Just as Thursday’s blog post prophesied, a set of 20rep squats was awaiting all those who ventured into Sunday’s class. However, before we got to that, class worked through some speed based Olympic skill work.
It was remarked by a few people that we’ve been adamant about teaching everyone how to use their hips when performing cleans, but that on Sunday we were now taking the hips out of the equation. Here’s why: while fully extending the hips is an essential component of a solid clean, so is the ability to get under the weight as it gets heavier. It’s important to teach yourself that a full clean, in which the lifter ends up in the bottom of a squat, is not performed as a power clean followed by a front squat.
In fact, if you miss a power clean, it should be because you ended up too deep in the squat position, NOT because you flung your legs out as wide as possible, leaned way back, and did everything you could to power curl the weight the last few feet up your chest.
Instead of using hip extension, the only upward momentum in the tall clean comes from a violent shrug. This shrug provides the bar with a moment of weightlessness, but it also serves to initiate the explosive downwards movement of the lifters body. To properly pull under the weight, a lifter must keep the bar close to their body and swing their elbows around the bar as quickly as possible in order to receive the weight on the shoulders (rather than in the hands).
The day finally arrived: the 20 rep back squat! Warm-up sets were programmed at 1x 8 @25%, 1x 6 @35%, 1x 5 @50%, and finally 1x 5 @60%. After that, it was time to go for one set of 20 at 65%.
Two weeks ago, following completion of our 2 x 15 reps, one of our members left the following query in the comments section (“DOUBLED OVER“):
So I do have a stupid question that I no doubt missed in one of the earlier sessions. I know high weight / low reps increase strength. I know this is a newbie question, but what are you getting with moderate weight and higher reps?
As another member so helpfully pointed out, we actually touched on the subject briefly when we kicked off this short hi-rep cycle, stating that “(t)hese workouts will add muscular endurance onto the the strength achievements provided by the squat cycle…” (“CLEAN AND MEAN“). However, in the interest of education, let’s be clear about this: 20 rep squats will not add significant strength gains, but they can (if implemented properly) augment your strength (fast twitch muscles) by adding endurance (slow twitch muscles).
To grasp how this type of muscle-type make-up affects the strength-to-endurance-ratio, consider Dr. Fred Hatfield’s “muscle fiber test”:
– Find your one rep max back squat
– Rest 15 mins
– Perform as many reps as possible with 80% of your 1 RM
– Less than 7 reps = fast twitch (FT) dominant
– 7-to-8 reps = mixed fiber type
– More than 8 reps = slow twitch (ST) dominant
As CrossFit athletes, we are constantly looking for the best of both worlds as we “prepare ourselves for the unknown and unknowable” (yea, I just dropped some CFHQ lingo on you, what of it?!?). Strength is important, but so is the ability to tap that strength over and over and over again regardless of the time duration, short, moderate, or long.
Great work in a smaller-than-normal class. Hopefully everyone got out to enjoy the great fall weather (finally!). See you all on Tuesday!