June 6, 2012
June 11, 2012

Following an equipment-less Tuesday, Thursday involved plenty of bar work to sate people’s hungers for some added weight.

50 Jumping Jacks, 1/2 Ct Hamstring Walk, 1/2 Ct Spider Lunge, 50 Jumping Jacks; then, 
3 x 5 Push-Ups & 10 Squats; then, 
Sampson Stretch and Band-Resisted Tricep/Lat Stretch 

Skill: Tall Clean 3, 2, 2, 1, 1 

If the tall cleans felt familiar, it’s because we worked on them just three weeks ago (“BY ALL CLEANS“).

In the May 18th blog-post referred to above, we used the word “aggressive” in talking about the pull for the tall clean. This was not by chance, and it’s amazing we only used it once. The fact is, tall cleans must be, if nothing else, aggressive and explosive. Agressively Explosive. The kind of explosiveness that would chase the barbell around the entire gym and maul it horribly, if only you would let it off the chain.

Rather than falling or dropping under the bar, the tall clean can really only be accomplished by aggressively pulling yourself into the receiving position. Imagine the bar is stuck in place, unable to move higher than your waist – you are still pulling on the bar, but only to pull yourself under the weight, rather than pulling the weight higher up your body.

Tall cleans can be frustrating but are great tools for improving full cleans, and although not everyone may have felt the difference, it sure showed during the met-con.

8min Cluster & Burpee Ladder

As programmed, each athlete had 8 minutes to see how high up the cluster/burpee ladder they could climb, adding an additional rep of each exercise with each additional round. Thus, the first rung was 1 cluster and 1 burpee, the second rung was 2 of each, the third three of each, and so on. If the met-con felt familiar, it’s because we performed the same things just…well, it was actually over 6 months ago. So, it wasn’t that recently, but the point is, we’ve done it before (“THE FRONT LINES“).

The difference is, last time we preceded it with front squats, and this time it was tall cleans. The difference showed in how many people were actually pulling themselves under the bar for the clusters, as opposed to power cleaning the weight and then front squatting.

Clusters are a combination of cleans and thrusters, and thrusters are a combination of front squats and push press. That’s quite the combination of combinations, and it makes for lots to think about and concentrate on. However, the easiest part of this multi-combo movement to accomplish should be depth. Should be.

So are people not going deep enough? Actually, the depth on the clusters Thursday night was pretty good, although, sadly, there are still a few of you who’ve been working out with us long enough for which a lack of depth can only be seen as out right refusal. That aside, however, it’s not a lack of depth that needs addressing, it’s how some people are achieving that depth.

The flip side of not squatting deep enough is that some are getting so pre-occupied with hitting depth, they’re collapsing into the bottom of their squat position to achieve it. Collapsing causes the knees to cave in, the back to round, the elbows to drop, and the torso pitch forward, all of which makes completing the rest of the movement infinitely more difficult (not to mention the increased chances for hurting yourself). Yes, we want you to hit proper depth, but we also want you to do it under control – fast is fine, but fast doesn’t mean out of control. Maintain posture, with the elbows up and knees driving out, and that will make the rest of the movement a lot easier and safer.

Good luck to everyone competing in the CrossFit for Hope workout this Saturday – the weather looks like it’s going to be awesome, and considering the cause and the enormous crew, it should be a great time. This Sunday will be the second of our 3-week off-squat mini-wave, but, if last Sunday was any indication, that certainly doesn’t mean we won’t be attacking the weights. Come prepared!



  1. Erica says:

    I think thrusters should be called FRESSES, if clusters are cleans and thrusters, just saying. Maybe I need to write a note to HQ. I’m sure that would go over really well.

    Also, Ben and I were watching CrossFit games update last night and it made us excited for July 13-15 which I think is the end of our squat cycle…do I hear a viewing/celebration party in order??

    Back to last night, I am on the team that finds tall cleans difficult and frustrating. I felt very discombobulated so dropped to a 30# bar just to (try and) get the movement before working my way back up. I used 65# for the cluster-burpee ladder and ended a few burpees shy of 8 full rounds.

    Very excited for Saturday and looking forward to watching Ben and some of my other teammates compete. Wear your sunscreen! It’s going to be a scorcher.

  2. Katie says:

    YES to a party!!! I definitely want to watch the Games with people who are also excited about it.

    First time trying tall cleans. I agree they are frustrating, but I do get why they’re so beneficial. One of my challenges is distinguishing “aggressively pulling under” vs. “falling/dropping.”

    “Imagine the bar is stuck in place, unable to move higher than your waist…” –> I didn’t have to imagine, as Chris made this a reality with his trusty PVC. I failed on the reps where he did this, but it did help me get the feel of what I should be doing.

    I used 30# for the metcon. I got a couple good clusters at the beginning, then went to separating my clean and thruster. I finished 6 rounds + 1 cluster. (I wasn’t feeling great, so should be able to do more weight or reps when I’m at 100%.)

    Excited/nervous for tomorrow. I’m going to try to get there around 10 to watch. I’m sure I’ll be able to find everyone by the cheering once the workout starts. Also, if anyone needs donations to meet the $30 minimum, please let me know, because I haven’t made my donation yet and can help someone out.

  3. Julia says:

    Pretty tough outing for me last night – Erica, I think the word I’d use is ‘frusters’? But as always, good fun and great practice.

    GOOD LUCK to everyone taking on Hope tomorrow!!

  4. Andraea says:

    Good luck to everyone participating in Hope tomorrow!

    Tall cleans aren’t my favorite, just awkward and frustrating and a move that I don’t enjoy doing. Maybe one day I’ll learn to enjoy them better. I think I worked at 55lbs for the sets and by the end I was probably doing more of a clean.

    For the metcon I used 70lbs and got through 7 complete rounds. And to the guys who were in front of Amelia and I during the metcon(and you know who you are) all I have to say is: USE MORE WEIGHT THAN THE GIRLS! Hahaha! Just had to call them out and push them to go big! but seriously…

    I think next time I’m going to try go first as it was rough standing there for 8 minutes watching it and then getting relaxed, had a hard time diving into with a lot of energy.

  5. SBV says:

    Very impressive stuff, Erica and Andraea! I just did this workout and only managed 7 rounds plus 4 clusters with 95# on the bar. You guys used basically the same weight as me and put up awesome scores. You guys are getting seriously strong.

  6. Tom Brose says:

    Guys, don’t be scared! There is no shame in being out-lifted by some of these ladies (but I do like the overall message of upping the weights).

    The tall clean is one of the most frustrating drills for me (second only to the tall snatch?), but it pays off. even when we see cheating, its just a really high hang clean that doesn’t count. but when we go to actually using the hips in the clean, everything comes together.

    The Cluster/burpee combo is as simple and brutal as it gets. The pace starts out so fast through 3-4, then things get nasty fast. Good work pushing through and keeping the pace up into the higher rounds.

  7. Kenna says:

    Holy smokes, folks! My quads are sore! Is that the place that’s supposed to be sore today?? I mean, I’m sore in other places too, but the quads just surprised me!

    I did 40#s on the for both exercises until my 7th (last) round of clusters and I dropped 5#. Got through 3.5 of the burpees on that round before time. Thank you to Katie for counting for me—I was having math issues… Props to the gals hitting the big weights! Yesterday was total GIRL POWER in the 6pm class!

    This class I felt like I was slightly more in control of my body than usual. After a coaching tip, I felt like I was able to understand it in my head and then somewhat translate it through my body. I was not perfect by any means, but it feels good to see some improvement there. I think I actually got the hang of the tall cleans (at least kinda)!

    Also since the metcon combined cleans + thrusters + burpees, shouldn’t it be called “crustees”??

  8. Ben says:

    Crustees! That is perfect!

    I don’t know what it is with this crustee workout. Every time we do this workout I seriously underestimate it. We used 115 lbs and I got a full 7 rounds, finished my 7th burpee with about 5 seconds left. Started off really strong, but lost my pace after round 4 (and unfortunately some of my form).

    We worked our way up to 125 lbs on the tall cleans. Starting to become a big fan of this movement, sorry Tom.

    Until next time Crustees, until next time……

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