September 21, 2012
September 26, 2012

After months of strength training with the squat cycle, followed by a few more months of Olympic lifting technique work, full of complexes and skill transfer exercises, we put the two together for a little test on Sunday: 1 Rep Max cleans.

400m Jog; 
Inchworm 1/2 Ct, 20 Spider Lunges; 
Inchworm Backwards 1/2 Ct, 15 Supermans; 
Broad Jump Full Ct. 

What’s left to say at this point? Not a whole lot really. After all the time we’ve put in as a group to practicing the movement in various forms and rep schemes, it was time to see how our bodies would react when we loaded some heavy weight onto the bar.

Prep Set #1: 5 Hang High Pulls, 5 Hang Power Cleans, & 5 Pause Front Squats (bar only

Prep Set #2: 5 High Pulls & 5 Hang Squat Cleans (light weight

Working Sets: 30min to find 1RM clean 

In truth, the biggest obstacle to performing max effort Olympic lifts is overcoming the voice in your head telling you the weight is so heavy – so heavy it’s tough to pick up off the floor – that there’s no way you can get the weight onto your shoulders. We’ve all been there, we all have that voice. You’ve taught yourself how to lift – through multiple skill transfer exercises and clean-based complexes, you’ve ingrained the movement into your muscle-memory. The trick then becomes knowing, even telling yourself, that the weight’s going to be heavy in your hands as you start the lift, but to trust in the explosive power of your second pull to get the weight moving.

Strength Conditioning: 
2 x 8 Back Squats at 80%

Just when you thought your legs were due for a break, it was time to squat. Again. Over the past couple of months, we’ve followed our clean sessions with back squats, working our way up to 1 x 20 at 65% two weeks ago (following 3 prior sessions of lower reps, but all done at 65%). This Sunday’s program called for 2 sets of 8 reps, but to be done at 80% of an athlete’s 1RM back squat. Warm-up sets were programmed as 1x 10 @35%, 1x 10 @50%, 1x 8 @65%, and then finally the 2x 8 @80%. After the max effort cleans, the squats demanded that everyone re-double the efforts to concentrate on the movement and push through the reps.

Another big group on Sunday, and with class running a little long, we didn’t get the chance to take down everyone’s final weights on the cleans. Please leave your final numbers in the comments section, you know, just in case we decide to go for another max clean in a month or two…



  1. SBV says:


    Failed three times at 100kg. It’s amazing how much of a difference a few pounds can make. Everything was rock-solid for me at 95kg. However, 100kg was just heavy enough to amplify all of my weaknesses. Biggest issue right now is positioning in the bottom of the front squat. My upper back is rounded and my torso is not upright enough. At heavy weights, this is the difference between a make and a miss.

    I love what Chris said about the voice inside your head telling you the weight is too heavy. I heard that voice yesterday at 100kg. And, truth be told, that’s the first time my body has ever felt that much weight before. If you’re not confident that you can front squat it, then surely you’re not going to be confident that you can catch the weight in the rock-bottom position of the front squat and stand up with it. Anyway, I’ll take my 5kg personal record and call it a good day.

    No comment on the squats.

  2. Katie says:

    I had a lot of fun working with Erin, Jen, Kat, and Kathy. I think everyone did much more weight than they thought they could. Jen failed at 85# then rested and came back and effortlessly cleaned it. Kathy worked up at 90# after thinking her max was 75#. Nicely done, ladies!!!

    That little voice beat me down yesterday. I got a 60# power clean, tying my previous PR. It didn’t even feel that heavy, but at 65# my mind got in the way and I failed a couple times. The form actually felt good. It was definitely mental because even when I went back down in weight I failed repeatedly. I decided I was spent so I worked on squat cleans with just the bar. Looking forward to doing this again soon.

    Squats were a struggle, but I completed them. Yes, I know, CHEST UP. It might not look like it, but I promise I’m trying to keep it up!

  3. Katie says:

    I forgot to mention that the Elements class was awesome! Our coaches devised a way those of us who can’t do muscle-ups could practice the false trip transition. It was a lot of fun to give it a try. I definitely would like to do this occasionally so I can get more comfortable with false grip and prepare for a muscle-up.

  4. Satin says:

    Great class yesterday! I was able to to hit a PR on my clean at 105kg( 231#). Still need to clean up my “clean” to be more effective at really heavy weights. Thanks Mike for your queues yesterday.
    The squats were a surprise after the heavy cleans but were fun nonetheless. I was using my old squat PR(285#) and I think it might have gone a little light(230#) so I ended doing an extra set of 8 reps at the end.

  5. Sara says:

    Once again great working with Tom, Steph & Chris after class. I was completely spent when we finished. I got a 1KG PR on my clean for a clean of 72KG. Rather than test more than that I hung it up there because we had been working for a while at that point and still had squats to go. It felt like it took me a long time to get warmed up on the cleans but thinking back I think I took about 7 successful attempts and 2 misses (one at 63 and one at 72).

    I was working at 77KG on the back squats. My comments are – who in the world thought it was a good idea to do 2×8 @80% after max effort cleans. 🙂 thanks to Steph and Chris I made it through and as always they did a great job yesterday as well.

    @katie – I am glad you liked the band drill for the muscle up transition. That has been a favorite of mine since Tom showed it to me. I saw some great movements and what I think were A-ha moments from the 9AM folks with this drill.

  6. Amelia says:

    Hit 108lbs on the clean. I think I have done 110 before… so don’t think it was a PR for me.

    Squats: let’s just say that I’m pretty sore today

  7. Steph says:

    It was cool to watch Chris and Sara working towards their new PRs, and both of them got new ones!

    Cleans for me went okay. I am too afraid to really explode and pull cuz of the hip, so for now, I am comfortable staying at my old 1-rep max.

    Warmup sets for the squats were really heavy, but the actual working sets weren’t bad (minus the hip shift).

    See everyone tomorrow!

  8. Julia says:

    Hey! Hatfield’s muscle fiber test (sort of? after being distracted by 1rm cleans? a test run-ish? uh-oh.) – been wondering when this would pop up!

  9. Erica says:

    For some reason, I had this weird leg thingie going on with the cleans and kept trying to catch the bar with my legs. Not sure what I was going to do with it afterward. I was pretty off from my 1RM, but will try again next time. I only hit 103# yesterday.

    Back squats = woof

  10. SBV says:

    Hatfield can kiss my ass.

  11. ELB says:

    2 sets of 8 on the squats were definitely worse than the sets of 20 we did a few weeks back.

    Thanks for the flattering picture Chris.

  12. Kat says:

    Loved the long class yesterday! Had a great time working (and chatting) with Katie, Kathy, Jen, and Erin.

    Still getting used to the clean technique, ended up with a 1RM of 75# (and I have a softball sized bruise on my thigh today from the 80# attempt…oops…)

    Squats were tough but felt awesome! I definitely need to try my back squat max again, haven’t done that since my first few weeks doing CrossFit (and now I’m about to hit the 4 month mark!).

    I vividly remember thinking to myself when squatting that my “struggle” face better never make it up on the blog, and there it is! Ha oh well. See you all next Sunday!

  13. edgy reggie says:

    (Max) Clean: I worked with Adam and Mark. I managed to get near my old PR at 185# (~84 kg); then I was able to get 195# (~88 kg) after several attempts and 205# (~93 kg). I failed at 210# (~95 kg), and my 205# attempt was a bit…ummm, ugly (I needed to get under the bar more). But as Coach Salty mentioned in the blog post and “Has-Ben” (SBV) echoed in his comment, those “voices” can really get to you. 🙂 Nevertheless, I will “celebrate” an eight kilogram increase (and a new PR) in my (power) clean.

    Killer Squats: Those two sets of eight reps at 260# (my eighty percent of my max) were…interesting. I did them (with good depth), but I have to thank Mark and Adam for the “push” in both the cleans and the squats.

    Post-class: It was great to see Julia and Coach at Winnie’s yoga class in Bethesda on Sunday night. Julia, thanks for the giggles; I hope that you make many return appearances (either in Bethesda or at Unity Woods). 🙂

    While driving yesterday, I listened to this article on NPR’s Morning Edition about CrossFit Kids. Food for thought.