Thursday 1505014


Then, 2 x 20 unbroken dimmel deadlift @ 40% of 5RM
Rest 3 minutes between sets

Post loads to comments and BTWB

Trainer power hour. Maddie, Jay, and Eric getting some heavy shoulder presses in.

Trainer power hour. Maddie, Jay, and Eric getting some heavy shoulder presses in.


What do we want? Our toes to touch the bar! When do we want it? Now would be great.

By Courtney “I prefer to think of it as the bar gets to touch my toes” Shepherd, and the fine people of Eat To Perform

Toes to bar is not a technically demanding movement but yet it continues to be one that can cause many of us frustration. Whether it’s that we can’t get our toes to the bar, we can not figure out the kip to do it fast and efficiently, or maybe we simply can’t hold on to the pull-up bar long enough to get in a bunch of reps. Either way successfully completing them can be far harder than they look.

While not technically demanding, the T2B does have some demands that athletes need to be able to complete them in any capacity. We need grip strength, lat strength, and core strength. Any deficiency in one or more of these areas will impact our performance. The bonus is, if we take the appropriate steps to work on T2B, that can in and of itself be the way we build strength in the above mentioned areas. Working the right positions builds strength and capacity in the right positions, which builds a movement.

In an article by Eat To Perform titled, “Toes To Bar- 6 Tips For Beginners“, they address several steps to help build T2B (click here for full article). While the title may say for beginners, really these tips are for anyone that struggles with T2B.

1. Start at the floor. Work on perfecting the hollow and “Superman” positions. Staying tight in these positions will allow you to transfer more power into the bar so you can move more efficiently.

2. Take those two positions and put them together on the pull-up bar. Practice transitioning between the hollow and Superman positions and get into a rhythm to perfect your kip. If you start to flop around, take a break and get back to it.

-This is simply addressing the kipping swing. A shoulder initiated swing with minimal, to no, work from the legs.

3. Work on your grip strength. If your grip is giving out, you’re not going to last long. You need to work on specific grip strength on the pull-up bar. Simply hanging from the bar for time – 30 seconds is a great place to start – can address a deficiency.

4. Knees up. Work on knees to elbows. This is a remedial/scaled version of the exercise that’s great for people with mobility issues as well as folks who just want a way to make the exercise easier and work on developing core strength.

5. Activate your lats. When you come behind the bar at the top, focus on engaging the lats. Push down on the bar and descend quickly.

6. Work on small sets. To develop your technique without ingraining bad habits, keep the reps low and focus on perfect form. If you push until your form begins to break down/loosen up, or even until you fail a rep, you’re just making it harder on yourself in the long run. Quality vs. quantity!

*In addition to these tips, you might also want to work on your hip mobility during your warm-ups. Stretch those hamstrings too!

This may not look like new information, in fact it may look similar to the progressions we use in class to warm up the T2B. Again, the reminder is, breaking the T2B into these pieces and focusing our energies on these pieces can help build the movement as a whole. My favorite tip is #6, work on small sets. Some of us can find the rhythm of T2B for a few reps but eventually fall off. Rather than focusing on trying to get as many done as possible, what if we change our goal for a workout to only work in sets that allow us to maintain form and technique. And the next workout that comes along we increase that set by 1 rep only. Before we know it our working sets our in the double digits. Anything worth having needs to be worth working on and building capacity in. We can’t expect to go from zero to 60 over night.

Another article worth reading is one written by CrossFit Roots several months ago. They breakdown the T2B in pictures. . . and you know what they say, a picture is worth a 1,000 words. Click here to get to the article.

Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect. – Kelly Starrett

*We will have the South Regionals playing on the TV at Verve all day Friday. Saturday Mas and Joylyn Godinez have lovingly opened up their home to a viewing party for anyone interested in watching and cheering in a fun group. Here is the post from Facebook:

Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 7.01.18 PM

If you are not on Facebook, simply comment to this post with your RSVP. Sunday we will have Regionals playing from 12pm-3pm following yoga. Come, sit, enjoy some adults beverages, and cheer loudly. Wear your Verve shirts!!

Wednesday 150513

As many rounds as possible in 12 minutes of:
7 Hang power snatch, 95#(65#)
14 Box jumps, 24″(20″)
21 Double unders

Post rounds to comments and BTWB

The couple that rows together, stays together. Vanessa and Kenny spending an hour on the rower in support of the #RowForRoby Fundraiser.

The couple that rows together, stays together. Vanessa and Kenny spending an hour on the rower in support of the #RowForRoby Fundraiser.


Was it RX or was it not RX, that is the question. By Courtney “you may not like the answer” Shepherd

Several weeks ago a workout was posted involving rowing for calories and chest to bar pull-ups. When the workout finished, as athletes were cooling down and shouting out their scores, the trainer writing those scores on the whiteboard asked 1 particular athlete, “was that RX?”. The athlete responded back, “maybe”. I heard this exchange take place and was immediately prompted to ask the athlete, “what do you mean by “maybe”?”. Seriously, what does that mean? It either was or it wasn’t RX, there really isn’t room for a maybe. Here is the remainder of the conversation between myself and the athlete:

Athlete: Well it depends on what you guys count as RX.
Me: Did you do the calorie row and chest to bar pull-ups?
Athlete: Yes, but I don’t know if you count the ones where you told me to get my chest to the bar.
Me: Did you touch your chest to the bar 10 times every round as the workout called for?
Athlete: Well some of them didn’t quite touch.
Me: Okay. Well when your chest didn’t quite touch, did you call that a no rep and work to re-do the rep until your chest touched. . . or did you still count it as one of your “chest to bar” pull-ups and continue on?
Athlete: I just kept going.
Me: Then no. You did not do the workout RX.

This is a concept that can be hard for some of us, especially those of us that perhaps do not compete outside of the walls of Verve and may not truly understand the idea of a non counting repetition, a.k.a. the “no rep”. When we are in the middle of a workout, when we are pouring our heart and soul into moving as fast as we can, just trying to finish in a certain time, and we throw a medicine ball up in the air towards the wall but it doesn’t quite hit the 10 foot mark, it hits just below the 10 foot mark, we continue moving as though it did. We put the work in and we want to give ourselves credit for that work. When asked, we then call that RX work. The problem is, that’s not RX work. It’s really just RX effort. And to be even more blunt, there is no such thing as RX effort.

Let’s talk about a “good rep” vs. a “no rep”. Every movement we perform has a range of motion standard. Wallballs hit 10 feet or higher, toes physically touch the bar, push jerks end after we have stood up all the way and then bring the bar back to the shoulders. These range of motion standards are not random or made up on the fly. These range of motions come from putting our joints through their full ranges of motion as well as achieving the ultimate goal of the movement. The standards are addressed during warm-ups when we review the movements. These standards are constantly re-enforced throughout the workout in the form of coaching, cueing, and correcting from the trainers. If we complete the movement, through it’s full range of motion standard, then that my friends is a good rep. If we do not do the movement to the movement standard, then that is a no rep.

I don’t squat below parallel, it’s a no rep. My chin does not get over the bar in a pull-up, it’s a no rep. My chest does not touch the ground in a push-up, that’s a no rep. The workout calls for a squat snatch and I do a power snatch. . . that is a no rep. I’m certain you get the point.

Well, what do I do with a no rep? You don’t count it towards your collection of reps. If the workout calls for 10 toes to bar per round, during one of the rounds you get tired and on rep #5 your toes don’t touch the bar, you are still at 4 reps. Even if your toes are close, you did like 98% of the toes to bar, it still is not a good rep. We want a 100% toes to bar. You rest, you get back up on the bar, you start swinging, and you complete rep #5 the next time your toes touch.

Here’s the crux of the situation. . . you can count that “close enough but not quite there” toes to bar as a rep towards your total rep count but you can’t call that RX. In fact, perhaps that was a scale for the workout, to get your toes as high as you can without worrying about touching the bar. Cool. Keep on keeping on. We can change a lot of things when we scale workouts, weight, distance, reps, rounds, and even sometimes but not nearly as often, range of motion. And when we scale or modify, we already know we have taken that good old “RX” off the table. Well, how do I get it back on the table? If we complete every repetition called for of each movement, through the movement’s full range of motion standard, at the prescribed weight, height, distance, etc., then that my friends is how we RX a workout.

I will give a personal example. A recent WOD called for handstand push-ups in increasing degree of difficulty and 30 pull-ups per round. I am new to doing butterfly pull-ups in a workout and I chose this opportunity to work on them. Now I am very certain, if someone is not watching me, verifying my range of motion on my butterfly pull-ups, that many of them do not meet the range of motion standard. I did 30 butterfly pull-ups per round but because I’m not really good at telling which ones counted and which ones did not, I did not worry about it. I did not worry about no repping myself, I just focused on moving and working technique. I did all the HSPUs RXed and when the coach asked me if it was an RX workout, I said no. It was a great workout for me. I got to work on a skill and do some pretty hard HSPUs but that was not RX work. And I am okay with that. It is easy to get caught up in doing a WOD RX. We want those RXs as much as we want muscle-ups. But it’s okay to take a step back and just focus on whether or not we got a really good workout in and call it that.

Here’s the deal, it is not my job to watch all of your reps and count all of your reps. I can’t do that for every person in class. Which is why we ask you, at the end of the workout, “was that RX?”. Now it’s easy for someone to count their RX effort as RX work and get that RX by their name without fully earning it. You won’t get struck down by lightning where you stand. Here is the down side to giving yourself credit where credit is not due. . . you don’t actually know what it takes to get that work done. If you have to do 10 chest to bar pull-ups and your chest only really touches 7 out of 10 times and you still count them. . . you and your body have not built up a capacity to do 10 chest to bar pull-ups. Strength and endurance wise, you still do not know physically what it takes to do 10 chest to bar pull-ups. That’s it. In a nutshell, you only cheat yourself and cheat your progress. 

The moral of the story is this, it either is RX or it is not RX. If you get asked and your first response is to say maybe. . . the actual answer is no. But I would put money down you still got one butt kicker of a workout in. 

Tuesday 150512

For time:
30 Medicine ball cleans, 20#(14#)
30 Ring dips
30 Medicine ball cleans, 20#(14#)
30 Chest to bar pull-ups
30 Medicine ball cleans, 20#(14#)
30 Push-ups
30 Medicine ball cleans, 20#(14#)

Post time to BTWB.

Mother and son taking care of business!

Mother and son taking care of business!

Ladies and Gentlemen, the #teamverve shirts are in!!! If you pre-ordered, they are in a box in front of the office. Here is how you can get yours:
1) Find the one with your name on it. (orders under the same name were combined)
2) Sign the sheet next to your order denoting you took it. 
*Please do not pick up an order on behalf of someone else. If you pick up your order and feel it is wrong, please do not pick through any other orders, simply email me with any concerns,, and we will fix it.
Thank you!

Does everyone know what the hyper-linked acronym above, BTWB, is?  The acronym stands for Beyond the Whiteboard.  Yes I know that’s only 3 words, not four, but it just looks cleaner.  Every now and again we like to do a post to talk about Beyond the Whiteboard.  BTWB is an online tracking tool that you can use to log your workouts and lifts. It’s cloud based so if you ever lose your phone or your computer crashes, all your data is saved.

Logging your workouts is super easy and many of the workouts such as Hero WOD’s and  the “girls” are already programmed in the system.  We try to put the Verve WOD’s in, but sometimes time doesn’t agree. Most of Verve members already know how to log your workouts, but for those of you that don’t, here is a quick tutorial.  If you don’t have a Beyond the Whiteboard account and would like one, please email  The account is free to all Verve members.

Step 1

How many movements does it have?


Step 2

Which workout type is it?


You can always click on the question mark icons for help with selecting the proper template.


Step 3

Adjust the framework of the workout. You’ve selected a template, but it can always be modified to fit your needs.


Step 4

Add movements to the workout. Type in the name of the movement and select it from the drop-down menu that appears.


Step 5

Apply attributes to the movement. You can apply as many attributes as necessary.


As you build your workout, the description below will be updated to reflect your current workout parameters.


Once you’ve added all the movements you want, simply hit Next and your workout has been created.  Easy stuff.

Monday 150511

In 20 minutes establish a heavy complex of:
1 Push press + 1 push jerk + 1 split jerk

Then, as many reps as possible in 3 minutes of shoulder press @ 40% of heaviest complex weight

Luke - Snatch-grip deadlifts. Building that posterior chain.

Luke – Snatch-grip deadlifts. Building that posterior chain.

Post weights to BTWB

Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat.  Greg Glassman, “What is Fitness?,” CrossFit Journal (Oct. 2002) pg. 1.  The previous statement is one that we all know very well, as the recommended diet of CrossFit.  We may not all follow it exactly but most of us have an idea of what we should be putting into our bodies.

Every 5 years, the U.S. government convenes a Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee to review and summarize everything we know about nutritional research.  The committee publishes it’s findings and recommendation in hopes of guiding nutritional programs in schools, the military, or anyone looking for some advice on what to eat.  

The Huffington Post published an interesting article; How ‘Healthy Diets’ Have Changed Over The Decade.  The author looked at what was recommended in 2005 and how things are in 2015.  

2005’s recommendation was all about counting calories.  It didn’t matter how you were consuming the calories as long as you were staying within a certain range.  The 2015 report doesn’t say that caloric intake isn’t important, but now the committee recommends getting calories from a better type of food.

In 2005 people were told to limit their fat intake to 20 – 25 percent of their total calories consumed in a day.  The 2015 report is now pro fat.  There is no limit on the recommended fat intake levels only the type of fats that should be consumed.

The link between sugar and sugar sweetened products and weight gain was only starting to become relevant.  The report states that more research is needed to be sure, but most likely sugar and sugar sweetened products are leading to weight gain.  Now in 2015 people are advised to stay away from sugar.  The committee even notes that there is strong evidence in a connection between sugar and type 2 diabetes.  Evidence also points to a connection between coronary heart disease and cavities if more than 10 percent of a persons calories are consumed via sugar.  

To us, a lot of this is falls in the Duh category, but for many it’s considered eye opening.  The title above is linked to the article.  Definitely worth a full read.  There are links to past reports as well.

Sunday 150510

21-15-9 reps for time:
Deadlift, 225#(155#)
Handstand push-ups
Box Jumps, 24″(20″)

Post time to comments or BTW

Mustard Crusted Beef with Wine!

Mustard Crusted Beef with Wine!



If you don’t currently follow member Linda Kiker Personal Chef on Facebook, GET WITH IT!  Linda posts some pretty amazing recipes.  Here is one for MUSTARD CRUSTED BEEF WITH WINE!  (only 1/2c of wine goes into the recipe, and you don’t want to waste, so you can drink the rest!)  What is great about Linda is she measures the same way we do, pinch, dash, etc.  Linda is a real, down-to-earth chef, and a generally great lady:)


2 LB Beef Roast
Coarse ground mustard (enough to slather on roast)
2 Bay Leaves
1/2c Wine (red preferably, or that’s just me)1 Clove garlic sliced
1 Sprig of rosemary
1 “pinch” of dried thyme
1 “small” pinch of salt
“lots” of black pepper – to your liking

Mustard Crusted Beef With Wine:
Rub a 2 lb. beef roast all over with coarse ground mustard and place into your crock pot.
Pour 1/2 C. wine and 1 C. beef stock around the beef- don’t pour it on top or you’ll rinse away your mustard.
Add 2 bay leaf, 1 clove garlic sliced, a small sprig of rosemary, large pinch of dried thyme, a small pinch of salt and lots of black pepper.
Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

** You can cook these while you sleep or while at work.
** Save those juices and store the sliced or shredded meat in it for maximum flavor.
** Remember to remove your bay leaf and any the rosemary before serving.


-Yoga is at 11am NOT 8am, so you can sleep in AND get your yoga on with Kacey.

– HAPPY MOTHERS DAY to all of the mothers out there!  You’re an inspiration and setting an incredible example of health and fitness to your children.


Saturday 150509

In teams of 2 complete the following:
Row 50 calories
100 Med ball cleans, 20#(14#)
100 Pull-ups
100 Burpees
100 Kettlebell swings, 53#(35#)
100 Med ball thrusters to partner, 20#(14#)
Row 75 calories

Post times to comments and BTWB

Adam got himself some ups!!

Adam got himself some ups!!


What’s the word around Verve? 

The South Regionals are coming up!! #teamverve will be heading to  Dallas, TX to compete May 15th-17th. 

*If you are interested in traveling to Regionals to help cheer the team on, click here for ticket info and click here for info on lodging.

*If you want to get in on some cheering action from home, stay tuned for details about viewing parties taking place that weekend.

Verve is hosting several CrossFit Specialty Seminars this summer:

*Level 2 Certificate Course June 13th-14th

*CrossFit Football Trainer Course July 11th-12th

*CrossFit Weightlifting Trainer Course August 29th-30th

Click here to go to CrossFit Specialty Courses for more info and to get registered.

Memorial Day is coming up. . . get ready for some “Murph” action!!

Friday 150508

With a 7 minute running clock:
Run 800 meters
With remaining time, as many push jerk, 135#(95#), as possible
Rest 2 minutes
With a 6 minute running clock:
Run 600 meters
Wtih remaining time, as many power clean, 135#(95#), as possible
Rest 1 minute
With a 5 minute running clock:
Run 400 Meters
With remaining time, as many muscle ups as possible

Post reps to comments or BTW


Joannie is excited for her Slanket she won!  Thank you Jeff and everyone for making the Verve Night Out with #teamverve a HUGE success!

Joannie is excited for her Slanket she won! Thank you Jeff and everyone for making the Verve Night Out with #teamverve a HUGE success!


Recently, in a workout with a complex of Cleans, I noticed many athletes having issues getting their elbows through in the catch causing them to miss the lift forward.  There are many things that come into play including technique and mobility.  In this post, I would like to address the technique portion through an article by Greg Everett @ Catalyst Athletics.  Greg does a great job explaining the different technique issues that come up and some drills to help fix them.  Just like anything, do  the drillsconsistently.  Next week I will address the mobility issues that can lead to “slow elbows”. (I have italicized and underlined some key takeaways for your enjoyment!)


A lot more attention tends to be paid to the third pull or turnover of the snatch than the clean, likely because the consequences of poor execution tend to be more dramatic and obvious, but the turnover of the clean deserves its own share of attention. The timing and precision of the turnover in the clean can be the difference between a make and a miss, or can prevent the recovery from being so taxing that a subsequent jerk fails.

An idea I commonly talk about with my lifters is attempting to make the clean resemble the front squat as much as possible. Even the most technically proficient and athletic lifters can front squat more than they can clean. The primary reasons are simple: it’s easier to establish and maintain balance and stability, barbell positioning is ideal, and there is a longer eccentric segment.

So to make cleans more successful, we’re trying to optimize balance and stability, position the barbell as well as possible in the rack, and ensure enough of an eccentric movement to create tension and a stretch reflex to aid in the recovery.

Balance and stability are affected by every part of the lift from the moment the bar leaves the platform, and arguably even before that. If the lifter’s balance is off during any phase of the lift, it’s very likely to remain off for the rest of the lift. If the lifter is balanced and stable early the lift, it’s very likely that he or she will remain that way. With regard to the turnover specifically, the maintenance of balance requires that the lifter and barbell remain in immediate proximity to each other and extraneous movement is minimized or eliminated; this is one part of the precision element of the turnover. Consistency among lifts is also critical because it makes the movement predictable and reliable, which minimizes the need for adjustments during the very limited time during a lift.

The position of the barbell in the rack is another element of balance and stability. When taking a bar from a rack for front squats, a lifter can take his or her time establishing a perfectly secure and balanced position of the bar on the shoulders, allowing optimal posture and movement in the squat and minimal effort to maintain the bar’s position. There is little or no fight to keep the bar in place during the squat and effort can be focused on actually standing up. There is also no drop of the barbell onto the lifter at any point in the squat, barring the occasional abrupt start that some lifters do that creates a small amount of separation; but even the worst offenders can’t match the drop of the bar in a poorly executed clean.

Finally, the longer eccentric portion of a front squat in comparison to the clean allows for an easier recovery from the bottom due to the development of more tension and a potentially better stretch reflex. (Interestingly, one reason some lifters appear to do better with cleans than front squats is that their cleans are quick into the bottom, generating a stretch reflex, while they control the downward speed of the front squats to a greater degree, limiting the stretch reflex.)

In order to take advantage of these elements of the front squat during the clean, the turnover needs to keep the bar and body in immediate proximity to each other, bring the bar and shoulders together smoothly and precisely, and occur in as high of a squat position as possible.

Proximity of the bar and body during the turnover is maintained by moving the arms properly. This not only keeps the bar moving in the desired path, but also keeps the body close to the bar. The elbows should have been turned out from the start of the lift and kept in that orientation so that when the pull under the bar is performed, the bending elbows move out and up rather than back. The elbows moving back prematurely encourages the bar to move forward away from the body.

This movement of the arms in the initial stage of the pull under is also critical for the precision and timing of the delivery of the bar into the rack position. The actual turnover of the elbows is not a strong movement, much like in the snatch; if the body has not been accelerated downward adequately, the turning over of the elbows will not be sufficient to bring the bar and body together properly or allow the elbows to complete their spin around the bar quickly enough (or at all). This is a violent, aggressive pull against the bar to set up the turnover of the elbows, which is really just a follow-through.

This movement can be thought of as positioning the barbell near the shoulders (and the shoulders near the barbell) to establish it as an axis around which the elbows can pivot quickly. This spin of the elbows around the bar is difficult, slow and occasionally impossible if the bar and body are still in the middle of the process of moving into this position.

As a part of the movement of the elbows around the bar as the bar and shoulders come together, the shoulder blades should be retracted as the elbows come back and around, in effect rowing the bar in toward the body. This will further ensure that the bar is delivered securely into the rack position rather than winding up too far forward, or similarly problematic, forcing the lifter to lean the chest forward to reach for the bar.

Generally lifters should end up in the rack position without a full grip around the bar; that is, the bar will be resting securely on the shoulders and the hands will be at least partially open with the fingers under the bar. Lifters with adequate flexibility and convenient proportions will be able to rack the bar well with a closed grip; this is fine as long as it creates no problems such as slow completion of the turnover. In any case, the grip should be maintained until the elbows are beginning to come up from under the bar. By this point, the bar should be starting to contact the shoulders, which means it won’t be able to spin freely, and the remaining turnover of the elbows will need to come with some movement of the hands on the bar (this can occur with the hand open or closed—the grip simply needs to be loosened enough to keep the elbows moving).

As a final part of the turnover, the shoulders should be pushed up into the bar to ensure the connection is made smoothly and that the bar is not allowed to simply drop onto the shoulders. Any crashing of the bar onto the body creates excessive downward force for the lifter to resist, as well as increases the likelihood of instability due to unexpected and uncontrollably sudden shifts in position. This reach of the shoulders up into the bar will also encourage the athlete to tighten up sooner and be ready to resist the weight.

Lastly, the turnover should always be completed as soon as possible; that is, the lifter should attempt to secure the bar in the rack position in as high of a squat position as possible. This is the final element of making the clean resemble the front squat: the higher the bar is racked, the sooner the lifter can establish tension in the squat, and the more of an eccentric movement can occur before the recovery. The heavier the clean, the less the lifter will be able to elevate the bar, and the lower he or she will be forced to receive it. But the principle of the effort doesn’t change. Often lifters want to jump into the bottom of the squat to receive a clean despite the fact that the bar is much higher and subsequently crashes down onto the shoulders and crushes them, making the recovery far more difficult or even impossible. Commonly this problem is addressed by reducing the elevation of the bar rather than increasing the elevation of the body to meet it; that is, a lifter will start cutting his or her pull short or reducing the pull effort so the bar stops crashing. This is successful (at least in the basic sense that the lifter makes the clean) with lighter weights, but typically the lifter then fails to adjust as weights increase and simply can’t elevate the bar adequately to get under it either at all or soon enough for a successful recovery from the bottom.

There are some extremely strong squatters who put up big numbers in the clean with turnovers that don’t conform to the above recommendations. This can be seen as a reason to not bother with technical improvements, or it can be seen as being an unnecessary limiter of the athlete’s potential. If that lifter is able to clean so much with a bar crashing down onto their shoulders in the bottom of a squat, how much more would he or she be capable of with a smooth delivery and a bit more of an eccentric component to the squat?

The specifics of how a lifter can improve the clean turnover will depend on what exactly that lifter is or isn’t presently doing in the clean, but following are some exercises for technical improvements.

Rack Delivery
This is a simple drill I usually use as part of my clean teaching progression, but also use it sometimes to correct problems down the line. The lifter starts standing tall holding a barbell in the scarecrow position—bar against the chest and elbows elevated and out to the sides (the bar should hang down below the elbows rather than letting the elbows drop to lift the bar higher). From this position, the lifter will turn the bar over into the clean rack position, focusing on bringing the bar back into the body and delivering it smoothly. This can be done fairly slowly initially if necessary, but eventually should be as quick as possible without sacrificing accuracy. Generally sticking to 3-5 reps at a time is a good idea to give the shoulders a break and prevent fatigue from allowing the quality of movement to degrade. An empty bar or light technique bar will usually be as much weight as anyone can manage (note that some weight is necessary for this to work—no PVC pipes or wooden dowels).

Muscle Clean
The muscle clean is a simple way to teach and practice the upper body movement of the clean turnover. Watch that you or your athletes don’t overload it; excessive weight will just encourage a return to existing bad habits. Focus should be on keeping the elbows turned out to the sides and elevating them maximally and to the sides before turning the arms over; retracting the shoulder blades and bringing the bar back in to the shoulders as the elbows move around the bar; keeping the chest up rather than reaching for the bar by leaning forward; properly timing the release of the grip to maintain connection to the bar and secure placement on the shoulders; smooth connection of the bar to the shoulders with no crashing. Work with 3-5 reps per set at a weight that allows perfect movement for all reps. This can also be done from the hang or blocks.

Tall Clean
The tall clean can be helpful to allow focus on only the pull under the bar, encourage better turnover speed, and bolster confidence. I prefer to start the tall clean on flat feet rather than on the toes because the position and balance are more similar to what they should be in the clean. The goal should be to rack the barbell as high and as smoothly as possible, and to establish tightness in the squat position immediately for a strong receipt and recovery. This can also be done with power cleans or as a tall power clean + tall clean complex.

Power Clean
There is definitely some disagreement about the use of the power clean by weightlifters, as well as disagreement about how exactly it should be performed. In short, my opinion is that the power clean should be no different than the clean other than the height at which the lifter stops squatting down after receiving the bar. The power clean can help encourage a more forceful upward extension and more aggressive turnover, as well as encouraging the lifter to meet the bar both in a high position as well as learning to immediately tighten the body to resist and support the bar.

Block / Hang Clean
Cleans from blocks or from the hang are similar to power cleans in the sense that they encourage a faster and more aggressive turnover. They will also help develop better explosiveness at the top of the pull for better bar acceleration and height in the clean.

Muscle Clean + Clean
The muscle clean can be combined with the clean (or power clean or tall clean) to help incorporate the improved turnover movement with the lift. The muscle clean first allows the athlete to focus on the upper body movement and precise placement of the bar in the rack position; the subsequent clean puts this into practice. Numbers can be pushed in either direction for emphasis; for example, if the muscle clean is relatively new or inconsistent, something like 3 muscle cleans + 1 clean may work well; in other cases, a single muscle clean before one or more cleans might be all that’s necessary.

Power Clean + Clean
One of my favorite complexes for encouraging lifters to meet the bar better in their cleans is the power clean + clean. The power clean first gets the lifter pulling completely and meeting the bar tightly in a high position. The key is that the athlete should be attempting to rack the bar at the same height in the subsequent clean, then riding it down into the squat rather than locking off the receiving position at that height. Same thing goes here for reps as was described for the muscle clean + clean.

These exercises can be done as standalone technical work in other training sessions not involving cleans, or they can be used at the beginning of clean training sessions to help improve the subsequent clean work.


- Free Community WOD this Saturday @ 8am!! Bring your friends and family to try CrossFit and Verve!!


Thursday 150507

Front Squat 10 reps, 1 rep
Rest 3 minutes
Front Squat 10 reps, 1 rep
Rest 3 minutes
Front Squat 10 reps, 1 rep

Then, 3 x max effort (-1) set of:
1 1/4 front squats @ 60% of last 1 rep max front squat

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Joannie killing her double unders. She has been working hard at them, it's cool to see all her progress.

Joannie killing her double unders. She has been working hard at them, it’s cool to see all her progress.


I wish I had hamstrings as functional as Camille LeBlanc Bazinet’s. By Courtney “please excuse my creepiness whilst I stare at your hamstrings” Shepherd. . . and the good people of Eat To Perform

You don’t really hear that everyday do you? The desire to have a functional body part similar to someone else. Usually we hear things like, “I wish I had abs like Christmas Abbott” or “I wish I had a butt like Stacie Tovar” or “I wish I had guns like Courtney Shepherd” (seriously, I get it all the time). These are quite generally aesthetic desires, physical features that we find pleasing to the eye. We understand very well that these features are acquired by hard work and a fairly clean/ regimented diet. It doesn’t make me want them any less. But after several years in CrossFit, I still want these things but I want them for different reasons. When I look at CLB’s hamstrings I literally think of the power they are capable of producing and I that’s why I want them. The fact that they also look good is just icing on the cake. 

This mind set for me change a great deal when I heard the phrase “productive application of force”. What does that mean? Let me explain it to you in an example. Let’s take 2 athletes, athlete A and athlete B. Both A & B have 30 strict chest to bar pull-ups and both have 30 strict ring dips. Both athletes spend 30 minutes working on muscle-ups and afterwards athlete A is able to do 1 and athlete B is not. So my question to you is, which one is stronger? A great deal of you might argue that they are both equally strong it’s just that one was able to understand the technique of a muscle-up while the other was not. Unfortunately that understanding does in fact make athlete A stronger. . . because CrossFit’s definition of strength is “the productive application of force”. If the workout 30 muscle-ups for time came up, athlete A would be able to do it, this athlete would be able to accomplish work, athlete B would not. 

Why is any of this even important? Because in CrossFit we are constantly surrounded with physically good looking people. We got mid WOD dramatic shirt removals happening all over the place. . . or in Nate Radar’s case, dramatic pre-WOD shirt removal. And it’s easy to get caught up in the idea that we want to look like this person or have features similar to that person. This idea begins to dictate our diets/ eating habits. Our goals become to lean out. We eat to achieve aesthetics. But my point to you is, it’s not all about how those muscles look, it’s about what those muscles can do that really matter in the world of CrossFit. Our goals should be to eat for performance.

I think there is a misconception about some of the athletes we physically admire. We see them as being chiseled and lean and probably having like 5% body fat. CLB is nothing but one giant 200# snatching muscle. Turns out, not true at all. I attended the CrossFit Competitor’s Course several months ago. CLB was one of the instructors, she told the class she was around 15% body fat and ate around 16 blocks per day. *MIND BLOWN* I have always been terrified of eating too much food, 1) how was I going to get my 6-pack abs and 2) how was I going to maintain my speed in movement if I was carrying around a bunch of extra weight? We don’t have to eat for eating’s sake. I’m certain we’ve all heard the phrase “big weight moves big weight”. It’s true, to a point. This may work great for people who’s only goals are to move big weight. But we want to move big weight, we want to move moderate weight, and we want to move light weight. We want to move it fast and for a lot of reps. We also want to move weight, then run, then climb ropes, and then maybe move some more weight again. We want the productive application of force. We want strength. Which means we need to eat for strength. 

There is a very brief article in Eat To Perform titled “Why Athletes Shouldn’t Aspire to Be Shredded”. The author makes several points about aesthetic versus performance goals:

  • Compared to bodybuilders and physique competitors, athletes generally maintain higher body fat percentages.
  • As you get leaner, your body starts to view your muscle as a viable source of energy and performance is put at a detriment.
  • Eating for performance goals rather than aesthetics will put you in a balance where you’re strong, powerful and still relatively lean.
  • By maintaining a body fat percentage in the mid teens (for men) and mid twenties (for women) you can ensure that your workouts are productive, and still look great because you’ll carry more muscle.

At the end of the day we can have our #MCM and our #WCW, we can follow all the Games athlete’s IG pages and check out all those muscles, hoping one day to fill out a pair of white booty shorts as good as Stacie Tovar does. But if we are truly admiring these athletes for what they are capable of, if we are inspired by their capacity and strength, then it’s import an for us to make part of our personal goals more focused on capacity and strength as well. Doing CrossFit consistently and fueling our bodies appropriately will get us stronger and more fit. . . . . it turns out the side effect of this is we will also look good naked. Eat to perform.

Click here for full article.

CrossFit Level 2 Certificate Course – June 13th and 14th, 2015

Date: June 13th and 14th, 2015

Time: 9 am – 5:00 pm

Location: CrossFit Verve

3344 Walnut St, Denver CO

The Level 2 Certificate Course (formerly the Coach’s Prep Course) builds on the concepts and movements introduced at the Level 1 Certificate Course.  The course is ideally suited for all CrossFit trainers, emerging Affiliates, and anyone serious about developing quality in coaching techniques.  Attendees will enhance their understanding of the CrossFit methodology, program design and implementation, and advance their coaching skills.

Come prepared to be heavily engaged.  Peers and instructors will provide coaching, evaluation, and feedback as you actively participate in lectures, small group work, and workouts.

Click here for more information and to register.

Wednesday 150506

For Time:
30 Shoulder to overhead, 95#(65#)
5 Rope climbs
25 Shoulder to overhead, 95#(65#)
4 Rope climbs
20 Shouler to overhead, 95#(65#)
3 Rope climbs
15 Shoulder to overhead, 95#(65#)
2 Rope climbs
10 Shoulder to overhead, 95#(65#)
1 Rope climb

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Verve is getting wasted on Seminars. Come get wasted with us!!

Verve is getting drunk on knowledge. Come get Seminar wasted too!!


CrossFit Trainer Courses, a.k.a. the reason Verve closes it’s doors approximately 1 weekend/ month. 

Have you ever wondered what these courses are all about. . . other than being the reason your only opportunity to workout is at 7am on a Saturday and Sunday? Verve is fortunate enough to be able to host these Trainer Courses, while it may be at some frustration to it’s members, we actually choose to do it for the benefit of Verve’s members. Having these courses offered in our own backyard provides for a convenient way to:

a) Increase the education/ knowledge of Verve’s trainers. By doing so our trainers are able to take what they learn and apply it directly to their interaction with Verve athletes. From teaching a movement, to cueing and correcting any faults in those movements, to scaling WODs appropriately, and lastly to providing answers to questions such as, “what can I work on to improve. . . .?” We want to be a wealth of knowledge and an amazing resource for any and all who walk through our doors. Attending these courses and having that information is what helps Verve grow and continue to be a great place to train. 

b) We want to provide opportunities for our members to also gain this knowledge. Over the years we have been able to send many Verve athletes to the Level 1 Trainer Course. Verve athletes can now see for themselves the science behind CrossFit, enhancing their love/ obsession with it even further. But your knowledge does not have to stop there. I’ve had more than one person ask me, on more than 1 occasion, what’s with the programming at Verve? Who does it? Why did they choose this workout for this day? How about those Olympic lifts? We just started a new Barbell Club Cycle, but many of you still express that you know you are held back by your technique. How can I make my technique better? 

The courses provided by CrossFit include gymnastics, endurance, programming for sport athletes, self defense, mobility, and more. Perhaps the best answer to some of your questions can be found in these 2 day course, where you not only learn from subject matter experts but you move with them, workout with them, and put to practice the information they pass on. 

Yes, these course cost extra money apart from your membership dues. Sometimes it is hard to justify spending that extra money on what some may describe as “a hobby”. I get that. However it will not stop me from encouraging you to attend if it is within your means to do so. The experience, you will find, is well worth it. 

Verve is hosting 3 seminars over the summer. Here is a little more information about each one:

1) Level 2 Certificate Course-

The Level 2 Certificate Course (formerly the Coach’s Prep Course) is an intermediate-level seminar that builds on the concepts and movements introduced at the Level 1 Certificate Course. This course is ideally suited for any CrossFit trainer serious about delivering quality coaching. Students enhance their understanding of the CrossFit methodology, program design and implementation, and they advance their skills while coaching others in movements and workouts. Students need to come prepared to be heavily engaged; each leads individual and small-group training sessions, and classroom sessions are discussion based. Peers and instructors provide feedback and evaluation.

2) CrossFit Football Trainer Course-

This course is an introduction to the concepts, movements and level of intensity needed to be successful in training for sport. In the course, participants are provided with a foundation for training athletes. They are taught the fundamentals of sport-specific training, including sprinting, basic movements, warm-ups and cool downs, change-of-direction and agility drills, jumping and weightlifting. Participants are given information on programming, nutrition and diet, and film study. Film study demonstrates the practical application of the CrossFit movements to football and other power sports. Anyone who trains groups that are required to be strong, agile and powerful can benefit from this course, no matter the level of athletes.

3) CrossFit Weightlifting Trainer Course-

Two days are spent detailing each lift (snatch on Day 1, clean and jerk on Day 2). The focus is on participants experiencing the basic positions and learning the foundational teaching points for instructing others to achieve them. The snatch and clean and jerk bring speed, power, coordination, agility, accuracy and balance to training and are indispensable to CrossFit programming and developing a well-rounded athlete.

For more information about any/ all of these courses or to register for one, click here.