Saturday, September 24, 2011

In case you missed it via facebook, twitter or 5 oclock news

10 things to do to improve your clean and jerk.. from start to finish

#1: Discontinue your day job at the strip club…you’re better than that. (Shoulders, hips, and bar move up together off the ground).

#2: God gave you lats to activate. Do NOT disappoint him (Set your lats before the bar leaves the ground,or you WILL pull with your arms)

#3: The bar’s main goal in life is to pull you forward and down. CRUSH that bar’s dreams (Shift to your heels IMMEDIATELY off the floor)

#4: On a hot day, milk is a bad choice, but using your legs is ALWAYS a good choice even on non climatically- perfect days. (Jump HARD)

#5: A wise woman once said, “My hips don’t lie”(Your hips must move UP and DOWN in a matter of milliseconds. Slow hips=slow bar)

#6: You’re not on the dance floor. “Dropping it like it’s hot” is not recommended. (Do not dive or drop. PULL yourself under the bar)

#7: 99% of the population has suffered from the deadly disease MonoSyphiSlowElbow. Will you be one the them?(Fast elbows=brownie points)

#8: Favorite alliteration: Petunia Practiced Perfect Posture… On Her Jerk…wait… (The jerk dip: chest up, toes out, weight on heels)

#9: Chewing gum instead of brushing your teeth counts for nothing, but jumping up and punching down on the jerk, counts for a lot.

#10: Weight on your hips doesn’t always mean you have love handles (Receive your jerk with ALL the weight centered on your hips)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I've been stranded

I've been stranded in the middle of the desert with no food, water, or internet.

Of course that's not true, but because I haven't updated my blog in forever, that's the story I'm going with.

Let's talk turnovers (unfortunately, I am not talking about apple turnovers because that would make this post WAY more appealing)...
I've been in this weird mood the past couple weeks. It's the kind of mood where I just don't really feel like turning the bar over aggressively in the snatch. I tried blaming it on my experimentation with just letting things happen and not trying to control people, places, or things in my life, but that worked for about .5 seconds until I missed my snatch at 60 kilos and then missed it again.. and then missed it 6 more times after that.

And all my misses have been in the exact same place... at the bottom of my snatch, and in front of me.
Of course I'm not going to ever be satisfied snatching anything less than my brother Casey (best snatch was 400lbs), so I know I need to get a move on this minor set back. Aka.. I need to fix my turnover.. NOW (I'd be happy if I fix it within the next 3 months) before I get all old and wrinkly and too jacked up to even lift my ice cream scooper.

So, what am I going to do?

I am going to work my muscle snatches and snatch balance.

Muscle Snatch:
Muscle snatching is going to help me strengthen my external rotation. It takes my legs out of the equation and forces me actually use my shoulder muscles to get that barbell back behind my ears. By the time I get to add my legs into the equation, the bar will be FLYING through that turn over!

The other GREAT thing about muscle snatching is that it forces me to pay attention to the path of the barbell. I can't muscle snatch anything unless that barbell is moving straight up my body and staying as close to me as possible. Because I can't move the bar as fast with my arms as I can with my legs, slowing down the movement really reinforces how it feels when the bar moves right... which is great for when you start moving fast again.

Snatch Balance:
Yes, I admit, I'll be doing more snatch balances because I love them with all my heart, but it's also because when I have an unaggressive turnover, the bar never gets back in the "slot" (right behind the ears where our whole body is supporting the weight rather than our arms and shoulders). When we snatch balance, the bar is behind our neck at the start, so it only has one way to go... and that is STRAIGHT UP into our slot (of course, that's only if we actually do it correctly). Not having the pressure of having to get around my face and back behind my ears really helps me to feel the proper bar position overhead. That way, when I snatch, I'll have a reference point as to where the bar is supposed to end.

Make sense?

So, If you're like me, and you miss every single important lift of your life out in front because you have commitment issues and won't get the barbell back behind your ears, do muscle snatches and snatch balance.

If you're the person that misses the barbell behind you a lot, stay tuned... Definitely within the next seven years when I decide I want to write another blog post, I will teach you guys some exercises that can fix that!

Monday, August 29, 2011


I've decided to limit my blog posts. Updating every day get's boring and monotonous! So, I think I'll fill you in on what's going on with my "iron pumping sessions" in the next couple days.

Until then, I'll leave you with this...

Quote of the day-
"After twelve years of therapy my psychiatrist said something that brought tears to my eyes. He said, "No hablo ingles." - anonymous

Photo of the day-

"When it comes to family, trust no one"

over and out

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Burgeners and our smelly farts (applies to boys only)


#1: I have been POUNDING the whipped coconut milk. The reason I'm confessing is because it's high in fat and calories and won't make me skinny, but I don't care.

#2: I took an unscheduled rest day yesterday (someone chopped my legs up with a meat tenderizer)

#3. Next week I will be visiting my best friend and she will make gluten free creme brulee and I will eat it. I will eat the S*&t out of that creme brulee

Anyways, now that I have that off my chest, let's get to the good stuff.


3 Position Cleans: 65%x3x5

Clean Pull: 90%x3x2

Clean deadlift: 100%x3x2

Rack Jerk: Work up to a heavy single

Row Sprints: 30 sec. on 30 sec rest for 6 sets.

Things I focused on:

Today was definitely not a favorite because every time I see a clean I want to punch it in the face. I've always been an early arm-bender and a weak squatter and those two things together make for an atrocious clean.
So, today, on my 3 position cleans, I focused on keeping it light and re-training my old habits.
To fix my early arm bend, I over exaggerated keeping my lats locked in tight. That inhibited the bar from pulling me forward and allowed me to keep the weight back on my heels without having to pull it back with my arms.
Also,I power cleaned, so I didn't have to work on coming out of the squat, but I did have to focus on NOT throwing my feet out too wide JUST because I was power cleaning. MEANING, I have to remind myself that I have all the way until a 90 degree squat for a lift to still be considered "power". So, instead of throwing my feet out wide to get depth as I pull myself under the bar, I focused on meeting it in a lower position, because thats where it travels to anyway when it gets heavier! However, despite my good intentions, I did look like this a couple of times:

On the clean pull and clean deadlift, I focused on the same thing I focused on with the snatch pull and snatch deadlift on Monday: shifting my weight to my heels immediately off the floor. How SUCKY is it when the bar leaves the ground and it feels SO HEAVY that you're sure someone waterlogged the weights?! When you have that sensation, it is typically because the weight pulled you to your toes off the ground. STAY BACK!!

On the rack jerk I didn't focus on much because I AM REALLY FREAKING GOOD AT JERKS. Allow me to toot my own horn here for a second. Being a Burgener typically means that you will come out of the womb being able to jerk AT LEAST 100kg. We have weak legs, pug noses, and smelly farts (just the boys, of course), but man can we jerk. And I love to remind myself of this because I'm trying to be nice to myself, remember? Sometimes I get so caught up in feeling like I'm not cut out to be a weightlifter. The ideal weightlifter has short legs and a long torso. I have long legs and a short torso. The ideal weightlifter has a mind of steel. I sometimes get afraid of weights. So, when some type of exercise comes up that I am semi decent at, I have to JUMP ALL OVER IT because it may be the last time, in a couple days, that I'll do something that reminds me that I'm not wasting my time.

Side Note: Yes, I am all about cherry picking exercises you're good at JUST to raise your confidence level for the day.

Speaking of smelly farts.. here is your awkward family photo, photo of the day:

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Day 278.. oh wait, never mind, it's only day 2

Well, the good news is that I squatted today and although the odds were not in my favor, I didn't die (it has nothing to do with the fact that I stayed EXTREMELY light). Life is good.

Box Squats: 5x2, back off sets: 2x3
Front Squats: 2x5 @ 4 second descent and 2 sec hold in the bottom
Good Mornings: 3x5
Wall climbs+Handstand Walks: 5 sets
Muscle ups: 12 total (done in pairs)

Allow me to elaborate:
Box Squats: These were supposed to be regular back squats, but I cannot squat below parallel with any type of heavy load. I've never really done box squats before, so I had someone show me how to perform them properly. MUCH different than an oly squat! We'll see if they transfer over to the clean at all.

Front Squats: I literally stuck with 35-40 kg for these. I stayed very light and controlled because I didn't want to aggravate my hip too much. Despite almost passing out from holding my breath for so long, I love having to force myself to slow a movement down and keep my form PERFECT.

Wall climbs: I use these for shoulder strengthening and stability. Start in a push up position with your feet on the wall. Walk your feet up the wall and your hands towards the wall until your belly is touching. When up there, walk on your hands laterally for a couple of steps and then walk your hands back out into a push up position. Repeat in the opposite direction. I LOOOOVE these for strengthening the jerk. The more hand stand work I do, the stronger I feel when supporting the weight overhead.

Muscle ups: I only did these so that I could still say that I can do a muscle up.

Things I focused on:

Since it was more of a strength day, I didn't focus on much other than making sure I eased my way back into things. I wanted to do 70 sets of box squats because I want my leg strength to be back where it was. Tomorrow. However, I knew that if I pushed it too much today, I most likely would be too sore to have a productive workout tomorrow. I want to progressively improve... Not take 17 steps forward, and 27 steps back (I'm really into random numbers right now).

I also focused on keeping everything tight through my mid-line. For me, I have a tendency to relax my core as I go through simple movements. Like good mornings, for example. I know that when I get lazy on a good morning, I really arch my back and completely disconnect from my abs as I'm sending my butt back. That does me no good! So, today I tried my best to avoid that. I made sure to ask my friends to randomly punch me in the stomach when I wasn't expecting it, just to make sure I was staying focused.... kidding, people... I didn't ask. My friends just do that on their own.

The last thing I focused on was not crying (tears of joy) when Michele told me my butt looked bigger. Miracles really do happen.

When my butt gets this big, I know that I'll REALLY be competitive in oly lifting:

Monday, August 22, 2011

Day 1 in the bank, yo!

Yes, this is me not finishing my pull..
Day one is complete, and despite my previous concern, I did NOT forget how to snatch.


3 Position Snatches 65%x3x5
Snatch Pulls: 90%x3x2
Snatch Deadlifts: 100%x3x2
Snatch Push Press: 3x5 with medium-heavy weight
Prowler push: 6 sets with 60 seconds rest in between each set.

Workout De-coder:

3 Position Snatches: 1 snatch from the ground, 1 snatch from mid thigh, 1 snatch from high hang.
65%x3x5: Anytime you see three numbers together, it reads: 65 % for 3 reps for 5 sets.
3x5: Anytime you only see two numbers together, it reads: 3 sets of 5 reps.
Prowler push: Take that heavy thing over there.. yes, that.. and push it. Fast.

I kept things fairly light today because I do not know what my best numbers are at this point in my life and because it's my first day back into the olympic lifting world. I could base my percentages off of my all time best snatch ever (77 kg), but I know that would be silly since I probably couldn't even back squat that weight right now. Nevertheless, I'm really going to work on being nice to myself and realizing that I'm not as strong as I used to be. I'll get there, I'm sure, but it's going to take time. Getting discouraged because I'm not lifting what I used to never got me any closer to snatching 80 kg.

Things I worked on:
1. With the 3 position snatches, I really worked on feeling each position. I wouldn't just go to mid thigh really quick and then snatch, I would go to mid thigh, make a mental note of how it felt, and then I would snatch it. Same thing with the snatch from the floor and snatch from high hang.

2. I also focused on keeping the barbell close to my body. When I have more than one rep to do, I have a tendency to get lazy and forget my technique. Whenever that happens, the FIRST thing that goes is keeping my elbows high and outside (aka keeping it close). When doing a weight for multiple reps, keeping the bar close is SO important because no matter how little weight you have on the barbell, come rep #3, the weight starts to feel heavy. The heavier that mofo feels, the closer you have to keep it, or that bar aint movin up!

3. On the snatch pulls and snatch deadlifts, I kept my mind on my heels. The pull off the ground is always hard for me because I have weak legs, so shifting to my heels RIGHT when I leave the ground is a MUST. If I don't over exaggerate that shift, the bar pulls me forward and I'm left chasing it for the rest of the movement... and I HATE chasing things!

4. The last thing I focused on with the snatch push press was holding the barbell up over my head for a couple of seconds. I wanted to make sure that I was completely stable and I wanted to give my body a chance to feel heavy weight over my head again. If I just snatch push press it up there and immediately bring it back down, I feel like I never give my muscles a chance to strengthen and become familiar with the position.

5. Oh, and for the prowler push, I just focused on not throwing up.

Quote of the day:
"It is important to look at yourself and identify your gremlins. In sports, as in life, the first step to success is getting out of your own way". ~ Mind Gym Book

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Day 0.


Tomorrow I begin my "get strong enough to where I can snatch over my body weight again and get jacked enough to where people no longer secretly wonder how the barbell hasn't snapped my legs in two" regime!

I will start on a program that my dad has conjured up for me, but will be substituting some exercises in and out depending on my hip, my recovery, and my decision as to whether or not there is a different, more fun, exercise I can do that I'm better at...

I'll share all my numbers with you fellow bloggers, as long as you're not that person who thrives off of always lifting one more kilogram than me. Cause let's face it, I'm a sore loser. I'll also be sharing what exercises I think will be good for ya'll to do as you look to improve your oly lifts.

My nutritional goals are all over the place, but basically I am deciding to:
1. Stick to lean meats only. No sausage, limited red meat, and bacon 1-2 times a week. I want to really try and have fish a couple times a week as well.
2. Cut out any added fats. Cooking oils and fat from meat will be the extent of my fat source. That means, no handful of nuts after a meal. However, I'm allowing myself to have 1 tbs of heavy whipping cream in my coffee each morning because I don't want to lose any friends or get arrested.
3. Eat as many vegetables as my sanity allows. My goal will be to fill the majority of my plate with all sorts of delicious veggies!
4. Drink 3-4 bottles of water a day in my sassy purple water bottle.
5. Not convince myself that anything gluten free is healthy and I should eat lots of it even if it's pizza and corn bread.

My physical goals are to:
Not look TOO skinny in my wedding dress
Put some lean muscle mass on my legs
Get at least 8-9 hours of sleep a night
Be as fashionable as Lady Gaga

My general goals are to:
Someday try out to be Eminem's partner rapper

3,2,1, Go.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Everything you didn't want to know

Let us start off today's blog post with a background story and a little self pity party... because I like to throw those every once in a while (and by 'every once in a while', I mean at LEAST once a week).

Once upon a time, almost three years ago, I hurt my hip up at Northern Michigan University (I have yet to get an MRI to see exactly what is wrong with it, but I'm pretty sure I tore my labrum), where I was going to school and lifting full time. It was after high school that I moved up there, thousands of miles away from home, to pursue my dream of becoming the best lifter I could be.

Up in the Upper Peninsula (yes I was a Yooper), I made some new bffs, gained a ton of weight eating Lucky Charms as a post workout meal (I'm not even kidding), and hit numbers I had never hit before. My coach and the lifting program were AMAZING. I got really strong really fast. However, I failed to take care of my body. There is only so much squatting for 10 reps for max weight and NEVER stretching (don't tell Kelly Starrett) that a little scrawny (or not so scrawny at the time) girl can handle before her body gets pissed and goes on strike.

When I got injured, it really took my world for a spin. I had just gone 6 for 6 (hitting 75 kg in the snatch and 90 kg in the clean and jerk) at a local competition and I was ready to compete at the American Open the upcoming month. However, the training leading up to that magical competition had not been pretty. My hip was so jacked up that I started to have IT Band issues and knee issues. How I hit those lifts that day without my hip breaking into 17 pieces is beyond me.

I knew it would only continue to get worse if I pursued Americans, so I had to decide.. do I want to take time off and get surgery? or do I want to call it quits for now and move back to California? I called it quits, moved back to California and began my CrossFit career coaching Oly Certifications with my dad and coaching at CrossFit Invictus.

The past three years I have been much more serious about CrossFit than olympic weightlifting. The change of pace has been good for me and through the combination of CrossFit and paleo, I have been able to lose all the Lucky Charms weight (which was about 20 lbs)! Yay!

Anyways, now that you have wasted about 3 hours of your precious time reading all of that useless information, I shall reveal why I'm even writing this blog post:
I have decided to lift in the USAW/CrossFit competition in Colorado Springs the weekend of Oct 21-23rd, and I want all of you to come with me! Not literally, of course, (unless you want to... in which case, I'm ALL for it!) but I want to post my workouts, emotions, part of my food log, progress, etc. on this blog in hopes that you will keep me motivated and honest. Also, I'm hoping that through my training you can learn some tips for your own training (since that is why I started this blog in the first place).

Things to know before you commit:
1. I haven't worked out in a week
2. I think I forgot how to snatch and clean and jerk
3. I only have two months to transform myself into something other than a woman who's legs are so skinny, you literally think I'm a levitating torso with a head attached to it.

I'm ready to get this party started! Who's with me?!

Here is a picture of me in my Lucky Charm Phase (don't judge):

Friday, August 12, 2011

Hang with me fellow Bloggers!

As some of you know, I recently got engaged and my fiance is leaving for Italy on Monday! He'll be gone for four months before returning in December for our wedding. To those of you who have asked, yes, I will be wearing mismatch socks on my wedding day.

Due to the hectic wedding planning and traveling, this blog has definitely been put on the back burner. I am completely guilty of spending my days talking myself out of psychopathic bridezilla meltdowns, instead of focusing on teaching the world how to avoid hitting themselves in the face on a snatch.

Give me another week to gather my marbles that I have clearly lost. I'll come back with THE blog post of a lifetime! Write in the comments section about what you want to learn with the olympic lifts.

So far I have had people ask:

"How do I get faster"?
"How can I fix the fact that I don't move my feet when I snatch and clean"?
"How do I improve my wrist flexibility for the rack position on the jerk"?

Until then, let me leave you with this:
When you are at the top of your jumping/extending/finishing position, do not let the barbell pull your body forward into a completely vertical line. Make sure your shoulders are behind the bar at the top. Not only will this eliminate any chances of you needing plastic surgery on your face, it will also allow the barbell to travel straight UP and BACK behind your ears for a smooth and snappy turnover.

Be here:

Not here:

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Part of my Crossfit Journey

Crossfit is a funny thing. It makes me feel like I’d rather jump into shark infested waters then finish this workout. And then in a matter of seconds, I’m contemplating punching those sharks in the face cause I’m off to conquer the world. The life lessons I’ve learned in the middle of a snatch far surpass any I’ve learned outside the gym. People say it takes someone’s whole life to figure out what kind of person they really are. I say, introduce them to Fran…. come pull up #15, they’ll know what they’re made of.

I think its safe to say that I’ve been a member of every single Crossfit club out there.
I’ve been a member of :
The Firebreathers Club
The I’m Just Doing This So I Can Eat Ice Cream And Not Get Fat Club
The I Define Myself As A Person By My Crossfit Numbers Club
And the I’m Tired Of Being A Little Sissy Girl, So I Crossfit Club

Recently, I’ve been the president of the I Define Myself By My Crossfit Numbers Club and I’ve been feeling pretty guilty about it. That is the reason I’m writing this ridiculous blog post. I want to know the password to, and be a member of, ANY Crossfit club I want... all without ever being disappointed in myself. And I’d love if all of you could do the same.

Let me break it down for you…

I’ve recently started attending Al -anon meetings. Al -anon is a program for families of alcoholics who come and share and learn how to look within themselves to solve all of life’s problems. I could go into all the ways it has exposed how jacked up I am, but then you’d know I’m not perfect… and I just can’t have that. Instead, I want to share with you what I’ve learned from Al-anon that has transferred directly over into my Crossfit world (because it really is a whole nother world).

There are three slogans from Al- anon that I say to myself pre, mid, and post wod.

#1. Keep it simple

I don’t know about you, but I will lose 8 kilograms before I ever even start my workout. I literally perspire… 8 kilograms of sweat…as I nervously break down and psychoanalyze every exercise in my head. However, my new and improved Al-anon self knows that I need not turn something small into the greatest feat of all time. Does that mean that I don’t take my workout seriously? No. It means that I keep things simple. I look at it as my workout… and nothing more. It is my workout that I am doing because I want to be healthy and happy all while looking good in Lululemon shorts. I do not look at it as a compilation of movements that individually tap into my self-conscious exposing all of my deepest darkest secrets and character flaws. Keep it simple.

#2. One day at a time

I want to be the best Olympic weightlifter and Crossfitter that ever walked the planet. I want to have a big butt and an 18 pack. And, in the midst of all that, I want to have a life. Can all of that happen in one day? If you say yes, contact me immediately. If you say no, perhaps you understand the concept of “one day at a time”.

I often get sick to my stomach when I realize how much work I have to do with my training. My legs need to be able to squat more than a toothpick with teddy bears tied to the ends, I need to be able string more pull ups together without it feeling like someone threw lava rocks at my forearms, and I need to lose the mindset that I would rather be stabbed in the eye with a hepatitis infected needle than run for more than 20 meters.

So, what can I do? I can focus on one day at a time. I can think about what it is that I need to do TODAY to make me better. I’m not going to worry about what I couldn’t do yesterday, and I’m not going to predict what I should be able to do tomorrow, because all of those thoughts will deter me from accomplishing what I can at this very moment. Lisbeth Darsh once said something that I will FOREVER remember.. “I will promise to do my best. My best will vary from day to day, from hour to hour, from minute to minute. But in that minute, I will do the very best I can”.

This means, that I can be apart of whatever Crossfit club I want, depending on what I’m feeling on that particular day. Whether it’s the I Have Period Cramps So I’m Going To Just Get Through This Workout Club, or the Get The Eff Out Of My Way Before I Snatch Your Face Off Club, it’s my choice… and I’m going to OWN that choice because I am working on focusing on one day at a time.

When you get caught up in the worry of what you didn’t do, what you couldn’t do and what you should be doing, remember to live your training life one day at a time.

#3. The serenity prayer

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”

Reread that about 5 times and try to understand what it is REALLY trying to say. Religious or not, this prayer can do wonders for those of us with a wandering and doubtful mind. This prayer reminds me that I am in control of one thing and one thing only: myself. I am in control of my performance, yes, but more importantly, I am in control of my thinking.

Recently, my non Al-anon self has been gazing the room mid workout to see how far behind I am. I train with the top level Invictus athletes, so it’s safe to say that I’m usually behind by a good amount. This is where I practice saying the serenity prayer. I practice acceptance that I cannot control how fast my teammates are throwing around ridiculous amounts of weight. More importantly, I practice acceptance that I cannot control someone else’s interpretation of why I am performing slower than those around me. What I can control is MY speed on the workout and MY interpretation of my performance. If I take away the pressure of trying to do well for others, and solely focus on myself, I begin to realize that in that moment, I’m doing pretty dang well. (Oh, the wonders that can do for a workout’s level of enjoyment!)

So, next time you are beating yourself up mid workout because you are 3 thrusters behind someone else, try to figure out what it is that you can control in that moment. Is it someone else? Or is it you?

Right now, in this very moment, I am feeling good about the next time I walk into the gym because I’ve found the slogans what work for me. The slogans that allow me to workout and be fit, all without turning into a crazy person who pulls her eyelashes out because she couldn’t dead lift 300lbs.

I have my slogans.. do you have yours?

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Think about your hands

Before I get started, I have a few things I'd like to get off my chest:

#1- I have omitted bacon and heavy whipping cream from my diet for two weeks and I'm beginning to think I may actually die. If my blog suddenly shuts down, you know why.

#2- Starting next year, I am going to be offering seminars and certs in Europe. So if you're a European Crossfit gym owner that is Striving to be Fergilicious, I'm your girl.

#3- I got this super cool new purple water bottle that I love SO much that I'm actually drinking water throughout the day. I literally have to pee 18 times an hour, but my body feels amazing. If you don't drink enough water, buying a totally retro drinking device will solve most of your physical, and possibly mental, problems.

#4- I have a new cue that I learned that I would love to share with you all..


What the french toast does that mean?

Often times, when we are snatching and cleaning, we focus so much on two things: The jump and the turnover. But what about everything in between?

After we jump, we know that we're supposed to pull our bodies down and around the barbell all while getting our elbows high and outside to keep it close (seriously, read that sentence about 5 times). AND we know that we are supposed to turn the bar over with an attitude that says "I ain't no little sissy girl". But, sometimes we're so focused on this position:

and this position:

that we forget what the bar is supposed to do as it passes by our face.

Now, if you're anything like me... your face is your money maker (TOTALLY KIDDING... my face is NOT my money maker... it's my intelligence and charm that bring home the bacon...that I can't eat right now...;( ) and you do NOT want a barbell smashing into and ruining the one thing that helps you make a living. SOOOO.. what we tend to do is swing our arms around our face and lock them out overhead. Don't do that.

If we swing the bar around our face? Where is the momentum going at the end of the lift? BACK! and that is only if we turn the bar over aggressively. If we swing the bar around our face and DONT have an aggressive turnover, then we lose the bar FORWARD. We want the momentum to be going STRAIGHT UP as it passes our face and on the turn it over so that the bar lands perfectly in our strong overhead position. So, if you are missing the bar in front of you or behind you, listen up!

Here is how we fix the problem:
Think about your hands!
As your sitting here reading this blog post, here is what I want you to do...
1.Put your arms in a scarecrow position so that your elbows are high and outside and your arms are at a 90 degree angle.

2.From there, pull your hands up higher until they reach your armpits, and allow your wrist to flex (fingers pointing down) so that your elbows are still higher than your wrist.

3.Now, keeping your wrist flexed, pull your hands higher and higher and higher (right along side your face and over your head) until your arms are locked out (fingers still facing down)

4.Last, flip your hands over fast and tight as if you were turning a heavy weight over.

(No, that exercise was not a joke to get you to do something extremely weird whilst sitting alone in front of a computer while I'm secretly recording you and updating the video on youtube.)

That is what I want you to do with a barbell!! Did you feel how you had to really activate all those muscles to get your hands to stay in close to your body and pulled all the way over your head? That extreme activation is why we forget to keep the bar close to our face when we are moving FAST with WEIGHT.

So, next time you are snatching, think about what your hands are doing:
They are pulling back off the ground, they are moving straight up the side of your body (all the way to your armpits) when you jump and pull yourself down, they are continuing straight up the sides of our face (as we continue to pull ourselves down) until we are JUST about locked out, and then they punch to the ceiling for an aggressive turnover!


Thank you for your time and patience and I look forward to writing again if this heavy whipping cream and bacon hiatus doesn't crush my soul.

Ps... The same exercise can be done with the clean. Pull the hands up your sides, to your armpits, to your shoulders and then pull your elbows around.. landing in a front squat rack position. Be careful not to turn the hands over too slow on the clean when you are getting your hands up and elbows around. I tend to see people pause with their hands at their shoulders AND THEN get the elbows around. DONt DO THAT. Make it one fluid motion.

Monday, June 20, 2011


I think I have a history of writing blabbery blog posts that leave people frantically clicking the exit button out of fear of becoming more and more confused about Olympic lifting. For this post, I pinky promise to make it short and sweet.

Lets talk footwork.

Everyone knows that getting under a barbell is scary stuff. We don’t trust our overhead squat and we don’t trust our front squat, so, we shy away from receiving heavy weight in those two positions…aka receiving a snatch or clean. That hesitation causes one of the MOST common technical mistakes I see in the Olympic lifts: people throwing their feet out wide.

No one ever said that the fastest way to a pretty snatch or clean was through a wide stance. So, why do we do it?? We try to get depth by jumping our feet out into a quarter split position instead of landing in our squat stance. And why do we do that?!!? Because we all have commitment issues.

Now, I’m not going to get into the many ways Olympic weightlifting can reveal things about you and your relationships in life because that would take away from me psychoanalyzing athletes through their technique. However, I am going to tell you how to fix your footwork problems.

If you are one of the many lifters who land wider in the snatch and clean (by wider I mean wider than your back squat/front squat stance) you need learn to NOT shy away from commitment AND you need to use cones when practicing the Olympic lifts. In most gyms, one can find some pretty orange cones. USE THEM! Take two orange cones, line your feet up in your squat stance, and place the cones outside your feet. Now that the cones are set, reset your stance with your feet right under your hips in preparation to snatch or clean. Now.. snatch or clean. When you have completed the movement, look down and see where your feet are in relation to the cones. Having the visual can do wonders for a lifter, and will most likely solve your problem if you practice enough.

If the cones don’t solve the problem, using small children and kittens have proven to be even more effective.

Footwork is key, people. If our feet cannot be consistent, how can the rest of our lifts be consistent?

An amazing coach, Steve Gough, always says that “99% of missed lifts can be attributed to the feet”. Don’t let your lift be a statistic... fix your feet.. (HOW’S THAT FOR DEEP?!)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Bar Speed

Before we get started here, I had a ghettofabulous question about my previous blog post that I would like to address to everyone:

"Why wouldn't a straight bar path be good? Isn't that the most efficient? Takes a lot of energy to cover horizontal space with a heavy object, right?”


If we were to pull the bar straight off the ground and continue to pull it straight through the whole entire lift, the bar would be about 6 inches away from our body. The bar would then end up out in front of us on the turnover, aka, the receiving position. The goal is to keep the bar as close to us as possible RIGHT off the ground, so that when we turn our hands over at the top, it winds up back behind our ears in our strongest overhead position.

Let's break it down: The bar sweeps back in the beginning of the lift, goes straight up in the middle of the lift, and SLIGHTLY goes back at the end of the lift (just enough to get back behind the ears). I have found this to be the MOST efficient path for the snatch, AND the clean. I Pinky promise...

(If your bar path is different and you're lifting as much weight as the guy below, then you can literally do whatever the eff you want in life. I won't even yell at you a little bit.. and I ALWAYS yell. )

Moving on:
It's so funny the things we learn from the most unassuming people (no, I did not just call someone stupid) ...

Just the other day, I learned something from one of my clients who is fairly new to the olympic lifts. She was asking about the speed of the bar throughout the entire lift. Is it the same through the whole lift? Does it change? Does it get faster? Slower?

So, as I was getting into this whole detailed explanation, with obnoxiously dramatic hand gestures, about how the bar moves from slow to medium to bionic speed fast as you change from position to position , she says (in an EXTREMELY nonchalant-like manner): "Oh, so, like Ready, Set, Go"?

I wanted to punch her and hug her all at the same time. It was PERFECT!

When you're pulling off the ground, you want to think about the different positions:
  • Floor: Starting position (read last post)
  • Mid-thigh (read last post)
  • Pockets (don't worry about it, it comes naturally)
But you also want to think about the speed of the bar. I see so many different kinds of speeds with so many different kinds of lifters, so let me break it down:

Lifters who live in the fast lane: If you move super fast off the ground, you're going to miss all of the positions and the bar can not stay the same speed from the ground to overhead..unless its .5 kgs. No grip and rip (I'm talking to you, Crossfitters. Ya'll like to get after those weights like a bunch of "junk-yard dogs"! I love you for it, I really do, but it just doesn't work with the lifts).

Lifters who like to play it safe: If you move so slow off the ground that I could literally walk away, go to the bathroom, french braid my hair, and come back and you haven't even hit mid-thigh, you're moving too slow. That slowness really starts to become detrimental with heavy weights. You HAVE to get some momentum behind the bar if you want 200kg to feel a little less like you have 7 Toyota Camrys in your hands. When you're practicing technique, GO SLOW! It's a perfect way to force your body into the right positions, just don't continue to go so slow when you increase the weight.

Lifters who get gold stars: Ready, Set, Go. This is PERFECT for us crossfitters because the word "go" turns us into crazy people.
  • 'Ready' means that off the ground, you have control of the weight.
  • As your passing your knees, you're getting 'Set'. (moving a tiny bit faster)
  • When you get to mid-thigh, you are letting go of everything you've been holding onto in your life (except the barbell) and you are 'GO'ing!

Now, when I'm talking about "speed when you get to mid-thigh", I don't just mean speed when you jump and until you're fully extended... I mean speed through the extension, speed through the pull under the bar, and speed through the turn over. The speed does not stop until the bar has stopped moving at the turnover. You can't just think "SPEED, UP!!!!", you have to think "SPEED, UP DOWN!" when you get to that beautiful position we call Mid-thigh. Does that make sense? Here are all of the positions in which you should be moving bionically fast through:

Sage, out.

Monday, May 16, 2011

New starting position

Let me start off by saying something VERY important that has nothing to do with the fact that you should all know my 21st birthday is tomorrow...

You will never stop learning as a coach and athlete

My father.. you know.. the Britney Spears of Crossfit.. always prides himself on being openminded as a coach. He'll be the first one to tell you that his way of coaching is not the only way (even though its totally the best way ;) ) and he is constantly telling stories of how his methods have changed based on suggestions from his own students or other coaches. This idea that even the best coach in the world can learn new methods was something that took me a while to grasp. Mainly because I learned it from my father, and lets be honest, what young girl actually listens to her dad?

So, my whole point of telling you this is because I recently learned something new that I am SO excited about! Just when I thought I knew everything there was to know about me and my weightlifting, I went up to train with Greg Everett and he taught me a new starting position that has completely changed my lifts and my life (two things that are really one in the same).

My old starting position: (very similar to a deadlift)
  • Hips above the knees and shoulders over the bar
  • Bar right up against the shins
  • Shins vertical
  • Weight on heels
My new starting position:
  • Hips above the knees and shoulders over the bar
  • Bar 1/2 inch away from my shins
  • Shins forward
  • Weight on the ball of my foot (still being able to wiggle toes)
Let me tell you why this new starting position is better and why you should do it:

The MOST important part of an olympic lift is the pull off the floor. If the pull off the floor is efficient, everything falls into place much easier. Your weight will be in the proper position on your feet to be able to jump aggressively, your jump will be vertical, the bar will move vertically, the bar will be close to your face so you can turn it over with an attitude, everything just goes GREAT!

So, what does a PERFECT pull off the floor look like? I have drawn a beautiful picture for you all that I'm certain will help you understand just what I am talking about.

Or this.. if you don't get it. (minus the crazy neck strain)

"Push and Sweep"
Although you start off with your weight on the ball of your foot, as soon as the bar leaves the ground, your weight shifts to your heels and your hamstrings PULL your knees back out of the way as you push into the ground and sweep the bar back into your body by engaging your lats. If you do it correctly, you should look something like this:

Melanie has swept that bar back into her body, landing her in the perfect mid-thigh position. Her weight is back on her heels, so when she goes to jump, she will jump off the whole surface of her foot.. creating a beautiful "junk yard dog aggressive" jump. If her weight was on her toes, or even on the middle of her foot at this position, she would end up receiving the bar forward and on her toes down in the overhead squat. Also, if she was forward, it would mean that the bar went straight up off the floor as opposed to sweeping back. Get where I'm going with this?!

Where she goes from here is a WHOLE different blog post, but if you can get to this position and accelerate the bar from here, you are in a good place. Kapeesh?

Lets hear your questions.

Sage, out.

Friday, April 29, 2011


Look Closely, you can see the bend in the barbell

When I was about three years old, I had my first epiphany. I'm certain it had something to do with the olympic lifts because that's about the time I really started to get serious with my training.

Ever since then, I've been having epiphanies about every 4 days. I'd like to share one with ya'll that occurred just the other morning.

I was coaching a young chap who lifts in my oly club. For now, we'll call him Daddy Long Legs because his legs are so long, they literally connect to his armpits.

Daddy Long legs has the weakest legs in the history of ever. Minus Me. I've been forcing him to catch the bounce out of the bottom of every front squat and clean he performs, because if he settles in his receiving position for even a split second, there ain't no way he's standing up.

So, before we get into my epiphany, lets cover what I mean when I say "catch the bounce"...
Ever heard of the term "bend and snap"? Everyone thinks that it originated from the film Legally Blonde. Guess again. Like many terms that you may or may not be aware of, "Bend and Snap" is referring to the olympic lifts. Specifically...catching the bounce.

The beautiful thing about olympic lifting barbells is that they bend. With light weight on the barbell, I'm sure that the bend cannot be seen by the average human eye.. unless you're my father.. he. sees. EVERYTHING. As the bar reaches it's max bend-age, (it's a word. get over it) it then snaps back up!

If an athlete has fast elbows and great timing, they can actually use that "bend and snap", or "bounce" to help them get out of a very heavy clean and very heavy front squat. It's using the momentum, that YOU placed on the barbell with your great amount of explosiveness, to help you basically get half way out of the squat without ever even pushing a little. (Of course then you have your sticking point where I typically hang out at for seven hours before I decide to stand).

Any Questions? Great. Back to Daddy Long Legs.

As the session progressed, DLL really started to feel what it meant to "catch the bounce" and I really started to feel like I could wait a little longer before retiring as a coach. But, as you know, all good olympic lifts must come to an end as we realize that there is a whole nother world out there filled with hurt and bad technique that we have yet to step foot in.

So. New issue. DLL started hanging out in his extension much too long. He became a floater. (floater: someone who moving lackadaisically whilst pulling themselves under the barbell) His bounce out of the bottom was great, but his change of direction at the top was rubbish. (Man! I am REALLY picking on DLL today! He's still a good person..) So, on came the epiphany!

If DLL could understand "catching the bounce" out of the bottom of the squat, why couldn't he understand catching the bounce out of the top of the extension?! Perfect!!

When DLL finally understood that you must bounce down and then bounce up, his timing was much better. He realized that change of direction (change of direction of your hips, that is. They move up as you jump, and then IMMEDIATELY back down) on the lifts is what makes them fluid. They are fluid because your body is constantly maneuvering itself down and around the barbell as the barbell is moving up. IF you pause ANYWHERE!!.. at the top of the pull, at the bottom of the squat, in the middle, you have taken the natural momentum off the bar and you become a muscler (Muscler: one who muscles the bar with their weak arms).

Don't do that.

Folks, that's a lot of information. Re-read it a bunch of times to process what the heck I'm rambling about and then ask me questions. If I'm going to blog, I want some blogger friends. I'll be official.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Despite what you think.. I did not fall off the face of the earth

I'mm baaaackkk!!!

After a 2 minute heart to heart with my father, I realized that writing about olympic lifting and being on the cast of Glee (compliments of my dad) are my callings. I decided that I could write a memoir about my experiences in my 20 (almost 21) years of living on this earth, orrrr I could continue writing my blog....

No memoir.. you're welcome.

When it comes to being an emotionally stable woman and a reliable writer, I realize I'm inconsistent. So, I've decided to actually plan something out for once in my life. I'm writing down every blog post topic for the next couple of months. 2 blog posts (or more...if I'm feeling sassy) a month. You can count on that!

The first NEW and improved blog post will premiere Friday, April 29th. Each read blog post is guaranteed to put 5 kg on your snatch.. or your money back.

Tell all your friends. This will be fun.