March 9, 2012
March 14, 2012

Congratulations Open athletes, with just two workouts left, you are officially over the hump! Friday/Saturday definitely took it’s toll on people, both physically and mentally, so Sunday’s class dialed things back a bit and tried to introduce a little bit of levity into the week.

 Strength 1: 
 2 x 12 Speed-Pull Deadlifts 

Speed-pull deadlifts are about explosive movement in the deadlift – driving the feet into the floor and powering the hips forward to move the weight from the floor and into the lock-out position. Don’t get “speed” confused with “rushing,” though. Speed pulls are about the velocity at which the weight is moved, not rushing through the movements to perform the fastest but sloppiest movement possible. Form and technique are still key – only the weight (decreased) and speed (increased) are changed.

For Sunday’s work, class split into groups of no more than 3 people per bar, and then spent roughly 10 minutes warming up to a weight that was roughly 50% of their one rep max (weights could be adjusted to suit different lifters, but it was suggested that small change plates be used, so that transitions could be quick and efficient). Once an approximate working weight had been established, groups got started on the main portion of the workout: cycling through 12 rounds of 2 reps of speed pulls. Lifters could use either a conventional or sumo stance, but the focus was on bar speed – squeezing the bar off the floor and then exploding upwards into the upright and extended position. The initial movement, described above as “squeezing” the bar off the floor, must still be controlled; speed-pull deadlifts do not change our form or technique, and yanking the bar off the ground hasn’t-been/isn’t/never-will-be appropriate.

As each partner completed their 2 reps, they stepped back, and the next partner in the group stepped up to the bar to perform their two reps. In this fashion, the group continued to rotate to the bar until each athlete had completed all 12 sets. Once done, the bars were stripped down, and, with the aid of a few new sets of rings, class went to work on a second strength segment: ring dips.

Strength 2: 
3 x AMRAP Ring Dips 

We aren’t able to practice rings dips all that much, mostly because we’ve been operating with two pairs of rings (3 if Tom brings an extra pair in). However, with a few new recently acquired pairs in the gym, class set about working on this much needed skill. Performing dips on the rings adds instability, requiring increased muscular recruitment to help stabilize and support the body.

While deadlifts (targeting the hamstrings) and dips (triceps dominated) wouldn’t appear to be related, there is actually a common point of performance between them. When performing either, it’s essential to keep the lats retracted, which in turn keeps the shoulders pulled back and down. A great cue for this is to imagine squeezing a pen/marker/etc in the armpit; the act of forcefully squeezing the arms in keeps the elbows in tight and helps set the lats and shoulders. In the deadlift, this keeps the shoulders from rounding forward, which is what leads to a rounded back. In the dips, this stops the elbows from flaring out, reducing stress on the shoulder and aids in stabilizing the body, an absolute must when doing the dips on the rings.

If full-on dips aren’t in the cards yet, there are a few scaled versions which were covered on Sunday. One way is to simply perform a negative – jumping into the support position (with the arms fully extended) and slowly lowering to a point where the shoulders are deeper than the elbows before putting the feet back down. Another way is to use a resistance band, which can be looped around one ring and then held against the other ring. This is similar to using a resistance band for pull-ups, and adds assistance through the hardest parts of the dip. With a few more sets on hand now, look for more ring work in the near future.

Medicine Ball Indian Run

With a large portion of Sunday’s class still feeling the effects of Open Workout 12.3, and with the weather shaping up nicely, class was split back into groups, slightly larger this time, in order to revisit the Medicine Ball Indian Run

Think of this as an Indian Run (where the last person in line sprints to the front) crossed with a rugby lateral-pass drill. Each group of 5-6 people has a medicine ball which starts with the lead runner and is passed from front to back. When the last person in line receives the ball, they sprint to the front with the ball, and then start the process over again. This was repeated until the group had completed an entire lap of the block (~800m).

Just a little something different to close out Sunday’s class. Nice work through-out class, especially after the beating most people took on Friday/Saturday from 12.3. Speaking of 12.3, how-about a little food for thought?

There are lots of CrossFitters out there on the internet writing lots of articles, whether for official affiliate-sites or just their own blogs.  Most should be taken with some rather large grains of salt; however, from time to time, some of them end up being extremely poignant and timely.  If any of you are looking to slack off from work a bit more today, I would highly recommend that you take a look at the two articles listed below. One is from CrossFit Aspire in NJ, and one is from CFDC’s own Monica Niska, and both touch on extremely important points, not just in relation to the ongoing Open workouts, but to our collective CrossFit experiences.

Every Rep Counts…Or Not (from CrossFit Aspire) 

Almost Doesn’t Cut It (by Monica Niska)

Definitely something all of us, coaches included, should keep in mind each and every time we take on a workout. On that note, rest up, and we’ll see you on Tuesday!



  1. Steph says:

    It was so awesome to watch everyone tackle 12.3 on Saturday and Sunday. It was inspiring to see everyone give their all and not give up until time was up. I wish I could’ve done the workout with everyone. We really do have the best coaches and members!

    Now off to read the suggested blog entries…

  2. Steph says:

    Man, I definitely haven’t been training as consistently as I’d like recently, so I don’t think I could’ve gotten more reps on 12.1 or 12.2 if I had done them again. Damn this work schedule is killing me!

  3. Great workout on Sunday! It was a lot of fun and was the perfect way to warm up the body after 12.3. Is anyone else CRAZY sore today (from Saturday)? I’m really beat up and definitely feel worse today–as Tom said we probably would. All in the name of fun, though, right?!

    Thanks for the great weekend, CFDC!

  4. Andraea says:

    I’m very sore from Saturday! I was starting to feel it last night and now even more today.

    It was awesome to watch everyone on Sat. perform 12.3! CFDC is definitley the most supportive group there is!

    I’m finally over this damn cold so I’m looking forward to being more consistant on coming to class!

    See you all Tues!

  5. Julia says:

    <- from here on out - ducking and covering when cameras are around. Amazing work from everyone, not least coaches, on 12.3!

  6. Monica says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Monica Niska says:

    1 would’ve liked one more (actually many more!!) reps on 12.3, but what a great reality check! It’d be fun to do these open workouts again in 6 months to see progression throughout the year.

    The environment at CFDC is absolutely electric and the coaching is top notch. It’s why I drive an hour each way, past 2 other CF gyms to come down to CFDC. They are also great gyms, but I just love CFDC.

    Super sore today, especially hammies and lats. Tom was right; the second day is way worse.

    Sunday’s workout was a great compliment to 12.3. I agree with Mary Catherine, especially part 1 & 2, were a perfect way to stretch out and attempt to recuperate.

    Thanks for the blog shoutout! Coming back to CFDC has given me so much more personalized content to go off of.

  8. Dian says:

    It was inspiring watching everyone tackle 12.3 on Saturday. Tom and Chris, as always, did an amazing job getting us all prepared and kept things moving along. I thought the afternoon went well considering the time issue and equipment constraints. Well done guys!

    Personally, I had a rough day on Saturday. I misunderstood the scoring for 12.3 and in retrospect I deluded myself on purpose. I thought I didn’t have to keep trying for the T2B but get zero full rounds but still do my box jumps and push-presses. Silly, I know. Like the folks at CrossFit intergalactic space command would do something like that. Basically, I gave up on myself with the T2B long before the WOD even started and was really frustrated and angry when I ended up getting stuck at that station. I was at the T2B station for about 16 minutes and couldn’t get a single rep despite coaching from Chris and Steph. I was pissed! I consider 12.3 a failure for me. As Monica explained so well in her blog post I don’t mean a failure in a negative sense. I clearly have to quit letting certain things slide.

    @Julia – I think that is a great photo of you. You might have to explain exactly what the heck was going on if you ever have a Senate confirmation hearing but then again we all have a blog photo like that.

    See everyone tomorrow.

  9. Erica says:

    Julia = best picture EVER!

    What on earth are we going to do with our Saturdays when the open is over? I mean, seriously, Ben and I watched every single heat (minus Chris and Tom’s valient efforts) on Saturday and Sunday. It was awesome to see people breeze and struggle through so many exercises. I want to make a special shout-out to those (and I’ll even put myself in that category) who worked extremely hard to accomplish something they really didn’t think they could do. That includes those who got 5, 1, or even no reps, but who also didn’t let them get the best of them. Dian, even if you felt like you had a bad day, you were an amazing inspiration for staying and even judging/coaching someone else through their round. You personafied the word teammate on Saturday. So thank you!

    I was happy to get through the T2B. It was as if I figured out how to do it in the middle of the WOD. In retrospect, I probably could have gotten a few more reps if I had saved some energy by not dancing mid-workout, but I was having fun. 🙂 My lats were fried before I even started, and now they are feeling even worse.
    And thanks to the DLs yesterday, now my hamstrings are crazy tight.

    GREAT WORK CFDC. You guys are amazing

  10. SBV says:

    Just wanted to give a shout-out to my boy, Ben Brown, for his performance on Saturday. He continues to put up monster numbers without much fanfare. He can be found in the corners of Balance Gym on Wednesday and Friday nights doing a bunch of boring shit in an effort to rehab his pec. He can be found in the Elements course on Sunday mornings honing the basic CrossFit movements despite already being proficient at most of them. On Saturday, he banged out toes-to-bar like a friggin’ gymnast and gritted his teeth through some pain. He’s not one to talk much about his scores, but I wanted to make sure everyone knows how awesome he’s doing in the Open.

    I’m down in Charlottesville this week for work and will be hitting up my friends at CrossFit Charlottesville for a few workouts. The fire I had during workout 12.1 wasn’t there this week. Instead of pushing through the pain, I looked for every opportunity/excuse to rest. Maybe the change of scenery will help me rekindle the flames.

  11. edgy reggie says:

    Open workout 12.3: Again, another tough one for me. Even though I was not sick, I really was not feeling my best this past Saturday. Nevertheless, I gave it my all. My limiting factor in 12.3: toes-to-bar. Thanks to Coach for coaching me on the toes-to-bar. Thanks to Ben (Brown) for being such a tough judge.
    Thanks to my brother, Tom “Hammer” A. for the advice on how to approach this workout. Thanks to Katie for providing more delicious muffins and for her excellent clock management skills. Last but not least, thank you CrossFit DC and Team CrossFit DC for the cheers, support, and encouragement.

    Sunday: I didn’t feel as beat up as some of my teammates, but I did feel the effects nonetheless. For deadlifts, I worked with “Easy
    E” (Ethan) and “Double B Too” (Ben). We used 100 kg (220 lbs.) for our work sets. Ring dips felt fine. Medicine ball Indian run did not.

    Later that evening, I literally dragged myself to Winnie’s Iyengar yoga class. I was tired and sore (and felt a little beat-up). After two hours of stretching, I felt a little better (read: less tired, less sore). As I’m writing my comment, I feel much better.

    Monica’s blog: I was “feeling it.” As I read her blog, I nodded in agreement. As I mentioned earlier in my comment, Ben (Brown) did not cut me any slack on toes-to-bar. A few years ago, I would have cursed him (less) and myself (more). Because I currently hold myself to a higher standard, I want to thank Ben again for holding me to the CrossFit DC standard for 12.3 (and I got back on the bar to complete my reps with no cursing).

    I was mentioning the following to Sebastian, Shaun, Ethan and a few others yesterday (as a paraphrase to the old Smith Barney commercials): I did my workout the old-fashioned way, I earned it! 🙂

  12. Dan Samarov says:

    Great job on Saturday everyone! Was awesome seeing everyone push themselves and step up to the challenge!

  13. Ben says:

    SBV…, not even sure what to say, particularly when it is coming from someone who is also putting in the extra hours and putting up solid numbers in the open. I really appreciate the kind words – it means a lot..….and you’re absolutely correct, the rehab work is boring! The open has really been a phenomenal experience so far – it has been fun/inspiring seeing people lay it all on the line and everyone else going crazy trying to get one more rep out of them – Tom and Chris have really nailed it on quality programming AND a great CF community. The open has also taught me that I have A LOT to work on!

    Class on Sunday was great, and thanks to Chris, Jen, and Steph for the elements class!

    No need to thank me Reggie, you did all the work and earned every rep. Nice job on Saturday/12.3!

  14. Katie says:

    I had a great time watching on Saturday! Last week’s highlight for me was Andraea on snatches, and this week was Ben’s amazing drive (you could tell from his face how hard he was working!) and Monica’s incredible attitude(she was smiling after working on T2B for 15 minutes…I know I would have been in tears!). Watching all of you is what keeps me coming back and working to get stronger.

    Sunday was great — I was SO happy to see deadlifts! I worked at 65#…probably 50-60% of my 1 RM, but I’m not entirely sure. I’ll work on that. My hamstrings are a little tight — I admit, I got up from my desk after sitting for an hour, looked around to make sure no one was watching, and did some hamstring walks. :o) Ring “dips” were an interesting challenge and nice change of pace, and the run was fun — it’s much better in a group!

  15. TomandAmi says:

    What can I say that,s not already been said – two that!

    Oh, And where’s Ethan WTF?! Break a wish bone in your foot and go South?

    Ok enough smack and Dian read Monica’s blog a great entry and what training CF is about – bless you are Iceland Annie (and even then) it’s so much about finding weaknesses and training them.

    I am already bummed that my sixth and last WOD has to be somewhere in Chicago as I am there for ten days as of Monday – will miss the community and vibe.

  16. Tom Brose says:

    Great links today. Monica is such a good writer, and completely genuine in her positive approach. Its something I can learn a lot from.

    The article from Aspire makes some good points. I think a huge takeaway is that the main focus should always be on the quality of training the REST of the time. The fact that you can hit a good rep with someone standing there looking for a fault is great- why not do that in every workout. In every warmup? If its holding yourself to a standard, the standards don’t change, just the situation. Otherwise its just getting caught.

  17. Dian says:

    Jeepers Blondie-I read Monica’s blog post twice and I clearly stated that I did. And, you know what, I’ve known you for 20 years and you still can’t type. Oy vey!

  18. Sara says:

    Haha Dian – you are a riot.

    I had antoher great time on Saturday with CFDC attacking open WOD 12.3. My favorite part of each week is watching/cheering/coaching everyone through accomplishing more than they believed they could achieve. each week we have seen a ton of PRs and perseverance. It is so exciting.

    I am sorry I missed class today. I really enjoy speed deadlifts. and could definitely use some work on my ring dips. Instead I was headed to Philly for a wedding loaded with food, food and more food. This did not boad well for the ensuing workout today programed for me by Chris.

    Looking forward to see everyone in class tuesday.

  19. Ben says:

    Wait…..what? Tom, when are you headed to Chicago? I’ll be there from the 16th – 20th for work. Already have plans to hit up Crossfit River North if you are around and want to join.

  20. SaltyHat says:

    Awesome comments – even Tom A’s gibberish (and that’s mostly because he made sure to mention Annie Thorisdottir).

    I was happy as hell to see so many people sign up for the Open, but I’ve been blown away at just how hard everyone is pushing themselves.

    And for the record, I am so enthralled with your resolve Dian. You knew what was in store, but still you came. You fought the entire time, and never gave up. And you still went home, and entered your score. That really is awesome. Please hold your head up high.

    I also want to say that I really like Tom’s end-point: it’s easy to imagine we’re being honest about our performances during a competition. It’s what we do after the competition is over that matters – will we continue to hold ourselves to that standard, or will we let ourselves slip back into sloppy movements and skipped reps? Lots of CF boxes, and lots of CFers, will espouse the “check your ego at the door” slogan, but do they mean it? Are they holding themselves to the highest standard on every rep of every workout? Or is it simply a “do as I say, not as I do” way of masking their own insecurities?

    I can honestly say that one of the greatest things about having Tom as a coach is that not once, in over 4 years, has he ever let me slide on reps or movements. And it only really stings when he laughs at me during double unders…

  21. ELB says:

    I will be back in no time at all. I will not lower myself and respond to Tom’s slanderous lies. It sounds like he stole his insults from his college roommate, back in 1949.

  22. Tom Brose says:

    15 Pound plates? They make those?

    Interesting note on Bens excellent performance-he gets mad in the workouts. I think we saw his David Banner performance in 12.3, the tougher the workout got, the madder he got, and pushed even harder. His score reflected it as well.

    Hope everyone is feeling nice and recovered, we have some fun work on tap for tonight!

  23. ppetersan says:

    Saturday’s workout was a lot of fun, even if I didn’t do nearly as well as I hoped I would. Regardless, I’m grateful for the coaching tips from Chris and all the support from everyone else. I had even more fun cheering other folks on as they gave this workout their all. Unfortunately, due to travel/baby/work duties I won’t be in class this week (but I will sneak the wods in – even if I have to do them at a globo-gym), nor will I be able to join y’all for the workout on Saturday. I hope Crossfit Central in Austin will be kind enough to validate 12.4 while I am down there.

    See you next week.

  24. edgy reggie says:

    @Julia: You just need your Flavor Flav-style glasses; then, you’ll be “cold, cold lampin’.” 🙂

  25. Monica Niska says:

    Agree with Salty on Dian’s resolve. Love to see that fire in someone who doesn’t accept where they are (even if it’s already great) and decides to be even better. Nothing more inspiring than that!

    Thanks for all the positive feedback on the blog. All of you are inspiring me, and I LOVE being back to CFDC… it’s easy to write, with what you all have going on 🙂