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Crossfit Thoughts With Casey Vol. 2

Patrick S.

Patrick S.

Stability in positions: The missing piece of your training

“Hey Coach, how do I get stronger?”

“Hey Coach I can’t get my muscle up”

“Hey Coach, Overhead Squats suck”

“Hey Coach, my handstand walks aren’t getting better”

As a Crossfit coach, these are questions that we hear daily. It is both a joy and a frustration to hear them. We love that individuals care about developing these skills, but often see some consistent faults in trying to correct them.

Usually, the answer that people tell themselves is “do more”. If you want to get better at pull-ups, people tell you to do more pull-ups. If you want to get a higher bench press…do more bench press. If you want to get a better overhead squat…well nobody does more overhead squats voluntarily but you get the picture. In most people’s minds, throwing volume at the problem is the quick and easy fix.

I would challenge this line of thinking and encourage you to go back to positions. Take an honest look at your pullup, squat, muscle up, overhead position, handstand hold and ask yourself whether you have try stability in that position.

Here are a couple of good tests:

Overhead Squat: Can you hold the bottom position for 90 seconds with an empty barbell overhead? Is this effortless or excrutiating?

Muscle Up: Can you hold the top AND bottom of the dip for 60 seconds on the low rings?

Handstand Walk: Can you hold a freestanding handstand for 10 seconds without moving your hand?

If you don’t have control over these positions, it makes complete sense that you are not getting stronger/better at them. Without a solid foundation/base to fall back on, it’s impossible to create improvement in power. Think of it like trying to jump as high as you can in mud/sand versus on a solid surface. Both support your feet getting off the ground, but one gives a much stronger result.

Next time you are early to the gym or staying after, work some positions. The term is time under tension. Can you hold the top and bottom of the movement for a significant amount of time without moving/shaking/falling over? If not, scale back the movement. This should be quality, light, unloaded practice. When in doubt, ask a coach for progressions! We are always happy to help.

Once you start mastering that stability, you will see the strength and technique gains you are looking for. Good luck and go work some positions.

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Crossfit Thoughts – How to Develop a New Skill


Crossfit Thoughts With Casey Vol. 1


How to Develop a New Skill


In Crossfit, there are dozens of skills that can be developed and mastered. Powerlifting, olympic weightlifting, gymnastics, running, rowing, jump rope, kettlebell work, pacing strategies, mental game, the list goes on and on. Even within that list there are even more pieces to attack (Take gymnastics for example, you have pull-ups, toes to bar, dips, chest to bar, muscle ups, push-ups, air squats, burpees, and on and on).


Sometimes it can be overwhelming to figure out how to learn a skill, but it is even more frustrating to think you “have” a skill and then be unable to perform it under fatigue. The Open is especially evil about this (Think about how hard double unders were after thrusters). With that in mind, I wanted to share a few tips on how to “master” a new skill.


Step 1: Intellectually understand the Skill


Before you hop onto a bar and try a muscle up, or attempt double unders, it might be a good idea to get an idea of exactly what you are doing. When does the movement begin and end? What body parts are supposed to move where? Where is your grip? How long should it take? Are there best practices? Common faults? Familiarize yourself with how the movement works. (Coaches at the gym and progression videos are a great resource for this)


Step 2: Perform the Skill for the first time


After understanding the skill, you can begin working through progressions and eventually do the skill for the first time. This may take some time and a lot of failed attempts. Don’t get down on yourself! Missing a rep or not doing something right isn’t necessarily bad. If you are able to feel what you did wrong and adjust, then you are improving.


One big mistake people make here is just banging their head against the wall with attempts. I see this a ton with double unders. They keep trying the exact same thing (jump height, rope speed, hand position, knee bend) and keep missing. Change it up! Try something new until you find what works.


Step 3: Perform the Skill consistently under low pressure/low heartrate


This is where practice before or after class comes in. For something like pull-ups, this means 10 singles once or twice a week. SUPER low volume and VERY high attention to detail. Try to make these perfect reps. Take plenty of rest time (as in 60+ seconds) between reps.


Step 4: Practice the Skill under fatigue


Going from being able to do a few singles on pull-ups to RX-ing Fran (An awful combo of 45 thrusters and 45 pullups) can sometimes be a big jump. A halfway option is to pre-fatigue yourself and then practice the skill. EMOM’s are your best friend here. Let’s say I am trying to get better at pull-ups, I would do the following EMOM.



Even minutes: 12 calorie row

Odd minutes: 5 pullups (done in sets of 1-2)


This allows you to simulate what a workout may feel like without the intensity or the pressure. Your heartrate is up, but you are not blowing yourself out and completely losing your mechanics.


Step 5: Start using the Skill in WODs


Once you feel comfortable doing the skill under high heartrate/at moderate amounts of volume, now it is time to start attempting that skill in a workout. Whenever you apply this to class, have a conversation with your coach. Let them know that you are trying a skill for the first time in a workout, that you might be a touch slower than usual with your time as you are focusing on having quality reps. Once you are able to apply big sets of a movement in a workout, you have “mastered” the skill.


With a little bit of maintenance, the skill should stick around for you if you built it in the intentional manner described above!

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Double Unders Tip #2

HOW TO: Double Unders – Stop Tripping On The Rope!

If you constantly trip up after 1 or 5-10 reps. . . this video is for you.
Here we talk about 2 very important tactics you should use to prevent tripping up on your jump rope.


Skill Transfer Exercises for the Snatch

Coach Mike Burgener of CrossFit Weightlifting teaches skill transfer exercises and drills for the snatch.

Skill Transfer Exercises 
1. Snatch Push Press
Overhead Strength
2. Overhead SquatCore Strength
3. Heaving Snatch Balance Speed of Arms
4. Snatch Balance w/out dip – Foot/Arm Speed
5. Snatch Balance with dip Foot/Arm Speed

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Burgener Warm-Up

These 5 movements if practiced daily will help you with your weakness in the Olympic lifts.

Burgener Warmup
1. Down and FinishSpeed Through the Middle
2. Elbows High and OutsideKeep the Barbell Close
3. Muscle SnatchQuick/Strong Turnover
4. Snatch lands at 2″, 4″ and 6″Footwork
5. Snatch DropsFootwork