Technique

How to Not Rip on Pullups

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How to Not Rip on Pullups
Written by: Coach Slater

Hand rips are cool and all, but if avoiding them is cooler, then consider me Miles Davis.

You can avoid them, too, by first taking care of your calluses after your showers. Shave them down using a rough foot scrubber. (Skip the pumice stone. They’re not abrasive enough to do any good.) Then, when you’re next in the gym, stop using so much damn chalk! It makes your hands sticky, creating too much friction, which then creates rips and tears. Next, change the way you grip the pullup bar. Get it out of your palms. Doing so compresses the skin, and over time, builds severe calluses which are ripe for rips. Instead, get the bar into the base of your fingers. Is this harder at first? Yea, but we’re thinking long-term here.

If you’re having trouble adjusting to this style of grip, or dealing with current tears on your hands, then here are my thoughts on grip options:

JerkFit Wodies
The material of these is so slick, your grip strength is zapped quickly with these gloves, no matter how much you chalk them up or how much they’re broken in. But, a benefit of the grips is that they have a built-in wrist wrap for added support in overhead movements.

Bear Komplex
These are often described as “too smooth”, likely because they’re made from a suede leather which isn’t as textured as other brands. Like the Rogue grips, they have an unforgiving strap which can dig into the wrist, too.

Natural Grip
This is a great local company, but if you’re in a pinch and don’t have these handy, you can make your own using $4 store-bought tape.

HumanX Grips
These damn things look absolutely ridiculous. You might as well be wearing oven mitts. If you’re interested in doing pullups and baking casseroles at the same time, then these are for you.

Rogue Leather Gymnastic Grips
These are grippier than the Woddies, but they bunch up, which can result in rips in your palm. Also, because they bunch, it can be harder to hold the bar because of how much thicker these make the bar feel. However, if you take the time to break them in and get them sized right, these are generally regarded as the best option. Not exactly a glowing review, but there ya go.

Poor Ankle Mobility or Is Something Else Going On?

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Poor Ankle Mobility or Is Something Else Going On?
Written by: Coach Slater

I see a lot of people self-diagnosing themselves as having tight calves or poor ankle mobility. These are the same people I see walking/running on their toes or sporting a forward lean of their torso/head, basically making their calves suffer all the time. Ankle mobility is important for proper positioning in many different lifts, and the issue might be as easy as fixing a few other areas then spending some time self-massaging the tissues of your lower leg to get them back to normal.

But yes, if you lack ankle mobility, you either go up on your toes, rely on a crutch like weightlifting shoes, or turn your feet out at the bottom of your squat. That last point is interesting. You might have more ankle mobility (dorsiflexion) with your knee facing the inside of the foot than outside. This isn’t ideal. Your body is compensating for a poor positional issue, like possibly a lack of hip internal rotation.

Anyway, what frequently causes stiff ankles? Well, most of us sit at a desk all day, or we stand all day on flat, hard surfaces. In both situations, the ankle is not challenged in all three plains of motion like it would if we moved around more often. When an ankle stops moving, the calf muscles suffer. Say you lose 25% of your ankle range of motion, now the calf muscles begin to adapt to their new demands (or lack thereof), by tightening up to this new, limited range of motion. Imagine a glue spilled inside your calf muscles and hardening so nothing can stretch anymore. So now, when you try to squat with these newly restricted calves and ankles, you can’t do so effectively.

But, before we talk about tackling those stiff tissues, let’s look at those other “areas” that might be causing you to go up on your toes in the first place. Here are some thoughts on what might be causing it and how to fix it:

Core Control
If you can’t reach proper depth in a back squat, without compromising your spine or going onto your toes, but can perform a goblet squat to proper depth with good form, then maybe your ankles aren’t really to blame. Maybe it’s your lack of core control. You can gain better core control by creating better tension in your abdomen by taking a bigger belly breath before descending in your squat, striving to feel 360 degrees of air filling your torso. Now, convert that new tension into a better squat by squeezing your armpits and pulling your belly button to your spine. You’ve now braced pretty damn effectively, and this new stability could translate into a deeper squat.

Glute Weakness
Another interesting theory on why people seem to have ankle issues is that their calves are compensating for weak glutes. Your butt is supposed to extend and rotate your hips, pushing our bodies forward. Fortunately or unfortunately, our calf muscles can mimic the forward propulsion that the glutes perform. So, if the glutes aren’t doing their job, the calves take over. A lot of people experience this when running uphill. Instead of using their glutes to extend their hips, they’re left with cramped calves. If you focused on using your ass to move you, instead of your calves, you could see an improvement in ankle mobility.

Reciprocal Inhibition
That’s some big words there, Slater. Slow it down. Weak tibialis anterior muscles (the muscles on the front of your shin) are often responsible for tight calves. Stand up and try to stretch your calves on a nearby step. Take note of how far your heel drops. Now, while standing straight, take 30sec and raise your toes toward your shins as many times as possible. Now try the calf stretch again. Notice a big change? The muscles of the front side of your shins were acting against the muscles of the backside. A simple attention shift like this could make your calf muscles function the way they’re supposed to.

Poor Posture
Related to all the above is poor posture. Quite possibly, your tight calves are due to a slightly forward head angle with a slight forward lean of your torso. To keep from falling over, your toes are digging into the ground to keep you balanced. In this position, your calves are always active, fighting like mad, and getting tighter by the day. Luckily, the fix is easy. Just fix your posture. Pull your head back, create a double-chin, get your torso back over your hips, breathe with your belly instead of your neck, squeeze your butt to make sure your hips are underneath you, stay balanced across your *entire* foot, and voila… you’ll find your calves magically start to relax.

Lastly, here’s a quick video showing some self-myofascial release and ankle mobility options for you. Fix your other issues, like mentioned above, then spend some time fixing your tissues.

These links further explain each of the drills in the video:
1. Bone saw calf smash
2. Lacrosse ball calf active release with band activation
3. Wall ankle mobility drill
4. Lacrosse ball plantar fascia smash with arch activation

Quick Thoughts on New Accessory Movements

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Quick Thoughts on New Accessory Movements
Written by Coach Slater

This week, we changed up our accessory movements for the rest of the strength cycle and now we want to give you a little more info about how best to perform these movements. So, here’s our “Quick Thoughts” on the four new movements you’ve seen this week.

KB Weighted High Box Step Ups
For this movement, we want you to focus on the concentric drive out of the hole to full standing. Afterwards, you can casually step off the box and restart. We’re not concerned about a technically perfect eccentric lowering for this movement.

Shift your weight so that your center of gravity is balanced over your full foot, and as you create that tension in your hip, begin to lift your down leg off the ground so that you’re balanced solely on the foot on the box. If you have pain at the front of the hip during the movement, first make sure to tuck your hips underneath you to get your pelvis into a neutral position, and then consider lowering the height of the box so the angle of your hip flexion is decreased.

Now, for the rep scheme… if you’re shooting for 16 total reps and not 20, it should be because you chose an appropriately heavy weight which only allowed you to complete 8 reps per side and the 9th rep would have caused your form to deteriorate enough, or leave you too fatigued, so you had to stop at 8. We could program less reps with more weight, or more reps with less weight, but as an accessory developer, we feel that 8-10 reps should provide the desired stimulus.

Hammer Curls
It should be obvious that we don’t want you to heave the DB up, but also, don’t let your elbows move. They should remain tight to your side thru the entire movement, with your palms facing in. This neutral grip has a greater carryover to pullups, which is the entire reason we’re performing this accessory movement. So, it’s important that you’re attempting to go heavy while maintaining tight form. In other words, don’t grab the light 10lb dumbbells and expect to see any improvements to your pullups. You’ll need to grab some heavier weights. Don’t worry, you’re not going to get big and bulky.

Pendlay Row
Make the effort about pulling with your lats and mid-back, not using your hips to bring your chest to the bar. In other words, stop heaving. Keep your hips back and a little high as you use your legs to break the bar off the floor (a couple inches max), then while keeping your elbows in as if you’re performing a pushup, pull the bar somewhere between your belly button and bottom of your sternum. The pendlay row helps develop your lats, which are important for proper shoulder function, which means that pendlay rows also help you push more weight overhead.

Barbell Glute Bridge
As you slide the bar over your legs and drive it low on your hips (being careful to avoid your hip bones), tuck your butt under and flatten your spine out on the floor. Doing so shuts down the muscles of your lower back, forcing you to move the weight with your glutes as intended, giving you true hip extension and not just extending thru your lumbar spine (very bad). Our aim is to take your back out of the equation and help you learn how to get your glutes to do what they’re supposed to do. As you drive through your heels, keep pushing the bar low on your hips, and squeeze your butt. We don’t want your hamstrings doing the work here. Lastly, you may find you need to place one of our green foam pads or a rolled up t-shirt between you and the bar.

Lower-Body Posture & Mobility Warmups

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Lower-Body Posture & Mobility Warmups
Written by Coach Slater

Ever feel like your coaches are watching how you stand around as you wait for class to begin, or after a WOD as you cool down, or as you’re walking into the gym? Always judging, watching… look at the baby, look at the baby.

Well, we’re looking because, sometimes, we see postural alignment faults that we know play an important role in your fitness and injury potential. These alignment faults cause deficits in your range of motion, which reduces your strength. And since strength is so important to our overall fitness, these small details are important. Because of that, I want to quickly talk about ways to self-assess your lower-body and then give you some drills to knock out when you walk in the gym. Look, you don’t have to do all of them, but doing even a few is certainly better than perusing Instagram for the latest meme. And these are easy, so you can socialize while you’re doing them!

Ideal
In a normal situation with a neutral pelvis alignment, your knees should face forward, legs appearing relatively straight, and feet pointing straight ahead to slightly outward about 15 degrees.
NeutralPelvis

Anterior Pelvic Tilt
In a case where your pelvis in tipped forward, internally rotated and adducted (turned in), your knee alignment will give off a “knock-kneed” appearance. In this situation, some muscles will be lengthened and therefore weakened, namely your abs, glutes, and biceps femoris portion of your hamstrings. Check below for fixes.
AnteriorPelvicTilt

Posterior Pelvic Tilt
In a case where your pelvis is tipped backwards, externally rotated and abducted (turned out), your knee alignment will give off a “bow-legged” appearance. When this happens, the adductors on the insides of your legs are lengthened and weakened. Check below for fixes.
PosteriorPelvicTilt

Anterior Pelvic Tilt Fixes
Seated 90/90 Mobilization
Use your right hand to slowly press down on your right knee, while using your left hand to pull up on the foot. Hold for a two count, and then relax.
Seated9090

Split-Stance Kneeling Adductor Mob
Set-up on all fours on the floor, and then put one leg directly out to the side with the knee straight. The chin should be tucked and the lower back arched. Rock back, maintaining neutral spine and stopping short of the point where your lower back rounds. As you rock back, shift the weight on your outside foot towards your heel so your toes come up slightly.
SplitStanceKneelingAdductor1SplitStanceKneelingAdductor2

Split-Stance Hip Swivels
Set-up on all fours on the floor, and then put one leg directly out to the side with the knee straight. The chin should be tucked and the lower back arched. Drive hip internal and external rotation by rolling back and forth between your heel and toes on the outside foot. Hold at the end range of each direction for a count of two.
SplitStanceHipSwivel1SplitStanceHipSwivel2

Reverse Lunge with Posterior-Lateral Reach
With a gently braced core to stabilize your lumbar spine, take an exaggerated step backward, keeping the majority of your weight on your front heel. Drop down into the lunge position, while simultaneously reaching up and back with the opposite arm over the lead leg. Push through the heel to reverse the momentum and return to the starting position. Make sure to rotate from your thoracic spine (upper back) and not your lumbar spine (lower back).
ReverseLungePosteriorLateralReach1ReverseLungePosteriorLateralReach2

Hip Airplanes
Split your legs from front to back and place all your weight on the front leg. Lean your upper body forward and extend the back leg so you develop a straight line between your upper body and back leg. Move your arms to 90 degrees for balance. Lift the back foot to balance on the front leg. Rotate the pelvis towards the front leg, and then away from the front leg. Rotate from the hips and not the lumbar spine.
HipAirplane1HipAirplane2

Bowler Squats
Stand on your left foot with a slight bend in your knee and your right foot held slightly off the ground. Your chest should be out and your back flat. From the starting position, sit back into your left hip while reaching across your body with your right hand. Sit back until you get a nice stretch in the glutes, or until you feel as though you’re going to lose your balance, then return to the starting position. Shorten the range of motion initially if need be. It will increase as your hip mobility and strength improves over time.
BowlerSquat1BowlerSquat2

Banded Clamshells
Brace your core, and slowly rotate your left leg away from the floor. Keep both feet together throughout the movement, and rotate your hip as far as you can without moving the lower back. Return to the starting position. Keep the core tight and rotate from the hips versus the lower back. Hip
range of motion may be limited at first, especially when adding resistance. It may help to think about swiveling through your heel, to help activate your glutes.
BandedClamshell1BandedClamshell2

Posterior Pelvic Tilt Fixes
KB Single-Leg RDL
Stand up tall; think about a rope pulling your head and body upwards to lengthen you. With a slight knee bend and good posture, push the hips back and lower the torso to tap the KB to the floor while the opposite leg swings back. Maintain good posture throughout. You should have your chest out and a
slight arch in the lower back. Don’t allow the chest to cave, or the lower back to round. Don’t rush through reps, and stand up completely in between each rep.
KBSingleLegRDL1KBSingleLegRDL2

Lying Knee-to-Knee Pull-Ins
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Exaggerate the width between your feet. From the starting position, think about trying to touch your knees together while keeping your feet on the floor. Hold for a two count, and then return to the starting position. Don’t worry if your feet aren’t totally flat on the ground; as long as you’re getting a stretch in the hip region, it’s not a big deal.
LyingKneeToKneePullIn1LyingKneeToKneePullIn2

Prone/Facedown Windshield Wipers
Lie on your stomach with your arms out to the sides. Your knees should be together and feet up in the air. Keeping the knees together, let the feet fall out to the sides. Hold for a two count, and then return to the starting position. Focus on keeping the knees together throughout the course of this exercise.
ProneWindshieldWiper1ProneWindshieldWiper2

Hip Airplanes
Split your legs from front to back and place all your weight on the front leg. Lean your upper body forward and extend the back leg so you develop a straight line between your upper body and back leg. Move your arms to 90 degrees for balance. Lift the back foot to balance on the front leg. Rotate the pelvis towards the front leg, and then away from the front leg. Rotate from the hips and not the lumbar spine.
HipAirplane1HipAirplane2

Bowler Squats
Stand on your left foot with a slight bend in your knee and your right foot held slightly off the ground. Your chest should be out and your back flat. From the starting position, sit back into your left hip while reaching across your body with your right hand. Sit back until you get a nice stretch in the glutes, or until you feel as though you’re going to lose your balance, then return to the starting position. Shorten the range of motion initially if need be. It will increase as your hip mobility and strength improves over time.
BowlerSquat1BowlerSquat2

Solid Snippets of Sage Snatch Sapience, or Snatch Tips

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Remain Balanced
When holding the barbell, you need to feel three points of pressure in your feet… big toe, little toe and heel. Balanced. If your center of gravity shifts too much in one direction or the other, then you’re likely setting yourself up for failure as you’ll be forced to compensate somewhere. When the weight gets heavy, you’re likely to start falling forward during the first pull off the floor. You can’t allow that to happen. You must remain balanced, and the closer your hips are to the bar during the movement, the less likely the bar will be pushed forward by your hips at the top of the pull. Keeping the hips closer to the bar basically means they’re more likely to extend, instead of swing; and, that act of keeping your hips close the bar starts by first being well-balanced.

Knuckles Down
When hook-gripping the bar, you can magically keep your lats and upper back tighter by slightly flexing your wrists and turning your knuckles down toward the floor. With knuckles down and lats turned on, you can better keep the bar close to you, over your base, allowing you to control the bar and not letting it control you.

Get the Bar to Your Hips
If the bar isn’t touching your hip during the pull, then you’re never going to lift heavy weight. You just aren’t. And furthermore, the bar should hit your hip and THEN you extend fully… don’t try to extend before the bar gets there. If the bar hits your legs each time, then you’re destined to always have a weak snatch. If you need to, widen your grip as wide as necessary to put the bar on top of your hip bones while standing. Not getting the bar to your hips is the most obvious and easiest thing to fix to improve your lift. From there, you must finish the pull with a powerful hip and glute action, finished with the quads via a drive through the balls of your feet.

Stop Using Your Arms… Well, Kinda
One of the easiest problems to develop in the snatch is not figuring out how to move the bar exclusively thru use of your lower body, and instead, using your arms as the prime mover. When just beginning, you should think of your arms as ropes, just hanging onto the bar. But, as you progress, you need to know that your arms actually do a lot. After you explode at the hip with your lower body, you should be pulling on the bar to pull yourself down underneath it, faster than just dropping. Again, you should control the bar, not let it control you.

The explosion at the hip and aggressive lockout are interconnected. The act of exploding and pulling under is the most explosive thing you have ever done and should be treated as such. It is all one motion and it’s maniacally aggressive, and it all helps make the lockout or catch that much easier because every muscle in your body is tense when it happens.

Keep the Bar Close to Your Face
Everyone knows that looping the bar around you is a technique flaw. We want the bar close to our chest as we transition into the bottom of the snatch. If you’re jumping vertically and even slightly “backwards” at the top of your pull, then to stop the looping bar, think about keeping the bar close to your face as it passes by. In general, we want the bar as close to you as possible anyway. The closer the bar is to you, the less you have to fight gravity.

Open Your Wrists
At the catch of a snatch, you should bend your wrists back so the bar is in your palms and not resting on your thumbs. In other words, you shouldn’t be holding the bar in a position to perform an overhead press, with straight wrists. That shift of the wrist also means you’ve shifted the position of the bar, so it’s likely closer over your heel or midfoot, not in front of your foot.

There are many more tips we can write on the snatch, so consider these just a start. We didn’t even dive into another common error we see – locked knees during the pull – but, that’ll have to wait for another post. We’ve given you enough to chew on for now. Happy snatching.

Ditch the Band & Get Your First Pullup

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Ditch the Band & Get Your First Pullup
Written by: Coach Slater

Raise your hand if one of your 2016 Goals is to get a strict pullup, or 5 unbroken strict pullups, or some variation like that. Cool. Now put your hand down. You’re at work. Stop being weird.

If 2016 is the year to get your first pullup, then we’d like you to ditch banded pullups and stick to the jumping pullup. For a long time, we’ve been okay with everyone using bands for pullups, but while that gives you the momentary ability to perform pullups, it doesn’t actually help you build the strength necessary to perform one unassisted.

To perform a solid pullup, you need to be able to firmly retract your shoulder blades, then bend your arm and pull your elbows down, before finally pulling your elbows behind your back. Bands are giving you too much help at the bottom of the movement, so you never learn to set your shoulders; therefore, you never get strong enough to do an unassisted pullup.

The jumping pullup can assist with your strength gains, if you do them well. First, fully jump to the top of the bar, then execute a controlled, hollow-body negative back to the start position. Make sure that this negative is controlled though. If you’re just falling back to the earth and yanking on your shoulder joint, then you’re doing more harm than good. Luckily, your body is much stronger eccentrically than concentrically, so it’s easier to lower yourself from the bar than it is to pull yourself to it. As you jump to the bar, remember to keep your shoulder blades together and down, tucked into your back pocket. No shrugging, like seen below.

FirstStrictPullup

In addition to replacing banded pullups with jumping pullups in your WOD, we’d also like to recommend a 5 week progression plan to get your first pullup. If you already have a couple pullups and are shooting for 5, 10 or whatever, then you’d increase the reps below. Ask us about a recommended rep scheme. Either way, perform these movements before class while you’re freshest.

Week 1
Monday: 3 x 3. Meaning: 3 sets of 3 “reps”: brief dead hang, then jumping pullup with a brief hold at the top, with a controlled negative (straight legs, toes pointed, abs/quads/glutes squeezed tight). Rest as needed between sets.
Wednesday: 2 x 3
Friday: 4 x 3

Week 2
Monday: 3 x 4
Wednesday: 2 x 4
Friday: 4 x 4

Week 3
Monday: 4 x 4
Wednesday: 3 x 4
Friday: 5 x 4

Week 4 (back-off week)
Monday: 7 x 2
Wednesday: 5 x 2
Friday: 10 x 2

Week 5
Warm up and test your pullup!

Kipping Pullup Technique

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Kipping Pullup Technique
Written by: Coach Slater

Before starting, let’s all agree that the kipping pullup is a point of vehement contention in the strength & conditioning world. But, it’s an accepted movement in CrossFit because it allows you to execute more reps in a shorter period of time. And yes, you need to have full range-of-motion in your shoulders before attempting one, meaning that you can hang from the bar with your elbows straight, armpits forward, and spine braced in a neutral position, and be able to perform strict pullups to address some basic strength needs before you start spastically swinging from the bar.

Now that we have that out of the way… Let’s discuss five important facets of the kipping pullup. This article won’t cover everything you could ever want to know, but it’ll give you a great start.

Body Position
The first thing I think we should focus on is eliminating every “angle” your body creates while swinging on the bar. Meaning, you shouldn’t have bent/broken/angled positions at the elbow, shoulder, spine, hip, knee, or ankle… every angle is a point of leaking power. You need to be disciplined with your position from hands to feet, keeping straight arms, and generating power through the shoulders. You want to stay long and still create speed and power with your abs and spinal erectors engaged.

Speed Thru the Middle
When going from an extended to a flexed position, you really need to accelerate so you create enough momentum to elevate your body toward the bar. So, you’re trying to close your hip angle while raising your center of mass and preparing for a violent kip toward the bar. I prefer people do this with straight legs (again to eliminate “angles”), but I understand that if you’re new to kipping and lacking speed, then you may need to bend your knees. In that case, I think it helps to imagine that you’re kneeing someone in the face. Violent imagery works well here.

Hips; Not Arms
A common mistake in learning the kipping pull-up is pulling with the arms before fully utilizing the power of the hip. You need to be patient and keep the arms straight until the hip drive has created a moment of weightlessness on the bar, before pulling yourself to the bar. You’ll push yourself away from the bar, like pushing the bar straight down, but with straight arms. Using your lats to move your center of gravity will help you attack the bar a little horizontally and not strictly vertical, so you’re able to smoothly transition into your next rep.

Push Away at the Top
Once you reach your chin over the bar, don’t just allow yourself to drop straight down. Keep the elbows forward so lats are engaged and push your body from the bar in that flexed position. You want to use that push to drive your body back thru the middle into the extended position. Also, as you push away, you want to smoothly transition into the bottom of the swing and not allow yourself to crash at the bottom, yanking at your shoulders. And when you push away at the top, eliminate that bend at your hip. No angles, remember? Push away with a straight line from torso to toes, as if you were simply falling over backwards.

Elbows Forward
An overarching concept that applies to the swing and kip is that you should have your elbows forward at all times. Doing so puts your shoulders into the most advantageous and stable position. So, at the bottom of the swing, get your elbows forward by turning your pinkies toward each other while thinking about bending the bar in half in front of you. Same applies to the top of the swing as you push away from the bar. Elbows forward.

Derby City Guide to Success

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We’ve just entered a new year, and we’re seeing a bunch of new faces at DCCF. Accordingly, we thought it would be good to refresh our Derby City Guide to Success… part House Rules for making all of your health & fitness dreams come true at Derby City. And part old man’s rant.

1. DON’T CHEAT! No one cares what your score was. Everyone cares if you cheated. The whiteboard is meant to inspire your best effort but it does not mean anything. You are only competing with yourself. Use the group to motivate your effort. Be honest with everyone else, and be honest with yourself. You know what full range of motion is, so there’s no excuse for shoddy reps. If someone calls you out for doing something wrong, listen to them. You’re suffering through a workout, so you might not be critiquing yourself as hard as you would normally. The person standing around watching you workout is breathing gently and probably has sub-60 heart rate. You’re halfway through Fran. You’re biased, trust us. If you lose count, the next number is always 1 minus whatever you last remember. If you know you have trouble keeping count, ask someone to count for you. If you want to get on a leaderboard, you must have someone count for you. If no one saw it, it didn’t happen.

2. BE UNCOMFORTABLE! Effort earns respect. Work hard. Go heavy or go home. The only way to get stronger is to increase the load. Always strive to go a little heavier and a little faster. Never say, “I can’t.” When you want something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done. Push your limits. Intensity is what makes the program work; and what you get out of the program is directly related to how much discomfort you can endure. But, don’t forget that technique matters! You need to be good at the movements to get a great workout.

3. CHECK YOUR EGO AT THE DOOR! Somewhere a high school kid is warming up with your PR. Also, don’t drag people down with a bad attitude. Be optimistic, have fun and push yourself and those around you to do better. You are in total control of your behavior. No excuses!

4. TURN UP! Frequency and consistency of training are super important, so come to class. If you come 2x/week, try coming 3x. If you come 3x/week, try coming 4x. If you come 4x, trying coming 5x. For newbies, make sure you’re staying consistent. For old hands, don’t start thinking that it’s okay to just do your own thing whenever you want to. There’s a myriad of reasons we have class — you’re less likely to bias yourself towards the things you’re good at; you’ll get some competition; and no matter how experienced you are, you still need coaching and you can still stand to work on the basics. If want more, we have additional competitor programming at night.

5. TAKE OWNERSHIP! Be responsible and respectful and take pride in your gym. Don’t let others get away with things that are bad for them or bad for the gym. Remind people to take their clothes with them and pick up their water bottles. If you see someone doing something that you’re pretty sure will hurt them, tell them to cut it out. We don’t care who it is. You call them out. Safety first!

6. BE SOCIAL! Connect with the community. Learn names. Find friends. And do not ever… ever… ever… put away your weights because you finished the WOD but there are still others working. The first person to finish a WOD is the first person to cheer on others. There is nothing more disheartening than the rest of the class putting weights away when you have two more rounds to go. So, the next time you’re done with the WOD, look around and cheer on the person next to you. We’ve all been there before, the last person working. We all know that extra push is invaluable. Don’t be shy. Root on your fellow athletes, LOUDLY. That’s what Derby City is all about.

7. DON’T LIE TO YOURSELF! If you’ve plateaued or been in a training rut for over 6 months, then it’s your fault. There are no exceptions to this rule. It’s not the coaches. It’s not the programming. It’s not your work schedule. It’s you. You are your own worst enemy and you’re standing in the way of your progress. Cut the excuses. Listen to your coaches. Improve.

8. BE EARLY! If you’re not early, you’re late. Give yourself enough time to sign in, hit the bathroom, change clothes, and move around a little before class starts. Most likely that means showing up at least 10 minutes prior to class.

9. CLEAN UP! Put away your toys. Clean up your sweat. We wish we didn’t have to say this, but don’t spit on the floor. Don’t chew gum, and really don’t spit gum on the floor. Pick up your used tape, pens, notebooks, scrap papers, band-aids, water bottles and sweaty clothes. Put away all the equipment you used back where it belongs. Stack the boxes neatly, put the bars in the racks, stack the plates tightly in order, hang up your jump ropes correctly.

10. CHALK STAYS IN THE BUCKET! Don’t take it on a field trip around the gym and don’t use it to write on the floor. You can walk over three feet and bend over another two feet to put your hands in the bucket and *gently* apply some chalk before continuing your set. You don’t need it next to your bar, pullup station, or wherever else. Keep it in the bucket. Both the chalk blocks and the chalk dust.

11. RESPECT THE EQUIPMENT! Drop as a last resort. Put things down gently. Dropping weight should be a necessity, not a convenience. If you only have 15s, 10s, or 5s on your bar, then you can’t drop. 25s and up only. ALWAYS keep your weight under control. NEVER drop an empty barbell. NEVER drop a kettlebell or dumbbell.

12. SPEAK UP! If you notice that equipment is broken, there’s no toilet paper, bring it to our attention so we can do something about it.

Percentages – How Your Squat Should Relate to Everything Else

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A lot of really smart coaches, much smarter than us, believe that the squat has the greatest carryover to any other exercise. So, it’s no wonder that we’ve been focusing so much on squatting in our last two cycles. If your squat goes up, so do your other lifts.

In the late 70’s, Soviet coaches analyzed their lifters and found their back squat averaged 131% of their clean & jerk. Said another way, their clean & jerk would be 76% of their back squat. For you, we like to see the back squat be anywhere in the range of 125-135% of your clean & jerk. So, if the average male at DCCF has a 1RM back squat of 250, then he’d clean & jerk somewhere around 185-200. If the average female at DCCF has a 1RM back squat of 160, then she’d clean & jerk somewhere around 120-130. Your snatch should be anywhere in the range of 78-83% of your clean & jerk, so this same mythical male and female would snatch in the range of 150-160 and 95-105, respectfully.

So, what if you’re at the lower end of these percentages or even lower? If you want to increase your snatch and clean & jerk, then we need to increase your back squat. And how that’s done is by really focusing on creating tension (as we’ve written about before) and generating speed on the eccentric (vertical) portion of the squat. But, you might have sub-optimal technique where increasing your squat won’t necessarily help your snatch or clean & jerk. That could mean incorrect movement patterns, slow speed of execution, poor flexibility, a fear of jumping under the bar, or other factors not strictly related to just strength. We recommend attending the Oly technique class on Thursday nights at 7:30p.

If you’re at the higher end of these percentages, then you likely are told by coaches that you have great technique. You’re very efficient at converting your absolute strength into Olympic movements. You’re over-achieving and that’s great, but you might need to buckle down on eating more to fuel your strength gains. Or, you might just be a novice or intermediate lifter who hasn’t had the time to develop your strength. In that case, just give it time.

How to Instantly Add More Weight to Your Lifts

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How to Instantly Add More Weight to Your Lifts
Written by: Coach Slater

Look, we can’t talk enough about bracing. Can’t. Effective bracing is a head-to-toe endeavor and it may be the most important thing we can teach you at Derby City.

Here are three easy steps to brace more effectively and thereby instantly add more weight to your lifts:
1. Establish three points of contact with the ground: your heel planted on the floor with your big toe and pinky toe actively pressing into the floor. We do this to evenly distribute your weight over the middle of your foot. By doing so, you’re creating a dynamic base so shifts in pressure become more obvious, so you don’t drift too far forward on your toes or backward on your heels. This concept of three points of contact is an idea we picked up from Dr. Quinn Henoch.

2. Create tension in your hips via your feet. “Knees Out” is probably the most common cue, and it gets the job done, but “Spread the Floor” is a cue that Coach Shark loves, and it tends to be extremely effective for people who squat with a wider stance. Imagine opening the earth up beneath your feet, splitting it wide open, ripping the floor apart. “Screw Your Feet in the Floor” is a cue I use because, for it to work, I think you have to focus on the concept of three points of contact with your feet. With that cue, plant your feet then apply a force like you’re trying to point your toes toward opposite walls and your heels toward each other, but not actually allowing them to shift/turn.

The last cue I like, but which is a little dirtier, is “Spread Your Taint”. This cue is from Powerlifting legend, Ed Cohen, so don’t get angry at me for mentioning it. Here’s the thing, when we tell people “Knees Out”, sometimes they bow their legs and place unnatural force on the knee joint. If you open up from the taint (perineum) and groin area rather than the knees, you create tension in the legs while keeping the hip flexors relaxed and without placing undue stress on the knees.

3. Lastly, brace your abdomen by starting with a deep, diaphragmatic breath into your stomach and not your chest. If your shoulders rise when you take your breath, you’re doing it wrong. You’re trying to create 360 degrees of expansion in your chest via breath, inflating your entire torso while keeping your spine extended but ribs down. So, your breath should press out into your belt, but also around your side and in your lower back. You’re not just pressing your stomach out as if you’re pregnant; you’re trying to inflate your obliques.

Using breath to create intraabdominal pressure then contracting your core muscles will unequivocally stabilize your spine. When you exhale, you’ve decreased the intraabdominal pressure, so the muscles that stabilize your spine now have to work harder to keep you from folding in two. By actively breathing as mentioned, you’ll create the most rigid torso possible; but to do it effectively, you have to focus on inhaling and exhaling fully instead of taking short, choppy breaths.

So, that’s it. Effective bracing in three easy steps. If you have a question about any of these techniques or cues, ask us!