Another great post from Marcia! She is CF-1 certified and also has coaching certifications in the sports of Olympic Lifting and Wrestling. Marcia trains out of Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Check out her blog, The Snatch Monologues, for more lifting tips!
In every CrossFit gym, you will find a variety of athletes. Everyone has a different body type and has different strengths and weaknesses in the gym. This is often determined by an individual's past athletic experience and genetics. With some exceptions, most athletes at the box can be categorized into one of the following categories: Endurance, Metcon, or Strength.
The Olympic lifts, the Snatch and the Clean & Jerk, are sometimes overlooked by the general CrossFit athlete. Why? Because these lifts are difficult and require time to develop appropriate technique. It is much easier for a new gym goer to successfully pick up a deadlift, as compared to hitting a technically sound snatch on their first day in the gym.
In my experience as both a coach and as an athlete, I have found that after adding Olympic weightlifting to your programming, your CrossFit abilities improve. Therefore, I highly recommend that the general CrossFit athlete should consider focusing on the O-lifts as a performance enhancer.
1. Strength. Resistance training in general will develop strength. Common strength exercises used frequently in CrossFit programming include squats and deadlifts. While these movements are very efficient at increasing strength in specific muscle groups, becoming proficient at the Olympic lifts increases overall strength. The stronger you become, the easier it is to move loads at those prescribed weights! Don't get me wrong, "Fran" will always be an uncomfortable workout - but when the prescribed weight is 50% of your 1-rep max rather than 90%, the 21-15-9 repetitions of thrusters aren't quite so terrible.
2. Power. Being strong is important to athletes, but power - the ability to display strength quickly - has greater implications to performance. Executing the Snatch and the Clean & Jerk results in significantly greater power output than other strength movements. Increased power will enable the CrossFit athlete to proceed through repetitions, much more quickly. Suddenly, that Clean ladder that coach has programmed doesn't quite take you as much time to complete!
3. Flexibility. Many athletes, including myself, have the tendency to overlook the importance of flexibility. Frequent O-lifts drills with an emphasis on proper technique will assist in improving flexibility - especially in the hip and shoulder areas. While lifting will help your flexibility, there is no excuse for omitting a regular stretching routine. Stretching and mobilization will help keep your body resistant to injury, help prevent compensatory muscle patterns and are critical to improving your performance in the gym.
Hopefully, adding more Olympic weightlifting to your training will help you reach your full potential as a CrossFitter.
Photo: Guelph Barbell Club member Jadon Hammill executing the snatch.
Meet Marcia! She is CF-1 certified and also has coaching certifications in the sports of Olympic Lifting and Wrestling. Marcia train out of Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Check out her blog, The Snatch Monologues, for more lifting tips!
Hi there Snatchers and Runners! I’m Hilary, one of the Two Babes and a Barbell (the one who did not just give birth to adorable twin boys). Special thanks to Meri and Christy for reaching out to me and sending two of their sweet shirts my way (Gym Unicorn and Wine and Weights, if you were wondering) and giving me the opportunity of sharing some musings with you all over here.
So the title of this post is #tinywin. Let’s have a virtual hands up for all the readers out there who have been CrossFitting (or doing whatever form of exercise it is you love) for a year or more. I’m guessing this is a decent number of you, and you’ve heard all the hype, drank the Kool-Aid, yada yada yada.
You’ve also probably heard that whole thing about how PRs will be raining down that first year (if this is you, it’s soooo awesome – enjoy it!), but at some point, things will slow down, you might feel like you’re stagnating, and you’re stuck in a PR desert (I almost typed PR dessert – which would be amazing. PRs should always be celebrated, and dessert is always a great idea….anyways, I digress….).
I’ve been CrossFitting for almost 2 years, and I am definitely familiar with this cycle. If you add injury to the mix, things can get even more complicated/frustrating (read about my journey with a back injury earlier this year here and here).
This summer, I didn’t PR almost anything. But that doesn’t mean the summer was a waste. I spent a ton of time on mobility and form, and this is where #tinywin comes in. Even before I was injured, I started to realize that I’ve reached a point in my CrossFit career where strength (or lack thereof) is often not the main thing holding me back. That is simultaneously cool (it’s really awesome to look back and see how strong I’ve gotten over 2 years) and extremely frustrating. Meaning my lifts could go up, I could master (or at least be competent at) movements I struggle with, simply by making tweaks to form or changing bad habits/movement patterns (but let’s be honest – that’s not simple AT ALL).
To me, #tinywin is when I can see hard work paying off. It doesn’t mean a huge PR, but rather that hours (literally) of mobility have paid off, I’m moving better than I was before, or positioning has improved. And, in the long term, I know that sets me up for PRs in the future.
What #tinywins have I seen lately? SO glad you asked….
1. Squats! Since being injured, my coach has really been driving home squat form. Namely, not folding over on back squats when the weight gets heavy (again – my legs are totally strong enough, it’s that darn form thing), but also just sitting back in my heels all the way in an air squat. I’ve done a crap ton of squat mobility and worked lighter squats with emphasis on form all summer long. So when my coach sees me do a heavy single and says “I’m so happy!” - #tinywin
2. Elbows! I always drop my elbows in my jerk (and front squat too). A great font rack position is a struggle for me, and something I’ve really been trying to drill into my head the past few months. I know I sound like a broken record, but I’ve got a ton of shoulder strength, but doing a jerk with elbows down in front is just that much harder. So yesterday I was doing some clean and jerks and asked my coach how my elbows were. He said my elbows looked SO much better and that’s probably why my jerk looked so great. #tinywin
3. Snatch! Don’t we all struggle with this one? The snatch is so technical, I feel like any improvement is huge. I love power snatching, but really struggle with getting under the bar quickly and dropping in a squat snatch. So, when twice in one week, 2 separate coaches complimented me on the bottom position of my squat snatch “Have you always had such great ankle mobility?” and “Your bottom position is looking so much better.”) – you get the idea. #tinywin (x2).
4. Pull-ups! My nemesis/age-old struggle. I’ve not been working on kipping pull-ups at all over the summer because of my back. And the strict pull-ups I’ve been doing have been with more assistance to drill home perfect form/lat engagement. So last weekend, there was a WOD with pull-ups. As per usual, I got my band set up. Then our coach challenged me to try without a band. I was skeptical and sort of annoyed, but agreed to at least try. It was only 3 pull-ups per round, and somehow, I kipped 3 for the first round. I honestly expected not to be able to do pull-ups each round, but somehow got 4 complete rounds in! My first ever RX pull-up WOD. #tinywin doesn’t seem like quite enough for this one. ;)
Anyways, my point is, just because you’re more of a seasoned CrossFitter and PRs might not be as plentiful anymore, there are still victories to be had. And I would argue that a #tinywin might be more helpful and serve you more in the long term than a PR anyway. You just have to shift your perspective a bit and realize that you’re still awesome, and success comes in many forms.
Looking for a new adventure? Registration for the Palmetto 200 just opened up! I think everyone should do it at least once, if you dare... here is my (Meri) recount:
With a couple of 24 hour races under my belt (EPIC and Hinson), I decided to join in on the relay race fun. Recently I had the opportunity to participate in the Palmetto 200 with a couple of running friends.
The Palmetto200 is a unique, overnight relay adventure in which you and 11 friends cover 200 scenic miles from the Coble Plaza in Columbia to Patriots Point (just outside of historic Charleston). The Palmetto200 will treat runners to the Three Rivers Greenway, Santee State Park, Lonestar BBQ, farm communities, lakes, Fort Moultrie, the Ravenel Bridge, historic Charleston and the coastal waters.
You can actually have anywhere from 4 (ultra team) up to teams of 12 people. They can be co-ed or not. We had a team of 9 women of varying abilities from CrossFit junkies up to 100 milers. We decided to divide the 36 legs into 5s - van 1 chose to rotate having one gal run two legs each time. I was in van 2 with four other Charlotte-area mother runners.
Van 1 began the race at 6:30am in Columbia, South Carolina while we went ahead to exchange 6 in Oak Grove, South Carolina. Many of the exchanges took place at small, local churches along the route. They were open no matter what time you came through; we were able to use the facilities and hang out in the parking lot. I think all of the staff at each location was there volunteering their time and energy. We were truly given a giant dose of Southern Hospitality - showing us the bathrooms, offering us coffee or waters, and a couple stations had munchies! When our van was "off," we would drive ahead to our next exchange and sleep. It wasn't uncommon to see sleeping bags spread out in the grass around the vans.
I personally ran 3 legs, with a total of approximately 13 miles. Two were daytime runs - one Friday and one Saturday. My second leg was in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere. It was pretty scary (I'm a giant chicken) and I could hear dogs barking. At one point a puppy was running along side of me. It was nice to have some company. Sadly I couldn't keep him, and left him with a Sheriff. Other runners were in front and behind me (yes, passing me).
You read correctly - Sheriff. One of the perks of the race is the HEAVY police presence. Other than a couple of no good, very bad drivers, we were always being watched over by police officers.I never felt unsafe (realistically).
The race concluded, 206 miles later, at Patriot's Point in Charleston, South Carolina. Where a buffet (tacos!) and beer awaited us. My team finished in 32 hours and 44 minutes, placing 79/100. BUT we were the second place All-Female team (they beat us by 3 hours). At which point, we showered, dined on local cuisine, and passed OUT!
Final score: 5/5! It's a must do race, so grab 11 of your closest friends and draw straws on the long legs!
Snowmaggedon is upon us in here in Charlotte, NC but Spring is just right around the corner! Time to start thinking about t-shirts and tanks!
In addition to our full line of shirts and wrist wraps, Snatch & Run also offers full service screen printing. We pride ourselves in not only being competitively priced, but the having the fastest turn around in town. If you're in the market for your next season of shirts, give us a call. We'd love to give you a quote.