Monday, December 28, 2009


A tragedy has fallen upon me.... My brother Casey and my sister-in-law Nat are moving away from me.  They're going to a place where the women flock like the salmon of Capistrano.  Going to a little place called ASSSSSSpen.  Not really, but they ARE moving back to Colorado Springs.  I just want EVERYONE to know that I do not support them moving away.  I think they should stay close to me and have lots and lots of babies so that I can be an aunt and spoil my nieces and nephews by feeding them bacon at midnight and letting them play with PVC pipes for hours on end.  (thats what all wannabe aunts dream about doing, right?) 

Ok, ok.. in all seriousness, I am extremely proud of them for chasing after their goals and making the necessary sacrifices that will allow them to achieve them.  They were accepted back into the Olympic Training Center as residents and will be training for the 2012 Olympic Games.  Please keep them in your thoughts and using your telepathic powers, please send them all the luck you have.. even though they wont need it.  

Tip of the day: One cue that my old coach Kartsi used to tell me all the time was "hands and feet at the same time".  What this means is that when you are snatching, I want you guys to think about turning that bar over the same time that your feet hit the ground.  This will allow you to create a "crisp" movement and a "snappy" one.  A "Snappy Snatch!" (that should be a T-shirt!!) 
This idea is even more important for the clean.  You want to think about turning your elbows around the same time that the feet hit.  If your elbows are slow AT ALL, you will not be successful with your clean, especially if its heavy weight.  Sometimes, you may feel that bar crashing on you in the clean.  That is because of slow elbows.  So, to fix that, what are we thinking? Elbows and feet at the same time.  
This idea really comes into play for most of the movements in olympic weightlifting.  the jerk, snatch balance, power snatch, power clean, etc.  So any movement that you are doing.. HANDS AND FEET AT THE SAME TIME!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas Ya'll!! eat your faces off

Merry Christmas Everyone! Hopefully none of you were on the naughty list for dipping forward on a jerk or not pulling yourself under the bar. Santa is ALWAYS watching you work out.. remember that...

So, I decided that I'm not going to write a 146 page novel every time I blog because I know you all are EXTREMELY important people with things to do,places to go and people to see. I also do NOT want to get carpel tunnel.  So, I will try my DARNDEST to keep em short and sassy.  

In the video above, my brother is doing a "dive start".  This is a VERY rare starting position.  Olympian Wes Barnett did it, and was an amazing lifter, but not many people can pull it off.  As a coach AND a lifter, I feel its really important for you guys to try out different starting positions.  At our olympic weightlifting seminars and certs, we teach hips slightly above the knees, and shoulders slightly in front of the bar (and also above your hips),weight on the full foot, and with your head and eyes facing straight ahead (not down).  This is just what we have found works for MOST people because it allows you to use your legs to lift that bar off the ground rather than just your back. Why do you think all weightlifters ever existing (minus me) have HUGE legs? Its because they lift the bar off the ground using their legs, which can allow them to generate a lot of force against the ground when they go to jump! However, you live your life the way you wanna live it and do what you feel is best... guys should try higher hips, try lower hips, try anything that makes YOU feel strongest and most efficient. We all have anatomical differences and you have to find the positions that WORK FOR YOU.  

keep it sassy

Monday, December 21, 2009

work hard my nukkas, youre struggles make you stronger


Just wanted to say that I see a lot of people getting frustrated with the olympic lifts, and I want you all to know that these movements ARE NOT easy.  AT ALL.  They take years and years to get used to.  So just keep your head up, and keep on practicing.  Realize that you are going to have your good days and your bad days.  Whatever day it ends up being, acknowledge it, accept it, and go with it. 

keep it sassy

you best get unda that bar nukka!

Oh herow.. today I would like to talk to you about one of the most difficult concepts of the olympic movements: pulling yourself under the bar.  

Generally what happens is we tend to get a great shrug and we reach full extension, and then from there, we disconnect ourselves from the bar and we try to "drop" to get under it. If you think that you may be doing this, stop IMMEDIATELY or you may as well put yourself on Santa's naughty list and expect zero Christmas presents this year. (Except maybe from your aunt Tibby who will always love you no matter what you do in your lifetime.)

So in the picture above, you see me in the "elbows high and outside" position that we teach you in the Burgener Warm-up.  Keep in mind that we are teaching you that movement to drill into your brain that you are keeping the bar close. you are actually never in that position in an actual snatch and clean and jerk. 

Let's play a little game for those of you who learn better by actually doing rather than just reading.  Stand up for me, get up on your toes, shrug,raise your elbows high and outside.  That is the position we put you in for the Burgener Warm up. Now, get up on your toes, shrug, raise your elbows high and outside, and now bend your knees.  That is the actual position that you will be in when snatching or cleaning (after you have fully extended with that shrug) because this signifies that you are pulling your body underneath the weight.  

You just never want to shrug and then feel like "omg i have no idea where that bar is in space right now so I'm just gonna 'drop it like its hot' and try to get underneath it as quickly as possible".  If you get in the habit of doing this with light weight, when you get to heavy weight (lets say 200 kg because that is what you all are capable of doing), the bar WILL beat you down EVERYTIME.  Lets face it, gravity/reality sucks..

So, in conclusion, you are pulling that bar off the ground and then you start your VICIOUS shrug and that bar is traveling upwards weightlessly with TONS of momentum on it. Now, you ask yourself, "Am I going to just drop under this mofo? or am I gonna remember what Sassy Sage's  blog said and start pulling myself down (with those elbows high and outside because we dont want it to be out in front of us) and finish with a GREAT turnover?".........make the right choice.. we all have to live with the consequences of our actions..

Before you leave, go ahead and look at that video of my brother Beau.  For me, I would have liked to see him shrug a little harder at the top, but, nevertheless, his pull under and turnover were so aggressive that it made up for his lack of shrug.  (the only reason it did was because that was light weight for him.  If he puts more weight on, he could NOT get away with a shrug like that).  

Remember, its ok to ask questions.  I dont expect ya'll to get this stuff by just reading it.

ps... just went to Lady Gaga's concert and magically became a better person. She's THAT good

keep it sassy

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Peanut butter cup perfection

I dont really have too much to say today because I'm feeling like a lazy bum, but I do want to share with you all one of God's greatest gifts to the earth...

Chocolate ice cream
Scoops of peanut butter
2 reeses peanut butter cups (although I generally ask for one extra)
fudge syrup 

You can find this at Cold Stone. 

Even just writing about it makes my mouth salivate so much that I had to buy a new computer due to water damage. 

Try it..its good for the soul. 

Oh and it also guarantees that you will increase your snatch PR by 5 kgs.  

Friday, December 18, 2009

I woke up this morning and immediately thought "The world is a better place since the invention of the breakfast burrito".  Like seriously.. if I ever meet the mystical being who one day decided that he/she was going to put eggs, bacon, ham, (I add carna asada as well) all inside a warm delicious tortilla, I will get on one knee and propose to her/him.  I guess, to me, it just seems like that would be the only logical thing to do in that exact moment.

Hokay So...second day of the jerk. We only have 3 more things to think about.  So simple, right? 

 If you're feeling stressed, go break off a square of Trader Joe's one pound milk chocolate bar, take a deep breath, and remember.. olympic lifting is just a sport that allows you to have fun, get buff, and work on your multi tasking skills due to the requirement of remembering approx 230984209348 technical things all at once. Oh, and you also become a better person. It's a win-win situation, really. 

So, we already know where the bar should be up on our shoulders, we know that our dip MUST be straight with our weight back on our heels to keep the bar from pulling us forward, and we know that we have to be "Tupac tough" when driving that bar off our shoulders with our legs. Now, the final three things:
4) keep the bar close to the face
5) fast hands fast feet
6) foot position

Let us, yet again, embark on this journey..

Some of you have heard me exclaim that while the majority of society only uses 10% of their brains, I believe that I possess the capability of using at least 87% of mine.  Let me prove that to ya'll today with the following statement: 
**the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.**   BOOM!!! ...(it's physics)

Now that I have your attention, let's use that little piece of information to start us off on point #4.  When we are driving that bar up with our legs, the bar path needs to be going straight up and then finishing slightly back behind the ears.  So, you need to be thinking, "keep that bar close to my face" as it is traveling upwards.  The first automatic concern is: "my mama gave me this chin for reasons other than hitting it with a barbell". Alls I have to say is... your mama will also tell you to move your chin out of the way, so you wont hit it.  
You know when you are trying to give yourself a double chin and your head moves back? That's all you have to do when going to jerk and you wont get hit. And if you do get hit, just consider it a right of passage and move on with your life.  So you knock out a couple teeth.. who cares!? That only means that you get to eat ice cream for the rest of your life.  The main thing to think about is not pushing that bar forward/out in front of you.  Sometimes we get scared and we dont want to commit to getting that bar back so we drive the bar away from us to a place where we can see it because that makes us feel more comfortable.  Being comfortable is not gonna happen when youre dealing with heavy weight.  So get pissed, drive the bar up keeping it as close to you as possible, and commit to it by getting it back behind your ears. 


I am going to try REALLY hard to talk about these next two points with out getting sidetracked and bringing up unnecessary topics such as ice cream(even though I truly believe it to be one of the most necessary topics ever). *sigh* there I go again. Ok serious...

#5) really simple.  You want to think about your arms locking out the same time that your feet hit the ground. I want you to be thinking aggressive leg drive, but don't forget that you have arms.  You get that bar up to a certain height with your legs and then you want to finish by punching up with the arms fast and hard. If you do that, like I said, you will be locking out your arms the same time that your feet are landing. This will make the movement fast and snappy.  Because it will be so fast, it will be easy to loosen up as you receive it.  Remember to tighten up that core IMMEDIATELY so that you can support that heavy heavy weight!

#6) foot position is critical.  If you look at the photo above you will see that hips are facing 12 o'clock and my feet are planted at about one o'clock and 7 o'clock.  This is to make sure I am not moving all over the place while walking the tight rope.  You can also see that I have a pretty long stance.  I HAVE to have that, because I want to have a good base underneath me.  If my feet are too close together (aka short stepping it) I wont be stable.  Get a good base under you.  Dont be afraid to really get that front foot out in front of you.
* A couple things to remember for your front leg: weight back on the heel, knee in line with or slightly behind the ankle.  You do NOT want to have the weight too far forward on the front foot.
* A couple things to remember for your back leg: leg is SLIGHTLY bent and heel is slightly off the ground.  You dont want to have the back leg too bent because when the weight gets heavy, its easier for it to drive you down because too much pressure is on the back quad.  
*Most important thing to remember: all of your weight should be centered on your hips. 
* Always recover half step back with the front foot, full step forward with the back foot.  If you recover with the back foot first, it means that the weight is forward. And if it wasn't forward before you recovered with the back foot first, it will be.  

Sorry these blogs are so long.. Just goes to show how technical these movements are.  They're challenging.  But if they weren't, we wouldn't love em so much.  

keep it sassy

Thursday, December 17, 2009

We all hate jerks...

I brought you all here today because we need to have a serious conversation.  I know ya'll hate jerks (I'm talking about the "split jerk" that isn't really supposed to be called a "split jerk" because by just saying "jerk", you're really already saying "split jerk"), but I would just like to say....... get over it and start jerking the (insert vulgar word here) out of some weight DAG NABIT!

First off, please take a second and watch that video that I posted above of my superman of a brother and concentrate mostly on the jerk portion.. (this is where you stop reading for a second and re-watch the video).  He's sick, isn't he? BTW..That is 484 lbs. Just sayin...

Anywho, I would like to break this shiz down for you guys.  Jerks can be lots of fun if you get over the whole "there's this really heavy weight lying on my shoulders right now and I feel extremely awkward/uncomfortable and alls I wanna do it get it off of me, but theres this weird girl in mismatch socks screaming at me in a screetchy voice telling me to jump it over my head" thing.  Once you can do that, you'll realize that it can be the most simple olympic lifting movement. 

This post would take 80 hours to read if I went over the WHOLE movement, so I'm going to break it down into two days. 

SO.. first couple things to think about: 
1)  bar placement on shoulders and your elbow position is critical.
2) the dip is what makes or breaks the rest of the movement.
3) you best drive that mofo up with your extremely ripped "Redwood tree trunks" legs. (or if you're like me, your extremely ripped "toothpick that they stick into sandwiches" legs)

Ok.. so it appears that there is a lot to think about, but take a deep breath and stick with me as we make our way onto this fabulous journey of learning how to jerk. 

I'm going to explain the 3 points that I made above, in detail. DUN DUN DUNNNNNNN

1) If you look at that studly picture of my old man (I'm allowed to call him that since he calls himself that), you will notice that the bar is resting on his shoulder. His elbows are down and out, but slightly in front of the wrists.  If the elbows are in line with, or behind the wrist, you will lose that rack position and will be holding that bar with your arms.  You never EVERRRRR want to be supporting that bar with your arms when you are getting ready to jerk, because when you go to jerk, most of your power will come from your arms.  If you support the bar with your shoulders/body, when you go to jerk, most of your power will come from your whole entire body.  And we all know that our body is stronger than our arms (except for maybe that one guy whose biceps exploded).  Also, notice how he has his whole hand on the bar.  Most people try to jerk off of their finger tips and by doing so, have to adjust the bar mid-air back into their hands when it's going over head.  That is just too crazy.  Put your whole hand on the bar that you can create a more explosive drive up without worrying about the bar falling on your head and possibly dying (kidding.. kind of). SO! Bar supported by body/shoulders. Elbows down and out and slightly in front of the wrists. Hands all the way on the bar. 

Are you staying with me? Don't fall asleep yet, we're getting to the good part.

2) THE DIP!!!!  So, the dip is where WWIII breaks out.  Like I said, you have this heavy a$$ weight on your shoulders, so when we go to dip, its natural for our weight to shift to our toes, our torso to come forward and then driving that bar forward away from our bodies.  But that doesn't HAVE to happen, ya know.  When that bar is on your shoulders and you are getting ready to dip, you need to be thinking "Weight back on my heels and torso stays straight up and down".  I like to puff out my chest and then visualize my back right up against a wall.  When I dip, my upper back and butt should stay in line with that wall the whole entire time.  If I dip forward, my ghettofabulous booty will kick me off the wall and all my weight will be forward.  So think about counterbalancing that bar pulling you forward, by shifting your weight back right before you dip. Stay stubborn with it, keep your chest up, and do NOT let that bar get the best of you. Get it? Got it? good.  

We're almost done for today, I promise..

3) DRIVE MOFO, DRIVEEEE.  This is where you gotta be hard. This is where your days of growing up on the streets of Compton will start to pay off as you drive this bar up with all the speed and aggressiveness you can muster.  But that speed and aggressiveness needs to come from your legs, people.  If you start trying to press that bar over your head with your arms, you might as well call it a day and go home and eat some ice cream. Your legs are what is going to get that bar up.  Alls you are doing is JUMPING that weight over your head. You are trying to produce all the momentum you can so that bar feels weightless and you have all the time in the world to get underneath it (something I will cover tomorrow).  If you dont drive it up with your legs, youre going to be trying to sneak under it, and the bar will beat you down EVERYTIME. (unless its like 15 lbs).
  side note: when you are driving it up, remember we are trying to keep our chest up and our torso straight up and down throughout the whole movement.  Don't have a great straight dip and then ruin it all by letting the torso come forward as you start to drive. Alls youre doing is jumping straight up trying to touch the top of your head to the ceiling.

I dont know if any of this stuff makes sense.  PLEASE feel free to ask any questions if it doesn't.  I dont want all you peeps out there scratching your noggins wondering if I'm smoking crack while writing these blogs.  

keep it sassy

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

OHS-where you'll make your "chedda"

Although my rap broke down the importance of overhead squats, I will further explain myself.

First off, let me just say that you should be able to overhead squat AT LEAST 20 pounds more than you can snatch. AT LEAST, people.

A couple things that the overhead squat does for you:
1) makes you hecka strong.
2)builds your confidence when doing a snatch
3)stabilizes the core
4)guarantees that you will find true love in the next seven days.

If you can hold a barbell overhead with heavy weight on it, comfortably, then you are on the right track. Its all about holding it with your body. Let me repeat that so I can make this more dramatic.. ITS ALL ABOUT HOLDING IT WITH YOUR BODY. Too many times we try to manipulate that bar overhead with our arms. We think that all those curls for the girls will finally pay off and we start relying on "muscling" that bar into place. If you do that, you will fail miserably and may possibly become a worse person. The key is to find the right place overhead (typically right behind the ears), and hold it there without letting the bar move ONE millimeter. You want to feel your traps, your lats, EVERYTHING pushing straight up on the bar. You need to be in control of the bar, do not let the bar be in control of you (deep... i know..)

WARNING: some people have a tendency to activate the shoulders by rolling them forward, as if to hide the neck. THIS IS WRONG. Try to feel your armpits facing straight ahead as everything is pushing up towards the ceiling. If we roll our shoulders forward, the bar will move forward and we find ourselves, yet again, holding the bar with our arms. Try it for me.. put both your arms overhead, now roll your shoulders forward. See how your hands move forward too? Now push everything straight up. Feel the difference? Boom shakalaka.

So, as I said before, a heavy OHS will make you stronger and more confident in your snatch (no, not that one.. Well, actually..maybe). Moving on, let's just say that you are overhead squatting everyday like a good boy/girl should do and you make a PR at 400lbs. What does that tell you? It lets you know that you are a badass and it lets you know that if you can just get under the bar when snatching (something I will elaborate on in the near future), you can stand up with that weight easily, and stand up with it feeling strong. That little boost of confidence can make all the difference in the world when attempting to lift a heavy a$$ weight over your head. (something that we all tend to have minor panic attacks over).

I can honestly say that having practiced heavy OHS for about 70 years, I feel way more stable when holding ANYTHING over my head. Whether it be dumbbells, a sandbag, a plate, my roommate Michele, I always know EXACTLY where to place the item over my head where I will feel the strongest. Its all because of practicing my overhead squats over and over and over again.

So just do it.. like seriously...

keep it sassy.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Soooo... umm..

I really don't know anything about this whole blogging scene, but I'll give it a shot.

My main reason for starting this is to help people with the olympic lifts. I know they are hard stuff, but they are super fun once you get the hang of em! I love crossfitter's desire to learn about these lifts that have been apart of my life since I was in the womb (my dad had me lifting through osmosis). I'll do my best to break the snatch, clean and jerk, and many more fun movements that, despite how they sound, have no direct connection to sexual activities (sorry).

A little about me: I started lifting when I was four in our garage, which is a gym. ( check it yo.) Dont worry, I wasn't lifting a million pounds as a small child, it was only a broomstick. My 3 brothers and I would sit and watch the lifters working out and we would try and mimic exactly what we saw. My first competition was at 6 years old and after that I just fell in love with the sport. It became a HUGE part of my life and my family's life.

For those of you who dont know my dad (he is like the Britney Spears of crossfit..aka AWESOME) his name is Mike Burgener. Everything you hear me say, I learned from him. He is the best coach to ever walk the planet and has willingly shared his knowledge with me throughout my whole life. He is why I know what I know.

I've competed in a 2,345,675,674,456 competitions (roughly). Dont get me wrong, I was never very good at the sport, I just love it more than most. I love how it requires technique, confidence, explosiveness, grace, sassiness, strength, charisma. It tests you as an individual. It allows you to "see what you're really made of".

Olympic lifting has changed me in ways that I never knew a sport could. I hope through this blog, I can help you guys love and appreciate it as much as I do.

keep it sassy,
Sage B