it’s more than I’ve done before. Thanks to Jenn for the great coaching…even though I was having trouble incorporating all the tips, I’ll remember them!

    My body was soooo done by the metcon…even though we don’t do much (or any) weight in Elements, it still tires me out.

  3. Jenn DCF says:

    Hey Fellow Crossfitters! We are still trying to get the word out for District Crossfit’s hosting of the Mid-Atlantic Open this year. We hope you have heard about it, and want you to come join us for the community, competitive atmosphere, and some fun prizes. The gym with the most athletes competing in the event is eligible for some good stuff. The gym with the most athlete participation at the end of the 5 weeks will win:
    -$1000 gift certificate to Rogue Fitness
    -Prize Package worth $400

    There are also prize packages for an overall winner in the male and female divisions, there are weekly winners as well as heat winners. Please check our our website if you are interested!! http://midatlanticopen.com

    We are also looking for volunteers from set up and tear down to judges. If you are interested please contact Noah at noah@districtcrossfit.com

    Awesome guys! Hope to see all of you there!

  4. SBV says:

    Ben: Start by buying some Olympic weightlifting shoes, you knucklehead.

    Great job to all the lifters on Sunday. It was definitely a day to remember at CFDC.

    And watch out for my girl at the Open this year. She’s been drilling her kipping pull-ups and double-unders in preparation.

  5. Take SBV’s comment with a grain of salt, everyone…I’ve been drilling, but have yet to become proficient at either movement. Turns out that CrossFit isn’t something you can cram for in the final few days before the test. Who knew?

    Great workout yesterday, guys. I was super-intimidated by the 1-rep max attempts, but it actually turned out to be really fun and great practice 🙂

    Plus, I’m sore from the hollow-rocks! Those things get hard quickly…

  6. Erica says:

    There may have been a few tears yesterday. I want to thank everyone for the unwavering support, but cleans are really challenging for me. To echo something MC (aka master kipper-puller-upper-double-underer) said yesterday, “there are so many freakin’ things to remember in this movement”. Shrug, hips, pinch shoulder blades, jump, feet out, don’t pull too early. I think I just struggle with how many different things have to go right in order for the movement to work. So when Tom said focus on the one thing that you want to improve, I didn’t know where to start. And I clearly did not do well under the pressure.

    Our blog-master wrote about the importance of getting ready in between reps and being more serious about concentration. While most people know that’s not my style, I’m willing to give it a try. While I love busting my ass at CF, I also love the social component of atmosphere. But there are different ways to show support. It’s been amazing to watch people step up the intensity with the Open around the corner and maybe I need to follow their lead. So I’m bringing my game face this week.

  7. Steph says:

    Katie, that’s a great picture!!! The form looks awesome!

    We (or I, at least) hadn’t done max cleans in a long time and I was really happy to get the opportunity to see where I was. Not too bad, I think I had gotten 104 or 114 pre-injury, so was pretty happy with 115. There was a lot of pressure though when everyone was watching. I think it was a little easier goin after SBV’s big triumph, I had no choice but to make my lift. It was awesome to see so many people cranking out PRs! CFDC’s getting really strong!

    Going to try my best to make it to class at 6 tomorrow! See everyone then!

  8. Ben says:

    SBV – Shoes ordered today. No faith.

  9. Jennifer says:

    Excellent work by everyone on Sunday, especial the women in my group:) Katie – it’s awesome picture of an awesome clean! I saw great improvements in technique and form as the class went on and I think many people came away with one or two specific cues to focus on for next time.

    I can’t believe there’s a picture of me doing “conditioning” on the interwebs…. what is this world coming too??

  10. edgy reggie says:

    Sunday’s workout was a mixed bag for me. While I love performing cleans, I just was not feeling it that day.

    On my cleans, my legs and feet kept wanting to push inward once I completed the second pull. Looking back (as well as talking to Coach after class), I should have (a) done a couple of front squats immediately after completing the clean and (b) done more reps with a lighter weight (I admittedly am a “slow starter,” and it takes a quite a few reps for me – with all Olympic lifts – to get into a groove). I just have to find that fine line between performing too many warm-up repetitions (and getting fatigued) and performing just enough repetitions so that I am “primed” and ready-to-go.

    After class, Coach Salty “reminded” me about my early arm bends. Damn! That is my Achilles’ heel with the snatch and with the clean. It is something I am constantly working to avoid. So I’ll keep plugging away.

    The met-con was…interesting. “Burpee hate” has decreased significantly for me; although, it is still not one of my favorite (met-con) exercises. I completed the met-con in about 4:29.

    Nevertheless, I still enjoyed the class.

    Sunday evening: I did another Iyengar yoga class with Winnie. The emphasis was on hip stretching, and I had an extra half-hour dedicated to working on my knee. Every time I leave that class, I feel so much better…and that feeling lasts for days.

    I’m looking forward to another pre-Open “training session” tonight (Feb. 21).

    Also, I’m all caught up on “The Biggest Loser” episodes (I spent part of my three-day weekend watching back episodes on-demand). Let’s chat “BL” fans. 🙂

  11. Tom Brose says:

    I liked putting everyone on the spot for once, and I saw people respond. It also gave us as coaches a chance to really see everyone and note what we need to work on collectively, as well as for each individual. I hope it was at least a balance of fun and stressful.

    Special thanks to Jenn for joining Chris, Sara and myself to coach. It really helps to have so many knowledgeable sets of eyes on the lifters.

    Good work all! Katie, that pic is awesome!