July 6, 2012
July 11, 2012

There is simply no other exercise (and certainly no machine) that produces the level of central nervous system activity, improved balance and coordination, skeletal loading and bone density enhancement, muscular stimulation and growth, connective tissue stress and strength, psychological demand and toughness, and overall systemic conditioning than the correctly performed full squat. – Coach Mark Rippetoe 

We first posted the above quote after our first day (“ROCK THE SQUAT!“) on the squat cycle some 15 weeks ago. This past Sunday marked the penultimate day in the CFDC squat cycle, with everyone revisiting their old max for 3 singles.

Old max, as in that number everyone’s been basing their squats off of for the past 3-plus months.

Old max, as in that number everyone is about to smash through on the way to a new, and hopefully substantial, PR.

Some people got a little ahead of themselves and tacked on some extra weight to their squats this past Sunday – not ideal, but the enthusiasm is certainly appreciated. That just means of course, that even bigger and better things are expected of you next week.

Speaking of next week, there were a number of people asking just how next week is going to work – how many attempts were people going to get, and what should people be attempting, and how would it be judged – was everyone going to be watching?? Lot’s of good questions. Here are a few quick answers:

What to Shoot For: back at the beginning of the squat cycle, Tom mentioned that a lot of people could/would see at least a 10% increase in their squat numbers. For some of you, for whom form was the limiting factor (rather than just strength), you may see slightly more than a 10% increase. Calculate out a 10% increase using your old max, and that will give you a rough goal to shoot for.

How to Shoot for That Number: We haven’t settled on an exact structure for attempts, but limiting people to 3 seems to be most likely. That being the case, you could plan to do Attempt 1 with a 5-7% increase over your old max, and then Attempt 2 at 10%. This would leave Attempt 3 to (A) retry 10% if you missed it because your form was off; (B) drop slightly to maybe 8-9% if you missed 10% because it was too heavy (or too big a jump); or (C) after a successful attempt at 10%, perhaps increase to 12-15% over your old max depending on just how easy your second attempt went up.

How Will the Squats be Judged: By a coach. Plain and simple – one of the coaches needs to see your squat and validate the attempt.

Feel free to ask more questions in the comments section.

3 x 5 Pause Squats, 5 Push-Ups, 5 Lunges/side, 5 Alt-T’s/side; then,
Squat Walk RT 50′ (Width of the Ct),
20 Supermans/Hyper-extensions,
Squat Walk LF 50′ (Width of the Ct),
20 Scorpions,
Hip Cross-Over Stretch (60″/side)

Squat Cycle 3, Week 3:
Back Squat 3 x 1 @ 100%

Warm-Up for the day’s working sets was roughly programmed at 1 x 10 @ 30-40%, 1 x 8 @ 50%, 1 x 5 @ 65%, 1 x 3 @ 75%, 1 x 2 @ 85%, 1 x 1 @ 90%, and 1 x 1 95%.

Just to reiterate – as was so bluntly written on the whiteboard on Sunday – remember to get a spotter before lifting. It can be a coach, or it can be a classmate (preferably two), but don’t just expect that someone will be watching, waiting to help you when things get heavy.

Also, just to clarify: Spotters spot, judges judge. They don’t mix well.
Your spotters are there to make sure you’re safe, NOT to ensure you’re getting depth. At max weight, it’s too much to try to watch someone’s depth as well as help them if they get stuck. That’s one of the reasons will be using coaches next week to judge everyone’s PR attempts.

5 x 7 Partner Assisted Power KB Swings + 7 Partner Assisted Power Leg Raises

Two weeks ago, when we started the 3rd wave of the squat cycle (“IN THE SQUAT SEAT“), our accessory was “heavy” KB swings, which included heavier than normal KBs, two KBs, or partner assisted power swings, in which your partner actively pushed the KB into the back swing. This past Sunday, we revisited the power swings, but combined them with partner assisted power leg raises.

For the leg raises, one person lays on their back and holds their partners ankles for stability, raises both legs all the way up and then has their partner actively push their legs back towards the ground. The goal was to stop your legs hitting the ground and immediately kick them back up towards your partner.

Partners rotated after every exercise – so P1 did 7 power swings, and then P2 did 7 power swings, then P1 did 7 leg raises, and then P2 did 7 leg raises. This constituted one round. Partners continued in this fashion for 5 rounds.

One final announcement/reminder: next Sunday’s 9AM Elements class will be devoted to Squat Mobility! We will use the hour addressing the majority of issues that plague most people when it comes to squatting, working through stretches and mobility exercises with an eye to improving the squat position. The idea, of course, is to increase everyone’s chances of success in hitting big PR’s during the 10AM class, and Coach Mike Choi has offered to lend us a hand in this endeavor. As such, I would encourage all of you to come out. We will re-post a reminder with Thursday’s blog post, but if you have specific issues you’d like us to address, please highlight in the comments section.



  1. Steph says:

    Very interested in the Squat Mobility class next Sunday at 9, especially in getting some additional help to loosen up the hip flexors and tight IT bands. Thanks, Chris and Mike!

    Yesterday was a good squat day, and thanks to Sara and Chris for attacking the workout with me again after class. I liked that there was a few extra sets of warm-ups prescribed on the board this time so I didn’t have to add additional ones myself. 3 sets of 1 at 155 felt pretty good. I’m excited but also nervous to see what I can do next week. Looking forward to seeing improved numbers from all next week, and hopefully with great form!

    By the way, I totally pushed back my work trip so I can be here for the end of the squat cycle!

    See everyone tomorrow!

  2. Erica says:

    I heard the olympic music playing in the background as I read through the post. Squats felt good yesterday. Very excited to see what happens next week. It feels like by this point, the basic mechanics of a squat are drilled into my head, I only wonder what would happen if we ever did a clean cycle. Or a (ugh) snatch cycle. Or something like that…or a running cycle! Just looking around you can see everyone working hard to try and do proper form.

    Also excited for mobility work. I can definitely use that (even though I’m not entirely sure I know what that means).


  3. SBV says:

    I suppose I feel a little conflicted as we enter the final week of the squat cycle. My first thought is that I don’t want it to end. It’s not necessarily the squats that I love so much, but moreso the structured format and continuous progression. I love the fact that we’ve had a central theme to the last 16 weeks and don’t want to go back to “constantly varied.” I’ve loved the fact that the squat cycle has forced me to use a little more weight each week than I normally would have on my own. The percentage-based approach has been critical. I’ve been lobbying Tom for a deadlift cycle (or any cycle, for that matter) as soon as this one’s over. I think it’s been so beneficial for all of us and I don’t want it to end.

    My next thought is that I feel a little bit of pressure now. I’ve dedicated 16 weeks of my life toward increasing my back squat. Next Sunday is judgment day, so to speak. I feel pressure to reach 315, a 10% increase from 285. Is it a failure if I don’t set a big PR?

    My last thought is that heavy back squats sure are taxing on the system. I was SO HUNGRY all day Sunday, fell asleep on the couch at 8, and was asleep in bed before 10. The quote Chris posted from Mark Rippetoe sure is spot on. The benefits from a correctly performed full squats are immense, but they sure are taxing.

    I’m so proud of the CFDC ladies for committing to this squat cycle. I’m so excited to see the PRs flowing next Sunday.

  4. Katie says:

    Of course, I first have to comment on the 9:00 class, which has been going very well the past few weeks. Yesterday I got my first double under! It was crazy. I have no idea what I did differently, it felt the same as when I had previously attempted them, except the rope actually went under twice. I can’t wait to string a couple together! I also made it halfway up the rope, and can’t wait to make it all the way up.

    Squats felt okay, though I still struggle at the bottom “sticking” point to not let my hips rise early. Sara’s cue to push through the heels (in addition to keeping the chest up) seemed to help on my last rep. I also think I may be inadvertently losing some tightness at the bottom, so I’ll watch for that. I’m excited for next week, but not too concerned because I’ve felt so much of an increase in my strength already — the number will just be icing on the cake.

    Fun metcon! It was a little mroe work than it seemed because you were still working to push against your partner even when you were “resting.”

    I’m heading to Wolf Trap for a Seal concert tomorrow night, so I won’t make it to class. I plan to make up the workout on my own Wednesday evening.

  5. edgy reggie says:

    Fist bumps to everyone who came in, worked hard, and stuck with this squat cycle. To the ladies of CrossFit DC: I give all of you major props for a job well-done!

    Just like last week, I came in focused on what I could do with my one rep max for three singles. Unfortunately, I fell short by one: My first two at 300# felt good, and I got stuck on the third rep (at least I got good depth on all three). Coach Salty gave me some good advice (thanks!) on using a belt for next Sunday’s session…which I will bring and use. 330#, here I come! 🙂

    Also, thanks to Coach Salty for spotting me on my singles. Thanks to Tom A. for the form check (always).

    [SBV: All good things must come to an end (as you well know), but I think the deadlift cycle is an excellent idea. I’m up for it.]

    Greg and I were partners for the brief and fun met-con. We used the 32 kg kettlebell for the swings. Hats off to Greg for performing the swings at 32 kg for just the second time.

    I’m looking forward to both the 9:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. sessions next Sunday (yeah, I should be at both). Until then, I will see everyone at class tomorrow and Thursday.

    Continue to stay cool and stay hydrated.

  6. edgy reggie says:

    I almost forgot: Thanks to Dian, Ami, and Greg for performing an additional set in the met-con. After completing five rounds, I felt pretty good and half-jokingly said to Ami and Dian “One more round?”

    They jumped in and did it. Well done!

  7. Erica says:

    Alright people, while I love being called awesome and having people acknowledge good, hard work, c’mon it’s not because we are girls and the girls are kicking ass. It’s because everyone is working super hard and putting in the work. Maybe I’m overstepping my role speaking for the cfdc ladies (which I’m not) but we always kick ass. And of course we are pumped and pushing it for the squat cycle because that’s what cfdcers do. Not just cfdc ladies. So don’t be so surprised by our performances. 🙂 Please ignore the false cockiness. The feminist in me is coming out and just wanted to put those thoughts ou there Now let’s squat some more!! Woooohooo

  8. Steph says:

    Agreed! And I think we have just as many ladies at CFDC as gents. So why don’t we just give a big round of congrats and props to everyone who has been committed to the squat cycle!

  9. Monica Niska says:

    Love reading all of your comments and what you are getting out of every class! Great unity and success with every athlete. Looking forward to seeing you all soon.

  10. Julia says:

    Squat mobility session sounds awesome, thanks Chris and Mike. And thanks Steph for some great pre-class jump rope pointers, and MC and Ami for pre-squat belt assists. Team effort for sure.

    Congrats to Katie for her first DUs and to Erica for rocking post-class rope climbs! And well said, Erica and Steph. 🙂

  11. Ben says:

    Worked with SBV and Ethan on squats. Hit 285 for all three sets and it felt good, so I am hoping for a good number this coming Sunday (I don’t know what a good number is, but I want it).

    Enjoyed the metcon as well. Big fan of those KB swings. We used 32 KG.

    Really excited to see how everyone does this coming Sunday! Time to make the work pay off.

  12. Andraea says:

    Congrats Katie on the DU!! That’s awesome!

    I also give props to everyone on the squat cycle and I definitely support another cycle of something! It’s been great and have been looking forward each week of the squat cycle!

    Mackenzie and I went today and did the cycle and the 3 sets of 1 rep at 100% actually felt good! Last one was a bit rough but I felt good and I feel that my form on my squats now are worlds better than what I was doing before this cycle started. I’m a bit nervous for next Sunday since I would love a new PR. I’m going to try my best to make it for the class on Sunday although I haven’t been awake before 10am on a Sunday in a while so I’m not sure if it’ll happen.

    See everyone tomorrow night!

  13. Sara says:

    Great Class and coaches workout after with Steph and Chris. Tom B you were missed.

    Erica – I agree with you completely however there has been even more energy, hard work and dedication from the women in our class that was sparked by the smackdown, grew during the open and just keeps getting more exciting. I have observed several ladies, who might have held back on adding more weight in the past because they themselves did not believe they handle the weight, are now willing and excited to push the limits. I think that is great to see.

    I worhed at 82KG for my working sets. I am looking forward to next week. I’ve said it before, for me this cycle was more about becoming comfortable in a high bar position. I am certain I have gotten stronger even better than that though I am much more confident under the bar when it is sitting high on my traps.

    Thanks Chris for partnering with me on the metcon. I had a little trouble with the partner power swing on the first round. This was the first time I did them. I used a 28kg KB it was kind of fun.

  14. Erica says:

    Agreed Sara and I want to reiterate again that the energy is amazing. All around. And I’m sorry if my comments took away from that positive energy at all.

  15. Tom Brose says:

    Awesome work everyone. I got in my squats at United Barbell/CF Soma in San Fran. Felt great (I did cheat and “round up” a little). Even though I am a relatively experienced squatter, the cycle has been very helpful for me. As I’ve switched to a more high bar position, the first 2 waves were extremely frustrating, even based off a number I guestimated low. While its still a ‘work in progress” the last three weeks have felt much better.

    A few points about the upcoming 1RM testing:
    -Yes, we are going to judge every rep, and call them strict. All new 1RMs will be legit.

    -Even a 1 LB improvement is more weight than you’ve ever done before and counts as a PR.

    -10% is a BIG improvement. Yes, I told a bunch of people this was possible, and it is, but don’t get too caught up in that.

    As for the future, we will be gearing up some more progressive Sundays, with a slightly different style. We’ve always had a plan for the strength work, but we love for everyone to see the plan and get motivated. And just so you know, we’ll still be seeing a lot of squats in the programming.

  16. Sara says:

    Erica, your comments in no way took away from that energy. I was thinking the same exact things that you said.

  17. Steph says:


  18. Katie says:


  19. Tom Brose says:

    I firmly believe that the emphasis on heavy squatting will allow you to pull heavier DLs with little specific training. Squats, along with all the Good mornings, RDL etc are the key.

  20. Jessi says:

    I’m disappointed that I won’t be in on Sunday to witness all the PRs and feed off the energy for my own (wedding of a very close friend in Kentucky, i asked him to push it back but no such luck–just kidding!).

    I’m looking forward to hearing about the culmination of all our hard work!