As we inch closer to the close-out of our squat cycle, there’s definitely an air of restless anticipation for the weights to come. Some are eager to see what they can do, some are nervous as to how much they’ll improve, and some are ready to go now, wanting to up their percentages before we even get to the end. Why? Well, simply because the weights are too light for them. So shouldn’t their percentages be increased so that they can get stronger and have a better PR?
No. And here’s why: While the goal of the squat cycle was to improve everyone’s max squat, not all of us needed more strength. Does that mean they aren’t getting stronger? Of course not. Instead, it means that some of us lacked something else; some of us had other things other than just a lack of strength, inhibiting our abilities. For some, it was a lack of form, or consistent form, that was limiting them. For other, it was comfort and confidence that was keeping them from moving more weight. In effect, the weights were scaled to allow for maximum adaptation to squatting.
Way back in June of last year, we posted a discussion about scaling. I would highly encourage everyone to go back and read that discussion in its entirety, but to be clear, let’s revisit the over-arching theory behind scaling. Scaling is NOT about being too weak. Instead,
[s]caling is about mastering, and thus optimizing, your own progress. That is never a bad thing. Adaptation doesn’t come from continually trying to get through workouts beyond ones scope. Progress is a product of relentlessly hammering the weak links, so you can move up the ladder of difficulty. Keep in mind that progress is often a 2 steps forward, 1 step back type of game. So long as we maintain that general forward trend, we make progress.
The goal of the squat cycle was designed to build-up not just strength, but also form and confidence, ensuring that all three are operating at or near the same levels. So yes, some of you are strong enough to handle a higher PR now, but perhaps that wasn’t the issue before. So, instead of wanting to push the numbers higher now, wait, ensure that your form is crisp and unfailing, and be happy that you are going to walk into the gym on the final day of the squat cycle knowing that you’re about to crush your old PR.
Warm-Up for the day’s working sets was roughly programmed at 1 x 10 @ 30%, 1x 8 @ 50%, 1x 5 @ 65%, 1x 3 @ 75%, and, 1 x 2 @ 85%. As we mentioned last week, we use the term “roughly” because the higher in weight you’re climbing, the more warm-up sets you may need to take.
Add extra warm-up sets sparingly, however, as you don’t want to exhaust yourself before you get to the actual work sets – the goal is to warm your body up to both the movement and weight, making sure your muscles and CNS are primed to squat well, but also to ensure that you don’t shock yourself with a heavy load.
Knowing that we’ve been pairing hamstring- and glute-focused accessory work with all of our squat days, and considering the manual Glute-Ham raises had only appeared once, way back in the first wave, you knew they were bound to show up again before we closed out our squat cycle.
After laying out the mats, the programming was laid out as 3 sets of between 3 to 5 reps per set, immediately following each set with 15 hollow rocks.
We use a range of repetitions because MGHRs are not something to force yourself through, as form will undoubtedly break down, leading to a sort of on-your-knees-bent-over-good-morningish type of movement. Remember, the body should remain stiff during both the eccentric and concentric portions of the movement. Click the link above to watch a great demo video we’ve featured on the blog more than a few times if you’d like a visual of we’re talking about.
What are blourpees? In practice, they’re no different than a regular burpee: down + up = 1. In theory, however, they’re slightly different than regular burpees, simply because these are done to encourage comments on the blog:
If your pic goes up on the blog and you don’t post a comment, that’s 20 burpees for the entire class the next time you come in!!
As we said originally when we announced this policy, CrossFit – and especially CFDC – isn’t just a gym, it’s also a community, and an integral part of that community is communication. Communication is more than just posting your weight, reps and time, but also questions, observations, and yes, just plain ole comments.
“A community needs communication – certainly when we’re together, but just as importantly, when we’re apart.”
Community, and teamwork, is why we all do them together. The flip side, of course, is that not everyone has something they want to say each time, nor does everyone have the time to say something they want; however, the coaches figured that if your picture was featured on the blog, you should at least make an attempt to say something…anything.
OH, and as for the name, well they were successfully dubbed by Kenna less than a week after their institution as “blourpees (burpees as a result of a blog).”
Now then, howboutthemcomments?
I have a confession. I made a mistake on my squat weight yesterday. I wasn’t trying to jump up in weight prematurely, I just used the wrong spreadsheet. I did my sets at 75#, and should have done 70#. Oops. That said, they felt pretty good. My cues are chest up, keep the chest up, drive the chest up, push from the chest, don’t let the hips rise before the chest…etc. I know what to do, but haven’t successfully implemented it in to every rep (yet). Thanks to Kenna and Jen for keeping a close watch on me.
First time doing MGHRs — thanks to Tom for the great scaled “partner-assisted high-five” MGHRs, which allowed me to actually feel it in my hamstrings.
The 9:00 class was awesome. I got myself up on the rings without assistance, which I was thrilled about, because I couldn’t do that when we did ring work 6 weeks ago. (and I was SO frustrated about it!) Being able to do something you previously couldn’t is one of the greatest feelings. I got myself up, hung upside down with straight legs, and did a skin the cat with Erica’s coaching. I also managed to pull myself up from flat on my back to standing on the rope, which was cool as well.
The best thing about making progress is that everyone there with me was just as excited as I was. Thank you! :o)
The weight was definitely not too light for me. I had to do some extra warmup sets to get ready for yesterday’s 3×2 at 95%.
It was interesting to see a lot of people loving the belts during class so I tried it during one of my sets. The belt might have been put on too tight, but I was super dizzy that I could only do 1 rep, then had to take the belt off and do 2 extra reps. I might give the belt another try, but a little looser and possibly at a light weight just to see how it feels.
And yes, Katie, you were awesome yesterday! Congrats again on the progress on the rings!
Commenting because I certainly don’t want to be held responsible for everyone doing burpess…oh wait, nevermind.
Katie, sharing in everyones success is what makes it work. We all support and cheer eachother on.
Thanks to Steph, Sara and Chris for doing the workout with me after class. Squats felt much better than last week, albeit a much lighter volume.
I appreciate the point Chris about weights and numbers. Interestingly, it makes me think of something else that came up this weekend. After watching this really cool documentary about weightlifting, a former Olympian asked a group of girls why we did olympic lifting and if I had answered I would have said (besides “because my coach makes me”) that I do it because putting up higher and higher numbers makes me feel really proud, and strong and accomplished. But I also know that when I hit heavier weights with horrible form, the feeling of success is limited. Because I know it wasn’t earned. I know that I got the higher number, but the cost made it feel cheap. I squatted 130# which was 5 + more than my 95%, but I felt like my form was okay and it felt heavy, but doable.
Steph, about the belt. I loved it! I felt like the squats were actually easier, surprisingly. And it was tight, hurt to breathe, but I also think it helped me more with keeping my body position correct and with my breathing technique. But I can also totally understand how it was uncomfortable and could have made things more difficult. And not needing it is pretty bad ass!!
C’mon guys, now it’s time to get commenting!
Erica, your form was awesome! I was seriously impressed by you, Jessi, and Dian, and how solid your squats were.
My quest for “3 Wheels!” is definitely back on track after this Sunday’s performance. “3 Wheels!”, for those that don’t know, is a 315# pounds squat. The bar plus three 45# weights on each side equals 315#, thus we call it “3 Wheels!”. I was starting to doubt myself after last week’s 5 x 3 @ 90%. Fortunately, I came to life this week for 3 x 2 at 95% and am now confident that I can blow past my previous 1 RM.
I was hitting sticking points on some of my warm-up sets, which is a really bad sign. But, something kicked in on the warm-up set of 2 at 90%. It was like my CNS woke up or something. Whatever the case, something clicked and I really drove the shit out of my working sets.
Really enjoyed using the belt for the first time. I didn’t put it on very tightly, but I still think it provided some extra support.
Also had fun with Peter and Julia post-class working on handstand walks. Peter was definitely the best, and Julia was right there with him. I did take a few “steps,” but also crashed really hard a few times. We definitely need to get that mat/crash pad out more often after class to practice these types of things.
Last, but not least, a major thank you to the Merson-Brown family for hosting a few squat-cycler in need. My power was out in Arlington, but I was able to get some great rest in their spare bedroom. I owe you guys BIG TIME for that! Definitely no shortage of power at CFDC on Sunday morning!
I don’t know if ‘love’ is the right word, Steph! Between the belt and Oly shoes, I was so geared out I didn’t know what to do with myself. Not that the weight on the bar wasn’t tough (it was – definitely definitely not too light for me, either), but everything else felt so different that I really couldn’t tell you how the weight felt compared to last week. But it was cool to try something new, and I’m really glad we did the experimenting yesterday, and not on max-out day!
“Being able to do something you previously couldn’t is one of the greatest feelings” – couldn’t agree more, Katie.
And thank you SBV for the detailed 3W explanation. Next time I see someone squatting with that on their bar I will comment accordingly.
My hip flexors were on fire before I even started warming up yesterday. After 5 minutes in the squat during the warmup they were screaming at me. Then when I finally got under just the bar (15kg which is 33lbs) I think I was crying inside. I continued thought my warmups and each set got more difficult. When I hit my magic number range (anywhere from 54-62kg or 120lbs-135lbs) I thought this was going to be really bad. When I jumped passed those 2 warm-up sets to 70kg it all changed and finally the squats felt smooth and not really difficult at all. My working weight was 78kg (~171lbs) they felt really good. Thank you to Tom & Chris for the reminders to breathe in before starting my decent on the second rep. I am definitely one of those people who feels like the weight is a little light right now, but during this cycle the biggest change for me was continuing to become comfortable with the high bar position. I had only started using the high bar back squat a few months before we started the first wave. I was definitely not comfortable with it yet, but now I am. I can’t wait till we get to see where we are at in 2 weeks.
Thank you as well to Tom, Chris and Steph for being such a great crew to workout with after class.
Katie, you totally rocked yesterday! It was so great to see all your accomplishments!
I actually have no idea what my 1 rep squat max is – so when we started the squat cycle Chris and I came up with a number that was conservative. As a result, I have been really trying to focus on form and Sunday was definitely the most comfortable I have been with back squats. When the weights were super light (50-75%) I tried to exaggerate keeping my chest up and it really helped as the weight got heavier.
Believe it or not, I was also happy to have to do the blourpees. I started the 100 burpee challenge on memorial day so the 20 we did in class went towards my total.
Finally, as SBV noted, we had some fun practicing handstand walks after class. It’s a super difficult skill for me but something I would enjoy working on more. From the little bit of practice we did on Sunday I predict that both SBV and Julia will be handstand walking the length of the gym in no time.
OOOOHHH what is the burpee challenge! I want in 🙂
SBV, happy to help any time! And happy to contribute anything to your squat dominance. Katie, you were awesome to watch at 9 am. And please more rope climbing soon!!!
Erica: the 100-day burpee challenge is starting the 1st day with one burpee and adding a burpee every day. Sunday was the the 35th day of the challenge so I had to do 35 burpees. I arbitrarily picked memorial day because I knew this summer was going to be hectic and I knew this would at least get me doing burpees every day. if you want to join me tomorrow for day 37 you can “buy in” today for 666 burpees (total number I have done to date) 🙂
oMg, 666 sounds like a “devilish” amount of burpees peter
Great post and great reminders of the different goals and accomplishments of the squat cycle. I somehow managed to get motivated to do the squats today by myself. I got there and saw Chris who gave me a pep talk which definitely helped get me more pumped for it. Thanks Chris!
I was anxious to hit 95% and nervous at the same time. It definitely felt heavy, I did one more warm up of one rep which I think helped to it wasn’t such a shock to the system. I think I was really nervous for the first set of 2 reps at 95% that my form wasn’t that great and I felt myself pitch forward a bit. The next two sets were better, I was struggling on the last rep but pushed through it.
This squat cycle has definitely helped me squat better and understand the technique so much more. A lot of factors at play that I never thought of before and I feel comfortable squatting now. What I really need to focus on this coming week is stretching and opening the hips up and losing up the hip flexors. Chris showed me some hip stretches to do and I’m going to focus on that this coming week.
Katie – That’s awesome about your improvement on the rings!! Congrats!!
See you all tomorrow!
Commenting because…well, you know. 🙂
9:00 a.m. class: I haven’t been to one in a while, my weekend plans changed, and I decided to give it a go. I’m glad that I showed up because it was really cool to see Katie effortlessly perform a skin-the-cat. Well done, Katie! [By the way, you’re welcome. :-)]
[Keep at it, Dian! You will get there. :-)]
I liked the ring work, and ring inversions are a work-in-progress for me. Thanks to Coach Sara for the tips and the assistance.
Now getting down to the “nitty gritty” which was…
…Squat cycle 3.2: I was feeling pretty good about this workout (as if one could not tell from my grunts and hollers). My warm-ups felt good.
My ninety-five percent weight was 285#, and I can say that I felt good doing it (yes, it was still heavy…but manageable). Coach Salty called me out on my depth during set four, rep two (thank you Coach); therefore, I vowed to perform three legit reps for my final set. I did it, it felt great, and I still had something left in the tank.
[Insert MC Hammer’s (cheesy) “Too Legit to Quit here] 🙂
However, I wanted to save that “reserve” for the next two Sundays. I don’t wish to miss either class because I am really curious to see what I can do with my squats at even heavier weights. 🙂
I liked the rest of the class…even the (*cough*) “punishment” burpees (*cough*) did not faze me. 🙂
Note to SBV: I’ve been in some gyms where the 45# plates were also called “biscuits.” I do see 315# in your (near) future…which means that I will definitely have to step it up. 🙂
…and thanks to Coach Salty for the rope-climb progression tutorial in the 9:00 class.
But shouldn’t the blog title be “Too Squat To Handle?”
Just wondering. 🙂
My first blog comment…so exciting!! 😉 I’m working my way back up to my squat max. I used the belt (thanks, Chris). One question, does using the belt de-emphasize the need to have good core? Is it a crutch that I shouldn’t get used to? And should I only use it on the heaviest weight? I guess that was more than 1 question.
Great blog post – always good to remember what our goals are – particularly for the remedial squatters of the group like myself. I’m actually pretty astounded with my past self – because I did alot of running, I generally ignored my legs when it came to weights. I’ve still got a ways to go, but I’m so much more comfortable with the movement than I was before!
Of course, that means I’m going to be doing some squat homework after this cycle… I’m looking forward to seeing what steady increases in squat strength will do on hill and speed workouts!
I wasn’t in any photos, but I was mentioned by name so I’m playing it safe as to not be responsible for any blourpees!
I was/still am pretty sore from Sunday. I don’t think I’ve ever squatted 95lbs before! Still have a little ways to go on form, but practice makes perfect(er)!
Wow that was strange. I just wrote an extremely long comment but after I clicked
submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyhow, just wanted to say great blog!