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Leading > Hand Holding

While coaching a Team WOD a few weeks ago, Coach Ben tossed out a casual comment that holds a ton of weight for our community. It’s something that I’ve thought about at least a 1,000 times since writing this article.

Pull Ups can cure just about anything.

The introduction. We started the morning working on Hang Power Cleans, then transitioned into a powerful, quick burst of conditioning, then finished with some pull-up accessory work. The warm-up, the cleans, and the workout were all formatted from start to finish. Timing, structure, cues, goals, mindset, logistics and barbell weight percentages where are discussed and thoroughly planned out ahead of time. Not atypical by any means, this is what we do as a coaching team week in and week out.

The structure. We had about 8 minutes left in class which was a perfect amount of time to get some additional pull-up work done. It also served as an effective cool-down from the intensity. I told the athletes to grab someone to work with and do anything they wanted to on the pull-up cage as long as it was productive toward improving their pull-up game. I did not discuss progressions, regressions, rep schemes or anything else. I just asked everyone to be productive for the next 5 minutes.

The outcome. Everyone got right to work and took the opportunity to try different things. Ring rows, jumping pull-ups, banded pull-ups, holds, negatives, kipping, chin ups; everyone figured out their level of movement to execute and crushed the work. Subtle, yet very powerful peer to peer coaching conversations took place, and everyone smoothly rolled into their game plan. It was beautiful to watch. Coach Ben sat back and said, “We are kinda like parents, we have to let them go. As long as they are safe, we just have to let them figure things out.”

Pull Ups can cure just about anything.

Sometimes I worry that the CFD community leans a bit too much on the coaching staff to tell them what to do every step of the way; this 5-minute Saturday observation (along with subsequent others) have proved me wrong. The coaching team at Defined sets the tone, motivates by example, develops the culture, educates and guides our athletes to where they need to go. They do not hand hold, they lead.

Learn from your experiences, embraces new challenges, be courageous and don’t be afraid to fail.

Coach David

Programming Details; Cycle #3: 3/19-4/15, 2018

Cycle #3 Programming Details: March 19th to April 15th. 2018

The primary barbell focus on this cycle will be as follows:

  • Back Squat in higher working percentages
  • Halting Power Clean or Snatch
  • Wendler Conventional Deadlift
  • Pressing focus: Strict press, Pushpress, Push Jerk

The secondary focuses will include:

  1. Lateral training (frontal plane)
  2. Static Holds
  3. Single arm/leg work

We have 1 more week of the CrossFit Open before we start transitioning to a more strength focused training cycle with a secondary emphasis on increasing our ability to stabilize through the midline.

The Back Squat higher percentage work will set us up for success in hitting a new PR on our testing week that will follow this cycle. (1st testing phase of 2018: April 16th-29th)

The pressing focus will help increase shoulder to overhead strength as well as better the ability to keep a strong and stable torso/core to help transition power from the legs through the midline to arms.

Adding the  “Halt” in your cleans and snatches will aid in optimizing lifting mechanics by forcing the lifter to evaluate body positions at certain points in the lift. Halting teaches proper bar path and the importance of lats as well as forcing the body to increase muscular activation at certain weaker points of the lifting phases.

Introduction of lateral training as a way to increase athleticism and decrease injury prevention; achieve better symmetry by balancing stability, mobility, weight shifting and postural alignment.

Lastly, you will see more single arm and single leg work. This type of training recruits more muscles, balances strength from one side of the body to the other, increases core and spine stability, improves balance and most importantly will help decrease injury.

As always, if you have any questions about programming, please reach out to Noal@crossfitdefined.com





2 Chains & Squatting

Q: Why squat with chains?

A: Improve lifting speed.
When set-up correctly, chains pile up and decrease load as you squat down; when you stand up, weight is reapplied, gradually. The idea behind this action is that the weight is heaviest at the top of the lift and lightest at the bottom. So the goal is to learn to accelerate out of the bottom of a squat to “outrun” the gradual increase in weight. This translates to what we are trying to do as we come to a “sticking point” during a lift.

A: Improve core/trunk stability.
Due to the subtle swaying and stirring motion the chains create, we are forced to use our core and trunk muscles to stabilize and control the bar. This also teaches us to be more focused and maintain body tightness throughout the entirety of the movement, thus improving mental focus. Every step, including the un-racking of the bar, your set-up, the concentric (downward) and eccentric (up) movement of the squat, and final re-racking of the bar, all take additional focus and stability due to the application of chains.

A: Bar Path and Proprioceptive Awareness.
When squatting, we want the bar moving down and up in something that resembles a straight line; and we refer to this as the “bar path.” Chains give us feedback as to what path the bar is taking and where our body is in space all while allowing the lifter to auto-correct because of heightened feedback. One of the more common mistakes during a squat is getting pulled forward or the dropping of the chest. If, and when this was to happen with the application of chains, you’d immediately know because these chains follow along with a pronounced swaying motion (as discussed above). Over time, you’ll learn to correct this, which will give us a more vertical bar path. Optimal bar path leads to an upright torso, which improves positioning that ultimately leads to better performance.

The concept is simple.
And it’s something new, fun and fresh that you can do with your friends. It adds a different stimulus to our training day and keeps things new and exciting. Plus, it looks cool, you look cool, and you feel cool. And we all know the saying: Look good, feel good, play good!

So, grab some chains and give it a try. When we sent out our 2018 survey, the gym asked for three new pieces of equipment: Bikes, additional dumbells, strongman equipment AND chains.

Coach Kevin

Programming Details; Cycle #1: 1/8 – 2/4, 2018

Cycle #1 Programming Details: January 8th to February 4th. 2018

The primary barbell focus on this cycle will be as follows:

  • Front Squat + Jerk complex
  • 3 Position Clean or Snatch
  • Wendler Bench Press
  • Skill Training

The secondary focuses will include:

  • Higher volume wods with moderate weights in the Squat, Deadift and bodyweight movements like pullups and pushups.
  • Shoulder mobility and activation drills
  • CF Open WOD practice

We have 6 weeks till the 2018 CrossFit Open begins on the week of Feb. 19th. That means we will be switching focus from building absolute strength to increasing our endurance, stamina and cardio with bodyweight and lighter weight barbell movements.

The FS + Jerk complex is based off the C&J 1rm and will increase in percentage every week.  The higher rep front squats leading up the jerk will replicate the feeling of a heavier Jerk but will also increase your ability to stabilize heavy weights over head when tired.

The 3 Position Clean/Snatch on weeks 1 +3 coupled with the Hang Power Clean/Snatch on weeks 2+4 will improve our ability to maintain position while cycling through heavier percentages on your Weightlifting movements. The option to work with the Snatch or Clean is up to the athlete to choose which lift they want to improve upon.

Wendler Bench press will be coupled with the shoulder activation and mobility stations each week. The idea is to train the athlete on what a healthy pressing position looks and feels like by spending more time with drills and exercises that will help improve posture and properly warmup the athlete for high volume pressing each week.

We will be performing either a CrossFit Open workout from one of the previous years or an interval version of an CF Open WOD (workout of the day). These workouts will challenge our athletes physically and mentally early on and will set us up for success as we get closer to the Open competition.

Lastly, you will see more skill training and higher volume HSPUs (hand stand push ups), muscle ups, kipping pullups and toes to bar.  Getting more time with these skills as a stand alone practice or within workouts will make sure we are ready for the high volume expected in the Open. Practice makes perfect!





Training Vs. Testing

Training vs. Testing

By Kevin Agbulos

As a coach—and athlete—I always look forward to testing: the act of achieving PRs, or personal records. [Read more…]

Selecting Gym Buddies.

The past few weeks I have been hyper-aware of watching how people select a training partner. Following a fantastic conversation with Sarah G., I decided to ask a handful of CFD members what the thought process was behind choosing who (and who not) to train with. The detail behind the thought process for some was much thicker than I could have imagined. Most responses ranged from ability, height, experience, goals, strength and how much they talked or didn’t talk during class.

Here are a couple of ideas worth noting for future equipment and movement companionship.

1 – “Be a good teammate.” Bring good vibes to the floor, get what you came for and eliminate the self-limiting talk. Good hygiene is also a factor. Listen, you have to share a space for the next 20 – 30 minutes with someone. Take inventory of what you are bringing to the table and make sure you are an asset to the team. I still vividly remember training with Cathy D. at Lincoln Square last year during the final stages of competition prep for a meet. Although our numbers could not have been further apart, she gave me some of the best energy and encouragement I could have ever asked for. To this day it was the reason I was able to hit the numbers I wanted in the meet three weeks later.

2 – “Be a role model. Be a sponge.” There are days when I purposely work with a beginner or someone who is newer to the movement/programming for the day. And then there are days when I pick someone who I can chase. The days when I am the more experienced athlete I use it as a way to be a role model for someone else. Take some pride in being a role model and seek out someone to mentor. Watching someone who is better than you is an incredible way to learn. On the days I work with someone who is better than me I have to shift my thinking. Those are the days I am going to soak up their experience and work hard to improve my craft. I am going to be a sponge. Either scenario will make you want to step up your game if approached from the right mindset.

And to paraphrase a few of the notable resonses out of the 50+ that I received.

“I pick people based on who is here to work and who is there to talk. I don’t care about strength, experience, fast, slow or whatever. But I want to partner with someone who is ready to work hard.” AD

“Grabbing a gym mate for the hour is about working with someone who is much better than I am. I’d rather partner with someone that I can try to emulate in regards to movement and strength. I want to work with someone who is better than me.” RG

“Sometimes I pick someone based purely on height. Sharing a squat rack with someone a foot shorter is a lot of work.” DG

“I like to work with new people. I remember what it was like to be that person.” SG

“I just want to have fun. That’s how I pick my partners.” MT

Don’t be afraid to mix up your training partners. Don’t overlook the impact of being a role model for someone else. And don’t be scared to pick the best person in the room and use it as motivation. You might be surprised to see how transferable all these skills are in life.

Coach David

(past articles)


Programming Details; Cycle #10: 12/4 – 12/31, 2017

Cycle #10 Programming Details: December 4th to December 31st.

The primary barbell focus on this cycle will be as follows:

  • Sumo or Conventional Deadlift Wendler Cycle
  • Back Squat or Overhead Squat with pausing
  • Barbell cycling focusing on the Hang Power Snatch
  • Jerk Technique work

The secondary focuses will include:

  • Skill blocks with focus on HSPUs, Double Unders and the Kip Swing,
  • Glute and hip activations: including hip rotators, glute mead and min.,
  • Longer strength based wods.

The Wendler Deadlift is a highly effective and efficient 4 week program to safely introduce a solid amount of volume without having to spend much time in the higher percentages. The Wendler percentages are based from 90% of your 1rm which prevents the athlete from overdoing it in those higher percentages helping the athlete produce more quality reps in those larger “plus” sets every week. Additionally, the Wendler formula is a great tool to use to calculate your future 1rm based on the number of reps you hit each week.

Pause squats will help improve awareness, control and tension. It will also increase the amount of muscle fibers needed to get out of the bottom position; which is a common weak point of the movement.

As we get closer to the next year’s CrossFit open, we will be focusing on how to be more efficient with the barbell.  The barbell Snatch cycling will give you a few road marks to focus on with higher volume barbell wods.

You will also see more skill blocks on this cycle.  These skill blocks will give you more exposure to higher level movements like the handstand pushup, double unders and kip swing. Practice makes perfect!


A note about the Bonus/Grind work: We will be eliminating the bonus/grind for the month of December since there were not many athletes taking advantage of it.  If you want it back in the New Year, please private message Noal@crossfitdefined.com.