Hang Power Clean Tips

•March 19, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I found this article that was published in Muscle & Fitness (Oct ’06) about HPC’s by our very own Sean Waxman. Of course, I read it AFTER the WOD, which just pointed out everything I did wrong. Hopefully some of you will catch this blog pre-WOD and put these amazing cues to good use!


KNOW THIS: There is nothing you can do in the gym that will develop your ability to produce power and muscular size better than the hang power clean (HPC). It’s an explosive jump shrug, upright row and front squat all rolled up into one fully loaded movement. According to research, the HPC produces more than four times as much power as the squat or deadlift and more than nine times that of the bench press. That’s one hell of an exercise, right? And because the move is so jam-packed, it’s extremely important to make certain that you have every phase perfected in order to avoid injury. The sooner it becomes second nature to you, the sooner you’ll begin reaping the benefits in power, strength and resulting muscle growth.


* Grasp the bar with an overhand (pronated) grip with your hands just outside hip-width, and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, eyes focused forward. Wrap your thumbs around the bar for safety.

* Keeping your abs tight and back and arms straight, bend your knees and push your hips back, as if you were preparing to perform a vertical jump. Your shoulders should be slightly ahead of the bar.

* Once the bar reaches about mid-thigh, begin a jump shrug by quickly and explosively extending your legs and rising onto your toes, then shrug and pull the bar upward, keeping it very close to your body.

* Pull the bar explosively to your upper chest, keeping your elbows as high as possible and out to your sides.

* Immediately pull your body under the bar by quickly rotating your hands and elbows around it, “catching” the bar with your hands and shoulders. As your elbows rotate around the bar, allow your hips to shift back and down slightly, as if you were sitting in a chair, as you absorb the weight of the bar.

* You’re now in a front squat position, squeezing your legs and pressing through the floor. Note: Once you’re under the bar, your elbows should point straight ahead, with the bar resting in your hands atop your front delts and upper chest.

* Keeping your back arched and chest up, press through your heels to extend your legs and return to a standing position.

* Once at the top, rotate your wrists and elbows around the bar and carefully lower the bar to the start position, keeping the bar very close to your body. Reset your feet and repeat for reps.


* Keep the bar very close to your body as you pull it toward the ceiling. This will make it much safer and easier for you to pull your body under the bar for the squat portion of the move.

* Keeping your torso tight and in proper alignment is vital. Having strong hamstrings, low back and abdominals is critical to overall success, so before performing the HPC, become proficient in the romanian deadlift, good morning and front squat.

* Don’t pull with your arms first. Let your legs and hips initiate the movement, and use your arms to pull yourself under the bar.

* Have a trained partner monitor your form to ensure you’re performing all portions of the move correctly.



Exercise Sets Reps Intensity

Hang Clean 5 2-4 50% 1RM front squat *

Back Squat 5 5-8 70% 1RM

Standing Overhead Press 5 8-10 60% 1RM

* Begin with 50% of your one-rep max (1RM) for the front
squat and work your way up.


Skill Transfer for the Overhead Squat

•March 18, 2009 • 1 Comment

So, today, I did battle with the OHS…and lost to the Push Press. As I got closer to my max rep, I had a relatively easy time getting down and up from the OHS, but as I added more weight, I had to resort to a Split Jerk to get the weight overhead, reset my feet, and squat. A lot of work and energy expended just to get to the starting position!

I stomped my feet a few times, scratched my head, and finally realized that I had reached a weight that was the same as my Push Jerk max. Now what?! I knew I could squat it if I could only get it overhead…

Then I thought about the skill transfer exercises that I’ve been avoiding for the Snatch, which includes a Push Press behind the neck. How often do we Push Press behind the neck, much less in the OHS/Snatch grip position? I know–as if we didn’t have enough to work on already, right?

So, next time, instead of grabbing that beer post-WOD, try going for a couple of lighter weight OHS grip Presses and Jerks behind the neck so it won’t feel so foreign next time we do a max OHS. In fact, if you see me with a beer in hand before working on a skill transfer, feel free to slap it out of my hand and make me do burpees.

Burpees and Temptation

•March 17, 2009 • 1 Comment

dessert-main_fullWhen I got on the Zone Wagon last year, I had a hard time weaning myself off of the sugars. Then I found a post on the message boards where this guy does 10 burpees every time he was tempted to cheat.

What’s better is that he did 100 burpees if he actually gave in! So the next time you get the urge to walk over to the fridge, get your ass up, knock out 10 righteous burpees (clap overhead), and see if you still want that leftover Halloween candy bar hidden behind the Omega-3 eggs.

(Now this is a PREVENTATIVE method, not a PENANCE, so don’t plan on doing 300 Hail Mary Burpees to earn a three-scoop sundae!!)

Murph and The Lone Survivor

•March 16, 2009 • 5 Comments

Lt. Michael Murphy

Lt. Michael Murphy

When I first looked at CrossFit’s main site, I stumbled on the lists of Hero WODs and saw the Murph for the first time:

1 mile run
100 pull ups
200 push ups
300 squats
1 mile run
(wear body armor if you have one)

One I realized it wasn’t a typo, I thought WTF? And, sure enough, Murph kicked my ass months later when I finally did it. I bitched about how grueling it was.

Then a fellow CrossFitter told me to read The Lone Survivor (by Marcus Luttrell) the story of Murph and his Team of Navy SEALs who gave their lives serving this country. The heroism in this book is that of legends. I cried from cover to cover. Incidentally, Michael and J.T (also Hero wods) also died in a mission to rescue Murph’s Team.

After I finished the book, I had an entirely different outlook of the Hero WODs. I did ‘Murph’ again and cried through the last mile as I replayed the events in the book in my mind. But, I had no doubt that this time, I gave it everything that I had.

Next time we get the opportunity to do a Hero WOD, let’s do our part in remembering these men. Let’s push beyond our ordinary physical and mental limits to honor these amazing soldiers, officers, and firefighters who embody everything that is good and noble in our country.

Athlete Profile: Stephen with a “ph”

•March 13, 2009 • 4 Comments

Drank Kool-Aid: Oct 08
Favorite Girl: Helen
CrossFit Superpower: Perfect squats & mad hops (51″ box jumps!)
Least Fave Movement: Anything overhead

Stephen is one of our morning class studs who often challenges Pukie by taking on two wods in a day. Armed with shirts that say “I’m a Keeper” or one that pays homage to the Golden Girls (I’m not kidding), Stephen embodies the very best qualities of CrossFit: integrity in range of motion, persistence in challenging himself, and tenacity in attacking every wod.

Recently Stephen was introduced to Linda (aka 3 Bars of Death) and I was inspired watching him get throught it. Anyone who has ever experienced Linda knows the grueling mental aspect of it. Stephen also participated in a max box jump day (post wod, mind you) and got a PR of 51″!!

Keep up the good work, Stephen!

Tall Jerks

•March 12, 2009 • Leave a Comment

No, it’s not a nickname for the guys who used to take your lunch money in elementary school.

Tuesday we did a WOD involving heavy push jerks. Really heavy. A common problem with learning the push jerk is that your mind, in the previous two shoulder movements (shoulder press and push press), has been wrapped up in driving the weight UP. Unfortunately, sometimes the mind gets stuck in the UP gear when we do a push jerk.

The beauty of the efficiency of the push jerk is that we are now driving DOWN underneath the bar. The dip this time serves to unweight the bar just long enough for you to actively drive yourself under the bar with arms extended, using your legs to complete the movement.

A great way to train your mind to switch to this DOWN mode is to practice tall jerks.

To start, stand with your feet in the jumping position (feet under hips). Hold a barbell at your eye level. Without dipping, drop your body under the bar into a quarter squat or split position. The lack of the dip restricts you from push pressing the weight overhead and forces you to actively drive yourself under the bar.

Try using Tall Jerks as part of your warm up next time we do push jerks!

Fitness is Not for Everyone

•March 11, 2009 • 1 Comment


I saw this posted on CrossFit Fort Bragg‘s site and had to share it. The idea of escalators leading up to a gym?! CrossFitters have such a different mentality (albeit pseudo-masochistic in nature) where we find every chance to make the WOD more difficult: Can I up the weight? Can I stack plates on this box to make it taller?

Any self-respecting CrossFitter wouldn’t be caught dead on an escalator unless they’re running up the down side!