Tagged as: Barbell Snatch



Programming is about sequencing exercises so they meet an objective, but also to manipulate fatigue and reduce the risk of injury.  The following outlines some of our short term and medium goals and some of the  programming structure we will use to deliver  you the fitness you want. This is less about whats actually in a class, more as  to how it arrives there.

Objectives for June

1)We want to put pacing runs on your agenda   By the end of June, you need to know what your 400m pace and time is, and commit to  run it consistently. A 400m in a WOD is no longer a staggered recovery run, it’s a paced piece of in-control work. As the months roll by we will be developing our pacing and aerobic capacity, so be prepared to record times, use heart rate monitors, and focus on those runs. Long term, we have decided that we would like most clients to run 1600 meters in 6 minutes (means 400m in 90 seconds, 800m in 180 seconds, 200m in 45 seconds, 100m  in 23 seconds.)

2) Underpinning leg strength is crucial. In June your task will be to discover and consolidate a  5 rep deadlift, back and front squat. We don’t want people lifting emotionally and screaming reps up, as much fun as it is. For June we want calm, effective consistent work. Once you know and own this figure, we will be adding a lot of variance. June is consistent, solid, good quality work. Anthony is in the wings preparing to add fantastic variation to our strength work from the end of June. Don’t let him down. When our coaches try and tailor strength components for you, they will need  to know  how many times you can lift a bar effectively 5 times. For some, this will be the same as a 5 rep max, for others as the time allowed may only be 10 or 15 minutes, its the best 5 you can do in the time allocated

We will ask you to do work on your pistol (1-legged squat) and you’ll be learning the balance and technique of the Bulgarian squat.

3) Underpinning arm strength  in  Crossfit training is crucial. Once you have your pull up and dips, weighted versions, combined with shooting for max unweighted reps, will prepare you for most WODs and most moves. They are foundational for handstand push-ups and the muscle up. We have tricks, and   controlled negatives for those still developing arm strength.

4) Skills. Like it or not, CrossFit demands you learn  certain  skills. You must know  how to kip (both pull ups and T2B), you must double-under and pistol. Our experience (as the first ever CrossFit affiliate in the UK) shows us that short, regular, quick practice is the key to achieving these skills. Obviously we have our skill classes to consolidate practice and mastery. I think we are about to develop a 1.9/1.10 as part of our beginner process to deal with kipping, double-under, pistol and muscle up progressions. This is under discussion

 5) As its election month, I can only say, go back to your box and prepare for dumbbells!!!

6) The programme for the next few months is structured around achieving good performances in 4 benchmark workouts. Spaced, about 3 to 4 weeks apart. The 4 are:

Fran, Elizabeth, 30 muscle ups for time,  Fight Gone Bad.

In the weeks running up to these workouts we will experiment and develop the  specific components. As an overview, if you take a move, say thrusters you need to  do them a) lighter for volume b) your Fran weight, for volume,  c) Dumbell versions, d) a Tabata test,  e) heavier thrusters.

Crucially you need a strategy. Are you using one now e.g.  do you break thrusters (whatever) into sets of 7, 5 and 3 with rest. Tim tells me one of the fire breathers can do 36 in a row!


After much consultation, with more to follow,  we hear that those who want to follow a structured programme want 1 clear day’s rest between working shoulders, and no more than 2 consecutive days in a row working squats. Indeed, those with poor shoulder have begged for a no shoulder day!

We will produced a matrix that consists of 4 rotating days

All elements (blue)
No shoulder (pink)
No squats (green)
Off programme (yellow)


For those wanting a “programme” The 3 day on / 1 day off  the programme mirrors the original, and still current, CrossFit prescription.

Using this as a structure you find that, as far as our  basic strength prescription goes:

Blue day  (all elements) will always have an Olympic lift. Alternating between the snatch and clean and jerk.
Pink days  ( No shoulder)will alternate between back squat  + deadlift, and front squat + Bulgarian split
Green days: (No Squat)   Overhead pressing (press, push press, push jerk)
Yellow: Off-programme, anything goes ( or catch up if there is space)

To further explore this ideas,

Blue day  (all elements) will  also seek to develop your kip ability
Pink day (no shoulder)  your pistol and double-unders
Green day ( no squats) your handstand ability ( everything from lying on the floor in a dish shape mobilising wrists, modest wall walks to kicking up, handstand push ups and handstand  walking drills)
Yellow day: Off programme, rest day for those committing to the 3 day programme, “wild card” for everyone else, a great WOD, some  unusual strength, fascinating skills and using those bits of kit unique to the gym space  you are in

To further explore this:

Blue day  (all elements) will  also strengthen your pull-ups: think, as a  starting point, weighted pull ups, 3,3,3,3,3. Green days ( no squats)  will include weighted dips 3,3, 3, 3, 3 ( these will soon vary and include max effort unweighted attempts  You know you need to slice through 50 pulls ups/dips to get a great workout. This regime gets you there.

To make it clear, each day, including Off Programme day, has a fantastic session with some skill, some strength and a great WOD. You can come as and when you like. This simply gives us a programming structure for those who want it . If you simply come 1, 2 or  3 times a week  , there will be a great session waiting for you.

More information soon. We will be  keeping a close eye on your performance and encouraging you to record and monitor your results.

A brief history of Weightlifting

EarlyBarbellAt Crossfit London’s gyms in Bethnal Green, London E2 – we love Olympic lifts!

The snatch and the clean & jerk are included in our comprehensive beginners programme, taught as the final two classes of seven.

Once graduated to Level 2, Olympic lifts are frequently drilled, practiced, refined, performed as a strength component, or features in a high-intensity WOD. You can even attend weekly classes using structured programming in Basic Barbell: Olympic Lifting. We have had women-only Olympic lifting classes.

You can learn the lifts in 3 hours at one of our Olympic Lifting Masterclasses, or learn to teach it at our REPS accredited two-part Olympic Lifting Instructor courses. 

Are you convinced yet? Yes we really do love Olympic weightlifting. But where did it come from, and how did it evolve into the sport we know today?

100_drachmas-coinLifting heavy weights competitively has been around a very long time indeed. Five thousand years ago in China, there are records stating that soldiers had to pass weight lifting tests. Similarly ancient Egypt and of course the original Olympiad of Greece note contents of strength. These were usually heavy stones, but later they used dumbbells (dumb bell: a bell that has had its clapper removed so it can be noiselessly lifted)Vaudeville  

From the late 18th century, professional strongmen of Europe and the USA performed dazzling feats of strength as Music Hall entertainment. The title ‘Strongest Man in the World’ seemed to be duplicated for each specialised lift a performer excelled in.

There was already a broad range of lifting styles embedded in national cultures: The Scots Highland games (throwing heavy objects), the Basques liked atlas stone cleans, Germanic countries lifted barbells, the Russians hefted kettlebells for reps, and the French did barbell snatches without touching the body.As amateur weightlifting began to develop, the need for standardisation became apparent. Before weight categories existed, all comers of every size were required to compete against each other, and the first World Champion was crowned in 1891.

Dimitrios_Tofalos_(no._700)_&_Josef_Steinbach_(no._872)_at_the_1906_Summer_Olympics_weightlifting_competitionThe first Olympic Games in 1896 included weightlifting in their Field event.  In the early games, there was a distinction between “one-handed” and “two-handed” lifting, producing champions in both categories.

In 1920, weightlifting returned as an event in its own right, and by 1924 athletes competed in five lifts: One-hand snatch, one-hand clean & jerk, two-hands press, two-hands snatch, and two-hands clean & jerk. By 1932 , five weight classes were finally introduced.

In 1928 the one-handed lifts were dropped. It wasn’t until 1972 that the clean and press was abandoned, leaving the snatch and the clean & jerk as the remaining two lifts (the biathlon) we know today.????????????-?????????? ?????????-80????????????-?????????? ?????????-80

1473_Weightlifter_100Women came late to the weightlifting story. In 1987 women competed at the World Championships, and it wasn’t until the turn of the millennium that the first female competitors joined the Sydney Olympics in 2000.


Please do go here For a highly entertaining video on the history of the sport (by Bodytribe), including demos of the variety of lifts included in the early Olympics.

Enjoy your weightlifting, and never stop learning!


References and further reading:
‘Functional Fitness’ App. Images courtesy of Wikimedia commons

WOD 26 November: Olympic Lifting and Back Test Night

Friday night as normal is Olympic lifting night. Tonight it was the dreaded snatch, so we kicked off by a quick drill refresher session, then cracked through with a few sets of “Efe’s Revenge (aka Sott’s Press)


This was followed by 6 -8 (ish)  single rep sets of the full squat snatch, followed by a few sets of high pulls. And nicely topped off with some snatch balances. The aim of this selection of drills was to identify your weak spot in the snatch: is it shoulder flexibility, the pull from the floor, or is your problem “getting under the bar”? All through this session we stressed proper squat form in the receiving position: bum back, weight on your heels.

You have to remember what joint to bend first on your legs when carrying load. You have three joints, which should move first? Think of it this way; whatever joint moves first, takes the whole weight of the move upon it. So think it through: should you move your ankle joint first? Have  a look at that tiny, dainty joint– not really that good a choice. How about getting the infamous injury-prone knee to be the focus of all the stress your body and a bar can generate? Or how about, initially, using your massive hip joint? (a tennis-ball sized joint buried in a secure acetabulum,  supported by a a massive bum muscle. ( And of-course, I’m not saying your bum is too big).

But here’s the “thing”: God knew you would be confused as to which joint to use, so she “flagged it” with a giant arse-shaped “post it note” in case you forgot. This is the joint strong enough to take all the grief when you begin to squat. Hence  we say “bum back” first..

Anyway, after that it was the Sorensen Test

The race has always been on to firstly predict,  then inoculate against,  back pain. A test known as the “Sorensen test” based on the work of Hansen in 1964, has been popular since 1984.

According to Demoulin et al 2006  “The test consists in measuring the amount of time a person can hold the unsupported upper body in a horizontal prone position with the lower body fixed to the examining table”

The test is accepted in its discriminative validity, reproducibility, and safety. However debate continues to surround its ability to predict low back pain. No firm explanation, beyond “women rock” , has been offered as to why “chicks” can hold it longer than guys.

Naturally motivation and discomfort tolerance are confounding factors.

A interesting review is available in PDF form at Isometric back Extension tests: a Review of Literature Maureau et al Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics Volume 24 • Number  2001, But in essence,this report says this….(yawn….)

For men, the mean endurance time is 84 to 195 seconds; for women, it is 142 to 220.4 seconds. For subjects with LBP, the mean endurance time range is 39.55 to 54.5 seconds in mixed-sex groups 80 to 194 seconds for men, and 146 to 227 seconds for women” whether thats remotely useful lm not sure, but if you suffer or are prone to lower back pain, (you tend to know by your appalling posture), im going to suggest you move this figure up.

Demoulin C, Vanderthommen M, Duysens C, Crielaard JM.  2006.  Spinal muscle evaluation using the Sorensen test: a critical appraisal of the literature. Joint Bone Spine. 2006 Jan;73(1):43-50.

Are still awake! Then all that remains to say is: good job everyone!