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CrossFit - 62 Kettle Bells, Bucket, Rippetoe

CrossFit - 62 Kettle Bells, Bucket, Rippetoe

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ISSUE SIXTY-TWO

October 2007
Bucket Circles
Phil Savage
Bad Form
Mark Rippetoe
The Kettlebell Press
Jeff Martone
Combatives Fitness
Part 2: The Workout
(Video Article)
Tony Blauer
Better Movements
The Jerk and Kipping Pull-up
(Video Article)
Greg Glassman
Nutrition Lecture
Part 1: Avoiding Disease
(Video Article)
Greg Glassman
Specifcally Speaking
Lon Kilgore
Fixing Loopy Lifts
Mike Burgener,
with Tony Budding
Striking from Side
Control
Becca Borawski
Variable Resistance
Nature or Design?
Tony Leyland
Large-Group Workout
Solution 2
Snatches and Squats
Michael Rutherford
Jump Rope Basics
Part 1: Preparation
Buddy Lee
A simple rope and bucket contraption is used quite extensively by gymnasts of all
ages and abilities to support the feet and teach good body position while training
basic circles on the pommel horse (one of the six Olympic events for men). These
exercises, “bucket circles,” are used almost exclusively by gymnasts, but I’ve found
them very benefcial in improving the upper body and core strength of other athletes
as well. High-level pole vaulters (Lawrence Johnson, 2000 Olympic silver medalist,
and Tim Mack, 2004 Olympic gold medalist and record holder), decathletes (Tom
Pappas, two-time world champion), swimmers and divers (Evan Stewart, 1997 one-
meter world champion) have all used this device in my gym and greatly benefted
from it. It’s a simple idea, yet the strength and coordination one gains from using it
properly is immeasurable.
page 1
Phil Savage
continued page ... 2
Bucket Circles
page 6
page 11
page 14
page 15
page 16
page 17
page 20
page 23
page 26
page 29
page 31
CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007
2
...continued
Bucket Circles
The bucket and rope is, without a doubt, one of the best overall
core-strength builders that I use. A basic principle that I always
try to implement with my athletes is something I call strength with
movement. Working bucket circles properly, helps teach athletes
to maximize their strength from the hips to the shoulders. You’ll
feel a complete workout in the abdominal area and entire trunk,
deltoids, latissimus dorsi (lats), trapezius, pectorals, and rhomboids.
Remember, in order to properly execute a bucket circles, you have
to work the exact muscle groups necessary to maintain the correct
body “shape” required to successfully execute these circles. Not
only are you trying to coordinate several circles, you’re trying not
to fall down. You’re essentially balanced on two arms (and briefy
on one arm) while circling your entire body around your hands.
This, in itself, requires a lot of strength and muscular stamina. This
strength with movement exercise is great for total body strength
coordination. By this I mean, you’re coordinating the large muscle
groups (lats, pecs, traps, delts, “core,” etc.) with the hundreds of
smaller, even more important, muscles that exist that wouldn’t
otherwise be used by conventional strength exercises.
The only apparatus you need for bucket circles is an inexpensive
plastic bucket suspended from a rope (photo 1). It doesn’t take
up much space and can be installed in a garage, basement, or even
hung outside from a tree branch. All you need is a ¼-inch nylon
rope about 6 to 12 feet long (depending on the height of ceiling), a
3-gallon plastic bucket (from a hardware store), a 6-inch steel eye
screw and a swivel. Notice how I placed an X with tape on the
foor directly under the suspended bucket. This dead-center mark
is where you’ll place your hands once you are ready to start.
Photo 2 shows the entire device, with the bucket is suspended (in
this case from an 8-foot ceiling) so that it is about 8 to 10 inches
off the ground. We use a fat surface on the ground such as carpet
or foam, but sometimes gymnasts use a foor mushroom or foor
pommel horse to put their hand on. For the average user at home,
however, a fat carpeted or padded surface will suffce. Ideally you
should have clear open space of about 10 feet by 10 feet.
Photo 3 shows the proper way to place the feet inside the bucket.
The best way is to not wear shoes. We go with socks and/or a
towel covering both feet and ankles. For best results, try not to
have any skin touching the inside of the bucket, both to protect
the skin and to allow for smoother twisting of the feet and legs
inside the bucket as the performer is turning his/her “circles.”
The setup
Photo 1 Photo 2 Photo 3
CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007
3
...continued
Bucket Circles
Our demonstrator, Colin Payne, is in the proper “start” position
in photo 4. Imagine for a second, if you will, that you’re looking
down at Colin from the ceiling and he’s on a compass. He is in
a standard push-up position with his feet in the bucket and his
head and shoulders are facing “south.” His feet would therefore
be facing “north.” His hands are on the X on the carpet (about
shoulder width apart) and his feet are in the bucket and suspended
about 8 to 10 inches off the ground. It is imperative that the shape
of the body be in a slight arch, with the shoulder blades pinched
together. The hips are not lifted up (or “piked”). As a good starting
drill, and for those new to this device, you can begin by assuming
the “start” position and simply pick up your hands one at a time
(alternating from right hand to left) while keeping the body rigid.
Repeat this process over and over until you develop the strength
and confdence to go to the next step.
Photo 5 shows what we call the “enter” phase of the circle. Here,
Colin is moving his entire straight body (by pushing the bucket
with his feet) around to the left, or “west.” He picks up his right
hand, allowing his body to pass under so that he can eventually
swing the bucket toward the viewer. (Photo 8, later in this article,
shows the lateral view of the position after the enter phase. This
we call the “rear support” phase.)
Photo 6 shows the body and bucket moving together from left to
right. Keep the entire body as straight as possible from shoulders
to toes. Be patient. Maintaining as straight a body line as possible
throughout the entire 360 degree circle that your body will travel
is likely take several days or even weeks to master. This is core
strength.
Colin is about to complete the circle in photo 7. Remember, he’s
moving the bucket in a counterclockwise motion. He plants his
right hand on the foor. His shoulders and head are constantly
facing the viewer (“south”), his eyes are looking out and down,
and now he’s “exiting” the circle by lifting his left hand, allowing his
entire straight body to pass under and get ready to go back to and
through the start position (photo 4) and repeat the entire circle.
The sequence
Photo 4
Photo 5
Photo 7 Photo 6
CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007
4
...continued
Bucket Circles
The positions
The direction of your circle (clockwise or
counterclockwise) is totally up to you and is only a
matter of personal preference. The demonstrator in this
article is most comfortable circling in a counterclockwise
direction. You might want to try to experiment and swing
also in a clockwise fashion to see which direction feels
normal and comfortable for you.
For reference, photos 8 and 9 show still shots of two
of the crucial body positions. Photo 8 is of the “rear
support” position, taken from a lateral point of view.
Notice the nice straight body line. Photo 9 simply shows
the start/fnish position of the circle. We call this the
“front support.” Again, the line of the body is straight
and tight from shoulders to bucket. Keep in mind that
the hands are shoulder width apart and on the X mark
on the foor.
To keep things simple while training on this device, try
to keep your shoulders, head, and hands facing the same
direction while doing the circling action with your body.
When you frst start to learn your circle, I recommend
that you begin with trying to achieve just one correct
circle. Mastering the proper technique is imperative to
the success of this exercise. Once you’ve mastered the
proper body shapes and have become profcient in one
perfect circle, go ahead and try several of them. Over
time, you can do several in a row without interruption and
with a good rhythm. With the more advanced gymnasts I
coach, I can expect them to each do about forty perfectly
aligned consecutive circles in about 45 seconds.
Photo 8
Photo 9
Photos 10 through 13 are all different images of the
same circling action. However, in this case Colin is
on his forearms throughout the circle. This is a much
more advanced technique and obviously much harder
to perform since your entire body and center of gravity
are now much closer to the ground. Bucket circles on
the forearms require the athlete to maintain an even
straighter body line from feet to shoulders in order to
master the complete 360 degree circle. Once you can
do the normal circle on your hands with straight arms
with ease, the forearm circle would be the next logical
progression. It’s especially good work for the abdominals
as well as the upper back.
Forearm circles
Photo 10
CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007
5
...continued
Bucket Circles
What I like to do with my gymnasts is to alternate fve
standard circles on the hand support and then, without
stopping, dropping down to the forearms for another
fve circles, and then, without missing a beat or breaking
rhythm, step back up to the standard position for another
fve circles. Then repeat. Multiple rounds of this add
up to some serious work (and your triceps will make
themselves known when you’re stepping up from the
forearms to the hand support).
Bucket circles are an incredible exercise that will improve
your upper-body and core strength dramatically. And
because you are concentrating so hard on maintaining
correct body positions, learning the rhythm, and focusing
on just staying up, you almost don’t realize how hard your
body is working. You train strength, stamina, fexibility,
coordination, accuracy, agility, and balance all in one fun
exercise. That is the antithesis of “dumb PT.”
Photo 11
Photo 12
Photo 13
Phil Savage is a gymnastics coach and photographer in Knoxville, Tennessee, where he
owns and operates a 32,000-square-foot gymnastics and cheerleading facility with his wife,
Lisa. He first started gymnastics in 1964 and competed at elite levels from 1975 to 1980.
Since then he has coached thousands of athletes of all ages and abilities and travels to other
gyms to teach coaches and trainers how to teach gymnastics. He was the first coach inducted
into the Tennessee Gymnastics Hall of Fame (2006), and he’s also in the Guinness Book of
World Records for the fastest mile walked on the hands in a 4-man relay.
CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007
6
I was driving home the other night, listening to the radio, and the
guy flling in for Art Bell on Coast to Coast AM was talking to
some other guy about Nazis, UFOs, the Kennedy Assassination,
time travel, and George Bush, and how it all relates to
OneWorldGovernment. This, of course, made me think about
barbell training, and it occurred to me that good form on the
barbell exercises should not be a matter for debate. People
should not be entitled to their own opinion about it, any more
than they are entitled to an opinion about the value of x in 3x -
10 = 60, or whether the Grays pulled off the Bay of Pigs. Good
form (or technique, or kinematics, or whatever you’d like to call
doing it right) should depend on the logic of a dispassionate
analysis of the body-and-barbell system in the motion required
by the exercise, and that’s about all. The exercise is chosen
to work a particular movement pattern normal to the human
skeleton, the bar has a certain path it most effciently travels
through space for the exercise, the skeleton must move in ways
defned by its segment lengths and articulation points to enable
this bar path, and the muscles must move the skeleton exactly
this way. Anything that deviates from this is Bad Form.
Why is bad form a problem? Two reasons come to mind
immediately. First, shoving joints into positions they are not
designed to occupy presents potentially signifcant safety
problems, although not of the magnitude you may have been
led to believe. And second, allowing joints to assume positions
they are not designed to occupy means work that should have
been done by the muscles anatomically designated to move the
bones in question actually got done by other muscles, whose
proper function in effciently performing the movement got
circumvented by your inattention to detail. It really boils down
to that: bad form—for people who know better—is just a
willingness to do the movement the wrong way because that’s
the way you’ve been doing it. And the right way is better because
eventually you can lift more weight correctly, in addition to the
fact that you’re less likely to get hurt.
If I had a nickel for every scary deadlift I’ve seen at high school
powerlifting meets, I actually wouldn’t have more than about fve
dollars in nickels because I quit going to the damn things after I’d
been to just three or four of them. I do not enjoy seeing the egos
of coaches take precedence over the spinal integrity of athletes.
Little skinny kids trying to open with 405, when their backs are
not capable of staying fat with 225. Beautiful little 15-year-old
girls stuffed into squat suits, low backs rounded into complete
fexion on their opening attempts. Big, potentially strong kids
doing the lifts with technique that passes for legal at a meet of
this type, with weights that they cannot lift correctly—that is, in
a way that satisfes the rules of biomechanics that govern safety
and effciency. I witnessed lots of high squats in spinal fexion,
hitched deadlifts in spinal fexion, and coaches and referees
behaving as though this was Just Fine. It is truly amazing that
more kids are not hurt in activities of this type, and that in itself
tells us something about the nature of healthy human bodies
and the actual injury potential of barbell exercises.
Yes, it’s harder to hurt people with barbells than we’ve been
led to believe. If Lamar Gant can deadlift over 700 pounds
with severe scoliosis and 15-year-old girls can squat 300 pounds
with form that would make an actual strength coach turn away
in shame and embarrassment, bad form cannot be all that
dangerous, at least in terms of the potential for catastrophic
injury. Weightlifting, powerlifting, and weight training are
actually far safer activities than, say, soccer, despite the fact that
most people do lots of things wrong most of the time. The
vast majority of the serious injuries and fatalities associated
with weight training are the result of unspotted bench pressing,
usually at home. The chances of needing to leave the gym in an
ambulance are vanishingly small (although once, a long time ago,
a new guy actually called an ambulance when his legs began to
cramp after a squat workout—I was gone at the time). During
the thirty years I have been in the gym business, aside from a
few broken toes, there have been no serious injuries at my gym
that required medical attention.
Now, there have been lots of people who have gone to the
doctor unnecessarily—me among them, long ago—for injuries
that doctors are not particularly good at either understanding
or treating. It may have seemed necessary at the time, because
we are raised to think that you see a doctor when you’re hurt.
But after the third time you hear, “You just pulled a muscle.
Take these pain killers, these muscle relaxers, and these anti-
infammatories. And stop lifting so much weight,” you quit going
to the doctor unless bright blood is actually spurting from an
artery.
As a general rule, acute injuries in the gym are usually back tweaks,
the kind of thing that chiropractors and PTs can sometimes help
with. These injuries are most often spinal in nature, affecting
the facet joints, one of the small ligaments between adjacent
vertebrae, the nerves immediately proximal to these structures,
Mark Rippetoe
Bad Form
Bad form changes the nature of an exercise from
efficient to inefficient; it changes the way the
bones move the load, and in doing so changes the
contribution of the muscles that are supposed to
move the bones.
CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007
7
...continued
Bad Form
or a combination of the three. Sometimes an intervertebral
disc is involved, but not usually. When chiropractic or physical
therapy works, it has been my experience that it usually does
so within two or three visits, thirty not being particularly
useful for anything except the bottom line of the chiropractor
or PT. Painkillers and muscle relaxers don’t help them heal
faster, but they may make it easier to get to sleep and to train
around and through the injury, which will help it heal faster (but
which is usually advised against by the people who write the
prescriptions). Anti-infammatories are quite useful but do not
require a prescription; I buy my Equate ibuprofen at Wal-Mart.
Back tweaks usually occur in one of two situations: 1) under light
weights where good form is not being observed, either through
negligence or inexperience, or 2) under heavy weights, where
good form breaks down due to the load. They are almost never
“muscle tears,” because muscle tears usually occur in muscle
bellies, in muscles that either accelerate or decelerate motion
around a joint that moves at a high angular velocity, like a quad,
a hamstring, or a rotator cuff muscle. Massage may help the
muscles relax, but massage in and of itself cannot affect the
cause of the pain. These types of injuries usually heal within two
weeks whether you do anything to treat them or not, unless a
disc injury has occurred. Competitive lifters get used to them
and learn to train around them, often by performing the very
exercise that caused the injury using perfect form, very light
weights, and very high reps.
It is not impossible to pull other muscles, and hamstring, quad,
and pec tears occur even when using good form. Tears happen
when the force of the muscle contraction is overcome by the
resistance so rapidly that it cannot be compensated for by the
other muscles. Leg muscles tear when running or when training
with weight explosively; pecs tear when benching explosively, or
with max weights that, once the tear starts, cannot be unloaded
quickly enough. Sometimes tears result from agonist/antagonist
strength imbalances, or fatigue, or when the extensibility of
muscle bellies is exceeded by uncontrolled range of motion.
Sometimes it is bad form.
Overuse injuries, another common variety, usually involve
joints or the muscular tissue in very close proximity to joints.
Bad form often predisposes one to these types of injuries, by
causing joints to move in ways that tendons and ligaments are
not happy with. Many chronic shoulder injuries started out in
life as incorrect bench presses and grew up to be rotator cuff
surgeries. The mechanism of this rotten situation will become
apparent.
The reality of the situation is that when a lifter reaches the
point where the amount of weight lifted becomes more
important than increasing strength—when you lift as a sport,
not to strengthen for another sport or for general ftness—you
will be lifting enough weight to get hurt. Any competitive sport
is dangerous; lifting as a sport itself is competitive; and that’s
just the way things are. Lifting for strength and conditioning is
different, and much, much safer.
Bad form is to be deplored not just for its potential risk but
also for its potential to keep us from getting stronger. This is
because bad form occurs when a movement pattern is executed
ineffciently, the bar being moved by bones traveling through
space in a way that does not maximize musculoskeletal effciency.
And this occurs when work is being avoided by muscles that
should be doing it, in favor of muscles that shouldn’t. It happens
when novice lifters learn things wrong, something that may not
be entirely their fault. It also happens when experienced lifters
allow their form to deteriorate, either unconsciously, through
a lack of concern for good form, or intentionally, by cheating a
movement to lift more weight than their strength using good
form will permit.
This biomechanical stuff is rather dry, and that’s probably why
sensible, interesting people don’t either write it, read about it,
or call in about it on Art Bell. So I’ll try to make the rest of this
as “interesting” as I can.
For example, when you allow your hips to come up before your
chest in a deadlift—when your back angle changes before the
bar leaves the foor—your knees have extended. You know
this because your back angle can’t change unless either your
knee or your hip angle changes, and in this case it’s primarily
your knee angle. This means that the muscles that extend your
knees, your quads, did in fact extend your knees but did not lift
the bar when they did so. They moved the knee joints, pulling
the shins away from the bar, but did not produce any work
against the load. Now when the bar is lifted, the entire work
of the deadlift will be done without signifcant contribution
from the quadriceps. This means that the hip extensors—the
glutes and hamstrings—have to do all the work by themselves.
The normal job the hip extensors do as the bar comes off the
foor is essentially isometric; they maintain the back angle by
anchoring the pelvis, so that the quads can extend the knees
to push the bar away from the foor. It’s not that the glutes
and hamstrings aren’t working at the bottom of the pull—they
certainly are—but their work at this position enables the quads
Good form on the barbell exercises should
not be a matter for debate.
CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007
8
...continued
Bad Form
to do their job. So if you fail to keep your chest up as the
bar leaves the foor, you allow the quads to puss out, changing
the role of the hamstrings from antagonists to agonists off the
foor. This should be obvious to even the dullest Sasquatch, or
“Bigfoot,” if you prefer the colloquial term.
This is bad form and a perfect example of its effects. Bad form
changes the nature of an exercise from effcient to ineffcient;
it changes the way the bones move the load, and in doing so
changes the contribution of the muscles that are supposed
to move the bones. Instead of all the muscles in the system
making their anatomically effcient contribution to the loaded
movement, when form is bad some muscles do more than they
are supposed to and some do less. You know this because
a stiff-legged deadlift (SLDL), the intentional version of this
particular example of bad form, has a lower 1RM than a deadlift
even though the bar moves the same distance. A SLDL is a
useful assistance exercise when done as an adjunct to deadlift
training, but when it comes time to lift the most weight, it
would be terribly unproductive to confuse the two movements.
Aside from the reduced effciency, the SLDL’s back angle places
maximal torque on the low back, by increasing the length of
the lever arm between the load and the axis of rotation (i.e.,
the extending hip joint) and by applying that load at right angles
to the moment arm. This dramatically increases the stress on
the muscles and ligaments responsible for maintaining spinal
extension—not a bad thing if you’re doing it intentionally
(SLDL), but counterproductive if you’re trying for a new PR
(no new PR), as even the most inexperienced time traveler will
tell you.
Why would a lifter fnd it advantageous to intentionally or
deliberately avoid using a major group of muscles that obviously
make an important contribution to a lift? After all, if the
hamstrings and glutes are strong enough to do all the work
of lifting the bar off the foor without the help of the quads,
they are certainly strong enough to function in their proper
isometric role of anchoring the back angle so the quads can
work. Well, it’s seldom intentional, because if it is, it’s a SLDL.
And it’s never an advantage to move a load ineffciently. It is
usually just learned wrong through a lack of feedback at a crucial
time in the learning process. Or sometimes it’s form creep, bad
technique acquired so gradually that it is never perceived as
wrong until someone else does you the favor of pointing it out
(and let’s hope that you’re gracious about it when it happens).
Sometimes it is the result of a movement pattern altered when
training through an injury, and the resulting strength imbalance
may fail to be addressed when the injury is fnally healed. But
failure to correct it once you know about the problem is either
laziness or an unwillingness to back off to lighter weights until
good form has time to strengthen the muscles that have not
been making their proper contribution. This was identifed as a
problem by CIA remote viewers back in the 1970s.
Furthermore, I’ll go out on what I hope is not too skinny a
limb here and state that bad form in all basic barbell exercise is
of the same type: using muscles in ways that reduce effciency,
increase the chance of injury, and reduce training productivity
by moving bones in ways that are not mechanically optimum.
“Mechanically optimum” means keeping the load directly over
the point of balance at the end of the kinetic chain (the mid-
foot in standing barbell exercises and directly above the point
on the bench where the vertical arms support the bar in the
bench press) while moving the load with the shortest possible
lever arms.
The concept of the lever arm, or moment arm, is important to
understand. A lever arm is the distance along which force is
applied to an axis of rotation, like a wrench turning a bolt, or
an axis of potential rotation, like the bar on your back applying
force to your hips in a squat. The bones of the skeleton transfer
force generated by the contraction of the muscles attached to
them to the load, and the bones rotate at the joints. The part
of the body between the load and the ground is referred to as
the “kinetic chain” because it is what produces the movement.
For all the barbell exercises that involve standing with or under
the bar and that involve more than one joint in the movement,
the greatest effciency occurs when the weight is moved in a
way that keeps it directly over the point on the ground where
the weight of the system is in balance. For humans this point is
the middle of the foot, because that is where the average weight
distribution against the ground is centered. When the weight
is heavy, all the movement of the weight must occur as nearly
vertical to this point as possible, or the weight/body system is
out of balance. The bones that transfer muscular force to the
load must move in ways that keep the load over this position.
Any skeletal position assumed during the movement that places
the load over some point other than the mid-foot creates a
lever arm between the load and the mid-foot, and that leverage
adds to the resistance of the load. During the movement, if a
lever arm is created between the mid-foot and the load, the
effort being generated to move the load will change to an effort
not to fall over on your ass. The only place this cannot happen
is Area 51.
And even if the system is in balance over the foot, a lever arm
may appear between the bar and the joints moving the bar. The
distance between the joints extending under the load and the
bar itself should be minimal, and if the length of the lever arm
begins to exceed that which can be dealt with effciently (as
when you lean back away from a press), the lift will not be
completed. This is the principle that enables alien craft to travel
CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007
9
...continued
Bad Form
between star systems to kidnap unsuspecting victims for bizarre
rituals that are only remembered under hypnosis.
Squatting and pulling from the ground both involve the
generation of force by the hips and legs as they react against
the ground, and the transfer of that force up the rigid spine to
the load, which is either at the top of the spine in the case of
the squat or hanging from it at the end of the arms in a pull.
Squats and pulls differ in 1) the position of the bar at the point
of force transfer (on the back or hanging from the arms), 2)
the hip/knee range of motion dictated by the location of the
bar (on the back versus on the ground), 3) the eccentric versus
concentric nature of the two movements, and 4) the amount of
Nazi mind-control technology involved.
For any squat, short lever arms are a part of the balance problem,
because the squat carries the bar on the torso (or directly
above it in the case of the overhead squat), with a roughly equal
distribution of body mass on either side of the bar, so that the
center of mass of the system is essentially directly over the
mid-foot. If the thighs and feet are parallel and the rigid back is
at the correct angle to keep the bar over the mid-foot, the hips
can very effciently solve the problem of maintaining balance
and short, effcient lever arms. The common form problems in
the squat upset this balanced lever arm relationship and result
in the biomechanical ineffciencies that typify bad form. If the
knees cave in toward the middle, the quads are being asked to
do the job of the adductors, and, as in our earlier example of
the hamstrings in the deadlift, they are strong enough to do it,
even though it leaves the adductors untrained and ultimately
weakens maximal squat capacity. The femur and the tibia,
which normally operate vertically parallel as the knee fexes
and extends, deviate inward (toward the midline) at the knee,
squishing the lateral meniscus in the knee joint due to the
uneven load. The bones move wrong, the muscles move them
that way, and the muscles get trained wrong as a result. And this
is how you know that the extraterrestrials are responsible for
the recent increase in gas prices.
The problems are obvious if the back rounds in either a squat or
a deadlift. It is hard to maintain a tight isometric spinal erector
contraction with a heavy bar hanging from your shoulders. If your
back is weak because you let it get that way, the trunk muscles
fail to do their job and thus remain unworked in favor of letting
the spinal ligaments try to keep the vertebrae in position. Since
they can’t do this very well, the intervertebral relationships go
bad, with the discs and the facet joints jammed into positions
they’d rather not occupy. And since the muscles fail to maintain
a rigid trunk, the force being transmitted from the legs and hips
through the trunk to the load—whether sitting on the upper
back or the shoulders, supported overhead, or hanging from
the arms—gets partially absorbed in the wiggle. This makes for
a sloppy job of applying the force, like hitting a burglar with a
pillow instead of a bat. And it’s all because you failed to maintain
the correct spinal alignment, either when you were learning or
when the weight got heavy later. But then again it could have
something to do with Air Force con trails.
The deadlift is different from the squat in that most of the body
is behind the bar, not under it, as it hangs from the arms under
the shoulders. Think about the difference between a barbell
deadlift and a trap-bar “deadlift” and you can see the situation.
The load, which consists of you and the bar, still needs to be
over the middle of the foot, and as the weight gets heavier the
position of the center of mass of the bar/body system more
closely approximates the position of the bar (as your mass
relative to that of the bar becomes increasingly less signifcant).
Short lever arms for the deadlift are maintained by keeping the
shoulder blades over the bar, with the best back angle your
anthropometry will permit. This is a means of keeping the linear
distance between the hip and the scapula as short as possible—
as vertical a back as the proper bar/scapula relationship will
permit—so that the lever arm formed by the back is as short as
possible. Likewise, the bar has to stay over the mid-foot so that
the lever arm between the bar and the balance point on the
foor is as short as possible, preferably zero. This is also true
for cleans and snatches as they leave the foor, up to the point
where the second pull starts. And just what were those lights in
the sky last night? C’mon, be honest with us this one time.
In overhead pressing, the muscles that attach to the humerus
and the elbow must drive them up while the bar held in the
hands at the end of the forearms stays in position directly
above the elbows and directly over the mid-foot. It involves a
simultaneous elbow fexion and shoulder extension, while the
torso is held in the position that maximizes the effciency of
the actions of the shoulder and elbow joints against the load.
For the press, if the bar stays in balance over the mid-foot as
it should, the primary lever arm in question is the horizontal
distance between the bar and the shoulder joint. This is shortest
when the bar is closest to the shoulder, and consequently the
face, which makes the nose a wonderful target for the bar for
effcient pressing. The most common form problem involves
the failure to maintain this close distance, whether through
pushing the bar away, leaning back away from the bar, or failing
to get under it as it passes the top of the head. In all three
of these cases, the trunk muscles fail to hold the torso in the
correct position close to the bar, placing the pressing muscles
themselves in the unwelcome position of having to overcome
what might be rapidly increasing leverage problems. The role of
the abs in pressing is important, and good pressers have thick
abs. Bad pressers don’t develop thick abs because they are
CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007
10
...continued
Bad Form
too busy leaning back, not using them. And in all likelihood,
bad pressers are responsible for the recent rash of animal
mutilations we’ve been hearing so much about.
Failing to maintain a vertical forearm creates another lever arm,
one that should not even be there, between the bar and the
elbow. This relationship normally involves no torque at all. But
if the anterior chest muscles—the pecs and frontal deltoids—
fail to keep the humerus pulled forward so that the elbow
stays under the bar and the forearm stays vertical, the smaller
forearm muscles are called upon to overcome the torque
produced when the bar is in front of the elbow. If the elbows,
conversely, are lifted up too high, like the rack position of the
clean, another lever arm is created that should not be there; the
remaining movement will look more like a triceps extension
than a press. This happens when the lats fail to do their job of
providing posterior antagonist support for the humerus as the
delts and triceps act on the load that should be right over the
elbow, a problem compounded when the torso fails to remain
upright and rigid. The Reptilians, of course, solved this problem
eons ago while building the pyramids.
Bench pressing is simpler because the kinetic chain—the
distance between the hands and the upper back where it
mashes into the bench—is shorter and therefore involves fewer
joints. Like the press, benching involves a shoulder fexion and
an elbow extension, and like the press it depends on a tight
lineup between the bar, the elbow, and the shoulder joint to
minimize the length of the lever arm between the load and the
shoulder. We are not powerlifters, most of us anyway, and we
use the bench to get strong, not really to see how much we can
bench. So we need to use the technique that most effectively
strengthens the muscles used in the bench press. Heaving the
bar up using the hips as a part of the rebound is an excellent
way of lifting more weight, since it recruits lower body muscles
into the exercise. It is also an excellent way of avoiding an
opportunity to strengthen the upper-body muscles that the
bench is supposed to work. Had the Atlanteans only known
this, they might still be around today. Or maybe they are.
A missed bench press most commonly involves the elbows
failing to remain directly beneath the bar when the delts and
the pecs fail to do their job of keeping the bar and the joints
lined up. The elbow typically drops down toward the ribcage,
increasing the horizontal distance between the bar and the
shoulder. This is normally accompanied by bridging the hips up
off the bench, which, among other things, attempts to shorten
this lever arm by increasing the angle of the chest and bringing
the elbows more in line with the shoulders. This is a little hard
to visualize, but no harder than imagining the problems involved
in the enormous task of constructing the Face on Mars.
There are countless other examples of bad form, and if you
think in these terms as you train and watch others train, it will
become apparent that what is happening is the incorrect use of
the skeleton, which results in the incorrect use of the muscles.
Good form is not arbitrary, and its purpose is not aesthetics. It
is based on a logical analysis of the relevant mechanics—what
works and what doesn’t—and what you or I feel about that
should be irrelevant. Good form is based on human anatomy
and the physics of movement and should be harder science
than that which is normally discussed late at night on the radio.
It may not be as much fun, but it will be of more immediate
beneft than Edgar Cayce could ever have predicted.
Mark Rippetoe listens to the radio late at night while driving home from Wichita Falls Athletic Club/CrossFit Wichita
Falls. He has spent 28 years in the fitness industry and 10 years as a competitive powerlifter. He has been certifed as an
NSCA Certifed Strength and Conditioning Specialist since 1985 and is a USA Weightlifting Level III Coach and Senior
Coach, as well as a USA Track and Field Level I Coach. He has published articles in the Strength and Conditioning
Journal, is a regular contributor to the CrossFit Journal, and is the coauthor of the books Starting Strength: A Simple and
Practical Guide for Coaching Beginners, Practical Programming for Strength Training, and the forthcoming Basic Barbell Training.
CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007
11
Jeff Martone
The Kettlebell Press
Pressing weight overhead has been one of the classic tests of
strength for centuries. Pressing barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells,
sandbags, logs, bodyweight, etc. all have their place in a well-
balanced training program, and all offer slight variations in stimulus
and technique. Kettlebells, like dumbbells, have the advantage
of permitting either one-arm or two-arm lifts, and they are
biomechanically easier on the elbows and wrists than barbells and
most odd objects, Regardless of the implement used, the tips and
techniques outlined in this article will increase your strength and
safety while pressing your implement of choice. The difference is
in the details.

I know many people who have completely removed pressing
movements from their training programs because they tend to
aggravate a chronic wrist, elbow, shoulder, or back injury. If this
is true for you, try the exercises below and pay attention to the
subtle techniques of generating maximal tension before completely
throwing in the towel on presses. Begin with a light weight, be
patient, and practice the high tension skills as outlined below.
1. Clean one kettlebell to the racked position at the shoulder (i.e.,
with you hand below your chin, elbow in contact with your
torso) (photo 1).
2. Pause motionless in this position for long enough to make sure
you will not be using the momentum generated by the clean
for the press. Be sure to keep your focus straight ahead.
3. Press the weight upward with your knees locked. Grip the
foor with your feet, contract your quadriceps and pull your
knee caps upward. Keep your glutes and abs tight, minimizing
back bend (photo 2).
4. Recruit your lats, biceps, and grip while pressing. (See the
strength tips listed below.)
5. Actively exhale (i.e., through clenched teeth) while pressing the
weight up.
6. Lock out your elbow and pause motionless with the weight
overhead (photos 3 and 4).
7. Working in the same line of action, actively pull the weight back
down to the racked starting position.
Execution
Photo 4 Photo 1 Photo 2 Photo 3
CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007
12
...continued
The Kettlebell Press
• It is important to instantly contract your
abs, glutes, and armpits (lats) when you
receive the kettlebell. This action is
similar to that of taking a body punch;
exhale on contact. You can practice
heavy kettlebell cleans to help improve
your skill at loading the tension for the
press.
• Recruit your grip.
o Crush the handle of the kettlebell,
especially at the sticking point.
o Make a fst with the free hand in
one-arm presses, especially at the
sticking point.
o Try squeezing a gripper or a ball in
the free hand. I found this practice to
be extremely helpful in overcoming
sticking points (photos 5 and 6).
• Recruit your biceps.
o Keep your forearm vertical at all
times.
o Don’t press a kettlebell straight up
but slightly to the side and spiral
it upward. It makes for a more
effcient use of your shoulder and
biceps strength.
o Practice “bottom up” presses
(photos 7-10).
• Recruit your lats.
o Keep the weight of the kettlebell on
the heel of your palm.
o Practice “see-saw” presses. Press
one kettlebell overhead while having
the other in the rack position.
Actively pull down the overhead KB
while simultaneously pressing the
racked KB. This is not an alternating
press. As one comes down the
other is going up, passing each other
at about head height (photos 11-
13).
o Try alternating sets of clean and
presses with sets of weighted pull-
ups.
Strength Tips
Photo 8 Photo 9 Photo 10
Photo 5 Photo 6 Photo 7
Photo 11 Photo 12 Photo 13 Photo 14
CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007
13
...continued
The Kettlebell Press
• Walk with one or two kettlebells
pressed overhead to increase shoulder
strength, fexibility, and stability.
• Practice Turkish get-ups (see CrossFit
Journal issue 57 [May 2007]).
• Practice pressing two kettlebells
simultaneously (photo 14).
• Practice military presses with your heels
together. (It is called a military press
because the feet are pressed together
in the position of attention.) Be sure
to press your heels and legs together
to generate maximal tension in the legs.
You will be amazed at the stability and
strength you’ll have after practicing the
press this way for a while (photos 15-
17).
Assistance exercises
Photo 15 Photo 16 Photo 17
There’s no magic number or set regimen for working your
kettlebell press. Do as many as you can with perfect form. If your
tension is high, your reps should be low, in the range of about
three to fve. Multiple sets of singles or doubles are great for
building pure strength.
The sport of kettlebell lifting is one of strength endurance more
than pure strength, and kettlebell work is particularly good at
developing your ability in this realm. While training with world
kettlebell champion Valery Fedorenko, I witnessed him press the
32-kg bell for 35 reps with each arm nonstop in ten minutes. That
was motivating! So, here’s another approach to developing strength
endurance. Let’s say you can perform fve reps with the biggest
kettlebell in your arsenal. Set up in front of a big clock, pace
yourself for the greatest number of reps you can perform in one
minute; then switch hands and repeat. Learn to pause and relax
in the rack position. Instantly generate maximal tension needed
for the press, and then relax, pause, and repeat. In only a couple
of weeks, I went from pressing the 24-kg bell 10 times per side in
two minutes to doing 25 reps per side in two and a half minutes.
Granted, these numbers are pathetically weak in the kettlebell
sport world, but the improvement shows the effectiveness of
training with time under tension.
Whichever method you choose, stay focused on the details and
never compromise good form for numbers or time. May you all
reach new personal bests.
Sets and reps
Jeff Martone, owner of Tactical Athlete Training Systems, was one of the first certified senior kettlebell instructors
in the United States. He is the creator of “hand-2-hand” kettlebell juggling, SHOT training, and the T.A.P.S. pull-up
system and is the author of six training DVDs. He has over 15 years of experience as a full-time defensive tactics,
firearms, and special-response-team instructor. He is currently teaching CrossFit’s kettlebell certification seminar
CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007
14
Tony Blauer
http://media.crossft.com/cf-video/CrossFit_JournalBlauerCmbFitness2.mov
http://media.crossft.com/cf-video/CrossFit_JournalBlauerCmbFitness2.wmv
Online Video Article
Video Article (10:12)
Combatives and self-defense expert Tony Blauer presents part 2 of
the scenario-based conditioning lecture and demo that we left off
with in the August issue.
Blauer argues that effective combat and self-defense tactics—and
training—should work with the body’s natural movement patterns
and instinctual responses to attack and fear. Scenario-based training
is all about harnessing those instincts and conditioning the mind to
working under high-stress physical and mental conditions.

Part 1 talked about adapting some of the basic functional movements
we’re all familiar with to the tactical environment to create a warm-
up designed with defensive training in mind. This month, Blauer
presents a fuller scenario-based workout for training “functional
fghting ftness.”
Tony Blauer is CEO of Blauer Tactical Confrontation
Management Systems (BTCMS), a consulting frm specializing
in research and development of combative programs for the
military, law enforcement, and martial arts communities. He
is highly sought out by progressive trainers interested in his
S.P.E.A.R. System for counter-ambush and extreme close-
quarter tactics and for his High Gear simulation equipment
for advanced scenario work.
Combatives Fitness
Part 2: The Workout (Video Article)
CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007
15
Greg Glassman
Better Movements
The Jerk and Kipping Pull-up (Video Article)
http://media.crossft.com/cf-video/CrossFit_JournalCoachBetterMovements.mov
http://media.crossft.com/cf-video/CrossFit_JournalCoachBetterMovements.wmv
Online Video Article
Video Article (14:24)
CrossFit workouts emphasize high-skill movements (relative to
isolation and/or machine-based movements) because they are, in
almost every respect, better vehicles for optimizing ftness—for
achieving CrossFit’s mission of increasing work capacity across
broad time and modal domains.
In this lecture from a recent CrossFit certifcation seminar, Greg
Glassman looks at the differences among the shoulder press, push
press, and push jerk and compares them to the differences between
strict and kipping pull-ups. The advantage of the “better” (more
dynamic) movements, he explains, lies in the power they express.
They are consistently farther along the almost every continuum
that matters: athleticism, power, intensity, skill, and utility.
Greg Glassman is the founder (with Lauren Glassman)
of CrossFit, Inc., and CrossFit Santa Cruz and is the
publisher of the CrossFit Journal.
CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007
16
Greg Glassman
Nutrition Lecture
Part 1: Avoiding Disease (Video Article)
http://media.crossft.com/cf-video/CrossFit_JournalCoachNutrition1.mov
http://media.crossft.com/cf-video/CrossFit_JournalCoachNutrition1.wmv
Online Video Article
Video Article (14:23)
Nutrition can be a touchy topic, like politics or religion, that people
take very personally, but good nutrition is the foundation not only
for general health but also for high-performance ftness. Much of
the public information about diet, particularly the emphasis on
low fat and high carbs, has resulted in a near epidemic of obesity
and type II diabetes. In this frst of a two-part lecture excerpt,
Coach Glassman explores some of the science behind nutrition
and the body, particularly the role of insulin in health and disease.
“Syndrome X,” the “deadly quartet” (obesity, glucose intolerance,
high blood pressure, high triglycerides), and coronary heart disease,
he claims, are avoidable through dietary means.
Part 2 will address the refned dietary needs of the athlete and
what’s required to optimize performance.
Greg Glassman is the founder (with Lauren Glassman)
of CrossFit, Inc., and CrossFit Santa Cruz and is the
publisher of the CrossFit Journal.
CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007
17
Lon Kilgore
Every single kind of exercise researcher and practitioner
known to mankind has been indoctrinated with the concept
of specifcity of training. The idea is so well entrenched in the
professional psyche that it even has an acronym, the S.A.I.D.
principle—Specifc Adaptation to Imposed Demand. In a lot of
ways, it’s pretty correct physiologically. We all remember Dr.
Hans Selye and his General Adaptation Syndrome model, which
explains how the body becomes stronger and ftter by adapting
in response to physical stress. The S.A.I.D. principle fts nicely
into that model. Training anaerobic exercise at the very edge
of one’s physical limits causes the body to adapt in a way that
pushes out that boundary and increases the body’s capacity for
that kind of work. We believe this and we use this concept in
exercise programming. Specifcity does work.
Let’s go a little further in our consideration of specifcity though.
Lots of coaches and trainers want to make their programs as
specifc to a trainee’s sport or task as possible. To some extent,
this is a physiologically sound idea. We wouldn’t approach
training a 100-meter sprinter the same way we would approach
training a marathoner, since one relies on muscle contractile
speed and stored and rapidly recycled adenosine triphosphate
(ATP) and creatine phosphate for performance while the other
relies on several metabolic pathways, carbohydrate availability,
and cardiorespiratory effciency. The training for a certain
activity must place the same types of physiologic and metabolic
demands on the trainee. That principle applies to strength
training for performance enhancement as well. We use multi-
joint and balance-requiring exercises instead of a collection of
leg extensions, leg curls, and other machine-tracked single-joint
exercises because sporting systems starts with the ground and
require the body to act in a plane(s) of motion dictated by the
activity, not by a machine. In this sense, a certain amount of
specifcity of exercise mode is also a good idea.
But specifcity gets carried too far on more occasions than I can
enumerate and taken to the point of being wrong. This happens
particularly often in the range of exercises that particular
athletes train. Some typical approaches to training for Olympic
lifting and competitive cycling provide clear examples of what
I mean.
If you were to go to many Olympic lifting gyms and ask the
athletes there to list their exercise menu, you’d probably be
surprised—or maybe not—at the narrowness of the exercises
included. Snatch, snatch pull, clean, clean pull, Romanian
deadlift (RDL), jerk, push jerk, Olympic (high-bar) back squat,
and front squat. In extreme cases, you’ll even fnd those who
only snatch, clean, jerk, and Olympic squat. A very narrow but
physically similar—thus specifc—exercise selection. Progress
is possible this way with beginners and, to some extent, with
intermediates, since the overload possibilities offered by the
partial movements (pulls, RDLs, and squats) will produce some
progress. But with advanced lifters, those who focus on high-
performance weightlifting competition, such fnite specifcity
may limit progress. A standard deadlift is more of a strength
stimulus than an RDL or a pull. Rising from a snatch or from
a clean is more closely mimicked by the Olympic and front
squats. However, the less-specifc low-bar squat more effciently
develops the hips than the other two variants by anatomic
function and by virtue of being able to handle more weight
throughout the complete range of motion. A low-bar squat
loads the hips and legs more evenly (anterior-posterior) than
the quadriceps-dominant high-bar Olympic or front squats. The
heavier weights possible with this exercise provide a better
overload stimulus than an Olympic squat. The hips help the
weightlifter stand up and help with the pull. More hip strength
equates to better performance.
Evidence that low-bar squatting can be effective in developing a
weightlifter can be seen in the fact that a number of accomplished
powerlifters who were at the national and world level made rapid
transitions to the elite levels of weightlifting with little, if any,
specifc high-bar squat work. America’s best superheavyweight
of recent times, Shane Hamman, was a 1008-pound low-bar
squatter immediately prior to his conversion from powerlifting
to the Olympic sport. There are numerous examples of this
same phenomenon occurring on a smaller scale in my area of
Texas where high school champion powerlifters make national
junior weightlifting teams in a matter of months after frst
beginning to train the Olympic lifts. The relative ease with
which powerlifters can be converted to high-level weightlifters
indicates that strength is more specifc to weightlifting
performance than squat style is, and the most effcient means of
developing that strength is always best for weightlifters. At some
point, training exactly the performance activity or a very close
variant is too specifc and will fail to be satisfactorily disruptive
of homeostasis and fail to drive adaptation. In this context, too
much specifcity—or the wrong kind—will limit ftness gain and
is wrong. For weightlifters, strength training specifcally to get
strong is more benefcial than strength training that tries to
mimic their sport’s movements more specifcally.
Specifically Speaking
At some point, training exactly the performance
activity or a very close variant is too specific and
will fail to satisfactorily disrupt homeostasis and fail
to drive adaptation.
CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007
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...continued
Specifically Speaking
Another example of specifcity gone awry can be found in the
sport of cycling. Cyclists just love to ride bikes, and I am always
surprised by the passion of even the most ordinary recreational
racer. I am also surprised at the exercise prescriptions that
cycling coaches, even the elite ones, provide to develop their
athletes’ ftness and performance. You want to improve
endurance? Ride a bike, they say. You want to get fast? Ride a
bike. You want to get strong? Ride a bike. But can one activity
really provide such a breadth of results? Why is the prescription
for performance enhancement on a bike almost always “ride a
bike more”? A huge number of trainees and coaches believe
that improving on-the-bike endurance, strength, or speed is
best developed by specifcally riding longer, riding harder, or
pedaling faster. (Remarkably, I have even been told that two
hours of long, slow distance (LSD) riding will improve cycling
speed performance.) OK, if you are a beginner, this approach
will work, for a period of time. But if you have been riding and
racing for a while, you have to alter the stress to elicit further
adaptation from the body.
Endurance comes with more hours in the saddle? No. Just
spending more hours pedaling away at a constant pace will
fail to disrupt oxygen homeostasis and cannot drive further
cardiovascular adaptation. Strength comes from pedaling a big
chain ring and a little rear cog? No. At some point the physics
of the chain ring size or the incline grade needed to tax strength
will render the activity untenable. Speed comes with trying to
pedal a little chain ring as fast as possible? No. Spinning the
pedals as fast as you can will eventually reach its absolute and
will be limited in its ability to stimulate neural adaptation. And
don’t even get me started on the mutant logic used to argue
that LSD improves speed. So it appears that riding only a bike
to specifcally train for cycling performance in anyone other
than a beginner fails the litmus test of specifcity. The activity is
so specifc that overload is not possible. And without overload,
there cannot be any adaptation in ftness or performance, so
specifcity in this context is a wrong approach as well. CrossFit-
style broad, functional training could really help these athletes
with their physical preparation.
Here is where things get a little diffcult. How does specifcity
play into the CrossFit model of varied training? Well let’s ask
ourselves what CrossFit is specifc to? Hard question, isn’t
it, since its explicit aim is broad, inclusive general physical
preparedness based on intentional variety? So many diverse
groups use the program successfully that you really can’t pick
a single specifc best ft. It is tempting to say that every ftness
seeker, every worker, every athlete—heck, every human—can
reach their goals through CrossFit. The results of CrossFitters
everywhere point to exemplary strength, endurance, mobility,
and health. But we can’t claim that CrossFit replaces sport-
specifc training. At the advanced and elite levels, most sports
require extended periods of very narrowly focused training, a
focus and specifcity that by necessity excludes CrossFit training
and its emphasis on breadth and variety.
Let’s look at the Basic Strength Standards that Mark Rippetoe
and I developed to illustrate the point. In order to move
forward as quickly as possible in developing pure strength, any
advanced or elite trainee would need to spend a majority, if
not all, of their training time on strength training. This does
not mean that a CrossFitter cannot reach maximal strength
potential using CrossFit methods. After all, strength is one of
the basic ftness elements. But, because CrossFit training is
multifocal, not singular, it will take longer to get to that peak
strength performance level. The amazing Eva Twardokens is
an excellent example of what can be achieved with consistent
long-term CrossFit training. She got very strong on CrossFit
(as attested to by her performance in numerous demo videos
on CrossFit.com over the years). She was strong enough
that it was observed that she would do well in competitive
Eva Twardokens
PDF
CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007
19
...continued
Specifically Speaking
weightlifting with her CrossFit-derived strength and skill. But
Eva is a ferce competitor, and merely doing well was not an
option; she would want to win. So she spent a few months
training just the Olympic lifts in order to develop the specifc
strength and technique needed to win, not just place or show.
And the result of that specifc training was rapid improvement.
Her 2007 U.S. National Masters Championship winning lifts
rank her as either the best or second-best masters woman
63-kg lifter in the world in the past fve years. This is a very
good result for a few months of specifc training. Solid broad-
based functional ftness—true general physical preparedness—
provides an unmatchable base on which to build sport-specifc
mastery.
Critics of broad ftness training for specialized athletes might
try to use this same anecdote to argue, on the other side of the
coin, that it demonstrates a failure to improve a single specifc
component of ftness as fast as physiologically possible. But
I think not. We all know that specifcity has its costs. When
focusing on just one aspect, broad-spectrum ability will suffer. If
we train only for LSD, strength, power, and agility will diminish.
If we train only for strength, the endurance and mobility aspects
of ftness will decay. (For example, Eva’s ability to reproduce her
performances at the full range of CrossFit workouts suffered
during her period of specifc training for weightlifting.) So it
is not a question of whether a specifc or multifocal training
approach is better; it is a question of goals and the timing of
those goals. Traditionally, athletes tend to choose one thing to
do well at, a sport in which to specialize. I was one of those
narrowly focused competitors and coaches, and I still struggle
with pushing outside the narrow comfort of my life playing
with the iron. I like being strong and I like strong people. But
maybe I’m getting old, or maybe working on understanding the
CrossFit performance puzzle has changed me, but these days I
see that we all have a lifetime in which to achieve great things
and one of the greatest things is to be ft. What impresses me
about Eva is not how strong she is; it’s how insanely ft she is
and the sheer diversity of physical tasks and activities that her
training has prepared her to be able to do very very well.
CrossFitters are on a quest to be ft. Some also have more
specifc goals they want to achieve, and many CrossFit trainers
work with clients who have competitive sporting goals.
Questions on how to integrate CrossFit training into sport- or
goal-specifc training are common. This is a diffcult topic with
many divergent opinions. When the question is posed to me,
I try to give the best answer I can given the circumstances of
each individual who asks. There are instances where the rate
of improvement for a specifc component of ftness needs to
be faster than CrossFit programming “as written” will provide.
Detractors sometimes seize those exceptions as an argument
against CrossFit’s applicability to sport. I think the better
response is simply that CrossFit is specifc to broad physical
ftness—to development of far-reaching, usable strength, power,
endurance, mobility, and health. It is the best way to train for
any sport, job, or goal that requires comprehensive ftness and
general physical preparedness. It is also perfect for any coach
who wants to rapidly establish an athlete’s ftness base before
adding in or moving on to specifc sport training. Karoliina
Lundahl, a two-time world weightlifting champion from Finland,
once told me that her success in lifting stemmed from her
coach’s development of the athlete in her frst, before he made
her a competitor. His establishment of a physical ftness base
early in her career allowed her to later work harder in her
sport-specifc work and led to her to the pinnacle of sporting
success. Hers was a thinking coach who used the right tool at
the right time to achieve his trainee’s specifc goals … and we
can all do that.
Too much specificity—or the wrong kind—will limit
fitness gain.
Lon Kilgore, Ph.D., is associate professor of kinesiology
at Midwestern State University, where he teaches exercise
physiology and anatomy. He has extensive experience
as weightlifter himself, and he has worked as coach and
sports science consultant with athletes from rank novices
to collegiate athletes, professionals, and Olympians. He
is coauthor of the books Starting Strength: A Simple and
Practical Guide for Coaching Beginners, Practical Programming
for Strength Training, and the new second edition of Starting
Strength, subtitled Basic Barbell Training.
CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007
20
Mike Burgener, with Tony Budding
Continuing our series on the Olympic lifts, we focus this month
on addressing a common problem for many CrossFitters: looping
and foating under the bar. All three lifts—the snatch, the clean,
and the jerk—must be fast, explosive, aggressive movements.
Success in these movements requires the attitude of a junkyard
dog. Unfortunately, we see too many CrossFitters pulling
aggressively off the ground only to get passive in the pull-under
(or drive-under, in the case of the jerk) and when they receive
the barbell.
The problem
What is slow, loopy movement? It’s movement that at frst glance
appears correct in its technical execution. It is in fact triple
extension. It is in fact a jump, as we have taught. But what it is
not is aggressive. It is a slow change of direction. Remember
that what we are after is a vicious jump against the ground that
creates momentum and elevation on the barbell. When that
bar moves up to its fnal height, at that exact moment, the body
immediately reverses direction and the arms start pulling the
body down under the bar in the snatch and clean, and driving the
body down in the jerk.
CrossFitters can sometimes get away with slow, loopy movement
because they often work high reps with relatively low weights.
They pull the barbell hard and then take their time going down,
often getting too much height off the ground and not moving
their feet fast enough. This is not an effcient way to lift, and
it creates a bad habit that is hard to break when speed and
aggression are needed. Max loads can never be successfully lifted
with slow, loopy movement. With heavy weights, the window
of opportunity for getting under the bar is extremely small and
Fixing Loopy Lifts
Photo 1B
http://media.crossft.com/cf-video/CrossFit_JournalBurgOctLoopy.mov
http://media.crossft.com/cf-video/CrossFit_JournalBurgOctLoopy.wmv
Online Video
Video 1
Photo 1A
http://media.crossft.com/cf-video/CrossFit_JournalBurgOctTall.mov
http://media.crossft.com/cf-video/CrossFit_JournalBurgOctTall.wmv
Online Video
Video 2
CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007
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...continued
Fixing Loopy Lifts
http://media.crossft.com/cf-video/CrossFit_JournalBurgOctAlternating.mov
http://media.crossft.com/cf-video/CrossFit_JournalBurgOctAlternating.wmv
Online Video
Video 3
http://media.crossft.com/cf-video/CrossFit_JournalBurgOctTight.mov
http://media.crossft.com/cf-video/CrossFit_JournalBurgOctTight.wmv
Online Video
Video 4
Photo 2A Photo 2B
you must move fast. You also need the bar travel in an effcient
and controlled path, but a loopy lift typically results in the barbell
crashing onto the body. Slow movement will result in not getting
under in time, and crashing often creates enough instability to
result in a missed lift.
Annie demonstrates this passive, loopy movement in video 1. You
can see the difference in photos 1A and 1B as well, which show
a foaty, loopy clean and a tight, aggressive one, respectively. In
photo 1A, the barbell is way too far out in front and above the
shoulders of the lifter, and her body is fairly relaxed. At no point
in any Olympic lift should there be either distance or relaxation.
In contrast, in Photo 1B, the lifter receives the barbell at its apex
by aggressively pulling her body to the bar. You can see extreme
tension in Annie’s body as she receives the barbell.
In the jerk pictures above, photo 2A shows a position that should
never be. Here, Annie is well off the ground with her hips and
legs extended and the barbell far in front of her face. In contrast,
Megan demonstrates a tight, aggressive jerk in photo 2B. Her
hips and arms are in almost exactly the same point in the jerk as
Annie’s, but her feet are just far enough off the ground to move
quickly to the split position. The bar has passed just in front of
her face, and she is aggressively pushing her body down with her
arms against the weight of the barbell.
Video 2 gives a detailed look at the difference between loopy
and proper movement in all three lifts. Listen, too, for the sound
of Annie’s feet hitting the ground, and how fast it is in the well-
executed tight lifts.
CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007
22
Mike Burgener is the owner of Mike’s Gym (a CrossFit
affiliate and USAW Regional Training Center), is a USAW
Senior International Coach, former junior World team
(1996-2004) and senior World team (2005) coach, and the
strength and conditioning coach at Rancho Buena Vista
High School in Vista, Calif.
Tony Budding is the Media Guy for CrossFit, Inc., and a
trainer at CrossFit Santa Cruz.
Remedies
Fortunately, there is an effective solution for going from the
loopy, passive movement to the tight, aggressive movement
(one for each exercise): work tall snatches, tall cleans, and tall
jerks. These have been described in detail previous articles,
but their essence is that they eliminate all momentum from
the pull or drive so that the athlete has to move with lightning
speed and extreme aggression to get under the bar. They are
all demonstrated in video 3.
In the tall snatch, the athlete uses the snatch grip to hold
the bar at the high-hang position at full extension—meaning
standing tall with the hips and knees extended and up on the
toes (or fat-footed, depending on your perspective on triple
extension). The only part of the body that can generate force
or movement is the traps. The athlete violently shrugs the
shoulders up to create elevation and a bit of momentum
(speed) on the bar and then pulls the body down under the
bar into the overhead squat position. Finish the lift by standing
up from the squat with the bar extended overhead.
In the tall clean, the same principles apply. The athlete uses
a clean grip while holding the bar at the high-hang at full
extension. Creating movement with the traps causes elevation
on the bar and a bit of speed. The athlete violently pulls the
body down under the bar, racking the bar into the front squat
position, and then fnishing by standing.
To do a tall jerk, the athlete presses the bar to a position just
above the forehead while rising onto the balls of the feet. With
no dip of the knees or hips, the athlete initiates the movement
with a violent drive with the arms driving their body down into
the split position.
In all three movements, the athlete must engage the arms in
the pull-under of the snatch and clean and the push-under
of the jerk. One must learn how to engage the arms at the
correct time in order to get the aggressive speed required to
be a junkyard dog! Examples of proper attitude and aggression
can be seen in video 4.
...continued
Fixing Loopy Lifts
Everything you need for CrossFitting kids and their trainers - website, workouts, magazine, seminars
CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007
23
Becca Borawski
Striking from Side Control
There are three domains of fghting in mixed martial arts: fghting
on the feet, fghting on the ground, and the transition between the
two. Fighting on the feet includes moves and strategies from many
different striking arts, such as kickboxing and Muay Thai. To take
the fght from the feet to the ground, a fghter must be versed in
arts such as wrestling and judo. Once on the ground, there are
myriad techniques available to the fghter, from those of jiu-jitsu
and wrestling to the infamous style of striking known as “ground
and pound.” Fighting on the ground is the ultimate combination of
the striking and the grappling worlds.
Jiu-jitsu and submission wrestling strategy is drastically changed
when striking is thrown into the mix. This is not a bad thing for
fghters with those backgrounds, however, as a fghter with a
command of wrestling will know how to achieve and maintain
controlling positions, or what is referred to as “good positioning.”
From a good position, a fghter can capitalize on his ability to
minimize an opponent’s movement and his own ability to land
strikes.
This month Traver Boehm will demonstrate two on-the-
ground striking techniques, executed from side control. Traver
is a professional MMA fghter whose specialty is fghting on the
ground.
To execute both moves, Traver will frst successfully achieve side
control on his opponent.
Photo 1 shows Traver’s right arm around the neck and right arm of
his opponent, Andy. Traver’s shoulder and upper body are pressing
down into Andy to hold him down, and Traver’s left elbow is pressed
into Andy’s hip to keep him from moving to the side. On the other
side, Traver’s right knee is jammed up against Andy’s shoulder, and
his left hip is dropped down, pinning Andy and preventing him
from generating any power from the hips (photo 2).
Side control
Photo 1 Photo 2
CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007
24
...continued
Striking from Side Control
The frst technique that Traver will
demonstrate on his opponent, Andy, is a
simple knee strike.
Traver will begin in side control and then
move to the modifed position shown in
photo 3. His lower body maintains the
same position, but his right arm no longer
traps Andy’s head. His weight is pressing
down on Andy, but he is not loading all
of his weight too far forward. This does
two things: it keeps Andy’s power source,
his hips, trapped, and it also keeps Traver
balanced and safe from being fipped.
Traver draws back his right leg, extending
his hip (photo 4). This leaves Andy’s entire
left side open to strikes. Traver can then
quickly and forcefully fex his hip and direct
his knee into Andy’s torso (photo 5). This is
a common move and can be very painful to
the opponent. In fghts where kneeing to
the head is allowed, the knee can be aimed
at either the body or the head.
If Andy chooses to protect his side with his
arm, therefore exposing his head, he opens
himself up to strikes from Traver’s right
hand and elbow.
Technique #1 - Knee strike
To maneuver into a crucifx, Traver frst
releases his arm from around Andy’s neck
and presses his palm against Andy’s right
elbow (photo 6). Andy will try to keep
his arms in position, but Traver has the
advantage in this situation since he can
put his weight behind his movements.
Traver pushes Andy’s arm out to the side
and moves his right hand down to grasp
Andy’s wrist, holding it to the ground
(photo 7). Traver then brings his left hand
in underneath Andy’s arm.
Next, Traver’s hands will trade positions—
his left hand will grasp Andy’s wrist, freeing
his right hand (photo 8).
Traver has now achieved a great deal of
control over Andy’s right arm. His weight
assists him in pinning down Andy’s arm,
and the angle of Andy’s arm makes it very
diffcult for him to counter.
Technique #2 - Crucifix
Photo 3 Photo 4 Photo 5
Photo 6 Photo 7
Photo 8
CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007
25
...continued
Striking from Side Control
Traver will then use his right elbow to clean
Andy’s left arm away from his defensive
position, where he has been using it to
protect his head (photo 9).
Grasping Andy’s left wrist with his right
hand, Traver will pull Andy’s arm away
and give himself room to push his knee
through, over Andy’s armpit (photo 10).
Traver will trap Andy’s left arm with his
leg, his leg being far stronger and heavier
than Andy’s arm (photo 11). At this point,
Traver has successfully pinned Andy to the
ground, with both his arms trapped and his
head and upper body exposed.
Meanwhile Traver’s left hand is free to
throw strikes at Andy’s unprotected head
(photos 12 and 13).
This technique is a favorite of many
wrestlers in the UFC (Ultimate Fighting
Championship). Randy Couture and Matt
Lindland have both successfully used this
move, and, most recently, Matt Hughes
defeated BJ Penn after immobilizing him in
a very similar position at UFC 63.
Technique #2 - Crucifix ...continued
Photo 9 Photo 10
Photo 11
Photo 13
Photo 12
Becca Borawski, CSCS, teaches and trains at Petranek Fitness/CrossFit Los Angeles in Santa Monica. She
has a Master’s degree in film from the University of Southern California and a background in martial arts
training. She has blended these skills to produce DVDs and build websites for professional fighters. She
currently trains Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with Rey Diogo, a Carlson Gracie affliate.
Traver Boehm is a professional MMA fghter who also trains at Petranek Fitness. He recently fought and
won at the Total Alliance Fighting show in Santa Monica. When he’s not beating people up, Traver studies how
to fx people through acupuncture.
CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007
26
Tony Leyland
Continuing with my theme of muscle mechanics (following my
article two months ago on the stretch-shortening cycle), this
month I would like to explain the rationale behind the plethora
of variable resistance machines and training concepts that are so
common. It isn’t that designers of exercise machines and ftness
programs do not understand muscle mechanics (although some
clearly don’t), but that knowledge is often applied in ineffective
and/or illogical ways.
Take the torque production from a muscle-joint complex for
example. As your limbs rotate, the line of action of the muscle
force changes, as does the force a muscle can exert at varying
lengths, and this results in changes in torque production. Torque is
a simple concept that everyone inherently understands. Nobody
tries to get out of room by pushing close to the hinge of a door
as we all realize that a smaller force applied farther from the axis
of rotation will get the job done (over at the handle!). This is
torque: mathematically it is force multiplied by the perpendicular
distance to the axis of rotation. When working with free weights
you learn this fast: keep the weight close to your body—i.e., as
close as possible to both the joint’s axis of rotation and to the
body’s center of gravity—and despite the obvious fact that the
weight is the same, the torque will be lower and the load will feel
more manageable.
We can easily measure the torque at various degrees of a fexion
of a given joint. The diagram below shows graphs the torque
produced throughout a biceps curl. The black dots (not connected)
show the maximal torque output of this subject’s elbow fexors at
each position (the position of the curl is shown above graph). The
dark triangles show the torque produced when curling a barbell,
and the open circles show the torque produced when curling on
a Nautilus cable machine. Clearly, the Nautilus curl requires much
more consistent application of force throughout the range motion,
whereas the torque required for the barbell falls of dramatically
once the elbow fexes past ninety degrees.
Variable resistance principles
Why the difference? Well, the Nautilus machine is a variable
resistance machine. You will probably have seen many of these
machines dotted around your local globo gyms. They are often
cable machines and you can identify them by the odd-shaped
pulleys (cams). The diagram below shows the principle by which
these machines they work. In the starting position on the left,
it is relatively easy for the athlete to rotate the cam and lift the
weight. This is because the 50-kg weight stack is close to the
axis of rotation—the cable the weight hangs from is close to the
center of the cam--and therefore requires less torque to rotate.
However, as the cam rotates, it increases the perpendicular
distance between the weight stack and the cam’s axis of rotation,
thus increasing the torque you have to exert to lift the weight
and counteracting the natural decrease in torque you would
experience with free weights. So in the diagram on the right you
would require more muscular force to lift the same weight.
This wonderful piece of knowledge about muscle-joint mechanics
means we can design a machine to force a muscle to work harder
throughout the entire range of motion, doesn’t it? That is the idea
behind variable resistance machines. But that doesn’t necessarily
mean they’re a good or particularly useful thing. For one thing, on
a cable machine, the weight is somewhere else and you’re working
through a cam or pulley, so you can’t stabilize the weight over a
joint center. But before I go further into why I don’t advocate
variable resistance machines, let’s look at some other common
variable resistance systems.
The ftness industry doesn’t stop at kidney and other odd-shaped
cams to achieve variable resistance. Another common machine
system is isokinetic variable resistance. The term isokinetic means
“constant velocity.” These machines are based on viscosity and
they basically will resist as hard as you push or pull. (They are
also expensive and some clubs will change a premium for you to
use them.) These machines have fuids (oil, water, or air) that are
forced though an aperture in a cylinder when you push or pull
on the bar. You set the effort (velocity) you want to work at and
Variable Resistance
Nature or Design?
From Enoka, R.M. Neuromechanics of Human Movement, 3rd ed. 2002
(redrawn from Smith, 1982). Note that the graph reads from right to
left for tracing the actual movement in time of the biceps curl. (One
Newton meter, the unit of measure for torque in this graph, is the
equivalent to 0.75 pound-force feet, and one radian is equal to 57.3
degrees.)
CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007
27
then push as hard as you like throughout the range of motion. The
narrower the aperture, the harder it is to force the fuid quickly
through it and hence the resistance is greater and the slower
you’ll move the bar. Again, you will exert high forces throughout
the entire range of motion. As with the variable resistance pulley
machines, you haven’t got a weight you can position directly above
or below a joint (thus reducing the torque).
The best way for you to feel how isokinetic machines work is
simply to put your hand in a bathtub or swimming pull and pull
your hand slowly though the water. Now try to pull your hand
through as fast as possible. The faster you try to move, the greater
the resistance. Another example is to put your hand out a car
window when going 30 miles per hour and do the same at 60 miles
per hour. These examples show that the resistance fuids (gas and
liquids) offer to your path through them is velocity dependent.
Another example is to look at sports clothing. Marathon runners
don’t worry about smooth, tight-ftting clothing; at their speeds,
wind resistance is minimal and no real advantage can be gained
from having aerodynamic clothing. Downhill skiers, however, go
much faster and do not want baggy clothing slowing them down.
Another less common (and less expensive) method of variable
resistance is to attach heavy chains to a barbell that unfurl as
the barbell is lifted farther from the foor, increasing the effective
weight of the barbell as more chain is supported by it rather
than resting on the foor. Admittedly this method does require
you to control a free weight and therefore places demands on
your coordination and additional stabilizing musculature, but I still
wouldn’t rush out to buy heavy chains if I were you.
People often ask about Bowfex and other spring resistance
systems. They too are based on variable resistance but it works
opposite to how we commonly experience resistance in the real
world. When you pull against a spring, it gets harder and harder
to pull the farther you stretch it. When working with barbells,
kettlebells, dumbbells, rocks, jerry cans, and other real-world
objects (i.e., when countering inertial resistance), the resistance
will generally be reduced as you speed up the load. This also true
in grappling, wrestling, tackling, etc. Once you have made a large
effort to get an opponent slightly off balance they are easier to
then drive completely to the ground. But working with springs
is not going to effectively train you to coordinate muscle torques
in a functional way. You get good at pushing springs (principle of
specifcity) on a machine that dictates for you the direction to
push and pull. And though it is, like any form of resistance training,
a lot better than just lifting the TV remote, it is not the most
effective use of your time.
Do you need variable resistance?
So why am I not sold on the beneft of variable resistance
machines? As I have said, the weight is somewhere else and you do
not need to develop any skill to control the weight. In addition,
because many of the machines work on isolated muscles you do
not develop the skill to coordinate numerous muscle groups into
functional patterns of contraction (including core stabilizers).
I think the fundamental problem is the conceptual separation
of muscle mechanics from the neural control of the muscles
(neuromechanics). While variable resistance machines do stress
muscles throughout the range of motion, that is only part of what
we need from strength training. As Coach Glassman puts it in
“Foundations,” our pursuit of optimal ftness must “strive to blur
distinctions between ‘cardio’ and strength training. Nature has no
regard for this distinction.” Similarly, nature has scant regard for
strength in isolation. By this I mean force production (strength)
should not be separated from fexibility, coordination, accuracy
and balance. Is the strongest athlete always able to lift the most?
Clearly not, as is easily demonstrated when a strong athlete
with poor shoulder and hip fexibility and or poor coordination
attempts an overhead squat. At a fundamental level, the problem
with all machines is the attempt to separate the physical skills.
Variable resistance machines claim to be better because they
supposedly mirror torque-angle relationships, but that doesn’t
solve the fundamental problem of attempting to separate muscle
mechanics from neural control and the ability to use the body as a
coordinated whole. The ten physical skills that we take to defne
ftness (cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength,
power, fexibility, coordination, accuracy, agility, and balance)
should never be viewed in isolation. And while some training
will necessarily focus on one aspect more than another, there is
no need to artifcially separate these components (as occurs in
machine-based strength/endurance work).
We must also realize that while some of the most common
movements and lifts result in the resistance dropping as we
complete the motion, as in the biceps curl example in the frst
fgure. This is a natural mechanical response and not something
that we should try to avoid or circumvent in training. Let me
explain.
...continued
Variable Resistance
50kg
50kg
Variable Resistance
torque (leverage) = force x perpendicular distance
CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007
28
...continued
Variable Resistance
The laws of physics tell us that a body will continue in its state
of rest or motion (constant velocity) in a straight line unless
compelled to change that state by external forces exerted upon
it. This is Newton’s frst law of motion, sometimes called the law
of inertia. We inherently know that starting that heavy barbell
moving is hard but that once we’ve got it moving it wants to keep
going. So heavy lifts have what is called a sticking point where the
amount of muscle force that can be exerted on the load (which is
moving slowly and resisting changing that state) is only just able to
get the weight moving. Once past that point, the weight starts to
accelerate and, toward the end of the lift (even if less muscle force
can be used), the lift is easier. Of course, that pesky thing called
gravity is trying to slow the weight down but unless it is a really
heavy weight we can get the load moving upward at a reasonable
pace, and as stated, once we get it going it will be easier to keep
it going. This is why you can lift more in a push press than a strict
press: your much larger leg musculature gets the weight going up
and you only have to use the smaller upper-body muscles to keep
it moving to the fnish. This pattern of resistance is one of nature’s
very common forms of variable resistance.
However, not all resistance motions we perform result in reduced
torques as the load is accelerated. If the load moves farther from
the joint center, the torque can increase even if the load is being
accelerated. For example, in the middle part of kettlebell swing
to overhead, the torque will be very high even though you already
have the kettlebell moving fast (this because the load’s is a full
arm’s length from your shoulder). So in nature if loads have to be
moved from close to farther away from the body you will get, yes,
variable resistance.
Working with free weights also teaches us when we really need
to keep the torques as low as possible for a given weight. The
gravitational line of action on a weight is always vertical, and the
distance between this vertical line of action and a joint center
is crucial. If, for example, you do not get a heavy press directly
overhead (elbows into your ears, weight above feet) the resultant
torque is going to demand much more effort from your shoulder
muscles and may in fact cause you to lose balance and drop the
weight. Similarly, if want to make that max deadlift, you better keep
that bar on your shins, reducing the torque on your lower back.
Training a multitude of movements in your workouts prepares you
for a variety of real-life situations where loads can sometimes be
kept close and sometimes not. The bottom line is that you don’t
need a machine to provide artifcial variable resistance.
If you go back to the frst diagram you’ll see that the torque drops
to zero toward the end of the curl. Well, if you take a light weight
(say something around your 15-rep max) and do an explosive
push press, you can get the barbell moving upward so fast that
although gravity is pulling it back it’ll carry on upward for a bit
without much, if any, more effort from you. In fact, if you get
enough momentum on it, you can let go of the barbell and the
bar will continue up past your full extension height (as with wall
ball, for example). In this scenario you will actually have to grip
tight and stop the barbell from continuing upward. However, with
much heavier weight (your one- to three-rep max, for example)
you will have to push hard during the entire motion. That is why
it is also benefcial to work with a wide range of loads. Varying the
weight is essentially another way, along with every other natural
movement, of creating variable resistance.
I will admit research has shown that variable resistance does
improve strength throughout the full range of motion better than
“non–variable resistance.” This beneft, however, is only compared
to strength training on non–variable resistance machines, and
these studies tend to look at force production at the specifc
intensities trained (like 10-rep maximums, for example). But what
about the effective application of strength? By this I mean the skill
component—the development of the motor control required to
effectively lift heavy weights. If we can keep the line of action of a
heavy weight close to the joint center of rotation, lifting it requires
less torque than lifting a lighter weight whose line of action is
farther from the center of rotation. This is why, as discussed
above, lifting heavy weights is not just about pure strength. Studies
that suggest that variable resistance machines are a great way to
train are looking at one narrow parameter—one very specifc
defnition and isolated defnition of strength—but not at the
functional expression of athleticism or power in the real world.
In this article I have criticized machines in general and specifcally
the claim that variable resistance machines are better as they
mirror the torque-angle relationship of a muscle/joint system. But
the question remains: “Are they bad?” As an educator and trainer,
I have to accept that someone who is doing any kind of resistance
work is better off than the majority of the population. However,
real-life movement and strength requirements will challenge all ten
physical skills, and so should your training. If you are in the military,
a frst responder, or a martial artist, you don’t need me to suggest
machines are not an effective training tool. The bottom line on
this question? If you put a CrossFitter on a variable resistance
machine, they will do well. If you give a reasonably heavy barbell
to someone who only trains on a machine and tell them to get it
overhead, I suggest you stand clear!
Tony Leyland is Senior Lecturer in the School of
Kinesiology at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, British
Columbia. He has taught at the university level for 25 years
and has been heavily involved in competitive sports such as
soccer, tennis, squash, and rugby as both an athlete and a
coach for over 40 years. He is a professional member of the
National Strength and Conditioning Association, a Canadian
National B-licensed soccer coach, and a level-1 CrossFit
trainer. He can be reached at leyland@sfu.ca.
CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007
29
Last month I received more inquires about my article than for any
other article I’ve written for the CrossFit Journal. It was signifcant
on several levels. For one thing, I enjoy discussions about dumbbell
conditioning and am glad folks are fnding the articles useful. It
also confrmed my that CrossFit groups are expanding rapidly
and that the CrossFit movement is reaching evening deeper into
broad ftness circles.
The majority of people who wrote to me asked that I share some
other large-group workouts that use dumbbells. As I say over
and over in this column, the dumbbell is perfectly suited to the
minimalist approach advocated by CrossFit. It is also ideal for
both the new athlete and the seasoned veteran and is an excellent
tool for those with limited funds and space.
As a refresher, I restate the Rutherford Postulate: “As the group
increases in size, the complexity of the workout diminishes.”
Unless you have associate trainers all around you, or a group of
very experienced, well trained, and skilled athletes, it is diffcult to
coach complicated movements and unwise (and often impractical)
to orchestrate a workout that involves fve, six, or seven different
exercises and/or pieces of equipment.
Keeping this at the forefront, I present this month’s large-group
workout solution with dumbbells. This workout will share some of
the characteristics of the large-group approach from last month.
We’ll keep it simple with just two moves: the dumbbell hang
power snatch combined with another bodyweight classic, the air
squat. These are two of my favorite movements to pull from the
pool of possibilities.
Single-arm dumbbell hang power snatch
The dumbbell snatch demonstrates and develops explosive athletic
power (the movement is described in detail in my article in issue
54 of the CrossFit Journal [February 2007]). While the movement
is dynamic, explosive, and can be a real barn burner, it can also be
made suitable for new or less developed athletes.
I typically teach the dumbbell snatch by frst introducing and
drilling the muscle snatch, the slower, less dynamic precursor to
the dumbbell snatch. The point here is to teach the athletes the
proper path the dumbbell will travel and to begin to ingrain the
movement pattern before we ramp up the speed and power (and
weight). Again, this is described in the February issue.
Here are the basics of how I teach the single-arm dumbbell hang
power snatch in a large group:
Michael Rutherford
Large-Group Workout Solution 2
Snatches and Squats
CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007
30
...continued
Large-Group Workout Solution 2
Start in the hang position, feet under your hips, standing upright
and tight, with the dumbbell hanging in one straight arm just in
front of your thighs. Initiate the move by a drawing in a quick
breath and then fexing the hips (butt back) and dipping the knees
a bit before violently extending the legs and hip upward with a
quick snap, while pulling the shoulder, elbow, and then hand and
dumbbell up and overhead, fnishing with the weight extended
above the head on an active shoulder and landing with feet and
knees in the power position. Keep the weight close to your body
at all times during its upward movement. Don’t arc it out in front
of you. And don’t pussyfoot around. Get the thing overhead!
In the fnishing position, the arm is fully extended, chest high, back
fat, feet fat on the ground, and eyes focused on the same point as
at the beginning of the movement.
Air squat
The air squat is not only a lead-up to the weighted squat; it is
a great exercise in its own right, and it teaches and trains the
power position that virtually all athletic postures and movements
build on.
Here are my “nutshell” instructions to the group for executing
the squat:
Assume a stance with your feet spread shoulder-width and your
weight on your heels. Now toe out slightly, up to about 30
degrees. While keeping the weight back, the chest high, and eyes
fxed forward, sit back like a catcher, keeping your heels planted
frmly on the ground. From this static position, think “hips” and
stand up to return the legs extended position. (This video shows
a controlled air squat that fts these standards.)
Have everyone practice the moves several times and make
corrections as needed. In very large groups, it can be useful to
pair people up and ask them to critique and coach one another
for a set number of slow, controlled reps.
Putting them together
Now that you’ve introduced the movements, it’s time to structure
the challenge. Again, I like the notion of setting a challenge of how
many reps or rounds each athlete can complete in, say, somewhere
in the 10- to 20-minute range. This removes much of the pressure
from the novice participant but allows the fre breather the chance
to hammer it, and it guarantees that everyone will fnish at the
same time, which makes for easier group management on your
part.
The workout could be written as:
Complete as many rounds as you can in 12 minutes of:
10 dumbbell hang power snatches (5 right, 5 left)
15 air squats
A variation on this would be to pair people up and having one
person do the squats while the other does the snatches and then
switch. This is useful when you have more people than (appropriate-
sized) dumbbells, and it has the advantage of motivating intra-pair
cooperation and incentive as well as inter-team competition. That
can up the intensity level for those who desire it and enhance the
social and team aspect of group workouts.
Another possibility would be to have the athletes switch hands
after each snatch rep instead of midway through the set. And
yet a third way to manipulate these two movements would be
to perform singles. One right-hand snatch, one left-hand snatch,
followed by a squat. For an extra large crowd, you could even do
it relay style for an assigned period of time.
As you consider the goals for the workout and write it to suit
your group, keep in mind the undeniable inverse law of intensity to
volume. You can have either more intensity or more volume—but
not both. If you’ve practiced CrossFit for any time, you know that
the results reside in the higher-intensity efforts. Now go out and
conquer the masses.
Michael Rutherford (a.k.a. Coach Rut, a.k.a “the Dumbbell
Coach”) is the owner of CrossFit Kansas City/Boot Camp
Fitness. He has over a quarter-century of ftness coaching
experience with athletes of all ages. He has also worked in
hospital wellness environments and rehabilitation clinics. Rut
holds academic degrees in biology, physical education, and
exercise physiology and sports biomechanics. He is a USAW-
certifed Club Coach and is a CrossFit level-3 trainer. You can
learn more dumbbell exercises from his three-volume DVD
set Dumbbell Moves.
WMV
CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007
31
When I was training as a wrestler for the
1992 Olympic Games, the jump rope, along
with many of the kinds of functional training
exercises embraced by CrossFit, were the
keys to my development into one the quickest,
most explosive, and most highly conditioned
wrestlers in the world. I believe that
CrossFit’s fitness principles of functionality,
intensity, and variety are taking us back to
the basics and setting the standards that can
help our nation to regain its health. Jump
rope can be an important part of fitness and
sports training, providing key advantages in
developing dynamic balance, speed, quickness,
agility, coordination, concentration, and
cardiorespiratory efficiency.
I come to you with a proven system based
on twenty years of research and testing,
including use with many of the world’s
greatest athletes. I will teach you the tools
you need to master jump rope and reap its
benefits. My mission is to educate, motivate,
and encourage you to jump rope as an
integral part of your CrossFit training.
Misconceptions about jump rope

Many people think jump rope is so simple
that any rope and material will do and that
instruction is not necessary. When they realize that the rope they
have is one length, lacks adjustment, and does not turn smoothly,
they often give up in frustration. In actuality, jump rope is a
skilled movement that requires proper timing and coordination
with every jump. Developing the rhythm and timing to master
the skill can be difficult and intimidating for some people. These
frustrations can be alleviated by proper equipment (a jump rope
that is adjustable for your height, has a proper turning mechanism,
and is aerodynamic) and progressive, step-by-step instruction.
Many people have shied away from jump rope because they trip
every few jumps and have difficulty jumping with continuation.
There is the fear of looking like a klutz. I too know this awkward
feeling when trying out a new training technique, especially when
I was in peak wrestling conditioning. However, my attitude has
always been to not shy away, but become more determined to
master the technique.
A common belief is that jump rope is high-impact and therefore
hard on the knees and joints. I have even been asked if jump
rope causes arthritis in the knees. (It doesn’t.) Unless there is a
preexisting medical issue, these are problems that can be easily
avoided by learning how to jump rope the
correct way. It is also important to remember
that gradual progression will minimize the
risk of injury. In fact, jumping ½ to ¾ inch off
the floor, which is all you need for good jump
roping, causes less stress on the joints than
running and actually strengthens the muscles
supporting the knees.
For those of you who would like to learn how
to jump rope—or how to teach others—but
do not know where to start, I am here as
your personal jump rope training coach, to
teach you step by step how to jump the right
way.
Why jump rope works

When done the correct way, jump rope offers many benefits and is
a building block to fitness. It reinforces natural body biomechanics,
symmetry, and efficiency in movements. It is portable, requires
only a small space, and provides great benefits in very little time. It
can be done year round, indoors or outdoors, in a group or alone.
It can be performed merely as a warm-up to quickly raise core
body temperatures before athletic activities or strength training,
incorporated into circuits or other workout formats, used for
“active rest” periods, or done as a standalone workout in its own
right. Jump rope can be used as a training tool to target both the
aerobic and anaerobic energy systems.

According to research by John A. Baker (1969), ten minutes of
jump rope at only a 120 turns per minute can provide the same
cardiovascular benefits as thirty minutes of jogging, two sets of
tennis, thirty minutes of racquetball, 720 yards of swimming, or
eighteen holes of golf. The metabolic rate, or energy output, is
increased when different foot patterns are integrated. Jump rope
involves multijoint movements that incorporate every muscle in
the body and it ranks as one of the most efficient way of shedding
Buddy Lee
Jump Rope Basics
Part 1: Preparation
Technique tips
1. Look straight ahead to maintain balance.
2. Keep body upright and balanced with the
weight on the balls of the feet.
3. Jump only high enough to clear the rope
(1 inch off the ground).
4. Land lightly on the balls of your feet.
5. Keep your elbows close to your sides,
pointing down at a 45-degree angle.
6. Never sacrifice good jumping form for
speed. Progress slowly.
CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007
32
Step 1 – Preparation Phase
This article, the first in a series, will walk you through step 1 to
get you prepared with the right equipment and off to a safe start.
The first step is to master the skill of jumping properly without
a rope. It is important to use ropes that facilitate good control
and performance, jump on surfaces that absorb impact while
generating a rebound effect, and wear clothes that will not impede
movement.
The rope
Today’s jump rope cords are composed of a variety of materials
such as leather, sash cord, rubber, vinyl or thin and heavy cable
that possess different weights and have different performance
characteristics. But as jump rope increasingly becomes a tool in
your training, not just any rope will do.

Most jump ropes on the market are poorly designed and don’t
facilitate the maximum effectiveness of a jump rope workout.
The main problem is that they are not adjustable to your height,
which is critical to preventing drag, friction, and tangling. Another
problem is poor handle design; in many cases, the handles are too
big, too small, or too heavy, not fitting the ergonomics of the hand
for a controlled and comfortable grip. Also the way ropes function
inside the handles has a lot to do with creating excessive drag and
premature breakage of the rope cord. The external swivel bearing
system that my ropes feature allows for free rotation of the rope
cord in all directions for maximum performance.
Here are some guidelines for choosing a rope for general
conditioning purposes and to incorporate into CrossFit
workouts.
1. If you are a beginner who does not yet know how to
jump rope properly, start off by using a jump rope with
a thicker cord. (My jump and stretch cord is for this
purpose; it is adjustable and is made of a bungee material
that holds a perfect arch.) A thicker cord will provide a
slower cadence, which will help you learn the successful
timing and coordination of the rope swing with each jump.
The more continuous jumps you can sustain, the more
motivated you will be and the more benefits you will be
able to reap from your jump rope sessions.

2. If you can jump at least 100 times without a miss, choose
a speed rope with a heavier cable. It will allow you to jump
faster and with control, but it has a greater centrifugal
tendency that will challenge the forearms, chest, shoulders,
and abs more.

3. If you are an accomplished jumper who can perform the
power (i.e., double-under) jump with ease, choose a high-
performance lightweight speed rope that can be customized
to your height. These ropes offer versatility for any type
of jump rope training, while allowing ease in performing
consecutive double-unders and advanced skills.
...continued
Jump Rope Basics
pounds. For the average person weighing 150 pounds, it expends
as many as 12.9 calories per minute, or 770 calories per hour.

My system is based on a way of jumping that I call Hyperformance
Jump Rope, which is performed in short, intense bursts at high rope
speeds exceeding 220 RPM (revolutions per minute), coupled with
active rest periods. This is how I trained as a world-class athlete to
produce competitive advantages in speed, quickness, agility, balance,
coordination and explosiveness, but it is suitable for athletes of all
levels. Jump rope produces the greatest benefits when it targets
fast twitch muscle fibers and the anaerobic pathway.
Jump rope requires the coordination of several muscle groups
to sustain the precisely timed and rhythmic movements that are
integral to the exercise. It is the coordination of these muscle
groups that increases your capacity for dynamic balance—the
ability to maintain equilibrium while executing complex, vigorous,
and omnidirectional movements. Jump rope increases dynamic
balance because you must make numerous fine neuromuscular
adjustments to the imbalance introduces by each of the hundreds
of jumps per training session. Balance may be one of the most
important attributes for avoiding injury when performing both
athletic and everyday life activities.
My four-step jump rope training system
Many people jump rope incorrectly, by jumping too high, landing
too hard, using incorrect body alignment or improper rope sizes,
or by jumping on the wrong surfaces. In fact when done the
correct way, jump rope requires you to jump only high enough to
clear the rope, about ½ to ¾ inch off the floor, and involves less
impact than running. After research and working with US Olympic
sports teams to produce championship results, I have developed
a proven 4-step system that teaches people of all fitness levels
the right way to jump to receive the greatest benefits. My system
is low impact, follows a safe teaching progression, and is easy to
learn.
My system was designed with four steps:
Step 1: Preparation Phase
Step 2: Intermediate Phase
Step 3: Conditioning Phase
Step 4: Sports Training Phase

The purpose of my four-step system is to teach you in a structured
way how to:
• Safely improve your jump rope proficiency.
• Gradually increase your jump rope capacity to 5–10
minutes.
• Gradually increase rope speeds from 120 to 200+ RPM.
• Incorporate sports-specific training jumps.
• Provide an easy transition to my Hyperformance Jump
Rope programs for additional high-intensity training.
CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007
33
...continued
Jump Rope Basics
For sport-specific training, there are a few other factors to
consider. To decide whether a heavy or lightweight speed rope
is best, use my motto: Train with the rope that allows you to
best simulate the speed, quickness, and agility required of your
sport. A lightweight aerodynamic speed rope easily responds to
directional change with minimum air resistance and is effective
in developing the anaerobic energy system while increasing
quickness of the hands and feet. Polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, is the
most versatile cord material because it can be manufactured at
the proper weight, thickness, and flexibility to maximize the rope’s
aerodynamic properties in all directions. As a result, PVC material
maximizes the number of repetitions per set that can be executed
going forward, backward, and lateral. This is the type of jump rope
that I used for my wrestling training and still use today.

Surface and training area

The best jump rope surfaces provide rebound for the takeoff
phase of each jump and sufficient absorption for the landing
phase. Recommended surfaces are wood, rubber, level dirt, or, if a
good surface is unavailable, I recommend investing in a jump rope
training mat. Avoid jumping on hard surfaces such as concrete or
tile, as it will increase the risk of lower-body injuries. Each person
will need an area of sufficient clearance on the sides (five feet) and
over the head (two feet) for safe jumping.
Shoes and attire

Choose a pair of cross-training shoes with ample forefoot
padding, because jump rope requires bouncing and balancing your
body weight on the balls of the feet. Wear loose or well fitted
sports gear. Women should always invest in a good sports bra.
Remove big earrings, bracelets, and jewelry that could get into
the path of the rope. A rope in motion can also cause serious
injury to bystanders or someone jumping in front or behind you,
so watch out for your surroundings. As a beginner, you are likely
to encounter frequent tangling of the rope in your arms and legs
and rope whips that may leave marks, so wearing long pants can
be helpful.
Rope care

To avoid kinks and to ensure a
ready rope, do not wrap the rope
cord around the rope handle. Store
the rope in room temperature and
not in a cold garage or outdoors.
To keep it kink-free hang it evenly
balanced over a hook or fold and
lay it loosely on a flat surface or
in a sports bag. Knowing how
to properly store your rope
can help preserve its life and
ensure functionality and overall
performance.
Rope measurement

A rope that is double the length
from your feet to shoulders is
ideal for mastering the fifteen basic
jumping techniques. Provided
that you have good jump rope
form and posture, a rope adjusted
at shoulder height will clear the
head by at least ten inches during
the execution of basic jump rope
movements.
To determine proper rope length,
stand on the center of the rope
with one foot, and then pull the
handles up along the side of your
body so that the tip of the handles extends no higher than your
shoulder. If the handles extend beyond your shoulders, the rope
is too long. This will result in excessive drag through the air and
on the floor and will reduce the rotational speed of the rope
while increasing the frequency of catches and tangles. It will
reduce continuous duration, even for lightweight speed ropes. If
the rope excessively smacks the surface with each pass or clears
your head by more than a foot, it is probably too long and should
be shortened. However, the standard length is a guideline, not
an exact measurement for all individuals, and you might find that
you perform best with a rope slightly longer or shorter than this
guideline would indicate.

As you become better conditioned and more proficient at jumping,
shortening the rope can help produce even greater benefits. A
shorter rope leaves little room for error and forces the hands
and feet to move faster, dramatically increasing rotational speeds.
It will also increase whole-body awareness and develop and
lightning-fast reflexes.
Body position and grip
Stand upright with your head
positioned squarely on your
shoulders, focusing straight
ahead. Grasp the handle with a
comfortable grip. When you turn
the rope, make two-inch circles
with the wrists. Keep your arms
close to your sides, with forearms
at a 45-degree angle at waist
level.
Shadow jumping
Shadow jumping is a simulation of jump rope, without the rope. It
is the first step in learning proper jump rope technique and helps
teach you how to jump less than an inch from the jumping surface
CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007
34
...continued
Jump Rope Basics
and land lightly on the balls of the feet. This is
the progression you will use to learn and practice
both of the jump styles described in the following
section (the basic bounce step on both feet and
the alternate-foot step).
Now let’s get ready to prepare the mind and body
to perform the perfect jump.
1. First practice the take-off and landing phase of
jump rope without the rope, while making small
circular movements with the wrists. Stand upright
and bounce lightly and evenly on the balls of your
feet, simulating the movement of a boxer bounce,
no more than one inch from the surface. Keep
your arms close to your sides and make small
circles with your wrists. Keep your head square
on your shoulders and look straight ahead. Bounce
back and forth, moving in all planes—forward,
backward, and lateral—until you can barely hear
your feet making contact with the surface.
2. The next step is to jump as in step 1 while
holding both handles of the rope in one hand and
swinging the rope in a forward circle out to the
side of the body, in a windmill motion, in time and
rhythm with each jump.
3. Introduce the rope into the jump by getting into
the starting position with the rope resting behind
the knees. From there, practice swinging it forward
in a nice even arc over the body.
Rehearse these movements to develop muscle
memory and timing. Simulate first the basic bounce
step for one minute and then the alternate-foot
step for one minute. All jump rope skills can be
learned from this progression.
The two basic techniques
During the preparation phase you must frst master
the two basic skills, the basic bounce step and the
alternate-foot step, before learning other training
techniques. In the frst two weeks, the emphasis
should be on technique, not speed. Practice the
basic bounce step and alternate-foot step up to
a total of 5 to10 minutes twice a day. Depending
on your current skill level, begin with as few as 1
to 5 or 5 to 25 jumps per jumping bout. Jump and
rest in a 1:2 ratio (e.g., jump 30 seconds, rest 60
seconds). As your technique and jumping capacity
improves, add 10 to 20 jumps to each jumping bout
and shift your jump to rest ratio closer to 1:1 (e.g.,
jump 60 seconds, rest 60 seconds). By the end of
the second week, you should be able to jump 120
to140 times without a miss. Remember to focus
on skill and continuous jumping while you are
progressing at a comfortable rope speed. Stretch
after each session, calves especially!
The bounce step and alternate-foot step are two
basic jump rope techniques that will provide the
foundation for the rest of your jump rope training.
In addition, these techniques will improve your
conditioning level, reinforce proper jump rope
form and create the muscle memory necessary to
master the foot patterns of other basic training
techniques.
Bounce step
The bounce step is simple and effective. Time
the swing of the rope while jumping with both
feet. When turning the rope, make small circular
movements and let the wrists do most of the
work, keep body erect and look straight ahead.
Jump only high enough to clear the rope. Start at
a natural jump rope speed until the fundamental
motor pattern becomes automatic. Remember,
practice improves the coordination and speed of
the rope swing with every jump.
1. Jump approximately 1 inch from the surface, or
just high enough to clear rope.
2. Land lightly on the balls of your feet.
3. Do not let heels touch the ground on landing. Stay
up on the balls of your feet and reload to repeat
steps 1 and 2.
1
2
3
CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007
35
Begin with just one jump and swing at a time to establish
timing and rhythm for the perfect jump and landing. Then
increase by five jumps per set. As you get more proficient,
keep adding jumps per set until you can eventually perform
140 jumps without a miss. Master the bounce step before
attempting the alternate-foot step.
Alternate-foot step
The alternate-foot step is to the bounce step, except that,
instead of jumping with both feet at once, you alternate
feet, as if running in place. Jump a little higher than an inch
from the surface. Start off by performing this jump without
the rope; just practice alternating feet in place, using high
knee action but staying on the balls of your feet. Next
hold both handles on one hand and turn the rope out to
the side of body in sync with your feet while alternating
them; left, right, left, right. Jump by raising the knees to the
front. Be careful to not kick your feet backward or behind
you, as they will catch on the rope.

Finally, combine the rope swing with the jump. From the
starting position, rest the rope behind your knees, with
your right knee up. After jumping over the rope with
the left foot, be sure to wait for the rope to pass over
your head before jumping over it again with the right foot.
Repeat this cycle only twice (left, right) until you master
it; then work to repeat it four times (left, right, left, right),
once you can do that consistently, then begin to work
on continuation. Continue alternating feet (lifting knees
as if jogging in place) at a slow pace until you establish a
comfortable jumping rhythm.
Buddy Lee is a U.S. Olympian in wrestling (1992), the author of the book Jump
Rope Training, the inventor of the U.S. Olympic Team official licensed jump ropes,
the owner of Jump Rope Technology, a two-time Marine Corps athlete of the year, a
motivational speaker, and the world’s leading jump rope training expert.
...continued
Jump Rope Basics
Photo 3
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http://media.crossft.com/cf-video/CrossFit_BuddyLeeIntroJumpRope.mov
http://media.crossft.com/cf-video/CrossFit_BuddyLeeIntroJumpRope.wmv
Online Video
Introduction to Jump Rope
http://media.crossft.com/cf-video/CrossFit_BuddyLeeBounceFix1.mov
http://media.crossft.com/cf-video/CrossFit_BuddyLeeBounceFix1.wmv
Online Video
Fixing the Basic Bounce

CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007

Bucket Circles
...continued

The bucket and rope is, without a doubt, one of the best overall core-strength builders that I use. A basic principle that I always try to implement with my athletes is something I call strength with movement. Working bucket circles properly, helps teach athletes to maximize their strength from the hips to the shoulders. You’ll feel a complete workout in the abdominal area and entire trunk, deltoids, latissimus dorsi (lats), trapezius, pectorals, and rhomboids. Remember, in order to properly execute a bucket circles, you have to work the exact muscle groups necessary to maintain the correct body “shape” required to successfully execute these circles. Not

only are you trying to coordinate several circles, you’re trying not to fall down. You’re essentially balanced on two arms (and briefly on one arm) while circling your entire body around your hands. This, in itself, requires a lot of strength and muscular stamina. This strength with movement exercise is great for total body strength coordination. By this I mean, you’re coordinating the large muscle groups (lats, pecs, traps, delts, “core,” etc.) with the hundreds of smaller, even more important, muscles that exist that wouldn’t otherwise be used by conventional strength exercises.

The setup
The only apparatus you need for bucket circles is an inexpensive plastic bucket suspended from a rope (photo 1). It doesn’t take up much space and can be installed in a garage, basement, or even hung outside from a tree branch. All you need is a ¼-inch nylon rope about 6 to 12 feet long (depending on the height of ceiling), a 3-gallon plastic bucket (from a hardware store), a 6-inch steel eye screw and a swivel. Notice how I placed an X with tape on the floor directly under the suspended bucket. This dead-center mark is where you’ll place your hands once you are ready to start. Photo 2 shows the entire device, with the bucket is suspended (in this case from an 8-foot ceiling) so that it is about 8 to 10 inches off the ground. We use a flat surface on the ground such as carpet or foam, but sometimes gymnasts use a floor mushroom or floor Photo 1 Photo 2 Photo 3 pommel horse to put their hand on. For the average user at home, however, a flat carpeted or padded surface will suffice. Ideally you should have clear open space of about 10 feet by 10 feet. Photo 3 shows the proper way to place the feet inside the bucket. The best way is to not wear shoes. We go with socks and/or a towel covering both feet and ankles. For best results, try not to have any skin touching the inside of the bucket, both to protect the skin and to allow for smoother twisting of the feet and legs inside the bucket as the performer is turning his/her “circles.” 

CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007

Bucket Circles
...continued

The sequence
Our demonstrator, Colin Payne, is in the proper “start” position in photo 4. Imagine for a second, if you will, that you’re looking down at Colin from the ceiling and he’s on a compass. He is in a standard push-up position with his feet in the bucket and his head and shoulders are facing “south.” His feet would therefore be facing “north.” His hands are on the X on the carpet (about shoulder width apart) and his feet are in the bucket and suspended about 8 to 10 inches off the ground. It is imperative that the shape of the body be in a slight arch, with the shoulder blades pinched together. The hips are not lifted up (or “piked”). As a good starting drill, and for those new to this device, you can begin by assuming the “start” position and simply pick up your hands one at a time (alternating from right hand to left) while keeping the body rigid. Repeat this process over and over until you develop the strength and confidence to go to the next step. Photo 5 shows what we call the “enter” phase of the circle. Here, Colin is moving his entire straight body (by pushing the bucket with his feet) around to the left, or “west.” He picks up his right hand, allowing his body to pass under so that he can eventually swing the bucket toward the viewer. (Photo 8, later in this article, shows the lateral view of the position after the enter phase. This we call the “rear support” phase.) Photo 6 shows the body and bucket moving together from left to right. Keep the entire body as straight as possible from shoulders to toes. Be patient. Maintaining as straight a body line as possible throughout the entire 360 degree circle that your body will travel is likely take several days or even weeks to master. This is core strength. Colin is about to complete the circle in photo 7. Remember, he’s moving the bucket in a counterclockwise motion. He plants his right hand on the floor. His shoulders and head are constantly facing the viewer (“south”), his eyes are looking out and down, and now he’s “exiting” the circle by lifting his left hand, allowing his entire straight body to pass under and get ready to go back to and through the start position (photo 4) and repeat the entire circle. Photo 6 Photo 7 Photo 4

Photo 5 

To keep things simple while training on this device. you can do several in a row without interruption and with a good rhythm. With the more advanced gymnasts I coach. Photo 9 simply shows the start/finish position of the circle. Notice the nice straight body line. When you first start to learn your circle. It’s especially good work for the abdominals as well as the upper back. in this case Colin is on his forearms throughout the circle.CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007 Bucket Circles . head. photos 8 and 9 show still shots of two of the crucial body positions. This is a much more advanced technique and obviously much harder to perform since your entire body and center of gravity are now much closer to the ground. I can expect them to each do about forty perfectly aligned consecutive circles in about 45 seconds. You might want to try to experiment and swing also in a clockwise fashion to see which direction feels normal and comfortable for you. Once you’ve mastered the proper body shapes and have become proficient in one perfect circle. Once you can do the normal circle on your hands with straight arms with ease.. taken from a lateral point of view. Bucket circles on the forearms require the athlete to maintain an even straighter body line from feet to shoulders in order to master the complete 360 degree circle. However. try to keep your shoulders. I recommend that you begin with trying to achieve just one correct circle. Over time. Mastering the proper technique is imperative to the success of this exercise. Photo 9 Photo 8 Forearm circles Photos 10 through 13 are all different images of the same circling action. the forearm circle would be the next logical progression.continued The positions The direction of your circle (clockwise or counterclockwise) is totally up to you and is only a matter of personal preference. go ahead and try several of them. The demonstrator in this article is most comfortable circling in a counterclockwise direction. Keep in mind that the hands are shoulder width apart and on the X mark on the floor.” Again. We call this the “front support. and hands facing the same direction while doing the circling action with your body.. Photo 8 is of the “rear support” position. Photo 10  . the line of the body is straight and tight from shoulders to bucket. For reference.

flexibility. agility. and focusing on just staying up.CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007 Bucket Circles . Then repeat. without missing a beat or breaking rhythm. He first started gymnastics in 1964 and competed at elite levels from 1975 to 1980. That is the antithesis of “dumb PT. and balance all in one fun exercise.” Photo 11 Photo 12 Photo 13 Phil Savage is a gymnastics coach and photographer in Knoxville. where he owns and operates a 32. you almost don’t realize how hard your body is working. without stopping. accuracy. Lisa. and he’s also in the Guinness Book of World Records for the fastest mile walked on the hands in a 4-man relay. He was the first coach inducted into the Tennessee Gymnastics Hall of Fame (2006).000-square-foot gymnastics and cheerleading facility with his wife. Tennessee. dropping down to the forearms for another five circles. and then.  . coordination. Multiple rounds of this add up to some serious work (and your triceps will make themselves known when you’re stepping up from the forearms to the hand support). You train strength. step back up to the standard position for another five circles. learning the rhythm.. Bucket circles are an incredible exercise that will improve your upper-body and core strength dramatically. stamina.continued What I like to do with my gymnasts is to alternate five standard circles on the hand support and then. Since then he has coached thousands of athletes of all ages and abilities and travels to other gyms to teach coaches and trainers how to teach gymnastics.. And because you are concentrating so hard on maintaining correct body positions.

and weight training are actually far safer activities than. at least in terms of the potential for catastrophic injury. whose proper function in efficiently performing the movement got circumvented by your inattention to detail. and in doing so changes the contribution of the muscles that are supposed to move the bones. affecting the facet joints. and that’s about all. in a way that satisfies the rules of biomechanics that govern safety and efficiency. or whether the Grays pulled off the Bay of Pigs. Bad form changes the nature of an exercise from efficient to inefficient. the Kennedy Assassination. This. and these antiinflammatories. Yes. or kinematics. allowing joints to assume positions they are not designed to occupy means work that should have been done by the muscles anatomically designated to move the bones in question actually got done by other muscles. . usually at home. aside from a few broken toes. listening to the radio. and that in itself tells us something about the nature of healthy human bodies and the actual injury potential of barbell exercises. The chances of needing to leave the gym in an ambulance are vanishingly small (although once. and George Bush.CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007 Bad Form Mark Rippetoe I was driving home the other night. And the right way is better because eventually you can lift more weight correctly. these muscle relaxers. If I had a nickel for every scary deadlift I’ve seen at high school powerlifting meets. I witnessed lots of high squats in spinal flexion. despite the fact that most people do lots of things wrong most of the time. These injuries are most often spinal in nature. If Lamar Gant can deadlift over 700 pounds with severe scoliosis and 15-year-old girls can squat 300 pounds with form that would make an actual strength coach turn away in shame and embarrassment. there have been no serious injuries at my gym that required medical attention. “You just pulled a muscle. with weights that they cannot lift correctly—that is. and it occurred to me that good form on the barbell exercises should not be a matter for debate. it’s harder to hurt people with barbells than we’ve been led to believe. because we are raised to think that you see a doctor when you’re hurt. and the muscles must move the skeleton exactly this way. I actually wouldn’t have more than about five dollars in nickels because I quit going to the damn things after I’d been to just three or four of them. Now.  hitched deadlifts in spinal flexion. Big. say. powerlifting. As a general rule. Beautiful little 15-year-old girls stuffed into squat suits. the skeleton must move in ways defined by its segment lengths and articulation points to enable this bar path. the bar has a certain path it most efficiently travels through space for the exercise. and the guy filling in for Art Bell on Coast to Coast AM was talking to some other guy about Nazis. First. It may have seemed necessary at the time. Weightlifting. Anything that deviates from this is Bad Form. acute injuries in the gym are usually back tweaks. although not of the magnitude you may have been led to believe. It is truly amazing that more kids are not hurt in activities of this type. or whatever you’d like to call doing it right) should depend on the logic of a dispassionate analysis of the body-and-barbell system in the motion required by the exercise. During the thirty years I have been in the gym business. when their backs are not capable of staying flat with 225. and how it all relates to OneWorldGovernment. in addition to the fact that you’re less likely to get hurt. long ago—for injuries that doctors are not particularly good at either understanding or treating. Good form (or technique. And stop lifting so much weight. And second. It really boils down to that: bad form—for people who know better—is just a willingness to do the movement the wrong way because that’s the way you’ve been doing it. But after the third time you hear. any more than they are entitled to an opinion about the value of x in 3x 10 = 60. a long time ago. made me think about barbell training. Why is bad form a problem? Two reasons come to mind immediately. soccer. People should not be entitled to their own opinion about it. shoving joints into positions they are not designed to occupy presents potentially significant safety problems. a new guy actually called an ambulance when his legs began to cramp after a squat workout—I was gone at the time). low backs rounded into complete flexion on their opening attempts. potentially strong kids doing the lifts with technique that passes for legal at a meet of this type. there have been lots of people who have gone to the doctor unnecessarily—me among them. time travel. Take these pain killers. the nerves immediately proximal to these structures. of course. Little skinny kids trying to open with 405. The vast majority of the serious injuries and fatalities associated with weight training are the result of unspotted bench pressing. one of the small ligaments between adjacent vertebrae. the kind of thing that chiropractors and PTs can sometimes help with.” you quit going to the doctor unless bright blood is actually spurting from an artery. it changes the way the bones move the load. I do not enjoy seeing the egos of coaches take precedence over the spinal integrity of athletes. UFOs. The exercise is chosen to work a particular movement pattern normal to the human skeleton. bad form cannot be all that dangerous. and coaches and referees behaving as though this was Just Fine.

Bad form is to be deplored not just for its potential risk but also for its potential to keep us from getting stronger.. unless a disc injury has occurred. When chiropractic or physical therapy works.CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007 Bad Form . cannot be unloaded quickly enough. much safer. in favor of muscles that shouldn’t. so that the quads can extend the knees to push the bar away from the floor. or with max weights that. The reality of the situation is that when a lifter reaches the point where the amount of weight lifted becomes more  important than increasing strength—when you lift as a sport. For example. So I’ll try to make the rest of this as “interesting” as I can. Back tweaks usually occur in one of two situations: 1) under light weights where good form is not being observed. or call in about it on Art Bell.. They moved the knee joints. and pec tears occur even when using good form. the entire work of the deadlift will be done without significant contribution from the quadriceps. a hamstring. which will help it heal faster (but which is usually advised against by the people who write the prescriptions). This means that the hip extensors—the glutes and hamstrings—have to do all the work by themselves. The normal job the hip extensors do as the bar comes off the floor is essentially isometric. but they may make it easier to get to sleep and to train around and through the injury. This means that the muscles that extend your knees. interesting people don’t either write it. It’s not that the glutes and hamstrings aren’t working at the bottom of the pull—they certainly are—but their work at this position enables the quads . Sometimes it is bad form. Sometimes tears result from agonist/antagonist strength imbalances. Bad form often predisposes one to these types of injuries. where good form breaks down due to the load. or a rotator cuff muscle. Tears happen when the force of the muscle contraction is overcome by the resistance so rapidly that it cannot be compensated for by the other muscles. These types of injuries usually heal within two weeks whether you do anything to treat them or not. Good form on the barbell exercises should not be a matter for debate. Anti-inflammatories are quite useful but do not require a prescription. but massage in and of itself cannot affect the cause of the pain. once the tear starts. You know this because your back angle can’t change unless either your knee or your hip angle changes. either unconsciously. they maintain the back angle by anchoring the pelvis. something that may not be entirely their fault. another common variety. It happens when novice lifters learn things wrong. quad. pecs tear when benching explosively. it has been my experience that it usually does so within two or three visits. Leg muscles tear when running or when training with weight explosively.continued or a combination of the three. and that’s just the way things are. This biomechanical stuff is rather dry. and hamstring. very light weights. often by performing the very exercise that caused the injury using perfect form. and much. It also happens when experienced lifters allow their form to deteriorate. the bar being moved by bones traveling through space in a way that does not maximize musculoskeletal efficiency. read about it. like a quad. and that’s probably why sensible. Painkillers and muscle relaxers don’t help them heal faster. Lifting for strength and conditioning is different. They are almost never “muscle tears. Overuse injuries. either through negligence or inexperience. usually involve joints or the muscular tissue in very close proximity to joints. and in this case it’s primarily your knee angle. or when the extensibility of muscle bellies is exceeded by uncontrolled range of motion. Competitive lifters get used to them and learn to train around them. lifting as a sport itself is competitive. or intentionally. And this occurs when work is being avoided by muscles that should be doing it. through a lack of concern for good form. or fatigue. thirty not being particularly useful for anything except the bottom line of the chiropractor or PT. and very high reps. but not usually. This is because bad form occurs when a movement pattern is executed inefficiently. It is not impossible to pull other muscles. or 2) under heavy weights. when you allow your hips to come up before your chest in a deadlift—when your back angle changes before the bar leaves the floor—your knees have extended. Many chronic shoulder injuries started out in life as incorrect bench presses and grew up to be rotator cuff surgeries. in muscles that either accelerate or decelerate motion around a joint that moves at a high angular velocity. Any competitive sport is dangerous. but did not produce any work against the load. Now when the bar is lifted. I buy my Equate ibuprofen at Wal-Mart. by cheating a movement to lift more weight than their strength using good form will permit. Massage may help the muscles relax. The mechanism of this rotten situation will become apparent.” because muscle tears usually occur in muscle bellies. Sometimes an intervertebral disc is involved. by causing joints to move in ways that tendons and ligaments are not happy with. not to strengthen for another sport or for general fitness—you will be lifting enough weight to get hurt. did in fact extend your knees but did not lift the bar when they did so. pulling the shins away from the bar. your quads.

It is usually just learned wrong through a lack of feedback at a crucial time in the learning process. by increasing the length of the lever arm between the load and the axis of rotation (i. The bones of the skeleton transfer force generated by the contraction of the muscles attached to them to the load. has a lower 1RM than a deadlift even though the bar moves the same distance. or moment arm. when form is bad some muscles do more than they are supposed to and some do less. but counterproductive if you’re trying for a new PR (no new PR). During the movement. This is the principle that enables alien craft to travel . increase the chance of injury. You know this because a stiff-legged deadlift (SLDL). This is bad form and a perfect example of its effects. A SLDL is a useful assistance exercise when done as an adjunct to deadlift training. but when it comes time to lift the most weight. the lift will not be completed. all the movement of the weight must occur as nearly vertical to this point as possible. This dramatically increases the stress on the muscles and ligaments responsible for maintaining spinal extension—not a bad thing if you’re doing it intentionally (SLDL). the effort being generated to move the load will change to an effort not to fall over on your ass. So if you fail to keep your chest up as the bar leaves the floor. is important to understand. the greatest efficiency occurs when the weight is moved in a way that keeps it directly over the point on the ground where the weight of the system is in balance. and if the length of the lever arm begins to exceed that which can be dealt with efficiently (as when you lean back away from a press). or the weight/body system is out of balance. you allow the quads to puss out. if the hamstrings and glutes are strong enough to do all the work of lifting the bar off the floor without the help of the quads. like a wrench turning a bolt. because that is where the average weight distribution against the ground is centered. they are certainly strong enough to function in their proper isometric role of anchoring the back angle so the quads can work. This was identified as a problem by CIA remote viewers back in the 1970s. Instead of all the muscles in the system making their anatomically efficient contribution to the loaded movement. Sometimes it is the result of a movement pattern altered when training through an injury. it changes the way the bones move the load. Why would a lifter find it advantageous to intentionally or deliberately avoid using a major group of muscles that obviously make an important contribution to a lift? After all.” if you prefer the colloquial term. The bones that transfer muscular force to the load must move in ways that keep the load over this position. and the resulting strength imbalance may fail to be addressed when the injury is finally healed. bad technique acquired so gradually that it is never perceived as wrong until someone else does you the favor of pointing it out (and let’s hope that you’re gracious about it when it happens). I’ll go out on what I hope is not too skinny a limb here and state that bad form in all basic barbell exercise is of the same type: using muscles in ways that reduce efficiency. if a lever arm is created between the mid-foot and the load. Or sometimes it’s form creep. The concept of the lever arm.. it’s a SLDL. the intentional version of this particular example of bad form. a lever arm may appear between the bar and the joints moving the bar.CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007 Bad Form . it’s seldom intentional. And it’s never an advantage to move a load inefficiently.. The distance between the joints extending under the load and the bar itself should be minimal. and that leverage adds to the resistance of the load. The part of the body between the load and the ground is referred to as the “kinetic chain” because it is what produces the movement. A lever arm is the distance along which force is applied to an axis of rotation. like the bar on your back applying force to your hips in a squat. And even if the system is in balance over the foot.. changing the role of the hamstrings from antagonists to agonists off the floor. Well. For humans this point is the middle of the foot. Aside from the reduced efficiency. Furthermore. “Mechanically optimum” means keeping the load directly over the point of balance at the end of the kinetic chain (the midfoot in standing barbell exercises and directly above the point on the bench where the vertical arms support the bar in the bench press) while moving the load with the shortest possible lever arms. or an axis of potential rotation. and in doing so changes the contribution of the muscles that are supposed to move the bones. as even the most inexperienced time traveler will tell you.continued to do their job. But failure to correct it once you know about the problem is either laziness or an unwillingness to back off to lighter weights until good form has time to strengthen the muscles that have not  been making their proper contribution. and the bones rotate at the joints. For all the barbell exercises that involve standing with or under the bar and that involve more than one joint in the movement. the extending hip joint) and by applying that load at right angles to the moment arm. This should be obvious to even the dullest Sasquatch. The only place this cannot happen is Area 51.e. or “Bigfoot. Any skeletal position assumed during the movement that places the load over some point other than the mid-foot creates a lever arm between the load and the mid-foot. Bad form changes the nature of an exercise from efficient to inefficient. the SLDL’s back angle places maximal torque on the low back. because if it is. it would be terribly unproductive to confuse the two movements. When the weight is heavy. and reduce training productivity by moving bones in ways that are not mechanically optimum.

deviate inward (toward the midline) at the knee. and consequently the face. The deadlift is different from the squat in that most of the body is behind the bar. The bones move wrong. and good pressers have thick abs. which normally operate vertically parallel as the knee flexes and extends. This is also true for cleans and snatches as they leave the floor. But then again it could have something to do with Air Force con trails. the primary lever arm in question is the horizontal distance between the bar and the shoulder joint. Likewise. with a roughly equal distribution of body mass on either side of the bar. Short lever arms for the deadlift are maintained by keeping the shoulder blades over the bar. as it hangs from the arms under the shoulders. And this is how you know that the extraterrestrials are responsible for the recent increase in gas prices. For the press. The role of the abs in pressing is important. The load. efficient lever arms. which is either at the top of the spine in the case of the squat or hanging from it at the end of the arms in a pull. and. because the squat carries the bar on the torso (or directly above it in the case of the overhead squat). In all three of these cases. as in our earlier example of the hamstrings in the deadlift. squishing the lateral meniscus in the knee joint due to the uneven load. the hips can very efficiently solve the problem of maintaining balance and short. In overhead pressing. Squats and pulls differ in 1) the position of the bar at the point of force transfer (on the back or hanging from the arms). with the discs and the facet joints jammed into positions they’d rather not occupy. This makes for a sloppy job of applying the force. preferably zero. The most common form problem involves the failure to maintain this close distance. The problems are obvious if the back rounds in either a squat or a deadlift. which makes the nose a wonderful target for the bar for efficient pressing. which consists of you and the bar. the trunk muscles fail to do their job and thus remain unworked in favor of letting the spinal ligaments try to keep the vertebrae in position. This is a means of keeping the linear distance between the hip and the scapula as short as possible— as vertical a back as the proper bar/scapula relationship will permit—so that the lever arm formed by the back is as short as possible. If the knees cave in toward the middle. while the torso is held in the position that maximizes the efficiency of the actions of the shoulder and elbow joints against the load. Bad pressers don’t develop thick abs because they are . the intervertebral relationships go bad. Think about the difference between a barbell deadlift and a trap-bar “deadlift” and you can see the situation. up to the point where the second pull starts. or failing to get under it as it passes the top of the head. the force being transmitted from the legs and hips through the trunk to the load—whether sitting on the upper back or the shoulders. And just what were those lights in the sky last night? C’mon. 2) the hip/knee range of motion dictated by the location of the bar (on the back versus on the ground). and the muscles get trained wrong as a result. the muscles move them that way. It is hard to maintain a tight isometric spinal erector contraction with a heavy bar hanging from your shoulders. like hitting a burglar with a pillow instead of a bat. still needs to be over the middle of the foot.CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007 Bad Form . The femur and the tibia. if the bar stays in balance over the mid-foot as it should. It involves a simultaneous elbow flexion and shoulder extension. The common form problems in the squat upset this balanced lever arm relationship and result in the biomechanical inefficiencies that typify bad form. or hanging from  the arms—gets partially absorbed in the wiggle.. For any squat. Since they can’t do this very well. the trunk muscles fail to hold the torso in the correct position close to the bar. and the transfer of that force up the rigid spine to the load. with the best back angle your anthropometry will permit. be honest with us this one time. This is shortest when the bar is closest to the shoulder. they are strong enough to do it. the bar has to stay over the mid-foot so that the lever arm between the bar and the balance point on the floor is as short as possible. not under it. even though it leaves the adductors untrained and ultimately weakens maximal squat capacity. If the thighs and feet are parallel and the rigid back is at the correct angle to keep the bar over the mid-foot. and as the weight gets heavier the position of the center of mass of the bar/body system more closely approximates the position of the bar (as your mass relative to that of the bar becomes increasingly less significant). And since the muscles fail to maintain a rigid trunk.continued between star systems to kidnap unsuspecting victims for bizarre rituals that are only remembered under hypnosis. short lever arms are a part of the balance problem. placing the pressing muscles themselves in the unwelcome position of having to overcome what might be rapidly increasing leverage problems. 3) the eccentric versus concentric nature of the two movements. If your back is weak because you let it get that way. the quads are being asked to do the job of the adductors. whether through pushing the bar away. leaning back away from the bar. so that the center of mass of the system is essentially directly over the mid-foot. Squatting and pulling from the ground both involve the generation of force by the hips and legs as they react against the ground.. the muscles that attach to the humerus and the elbow must drive them up while the bar held in the hands at the end of the forearms stays in position directly above the elbows and directly over the mid-foot. and 4) the amount of Nazi mind-control technology involved. either when you were learning or when the weight got heavy later. And it’s all because you failed to maintain the correct spinal alignment. supported overhead.

most of us anyway. the elbow. If the elbows. This relationship normally involves no torque at all. But if the anterior chest muscles—the pecs and frontal deltoids— fail to keep the humerus pulled forward so that the elbow stays under the bar and the forearm stays vertical. but it will be of more immediate benefit than Edgar Cayce could ever have predicted. the smaller forearm muscles are called upon to overcome the torque produced when the bar is in front of the elbow. It is also an excellent way of avoiding an opportunity to strengthen the upper-body muscles that the bench is supposed to work. not using them. The Reptilians. attempts to shorten this lever arm by increasing the angle of the chest and bringing the elbows more in line with the shoulders. And in all likelihood. Or maybe they are. Failing to maintain a vertical forearm creates another lever arm. increasing the horizontal distance between the bar and the shoulder. Mark Rippetoe listens to the radio late at night while driving home from Wichita Falls Athletic Club/CrossFit Wichita Falls. He has been certified as an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist since 1985 and is a USA Weightlifting Level III Coach and Senior Coach.continued too busy leaning back. It is based on a logical analysis of the relevant mechanics—what works and what doesn’t—and what you or I feel about that should be irrelevant. is a regular contributor to the CrossFit Journal. This happens when the lats fail to do their job of providing posterior antagonist support for the humerus as the delts and triceps act on the load that should be right over the elbow. conversely. of course. Heaving the bar up using the hips as a part of the rebound is an excellent way of lifting more weight. He has published articles in the Strength and Conditioning Journal. Good form is not arbitrary. and we use the bench to get strong.. and its purpose is not aesthetics. Practical Programming for Strength Training. bad pressers are responsible for the recent rash of animal mutilations we’ve been hearing so much about. as well as a USA Track and Field Level I Coach. and the forthcoming Basic Barbell Training. another lever arm is created that should not be there. among other things. but no harder than imagining the problems involved in the enormous task of constructing the Face on Mars. like the rack position of the clean. a problem compounded when the torso fails to remain upright and rigid. and is the coauthor of the books Starting Strength: A Simple and Practical Guide for Coaching Beginners. It may not be as much fun. and if you think in these terms as you train and watch others train. Good form is based on human anatomy and the physics of movement and should be harder science than that which is normally discussed late at night on the radio.CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007 Bad Form . 10 . are lifted up too high. and like the press it depends on a tight lineup between the bar. benching involves a shoulder flexion and an elbow extension. and the shoulder joint to minimize the length of the lever arm between the load and the shoulder. solved this problem eons ago while building the pyramids. So we need to use the technique that most effectively strengthens the muscles used in the bench press. since it recruits lower body muscles into the exercise. which. Had the Atlanteans only known this. He has spent 28 years in the fitness industry and 10 years as a competitive powerlifter.. the remaining movement will look more like a triceps extension than a press. We are not powerlifters. This is a little hard to visualize. The elbow typically drops down toward the ribcage. Like the press. Bench pressing is simpler because the kinetic chain—the distance between the hands and the upper back where it mashes into the bench—is shorter and therefore involves fewer joints. which results in the incorrect use of the muscles. one that should not even be there. There are countless other examples of bad form. it will become apparent that what is happening is the incorrect use of the skeleton. This is normally accompanied by bridging the hips up off the bench. not really to see how much we can bench. between the bar and the elbow. they might still be around today. A missed bench press most commonly involves the elbows failing to remain directly beneath the bar when the delts and the pecs fail to do their job of keeping the bar and the joints lined up.

try the exercises below and pay attention to the subtle techniques of generating maximal tension before completely throwing in the towel on presses. and practice the high tension skills as outlined below. Lock out your elbow and pause motionless with the weight overhead (photos 3 and 4). bodyweight. Photo 1 Photo 2 Photo 3 Photo 4 11 . Clean one kettlebell to the racked position at the shoulder (i. Execution 1. dumbbells. 6. have the advantage of permitting either one-arm or two-arm lifts. Working in the same line of action. 3. Keep your glutes and abs tight. or back injury. like dumbbells. logs.CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007 The Kettlebell Press Jeff Martone Pressing weight overhead has been one of the classic tests of strength for centuries. Kettlebells. etc.e.e. and all offer slight variations in stimulus and technique. Grip the floor with your feet. elbow.. be patient. I know many people who have completely removed pressing movements from their training programs because they tend to aggravate a chronic wrist. 7. kettlebells. and they are biomechanically easier on the elbows and wrists than barbells and most odd objects. elbow in contact with your torso) (photo 1). Actively exhale (i. Pressing barbells. 4. biceps. (See the strength tips listed below. shoulder. Be sure to keep your focus straight ahead. The difference is in the details. with you hand below your chin. Pause motionless in this position for long enough to make sure you will not be using the momentum generated by the clean for the press. If this is true for you.) 5. actively pull the weight back down to the racked starting position. 2. the tips and techniques outlined in this article will increase your strength and safety while pressing your implement of choice.. contract your quadriceps and pull your knee caps upward. minimizing back bend (photo 2). Begin with a light weight. and grip while pressing. Press the weight upward with your knees locked. Regardless of the implement used. all have their place in a wellbalanced training program. Recruit your lats. sandbags. through clenched teeth) while pressing the weight up.

Actively pull down the overhead KB while simultaneously pressing the racked KB. You can practice heavy kettlebell cleans to help improve your skill at loading the tension for the press. This is not an alternating press. It makes for a more efficient use of your shoulder and biceps strength. • Recruit your grip. • Recruit your biceps. exhale on contact. This action is similar to that of taking a body punch. glutes. o Try squeezing a gripper or a ball in the free hand. o Keep your forearm vertical at all times.continued Strength Tips • It is important to instantly contract your abs. o Try alternating sets of clean and presses with sets of weighted pullups. o Practice “see-saw” presses. o Keep the weight of the kettlebell on the heel of your palm.. I found this practice to be extremely helpful in overcoming sticking points (photos 5 and 6). o Make a fist with the free hand in one-arm presses. o Crush the handle of the kettlebell. Photo 5 Photo 6 Photo 7 Photo 8 Photo 9 Photo 10 • Recruit your lats. and armpits (lats) when you receive the kettlebell. Photo 11 Photo 12 Photo 13 Photo 14 1 . o Practice “bottom up” presses (photos 7-10). especially at the sticking point. especially at the sticking point. o Don’t press a kettlebell straight up but slightly to the side and spiral it upward.CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007 The Kettlebell Press .. passing each other at about head height (photos 1113). Press one kettlebell overhead while having the other in the rack position. As one comes down the other is going up.

Photo 15 Photo 16 Photo 17 Sets and reps There’s no magic number or set regimen for working your kettlebell press.A. Whichever method you choose. Instantly generate maximal tension needed for the press. in the range of about three to five. Set up in front of a big clock.S. Let’s say you can perform five reps with the biggest kettlebell in your arsenal. owner of Tactical Athlete Training Systems. and special-response-team instructor.CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007 The Kettlebell Press . pull-up system and is the author of six training DVDs. The sport of kettlebell lifting is one of strength endurance more than pure strength..continued Assistance exercises • • • • Walk with one or two kettlebells pressed overhead to increase shoulder strength. pace yourself for the greatest number of reps you can perform in one minute. Granted. then switch hands and repeat. He is currently teaching CrossFit’s kettlebell certification seminar 1 .) Be sure to press your heels and legs together to generate maximal tension in the legs. and kettlebell work is particularly good at developing your ability in this realm. Do as many as you can with perfect form. That was motivating! So. While training with world kettlebell champion Valery Fedorenko. SHOT training. If your tension is high. Practice Turkish get-ups (see CrossFit Journal issue 57 [May 2007]). and stability. He is the creator of “hand-2-hand” kettlebell juggling. here’s another approach to developing strength endurance. these numbers are pathetically weak in the kettlebell sport world. You will be amazed at the stability and strength you’ll have after practicing the press this way for a while (photos 1517). and then relax. He has over 15 years of experience as a full-time defensive tactics. May you all reach new personal bests.. I went from pressing the 24-kg bell 10 times per side in two minutes to doing 25 reps per side in two and a half minutes. but the improvement shows the effectiveness of training with time under tension. was one of the first certified senior kettlebell instructors in the United States. firearms. Jeff Martone.P. flexibility. (It is called a military press because the feet are pressed together in the position of attention. and repeat. Multiple sets of singles or doubles are great for building pure strength. In only a couple of weeks. I witnessed him press the 32-kg bell for 35 reps with each arm nonstop in ten minutes. and the T. Practice pressing two kettlebells simultaneously (photo 14). stay focused on the details and never compromise good form for numbers or time. Learn to pause and relax in the rack position. Practice military presses with your heels together. your reps should be low. pause.

P. law enforcement.E.wmv http://media.crossfit.A. Part 1 talked about adapting some of the basic functional movements we’re all familiar with to the tactical environment to create a warmup designed with defensive training in mind.mov Tony Blauer is CEO of Blauer Tactical Confrontation Management Systems (BTCMS).CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007 Combatives Fitness Part 2: The Workout Tony Blauer (Video Article) Combatives and self-defense expert Tony Blauer presents part 2 of the scenario-based conditioning lecture and demo that we left off with in the August issue.R. System for counter-ambush and extreme closequarter tactics and for his High Gear simulation equipment for advanced scenario work.crossfit.com/cf-video/CrossFit_JournalBlauerCmbFitness2.com/cf-video/CrossFit_JournalBlauerCmbFitness2. . Scenario-based training is all about harnessing those instincts and conditioning the mind to working under high-stress physical and mental conditions. Blauer argues that effective combat and self-defense tactics—and training—should work with the body’s natural movement patterns and instinctual responses to attack and fear. He is highly sought out by progressive trainers interested in his S. a consulting firm specializing in research and development of combative programs for the military. This month. Blauer presents a fuller scenario-based workout for training “functional fighting fitness. and martial arts communities.” 1 Online Video Article Video Article (10:12) http://media.

The advantage of the “better” (more dynamic) movements.crossfit. 1 .crossfit. and utility. better vehicles for optimizing fitness—for achieving CrossFit’s mission of increasing work capacity across broad time and modal domains. Greg Glassman looks at the differences among the shoulder press. and CrossFit Santa Cruz and is the publisher of the CrossFit Journal.wmv http://media. power. Online Video Article Video Article (14:24) http://media. Inc. intensity. in almost every respect.CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007 Better Movements The Jerk and Kipping Pull-up Greg Glassman (Video Article) CrossFit workouts emphasize high-skill movements (relative to isolation and/or machine-based movements) because they are. push press.mov Greg Glassman is the founder (with Lauren Glassman) of CrossFit. They are consistently farther along the almost every continuum that matters: athleticism.. skill.com/cf-video/CrossFit_JournalCoachBetterMovements. and push jerk and compares them to the differences between strict and kipping pull-ups. he explains. lies in the power they express. In this lecture from a recent CrossFit certification seminar.com/cf-video/CrossFit_JournalCoachBetterMovements.

“Syndrome X.com/cf-video/CrossFit_JournalCoachNutrition1. particularly the role of insulin in health and disease. like politics or religion.wmv http://media.crossfit. are avoidable through dietary means. that people take very personally.. and coronary heart disease.” the “deadly quartet” (obesity.mov Greg Glassman is the founder (with Lauren Glassman) of CrossFit. has resulted in a near epidemic of obesity and type II diabetes.com/cf-video/CrossFit_JournalCoachNutrition1. Part 2 will address the refined dietary needs of the athlete and what’s required to optimize performance. Inc. 1 . high blood pressure. Coach Glassman explores some of the science behind nutrition and the body. he claims.CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007 Nutrition Lecture Part 1: Avoiding Disease Greg Glassman (Video Article) Nutrition can be a touchy topic. Online Video Article Video Article (14:23) http://media. but good nutrition is the foundation not only for general health but also for high-performance fitness. glucose intolerance. high triglycerides). and CrossFit Santa Cruz and is the publisher of the CrossFit Journal. particularly the emphasis on low fat and high carbs. In this first of a two-part lecture excerpt. Much of the public information about diet.crossfit.

But with advanced lifters. and front squat. There are numerous examples of this same phenomenon occurring on a smaller scale in my area of Texas where high school champion powerlifters make national junior weightlifting teams in a matter of months after first beginning to train the Olympic lifts. leg curls. The heavier weights possible with this exercise provide a better overload stimulus than an Olympic squat. which explains how the body becomes stronger and fitter by adapting in response to physical stress. Shane Hamman. Specificity does work. A low-bar squat loads the hips and legs more evenly (anterior-posterior) than the quadriceps-dominant high-bar Olympic or front squats. To some extent. The hips help the weightlifter stand up and help with the pull. Let’s go a little further in our consideration of specificity though. a certain amount of specificity of exercise mode is also a good idea. too much specificity—or the wrong kind—will limit fitness gain and is wrong. and cardiorespiratory efficiency. We wouldn’t approach training a 100-meter sprinter the same way we would approach training a marathoner. training exactly the performance activity or a very close variant is too specific and will fail to be satisfactorily disruptive of homeostasis and fail to drive adaptation. 1 . clean. and Olympic squat. with intermediates. We use multijoint and balance-requiring exercises instead of a collection of leg extensions. you’d probably be surprised—or maybe not—at the narrowness of the exercises included. Snatch.D. The relative ease with which powerlifters can be converted to high-level weightlifters indicates that strength is more specific to weightlifting performance than squat style is. RDLs. The idea is so well entrenched in the professional psyche that it even has an acronym. At some point. A very narrow but physically similar—thus specific—exercise selection. Evidence that low-bar squatting can be effective in developing a weightlifter can be seen in the fact that a number of accomplished powerlifters who were at the national and world level made rapid transitions to the elite levels of weightlifting with little. clean. training exactly the performance activity or a very close variant is too specific and will fail to satisfactorily disrupt homeostasis and fail to drive adaptation. the less-specific low-bar squat more efficiently develops the hips than the other two variants by anatomic function and by virtue of being able to handle more weight throughout the complete range of motion. At some point. That principle applies to strength training for performance enhancement as well. Training anaerobic exercise at the very edge of one’s physical limits causes the body to adapt in a way that pushes out that boundary and increases the body’s capacity for that kind of work. you’ll even find those who only snatch. Some typical approaches to training for Olympic lifting and competitive cycling provide clear examples of what I mean.CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007 Specifically Speaking Lon Kilgore Every single kind of exercise researcher and practitioner known to mankind has been indoctrinated with the concept of specificity of training. and other machine-tracked single-joint exercises because sporting systems starts with the ground and require the body to act in a plane(s) of motion dictated by the activity. Olympic (high-bar) back squat. Lots of coaches and trainers want to make their programs as specific to a trainee’s sport or task as possible. such finite specificity may limit progress. This happens particularly often in the range of exercises that particular athletes train. if any. We believe this and we use this concept in exercise programming. it’s pretty correct physiologically. push jerk. More hip strength equates to better performance. America’s best superheavyweight of recent times. In this context. The S. Romanian deadlift (RDL). those who focus on highperformance weightlifting competition. clean pull. jerk. Hans Selye and his General Adaptation Syndrome model. In a lot of ways. In extreme cases. For weightlifters. A standard deadlift is more of a strength stimulus than an RDL or a pull. the S.D. specific high-bar squat work. and squats) will produce some progress. since the overload possibilities offered by the partial movements (pulls. jerk. In this sense.I. We all remember Dr. strength training specifically to get strong is more beneficial than strength training that tries to mimic their sport’s movements more specifically. since one relies on muscle contractile speed and stored and rapidly recycled adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and creatine phosphate for performance while the other relies on several metabolic pathways.A. snatch pull. The training for a certain activity must place the same types of physiologic and metabolic demands on the trainee. If you were to go to many Olympic lifting gyms and ask the athletes there to list their exercise menu. and the most efficient means of developing that strength is always best for weightlifters. was a 1008-pound low-bar squatter immediately prior to his conversion from powerlifting to the Olympic sport. But specificity gets carried too far on more occasions than I can enumerate and taken to the point of being wrong. Progress is possible this way with beginners and. not by a machine. However.A. carbohydrate availability. Rising from a snatch or from a clean is more closely mimicked by the Olympic and front squats.I. principle—Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand. to some extent. this is a physiologically sound idea. principle fits nicely into that model.

Strength comes from pedaling a big chain ring and a little rear cog? No. isn’t it. because CrossFit training is multifocal. functional training could really help these athletes with their physical preparation. This does not mean that a CrossFitter cannot reach maximal strength potential using CrossFit methods. every human—can reach their goals through CrossFit.) OK. endurance. inclusive general physical preparedness based on intentional variety? So many diverse groups use the program successfully that you really can’t pick a single specific best fit. you have to alter the stress to elicit further adaptation from the body. Cyclists just love to ride bikes. Endurance comes with more hours in the saddle? No. strength. The results of CrossFitters everywhere point to exemplary strength. so specificity in this context is a wrong approach as well. Let’s look at the Basic Strength Standards that Mark Rippetoe and I developed to illustrate the point. It is tempting to say that every fitness seeker. CrossFitstyle broad. provide to develop their athletes’ fitness and performance. any advanced or elite trainee would need to spend a majority. most sports require extended periods of very narrowly focused training. slow distance (LSD) riding will improve cycling speed performance. At some point the physics of the chain ring size or the incline grade needed to tax strength will render the activity untenable. But we can’t claim that CrossFit replaces sportspecific training. But. And don’t even get me started on the mutant logic used to argue that LSD improves speed. or speed is best developed by specifically riding longer. You want to get strong? Ride a bike. Just spending more hours pedaling away at a constant pace will fail to disrupt oxygen homeostasis and cannot drive further cardiovascular adaptation. The amazing Eva Twardokens is an excellent example of what can be achieved with consistent long-term CrossFit training. every worker.CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007 Specifically Speaking . there cannot be any adaptation in fitness or performance. I have even been told that two hours of long. You want to improve endurance? Ride a bike. mobility.com over the years). since its explicit aim is broad.. (Remarkably. strength is one of the basic fitness elements. After all. riding harder. a focus and specificity that by necessity excludes CrossFit training and its emphasis on breadth and variety. and I am always surprised by the passion of even the most ordinary recreational racer. And without overload. of their training time on strength training. In order to move forward as quickly as possible in developing pure strength. Here is where things get a little difficult. But if you have been riding and racing for a while. or pedaling faster. even the elite ones. it will take longer to get to that peak strength performance level. She got very strong on CrossFit (as attested to by her performance in numerous demo videos on CrossFit. this approach will work. for a period of time. I am also surprised at the exercise prescriptions that cycling coaches. How does specificity play into the CrossFit model of varied training? Well let’s ask ourselves what CrossFit is specific to? Hard question. The activity is so specific that overload is not possible.continued Another example of specificity gone awry can be found in the sport of cycling. every athlete—heck. So it appears that riding only a bike to specifically train for cycling performance in anyone other than a beginner fails the litmus test of specificity. if not all.. Spinning the pedals as fast as you can will eventually reach its absolute and will be limited in its ability to stimulate neural adaptation. You want to get fast? Ride a bike. She was strong enough that it was observed that she would do well in competitive PDF 1 . But can one activity really provide such a breadth of results? Why is the prescription for performance enhancement on a bike almost always “ride a bike more”? A huge number of trainees and coaches believe that improving on-the-bike endurance. Eva Twardokens and health. they say. At the advanced and elite levels. not singular. if you are a beginner. Speed comes with trying to pedal a little chain ring as fast as possible? No.

This is a very good result for a few months of specific training. or maybe working on understanding the CrossFit performance puzzle has changed me. Questions on how to integrate CrossFit training into sport. Detractors sometimes seize those exceptions as an argument against CrossFit’s applicability to sport. broad-spectrum ability will suffer. power. and many CrossFit trainers work with clients who have competitive sporting goals.continued weightlifting with her CrossFit-derived strength and skill. What impresses me about Eva is not how strong she is. But maybe I’m getting old. but these days I see that we all have a lifetime in which to achieve great things and one of the greatest things is to be fit.D. professionals. This is a difficult topic with 1 many divergent opinions. Practical Programming for Strength Training. There are instances where the rate of improvement for a specific component of fitness needs to be faster than CrossFit programming “as written” will provide. and the new second edition of Starting Strength. strength. or goal that requires comprehensive fitness and general physical preparedness. I think the better response is simply that CrossFit is specific to broad physical fitness—to development of far-reaching. it’s how insanely fit she is and the sheer diversity of physical tasks and activities that her training has prepared her to be able to do very very well. It is also perfect for any coach who wants to rapidly establish an athlete’s fitness base before adding in or moving on to specific sport training. and health. I try to give the best answer I can given the circumstances of each individual who asks. once told me that her success in lifting stemmed from her coach’s development of the athlete in her first. that it demonstrates a failure to improve a single specific component of fitness as fast as physiologically possible.) So it is not a question of whether a specific or multifocal training approach is better. and he has worked as coach and sports science consultant with athletes from rank novices to collegiate athletes. Critics of broad fitness training for specialized athletes might try to use this same anecdote to argue. Traditionally. and merely doing well was not an option.. Hers was a thinking coach who used the right tool at the right time to achieve his trainee’s specific goals … and we can all do that. and I still struggle with pushing outside the narrow comfort of my life playing with the iron. the endurance and mobility aspects of fitness will decay. and Olympians. He has extensive experience as weightlifter himself. Ph. And the result of that specific training was rapid improvement. Too much specificity—or the wrong kind—will limit fitness gain. But Eva is a fierce competitor. Solid broadbased functional fitness—true general physical preparedness— provides an unmatchable base on which to build sport-specific mastery. is associate professor of kinesiology at Midwestern State University. It is the best way to train for any sport. CrossFitters are on a quest to be fit. Karoliina Lundahl. Eva’s ability to reproduce her performances at the full range of CrossFit workouts suffered during her period of specific training for weightlifting.. a sport in which to specialize. a two-time world weightlifting champion from Finland.. Lon Kilgore. and agility will diminish. When the question is posed to me.S. When focusing on just one aspect.CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007 Specifically Speaking . I was one of those narrowly focused competitors and coaches. on the other side of the coin. If we train only for strength. (For example. I like being strong and I like strong people. But I think not. endurance. His establishment of a physical fitness base early in her career allowed her to later work harder in her sport-specific work and led to her to the pinnacle of sporting success. power. she would want to win. Some also have more specific goals they want to achieve. before he made her a competitor. If we train only for LSD. job. We all know that specificity has its costs. So she spent a few months training just the Olympic lifts in order to develop the specific strength and technique needed to win. where he teaches exercise physiology and anatomy. athletes tend to choose one thing to do well at. . He is coauthor of the books Starting Strength: A Simple and Practical Guide for Coaching Beginners.or goal-specific training are common. it is a question of goals and the timing of those goals. mobility. Her 2007 U. National Masters Championship winning lifts rank her as either the best or second-best masters woman 63-kg lifter in the world in the past five years. not just place or show. subtitled Basic Barbell Training. usable strength.

the window of opportunity for getting under the bar is extremely small and The problem What is slow. with Tony Budding Photo 1A Photo 1B Continuing our series on the Olympic lifts. in the case of the jerk) and when they receive the barbell. Max loads can never be successfully lifted with slow.crossfit.com/cf-video/CrossFit_JournalBurgOctLoopy.crossfit.mov http://media. we focus this month on addressing a common problem for many CrossFitters: looping and floating under the bar. and driving the body down in the jerk. Remember Online Video Video 1 Online Video Video 2 http://media.com/cf-video/CrossFit_JournalBurgOctTall. CrossFitters can sometimes get away with slow. often getting too much height off the ground and not moving their feet fast enough.com/cf-video/CrossFit_JournalBurgOctTall. as we have taught. It is in fact triple extension. at that exact moment. It is in fact a jump. the body immediately reverses direction and the arms start pulling the body down under the bar in the snatch and clean. loopy movement? It’s movement that at first glance appears correct in its technical execution.mov 0 . we see too many CrossFitters pulling aggressively off the ground only to get passive in the pull-under (or drive-under. With heavy weights. They pull the barbell hard and then take their time going down. loopy movement. loopy movement because they often work high reps with relatively low weights. the clean.wmv http://media. that what we are after is a vicious jump against the ground that creates momentum and elevation on the barbell.crossfit. All three lifts—the snatch.com/cf-video/CrossFit_JournalBurgOctLoopy. Success in these movements requires the attitude of a junkyard dog. Unfortunately. But what it is not is aggressive. When that bar moves up to its final height.crossfit. and the jerk—must be fast. aggressive movements.wmv http://media. This is not an efficient way to lift. It is a slow change of direction.CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007 Fixing Loopy Lifts Mike Burgener. explosive. and it creates a bad habit that is hard to break when speed and aggression are needed.

. in Photo 1B.wmv http://media. but her feet are just far enough off the ground to move quickly to the split position. and how fast it is in the wellexecuted tight lifts.crossfit. Annie demonstrates this passive.com/cf-video/CrossFit_JournalBurgOctTight.CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007 Fixing Loopy Lifts . but a loopy lift typically results in the barbell crashing onto the body.. loopy clean and a tight. respectively. aggressive one.wmv http://media. photo 2A shows a position that should never be. Annie is well off the ground with her hips and legs extended and the barbell far in front of her face.com/cf-video/CrossFit_JournalBurgOctTight.crossfit.continued Photo 2A Photo 2B you must move fast. Online Video Video 3 Online Video Video 4 http://media. You can see extreme tension in Annie’s body as she receives the barbell.mov 1 .mov http://media.com/cf-video/CrossFit_JournalBurgOctAlternating. In contrast. In the jerk pictures above. which show a floaty. Video 2 gives a detailed look at the difference between loopy and proper movement in all three lifts. At no point in any Olympic lift should there be either distance or relaxation.com/cf-video/CrossFit_JournalBurgOctAlternating.crossfit. for the sound of Annie’s feet hitting the ground. Listen. loopy movement in video 1. the lifter receives the barbell at its apex by aggressively pulling her body to the bar. and she is aggressively pushing her body down with her arms against the weight of the barbell. You can see the difference in photos 1A and 1B as well. Slow movement will result in not getting under in time. too. The bar has passed just in front of her face. In contrast. aggressive jerk in photo 2B. Megan demonstrates a tight. In photo 1A.crossfit. and crashing often creates enough instability to result in a missed lift. Her hips and arms are in almost exactly the same point in the jerk as Annie’s. the barbell is way too far out in front and above the shoulders of the lifter. Here. You also need the bar travel in an efficient and controlled path. and her body is fairly relaxed.

there is an effective solution for going from the loopy. In the tall snatch. One must learn how to engage the arms at the correct time in order to get the aggressive speed required to be a junkyard dog! Examples of proper attitude and aggression can be seen in video 4. the athlete initiates the movement with a violent drive with the arms driving their body down into the split position. With no dip of the knees or hips. and tall jerks.. Creating movement with the traps causes elevation on the bar and a bit of speed. racking the bar into the front squat position. Tony Budding is the Media Guy for CrossFit. the same principles apply. They are all demonstrated in video 3. The athlete uses a clean grip while holding the bar at the high-hang at full extension. and then finishing by standing. aggressive movement (one for each exercise): work tall snatches. tall cleans. passive movement to the tight. former junior World team (1996-2004) and senior World team (2005) coach.. To do a tall jerk. Finish the lift by standing up from the squat with the bar extended overhead. Inc.continued Remedies Fortunately. seminars  . Mike Burgener is the owner of Mike’s Gym (a CrossFit affiliate and USAW Regional Training Center). depending on your perspective on triple extension).. the athlete uses the snatch grip to hold the bar at the high-hang position at full extension—meaning standing tall with the hips and knees extended and up on the toes (or flat-footed. magazine. The athlete violently shrugs the shoulders up to create elevation and a bit of momentum (speed) on the bar and then pulls the body down under the bar into the overhead squat position.CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007 Fixing Loopy Lifts . In the tall clean. but their essence is that they eliminate all momentum from the pull or drive so that the athlete has to move with lightning speed and extreme aggression to get under the bar.website. The only part of the body that can generate force or movement is the traps. and the strength and conditioning coach at Rancho Buena Vista High School in Vista. the athlete presses the bar to a position just above the forehead while rising onto the balls of the feet. workouts. The athlete violently pulls the body down under the bar. Calif. In all three movements. and a trainer at CrossFit Santa Cruz. These have been described in detail previous articles. Everything you need for CrossFitting kids and their trainers . is a USAW Senior International Coach. the athlete must engage the arms in the pull-under of the snatch and clean and the push-under of the jerk.

a fighter can capitalize on his ability to minimize an opponent’s movement and his own ability to land strikes.” From a good position. Photo 1 shows Traver’s right arm around the neck and right arm of his opponent. and his left hip is dropped down. or what is referred to as “good positioning. Side control To execute both moves. and the transition between the two. This is not a bad thing for fighters with those backgrounds. Photo 1 Photo 2  . such as kickboxing and Muay Thai. Jiu-jitsu and submission wrestling strategy is drastically changed when striking is thrown into the mix. Traver’s right knee is jammed up against Andy’s shoulder. and Traver’s left elbow is pressed into Andy’s hip to keep him from moving to the side. Traver will first successfully achieve side control on his opponent. Fighting on the feet includes moves and strategies from many different striking arts. This month Traver Boehm will demonstrate two on-theground striking techniques. pinning Andy and preventing him from generating any power from the hips (photo 2). from those of jiu-jitsu and wrestling to the infamous style of striking known as “ground and pound. Traver’s shoulder and upper body are pressing down into Andy to hold him down. however. there are myriad techniques available to the fighter. Once on the ground. Traver is a professional MMA fighter whose specialty is fighting on the ground. Andy. a fighter must be versed in arts such as wrestling and judo. executed from side control. On the other side. as a fighter with a command of wrestling will know how to achieve and maintain controlling positions. To take the fight from the feet to the ground.” Fighting on the ground is the ultimate combination of the striking and the grappling worlds.CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007 Striking from Side Control Becca Borawski There are three domains of fighting in mixed martial arts: fighting on the feet. fighting on the ground.

but he is not loading all of his weight too far forward. Traver draws back his right leg. extending his hip (photo 4). he opens himself up to strikes from Traver’s right hand and elbow. freeing his right hand (photo 8). but Traver has the advantage in this situation since he can put his weight behind his movements.continued Technique #1 . is a simple knee strike. Traver has now achieved a great deal of control over Andy’s right arm. Traver then brings his left hand in underneath Andy’s arm. and it also keeps Traver balanced and safe from being flipped. but his right arm no longer traps Andy’s head. Photo 3 Photo 4 Photo 5 Technique #2 . His lower body maintains the same position.This is a common move and can be very painful to the opponent.CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007 Striking from Side Control ... In fights where kneeing to the head is allowed.Traver’s hands will trade positions— his left hand will grasp Andy’s wrist. therefore exposing his head. Traver pushes Andy’s arm out to the side and moves his right hand down to grasp Andy’s wrist. His weight assists him in pinning down Andy’s arm. Traver first releases his arm from around Andy’s neck and presses his palm against Andy’s right elbow (photo 6). and the angle of Andy’s arm makes it very difficult for him to counter. the knee can be aimed at either the body or the head.Knee strike The first technique that Traver will demonstrate on his opponent. Traver can then quickly and forcefully flex his hip and direct his knee into Andy’s torso (photo 5). his hips. If Andy chooses to protect his side with his arm. Traver will begin in side control and then move to the modified position shown in photo 3. Photo 6 Photo 7 Photo 8  . Next. This does two things: it keeps Andy’s power source.Crucifix To maneuver into a crucifix. This leaves Andy’s entire left side open to strikes. Andy will try to keep his arms in position. holding it to the ground (photo 7). Andy. His weight is pressing down on Andy. trapped.

 . Matt Hughes defeated BJ Penn after immobilizing him in a very similar position at UFC 63.. Meanwhile Traver’s left hand is free to throw strikes at Andy’s unprotected head (photos 12 and 13). At this point. over Andy’s armpit (photo 10). Becca Borawski. Randy Couture and Matt Lindland have both successfully used this move.Crucifix . She has a Master’s degree in film from the University of Southern California and a background in martial arts training. Grasping Andy’s left wrist with his right hand... his leg being far stronger and heavier than Andy’s arm (photo 11). Traver will pull Andy’s arm away and give himself room to push his knee through.. Traver will trap Andy’s left arm with his leg. CSCS. a Carlson Gracie affiliate. with both his arms trapped and his head and upper body exposed. She has blended these skills to produce DVDs and build websites for professional fighters. He recently fought and won at the Total Alliance Fighting show in Santa Monica. teaches and trains at Petranek Fitness/CrossFit Los Angeles in Santa Monica.continued Technique #2 . most recently. Photo 9 Photo 10 Photo 11 Photo 12 Photo 13 Traver Boehm is a professional MMA fighter who also trains at Petranek Fitness. where he has been using it to protect his head (photo 9). When he’s not beating people up. She currently trains Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with Rey Diogo.continued Traver will then use his right elbow to clean Andy’s left arm away from his defensive position.CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007 Striking from Side Control . This technique is a favorite of many wrestlers in the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship). Traver studies how to fix people through acupuncture. and. Traver has successfully pinned Andy to the ground.

as close as possible to both the joint’s axis of rotation and to the body’s center of gravity—and despite the obvious fact that the weight is the same.75 pound-force feet. Take the torque production from a muscle-joint complex for example. However. the weight is somewhere else and you’re working through a cam or pulley. 3rd ed. As your limbs rotate. is the equivalent to 0. Another common machine system is isokinetic variable resistance. whereas the torque required for the barbell falls of dramatically once the elbow flexes past ninety degrees. For one thing. the Nautilus curl requires much more consistent application of force throughout the range motion. When working with free weights you learn this fast: keep the weight close to your body—i. Neuromechanics of Human Movement. You set the effort (velocity) you want to work at and Variable resistance principles Why the difference? Well. From Enoka. Torque is a simple concept that everyone inherently understands. The black dots (not connected) show the maximal torque output of this subject’s elbow flexors at each position (the position of the curl is shown above graph). but that knowledge is often applied in ineffective and/or illogical ways. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a good or particularly useful thing. They are often cable machines and you can identify them by the odd-shaped pulleys (cams). doesn’t it? That is the idea behind variable resistance machines. The diagram below shows graphs the torque produced throughout a biceps curl. Clearly. Nobody tries to get out of room by pushing close to the hinge of a door as we all realize that a smaller force applied farther from the axis of rotation will get the job done (over at the handle!). as does the force a muscle can exert at varying lengths. thus increasing the torque you have to exert to lift the weight and counteracting the natural decrease in torque you would  . so you can’t stabilize the weight over a joint center.CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007 Variable Resistance Nature or Design? Tony Leyland Continuing with my theme of muscle mechanics (following my article two months ago on the stretch-shortening cycle). The term isokinetic means “constant velocity. it is relatively easy for the athlete to rotate the cam and lift the weight. as the cam rotates. the torque will be lower and the load will feel more manageable.) experience with free weights.M. and this results in changes in torque production. 2002 (redrawn from Smith.. It isn’t that designers of exercise machines and fitness programs do not understand muscle mechanics (although some clearly don’t). In the starting position on the left. the line of action of the muscle force changes. (They are also expensive and some clubs will change a premium for you to use them. You will probably have seen many of these machines dotted around your local globo gyms. This is because the 50-kg weight stack is close to the axis of rotation—the cable the weight hangs from is close to the center of the cam--and therefore requires less torque to rotate. But before I go further into why I don’t advocate variable resistance machines. The dark triangles show the torque produced when curling a barbell. We can easily measure the torque at various degrees of a flexion of a given joint. and the open circles show the torque produced when curling on a Nautilus cable machine. The fitness industry doesn’t stop at kidney and other odd-shaped cams to achieve variable resistance.e. and one radian is equal to 57. So in the diagram on the right you would require more muscular force to lift the same weight. This wonderful piece of knowledge about muscle-joint mechanics means we can design a machine to force a muscle to work harder throughout the entire range of motion. 1982).” These machines are based on viscosity and they basically will resist as hard as you push or pull. the unit of measure for torque in this graph. the Nautilus machine is a variable resistance machine. or air) that are forced though an aperture in a cylinder when you push or pull on the bar.) These machines have fluids (oil. (One Newton meter.3 degrees. it increases the perpendicular distance between the weight stack and the cam’s axis of rotation. this month I would like to explain the rationale behind the plethora of variable resistance machines and training concepts that are so common. on a cable machine. Note that the graph reads from right to left for tracing the actual movement in time of the biceps curl. water. This is torque: mathematically it is force multiplied by the perpendicular distance to the axis of rotation. The diagram below shows the principle by which these machines they work. let’s look at some other common variable resistance systems. R.

Again. stamina.. tight-fitting clothing. We must also realize that while some of the most common movements and lifts result in the resistance dropping as we complete the motion. When working with barbells. In addition. go much faster and do not want baggy clothing slowing them down. By this I mean force production (strength) should not be separated from flexibility. While variable resistance machines do stress muscles throughout the range of motion. it is not the most effective use of your time. jerry cans. As Coach Glassman puts it in “Foundations. like any form of resistance training. at their speeds. Admittedly this method does require you to control a free weight and therefore places demands on your coordination and additional stabilizing musculature. coordination. Once you have made a large effort to get an opponent slightly off balance they are easier to then drive completely to the ground. Nature has no regard for this distinction.CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007 Variable Resistance . Another less common (and less expensive) method of variable resistance is to attach heavy chains to a barbell that unfurl as the barbell is lifted farther from the floor. that is only part of what we need from strength training. As with the variable resistance pulley machines. You get good at pushing springs (principle of specificity) on a machine that dictates for you the direction to push and pull. The narrower the aperture. Let me explain. This also true in grappling. Variable Resistance torque (leverage) = force x perpendicular distance 50kg 50kg not develop the skill to coordinate numerous muscle groups into functional patterns of contraction (including core stabilizers).” Similarly. kettlebells. wrestling. nature has scant regard for strength in isolation. accuracy and balance.continued then push as hard as you like throughout the range of motion. When you pull against a spring. and balance) should never be viewed in isolation. wind resistance is minimal and no real advantage can be gained from having aerodynamic clothing. This is a natural mechanical response and not something that we should try to avoid or circumvent in training. the greater the resistance. as in the biceps curl example in the first figure. I think the fundamental problem is the conceptual separation of muscle mechanics from the neural control of the muscles (neuromechanics). People often ask about Bowflex and other spring resistance systems. as is easily demonstrated when a strong athlete with poor shoulder and hip flexibility and or poor coordination attempts an overhead squat. dumbbells. flexibility. And while some training will necessarily focus on one aspect more than another. At a fundamental level. the weight is somewhere else and you do not need to develop any skill to control the weight. Do you need variable resistance? So why am I not sold on the benefit of variable resistance machines? As I have said. the resistance will generally be reduced as you speed up the load. agility. and other real-world objects (i. power.. rocks.. Now try to pull your hand through as fast as possible.” our pursuit of optimal fitness must “strive to blur distinctions between ‘cardio’ and strength training. the harder it is to force the fluid quickly through it and hence the resistance is greater and the slower you’ll move the bar. strength. but I still wouldn’t rush out to buy heavy chains if I were you. They too are based on variable resistance but it works opposite to how we commonly experience resistance in the real world. the problem with all machines is the attempt to separate the physical skills. But working with springs is not going to effectively train you to coordinate muscle torques in a functional way. These examples show that the resistance fluids (gas and liquids) offer to your path through them is velocity dependent. you will exert high forces throughout the entire range of motion. however. etc. but that doesn’t solve the fundamental problem of attempting to separate muscle mechanics from neural control and the ability to use the body as a coordinated whole. Is the strongest athlete always able to lift the most? Clearly not. accuracy. Variable resistance machines claim to be better because they supposedly mirror torque-angle relationships. The ten physical skills that we take to define fitness (cardiovascular/respiratory endurance. you haven’t got a weight you can position directly above or below a joint (thus reducing the torque). a lot better than just lifting the TV remote. Another example is to put your hand out a car window when going 30 miles per hour and do the same at 60 miles per hour. And though it is. when countering inertial resistance). Another example is to look at sports clothing. The best way for you to feel how isokinetic machines work is simply to put your hand in a bathtub or swimming pull and pull your hand slowly though the water. coordination. tackling. The faster you try to move. it gets harder and harder to pull the farther you stretch it. Downhill skiers. because many of the machines work on isolated muscles you do  . increasing the effective weight of the barbell as more chain is supported by it rather than resting on the floor. there is no need to artificially separate these components (as occurs in machine-based strength/endurance work). Marathon runners don’t worry about smooth.e.

The bottom line on this question? If you put a CrossFitter on a variable resistance machine. the torque can increase even if the load is being accelerated. and as stated.CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007 Variable Resistance . Working with free weights also teaches us when we really need to keep the torques as low as possible for a given weight. weight above feet) the resultant torque is going to demand much more effort from your shoulder muscles and may in fact cause you to lose balance and drop the weight.ca. a first responder. you don’t need me to suggest machines are not an effective training tool. you can get the barbell moving upward so fast that although gravity is pulling it back it’ll carry on upward for a bit without much. He is a professional member of the National Strength and Conditioning Association. British Columbia. reducing the torque on your lower back. toward the end of the lift (even if less muscle force can be used). with  much heavier weight (your one. He has taught at the university level for 25 years and has been heavily involved in competitive sports such as soccer. the lift is easier. The bottom line is that you don’t need a machine to provide artificial variable resistance. Well. But the question remains: “Are they bad?” As an educator and trainer. In this scenario you will actually have to grip tight and stop the barbell from continuing upward. and a level-1 CrossFit trainer. if you get enough momentum on it. lifting it requires less torque than lifting a lighter weight whose line of action is farther from the center of rotation. you do not get a heavy press directly overhead (elbows into your ears. If we can keep the line of action of a heavy weight close to the joint center of rotation.continued The laws of physics tell us that a body will continue in its state of rest or motion (constant velocity) in a straight line unless compelled to change that state by external forces exerted upon it. For example. Vancouver. for example. If you go back to the first diagram you’ll see that the torque drops to zero toward the end of the curl. tennis. and these studies tend to look at force production at the specific intensities trained (like 10-rep maximums. Similarly. if want to make that max deadlift. I will admit research has shown that variable resistance does improve strength throughout the full range of motion better than “non–variable resistance. However. This is why you can lift more in a push press than a strict press: your much larger leg musculature gets the weight going up and you only have to use the smaller upper-body muscles to keep it moving to the finish. This is why. He can be reached at leyland@sfu. The gravitational line of action on a weight is always vertical. So in nature if loads have to be moved from close to farther away from the body you will get. if you take a light weight (say something around your 15-rep max) and do an explosive push press. for example). I suggest you stand clear! Tony Leyland is Senior Lecturer in the School of Kinesiology at Simon Fraser University. for example). lifting heavy weights is not just about pure strength. Of course. is only compared to strength training on non–variable resistance machines. as discussed above. in the middle part of kettlebell swing to overhead.. not all resistance motions we perform result in reduced torques as the load is accelerated. the torque will be very high even though you already have the kettlebell moving fast (this because the load’s is a full arm’s length from your shoulder). for example) you will have to push hard during the entire motion. However. If you give a reasonably heavy barbell to someone who only trains on a machine and tell them to get it overhead. the weight starts to accelerate and. you better keep that bar on your shins. variable resistance. or a martial artist. along with every other natural movement. however. they will do well. and rugby as both an athlete and a coach for over 40 years. This is Newton’s first law of motion. That is why it is also beneficial to work with a wide range of loads. sometimes called the law of inertia. But what about the effective application of strength? By this I mean the skill component—the development of the motor control required to effectively lift heavy weights. of creating variable resistance. However. and so should your training. real-life movement and strength requirements will challenge all ten physical skills. If the load moves farther from the joint center. that pesky thing called gravity is trying to slow the weight down but unless it is a really heavy weight we can get the load moving upward at a reasonable pace. We inherently know that starting that heavy barbell moving is hard but that once we’ve got it moving it wants to keep going. if any. So heavy lifts have what is called a sticking point where the amount of muscle force that can be exerted on the load (which is moving slowly and resisting changing that state) is only just able to get the weight moving.. Studies that suggest that variable resistance machines are a great way to train are looking at one narrow parameter—one very specific definition and isolated definition of strength—but not at the functional expression of athleticism or power in the real world. . Once past that point.to three-rep max.” This benefit. more effort from you. once we get it going it will be easier to keep it going. and the distance between this vertical line of action and a joint center is crucial. a Canadian National B-licensed soccer coach. squash. If you are in the military. If. In fact. you can let go of the barbell and the bar will continue up past your full extension height (as with wall ball. I have to accept that someone who is doing any kind of resistance work is better off than the majority of the population. Varying the weight is essentially another way. Training a multitude of movements in your workouts prepares you for a variety of real-life situations where loads can sometimes be kept close and sometimes not. yes. In this article I have criticized machines in general and specifically the claim that variable resistance machines are better as they mirror the torque-angle relationship of a muscle/joint system. This pattern of resistance is one of nature’s very common forms of variable resistance.

Again.CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007 Large-Group Workout Solution 2 Snatches and Squats Michael Rutherford Last month I received more inquires about my article than for any other article I’ve written for the CrossFit Journal. The point here is to teach the athletes the proper path the dumbbell will travel and to begin to ingrain the movement pattern before we ramp up the speed and power (and weight). less dynamic precursor to the dumbbell snatch. Keeping this at the forefront. As a refresher. For one thing. I typically teach the dumbbell snatch by first introducing and drilling the muscle snatch. Here are the basics of how I teach the single-arm dumbbell hang power snatch in a large group: . the air squat. It also confirmed my that CrossFit groups are expanding rapidly and that the CrossFit movement is reaching evening deeper into broad fitness circles. the complexity of the workout diminishes. I enjoy discussions about dumbbell conditioning and am glad folks are finding the articles useful. These are two of my favorite movements to pull from the pool of possibilities. We’ll keep it simple with just two moves: the dumbbell hang power snatch combined with another bodyweight classic. this is described in the February issue. The majority of people who wrote to me asked that I share some other large-group workouts that use dumbbells. and can be a real barn burner.” Unless you have associate trainers all around you. It is also ideal for both the new athlete and the seasoned veteran and is an excellent tool for those with limited funds and space. explosive. As I say over and over in this column. the dumbbell is perfectly suited to the minimalist approach advocated by CrossFit. well trained. While the movement is dynamic. six. Single-arm dumbbell hang power snatch The dumbbell snatch demonstrates and develops explosive athletic power (the movement is described in detail in my article in issue 54 of the CrossFit Journal [February 2007]). This workout will share some of  the characteristics of the large-group approach from last month. and skilled athletes. or seven different exercises and/or pieces of equipment. I restate the Rutherford Postulate: “As the group increases in size. I present this month’s large-group workout solution with dumbbells. it can also be made suitable for new or less developed athletes. the slower. or a group of very experienced. it is difficult to coach complicated movements and unwise (and often impractical) to orchestrate a workout that involves five. It was significant on several levels.

sit back like a catcher. and then hand and dumbbell up and overhead. standing upright and tight.a. it is a great exercise in its own right. the chest high.continued Start in the hang position. 5 left) 15 air squats A variation on this would be to pair people up and having one person do the squats while the other does the snatches and then switch. physical education. One right-hand snatch.a “the Dumbbell Coach”) is the owner of CrossFit Kansas City/Boot Camp Fitness. chest high. In very large groups. Now go out and conquer the masses.. the arm is fully extended.k. and eyes focused on the same point as at the beginning of the movement. Get the thing overhead! In the finishing position. He is a USAWcertified Club Coach and is a CrossFit level-3 trainer.to 20-minute range. While keeping the weight back. a. feet under your hips. somewhere in the 10. controlled reps.. back flat. one left-hand snatch. finishing with the weight extended above the head on an active shoulder and landing with feet and knees in the power position. elbow. Again. pair people up and ask them to critique and coach one another for a set number of slow. Now toe out slightly. He has over a quarter-century of fitness coaching experience with athletes of all ages. and it guarantees that everyone will finish at the same time. feet flat on the ground. For an extra large crowd. I like the notion of setting a challenge of how many reps or rounds each athlete can complete in. The workout could be written as: Complete as many rounds as you can in 12 minutes of: 10 dumbbell hang power snatches (5 right. say. Here are my “nutshell” instructions to the group for executing the squat: Assume a stance with your feet spread shoulder-width and your weight on your heels. Another possibility would be to have the athletes switch hands after each snatch rep instead of midway through the set. you could even do it relay style for an assigned period of time. Coach Rut. while pulling the shoulder. Initiate the move by a drawing in a quick breath and then flexing the hips (butt back) and dipping the knees a bit before violently extending the legs and hip upward with a quick snap. 0 . Air squat WMV The air squat is not only a lead-up to the weighted squat. Putting them together Now that you’ve introduced the movements. You can learn more dumbbell exercises from his three-volume DVD set Dumbbell Moves.k. Rut holds academic degrees in biology. keeping your heels planted firmly on the ground. it can be useful to Michael Rutherford (a. That can up the intensity level for those who desire it and enhance the social and team aspect of group workouts. followed by a squat. keep in mind the undeniable inverse law of intensity to volume. From this static position.) Have everyone practice the moves several times and make corrections as needed. and it has the advantage of motivating intra-pair cooperation and incentive as well as inter-team competition. with the dumbbell hanging in one straight arm just in front of your thighs. (This video shows a controlled air squat that fits these standards. think “hips” and stand up to return the legs extended position. you know that the results reside in the higher-intensity efforts. Keep the weight close to your body at all times during its upward movement. and it teaches and trains the power position that virtually all athletic postures and movements build on. and eyes fixed forward. This is useful when you have more people than (appropriatesized) dumbbells. up to about 30 degrees.CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007 Large-Group Workout Solution 2 . Don’t arc it out in front of you. You can have either more intensity or more volume—but not both. And yet a third way to manipulate these two movements would be to perform singles. This removes much of the pressure from the novice participant but allows the fire breather the chance to hammer it. As you consider the goals for the workout and write it to suit your group. If you’ve practiced CrossFit for any time. and exercise physiology and sports biomechanics. which makes for easier group management on your part. He has also worked in hospital wellness environments and rehabilitation clinics. And don’t pussyfoot around. it’s time to structure the challenge.

the jump rope. Misconceptions about jump rope Many people think jump rope is so simple that any rope and material will do and that instruction is not necessary. It is also important to remember that gradual progression will minimize the risk of injury. The metabolic rate. It is portable. Look straight ahead to maintain balance. jumping ½ to ¾ inch off the floor. Keep body upright and balanced with the weight on the balls of the feet. In fact. 6. However. Jump only high enough to clear the rope (1 inch off the ground). and efficiency in movements. Jump rope can be used as a training tool to target both the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems. in a group or alone. quickness. In actuality. It can be performed merely as a warm-up to quickly raise core body temperatures before athletic activities or strength training. and encourage you to jump rope as an integral part of your CrossFit training. pointing down at a 45-degree angle. I am here as your personal jump rope training coach. intensity. and cardiorespiratory efficiency. My mission is to educate. These frustrations can be alleviated by proper equipment (a jump rope that is adjustable for your height. my attitude has always been to not shy away. 720 yards of swimming. 2. or energy output. Baker (1969). For those of you who would like to learn how to jump rope—or how to teach others—but do not know where to start. used for “active rest” periods. jump rope offers many benefits and is a building block to fitness. concentration. providing key advantages in developing dynamic balance. indoors or outdoors. (It doesn’t. and most highly conditioned wrestlers in the world. incorporated into circuits or other workout formats. coordination. or eighteen holes of golf. I come to you with a proven system based on twenty years of research and testing. and variety are taking us back to the basics and setting the standards that can help our nation to regain its health. motivate. 4. ten minutes of jump rope at only a 120 turns per minute can provide the same cardiovascular benefits as thirty minutes of jogging. most explosive. including use with many of the world’s greatest athletes. requires only a small space. Progress slowly. thirty minutes of racquetball. is increased when different foot patterns are integrated. avoided by learning how to jump rope the correct way. and provides great benefits in very little time. were the keys to my development into one the quickest. speed. these are problems that can be easily 1 Why jump rope works When done the correct way. It reinforces natural body biomechanics.CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007 Jump Rope Basics Part 1: Preparation Buddy Lee When I was training as a wrestler for the 1992 Olympic Games. or done as a standalone workout in its own right. Many people have shied away from jump rope because they trip every few jumps and have difficulty jumping with continuation. to teach you step by step how to jump the right way. they often give up in frustration. It can be done year round. but become more determined to master the technique. I believe that CrossFit’s fitness principles of functionality. Keep your elbows close to your sides. causes less stress on the joints than running and actually strengthens the muscles supporting the knees. Never sacrifice good jumping form for speed. which is all you need for good jump roping. Jump rope involves multijoint movements that incorporate every muscle in the body and it ranks as one of the most efficient way of shedding . Developing the rhythm and timing to master the skill can be difficult and intimidating for some people. There is the fear of looking like a klutz. A common belief is that jump rope is high-impact and therefore hard on the knees and joints. 5. I have even been asked if jump rope causes arthritis in the knees. Jump rope can be an important part of fitness and sports training. I too know this awkward feeling when trying out a new training technique. and is aerodynamic) and progressive. two sets of tennis. step-by-step instruction. 3. When they realize that the rope they have is one length. Technique tips 1. along with many of the kinds of functional training exercises embraced by CrossFit. and does not turn smoothly. jump rope is a skilled movement that requires proper timing and coordination with every jump. lacks adjustment. especially when I was in peak wrestling conditioning. According to research by John A. has a proper turning mechanism. agility.) Unless there is a preexisting medical issue. I will teach you the tools you need to master jump rope and reap its benefits. Land lightly on the balls of your feet. symmetry.

It is the coordination of these muscle groups that increases your capacity for dynamic balance—the ability to maintain equilibrium while executing complex. The external swivel bearing system that my ropes feature allows for free rotation of the rope cord in all directions for maximum performance. by jumping too high.. not fitting the ergonomics of the hand for a controlled and comfortable grip. jump on surfaces that absorb impact while generating a rebound effect. Here are some guidelines for choosing a rope for general conditioning purposes and to incorporate into CrossFit workouts. 3. and abs more. . (My jump and stretch cord is for this purpose. or too heavy. If you are a beginner who does not yet know how to jump rope properly. or by jumping on the wrong surfaces. choose a highperformance lightweight speed rope that can be customized to your height. too small. But as jump rope increasingly becomes a tool in your training. about ½ to ¾ inch off the floor. Most jump ropes on the market are poorly designed and don’t facilitate the maximum effectiveness of a jump rope workout. My system is based on a way of jumping that I call Hyperformance Jump Rope. • Provide an easy transition to my Hyperformance Jump Rope programs for additional high-intensity training. but it has a greater centrifugal tendency that will challenge the forearms. the first in a series. the more motivated you will be and the more benefits you will be able to reap from your jump rope sessions. coupled with active rest periods. in many cases. rubber. Balance may be one of the most important attributes for avoiding injury when performing both athletic and everyday life activities. • Gradually increase your jump rope capacity to 5–10 minutes. balance. Jump rope increases dynamic balance because you must make numerous fine neuromuscular adjustments to the imbalance introduces by each of the hundreds of jumps per training session.) A thicker cord will provide a slower cadence. 2. agility. vigorous. It is important to use ropes that facilitate good control and performance. These ropes offer versatility for any type of jump rope training.. and involves less impact than running. intense bursts at high rope speeds exceeding 220 RPM (revolutions per minute). start off by using a jump rope with a thicker cord. jump rope requires you to jump only high enough to clear the rope. shoulders.continued pounds. follows a safe teaching progression. Another problem is poor handle design. the handles are too big. or 770 calories per hour.CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007 Jump Rope Basics . After research and working with US Olympic sports teams to produce championship results. The main problem is that they are not adjustable to your height. • Incorporate sports-specific training jumps. it expends as many as 12. Step 1 – Preparation Phase This article. chest. friction. • Gradually increase rope speeds from 120 to 200+ RPM. For the average person weighing 150 pounds.  My four-step jump rope training system Many people jump rope incorrectly. and tangling. it is adjustable and is made of a bungee material that holds a perfect arch. Jump rope produces the greatest benefits when it targets fast twitch muscle fibers and the anaerobic pathway. and wear clothes that will not impede movement. This is how I trained as a world-class athlete to produce competitive advantages in speed. using incorrect body alignment or improper rope sizes. landing too hard. 1.e.. The more continuous jumps you can sustain. coordination and explosiveness. If you can jump at least 100 times without a miss. In fact when done the correct way. which is performed in short.9 calories per minute. My system was designed with four steps: Step 1: Preparation Phase Step 2: Intermediate Phase Step 3: Conditioning Phase Step 4: Sports Training Phase The purpose of my four-step system is to teach you in a structured way how to: • Safely improve your jump rope proficiency. It will allow you to jump faster and with control. My system is low impact. The rope Today’s jump rope cords are composed of a variety of materials such as leather. and is easy to learn. vinyl or thin and heavy cable that possess different weights and have different performance characteristics. sash cord. Jump rope requires the coordination of several muscle groups to sustain the precisely timed and rhythmic movements that are integral to the exercise. quickness. while allowing ease in performing consecutive double-unders and advanced skills. not just any rope will do. which will help you learn the successful timing and coordination of the rope swing with each jump. will walk you through step 1 to get you prepared with the right equipment and off to a safe start. Also the way ropes function inside the handles has a lot to do with creating excessive drag and premature breakage of the rope cord. I have developed a proven 4-step system that teaches people of all fitness levels the right way to jump to receive the greatest benefits. and omnidirectional movements. The first step is to master the skill of jumping properly without a rope. If you are an accomplished jumper who can perform the power (i. choose a speed rope with a heavier cable. which is critical to preventing drag. double-under) jump with ease. but it is suitable for athletes of all levels.

make two-inch circles with the wrists. Each person will need an area of sufficient clearance on the sides (five feet) and over the head (two feet) for safe jumping. and you might find that you perform best with a rope slightly longer or shorter than this guideline would indicate. level dirt. is the most versatile cord material because it can be manufactured at the proper weight. Shoes and attire Choose a pair of cross-training shoes with ample forefoot padding. A lightweight aerodynamic speed rope easily responds to directional change with minimum air resistance and is effective in developing the anaerobic energy system while increasing quickness of the hands and feet. bracelets. without the rope. Recommended surfaces are wood. backward. do not wrap the rope cord around the rope handle. Surface and training area The best jump rope surfaces provide rebound for the takeoff phase of each jump and sufficient absorption for the landing phase. or PVC. and agility required of your sport. Body position and grip Stand upright with your head positioned squarely on your shoulders. so wearing long pants can be helpful. This will result in excessive drag through the air and on the floor and will reduce the rotational speed of the rope while increasing the frequency of catches and tangles. It will also increase whole-body awareness and develop and lightning-fast reflexes. A rope in motion can also cause serious injury to bystanders or someone jumping in front or behind you. Provided that you have good jump rope form and posture. To decide whether a heavy or lightweight speed rope is best. and jewelry that could get into the path of the rope. and lateral. there are a few other factors to consider. the rope is too long. I recommend investing in a jump rope training mat. As a beginner.  Shadow jumping Shadow jumping is a simulation of jump rope. rubber. it is probably too long and should be shortened. Store the rope in room temperature and not in a cold garage or outdoors..CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007 Jump Rope Basics . dramatically increasing rotational speeds. Keep your arms close to your sides. Polyvinyl chloride. shortening the rope can help produce even greater benefits. if a good surface is unavailable. stand on the center of the rope with one foot.. focusing straight ahead. Grasp the handle with a comfortable grip. However. so watch out for your surroundings. you are likely to encounter frequent tangling of the rope in your arms and legs and rope whips that may leave marks. with forearms at a 45-degree angle at waist level. If the handles extend beyond your shoulders. Avoid jumping on hard surfaces such as concrete or tile. not an exact measurement for all individuals. Women should always invest in a good sports bra. As you become better conditioned and more proficient at jumping. and then pull the handles up along the side of your body so that the tip of the handles extends no higher than your shoulder. because jump rope requires bouncing and balancing your body weight on the balls of the feet. a rope adjusted at shoulder height will clear the head by at least ten inches during the execution of basic jump rope movements. or. PVC material maximizes the number of repetitions per set that can be executed going forward. Rope care To avoid kinks and to ensure a ready rope. as it will increase the risk of lower-body injuries. It will reduce continuous duration. quickness. use my motto: Train with the rope that allows you to best simulate the speed. the standard length is a guideline.continued For sport-specific training. To determine proper rope length. thickness. It is the first step in learning proper jump rope technique and helps teach you how to jump less than an inch from the jumping surface . As a result. To keep it kink-free hang it evenly balanced over a hook or fold and lay it loosely on a flat surface or in a sports bag. If the rope excessively smacks the surface with each pass or clears your head by more than a foot. A shorter rope leaves little room for error and forces the hands and feet to move faster. and flexibility to maximize the rope’s aerodynamic properties in all directions. Rope measurement A rope that is double the length from your feet to shoulders is ideal for mastering the fifteen basic jumping techniques. This is the type of jump rope that I used for my wrestling training and still use today. even for lightweight speed ropes. When you turn the rope. Wear loose or well fitted sports gear. Knowing how to properly store your rope can help preserve its life and ensure functionality and overall performance. Remove big earrings.

the basic bounce step and the alternate-foot step.CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007 Jump Rope Basics . Time the swing of the rope while jumping with both feet. in time and rhythm with each jump. 3. backward.continued 1 and land lightly on the balls of the feet.. begin with as few as 1 to 5 or 5 to 25 jumps per jumping bout. 1. rest 60 seconds). When turning the rope. The next step is to jump as in step 1 while holding both handles of the rope in one hand and swinging the rope in a forward circle out to the side of the body. you should be able to jump 120 to140 times without a miss. these techniques will improve your conditioning level. in a windmill motion. Rehearse these movements to develop muscle memory and timing. while making small circular movements with the wrists. calves especially! The bounce step and alternate-foot step are two basic jump rope techniques that will provide the foundation for the rest of your jump rope training. rest 60 seconds). Keep your arms close to your sides and make small circles with your wrists. Jump approximately 1 inch from the surface. Remember to focus on skill and continuous jumping while you are progressing at a comfortable rope speed. the emphasis should be on technique. All jump rope skills can be learned from this progression. and lateral—until you can barely hear your feet making contact with the surface.g. not speed. jump 60 seconds. 2 3 The two basic techniques During the preparation phase you must first master the two basic skills.g. Bounce back and forth. the second week. moving in all planes—forward. Now let’s get ready to prepare the mind and body to perform the perfect jump. Stay up on the balls of your feet and reload to repeat steps 1 and 2. Do not let heels touch the ground on landing. Land lightly on the balls of your feet. before learning other training techniques. Simulate first the basic bounce step for one minute and then the alternate-foot step for one minute. 3. 2. Jump and rest in a 1:2 ratio (e. Bounce step The bounce step is simple and effective. add 10 to 20 jumps to each jumping bout and shift your jump to rest ratio closer to 1:1 (e. In addition. Stand upright and bounce lightly and evenly on the balls of your feet. practice swinging it forward in a nice even arc over the body. Introduce the rope into the jump by getting into the starting position with the rope resting behind the knees. simulating the movement of a boxer bounce. Jump only high enough to clear the rope. From there. 1.. In the first two weeks. Stretch after each session. jump 30 seconds. practice improves the coordination and speed of the rope swing with every jump. Keep your head square on your shoulders and look straight ahead. make small circular movements and let the wrists do most of the work. Remember. As your technique and jumping capacity improves. Practice the basic bounce step and alternate-foot step up to a total of 5 to10 minutes twice a day. This is the progression you will use to learn and practice both of the jump styles described in the following section (the basic bounce step on both feet and the alternate-foot step). First practice the take-off and landing phase of jump rope without the rope. By the end of  . or just high enough to clear rope. Start at a natural jump rope speed until the fundamental motor pattern becomes automatic. keep body erect and look straight ahead. reinforce proper jump rope form and create the muscle memory necessary to master the foot patterns of other basic training techniques. 2... no more than one inch from the surface. Depending on your current skill level.

crossfit. Olympian in wrestling (1992). Finally.com/cf-video/CrossFit_BuddyLeeIntroJumpRope.continued ® Begin with just one jump and swing at a time to establish timing and rhythm for the perfect jump and landing. Be careful to not kick your feet backward or behind you. Subscription information and back issues are available at the CrossFit Store at http://store. Editors Greg Glassman Lauren Glassman Carrie Klumpar Advisor Brian Mulvaney Design/Layout Otto Lejeune Photo 3 Alternate-foot step The alternate-foot step is to the bounce step. instead of jumping with both feet at once.crossfit.wmv http://media. with your right knee up. send them to feedback@crossfit.mov Introduction to Jump Rope http://media. left. right.com/cf-video/CrossFit_BuddyLeeBounceFix1.crossfit. The CrossFit Journal is an electronically distributed magazine chronicling a proven method of achieving elite fitness. and the world’s leading jump rope training expert. right. once you can do that consistently. the inventor of the U.mov Fixing the Basic Bounce Buddy Lee is a U. Jump by raising the knees to the front.com If you have any questions or comments.com/cf-video/CrossFit_BuddyLeeIntroJumpRope. using high knee action but staying on the balls of your feet. left. as if running in place. just practice alternating feet in place. As you get more proficient.CrossFit Journal • Issue Sixty-Two • October 2007 Jump Rope Basics . www. the author of the book Jump Rope Training. rest the rope behind your knees. a two-time Marine Corps athlete of the year. then begin to work on continuation. a motivational speaker. keep adding jumps per set until you can eventually perform 140 jumps without a miss.com ©All Rights reserved 2007 ®CrossFit is a registered trademark of CrossFit Inc.wmv Online Video http://media. right). then work to repeat it four times (left.S.S. From the starting position.crossfit. the owner of Jump Rope Technology. Olympic Team official licensed jump ropes.crossfit. as they will catch on the rope. Master the bounce step before attempting the alternate-foot step. combine the rope swing with the jump.com/cf-video/CrossFit_BuddyLeeBounceFix1. you alternate feet. Jump a little higher than an inch from the surface. Continue alternating feet (lifting knees as if jogging in place) at a slow pace until you establish a comfortable jumping rhythm... Then increase by five jumps per set. Start off by performing this jump without the rope.com Your input will be greatly appreciated and every effort will be made to answer e-mails. be sure to wait for the rope to pass over your head before jumping over it again with the right foot. After jumping over the rope with the left foot.  . except that. right. Repeat this cycle only twice (left.crossfit. right) until you master it. left. Online Video http://media. Next hold both handles on one hand and turn the rope out to the side of body in sync with your feet while alternating them.

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