Archives for February 2016

Clean and Jerk TnG

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Clean and Jerk
3-3-3-3-3 reps, touch-and-go

Ensure that full extension of the hip is reached in both the clean and the jerk before reaching the receiving position. In the receiving position of the clean ensure the elbows are high. In the push jerk receive the bar with arms straight and actively push up into the bar. The bar may not be dropped between reps.  Pull the next rep as soon as the plates touch the floor.  The first working set should be approximately 80% of a recent 1 rep max. Try for a new personal record on the 3rd or 4th set. Only increase the load if proper mechanics are maintained.  IMG_4043If the athlete misses more than one rep in a set, reduce the load for the next set. Record broken sets for record of progress and where the athlete is performing at.

Strength Focus

Bulgarian Split Squats
5×5 each leg, climbing
Barbell on back

Triple Extension – the key to power: So what does triple extension have to do with power? If you think of athletic power, consider the vertical jump. It is the most often used method to assess lower body power.  In its liftoff phase, the body needs to explosively extend at the ankle, knee, and hip. This is how the body can propel itself upward. I know of no other way you can do it and jump any great distance, or in other words demonstrate power. This explosive extension of the knee, hip, and ankle is triple extension, and this is the key to athletic power or explosiveness if you wish to call it that. In my example of the vertical jump, the motion is up and down and with both legs. Triple extension is also performed in all planes and often with one leg as evidenced by agility needs that are seen throughout all athletics.  If you want to develop maximal explosiveness, the Oly lifts are unparalleled in their ability to develop and train power.

The ability to move powerfully and explosively is a critical aspect in developing athletic success.

Jack had his own judging crew along with him today.  Or, maybe it’s just the peanut gallery…
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“Catapult” versus “triple extension”.  Some try to use a hit on the hips to get greater momentum on the bar, misunderstanding what the catapult technique truly is.  “In reality, both camps teach the lifters to bring the bar to the hips, not the hips to the bar, and to extend forcefully upward at the top of the pull. For some lifters, this will result in a relatively light brush of the hip/upper thigh. For some lifters, a more forceful contact will be made. This is largely dependent on the lifters build, the speed of their pull, and the individual quirks of their mechanics.

No one – I repeat, no one – is teaching their athletes to leave the bar in front through the pull, or to intentionally push the hips forward to hit the bar.”
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Cleaning Up Your Dirty Clean: It’s All About Technique

“Touch and go” repetitions are where each consecutive repetition is performed by maintaining a grip on the barbell, actively lowering and momentarily touching the ground, then immediately proceeding into the next repetition.

Sunday Funday at CrossFit Flagstaff



IMG_4034 IMG_4032 IMG_4025Don’t forget to MOBILIZE: stretch, foam roll, lacrosse ball work, etc.



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CFF Benchmark Memorial WOD – “Tina”
In honor of Mike’s sister and all those who have struggled and fought breast cancer.  This is a tribute to their enduring strength and indomitable spirit.

IMG_40243 Rounds For Time:

    * 250m Sprint
    * 21 Ball Slams -20# M/15# W
    * 12 Knees-to-Elbows
    * 6 Burpees

Compare to February 2015 (go back and look at the weather last year in this post!  Different from this year!)
Back to March 2007 – the first time we did this workout.

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Molly brought her brother, James today!  Great to have you again, James!  Sarah can’t believe we’re making her squat and do more burpees after yesterday’s hammer-fest.

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From March 2008                                   Mike and Tina


IMG_3867CrossFit WOD – The OPEN 16.1

Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 20 minutes of:
25-ft. Overhead Walking Lunge
8 Burpees
25-ft. Overhead Walking Lunge
8 Chest-to-Bar Pullups

IMG_3868Men lunge 95 lb.
Women lunge 65 lb.

In the Open, athletes are given 4 days to perform the week’s workout and submit their scores. Thursday is the release date, and Monday at 5 p.m. PT/6 MST is the deadline.

Strength Focus
5×10 climbing

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The CrossFit Games Open is the world’s premier test of fitness. Since 2011, the five-week five-workout online competition has accurately ranked the fitness of thousands of competitors.

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Held in CrossFit affiliates and garage gyms, the Open is designed to be accessible to all athletes while rigorous enough to challenge the world’s fittest. Fourteen-year-old high school freshmen compete in the Open, as well as their 77-year-old grandparents and everyone in between.

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The Open is a lively event for our community! We always encourage our members to register even when they balk at the idea. Reintroducing the idea of physical competition to someone often evokes a myriad of responses and emotions they probably haven’t felt for awhile. We keep encouraging though, because we know the thrill that waits on the other side of diving into the Open.  What are my reasons for pushing you to do it?

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You Are Good Enough.

Even if you cannot do the exact prescribed weight of any or most of the Open workouts, you will most likely surprise yourself with what you are able to pull off. The Open is about calling on the best in yourself no matter your current level. Most likely you are physically stronger than your mind lets you believe.  In the Open, possibility is reborn.

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It Gets People Competing Again.

Many of us competed as kids on an organized team or just racing siblings to the car. Some of you may have competed in college. When we become adults, we often feel like we need to retire that side of us. Sure, we compete for jobs and accounts and other “grown up” things, but more often than not, we have forgotten the thrill of physical competition. We may not be a win-at-all cost type – and this certainly is not the only kind of competitor – but there is something about putting yourself on the line that sparks inspiration.  And, YOU inspire US!!!!!

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It Gives You an Appreciation for the Best of the Best.

During the Open workouts, you get a rare opportunity to do the same exact workouts during the same week as the best CrossFitters in the world. If you are a fan of the top CrossFit athletes, it’s exciting to match your stats to theirs – until the stats start rolling in. It’s one thing to be stoked you finally hit 50 double unders in a row and quite another to find out that not only can the top athletes do way more, they have figured out ways to do it faster and more efficiently. Yay, we personally smashed a prescribed workout (chest thumping is warranted), until you see the times or the number of rounds at the top of the leader board. The progression of the sport of fitness has grown to superhuman levels. Seeing their scores miles above mine only deepens my appreciation for their dedication, skill, and strength. I humbly bow down to their greatness.

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It’s Fun.

SO FUN! At CrossFit Flagstaff, we dedicate every Friday to the Open workouts for everyone to participate in – all inclusive. All registered athletes and those who didn’t do it for their own reasons. We assign heats, we print score sheets, we assign counters – we make it a big deal. But we also keep it fun. It immediately bonds us because it feels like we’re going to battle together in a light hearted way. We’re all nervous, it is like a buy-in to the team. It roots us deeper into our community. I know everyone is willing to give it their all and possibly fail or possibly triumph and man, if they are, so am I.  So many get new PR’s, breakthroughs on things they once thought was impossible.  It’s fun and inspiring.  I LOVE THE OPEN!
adapted from Breaking Muscle

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Today we saw people get their first Chest-to-Bar Pullups!  We saw people Overhead Walking Lunge 95#, which they have NEVER done before!  For many this was their very first Open. Congratulations to all!

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There might have been a couple of hopeful ladies who won’t be playing this year due to some injuries from otherwise fun activities outside the gym.  Thank you for being our cheer squad!!!!


Make Up Day and Open 16.1 Announced!


REST DAY! Get ready for the Open workout tomorrow! But, if you missed a workout this week, come on in and make it up today. If not and you insist on coming in anyway, we have a great Core development workout for you!

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Gymnastics work on Monday with the Burpee Pullovers
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Front Squats for a max load on Tuesday – and some twinsey PINK ruling the house from Barbell Club!  Welcome to Andrew, visiting us from CF Del Mar (CA)!

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CORE Development on the “off day”.

16.1 – the first workout of the 2016 Games Open workouts was announced tonight and we had 3 visitors in the gym to throw down and get this workout under their belt!  STRONG work, Ladies!
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Laura from CrossFit Magna                                   Amanda from CF NOW
IMG_3654Steevie from Outcast CF

THE LIVE ANNOUNCEMENT – aired at CrossFit Flagstaff every Thursday evening at 6:00 pm!

NAU Strongman Thursday

Max Weight Farmer Carry – 50 feetIMG_3634

Max Weight Yoke Carry – 50 feet

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5K Run – A Test of Fitness

IMG_3568 CrossFit WOD

5k RUN

Compare to June 2015, June 2014

Strength Focus
IMG_3566-Odd minute: 5 Push Press (Start at a medium weight and work up to a 5RM for the day.)
-Even minute: 5 Pullups + 4 Chest-to-Bar Pullups + 3 Bar Muscle-ups

*The goal for the even minute is unbroken cycling, so adjust reps as needed so you don’t come of the bar (Ex: 4-3-2 or 3-2-1).


Today was another test of fitness!  We had gymnastics development on Monday, testing your maximal capability on the Front Squat on Tuesday, and now a test of endurance today.

CrossFit is about constantly varied training, but that doesn’t mean the training is random. While it’s true that we train for the unknown and the unknowable, programming is more than pulling random workouts together and scattering them across a few weeks.

One of the main characteristics of constant variation is the use of very different loads, time domains and movements. Sometimes we are performing short, heavy workouts like 7 sets of single deadlifts or front squats (or 5 sets of 10, as we had last week). Other times we are doing a long, heavy workout such as “Linda“. “Cindy” is long and light, while “Fran” is usually short and relatively light. A 2K row and a max Snatch both involve pulling, but one is about endurance and stamina, while the other is about strength and speed. Athletes adapt to such a diverse program because it is broad and ignores no aspect of fitness.

Constant variation is one of the foundations of the CrossFit program, and by allowing that principle to influence us in our programming as we train all of you to be better at life, we hope to put you all on the path to high levels of general physical preparedness. As always, the magic is in the movements themselves. Add in large doses of intensity, and we suddenly see that we have some true firebreathers on our hands!

Great work this week, CrossFit Flagstaff athletes!


Big kudos to Lacey! She ran her first mile without stopping!!! PR!


It was icy on the Urban Trail, but what a beautiful day in February for getting outside and running with awesome people!

NAU classes learn how to Snatch

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Front Squat 1RM

IMG_3539CrossFit WOD
Front Squat

Start the first working set at 80% of previous 1RM. Strive for a new 1RM at or around rep 7. If you fail 2 attempts, decrease the load for the next set. Keep all working sets above 80%.

Compare to 5×3 Jan 2016, 3RM Sept 2015 (great article on Front Squats here too)

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From a coaching perspective, front squats are easier to teach, almost self-correcting, and promote better depth. From an injury prevention perspective, they incur less shear forces and compressive forces. They are also kinder on the shoulders (in most cases.) From an athletic perspective, front squats facilitate awesome core strength and have incredible carry over into other strength movements – not just strength-wise, but in terms of position and mechanics too.

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25 Ways to Increase Your Front Squat

Okay, I’ll admit it, the front squat is outright my favorite movement. Here are 25 ways to increase your front squat, with not a squat program in sight:


  1. More front squats – The best way to get better at all aspects of front squats is to do more front squats.
  2. Squat at the start – Why always tag your squats (and your core work, for that matter) onto the end of the session? If you want to improve or increase a skill or movement, then prioritize it. Squat first and frequently for a sustained period.
  3. Mobility – You know you need to do it, even more so if you’re squatting multiple times a week. So do it. Perform mobility work on the ankles, hips, and thoracic spine, along with some form of rack position work at the least.
  4. Squat therapy – Like most therapy, this is not fun, but it is worryingly effective. Treat yourself to a therapy session before taking the iron downtown.
  5. Squat deeper – For maximum carryover, muscle recruitment, glute activation, all round bad-assery, and bad-ass ass bad-assery, squat deeper.
  6. Squat straight down – Sending the hips back to begin a front squat will send the torso forward, and the bar crashing down. Squat straight down so your pelvis sits in between your legs. Think of your legs like two trees with your pelvis as the hammock.
  7. Elbows up – Up, up, and up. Did I mention up? Lead with the elbows on the way up. Imagine there are chains attached to the end of your elbows. As you complete the squat the lifting gods are pulling you back up.

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  1. Release your grip – I see so many people try to front squat while still gripping onto the bar for dear life. This is vaguely acceptable if you have the flexibility to do so, but most people aren’t in this position (no pun intended). If your mechanics are correct, you shouldn’t have to grip to hold onto the bar. In fact you shouldn’t need to have to hold on to the bar at all.
  2. Frankenstein squats – Walk up to the bar on the rack and set in on your shoulders with your hands straight out in front of you like Frankenstein’s monster. Now squat. Also called zombie squats. (I’m sorry, I had to get zombies in there somewhere.) This is a great drill for learning bar position and what your body needs to do to keep the bar in place.
  3. Rack the bar closer – Yes, I know it’s uncomfortable. Jam that bar into you closer. Okay, you can move it out a bit. There you go. It sits right there, behind the front delts.
  4. Chest into the bar – Preempt the fact that you are going to lean forward when it gets heavy, and drive your chest up into the bar from the bottom before you start to lean forward. This will assist you in maintaining an upright torso and keep the work where it should be – through the legs and hips.
  5. Hips under the bar – Get your hips under the bar as soon as possible on the way up, and drive straight up. You will become more upright, and feel the difference in power straight away when you get this right.
  6. Knees out – I’m aware of the debates circulating the Internet regarding knees out versus knees in versus knees up. I understand the implications of each of them, and believe they all have their place in terms of when and how to coach them. But for now, push your knees out, please.

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  1. Core strength– There are some who advocate that squats and deadlifts are all you need for core strength. I disagree. There comes a point where you need to increase your core strength, separately, in order to squat better and in order to get stronger. It’s a similar concept to playing sport to get fit, or getting fit to play sport.
  2. Glute activation – Incorporate some basic glute activation drills before you squat. Then squat deep enough to make sure you use your glutes effectively.
  3. Breathing – I’m shocked at how little emphasis is placed on this. If I had my way, lifters wouldn’t even touch a bar until learning how to breathe properly through a series of progressive breathing drills. (Let me know in the comments if you want to see an article on these.)
  4. Readiness – You need to take that bar off the rack ready to squat. Jam yourself in between the bar and the floor. It should feel like a standing-up plank. Attempting to find optimum position once loaded is far less effective than setting it beforehand.
  5. Static holds – Try 3 sets of 30 seconds in the rack position with around 110% of your max. Put simply, this will get your body used to handing heavier weights. Plus, it is one hell of a core workout.

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  1. 1 1/4 reps – This is a squat variation with multiple benefits, including strength, timing, and stabilization. Squat to rock bottom, and then come back up to just above parallel. Return to the bottom of the squat and drive up to the top. Warning: these are harder than you think.
  2. Pause squats – Add a pause at the bottom of your squat to improve starting strength. Next time you’re pinned under a heavy clean, you’ll thank me.
  3. Confidence – If you think you’re going to get stuck in the hole, guess what? You’re going to get stuck in the hole.
  4. Shoes on – If you’ve never squatted in a pair of weightlifting shoes before, get yourself a pair. You will be able to front squat better.
  5. Shoes off – If you’ve been squatting in weightlifting shoes for a long time, make sure you’re not reliant on them. What is your front squat like without them? Take your shoes off and you will quickly learn what is holding you back.
  6. Tempo – Slow on the way down, fast on the way up. Master this.
  7. Drive up fast and hard – If you have something light on the bar, imagine that it’s heavy. If you have something heavy on the bar, imagine that it’s light. It doesn’t get simpler than that.

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