May 2, 2012
May 8, 2012

The predominant theme to Thursday programming was explosive-movement, that much should be clear. However, part-and-parcel of any explosive work is learning to relax, to get rid of excess tension in the body so that the power generated can effectively be applied to the task at hand (whether that’s moving weight or jumping across the floor).

8 x 2 Power Clean + 3 Broad Jump for Max Distance 

The goal of the workout was to remain consistently explosive across the board. As part of this, the program called for a “touch-and-go” rep on the second power clean, with the understanding that this would limit the amount of weight that could be used. However, weight could be increased in the power cleans as desired (i.e., you didn’t have to remain at the same weight across all 8 sets), so long as they remained crisp through out the workout.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but one tip that will really help – especially in the catch/turnover phase of the clean – is to relax the grip. Simply because you’re holding onto the bar with your hands is no reason to over-grip. And it’s not just Oly lifting that preaches this approach. Tennis. Golf. Lacrosse. Baseball. Even rock climbing and…wait for it…blacksmithing!

From the Tidewater Blacksmith’s Guild, Inc. Beginners Class webpage is the heading ‘Hammer control/Working at the anvil,’ under which are these instructions: “Get a grip, thumb tucked in , relax grip. Hold just tight enough to control it.”

An opportune photo at an opportune moment: 
Andraea mid-turnover during a clean this past winter with grip clearly relaxed.

Unnecessary muscular tension, especially excessive tension due to over-gripping, needlessly restrict the body’s motor resources away from the most important task of generating the power to lift the barbell. Excessively over-gripping the bar has a tendency to “run up the arm.” That is, “muscles other than the actual gripping muscles become involved needlessly. As a result, a ‘seamless’ switch from flexing to extending the arms is met with an ‘internal resistance’ during the instantaneous fixing of the bar in the snatch.” (from Essential Components of Weightlifting Technique – part 1, by Andrew Charniga, Jr.)

In short, excessively gripping the bar will actually impair your ability to clean or snatch properly. This is especially true during the turnover or catch phase of the clean, as the excessively tight grip will not allow the elbows to adequately spin around the bar. The hook grip (fingers wrapped over the thumb)can help, as it provides a lifter with a firm grip without having to resort to excessive tension in the hands and forearms.

Following 8 sets of the clean-broad jump combo, everyone grabbed a single dumbbell for the day’s met-con involving, you guessed it, explosive movements.

 DB Snatch Rt Arm + OH Lunge Rt. Arm + DB Snatch Lf Arm + OH Lunge Lf Arm 

Start with the dumbbell in the right hand, and perform 15 DB snatches (starting each snatch from just below the knees). On the 15th rep, keep the DB locked out in the overhead position, and then perform 15 lunges. After 15 lunges, drop the DB, switch hands, and then perform 15 DB snatches with the left arm followed by 15 lunges with the DB held overhead in the left hand. Repeat for 12 reps, and then 9, all for time.

Nice work. Be sure to check out Tuesday’s blogpost/announcement regarding the Mid-Atlantic Affiliates CrossFit for Hope workout. While a few people have signed up, there were some questions regarding scaling – scaling will roundly be implemented, including less weight for the barbell exercises, and both bands and ring rows for the pull-ups. In short, everyone will be able to do the workout. Also, we will be back on our regular Element’s program this Sunday at 9AM, covering OHS and Snatch (heavy emphasis on the OHS, and the turn-over/catch of the snatch). If you have any requests, be sure to leave a comment and we will work it into the Elements programming. See you then.



  1. edgy reggie says:

    I enjoyed last night’s workout; although, parts of it were more challenging for me.

    Power clean + broad jumps: I did this workout in two parts: In the 6:00 p.m. class, I managed to get in six sets. I worked up to 175# (which was getting close to my clean PR). For the most part, the clean and the broad jumps felt good; however, I felt myself getting tired at 175# on the cleans and missing my seventh set. In the 7:00 p.m. class, I dialed down the weight to 165# and got two more sets of the combo in [thanks Ben (Brown) and Mark for letting me work in with you].

    Met-con: I love dumbbell snatches, but I haven’t performed them in a while. Even though I am right-handed, I usually will start with my weak (left) side; this particular met-con took a little adjusting. I also like lunges; however, I know that I need to get better depth with them. Whenever my hips are not tight, I get better depth. If my hips are tight (like they were last night), my depth suffers. Thanks to Coach Salty for the form check and for lowering my weight.

    Post-class: Iyengar yoga with Winnie. Lots of static stretching (as a result of two seasoned marathoners in the class). After yoga, I felt as if I could pick up a (slightly) heavier dummbell and do the met-com again (and better). Really. 🙂

    Everybody did great work in a slighlty challenging environment (but get used it; it’s only going to get hotter on the court…drink lots of water before, during, and after class)

    @Coach Salty (& @Coach): It’s interesting that you mentioned relaxing the grip in the current blog. I recently read this article from Catalyst Athletics about eliminating the hook grip during weightlifting (particularly with the snatch) warm-ups as a means of increasing grip strength. I would be interested in your (and Coach’s and Coach Sara’s) thoughts about this.

    Oh…and where was Dian? 🙂

  2. Steph says:

    Holy awesome picture of Peter! Well done, Tom!

    Thanks to Chris for letting me do class with adjusted movements. I miss doing class!

    Worked on 8 sets of 5 front squats with a 1-1000 pause at the bottom. Kept the weight light at 85 to focus on depth and not shifting. Thought they went well. Thanks to Andraea, MC, Jess and Kathy for letting me work with you!

    For the metcon I did single-arm presses instead of snatches. That was a fun metcon. The lunges on the last round was tough, had to really focus on keeping the core tight.

    See everyone Sunday!

  3. edgy reggie says:

    Totally off-topic (I know), but…R.I.P. MCA.

  4. Erica says:

    I agree Steph, I think the pic of Peter is amazing! I worked with Meels, Dana, Ami and Sara on the cleans and we worked up to 75# for the 6 sets. First time I think I made almost no negative comments about having to cleans. I still have so much work to do, but they are feeling much better. Now, I can move out to complaining about how much I hate snatches. 🙂 So maybe I’ll have to go the 9 am this week too…My first two broad jumps for each set were much better than my third. I liked the met-con although between the warm up and the metcon, my legs were fried (although okay today, strangely). I used 20# dbs.

    I loved the focus on the kip in the elements class. I’d definitely be up for that again. I’d also be interested in some other movements that seem so basic but are so not basic like handstand push ups and ROWING!!

  5. Katie says:

    All the photography in this post is great!! The one of Andraea is really helpful, since my focus right now is on relaxing my grip. Cleans felt decent, I also need to work on staying on my heels and not “jumping forward.” I did my sets at 50#, and one set at 55#. I really want to focus on form so I can go up in weight more.

    This metcon slaughtered me, I was so nauseous at the end! Thank you so much to everyone for the encouragement, I really needed it last night. Reggie, you’re totally right about hydration…I think I was dehydrated from happy hour Wednesday night. I’M NEVER DRINKING AGAIN! Anyway, I started with a 15# DB, but went to my backup 12.5# after a couple lunges. I can snatch 15# just fine, but holding that over my head while lunging? Not so much. Also, I think this workout was deceptive…”15-12-9 snatches and lunges? No big deal.” But it was actually a totaly of 72 snatches and 72 lunges, if I did my math correctly…that sounds like more. :o) I’m glad I managed to push through.

    I’m going to drink gallons of water in preparation for Sunday. Looking forward to snatches and OHS, as hard as they are…I’ll be sure to bring tape! I agree with Erica, an Elements on rowing would be excellent.

  6. Sara says:

    Lots of great pictures in the blog post.

    Like Steph I had a few modifications for this workout. Instead of broad jumps I did thrusters after the powercleans. As a result I was restricted to a weight that was clearly too light for the powercleans. I ended up doing 1 power clean and one hang power clean. I did all my sets at 93lbs. As I look back I think I could have gone a bit heavier on with the thrusters but not by much.

    For the metcon I did overhead step-ups instead of lunges. I had to use different weights for the step-ups and snatches. It occurred to me that I went to light with the snatches using a 30lb DB and on the step-ups I used a 25lb DB. It took me way longer than everyone in class to finish this metcon.

  7. Dian says:

    Wow, really amazing photos with this post.

    Unfortunately Reggie I was in my office feeling blue since I knew I was missing another amazing class. Looking forward to class on Sunday and really looking forward to just getting back in class regularly and back on track.

    Continuing off topic-I was really sad to hear about MCA today. I remember when he was diagnosed with cancer back in ’09 and I really hoped he would beat it. My dad had a similar type of cancer and it is totally treatable if caught at the right time. The anniversary of my dad’s death is tomorrow so reading about MCA today was particularly sad. Safe journey home MCA. And with that, I think I will go wake up the neighbors with a little Sabotage!

  8. Katie says:

    I forgot to mention that I signed up for CrossFit for Hope! 11 a.m. heat. I’m so excited!!