Face Your Fears: Getting under the bar in Olympic weightlifting! Part 1.

PART 1 — Safety & Learning to Bail

One of the most common issues we hear with our members when it comes to Oly lifting is this:

“I’m afraid to get under the bar!”

This fear holds them back from attempting to drop low under the bar in their catch position in the clean and the snatch, which is a huge limiter in the top end weights they can lift. Everything becomes a power clean or power snatch, and even though they’re able to pull the bar all the way up to their chest, they still fail the lift! Even though they’re capable of lifting this weight with relative ease, their fear is holding them back from progressing their lifting technique, and a plateau is inevitable.

20180512_124735.jpg

Does this sound like you? Read on!

It takes time and patience to get used to the idea of bringing your body quickly under the bar, especially in the snatch. “Getting low” doesn’t have to mean a full depth, ass-to-grass catch position — some people are even just afraid to drop into a slightly lower power snatch. Every inch of catch you give yourself, is another inch you don’t have to pull. Don’t have the mobility or coordination for the full depth squat catch yet? These same principles apply to a deeper power catch too.

Let’s start with this question: Why are you afraid? Most likely, you’re afraid of getting injured. You don’t want to drop the bar on your head. Makes sense! Maybe you’ve watched one too many “Lifting Fails” videos on Youtube. Is it possible you could drop the bar on your head? Yes. Is it likely? Absolutely not. We’ve been working with athletes on these lifts for 6 years now, and we have not seen it yet in our gym. Why? Because part of learning how to drop under the bar, is learning what to do if you’re not going to stick the lift!

So let’s start with safety — if we’ve gotten down into a full squat under the bar, what do we do if we don’t stick the lift?

Bailing 101
In the clean, we simply dump the bar out front with authority. Push the bar forward, while pushing your body back. The key here is to bail like you mean it. If you try to be dainty about it, it’s not going to happen quickly enough. It’s the same technique you’d use to dump a front squat.

The snatch is the one that concerns people more. The good news is, your body is pretty great at not dropping things on your head. You’re programmed to avoid danger. With a little bit of practice, you will have no trouble getting yourself out safely from under the bar if you miss the lift. Most of the time, you’ll miss the lift out front — the bar won’t get far enough over your body to stick in the catch. Similar to the clean, you’ll push the bar forward, while pushing your body back. The bar will land in front of you, and you’ll probably end up on your butt. It’s possible to miss a lift to the back, which is a little trickier, but you just do the opposite. — push the bar back quickly, while pushing your body forward. Do NOT hang onto the bar as it falls behind you. The bar will land behind you, and you’ll end up on your knees in front of the bar. As long as you at least make some sort of attempt to push the bar away from you, and don’t just completely go limp and fold up, you’ll be fine!

(Trust me guys, I fail lifts all the time!)

You can practice bailing from either position, to get used to the sensation. Grab a light bar setup with some light rubber plates, and practice bailing from the bottom of front squats, or overhead squats. Remember — if you’re going to bail, bail like you mean it!

Anytime we are Olympic Lifting, especially at higher weight percentages, it’s also important that we pay attention, and take each rep seriously. Chatting with your friend while you attempt a heavy squat snatch is not a good idea. Focus on what you’re doing, and let your newly learned motor patterns take care of the rest.

In Part 2, we’ll share some of our favorite drills to practice getting under the bar with a strong catch position!  Questions? Leave a comment or email us at crossfitsabertooth@gmail.com 

Advertisements

Regionals Rundown — Week 2

What a first week! We saw some of the most dominant performances at Regionals, ever — especially from Katrin Davidsdottir. FIVE first place finishes…in six events! Crazy.

To start off this week, let’s see how terrible my picks were last week! Overall, I correctly picked 20 out of the 30 qualifiers. Pretty decent I think. My best region was the South Men, which I picked 5 for 5! Click here for the full breakdown of my mediocre picks by region.

If you missed the action last weekend, you can head to Games.CrossFit.com to watch replays or catch one of the video recaps.

 

The big stories from week 1:

  • Katrin DOMINATING the East Region. Winning 5 of 6 events in any region is something special — only Mat Fraser has matched that feat. She looked like the Katrin of 2015-2016. The other female competitors should be scared right now!
  • Treadmill Controversy in the East Men’s competition. In the first men’s heat, many of the comeptitior’s treadmill monitors didn’t turn on, and didn’t work at all. The backup plan was for the judges to manually count the piece of white tape on the belt of the treadmill to track their distance. Every 10 revolutions was 1/10 of a mile…you can guess how that went. Expecting judges to count this accurately for 20+ minutes was crazy. Some athletes were credited with 4 minute miles, and others took over 10 minutes for one of their miles. The big loser here was Cody Mooney, who got bounced to the sixth spot and missed qualifying, after being beaten in this event by some of the beneficiaries of the equipment failure. For reference, he got on the treadmill 5 seconds after Craig Kenney, but Kenney was credited with being 800m ahead of Mooney just 2 minutes into the run. Unreal that this sort of thing still happens at this level of competition.
  • Annie Thorisdottir makes it to her 9th CrossFit Games, and wins her 5th Regional Competition! Annie is a CrossFit OG who people constantly overlook, just because she’s been around so long.  She turned a lot of heads with a 3rd place finish at the Games last year. She came out in first in a stacked regional once again — hopefully nobody is writing her off this time!

Looking ahead to Week 2:

Regions on tap: Central, Latin America, West

CENTRAL
Let’s start with the Central Region! This region is absolutely STACKED this year, especially on the Men’s side. This is perhaps the most challenging region to predict (other than 1st place), because the talent pool is chock full of Games veterans, plus some younger athletes who might shake things up.

My picks:
MEN:
1. Mat Fraser (duh)
2. Streat Hoerner
3. Scott Panchik
4. George Sterner
5. Alex Anderson

WOMEN:
1. Kristi Eramo
2. Jen Smith
3. Jessica Griffith
4. Brooke Wells
5. Kelley Jackson

NOTES: I actually hope Brooke Wells doesn’t make it, after basically being given a free pass by CrossFit HQ in the Open. Long story short, she should have been given a massive penalty for no-reps in her video of 18.4, but HQ gave the now-running-joke answer of “We know she has the capacity to do the reps even if they weren’t good reps in the video, so we’re giving her the reps.”

On the guys side, I would love to see multiple Panchik brothers make it to the Games, but I’m not sure if Saxon is good enough, yet. I’m a big George Sterner fan, but he’s only 19 years old — he might need another year or two to grow before he makes the leap to the Games, but he had a ridiculously good Open, so who knows! If Mat Fraser doesn’t win the Region, I’ll do Fran in a tuxedo. I don’t see a workout that screams “Fraser won’t win this one.”  Maybe the Triple Three, but then again was still top 6 in the endurance events at the Games last year. Can he go 6 for 6 this year and sweep all the events? That seems more likely, than him not winning the region.

WEST
This will be an interesting one. The new West Regional combines the old California regional with the Northwest regional. There are a ton of strong athletes who haven’t gone head to head in Regionals before, so this should be fun to watch.

My picks:
MEN:
1. Brent Fikowski (Calling it now — he sets the world record on Event 5)
2. Christian Lucero
3. Cody Anderson
4. Cole Sager
5. Josh Bridges

WOMEN:
1. Chyna Cho
2. Alessandra Pichelli
3. Becca Voigt
4. Emily Abbot
5. Carleen Matthews

NOTES: I am a big Becca Voigt fan, and maybe it’s wishful thinking that she’ll make it back for her 10th Games appearance…but a guy can dream, right? I would say there’s no real favorite to win this Region for the ladies– it should be pretty wide open down to the wire! Will Brooke Ence be a factor, after taking a year off for a major surgery? Time will tell. Brent Fikowski didn’t have a great Open, but he is better suited to the Regionals and Games events. I don’t think he’ll dominate, but I think he will win with a fairly comfortable margin by the end. He knows how to bring it when game day comes. Garrett Fisher is another guy who could take a top 5 spot, but I struggle to find events that he’ll knock out of the park this year.

LATIN AMERICA
It should be noted that only ONE qualifier gets to the Games from this region! If you want to make it to Madison…you have to win. Latin America has seen a huge surge in CrossFit participation, so they’re getting their own regional competition — but the overall quality of competitions isn’t enough to warrant lots of Games competitors. Yet. Brazil has seen some especially astounding growth numbers in the recent years, and has some seriously talented Teen athletes coming down the pipeline.

MEN:
1. Paulo Rossil

WOMEN:
2. Brenda Castro

Notes:
Lots of new faces in this Regional. Castro is looking to finally crack the Games lineup after several years coming up short in the South regional. Look for Guilherme Malheiros on the Men’s side in a couple years…he snatched 280 at the Games last year… at age 17! He missed Regionals by a handful of spots this year as an 18 year old.

That’s a wrap for this week! Can’t wait for the Central Regional action. First heats for individuals are usually around noon on Friday, but they will release the heat schedules at http://www.games.crossfit.com in a day or so. Get pumped!

2018052015360186_SC_SC1_7006.jpg

 

Regionals Rundown — Week 1

This weekend, the first three CrossFit Regionals competitions will kick off the next part of the Games qualification process. This is an awesome time of year — three straight weekends of wall-to-wall, top tier CrossFit competition, and all of it is streamed for free on the CrossFit Games site! For a CF junkie like me, this is like Christmas season all over again.

I’ll give you fine people a quick primer on what the Regionals competitions are, when and how to watch, and who I think will advance from each region. Read on!

What is Regionals? How does it work?

Remember that Open thing we did back in February? For some people, that was the first stage in qualifying for the Games. The top ~20 men and women from each region are invited to Regionals — a three day, in-person competition to fight for a spot at the Games. In most Regional competitions, the top 5 finishers for men and women punch their ticket to Madison for the CrossFit Games. The programming is incredibly tough, and it often comes down to fractions of a second, and just a handful of points, to decide those qualifying spots. This year there are six events in the competition.

The athletes who make it to this level of competition are all insanely fit, cyborg robots who train year round to make it here.

When are they, and how do I watch?

Every single heat of competition is streamed live at http://www.games.crossfit.com, for free! The events basically run all day Friday through Sunday, roughly 9am-5pm. They haven’t released heat times yet, but those should be up soon.

Week 1: May 18-20, 2018

East Regional: Albany, New York, Times Union Center
Europe Regional: Berlin, Germany, Velodrom
South Regional: Salt Lake City, Utah, Salt Palace Convention Center

Week 2: May 25-27, 2018

Central Regional: Nashville, Tennessee, Music City Center
West Regional: Del Mar, California, Del Mar Arena
Latin America Regional: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Arena Carioca 1

Week 3: June 1-3, 2018

Atlantic Regional: West Palm Beach, Florida, Palm Beach County Convention Center
Meridian Regional: Madrid, Spain, Caja Mágica
Pacific Regional: Sydney, Australia, Qudos Bank Arena

What are the workouts?

All the Regional competitions use the same workouts as one another. They are not for the faint of heart! You can find all the workouts here:
https://games.crossfit.com/workouts/regionals/2018

 

crossfit-regionals-2017

My Week 1 Predictions & Stories to Watch

East Regional (Top 5 advance):
Men:
1) Pat Vellner
2) Alex Vigneault
3) Tim Paulson
4) Jean-Simon Roy-Lemaire
5) Austin Spencer

Ones to watch: I would love to see Cody Mooney (personal favorite of mine) make it back to the Games, but he had shoulder surgery in the off season and barely made regionals this year. I think he’ll be back and crushing it in 2019, but I don’t see him making it this year. James Hobart is a wily veteran with incredible experience, including many Games trips as an individual and several championships on Mayhem’s team. He surprised a lot of people by accepting the invitation after opting to be on the Games commentary team last year, but he could be a dark horse to qualify again. Austin Spencer missed the games by about 1/4 of a second last year, but is back and even stronger this year. I think he makes it to Madison, but it’ll be a fight!

Women:
1) Katrin Davidsdottir
2) Kari Pierce
3) Carol-Ann Reason-Thibeau
4) Carolyne Prevost
5) Caroline Connors

Strangely it seems like all these ladies have a variation on the same name, almost. Weird coincidence.

Ones to watch: Kristine Best is coming in to her fourth regionals. After an awesome Open, this might be the year she breaks the top 5. I think the 4th and 5th spots are fairly open, but 1-3 should be some variation of those three athletes. Caroline Connors might be one more year out from making it to the games, but she’s another favorite of mine so I squeaked her in the 5 spot.

South Regional (Top 5 advance):

Men:
1) Logan Collins
2) Rogelio Gamboa
3) Jared Enderton
4) Sean Sweeney
5) Brandon Luckett

Ones to watch: Excited to see Sean Sweeney get another crack at it this year after one terrible judging fiasco on the ring dips last year cost him a trip to Madison. I’m confident Jared Enderton (who is coming to Sabertooth in October for an Olympic lifting seminar!) will advance for the first time as well.  I think Tommy Vinas gets bumped out this year — I don’t think the workouts play to his strengths all that well, except for “Linda.”

Women:
1) Tennil Reed Beuerlin
2) Alexis Johnson
3) Camille Leblanc Bazinet
4) Bethany Shadburne
5) Amanda Goodman

Ones to watch: After a couple years off, Amanda Goodman is back in the mix. She is a total beast — I think she’s going to knock people’s socks off in the “Linda” lifting event. Camille is coming off shoulder surgery and had a great Open, but I don’t think she wins Regionals this year — Tennil is just too strong!

Europe Regional (Top 5 advance):

Men:
1) BKG
2) Andrey Ganin
3) Fredrick Aegidius
4) Arian Mundweiler
5) Marcin Szybaj

Ones to watch: I’ll be honest, there’s a lot of new faces in this male Europe Regional competition that I haven’t gotten to watch before. They expanded to two Regional competitions in Europe this year as the sport continues to grow like crazy. I’m excited to learn more about these athletes! There will be some Games rookies coming out of this regional, which is always fun to see.

Women:
1) Annie Thorisdottir
2) Kristen Holte
3) Sara Sigmundsdottir
4) Emma McQuaid
5) Laura Horvath

Ones to watch: Laura Horvath made a name for herself at this year’s Dubai Fitness championship, beating out loads of talented Games athletes for a podium spot. She could be a dark horse for a top 3 finish.

That’s it for week 1! Disagree with my predictions? Let’s hear it! 

hero.jpg

You’re the Only Thing in Your Way

At our Lifto De Mayo competition this weekend, one of our most challenging workouts had bar muscle ups for the Rx division. There were a few female teams where neither teammate had gotten their first muscle up yet.

Dan S. was judging for one of these teams. Before the event started, the two ladies said “Oh we can’t do muscle ups, so we’ll just be waiting around!”

Dan said, “You’ll be surprised what you’re capable of. Give it a try and see what happens.”

One of the women went for it. It took lots of attempts, BUT… she got her first ever bar muscle up with three seconds to go in the event! Tears were shed, high fives were given, and memories were made.

Screen Shot 2018-05-10 at 10.09.53 AM.png

What if she hadn’t tried? What if she had believed her own words: “I can’t do it.”  She would have missed out on that amazing experience — one of the highlights of the entire competition. And she almost talked herself out of it. Props to Dan for the pep talk!

We hear stuff like this all the time in the gym:

“I’ll never be able to do a pull-up.”
“I don’t want to try double-unders, I know I’d never been coordinated enough to get those right.”
“I could never do (insert any movement here).”

Well….why not?

More often than not, these sorts of limits are 100% self-imposed.

Perhaps some people just genuinely don’t think it’s possible for them. This person is making the assumption that they are physically incapable of getting strong enough to do this movement or skill. Everybody has a theoretical ceiling of physical fitness, through their own genetics and environment, that they can get to. VERY, VERY few people ever get close to their full athletic potential. You’d have to look to the absolute pinnacle of a given sport or specialization to truly say “This person literally could not get any better at what they’re doing.” Maybe Usain Bolt running the 100m sprint would be close. Maybe Michael Phelps winning a million gold medals — maybe he actually hit his genetic potential.

You and I — we are nowhere near our full potential in the gym. This should be an exciting prospect for us! We have so much room to keep improving, if we want to. If we let ourselves. If we don’t talk ourselves out of it. If we get out of our own way.

So let’s change that dialogue. Instead of saying “I could never do that,” let’s say “I’m not there, yet.” It’s OK if that movement or skill isn’t a priority for you at the moment. So say that, instead of “I could never do it.” Your words and thoughts are powerful tools.

Stop building arbitrary, self-imposed barriers for yourself.

Your coaches believe in you. Your Sabertooth community believes in you. The missing piece is most often you!

If you want to get that first pull up, you can. It will likely take some serious work and dedication. It might take a long time to get there. It might take some extra help from your coaches. The first step is saying “I can.”

You are capable of amazing things. You are stronger than you think.

 

 

 

 

New Programming Cycle — May/June 2018

Hello Sabertooth friends,

This week we’re starting a new programming cycle! Every six weeks, we change up our themes to get you lots of variety, while also getting consistent practice. Here’s the plan for the next six weeks:

Monday: Deadlifts! We’ll be running through a simple but effective progression, based on your 3 rep max deadlift. If you haven’t tested your 3RM deadlift yet and you’re planning on coming most Mondays, we recommend doing it this week.

Tuesday: Team & Partner workouts. Even better now that we can go outside, right?

Wednesday: Murph Training. Murph is coming up quickly! Just three weeks out. We’ll work on our pull ups, push ups, running, and air squats to prep for the Memorial Day weekend workout.

Thursday: Olympic Lifting. We’ll be working from some different hang positions to help us improve our timing and patience on the snatch & clean!

Friday: FACE MELT FRIDAYS. They’re back! A favorite summer tradition — kick your weekend off right with an extra challenging, sweaty Friday workout.

Saturday: Handstands & Core. You can’t have good handstands without good core strength. We’ll pair the two together to up your gymnastics game this cycle.

Sunday: Squats. You’ll see a similar progression to the Deadlifts, based on your 3RM back squat. Time to get strong this summer!

 

Test Week Workouts (4/23-4/29)

Screen Shot 2018-04-19 at 8.45.00 AM

 

  • Try to make as many of the tests as you can this week! If you miss a day or two, try to make up the tests next week or during Open Gym.
  • Please remember to write down all your results on the whiteboard each day! Also, all the workouts will be posted in SugarWOD — please log your workouts in the app, it will greatly simplify our data recording process 🙂
  • It’s OK if you need to substitute a movement or test. Your coaches can help you pick an appropriate second option
  • HAVE FUN!

Workout of the Day 4/22/18

Sunday 4/22

ReTest 1 RM Max Strict Press
ReTest 3 RM Max Push Press (Not Jerk)
*Stay safe on these movements. Avoid over arching your low back by using core to brace and pulling chest down.
*RM means “RM with good, safe movements.”
*Compare to week 1

21-15-9
DB Power cleans. 50/35. 35/20
Toes to bar
Immediately upon finishing:
30/20 cal bike sprint

Fitness Testing Next Week — 4/23 to 4/29

Twice a year we take a week of training to test a wide variety of fitness benchmarks. We do this for a few main reasons:

  • This helps you track your progress over time. This will give you lots of good data about your current fitness, so you can re-test these items later to see your improvement.
  • For some of the lifts especially, it is very helpful to know what your max is. Often times in our strength work we will make recommendations based on a percentage of your max. This gives you an opportunity to find your maxes, which will help you make better decisions about working weights in class.
  • For the coaches, this gives us a large pool of data about our gym members. We use this to make recommendations for you where to focus your time, and helps us make informed decisions about programming for the next few months. For example, if we notice everybody seemed to struggle a lot on one particular lift or workout, we can make sure we are more intentional about working on that lift or type of workout.

We encourage you to do as many of these tests as you can. Regardless of your type of membership, you are welcome to come as often as you can during test week. Here is the schedule:

Screen Shot 2018-04-19 at 8.45.00 AM

Here is a link to the Google sheet that we have kept since 2015, with past results. We will continue to update this, but we can only enter what we know! Please make sure to write all of your test results on the whiteboard so we can capture all of the data!

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1nYkBZqVD0kpAyGUkRA-KzxAIVYZfq2_1MzNehR9sCvo/edit?usp=sharing

It’s going to be a fun week! We will re-test again later in the fall. Let us know if you have any questions!