New Cycle, New Movements


New Cycle, New Movements

Hi everyone! Last cycle we were working on our hang clean, push press, hang snatch and FRAN to work on our coordination and anaerobic capacity. This cycle we're building on that foundation and starting to really strengthen the movements we've been practicing. We're adding in equal parts strength, coordination, and stability every single week to improve our clean and jerk, front squat, and muscle up. In addition, we've created a NEW benchmark workout to test, "JUN," named after another original Synapster, Jun Villanueva, which we'll be pre-testing on Friday.  

This week we have some new movements in the programming!

1. Push Jerk: This is a foundational movement for the split jerk. Last cycle we worked on the push press, which involved the coordination of the dip, drive, and press. All we're doing now is adding a step: movement of the feet and changing direction after the drive. If we can coordinate moving the feet without moving the torso, as well as the feet landing at the same time as the arms, we can progress easily to the split jerk in the coming weeks. The push jerk has very little room for error, so if we can get into great habits on the push jerk, our split jerks will be that much better.

2. Deadlifts with a pause above the knee: Two cycles ago, we worked on deadlift strength. The last cycle, we worked on hang cleans from above the knee. Now we're ready to combine the two into a full clean. A clean starts from the floor, just like a deadlift, and passes through the hang position we practiced last cycle. What better way to transition than to practice lifting from the floor to the position we've already drilled? The next progression we'll be doing next week is a CLEAN from the floor, with a pause above the knee.

3. More ring and core work: We'll be doing a lot more work on the rings, just like we did yesterday with the ring pullups. We'll also be working on pulling in hollow body position, which will be reinforced in Thursday's gymnastics section. Rings are difficult because of the added stability factor, and require both sides of the body to put in equal amounts of work. This is really important in fixing imbalances. This means that not only will you be working towards that elusive muscle up, but you'll be creating a healthier shoulder in the process.

4. Single leg work: We're doing single leg work for similar reasons as the ring work. We want to force each side of the body to work equally. You'll be seeing lots of step ups, split squats, single leg jumps, single leg RDLs, and of course lunges, which are in our benchmark workout.

5. Front rack and torso work: While you won't see very much this week, we are doing to be putting a lot of work into strengthening your torso. This means being able to hold weight without collapsing. This week we had 5s in our front squats, but get ready for even more volume, holding, and heavy quarter squats this cycle.

Hope this got you all excited to train and improve this cycle! Every cycle is one small step towards becoming a more well-rounded athlete, and you guys have been crushing it. If you have any questions about the program, our goals for you, etc, feel free to comment below or send us an email.

See you at Synapse!


The Muscle Snatch

The Muscle Snatch

Most of you have probably seen the abundance of muscle snatches in the programming this cycle! If you're wondering why, you're in the right place.

One of the major skill focuses of this cycle is coordination. We're testing two very difficult skills- the hang snatch, and the hang clean, both of which require huge amounts of coordination. What that means is we're looking for the body to complete a series of steps seamlessly, smoothly, and correctly. We want to the body and mind to work as one to complete an intricate task. 

My weightlifting coach always talked about the snatch like the launching of a rocket ship. The legs are the big engines that propel the rocket (or the barbell) of the ground and eventually out of the atmosphere. Then, the smaller parts of the rocket ship (the arms) dictate where that rocketship is going to go. If the arms aren't active in the snatch, who knows where the rocketship is going to land. So, the arms are incredibly important in the coordination of the snatch. 

The muscle snatch emphasizes the roll of the arms, and in our case, since we're teaching it from the hang position, also emphasizes the timing and transition from the propulsion component of the snatch to the catch.

Hopefully, after training the muscle snatch, the middle part of the snatch (what happens between the "jump and land") will be less of a mystery, and you'll have a better understanding of the role of the arms in the snatch. 

Here's a video of some members working on their hang power snatches after drilling the muscle snatch. You should be able to see all 4 positions that Shannon hits in the photos at the top.

Questions? Comment below, we love to help. 


What are the dots on the board?

Many of you probably noticed the addition of tiny red dots on the whiteboard this week. Those dots dictate what skills you're focusing on in class that day.

There are 10 possible skills you could see on the whiteboard: strength, endurance, speed, power, mobility, stability, coordination, agility, balance, and stamina. We believe that the combination of all these skills creates the fittest possible human. We need to train ALL these skills to become well-rounded humans. 

That doesn't mean, however, that we'll be focusing on all the skills every week. Different cycles will have a different emphasis. For example, the work we're doing in this cycle (hang snatch, hang clean, push press) is very coordination-heavy. You'll see the coordination dot more than you'll see the strength dot, which we saw almost every day in the last cycle.

What does this mean for you? This should provide you with an extra level of focus for your workout. If you know what you're trying to accomplish for the day, it becomes easier to set goals for your workout, and manage your expectations. If the goal is coordination, and you're struggling to pick the bar off the floor, it's probably a good idea to lower the weight until you can put in quality work on that coordination. We hope this provides some clarity to the programming on a daily basis.

If you have any questions, feel free to comment below!


New Cycle 5/22

We're ready for a new cycle, yall!  Here's what's in store for you:

We've spent the last month and a half getting you strong and stable. Now it's time to get EXPLOSIVE, and get a wee bit more technical. This cycle we're testing your HANG SNATCH, HANG CLEAN, PUSH PRESS and a surprise WOD on Friday. 

By isolating the clean and snatch from the hang, we can focus our technique on these lifts a little bit more. Both lifts are so technical, so we're only going to focus on what happens above the knee first. We'll eventually take the lifts back down to the floor once that bar path above the knee improves.

Our push press test is going to build on the overhead stability that we started last cycle. We placed a lot of emphasis on single arm strength, oblique strength, and shoulder stability in our handstands, which is going to translate beautifully into our push presses. The same technical aspects we learned in our handstands should be seen in our overhead positions as well.

Our test WOD this cycle is going to require us to move faster. This workout will be quick, light, and aggressive. You'll notice much more anaerobic training in this cycle, like today's deadlift workout. You will get much more used to this 3-4 minute time domain.

All in all, I'm very excited for this cycle. It provides us a GREAT opportunity for lots of LEARNING, explosive energy, and short but painful workouts. Can't wait! 


It's Testing Week!

It's finally here! This week we test your Backsquat (Monday), your Deadlift (Tuesday) and Diane (Thursday). Wednesday will have an option to make up any lifts you missed during the week. Let's keep a few things in mind:

-You need to prepare your body. Spend some extra time rolling out. If you need help figuring out what to mobilize, ask a coach. Before AND after would be best. 

-You need to prepare your mind. This is YOUR time to shine. Time to compete with yourself this week and try your best to be better than you were six weeks ago. Do what YOU need to do this week to be your best self. Decide to be brave, make the most of the moment, and compete. This is a skill in itself- allow yourself to work on it.

(Do you get mental during testing week? My favorite way to approach max out days is this: Think of what you need to work on in whichever skill you're testing. Then focus on a single cue that helps you correct it, and repeat it to yourself before each rep at your lower weights. Every single time you increase, continue to repeat the cue or reminder, even out loud. That heavy weight deserves the same technical cue as the light weight, so just focus on that one thing. It'll take the focus off of the number, and give you something constructive to think about, rather than fears and doubts.)

-Listen to your coaches. We want what's best for you, so if we tell you to stop, it's for a good reason. If we tell you to go up in weight, it's because we 100% believe in your ability to achieve that rep.

-Movement quality still trumps all. If your movement quality is not up to our standards, you still may not be maxing out or going super heavy. That's okay. Remember that progress comes in all forms, ESPECIALLY movement quality, so perfecting this now means a lot more PRs in the long run. This goes for non-beginners as well. If we're used to a certain standard in your squat, and then your squat changes at 95%, that's as far as you're going. The "max" is how heavy can you maintain great mechanics, not what weight can you get lucky to not get injured on.

Time to show off all your hard work. Let's do this!


There's More Than 1 Way to PR


There's More Than 1 Way to PR

Everyone loves to PR. There's nothing better than watching the numbers of your maxes go up and feeling stronger than you did a few weeks or months ago; however, sometimes this kind of PR isn't in the cards, and that's ok. There's more than 1 type of PR.

For example, let's take the workout, "Diane," which we're testing this cycle. When we first did this workout, I saw a lot of technical errors on handstand push-ups- mostly an inability to stabilize at the top of the handstand. This means there were lots of students just barely pushing up, then falling right back down to a headstand. Not surprisingly, this is actually a really fast way to do Diane, but only because you're not doing the full movement. As we've talked about and drilled this cycle, a handstand ends in a locked out and stabilized position with the hips off the wall. This is why we've drilled so much handstand and stabilization work throughout this cycle. When those of you who could not properly stabilize a handstand perform Diane again, you will undoubtedly be slower, because you will be doing the full movement. This is a technical PR. You've improved your movement quality. This, in the long run, is WAY more important than going faster. It means injury prevention and greater efficiency in the long run. 

Perhaps when you did your max deadlift your hips rose faster than your chest. If you've been focusing on building your hamstrings and posterior chain this cycle to keep your hips down on your deadlift, my goal for you isn't necessarily to add 30lbs to your max. It takes time to build new muscles that weren't integrated in the movement before. My goal for you is to hit the same weight in the right way. 

Improvement doesn't always come in numbers. Movement quality is the ultimate goal at this point in your CrossFit careers. That doesn't mean you shouldn't compete with yourself and push yourself to lift to your capacity. But it does mean that you should value the quality of movement just as much or more than the number. 



Boulder Shoulders

Anyone's shoulders sore the last few weeks? Here's why. Here are some movements we've added this cycle to emphasize push strength and shoulder stability:

  • Behind the neck work: Pushing from behind the neck, whether it's a push press, strict press, or even a press in a hyper hold (who loved those?) will emphasize shoulder mobility, and enforce the muscles in your back that SHOULD be working when you're doing any kind of pushing movement. Pushing from behind the neck also reinforces correct bar path.
  • Ring Stability: While we're also doing a ton of ring pushups and ring dips, one of the most important additions to this cycle is simply HOLDING yourself on the rings, whether it's in a plank, or in a support hold. We're also working on turning our hands forward in the hold (turnout). The rings add an element of stability that fires up all the little muscles in your shoulders that stabilize the shoulder girdle, from your lats to your lower traps. 
  • Single arm kettlebell work: From overhead carries, single arm pushpress, windmills and turkish get-ups, single arm kettlebell work can isolate imbalances. Have you noticed you have one side that's not as strong? Don't worry, most of us have one. Taking away the barbell and making each arm work on its own removes our ability to compensate with our strong side. 

Remember, if you have any questions about why we're doing a skill, ask us! Your coaches love to talk about the finer points of movements- and adding understanding to your training truly adds another layer of enjoyment and purpose. 


HSPUs Gone Wrong

The biggest error in HSPUs is a CLOSED SHOULDER ANGLE at the top of the handstand. This means that either the butt, the thoracic, the head, or a combination of the three is leaning into the wall and the hips and shoulders are NOT stacked over the hands. 

If you're practicing handstand pushups where you continually LAND in a closed shoulder position, most likely you're also unable to find stability at the top (do you find yourself only pushing up for a split second before crashing back down to the floor?) and you're dealing with or have dealt with some shoulder pain. 

Instead, you need to retrain your handstand position. In your handstand, your arms should hide your ears or be behind them. This creates an OPEN SHOULDER ANGLE. Your hips need to be over your shoulders by tucking your tail. This activates those tiny little stomach muscles that connect your torso to your legs, making your body act as ONE UNIT, rather than segmented parts. 

Retraining a correct handstand position will not only keep your shoulders, wrists, and lower back safe, but it's also WAY more efficient in the long run. 

In the left photo, all the pressure is on the shoulders, wrists, and the low back, because the hips and shoulders are closed. In the right hand photo, after SHRUGGING, TUCKING THE TAIL, and hiding the ears, the handstand is stacked correctly.

In the left photo, all the pressure is on the shoulders, wrists, and the low back, because the hips and shoulders are closed. In the right hand photo, after SHRUGGING, TUCKING THE TAIL, and hiding the ears, the handstand is stacked correctly.



Programming Week of 4/3


Programming Week of 4/3

Lifts you'll find in this week's programming and WHY!

Backsquats with a 4 second descent: Strengthening the eccentric portion of the squat (that's when you're descending) has been proven to produce more muscle growth, strengthen connective tissue, and even increase flexibility. 

RDLs: Training romanian deadlifts strengthens the entire posterior chain and is a nice balance to tough squats, especially for our quad-dominant friends.

Seated BN Strict Press: This makes sure we're strengthening the correct muscles in the back to press the bar overhead AND that the bar is moving in the correct path and ending in the correct spot.

Squat Clean + 2 Front Squats: Front squats help strengthen the torso and thoracic. 

Deficit Deadlifts: Adding the deficit forces the individual to use the legs to drive up from the start and requires the individual to recruit the hamstrings and glutes to keep the hips still throughout the lift. It also has a mobility requirement, which we love.

All of these movements should contribute to our goals for this cycle (deadlift, squat, Diane). Let us know if you have any questions!



Choose your own adventure!

Some of you may have heard that we did an unusual workout this past Sunday. Students were given books- the first page gave them a choice of 2 workouts to complete, and whichever they chose took them to more choices, and these continuous choices determined the path of their workout. Not only was this fun, but it was an exercise to create more engagement in the workout.

Something we love to talk about at Synapse is FLOW. Flow is a mental state in which peak performance is possible. In order to do your absolute best, you must be in a state of flow. Flow is described by many athletes as being "in the zone," and have reported feelings of loss of self-consciousness, losing track of time, and complete immersion in the task at hand. Being able to enter flow is even a contributing factor to overall satisfaction and happiness in life. There are many ways to encourage a flow state, and one of those is providing CHOICE.

In a 2000 study led by Aaron Black of the University of Rochester, students who sensed more teacher support for autonomy felt more competent and less anxious, reported more interest and enjoyment in their work, and produced higher-quality work in their class than students who didn’t believe they had as much autonomy.

So, by giving choices in workouts, and therefore autonomy, hopefully students felt a sense of ownership over the workout, were able to become more engaged, and maybe even enter a state of flow. 

Comment below if you enjoyed the workout and felt any different energy by being able to choose your path.

Photo by Max G Davison (@maxgdavison)


Butt Stuff is the Best Stuff!

Anyone sore after heavy deadlifts yesterday? Anyone need some TLC before going heavy on squats tomorrow? During this cycle recovery is going to be extra important, and when recovering from squats, remember this motto: BUTT STUFF IS THE BEST STUFF!

Rolling out your butt/hips can have a huge impact on tightness felt in the low back. Do this before or after your workout:

  1. Lie on your back. Without lifting your hips up, stick a ball in the side of your hip, as shown. The ball should be where your underwear line is, right above the hip bone. 

2. Start to roll over the ball so that it digs into your hip. You'll start to feel some uncomfortable pressure. Stay where it hurts! Make sure you relax your butt so your body drapes over the ball. If you're too tense, your muscles obviously won't relax. 

3. Once the pain starts to disappear (which will happen pretty quickly), keep rotating on the ball until you find a new spot. You can rotate all the way into fetal position, or move the ball on the butt closer to your spine.

After you spend some time on the ball, your hips should start to relax and relieve some of that back tension. And once that happens, we think you'll agree: BUTT STUFF IS THE BEST STUFF!


Deadlift Expectations

The most important part of testing is understanding the expectations. Our first lift this week is the DEADLIFT! Here's what we're looking for:

  • We teach the deadlift in the same way we teach the clean. You should be able to use the legs to stretch up into your starting position, torso tall. Push with your legs until your arms are as long as possible, with the weight in the middle of the foot, and the shoulders over the bar. The belly should be nice and tight.
  • Grip should be neutral. You are welcome to use straps, and we prefer this to a switch grip. 
  • As you push with the legs to lift the bar, the hips and shoulders should rise together, and the weight should remain balanced in the middle of the foot.
  • The lift finishes straight up with the legs straight, torso tall, belly tight, NOT with the hips driving forward, knees bent.

We're also trying to find a heavy single. This can be interpreted differently than a 1RM. Once the coach notices form breaks or idiosyncrasies in the lift, you're done. The idea is that in 6 weeks, these problem areas will be stronger, and you'll be able to increase your load healthily.

While we LOVE PRs, keep in mind that test week is a starting place, and identifying weaknesses is the first and most necessary step to getting stronger. This should help you set some goals for the next 6 weeks and keep you focused through this cycle!

Congrats to everyone who's already come in and tested!


Backsquats, Deadlifts, and DIANE starting 3/27


Backsquats, Deadlifts, and DIANE starting 3/27

This week we begin our NEW 6 week program designed to improve backsquat and deadlift strength, as well as strength and speed in the classic CrossFit workout, "Diane." Here's what you need to know:

Tests this week are scheduled for Monday (Deadlift), Wednesday (Backsquat), and Friday (Diane). Be ready to test these, or find a time when you're here to test them on your own. It's important that you write down or record your tests so that when we RE-test in 6 weeks you'll have something to compare. 

Over the next 6 weeks we'll be posting here to give you more insight to the programming- why you're doing certain movements, mobility tips, technical explanations, etc, so get ready to follow along and bring some awareness to your training.

If you have any questions, let us know! We'll be happy to answer them, and they might help someone else. 

We're so excited to watch you all improve and get stronger! 

See you at Synapse!