Crossfit Hillsdale Blogposts

How Much Weight Should You Put on the Bar?

August 23, 2017

Some of you have, no doubt, been to gyms where they post the “prescribed” weight for a workout on the whiteboard. Others of you maybe remember long ago when I used to post weights alongside the workout. This leads us to three great questions: Why did I stop posting weights? Why do other gyms post weights? If there is no weight listed, how much should you do?
I stopped posting weights because some people would do the posted weights with atrocious form. Others would do the posted weights with passable form but take forever to finish, essentially getting a strength workout when I intended to give them a conditioning workout. And finally, a few folks would do the posted weights and it was too easy. The takeaway for me was: people need to find a weight that they can do with decent form, that allows them to get a conditioning workout, and that delivers a decent challenge for them.
Other gyms post weights because… no two CrossFit gyms need to be the same. One gym’s awesome culture is another gym’s nightmare culture.
As a general rule, if there are 21 or less reps of something in a workout, you should pick a weight that you can do unbroken (at least for the first round, if there is more than one round). This is a rule with MANY exceptions but it is a pretty good starting place. If you’re not sure what weight you should use, try asking the coach what the INTENT of the workout is. Is the intent to test your strength? Then go heavy. Is the intent to push your technique? Then pick a weight that you can maintain good technique with. Ask questions and discover the purpose behind the workout which will hopefully lead you to an appropriate weight.
As a final note, if you are not very competent with the movement, the weight you should use is A DIFFERENT MOVEMENT. Don’t do motions you don’t have at least a moderate technical grasp on during the conditioning section – you’ll just burn in crummy technique. Do something else. Ask your coach for a substitute movement.


January 18, 2017

Functional movements.  Yes.  Most of the time in CrossFit we do big movements like the clean and the burpee – movements that translate to real life motions.  That’s good.  Let’s keep doing that.

But sometimes it is valuable to break things down into simplier movements.  Sometimes it is valuable to target an area.  The reason could be to prevent an injury or to shore up a weakness.  It’s okay.  If you’ve got crappy elbows try doing some bicep curls.  You can do those and still be a CrossFitter… they aren’t against the law.

The video shows a couple accessory movements – the one legged KB deadlift and the Cuban press.  Try them.  If they help you, great.  If they don’t, no worries.

Tight Hips?

January 17, 2017

What to do about tight hips?  Well, probably lots of things but here are a coutlet things that have helped me and I’ve seen work for other people as well.  These two moves, the boxed pigeon and the death stretch, work particularly well together.  They create some sort of double whammy loosening on rusty hip joints.

My advice is to do 2 minutes on each side for both these moves.  Do some squats before and after and see if it makes any difference in terms of your ease of movement.  If it does, maybe stick with these two moves for a while.  If it doesn’t… don’t.  Mobility work is all about finding out what works for you.  Steal from others but only keep what gives yo7 positive results.

Animating the Clean

December 3, 2016

Imagine you want to make a cartoon character doing the clean.  You might start by drawing the character holding onto the bar in a good setup position and then for your next frame, draw them picking up the bar one inch off the ground.  Step by step.

It would work – particularly if you had a very clear idea of what the clean is supposed to look like.  Another way would be to have a model hold three positions – floor, hang and high hang.  Then you could draw each of these three positions.  Working backwards, you could then fill in the gaps between the three positions.  You wouldn’t have any reference for what the actual throwing of the bar looks like, so you’d want to watch your model doing tons of the barbell warmup drill.  With that info you could fill in the frames that covered how the barbell gets from the high hang to the catch position.

You could learn to animate the clean!  Neat!  Or you could do the three pause clean to burn the three positions into your muscles, do the grease the groove drill to understand the transition between hang and high hang and do the barbell warmup drill to understand how to throw and catch the bar.

Our goal in this block has been, like an animator drawing key frames (those vital points of movement that make drawing the transitions easy), to memorize key positions so that our body (like the outsourced animators in far away lands who draw all the non-key frames) can simply fill in the gaps and make the move beautiful and functional.  I hope these three drills have helped.


Grease the Groove

October 30, 2016

This week’s drill to get better at cleans is called grease the groove.  It is all about moving smoothly from the hang position to the high hang position.  For me, the best cue in this drill is to have my shoulders forward of the bar in the hang and then behind the bar in the high hang.

Fun stuff.  I expect PRs for everyone… In 9 weeks.