April 25, 2012
April 30, 2012

After a relatively simple and straightforward Tuesday program, class took a turn for the complex on Thursday. A snatch complex to be more specific. However, before anyone even got to the Snatch complex, we reviewed an essential piece of the Snatch (as well as the Clean), and that’s the starting position and 1st pull.

You see, earlier this month we did a met-con involving power snatches (“FEELS LIKE SPRING TIME“), and we noticed that the vast majority of people, while working hard to get an explosive 2nd pull, while not pulling early with their arms, were essentially negating all of that work with some horrendous set-ups and sloppy 1st pulls. It’s doubtful this was intentional, but you cannot start with something sloppy or out of place and then expect what follows to be efficient and well executed. To end well, you must start well. As such, we took a few moments at the beginning of class on Tuesday to review set-up for the snatch, as well as the 1st pull (1st pull = lifting the bar from the floor to the tops of your knees).

For those of you willing to put in the time, I would highly, HIGHLY recommend that you read Greg Everett’s free on-line article on this subject entitled The Olympic Lift Starting Position from February of 2009. However, here’s a brief distillation of a few points made in Everett’s article and which were harped on Thursday in class:

(1) The set-up position for the Snatch/Clean – with the hips low and the chest up – is NOT the same as a deadlift, simply because the neither the Snatch nor Clean are Deadlifts (profound, I realize);

Sara demoing solid starting position, with her hips down, chest up, knees out, and arms straight.

(2) The hips and shoulders rise at the same rate during the 1st pull while the knees are pulled back slightly so that shins are vertical to the floor by the time the bar reaches your knees. This, as opposed to letting the hips rise faster than the shoulders, which would make the lift a deadlift, which we have resolutely determined is NOT the lift we’re working on – see point (1) above for reinforcement of this.

Many thanks to Michael Favre, M.Ed, from the Univ. of Michigan and his article entitled “The First Pull” for the above pictures (you can click on the pictures to see larger versions with more legible text boxes)

By pushing into the floor and ensuring the hips and shoulders rise at the same rate, your ensure that your body is well positioned for an efficient and explosive 2nd pull. I think Everett says it best in his article when he writes “(t)he first pull serves only to optimize the second,” and thus, by extension, “the starting position serves to allow that second-pull-optimizing first pull.”

Make no mistake, lots more could be said on this subject, but those were the points emphasized on Thursday. After reviewing both the start position and 1st pull with PVC, everyone divvied themselves up to work through the nights Snatch complex.

6 x Snatch Complex 

Each snatch complex consisted of 1 Pwr Snatch + 1 Hang Squat Snatch + 2 OHS.  Everyone was highly encouraged to pause at the bottom of each OHS for at least a 1-count, if not 2-count, to work on stabilizing in the receiving position of a full squat snatch. Weight could be increased across all sets, but without going to failure; for those with a 1RM, the suggested weight limiter was approximately 70% of the 1RM. This would ensure a moderate amount of resistance while still allowing people to concentrate on their form and produce crisp, efficient movements.
Sebastian/Ben/Seabass having a relatively laid-back 29th Birthday! 

For those who are still relatively new to the snatch, or just not quite comfortable enough for the complex, we worked a Burgener-esque type complex consisting of 1 Hang Shrug + 1 Hang High Pull + 1 Hang Power Snatch + 1 OHS. If ever you find yourself struggling during a snatch workout (pulling early, not fully extending the hips, etc.), this is a great succession of movements to remind your body of the proper sequencing. Work through this series once or twice at light weight, and then go back to your lifts, and see if that doesn’t make a big difference.

 Partner Met-Con: 
4min Ladders of 2+ KB Swings, followed by 
10-to-2 Burpees and Bear Crawl

This was basically a two part met-con, with the first comprised of 4min of KB ladder, where P1 does two swings, then P2 does 2 swings, then P1 does 4, then P2 does 4, and so on and so on as high as possible in 4 minutes. At the end of 4 minutes, whichever partner was not swinging the KB immediately started on 10 burpees, and on the 10th burpee, performed a 50′ bear crawl. Once 50′ had been covered, the second partner performed their 10 burpees and then a 50′ bear crawl. Partners worked down the bear crawl ladder (10-8-6-4-2) until done.

Great work all around – awesome to see so many people working really hard to incorporate the adjustments into their set-up and 1st pulls. Now then, not that you haven’t wasted enough time at work reading through today’s blog entry and formulating your witty and poignant comments, but you probably want to give yourself another 5 & 1/2 minutes to check out NPR’s story on CrossFit & CFDC airing today:

To give you some background, we were lucky enough to have Emily Friedman of NPR’s Metro Connection stop by for a workout last week (“OFF THE WALL“). Emily was putting together a story on the rising popularity of CrossFit as a fitness regimen, and that story airs on WAMU/88.5FM today (Friday) from 1-2pm and then again tomorrow (Saturday) from 7-8am. You can also download the iTunes podcast (search “Metro Connection”), listen on Stitcher, or the NPR app. In fact, as of 10:30am this morning, the segment was already loaded on the NPR website, and you can listen to it by clicking the link above (the play button is just above the initial picture.

Also, don’t forget about the Run for Shelter 10K this Saturday down in Old Town. Race get’s underway at 8AM, and there will be a band at the finish line. If you’re not registered but want to, they will be conducting registration on site Saturday morning.

Lastly, a heads up regarding a Kipping Pull-Up Focused Elements this Sunday: we’ve been working a pretty detailed rotation of upper body work once a week on Tuesdays with the goal of getting people stronger (really, when aren’t we doing that?), but more specifically, producing more pull-ups. We will slowly add in some more dedicated work towards this goal, but a big piece of the pull-up pie is of course ‘kipping pull-ups.’ To help build up the kipping technique, this Sunday’s Elements (9-10am) will focus primarily on perfecting the kip and then applying it to pull-ups. We will be working upstairs, so you’ll have plenty of room. I would highly encourage anyone still struggling with kipping or pull-ups to wake up just a little bit earlier on Sunday and join us.



  1. Erica says:

    OMG, listening to Tom Brose on the radio is PRICELESS!!! And no-repping her on her first day, tough crowd.

  2. Mark Minukas says:

    Tom/Chris/Dan/SBV/Mary Catherine – you guys rock! Awesome radio article!

  3. Steph says:

    Happy b-day again Ben! And thank you for bringing birthday snacks, MC! I was very tempted by the cookies.

    Awesome piece on NPR.

    Good luck to all who are running tomorrow! See everyone Sunday!

  4. ppetersan says:

    Happy birthday, SBV.

    And congrats to everyone who was interviewed in the NPR piece. Well done!

  5. Dian says:

    Love the radio piece! I’m so proud of CFDC.

    Happy Birthday SBV!

    Good luck to everyone at the run tomorrow!

    Looking forward to class on Sunday.

  6. TomandAmi says:

    I am In a meeting so I cannot listen yet to the broadcast but this is great – so glad they went to the OG of DC Crossfit for the story.

    And who is that guy in the foreground with the massive back and guns?

  7. Julia says:

    Wow! Awesome! Such a cool story. Congrats!!!

    Tom A. – dunno, but looks like he’s got a face made for radio…

    Excited to see CFDCers crush some miles on Saturday!

  8. edgy reggie says:

    I just listened to the WAMU-FM Metro Connection article on CrossFit (and CrossFit DC in particular). When I listened to it, I had to smile. It was a great article.

    Probably one the best theme songs for CrossFit is the one at the end of the article: Young MC’s “Bust a Move.”

    Good snatch progression and review last night. I’m still focusing on not bending my arms early with the first pull.

    Another killer met-con last night (then again, any workout with burpees is killer).

    I have to agree with Mary Catherine’s statement from Metro Connection that CrossFit’s yin is the perfect complement to yoga’s yang. So I went and did my yang after the yin.

    I’m leaning towards doing the one-mile fun run for tomorrow’s “Run for Shelter 10K.”

  9. Dian says:

    Noted my calendar about the kipping pull-up Elements class. I’ll be there.

  10. SBV says:

    Another birthday spent with CFDC. Thank you all for the birthday wishes!

    I worked the snatch drilling at 45kg. Not only am I laying back excessively (see photo), but I’m landing with too wide of a stance. I’ve been noticing the same problem on squats lately where I set-up with my feet too wide. I’m fairly certain that I do this to compensate for a lack of ankle mobility. Whatever the case, it needs to stop because it’s poor mechanics and it placing unnecessary stress on my knees.

    Thanks to Ben for bearing with me on the metcon. Dude was chompin’ at the bit to keep moving while I was taking my sweet-ass time to move through the swings and burpees. I added one bear crawl at the end just to please the crowd. I’m glad my bear crawls make people happy. I believe Chris stated that my bear crawls look more like a dog trying to cover up its own shit. That’s my coach!

  11. Katie says:

    LOL, nice description of bear crawls!!

    Tom has an excellent radio voice…nice segment!

    I’m starting to feel a little better, but still coughing so running tomorrow won’t be happening for me. Good luck to everyone involved! I’ll be resting up with the hopes of seeing you all on Sunday.

  12. Sara says:

    Great classes yesterday. I saw lots of minor adjustments that made fore great improvements over the course of both classes.

    Great radio article too. I had to wait all day to listen to it.

  13. Monica Niska says:

    Radio piece was fantastic! Really a great promo for CFDC.

    Yesterday was wonderful. Snatches are always tough for me, it was good to practice the form from an element perspective and then apply immediately. Everyone in my group seemed to increase flexibility and improve with each round.

    Hope to get to CFDC on Sunday!

  14. Sara says:

    Good Luck to all running tomorrow. If I don’t have the headache I have right now tomorrow morning I will definitely be there to cheer you guys on.