Fran Ladder

This is a repeat of the last event from the 2011 CrossFit Open.  Of all the wods from that year, this is probably my favorite.  The Fran ladder is really vicious.  7 minutes is a small amount of time so you’re pretty much sprinting all out, 15 minutes will be quite different…  But it’s Saturday!  So we work hard.

Of course you get tired faster than you thought you would and suddenly it’s really hard to keep the bar moving.


Lifter’s choice

‘Fran Ladder’
15 min AMRAP of:
-3 thrusters (95/65)
-3 pull-ups
+go up 3 reps each round

One-Arm Barbell Snatch

This lift is fun!  I hadn’t done these in such a long time, but a teammate I lift with – he’s much better than I at the oly lifts – recently added it to our lifting cycle.  So I thought I’d make sure you guys get some as well!

Pat Barber from CrossFitHQ demonstrating the one-handed barbell snatch in Ireland.  He gets pretty heavy maxing out at 121 lbs and just failing at 135 lbs.  Pretty impressive given that I think he weighs around 170-180 lbs.  Today we’ll be working on both the squat and split version for receiving the bar.

I know that I’ll often include kettlebell our dumbbell snatch in the workouts or as our technical portion but working one-armed snatch with a barbell is quite the different experience.  Given the width of the barbell, the stability needed to hold the bar level overhead is much more difficult than either a dumbbell or kettlebell (although you could make the kettlebell snatch a little more difficult by trying to lock out with the kettlebell held upside down).  As you increase in weight any tilting from left to right becomes increasingly difficult to manage.  Overcoming this is part of the fun and really develops strength and midline stability.  Midline stability is a term I sure seem to use a lot – guess it might be important…

Not only is this a great conjugate to the snatch that requires you to adapt to an awkward lockout position, but for many beginning lifters or lifters that struggle with the snatch it is much more natural.  Those of us that short pull (hips aren’t fully extending) or swing the bar away from our body don’t seem to struggle as much with these two problems on the one handed version.  I’ve noticed that some people start with their hips lower in the one-handed snatch than they would with the full two-handed snatch.  Perhaps if they kept there hips in that lower start position they’d eliminate those problems on the normal snatch.

A few other notes on this lift:
-if you find yourself tilting your body to one side or the other to accommodate the weight overhead it’s an indication of where you need to work on flexibility.
-unless you are quite experienced and comfortable with this lift, don’t go heavy.
-this is an unbelievable lift for grip development.  And without that grip, not only will lifting the bar be difficult but the stabilization will be as well.
-your weak arm will feel really, really awkward until you become more accustomed to the move.
-unless you are intentionally going for that one-rep-max-feel-good-about-myself lift, don’t let the weight difference between each arm get carried away.

Now let’s lift!

Jason Young, a discus thrower, completes 200lbs.  Awesome weight and technique!  Unfortunately puts his hand on the ground, but otherwise very nice.

Jefferson Lift

Instead of deadlifts this week, we’ll be doing the Jefferson lift.  Below is a quick demonstration from T-Nation.

You can also change your orientation in relation to the bar, rotating ninety degrees to face the weights.

Knowing this lift along with the one-handed deadlift and hack squat will really help increase your overall deadlift.  And being able to pick heavy stuff up off the ground is always a good thing.

The main advantage in doing this lift is that the weight is carried directly below your centre of gravity.  This puts the movement slightly more into your quads – though not to the same degree as a hack squat.  It’s very much akin to using a trap bar, which is easier on the lower back.  Keeping this in mind it is important to remember that it’s very unlikely to someday need to pick an object off the ground while straddling it.  Which is why a standard deadlift will always be essential for building strength that is applicable to everyday life and our other lifts.  I mean you could try doing a clean from the Jefferson lift setup… but I wouldn’t recommend it.


-5-5-3-3-3-3 Jefferson lift
-5 x max. hold L-sit

3 rounds of:
-1 min double unders
-1 min push press (75/55)
-1 min rest

Winter Vegetables

As the weather gets cooler and cooler (I hesitate to use the term ‘colder’ here in Vancouver, where I find the weather to be rather balmy all year round) people often change what they eat to suit the season.  During the winter months there is really nothing quite like settling down to a hot bowl of soup or stew on a cold and wet day – especially after we’ve changed out of our damp socks.  It’s simple fare, but like most foods, when done right simple is all you need.

There are a million and one different recipes and ways to go about constructing your winter recipes, whatever they may be.  And more often than not they will include winter vegetables.  Winter vegetables are the ones most often associated with storage during the months when little to nothing could be grown and harvested – they keep well and are harvested later.  These often include root vegetables, winter squashes, and cruciferous vegetables.

And if I felt like concocting something was too much effort I’d just cut them up, coat with a little melted butter (unsalted!) and olive oil, toss with some herbs, and roast until delicious.

By and large winter vegetables are nutritious and will keep well in your refrigerator or pantry for an extended time.  This makes them excellent for having around the house.  Unfortunately when many of us think of winter vegetables potatoes are often the tuber that comes to mind.  Potatoes are generally considered to be very high in starch (which they are relative to many other foods) and in today’s day and age and current set of diet crazes this is akin to being made out of pure poison.

Starch!  Paleo dieters beware…  Actually green potatoes can indicate higher levels of alkaloids that are toxic – so sometimes yes, poison.

Potatoes do get a bit of a bad reputation.  They are high in starch.  But as is the case with many foods, western society needs to learn that many things can be enjoyed in moderation.  It need not only be all or nothing.  But I don’t want to go on and on about potatoes (I’ll save that for another time).  It’s important to mention them when speaking about winter vegetables because many of the other veggies that fall into this category are often unfairly lumped into the ‘high-starch’ group along with potatoes.  This is not always the case.

If you’re still looking to have that big bowl of winter stew but are wanting to cut out many of the carbohydrate calories that come with including potatoes you should give some of these other vegetables a try: cauliflower, celeriac, beets, turnips, jicama, rutabaga, squashes.  I’m sure there are many others that would make suitable substitutes.

Great alternatives that aren’t as starchy.

So when you’re thinking of winter dinners and holidays don’t always go with what’s known and expected.  Changes you make to your diet don’t have to be boring, unpleasant, or difficult.  It’s easy to enjoy the same dishes you always use to and discover new ones as well.  Explore the wide variety of winter vegetables at your disposal in the grocery store.  And enjoy them knowing that they’re not all nutritionally the same as potatoes.


-3-3-3-3-3-3 kettlebell windmills
-5 x max. hold plank (weight on back)

10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 of:
-hang clean (95/65)