July 13, 2012
July 18, 2012

MSP, formerly known as Tom Brose

Was it mere coincidence that the epic trials known as the CrossFit Games ended on the same day as the epic trial known as the CFDC Squat Cycle? We’ll never know – but what we do know is who won the games (congrats to Annie Thorisdottir and Rich Froning, Jr. on their repeats as the fittest woman and man on Earth!), and who from CFDC PR’d on their back squats (that’s easier to answer – so far, it’s everyone!). Sad to report there aren’t really any pics for this post – however, we got lot’s of video from Sunday’s session, and are busy putting together a video of everyone’s efforts. Until then, read on for a recap of how Sunday went down.

Warm-Up #1: 
300m Row (easy); 
30 Jumping Jacks, 
20 Squats, 
10 Push-Ups 

Squat Mobility (9AM/Elements Class Only): 

  • Band Distracted Ankle Stretch, Forwards & Backwards 
  • Achilles & Calf Barbell Massage 
  • Shin & Calf Foam Roller Massage 
  • Quad Barbell Massage 
  • IT-Band Foam Roller Massage 
  • Resistance Band Distracted Hip Flexor Stretch 
  • Resistance Band Hamstring Stretch 
  • Glute & Hip Abductor Yoga Ball/Lacrosse Ball Massage 

P.S., a lot of stuff we reviewed/incorporated was covered in KStarr’s 3-piece Squat WOD, which you can check out HERE (1/3 Squat Cycle), HERE (2/3 Squat Cycle), and HERE (3/3 Squat Cycle)

Although it was said a number of times during the mobility session, it doesn’t hurt to say it again: if you know of personal limitations, or discovered some new ones, on Sunday morning, use the exercises prescribed to help improve yourself. You can review the videos linked, but also feel free to talk to Chris or Mike about reviewing the movements (or giving you some additional exercises).

Warm-Up #2: 
Partner Assisted Hip Crossover Stretch; 
10 Scorpions (slow, pausing with the foot flat on the floor); 
10 Supine Scorpions/Straight Leg Crossovers (slow, pausing with the foot touching the floor) 

Squat Cycle Finale 
1 Rep Max! 

Warm-Up Sets & Suggested Progression:
Warm-up sets were roughly programmed as 1×10 @ 35% (~bar only/light weight), 1×5 @ 50%, 1×5 @ 65%, 1×3 @ 75%, 1×1 @ 85%, 1×1 @ 90%, and 1×1 @ 95%.

Depending on how 95% felt, athletes were given suggestions as to how they should proceed. For example, if 95% felt relatively heavy and hard, then jumping to only 102-103% was advised; however, if 95% felt easy, then jumping right to ~105% might be the way to go.

If you only jumped to 102% after the 95% warm-up attempt, and it was successful, then a lifter could consider 105% (if 102% felt heavy) or to 107% (if the 102% felt miraculously better than the 95%). From there, increases were suggested as 107% (from 105%) or 110% (from 107%).

Successful 105% If 105% was successful, again depending on how the weight felt, a lifter could consider jumping to only to ~107% (105% = felt hard)or 110% (if 105% = felt easy). From there, suggested jumps were to 110% (if coming from a successful 107% attempt)or to ~112% (from 110%). 

Rules and Results: 
The rules for the lifts were simple and straightforward: each PR attempt must be judged by a coach to ensure proper depth (remember, spotters aren’t judges!), and everyone was allowed two misses. A missed squat means either failing to stand-up with the weight (now officially known in CFDC jargon as a “squish“) or by failing to achieve proper depth (a NO REP! in Adrian Bozman’s words – favorite CF video ever, btw). An additional guideline, for those who didn’t miss and exceeded their 10% increase, was to limit their PR attempts to no more than 5 tries, as the cumulative impact on the body would start to exceed the benefits from finding a new PR.


Andraea  165
Jessi  170

There are still a few people who are shooting for new 1 rep maxes, and we’ll update everyone with their numbers, as well as the compilation video as soon as possible.

What’s in store next? Well, you can bet that all this power work is leading somewhere, although, we wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t want to try to crawl inside our heads. It’s scary in there.

Many thanks to Coach Mike Choi for all his help during the Mobility session, as well as spotting, judging, and cheerleading during the squats. Also a big thanks to all those athletes/coaches who brought in foam rollers to help provide additional materials for much needed SMR before and during the squats. Lastly, big thanks to Katie for bringing in those ridiculously good paleo muffins again (because getting ready to crush her old squat PR by 15 pounds just wasn’t enough…). Hope everyone enjoyed the rest of their Sunday, as well as the close of the Games.



  1. Katie says:

    A big congratulations to everyone! There was some serious energy in the gym, and it was infectious.

    Thank you so much to Mike and Chris for an amazing mobility session. I learned I need to focus on my calves, which I previously ignored. Mike, I really appreciate the extra help massaging the calves and hip — my hip feels great today.

    I worked with Jen, Mackenzie, and Kathy, and we all KILLED IT on the squats. I was really proud of everyone in my group for pushing the weight, and for being good spotters and cheerleaders.

    As Chris mentioned, I had a PR in a big way. My 1 RM at the start of the squat cycle was “76#” — but honestly, I’m sure I couldn’t have done that weight back then. The second week for 75%, I had to use 45# because my reps were so slow and grinding. That was pretty discouraging.

    I have no clue exactly how or when it happened, but over the 16 weeks, my form and strength improved a LOT. Yesterday, 75# felt good. 80# felt good. 85# felt pretty good. So I tried 90#, and it wasn’t perfect, but I got it!!! I’m glad I stopped there, though…I was feeling fine immediately after, but later in the day I was surprised how exhausted and ravenously hungry I was.

    I think it’s important to note that over this squat cycle, I’ve also improved immensely in areas other than squatting — including making a goal weight on a push press, getting a DU, doing an 18″ seated box jump, getting myself up on the rings, doing a skin the cat, and getting halfway up the rope. Granted, much of that was assisted by programming in Tuesday/Thursday classes, but I feel like the squats were a huge part of it.

    Tom and Chris, THANK YOU for thinking this up! You are geniuses. I can’t wait to see what’s next. And of course, thank you to everyone for the constant support, coaching, and empowerment!!

  2. Julia says:

    … I think Katie said it all. 😀

    Thank you coaches, and congrats, everyone!

  3. Steph says:

    Awesome picture of the fearless leader! It was really cool to see Tom and Chris hitting 400+lb squats
    and Sara well over 200.

    Katie, you’ve pretty much PRed in everything lately and it’s been awesome to see! Thank you so much for the muffins yesterday! I had to have one because I was starving by the time we started lifting. It was delicious!

    Big congrats to everyone yesterday! It was really impressive to see everyone hitting PRs while still trying to keep form. We’ve got some seriously strong peeps! Andraea and Jess are doing their squats this evening so if you happen to be at the gym, be sure to cheer them on!

    I wasn’t entirely happy with my PR, but Chris pointed out that at least my hip stayed in place and I wasn’t a mess crying on the floor afterwards cuz I couldn’t move. Good point and that’s something I need to keep in mind at times like this.

    I echo Katie’s comment, thank you Tom and Chris for programming the squat cycle! I had a blast, learned a lot, and I’m looking forward to putting the explosiveness into other movements!

  4. TomandAmi says:

    Wow that was fun.

    It was really inspiring and humbling to see everyone pushing themselves. Sometimes it’s the effort not just the results. Those will come with the effort.

    Fun to be a part of it.

    And now I can say to most non-CFers – “My wife squats more than you.”

    And finally a photo of Brose squatting – now Chris.

  5. Tom Brose says:

    Thank you all for the hard work and persistence-I think its pretty clear that it paid off. I’ve been looking forward to Sunday for quite some time. The long mobility session pushed my anticipation till I couldn’t wait to see what you all could do. PR! PR! PR!

    Seriously, this was a big deal to me. The back squat is the foundation to my approach to strength training, and I have been really happy to see it embraced by CFDCers. There is just no other movement that will have such a physical impact or teach you how to lock your body into a tight position. The carryover to other movements is huge.

    So congrats on the PRs, and more importantly the dedication and effort put in. The numbers are just a validation of what we already knew. The support and attitude are what make CFDC special.

    A few technical points:

    -Yes, a few people missed reps due to depth, and were surprised. Even when you’re used to getting legit depth, having the most weight you have ever walked out on your back can change the feel bigtime. Dropping the chest can also make it feel like you are going further (the bar is still traveling), but the hips aren’t getting down.

    -No matter how stronger you are than ever, having the weight you’ve never felt before on you can shake your confidence. It’ll be easier next time.

    -Failed reps can be more valuable than the PRs. Learn from them. Think about where you failed, what you can do better, and how you felt through the lift. While a 1RM Back Squat is usually a higher strength/technique ratio than an olympic lift, its still the faults that tend to cause misses.

    Finally, I’d like to give a special thanks to the 12:00 class, aka the Coaches workout. Chris, Steph and Sara are awesome workout partners, and their coaching eye was extremely valuable to me. While I transitioned to a more high bar approach, the first 2 waves were frustrating, especially as squatting was something I always felt comfortable with. Getting quality feedback was essential Even more so, we had a lot of fun, including some great metcons where we tried to put ourselves through turbocharged versions of what we made the class do.

  6. Andraea says:

    AWESOME SQUAT CYCLE!! This was such a great experience on so many levels.

    I definitely want to give a BIG thanks to Chris for coming tonight to judge Jessi and my new PR and to Sarah and Katie who came to cheer us on! You guys are awesome and it was so appreciated! It made me extremely happy to be a part of the CFDC family!

    I had this nervous anxious energy all day and I was psyched to see what I could do. I upped my PR from 135# to 165#!! It was such a high completing that rep!

    Congrats to everyone on their new PR! Can’t wait to see what’s next but also continue to do squats now that I’m comfortable and confidant with the movement and want to continue with it. Now I need work on pull-ups and handstand push-ups among other things…

    See everyone tomorrow night!

  7. Sara says:

    Great Job Everyone!!!!!!! Class seemed a bit chaotic at times but it was great seeing everyone reach new PRs.

    Stopped by Balance on the way home to see if I could catch Jessi and Andraea and provide a little support as they squat. I found Chris, Jessi, Andraea and Katie hanging around the safety squat rack. Jessi and Andraea kicked butt like the rest of CFDC.

    I got a 14KG PR made 96KG after failing on 98KG (211lbs). Steph, Chris and Tom were awesome also. It has been so great working out with the three of you after class crazy metcons and all.

    Thank you Katie for the muffins. They were much needed before squatting!.

  8. Mark Minukas says:

    Great coaching, guys. Its cool to see so many people hitting PR’s and trying hard (esp Ben and Ben on those last couple of sets).

    Only 50 more squat cycles with this kind of progress and we’ll all catch up to Tom and Chris.

  9. Tom Brose says:

    Thanks to Mike for sharing his vast knowledge in the mobility session. The only things I didn’t love about Sunday was that I couldn’t get in on that…and, I missed out on the muffins. That pic of me is cool, but I wish it was from a rep I made.

  10. Ben says:

    Thanks Tom and Chris for an awesome squat cycle. It is really exciting to see the progress that everyone has made. I didn’t have a good 1RM number to start off with, so I don’t really know how much of an increase it was, but I would not have dreamed of attempting 315 lbs 16 weeks ago.

    Also, thanks to SBV for being an awesome workout partner throughout the entire squat cycle.

    Lastly, thanks to Mike for the mobility work. Really appreciate you taking the time to do that.

  11. edgy reggie says:

    As the squat thickens, so do the glutes and quads. 🙂

    I’d like to extend my congratulations to everyone at CrossFit DC for the new squat PRs. Well done peeps!

    I thought it was a bit ironic to see the ladies finish their squat PRs last (it’s usually us fellas who do that). But it was definitely worth watching and cheering them on. I get really jazzed about seeing others achieve.

    Thank you all for the support.

    Thanks to Coach Choizilla and to Coach Salty for the mobility session. That session was well worth the time getting up early on Sunday morning. Plus, I now have some new mobilty tools to use.

    Katie, thank you for the delicious muffins. Coach, sorry that you missed out on enjoying one.

    A very special thank you to Coach Tom Brose for making me focus on my squat depth. Had it not been for your persistence (and patience), I don’t think that I would have put as much focus on my squat depth, and I think that my new (and totally legit) PR of 320# (~145 kg) would have not been attainable.

    Sixteen weeks ago, when Coach and Coach Salty (Tom and Chris respectively) introduced the squat cycle to CrossFit DC, they had me at “Hello.” 🙂 I love squats, and I was ready to try anything that would help me perform squats better (and get stronger in the process). Mission accomplished.

    So while I briefly pat myself on the back, I’m already looking forward to see what’s next. Personally, I would not mind another sixteen week (overhead) squat cycle.

    One downside to the current squat cycle: I will need to buy new slacks. I recently wore a pair that I had bought a few years ago, and I noticed that the seams in the quad area are starting to show a lot of stress.

    Again, great job everyone!

    Note: Heatwave number two is upon us. Please continue to stay cool and stay well-hydrated.

  12. Erica says:

    Squat cycle definitely brought a new level of dedication to the CFDCers and it was cool to be a part of it. I was happy with my progress and my improved focus on proper squatting form. I also am obsessed with the belt and look forward to using it more and more as weights get heavier. I have to get better at figuring out how to push myself and when to go lighter. I’m sure that’s something that comes with practice, but that was a struggle for me on Sunday.

    Am so proud of all my fellow athletes. You guys made me super proud.

  13. Great job everyone! SO sorry to miss it on Sunday but it sounds like it was AMAZING and everyone kicked total squat butt 🙂 Can’t wait to do my final day of squats when my back heals up! Yay CFDC!!!

  14. Dian says:

    The squat cycle was such a pleasure and I’m sad to see it come to a close. I feel stronger than when I started and, most importantly, I’m finally getting my act together on my mobilitity/flexibility issues.

    The 9:00 squat mobility elements class was great. Thank you Chris, Mike, and Sara. And Mike, thanks for introducing me to that ankle stretch doodad. Already waiting for mine to arrive.

    It was great to close out the squat cycle with Erica, Ami and Amelia. What can I say, those ladies are amazing.

    I loved how we were all kept legit on our PR attempts. I think it makes our achievements all the sweeter.