July 4, 2012
July 9, 2012

It’s no secret that we’re fans of complexes, but if we had to explain why…well, that could take a while, so if we had to explain why in one sentence, it would be because the sum of a barbell complex is so much more than it’s individual parts. Kinda trite, but definitely true.

15 Ankle Circles/foot, 
Toe Walk 1/2 Ct, 
15 Pause Squats, 
Heel Walk 1/2 Ct, 
15 Push-Ups, 
Toy Soldier Walk 1/2 Ct 
(walking straight leg swings); then, 
3 x 5 Pass Thrus, 5 OHS, 5 Sotts Press 
Technique Warm-Up: 
5 Hang Snatch Shrug, 
5 Hang Snatch Hi-Pull, 
5 Snatch Turnover, & 
5 Snatch Balance 
Snatch Complex

Two weeks ago class focused on a clean complex (“HOT AND HEAVY“), and in writing about in our blog-post, we talked about the fact that “[b]arbell complexes, especially Oly complexes, are often employed to help improve a lifter’s execution of the main movement.” Specifically, the complex over-emphasize pieces of the main lift (here, the snatch) by employing multiple movements while using weights that are sub-maximal, or at least sub-max compared to what could be used for any of the individual movements.

This Thursday’s complex was made up of 8 sets of 1 Power Snatch, 1 Hang (squat) Snatch, and 1 Snatch Balance. The power snatch helps to encourage powerful leg drive and hip extension, since we aren’t pulling under the bar, as well as a more aggressive turnover. The hang (squat) snatch incorporates the powerful hip extension, since we don’t have the benefit of pulling the bar from the floor, but also forces us to stay upright in our extension, and to pull into the squat position in conjunction with the aggressive turnover. Finally, to really emphasize driving down under the bar, while landing in a strong squat position (feet not too wide) with the shoulders shrugged and back tight, we finished off with a snatch balance.

This complex is extremely similar to – and a natural progressive step from – a snatch complex we did back in April (“STARTING FROM SNATCH“), which consisted of 1 Power Snatch, 1 Hang (squat) Snatch, and 2 OHS. Also similar was the scaled version programmed for those who are still new to/learning the snatch, which consisted of 6 sets of 1 Snatch Shrug, 1 Snatch Hi-Pull, and 2 Hang Power Snatch. 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. 

3 x 12 OH Plate Sit-Ups + 12 OH Lunges 

With most of the class devoted to the snatch complex, we finished things off with a quick met-con which really emphasized shoulder and core stability via 3 rounds of 12 OH Plate Sit-Ups and 12 OH Lunges (6 per leg). For the OH Plate Sit-Up, start by lying on your back with the plate held in straight above your chest with arms fully extended. Engage the abs, keep the arms extended and sit-up while driving the plate into an overhead position:

Follow a few of these with the OH lunges, and you’ll have a good reminder of how important shoulder stability is to keeping weight balance/held overhead (kinda like the snatch, right??).

Please remember to hydrate, and do your best to keep cool this weekend. Sunday’s Elements class will focus on KB swings and Double Unders. More importantly, this Sunday is the penultimate class in the squat cycle, programmed at 3 sets of singles done at 100% of your soon-to-be-old-1RM. Come ready to squat! Until then, feel free to hate on Tom who recently fit in a workout a San Francisco CrossFit with coaches Kelly “KStarr” Starrett and Diane Fu:

“I got in a nice workout at San Fran CF today, where it was sunny and about 75, with a nice ocean breeze and view of the Golden Gate bridge. Don’t be too jealous.”


  1. Katie says:

    Tom, I assume KStarr fixed all your mobility issues while you were there? 75 degrees sounds awesome. We miss you here, but not too much, since Chris and Sara did a great job running class.

    I was happy to have a chance to really focus on snatch form. I mainly stuck to the scaled version, but tried one or two squat snatches. I think I need to work more on stabilizing in the OH position before trying too many squat snatches and snatch balances…got the chance to work on that with an OHS at the end of each complex. Those are tough, but I think I improved through the sets, particularly when Sara reminded me which way I’m supposed to think about rotating my shoulders/armpits. (armpits toward the opposite wall) During Hope last month, I realized I’m really uncomfortable the first pull of the power snatch, even though it’s simple, because I tend to just do hang snatches. Going from the floor felt a little better last night, but I need more work to make it one fluid movement.

    I was so grateful for a short metcon after Tuesday’s bear crawl-fest. Used a 15# plate and finished with everyone else, which is always nice.

    Looking forward to Sunday squats. (I can’t believe I’m actually saying that! I hated squats a few short weeks ago.)

  2. SBV says:

    Monster session for me on Thursday night. Worked up to 135# on the snatch complex and stuck all three movements. Something seemed to click last night. Perhaps all the drilling is beginning to pay off.

    Finished the metcon in 4.03 with a 45# plate. Was right on MC and Erica’s respective tails until the last round of sit-ups. Nice, short metcon was the perfect compliment to the Oly complex. Practiced some kipping pull-ups afterward upstairs in the air conditioning.

  3. Kenna says:

    Aw I’m bummed I missed snatches, those are one of my favs. I’ve been sick, but am on the mend and hope to fit in Sunday’s class before heading to Austin for two weeks for work… I’ve been missing CFDC!!

  4. Look at Tom with KStarr! I’m so jealous–I LOVE him! So cool 🙂

    Fun, hot workout last night. Crazy enough, I’m starting to love snatches!!!

    See you all on Sunday!

  5. Sara says:

    I am no stranger to this type of complex. In fact I believe I did something very similar earlier in the week. I worked up to ~35kg really focusing on the upright position. I missed my hang snatch at this weight because I didn’t keep the bar in close enough and landed on my toes. I gave it a good 4-5 second fight but just couldn’t regain my balance. I did the snatch balance in that set and it was really good.

    I saw lots of great work and improvements in technique yesterday by everyone as well.

    For the metcon I subbed overhead step ups instead of the lunges. I started with a 45lb plate and man did it kick my butt. I managed to finish out the round but dropped to 35lbs after that. I was really suffering even on the last 2 rounds. Definitely should have started with the 35lb plate. I think it would have been more efficient. I expended too much energy trying to finish the first round with the 45 and had very little left for the last 2 rounds. Oh well I learned a lesson.

  6. Erica says:

    MC rocked the snatches yesterday. And thanks for Steph for pointing out why I couldn’t get the snatches to work (grrr) and to Chris for suggesting I just “heave the hell out of it” (those are my words, not his). My abs were killing me yesterday, but surprisingly okay today. Now let’s see how I feel after having taken MC’s amazingly awesome yoga class (my first yoga class ever!) with Steph today. So fun!

    Gearing up for an olympic triathlon tomorrow in 106 degree heat. Maybe the heat index will go the opposite way and it’ll feel like only 90 degrees.

    See you Sunday

  7. Andraea says:

    I really enjoy doing snatches so I was happy to see them in the workout yesterday. But the snatch balance didn’t go so well and I kept it light in hopes that by the end of the 8 rounds I will have gotten the move down. The 8th was definitely better than the previous rounds but still have a lot of room for improvement. Jess was rocking them and was an inspiration to watch but I think my fear of the movement got in my way. Way to go Jess on the snatch balances!

    Perfect short and effective metcon!

  8. Jessi says:

    inspiring, wow–thanks, andraea! i’m gaining confidence in my snatch balances since having to basically figure out how to do them in crossfit hope. we had a great team at the bar, i love it when we all push each other. it fires me up!